Progress is progress

So today’s gone reasonably well.  I got some writing done.  What’s more, I got it done as today’s challenge over at the Erotic Writer’s Group.  It puts me at 261 words for the month. 🙂

Also, as I mentioned on Twitter earlier, I gave my mum a copy of Servant of the Siphen today.  She finished it quite quickly and seems interested to see where it goes.  Well, that’s a load of pressure off my mind. 🙂

So I’ve been thinking.  Would any of you like a copy of the story in the ePUB format, for ease of reading, and to also check that the formatting works on a variety of devices?  If so, send me a tweet or something and I’ll direct message you a link.

Part 13 of Servant of the Siphen

I’ve updated Part 13 on the site now.  It isn’t finished yet, but you can see it taking form. 🙂

Since yesterday I’ve been a bit more motivated to write.  I think that having a supportive talk with someone in person has made a big difference!

I’m going to need a beta or two to read Servant of the Siphen when it’s done.  So, volunteers would be nice.

I think it will be an enjoyable read with the last part added and the other minor changes.  There will be a cliffhanger, at least until the next part of the story is finished.  I’m not even sure what the title will be, but I think I’ll need to think of one.

From contrivance to reality

So it’s been a while since my last proper blog post.  I haven’t been doing much writing lately, more sort of plotting.

So tonight I’m going to tackle the issue of gender balance in my stories.

Initially my thinking was that I wanted to have female characters in roles that are traditionally filled by males.  But that’s a bit contrived.  It’s all very well to say that I wish there were more female ‘knights riding to the rescue’ but what am I actually trying to accomplish by this?

So for a while now I’ve been trying to explain why most of the cast of Servant of the Siphen and the rest of the series is female.  Years, really.

Then as I was walking home tonight I found the missing piece of the puzzle.

Human life, when you think about it, is quite fragile.  It doesn’t take much to threaten our existence.  Never mind the aliens armed with electric death rays though, it’s the smallest most microscopic enemies that we need to worry about.  That’s right – alien germs.

The irony is that in reaching out to the stars, ensuring that human colonies will exist and multiply for some time to come, we may unwittingly bring about changes in our very own nature that will force us to adapt or die.

So in the stories, the basic premise is that during the great expansion, something or someone caused widescale alterations in the development of unborn children.  Perhaps it was aliens seeking to curb the human infestation on their dorrsteps, or maybe it was an accidental result of alien fauna interacting with human physiology.  I’m not telling… spoilers!

Whatever the cause, the result is that some humans in the 25th century will require hormone treatment to begin puberty, and may be unable to conceive children without medical intervention.  Naturally-born males will account for less than a percent of births.  The balance between female and male genders is going to shift quite considerably, and possibly a quarter of human colonists or Earth-born may consider themselves to be transgender.

That sort of brings me back to my original idea, which is that human life is so fragile.  When faced with this realisation that the way things used to be may never be so for thousands of years if at all, humans would have to embrace their altered reality.  Never again can they look down on or discriminate against people who do not fit into one of the binary genders.  There will be billions of brilliant humans who are capable of something just as wondrous as their distant ancestors who landed on the moon, and they cannot be scorned because of their differences.  The continued existence of humanity is at stake.

I would like to think that this story does not begin when humans arrive on other planets.  It begins today, with people like you or me.  We are the mentors of those who come after us, passing on our values to the next generation, and the next and the next and so on.  If what we do and believe and how we act towards those who are different helps future generations to overcome adversity, then we are never forgotten.  They will tell tales of us, much as we imagine and relate to their perilous and arduous journey to distant worlds.

The greatest strength of humans is to communicate ideas and to share knowledge and experiences.  By doing these things, we create a future in which humans are prepared, if not forewarned of the dangers it may face.

So it’s quite possible that some of the crew of the Orion, though they take female names and look feminine, don’t necessarily identify as female.  I haven’t made distinctions yet because as I said, this came to me tonight and I’m still thinking about it.  Does it make a difference to you if one of these leading ladies is transgender?

I’m not looking to score points, mind.  I’m telling a story, and sometimes that means explaining why things are the way they are, or even what that is.  If as a result it improves the human condition for those future generations, I won’t have been forgotten.

No fancy cover for Servant of the Siphen

So I’ve come to a decision regarding the cover for Servant of the Siphen and future works.

Basically, until I can afford a nice-looking image created by a professional artist, I’d rather go with something simple which works well even when shrunk down to a thumbnail.  I’m pretty sure I can manage that on my own.

I can’t really photograph a futuristic spaceship or a dimensional portal or a dark sorceress down here on Earth so, sorry but I can’t do that.  I’m not going to rip off someone’s artwork and throw it on the cover of an ebook either.

If and when the writing starts to pay off (which may not be for some time) then I will invest in better artwork as a thank-you to the readers who have bought my books and, thanks to the wonder of modern digital distribution, it will not cost them one penny more than they have already spent to download the new version.

Bear in mind, Servant of the Siphen is already available to read here on the site.  It may receive further edits (when I hear back from beta readers) but it is basically and always will be free, as a preview for readers who want to know what my work is like before they buy, or just to enjoy for what it is, an adventure that can stand alone without the rest of the novel.

Thanks for reading and if you have an opinion please feel free to air it here or on Twitter. 🙂

The red pen comes out for Flight of Passion

There’s a new EPUB version of Flight of Passion on the Downloads page.

Well, it’s new in the sense that it has a slightly different cover and it has all twelve existing parts. I have a bunch of edits planned that will make significant changes so you can expect to see another version possibly Feb next year depending on how things go.

Here are my plans:

1. Instead of having Erica spying on Caroline and Isamura, she simply walks in on them and tells them to get dressed because there’s a big problem (the loss of power). This requires edits to remove the references to this as well.

The reasoning here is that it’s a bit contrived and I can be more subtle.

2. Cut the part with Tegan and Erica running off together and having sex.

There’s actually something that Tegan needs to tell Erica first, so I’ll be writing a new scene to do that.

3. Cut the stripping around the board game.

Again, it’s contrived and seems to come out of nowhere. I have something in mind that moves the plot along faster.

4. Reduce Isamura’s perception of the ninth member of the team.

It just makes things confusing. Easier for her to have just an inkling.

So if you want to make an argument in favour of keeping the parts I’m planning to cut, you kind of need to make it soon. I am always open to criticism, but it can take a while for me to come up with something on the drawing board to fix things, so sooner is better than later. 🙂

Part 12 finished!

I’m starting a new part that picks up after the big revelation in Part 12.  I think the fight scene needs a bit of work.  But I can come back to that.

I’m in the final stretch for this chapter (Flight of Passion is Chapter 9 on my outline for the book) and when I’m done I can start editing it, backfilling the previous chapters, and so on.

Hopefully when the book is more complete and doesn’t look like a half-finished Death Star built by the cheapest bidder I’ll be able to get a bit more feedback on it.

Part 11 finished!

I’ve finished Part 11 of Flight of Passion and I’m moving on to Part 12.  There may be some further refinements as time allows.

As I mentioned on Twitter I’m trying a couple of new plugins, one of which allows me to see the word count as a column in the admin panel (very useful) and I also have a dashboard plugin which I’m using to link to tag searches.  Handy stuff.

All right then, back to work! 🙂