Enlisted: Agent O’Neal Saga Book One

War reaches every corner – even the far reaches of Jupiter.

The orbital colony station, Jov 1-H, fighting for independence and freedom from Earth, is home to thousands of people. Sixteen-year-old Des O’Neal is thrust into a world he desired not to be in – spies, plots and trickery abound when a saboteur attempts to destroy the station.

Enraged by the attack on his home, Des charges in head first. He fights an unknown enemy who knows more about him, than he knows. No one can be trusted – even Des’s own brother.

How far will Des go to save his brother and his own life? If you like Space Opera and Spy Thrillers, then you will love this action-packed adventure.

Grab a copy of Enlisted today!

Free Chapter

Please enjoy Chapter One for your reading pleasure. Remember to head over to Amazon to purchase your copy today.

Chapter 1

Des O’Neal walked through the darkened corridors of the Undercroft of the Jovian 1-H Space Station. The poorly lit metal corridors smelled like wet, dirty socks.

Even with the pungent odor, it reminded Des he was lucky to live where he did. He didn’t live in some habitat on some planet or moon. He didn’t breathe recycled air, nor was he being forced to stare at nothing but steel bulkheads and vidscreens showing images of greenery he would never experience. Des lived in the middle of a spinning space station, which had been compared to a giant spinning park. It was better than the moon of Europa.

Europa, being terraformed over a hundred years before, thawed with the thickening atmosphere. The settlements built into the ice sunk to the bottom of the sea. There was more liquid water on the tiny moon than on the planet Earth. Tall towers stretched up from the ocean floor to the surface on Europa. Only the rich, and influential managed to live anywhere near the surface. They were the only ones who had any chance of having any type of fresh air. Everything else on Europa was recycled.

Des’s family weren’t rich, nor influential. His brother and himself lived with their father, who had been a mechanic on Europa, while his mother was an engineer on an interplanetary cargo vessel. They lived under the surface of the moon-wide ocean. He hadn’t seen real sunlight until after his tenth birthday.

On this station, Des was happier, as happy as can be expected considering the events which facilitated his move. Some of the air was still recycled, and the daylight manufactured, but he had green grass to run in and fields to explore.

Of course, he spent most of his free time crawling underground in the Undercroft. It reminded him of Europa in some ways.

Des moved out of the tight space he squeezed himself into and put his recorder away in his pocket. He looked around to see if he had been seen by anyone.

“Des,” Elsie Dagg called out from a nearby corridor. “Where in the system have you gotten to now?”

Elsie walked out from the corridor. She was a girl from Des’s class in school and one of his better friends. Elsie was a year older than Des’s sixteen. Despite the age difference, Des was tall and skinny for his age. Most people didn’t know he was the younger of the pair. He swore he was taller than Elsie was, but the amount was less than a finger width and seemed to disappear depending on the shoes she wore.

He looked over to Elsie as she approached. She was still in her school uniform, a knee length skirt, standard white button-up shirt, a blue tie, and the blue colored school jacket. Her jacket fitted the curves of her teenage body. She had taken the time to adjust the jacket’s fit properly.

Des was dressed much the same. Instead of wearing a skirt, he wore a pair of blue pants. His jacket didn’t fit and was looser than he would’ve liked. Not that he thought a guy could get a jacket to fit him.

Elsie carried a flashlight, shining the light into his eyes. “There you are, you fool.”

“Stop that,” Des replied.

Elsie lowered her flashlight, “Sorry.”

“No worries,” Des said, his eyes adjusting back to the darkness. “I told you I was going this way.” He pointed a finger where she had walked from, “And that way was going to be harder to get through.”

“Harder?” Elsie said. “It wasn’t hard.”

“You ripped your jacket,” Des said, putting his finger in the hole, “Again.”

“Oh, no,” Elsie said. “My mom is going to space me.”

“No, she isn’t. She’ll scold you and maybe take away something, but she won’t force you out an airlock.”

“It’s a figure of speech.” Elsie rolled her eyes. “Idiot.”

“Where’s Fillip?” Des said, “I thought you were gonna bring him this time.”

“He’s cowering by the entrance. He said we shouldn’t be in here because it’s for ‘authorized personnel only.’”

“Flat Lander.”

“You shouldn’t call people that.”

“Why not?”

“Cause it’s rude and inaccurate,” Elsie said. “Planets and moons aren’t flat, and unlike a certain person who insists on breaking the rules. We were born here.”

“Whatever.”

“How much longer are we going to explore this blasted place” Elsie asked, “I’m getting hungry, we should get to the Diner. I could use a burger.”

“Doesn’t your family not eat meat?”

“They don’t, but I do.”

Des jumped. A red light flashed on in the middle of the corridor. The whine of a siren echoed down the dusty metallic hallway. To Des, the siren sounded weird, like something in the speaker was broken. For a moment, Des was unsure what the alarm was for.

“Ah… They’ve caught us. We need to get out of here.” Panic raising into her voice.

“Calm down,” Des said, “It’s an evacuation alarm.”

A voice echoed down the corridor from the alarm came.

“Level four alert,” the Emergency Voice said from the speakers, “All civilians please evacuate to the nearest shelter. All Emergency Personnel, please report to your duty stations.”

The voice then repeated itself endlessly.

“Calm down?” Elsie cried, “We are under attack. I don’t want to die.”

“We aren’t going to die,” Des said, attempting to reason.

“Where’s the closest exit?” Elsie panicked. “We need to get to a shelter, or we’ll get into even more trouble than just being in the Undercroft.”

Des grabbed her hand, bolting down the nearest corridor. “This way,” Des shouted.

He was sure it was the best way out. He had been through this area before. In the Undercroft, every sector was the same.

He bumped into a wall. A pile of dust and debris fell from the ceiling. Des ran down the corridor, dragging Elsie with him. He took little time to dodge the obstacles in his way, jumping over pieces of disconnected and abandoned pipes. His school shoes barely gripped on the steel floor.

“Slow down,” Elsie shouted. “I can’t keep up.”

The station shook violently. Des lost his footing, tumbling to the ground in a heap. Elsie, still holding onto his hand, tripped on Des’s flailing feet, landing on his chest.

Wind escaped from his lungs. He tried to suck air back in, finding it difficult.

“Are you okay?” Elsie asked.

“Yes,” Des choked, “but you’re heavier than you look.”

Elsie punched his shoulder. “Meany,” Elsie growled, getting off Des.

Des and Elsie followed the corridor to the nearby exit. The amount of debris in the passages increased the further they walked, forcing them to take a slower pace. Des felt confident this corridor was emptier the last time he had walked through it.

“Is this the same exit we came in at?” Elsie asked. “I’m completely turned around.”

“It is,” Des confirmed, “We should come out near the central market in the Teal Sector.”

Des slammed into the door. It was stiffer than he remembered. He shouldered the door a second time. It flew open. Des and Elsie bolted out into the station. The bright light of the station blinded them for a brief moment.

#

Des slid to a stop, exiting the door to the Undercroft. He wasn’t in the residential Teal Sector. He was in the middle of a farming sector. Fields stretched out around him. The golden wheat glowed in the artificial sunlight.

He looked to his left and his right. The inside of the station stretched up in a distinct curve. Des thought of the station as a giant, stretched-out donut with the center filled in. People lived inside the ‘donut,’ on its edge under the crust.

“Look who’s the flatlander that got us lost,” Elsie said.

“We’re not lost,” Des said. “We’re in the middle of the Ruby Sector.”

“We’re supposed to be in the Teal Sector, over there,” Elsie said, pointing up.

Along the inside curve of the station, Des could see the houses and businesses of the Teal Sector. Des thought he could make out his brother’s school in the very center of it. It was the tallest building in the sector.

The station shook violently. Des scrambled to keep his footing. He grabbed hold of Elsie.

“We need to get to the Teal Sector,” Elsie said. “If this station breaks apart, I don’t want to be with a bunch of strangers. I want to be with my family.”

“No time,” Des said. “We need to get to a shelter.”

Des and Elsie ran down the dirt road, passing trees and flowers. The birds in the trees sang without a care for the problems of humankind. Up ahead of them was a small group of buildings. Des assumed it must be the barns and storage buildings used by the farms.

“There will be a shelter in one of those buildings,” Des yelled.

Des ran ahead, and Elsie followed trying hard to keep up.

“Wait up,” Elsie called out from behind.

Des reached the buildings and turned a corner. High up on a wall, with its chipped paint was a sign with an arrow said: Crimson Sector Shelter 104-2A.

“Elsie,” Des called, “this way.”

Elsie caught up with him, heaving for breath, and leaned against the wall.

“This is ridiculous,” Elsie said exasperated.

“You should run more in Gym Class,” Des said. “Train more.”

“You be quiet.” Elsie said, then after a moment. “I’m ready. Let’s go.”

Des and Elsie ran down the dirt road along the different buildings. In a small corner was a big sign reading: Crimson Sector Shelter 104-2A. Full. Please go to Crimson Sector Shelter 104-2B.

“First you get us lost,” Elsie said, “then when the station is about to get blown up, the shelter is full.”

The voice echoed from a speaker on the top of a building.

“Level four alert,” the Emergency Voice said, “All civilians please evacuate to the nearest shelter. All Emergency Personnel, please report to your duty stations.”

Des looked around amongst the cluster of buildings. In between the different maintenance and support buildings for the farms, was a couple of small shops selling coffee and small lunch items.

He glanced around. The workers had abandoned the cluster in a hurry leaving tools and farm equipment scattered everywhere. One cow was eating some grass on the side of the road.

Over in a corner was a U-Ride station. Des grinned at the hover-scooter rental locker, making a dash for it. Des could rent a hover-scooter with the swipe of his ID-card.

“Can you afford a scooter?” Des yelled over his shoulder.

“No,” Elsie said, “My mom cut my allowance. Can you rent one for me?”

Des swiped the Auto-pad on the U-Ride. A small red light turned green, and a single hover-scooter of the correct size was released.

He swiped again. An ‘Insufficient Funds’ notification popped on the screen.

“Stupid Uncle Jacob,” Des muttered.

“What?” Elsie said.

“I don’t have enough for a second scooter. My uncle didn’t transfer my money like he said he was going to. We have to double up on the scooter.”

The station shook aggressively once more.

The Emergency Voice echoed from a speaker on the top of a building once again. “Level four alert.”

Des tuned it out. Hopping on the scooter, he motioned for Elsie to jump on behind him.

“Get on the best you can,” Des said. “We have to go.”

Elsie stuck her tongue out at him, climbing on. She wrapped her arms around Des’s chest.

“If I fall off and die, I will haunt you,” Elsie said.

Des struggled with the controls. He was used to the single person scooters. What he needed was a double. However, the way his luck ran, there were none at this rental. After a few moments, Des soared down the road with Elsie screaming behind him.

“You’re going too fast. You’re going too fast,” Elsie yelled.

A cluster of buildings stood in the distance. The size and amount of the buildings were similar to the ones they left behind. Everything was cut and paste. The needs of the workers were the same as one another. As such, each group of buildings was nearly identical.

Des flew into the farming cluster. He screeched to a stop near the heavy doors to the shelter, leaving the scooter laying on its side.

“We’re here,” Des said. “And we didn’t die.”

“Just barely,” Elsie replied.

Sprinting up to the door, the faded black lettering of the shelter announcing its vacancy.

The voice echoed from a speaker on the top of a building.

“Level one alert,” the Emergency Voice said, “Danger has passed. All civilians, please report to the nearest supervisor for debriefing.” There was a pause in the voice, “Des O’Neal and Elsie Dagg report to Captain Kusheeno.”

This ends the free preview chapter. 

Please head over to Amazon for more.

Worldbuilding and Logic Rant

This is a ramble that I had late one night on social media. I thought it was interesting and that I should put it here.

Rant

I write my books in two main genres, which are Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The reason I do this is that they both scratch a different itch.

I enjoy science fiction cause I am a futurist. I enjoy telling stories about what I think the future could look like. I’m the type of person who wishes we had flying cars by now.

Science fiction is the question of what can happen. When it comes to creating my science fiction stories, I never choose the best choice for what could happen. This means that it is not the most probable or most straightforward. I choose what will happen based on what will cause the most conflict in the story. Conflict equals stories, and if there is no conflict, then there is no story.

I still try to figure out how to create the world, so it makes plausible sense. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it has to have some type of internal logic. Without any logic to the world, then the actions of the characters don’t make sense.

The starships should act in a certain way. Gravity still exists, and no matter where the characters are in the galaxy, they are in orbit around something. Either a moon, a planet, a star, or the center of the galaxy. The ships will act in a certain way.

I imagine it like being on the ocean. The wind and the currents dictate what a ship will do. A sailing ship has to move a specific way, or else it won’t move very fast. With diesel engines and the like, it allows ships to ignore some aspects of sailing on the open seas. Now, they don’t care what the wind does. But they listen to the currents. It is why there are shipping lanes. Having a ship go with the current saves on fuel.

In space, the same thing exists. Right now, we are in the equivalent to the sailing ship. We don’t have the energy to go against gravity and planetary movements. We have to ship things on long trips using gravity slings to get things where they need to go. If we figure out more efficient energy sources, then we may be able to take quicker routes. But like sailing on the ocean, taking routes where the aid of the gravitational force in travel will be a thing.

With fantasy, it is the question of what could have been. History is rich with stories and conflict and having some type of fantastical story set in a world that never was interesting to me. Back in my twenties, I did the Tolkein, and I had created a fantastical world complete with a map and different cultures. This was cause I was told that was the best way to do it. Create a map and peoples to inhabit said map.

I’ve refrained from doing that craziness to my later worldbuilding ideas. But there is still logic to it.

No matter what Hollywood tells us, swords won’t cut through metal armor. Battles in the middle ages resulted in very few casualties from combat. Most soldiers died of disease on a campaign than a sword blow. In battle, it was considered a massacre if ten percent of the soldiers died. Battles were about breaking the morale of the enemy, rather than slaughtering the entire enemy.  These aspects are just some of the logic used with creating a fantasy story.

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavors, please sign up for my newsletter, visit my Amazon Author Page and purchase one of my books. Or buy me a coffee. Your help and support are much appreciated.

 

Motivation vs Discipline

Being a creative, I hear all the time that people aren’t motivated to do artistic endeavors that day. It’s a sad thing as they don’t know the difference between motivation and discipline.

Meaning of Motivation from Dictionary.com:

The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

Meaning of Discipline from Dictionary.com:

The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.

So what is the difference?

Motivation is only a desire or willingness to do something. While discipline is a practice of doing something. Discipline is the reason why someone will get up at 5 am to go for a run. Discipline is why a worker goes to work for “the man,” as getting fired is the most likely punishment.

If a person is only motivated, then it is easy to put off the unwanted task. Motivation can be ignored as there is nothing behind the motivation. The second part of the definition of “discipline” is that it uses punishment to correct disobedience.

So what happens if a person doesn’t go for a run that morning? Simple, they don’t improve, and then get behind in their training. If a person is only motivated, then it’s easy to shrug it off. A disciplined person will hate the idea of not improving. A disciplined person sees a lack of training as a failure.

For me, it isn’t motivation that keeps me going each day. It’s discipline. There’s no one standing over me with a whip making me do this. I’m working so hard with my writing because I want to. It’s my choice to improve my writing, and it’s my choice to use discipline to help me make my goals.

My discipline is to keep the writing going. I have managed to write 356k words and 251 days in a row since the beginning of the year. With my blog posts, it’s the fact that I have managed to write one every week. Those three facts have kept me going, especially on days like today, where I don’t have the motivation to do anything.

On days like today, where I have no intention to do anything. Where I’m tired, grumpy, and completely and utterly unmotivated, however, I am also disciplined. I have been doing this for 251 days in a row, and I’m not going to stop now.

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavors, please sign up to my newsletter, visit my Amazon Author Page and purchase one of my books. Or buy me a coffee. Your help and support are much appreciated.

Area 51, Projects and Too Many Ideas

As a writer, I am often asked where do I get my ideas from. As you may have read in previous blog posts, I have discussed how I get ideas multiple times, and I won’t be repeating them.

However, to sum up, I pick a few basic ideas, then ask a thousand question about them to form a solid idea and story.

I have it so that I can pull up an idea out of almost anything. In the last week, I have been asked if I wanted to submit a short story with a speedy turnaround. The story would be centered around the Area 51 meme going around.

61922

I’m partway through the short story that I am writing it for the anthology. It’s going well, but that’s not the important part. The important part is that I was able to form a story in a short amount of time. Luckily for me, I’m able to keep it small and compact.

For me, the issue is not that I no story ideas on the go, but that I have too many. For right now, I’m going to give a short recap of some of the story ideas. Some of them are only ideas, while others I am waiting for a cover.

Published Works

Felix the Swift

A trilogy set in my Agersolum universe. It’s about a thief who becomes a master mage and seeks to save all of Magic. The first book can be found here.

Tokyo Tempest

A trilogy where a high school kid has to somehow survive in Tokyo after Yellowstone blows up. The first book can be found here.

O’Neal Trilogy

A trilogy set in my Beyond Terra Continuum universe. Where a high schooler is forced into the world of espionage. The first book can be found here.

Works in Progress

Those three trilogies aren’t complete yet. They have other books on the go and will be published when they can. Some of my other trilogies:

Jovian Marines

Set in my Beyond Terra Continuum universe where the Jovian Marines are left for dead on an enemy-occupied planet. So far a trilogy is planned.

Mech Warrior

Mech Warrior is a working title for a trilogy. Set in my Beyond Terra Continuum universe where it is a mix of lost in space and Mech Warrior.

VR Game

This story I had been puzzling with for a while before I decided to start writing. I wanted a stand-alone novel, but it is going to be a trilogy. Trapped in a VR game where a players death would mean their real death.

Cornucopolus

Set in a world where gods, demons, demi-gods, and angels walk among the people. The heir to a dead clan must find a way to get revenge for the death of his people. All while risking slavery, and death.

The Game

Set in my Beyond Terra Continuum universe. It can be called the origin story of the story-verse. Alien beings kidnap a million people to fight to the death in a game for nefarious means. I want it to be a trilogy; however, it will end up much longer.

Eloc the Warrior

Set in my Agersolum world about a young serf being thrust into the army to fight for a noble lord he had never met. This will be a trilogy.

Mal Kil, the Pirate

Another set in my A\gersolum world about the heir to a noble house. He is betrayed by his older brother and cast out into the world one step ahead of his brother’s assassins.

These are only small samples of the ideas and the plot of the story. I’m hoping to get through some of the first trilogies to get to the later ones. Cause they are all calling my name and want attention. Some of them are getting pretty shrill.

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavors, please sign up to my newsletter, visit my Amazon Author Page and purchase one of my books. Or buy me a coffee. Your help and support are much appreciated.

Dealing with my Idea Cancer

As the title of this post may suggest, I have a problem. It’s a bad problem for an author to have in many ways.

As you may know, I have a set list of projects that I wish to get done this year. Many of which are first drafted and ready to be edited. My major problem in that regard is that I need to get more editing done and move some of those first drafted stories down the production line.

But that is only one problem that I have. Above my desk is a two-foot by four-foot cork board filled with cards of the different novels and worlds that I am working on.

Here is an image of the cork board:

59357215_464735550935126_9125544248198823936_n.jpg

Each column is a story world, each card is a novel or short story. You can see the number of different stories that I want to write. It is a little overwhelming at times. The problem is that this week I have added three more cards onto the board. That is three more stories that I want to tell.

As my wife says, “There is no cure for idea cancer.”

The novel ideas that form in my head multiple like rabbits, grow like dandelions or mutate like cancer. It is a difficult thing to deal with Idea Cancer. Each novel idea wants attention, and its story told. However, I only have so much time in the day.

What do you do when you discover you have idea cancer?

The first thing is not to ignore the idea. Damning the ideas is not a good thing. It leads to an idea drought that will hurt an author more.

The best thing I do is to recognize that I’m not going to change projects. (Unless it has been years without being complete, but that is a different problem.) The project that I’m working on needs to be completed. Getting distracted by a new idea is not the way to do it.

I take a few minutes and write down the idea. I don’t elaborate, but write notes. I will stick the idea someplace to keep track of it and remind myself of the idea for later.

The idea is not to let it distract me too much.

Right now the idea I had is a story where the players of a VRMMO get stuck in the video game. It is like an earworm. No matter how long I shout, “Get out of my head foul beast!” It won’t go away.

I have written some of the world building for the story, and I’m happy with what I have created so far. It’s a Siren, calling out to me from the waves. I will resist this and not change projects. I have a list of stories I wish to get to and I will.

Now, this is not to downplay those with Real Cancer. Cancer is a horrible disease, and I wish the best to any that get it. The imagery on the issue is a strong metaphor that seems to work. And it’s bloody funny.

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavours, please sign up to my newsletter, visit my Amazon Author Page and purchase one of my books. Or buy me a coffee. Your help and support are much appreciated.

New Name: New Design

I am pleased to announce the redesign of the web page with a new name. I am happier with this new design than the last. Not to worry if you have the old site URL favourited. It will still head towards this new page, which I will be adding more features as time allows.

This change has been a long time coming as I felt the old name wasn’t working. This name tells exactly what I write. I write in the Fantasy and Science Fiction genres, and that name says that.

The Atomic part is for science fiction. Nuclear power, nuclear bombs, the Atomic Age. It gives images of science that usually ends by blowing up in someones face.

The Slingshot is for Fantasy. It is a primitive weapon used in ancient times. Which is usually where my fantasy books are set.

Things to Come

I will be adding more to the site including:

  • maps
  • world information on the two main story verses
  • upcoming novels
  • and more

Stay tuned for more information.

If you like what you see and wish to support me in my endeavours, please sign up to my newsletter, visit my Amazon Author Page and purchase one of my books, buy me a coffee, or leave me a review. Your help and support are much appreciated.

The O’Neal Saboteur: The O’Neal Trilogy Book 1

I have done it. My latest book has been published.

On a Colony orbiting Jupiter, a saboteur is bent on destruction. One young man might be the only person able to save them all. 

Sixteen-year-old Des O’Neal lives with his uncle and older brother in the Colonial Station Jovian 1-H. The threat of constant attacks and the destruction of his home becomes a daily occurrence. Threats he must endure and overcome.

Des finds himself ejected from his normal life and thrust into a world filled with spies and turmoil. In order to save himself and those closest to him, he must excel in a new world of espionage. He must overcome an unknown enemy lurking in the shadows, intent on sabotage and destruction. An enemy that may know who he and who his friends are.

In times of war, it is often the youth that must step up and fill adult roles. Will Des defeat the traitorous saboteur? Or will the station fall victim to his vicious plot?

If you like science fiction stories about espionage, overcoming obstacles, and mysteries. Then you will enjoy the action-packed, race against time novel written by Nathan Pedde.

Grab a copy of “The O’Neal Saboteur” today and get in on the action.

Story Ideas: How to Achieve Gold

You have the basis of a story idea, and now you’re wondering what to do next. Having a thousand good ideas are great and all, but unless you can figure out how to flesh them out into a story, then they are the equivalent to mental masturbation. Luckily you, dear reader, you have come to the right place. Not for the masturbation part, but the ‘flesh out my ideas part.’

In this week’s blog post, I will go over some strategies on what you can do to turn your basic story idea into something that can form a novel or three. To start off the post, I will discuss some different types of ideas that you may have and questions to ask. Please note that these are generalizations and it is okay to deviate as you see fit.

The Basic Idea

Each basic idea, or melding of ideas as I discussed in last weeks post, starts off a different set of questions. The ideas come in all shapes and sizes, from small cute things to massive gargantuan, all-encompassing-ideas. This is an essential point to understand as no two ideas are the same and can’t be looked at the same way.

Genre

No matter the story idea, the first I do after the basic idea is selected is assign it a genre. Genres are unimportant, yet one of the most critical aspects to any story. I will go over this later in more detail, but for now, genres allow for the easy conveying of information in a story without having to write a college thesis on it.

Basic Idea Type: Character

I have written a few books based on a cool character that I could not get out of my mind. With characters, I start my questions with them. They will be things like age, hair colour, weight and then moving onto more important aspects. Upbringing, past experiences, political leanings, etc. In short, I will create the character– when creating story ideas based on a single person, it is easier if you have a full character in mind. But honestly, those items have little importance to a story idea.

Once that is done, I will start to piece together small parts of the world. Please note: this is not world building. Not yet. Story idea creation will often meld into world-building, but at this stage, it is not essential to go into those details. Right now, it is important to flesh out what the story will be. If it is a military sci-fi and the character is a Captain of the Royal Guards, then who is he the guard of? What nation? What war? Has the war started? Who are they fighting?

That last question is important, once you get to the subject of the antagonist, unless it is man vs nature, there should be a bad guy. Who is the nemesis causing the Captain all the sleepless nights? He or she should be well thought out following one of my rules that the antagonist should be as well thought out as the protagonist and he should be the hero in his own story. That will be a subject of a future blog post, but it is an important post. Unless you want a bond villain, from the enemies POV, he should have some type of justification for his actions.

Once the villain is selected, then the conflict can come out. Conflict equals story. If you need to fill three books of ninety thousand words, then it should be complicated and well thought out, yet easy to summarize down to a single sentence to answer the annoying question of what the story is about.

Basic Idea Type: Thing-a-whatsit

Sometimes, you may have an idea of a cool thing. A beater sword. A mech warrior. A magic system. Whatever. Like any story idea it will start first with setting the genre, but this type has a different importance to selecting a genre. If you have an idea about a really cool laser rifle and you want to write based around that, then knowing the genre changes things. If it is a sci-fi, there is little that you need to explain for the essential functions. There are enough tropes in the sci-fi genre that will make it easy to tell.

However, what if the laser rifle was in a fantasy setting? How would it work? Magic? Some type of crystals? Imagine the possibilities.

Taking the idea of the laser rifle in a fantasy setting, the next step is to flesh things out and expand. I recommend selecting a cool main character to use the rifle. However, you can go to the world and start to piece it together. Who is fighting who? Are they fighting? Who is the enemy? What type of conflict is it? It can be a man vs man, but it doesn’t have to be. You could use the fantasy laser rifle idea and write a man vs animals and monsters just as easy.

Basic Idea Type: Scenes

I have written a story where the first idea that I had was a single cool scene. To start, after I selected a genre, I fleshed things out. I did some world building and created the conflict. Then I picked the character and kept building.

In Short

Did you notice the similarities between creating stories using a basic story idea method? They all are based around creating a character to write about in a specific genre with a conflict to propel the story.

Once you have the basic building block, build it up piece by piece making sure to keep the idea that the protagonist and antagonist need to be fleshed out and worth reading about.

If you like what you are reading and wish to support me in my endeavours, please sign up to my newsletter, visit my Amazon Author Page and purchase one of my books. Or buy me a coffee. Your help and support are much appreciated.

Mars, the Red Planet: A Futurist Perspective Part 3

So far, in relation to colonizing Mars, we have talked about getting off the planet and the psychology of the colonists. But to colonize Mars, there are more problems. Many more.

Journey to Mars

The journey to Mars depends on multiple factors. Those different factors are the speed of craft, alignment of earth and mars, how much fuel is burnt, the weight and size of the craft and many others. Those factors can change the time to get there from 150 to 300 days.

Most people think that getting to Mars quickly is an easy task. Just put on a few more engines on the craft and hit the go button. Then when you get to Mars, you press the brakes. Like a car.

But space travel is not like driving in a car. And it isn’t a forceless environment either. People think that just because you are floating in space that nothing is pulling at you. That is very wrong.

A large majority of the fuel used in rockets is to get off the surface of the planet. It is not to get away from the gravity, it is to get out of the atmosphere. The atmosphere of the earth causes friction on rockets, slowing them down. A rocket can get into orbit on a planet one foot off of the ground. If there was nothing to run into to, or any atmosphere to slow them down. Even the ISS has to burn for a few seconds every once and a while to lift them back into a better orbit.

Saying that, when you get out of the atmosphere and into orbit, then you burn your rockets and head towards Mars. The forces that will pull against you are the Earth’s gravity until you escape from it, then the sun’s gravity.

To get away from gravity, you need speed. The faster you go, the easier it will be. Now, to get to Mars, you only need to escape Earth’s gravity and then get your orbit out to mars. Once you get towards Mars, you need to slow down. If you don’t then you won’t stop. You will sail past mars in your orbit around the sun. Once you slow down, the Martian gravity will catch you, and you are there.

That all costs fuel. Fuel to speed up, fuel to slow down. Larger craft, more fuel you will need. More fuel, the larger the ship you will need to hold all of the fuel. It is an endless cycle that hives engineers ulcers.

The problems of that costly hard journey are many, and the risks are high. Boredom, depression, lack of gravity and radiation are major problems that are going to have to be faced.

SOLUTION

Luckily, all of these are engineering problems.

The Mars direct plan called for the ship to tether to another ship in flight and to spin. Which would then create centrifugal force. That force would give the colonists gravity and help fight against bone loss.

Boredom and depression are issues. Hopefully, the training and the screening has helped keep those susceptible to those issues from being selected. But easy entertainment, common rooms, and private rooms will help keep the colonists from suffering. A job on board the craft will also help. Whether it is a training course, or a job running the ship.

To put things into perspective, in the 1500’s it could take up to 3 months of travel to get from England to the new world. All of which was crammed into a small hold eating biscuits and other unsavory rations. This trip will be a luxury cruise in comparrison.

With good planning, increased speed, and acceleration/ deceleration times will speed up the journey greatly. Using a system like the BFR sounds very good on paper. I, for one, am keeping a close eye on the BFR to see if it lives up to its hype.

Mars, the Red Planet: A Futurist Perspective Part 2

So last time, I talked about the current methods of space travel. There will be future blogs about the problems with NASA and more details on the future methods of space travel.

But today, we are continuing the series talking about how to colonize Mars.

The second issue that we are going to have to solve with any attempt to colonize Mars is the Psychology of Colonists.

Psychology of Colonists

To go to mars, to set up a permanent colony, it has to be a one-way trip. The amount of money to spend to get people on Mars doesn’t make sense for them to come back.

But money is not the only reason for a one-way trip. It comes back to the mentality of the people themselves. People will take care of there homes and colony if they are there for the long term. If they have a sense of ownership of where they live, then people are more likely to take care of where they live than someone who is scheduled to rotate out in a month.

Take, for example, anyone that works for a business. More specifically those that are leaving the company. Most employees will lose productivity and care for the company cause any problems won’t have to be dealt with them. Whoever is taking the position after them will have that problem.

It is the difference between a renter and a homeowner. I have rented my home, and I have also owned my home. A renter pays his rent, and at the end of the lease, the house is the same to them. It doesn’t matter if the value of the house raises or falls. It doesn’t matter to them if the sink is falling apart. The only thing that they may lose is the damage deposit and a reference.

Being a homeowner, there is a different mentality that most homeowners have. The homeowner takes personal responsibility to the state of the house. When the sink is falling apart, they go out of there way to fix it. They are concerned with the value of the house, they have skin in the game.

To use that example in the context of colonists, those that rotate out are the renters, those that stay for life are owners.

Mars One is a leading example of a real-world company tackling this problem. They are planning to send a one way trip to Mars. The Mars One’s colonists won’t be coming back to earth. These people are going to care about their colony, and they will not want anything to fail. Cause any problems caused by themselves will have to be solved by themselves.

They are also doing everything in there power to gather up a list of potential colonists to make sure that they best colonists are sent. They have had phycologists go over what type of people that they want.

Mars One wants people that are resilient, adaptable, curious, trustworthy, trusting, and creative or resourceful. They have a lengthy process to select members that will not go completely crazy on the 5-month journey.

They put out a call for volunteers, and 2700 volunteers signed up. Which is not a very high number of people. They will have to figure out how to get more volunteers. I suspect that this will get higher when the colony is successful.

But why is this a problem? The colonists will be in a small ship on a five-month journey to the red planet. Once they get there, they don’t have green fields to run it.

Mars is a harsh planet that wants to kill us. We will rely on a habitat that must work properly to keep the people alive. Space will be limited. These colonists will be living in close proximity to each other. If they don’t get along, a fight amongst themselves could be deadly. And until the colony gets situated, with fail-safes and redundancy, it will exist on a knife-edge.

SOLUTION

What is the answer to this problem? Mars One is on the right track. By getting a large number of people to go through, they will be able to find the right colonists to go.

And volunteers will be the solution, no assigned personnel. Only people that want to go.

Training courses and simulations are also on the right track. Already in Russia, many mars simulations are going on or already have happened. And not all of them lasted. Some of them collapsed on themselves in failure.

And that is vital to the task of finding the right people. By understanding people and how they mend together, then it becomes easier to select the correct people.

Designing a habitat that has the potential to let the colonists have alone time. Star Trek and the Holodeck is a great idea. But that is beyond the scope of this blog. The idea is good, however.

Recreation will be vital. Giving the colonists Netflix and video games will be vital. The ability to allow them to unwind and destress will save lives.

By hand-selecting specific colonists on a one-way trip to set up a permanent colony will allow the colonists to care for about the colony and make it something better.