Or at least, while scrolling through your tumblr dashboard.
I ran across this awesome little tutorial that one of my followers (and obviously someone I follow) had posted and it works great. It’s an HDR effect and really works best for older photographs that have been scanned.
Here’s the rundown.
- Open your picture.
- Duplicate layer (Ctrl+J)
- Overlay that shit 50%
- Flatten image (Ctrl+E)
- Duplicate that one layer that you have now (Ctrl+J)
- Desaturate (Shift+Ctrl+U)
- Invert (Ctrl+I)
- Gaussian Blur it to 40
- Now overlay that B&W Blurred image
- Duplicate and sharpen if necessary
The result works on any image, whether it’s a photo or a screen capture through a video game. I took a video game screen cap from Guild Wars 2 and gave it a try.
It’s subtle but you can see the brighter colour in the ship’s sails behind the building Shani is standing on. Even the sky looks a bit brighter. Now, what about a photograph?
Even in this image, there’s things that appear just a bit brighter. But, what about an image that was taken by a camera like a Kodak Brownie and then scanned?
I am going to add this to my list of things to do when working on photos.
Now that spring has arrived, I venture outside more often. For those who are saying “but Tim, spring arrived on March 21″, to which I say, no, no it did not. We had 7 months of winter, which Old Man Winter owes us some payback. So this year, I expect summer to last until the end of November. Anyway, now that spring is here, I’ve taken to going out and buying a few things I need and a few things I want. Like new jacket and shorts. I wanted cargo pants, but there weren’t any at the local store, so I had to forego those. But buying a new jacket made me realize I have about two dozen jackets in my closet. Maybe it’s time to give some of those jackets to good will. Thankfully this is a long weekend and I can have some time going through clothes and sorting them out and getting rid of stuff I don’t want (like the shorts that have lost the top button or the shirt that lost the bottom three) and taking them to good will. Like that old GX94 jacket of mine that I’ve (literally) had since 1988.
I also went browsing through the DVD racks to see if there was anything cheap to pick up. Which there was, but nothing I’d buy. Lots of crap movies and a ton of really old stuff that I had no interest in. There was even lots of MMA, WWE and boxing DVDs. What got me, though, was the world championship poker DVDs that I saw. Really? That’s worthy of a DVD? See, I can understand the others, hell, I can even understand curling. But poker is like watching televised chess. Great game, but boring to watch. Same with poker. Same with golf, for that matter. Baseball is slightly better. It’d be something I’d rather see live.
Needless to say, I did not walk out with any DVDs that were in there.
I do, however, have a new jacket.
I am seriously thinking about going the route of publishing Rocket Fox and rewrites of Black Mask & Pale Rider through Kindle Direct Publishing.
Currently, I’m reading through the information, which is helpful, but it doesn’t give me any aspects of the experience. For that, I’m doing searches for what experiences other authors have had by using Kindle Direct Publishing.
Now, there is the downside to this, that it is just an ebook, and I won’t be able to have a hard copy of the product for my shelf or even give one away to my parents. But, the upside is that the book will gain more exposure through more countries being published as an ebook and distributed by Kindle.
I’m not against Kindle or it’s publishing, as a matter of fact I think that the direct electronic market is a viable way to go. And I like the idea of being able to buy a book in the comfort of my living room and having it right there for me when I click the submit button to purchase it. Again, the only downside is not having that hardcopy edition. For some reason it makes it feel very real.
But we live in a digital age, whether we like to admit it or not. Smartphones, digital cameras, laptops, netbooks, iPods, tablets, all of it is around us every single day.
Books really shouldn’t be any different.
Often, this is the point when I’d start doing a shameless self promotion. But in this case, I’m not. I’m here to tell you about an author I know and have known for a while. Although we know each other, we actually haven’t met face to face. Because we met before we actually wrote a full book. John G Walker is the author of a series called the Statford Chronicles. Three books which look at the investigations that private investigator Tom Statford looks into. But he’s not just an ordinary private eye.
Now you might be asking, why John and I have never met face to face (possibly has a lot to do with the fact I hate traveling). We first met, of all places, through the MMO City of Heroes. Through that game, there was an entire community that played together and even role played characters together. And we all did a lot of writing (I’ve mentioned Moondancer Drake on this blog before, I met her the same way). There’s been some incredible projects that have been born from the old RP Congress that was active in City of Heroes. And these three novels are the result of John G Walker’s work, all of which are available for the Kindle.
Life was simple for private detective Tom Statford. Sure, being the Keeper, the first, last and only line of defense between gods and mortals could make for interesting times, but a mundane existence in south-eastern Virginia kept things on the boring side of life. Boring, until bodies appear with all the trademarks of ritualistic homicide. Now, the Keeper must not only stop a psychopath, but also the end of the world.
Easy enough, if the killer doesn’t find him first.
A novel by John G Walker.
Private detective Tom Statford has a problem. A priest has been murdered in Hampton Roads, Virginia. That’s bad. His killer is claiming the Devil as an accomplice, sending the forces of Heaven after the fallen angel. That’s even worse. Lucifer comes to Tom to proclaim his innocence, which makes Tom’s life more interesting than it needs to be, and he’s the only one who can prove the Devil didn’t make the killer do it.
But who would believe the Prince of Lies?
A novel by John G Walker and illustrated by Starla Hutchon.
In the third outing of private detective of the gods Tom Statford, a woman shows up in his office claiming to have been murdered. What’s worse is she’s a target of a fire god. With four other bodies involved, along with Chinese organized crime, Tom has to figure out who killed the girl, and who is using a god as an assassin. No big deal, right? Before it’s all over, this case will give the phrase “May you live in interesting times” a whole new meaning.
A novel by John G Walker and illustrated by Starla Hutchon.
It’s time once again. As the days get warmer and longer, I’m getting the urge to go back and edit, expand and recraft the story of Black Mask & Pale Rider. I’ve even decided a title change should take place, considering that there will be a third character added in the second book. That being Wren Wennemein, and to leave her out of the title would be rather rude. Right now, I’m toying with Elves of the Old West.
The first book will go into how the two elves wound up on Earth in the first place. I have most of this part written out, I just need to expand on all of that. So with all of that, I have some work cut out for me. But, this is a story that’s stuck with me for some time and has grown beyond what Black Mask & Pale Rider originally was.
Granted, there are what I call “The Four Distractions” I have to contend with on my taskbar.
Star Trek Online, Neverwinter, Champions Online and Guild Wars 2. Maybe I can steer clear of them long enough to get some work in. Usually when I begin working, I don’t stop for a while (until I get hungry or need to walk around or go to the bathroom).
So this will be brought up again, and if all goes well, I’ll offer up chapter downloads in pdf format as I did with the original series and with Rocket Fox.
Instead of inserting a large number of pictures into this post, such as the one above, I decided a video might suit better to this cause. It details the different incarnations of one of the main characters from Black Mask & Pale Rider, Shani Wennemein.
It’s a history, of sorts, of where the character of Shani Wennemein came from. I could also produce character sheets for that, considering she originated as a character in Dungeons and Dragons. The first video game aspect of her came in Bioware’s Neverwinter Nights. She’s still there and active from time to time, as I played a lot on a persistent world server called Legacy of the North. The server’s still there, just hasn’t been as populated as it was in its heyday. In truth, Shani never started out life in the video game world as an elf. She began as a tiefling, the half demon creatures of the Dungeons and Dragons world. But, thanks to the fact I was a bonehead and never asked for permission for a tiefling character (the DMs were strict on those rules), Shani became an elf instead. Which is fine, really. Being an elf is a lot easier to pass off as human in the Union and Confederacy of 1863. Whereas a tiefling would probably have been hunted down with all intentions of killing her. The horns and tail would have been a major pain for her. As it stands, with her Neverwinter Nights version, it’s hard to conceal a pair of wings as she is a Red Dragon Disciple (dual classing is awesome) as well as being a bard. She still has her roguish nature, however, as she started off as a thief (and considering you can have up to three classes in Neverwinter Nights, thief is not out of the question to add).
The latest incarnation is in Neverwinter Online, Cryptic Studios entry into the fantasy genre MMO, and Neverwinter’s first appearance in an MMO (the was the Dungeons and Dragons Online MMO, but took place outside of Neverwinter). As is the case in NWO, Shani is a thief, and uses all aspects of stealth and daggery goodness available to her. Sadly, NWO does not allow for dual classing, nor does it have a bard option (which I’d grab for Pania in a heartbeat). There are “coming soon” options, which includes a race (which I can only assume will be Drow) and a class (which I’m not certain of consdering many of the D&D classics like paladin, barbarian, sorcerer and monk do not exist).
I should add something about DDO, considering I did make Shani in that game, but didn’t get very far. She was rogue, and it was an interesting game, but it was very team heavy, which wasn’t always great if you just wanted to log on and run around for a bit on your own. Needless to say, DDO wasn’t very memorable for me.
Also, two other games that I don’t have in the video where Shani was created were both superhero MMOs. One I didn’t get Shani up very high in level, the other sadly doesn’t exist anymore, which next to Guild Wars 2 is possibly one of the best representations of Shani. The former is Champions Online, the latter is City of Heroes. In CoX, Shani was a dual pistols blaster, and she was a lot of fun. As I said before, it’s kind of sad that the game doesn’t exist anymore, considering it had it’s fun elements about it. I often like going back to a game I haven’t played in a while, even if it is online, and with CoX I can’t do that.
Lastly, which is the first part of the video, is Guild Wars 2. Quite possibly the best representation of Shani from what I’ve written in the book. A dual gunslinger who can swap out to dual blades should the need arise. A very acrobatic woman with the ability to cloak herself in darkness and disappear from her enemies. Unfortunately, there is no elf race in Guild Wars 2, but I managed to pick the smallest size available for Shani and gave her hair that covered her ears (which still stick out and she’s received the comment that she looks more like an elf than a human).
Shani did begin her life, so to speak, outside of the realm of the pages of a book, but did eventually end up there. But she still exists in the game world in many different facets. This happens to be where she began, and the constant aspect of role play developed the story that eventually did become The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider.
Next week, I’ll do part two to this which explores where Pania Alow came from. It’ll include a video as well.
And now, time for shameless self promotion.
Both my first book, Black Mask & Pale Rider, and my second book, Canyons of Steel, are available for purchase online through many different online book sellers.
Lulu.com (where both books were published)
- Tim Holtorf Author Spotlight the front page store for my books on lulu.com.
Amazon.com (both in paperback and in kindle versions)
Amazon.co.uk (both in paperback and in kindle versions)
Amazon.ca (price not listed and currently out of stock)
Barnes & Noble (for the Nook)
iTunes iBook store
Originally printed in The Outlook weekly newspaper as an open editorial, May 9, 2013.
At one time, not long ago, the biggest insult you could call a comic book collector was “nerd”. Anything nerdy was to be seen in a negative light. I got that a few times when I was a kid, it happens. And I will be the first to admit, I was quite nerdy in my youth and still am today. Only now I wear it with a bit of pride.
Here’s four little stories for you about being a nerd. Two are related to a pair of very well known authors, one is regarding the changing world of comics, sci fi and fantasy and the fourth is a little more personal.
Back in the 1960s lots of kids would write to the big comic book companies about the ongoing stories that would come out month to month. During that time, it was a big deal to get your letter in the letters page of a Superman or Batman comic. Some became regular writers. One such regular letter writer was a young George R. R. Martin. Now, back in the 60’s, it was standard practice for the comic editors to add the letter writer’s full name and address with the letter (simpler times). Young George ended up corresponding with many other comic readers across Canada and the United States, and this eventually gave way to an invitation to a home made fanzine. Fanzines are magazines dedicated to science fiction or fantasy or even comic book characters. They were often photocopied and stapled together and either sold or given away. This is how Martin got his start writing, which after many years he ended up being noticed in Hollywood and scripted several Twilight Zone episodes. Now, Martin is famous for the novel series Game Of Thrones, which has gone onto critical acclaim on HBO. Quite the step from being just a comic book nerd who’d write letters to the editor of his favourite comics.
The world of comics, sci fi and fantasy is changing. At one time, there was a stereotype that it was only boys and would always only be boys. In today’s world, it’s not just boys anymore. Girls, and women, are filling up the fandoms of many different comic book, movie, television and even video game franchises. That old lament about there being no girls in comic shops has changed. But, there is a new stereotype in place which often questions girls whether they are “true fans” or not of a certain genre. My personal belief has always been, if you really enjoy something and make a good hobby of it, then you are definitely a fan of that thing. No one should question someone’s love of their hobby.
This moves into something I heard best selling author John Greene (author of Searching For Alaska and The Fault In Our Stars) once said. “Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. [W]hen people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness‚‘.” It’s true because now a lot of people have added the term nerd for something they really love. Science nerds, computer nerds, math nerds, music nerds, Shakespearean nerds. Basically people who are really enthusiastic about something they really love.
Being a nerd has it’s down side but it’s also got a great upside to it. Sometimes that upside won’t become evident until years later. Which leads me to the more personal story, and involves my own writing. Years ago, thanks to my nerdy love of comics and science fiction and fantasy, I had created whole worlds and characters in my head, and wrote them down on scratches of paper. Amazingly, I kept them, and it wasn’t until recently that I’ve found them again. But thanks to never growing out of my enthusiastic love of stuff, those things I wrote when I was 12 years old have expanded, and even helped with my own writing.
Being a nerd isn’t a negative thing. Being a nerd is probably one of the most amazing things to be called.
Maybe it’s the fact that winter around here has been unusually longer than it normally is. We’re finally getting warmer temperatures, the sun has always been getting up earlier and earlier as the days go by, but it just never felt like spring. Even now, I’m hesitant to call it spring. Oh yes, yesterday I went ahead and took out the summer shorts and wore them with pride, and consequently I ended up freezing my buttocks off because it was only 16 Celsius and windy as heck.
But that really cloudy feeling has still persisted the past few days. I’m really glad I finished the first book of Rocket Fox and it’ll be going to the editing and rewriting phase. And I’ve given myself a break from any serious writing (honestly, Star Trek Ocelot is not serious writing, it’s just stuff for fun), and I intend on doing that for the next few days. But holy cow, I am feeling really down as of late. When I’m at work I’m fine, I get excited about what I do and what I put together with the newspaper, which is a good thing. It’s good to have purpose in your job, that you enjoy it and that it gives you a great deal of satisfaction. That’s half the battle when it comes to having a job, and anyone who finds joy in what they do for a career is someone who has found that first step to bliss. But when I go home, it’s kind of a drag. I have stuff that I do, but it’s not much. I write, I clean my apartment, I do what I need to do around the house. But it feels less than fulfilling. Which means, it may be time to go house hunting.
I’m 42. Almost 43 (next month, in fact). I have never gone house hunting before. By house hunting, I mean a house to buy. My house. My yard. My dwelling. It’s my place, I can do whatever I want in my house (without breaking any laws, mind you, nor would I suggest “marking territory in the backyard”, the neighbours wouldn’t like it very much). Granted, if something goes wrong in my house, I have no landlord or building manager to go running to to fix it. I have to handle all of that. Maybe that’s what’s getting me down, is that while I really want a house of my own (mostly because I want a pet that neither lives in the water nor in a cage and chirps, because apartments will allow for those animals), I’m terrified about the process of getting one. Getting a mortgage, getting monthly house payments, paying taxes on the property. It all terrifies me to no end.
It also has to do with that aspect of wanting a pet. I’d like someone (or in the case of an animal, something) to come home to, play with, enjoy time together and even do things with. A small dog (I’m leaning toward Corgi) but most likely a cat (I’m leaning toward Sphynx… ’cause they’re bald!). But I do find I am lonely at times within my own apartment.
…I also want a cool hidden library, but that’s another thing…
I guess, what I really hope is that this slight anxiety that I’ve been feeling lately manages to go away, that I settle down and things take a better turn. One thing I’d like to do, however, is offer everyone who reads this an e-hug, so to speak, because I think we could all use something to pick each other up a bit.
Sphynx kitty, ’cause I think they’re cute as hell.
You never know, maybe I’ll get one of each when I get a house.
Captain’s Log; Stardate 83405.31
We entered the Sierra Sector with slight apprehension, but we knew that we can’t back down. The Borg has tried to invade and destroy the worlds in both the Alpha Quadrant and the Beta Quadrant for years since the Enterprise D first encountered them so many years ago. I reflect on the history of the Borg and can’t help but wonder if what Captain Archer was describing in his starlogs in the 22nd Century was not in fact the Borg that they had encountered. And if it was, what were they doing there. None of that matters now, it would seem, as we prepare for battle.
I just hope it isn’t our last.
“Shields up,” T’Chall called out as she moved to her command position. “Ready tricobalt devices. Let’s make the Borg sorry they ever decided to venture this far into Federation space.” The crew responded as T’Chall always expected of them; with efficiency. They’d worked together as a crew for five years, and they only got better with time.
“We’re being hailed,” Lt. H’Lorru announced, a beige coated Caitian who happened to keep his mane tied back at all times. A recent addition to the crew, but a welcome one.
“Let me guess,” T’Chall muttered as the usual Borg greeting sounded out across the bridge.
“We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.”
“You’d think after nearly thirty years they’d come up with something new,” F’aat, first officer of the Ocelot said as she shook her head. F’aat had been first officer for as long as T’Chall was captain.
“Obviously originality is irrelevant to the Borg,” T’Chall added with a smirk. “Ensign Side,” she called out to her helmsman, one of three crew members not Caitian, this one an Orion. “Attack pattern Omega. I don’t want to wait and see what the Borg has planned.”
“Yes Captain,” Side said with a grin as she piloted the ship into position.
The Ocelot, like her sister ship, the Defiant, was a versatile ship. Quick, powerful and deceptive. The Ocelot had a cloaking device similar to the Defiant’s as well, but after years of helping the Romulans find a new home, the Ocelot and her crew were honoured with several Romulan technical designs which helped her even more than the Defiant ever had. If the Ocelot had been flying with the Task Force that struck against the Dominion, that war would have ended a lot sooner.
Weapons fired as the Side dive bombed the lone Borg cube that had invaded this sector of space. On her port side was an Odyssey Class star ship called the U.S.S. Farpoint, on her starboard side, a Miranda Class vessel called the U.S.S. Merrimack. The Ocelot would lead the way.
“No other ships in sight, Captain,” Natt, the Ocelot’s tactical officer announced, a young Caitian who’d seen his fair share of battles thanks to signing on with this ship. “They’re being a little bold, don’t you think.”
“Don’t underestimate them, lieutenant,” T’Chall replied as the ship rocked from a blast from the cube. Nothing the ship couldn’t handle. “If there’s one thing the Borg is good at, it’s adapting.”
The Ocelot kept her attack up, firing a volley from her sets of phase cannon and launching a full spread of photon torpedoes. As the Ocelot fired directly on the Borg cube, the Merrimack swung about to hit the cube’s more sensitive areas. Meanwhile, the Farpoint acted as a diversion so the two smaller vessels could make the most damage in as little time as possible.
“The Merrimack is caught in a tractor beam,” tactical officer Natt responded from his console. “Her weapons are down. Shields are being depleated.”
“Helm,” T’Chall quickly announced. “Give the Merrimack support. Fire on the tractor beam. We can’t lose that ship.” Side quickly agreed and began steering the ship toward the Merrimack’s position.
“Captain,” called out M’Kaso, one of the Ocelot’s science officers. “I’m detecting a ship decloaking to the Merrimack’s starboard.” M’Kaso tapped her controls quickly as T’Chall waited. “Definitely a Klingon ship. Raptor class by the look. No, wait, a Puyjaq Class escort. No registry, but she’s called…”
“Let me guess,” T’Chall said with a sigh. “It’s the Tigris.”
“Makes sense,” F’aat said as the ship was rocked by another volley from the Borg vessel. “S’Returru is suicidal. But why she’d attack us during a Borg attack…”
“She’s not attacking us,” Natt called out. “She’s targeting the Borg cube.”
“Small miracles,” T’Chall said as she focused her attention back to the view screen. “I doubt she’ll attack us after dealing with the cube. Most likely she’ll attempt to steal what debris she can and go to warp as fast as she can. Keep firing on the cube.”
The Ocelot continued her assault on the cube as the Tigris pulled the Merrimack out of range, then turned sharply and began firing on the cube. Not as fast as the Ocelot, she still had some power to her, and her crew was well versed with what they needed to do.
“The Tigris has pulled the Merrimack out of harm’s way,” M’Kaso informed T’Chall. “And she’s making a run at the cube.”
“Match her, helm,” T’Chall called out. “We may currently be on the same side, but when this is done watch out for S’Returru. We never know what she’ll do once the danger is past.”
Together with the Farpoint, the two smaller vessels pounded the Borg cube, it wasn’t long before they managed to overpower it and finally destroy it. But it was costly, as the Tigris took heavy damage.
“The Tigris is dead in the water, Captain,” M’Kaso called out.
“I know exactly what S’Returru was doing,” T’Chall muttered as she looked to F’aat. “This was her way of getting some leverage. Come in and help, speed off and remind us how ‘we owe her one’ at some other point in time.”
“That’s her standard MO,” F’aat replied. “But looks like she won’t be able to use that this time, especially if we help her.” One of the console terminals chirped as the Ocelot received a hail. “Looks like the captain of the Farpoint is hailing us.”
“On screen,” T’Chall announced as she sat back in her chair. Soon, the human captain of the Farpoint was visible. “Not exactly an epic battle, Captain Majors.”
“Better this way,” he replied with a chuckle. “We’ll tow the Merrimack. I take you’ll handle the Klingon vessel.”
“I know who it is,” T’chall said with a nod. “She’ll need some help getting underway again, so we can offer that to her at the very least.” T’Chall paused before giving F’aat a look. “Do we have anyone in engineering that isn’t Caitian? Would most likely make it easier.”
“Well, it seems as though you’ve got things handled here, Captain,” Majors replied. “See you back at space dock. Majors out.” With that, the screen shifted back to the view of deep space, along with the Klingon escort vessel that hung like a wounded bird.
“I suppose we should begin…” F’aat began before she was cut off by another chirp from a console.
“Another vessel, Captain,” M’Kaso reported. “Bearing 2-1-3 Mark 6. Can’t identify it, Sir. I’ve never seen anything like it before. But, she definitely has a…”
Forward: this is completely fanfiction and has been written purely for entertainment purposes. I do not lay any claim to the events and persons in the Star Trek Universe, however, I did create the characters found herein based on existing species found in Star Trek. This is presented purely for entertainment purposes. This is presented as it was written in its first draft.
Time Is On My Side
I have seen hundreds of timelines in my years working with the Temporal Protectorate. Sometimes we become complacent that here in the 30th Century we’re safe. But time can have massive ripples, especially when someone decides to take a boulder and drop it into the murky waters that are the time stream. This is where our job comes into play. We fix the timeline if it happens to go astray. But there are massive side effects with changing the timeline; one wrong move and everything can be changed in a way that you never would have imagined.
I’ve seen an Earth where the Nazis won the Second World War; a time when Attila the Hun attacked and successfully sacked Rome; a time where it was Chief Powhatan that discovered Europe; or the timeline that saw India and Australia become world superpowers. Those are just the timelines on Earth, that doesn’t even include the Vulcans, Klingons, Caitians, Trill, Andorians, Ferengi, Cardassians…
But from all of the timelines I’ve seen, in a galactic sense, there are several common factors that take place. Events that no matter what happened in the past, there is one thing that manages to come about. For example, the creation of Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets. In each timeline, those two events always take place. The destruction of Romulus, the disappearance of Spock. Again, two major events that also always take place.
But among all of those events, and those four in particular, I find it amazing that two more series of events happen that brings together the crews of two very different ships. One is a Federation vessel, Defiant Class, called the U.S.S. Ocelot. Fitting name, considering her captain and crew. The only vessel in Starfleet that has a complete crew compliment of Caitians. Caitians are one of two feline species in the universe. They are intelligent, strong willed, and strong physically. It’s said, it’s best not to anger a Caitian. But should you make friends with them, then you’d have one for life. This is the type of person Captain M’iaa T’Chall is. She is loyal, hardworking and a career officer with Starfleet. In any timeline. She was given command of the Ocelot, and given the opportunity to pick her own crew. She did just that, making it the first fully Caitian crew in all of Starfleet.
The other ship is much different than the Ocelot, yet very similar. A Puyjaq Class Raptor Escort, it is simply known as the Tigris. Her registration has been removed after the band of pirates took it over right out of Klingon space dock. It was soon learned that a band of Ferasan took it over and began plundering what they could, working alone and without authority. The Ferasan are the other feline species in the universe, and they aren’t much different from the Caitians. Unless you count their bad temper, aggression and hatred of all Caitians, plus the fact that most Ferasan have telepathic abilities.
But the Tigris and the Ocelot time and time again appear. No matter the timeline. And Captain T’Chall is all too familiar with Captain S’Returru. The two have played a game of cat and mouse each time they encounter each other, with S’Returru always managing to stay one step ahead of T’Chall. Well, this time might be one time when the two have to work together.
Because the timeline needs to be repaired in a way greater than any of us in the 30th Century could ever attempt. We need to recruit more people, and it just so happens that the Ocelot and the Tigris fit the bill perfectly.
Now, we just have to get to them in time.
I don’t often take a stab at fanfiction, I’ve got too many different characters running around my head as it is and sometimes it’s difficult to prevent them crossing over. But from time to time I’ll get an idea for a property already out there. Like Star Trek.
I wrote one Star Trek fanfiction over fifteen years ago. I crossed it over with Hawkworld from DC Comics, where I had Hawkman and Hawkwoman meet each incarnation of Trek up to that point. Obviously, they didn’t meet up with Archer and crew in Star Trek Enterprise (had the show been around, though, I just might have). It was a long effort, my longest writing up to that point, and I finished it. However, I have no idea where the copy is now, so no, unfortunately, I can’t share it with you.
Since then, however, I’ve developed a new idea in Trek, based on characters I created in Star Trek Online.
The idea is based on a completely Caitian crew (the feline species in Star Trek) Captained by M’iaa T’Chall (she is the short one in the above picture). I’ll also be adding in my Klingon Defense Force character, S’Returru, who isn’t Klingon but Ferasan. Ferasan is the other feline species in Trek, and they are rather hostile to their Caitian cousins.
The idea came about that since J. J. Abrams reboot of Star Trek, one would think that the Temporal Investigators would have a field day attempting to fix all of the timeline irregularities. Usually they’ll recruit different Starfleet or other members to help fix the problems in the timeline (seeing how most often the ones trying to fix things are Starfleet officers from the 30th Century, they’d probably pick Starfleet officers). In the case of what took place in the events of Abrams’ Star Trek, Temporal Investigations wouldn’t require one person, they’d need an entire crew. Fortunately for them, of the events that created the alternate universe there were four constants. Meaning, as time progressed, there were always four events that took place in each timeline. Those four events were the destruction of Romulus, the disappearance of Ambassador Spock, and the crews of two vessels, one Starfleet another a stolen Klingon Raptor escort ship. The first ship is the U.S.S. Ocelot, captained by M’iaa T’Chall. In each timeline, she will captain the Ocelot, and her crew will be 100% Caitian. The second ship is called the I.K.S. Tigris, and is captained by a Ferasan by the name of S’Returru. Her crew happens to be 100% Ferasan. But in each timeline, those four constants always take place.
So Temporal Investigations recruits them in order to ensure the timeline continues as it should. The goal of the crews of each ship is to find a difference in the timeline, and fix it.
The initial setup is three chapters that will read exactly the same, with small difference. The Ocelot will encounter the Borg/Tholians/Iconians. They will chase down one of the fleeing ships to discover it’s attacking the Tigris. As the two crews realize who each other is, a third ship will arrive which they cannot recognize. That set up happens three times, until the fourth chapter will reveal the ship is a timeship, with the goal of recruiting the Ocelot and the Tigris.
So that’s the plan in a nutshell for a little bit of fanfiction. Just because the idea is there.
Just a word cloud roundup of the recent completion of Rocket Fox: Flight of the Nighthawk.
Click it for embiggened version.
For those who downloaded the full series PDF, you’ll notice at the end of the book there are five chapters to an appendix which describes the world (and star system) the people of Rocket Fox live in. Religions, politics, slang terms, life styles, and species. For those who didn’t, however, here is the world building guide, chapter by chapter.
These guides will be in each series, describing new slang terms as they crop up, new planets, new ships, new species, new cities, and new cultures. Once each book is complete, each new appendix will be posted here. With the completion of the entire series, a full PDF download of the entire appendix will be made available.
My 12 year old self would be really excited.
My 12 year old self would also be really impatient, because while this first series which has become a book (or, is in the process of becoming a book), it’s not done. There’s a second series coming which will go through just as much work as this first one. Well, not as much work. Most of the ground work has already been laid. In truth, while the first book started in November of 2012, the ground work started in November of 2010 when I wrote Swift Fox and the Pirates of the Jackai. That was a NaNoWriMo project, and elements of that story will see the light of day in this revamp of the series.
One could even say that the ground work was set in motion over 30 years ago, when my 12 year old self made the star system and many of the species that are encounter in Rocket Fox. At the time, mind you, the Vulpine were called Foxian. I think the change in name is much better. For the longest time, each planet and species was in the same star system, but again, that’s all changed with this new series (and the many hours watching talks on Youtube by Neil deGrasse Tyson about star systems, learning about habitable zones, reading about new interstellar discoveries and watching copious amounts of Star Trek and playing Star Trek Online).
Naturally, my 12 year old self would want pictures in the book, because while I’m an adult and read novels and wrote this as a novel, my 12 year old self was still reading some of the Wind In The Willows, Watership Down and other books that had pictures before each chapter. Which, I will be attempting. It’s been a long time since I drew anything, and to be honest, I could be lazy and just pay someone to draw different pictures before each chapter or character sketches, but part of my wants to do it all myself. Though, I’ll not say no if anyone wishes to draw them for me.
The work is not done, but at least I am safe in the knowledge that the first step was taken, and it went well. There’s still editing that needs to be done and a couple of rewrites, all the while I’ll be setting up the scenes and writing them out for series two (which will eventually become book two).
My 12 year old self would be really excited.
The first series is now complete. After a couple of years of writing, plotting, world building, and setting up several different stories (even Swift Fox is one of those stories), the entire thing is available for download.
Rocket Fox: Flight of the Nighthawk
Vulpinia Prime. A utopian paradise on the edge of the Lupine Sector of Space. The third planet of the Vulpine Star System, her inhabitants take to heart their age old adage that they are meant to protect the sector from any and all threats. For many, it is an honour to be chosen at the many Academies of science, engineering, mathematics and even the famed military colleges that dot the planet. Rarely has there been a serious threat which the Royal Vulpine Armada has had need to deal with. But Article 16 of the Space Exploration Charter is there for a reason. And for many of the cadets at the Chattingham Academy, they are soon going to find out why.
The Full Series - Rocket Fox – Flight of the Nighthawk
The Final Chapter!
The crew has boarded.
The mission is clear.
The Nighthawk prepares to launch.
To be continued in Pau Theta II
That is a damn fine uniform. It happens to be one of the really cool things you can unlock in Star Trek Online. There’s a lot of things you can unlock in the game, more than just uniforms. There’s weapons, armour, ship weapons, shields, devices to help in space and ground missions. Naturally, as you progress through the missions and episodes of the game, new missions and episodes unlock (the main story missions are called episodes, where there’s a series of missions that focus on one arc). If you collect certain weapons, shield and armour types together, they will unlock additional abilities to help you in combat.
The above uniform, I opened up while performing the duty roster missions (what I call XP while you are away from your computer, because you just set the mission and then walk away). Four ranks in Diplomacy of the duty roster missions and you unlock the uniform, plus the ability to transwarp to DS9 (at the other ranks you can transwarp to Starbase 39 and Deep Space K-7), plus you get the option to have an bridge officer from an enemy faction. I picked an Orion (I wanted a Ferasan but those are a species you have to buy in Cryptic’s C-Store… which I’ll get to in a bit).
You can also do actual missions that help to unlock ship items (weapons, shields, consoles, impulse engines and deflector) which unlock additional abilities, as well as personal shields, armour and weapons. I managed to unlock the entire M.A.C.O set of armour, shields and weapons for M’iaa (above) which gives the ability to replenish personal shields and remodulate weapons on the fly while fighting against the Borg.
That’s all great, it takes a long time to unlock this stuff and there’s a feeling of accomplishment when you do so.
However, for as much as there is this stuff you can unlock, it’s really annoying to see how much stuff you can unlock just by buying it. Cryptic has the C-Store, which uses real word dollars to buy in game currency. It is a lot of in game currency, mind you, as $20 will get you about 1500 which can buy some decent things. You can buy additional ship skins and types. For example, M’iaa’s ship is the U.S.S. Ocelot, a Defiant Class Escort ship complete with cloaking device. There is a Defiant Class ship you can unlock when you reach the captain’s level, but it doesn’t have the cloak. You can even buy playable races (like Caitian and Ferasan) and certain bridge crew species (like Caitain and Ferasan). I’ve taken advantage of that, plus I’ve taken advantage of all of the costume add ons. This I have no issue with, because it’s a quality of life aspect to the game. Customizing things so that you stand out in the game just a bit.
What really annoys me is one aspect of the game which manages to drop lock boxes. These lock boxes contain special additions for your character to use. Weapons, shields, duty rostes to complete your duty roster crew, costume pieces, and in the case of the Ferengi lock boxes, lobi crystals which can be used to buy a few other add ons. You even have a chance to open a box with a ship (Cardassian, Jem Ha’Dar, Tholian, Ferengi, Mirror Universe ships available). What picks at me is that the keys required to open the boxes require real world money to buy. And they aren’t cheap. Over 1000 in game credits to buy ten of them. Which isn’t so bad, but at the frequency of which the lock boxes drop, it can get very expensive.
These aren’t achievements you can unlock, but achievements you can buy. And even then, the chance of getting a ship is remote.
Costumes and ship skins I don’t mind paying for. It’s an added bonus to the game to help make you look unique. I do have an issue with being forced to buy keys to open boxes in order to have a chance of something really different. What I’d suggest is keep the keys in the store, but have certain missions that will offer the chance to get a key as a reward on completion of the mission. Make that drop rare enough, so when a player does manage to get one, it’s a real accomplishment. If players want to shell out cash to buy keys, so be it, be at least give players the opportunity to be awarded keys in game. Even make a key bundle of ten a reward option.
It’ll make the reward actually feel like an achievement.
Graduation is finished, every student is now looking forward to their new assignments. For Captain Senia Felix and the crew of the Nighthawk, they already have an excellent idea. Now, they just have to board the ship they have studied through schematics and data pads for some time now. The Nighthawk awaits.
This weekend the final chapter!
I haven’t done this for a time. So here’s a round of quotable quotes.
I don’t know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be. – Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865
Nothing is ever lost by courtesy. It’s the cheapest of the pleasures, costs nothing and conveys much. It pleases him who gives and him who receives, and thus, like mercy, is twice blessed. -author unknown
You never have to change what you see – only the way you see it. -author unknown
You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred. Woody Allen
The world would be better off if people tried to become better. And people would become better if they stopped trying to be better off. ~Peter Maurin
The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience. -Harper Lee
I had a post. I really did. It was fully thought out and well written and long and I was almost done and Google Chrome crashed. Of course, I failed to do the one thing always thought of when on a computer; save my work. Maybe if I remember what it was, I’ll rewrite it. Maybe.
So, in lieu of that post, here’s some random stuff.
The crappy part really begs repeating. Having Google Chrome crash while attempting to write a long post, nearly at the end, and you become so dejected you just don’t care about writing it again.
Also crappy: the fact Microsoft’s internal spell checker still thinks Google is misspelled.
The Awesome and the not so
Something really awesome: Waking up at five in the morning and the sun is there to greet you as you get up.
Something not so awesome: You look at the temperature and see it’s only -9 Celsius outside.
You never realize how dusty your computer monitor is
Until you’re trying to read something and the light is hitting it in such a way where every dust mote is highlighted and then you suddenly get the urge to dust your entire house.
Gifs and memes
Seeing all of the gifs and memes based on different television shows like Game of Thrones, Community, Parks and Rec, Walking Dead, and others makes me realize that I may actually want to get cable television at some point.
But then I realize just how expensive it is and decide it’s just as easy to “watch” Game of Thrones by reading the books.
With just two chapters left (technically, I need only write one, and in truth only half, because I’ve written about half of it already), time for some random Rocket Fox stuff.
The Rocket Fox Soundtrack
As the inevitable ending to the first series draws nearer, I complied a soundtrack of music that really helps out with the universe (star system) I created. These are out of the epic background like music of Two Steps From Hell.
So, in no particular order:
- Starships: Nicki Minaj
- Cosmic Castaway: Electrasy
- Over My Head: Lit
- It’s My Time To Fly: The Urge
- Magic Carpet Ride: Steppenwolf
That’s a short list, but it’s what I’ve listened to at times when I’ve been writing and plotting.
Rocket Fox covers
New cover designs for Rocket Fox. The first draft is almost complete.
For years Darwin’s Theory of Evolution has been debated heavily by those who call themselves fundamental Christians (that group that believes in such cognitive dissonance). They say there’s no real evidence of the theory, but in truth there is evidence in the theory around us all the time. We live in a world that is evolving every day.
The funny thing about Darwin’s writings is that today, many fundamentalists say that the church (that being the Church of England) fully believed his writings were blasphemy. In fact, they weren’t. The Church of England fully believed that Darwin’s writings and his discovery about how life continued to evolve were in fact pretty spot on with how God worked things out on Earth and thus in the universe. What the Church of England didn’t really grasp was the description of how nature can be extremely cruel. But what else can you call it, especially when there are creatures, such as a wasp, that will sting a cockroach in the brain thus zombifying it, drag it to a nest (still alive), lay eggs so the larva have something to eat when they hatch. Keeping in mind the cockroach is still alive when they hatch. The Church of England at the time, couldn’t wrap their heads around that fact.
It’s not any different than ancient astronomers who believed that the sun revolved around the Earth. Surprisingly, fifty percent of people in the United States today believe this to be true. A large portion also believes that the Earth is only 6,000 years old (or 10,000, seems as though not all of them agree). In fact, the Earth is over 4.5 billion years old. And the universe itself is over 13 billion years old.
But let’s get back to the theory of evolution. We do evolve. We have evolved. What it was we originally evolved from, I can’t say. I’m not a scientist, I’m only someone who really enjoys reading up on these things. My age old curiosity with dinosaurs and even some of the earliest mammals has not waned. I remember seeing a tabloid (World News or some such thing) that announced scientists believed that dinosaurs could have evolved and become a humanoid species. The thought intrigued me, and of course at the time (I believe I was around 9 or 10) I had come up with all of these wild imaginings of life had dinosaurs become the dominant species (or at least one breed of dinosaur in particular). This idea has stuck with me for a long time, and is one of the reasons why I went ahead with the story of Rocket Fox. It began with the idea that dinosaurs, or at least one of the dinosaurs, evolved into intelligent bipedal beings who managed to develop their own technology. Naturally, this idea wasn’t new, and it’s rather ironic that in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, the crew meets a species that had evolved from a particular dinosaur on Earth, then possibly escaped the cataclysm that effectively wiped out the dinosaurs. It’s a sound theory, and one I used with the group I eventually called the Critainians.
But the theory of evolution isn’t just something that can be used for fantastic ideas. Just look at the diverse number of creatures we have on our own planet. Millions that live on land, sea, fly through the sky, and even exist at the microscopic level. By some cosmic role of the dice, human beings drew the card that granted them technological advancement. But what if somewhere in the galaxy, all the conditions are the same on some other planet, but some other species drew the card. This is one of the thoughts behind Rocket Fox. That foxes, lesser cats and even raccoons became dominant and learned how to create and advance their own civilizations.
In the real world, evolution does some odd things that allows a species to survive in harsh climates. Arctic Foxes have a white coat in winter and a grey mottled coat in summer, to help hide from any predators and allow them to sneak up on them, and to keep themselves hidden while they hunt. Crows and ravens have been known to play and even use tools. They’ve been studied making toys that they share with others to play with. Even bacteria and viruses evolve.
To say that evolution is utter nonsense is, well, utter nonsense. Evolution exists. And before someone shouts out “then how come humans and monkeys exist together now”, which I know will be one argument. If you look closely, any species has within it several different members of the same family. Ocelots, caracals, servals, cheetahs and cougars are all related, but they are all different. Red fox, arctic fox, fennec fox swift fox and kit fox all are the same genus, but different species. Yet, they are all foxes. To a greater extent, this continues because they are all canines and related to wolves, coyotes and different domesticated breeds of dogs. There will also be the argument that why can’t we see it. I can only suspect that trying to watch evolution is slightly more boring than watching paint dry. You don’t actually see results until long periods of time has happened. For an entire species, evolution doesn’t mean you’ll wake up the next morning with something different. It means it’ll take years in order to see a change.
As the story is two chapters away from completion (technically one, as I’ve already written the last chapter), I decided to share a couple of things with everyone. The first is more on an inspirational note, while the second is about names of ships.
Starships were meant to fly
Starships were meant to fly
Hands up and touch the sky
Can’t stop ‘cause we’re so high
Let’s do this one last time
It’s interesting the things I find inspiring for writing. Now, normally, I don’t listen to Nicki Minaj, but the fan video with her song that intertwined several sci fi television shows and movies along with the beat of the music was really, really good. I have to honestly say, I’ve been listening to it (not watching it) while writing up some ideas for Rocket Fox: Pau Theta II.
So far, the Rocket Fox series has been a build up to what’s coming. What’s coming is going to have a lot more action to it. From action in the city of Rondu on the plaent’s surface, to the fighter pilots lead by Left-tenant Chloe Grivana, to the actions of Left-tenant Mia Talon in the pilot’s seat of the Nighthawk herself.
I’ve even toyed with the idea of borrowing the line “starships were meant to fly” and have it being said by Aria Sharpspear or Captain Felix at some point (most likely toward the end).
Sorry for the ramble, but I just find it interesting what things can help bring out ideas when it seems the well has run dry.
A brief history of ships in Rocket Fox
With one chapter left in the Rocket Fox series (the first book), I felt it necessary to divulge the naming convention for the ships.
As it will become clear, all ships will be dubbed the name of a bird, whether that be a bird of prey or a song bird or nautical bird. This includes the Osprey (which was originally called the Tritan), the Kestrel, the Peregrine, the Kingifsher, right on up to the Nighthawk.
On a personal note, I like birds, I find them fascinating. Particularly birds of prey like hawks and eagles and falcons. For the story, I added that aspect into the first attempts at flight by the Vulpinian people.
The first ship was called the Kitty Hawk (a hat tip to the location where Orville and Wilbur Wright had their historic first flight), which was the test craft to see if it was indeed possible to create a craft which could fly. The first passenger transport air craft (terrestrial ships) were named the Kitty Hawk after this first historic voyage. Since then over a thousand years have passed, and the interplanetary passenger ships are named the Kingfisher class shuttle craft.
As space exploration really began to take off, the first satellites were also given some of these names. Such as the Puffin, the Night Owl, the Gull, and the Parrot. As massive space exploration vessels were created, they were named after larger birds, with even one getting the rather embarrassing name the Turkey Vulture (since that time, it was decided all names will be no more than one word in length, and no longer than ten letters).
As the Vulpine and Felanus began meeting hostile species in space, they had to build vessels for war, and they were given very intimidating names. Such as the Peregrine, the Kestrel, the Falcon and the Eagle. The most recently named class of vessel in the Osprey, which is the flagship of the Royal Vulpine Armada.
There have been exceptions to this rule, as the fighter craft of the fleet is called Maverick (named for the engineer who developed the first jet engine). With the launch of the NIghthawk, the name Maverick is no longer in use, as the Nighthawk’s fighter craft are often called the ‘Hawks, shortened version of the Nighthawk. Another exception is many of the cargo cruisers in the Vulpine Trade Commission. In particular, the Barrow, or as the refit is now called, the Barrow’s Revenge. The Barrow was named after the farm and construction implement which is used to carry large amounts of material from one location to another. The Revenge, as she is known, is refit with a hangar bay which houses the now famous Midnight Squadron of attack fighters, along with an expanded cargo bay,and forward and aft photon torpedo launchers and forward phaser cannons.
The day has arrived that each of the cadets at the Chattingham Academy and Military College have looked forward to. Their graduation and the announcement of their placements. While Senia Felix and her friends and the newly formed crew of the Nighthawk know exactly what their placement is, the announcement will be news to many others. At least, before they launch, they’ll be getting some sound advice from some of their mentors.
Just two more chapters left in this first series.