The Obligatory End of 2011 Post




pre://d.o.mai.n
Pre-release Cover Design
It is customary to finish off the year, whether you have a television show, a blog, or any other media outlet, with a “year in review” edition.

At the risk of causing a fault in the space-time continuum, I have decided to follow suit. Since this is the first year of this blog’s existence, and by extension my first year testing the literary waters as an author, it’s probably more appropriate than most that I do so.

This blog went live in March of 2011. and the first month there was not much traffic to be had. Actually, I’m fairly convinced that most of it was me, making changes and checking back to see the results. Somewhere around 70 hits, whatever. I can’t even make it out on the graph because my eyes are so dry, but just take my word for it, it was a humble beginning.

At any rate, it’s not important in the end, because after the first few months the amount of traffic jumped exponentially. The first six months, I had around 1000 hits. By the end of the year (which is tonight, if I’m not mistaken, I’ve crested 5000 for the year.

I lost my grandfather later on this year, and the way that felt best to grieve was to write how his passing had made me felt. A revised version of it was read at his funeral after prodding from several family members, and it felt good to give voice to my experiences with him, to tell our stories. Here is a link to it.

That those experiences were not dissimilar from a lot of my family members never donned on me until I spoke with them later.

For a little site like this, 4000 hits in five months is nothing to sneeze at, and I owe it all to you guys. My plan for 2011 was to publish a short story or two, learn what I could about marketing myself as an author and also see what I could find out about the ins and outs of the book market. I didn't expect to make a killing at this overnight, and if I’m honest with myself I know my chances of ever sustaining my family with my writing alone are pretty slim.

Did I close the year wealthier than I did in 2010? Not because of the book sales, but I learned a TON about how to do it right, or at least do it better. I published two short works, titled “Where I Can’t Follow”, and “Judgment Cove”. Combined, I’ve sold less than a hundred copies over the year. I suspected it wouldn’t be an easy climb, and even made a comic strip (click here to see it) mocking how other plans had to be made when my first commission check did not cover the pair of Ferrari’s that my son and I had our hearts set on.

We still ended up with Ferrari’s, but we had to use a little imagination and magic. No easy task, let me tell you.

I produced book trailers for both stories, again sticking with the plan of learning as much as I could so that I could make 2012 pay off. I didn’t really set out with the 2011/2012 year change as a means of demarking the different phases of the plan, but I have to admit, it did work out nicely.

Nothing I did in regards to this site will go to waste, the lessons learned will prove to be invaluable, but at some point, the training wheels need to come off.

Which brings me to 2012.

I have laid the groundwork for a 2012 that should move the needle even further.

My first full length novel-pre://d.o.mai.n, is nearing completion and will soon be making it’s way to various prospective agents. I'm going to give two or three a shot at it before I take matters into my own hands and self-publish. 

Why not just self-publish anyways?

Well, to be honest I'd like to give it a shot. I have some ideas for marketing my book, but it would be great to have someone else helping me that's invested financially in it's success. So I'm going to at least test the waters.

I have a few ideas for marketing the book, but I'm going to hold off on letting the cat out of the bag just yet. 

In other words, I need to be able to set the hook before I try to reel them in. ;-)

After that, there is d.o.mai.n 2 (as yet untitled), and another story I have planned with the working title of "Split". It's going to be a literary fiction piece with what I think is an interesting twist. I need to keep trying new things or else boredom will set in. Of course, which project takes root first will largely depend on how well pre://d.o.mai.n does. 

On a more personal front, I am starting the Insanity workout program on Monday. I've got enough time to go through it two full rotations before bikini season (aka wigglewigglewigglewigglewigglewiggle time), so hopefully this summer I will be rounding into form, but time will tell.

A very good friend asked me the other day what my hopes for next New Years Eve would be, and my answer was, "To be wealthier, better looking, happier, and less lonely than this New Years". 

Of course, that's in no particular order ;-p

Happy New Years Everyone, and thanks again for an awesome year!







 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from christophergodsoe.com!


 

Book Review-Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble By: D. Robert Pease

I've decided to do something a little different for my review of Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble. As this book is geared towards readers in the Middle School Grade level, I decided to see if my 10 year old son Skyler (Grade 6) would like to offer up his views on it as well. His review is located just after mine, and I can't stress enough how proud I am of what he came up with, he really did an incredible job. But without further ado, here is my review for Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble! 

Let's start this review with what peaked my interest in the novel itself....

Time Travel. Spaceships.

I was already hooked when I spoke to D. Robert Pease about reviewing his breakout novel Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble. I wanted to really dig into it because I was curious how a writer would approach the complex concepts of puddle jumping through time on a mission to repopulate the earth centuries after cataclysm.

The storyline is of course inspired by that of the famed biblical flood, but the inspiration stops there. This is not a religious novel, and the references are relegated to the name of the protagonists (and his father), and their mission of collecting examples of every living creature on earth, two at a time.

The novel is written to the Middle Grade level demographic, which in recent years has been handed over by default to franchises such as Twilight, Percy Jackson, and Harry Potter . I say default because aside from Percy Jackson (and perhaps Harry Potter), few of these books seem to actually be written with the young readers they are targeting in mind, they are simply taken up because there is little else for Middle Grade children (especially boys) to latch on to. This is one of the reasons that I decided to hand my ereader over to my son Skyler and let him read it as well. His review is located just below the three-dimensionally rendered image near the bottom of this review.

Another theme that really caught my attention is that none of those novels are Science Fiction, they all reside squarely in the realm of fantasy. Being a Science Fiction author myself I was intrigued to see how the aforementioned concepts of time travel and living in space are presented to readers who may not be well versed in paradoxical plot lines. If that last sentence has you shaking your head a little, you understand what I mean.

Generally, I like to approach reading from a writing perspective-i.e. how well the story is written, if it's plausible, and how consistent is the character development. Am I being overly picky on a novel that is geared towards children? In the beginning of the novel, if I had stopped around 50-60 pages in, I would have said yes.

The Antagonist had at that point had been presented as evil for the sake of evil. That's not a problem of course, as a story of this nature (written in the first person) is all about simultaneous discovery ( the character finds things out at the same time as the reader, there is no discrepancy between the two ). If the character knows everything up front, it would almost preclude any chance of tension and make for an extremely boring read.

Of course, the Antagonist ( Haon) is not without motive, which we discover near the end of the novel. There are characters introduced at points that would appear superfluous until you remember that this is the first novel in an ongoing series, and there is a character that at times seems to grasp complicated concepts a little too easily, but other than that the storyline is tight, the tension palpable, and the consequences realistic.

And that last note, the bit about the consequences in this novel being realistic, is where I think this novel really shines. Stories targeting the younger demographics are expected to convey morals, or lessons. One reason why I don't write to that demographic is because I've found it very difficult to teach morals and lessons through a world that seems to be devoid of such morals. The bad guys often win, the good guys are severely handicapped by their virtue, and no one gets out unscathed.

Your first indication of this is that Noah is a paraplegic, which means that he has use of his hands but not use of his legs. He doesn't dwell on it, and instead uses it much the same way that any kid his age would, an excuse to get out of doing things he doesn't want to do and as an excuse to test out new gadgets meant to make his life easier.

You get the sense that he has been overcoming this physical deficiency for so long that the only reason it is mentioned at all is to give a reason why he is riding around in a magnetically levitated chair instead of walking. It both keeps us from feeling sorry for Noah and gives us an insight as to why he feels he can overcome any obstacle, because he's been doing it since birth. This, along with other parts of the novel, show that it is possible to show us a "real" world, meaning one with problems more complicated than who forgot to return a borrowed toy, and also target this age group.

Somewhere along the way, I had gotten it into my head that in order to write good children's literature, I had to tie up almost every loose end in order to make the "happily ever after" stick upon conclusion. I couldn't see how meaningful lessons about life could be taught without showing how the consequences of major missteps, i.e.-death, are involved. Obviously, death is a touchy subject among the parents of youth readership.

I lacked the insight as to best go about this, but I realized that there are other ways to teach about loss and consequence than having beloved characters die horrific deaths on the page, as D. masterfully handles this as the novel draws to a close. The novel still pulls a punch or two, but never have I seen a novel directed at this demographic so adept at handling heady concepts such as these.

Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble is a great start to what I can see becoming a landmark young science fiction series. I was entertained during my adventures through time, brought home to a satisfyingly realistic conclusion, and even learned a thing or two about the craft of writing along the way. I am rating Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble 24/25, (see graphic below for breakdown).

It is absolutely worth a read, and if you happen to have a young reader on your Christmas list that is interested in Science Fiction, I highly recommend that you introduce them to the Zarc family.

And as promised, my son has produced a review of his own for this novel, and it is just past the image below. It's his first ever guest post on my blog, so if you like what he had to say, or simply want to offer encouragement, please post comments below. And before you ask, yes, he really is 10years old, and yes, he really did write the review himself!



Skyler Godsoe's Book Review 
of 
Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble

This was a fascinating story full of wonder and adventure, which I find surprising considering the fact that I normally don't like books that my dad recommends. This story is about a boy named Noah Zark (heh, get it, Noah Zarc=Noah's Arc?), who although only 12, is an accomplished pilot. 


The story starts out with Noah running away from killer robot sentries sent by a man named Haon. Noah has to use the time jumping device built into his thermosuit to escape so that he can bring the pair or extinct animals back to the ARC, or Animal Rescue Cruiser, parked on the moon. His family lives there, jumping back through time to find animals that are extinct on earth when he was born and holding them on the ship until they can bring them back to their time, now that the earth has recovered from a worldwide catastrophe.

As Noah is going through these adventures, he feels a great weight on his shoulders, knowing that he (and his family) are being relied on to save all of the species on earth. As I am only 10, I think he handled it all way better than I would have, even with two good legs!

I give this book 4 and a half star rating because it is a fascinating story, full of adventure, and I enjoyed it alot. I don't believe that the cave men and women would have been that advanced during the ice age even if we could communicate with them, but until someone hands me a universal translator and the keys to a time travelling spaceship of my own, I will have to take D. Robert Pease's word for it ;-)


(Blog Tour Notes below provided by author)

Blog Tour Notes


OVERVIEW

Noah Zarc:
Mammoth Trouble
Noah lives for piloting spaceships through time, dodging killer robots and saving Earth's animals from
extinction.

Life couldn't be better.

But the twelve-year-old time traveler learns it could be a whole lot worse. His mom is kidnapped and
taken to Mars; his dad is stranded in the Ice Age; and Noah is attacked at every turn by a foe bent on
destroying Earth... for the second time.

Get your copy today by visiting Amazon.com (available in paperback or as an eBook) or
the online retailer of your choice (more links below).

CASH PRIZES


Guess what? You could win a $50 Amazon gift card as part of this special blog tour. That’s right! Just
leave a comment below saying something about the post you just read, and you’ll be entered into the
raffle. I could win $50 too by having the most comments. So tell your friends to stop by and comment on
this post too!

GIVEAWAY


Win 1 of 5 copies of the paperback version of Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble by entering the giveaway on
GoodReads
.

THE AUTHOR


D. Robert PeaseD. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox
behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he
hasn't been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. Also, since
the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the
Motorcycle
, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him
like Homer's Sirens. It's not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds
just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters.

Discover ways to connect with the author by visiting his site at www.drobertpease.com

BOOK TRAILER



THANK YOU! for visiting. And don't forget to comment below for that chance to
win the $50 Amazon gift card. And of course head on over to your favorite online book store and buy a
copy of Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, for you or for the kids in your life.

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& Noble Nook
| Apple iBookstore | Smashwords | Diesel eBook Store | CreateSpace Paperback | Amazon UK | Amazon France | Amazon Germany
 

Why Speculative Fiction authors are always in a hurry....

A large part of what I am about to write below is a warning to my Speculative or Science Fiction writing brethren. It's not an attempt to cast blame, and certainly not an attempt to whine. It is merely an attempt to encourage writers to not procrastinate if their stories are contingent upon near-future technologies.


Unless this is your first visit to this site, (or you've not been paying attention, lol), you will undoubtedly know that I am currently at work on a rather large SciFi/Speculative Fiction series titled "d.o.mai.n", the first book of which is due to come out next year.


I have envisioned alot of new technology to be included in these books, spent alot of time trying to decide where technological trends will go in the 20 years seperating today to the setting of the novels. I will probably be wrong on much of it, overshooting on some advancements and not being ambitious enough on others.


Such is the nature of Spec. Fiction.


When you base alot of your ideas on fields or products that are just now at their infancy, you are in essence engaging in a footrace with the scientists tasked with bringing those ideas to market. If you procrastinate as I have, sometimes the scientists catch up to your vision.


In the chronology of my writing of d.o.mai.n, the second book was initially started a decade ago. It began as a screenplay, as with the advent of Blender and other special effects software, I fancied myself a filmmaker. One of the effects I had envisioned (though I doubt I was the first to come up with the idea) was of a car where every exterior and hard interior body panel was constructed of LCD, essentially making the car one giant television.


This was one of the first scenes I wrote, and I am pasting a short excerpt below in the hopes that you all forget you saw it in time for the publishing of the second book in the series, lol.


(Note: I did revise this passage pretty heavily. I did learn something while revising it though-If you want to see how far you have come in a specific discipline, all you have to do is take a look at the quality of work you produced ten years ago)


d.o.mai.n
Book 2


Excerpt-
The elevator door closed between them. With a deep sigh, Theo began to wonder if they would be able to manage their professional relationship alongside this fledgling personal one.

He let the thought go, deciding that they would figure it out as they went along.

For the past four years, he had secretly fantasized about his desire to grow closer to Victoria, but now that it was happening he began to doubt himself.

Would she still find him interesting in the morning? Would he be able to continue to cultivate the magic of this night into something more permanent?

He didn't have the answers to these questions, nor for the multitude of other seeds of doubt fighting for sunlight amongst the recesses of his mind.

He became increasingly cognizant that he had been standing at the elevator door for an excessive amount of time, and pivoted on his heel to leave.

He hadn't felt this light and free in ages. The hairs on his  arm bristled with the energy of untapped possibility, and he couldn't help but smile as he reached his car, lifting the door to slide inside.

After flexing his hands around the thermoplastic controls to work off some of the nervous tension, he pressed the ignition button on the console and the dash sprang to life in various phosphorescent hues.

The same instant that he eased the front tires outside of the parking space, a dark blur whistled past, only missing his bumper by inches. He wrenched his fingers around the controls in anger before yanking the right hand control back to slide the back end of the vehicle around.

The rear tires found purchase and he was in pursuit.

Within a matter of 600 feet he had caught up to the Black Mustang and removed any doubt about his mood by closing the distance between them to within 6 inches.

 The Infotainment screen flashed with an incoming call, and Theo barked out his command.

"Answer!"

 The screen blinked into life and a Kellen Malachai's face filled the screen.

 "You have to have her too?" 

Theo hadn't recognized the vehicle as it had nearly reshaped the front half of his vehicle, but instantly recognized the voice. Knowing Kellen's penchance for jealousy and suspicion of mental instability, he backed off slightly, loosening the gap between them by 30 feet.

Kellen began to scream at him through the speakers. 

"Don't you back down now, Golden boy! Don't you DARE try to run and hide! You think that I'm scared of you?"
"Kellen, I'm not racing you. You're obviously in a pissy mood. Why don't we both just go home before someone get's hurt, and we can talk about this tomorrow after we've both had a chance to cool off?"

 "I've always loved her, but you wouldn't know anything about that, would you?"

 "Kellen.."

 "You can't love anyone but yourself."

 Theo hesitated. He had heard this line from Kellen before. Over Theo's first few years at ScourceTech, he had sensed a growing animosity from Kellen. He had been far too busy at the time to give it much thought, but now could see that it hadn't faded the way he had thought.

During this exchange, he had been slowly decelerating, using the conversation to distract Kellen from his retreat. Kellen had been slowing as well, negating his efforts. Theo wasn't sure if he had intended this, or if it was merely a by product of his distraction. 

Theo had his answer when the back panels of Kellen's Mustang erupted in bright red light, signifying a full emergency stop. Theo had to lock up his own brakes to avoid reshaping the rear fascia of Kellen's Mustang.
"Cut the shit, Kellen. Is this really worth getting both of us killed?"

 Through the display, he could see that Something had changed in Kellen's eyes. Theo couldn't place it, but the manic glint didn't ease Theo's mind in the least.

“I'm thinking that we should ask Victoria about this, just to settle it once and for all? How does that sound?”

Theo had never heard Kellen speak like this. He had always been cold, calculating, but the man speaking to him from the vehicle 20 feet away had the speech patterns of a child, as though his mind had returned to a more petulant, less stable version.

Kellen snapped the rear end of his Mustang to the left, barely allowing it to make the next right had corner. Theo had plenty of time to react, but at the speeds they were traveling he was amazed that Kellen hadn't ended up in the adjacent ditch.

Theo deftly maneuvered the Fiero around the corner, the whine from the gearbox behind his back rising in pitch exponentially as he accelerated out of the turn. 

He knew where Kellen was going, and if he didn't make it there first, there was no telling what might happen. Theo thrust the controls further ahead, urging the Pontiac into a drift as he negotiated the next corner.

Through the dark tint of the Mustang's windows, he could only make out an outline of Kellen's torso as he sailed past him and quickly put a car length between them.

Once Kellen had corrected his trajectory, he continued his constant barrage of insults for Theo as their cars danced along the desolate stretch of asphalt, a track that would eventually bring them around the mountain and back to Victoria.

His mind racing, trying to think of a way to bring this situation under control, Theo gave up on negotiating and tried escalate the situation in an attempt to get Kellen to back down.

"I'm not going to let you hurt her."

Theo disregarded Kellen's incoherent response. 

"You couldn't just step step aside and let me have Victoria, could you?"

Theo again broke his silence. "Step aside? You seem to be harboring some illusions. She thinks your a freak, and after tonight, I can't say that I disagree with her." 

Kellen growled and nudged the back corner of Theo's car, lifting the rear suspension and causing the tires to break loose.

Theo redirected torque to the front with a flick of the wrist and controlled the slide.

"This needs to stop, someone's going to get hurt." His tone suggesting that it would not be him.

Even through the holographic projection, the malicious glint in Kellen's eyes told Theo all he needed to know.

"Okay, you want to talk, we'll talk. Just stop this."

Kellen peered closer to the camera. The image on Theo's Heads up display distorted, enlarging his eyes to inhuman proportions.

"I'm done talking." and he nudged Theo again.

Theo had never seen Kellen like this before. He had always suspected this kind of instability, but the level of animosity currently directed at him was incongruous to any of their dealings. He made the decision at that moment to stop trying to reason with someone that was beyond help.
He needed to find a way to keep Kellen from Victoria, but was more intent on disabling his car than the man himself.
He panned his HUD display to pick up the front clip of the Mustang. The animated flame wrap was flickering wildly, the underlying electrical grid responsible for it's function making momentary connections before vibration or wind separated them. 

Theo leaned into the controls, pushing the drivetrain to it's limit. The rear tires scrabbled for grip as the directional management computer divided power amongst the wheels. The speedometer climbed past 140, then past 150. Theo knew the limits of his machine well, and knew this particular stretch of road almost as well.

Kellen faded, but not nearly enough.

Theo grazed a hidden contact switch with his thumb, and a rotary menu spun into view. Another slide of his thumb selected the onboard reserve capacitor, which had been originally intended as a backup to the main battery. He had replaced it with a rapid discharge unit to allow for momentary boosts of speed. He just hoped it would give him the distance he needed to pull off his plan.

The modification wasn't strictly legal, and he had promised the technician friend that had installed it that he would never use it unless on a track due to the unpredictability that accompanied forcing double the power through the performance stator.

He saw no other choice at the moment to put the needed real estate between the two speeding cars. The cold steel of a gunslinger washed over him as he prepared himself for a very wild ride. 

He was secretly impressed that Kellen hadn't found a ditch by now. He made a note to remember not to underestimate him in the future. Of course, the lesson in humility that was about to take place might help alleviate those concerns, but Theo prided himself on planning for every contingency. 

A press of the contact switch and Theo pulled away from the Mustang in a flash. Theo had to force his body back against the restraints, fighting momentum to keep the accelerator to the stops.

Theo waited for the GPS alarm to sound, warning him of the unsafe approach speed of the oncoming corner before he jerked the right control back and as he thrust his left hand forward, initiating a spin.

The resulting blue, oil rich smoke billowing from the rear tires shrouded the straight section of road and at the same time scrubbed off a terrific amount of speed. He continued the rotation until he had completed another four revolutions, then allowed the stability safeguards to correct his movement.

Theo barely had time after returning the controls to the neutral position to make the corner.

Theo had known the specs on Kellen's car the moment he had laid eyes on it. A car buff, he knew that the Mustang was a throwback to an earlier time when going fast meant removing everything not expressly needed for speed. Things like electronic chassis controls, entertainment systems, and GPS warning alerts would have been scrapped. This allowed for a more visceral ride, but also left the car entirely at the mercy of the drivers talent.


He was betting that his talent exceeded Kellen's by a far margin, and with the assistance of modern stability controls, he understood his chances were better than fair that plan would work. 
In his rear view mirror he watched with barely restrained enthusiasm as the Mustang erupted from the smoke cloud, skipped off the curb and careened across the ninth hole of the adjoining golf course.

Kellen did his best to stop the machine, but the pent up momentum sent him sliding over the green, tearing four large swaths into the fragile surface before depositing it into one of the large greenside bunkers.

Theo chuckled to himself as he rejected Kellen's incoming call, having a fairly good understanding of what he would hear. He wondered what Kellen's story would be for the police, but it had better be good. He knew the owner of the golf course well, and he was no fan of Kellen's.

A second call illuminated his display. He accepted it with a glance.

"Theo, care to tell me what's going on?"

Kincaids voice rang in his ears, clearly annoyed.

"Kellen followed me from Victoria's, tried to drive me off the road."

Kincaid went silent. Theo knew his friend well enough to know that he had given him every bit of information he would need to reverse engineer what had happened. 

When Kincaid spoke, his voice carried a tone of bemused acceptance.

"I guess we're playing the back nine until the grounds crew can get it grown back. Maybe I should have told the designer to locate a pond there."

-End of Excerpt

The technology that I am referring to is the animated LCD panels on Kellen's car. Of course, Theo has these on his car as well, but as he is inside during the entire chase, they are outside of his field of vision and as such not worthy of note in this scene.

A few days ago, I came across this video, a concept animation by Toyota, showing much the same technology. It is the first implementation (although in a purely CG sense) of what I had envisioned ten years ago. In other chapters I outline the augmented reality windshields, but I had envisioned them as a clear overlay that would still allow for traditional vision through the glass.  


(In order to regain my geek honor, I decided to include these ideas in my current project. I may have done it even if I hadn't seen this video, but after seeing it I had no choice. If design committee's at Toyota were thinking along these lines, I needed to stop procrastinating and get my thoughts down on screen as soon as possible. 


The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is the case for all Sci-Fi writers, unless you are writing stuff so far out there that you can procrastinate all of your life and still be early by a few thousand years. 


So in closing, don't procrastinate. Don't rush out sub-standard work, as everything you do will be a permanent exhibit with your name attached (ask all of the actresses and actors that do nude scenes early in their careers, no one loses that footage, EVER).


PS-Yes, I realize that the picture I photoshopped is not of a Mustang, past, present, or future. But copyright laws the litigious lawyer-fest that they are, I decided to mock up an image using a shot of MY car, since I presumably own the rights to the picture I took with my camera in my yard with my car. Not sure if that will hold up in court though, so don't tell anyone, ok?