Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Crashing spaceships, androids, and explosions, oh my!

This spring I read my Embarkment 2577 novellas and made some tweaks. It's funny how much they have changed through the years - I seem to revise them every second years or so. When working on them, I remembered how much I like the hero, Adam, and before I knew it, I was typing away.

That's not entirely true. I like to write my first drafts longhand. I write on the iPad with a stylus, because that makes me feel a little modern, but it's still scribbles in my handwriting few other people could decipher. Once I have the bits and pieces, the text gets an automatic first edit when I type it in.

Anyway, the result became a novella about how Alex and Adam first met. It's a little silly, because all the Embarkment novellas are, but I kind of like it. I'm biased, of course. lol!

It's called Arrival, and it is available right now for 99 cents.

I'm also working on a sequel to the Embarkment books, and that one is growing into a proper novel. It'll be another couple of months before it's done, but it's getting there. I think it will be called Deadly Betrayal. For now, I'll let the name speak for itself.


Taking a day to decompress and watch the ocean seems like the best idea Alexandra ever had. That is, until a bright dot in the sky turns out to be a crashing spaceship. Before she understands what’s happening a man in uniform approaches over the dunes, urging her to run. After surviving an explosion, seeing her new friend lift a car, and being interrogated by the FBI, it’s clear her vacation will not lead to a reduction in stress.

Adam is lost in time and space, separated from the world he knows by more than five hundred years. Luckily he meets Alexandra and she is willing to help him, but staying puts her in danger. He still finds himself unwilling to leave. Being an android, emotions never posed a problem for him before, but this woman and everything associated with her overwhelms his programming and clouds his judgment. Knowing he should go isn’t the same as doing it.

Prequel to the Embarkment 2577 novellas.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Chains of association and the most complicated form ever, lol

A while ago I went to McDonalds to pick up milkshake for hubs. Along the way I saw something that triggered my imagination, and my mind ran away with me to the point where I missed our street on the way home and had to turn back. That has never happened before.

While diving into the storyline, I realized how little I know about many jobs in the USA. That wouldn't normally be a problem, no one needs to know everything, but by now I was curious and wanted to do research. After a few hours spent enjoying Google's wisdom, I had also found two interesting jobs I wanted to apply for.

I've had many different types of employers in the past, and I know all administration is much more complicated in the USA than in Sweden, but I still wasn't prepared for the complexity of formal job applications.  The first one wasn't too bad - it took place online and while it was extensive, it was doable.

The second one was seventeen pages needed appendices. Several pages had to be witnessed and I kept bugging hubs to do it for me. It also required three pages to be notarized.

Hubs said, "Are you sure applying is worth this much effort?"

I can see his point. The initial application process took hours to complete and then I still had to make a trip to Amscot to get documents notarized, and I still might not be considered for the job. On the other hand, if you don't try you'll never get anywhere. He and the dogs like me being home. I like being home too, but I would like being able to pay my bills without having to chase other people to pay me even more.

By now my stubborn had kicked in. I trudged on and eventually got the pile mailed.

Today, they called me to say I have missed to fill something out on page nine. Or rather, I had given the information, but in an appendix and not on the form, and it had to be on the form. Furthermore, the notarized pages need to be redone, because either the notary or I have written the wrong date.

I don't think I wrote the wrong date, and the friendly HR person said she'd gotten more applications with the same problem, so it might not be my booboo. Either way, it has to be corrected. What are the odds?

Right now I feel like the universe is testing just how hard I'm willing to work to apply. Well, I might not get the job. I'd be good at it but there are probably applicants who are even more qualified. Doesn't matter. I will at least get the application right.

And, I'm hoping that the application being so complicated means a lot of the competition give up. Or don't pass initial screening. We'll see what happens. =)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A pickup truck is a car, lol

The Internet is funny, because you encounter so many people you'd never meet in real life - and so many situations you'd never encounter in real life. 

Yesterday a post appeared in my Facebook news feed discussing a rescue operation that involved someone trying to tow a boat and ended up getting his truck in the water. People had posted a number of snarky remarks along the lines of "How stupid can you be" and "Wannabe boater."

I thought, "That's so cruel." Seriously, even the most experienced person can end up in a bad situation, because things happen. And, if someone is a beginner at something and ends up in trouble you don't tell them they're stupid even if you think they are - you encourage them and give tips on how to do it better.

I posted something along the lines of, "Ooops. Imagine the feeling when the car started to slip. Can't have been fun" and hoped it would awaken some empathy in people. We've all been there at some time or another. You know, when you feel things are starting to go wrong and you can't stop it, and all you can do is go along for the ride and hope for the best. Being helpless isn't a fun feeling.

Of course, people commented on my comment pointing out that it wasn't a car, it was a truck. Because that's the important part in all this...

It made me think, "What do you think a truck is if it's not a car? A spaceship? A submarine?" I didn't write that, but I thought it. lol!

And this leads me to today's topic.

An umbrella term is something that covers a group of things. Some distinguish between umbrella term and blanket term, but it's the same concept. A blanket term covers a group of things that can be very different, but it's easier to use the blanket term than to specify. For example, talking about "Swedes," "Americans," or "pop music" are huge generalizations, but still give an idea of the concept.

I digress. Back on topic...

Airplane is a good example, because most people are less emotionally involved in the different types of planes than they are in different types of cars. Most people who see something flying in the air with wings won't specify "It's a Cessna 172" - we say it's a plane.

Building is another good example. A single-family home is a building. A garage, shed, factory, or hangar are all buildings.

The funny thing is that few people would debate this when it comes to buildings and planes. When it comes to cars they go crazy. But seriously, a sedan is a car. A cabriolet is also a car. Pickup trucks, SUVs, vans and even Ferraris are cars.

And, while I'm ranting about people ranting about language and having no idea what they're talking about (LOL) "penultimate" means second to last. A lot of people use the word as if it meant "most important" but it really doesn't. When someone tells me "It's of penultimate importance" I tend to think it's not important at all. =D

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Let's keep Thor in Thursday!

I drove around town this morning doing errands, and kept ending up behind cars with stickers saying, "Keep Christ in Christmas." I'm not going to discuss that, because it's June and we can get back to talking about the winter holidays in December, but it did send me on a chain of association.

The slumbering Viking in my heart claims that if we're taking things literally, we should keep the Norse Gods in the days of the week.

I bet those who want to keep Christ in Christmas don't think about what it really means when they say things like "Happy Friday."

Check this out:

Sunday is the sun's day

Monday is the moon's day

Tuesday is Tyr's day. His English/Germanic name is Tiu or Twia.

Wednesday is Oden's day. This spelling comes from the Anglo-Saxon spelling Woden.

Thursday is Thor's day.

Friday is Freya's Day. She is the goddess of love and beauty. Many confuse her with Frigga, but they are different Goddesses.

Saturday is Saturn's day. This is actually a Roman deity. I'm unsure how he originally got into the mix of weekday names, but he is the Roman God of agriculture.

Fascinating, isn't it?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Would you survive an alien invasion?

What would you do if you opened your
eyes and saw these friendly faces? 
I have always waited for the aliens to arrive. It's weird, but my first coherent memories are from sitting in the back seat of the car, waiting for a spaceship to land on the road ahead. I think that if it had happened, young me would have found it the most natural thing in the world. Maybe my parents watched too much science fiction on TV when I was a little girl.

Anyway, all my childhood fantasies about aliens always involved them being friendly. I thought they would come to bring me home to my real family that lived in an unspecified location amongst the stars.

Oh yes, my mom loved that. *cough*

As an adult I'm still waiting and I would love to meet someone from another world, but adult me is also worried that if they came, they probably wouldn't be friendly. And, they would probably be so different it would be difficult to find common ground or a way to communicate. Seriously, we can't even get along amongst ourselves.

What do you think you would do if aliens really arrived? What do you think they would be like? If there was a conflict, would you take up arms and defend the planet, or stay neutral?

I think encountering someone from another world would be good for humanity. Maybe then we could see that the differences we squabble about in everyday life aren't all that big. It doesn't matter what color we have, what religion we adhere to, what gender we have, or what gender we like. We're all people, and that in itself makes us all more similar than anything we can share with any other species on or off this planet.

Many don't agree with me on that. I've heard many state that meeting a being from another world might shatter humanity, and that we wouldn't be able to cope with it. What do you think?

Interesting questions.

Anyway, my heroine in Operation Earth faces the problem of whether to fight or cooperate. Her neighbors want her to take up arms and defend the planet. She even follows them to a resistance meeting. Problem is, she met one of the invaders and he didn't seem all that different. She might have thought otherwise if she had seen their ship... This is an excerpt from the beginning of the book:

June stood in the middle of Information Central with her arms crossed, drumming her fingers. Showing impatience might be unbecoming of a commanding officer, but this operation moved like a snail.

How humiliating to be so delayed before we even begin.

Glancing around the oval hall soothed her. The walls were so red they appeared organic, and biopods lined the room. There were alcoves with chairs made from the same fleshy material as the walls, part of the living soul of the ship. Each alcove held a woman, connected to the whole through a tentacle slithering down from the ceiling, embracing their shaved heads.

Many junior officers fled the first time they entered and saw nothing of the crew except parts of their faces.

The first time June stepped in, she knew she was home.

If she closed her eyes she could almost hear the ship's heartbeat. One alcove opened up, and the woman inhabiting it struggled to her feet. At first, her eyes couldn't focus, but then she fixed them on June.

I wonder what it's like to be connected, to be a part of the ship and really know the world.

Only those with special talents could connect. June wanted nothing more as a child, but she wasn't suitable for the hive mind. Her talents lay elsewhere.

"Commander, I think we have what we need. These people have a useful source of information. It's called Wikipedia."

"Common names? Languages?"

"Yes, Ma'am. They have a number of languages and cultures. It's all transferring to the brain-tips now."

"No sign of discovery?"

"No, Ma'am."

The large ship lurked at the very edge of the solar system, outside the magnetic fields that presented a last layer between planets and interstellar space. Risks of discovery were infinitesimal, but they had to plan even for the impossible.

"Good. Assemble the troops for upgrade, and ask the pilot to take us in. Prepare global EMP."

The woman nodded and sank back into her alcove. All mouths around the room spoke as one, "Entering solar system. All personnel prepare for memory upgrade."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mind-boggling sizes in space :-)

Space, the mere size of space boggles my mind, and it's one of those things that get more fascinating the more you think about it. I think about it a lot, thus I make my characters think about it too. ;-) 

The Earth, our planet, is pretty big, right? Especially when compared to a human. Looking at the Earth and the other smaller planets around us, it has a decent size. Note how small Mars is.

If we just move a little in our own solar system, the Earth starts to look pretty small. Jupiter and Saturn are big. At least in this neck of the woods.

Jupiter is the 5th planet from the sun, and it is more than 11 times the size of the Earth. It has 317.8 times the mass of the Earth.

Funny enough, Jupiter still isn't all that big, at least not compared to our sun. The sun holds 99.86% of all the mass in our solar system. It would take 109 Earths stacked side by side to match the sun's diameter, and in order to fill it up, we'd need 1.3 million Earths.

So, it's settled? The sun at least is big?

It's a matter of perspective. Compared to you, or me, or the Earth, or even to Jupiter, the sun is huge. Compared to some other stars in our galaxy, it's pretty small.

The really scary thing is that not even Arcturus is a big star. Check this out:

Around here, my mind checks out. I can't really imagine something that big. And all these suns are still small compared to the galaxy, which is small compared to some other galaxies.

Here's our solar system. Fascinating!

I didn't make any of these graphics. Don't know where they originated, I've seen them in many places around the Internet, but I haven't found who originally created them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

We're on a spaceship...

I tend to consider the ground under my feet fairly solid, and I'm probably not the only one - the vast majority of people on this planet know we're on a planet that travels through space, circling a star, but it's not something we think about every second every day.

I've been working on a prequel to my Embarkment novellas, and I did some research the other day for a scene where the hero tries to explain to the heroine why communication in space and space travel are complicated. A little Googling gave interesting and mind-boggling numbers.

1. The Earth spins around its axis

Everyone knows that, but do you know how fast it spins?

Around the equator it moves at approximately 1,000 miles per hour. Right now, the ground under my feet is moving at 1,000 miles per hour. I just don't notice it.

2. The Earth moves around the sun

The Earth moves around the sun and we consider one trip around the sun one year. This another fact everyone knows, and it isn't weird until you start thinking about it.

We travel around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour. Not just that - we're accompanied by the moon. It not just travels with us around the sun, it also travels around the Earth at a speed of 2,288 miles per hour.

The moon rotates too, it just rotates at a speed that matches its orbit around the Earth, so to us it looks like it doesn't rotate.

3. Our Galaxy rotates

We are in the outskirts of an arm of the spiral galaxy called the Milky Way. Vintergatan in Swedish. The galaxy rotates, and we rotate with it. At a pace of 515,000 miles per hour.

Is your mind getting tired yet? Mine is, so we shouldn't even get into stellar drift and the universe expanding.

And you think I'm speeding when I go 85 mph on the highway. Pfft. LOL!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

HIgh Gravity

Last week, I posted the first chapter from Brand New World - the first of my Embarkment novellas. Click here if you want to read it. The second book in the series is called High Gravity, and it starts a couple of days after the first book ends.

If you haven't read book one, the novella has a prologue that introduces the characters. Here is the beginning of High Gravity. If you want to read more, it is available as paperback and for Kindle.

Chapter One

“Wow. This is a big empty room.”

One of my big talents: stating the obvious.

Adam gave a slight shrug. “The place comes with the job. I never needed it for anything.”

I lived in a set of guest quarters, and it was nice, but impersonal. The furniture, lamps, and decorations might not be mine, but they still existed, and reminded me of an upscale hotel. Looking around in my boyfriend’s quarters, the rooms were huge, and contained one large desk filled with tools and gadgets.

“Why…?” I closed my mouth around the question. He was an android and normal human logic wouldn’t apply.

He smirked. “You wanted to see it, here it is.”

“It’s awesome. Let’s go home.”

No wonder we always stayed at my place.

He crossed his arms over his chest and glanced into my eyes. “I have to go to work. You know that.”

Damn. His sense of duty was admirable, but couldn’t it slip just a little, just once?

Adam tilted his head to the side. “You’re disappointed.”

“No… Well, maybe a little. I thought there would be more of you here.”

He put a hand on my back and pushed me out of the living room, back into what would have been a study in a normal person’s world.

“There is something of me here. There’s the desk, and my chair, and your broken iPod I’ve been trying to fix.”

I couldn’t even recognize the fragmented pieces. The poor thing must have been hit by a bullet. What a shame. It would have contained all sorts of entertainment and memories.

“C’mon, I’ll walk you home.”

My rooms were almost right under his, just a couple of floors down. Going there would normally be completely uneventful, but after an alien species called the Logg stole the ship and I played an involuntary part in getting it back, people I didn’t know stopped and stared wherever I went. I hated all the whispering behind my back.

Some of the junior officers treated me with the same awe they normally reserved for the senior staff, and it freaked me out. It was traumatic enough to arrive dead from another time. I didn’t need any additional attention.

We didn’t meet anyone on Adam’s floor and the lift was empty. Close to my door, two young men pushed a broken cleaning robot down the corridor. They stopped and stared.

“Look, it’s them. Told you she lives here.”

“She’s shorter than I expected.”

Adam rolled his eyes and walked over to them.

“Is there a problem?”

“No, sir.”

“Then, move along, will you.”

I shuffled over to my door. “Will this never end?”

Adam ran a hand over my back. “Sure. As soon as something more interesting happens.”

The young men were out of sight, and for all practical purposes, we were alone. I pressed my palms against his chest and gave him my best bedroom look.

“Are you sure you can’t come in?”

“Not unless you’re comfortable with Laura adjusting the starboard radiation shield.”

The annoyingly perky nineteen-year-old ensign was probably quite able to do it, but he had a point. 

When it came to matters like keeping cosmic radiation from frying my brain, I’d be more comfortable with Adam handling it.

He winked. “I’ll hurry back.”

The ship rocked. I stood on the tip of my toes, wanting to steal a kiss, completely unprepared for the floor shifting underneath me. My face was about to come in close contact with the carpet when Adam caught me.

“Well, that’s new.”

He didn’t sound bothered, but I was. Anything able to move the ship like that would have to be dangerous.

The computer’s voice echoed in the corridor. “All senior officers, please report to the bridge.”

I was barely aware of clinging to him until he took my hands in his and loosened my grip around his neck.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be back.”

I watched him jog towards the lifts. Would they really be safe to use? What if he got stuck, or the thing fell all the way down to the bottom floor?

I should stop fretting and go inside. Unless I was extremely lucky, there would be crushed decorations all over the floor, waiting for me to initiate some serious cleanup.

My rooms were a bit jumbled, but not as bad as I expected. To be honest, more of it came from my being disorganized than things falling off the shelves. After visiting Adam’s desolate quarters I appreciated the chaos. It might not technically be my stuff, but it was there for me to use, and I was grateful.

Putting a lamp back up on a table, I muttered, “Someone needs to invent a force field or something to keep things in place.”

I ventured over to the window. Last time the ship rocked and I peeked out we were in a horrific battle. 

This time, I saw nothing but darkness. We no longer moved, but I couldn’t see anyone or anything close.

Could there be invisible attackers?

As big as space was, odds were anything I could imagine existed. On the other hand, the ship was both quiet and peaceful, so maybe we weren’t under attack. Maybe something else was wrong with it.

Unnerving thought.

I normally kept my windows covered. Seeing space fly by outside gave me a headache.