Book Four Updates

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JR HandleyHey Space Cadets, how’re ya doing on this fine August day?  I just wanted to give you a quick update on where we are with book four.  Right now Boss Man and I are still batting around ideas for a title for the book, since Maternal Vengeance wasn’t the best fit.  I can promise you that as soon as we know, you will!  We do know that the cover won’t change since we want a continuous look across all of them.  I think that the editing and rewriting for this book will take longer than the others, but it’ll be a good learning experience for me. I have to worry about tying up all the plot threads that I strung along, and linking the series back into the final Continue reading

Marine Monday: Spartika

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Hey Space Cadets, how are you this fine Monday?  I’m doing better, slowly getting my word counts back to where they were before I took a month off to take care of my wife after her car accident.  Thank you to every one of you kind souls who asked after her health, I’m pleased to say the physical therapy is working and she is doing better.  She still has some residuals from the concussion, but the doctors are happy with how she is progressing.  Our parents and I joined in to insist that she take the summer off of college, so hopefully we can ensure a full recovery.  Now that things are back on track, I’ll be setting my target goal for when book four and five will be done.  I’ve charted out my path going forward, and I know where the series will end which is huge for me!  I can’t wait to share that with you, bringing you along for the ride.

 

Now, what comes next for me?  Well, I’ve planned a series I’ll be writing after I finish the Sleeping Legion Series, and a contract for it has been signed with a small press.  I can’t tell you any more right now, but there will continue to be more shenanigans escaping my piehole and infesting your brain buckets!

 

Okay, so on to our regularly scheduled Marine Monday! Today I was leaked, by our friendly neighborhood LegionLeak source, the official bio of Marine Spartika.  If that name sounds familiar, it’s because she once strode the pages of the main Human Legion Series.  It’s been hard for her, she’s loved and lost and been enslaved.  Her friends have died in front of her, and she survived torture, but through charisma and the sheer force of her will she endures and overcomes.  If you’re intrigued, then on to the important parts!  Remember, destroy this message after reading it so the anonymous source can live long enough to continue feeding 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 week 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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Exciting news!!!!!

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I’m lifting my head above the writing and publishing trenches for a few moments to share some exciting news about an imminent new Sleeping Legion book launch, a new audiobook deal, and more. If you follow JR Handley’s blog, you’ll already know about a novellete he’s been working on called No Marine Left Behind. Well,…

via No Marine Left Behind: a new Sleeping Legion novelette — The Human Legion

World Building Wednesday: Technology Creation

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Hey Space Cadets, I hope everyone is doing great and voted in my friends Clash of the Covers contest!  I’m still working on the Four Horsemen Anthology and hit a bit of a time snag.  Try not to shudder, but I had to do something disgusting and unpleasant…. I filed my taxes today.  I know, I cried too, there’s no shame in it!  As for the next novel in the Sleeping Legion Series, well I’ll start outlining that this month and writing it as well. I will keep you posted on the progress as I try to bump up my production speeds!  Pulp glory here I come!

 

Now, on to my World Building Wednesday topic!!  Onward I say!  Today we talk about how I figure out the technology of my futuristic worlds.  Let’s start with your restrictions, which is especially important if you’re writing in someone else’s sandbox.  In Boss Man’s universe there is no such thing as FTL because science doesn’t think it is viable at the moment.  That doesn’t mean it is impossible, but because of the perceived improbability of this method, he decided against using it.  Other limitations imposed on your technological development might come from your subgenre; is it space opera, military science fiction or hard science fiction.

 

A famous example of how this played out would be from Star Trek, where they got around the limitations of science as we know it by using warp drive.  This used Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity.  He speculated that the speed of light in a vacuum will be the same from any frame of reference moving at a constant speed. I won’t go all technical (Translation, I don’t know all of it), but basically it showed that FLT wasn’t possible.  However, he speculated that you could instead bend space-time to traverse long distances in an expedited manner.  Then Mexican physicist, and SciFy Nerd, Miquel Alcubierre theorized it might actually possible, without violating the theories of his predecessors.  Way back in the dark ages of 1994!  I mean, they didn’t even have Facebook back then.  Or Myspace, for us old timers in attendance!  If you want to know more, click the links at the bottom of this post.

 

When I write science fiction in my own universe I plan on running with the theory Dr. Alcubierre gave us and traveling faster than light, if not in fact, then in deed.  So, now that you’ve considered your own limitations you need a starting point.  I tend to look at science and technology as we know it and then postulate where it might go in the distant future.  This is mostly guess work, lots of technical research and some good ole fashioned SWAG!  Not that kind of swag, but a scientific wild arse guess!  Okay, quasi scientific in my case but work with me here!  This does require you to know your world so you can have the end points, since the starting points would be today. 

 

How do I stay abreast, well I follow several science blogs that break it down for you Barney Style.  I’ll work on collating it for you as soon as I can.  Another way I use is to pick the brain of my father-in-law, a trained biologist and my dad who’s a mechanic who understands machines.  Then I made friends with people way smarter than I, and let them prevent me from looking like an idiot.  Well, more of an idiot than normal!

 

To recap, basically I do some research to know the limitations I’m starting with and then I guess where things might go in the future.  But that’s how I do it, what is your process?

 

 

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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Faster-Than-Light (FTL) Travel

Interstellar Travel

Warp Drive

Deadly Illnesses

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Hey Space Cadets, today I missed my regularly scheduled World Building Wednesday because I’m deep in the trenches fighting the dreaded Man Flu.  You, my dear comrades in arms, know how truly debilitating this can be.  Many a great warrior was brought low by this grievous injury, but I shall endeavor to resist.  I shall fight on in the name of Lance Scipio, Basil Terloar, Tirunesh Nhlappo and all of the other great Human Legion Marine warriors who went before us.  While I’m at death’s door, I shall still honor our bond and entertain you.

 

 

Are you not entertained?

 

 

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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Marine Monday: Cadences & Chants Galore

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Hello Space Cadet, today I wanted to muse about some parts of my time in the Big Green Weenie.  It inspired this Marine Monday post, as I tackle the role that cadences and martial music in the development of military culture and mores.  I hope you enjoy my ramblings, feel free to join the conversation afterwards!  Without further ado, let the ramblings begin.

 

Everyone who has ever served in the military knows a universal truth: the value of music.  You’re taught to march through music.  Yes, I know they stopped using marching bands to train with years ago.  Yes, I also know that they don’t even have lone buglers or drummers leading the charge.  However, we were all taught to march via the musical stylings of our sergeants or petty officers.  Shh, I won’t let on that I know your age (spies be spying) if you let me pretend everyone was smart enough to go Army!  Hey, it keeps it simple because I can say sergeant instead of remembering petty officers and whatever the heck the Coasties and the Air Force had.

 

Think back, dust off that fuzzy sounding eight track and start running through your memories.  Do you remember them?  The marching cadences used to keep you in step?  The sing-songy sound of your sergeant’s bellow?  Something about yellow ribbons, Chuck Norris and ladies in multi-colored dresses.  I had the rare privilege of having seen these cadences at all levels, the ones used for boot recruits, sergeants at the NCO Academy and officers in training.  Yes, I know they’ve changed the name of the NCO school many times….  But hey, if I tried to keep current with that fiasco I wouldn’t have time to write this wee post or book three in The Sleeping Legion Series so go with it.

 

Yesterday I was using music to soothe the soul of several wild animals, most notably my two children, and the music they requested from Dad’s YouTube DJ Services took me places.  My eldest asked for the soothing sounds of 1990s heavy metal, though you might call it light rock today, so much has the market changed.  Guns-N-Roses, Metallica, Motley Crew….  The usual for kids these days, and if it isn’t it dang well should be.  I was instantly taken back to my youth, rebellious thoughts of parental mutinies and my daring but unfulfilled plans to woo that special girl.  To protect the innocent, I will call her Kimberly, but since I’m the writer here you’ll have to trust me when I say it isn’t important.

 

Anyway, after walking down the primrose path of my pubescent mental mausoleum, my eldest son’s turn was over and number two got his shot.  What did he request?  Ugh, he chose Army marching cadences.  I know you’re asking yourself why my son might request the cool marching cadences of HAIL OH HAIL OH INFANTRY, but that’s probably not important.  Had nothing to do with daddy’s gross lacking of musical depth, namely knowing zero lullabies, which led to some hypothetical person singing Army cadences to his colicky son.  Hey, it was the ots!  I mean, the double zeros excuse everything, that crazy post-Y2K time in our history.

 

 

So I kept my word, much to my wife’s chagrin, and I hit play to a few Army cadences.  My seven-year-old joyfully marched in place to the sounds of unseen sergeants extolling the joys of war.  “Off to battle we will go, to live or die, hell I don’t know” seemed perfectly rational when an 18-year-old Private Handley sang it on his way to the nastiest DFAC this side of Hades… but out of the mouth of my grinning cherub?  I shuddered, I cringed, my wife bopped my head!  I watched Kentuck drink out of the Euphrates fricken River, and then shared a bottle of Gatorade and cigars with him.  (Note to self: brush teeth a few extra hundred times.)  I did a multitude of other gross stuff, just to fit in with my fellow grunts.  Somewhere, my doppelganger is still screaming to his buddies “Hey yall, watch this!”  But all that paled when listening to my sweet boy, my little buddy, sing of death and war.  It shook me to the core.

 

I’m not one of those apologists who throw medals over political fences.  I won’t say I’m sorry for fighting my country’s wars, my job was to fight.  I was good at it, and many of us came home because of the skilled riflemen I had the privilege to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with.  While it was my job to fight, it was my fellow citizens and the politicians they elect, whose job it was to determined when and where they unleashed the beast.  Not a perfect system, but it beats the alternatives.  But, unlike my Handley predecessors, I will gladly surrender the mantel of ‘military family.’  We’ve done enough, let the Jones have the ball for a few generations.  My sons, I want them to be patriotic, but maybe with a slight contrarian hippy bent?  A few peace signs and tie dyed shirts to add to the effect?  Maybe even a dreaded pair of Birkenstocks?  For you Brits reading this, think along the line of Guy Fawkes….  And if I mangle that geopolitical reference, I can blame Tim!  Hey, blaming your predecessors is practically cannon over here!

 

Right, back on track… sorry, the wife had to beat me about the head and shoulders so the hamsters knew I meant business.  Rest easy, they are back on that spinning wheel and we’re back on course.  After I got over the shock of seeing a babe singing a violent military cadence, I realized something.  We modern soldiers, those raised in a more genteel time, we NEED those cadences.  Why?  They prepare us for the idea of death; ours and theirs.  They teach us to dehumanize our enemies and make us more comfortable with the idea of killing them first.  It reminds me of the quote from Karate Kid, the motto of the Cobra Kai Dojo. “Strike fast, strike hard, no mercy sir!”

 

One author, a Mr. Dave Grossman, wrote a book ON KILLING about how the military used systematic approaches to accomplish the goal of preparing soldiers to kill and possibly die in war.  Some have argued that this was a seminal book on the subject, and while I’ve not read it since my head injury, I instinctively realized how those cadences from long ago shaped my world view.  I learned to hate the dreaded commie as I humped the hills of Fort Benning, GA.  I learned of vaunted Airborne Rangers left dying in the mud, though I always thought Patton had it right, better let them die for their country instead.  I remember fondly a cadence where the mythical soldier is asked how he earns his living, to which he replies: “with a cold kind of nod, I earn my living killing commies for my God.”  We later learn that an acceptable way to do this is with your K-bar (combat knife).  To save you from hearing me give you all the examples, I’ve posted links to a few at the bottom of the article.

 

So, I’ll assume you’re still with me because otherwise you’d have left the thread already.  Now that we have shown how a largely peaceful civilian culture prepares warriors to fight and die, let us consider the world created by author Tim C. Taylor.  Okay, I really do love his work but I’ll end my fanboy stuff here, I swear.  So, in the universe of Tim’s Human Legion Saga there are no civilians, everyone’s a combatant.  At least, the Marines in the Human Marine Corps are only exposed to militarism from birth, it’s possible that the culture of the White Knights is different… Maybe we’ll learn more in Book 6, The Battle for Earth?

Now that we’ve established the universe, how would their teachings differ from ours?  Would these crèchelings/novices/cadets even need cadences to accustom them to their new reality?  And what does one sing about when you have no non-martial references from which to draw upon?  Who would be their mythical Jody, the bogyman who steals your girl or guy, while you’re gone when it’s likely your lover would deploy with you?  And on a broader subject, how would their purely military society differ from ours?  I’d bet their food would be worse, military cooks are the pits!  I remember a DFAC at Fort Hunter-Ligget that even screwed up a burger!  How do you mess up a burger?  Ugh, but I digress.  Seriously though, in what ways would daily life be different in world free of civilians?  Do they trade in their humanity in the name of efficiency?  And what would such a world produce for the lullabies which we take for granted when we’re singing them to our young?  What kind of fairy tales exist in this militaristic society?  I won’t pretend to have any answers, but the questions are intriguing.  Let’s be honest, it is what makes science fiction so great in the first place!

Anyway, this was all just food for thought but let’s talk about it in the comment section!

 

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 owned by JR Handley.

 

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Mental Health Matters: JR Handley

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Hello Space Cadets, how are you doing today?  Things are going well here, my recently published books, The Legion Awakes and Fortress Beta City, are hopefully entertaining those who were so kind as to give them a chance and the year is winding down.  I’m still in awe at well the books are doing, but it just goes to show what you can do when you have a strong support team on your side.  I’m pretty blunt in my about me section that my books are a team endeavor as we compensate for the residual complications from one too many blows to the head.

 

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With the passing of such a staunchly outspoken advocate for those suffering from mental illness, Carrie Fisher, I decided to do a series of interviews with other authors struggling with their own woes.  As I find candidates, I’ll send them the questions and post their replies.  Obviously, this won’t be a regularly scheduled event.  The first advocate for the mentally ill I’ll interview in this series is myself.  I use this term ‘advocate’ loosely, but I’ve also made no bones about the fact that I suffer from PTSD after my time spent in the Late Unpleasantness in Mesopotamia.  I’ve long admired people who were open about his struggles with their own issues, people who use their own personal example to show that you can adapt and overcome your inner demons.

 

Without Further Interruptions…

 

  1. I know you’ve been very open about your struggles with mental health, would you feel comfortable giving a brief overview?
    1. In a nutshell, I suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq from getting up close and personal with one too many IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). Also, with exposure too one combat parties.  Apparently, it’s a tradition in some parts of the world to welcome unwanted guests with lead shot and shell?  Why wasn’t I given the memo, for crying out loud!  On a happy note, those demons pepper the pages of my novels.  See, sharing is caring!!  Now you can stay up at night with bad dreams!
  2. How have these issues affected your working life?
    1. The TBI requires me to write with a team and lots of lists. I forget a lot of stuff and a get my words mixed up.  My mother and wife go behind me, helping me get it into English the non-aphasia world can grasp.  I won’t bore you with the technical details of the diagnosis (Read: I forget those details too), but it has made the process infinitely more difficult.  However, through adversity comes triumph and every chapter finished becomes an even bigger reason to celebrate.  In a nutshell, wow I really like nuts, my issues mean I have to accept help and face the fact that I can no longer be an island.  Now my process involves a village.
  3. Have you had to adapt your writing style in any way to accommodate your mental health issues? If so, how?
    1. I’ve had to become anal about the use of outlines and detailed notes. I maintain a series bible that is almost a novel in its own right as well, my very own Human Legion Universe Encyclopedia.  For you younger ladies and gents, those are books where facts were listed and described.  They were basically the dictionary of life and history.  We had them in these buildings called libraries AND sometimes we bought them from poorly dressed door-to-door salespeople.  I’ve also had to constantly tweak my writing times, so I get my brain when it’s at its best.  I get about 5 good hours a day; the rest of the time things are too foggy to produce.  During the funky foggy time I tend to write my blogs and do my daily housewifery chores.  When my writing triggers my PTSD issues, I force myself to go for a walk and use my coping skills.  I’ve learned them at the VA hospitals, where they are hounded into you.  They’re viewed as the be-all, end-all to therapy by overworked doctors who would prefer to pump you full of pills and push you out the door.
  4. Have you made any mistakes along the way, and if so, what have you learned that you could share?
    1. I have, tons of them. If you ask my wife, MILLIONS of them!  I’ve learned not to push too hard and to pace myself.  A writing career is a marathon, not a sprint.  I’ve learned that if I get lax in my physical health, the mental health suffers which causes my writing to suffer.  Basically, I’ve come to realize I need to treat my body well so it can treat me in a hopefully reciprocal fashion.  Also, I’ve learned the value of schedules and just sitting down and working.  No magic muse comes down from the heavens and inspires you, you have to crack the whip and force that wench to work for her supper.
  5. What is your biggest continual daily struggle?
    1. My injured hands; one too many broken fingers paired with some muscle damage makes JR a slow typist. I’m forcing myself to cope with this by fitting the Dragon into my daily routine.  The second biggest struggle would be my memory.  It was caused by a combination of the severe, chronic combat related PTSD and the TBI and is a pain in the arse.  Note to readers, don’t get blown up in Mesopotamia.  The free t-shirt just isn’t worth the price of admission!
  6. What advice would you give other authors struggling with mental illness?
    1. Seek help, seriously it’ll save your life. Talk to someone; your priest, doctor, wife, ANYONE.  Don’t fight this battle alone, call in the heavy hitters to stand by your side.  And don’t be ashamed, there is nothing wrong with being human and struggling.  Then I say pour your demons onto the blank page, it helps to neuter them!
  7. What support system do you have to help you write through it?
    1. I have my wife and my mother who help do my first line editing or alpha reading. They also translate out the erroneously used words, missed descriptions and general shenanigans.  They help keep my universe consistent and help edit my blog posts.  You can’t see it, but my mom’s standing over my shoulder punching me and waving at you!!  Say hi to my mom!
  8. Do you find your writing to be therapeutic?
    1. I do! Writing as therapy was the very avenue I took onto the road that is authorship.  It works, whether you write in a journal, fiction or non-fiction.  Give it a shot!
  9. Since I’ve got you here…. Let’s talk books! What’s your current work in progress?
    1. I’m currently writing Operation Breakout, the third in the Sleeping Legion Series. I’m also working on two short stories and the beginning of a new series, The Odera Chronicles.  I’m making The Sleeping Legion Series my priority and the other stuff is going on in the background as secondary projects.
  10. If the readers are interested in finding out more, where can they find you?
    1. If you’re here, then you found me!! But I’ve an author page on GoodReads, Amazon and a Facebook page.  That’s it, I’m too much of a technological troglodyte to be anywhere else online.

 

I hope you find this post to be inspirational, but mostly if you struggle I hope you realize that you’re not alone.  At the end of this post, I’ll list some resources you can reach out to if you’re in need.  Be well, you got this!!  And if you have any other mental health resources I should link too, send me a note and I’ll add them!

 

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.

 

RESOURCES:

  1. NAMI
  2. Suicide Hotline
  3. VA Suicide Hotline
  4. Crisis Text Line
  5. UK Suicide Prevention
  6. Trauma Support Group