The Odera Chronicles

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JR Handley Blog HeaderHey Space Cadets, how is everyone on this fine day?  I’m doing well, and wanted to bring you my news!  My former editor, Corey D Truax, and I have signed our next series with a small publishing house, Theogony Publishing.  This umbrella publishing house is a part of the larger and more dynamic Chris Kennedy Publishing.  Corey and I scoped him out together, in a totally non-stalker kind of way, and liked how he operated. He’s professional, and another veteran of America’s Armed Forces. I think Corey liked that he was a sailor too, but I forgive them both for their imperfections

So, what to say about The Odera Chronicles without giving too much away?  This story tells the tale of Alexis Monroe, one of the first female infantrymen in the US Army. Alexis was an only child, her dad was a Seabee and veteran of the wars in Mesopotamia. After her mother died, it was just the two of them, so she became the son he wanted. Alexis strove to please him and honed her inner tomboy. Shortly after she graduated college, females were being allowed to join the combat arms of the military. Alexis enlisted into the infantry.  Alexis did well at training, very well. When those scores were combined with her college degree, she was quickly advanced to the rank of sergeant. Despite how well she did, her fellow grunts always assumed she was promoted because she was female. When she graduated from training at the NCO Academy, she was given an out of the way assignment. Out of sight, out of mind, or so the Army thought. Her job was simple; guard a warehouse, don’t look inside.  Of course, she looked – and a grand adventure ensued.  To find out more, you will have to read the book.

As you all know, I will keep you up to date with our plans for the series, but for now, less really is more!  I really enjoyed working with Corey as he edited The Sleeping Legion series, so I think this collaboration will be a blast. I really hope that the fun we have translates onto the page. We both really want our readers to enjoy this little tale of galactic woe. So, if you’ve enjoyed the shenanigans over here in the Handley Trenches, then re-enlist on the insanity train!

 

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.

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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WRITERS ARE CRAZY PEOPLE

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Hello Space Cadets, today is another throwback post.  I think this story was posted way back when, before anyone had found this post so I decided it needed an edit because it’s too funny to go unloved.  This happened when I was writing book one, The Legion Awakes, in the local Starbucks.  The very one whose store number became Lance Scipio’s beloved 6907th TAC Regiment.  I was spread out over the long corner table organizing the story, so I could fix issues Tim C. Taylor had with the combat scene.  The scene in question was part of what became the novella The Demons of Kor-Lir which is still available to those who sign up for my mailing list.

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Like I said, I had to share what happened.  I had just finished a very early draft and sent it to my editor, Tim C. Taylor.  This was before Corey Truax came into the picture.  Anyway, as I poured over his critiques, I noticed that he suggested I bone up on my science and medical knowledge, since my death scenes didn’t read true.  Hey, I was a grunt… we haven’t trained to kill people with swords in a few years!  And swords in space?  Blimey, what sort of Army do you think I served in?  For some reason I’m envisioning Stripes meets The Jetsons but I digress.  I read Tim’s comments, until I had a flash of insight!  I realized my aunt was an ER nurse, so I decided to call her up to go over some things. 

 

While still sitting at the previously mentioned Starbucks I called my aunt – we talked about decapitations, death grips, arterial spray and how long it takes someone to bleed out.  Upon finishing my phone call I noticed that the Starbucks had gotten unusually quiet, the long table I was sitting at was suddenly empty and people were reacting as if they’d suddenly smelled something foul.  I swear, I almost sniffed my armpits to make sure we were good!  Then one of Virginia’s Finest, Officer Friendly, and yes names have been changed to protect the innocent, walked over and sat in the chair opposite mine.  When he had my attention, he got chatty.  “Everything alright here?  Anything you need to confess?  Do you need a lawyer?” 

 

Rarely one to be at a loss for words, I quipped a reply chalk full of my usual shenanigans.  “Nothing to see here officer, move along,” before laughing nervously.  Officer Friendly wasn’t smiling.  Sighing, knowing I needed to figure out what was really going on, I asked and waited for the big reveal. 

 

Officer Friendly was right there to clear it up, “So, murder plans this weekend,” he asked.  Was it ironically?  Meh, I don’t know but I was instantly relieved that there wasn’t something more serious.  Did I just type that?  Nothing serious about murder?  Man, the Army seriously warped my mind! 

 

Smiling, I simply informed him that I was working on my novel and consulting my experts to improve the text.  “I’m not a serial killer Officer, I’m just a writer.”  Luck was on my side, he chose NOT to check my browser history and all the murderous research I’d been doing.  The best part about all of this, it was the first time I called myself a writer out loud and around strangers.  Hopefully the times that follow won’t require armed law enforcement and a concerned public!  Well, unless the officers are protecting me from adoring crowds as I outsell the great JK Rowling!!

 

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.

Playing with Legos

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Hello Space Cadets, how are you today?  I’m doing good and going through my interweb folders and finding older posts that nobody read.  I want to bring them into the light of day now that this is a real blog, so bear with me.  This was my fourth post, so climb with me into the wayback machine and let’s go!  I won’t even edit the errors, so you can see how far we’ve come!

 

Beep, bop, boop, beep…..

 

Looking back in time!

 

Today I was, in fact, playing with Legos.  My wife came home to find me playing with Legos after a long hard day at work housewifing.  Naturally she was curious, as there was real work to be done.  Dishes to be washed, Christmas presents to be wrapped, good ole fashioned adulting.  My answer was simple, “I’m building sand-tables.”  What are sand-tables you ask?  Well, they are places where you use sand that can be molded to accurately represent the topography of a specific battlefield.  Basically, you use a sandbox to plan your battles.  When I used this in Army ROTC, we sometimes even used little green army men!  I seem to remember those little troopers being the same color my face turned after I ate my first MRE!!!  I am using Legos (as well as army men, yay!) for this purpose, allowing me to plan out a battle that makes sense and can be clearly explained.  Hopefully this means I write better battle scenes, but at a minimum this helps me clarify things in my own head.  That’s an important factor if I’m going to tell that story to my audience.  Let’s just say she wasn’t convinced, but finally my puppy dog eyes paid off.

 

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

brown_bess

JR

 

–> This image is under available under the free creative commons and was originally posted to Flickr.com.  It was uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot on 15:22, 25 July 2007 (UTC) by Ranveig (talk). On that date it was licensed under the license linked to above.

World Building Wednesday: Sand Tables

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Hello Space Cadets, how is everyone doing today?  What’s that?  I can’t hear you, sound off like you got a pair!  And if you don’t, fake it till you make it!  So, now that I have your attention, let’s have a little chat over coffee!  Today I decided to give you get a sneak peek into how I wrote my battle scenes.  Let’s dive into the world of sand tables, sometimes called Recess for Soldiers!

 

So where to start, first let me start by discussing what a sand table is.  In a nutshell, a sand table is a surface bearing a three-dimensional map of a given piece of land.  According the Merriam-Webster, it’s “a table bearing a relief model of a terrain built to scale for study or demonstration especially of military tactics.”  Basically, I a super special map!  The military has used them since forever, long before Christ was even a Corporal.

 

Now that I’ve explained what a sand table is, I’ve decided to show you the one I made for my first novel.  Yes, The Legion Awakes, which will be published on December 19th, 2016.  It’s an improvised sand table for a combat scene in the novel involving a battle that my main character is involved in.  Wanna know more, read the book!  You’ve probably already read this, but please let me be prideful for just a few words!  I’m currently writing The Sleeping Legion Series set in the military science fiction world of Tim C. Taylor.  That book will be out soon, so I wanted to share some of how I got here.  Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let us return to our regularly scheduled programing.

 

Anyway, the key to a successful sand table is that they provide you with the opportunity to visualize the battle space in three-dimensions.  This allows you to better describe the field as you’ve envisioned it.  It allows you to envision all of the obstacles which might get in the way of the armies you are describing, though this could work for any type of writing, combat or otherwise.  I supposed I would be remiss if I didn’t also tell you that these can be used to model towns, and other generic settings for your works in progress.  Not as exciting, but certainly necessary.  They are used by the military for strategic visualizations, are extremely helpful with strategic planning, but can be used by everyone!!

 

Without further adieu, my masterpiece!

 

My Sand Table

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LEGEND:

Cups: Akoni Mountains

Green Sponges: Dense forests

Brown Building Blocks: Old Government Tower and Akoni City

Blue Paper: Water Features; Dynia River and Lake Charon

 

Now that we’ve covered this in depth, feel free to sound off in the comments below!  And if this tickled your fancy, click the follow button and never miss out on the insanity or shenanigans from the Handley Trenches!

 

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.

 

Beta Reading Recon Team

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Hello Space Cadets, do you yearn for action and adventure?  Does your soul beg to shake free from the shackles of Mother Earth?  Do you love reading, diving into fictional universes and then discussing it in depth?  Basically, there’s a call out for all of the Geeks, Nerds, Fan boys/Fan girls and all around science fiction fanatics.  If this sounds like you, and you want to help an author launch his debut novel, head on over and join the Legionnaires!!  Be a part of the adventure, shape it and mold it until it is a piece of literary perfection that Heinlein would be proud of!  🙂

 If you want to join the recon teams, you need to first join the Legion, which you can do here.  You can then discuss your thoughts on the BattleNet, but you don’t need to do so to chat away.  You can find join the discussion here.

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

World Building Wednesday

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Hello Space Cadet, today I release into the multiverse my first World Building Wednesday where I talk about my process.  This isn’t the only way to build your world, or write a novel, this is just what works for me.  Keep in mind, I have to work around my TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) with my process.  These limitations force me to rely heavily on notes, outlines and a paper filing system where all the world building stuff is organized and collated.

 

First, let me show you how I organize my shiny new idea!  This is a broad outline of my organizational thought.  Each of these steps often leads me to rabbit trails that flavor my story.  And remember, anything can be a source for the idea.  Books you’ve read, movies you’ve seen, the news and conversations with friends.  People you’ve observed in public, conversations you’ve overheard.  The world is your creative muse, use it and abuse it.

 

  1. The shiny big new idea!
  2. What do I need to make the idea work?
    1. Characters (People)
    2. Settings (Places)
    3. Equipment and Gear (Things)
  3. Create the world that the story takes place.
    1. Notes on the history of the world.
    2. Maps where I draw the actual world
    3. Key cultural things such as, but not limited to, religion and political thought.
  4. Research anything you need to know for your story.
  5. Outline this shiny new idea.
  6. Write the shiny new idea!

 

So, to summarize the list above, I start with an idea or a character.  Then I flush this idea out a little bit at a time, with ideas based on what I need for the plot.  I keep going, until I have a kernel of a world.  I flush it out, again, with the stuff I need for the story.  This can include researching things, or just the random thoughts that pop up along this path to creation.

 

One big rule I have for myself is that I leave myself room to tell more stories in the future.  The best advice I ever received on writing was from a stranger at my local Starbucks.  I was sitting there plotting out the various parts of my universe and I had papers spread all around me.  He advised me to “Never paint yourself into a corner.”  This stranger gave me great advice, and I use it with my own world.  Just enough to make the story work, in case it leads to rabbit trails that become different stories.

 

Writing for Tim C. Taylor, however, means most of the larger world issues are already made for me.  This will be a fact for anyone writing in someone else’s sandbox.  That said, working with Tim has been great.  He gives me room to do a lot be creative tinkering, with a few rules I can’t break.  For example, I can’t use FTL (Faster Than Light Travel) when writing in the Human Legion Universe but the characters and plot is open to anything I can imagine.  Mainly, he is focused on historical consistency, not changing the cannon and ensuring I not frakk up the aliens he created.

 

I’ve talked with authors who write in other shared universes, to include a few who write in the Warhammer 40K world and it seems these are universal truths.  It can be a lot of fun, in the same way people enjoy writing fan fiction, but there are some constraints.  You get the benefit of a universe full of possibilities waiting for you.  As you read the books in said universe, those thoughts that tingled in the back of your mind can be addressed.  The what if’s, or what happened to Character X when the curtain fell.  That can be a thrilling proposition for a new author who is unsure of himself. It allows you to get your feet wet in the writing process, with some of the guesswork taken out.  Another benefit, especially for a new author, is writing in a shared world generally comes with a built-in audience. In this the universe creator benefits as well, by having you potentially attract new readers to his will or world.

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Now that we’ve covered the topic in broad strokes, let me drill down to show you how my Sleeping Legion series came to be. I was reading Tim’s book Renegade Legion and ideas kept flopping around in the back of my mind.  What about the Marines still in Beta City?  And maybe they could fix those training hulks floating around in space?  I wrote it all down on a list, and messaged it to Tim.  I asked him to write those stories too!  Wow, sort of arrogant fanboy, no?  At that point in time I was working on his Wiki so we were in contact with one another anyway.  Around this time period (2014) I had already started working on my own New Carthage Republic idea.  I mailed Tim’s publishing house the first chapter and summary, seeking representation.  We already had a working relationship, so why not?  He said no, told me it was a good idea but that he wasn’t open for business anymore.  Instead, he was focusing on his own writing and didn’t have time to run a publishing house anymore.

 

I kept writing, bummed, but still writing.  A week later he contacted me with a counter proposal.  Write in his world on those ideas of mine!  It wasn’t a done deal, but he was prepared to be convinced if I sent him a proposal.  I sent him the proposal for the novella’s we talked about.  He approved and a contract was signed!!!  I even wore a wig, in honor of his British sensibilities.  Somehow those novellas became novels, but that is the origin of the Sleeping Legion Series.

 

In the coming weeks I’ll elaborate more on the world building, from maps to tech and everything in between, so stay tuned!

 

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.