Sleeping Legion SWAG

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Hey Space Cadets, how’re you doing today?  Things are good here, and I have some exciting news I want to share. We’ve finally crossed the threshold, The Sleeping Legion has SWAG!!  Boss Man design some excellent coffee cups for you to enjoy your coffee or grok in!  Or both together, we here in the Handley Trenches don’t judge. Okay, maybe a little… I mean we can’t tolerate people putting pineapples on perfectly good pizzas! A man has to have standards.

 

US buyers click here for your awesome drinking beverage!

 UK buyers click here for your awesome drinking beverage!

 

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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 videos used by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Podium Publishing

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Hey Space Cadets, how are you doing?  Hopefully everyone is doing amazingly!  I’m working on rewriting the ending for Operation Breakout and wanted to take a break to give you some amazing news.  If you jump into the Handley Trenches, and join our newsletter, you’ll receive some free literature!  Not religious tracts, you’ll get a free copy of the prequel novella Demons of Kor-Lir and, for this week only, No Marine Left Behind.  It goes up for sale later this month, so check it out.

 

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Now, onto the topic of the day!  The fine people at Podium Publishing recently signed a contract for the audio rights for The Sleeping Legion Series.  We’re getting an audiobook.  I’ll keep the information coming as soon as I get it!  In the meantime, I checked out their company and was impressed.  They’ve got some amazing voice talent and the other books they’ve done are fantastic.  I’ll have good company, what more could I ask for?

 

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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Operation Breakout Update

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Hey Space Cadets, I won’t be getting out my World Building Wednesday today because I’m deep into the final editing of Operation Breakout.  By this time tomorrow, the third novel in the Sleeping Legion Series will be with my copy editor and then prepped for publication.  However, I don’t want to leave you with nothing.  For some happy news, my interview with the Dead Robot’s Society went live today.  Take a listen, it was a fun interview!

 

DRS #439: Interview with JR Handley

 

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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Book Review: Exigency

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Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews.  I’m currently outlining Maternal Vengeance, the fourth novel in my Sleeping Legion Series.  I wanted to take a second away from that to share my review of the last novel I read, and recommend it!  Tomorrow I will have a new World Building Wednesday, and I’ll share some super exciting news with you!  Nothing else has changed on my end, so I won’t bore your brain buckets with gobbledygook.  Instead, let’s jump right into the nuts and bolts of the story.

 

Title: Exigency

Author: Michael Siemsen

Price: $3.99 USD

Obtained: Bought on Amazon on the recommendation of a friend

Pages: 440

 

Exigency Book CoverExigency

 

Rating: 4/5 Grenades

4 Grenade

 

Summary:

This novel tells the story of several scientists, who travel light years on a one-way trip to an Earth-like planet.  Their mission was to study the two species of intelligent lifeforms on the surface from their orbital station.  One of the species was an isolated people embarking on civilization and building their world’s first city.  The other species was a brutal race of massive predators, spreading across the dominant landmass.  The scientists believe this species is destined to breed and eat their way to extinction within a few centuries.  After almost a decade of observation, disaster struck the orbiting station and only two crewmembers eject successfully.  Drifting down through a dark alien sky, the pair realizes their escape pod launched not toward the safety of the city, but to the other side of the planet.  They ultimately touch down deep inside a land no human could possibly survive.

 

Characters:

There were many secondary characters, but I’ll limit my review to the two main ones.  The characters were exactly what I would expect from a group of scientists, but that meant they weren’t necessarily as likeable or personable.  The author does get credit for their believability, but much of this is to be expected from this sub-genre of science fiction.  Overall, the character development was one of the two reasons this was a 4 Grenade book for me, instead of a 5.

 

Minerva (Minnie): She was, hands down, the main point of view character and John was her supporting cast.  She has been diagnosis with HSPD, some new psychotic condition that forces her to remain on medicine to maintain her sanity.  Why would you send someone like this into space?  I don’t know, because the author never told us.  She was whiny, annoying and I didn’t really like her but I didn’t want her to die either.  She was well rounded, not very likeable, and shouldn’t have been anywhere near a space exploration mission.  She was believable, as a character, but I kept yelling “Why isn’t she back on Earth?”

 

John: This character was very thought out, although he came off as a bit too perfect for my tastes.  The usual “Mr. Awesome,” who sails through life until Thing X in the story requires divergence from his life’s trajectory.  He was strong at times many would have broken down, and I didn’t feel like we had enough back story to justify his actions.  Overall, it wouldn’t have bothered me if he got struck by lightning and tied.

 

Plot:

The story was disjointed at times, though I can’t tell you how without ruining the plot.  It was high octane on the drama, an even mix of internal angst and outside forces.  Though, if strange aliens wanted to eat you, you’d be pretty angst ridden as well so I can’t fault that artistic choice.  While I did think it was disjointed, the novel was easy enough to follow so that might just be a personal preference on my part.  And for all its faults, which might not be flaws for some people, the story kept me riveted.  I couldn’t put it down, even as I wanted to throw Minnie off a cliff!  I read this in just under two days, which is pretty quick for me.  Again, other than the character development, this was a solid plot that was well written.

 

World Building:

This was another area where the author excelled!  The world was vivid, I could imagine all of it and I wanted to see it on the big screen.  The world was fleshed out, and totally believable for the circumstances.  I could envision myself fighting the Hynka and dealing with the more advanced Threck.  The strange colors and toxic environment would be fun to visit, like an alien safari!  But obviously, only if we were well stocked and had food and water for the entire trip!  I have nothing to say here, this was a solid 5 Grenades.

 

Description:

The author also got this right, the descriptions were spot on, and added to the desperate vibe the unwittingly unintentional colonists were enduring.  I would love to go into more details, but I strive for spoiler free reviews.  Overall, if this is ever made into a movie the script writers won’t have to worry about imagining things because Michael Siemsen gave them what they needed!  Another 5 Grenades for this category!

 

 

Overall:

In an effort to be fully transparent, I half listened and half read this novel.  Whysper Sync I think it’s called?  Some books are better suited for that, a lesson that I learned with this book.  The audio narration WAS superbly done, since I brought it up.  Heck, I wouldn’t mind if Julia Whelan wanted to narrate my books, I certainly wouldn’t say no!  If you love audiobooks, give Julia and Podium Publishing a shot, they’ve seem to figure out the magic formula.  While I gave the book 4 Grenades, the audio narration gets 5!  One of my main issues, aside from the characters, was the use of alien languages.  I get it, you want to show your world building and how things are different but if you invent translation programs in your world, we don’t need to bog us down with the language.  Move on, tell the story!  However, the story and the plot is something the author got right!  If I rated the plot separately, he would have a solid 6 Grenades out of 5, it’s that good!  If you like science fiction, with some of the science on full display, you need to buy this book!  Heck, give the audio book a listen as well!

 

 

If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out!  You won’t regret it!  Well, unless it keeps you up all night and you’re late to work… and then your boss fires you, because you became a book addict and a rabid Michael Siemsen fan.  Okay, the fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT leave you starving.  Then again, it COULD be one heck of a weight loss plan!  Be warned, but enjoy the high!

 

 

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

SciFy Shenanigans: Yudhanjaya Wijeratne

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Hey Space Cadets, how’s everyone doing today?  I’m doing amazing, trying to be more disciplined in my outline for Maternal Vengeance, hoping it pays dividends in the amount of time it takes to write. I’ve also started some of the editorial reviews for Operation Breakout, which should be out ‘soon.’  I’ll have you a date once Boss Man decides when we’re going to publish it.  Stay tuned, or join my mailing list for regular updates.

 

Now, 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 ‘SciFy Shenanigans’ series that only serves to talk with other authors of science fiction!  Here goes nothing!

 

As I’ve mentioned, I created 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 not 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!

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages,……

 

 

First, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

My name’s Yudhanjaya Wijeratne. I’m a 25-year-old writer and a data scientist from Sri Lanka. For the past two years I’ve been working on a very Orwellian novel, tentatively titled This is Society. Some elements of this are actually going to come true in this decade (they’ve already started). In the past, I’ve designed and programmed games, built news media properties, covered tech as a journalist, even worked retail selling custom gaming rigs…I’ve dabbled in quite a few things, most of them involving tech and wordsmithing.

 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/yudhanjaya

Twitter: @yudhanjaya

Blog(s) www.numbercaste.com | www.icaruswept.com

 

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I’m entirely self-taught. I’ve put my 10,000 hours into writing, and I take courses online – everything from data science at Johns Hopkins to Greek myth from Upenn. There’s really nothing you can’t learn with a proper online learning model.

 

I’ll go out on a limb and assume that if you write books you also enjoy reading them.  What other genres do you enjoy reading, and how have they affected your writing?

I read almost anything except romance, but I’d have to say fantasy, sci-fi and biographies. I initially started reading biographies to understand how to convey detail about a person, and for a long while I found that I would default to interview mode when writing something – even the current novel was written from the point of view of a journalist exploring his subject. It’s a dance I’m familiar with.

 

Who are your biggest writing influences?

I’m not entire sure. People who read my work sometimes say I have a touch of Terry Pratchett about my words, but I’d be deluded to compare myself to his magic. I’d count Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta), Dianna Wynne Jones (Chrestomanci, Howl’s Moving Castle), Stephen King (Dark Tower, the Stand, Christine) and Sol Stein as my influences. I’ve certainly made a conscious effort to pattern myself after their advice.

 

Who are your favorite authors and books?

Terry Pratchett – the entire Discworld series. I really can’t pick. Okay, maybe Night Watch, Going Postal, Small Gods and Reaper Man.

Dan Simmons – Hyperion. Few books – especially sci-fi – can come close to Hyperion for me. It’s a very philosophical novel, with equal parts science and religion, and the narrative structure is genius.

Stephen KingWizard and Glass. It’s everything every fantasy book tries to be. It’s grand, it’s surreal, it’s dystopian beyond measure, and it still breaks your heart a little bit before the end.

Phillip Pullman – I read His Dark Materials as a child. To this day I cannot think of the Christian heaven without thinking of Pullman’s version of Heaven and of humans laying siege to it. It’s perhaps the finest alternate reality ever written, because Lyra’s worlds seem so close, and yet so different from our own.

Daniel Mason the Piano Tuner I credit for my obsession with the Ulysses myth.

Dante Aligheri – the Inferno. It’s a masterful work, not just of imagination, but political commentary.

The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver

Gormenghastby Mervyn Peake for the sheer gothic beauty, scope and invention.

Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Matthew – by Shehan Karunatilake, a Sri Lankan author, and I’ve never read a book that captured the essence of Sri Lanka as well as this.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I find that almost of today’s quack wisdom was essentially plagiarized from the last great emperor of Rome.

Watchmen by Alan Moore, for looking at the dark underbelly of the superhero myth.

 

What is your preferred writing style?

First-person.

 

When did you get serious about your writing?

When I was about fifteen, I believe. Like every other naïve writer, I sat down and thought right, I’m going to create my epic. My magnum opus.

The result is a 130,000 word monster that sits on my desk as a testament to how not to write. It swung widely between sci-fi and fantasy, between chapter-long descriptions of cities and the hero going through a stupid amount of existential angst. I showed it to some publishers but they all laughed me away, which, in hindsight, was a good thing. It’s got some good ideas in it, but I need to take a blowtorch to it before it’s decent.

The good thing is that built up my writing discipline to the point where I could crank out regular articles and blog, and by the time I was done with school I was already known for my blogging and had a few journalism gigs lined up. I basically just made a career out of writing, and with the tech I drifted into working for a Silicon Valley middleware company.

About two years ago, I decided it was time to shelve the 1000-word sprints and go for the marathon, as it were, so every Saturday and Sunday I’d lock myself in my room and write.

 

What is your current novel?  Tell us a little bit about the premise?

It’s called This is Society. It’s about a startup that figures out how to any human’s socioeconomic worth and standing in the social ladder, and sort of starts selling this as a very utopian, very Silicon Valley dream. And it’s really about how things change when you start quantifying people this way.

It’s not far out. I believe we’re already heading this way. The average degree of separation is now down to 3.1 (from 6). And we voluntarily share personal information to the point of being George Orwell’s wet dream – good data analysts can now predict your preferences better than your friends can (Click Here). As Yual Noah Harari pointed out, we’ll get to the point where Google might even be able to choose who you should marry – and because of the data it has on each person, it’ll know better than you yourself can.

 

Where did you find the inspiration for This is Society?

A combination of things. 1984. David Egger’s the Circle. And Experian, a company which does credit checking; after reading up on it, I realized that there really is this vast, multi-billion dollar industry, this empire that specializes in turning people into numbers, and it’s not just Facebook or Google. And it’s part of my job – and interests – to keep an eye on social media and search algorithms and developments, so after a while everything sort of started fusing in my head.

And on one fine day, I was sitting at a startup event at a café in Colombo. Entpreneurs entrepener’d. Investors sort of floated around the background. When two of the species met, they’d size each other up, trying to see how important this new person was. Who did they know? Where did they go to school? Everything clicked then. Not the whole plot, but the premise, the beginning and the end. The characters emerged from the story.

 

Your characters from This is Society are sent into a gladiatorial death match. Who wins? 

That would be Julius Common. He wouldn’t fight, but he’ll bribe the guys opposite him, get them to attack the stadium, and end up buying the entire business.

 

What do you listen to while you write? Or do you prefer silence? 

Silence is gold. A close second would be Ludovico Einaudi.

 

What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve looked up in the name of research – or what do you think the government has maybe flagged you for?

It’s either how to make napalm or Silicon Valley homeless. The searches were quite close together, so….

 

What was your favorite part of writing This is Society?

Learning. To write Society I threw into learning mode. It initially started with me studying the blockchain, and eventually it became a daily habit – listen to a podcast, read a couple of articles, go through two books a week – it’s really become this self-sustaining habit that’s been incredibly useful to me, not just in writing, but as a person.

 

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing your main characters from [Book Name]?

Mahershala Ali. Did you see his performance as Cottonmouth in Luke Cage? And Vincent d’ Onofrio, because that is Julius Common down to a T.

 

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? 

Well, I have my day job, so I structure my writing around it. Weekdays are spent taking notes, brainstorming, drawing out plot lines. On Saturday and Sunday I sit from 5 am to 5 pm and write, take a break, and polish what I’ve written from 8 till 10 or so. On average this produces around 4000 good words a week.

 

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

No. I tried that and, while it undoubtedly works for a lot of famous writers, I just end up producing bloated drivel. Instead I try to get chunks of the story done per week.

 

When you develop your characters, do you already have an idea of who they are before you write or do you let them develop as you go?

I always have an idea of who they are, as in background detail, but once I get into the meat of the writing I find myself thinking ‘no, she wouldn’t do that,’ or ‘that’s not like him.’ And I end up pruning and tweaking back and forth until the characters themselves are different to what I imagine. Julius, for example, started out as a thin, obsessed neurotic before I decided that wasn’t working. And Patrick Udo, who is the main character, was always black, but initially a seasoned journalist; now he’s a marketer. People change.

 

If This is Society had a theme song what would it be?

‘Don’t get in my wayby Zack Hemsey.

 

This is Society is full of many amazingly talented characters and I imagine it was really fun to create some of them, but which one was your favorite and why?

Definitely Julius Common. Not only is he the centerpiece of the story, but he’s also the most complex. He genuinely believes that he is making the world better. He is the hero of his own story.

 

What advice do you have for writers who are just starting out?

Read Sol Stein on Writing.

Write.

Read William Zinsser on writing.

Write.

Find friends who will clap if you produce something good, and not just if you produce something.

Write.

Write wherever you are and whatever you do. Don’t wait for the perfect conditions – we all dream of that lovely writer’s cottage with the golden sunlight and all of that, but in reality, that’s a reward, not the fuel. The laptop and your own bed works fine. Use a computer, because despite the charming image of the writer hammering away at his typewriter, there’s really nothing more convenient than to be able to cut, splice and revise at will.

 

 

I hope you enjoy this little conversation, and if you want to find out more about Yudhanjaya, then follow the rabbit trail to their warren in the internet (www.icaruswept.com)!  If they don’t like it, beat ‘em with a carrot and keep on truckin’!

 

 

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.

–> Some of these interview questions were inspired by my good friend TeacherofYA, and are used with her permission.  If you have kids who love to read, she’s the girl who’ll make the literary introductions!  You should check her out, after a lifetime of reading, your kids will thank you.

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World Building Wednesday: Background Noise

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Hey Space Cadets, hope everyone is doing awesome!  I’ve finished my short stories and am outlining my fourth novel in the Sleeping Legion Series today.  Should be a barrel full of laughs, if by barrel you mean massive body counts.  And if by laughs, you mean manically!  Operation Breakout was high action and Maternal Vengeance will kick it up a notch!  Speaking of high octane, the

 

ddshort story I’m co-writing with Corey D. Truax will be kick ass as well!  Can’t wait to be able to share it with you, but until then let’s rise above that noise and get on with it!

 

For today’s World Building Wednesday, we shall talk about background noise.  See what I did there in that last paragraph?  LOL!!  Okay, in all seriousness I wanted to talk about the use of background noise in your writing.  Nothing too long and drawn out, just a brief discussion.  I’m personally split on this one.  With the use of my Dragon to dictate I can’t have background noise, but I don’t write with just the Dragon.  I still write some scenes the ‘old fashion way,’ especially the more nuanced or complicated ones.  For these scenes, I pick my music to help me create a mood.

 

So, for generic scenes I’m struggling with I like to use playlists of ambient sounds to keep my mind actively engaged.  Nature sounds, campfires and the like.  I’ve also found a few science fiction based ambient noise sites to help get me in the mood for my genre fiction. Sometimes, if I’m feeling lonely I’ll listen to a coffee shop or library soundtrack for my ambient noise.  I will also listen to classical music and any other instrumental to keep the hamster spinning on his wheels.  One place where I found a collection of mood setting sites was on author Kim Chance‘s blog.  Check it out for some really helpful links.  And of course, there is YouTube.

 

When I just need intense emotions, I’ve been known to listen to music that gets the blood pumping.  Sweet beats, kick ass vocals, anything to set the stage for literary awesomeness.  Depending on the mood of the scene, I can listen to ballads, country, folk and anything else light.  When I want action and adventure, I’ll switch to rock-in-roll and heavy metal.  This works when writing the combat scenes, when you want the blood to boil and heads to roll.  Have you used any of these?  Do you have some good ambient noises to suggest?  Then throw a man a bone, leave a comment below!

 

 

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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