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

Shenanigans and Updates

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Hello Space Cadets, how is everyone doing?  I’m well, so is my grandmother!  Thank you, truly, to everyone who sent their happy thoughts into the ethos for my Grandma Handley, it meant a lot.  As a quick update, I should (fingers crossed) have the new look for my website up within the week.  Once it is up, I will let everyone know what is going on with that.  We should seamlessly merge it into this page, since I bought the domain and a premium account from WordPress.  If it doesn’t work as planned, I will direct everyone where to go… but I hope it isn’t necessary.

Here is a quick look at where I want my blog to go.  While I work on getting my professional looking blog and a few articles in every category cued up, I will continue on as I have been.  I have to coordinating with the authors I hope to interview, prepare the questions I want to ask and generally be prepared so I don’t look like a boot recruit.  If any of you have any general questions for the warrior authors or the family series, post them in the comments!

  1. Marine Monday’s: A series of world building from the Human Legion Universe, to include my own Sleeping Legion.
  2. World Building Wednesdays: A series of posts on my writing process, not necessarily the right or best way, just my way.  Dang, now I want some Burger King!
  3. Family Fridays Interview Series: A series of interviews with other writers, editors, agents and anyone else involved in the wild world of books.  The focus will be on how we manage our passion for the written word and our duties to our kinfolk.
  4. Warrior Writer Weekend Interview Series: A series of interviews with veterans who write, edit or have any other role within the wild world of books.  I will try to publish these on Saturday, but the guarantee is that it will post on a weekend!  I want to highlight their service, reflect upon how it has influenced or affected their works and get all fanboy over their stuff!  There could be overlap, as many veterans who write also have families, but the focus here will be their service and writing.
  5. Funny Fill Ins: Basically, I’ll keep the witty and humorous bent that I’ve had so far.  If it doesn’t fit into another category I will post it on a Tuesday, Thursday or on an open weekend day.  I will also post any reblogs on these days as well.

 

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

Image result for musketsJR

–> As usual, all images are found under Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

When Novellas Grow Up

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When Novellas grow up to become Novels

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Hello my fellow Space Cadets!  I thought I would write a quick post about my first novel, The Sleeping Legion: The Legion Awakes, and how I got here.  I didn’t start out trying to write novels, in fact, my contract was specifically for novellas that hit the adventure quick, fast, and in a hurry.

However, as I wrote the ideas just sort of grew organically until my novella grew up into a novel.  As I worked on the final scenes for part two I couldn’t help but hear the song “It is the book the never ends, it just goes on and on my friend… Some fool started writing it not know what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because it was the book that never ends…”  You’re sing along aren’t you?

Knowing I couldn’t put it off any longer, I went to my boss with my hat clutched in hand.  I told Tim C. Taylor about my problem of not knowing what, and how, to cut things to the appropriate length.  He read through my rough draft, likely expecting to talk a novice off the metaphorical edge, then sent me a short email that started with the sentence, “JR, we need to talk.

For clarification, I’m a married man and those words often spell my doom.  As you can imagine, I was justifiably nervous.  I heard Tim, in his proper British accent, saying those five words like a judge condemning a man to his demise.  We meshed schedules, synced up our time zone disparities, and planned our Skype session.

On the day of the Skype session, his face was serious as he looked at me through our shared monitor.  After a moment, he said “JR, you aren’t writing the novellas we talked about in our contract–”

Tim didn’t get to finish as I verbally prostrated myself at his feet, telling him I could do better.  I wasn’t sure if I was laying it on thick enough, I needed him to know I was sincere.  I heaped on some more until I couldn’t be heard over the sound of his laughter.  I took a breath and looked at the cruel man who was likely going to burn my dreams.  I imagined him holding a match and burning the manuscript before my eyes.

Then, to my surprise, Tim said, “JR, these are novels.  Keep writing, but we need a new contract.”

And there I was, suddenly a novelist.  I guess in the end, it’s not the destination you chart but the adventures had along the way.

Until next time, stay frosty and remember to keep your powder dry.

Image result for muskets

 

JR

–> As usual, all images are found under Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

HAPPY UPDATE!

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First, I have to tell you I’ll likely go MIA for a week or two as I address some family issues.  My grandmother, who inspired this pen name, isn’t doing well so I’m driving north like a good grandson should.  Fret not, I will try to write some good posts… however, I’ll be less active on others blogs.  I’ll miss the great posts, so don’t get abducted by aliens while I’m away.  Coming back to your great posts will keep me motivated not to fall asleep while driving.  And never fear, my house will be protected!

 

Secondly, Team Handley will be updating our site soon for a more polished look.  We already own the domain name, so now it is all about figuring out the technical bits.  Worst case scenario, we bring in ‘the professionals’ to get it right but we hope to do it ourselves.

 

Finally, the happy note that I led with.  For those of you who’re friends with me on Facebook will know, my paperback proof of book one came in on Wednesday!!  I’m super excited, and you should be too!!!  Until next time, be safe out there and remember… if you can’t be good, be good at it.

 

–> The artwork from today is original content created by Corey at the Quintessential Editor.

Indie Author Day

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For all you crazy cats who write, spilling your soul onto parchment in the age old manner of our ancestor, check out the Indie Author Day events all over the country.  I’m lucky enough to live in Tidewater, Virginia so I’ll get to hear author Chris Kennedy speak but the rest of you can join the fun at your local chapters. Find your local event, join the party!

 

INDIE AUTHOR DAY:

  1. Virginia Beach, VA
  2. Everywhere else

 

Contact Chris Kennedy:

  1. Amazon
  2. Webpage

 

–> As usual, this picture was found on Google and is labeled for reuse.  It was posted by The Blue Diamond Gallery, go on down and check them out.

My NaNoWriMo Journey

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Well, I’ve finally decided to give the NaNoWriMo a go.  I’m hoping this will give me a boost in finishing the third book in the Sleeping Legion Series.  It is tentatively titled Operation Breakout, but that is mostly a placeholder.  I just created an account, under the name Porkchop NCR, and set up my account.  If you plan on participating, feel free to add me as a writing buddy.  I can also be found in the Hampton Roads Region of the wild world of Ye Olde Face Page!  As for the name, Porkchop was my call sign in Iraq and NCR is the universe I want to write my own stories in some day.  I think that the booze might have contributed, just a wee bit, to it becoming my official username but once you set it up you’re stuck with it.  Otherwise, you close your account and start a new one and it didn’t seem worth it.

 

My Book Blurb: (Subject to change)

 This is the third installment in the Sleeping Legion Series, written in Tim C. Taylor’s Human Legion Universe.  The dust has settled and the main arm of the Human Legion have left the Tranquility System.  Not all was as it seemed, however, as Marines were left abandoned, forgotten and alone.  Then the Legion wakes up, secures a new home and now must engage in a desperate struggle to wrest control of the Tranquility System from the Hardit New Order.  To make matters worse, they have enemies within the ranks and a hostile human force at their backs.  Can Serendine be secured before they face a war on two fronts?

 

 

NaNoWriMo Prep:

1)      Figure out your basic plot idea or question.

2)      Think about where this question would end, where is the logical conclusion?

3)      Outline the main points of the novel.

4)      Bulk up the outline to include the minor plot arcs and sub plots

  1. I found that adding character arcs to this helpful as well.

5)      Give the outline time to percolate (i.e. don’t wait until the last minute).

6)      Work on any world building that needs to be done, or would help you write more efficiently.

7)      Talk to your family and friends, let them know you might become a hermit for 30 days or so!  Hey, MAYBE you’ll come up for air on Turkey Day!!  That’s Thanksgiving for you non-Muricans!

 

NaNoWriMo Personal Growth Goals:

1)      Increase my daily word count.

2)      Become more disciplined with my daily writing, separate from the other stuff we do as writers. (Blog, marketing, networking, etc.)

3)      This should help me come out of my hermit cave and stick my toe into the ocean that is the writing community.

 

Overall Goals for Event:

1)      Make a substantial dent into book three, and hopefully write all 90,000 words of it.

2)      Have something I can send to my editor so I finish my third novel before 2016 ends.

3)      Have fun writing and never lose sight of WHY I tell the stories.

4)      Make a point to blend this intense writing excursion with daily exercise so I become a healthier me!

 

Want advice from others who’ve been there and done that?  Look no further!  I’ll link to only a few helpful vlogs because otherwise you’ll never stop watching…. and we’re here to write peeps!

 

 

So, that’s MY NaNoWriMo story…. What will yours be?  Will you join me ?  Friend me so we can bust each other’s balls when we slack off?

http://nanowrimo.org/dashboard

EDIT: One of my writing buddies is looking to add people as well.  Feel free to add your fellow WordPress Blogger, mrswintheiser.