Marine Monday: Lance Scipio

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Hey Space Cadets, how’re you doing today?  I’m doing well, found out that the editors didn’t like the ending of the short story I submitted to the Roswell Anthology.  I just couldn’t give them what they wanted in the short 2-5k window so I withdrew the short story and promptly wrote another one.  It’s just waiting for that loving pass from my editor, who’s in the middle of a move.  I’ll keep you posted, but it taught me an important lesson. Sometimes you have to say no to projects.  Stopping my groove on Operation Breakout cost me several days of good word counts because I was writing a new short story for submission.  Now I’m back writing the next Sleeping Legion novel, and these lovely blog posts of course!

 

Okay, so on to our regularly scheduled Marine Monday! Today I was leaked, by our friendly neighborhood LegionLeak source, the official bio of Marine Lance Scipio.  Remember, destroy this message after reading it so the anonymous source can live long enough to continually feed us excellent intelligence!  Without further ado, here is the leaked document!

 

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Hopefully you enjoyed this sneak peek into our favorite Marines official record.  If you did, stay tuned for next weeks as we anxiously wait for the latest documents smuggled our way!

 

 

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: Cait Ashwood

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Hello Space Cadets! Today, I wanted to introduce you to another author from my WARRIOR WEEKEND INTERVIEW SERIES.  This one will be slightly different, as Cait Ashwood was an Army wife, rather than a veteran. Those who stayed at home, managing the hearth fire also served in my book.  I know it isn’t the same, but to me they’re the ones who ran the daily affairs that let the warriors do what warriors do.  I couldn’t have been as effective while serving at the tip of the spear if I didn’t know that things were solid at home.  My wife gave me that peace of mind, so I know it has intrinsic value.  Further, I’ve seen what happened to soldiers with crappy spouses.  To keep this blog as clean as this old grunt is capable of, let’s just say it didn’t end well.

 

So without getting lost in the weeds, let’s talk about today’s subject. Cait’s an amazing author, wife, mother to furry kids and works as a ‘post closer’ at a law firm specializes in real-estate. Yeah, I know… one of those titles that could be anything or nothing, but don’t shoot the messenger!! We met at my local Hampton Roads NaNoWriMo group this past year, something for which I’m grateful. She has been kind, encouraging and just generally friendly. Her 2nd Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo has been put to use helping many of our local authors perfect their hand to hand combat scenes, including one in the upcoming Operation Breakout.

 

Aside from the boring real life stuff, Cait is a writer who feels like getting her first novel published is a dream come true. I’m delighted to have her here so we can go along for the ride. When she’s the next big thing, we can all say we knew her when!  And hey, maybe she’ll slip us a free latte! OR she could pimp our books so we can be as cool as her too!  “Do you fancy my book? Awesome, then try JR’s book in a totally different genre!” Bam!  See how it’s done?  Take notes Cait, seriously!

 

So, more about this fine author!  Fantasy and science fiction have been her lifeblood since she was too young to stay up and watch the complete episode of Star Trek: Voyager.  Yep, she worships at the wrong church… a Trekie. Sigh, we will let our Force wielders turn her from such a dark and turbulent path and back to the welcoming embrace of the Church of the Star Wars. She has several fandoms that she follows with varying amounts of rabid foaming, but it’s all in good fun most of the time. Except that Star Trek part, don’t try that at home kids! According to Cait, if she had to pick a favorite, The Princess Bride would right at the top.  Subject to change of course, because who knows what’s around the corner?

 

Aside from writing, Cait’s also a classically trained violinist.  She has a few students she teaches weekly, and really enjoys working with them.  Those kids need to save their billing invoices, they could be worth money someday.  But I digress… Cait also crochets, plays D&D with friends, and, of course, reads her ‘innocent’ little heart out.  Further, she has a small menagerie she manages with her husband; including three dogs, two cats, and six chickens.  If you ever get the opportunity to keep chickens, she highly recommends them.  They’re a lot more entertaining than you might expect. Plus, you know, free eggs.

 

Finally, the all-important touchstone to judge a person by, their favorite authors.  Some of Cait’s favorite authors include: J.R. Ward, R.A. Salvatore, Anne McCaffrey, Tad Williams, Mercedes Lackey, Jean Auel, and Sherwood Smith.

 

If I’ve perked your interest, keep reading as I interview this lovely Army wife.

 

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

 

 

Tell me a little about your time as a military spouse?

I was a military spouse to a member of the 82nd Airborne division, with a home in Fayettenam! We married before he went to basic, so I was with him from the start, including two failed attempts at Ranger school. I have to say one of my favorite memories was being forced to jump out of the 35’ airborne training towers on Spouse Day. I was so scared my knees were knocking and his 1st Sergeant started smoking him until I jumped. As he was somewhat in the doghouse with me, I will admit to some intentional stalling at that point! While that marriage didn’t end up working out for us, I am now happily married to a veteran (again from the Army).

 

How do you feel that your affiliation with the military has influenced your writing?

If anything, I think my time with the military lets me know exactly how much I don’t know when it comes to writing more military related or battle scenes. At least I understand the lingo and can find people to pester, and know what questions to ask. That’s a huge help when it comes to, say, wondering what kind of explosive a medieval society would have access to when attempting to penetrate an underground compound.

 

Do you think your military lifestyle, and more specifically your meeting all kinds of people, adds to the realism in your books?  If so, how?

I do believe it’s been a great help. From observing the CoC at work, it really helps me to get into the frame of mind of my commanders, and see risk analysis from a leader’s standpoint. Being intimately familiar with the banter and camaraderie among enlisted troops is also beneficial when writing my squad’s interactions with each other. Then there’s always those pesky officer’s wives and the petty competitions there. Seriously spouses. Your spouse wears the rank, not you.

 

Do you feel like there is any bleed over from your husband’s work, into your books?

Directly? No – I don’t have helicopters in my books. Have I been known to wander into the living room and start asking him questions to get a realistic military point of view answer to questions and issues I’m dealing with? Absolutely. I love picking his brain.

 

When did you start pursuing your writing more seriously?

I’d have to say last summer. The first draft of The Seekers took me about two years to draft, and sat in a stagnant mire of “No, really, I’m editing,” for about six months.  I got some feedback, got fired up to write with a few motivational pages, and re-wrote the entire manuscript in two and a half months. Two months later after editing and formatting, here we are, ready to release.

 

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

squints at JR     You know I only have the one book out currently…is this a trick question?

 

How many of your characters were inspired by your exposure to all things military?

Let’s see… counts …     Named characters would probably be around six or seven. I have the Seekers in the main squad we follow, Hound, Ace, Deuce, Trio, and Quad, then the commander of the Seekers, Tops, and his second, Kendrick. There are plenty more Seekers where they come from, but those are the biggest roles.

 

How many of the scenes you wrote were inspired from your experience as a military spouse?

There’s one really big battle scene in The Seekers, and a few others that deal with emergency evacs, tactics, and the ever-fluctuating chain of command.

 

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

As I’m not a veteran, most of the traumatic experiences in my life have stemmed from being a female and the nasty things that happen to women in our lifetimes. There are several issues with the main character, Audrey, and instances of sexual assault. She goes through varying stages of mental recovery from her experiences, and while the events in my life have already been processed and I feel victorious rather than victimized, I do feel that having experience in that realm myself has added an element of reality to her mental struggles.

 

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

Without a doubt, Hound. He’s a hardass who doesn’t tolerate even a hint of insubordination, but you also don’t mess with his men. If I know one thing about myself, it’s that I do best in a structured environment. In a leader, you always want someone who leads from the front, and that’s where Hound prefers to be. He may have high standards for his men, but it’s nothing to his personal standards.

 

If you could pick one of your characters to be your husband’s battle buddy, who would it be and why?

Oh.  Oh dear, this is a horrible question.  I would say Deuce, but as a medic, his combat skills aren’t as advanced as some of the other guys, and I want a good fighter with my hubby to ensure he comes home safe. Quad is the best fighter, but also young and somewhat annoying. I suppose I’d have to go with Ace. He can be serious and buckle down when needed, but also provides an element of comedic relief that I think my hubby would appreciate.

 

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

Trio. Because he’d likely be oogling the ladies too much to actually focus on his job, something Hound is always after him for…

 

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on the sequel to The Seekers, Order of the Lily. I have one more book planned in this series, Raven’s Flight (working title), along with a few novellas. After that, I’m looking at a more paranormal series, but that’s at the whim of the muses as to which project I’ll tackle next.

 

How can people find you?

  1. Amazon
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  4. Instagram
  5. Website
  6. E-Mail: cait@caitashwood.com

 

 

If this convinced you to find out more, look up Cait Ashwood and become a fanboy like I did!  Hey, I’ve yet to read her book but if it’s as awesome as she is she’s gonna be HUGE!  And if she can do that BEFORE the book launches today, just wait until the novel takes the literary world by storm.  I hope you all had a great time getting to learn about Cait, don’t be afraid to say hello here or on her plethora of social media platforms.  If she doesn’t respond quick enough, glitter bomb her!  Mwahahaha!!  Wait, the little birdie tells me she might’ve already used this evilness in one of her books.  Send her fake books, just to tease her?  Would that be cruel enough to motivate contact?

 

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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Keystroke Medium

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Hey Space Cadets, I hope everyone is doing fine!  I am doing great, though a little under the weather.  If you live in Southern Virginia (USA), then you’re likely feeling my pain.  Summer weather one day, snow the next.  Ugh, take your meds already and stop being so crazy!  Also, I finally broke the 50,000 words mark on Operation Breakout!!  If the multiple exclamation marks didn’t clue you in, I’m ecstatic to cross that line!  My original goal was to hit 90,000 words by January 31st, which means on 56% done with 10 days to get the other 44%.  I’m still going to try for my February 1st turnover date, but I might be a little off.  A turnover date is when I have the finished product to the next link in the assembly line of production.  If you want to check my editor, he’s here and would love for you to say hello!  

 

While taking a realistic look at the numbers, I would need 3,584 words a day to make that happen.  Not sure if I’m there yet but I hope it’s a feasible word count for me down the line.  Ultimately, if I started getting 2,500 useable words a day I will gladly call it a win!  Heck, I’d be so happy I’d throw a party!  Ideally, I’d love to reach 3000 words a day or more but I’ve learned that I can’t set unrealistic goals because it stresses me out, which is bad for my creative process.

 

Moving right along, sorry I didn’t post yesterday.  It’s the second day I’ve missed since December 1st but it was a much-needed day off.  I was busy working my way through the Dragon Training Tutorial.  I’m not sure I’ll get all of the functionality out of the program, but if I can merely produce a usable first draft, one my editor won’t kill me over, I’ll call it a win.  I’m already getting faster with the dictation than I can currently type.  While the learning curve means less time actually working on the story, in two hours I’m getting as I did with five to six hours of typing.  If I can get more proficient, and tweak my outlining process accordingly, I can see myself finally reaching pulp speed.

 

Speaking of editing, I recently watched a video by Keystroke Medium on the subject.  I found it very informative, and wanted to share it with you.  I really think it’ll have a lot of actionable advice, most of it from the practical and less on the theoretical side.  While you’re in the video browsing mood, you should check out the other videos as well.  They’ve got loads of good stuff, seriously, just click here.  Come on, I double dog dare you!!  Anyway, in this video you’ll also see mention of a contest that benefits a worthy charity.  They’ve teamed up with Parkinson’s UK to help research towards a cure, a worthy endeavor.  They’re auctioning off 3 Tom Edwards book covers, which are amazing works of art!  Definitely worth looking into, but I don’t want to spoil it so watch the video already!

 

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After watching that video, if the fine folks at Keystroke Medium seemed right up your alley, check them out on Facebook, or on YouTube. Josh and Scott, the hosts, are extremely friendly so you won’t regret 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 images owned by JR Handley.

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World Building Wednesday: Working With Nuance Dragon

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Hey Space Cadets, how’re you all doing today?  I’m doing great, not as consistent on my walks as I would like but the constantly changing temperature and rainy weather is playing heck on my sinuses.  I also made the excuse to myself that I needed to write because I’m behind on my book three goal but that strikes me as missing the forest for the trees.  I did manage to walk a mile today, which is progress.  I was tired, but I managed it in 29 minutes.  A far cry from my Army days but I’ll get better again.

 

I’ve slowed down on Operation Breakout, but I’ve re-committed to using my Nuance Dragon program to write it.  In the end, it will pay dividends for me even if it slows me down just a little bit.  Ultimately, you have to evolve your writing style to suit your needs.  I injured my hand in my infantry days and it’s been bothering me, which has slowed down my typing.  I’ve also changed how I write my novels over the course of two novels, a novella and a short story.  My writing style has grown and my process has evolved, but my inability to get it on the page quickly wasn’t keeping up.  This has forced me to adapt my approach to my new reality, ergo the Dragon text-to-speech approach. 

 

As I struggled to find a way to make it work for me, I consulted the Dragon Nuance Support Center for help.  I realized that part of the problem was that my older version of Dragon wasn’t interfacing as effectively with Windows 10 and the newest Microsoft Word. Because I have faith that I’ll make the Dragon work for me, I plopped down the $150 and bought the latest version. I didn’t have to pay full price, because they gave me a 50% discount for having the older version. The newer copy arrived on Monday, and I’ve been using it since.  I like that it doesn’t have the same issue with my Word document freezing that my older version had.  I’ve only used the latest version on a few blog posts so far, but I’m impressed.

 

I then started doing some active research on how to make the Dragon work better for me, not the “using it” part but the more practical applications of it.  I researched how to think the story out loud, and have my creativity become a verbal process instead of fingers clacking on the keyboard.  During this process, I ran across Scott Baker’s YouTube channel.  It has loads of great advice in there on how to practically use several of the Dragon’s features.  Additionally, I found the Dragon Riders – Authors Dictating group on Facebook which was jampacked with helpful posts and practical tips (Thank you Terry Mixon for showing me this group!).  If this sounds like something you’re interested in, be sure to check out both of these resources.

 

Finally, I recently found out that Scott Baker has a book coming out soon on how to work the Dragon into your creative process.  He’s been pretty helpful on the Dragon Riders group so I’ll be buying this when it comes out and I’ll let you know what I think.  Otherwise, I don’t want to take up too much of your time, so I’ll keep this post short and sweet.  Instead, I’ll leave you with some cool pictures of dragons!

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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 images owned by JR Handley.

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Story Prompts: Closets (#1)

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Hey, Space Cadets. I hope this fine Tuesday finds you well!  I’ve hit an impasse on Operation Breakout. Namely, managing this blog takes more of my time than I really have.  While I love the collaboration, writing stories needs to be my top priority. Soon, if I can’t find a solution, I might cut back to every other day posting.  Either way, for today, I wanted to try something different.  I’ll be doing a series of writing prompts, and today’s will use the image below as the starting point.  My goal is to improve my ability to write shorter works, and you get to be my lab rats!  I hope you enjoy the insanity that follows! Feedback is welcome. Negative, positive, grammatical, whatever you want to post. Ultimately, a writer grows by seeing their flaws and honing their craft.

 


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She opened the door to her storage closet and braced herself for the horror that would come.  Her normally ruddy complexion turned an ashen white as a hoarse voice whispered to her, imploringly.

“Just let me explain.”

It wasn’t how she expected to spend her Saturday morning, after a glorious Friday evening with her friends.  She’d met up with members of her Imperial Space Fleet Academy graduating class, to reminisce about old times.

With long deployments, spread across Imperial Space, she hadn’t seen several of them in years.  Many of them had exited the Navy, and entered the private sector.  Enjoying lucrative jobs in the Imperial City, which allowed them to meet with their classmates.

The rest, well their time in service meant most were ready for their own class on ships captaincy.  It was only their return to attend the Ship’s Captain Course, after so many good officers died in the insurrection that just ended, that brought them all together.

After so long apart, she’d just gotten through telling them how happy her marriage was.  Droning on about how they’d stood the test of time and were still together after all these years.  College sweethearts even.

What she didn’t expect was to go into the storage closet to find her husband joined in coitus with her best friend.  The fact that he was wearing her high school prom dress and ‘that woman’ was wearing a tux only added fuel to the rage that followed.  She knew she only had a few seconds to decide her next move.

Is the prison time worth killing them?  Would it be better to take a picture, humiliate them both?  What do I do?



 

Hope you all enjoyed this science fiction short, and I’ll try to do more of them in the future! Again, feedback is welcome. Heck, if I get an idea doing this that I like, I might just turn it into something more. If your feedback helps make that happen, you’ll get a mention in the acknowledgements. Or, I’ll make you a redshirt in the book and you can meet death with glory (in the story, of course).

 

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 images owned by JR Handley.

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Marine Monday: Sangurian’s

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Hey Space Cadets, how’re you all doing this fine Monday?  Here in the States it’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day so we’ve enjoyed the three-day weekend.  Played games with the kids, went for walks and enjoyed the nature around us.  I didn’t post a blog yesterday, and for that I’m sorry.  I had to get my computer fixed, and then got lost in the sauce working on Operation Breakout.  I really feel like you’re going to love this one, it has more action than the first two and we explore the culture of the Human Legion Universe even more.

 

Another quick update, there is an official Facebook page for fans of the Human Legion Universe.  Right now it’s new and only includes Tim C. Taylor, Corey the Editor and yours truly!  If you want to join, hop on over to the new page and start a conversation or two.  And speaking of hopping… let’s talk about rabbits.  No, seriously, today’s post is about the Sangurian species.  They’re humanoid rabbit warriors, who came close to annihilation after a failed revolution against their capricious White Knight Imperial Overlords.  Like in many cases, when you revolt and fail it goes badly for you and yours.  In this case, very badly.

 

Because I know you’d rather see how the sausage is made than hear me bloviate, here is a look at the Sangurians.  I have it on good authority from that mysterious LegionLeak warrior – these documents are true and were stolen from the deepest digital vaults.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look and see for yourself.  I even hired the best translators in the metaverse since I don’t read White Knight Imperial Standard.

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 Also, in case you were curious about what I visualized when reading these purloined documents, I grabbed a screen shot from Google.  I own none of the rights to these, so I’m only showing you what you could see in the same search I made.  Hope it sparks some creative juices for everyone!  If you’ve got similar creatures in your works, or read of them, please start a conversation here or on the Facebook fan group.

 

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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 screen shots taken by JR Handley and used under the Fair Use Doctrine.

 

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