One Quarter Done

This is an update to my last post. I am rewriting a short story that lost in a science fiction contest. Above is another illustration I hired someone to make for the story.

I am an estimated one quarter done with the first draft of my longer version of my short story that I am excited about. At 8,272 words for the first fourth, it is still going to be a shorter than a novel, but probably three times as long as it was before.

I usually plan my stories in quarters, where in the first quarter I introduce the setting, the situation, the protagonist, and some of the other important characters and try to build up interest. It ends at a decision point or event that sets the story in a new, riskier direction. Hopefully that is accomplished in this new first quarter of the story or will be in later adjustments.

Calling this ‘One Quarter Done‘ is deceptive because even for people who preplan before they write, the first draft is not the last draft. I had a busy couple of weeks with relatives visiting, my real job, and other interruptions. And next week I will be helping at a week long boy scout camp in a wilderness where the internet is not available. But after that I should be able to make good progress.

I want to share the first part of the story here which is currently the first scene of chapter 1. This may become the prologue or the whole chapter 1. This scene was not in the original short story.

Originally I started the story on the alien planet with Robert newly arrived. That seemed to beg much explaining and exposition. To exaggerate how bad it was, it went something like this:

I looked out my window from my hotel suite in the human spaceport on the planet Sonik and saw all that alien landscape… etc. etc. I had arrived yesterday from Earth … took 13 years to travel here …. woke up from hibernation … in the Procyon star system … outer space, outer space, outer space, etc. Oh yeah, and now I am here.

So I made this new scene where Robert can experience his arrival in a spaceship at the same time the reader is reading about it. This is intended to make the information more a part of the story than being just information. This is my official first draft of the new first scene:

The blurry face resolved to that of the hibernation technician, Uzoma, who had been trying to put me into an induced hibernation for the last fifteen minutes.

“I’m still conscious,” I complained.

“Incorrect wording,” said Uzoma. “You are conscious again.”

I felt cold, foggy headed and miserable still. The intravenous tubes and other cables were still attached to me, but the fluid in the tank I was submersed in was at a lower level. My face was above the fluid and I was  breathing air. Did that mean I would have to acclimate to breathing liquid all over again?

How much torture did I have to go through before I could be launched into space, escape Earth, and be on my way to the star Procyon A, my first interstellar trip. I decided to be patient a little while longer. I didn’t have the energy to do anything else.

“Your blood will be warmed to a normal temperature in six minutes.” Uzoma said. I can then disconnect you and you will be free to go.”

That was alarming. “You mean the flight is canceled? What’s wrong.”

Uzoma rolled her eyes and smiled. “You’re here. On Sonik.”

I was on the planet Sonik? Already? The gravity did feel a little heavier, I think. It was hard to tell. “What’s the date?” I asked.

Uzoma looked at a display panel. “UTC Earth time is 2:52pm, August eight, 2198. Local native time is the second hour of the afternoon, the 9th day of the 7th week of the 17th month, of the 2806th year since people were created.”

That meant I was unconscious for about thirteen years by Earth time. Space ships that traveled at near-light speeds made travel to Procyon possible, but not quite practical. My girlfriend on Earth, Fiona, would be thirty four years old now. My age would be complicated considering near light speed time dilation. And according to medical theory with the stasis of artificial hibernation, I had only aged about one month during the trip. I wasn’t feeling particularly young at the moment.

After a long wait, I had the strength to sit up, and Uzoma helped me out of the tank to a chair. She dried me off and helped me put on underpants and a gown.

“Robert, you’ll continue to feel foggy and weak for the remainder of the day,” Uzoma said. “Your hotel room is ready, your suitcase is already there, and your cargo trunks are in the luggage office by the settlement foyer. After a night’s sleep you should feel fine. Are you ready to be wheeled to your suite?”

I nodded, eager to lay down wherever there was peace and quiet.

There you have it. If you have never seen a first draft before, here is one. Comments and suggestions are welcome. I don’t guarantee that I will obey them all, but I do want to read your insight.

Detangling Quantum Entanglement

Note: Quantum Entanglement transceivers are used as fictional communication devices in each of my books that allow my characters to communicate over vast interstellar distances instantly. Julie Schoen (from fiverr.com) did some research for me and published her result here. I am also publishing it on my blog.

Detangling Quantum Entanglement: Can You Really Communicate at the Speed of Light?

Although people might like to believe that aliens and extraterrestrials are only relegated to the pages of science fiction books or the screens in our movie theaters, for centuries there have been people who firmly believe otherwise. From astronauts who have walked on our moon to, more recently, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, there have always been those on “the fringe” who not only believed in ET life, but felt like they had evidence to prove it.

The famous crash in Roswell, New Mexico thought to be one of the events that did such that, offering the proof of a ship and a body, although many still argue its validity.

In one of Musk’s recent interviews, he not only shared that he believes extraterrestrial super aliens a feasible possibility, he went on to say that, if they exist, they   existed, but that “they’re probably already observing us… and we’re just not smart enough to realize it.”

How’s that for a kick to your human ego?

A long time ago, my middle school Language Arts teacher asked my class to read Ender’s Game. Not my typical cup of tea, considering Jane Austen was, and still is, the be-all-end-all author in my book, I found myself fascinated by the world Orson Scott Card created.

But, being the daughter of an engineer who constantly questioned and destroyed every possibility of Star Wars being possible, I found myself skeptic – and I went back to Emma and her matchmaking (which, if you’re an Orson Scott Card or sci-fi fan probably means very little to you).

And then I moved to Boulder and found myself immersed in a company that not only wholeheartedly believes in intelligent life on other planets, many of the people they work with believe that they are contacting people here on this planet, perhaps even right here among us.

Yes, I live in New Mexico. No, I’ve never felt like I have seen something inexplicable streak across the night sky.

However, I was interested to see what the possibility of all of this really could be. Now, I’m far from being an expert but I have some incredibly smart people in my life that let me pick their brains, especially about communication with extraterrestrials: is it actually possible to talk with life on other planets in real time? Or, at least, without having to wait hundreds of years for a text message to finally arrive in your inbox?

During this picking I was pointed to fiction books that have some plausible ideas about communication with other planets, the idea of quantum entanglement, and, less helpful, Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory.

I found myself tangled in quantum entanglement, which apparently is no surprise to anyone familiar with the concept. In a nutshell, quantum entanglement is a phenomenon that joins particles in their quantum state so that they are no longer separate – everything becomes one whole no matter how far apart they are. Albert Einstein is one of the scientists to write about this phenomenon, something non-scientist folk can understand as “spooky action at a distance”.

To break this down in an easier to understand way, quantum entanglement posits that if a particle were spun on one side of the world and it was entangled with another, the spinning of that first particle would cause the second to spin as well and in the same direction.

Yep, spooky.

Some physicists believe that quantum entanglement is the answer to extraterrestrial communication, although it hasn’t been proven yet that information can actually be carried and passed through this phenomenon. There is an interesting book that was written about quantum entanglement being a possible scientific explanation for ESP and psychic readings, although, of course, everything in this realm of science is always up for debate.

(Haven’t Sheldon and Leonard taught you anything?)

So the big question is if you can find a way to send information with entangled particles as doing so would allow for speed of light (or faster) communication that could put us in cahoots with super smart aliens on Planet X (or was it Y?)

While the decision is still out with the jury, many physicists say that you can’t simply because trying to alter the state of an entangled particle breaks the entanglement. And then, there are the ones that argue there’s a way around it – they just haven’t figured it out exactly yet.

But, where there’s a will, there’s usually a way.

And if quantum entanglement isn’t the answer, is there somewhere else to look?

Perhaps interstellar beacons can be used to create some sort of informative light show, like an EDM festival crossed with Dan Rather.

Others believe that learning to understand dolphins may hold the key to unlocking extraterrestrial communication. In fact, researchers in Hawaii are currently practicing communicating with animals, like dolphins, in order to prepare for contact. Researchers involved with this project say that when they’re asked if they believe “we’re alone”, they answer, “No, we’re not alone. There are many animals communicating right here that we don’t understand.”

Point taken.

And this is where my dizzying exploration into the detangling of quantum entanglement came to a screeching halt. Can you learn to communicate at the speed of light? My guess, contrary to Elon Musk’s belief in our lack of intelligence, is that of course we can – it’s just a matter of time. But, until an alien comes up to me on the street to try to ask for directions, I’m going to focus on honing my communication skills for the intelligent beings on this planet.

Flipper, will you be my friend?

It’s On Amazon

My latest book is listed for sale on Amazon.com. That seems like the final proof that it’s published and the work is done. I can show my friends that I am a published author with multiple books.

Actually, I still need to publish the kindle version, especially since that is expected to sell the most. And I will publish the paper color version with color interior illustrations, but that will sell the least because of the high cost. But that will be easy on my part, once createspace.com has it formatted.

This is the best moment in writing a book, when it’s done and on sale. Tiziana from freelancer.com designed a beautiful book cover for it.

Cover Claymore

Introducing Supporting Characters

Supporting characters are important in most stories. Chapter seven of my work in progress introduces Phee, the green girl in the picture who is the major character besides Claymore himself (the other green species). I didn’t just want her to show up for no reason. Her existence on the same planet as Claymore changes the whole story.

Chapter seven was originally the first chapter until I found I needed introduce Claymore and establish his personal conflicts first. Then Phee’s appearance could be all about her, and the significant twist she presents to Claymore’s goals and hopes. Phee represents mystery, and evidence that the criminals Claymore is trying to hunt down are way bigger than a few street hoodlums. He still won’t know how big until later.

Introducing Phee properly was so important to me that chapter seven is probably the most carefully crafted chapter in the book. (Though, I’m still an amateur no matter how hard I craft.)

This illustration for the chapter is another by tizianafruiu of freelancer.com. Here Claymore is trying to research the strange planet Phee came from. I think Tiziana did a good job making research look intense.

chapter-7-final

Claymore and Content Editing

Hello. It has been a while since my last blog post. I have been working on my next novel, tentatively titled Claymore.

A preliminary bit of news is that my published book ‘Baktu’ is now available in audio format.

In my last post I claimed that my last book in the Tomek series was all planned. Well, things change. I decided the plans were too big to fit comfortably in one book, so I planned three books. With the current plan there will be a total of five novels in the series. I have finished the first (sharable) draft of Claymore last Saturday. That does not mean I am ready to publish it. However I am excited by this milestone because it means I can start dragging in help in the form of content editors.

I have been noticing fiverr.com, and decided to try a sample of the service from two specific content editors that are sellers there. For a sample I submitted my first chapter of Claymore to each of them.  The chapter is between 1500 and 2000 words. One cost me $10 and the other was $20. Both of the editors turned out to be good. I want to share one of the results here, in case you want to see what a good content editor does to your draft. Click here: ClaymoreChapter1_developmental_edit_CateHogan

Now I want to sent in my full manuscript for content editing, but I need to fix my chapter 1 first, based on the editor’s input.

When I send in one of my precious documents for editing, I usually go through stages. I don’t know if these stages are typical of all authors (who use content or developmental editing) but I will list mine anyway:

  1. Almost immediately after I submit it, I am impatient to get the results. I monitor my email  several times a day. I am tempted to contact the neighbor girl (when I hire her) or check guru.com, freelancer.com or fiverr.com (if I hired services from there) several time a day, and sometimes I give in to the temptation.
  2. I get the manuscript back and read all the comments and notes the editor made, with feverish anticipation.
  3. And then I feel crushed, deflated. The evil editor found flaws. They have implied that my precious words, that I worked so many months on, of are  defective. You won’t feel that when you read mine because you haven’t given birth those darling  words. I even start feeling rebellious. What to editors know anyway? What is so special about their opinion? I am exaggerating. The editor is usually polite about it, and they do sprinkle in compliments.
  4. I think about it. For a full book manuscript I ponder a whole day on it. I start to understand what they are talking about, and understand why those flaws weaken the story. I start seeing how the book could be so much better if I make specific adjustments to address the various issues they pointed out.
  5. And now I am excited. I can’t want to add all those improvements.

In the specific content editor’s notes attached to this blog, some things you will see are where the editor simply misunderstood. And that is good information too. I don’t want the reader to misunderstand. For example, the editor complained that I had Ramos (the human) looked down to talk to Claymore. Since Claymore has four arms he should be taller, right? No. Navinos have always been shorter than humans in the series. So I need to clarify that somehow in chapter 1. There was another item that was a simple misunderstanding.

Another specific item, and this one is a big deal, is that Claymore is not properly motivated. The reader does not have a sense of why Claymore would take risks, or why helping Phee would interest him enough to make sacrifices. This, I decided was deadly important. Sure Claymore wants law and justice for all (like I do in real life, so I automatically assume the reader has the same feelings). But is that enough? Even if is  a valid motivation, it is not specific enough. (Like she pointed out, there are lots of injustices in the news. What is so special about Phee’s situation?) And even that were his only motivation, I have not properly shown enough of Claymore’s background to show why. I am not sure all of this motivation needs to be established in chapter one, but I think I will try to do it in a prologue + chapter 1.

In any case I am planning on giving this serious attention. I now have planned something very specific about Claymore’s background that I want to write as an exciting prologue, where he loses someone dear to him. And it’s something that not only motivates him to help Phee, but goes beyond that and has specific repercussions in the remainder of the book and the plot. I won’t tell you the specifics of my plan, but I am excited to implement this new idea. The bad news is now I have to write a prologue, rewrite chapter 1, and make adjustments throughout the book. Probably before I submit the whole book for content editing. My schedule slides again, but that’s normal.

Prepare for the Visual Feast!

BaktuIllustrationsFrontCoverSmall

Baktu Illustrations Newly Released as FULL COLOR Special Edition!

Welcome back friends!

Happily, there is even more great news to share about Baktu! Cass here at the blog helm again, checking to inform you of the latest developments about the printing of the book and distribution on Amazon.

As those who purchased early copies of book two in the Tomek series will know, the novel contains beautiful illustrations from contest winning artists, sourced from around the world. As he shared the novel with others Jimm learned personally of Baktu collaborators and fans of the written word who wanted to badly to see the original versions, that he pulled the trigger on an accompanying printed graphic which is just now available to the public, also on Amazon.

Due to the cost of full color publication of the entire epic, the artwork had to be printed in black and white throughout. As you experience the image in only the form of light and shadow, it gives the drawings within the full length novel a nostalgic and dream like quality. Each visual likeness leaves your imagination to explore and envision the colors, hues, and contrast of every depicted scene. This difficult choice to remove color from the pages was done with the purpose to make the book more economically priced and therefore accessible to more readers.

After seeing full novel in print, Jimm knew he wasn’t quite done sharing the diversity of talented artists who had contributed to the novel. It then also became of high importance to Jimm, as he progressed through the project, that the audience be given the opportunity to enjoy the full beauty of the different graphic styles of the artwork in high resolution full color.

Personally, it is such a treat to see both the black and white, as well as the full color side by side as I read the novel again. Sometimes my imagination closely matched the artist’s rendering, and other times I was delighted to see that the artist had chosen nearly the opposite colors to what sprang from my imagination.

In the full novel your imagination really makes the drawings your own as your mind’s eye fills in the details between light and dark – whereas the stunning high-resolution drawings provide every detail and some surprises as to the artist’s interpretation of the story. The full novel and the special edition collection of color illustrations are complimentary books, and make a beautiful set for avid readers and science fiction fans of all ages! In this newest release of the drawings accompanied by a short blurb about each artist, you may find yourself lost in the soulful pictures, and dreaming up the prequel as well as back story for Wra, Spri, and the other natives of Baktu.

After you’ve enjoyed them both, please feel free to leave your comments or questions for the author about both the story and illustrations here! I’ll be back with you to share the next developments for the Tomek series! Thank you again to all the fans for your support and interest. Your continued curiosity and compliments have been a joy for everyone who contributed to the project, and especially for those artists who thanks to Jimm are able to bring the adventures of Tomek to both the digital and print world in black and white and brilliant color! Thank you!

Amazon: Illustrations in Baktu (54 pages): collected by Jimm Grogan

Amazon: Baktu: Book Two in the Tomek Series, By Jimm Grogan (356 pages, black and white)

For more information: https://jimmgrogan.com/

Contact: https://jimmgrogan.com/contacts/

Baktu Accepted Into Amazon’s Scout Program and Publishing Competition

Amazon Approved Baktu to Move Forward – Includes First Sneak Peek For Readers!

Baktu Novel Cover

Baktu, the second science fiction novella in the Tomek series.

Great news fans! You’re invited to a private sneak peek of Baktu hosted by Amazon Kindle!

Hi Everyone! Cass here again, guest blogger, with the pleasure of sharing the first official flames of attention for Baktu! As you know Jim’s book is complete, has now also gone through the sometimes complex editing process, and as the publishing date approaches, more and more good news for fans of the series keeps coming out!

Just this week Baktu was awarded admittance into Amazon’s Kindle Scout competition for unpublished manuscripts. You the reader directly benefit in this unique competition, because as part of the program, Amazon allows you to check out the first few chapters and nominate Baktu for publishing through the competition, for free. As well as another benefit after the competition concludes.

Starting today you will have a full month to check out Baktu’s opening section, nominate it for publishing, and share it with anyone – for free!

After that, and with the most nominations in this competition group, their program additionally rewards those readers who nominated Baktu by providing each of you a complimentary Kindle eBook edition of the entire book to keep!

Please do support the continuation of this fun sci-fi series by enjoying Amazon’s advance preview and offering Baktu your publication nomination after you have taken pleasure in the exhilarating opening scenes and developing story! When Baktu moved onto the next stage your participation at this early stage guarantees you a complimentary copy of the full novel as soon as it’s released by Amazon!

The anticipation of Tomek’s landing, at the outset of Baktu, and escape from the dangerous powers in the previous novel, Negative Zero, are only the first mysteries revealed to readers who take advantage of Amazon Kindle’s sneak peak. You will soon be lost in this fascinating world that is both totally alien and not all that much unlike our own world. If only we had the intergalactic travel, Baktu would definitely be a must see destination.

It has been noted that along with the book’s cover, a large part of Tomek’s journey includes the mysterious illustrations always intended for inclusions the final print publication. Amazon’s Scout competition, however, only allows for the novel’s cover and text to be reviewed and nominated. But, we are glad to report that after winning, when published and sent by Amazon to all those who nominated it, we can confirm that Baktu’s eBook will definitely include the full set of color illustrations!

This is a really great opportunity and deeply appreciated honor for Baktu to have met their standards for publication and to have gained immediate admittance into the active competition. We invite you to please visit Baktu on Amazon’s contest page, enjoy the sneak peek, and give Baktu your nomination! Please do also share the experience of your reading it with everyone you know and also with Jim directly here on the site!

Amazon’s Scout Competition: Kindle Scout Amazon: Baktu

URL Link: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/3KSTIP7RAU1QL

 

For more information

https://jimmgrogan.com/

Contact: https://jimmgrogan.com/contacts/

Your Sneak Peek of the Anticipated Sequel

Steal a Look into Baktu’s Story of Struggle and Discovery

Hi fans! Cass here, guest blogger for Baktu’s approaching release date! I’ve been given a pre-published glimpse of the upcoming novel Baktu, and although I can’t give away any details, I can say you won’t be able to put it down once you start reading!

Both existing fans and new readers will love this great continuation and development of an epic space-adventure in the sequel novel, Baktu. Following the success of his first novel Negative Zero, author Jim Grogan knew the characters and story would continue greatly inspire and also reach more readers, so he set out to develop this next installment.

Although set on another world far from earth, Baktu deeply hits home for earthly every person, as each man, woman, and child has their own life story of challenge, connection, discovery, and breakthrough. The main character, an inventive, handsome, and somewhat rebellious engineer and pilot, Tomek, begins the prologue and carries forward in this second novel as the author’s point of view for the opening sections of the book.

Tomek’s nonconformist nature is highlighted several times in the opening scenes, as he must chose to decide, under pressure and in the moment, if he is to abide by the standards and rules of others, or if he will risk the possibly disastrous and deadly consequences to control his own destiny. Is begs the question then to any reader, if you were Tomek, what would you do? Although none of us will be flying a spaceship any time soon, everyone can imagine a situation in their lives where they had to either rely on the roles and information given to us from others, or to make up the rules, information, and decisions to carve our own path through space and time.

As with Tomek, there is an explorer living deep inside many of us. It may be a desire to explore space, like Tomek, or science, electronics or art and music. This sequel, Baktu, brings to each person the chance to model their struggle through the experience of Tomek, and other characters introduced throughout the novel. In this installment, Tomek’s purpose is in conflict. He has a burning personal desire to explore, understand, and connect with the planet’s range of live and resources, but also he must not become distracted from his direct purpose, of finding and saving someone close to him from life threatening danger. He hopes something or someone on the planet has the clues he needs, but being the alien on a foreign planet presents unique tests and problems he must resolve to understand and benefit from the world around him.

Although Tomek feels welcomed by the inhabitants, and relatively safe (if not for the planet’s strange beasts that are allowed to roam free and sometimes even bred for their brute strength), he does feel that they aren’t truly open to him. He has been very plain and open in his quest for clues or direct information, and even with the connections that he might now regard as friends, it is clear there are some things that they keep to themselves. He senses no malice or trouble from them, just a distance that he cannot possibly explain as the secret might be any of the many odd occurrences he has encountered so far.

You should read this book for several reasons. I’ve only got space to list a few of them here, but trust me on this and you’ll enjoy the rewards both during and after completing Baktu. First, the characters are the kinds of people we would all want in our own lives, either at home or while on an epic space adventure. They’re honest, supportive, not limiting and each have an adventurous spirit in their own way. Second, as I’ve said before, each of us has some personal or career struggle that seems impossible or hopeless, and through Tomek’s journey we see how his ingenuity and unwillingness to give up, eventually to resolve his problems or lead to the next step in resolving his problems. We could all use a great example like him in times of trouble or in those moments of helplessness. Third, but perhaps most importantly, the combination of the story and the characters are great role models for readers of any age. Parents can be assured that young adults are being exposed to material that will grow their belief in their own ability to create and succeed, and might only have to worry that they’ll take the book to enjoy and read themselves!

Adult readers will find clearly presented and relevant issues and themes hidden in this fiction novel, which connect with every aspect of the reader’s life. Pursuing your own personal interests, while also fitting into a known (or in Tomek’s case unknown) society is a struggle for anyone. Starting a new job, moving to a new town or country, or in the case of Tomek, having landed on another planet is bound to the start of an eye opening adventure. Although the reader is quickly presented with new species, words, and customs, the themes and challenges in the opening chapters are universal, and quickly pull your attention along into the next scene.

As I was enjoying the unfolding story, wondering how and where it would take me to finally discover the upcoming action-packed climax, as I was becoming attached to Tomek’s journey and discoveries, and also pondering what the outcome of their latest troubles might be, my sneak peek abruptly ended. Had it been a scrolling single sheet of real paper it would have shot out of my hands like paper streamers. I hope to have another update for your reading pleasure very soon and giving you the latest on Tomek’s progress!

Why I became a writer

For decades I have enjoyed reading science fiction. For decades I imagined different plots and situations in science fiction worlds. I started five different novels, only getting one to four chapters done before getting distracted with life. I drew maps, imagined alien cultures, and investigated the scientific plausibility of different technologies and worlds.

Finally, in May 2013, I decided I needed to write a real book. I made it a goal to complete one in a year. It was fun. I did have to discipline myself to write at least three times a week for a couple hours each, instead of watching Netflix.

Actually my progress was discouraging. I have made a huge complex plan for my story, about 50 chapters, and I was not keeping up with the two chapters each month. Then I decided to break it up into a trilogy. After planning again so that book 1 would be a good stand alone novel, and fit into a trilogy, I was ahead of schedule. A new wave of enthusiasm hit me, and in January 2014, I was done.

Except then I found out there was more work than just getting the first draft done. I hired Anjanette Oborn as my editor, and she convinced me I needed to make some changes to the plots and rewrite several chapters, adding material to important events that I had just summarized in the draft. After considerable more effort, and starting to worry if I would ever get it done, and running out of energy, she coaxed me on. And we finished.

She suggested that I try to get it published through a traditional publisher, but I did not have enough confidence to try that. Maybe I should of followed her suggestion, but self publishing was a lot of fun, if less profitable. I got to make all the decisions about illustrations, price, book size, and everything.

I am happy with my first book. The second edition (of the same book) will be available in a few days with different illustrations. Also, I have made some progress on the sequel.

I still have my full time day job as a computer engineer, and I have not made even close to the money I spend on the book, but it was cheaper than a vacation to Hawaii and the fun lasted longer.