Direhawks Sketch — Nathan, of IPF-Fierrs Direhawk Squadron

It seems like someone enjoyed the little sketch work that I posted the other night. Well, I have a second one. It is just as light on content, and not really well written. Well…it isn’t something that I edited either. This particular sketch was rattled off at three in the morning, with the fury of caffeine and a mountain of orange peel rising around me. My job requires such vitamin C intake…despite the fact that I still got a cold. Yay. Well, in other news, I will probably be a little bit quiet this weekend, as I am moving into my new apartment this weekend. I do have a job to go to next week as well, so there is more good news. Alright, enough personal nonsense. Here is a look at another character from Direhawks, Nathan  Sebring. Enjoy.

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Nathan watched Krister struggle with the keypad to his bunk, opting to rattle through his own code and ignore the muttered swears and general dismay from the young man reading and rereading a slip of paper tucked into his palm before pushing the code in again.  Nothing about Krister stuck out to Nathan. He wore his jumpsuit too tight at the collar, opting to close both buttons at the neck, and he seemed like he was permanently awaiting inspection. It made Nathan uncomfortable to be near him, and he even feared training through sims with him. Even one of those neatly trimmed black hairs drifting out of shape would probably cause him to break formation early, and swipe another ship out of the air.

But such problems were for his wing mates. Nathan found a reason to be happy to fly in the middle of the pack.

Nathan waited a moment, positioned directly over the sensor in the door, primed to shut at any moment. Nothing made him want to help Krister, but knowing that exercises were going to kick off in a mere seven hours made him sympathize with the guy. He walked towards Krister, reached over his shoulder, and typed the code in. The light on the lock glowed green, and the rickety steel bulkhead clapped open along a most likely dirty track.

“Oh, thanks, ummm…” Krister said.

“Nathan,” he said. “And you’re going to want to change that code before you shut down for the night.  Cam claims that he has a problem with sleepwalking, but he’s really just out to steal whatever valuables you’ve got in your room.”

Krister laughed. Nathan guessed that he thought he was joking. Nathan knew that it wasn’t a joke, and that Cam had walked in while Nathan was awake reading, and still attempted to walk out with his wallet.

Nathan turned and walked towards his bunk.

“Least I could do is invite you in for a drink, right?”  Krister said. “You know, before Cam tries to steal it?”

Nathan stopped. “No,” he said, not turning.  “I’m turning in,” he lied. He continued towards the bunk.

“Alright,” Krister responded, hesitation hanging on his voice. “Another time I guess.”

“Maybe,” Nathan trailed off, and stepped inside of his room.

As the door slid shut behind him, Nathan slipped out of his flight jacket, and hung it on the peg beside the door. The unzipped duffel bag at the foot of the bed reminded him that he’d yet to unpack, and the barren walls of the steel box did nothing to urge him into motion.

Complacency was an issue that Nathan oft struggled with. He’d spend ten months active, and live among the general populous on Fierrs while trying not to blow his entire savings between those checks. He would spend most of his time at home, ignoring his trans and sleeping off a string of late nights catching up on whatever cinematic abominations had slipped through his hands aboard the Winter’s Throat. He knew that Nicolae and Donar were probably queuing up such a thing right now, but it didn’t matter to him. They’d chat, crack jokes, and ogle the actresses. It was the opposite of what he did in the privacy of his own home; disconnection, escape.

He forced himself to unpack his clothes,storing the few uniforms and two pairs of street clothes,

Process and a Thing

What you are about to see is a glimpse into how I prepare to write a book. I can’t confess that this is how one is supposed to write a book, or even how one should even approach such a goal, but it is part of what I do, and is one of the earliest steps in a long process that eventually leads to things like A Ballad of Wayward Spectres.

I guess that this as good a time as any to reveal something that I wasn’t planning on unveiling until after fourth volume of Ballad was ready for the presses, and given the previous post, this might seem all the more like I’m pouring salt in a nice, fresh, and still bleeding wound. Again, I apologize, but take this all with stride, as I would like for my work on The New 2014 Thing to be much more transparent, and for you to get a look at what is going on behind the scenes. Anyway, I need to get ready for work soon, so let’s get on with this.

DIREHAWKLOGOWORK

 

For long time readers, the name Alternative is my oft promised sci-fi epic of the space opera variety. Direhawk is set to be the first full length novel that I self-publish, and the first work that I release from The Alternative.

I won’t give away too many story details, especially at this stage, but you can take for granted that this thing is going to a beast. I’m currently working out some characters, and carrying around a tablet containing notes, a moleskin, and a small notebook just to work this thing out while I’m at work and in the car. This is the thing that is being done while on the go, rather than the legitimate Work Time that I spend editing Ballad 2.

Among these notes is what I refer to as a character sketch. This may or may not be the right phrase for this sort of thing, but that’s what I’m calling it. When I am trying to develop a character, and see what makes them tick, or if they are worth establishing in that form, etc, I just sit down and hammer out some thoughts and observations. They aren’t that well written, but they serve a purpose to what I do.

And I’m going to share one with you.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s really a mess, and I don’t like some of the details. Still, it’s something that I want to share with you guys, as both an inside look at my work, and a tiny apology for delaying Ballad 2. I hope that you guys enjoy it, and that you will forgive me for the delay. Great things are coming. Thanks for watching.

___

               Arryl opened the cabinet above her bunk, and retrieved a pint of brandy. She sat it on the table beside her pillow, and faced it without enthusiasm. The liquid was barely visible in the dusty opaque glass cylinder, but she could see that it didn’t rise very far above the label. She could recall the three glasses that she’d filled from her only supply of alcohol. It didn’t seem smart to keep such a pointless contraband on board the Winter’s Throat. However, she could rely on the spicy drink should the wrong people come to call.

And to her dismay, tonight was such a time.

When Arryl had transferred to the Winter’s Throat, she was surprised to see the spacious living arrangements that were offered to what was considered the lower end squadron. Each of her eleven wing mates had an identical spartan bunk, dark blue comforter concealing a single bed stuffed with what Arryl could only describe as bent composite boards and plywood shrapnel, settled into the wall beside a few technical niceties as simple as an alarm clock, and as advanced as a power outlet. A desk collapsed into the wall next to the bedside table where an adjustable lamp hovered over a metallic surface that was scratched enough to refract light into odd shapes along the ceiling.

Those scratches, deep metallic rivulets in a table that others had used, left behind, maybe by way of death in service to the people of Feirrs, maybe by giving up; she didn’t recall it being so beat up when she’d first unpacked her bag in that room.

She traced one of those marks with her eyes, an ugly J-shaped monstrosity that only became deeper as it cut into the metal. Niles wasn’t familiar with the phrase ‘too much to drink’. He’s collapsed in her bunk, taking a jagged chunk of broken glass down with him. She didn’t know what to think of him after he fell. Niles never showed a sign of weakness when he was behind the controls of his fighter, but with a glass or two of ale in him, the muscular behemoth succumbed to the idea of mortality, and wanted to talk about body counts with everyone trying to forget their personal shortcomings through whatever programs the IPF were channeling in from Feirrs on that evening. Lauren had tried to say that Niles had attacked her. No. It wasn’t so dramatic as that.

Well, the fresh gash in his arm from the glass chunk suggested he needed to be grounded for a few days. Arryl was still shocked that he was cleared for flight a month later.

That was one, she thought, turning the bottle on its base, letting the grooves in the glass make that irritating whirring noise on the tabletop.

Lauren herself was the subject of another night of clumsy, forced socialization. She’d invited herself in while Arryl had taken the only glass of the mediocre drink she’d had herself. Lauren poured herself a glass, and proceeded to inform Arryl that Lee, that “bastard engineer” couldn’t keep his hands to himself, that he kept making passes at her. If Arryl hadn’t heard Lee make the few rather innocent statements he had made to her, she might have believed Lauren. Even though Arryl didn’t drink much, she’d considered having a second drink that night while Lauren proceeded to inform her of her faults, and why she was so lonely.

What Lauren, nor most of the squadron understood, was that she was more than happy to sit in the dark of her bunk alone, staring into the void that was in the middle of that bottle, weeks between glasses, months between replacements, and a year between the acknowledgement that she didn’t know of a better bottle of booze to buy because her dad was the person who bought the first, and she could at least pretend that he was around to share a glass with her after a rough flight.

Nathan knocked on her door, a pedantic gesture if she’d ever witnessed one, given the several plates of steel separating them. She could barely hear it over the deafening silence. She swallowed, and rolled the bottle against the wall before standing and pressing the door switch. “You could have just walked in,” she said, forcing a smile now.

               “Maybe,” Nathan said, waiting for a real invitation.

Watch this space.

Moving. Revisions. Madness.

It is January 7th, and my God, this weather would be perfect to watch from the seat of a coffee shop while sucking down espresso, and beating a manuscript into shape. However, I am not, and this breaks my heart. I work at eleven tonight, and I spent most of the day working on relocation efforts.

I tell you this,friends, so that you will not judge me too much when I tell you that the second volume of A Ballad of Wayward Spectres will not come out in January. Between a physically and  psychologically damaging work schedule, my current living situation, a not-promising-enough job transfer, and some financial weaknesses, I have not been able to put in the time necessary to get the book done. However, I am working. I beg for your patience.

Given that things aren’t optimal, and that some of you fine people are eagerly awaiting the next part  of  the tale, this is an inexcusable move on  my part. I will  keep everyone up to date on what is  going on.

I hope that the next post, which is going live in about an hour, will make up for it.

2014 — January in Short

Welcome, everyone. I have started a new blog setting for all things related to the fiction things that I  am doing, as well as collecting other types of posts, blah blah, let us begin.

I have been quiet. Too quiet, even, since we got back to North Carolina. I have been otherwise disposed of, and incredibly busy with The Day Job. These are indeed excuses, and I am sorry. I am fully aware that playing Final Fantasy IV on the Vita and resorting my Magic the Gathering cards isn’t putting fresh fiction in your eReaders. However, I have been trying to ramp production back up to a respectable level. Serious editing on book two of Ballad is underway, and I have been doing preliminary work on The Great 2014 Thing.

In addition, I have a tablet now, and that is actually going to assist me with some of my work. I’m trying to cut down on some of paper use by doing some of my heavier note taking there, and the production of vlog type things is going to be easier because o can shoot, edit, and even post my low quality scraps all from this device. It is a Surface, if anyone cares to know. I like it so far.

Now, I won’t lie to you; I’m horrified with the current timetable for getting Ballad 2 out on the 28th. I’m trying, but I worry that a short delay will be inevitable. I am staged to move to Winston Salem at any moment, and that is a beast all its own. The Day Job now contains overnight shifts, so… that is a thing.

But don’t fret. We will have some fun in between. I am planning a little bonus feature related to The Great 2014 Thing.

Welcome to the blog. Yes. I do need to spruce up the visuals of this place.