Fan Art: Volume 1

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Hey Space Cadets, how’s everyone doing?  I’m fine, I’m currently writing my last scene before the final battle.  So today my word count will be low, but I’ll have outlined through the rest of the book which sets me up for success going forward.  Overall, Operation Breakout is looking good.  It’s been fun to write, full of action and adventure and a few dead aliens!  I also wrote a short story, which I sent to my editor yesterday.  He’s in the middle of moving in, so he’ll get it in a few days.  I’ll keep everyone posted!  Also, you can still get my Sleeping Legion prequel novella Demons of Kor-Lir by signing up for my [newsletter].

 

Yesterday, I had a call for fan art, which I would feature. This morning, I had several in my inbox!  I even had a painting show up via an overnight delivery!!  Clearly these are fans worth keeping around, so I’ve made a promise to myself to keep writing books worthy of them!  And obviously, you loyal readers count in here as well!  Since none of them gave me permission to use their names, I’ll leave them anonymous.  If you have anything you want to send, you can click on the Contact Me link and shoot me a message.  Or you can find me on Facebook, where this art will also be featured.

 

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Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry! 

brown_bess

 JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are fan art given to JR Handley for use on his blog.  I don’t own these images, and make no claim to them other than to share them with my blog followers.  Please be respectful, and credit the work as done by fans of The Sleeping Legion Series.

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Marine Monday: Vengeance Class Fighter

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Hey Space Cadets, how are you doing?  Things are good here, my mother is finally getting her house repaired from Hurricane Matthew.  Working with insurance proved to be a nightmare, and her whole block looks like it’s a construction zone.  Sad to see the neighborhood where I grew up in such disrepair. Also, my editor and friend, Corey, finalized his move. One less stressful thing for him to worry about, now I get to pester him again! I didn’t hit my 60K goal for this weekend, but I came close and I have outlined up to the big climatic battle.  Afterwards, I just have to write the battle scene which are generally fun and easy to write.

 

 

 

So, onto today’s Marine Monday!  Today we’ve got another missive from our LegionLeaks hero!  We will be able to take a look at the classified data known on the New Order’s Vengeance Class Fighter Aircraft.  Take a look!

 

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Hopefully, this was some fun information because that brave soul risked life and limb to get it to us.  If this post inspires the artist in you, contact me and I’ll feature your art on the Facebook page and here on the blog! 

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry! 

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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When Covers Clash

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Hey Space Cadets, today I wanted to bring you a guest post by my friend.  Author MLS Weech is running a contest to judge book covers, and you could vote too!  He’ll share the origins of this contest and tell you more about what goes into it.  All you book nerds out there will love it, so pop on over and look!  Without further ado, here’s Matt!

 


 

Before I get started, I’d like to thank J.R. for letting me do a guest post. I hoped my book cover of the month brackets would be well received, but I had no idea that it’d be so widely viewed. I’m really thrilled, and I’m glad J.R. was so interested he asked me to do a guest post on his blog.  It’s always an honor when someone asks me to share some thoughts. 

 

I took some time thinking about how to approach this, and I decided I wanted to go a little more in depth with how this started, and how I find the entries for the brackets.

 

In 2012, I started my last tour of duty in the Navy as an instructor at the Defense Information School.  In the Navy, it’s not enough for us to have one skill. Instead, we work to master all the major communications skill sets. When I arrived there as an instructor, I had to brush up on all my abilities. One thing I’ve always loved was design.  Now, before anyone who’s met me blasts this post, I am speaking about my affection for the art, not my ability or desire to do it. I found out that my skills in photography gave me a LOT of talent in the field of editing design. I’ve also been able to work with award winning artists for the last few years, and I picked up a thing or two. I’ve been an instructor there ever since. I’ve been called on to judge contests for the school and the Navy as a whole.

 

Since I’ve been teaching, I’ve developed a habit. You see, it’s weird, but I have this strange reputation at the school. I’m uncompromising and a bit crass.  Even I can admit that. I want the best from my students. That makes me feel bad some times, and I wanted an opportunity to simply give credit to work I thought stood out for some reason. So what I started doing was going to Navy.mil to look at the work my students do. If you have the time, please stop by. There are some amazing images and stories there. It’s essentially like an associated press for the world, but only for Navy information.  Anyway, I go there when I have a few minutes or I need a break. I view 10 pages of images, and I share the images I like on my FB page (my alter ego’s page, not my author one).  When I share it, I talk about why the image stood out. I’ve even noticed a few others following my example. The idea is I want my students (and the world) to know how proud I am of them. As a teacher, it’s my job to push them to where they can be.  Once they leave the school, I’m free to be every bit as proud of them as I want to be.

 

One day, I was on Amazon. Believe it or not, I was checking to see how J.R.’s book, The Legion Awakes was doing in terms of its ranking. I was just tooling around and saw a cover that I thought was awesome.  So, I threw the image on my author page and called it my Book Cover of the Day. (That was The Gender Secret in case you’re curious.)

 

I kept it going and I wondered, What should I do when I finish all these images?  I’ve been aware of Brackify for a while, so I sent them an email, and they were wonderful!

 

I spend a good portion of my day looking at visual products and critiquing them.  I like providing examples of covers that stand out for one reason or another. So my goal is to highlight great covers for great books. I even took it one step further by buying the book that won so I can do a review on it. This way, readers know that sometimes you can judge a book by its cover, and THEN see if the content of the story holds up.

 

To top that off, if I can, I try to get a hold of the artist and interview them. So this has organically become a fascinating tool to talk about great art and where it comes from. Maybe it can even help authors connect with outstanding designers for future products.

 

So that’s the story on how a whim turned into a project. I’m thrilled with how December went, and I look forward to January’s Bracket, which goes live Feb. 1.  I’m already halfway through the month of February.   This probably means my scheme to do a book cover of the year bracket is sure to happen.

 

Thanks again J.R. for the chance to post on your blog. If anyone has any questions about what I look for or how I set up the bracket, just let me know in the comments below.

 

Thanks for reading,

Matt

 


 

Thank you for reading my good friend MLS Weech’s post, and please check him out here. Also, mark your calendars for February 1st, 2017 so you can vote in this awesome contest.  An idea so epic — I wish I thought of it!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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WARRIOR WEEKEND INTERVIEW SERIES: Terry Mixon

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Hello Space Cadets! Things are going well, still trying to figure out how to balance the business side of writing with the creative.  How much time on the blog versus how much time writing the next dang book.  I would rather do only the writing, but if people can’t find me to read it how will I cover my editing?  Corey is an awesome editor, but he’s gotta eat too so he doesn’t work for free.  Anyway, let’s get right into today’s topic.  Another interview with a military veteran!!

 

Now that we’ve gotten past the pleasantries, I wanted to introduce you to another author from my WARRIOR WEEKEND INTERVIEW SERIES.  Terry Mixon is the author of The Empire of Bones Saga, The Humanity Unlimited Saga, and The Fractured Republic Saga.  He served as a non-commissioned officer in the United States Army’s 101st Airborne Division.  While he was with the ‘Screamin Eagles’ before I was, it’s all the reason I needed to dive into his books.  Boy I’m glad I did!!  He also worked alongside the flight controllers in the Mission Control Center at the NASA Johnson Space Center for almost two decades, supporting the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station, and other human spaceflight projects during his tenure there.  He lives in Texas with his lovely wife and a pounce of cats.

 

That’s his bio, in a nutshell. However, let me briefly tell you how I came across Terry Mixon.  I was looking for podcasts about writing and Google lead me to The Dead Robots Society Podcast.  I loved it, they were friendly, approachable and targeted authors in the Indie community.  This lead me to their Facebook group for the podcast and interacting with the wonderful community of listeners.  It’s the most helpful bunch I’ve come across, you should seriously join them as well.

 

Once I got active in the group, I started also peppering the co-hosts Paul E. Cooley and Terry Mixon with questions.  They both gladly answered, sharing their knowledge and paying forward their success.  Seriously, my books wouldn’t be there without his encouragement along the way.  No author operates in a vacuum and he was part of my process.

 

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Without further ado, let’s get this interview cranking!

 

Tell me a little about your military service?

 I joined the Army in the mid-80s straight out of high school.  Being from a small town and living out in the country (way out), I couldn’t wait to get out of there.  It turned out to be one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made.  Wouldn’t trade it for anything.

 

I served as a helicopter crew chief in the 229th Attack Helicopter Battalion working on OH-58 Scout Helicopters.  The name changed to 1/101st Aviation Regiment while I was still there, but it was still the same job working with the same people.  And who wouldn’t love working on helicopters and occasionally getting the chance for some stick time?

 

How do you feel that your military service has influenced your writing?

It’s certainly gave me some understanding into how a military group functions.  While I don’t have the same insight into other services like the Navy or the Marines, it gives me a leg up in understanding the people in those organizations think.  I can look at details, but knowing how people think is a lot harder.

 

I also spent a lot of time playing role-playing games in the service.  I started before I joined, but there was never any problem finding a group of people wanting to play something.  That gave me another leg up as a storyteller.

 

Basically, I made things up.  The same thing I do when I write.  I doubt I would’ve run into so many people doing that in so many different made-up environments if I hadn’t joined the Army.

 

Do you think your military service, and more specifically your training, adds to the realism in your books?  If so, how?

 I do.  Seeing how pilots worked together and operated certainly has influenced the way that I have ships operating in space.  When I’m fighting on the ground, the things that we were trained in certainly add to it, but I’m no infantryman.  Again, it’s all in the mindset.  You can learn facts, you can’t learn how people think and how they’re trained.

 

When did you start pursuing your writing more seriously?

 I really started applying myself in my writing in 2011.  A friend sent me his manuscript that he intended to publish.  Up to that point, I’d been reading books on writing but not actually doing the work.  Maybe I was more in love with the idea of being a writer than doing the writing.

 

Him getting down to brass tacks convinced me that I needed to get off my ass and do it.  From 2011 to 2014, I wrote erotica under a pseudonym.  It paid the bills and gave me experience, but wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing.  I picked it because I knew a few places I could get feedback on my fiction.  That helped tremendously.

 

In 2014, I switched gears to writing science fiction.  I’m a lot happier and surprisingly I’m having more success.  It’s a win-win for me.

 

Of all your work, which was your favorite to write?

 Empire of Bones, Liberty Station, and the soon to be published The Scorched Earth: Grid Down are all up there.  In each one, I was exploring a new world and that’s exciting to me.  Figuring out all the details, settling in on who the characters are, those are what really excite me about telling stories.

 

How many of your characters were inspired by your military service?

 Honestly, there are a number of characters scattered throughout my novels that have bits and pieces of people and events from my service.  It’s amazing how things from thirty years ago color the characters and events as I write them today.

 

I can’t point to any one person or any one thing and say this was directly inspired, but it all comes together in a whole that was affected by my service.

 

How many of the scenes you wrote were inspired from your service?

 There have been a few.  I’ll admit that there are some that I’m tempted to write but just don’t know that I should.

 

Like the question above, little bits and pieces are peppered throughout my writing.

 

Do you feel like your writing has served any therapeutic value for you?  Has it helped you process your experiences?

 I didn’t serve during wartime, so the writing is perhaps less therapeutic for me than it might be for others.  It has certainly helped me understand things that happened thirty years ago.  Given me insight into why people did things the way they did.

 

If you could serve with any of your characters, who would it be and why?

 I think I would have to say Harry Rogers.  He’s one of the lead characters from Liberty Station and my Humanity Unlimited Saga.  He lives in tough times, but the world is opening up all around him in unexpected ways that he never believed possible.  He’s like Christopher Columbus.  He gets to explore the universe.

 

Admittedly, the world he comes from is a lot like our own with the problems turned up from a simmer to a boil, but I think he would be the most interesting to explore beside.

 

Of course, there’s always Princess Kelsey, too.  She’s in the far future and having to deal with all kinds of changes to her life and challenges that would be a lot of fun to be around.  Until the plasma cannon went off.  Then it might be a little less fun.

 

Seriously though, the characters I write would all be interesting to serve with.  Each of them has things that make them special I honestly can’t think of any that I wouldn’t want to serve the side.

 

If you would want to avoid serving with any of your characters, who would it be and why?

 None.  I write characters that I like and each have plusses.  Of course, serving with Princess Kelsey might get me killed, so there are some downsides to her exciting life.

 

What are you currently working on?

 I just finished writing The Scorched Earth: Grid Down. It will come out in early February.

 

I’m also writing book 7 in The Empire of Bones Saga.  I hope to have the draft wrapped by the end of January.  That should put it out in early March.

 

I just finished reviewing the audio for Ghosts of Empire, book 4 in The Empire of Bones Saga, as well.  I suspect it will be out in February as well.

 

How can people find you?

  1. Amazon
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter: The work of the Devil. 😉
  4. Website
  5. E-Mail: terry@terrymixon.com
  6. Dead Robot Society Podcast

 

One additional thing to the “how people can find me section.” I have a new releases mailing list people can find at my site.  That’s the best way to hear about my new stuff.

 

If this convinced you to find out more, look up Terry!  Seriously, you won’t regret it.  I hope you all had a great time getting to know about him, because I’m a total fanboy!  Don’t be afraid to say hello here or on his own plethora of websites or on the extremely active Facebook page for the podcast.  If he doesn’t respond quick enough, glitter bomb him!  Mwahahaha!!  Or join the army of people making hilarious Sailor Moon memes of him and Paul E. Cooley.

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Discussion Time: Acronyms

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Hey Space Cadets, how’s everyone doing?  I’m doing great, making slow progress on Operation Breakout, and hope to hit 60k words this Sunday.  I’m making slow strides with my Dragon, but my hands are thanking me for it.  I just plotted out the pre-battle scenes, and then I write the climactic battle and the wrap up.  I won’t make my goal of finishing it in January, but I’m only 2 weeks from finishing my first draft!!

 

As an update, I’m still giving away my The Sleeping Legion prequel novella, The Demons of Kor-Lir through our newsletter.  I’ll also periodically send out book deals and recommendations, though I’ll never spam you or give away your email address, you’ve got my word on that one.  And you can take that to the bank!  Seriously, and if it has monetary value, could you buy me a coffee?  Starving artist here!

 

Okay, onto todays topic.  I would love to start a dialog in the comments about the proper use of acronyms. I grew up in a military family, and am the son of a sailor. Wow, that almost sounds like a band or a song… somebody should make that happen! Terms like head (bathroom), port (left) and starboard (right) were common. I knew what a quarterdeck was before I had a quarter to my name. Okay, that was a cheap joke, but as a recovering infantryman at least I’m not eating glue anymore. Then I enlisted into the Army, and became indoctrinated into the ways of the Big Green Weenie.  I learned that a bathroom was really called the latrine, my apologies to the sailors among us. We learned that the word home had a dual meaning.  Sadly, for most of us the only applicable one meant walking really really far, with all of our stuff on our back.

 

Every profession has these, terms that are job specific. Sometimes the terms are actually acronyms, like FRAGO. A frago is a term for a Fragmentary Order.  This term is used to send prompt updates for existing orders to subordinate and supporting commanders.  Basically, it means “oops, we forgot this on the first message.”  There are hundreds of acronyms out there like this one, but I won’t bore you to tears. The point is, every profession has them. The point of discussion is, how much is too much?  Or, when is it not enough to make the story feel authentic? What are your thoughts on this? Where is the natural crossover between niche dialogue among similarly skilled characters and what is commonly known by your audience?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Once I’ve figured it out, I’ll write a summary World Building Wednesday post!

 

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

  JR

  

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Die Rebel Scum

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Hey Space Cadets, I wanted to bring you a quick fun video that I found here on Joe Vasicek’s blog.  He’s a great author, so check him out.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video and stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

 JR

 

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Sci-Fi Shenanigans: SF Edwards

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Hey Space Cadets, I hope everyone is doing great!  I’ve had bit of technical difficulties this week – my editor (Mom) has been working on her house.   Hurricane Matthew was not her friend.  Due to this hiccup, I will not be doing World Building Wednesday this week.  Instead, I’ll bring you the blog from yesterday which you didn’t get to see.  Otherwise I have been busy writing, learning to tame my Dragon and watching out for the flames.  Been singed a time or two, but they keep telling me you’ve got to sacrifice for your art.  Anyway, let’s get right to the point of my latest blog posting!  Yes, I’ve gotten bit by the interview bug!  I’ve started the Warrior Weekend Series, the Family Friday Series, and now the ‘Sci-Fi Shenanigans’ series that only serves to talk with other authors of science fiction!  Here goes nothing!

 

The plan here is to create a template to talk to authors about their latest books and their process.  They’ll be able to pitch the other stuff too, of course, but when authors have deep back catalogues it’s hard to get into the weeds with them.  Those weeds have grown too high, so I took a weed whacker to the mess.  Here’s the final results!  Now grab your popcorn and enjoy the ride!

 

Now that we’ve talked about what the series is, let’s jump into our first contender!  S.F. Edwards is a new author who has always lived his life in the future, dreaming of spaceships, and alien worlds.

 

He is the creator of the Spiral Wars Military Sci-Fi Space Opera series and a recognized expert in aircraft night vision equipment for military and civilian operators.  His writing has been praised as being “able to conjure up a world in just a few paragraphs and leave you wondering what will come.”  (Peter F. Hamilton).

 

Edwards’s career of testing, evaluating and certifying military weapon systems and aircraft has given him an insight into military hardware and mindset that many science fiction authors do not.  Years of teaching aerospace concepts and history, as well as simulated flight instruction combined with his background in engineering have also afforded him an understanding of physics that shows in his writing.  He “does not overburden with the science, but makes a reader able to understand how the world works.”  (Good Reads Reviewer, Dani Hoots)

 

A weaver of stories his whole life, SF Edwards crafts stories in alien worlds that still make the characters feel familiar.  His characters, while often having exceptional qualities, also have human failings and issues that draw the reader in.

 

In addition to writing his own works, SF Edwards mentors other writers as a Veteran Reviewer on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Online Writer’s Workshop and at multiple local writer’s groups.  His short stories have placed first in the Space Opera: Writers Summer 2016 Flash Fiction contest, as judged by Peter F. Hamilton, and second in the Spring 2016 contest as judged by David Farland.

SF Edwards now calls the Puget Sound area home with his wife and five sons, one of whom is afflicted with a severe lifelong disability.  The boys are his greatest joy and he works hard to make sure that they will become responsible, capable young men.

 

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Now that you know more about Edwards, let’s get down to it!

 

Obviously, we’re still in the “getting to know you” phase, but your bio caught my attention because we both have special needs children.  How had dealing with at affected you writing? 

When my son was first diagnosed with Lissencephaly I reacted the way many parents would when they find out that their child has a life-threatening condition.  It caused me to make an emotionally driven decision to self-publish an early version of the book that was nowhere near ready under my real name.  The book was a complete mess and a year later, after dedicating much of my time to family to get my son’s condition under control I pulled the book and completely rewrote it.

Since then he and the rest of my boys have been an inspiration to make sure that my writing is the best it can be.  I tend to work my writing schedule around the kids’ schedule.  With having to take him to physical therapy twice a week, I schedule my telework days for then, and my writing as well.  Now that his condition is much more under control I can dedicate more time to my writing and everything that goes along with it.

 

And as a follow-on question to the last one, how do you manage working a demanding full time job, raising five kids, keeping your wife happy and still find time to write?

Time management is one of the hardest things to do.  I have an hour plus drive and I try to use that for writing, either dictating books to later transcribe while I drive, or writing while in my vanpool.  The Telework days help as well.  My family comes first though, so when writing, designing, etc. updates seem sparse, the reason is because I am dedicating time to them.  As my boys get older and need less hand holding I am able to find more time to write (and all that goes with it) though when we do things for them they seem to take even longer.

 

So, when I stalked you on Facebook I saw that your current book is On Daggers Wings.  It’s out for pre-order for $0.99, and I’m looking forward to reading it.  If your characters are sent into a gladiatorial death match who wins?

Gladiatorial Death Match?  Well, that is a hard question, my first response would be Arion.  He is a giant of man, muscular and smart and in unarmed combat he is quite formidable, plus, he carries the biggest gun when armed.  But then Blazer, is much nimbler and as an energy gatherer can electrocute his enemies.  But I would not discount Zithe, the Lycan, or Bichard, an insectoid Coretherian who stands over eight feet tall and can excrete resin blades from his forearms.  In short, it would be a bloody, brutal battle, but if you put them all together, they would work together to fight their way out rather than kill one another.

 

Moving on, The Spiral War is obviously a series, where can we expect it to go?

What started as a planned seven book series has grown into ten.  I have each book plotted out however and know where the series will go.  Once the team graduates from the academy they will set out into their career in the space forces and they’ll discover, along with the reader, why they were so rigorously trained.  They will face alien enemies that inspire fear in all around them, meet new species, and come upon enigmatic older races that will influence everything they do.  Eventually even their saga will come to a close and those that survive the horrors of that await them will see the end of the centuries old conflict.  One thing to keep in mind, no one is safe, and any character can be killed, or incapacitated at any time.

 

Now that we know more about this series, how has the series evolved over the years?

This is a good question.  Spiral War evolved out of multiple sources, but two are the most key; my first written short story The Non-submersible Submersible (I wrote it in eight grade and titles have always been a pain for me) and my planned fantasy trilogy The Nocturnal Knights.  Spiral War was originally Nocturnal Knights 2000, a sci-fi take on a straight fantasy story.  I took the original fantasy characters and just pushed them forward in time.  Later I started to flesh it out and took two of the main characters from the short story and based it around them, Blazer and Gokhead.

The next evolution came when I started to actually write the story.  Still in high school, I had little idea where I wanted things go beyond a few major plot points and that I wanted to start the story with the team in the academy.  As my knowledge of the world, science, people and the universe around us grew so did the story evolve.  Characters came and went, all went through changes and then I discovered design.  I started to not only draw little doodles of ships, weapons, aliens and equipment, but actually designed them.  None of these designs were static and all have changed as I have established aesthetics and the physical principles around the universe in order to keep the designs as realistic as possible.

Through college things continued to evolve and I wrote out the first drafts of the first several books in the series.  I wrote and rewrote things continually as I learned my craft, while at the same time becoming versed in the career path I set myself down.  During that time I also discovered CAD and 3D design so many ships received their first redesigns to make them more realistic.  Writing was not a huge priority through college however and I did not give writing serious time again until after I graduated and started working.

Life intervened at many occasions preventing me from dedicating the time I wanted towards writing and designing.  Eventually the original first book had grown to a gargantuan epic, so I was left with either cutting out huge chunks of the story or splitting it up.  I decided on the latter, splitting the book into two, and self-published the book out.  This was a terrible idea, the book, and my writing were nowhere near ready to great the world.  So I pulled the book back, re-evaluated it and then completely rewrote it.  In the process I saw something else, it was still too long for a first book and the second book would still have been too long as well.  So the book split again into three total books.  Additional edits, advice from other writers, and another, more successful, go at independent publishing eventually led me to make the contacts I needed to meet my current publisher.

 

That’s fascinating, I’m not sure I would’ve stuck with just one story for that long.  So, as an author who are your biggest writing influences?

My friends, family and my life in general have been a huge influence on my writing.  I was raised in a family of engineers that also loved good stories.  Even now, my boys love good stories, especially ones that make sense, which is something I’ve always strived for.  Nothing bothers me more in a book, TV Show, Game, or Movie then story plot holes, inconsistencies, or bad designs.

Ultimately, I look at everyone I meet as a chance to influence my writing, be they inspiration for characters, stories, or just planting an idea in my head for dialogue.

 

Who are your favorite authors and books?

That’s a hard one to nail down.  I’ve read and watched sci-fi since I was kid.  I was all but raised on Star Wars in the theatres, and used to watch Star Trek and Doctor Who with my Parents and Grandparents.  And of course, as any child of the 80s, I watched all the genre cartoons, GI-Joe (though I preferred the comics), Transformers, and of course Super Dimensional Fortress Macross and its sequels.  Yes, I am a lying Macross purist, though I acknowledge that the compilation series Robotech introduced me to it.

Writing wise, I draw inspiration from many sources.  From the classics like: HP Lovecraft, Heinlein, Asimov, EE “Doc” Smith, and Bradbury.  Contemporaries that I hope to be counted amongst include: Timothy Zahn (whom I had the pleasure to meet at RustyCon 32 here in Seattle), Michael Stackpole, Larry Niven, and Ben Bova.

 

What other genres do you enjoy to read, and how have they affected your writing?

Outside of sci-fi, I love a well-crafted horror story.  In fact my favorite modern horror writer is still Dean Koontz, though I do enjoy Stephen King’s short fiction.  I also enjoy a good mystery, having read all of the original Hardy Boys books before I hit fourth grade before I moved on to Sherlock Holmes.  BTW Benedict Cumberbatch is the best modern Holmes, period.

I don’t read mysteries much anymore though, as I find most of them too predictable, but then I have that problem with most movies too and love it when something hits me with a genuine surprise.

Military fiction is also a lot of fun, but five kids, a wife and full time job, I have a hard enough time finding time to write, thank god for Audiobooks and a long commute where I am now, so I am catching up.

 

What is your preferred writing style?

It really depends on the story.  For short fiction I put together a general idea of what I want to write about and then just jump right in.  For longer fiction, I feel that I have to plot and outline it out in order to avoid repetition and continuity errors.  It might be a full up outline, instead I might just list the major plotlines I want to address in a chapter and go from there.  When I first started writing, I was definitely a pantser though, but as things got longer and once the story evolved into a series I really had to plot things out.

 

How has your civilian service with various militaries affected your writing?

Even at work, where many of my co-workers are prior military, everyone assumes I was prior military as well, but I am not.  I actually grew my beard while working for the navy so I didn’t get confused with shipboard personnel.

I was raised around the military, both my father and my grandfather were Civil Service overseeing military acquisitions.  I grew up hearing about every weapon system, airplane and ship out there, reading about them voraciously.  I was even AFROTC in college before some prior medical conditions made me ineligible.  But most of my best friends are military, or prior.

My new job with the FAA is the first time in my professional career where I’m not working with and for our armed forces.  Even in college, after I left ROTC, I worked at the Aviation Challenge program in Huntsville, AL, where most folks knew me best as either Link or Knight-26.  It was the aviation/military offshoot of the Space Camp program.  There I worked with even more folks in the military, most of which I still count as some of my best friends.  A couple are even fellow writers.

 

Working with the military was a big influence.  It helped me to ensure that I gave the characters the correct mind-set, that I have them speaking and acting properly, and that the militaries I have crafted are as believable as possible.  One of the inconsistencies in sci-fi that annoys me most is when fictional militaries don’t make sense or the characters don’t act accordingly.

 

Finally, what advice do you have for writers who are just starting out?

Grow a thick skin.  Learn to recognize when someone is truly offering advice on how to improve your writing, and when someone is just being a troll.  Take every critique to heart, even harsh criticism may have nuggets you can use to improve your skills.  Join writing groups, in person or online and accept critiques.  Learn your craft, study what makes a writer and a story successful.  Don’t be afraid to tell your story.  It may not be what the market is asking for, but it is your story and if you are willing to put the hard work not only into it, but the promotion that comes afterwards you can still make it a success.

 

 

Hopefully you enjoyed this first foray into an non-themed interview series!  If SF Edwards is your kinda guy, check him out.  He seems like an awesome dude and he certainly designs some pretty awesome planes!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

–> The images in the slide show were all designed by S.F. Edwards and are his intellectual property.  Any desire to use these images should contact him directly.

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