The link above tells the entire tale, how by November 30 of this year, NCSoft will be shutting down the servers to the first Superhero based MMO ever to succeed in the online marketplace (or at least succeed as well as it did). City of Heroes, City of Villains, Going Rogue. They made an interesting package.
I think, even though I’ve left the game and haven’t really played in a year (or more) I kind of owe City of Heroes something. If it wasn’t for CoX, I’d have never met some of the people in a role play group that I had a great deal of fun with over the course of time in the game. And had it not been for CoX, and that group, then the creativity I had wouldn’t have really come out as it did. There’d be no Black Mask & Pale Rider, no Canyons of Steel, and certainly no Rocket Fox. I’d have been languishing in my ability to write and wouldn’t have been further ahead.
It may be a silly thing to credit to a Massive Multiplayer Online RPG, but that’s the truth of it. Had it not been for City of Heroes, and for the RPCongress (the role play group I had met and joined), none of those ideas I had would have really come to life. So, because of that, this announcement from NCSoft, coupled with the farewell at Paragon Studios, meets me with mixed feelings.
Oh, it was a good run, indeed. In a way, CoX made strides to become comparable to WoW, even though they were completely different genres. And I don’t think CoX was seen as a WoW-killer, like so many other MMOs hoped to become, but I think CoX was seen as a game that could co-exist with WoW and compete on even terms.
But again, for me, CoX will always mean that I managed to kick start Black Mask & Pale Rider, and start putting those ideas I had onto paper (or more realistically, into a wordprocessor).
Whenever I write, I’ll sometime put a face of a real person to the character. I’ve done that with Canyons of Steel, putting Sam Elliott’s face to John Walker, and I did that with Black Mask & Pale Rider, putting Andrea Menard‘s face to Shani Wennemein.
“Who?” you might ask. This person.
Andrea Menard was born in 1971 in Flin Flon, Manitoba and is based in Saskatchewan. An accomplished actress, playwright and jazz singer, she has starred in many different Canadian television series, including Rabbit Fall where she played Constable Tara Wheaton of the Regina Police Services.
Did I mention she’s also a jazz singer? One of the films she was in was called the Velvet Devil, where she acted and sang. She has also released several jazz albums.
Menard is also of Metis heritage, and identifies heavily with her First Nations ancestry.
So this is the actress I think of whenever I’m writing Black Mask & Pale Rider and think of Shani Wennemein, the elven gunslinger.
So, you might be asking “well, that’s Shani, what about Pania” and you’d be correct in your inquiry. I do have a face for Pania Alow.
Most should know Miss Beckinsale a little better, having starred in such movies as Underworld, Van Helsing (I actually liked that movie), and Whiteout. She plays a wide range of roles, and would be perfect for Pania. She’s not blonde? Small matter that a wig or hair dye would fix.
As well as being an female action hero in movies, she’s also a model. She’s even let her politics be know, voicing her support for the pro-choice movement, and filming a Funny or Die skit satirizing the Republican’s “War on Women”.
So when I’m writing the adventures of the two elven gunslingers, these are the faces I see for the characters.
Here’s a few quotes for this Wednesday morning, as I attempt to draw attention away from the political and racist nonsense I keep reading about at the RNC Convention in Tampa Bay, Florida. Before we begin, a less for everyone; don’t read the comments sections of news articles. They tend to be racist, oppressive, angry and rage inducing. Anyway, on with the quotes.
We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. –Sir Winston Churchill
The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion. ~Doris Lessing
If you have hot flashes you’re too old for wearing hot pants. ~Maxine
- Quotable Quotes for Sustainable Serenity (twofrugalfairfielders.com)
- Quotable Tuesday (kimhaas.wordpress.com)
- Quotable Quotes (yalestories.wordpress.com)
- Doris Lessing in Space (marcys.wordpress.com)
- Letter to Winston Churchill May Contain First Known Use of ‘OMG’ (nymag.com)
- Winston Churchill: The Ultimate CEO (greatfinds.icrossing.com)
- Quotable Book Giveaway (centralmnmom.blogspot.com)
- New Quote Added to “Quotables” (flairwoodworks.com)
Want to make the characters in your story or book creative with their cursing? Well, there’s help!
As the description says:
Whether you’re annoyed with your neighbor, agitated with your boss, or tired of your lazy roommate, this unique side-by-side flippable flap novelty book of amusing and socially unacceptable phrases will provide endless possibilities for creative and colorful vocabulary.
Both young and old students and professionals alike will appreciate this easy-to-use, uncensored, totally x-rated, and hilarious phrase generator. Unleash the immaturity and skewed sense of humor within and never be left searching for a clever comeback again.
I have just one thing to add:
The outline is finished. 21 Chapters in all for the outline and things are starting off nicely. Using the original writing from Between Raising Hell And Amazing Grace (the title of the first series as posted online) was 25 pages, 11,500 words in total.
This new write up will have to include descriptions of Carrollton, Arkansas, Chicago, Illinois, Brockton and the Brockton Festival, Shani, Pania, Verit and Scales, along with a description of Captain Williams.
Writing will begin this weekend (or tonight, if I get home at a decent time). Barring how addicted I get to Guild Wars 2, which also begins this weekend for anyone who pre-ordered the game. Hopefully, writing will take a greater amount of priority.
I also still have to get used to the keyboard configuration on my laptop, it’s really cutting down my typing speed.
- Black Mask & Pale Rider – Ten Chapter Outline (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Black Mask & Pale Rider Chapter Outlines (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Black Mask & Pale Rider – Five More Chapters of Outline (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
Not posting the results of chapter outlines today, but I have added another five, bringing the total up to 20. I figure that there will be 22 maybe 23 chapters in total.
This is a pretty awesome feeling, and I’ve gotten some of the text down for the initial draft as well, but I know I’ll need to expand on that. This book, which was originally published in the Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider as just a part of the adventures of Shani and Pania, totals only 11,000 words. I figure with the outline I’ve made I can make that into something closer to 110,000 words.
Fun fact: the entire book of Black Mask & Pale Rider is only 105,000 words long.
This is going to be a long, hard road. I’ve got to put a lot of work into it. But if I can do it (no, when I get it done), it’ll be more than worth it.
- Black Mask & Pale Rider – Ten Chapter Outline (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Black Mask & Pale Rider – Five More Chapters of Outline (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
More outlines for the rewrite of Black Mask & Pale Rider today. That’s been my day, setting up outlines and doing some housework. Five more offerings this afternoon to go with what I posted this morning (which can be found here). For now, here is chapters 11 to 15.
Chapter 11 – The Hunt Begins
The Tale Continues
Desc: Shani and Pania begin the next chapter of the tale, as they attempt to introduce Captain Samuel Williams.
* * *
Desc: Captain Williams receives new orders from the President, and heads off to select his men before heading out to bring down any suspected outlaws. There was heavy emphasis on bringing in Black Mask and Pale Rider, due to their popularity and the troubling things being heard from the Mid West.
Chapter 12 – New Friends
To The Victor, The Spoils
Desc: Scene opens with Shani robbing a bank. Several patrons, all with hands in the air, men with pants around their ankles displaying their undies. There are several nervous looks at Scales as Shani scoops up the cash and heads out of town.
* * *
Desc: Pania discovers wanted posters. To be exact, she discovers her wanted poster along with another for Black Mask, whom she recognizes. After asking around, she learns that Shani is not far from her location. But Pania has the law in Akron to deal with first.
* * *
Desc: As Pania is learning about the wanted posters, Shani is also discovering them, and taking note of the woman named Pale Rider. Unknown to either of them, they are both in Akron at the same time, just in very different parts of the city. Shani begins searching for word on Pania, and is directed eastward toward Pennsylvania. But first, she feels the need to engage in a small poker game at a tavern just on the eastern outskirts of Akron.
* * *
The Chase Is On
Desc: Captain Williams and his men are resting for the night in Canton, and in the morning they receive a wire that both Black Mask and Pale Rider were seen in Akron. Together with Private Johnstone, they plan to overtake the pair in Youngstown, not far from the Pennsylvania border.
Chapter 13 – Blockade
Desc: Shani takes a break from riding at a small tavern where a surly man tries to challenge her for a duel, accusing her of reneging on payment for sexual favours. Shani not only dispatches the man, but makes sure to embarass him as well.
* * *
They’re All Human
Desc: Pania discovers a farmer chasing down a trio of Algonquin, shooting erratically at them. She stops the farmer and attends to the three, finding one of them injured. They are hesitant at first, but Pania convinces them and helps the wounded man heal his wounds. As the man rests the other two recognize Pania from the wanted posters and warn her (after she argues that much of what is on those posters is not true) that the cavalry is planning to capture her just outside of Youngstown.
* * *
The Trap Is Laid
Desc: Captain Williams and his men block off the main escape routes through Youngstown, and have the local law watch the surrounding area for any sign of Shani or Pania.
Chapter 14 – Great Escape
You Take The South Road
Desc: Shani rides into Youngstown, hearing word of the blockade on the eastern side of town from a few whispers. She decides to take a few unused roads south of town to elude detection.
* * *
And I’ll Take The North Road
Desc: Pania, having been warned already, makes for a few roads north of Youngstown in order to escape detection.
* * *
Desc: Shani has a confrontation with a lone deputy, and much to his surprise, she leaves him alive and unharmed as she escapes toward the Pennsylvania border.
* * *
The Hunt Resumes
Desc: Captain Williams is informed of the unfortunate altercation, but seems very glad to hear the deputy is alright. This brings about a question, however, as to the truth of many of the wanted posters. As they often spoke of Shani’s penchant for slaying lawmen without hesitation.
Chapter 15 – Pennsylvania
Desc: Shani and Pania, oblivious to each other’s escape attempt as they seem to pass by, but never bump into each other, continue toward Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. All this time, Captain Samuel Williams and his posse is hot on their heels.
* * *
Welcome to Harrisburg
Desc: Shani enters the town limits of Harrisburg and begins to search around, learning all she can. She hears word of how the banks operate and how the entire town shuts down on Sundays, and she begins to hatch a plan. Her luck is right there as she arrived in town on a Saturday, which gives her time to look around before the big heist.
* * *
Down on the Farm
Desc: Pania gets some help from a farmer outside of Harrisburg, as she is able to have her horse bedded down and watered and she can get sleep in a real bed.
* * *
Desc: Captain Williams is informed of Pania’s whereabouts and his posse lay in wait just outside the farm.
- Black Mask & Pale Rider – Ten Chapter Outline (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
The rewrite of Black Mask & Pale Rider has been on my mind for a bit. So while I’m writing Rocket Fox, I intend on making good use of my time to get in some plot outlines for Black Mask & Pale Rider. So here now is the first ten chapters in outline.
Chapter 1 – A Festival Tale
Desc: Description of the Brockton Festival and the introduction of Pania Alow and Verit. Eventual introduction of Shani Weenemein and Scales. There are a few descriptions (made through conversation between the two) of events of the festival and dropping of names or other characters. Eventually the pair retires to Pania’s family tent.
* * *
The Story Begins
Desc: The gathered group of elven children (describe a few of them, including those of different cultures to show how far reaching the festival attracts visitors) pleads to hear of the adventures Shani and Pania went on. Eventually Pania gives in, convincing Shani to take part. A small, impromptu theatre is set up outside the Alow family tent, and the story begins.
Chapter 2 – Carrollton, Arkansas
The Gates between worlds
Desc: Before Shani describes arriving in Carrollton, there is a quick description of the gates between worlds. This then flows into the description of Carrollton and the surrounding area, ending with being saved by Johnson.
* * *
The Iron Horse
Desc: Clayton pulls Shani from the tracks just in the nick of time. We’ll note here that Shani has a slight stutter. There is some hesitation between Shani and Clayton, but eventually Shani goes with Clayton.
* * *
At The Cabin
Desc: Shani, along with Scales, arrives at Clayton’s cabin where she gets cleaned up. Discussion about various things, such as Scales and what he is, what Shani is, and Clayton and his guns, along with just what it is he does.
Chapter 3 – Chicago, Illinois
Arrival In Chicago
Desc: Description of Chicago and how Pania learned of the area and what she used to pay for things.
* * *
Desc: Pania finds a small theatre in need of actors and actresses. Hiding her elven features, she manages to procure employment in the production of a play by an English play write named Shakespear.
* * *
Desc: Looking for a place to stay, Pania finds Dorchester’s Boarding House for Girls and Women. Verit is discovered.
Chapter 4 – Boomers
Desc: A pair of slaver bounty hunters tracks Clayton to his cabin. Shani helps fend off the brigands.
* * *
A New Weapon
Desc: After the gun fight, Shani demands to learn how to use a pistol, in order to defend herself should more bounty hunters come calling for Clayton. She soon learns a regular pistol affects her negatively, so a brick of elven steel she has is used to craft a new pair of pistols. Shani also gets some new duds.
* * *
Desc: Clayton teaches Shani how to shoot, how to stand and how to take care of her weapon. She finds quick draw more to her liking and Clayton is surprised with how quickly she learns. As well, Shani is picking up Clayton’s accent and her stutter is diminishing.
Chapter 5 – Twin Volcanics
Desc: Pania witnesses a rather rough looking character who tries to have his way with one of Aurella’s girls. Aurella manages to force him to leave at gun point, which makes Pania consider obtaining such a weapon.
* * *
Desc: Pania converses with a local gunsmith about making her a pair of weapons using a brick of elven steel. After a great deal of discussion, she settles on the design of a pair of Smith and Wesson Army 32s to be crafted. This is with the assistance of Aurella, where there is a small exchange regarding why Pania must have the pistols made.
* * *
Practise makes perfect
Desc: Aurella teaches Pania the proper use and care for her Twin Volcanics. Pania also determines to use a moniker whenever she sees fit to do battle against such brigands. Thus, Pale Rider is born.
Chapter 6 – The Legend of Black Mask
A New Threat
Desc: Shani learns a bit more about this world, and what the difference in skin colour means to some people. While in Carrollton looking for supplies, she runs into a small group of gunslingers who recognize her as staying with Clayton. She also learns how vile certain words are as she discovers the term “nigger”. (note: it is important to emphasize that Shani finds the words distasteful and vile, putting a great deal of description into the use of the word by the gunslingers)
* * *
Desc: Shani is confronted by the sheriff of Carrollton County, and has to explain her way around why she started the fight. She leaves the town, promising never to return.
* * *
Desc: Shani talks to Clayton about what happened. He tries to explain that life can be hard in the frontier. They talk about the word she heard as well.
Chapter 7 – The Legend of Pale Rider
Desc: Pania picks up a paper from a newsboy, reading about the new adventures that have been the talk of this small city as the recently talked about Pale Rider is reported on. Has a small talk with the newsboy.
* * *
Talk With Aurella
Desc: Pania and Aurella discuss the dangers involved in what she’s doing. Pania agrees she’ll find a way east within the next day or two. Aurella admits she’s been wanting to head to Indiana, being a free state it would be better for a couple of her girls.
* * *
Late Night Attack
Desc: Aurella’s is attacked by the ruffian from before, and three of his friends. Pania becomes involved, and it’s known that Pania and Pale Rider are one in the same.
Chapter 8 – Wagons East
The Journey East
Desc: Pania prepares to leave, saying her goodbyes to the girls of the boarding house and especially to Aurella. She packs up and mounts her horse to head off to the unknown.
* * *
Desc: Mainly a descriptive scene, detailing Pania’s small adventures and getting used to the terrain, meeting Native Americans and feeling a mix of pity and rage for what’s been done to them.
Chapter 9 – North to Pennsylvania
Desc: Shani and Clayton find themselves pinned down in Clayton’s cabin, as the brigands that previously encountered Shani seek revenge. This time, there is no mercy as Shani and Clayton cut them down.
* * *
Desc: Shani and Clayton part ways, Clayton heading to Indiana, while Shani decides to venture north, maybe even to Canada. A long description ensues of her adventures, robbing stage coaches and banks.
Chapter 10 – The Interlude
The Story Pauses
Desc: Shani and Pania discuss making these stories a daily event during the festival as the first day of the Brockton Festival comes to a close.
* * *
The Next Day
Desc: Shani and Pania move to a larger venue, as the children from the previous day have now brought their parents. Pania quickly recaps before introducing Captain Samuel Williams.
Random pictures of foxes! I am not the photographer of any of these pictures, those credits are below the photo with a link to the source where they were found.
We’ll actually start things off with a video that’s rather informative of the different calls foxes have. Some are downright eerie.
In this video, you will learn a few different fox calls and sounds, and what they mean. Foxes can make up to more then 40 calls and sounds; contact calls, and interaction calls. Foxes are normally quiet animals, and their calls are mostly heard durning the mating season when foxes are calling out to each other and fighting over territory. Fox cubs are very quiet, and only make sounds when they are playing, fighting, or nursing. Most of the time, fox calls are mistaken for the call of another animal.
And, just because, a wonderful photo of Caracal kittens.
Previously, I discussed the antagonist and the support that Captain Mallard was attempting to gather. Here she gains more support, this coming from a new character who is introduced here. Air Marshal Collinsworth, who also happens to be the headmistress of the Academy.
Captain Mallard went over her findings carefully, feeling she had done everything necessary. Before her own evaluation was to be handed down, however, she needed to gain approval from the headmistress of the academy herself, Air Marshal Cecilia Collingsworth. Collinsworth was a portly Vulpine vixen who’d had her hay day as an air force pilot during the last year of the Great Lupine Land War. She’d flown a good number of successful missions with the 103rd and even had a tale or two about renowned pilot Left-tenant Colonel Artemis Dawkins. Collinsworth was also the mother to House Fennec leader Left-tenant Philburt Collinsworth. She was most pleased when her son worked studiously to attain the rank he achieved, and always encouraged him to study. Some might have said that was a small amount of favouritism, but Cecilia happened to do that with all of the students at the academy, cadets and civilian alike.
Collinsworth read over Captain Mallard’s report carefully, nodding with each point she came across. She wasn’t one to sit down while reading such things, and paced back and forth in the small office Captain Mallard kept. As for Captain Mallard, she waited patiently for the final clearance to be announced.
“Good,” Collinsworth finally said with a nod as she thrust the data pad back to Mallard. “I managed ta witness the trainin’ run from the main communication office in the faculty buildin’. Your final evaluation will hold up as far as I’m concerned. Those students did a right smart bit o’ flyin’ out there t’day.”
“Thank you, Air Mashal,” Mallard said with a nod as she rose to her feet. “You have no objections to my evaluation of Miss Hawkspur?”
Collinsworth perked an ear as she looked to Mallard. “Jada Hawkspur is still a member o’ House Ocelot until she graduates. An’ if I had it fully my way, Miss Hawkspur would not be stripped o’ rank as was done with ‘er. However, I know protocal in manners such as this.” Collinsworth approached Mallard and looked her right in the eye. “If anyone gives you any guff ’bout Hawkspur, you send ‘em ta me. Consider that an order, Captain.”
“Very good, Air Marshal,” Mallard said with a smart nod of her head.
“Now, Captain,” Collinsworth said as she lowered her voice, sounding almost conspiratorial. “Rumour has it that you’re concerned ’bout Left-tenant Felix’s placement.”
“I was concerned about a line of questioning regarding Felix and her speech impediment,” Mallard explained honestly. “I went to Colonel Tyrell to voice these concerns, he suggested I take the matter up with you. Unfortunately, I’ve been busy arranging the final training run.”
“Colonel Tyrell tol’ me ’bout your concerns,” Collinsworth said with a nod. “After he explained the situation, I believe I share them. Senia’s a good pilot, a top ranked one at that. An’ the disciplinary tribunal has no business tryin’ ta sway the discision o’ the final evaluation tribunal.” Collinsworth huffed and stepped back a bit. “Stigian be damned. He’s nothin’ more ‘n a desk jockey an’ never had a moment o’ true service. He wouldn’t know a pilot from a dust pan.” She held up a hand to Mallard. “Keep that ta yourself, Captain.”
“Of course, Air Marshal,” Mallard replied, but couldn’t help but smile at Collinsworth’s description.
“Should there be any problems with the final placement o’ Left-tenant Felix,” Collinsworth said as she regained some air of authority. “I may have an idea or two ta deal with that.” She nodded firmly and then waved her hand to Captain Mallard as to send her off. “For now, just hand out your final evaluation, Captain Mallard. “Leave matters like evaluation tribunals ta me for now.”
Mallard gave her a solid salute and hurried on her way, clutching the data pad in her hands. She smiled as she walked down the hall to the main conference room knowing that she’d gathered herself a few allies should she need to defend Left-tenant Senia Felix.
Later, Captain Rita Mallard would try to gather support to help Left-tenant Senia Felix, knowing full well that Stigian would attempt to subvert her final placement, based solely on the fact she has a speech impediment. She goes to ask Colonel Nelson Tyrell for assistance.
It had been two days since Captain Rita Mallard had submitted her evaluation of all fifty cadets within House Ocelot, her feelings and observations of each one. She had spent a better part of the evening after the dsciplinary tribunal for Jada Hawkspur writing each and every one of them; even writing up one for Hawkspur, even though she had been stripped of rank. Naturally, the tribunal had rejected that review, but Mallard felt it more than appropriate to write it up at any rate. If nothing else, she can present it as a personal report to Jada herself.
But there was something else troubling her. The matter of questioning that Colonel Stigian grilled her when the topic of Felix came about. She began to worry, which was common for her whenever dealing with a promising pilot with a great deal of potential. She was going to require allies in order to ensure the best for Left-tenant Felix, and she could think of no one better than Colonel Nelson Tyrell. The two hadn’t gotten along to begin with when Mallard received her posting at the academy. Tyrell was very much more a civilian than an air force pilot, even though he had flown during the Great Lupine Land War. It had taken Mallard a great deal of time before she could warm up to him, and he to her as well. To Tyrell, Mallard always appeared very stiff. To Mallard, Tyrell had always appeared very loose in military decorum. But, Tyrell had come to her defense on several occaisions to support her decisions. She felt a debt of gratitude toward him.
Mallard found she would appreciate the confines of the astronomy building’s lecture hall to disguss her worries and hopefully gain an ally. At least, she hoped he was still at his lecture desk.
She soon discovered he was, pouring over paperwork as was usually the case. But it most certainly wasn’t paperwork that was tedious. Knowing Tyrell, it was some discovery that had been recently made. No doubt, he’d share this with her, something she’d grown accustomed to. With all politeness she approached his desk and removed her cap, holding it in her hand at her waist.
“Professor Tyrell,” she announced after clearing her throat.
Tyrell looked up and smiled as he saw Mallard. ”Captain, good of you to come see me this morning. I was just looking over the recent findings by the deep space observation mission.” He motioned to the papers on his desk and waved Mallard over to see. He spent some time explaining the new planetary system they had discovered, and showed what some of the people on the one inhabited planet looked like. ”We received confirmation from the Critainian Science academy that this planet must be a twin to their original homeworld.” He brought up a few more papers, one a copy of an ancient map created by the first Critainian explorers, the other looked to be an extrapolation of sorts. ”This older map is what their planet looked like all those millenia ago when they made the great crossing. This map, however, is the best guess that scientists believe the plates of that planet moved into and reshaped. It’s very similar to this new planet, so there’s a group going to discuss it with the Critainians on their homeworld.”
“Will you be attending?” Mallard asked with genuine curiosity.
“Unfortunately, no,” Tyrell said with a sigh. ”It’s not the trip that bothers me, it’s the climate on Critain. Too hot for me, to be honest.” He chuckled and Mallard smiled with a nod. ”However, I don’t think you came here to dsicuss my distaste for hot climates or new discoveries. What can I do for you, Rita?”
Mallard smiled as Tyrell used her first name. Tyrell wasn’t one for military protocal, and would often use the first name of those he grew to admire or became good friends with. Mallard had grown used to it. ”I’m concerned about one of the students. One under my House, actually.”
“Oh?” Tyrell said as he removed his glasses and kept his attention completely on Mallard. ”Which one?”
“Left-tenant Senia Felix,” she said without hesitation. Tyrell nodded, knowing the name quite well. Senia had become one of the more respected House leaders by those in House Falcon, the House under Tyrell’s care. ”I don’t wish to go over anyone’s head, but,” she paused a moment, then decided to just detail the story to him. ”After Jada’s disciplinary hearing, I returned to the tribunal chambers and was asked about the usual attitude of the students and what arose from the affair. My own feelings on the entire matter.”
“Which is standard protocal,” Tyrell nodded, encouraging Mallard to continue.
“Well, the topic switched to Left-tenant Felix,” she stated with a quiet voice, as though she didn’t want anyone to overhear their conversation. ”They asked me if I felt she would make a good pilot, which I naturally said yes. But they seemed to believe because of her impairment, that she wouldn’t. I’m worried that their influence on the Tribunal Evaluations might have an unfavourable effect on Senia’s placement.”
“What are you wanting, Rita?”
“I guess advice,” Mallard finally stated. ”Or support in case Senia is dealt a bad hand. She’s one of our top pilots, it would be unfair if she were not given a proper placement based on something as … minor as a speech impediment.”
Tyrell rose to his feet and gave Mallard a reassuring nod. ”I’ll do some checking and see what can be done. I may not be as military as some, but I still have my connections. For now, I’d bring your concerns to Air Marshal Collinsworth. She is headmistress of the academy, after all.”
Mallard nodded her thanks and smiled. At least, if the worst should happen, she’d have allies to make sure Senia got what she deserved for the work she had done at the academy.
I needed an antagonist for Rocket Fox, so I set about putting one together. Colonel Fillias Stigian, a rather portly Vulpine who never saw any actual action in the field and only received promotions due to the fact he was an incredible brown noser. This first part takes place in Chapter Three of Rocket Fox – Flight of the Nighthawk, right after Senia announces to her cadet comrades the outcome of Jada Hawkspur’s disciplinary tribunal.
Once she had escorted the pair back to the confines of the House Ocelot communal mess hall, Captain Mallard made her way back to the chambers where Private Hawkspur’s hearing had just taken place. As was customary, the faculty head of the House would report back to the colonels once a hearing had completed. Captain Mallard was merely following not only orders, but tradition. As Mallard walked into the chambers, she found the three Colonels sitting in the back chambers, a room set aside from the main hall where members of the tribunal could talk about hearings or relax if one came to a conclusion. This also was a room where the final observation report from the House liason could be heard.
“Colonels,” Mallard said after closing the door to the chamber, offering a stiff salute to them all.
“At ease, Captain,” a portly Vulpine said, motioning for her to sit down. He looked as though he’d spent more time behind a desk filing papers than behind the stick of the famed Maverick fighter craft. Or even at the head of a classroom. ”I trust Left-tenant Felix and Miss Hawkspur have returned to their barracks.”
“Yes, Colonel Stigian,” she replied as she took her seat and removed her cap, resting it in her lap. ”Felix felt it prudent to inform the other members of House Ocelot the final judgement handed down to Private Hawkspur.” Mallard paused for a moment before correcting herself. ”Miss Hawkspur. As Felix stated, it was better to nip rumours in the bud than to let them fester.”
“Yes, very good,” Fillias Stigian replied with a nod as he put on his glasses. He opened a small portfolio and looked over it carefully. None of it’s contents were being hidden at all, and Mallard could see it was the school record of Senia Felix. ”What are your thoughts on Left-tenant Felix, Captain? I’d like to know your view as you’ve worked closely with both Felix and her other comrades.”
“Felix is very hard working,” Mallard said without hesitation. ”She’s easy to get along with, has a good eye for those who can do a job, and has proven time and again that she can handle herself with composure when dealing with any split second decision. And, above all that, she is a first class pilot.”
“She does have that,” Stigian said, pausing as he tried to find the words. ”Speech problem, doesn’t she. I suppose that it’s rather hard for others to understand her.”
“Not at all,” Mallard said, again without hesitation. ”Admittedly, when she arrived six years ago, she had some difficulty, but she worked hard not to allow that to impede her education or her advancement as a cadet.” Mallard paused for a moment, as though waiting for the next question to arrive. This was beginning to sound as if there was some question regarding Senia’s capabilities as a pilot, and an officer of the Royal Air Corps. ”If the Tribunal wishes, I can write up a complete report and have it on your desk tomorrow morning.”
Stigian looked to the other two colonels who nodded in agreement, accepting the offer of Captain Mallard. ”That would be most appreciated, Captain. We would like to know her associations and liasons and if they may have any affect on her performance, or if they may have any affect on the name of this academy.” Stigian closed the portfolio and nodded to Mallard as he removed his glasses. ”That’s all for now, Captain Mallard. You are dismissed.”
Mallard rose to her feet and placed her cap back on her head, then saluted once more before leaving the chambers in military fashion. But as she closed the door, she felt her heart sink just a bit. She had been Senia’s instructor and mentor for six years. More than anyone, she knew Senia’s capabilities. Were those suddenly coming into question.
- New stuff in Rocket Fox, and why the women are the main focus (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Words… lots of ‘em (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
So part of my holiday has been dedicated to writing. And thus, I have indeed.
For the most part, it’s been a matter of organizing and getting things together. But I’ve also been adding a bit of story here and there, which has really been helpful thanks to ywriter (which I mentioned before here). Essentially, I had to introduce an antagonist sooner. That antagonist happens to go by the name of Colonel Stigian (first name I’ll make up in second draft). It’ll also allow for more to be seen with some of Senia’s mentors (and along with Clarfax and Hardy’s), such as Captain Rita Mallard.
I’ve gotten the complaint from a couple of people who have said that this is extremely female heavy for a story, and that it might not go over that well. But to be honest, I wouldn’t be targeting just boys with Rocket Fox, but girls as well. Because I am firmly of the belief that girls can do things boys can. And one of those things happens to be reading sci fi adventure stories (trust me, I’ve seen some of the fandoms on tumblr, and there are a lot of women that are apart of them, like Mass Effect, Star Trek, the Avengers, and on and on and on).
Also, I’m trying to set up Vulpinia as a matriarchal society. Women, or females as the case may be with the characters seeing how they aren’t human, approach the routine of politics, business and so much more of life a lot differently than men do. Women would have more of the high profile positions, but men would also be there as well. Yes, I understand that’s my own viewpoint on what a matriarchal society is, but I’ve also had research that points to other matriarchal societies on Earth. Some are actually cultures within the human race. They worked very well, which is one of the aspects for Rocket Fox. Instead of a society that tried to be controlled by a church (let’s face it, that’s what happened to us), they became very inquisitive. They explored space and met other cultures.
Not saying that their views on religion were less than ours, but they knew how to separate their faith from their government and from the want to discover. The Vulpine and Felanus are actually, very religious, they just don’t wear it on their sleeves and consider it something very private with a few exceptions).
But in this story, the females of the society are the main focus, because they get stuff done. They hold the greatest rank, but also know that the opinions of the males is equally valuable. They understand that different view points might help them out of a situation. So, yes, I may not be targeting or getting a lot of boys with this story (though, it’s possible that many would read it), but that leaves a story that could be read by a good number of girls.
And that’s never really a bad thing at all.
As it turns out, this two week break (which is far from over) has offered me the opportunity to write. And, it’s allowed me the opportunity to use a piece of software I haven’t used in quite some time. That software tool is called ywriter, and was creat by Simon Haynes (author of Hal Spacejock series). It’s helpful and handy and organizes things a little better for plotting and writing. It allows me to set up which characters are main, and which characters are minor. Though, it would be handy if it allowed for placement of extremely minor characters as well, thus giving three tiers to work with. For example, in Rocket Fox, Captain Rita Mallard is a minor character. Though she does appear quite often in the story and is set up as instructor and mentor to Left-tenant Senia Felix, she is not the main focus of the story. But she gets the same flag in ywriter as Corporal Sparks (also known as Sparky) who happens to be a House Ocelot cadet and friend of our three main characters, Senia, Hardy and Clarfax. Sparky shows up twice in the story, both times in extremely minor roles that if taken away in second or third draft edits wouldn’t make much difference.
Even Jada Hawkspur, who has more involvement than Captain Mallard, gets flagged as a minor character.
Aside from that, the tool also allows for locations to be named so you can have a quick reference. Such as there should be no mistaking the name the Wooden Wheelhouse Eatery from the Royal Foxburrow Tea House when you set up a scene where the characters are having a meal. There’s a quick description for each place when you enter it into the database. Thus, you can always be sure that you are going to get it right.
Now, while it is a writing tool, it’s not a glorified version of Word or OpenOffice with lots of different colourful text options available. Yes, you can bold and italicize things, but the main point of the tool is to organize and write.
Something else really cool about this little tool is that you can set up chapters based on each scene. Are the trio of pilots going to be at the House Ocelot common room, or are they going to be at the Tea House? Each chapter has a list of scenes and the writer can edit those with ease without having to scroll through a wall of text to find out where the mistake was.
You can also add in items, if there is a particular item that characters must hold onto at some point. The tool will also let you know how many scenes a character has been in, and will also allow you to determine which character the view point is from. And it reports back all of that data right to the user (writer).
This has also given me the chance to add a couple of scenes to previously written material. For example, I needed to set up an antagonist earlier for Senia. One who foils her hopes of (SPOILER) becoming a fighter pilot. That antagonist happens to be a colonel met in the introductory chapter for Senia.
In a nutshell, this tool has really helped out a great deal, and I just had to mention it.
Back to writing.
NASA and its Commercial Crew Program announced new agreements with three American commercial companies to design and develop the next generation of U.S. human spaceflight capabilities, enabling a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next five years.
Advances made by these companies under newly signed Space Act Agreements through the agency’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative are intended to ultimately lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers.
SpaceX’s crewed Dragon will get more lift capability from the next-generation of Falcon rockets. The uncrewed version of Dragon recently made history as the first commercially built spacecraft to rendezvous and then berth with the International Space Station.
Sierra Nevada Corporation will advance its Dream Chaser spacecraft, which resembles NASA’s space shuttle but is smaller and based on improvements to the agency’s HL-20 lifting-body design. The company partnered with United Launch Alliance to launch its spacecraft atop an Atlas V rocket.
Boeing will continue to develop its CST-100 spacecraft, which underwent rigorous testing during two previous commercial crew development phases. It too will launch atop an Atlas V.
The latest Mars rover Curiosity has landed on the Martian surface and has sent back the first images to NASA.
For more images sent by Curiosity, click here. As for the NASA Team, they were elated with the success of Curiosity.
There were even those who gave honourary tribute to the success of the mission.
Naturally, there was congratulations all around, even the President giving his own words of appreciation.
I congratulate and thank all the men and women of NASA who made this remarkable accomplishment a reality—and I eagerly await what Curiosity has yet to discover. ~President Obama on last night’s rover landing on Mars (viabarackobama)
We’ll be watching and hoping that this will give new information about the mysterious red planet.
- Mars rover Curiosity lands on surface of Red Planet – Reuters (reuters.com)
- Photos: NASA Rover Curiosity Touches Down on Mars (abcnews.go.com)
- NASA Scientists Celebrate The “Curiosity” Mars Rover Landing (videogum.com)
- F*ck yes! Curiosity lands on Mars! (leilabattison.wordpress.com)
- NASA?s Curiosity Rover Lands Safely on Mars (wired.com)
- Nasa Curiosity Landing: as it happened (telegraph.co.uk)
- Curiosity Lands on Mars: NASA’s Behind the Scenes Images (mashable.com)
- First Photos of Mars from Curiosity [Mars Rover] (io9.com)
- NASA’s Mars Rover Crashed Into a DCMA Takedown (motherboard.vice.com)
- VIDEO: NASA’s ‘Curiosity’ Rover Makes Historic Landing on Mars (foxnewsinsider.com)
- Greetings From Mars! Huge NASA Rover Makes Daring Landing on Red Planet (space.com)
- Huge Mars Rover Set for Nerve-Wracking Landing on Red Planet Today (space.com)
The newspaper was uploaded to the printer last night, and should be done sometime this morning before I begin the usual Wednesday afternoon grind of labeling all of the mailing labels onto 1200 news papers.
Today, there is only one small publication which we print inhouse that we have to do, and that’s already started.
Tomorrow, the delivery of this week’s issue begins, and once that’s done at around 9:00 in the morning (or perhaps 9:15) then the holidays begin. Two glorious weeks off where I can do whatever I want. Already I’ve been asked if I’d like to travel somewhere far off or take a vacation to some distant and exotic location. But really, my holiday is what I want to do.
I hate driving, really. I hate getting into my car and driving for an hour or two to get to some destination. Driving stresses me out. As for going down to some far off place, like Scotland (because I’ve always wanted to), or the tropics, or go as far south Florida or some other place where it’s supposed to be warm all year round. Well, I’m not into that mostly because it would be much better off to fly to some place like that. And quite frankly, I hate flying. I am deathly afraid of getting onto an airplane. And I’m okay with that.
Also, I never understood why someone would want to go to a hot climate when it’s just that way here. It’s been really warm (though some days have been sweltering) and an all around awesome summer. Wouldn’t you want to wait until winter before heading south?
I’m also debating about getting a new laptop for myself. Replacing my old one and getting a brand new one to act as my lone computer, and set up my desktop computer as a sort of entertainment center. Games, movies, music, all in one location.
That might be something to look into during my two weeks off. Along with writing and other such things.