Space Travel and Other Fun Stuff

Writing Science Fiction

Caveat

I am not a scientist. Most of the things I discuss here come from my own research using the scientific work of others. I would appreciate comments regarding the errors that might crop up.

Research

Writers must do research; it’s part of the contract between the writer and the reader that what we write contains accurate information. Every story has a background,  places, customs, scientific facts, historic events, and so on.

Here is the result of failing to do research: A best-selling American author had a character take the train north from London to Cornwall. It wouldn’t have taken more than a few minutes for her to look at a map and find that Cornwall is south-west of London.

Space Travel

But a science fiction writer must do more. We are creating a fictional environment, be it a future Earth or other worlds, and we want to keep “bad science” down to a minimum.

First, there is the problem of space travel. Everyone knows that it is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light, in truth, even traveling at a fraction of light speed could be perilous.

chronicles-of-the-lensman
Crónicas de la Lensman

It’s not the speed that would kill you, it’s the acceleration required to reach that speed. The faster an object travels, the greater becomes its mass, and you can imagine how destructive that would be to a human body. Words like implode, squish, disintegrate come to mind, although it’s probably closer to think atomize.

Not only that, there are changes in gases; hydrogen turns into intense radiation when speed approaches that of light, and the radiation would kill the travelers if the pressure didn’t.

Worm Holes

Portal by Andrei Pintea
Portal

Most space-oriented science fiction needs characters to be able to navigate rapidly from one star system to another, so we create fictional methods. One of the most popular is the so-called wormhole, a tunnel that crosses folds in space to arrive at a distant destination. I used this in my novel, Forbidden World, calling the holes portals.

FTL

The other is the mysterious magical FTL (Faster Than Light) drive. Nobody knows how it works, but it has become an accepted technology in some of the best science fiction writing.

In one of my recent novels, I use constant acceleration which is hard to explain. It would require constant acceleration of no more than one gravity for half the journey and then constant deceleration of 1g the rest of the way.

“Definition: In case the velocity of a body increases or decreases by the same amount or magnitude of velocity in equal intervals of time and the direction of motion of the body does does not change, we say the body has constant acceleration. This case pertains to motion along a straight line.” https://www.quora.com/What-is-meant-by-constant-acceleration

Communication

Communications over great distances are likewise limited. Radio waves are part of the electromagnetic spectrum and can’t move any faster than speed of light.

I work on the theory that telepathy is not limited by distance or physical constraints and is instantaneous, providing there is one telepath to send and one to receive the message. This works effectively in my novel Forbidden World.

Bio-stasis

Bio-stasis is sometimes referred to as hibernation. It is used to allow the people on the ship to sleep during the many years it takes to go the great distances involved. They may wake up for short intervals before they arrive at their destination, but most of the time is spent in deep sleep. This kind of hibernation slows the aging processes of the body to a minute level (theoretically).

Research is currently being done on cryogenics, but there are still many obstacles in the way of actually freezing a living body and having it survive.

Nanotechnology is an area which may support cryogenics. “Bucky-balls”, or Buckminsterfullerene, Carbon60 has been suggested as potential material that could be used for packing cells to prevent damage caused by freezing.*

* I got this idea from a book I read some years ago, but I can’t recall the title, however, here is a link to several books on the subject. BuckminsterfullerineBooks.

Gravity

So you can see that we have to dig into all sorts of things, especially if we are not science-trained. For my current novel, I have to research gravity, how it varies depending on the body of matter involved. For example, I need to define the differences between the gravity of planets and asteroids, and the centrifugal force used on the ship.

In addition to gravity, I have to know some biology, mineralogy and mining, medicine, and how to manage non-renewable resources in a closed environment.

The Possible and the Impossible

Recycling is very important in a closed environment. Everything has to be recycled, because there’s no source of replacement.

If it’s a long journey, medical and educational facilities must be provided, as well as leisure time activities, and exercise is vital.

Small manufacturing plants would also be useful to replace (by recycling)  worn out equipment, clothing, furniture, as well as to produce things like pharmaceuticals and tools. In effect, you would be reproducing a complete world inside a space ship.

Unreasonable liberties writers and filmmakers take in their creations.

Border Watch by JamesLedgerConcepts.deviantart.com on @DeviantArt
JamesLedgerConcepts. deviantart.com

Some of the worst examples are people eating meat on a space ship—where do they find space for pasture to feed grazing animals? The same goes for smoking. When they must provide breathable air to keep everyone on the ship alive, why would they put such a strain on the system by smoking cigarettes and cigars?

Finally, coffee, it seems that nobody on a spaceship or alien planet can survive without coffee, but where does all this coffee come from? Coffee is grown in a very special set of environmental conditions which I doubt could be replicated on a spaceship, even if there were room.

Space is more than space wars with aliens. The military aspect of it is minor when you consider scientific experts required in many fields to keep everything running: cooks, gardeners, mechanics, medical personal, teachers, machinists, crafters, and so on.

Speaking of space wars, how many times have you seen a SF video or movie with space ships that zoom and whistle, roar, or disintegrate with the world shattering booms? I’ve got news for them, sound does not travel in a vacuum. Everything that happens outside the spaceship is completely silent, although the pilots and navigators can use radio waves to communicate. But that wouldn’t be fun, would it?

Frontcover 2016.

 

Personally, I prefer Science Fiction that is more about people than technology and fighting.

 

Young Girls

Why do so many of my novels feature teenage girls?

After writing several novels, it occurred to me that most of my lead characters were girls of around fourteen. I didn’t just say to myself one day, I think I’ll write a book about a teenage girl, it just happened when I started writing a story. Since I am a long way from being a teenager myself, I started to analyze this tendency, or rather compulsion.

Sometime during this novel writing, I sat down to write a memoir, something to leave for my kids, and I found that when I reached my fifteenth year, I was blocked. I couldn’t go any further, no matter how hard I tried. It was as if I was afraid to enter the dark unknown and open a wound that would  let all my demons out.

All my young girls are somewhat timid, as I was—except Ana Te Puea—and non-aggressive, but capable of being strong and courageous when they need to be. They all abhor cruelty and injustice and they are not natural fighters. They can also endure, or enjoy, solitude.

Life change

Thinking about this later, I realized that fourteen
was the year of a radical change in my life. Derby Cathedral St Mary's Gate
My family left our home in Derbyshire and moved to Eastbourne in the south of England. I lost my friends, my school, my grandma’s country cottage (where I was born), everything that gave my life meaning. After that, I made few friends, none that were close or lasting, and I didn’t stay in one school long enough to have any continuity in my education because my father kept moving from one place to another, changing jobs.

Derby Cathedral from Saint Mary’s Gate

 

Fictional characters

The first four novels are Speculative Fiction. The final one is Fantasy

Celeste Colbert – Fatal Harvest

Celeste Colbert is a normal high school student when the plague hits. Her life change slowly at first as the death toll continues to rise. One of the first things to go is her school,Fatal front then shops run out of supplies and their little neighborhood community turns to scavenging. She and her surviving school friends form a team that helps provide their families with necessities, the most useful of which are books from the defunct public library. They stock up on every book they can find that will help them learn how to survive.

Eventually, after her grandfather dies and he own father disappears, they move out of the city with  their neighbors and seek a safer place to live. They continue to move farther east up the valley as predatory gangs become more common.

Ana Te Puea Rawiri Dekker – Forbidden World

Ana, the daughter of a Maori biologist and a Dutch physician, is a lanky, rather boisterous Frontcover 2016.girl of fourteen when she and her family arrive at the planet they expect to colonize.  Unfortunately, the planet that the multinational team of colonists reaches is not the one they were aiming for. It is already inhabited by an alien race and the Pacifican Charter forbids settling on occupied planets. But they have no choice; they must land there, or perish. They meet and negotiate with the natives, the Sab-lichi, who reluctantly allow then to settle on an uninhabited island.

The natives are very beautiful but extremely arrogant  humanoids who all appear to be females.  They are far more technically  advanced than the Earth humans, to whom some of their technology seems like magic.

The two races form a shaky relationship, although some of the the Sab-lichi take a liking to Ana, while others abduct her to use her for experiments.

During the next few years, after many adventures and discoveries, Ana develops from an exuberant young girl into a thoughtful, considerate young woman full of life.

Zoe Knightman- At War with Terror

The Kindle edition of this book has been temporarily withdrawn. It should be available again before too long.

Zoe is a young Canadian teenager whose mother had been the directer of the Vancouver Harbors Commission until recently she was replaced by an American bureaucrat. Her father is employed by a communications technology company.Terror front

Canada had recently been occupied by US Security Forces, ostensibly invited by the Canadian Government to deal with terrorist threats. When they come and take her father, accusing him of terrorism, Zoe’s life is shattered. She and her little brother, Michael, are taken with their mother an abandoned psychiatric hospital and held for screening. They will never see their home again, and soon Zoe and Michael lose touch with their mother.

Eventually, Zoe and Michael join the underground. At hideout in the mountains they and their friends plot to find ways to to fight against the brutality of the invaders.

Zoe suffers greatly the next few years, losing her brother and friends, and having her new-born baby forcibly taken from her. The only highlight was being reunited with her mother—who had become a depressive alcoholic—for a while.

This novel also follows the experiences of other men and women who are fighting the same battle in Nicaragua, Britain, and eventually in Europe.

Julia and Catherine – Where Have all the Young Girls Gone?

The Kindle edition of this book has been temporarily withdrawn. It should be available again before too long.

With the decline in the female birth rate, girls are precious, they need to be protected from predators who want to make a profit by kidnapping and selling them to high bidders. These girls, indeed all women, have to be guarded and protected. They are Girls 133575_001always vulnerable and have very little freedom. They can never go out alone. Eventually, they can’t even go to school.

Julia English is one such child.  She is born in 2040 on the one hundredth anniversary of John Lennon’s birth. Her parents were  musicians who were rehearsing the anniversary concert at the time, so they named after his mother.

After she escapes from an abusive husband, Julia finds she is pregnant, and when they discover the baby is a girl, the doctors at the clinic threaten to file a writ of protection of the fetus if she returns to her husband. It is illegal to abort or threaten the safety of a female fetus.

Once Catherine is born, Julia divorces her husband and reluctantly becomes a courtesan which at the time is an honorable and respected career.

Catherine is abducted by members of a fanatical  fundamentalist cult when she is fourteen and suffers years of misery under their restrictive control, eventually being forced to marry the cult leader with whom she has two sons.

Felindra – The Whisperer.

Felindra is thirteen. She lives with her parents and little brother in a small village surrounded by orange orchards where her father, Daryan, makes enchanted swords for special clients.  One day, he comes home and informs his family that they have to leave FrontP1their home and go to live at the Monastery of the League of Light. The duchy of Trethawynd is being threatened by the the Dark Brethren and Daryan is needed to lead the defense.

On the way to the monastery, he and his wife inform their children that both parents are mages and in addition, their father is the Commander of the Defenders of the League of light. The children discover many things they hadn’t known about their family and themselves until then. There is a likelihood that they both would have magic gifts that usually manifest around Felindra’s age.

On this journey, Felindra also discovers she is a whisperer, she can communicate with animals. She bonds with a female wolf after the family has been attacked by a ravening wolf pack, which turns out to have been enchanted by the Dark Brethren.

The pair become inseparable until Felindra is kidnapped by the Dark Brethren, then Ashala the wolf devotes all her time searching for and rescuing her, even crossing a large mountain range.

Using Microsoft Word ™

No matter how annoying MS Word can be at times, it has so many useful features for writers that for me  it is essential for my work. I’ve been using it since 1990 and have made it my job to learn most of the labor-saving features it provides.

Tips for Setting up your Word™ desktop

The top row of icons is the  Quick Access Toolbar which you can populate with the commands you use most frequently. It already has a few preset commands to which you can add. See diagram below.

To add more functions, simply click on the little ‘open’ pointer at the end of the bar and open Customize Quick Access Toolbar. Select More Commands and a window will open listing all the commands available. Highlight the ones you want and click add and OK. If you don’t find the command you want, there’s a drop-down list at the top of More Commands from which you can choose All. This will show you hundreds of selections.

Left word desktop

The ones I find useful for authoring are: Create Document (blank page icon) Open File (file folder icon), Outline View (One of the blank circles), Spelling & Grammar (ABC icon), and Quick Print (magnifying glass over page) which gives you a print preview, Sort Alphabetically (AZ down arrow) As I often do desktop publishing with Word, I also use Insert Picture (monitor over page icon). With these commands, you can save many keystrokes and do what you want to do without having to search for a command.

AutoCorrect

This is a very useful tool, especially for someone like me who can barely type and constantly transposes characters—I absolutely cannot type slef, oops, I mean self. In older versions of Word, this tool is available from the spelling checker on the desktop, but with Office 365 (2014), Microsoft, in its infinite wisdom, has decided we don’t need it any more, along with a few other useful tools. When you repeatedly make the same error with a word, it’s a good idea to have it in Autocorrect (the other empty circle icon) so that it corrects itself smoothly as you type without interrupting the flow of your writing.

This is how you use AutoCorrect to add words to the list:

  • Highlight the incorrect spelling
  • Click on the AutoCorrect icon
  • You will see your incorrectly spelled word in the ‘Replace’ box on the left. Just type the correct spelling in the right hand box.
  • Click on Add and OK.

Caution When using AutoCorrect, make sure the misspelling is not another word that is also in the dictionary. For example, if you write sue instead of use, you would end up changing sue to use every time you wrote it, even if you really meant to write sue.

Right-word desktop

Another use for AutoCorrect is with accents. I often use accented names in my books so I do this trick: Type the name, Jose for example, highlight it and click on the AutoCorrect icon so that it comes up as a misspelling, and then type the correct spelling, José, in the correct box. Now, every time you type Jose, the accent will be added automatically.  (If you don’t have an international keyboard, the acute é accent is made by holding down the Alt key and typing 0233. )

Using Outline View

To open Outline View click on the Find icon (magnifying glass) on the right side of the toolbar.  Check the left side of the first diagram and you will see a new Navigation sidebar. Click on Headings to reveal your document outline. Note: You can only use this feature if you have a style sheet with formatting for headings. I mostly use two, one for paragraphs and one for subs. This is one of the most useful tools in the program for me, and you can still do searches without losing the outline.

This post is based on my own practice and experimentation. Microsoft might have different solutions for the same features in its user manuals.

This is one of my speculative novels. It’s about the significant
drop in female births that occurs in the mid 21st century.

Where have all the young girls gone? by [Wootton, Vicki]

Send questions to: vickiwriteson@gmail.com

Names of the World. Why ?

The idea

Back around the year 2000 I had a great idea for a reference book for writers so I contacted Writer’s Digest Books with a proposal. They replied, agreeing it was a good idea but they had decided to contact the author of a similar book and suggest that book be updated. So much for the world of publishing.

Rant: The world of publishing

I had spent many years submitting manuscripts to publishers only to receive similar responses. Everyone who replied to a submission told me I was a promising/good/talented writer, but always had a reason for not accepting my novel. Either they weren’t publishing that particular subject at the moment, or their quota for the year was filled, and so on.

I watched as big publishers gradually disappeared, swallowed up by mega corporations who were more interested in making money than in art. Dozens of small presses went out of business. One became used to seeing bookstores and the New York Times Bestseller list filled with books that established authors churned out by the dozen. Safe predictable stories that they knew would sell. It was not a good time to become a writer.

Agents

I started researching the feasibility of getting an agent, but most of the big agencies would only represent previously published writers. Publishers would only accept manuscripts from agented writers; agents only accepted published writers! What was a poor writer to do? I’m an introvert; I don’t like to be pushy and persistent. This may be my downfall.  Realizing that marketing is not my forte, I became so discouraged. I almost gave up.

I’ve written (completed) ten novels and two reference books, but I am still a “new writer” and publishers don’t like to take chances with new writers. But I still slog on, working on new novels, endeavoring to produce the most interesting, best-written book I can. The process of writing is the joy.

Back to the name book

I decided to go on with it as the subject had engaged my interest and besides, it was a challenge. I spent the next three years doing the research and putting it all together. I was fortunate to be living in the Vancouver region at the time and had access to scores of public libraries. I spent a lot of time in library reference sections making notes then I went online to see what I could find there. The book’s bibliography is a page and a half long. It has 600 pages, contains more than 90,000 names from 140 countries and ethnic groups, and four appendices providing supplementary information.

Research

One example of the research that went into this name collection is in Irish and Scottish Gaelic names, where the clumsy English adaptations that are currently used are compared with the original Gaelic. These sections also give a few guidelines to Gaelic pronunciation.

Finished

Once I had compiled all the data and typed all ninety thousand names, I spent several months formatting the manuscript—a complicated process in itself. Finally I chose a title: Names of the World.NamesFC

Introduction

In case you are one of those people who never bother to read introductions because they are usually too long and often not very interesting, I’ve split this up into small segments from which you may pick and choose as you wish.

This book is…

A book of personal names from all over the world, both surnames (family names), and given names.

It is not…

A baby name book and does not give the meanings of names.

Who is it for?

  • It is a handy reference for fiction writers and creators of role-playing games.
  • It can be used by genealogists and people tracing their ancestry.
  • A good source of interesting and original names for a new baby.
  • A resource for anyone who is fascinated by the incredible variety of names and naming traditions throughout the world.

My original purpose when I started to compile this collection of names was to provide a reference for fiction writers who wanted to use international characters in their stories. I wanted to fill a gap that was glaringly obvious in the other name books I studied—that is, they were limited in scope to only a few areas of the world, chiefly Europe. I wanted to make it a comprehensive reference of names from every country in the world and also include many ethnic sub-groups such as the Basque and Welsh peoples.

 

Author Introduction – Meet Andy Peloquin

After several years of being acquainted with Andy, I have developed great respect for him. Not only is he a terrific writer, he’s also a devoted family man and,  no matter how busy he is, he always makes time for his many friends. I’ve never known anyone who works so hard at his craft. He deserves the success he is now earning.  Vicki

Andy Peloquin.jpg

In his own words

My journey to becoming a writer started in the 6th grade with an arts and science teacher who was incredibly passionate about all things artistic. His love of writing, art, painting, and the theater was contagious, and though I have NO art skills, I learned that I had an affinity for words.

I started writing during my teen years, when I had a lot of free time and needed a creative outlet to keep me out of trouble. I dabbled a bit—writing short stories, novellas, and even starting a full-length novel—then gave it up when I started a family in my early 20s.

It was around the age of 25 that I rediscovered my love of writing. I had been reading fantasy novels for nearly two decades, and it was a total no-brainer for me to dip my toes into that creative water. Being able to combine my love of history, medieval settings, ancient cultures, magic, and myth was an absolute thrill.

Fantasy

However, I soon discovered that fantasy offered more than just that—it gave me a way to write about real issues without anyone feeling “attacked” or offended. I could say and do anything within the context of a fantasy world, and it has provided me a platform to share some of my worldview through the lens of a fascinating story. I love to explore the darker side of human nature through the filter of fantasy heroes, villains, and everything in between.

Fantasy provides us with an escape, a way to forget about our mundane problems and step into worlds where anything is possible. It transcends age, gender, religion, race, or lifestyle–it is our way of believing what cannot be, delving into the unknowable, and discovering hidden truths about ourselves and our world in a brand-new way.

Self Publishing

I started working with a publisher, but in the last year, I’ve come to realize that I can manage it all on my own—working with a team of editors, cover artists, beta readers, and other professionals. Being a self-published author not only gives me a lot more freedom to choose what I want to write, but also how to market and promote myself.

Marketing

Marketing is the sort of never-ending struggle all writers have to deal with. I’ve invested countless hours in blogging, started a YouTube podcast, created my own Facebook reader group, and run advertisements on all the major platforms. It has been and continues to be a steep learning curve, but every new thing is one step closer to the success I want to achieve: putting my books in the hands of readers.

Heroes

My works are all crafted with the intention of helping the reader look at the world in a new way. For example, the anthology I just released, titled Ragged Heroes, was a way to showcase how even the most unlikely people can be heroes. As the blurb says, “Heroes come in all shapes and sizes”. Anyone can be a hero, and that’s exactly what I wanted to show people through this collection!

These Aren’t Your Typical Heroes

Heroes aren’t defined by shining armor, golden crowns, or noble virtues.

Beggars, thieves, killers, children, and fools—a hero is anyone who takes a stand against oppression, abuse, and evil. Ragged though they may be, they hold their ground, defy hopeless odds, and conquer the impossible no matter the personal cost.

Eighteen bestselling and award-winning authors give you a look at what it truly means to be a hero: the simple act of standing up and making a difference, even to just one person.

Bonus giveaways: http://andypeloquin.com/ragged-heroes-anthology/
Andie’s  links:
Website: http://www.andypeloquin.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndyPeloquin
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andyqpeloquin
Fan Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1383986274994456/ 
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYAKG5k06vcmc02Uy4fGLfA
Newsletter Sign-Up: http://andypeloquin.com/join-the-club/

My Turn

My three latest novels, The Children of Light books one, two, and three, are now available on Amazon in eBook and Paperback. These novels feature Felindra, the young Whisperer with a remarkable gift, the ability to communicate with animals.
There is also a three-book collection available in eBook format – over 1660 pages of travel and adventure as Felindra develops from a shy girl of thirteen into a courageous young woman. Three new covers 4-4-18

 

 

 

Author Introduction

This amazing English woman has overcome many obstacles, exhibiting admirable fortitude and determination to become a successful writer. (Vicki)

Today’s author is Tracy Traynor – in her own words

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting and indoor

About 25 years ago I started day-dreaming about a young woman running through a maze.  Every day the day-dream would continue and expand.  This went on for 3 months and I had no idea why.  In the end I decided to write it down to see if it would go away.  Well the first bit did then more and more ‘fell’ into my mind.  Before I knew it, I had written a whole book by hand.

Being dyslexic and believing I wasn’t very bright, I didn’t do anything with it, but I placed the hand-written manuscript in a box.

Radio interview – Tracy’s blog – Website

A new start

Several years later, my son got a computer and when I realized the computer could check spelling, I decided to re-write the book.

My Facebook  friend, David, told me about indie-publishing on Amazon and that it was free, I didn’t have anything to lose, right?  David helped me get started. Without him believing in my writing, I might never have started publishing.

To my amazement my book sold, not great numbers just a few here and there, but the comments encouraged me to write the next two books in the series.

Tracy's cover.jpg

However, I was flooded by people telling me it was still full of errors, not surprising as my grammar is just awful, so I paid to have it professionally edited.  I’ve actually had it edited a second time because different people notice different things.  I would say without these edits the book would have been a pain to read.

I became serious about writing when I first self-published on Amazon in February 2016. Now I’m dreaming now of giving up my day time job as a finance manager, so that I can dedicate all my time to writing. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to afford that but I’m always hopeful.

I wanted to write for adults, who like me had difficulty reading but still enjoyed a good story. I therefore wanted it to be easy to read with an uncomplicated plot line.  Because of this people told me I was writing a children’s book, maybe in the 8 to 15 age range.  I still don’t feel it’s a children’s book, so I classified it as Young Adult Fantasy.

Publication

I have managed to sell 1,400 books in the last two years by working my socks off.  I have no idea if this is good, bad or terrible because I don’t know what other indie-authors sell.  To achieve this, I work very hard on Twitter, building up a followers list of 19k.  I have also advertised on Facebook a few times with a tiny bit of success. In 2018, my books reached number 8 in the Children’s Fantasy category.

Promotion

I have advertised on Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads and Twitter.  My favorite is Goodreads, I don’t get many clicks, so it doesn’t cost me much as I only pay per click, but usually the few clicks I get result in a purchase.  Sometimes I have spent £80 ($112 US) to £100 ($140 US) advertising on Facebook or Amazon and not had a single sale.

Advice for beginning writers

My advice to other indie-authors is make friends with other authors, join author groups where people share knowledge freely!  Be willing to give as well as take. Be willing to share your experiences and help someone a bit further down the ladder than you; there is a great sense of camaraderie to be had that really encourages you to carry on.

My second piece of advice is, be prepared to work hard.  Writing the novel can be quite fun, but that fun soon runs out the door when you are on your fifth edit, trust me.  And promoting is even harder.

My last word of advice is: have thick skin.  I’ve cried many a tear over a bad review.  People are all different not everyone will enjoy your story and the sooner you realize that the better you’ll be able to handle it.  Of course, I also cry over the lovely reviews so maybe I’m just a soppy thing.

The Born to Be series is currently a set of 3 books, the 4th is outlined but not begun.

More of Tracy’s links:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/tracy.traynor.9
https://twitter.com/tracy_traynor


Three new covers 4-4-18.jpg

Published: The three-book series, The Children of Light is now available in paperback and eBook on Amazon. The three books have also been published together in a trilogy.

As the editor of this blog, I accept responsibility for any errors. My guest is blameless. Vicki Wootton

 

 

 

 


 

Beware! This blog may be opinionated

Should war be banned?

I am a pacifist who looks upon warfare at best as insane, at worst as an atrocity foisted us by corrupt leaders, regardless of the cost in human lives. It is easier and more profitable to start a war than to discuss problems and negotiate rational solutions.

I know everyone will think, “what about the Nazis?” It would have been impossible to have rational negotiations with a psychopath—Britain tried—war was inevitable in that case.  Vietnam Was No MistakeBut no war fought since then had a plausible cause, apart from controlling natural resources and making arms manufacturers richer and more powerful.

Picture credits: Right, Guernica – Wikipedia.
Left: Vietnam – La Progressive

One writer’s idea

I read a science fiction book once about a world that tried to ban war. Without war, the people became increasingly restless and discontented, so they tried to solve this by providing the people with entertainments and sporting events. This worked for a while, but gradually, the people again became restless. The response was to make the entertainment more spectacular by ramping up the violence and creating more perilous scenarios. This continued until eventually, they ended up re-enacting a world war with all the weapons and enormous numbers of casualties.

Now

This scenario, to some extent, reflects the situation in the world today. While no one has outright suggested banning war, if such a thing were even possible, many advanced nations adhere to the idea that new and more terrible weapons will prevent war.

This is the excuse arms manufacturers use to cover their greed, and which governments use—along with threats to national security—for spending such horrendous amounts of their national budgets on so-called defense. As any sane person would respond, balderdash!

What we need is a new paradigm

If something doesn’t working, upping the level is useless; it only exacerbates the problem. Violence breeds violence. Problems are not solved by violent confrontation, they are only amplified by it.

Suggestion

Without doubt, human beings need to pit themselves against something, to conquer something, but there are many things upon which their energy could be expended.

Instead of exhausting so many resources and so much drive on destroying one another and the world around them, why not use the excess energy to combat the world’s problems? The only thing holding us back, the only obstruction in our way, is the lack of political will.

We should not have to depend on the hundreds of Non-Government Agencies funded by ordinary people who care about these things. The NGOs are doing remarkable work, but they can’t cure the ills of the whole world. It’s governments that should be working on it.

We must change the way we think, however at this time in our history, there is an almost insurmountable obstacle. It is virtually impossible to overcome the entrenched profit motivation and greed of the people currently controlling governments around the world.

We have a choice

We can destroy the world, wipe out every living thing, or we can start to do something to prevent those outcomes.

Earth is dying under the weight of our irresponsibility and destructiveness. We were given a paradise to inhabit and how do we show our gratitude? We turn it into an overpopulated trash heap.

This is our only home in the entire universe. Even if we could find other habitable planets, we could never reach them, so we need to take better care of the one we have while there’s still time, or our race will die, forever.

The focus of scientific investigation needs to be diverted from the production of more death and destruction towards healing the ills we’ve brought about. There is ample work for an unlimited workforce—there are so many problems that need fixing; it’s hard to know where to start.

  • Poverty, possibly the world’s biggest problem and the cause of most of the other troubles
  • Finding cures for disease and providing universal healthcare
  • Fighting famine, a problem already out of control and getting worse by the day
  • Rehabilitation of the world’s oceans
  • Cleanup of environmental damage
  • Rehabilitation of areas destroyed by war, desertification, and global warming.
  • Education; much of the world’s population is badly educated, under-educated, or uneducated. Knowledge of truth is the path to understanding.
  • Human relations; we must learn to get along and solve our problems rationally instead of resorting to hostility and violence every time there’s a disagreement.

I hope we come to our senses before it’s too late. I may not be around much longer, but I care about those who are coming after, and I love this world.

How bad are things?

In the 1980s, I played a computer game the focus if which was to fighting pandemics. The objective was to defeat the plagues that were threatening the world using the resources provided.

I recently came across game called “Epidemic” which I thought would be similar, but the objective in this game was to create the deadliest pathogen possible to destroy the greatest number of people.

That’s how bad it’s become. Everything is about destruction and violence nowadays.
Below is a game I’ve played a few times that is filled with monsters and killing. Every few seconds, you have to kill something or someone.

Related image
Elder Scrolls 5 – Skyrim from Bethesda Software

A writer’s view

Being a writer means being interested in everything; one’s curiosity is endless. A writer cannot stop reading, inquiring, investigating. The Internet has compounded these tendencies, adding immensely to all the information available from libraries, newspapers, magazines, and people’s minds. But receiving so much information can also overwhelm the mind’s ability to handle it. That’s where writing comes in. It starts with an idea, engendered by the information being processed, and nurtured by imagination.

 

Where do ideas come from?

Lost Ambitions

My ambition when I was growing up was to become an artist, but I became so bogged down in raising a family and being depressed, it fell by the wayside. I still love art and especially the study of color. Now I paint pictures with words

A Dream

My first novel came about after I returned the manuscript of a writer who’d hired me to type it. I returned it to him after the first chapter because it was so bad, it made me cringe. That got me thinking about writing and I sat down and wrote a novel based on a multi-scene dream I’d had. When it was finished, I had the chutzpah to submit it to a small press. It was never published but the editor gave me so much encouragement, I started another.

A First Line

I wrote another book based on what I thought was a clever first line. I’d been sitting around thinking about various aspects of writing and got to first lines. This is what I came up with: She was a pain in the ass right from the start, and to make matters worse, they’d snatched the wrong girl. The title of the book was The Wrong Girl, (unpublished).

Anger

When the USA decided to attack Iraq in 2003, I was so furious that I sat down and wrote another novel. It was called At War With Terror (published). When they attacked Iraq, the president said it would be over in three months. The book was finished in that time, but the war wasn’t.

FaithReluctant Warriors by [Wootton, Vicki]

I’ve been reading The Urantia Book  (Revelation) every day for the last forty-odd years. As soon as I reach the end, I start again at the beginning (it has over 2,000 pages). Some of my science fiction novels are inspired by what I learned in this book. My novel, Reluctant Warriors is based on the description of another inhabited world in the local universe. My fantasy series, The Children of Light reflects some of the teachings.

How do you get your ideas?

******

New Website

Today I Launched a new website with a new host
associated with WordPress.
The URL is: http://www.vickiwootton.online

Fantasy Trilogy Published

The Children of Light Trilogy LaunchedBundle

After weeks of work and tearing out of hair, the revisions and new covers,
it’s finally finished. The eBook is available free on Amazon until March 16.

Send me an email to request a free copy
of The Children of Light Trilogy
in exchange for a Review

Description

Felindra has a unique gift; she can communicate with animals. She’s a Whisperer.

In Book One, she is a thirteen-year-old girl living peacefully with her family in the Duchy of Trethawynd. When the duchy is attacked by the Dark Brethren, her family is forced to leave home and travel to the Monastery of The League of Light where her father is the Commander of the League Defenders.

On the journey, she befriends an injured female wolf. The pair become inseparable partners in the war to defeat the Dark Brethren.

In Book Two, seven years have passed. Just as she has finished her education and started working as a teacher at the Monastery, she receives a summons from the Queen of Albasiny who wants her to go to the island Kingdom of Motu Ataahua in the tropics of the Southern Ocean They need her skills to help discover why animals are dying and the sea creatures have disappeared from the surrounding ocean.

Expecting to solve the problem in months and return to Albasiny, they are delayed when the situation becomes more serious than they’d expected. When their defender is killed, she and her companions realize that this is more than a local disease; Dark Magic is involved. Renewed conflict with the Dark Brethren leads Felindra and her companions being carried far from the Islands and Albasiny.

Book Three is about their escape from war-torn Basrind and their hazardous journey across the continent of Utrea. They travel through numerous countries, through forest and deserts, and over mountain ranges. After being attacked by bandits, and escaping from a ruthless anti-witchcraft shah, they struggle on, hoping to reach a port where they can catch a ship back to their home in Trethawynd, Albasiny.

How it began

Choosing Names

Before I started writing fantasy, I used to give the characters I liked names that I liked, Claire, Andrew, Celeste, Julia, etc.  Villains and unpleasant people got names I didn’t like. With fantasy it became more complex.

First I decided on the region of an earth-like world in which to set the story and chose the Mediterranean (semi-tropical with dark-skinned people). Then I searched for ancient Persian names and adopted some of those for my characters, Daryan and Parvana, for example.

The northern part of the country, the Duchy of ValkonenMaa, was settled by people from sub-arctic islands, so I chose to use Finnish names for them. Many of the place-names are also based in Finnish words. (Word recognized this and offered me a Finnish dictionary).

In the second and third books, I used my name book, Names of the World, to find Polynesian, Middle-Eastern, and Himalayan names.

I made up many of the names, Felindra for example. Her name had a noticeable (to me) influence on her developing personality. The Duchy in which Felindra lives is called Trethawynd. In the town where I live, there’s a road called Trethewey that I found rather intriguing but it wasn’t quite right for me, so I adapted it to fit.

I seem to have a bias against names with G in them, because I often invent such names for villains: Barengush, Gremulkin, Ogren.

Whether writing Science Fiction or Fantasy, I refuse to use unpronounceable names. like Phlgsh.

How do other writers choose character names?

 

Characters, Characters, and Grammar

There are hundreds of articles and even books written about character development but they are often so wordy and convoluted that they require too much effort for me to absorb.  Hence I would like to offer the checklist that I devised for one of my earlier novels. It ended up as a three-page document, so I’ve left out most of the details and kept only the headers.

My checklist

Name: Ana Te Puea Rawiri Dekker.  She’s twelve years old when the story starts.  She’s the first child to reveal telepathic ability.

Parents: Hinekino Te Aho Rawiri (Kino), a Maorí biologist, and Margret Dekker, a Dutch physician.

Appearance — Distinguishing Features — Physical Imperfections

beautiful photo! David K. Shields shares his work for a recent Te Rongo Kirkwood exhibition, a Maori art project showing the stages of life. Model Courtney Rutledge
David K Shields for the Rongo Kirkwood Exhibition

Nickname — Characteristic gestures — Skills, Abilities and Talents

Areas of Expertise — Occupation — Short-term goals

Long-term goal — Personality Type — Quirks

Eccentricities — Temperament — Handling anger

Admirable traits — Negative traits — Pet peeves

Things that embarrass her — Most painful experiences

Sense of humor — Fears and Phobias — Hobbies and Interests

Sports — What attracts her in the opposite sex — Turn-offs

Clothing style — Favorite pastime — Character growth

Pet Sayings — Speaking Style — Philosophy of life

Major Problem to overcome — Minor Problems

ANSI Characters

When writing, one often needs to use special characters for foreign words.
In addition, there are a number of symbols not on the standard keyboard that I find useful. When I lived in Mexico, where I edited a newsletter, I frequently needed to use Spanish words and over the years, I have memorized the ANSI codes for those I use frequently. In the list below, only lower case letters are shown.

My ANSI Characters

Hold down the Alt key while entering the code number. Add 0 in front of the ANSI number.

M-dash — Alt0151 | Pound Sign £ Alt0163 | Euro sign € Alt0128

Trademark symbol ™ Alt0153| Registered symbol ® Alt0174

Copyright symbol © Alt0169 | Degree sign ° Alt0176

Inverted question mark ¿ Alt0191 | Inverted exclamation mark ¡ Alt0161

n tilde ñ Alt0241 | a acute á Alt0225 | e acute é Alt0233 | c cedilla ç Alt0231

Note: The ®  symbol can be produced in Word by enclosing the letter R in a pair of round brackets, as can the copyright © and ™ symbols.

For a complete list look here: ANSI Characters The compiler of this chart does not show the Alt0 prefix for producing the characters but the ANSI numbers are provided.

A few Grammar Tips

How to use I or me when discussing more than one person:

  • If the two people are the object of the sentence, you should say Jerry and me.
    For example, ‘They gave Jerry and me a trip to the Bahamas for our honeymoon.’
  • If the two people are the subject of the sentence, you should say Jerry and I.
    Jerry and I went to see “Tosca” at the Met last night.’

The quick way to check for correctness is to remove the other person from the sentence and see how it sounds. How does this sound? ‘They called I six times,’ from ‘They called Rickie and I six times.” Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t ‘Ricki and me’ sound better?

The misused possessive apostrophes.

  • If a word ends with an ‘s’ because it is a plural, the apostrophe comes after the plural ’s’.
    “Don’t forget to pick up the girls’ shoes.” (More than one girl.)
    It is incorrect to use this for one person because the name ends in ‘s’. See below.
  • If a someone’s name ends with ‘s’, it is not plural, so possessive apostrophe ‘s’ follows it.
    That’s Denis’s book.” (the book belongs to Denis). It’s simple really, just write it the way you say it.

Question of the week:Frontcover 2016.

What do you think of writers making up their own grammatical rules and creating ‘new Grammar’?