Say hello to the Nemesi!

Today marks my one year anniversary of my blog and it also happens to be Halloween, I thought it would be apropos to introduce my vampires from Clear Ether. I like the caste system and heritage of the vampires developed by White Wolf but I also wanted something with more of a scientific bent to it, so I borrowed elements from all my favorite vampire genre and added a few of my own. My vampires call themselves the Nemesi. Allow me to introduce them…

There are only a few old languages that have words for vampire — Hungarian is one of them, and for good reason. That was where the vampires had first arisen on Earth.

Despite everything, tales of vampires have persisted throughout history, but as is usually the case, there is a kernel of truth behind the legends. However, it was not a curse from Satan or Cain as some of the old tales have guessed at, or in countless books or movies, but a simple meteor carrying an alien phage that was the true culprit.

The records from that time are of course nonexistent as it happened many thousands of years ago, before written records were kept. When the alien bacteriophage affected the first humans it was quickly spread as it was in a virulent form, any open sore was an invitation for the phage to spread and turn the inhabitants into monstrous blood hungry scavengers. The stories held that those first few months were hell on Earth for the villagers near the crash site of the meteor.

Unable to come to grips with their condition they savaged each other and it became a matter of survival of the fittest in the most literal sense of the word. When it was all said and done only a few had survived the savagery that destroyed several villages – thousands had perished. The few that managed to survive came to understand what they had become and realized that if they continued they would surely die, as there were no other humans left in that part of the country. They would have to move into other areas and carve out what they needed from the local population and move on.

Over time they figured out how to handle their desperate situation and even to prosper from it. Living forever has distinct advantages when that was coupled with perfect recall. They eventually became very powerful, controlling the black markets and the politicians from almost the beginning. Some managed to dabble in legitimate enterprise, but most found the easy path of crime and corruption to make their fortunes. They kept their numbers low, and had their own reasons for creating new members of their family.

There is no central controlling body, but the powerful leaders of each area do whatever they must to keep the Komedia, their word for keeping the secret of their existence. They don’t want to lose their fortunes or their lives to the raving lunacy of the newborn Nemesi, those that can’t be controlled are destroyed and their creator with them, so it makes creating a new offspring a challenging task, one not to be taken lightly. There is a council that meets regularly to take on the big issues, but the rules that they use are all agreed to and very minimal.

The bite of a Nemesi is fatal if not counteracted, although it is said to be pleasurable to be bitten, due in large part by the fact that the poison also has a powerful narcotic. It’s the blood that heals. The phage transmutes the blood into cruen, a healing elixir. It keeps the vampire young and vigorous and heals even the most grievous wounds. Humans can ingest cruen and it will prolong life and heal ailments, but has resisted the many attempts made by Laurent’s pharmaceutical company to be duplicated in any fashion for public consumption. Many Nemesi have a cortége of humans that they feed from and some are known to be extremely old.

The organs of a Nemesi are still intact, but most are no longer used. The heart still beats and fuels the body with cruen. Garlic does nothing to a Nemesi, but there digestive organs are very sensitive to regular food and it will give one indigestion. Blood is all they need to ingest, human blood the preference. They will not burst into flames in sunlight, but have what is the equivalent to a sun allergy. A cross means different things to different Nemesi. Some are quite pious and others are shockingly evil.

The phage itself has an amazing effect on animals, enhancing all the things that make them attractive to another of their species. It makes them the perfect hunter of their own kind, humans included. It not only gives them remarkable healing powers, but makes them stronger and faster than a normal man. It also imparts strange mental powers, with the ability to manipulate the morphic field created by the brain and allows them to read emotional states and get impressions from others, as well as influence their behavior and memory. The downside to being a Nemesi is the never ending thirst for blood and perfect recall, to remember in perfect detail every kill and scream. Some may relish it, but to others it’s a very heavy burden to bear.

Happy Halloween!

The Evolution of a Story

I talk to people all the time who, when they find out I’m a writer, tell me how they would love to write but can never come up with any ORIGINAL IDEAS tm There are no really original ideas anymore, supposedly, that may also be a lie, but let’s take it on faith that this is true. What there are, are variations on a theme . . . a juxtapositioning of notions with a different perspective or twist. You CAN find these if you try. I know I did, but it was a meandering path. It was like a seed that mutated as it grew, like a mad Dr. Frankenstein kept adding parts to it. I’m going to share how my current work-in-progress came to be the story that it currently is. I say currently because I’m still revising it. It likely won’t have any substantial changes at this point though, as it’s pretty well fully formed.

Let’s go back to 1991, Desert Storm was ending, and I had just completed my first overseas combat support deployment and I wanted to write the story, but I was distracted by a multitude of other things and really didn’t have the first clue how to start, but the seed to write had been planted. I toyed with the idea of writing for almost two decades and over that period I had this recurring desire to write something about being a pilot as that is the one thing I really know well. I also loved science fiction, and still do. The seed had been germinated somehow (perhaps maturity, I’m still not sure why), but was growing very slowly, it started to nag at me, it broke through the soil. I had to do something. But the whole, “I can’t come up with any ORIGINAL IDEAS tm was still plaguing me. I kept coming back to the concept of a crew on a starship, sitting on alert status. I needed a reason for them to be there, what were they sitting alert for? I hit on the idea of a scout service, which also doubled as rescue service and technicians for a Quantum Data Relay Station. I started reading more science articles on the interwebs. I found a few magazines that I really enjoyed like Scientific American and Popular Mechanics and devoured them. I wanted initially to incorporate Faster Than Light Travel, so I was looking desperately trying to find a loophole in General Relativity. I found some guys out there doing the math and trying to punch holes in the theory. One of them led me to the idea of my Quantum Gates, which is a pivotal part of the story. I chucked FTL travel. I knew it was a trope that would likely upset some potential readers as reaching too far. I still love the idea and I’m not giving up hope, but it just wasn’t needed to make the story work anymore. I had the first couple of elements, and then I focused on the characters. I had originally made the Main Character the captain of the ship and male. He had an all-male crew of poker-playing foul-mouthed rocket-jocks. I based them on a bunch of guys I knew from back in the war — I played a lot of poker in my off time. Now I needed something to happen, a major conflict to be resolved. I needed a villain, a big nasty one was what I was shooting for. It was feeling a little cliché at this point though.

I also happen to love vampires. I love what White Wolf did with Vampire: The Masquerade and all the variations in their World of Darkness. I read a trilogy called The Masquerade of the Red Death, which I highly recommend, and it showed me how really cool they could be. I was in a gaming guild that required regular postings in story form to stay in the guild, and we were role playing as part of the Camarilla, a sect in V:TM. It was fun and apparently it stuck with me, it was also the first creative writing I had done for fun on my own. But it was a decade before this project started.

I finally came to the conclusion that I should meld my two favorite genres together. I love science fiction and I love vampires. I knew there are a few stories that featured this combination, but I don’t think it’s something that had been overdone. I decided that my vampires were not going to be from the typical mythos, but needed a quasi-scientific reason to exist, to make it more science fictiony. I created the Nemesi, deriving from a space-born phage that came to Earth via asteroid collision, but gave them a lot of the same physical characteristics of the mythical vampire. (All legends have a kernel of truth in them.)

Here’s where the interesting thing happened. I was toying with how the Nemesi would fit into the story and started developing my villain, who was going to be a Nemesi. A basic idea started to form on plot and I was struggling with how I was going to tell the story. I was using first person perspective and my captain pilot dude was not going to see a lot of the action, I needed a better narrator. A bolt of lightning hit me; I needed to make the MC the vampire! Suddenly it all made sense! My vampire became the good guy and I could tell most of the story through his eyes. A second story arc with the main pilot character became a female, adding a potential romantic flavor, the plot took shape quickly. I knew what was going to happen! That was a magical moment for me. It’s those moments of clarity that keep us slogging through the days when we don’t feel like writing. At least part of why, it has become a full blown compulsion now. I have ideas coming out of my ears … funny how once the dam was broken the ideas just start spewing forth. The main plot has held steady for quite a while now, but I kept tweaking the subplots along the way.

This is the first installment of a regular series about my novel. I hope you enjoy them.

 

Clear Ether!

 

Welcome to the 28th Century

This is the second installment on stuff about my novel, if you want to catch up the first entry is here.  This week I’m going to talk a little bit about the setting.  One of the major story arcs centers on the Quantum Gates.   I had to make some decisions on how long it would take to get to that technology and then disperse it out into the galaxy.   After some mental gymnastics I decided on setting the story in 2749.  I had some discussions with a couple of established SF novelists and they warned me about the problem of setting the book so far into the future.  The easiest way to deal with this is simply to avoid describing life on Earth in that time-frame, because trying to extrapolate living conditions and politics will invariably miss the mark, with me either going far off in the weeds or maybe only a little way off the road.  But the story starts on Earth, so I decided to add a major catastrophe to slow down some aspects of technology and societal evolution.

Leading up to 2749 was a rough road for mankind, but it is only vaguely described in my novel.     Earth has been through major political upheaval and a global depression with warfare on a scale to destroy a lot of infrastructure, cell phone towers, internet nodes, financial institutions plunging much of the world into poverty and violent revolution, including the United States for the first time since the Civil War.  Some of the smarter and tech savvy managed to protect themselves from much of the devastation and manage to hold on to their wealth as well, including my Main Character, Laurent.  Medical and pharmaceutical advancement continues along with certain other technological advances.   Laurent relentlessly pursues his tech advances in India and China, who emerge as the new world powers.  The United States is no longer united but a balkanized group of smaller countries.  The opening of the Quantum Stargates spurred renewed interest in space exploration and a chance to escape the bad conditions on Earth.  Eventually man has colonized a good part of the Milky Way, with 57 widely known stargates.

Opening up space exploration to the commercial sector in the 21st century had unintended consequences.  Megacorporations lead the way into space and the broken politics of Earth do not follow mankind into space.  Escent Corporation invented and propagated the Quantum Gates over several hundred years, leading to the expansion of mankind to the stars.  Military presence in space was expensive and limited but in 2509 Nollevelle Corporation violently took over control of the Quantum Gates — the event that starts the story arc on its path.

In future posts I will go into more details of life in 2749.

 

Clear Ether!

Wendigisms

I’ve decided to keep track of my new favorite author’s metaphors/similes. The man is Chuck Wendig and I’m going to call these Wendigisms. The man is a prodigy when it comes to metaphor and creative use of the English language, the Maestro of Metaphor. I’ll be mining his metaphorical gold nuggets and keeping a list of my favorites. I’ll be mainlining those gold veins like a heroin junkie. That’s right, I’m addicted. I’m sure Chuck, er, the Maestro, could have created a better metaphor there; I am merely the keeper of the archive. He is a writer of many forms, and he pontificates over at Terribleminds. What … are you still here? I’ll wait…

This is by no means a complete list, in fact it barely scratches the mildewed linoleum surface, but I intend to keep adding more. These are posted here with his permission. I welcome your suggestions.

Here they are in no particular order:

  • Built like a sagging brick wall, head like a melting lump of Play-Dough
  • art-o-leptic fits of imagination
  • squeeze out word-babies
  • shoved deep into their colonic grotto*
  • slower than a legless caterpillar rolling up a rocky knoll
  • A gift basket of hookers
  • wriggling free from a uterus made from fractal swirls
  • count each pube on your story’s scrotum
  • Spit ‘em out like broken teeth
  • feel like he’s wearing a tuxedo made of bumblebees
  • A hot fresh bucket of words
  • we will now refer to lava as “earthjaculate”
  • kicked in the junk drawer
  • superheroically buoyant
  • epic diaper-breach
  • fleshy 3-D meatbags
  • A burning nugget of possibility tumbling out of the bleak black nowhere
  • high on your own stink, huffing your word-fumes
  • a swirling hate vortex living in the space between your heart and your gut
  • Fatigue nibbles at your marrow like an army of tiny chipmunks
  • ejaculate your DNA into every cell of that story
  • suicide shoes
  • sky the color of a bruised cheek
  • pinnacle of paroxysmic pleasure
  • You need to master Manuscript Lovemaking 7
  • Progress tastes like bacon
  • Embrace the rewrite. From behind.
  • It’s time to blast my six-shooters at the words and make those pesky f***ers dance
  • You pull a mental hammy and s**t your brain-diapers
  • work that was as pleasant as a dildo violation
  • As if writing is a job on par with “unicorn tamer”
  • Other days it feels like you’re birthing a lawn chair from your hindquarters
  • create quantum entanglement between your butt and your chair so that you write
  • right in the catcher’s mitt known as your “crotch.”
  • a thimble full of mouse turds
  • align their chakras and birth their story on a beam of light
  • bleeding imagination juice on the page
  • *poop noise*

 

 

 

 

Why do we do it? (No excuse, sir!)

Get that chin in, maggot!  Oh, sorry, flashback. There is only one answer to a “Why” question when you’re a freshman at the Academy, but I digress . . .

 

There’s been a lot of noise on the interwebs lately about how or why people should blog or even in some cases not bother to blog at all.  Some of it I agree with and some of it I think is bordering on the ridiculous, but is that really anything new?  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

 

I am fast approaching my one year anniversary on this blog and looking back I had no idea what I was going to do with this site when I started.  The entire purpose has always been just to have a space out here in the nether to share stuff that interested me, and the largest focus has been on writing, because that is what I’m doing with the bulk of my “spare” time.  On the other hand, I always did intend this to be a place to connect with other people.  I am extremely flattered that anyone is reading this stuff.  I’ve found that I really like to see people stopping by and reading and leaving comments, it has its own addiction.   I love being able to connect to my favorite authors in this new electric frontier, it’s easier than ever before, so in that vein I started this blog with the hopes of one day having my book published and have a place to connect with my readers.  Maybe that’s conceited, it’s certainly not intended to be — I like to think of it as hopeful.

I’m not nearly as disciplined as a lot of my friends who post multiple times a week and on a set schedule, but this was never intended to be about anything specific, just a forum for me to share bits of whatever flotsam crossed my path.  Roni Loren put it very well, “I am not a blogger who writes. I am a WRITER WHO BLOGS!”

I’ve found that I enjoy blogging.  Maybe it would be better if I had a set schedule of different stuff for each day of the week or at least specific days.  Chuck Wendig has a great format over at Terribleminds.  He has a food blog, 25 things, an interview, a word challenge and a random post about whatever strikes his fancy.  Not in that order.  Jami Gold posts every Tuesday and Thursday about writing and blogging.  Roni Loren has two blogs, one specifically for writing and one to promote her “Author platform”.  I’m definitely not ready to do anything that ambitious.  Just trying to post at least once a week for a year has been a challenge.  Not one I always accomplished, but I am going to try something new… I am going to start a regular series of posts about the story I’m working on, as I get it ready to sell.  It might still be awhile before it comes out, but I am going to share nuggets from the book.  I’m going to introduce characters and setting, to hopefully flame the interest a little.

The first installment is going to be on how I created the story.   I’m leaving something to look forward to.  Heh!  Thanks to everyone who’s shown up!  I really appreciate it!

 

Clear Ether!

Pimping a book: Gabriel’s Return

Do you like Science Fiction?  If you do, you will love the new series by Steve Umstead.  I read a review comparing Evan Gabriel with Snake Plissken and it is on the mark.  Think Snake Plissken on Mars, subtract the cheese, add a dollop of interstellar intrigue and pulse rifles and you have the world of Commander Evan Gabriel.

This is a new thing for me, I’ve only done a few book reviews in my time, but when I heard that Steve was releasing his second book and looking for a little help generating some interest I jumped in with both feet.  Hope you don’t mind if I wax eloquently on his new release.  No fancy bells or whistles here, just old-fashioned word of mouth.

I met Steve on twitter about a year ago and he was still working on his first release, Gabriel’s Redemption, and I immediately liked him.  When his book was published I bought it knowing full-well that it was self-published and wanted to throw him a bone, but it was extremely well-crafted, WITHOUT a lot of the pitfalls you hear about in the DIY format.  But that wasn’t all, the story moved fast and even though the protagonist is a grim man, it captured my attention from the word go.  I absolutely love his “Neuretics”, they are one of the cooler concepts I’ve read in quite a while.  Frankly, I’d love to steal this concept for my novel.  His near future world is extremely believable and his projected technology works like a charm.  Neuretics are a form of integrated brain-slash-nervous system-slash-secure internet-slash-radio tech that thoroughly rocks my world!  In Gabriel’s Return we find Commander Evan Gabriel in a happier place, and with a love interest.  I have to say the new life suits him well, even if he’s not entirely comfortable with it.  The second book is so often a letdown, but in this case it is an upgrade to the original.  Steve is getting better as a writer and it shows.   This Clancyesque story line takes us across the galaxy, but the stakes are more personal and more meaningful, ultimately creating a much more satisfying story.  I honestly can’t wait for the third book!

There is a great deal of discussion on the interwebs about traditional publishing vs. self-publishing and I for one haven’t decided which way I’m going to go, but Mr. Umstead is showing us how it’s done on the self-publishing side.  These books do not have typos or grammatical issues or discontinuities.  He has done his research and obviously has a very good editor.  I think Steve could go traditional with this series and I haven’t asked him why he didn’t, but I can tell you he is pumping them out very quickly now — all three in this trilogy within the same calendar year.  I’m guessing that has something to do with it.

 

The first two books are out now, the first available in soft cover or eBook, and the second only available on eBook currently with the 3rd novel in the trilogy coming out before Christmas!  He is shooting for a 1 December release.

I’m not going to go into detail on the plot, there are plenty of reviews on Amazon if you care to read them, in fact you can read the first three chapters for free here.  Stop by #pubwrite on twitter and say hello to the mayor, Steve Umstead himself.  I put my money where my mouth is, and it was well-spent.

Well done, sir!