Thursday, May 21, 2015

Posts 9, 10, and 11

Got a bit derailed again over the last few days. Recovering from a cold (which hit the sinus-infection stage a few days ago), work schedule has been all over the place lately, and so on. So here's a couple of my posts from the Lucky Stars launch party to start catching up.


On a related note, here’s a picture of one of the main characters of Freelancers, Chula’Raalga vas Sulaco, done back when I had money to spare for commissions. XD


Here’s another bit of just plain fun. :D There’s an amusing scene in “Mission to Bellatrix” with some of the characters bonding by playing an old (from their point of view) video game. The scene was inspired by a large number of videos I’ve seen, this one being a typical example. (Also, the guy named Ryan already had a reputation for being kinda nuts, and this video cemented it in place. XD )


Giveaway #4! This is for an ebook of the sequel to Load. Jack, Corona, and Taura begin their first job for a dodgy government agency which not only opens a can of worms that they may not survive, but also lands them in the weirdest situation they've ever faced – an audience watching their every move on a reality show streaming over the internet. At the same time, their future-daughter tracks a fugitive wanted for a crime he didn't commit, and finds herself facing down an assassin who can't be killed.

I had a huge amount of fun writing this book, which brings several supporting characters from the first book closer to the foreground, begins a few new romantic relationships and further develops a couple of others, and finally resolves the love triangle among the three protagonists (and since their son and daughter from the future appeared in the first book, you can guess how it turns out ;). This book is more action-packed and has a lot more humor than the previous one, a great deal of the humor coming from the reality show the main trio and a few of their friends find themselves on. Hah, when you have to share a house with a teenage hacker who goes by the name of “Otto Fellatio,” you know hilarity is about to ensue. XD

On to the contest. What’s your favorite series, and what do you love about it? Can be a TV show, a series of novels, a movie trilogy, video game series, or whatever else. I’ll go first. :D

As mentioned in my first post, my all-time favorite TV series is Babylon 5. This show pretty much introduced the concept of the “wham episode,” and in fact, by the time you get to season 4, almost every episode is a wham. It helps that the entire five-year story was plotted out in detail before production began, and despite some hiccups along the way, the whole story holds up really well twenty-plus years later. Being a 1990s TV show, the special effects don’t hold up that well, but the storytelling does. B5 was also the first TV show to use CGI for its space scenes, and was one of the first shows to tell a story over several years instead of hitting the reset button at the end of every episode. And one of the things I love the most about it is that it had a sense of wonder about the galaxy. Space travel wasn’t depicted as casual as driving to a grocery store – there were still mysteries out there, and alien beings who “walked among the stars like giants.”

Heh. As you can see, I still totally geek out over this show, all these years later. XD It’s been a huge influence on my own writing, particularly regarding technology and space travel. Which you can see in “Mission to Bellatrix.” I especially latched on to the idea of “jumpgates” and hyperspace, and similar devices exist in “Mission” and Game Over and other stuff I’ve written.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Launch Party post #8

Here's another one from the Lucky Stars launch party back in March.

And speaking of Mass Effect … here’s a look at another of my ongoing, just-for-fun/providing-free-samples projects. This one is titled Freelancers, which I was inspired to start after Mass Effect 2 caught my attention and wouldn’t let go. The first game was an epic space opera, but the second focused mainly on the characters, which I really liked. The “bigger picture” won’t matter nearly as much to your readers if you don’t populate the story with characters they care about, and I grew quite attached to most of the characters in this game.

Yet when I started getting ideas for playing around in the Mass Effect setting, it was mostly my own original characters. So I decided to pick a rather minor character from the game to use as way into the story, and then create a bunch of my own characters, and just turn them loose in the setting and see what happened. Then, when Mass Effect 3 was released and turned out to be … not a very good game at all, story-wise, especially the ending (I’m not getting into it here; just Google “Mass Effect 3 ending” and grab some popcorn ;), I started getting ideas on how to write a more satisfying conclusion to the epic. Which is something a lot of people have done.

I wanted to try writing a story that was more satisfying to me, personally, than what I got from the final game, and just see if I could pull it off. And rather than starting up a whole new story, I decided to use the one I’d already been writing, and add my new ideas to it. Twenty-four chapters and over 107,000 words long, and still going strong – and packed with a variety of human and alien characters (many of them total smartasses), action, drama, and lots of humor. It’s probably one of the most fun stories I’ve worked on, and is, in fact, one of my works that a reader compared to Firefly.

Friday, May 15, 2015

And a twofer, tonight ...

... because the previous post was so short. Here comes another launch party post ....

Giveaway #3! The winner will get an ebook of Reactivated, the first entry in a series I’m writing for Kindle Worlds.

I started this as an experiment of sorts. I have mixed feelings about the idea of monetizing fanfiction, and for the first year or so Kindle Worlds was operating, none of the properties interested me. But then they added GI Joe to their list, and I decided to give it a try and see what happens. And, as usual, I decided to approach it from a slightly different angle:

Several decades from now, the terrorist organization once known as Cobra is long gone and GI Joe finally disbanded. But suddenly, from out of nowhere, former members of GI Joe are targeted for assassination all over the world. The survivors must regroup, prevent assassinations that haven't already gone down, figure out what's happening, and fight back. Living legends join with new heroes to rebuild the GI Joe unit, merging into it a new organization called Omega Section and adding its personnel and equipment to the team. Together, they find themselves fighting an old enemy suddenly reborn -- Cobra is rising again, and GI Joe has been reactivated.

The contest for this one … what kinds of music get you into the proper mood for whatever kind of project or endeavor you’re gearing up for? Whether it’s writing or painting or drawing or spring cleaning or just tunes to help pass the time on a long drive, what gets you going or mellows you out? Post your answer here, and the winner gets a copy of the ebook – a new take on a battle that’s been waged since the 1980s, with a team of kickass women joined by several living legends from the old days, a budding love triangle between a civilian hacker and his AI girlfriend and a new team member who was born in a Cobra laboratory, and an old enemy reborn in a terrible new form.

I’ll go first. One of my go-to tunes for getting me into the mood to write space opera is called “Suicide Mission,” which is basically the theme song for another of my all-time favorite video games, Mass Effect 2. This version of the song, especially, is absolutely epic. (Be sure to keep your eyes on the video at the 3:15 point, when the imagery goes full-throttle awesome. :D )

And an addendum ... something I discovered after this post was written:

And one more, another one I somehow missed until a few weeks ago. Not the kind of song to get me all pumped up for writing space battles or anything like that, but it's just quite lovely.

Launch Party post #6

Another quick one copied from the Lucky Stars launch party ....

Here’s something just for fun. Well, mostly. One comment I’ve gotten fairly often is that I’m pretty good at writing action scenes, and I recorded this video in case I needed to excerpt bits of it for blog entries and whatnot about how to write action. In addition to some of the funniest dialogue I’ve ever heard, most of it from the character named Johnny Gat (voiced by Daniel Dae Kim, one of the stars of the updated Hawaii Five-0), it has an amazing sequence starting at the 7:00 point. The first time I saw it, I immediately wished I’d thought of it first. ;)

The video is from Saints Row: The Third, one of my all-time favorite video games. It’s just plain fun. And one of the things I love is how customizable the player character is, especially once mods became available for adding more options. So (as I have a tendency to do when writing) I was able to create a female character who stands out from the typical supermodel types you see in this sort of role. She’s plus-size, wears glasses, has a few scars – and she’s beautiful. And the bad guys are incapable of surviving a fight with her. :D

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Launch Party post #5

Here comes another one from the Lucky Stars launch party on Facebook two months ago ....

Giveaway #2! This one is for an ebook of my first novel, Load, currently available on Amazon, Smashwords, and Kobo.

First entry in a post-cyberpunk series set a few decades from now in a city built from the ground up by a group of mega-corporations. It follows the adventures of Jack Hammer, a young man with cybernetic eyes; his bioengineered girlfriend, Corona; and their roommate, Taura, as they stumble onto a data-smuggling plot that could cost them their lives before they can find a way out. Meanwhile, their daughter and son arrive from the future on a mission to avert a disaster that destroyed the city and killed millions of people.

The core of this story is the love triangle that develops between Jack, Corona, and Taura, as they find themselves falling deeper into a deadly predicament and trying to dig themselves out of it. It’s a mixture of action, smartass characters, and love both requited and unrequited.

So, the contest. Since I spent the vast majority of my life in towns I didn’t want to live in and couldn’t wait to leave, and finally moved to a place where I’m happy and far more mentally healthy … where are you currently located, and is it where you want to be? If so, what is it about the place that makes you want to stay? And if not, where do you want to go, and what about it is drawing you there?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Best Served Cold

First, a bit of Recommended Viewing. Because I <3 revenge ... ;)

And also ...

I like how it started out with the player getting revenge after being attacked for no reason, and then an actual story is starting to emerge in the second video.

And about being attacked for no reason ... that happened to me when I first started playing GTA Online, when the PC version was released. I'd been playing for a grand total of ten or twenty minutes and had only reached level 2 when another (much higher-ranking) player decided to gun me down because I was an easy target. All I wanted at the moment was to explore Los Santos and learn my way around ... and I'm not much into mulitplayer stuff anyway, but liked the idea of creating a character and just roaming around the game environment and seeing what happened. I also have a few vague ideas about doing something creative with it, like making a few videos or just adapting my in-game adventures into stories or a novel or something.

But as I said, I had just started playing, and here comes this asshole out of nowhere who blew me away while I was just walking to a clothing store. I know that's kind of what the game is about, but I was still getting my bearings and hadn't done anything to provoke any other players.

And then the guy showed up again and killed me. Followed by another player who attacked me out of nowhere and killed me. And then the previous guy went after me a third time, but luckily I had just switched into passive mode about two seconds before because I was sick of dealing with that shit. Since he couldn't hurt me at that point, he started following me around and flipping me off.

Meanwhile, all I had was a dinky little pistol and no armor, so I didn't have a chance in hell.

I haven't evened the score ... yet. ;) I've been doing solo sessions exclusively so I could learn my way around and level my character up a little without being harassed by anyone. Maybe I'll go back into multiplayer sometime if any of my friends start playing, and just goof around with them.

But I'm planning to save up enough in-game money to buy a tank, and maybe occasionally I'll hop into multiplayer and cruise around in the tank and wait for someone to try to pick on me. ;) And if I run into that fucker who wouldn't leave me alone that first day, it'll be shoot-on-sight every time he pops up on my radar.

Revenge. Best served cold. XD

Launch Party post #4

From the Facebook Lucky Stars launch party on March 22:

Since the previous post is a good lead-in to this, why not ride the wave? ;) For a sample of my work and a story that mixes action and humor with a sweet, out-of-this-world romance, take a look at my first Transformers Prime fanfic, “Game-Changer.” There’s just something about the show that hooked me from the beginning and held on through its entire run despite its flaws. As previously mentioned, some of the dialogue between these characters put this idea in my head and I couldn’t shake it loose, so I just had to start writing.

My original plan was for them to have a romance without actually “doing the deed,” since Arcee’s species doesn’t have any … equipment capable of that sort of interface. ;) I thought it’d put a unique spin on the romance, and I also figured it’d make a more interesting story if it revolved around a level-headed teenager who isn’t driven by hormones, and loves someone for her mind, her personality, and her ability to kick mind-boggling amounts of ass.

But then I introduced a certain plot point involving much smaller Transformers called Pretenders, who are able to disguise themselves as humans. My idea was to bring in a plot development for one of the characters that would be absolutely horrifying (you’ll know it when you see it), and didn’t think about what it would lead to until later. At which point I finally realized that, with that kind of technology available, Jack and Arcee would … have a lot more options available for intimacy. So, it’ll happen sooner or later … but they’re not rushing it. I wanted them to take their time and not immediately start humping it out, especially since sex is a pretty alien concept for Arcee and her people. So their relationship is progressing slowly, and they’re giving themselves time to become completely comfortable with each other.

But there’ll be plenty of flirting and innuendo along the way. XD

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Launch Party post #3

And here comes the next one of these. As a reminder, the giveaway ended when the launch party finished.

For the first giveaway, my short novel, Game Over. Several of the supporting characters in “Mission to Bellatrix” made their first appearance here. Released recently on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iBook Store, and GoogleBooks – and the winner will receive a copy of the ebook. :D

This new short novel throws Dylan Engstrom into a strange world of adventure, wonder, and terror. There, he finds himself with a group of aliens who have also been brought there to fight their way through an endless series of combat scenarios. They quickly begin working out a way to escape, but will it lead them to freedom, or to even worse danger?

Several of my previous works featured characters involved in three-way romances, but this story steps it up a few notches as the seven protagonists fall in love with each other while finding their way off the planet and back to civilization. The idea sparked in my mind when I read something on TV Tropes a while back about harems in anime, and I decided to take the idea and turn it in a more serious direction rather than just play it for laughs.

This book also sets up the basics of the universe in which “Mission to Bellatrix” takes place – the setting, some of the alien species, the development of artificial intelligence and bioengineered “anthros” on Earth. And several of the characters making their first appearance here – Dylan, Cora, and Grishnag – are supporting characters in “Mission to Bellatrix.”

The rough draft of the book, by the way, won the 2015 Textnovel Editor’s Choice Award, back in January. :D

So, what’s the contest?

Are you a shipper? Is there a particular couple, threesome, or whatever else, that you root for? Canon or non-canon, from a movie or a novel or a short story or a comic book or a TV series or a video game or anything else, post an image of your top pick, and the winner gets the ebook.

And be sure to keep it clean, so Facebook won’t drop the hammer on us for posting inappropriate images. No tube-steak or T&A. ;)

I’ll go first. I’ve never really been one to ship characters … there are only two I’ve ever had strong feelings about. One is Shepard and Tali from the Mass Effect games, but since that became one of the canon romance options in the second game, I don’t need to get all worked up about it. :P

The other? Well, this is one you can blame on the show’s writers, since several times throughout the series these characters had dialogue that couldn’t really be construed any other way. The writers never “went there,” which was disappointing. I figured it could make an interesting story, so I took the idea and ran with it in some of my fanfics.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Launch Party post #2

So, how did my story in Lucky Stars, “Mission to Bellatrix,” start to come together in my head? Well, a few months ago, I happened across the cinematic trailer for the first Borderlands game – dunno how I missed it way back then, but it slipped right past me. And as I watched, this striking image grabbed my attention.

Within a few minutes, a bunch of ideas clicked together rapid-fire. I kept thinking it over, refining details, and in a few hours I had the basics of a new character. I felt there was something special about this one, and hoped to use her as the central character in a whole series of books. All I needed was a story to start her adventures. Had several false starts and had to focus on my other books for a while.

Couple months ago, I was asked to submit a story for Lucky Stars. For a few seconds, I had no idea where to even start, since I’d never tried to write a romance before. But then I remembered this character, and everything fell into place. Later that evening, I pretty much had the entire story plotted out, and began writing.

I’ve got her character bio on my blog, though I’ve made a few small changes since then. Instead of being burned, her scars were actually caused by debris from the explosion hitting her. And I decided to give her dark skin, since it’s still pretty rare to see a protagonist (at least from what I’ve seen) who isn’t white. Also, I thought very dark skin would make her damaged eye stand out much more.

I figured this character would be perfect for a romance, since we often see gorgeous women falling for men who have scars or are otherwise not what society would consider attractive, but it almost never happens the other way around. So I thought it’d be interesting to reverse the roles and see what happened. Seems to have worked, since the story was accepted, and after a few revisions and refinements, well, here it is. :D

Launch Party Posts ... Revisited

In March I wrote a couple dozen posts for the Lucky Stars launch party on Facebook. Since I wrote up too many of them and there was a limited time slot to fill, only a few of them could be used. So I decided to post them all here over the next few days to help promote the anthology and because I think there's a lot of cool stuff in those posts.

The first post was an introduction -- basically, "Hi, I'm a writer, etc." Since I've talked about being a writer since I started this blog, there probably won't be much new stuff in that one, so I'll put up the second post shortly afterward.

Quick note: The launch party included contests with prizes. Since the giveaways ended when the party drew to a close and the prizes have already been sent to the winners, just disregard the questions ... unless anyone wants to answer them just for the hell of it. XD

Here comes the first post ....

Greetings, programs! :D (I knew I’d reveal myself to be a total dork sooner or later, so why not get it over with right off the bat? ;) So glad you could join us for the Lucky Stars release party. I’ll be your host for the next hour.

My name is Fred T. Kerns – but I’m not big on formality, so just call me Fred. I’ll start off by telling you a little about myself. I grew up in a tiny town near the southern Oregon coast, my parents and I moved to a slightly bigger town closer to the coast, and I lived there until February of 2013. Took me that long to save up enough money to leave – the cold, constantly-rainy climate didn’t agree with me at all, so as soon as I could afford to, I headed for Tucson, Arizona so fast it nearly caused a time warp. ;) And I absolutely love it here – the sunshine, the heat, and the wide-open sky. When I parked in front of my new apartment, I knew I was home. :)

I’ve been a writer since my late teens, having gotten the idea into my head that I could make a living at it. Twenty-five years later, I’m beginning to get my foot in the door. One of my novels, titled Chaser, has been accepted by Keith Publications and is progressing toward release. I’ve got two other novels, an ongoing serialized story, and a short novel on Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, and other sites. I’ve also been writing some fanfiction for the past several years just for the fun of it and also to get more free samples of my writing out where people can read and hopefully enjoy them.

I grew up watching reruns of the original Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and a whole range of others. And after I finished high school, along came Babylon 5, which remains my all-time favorite show. So you might say I’ve been bitten by the sci-fi bug.

My first few novels are post-cyberpunk, meaning there’s a lot of tech and quite a few tropes found in cyberpunk fiction, but without all the cynicism and doom-and-gloom. The future in my books isn’t that different from the present, just with a few additions such as robots, AI, more advanced computers, genetic engineering, and bigger and better weapons. My writing skews toward action and adventure, with a lot of humor to balance out the drama, and while I haven’t written any steamy romances, my work does tend to have strong romantic relationships at the story’s core. My writing has actually been compared to Firefly a couple of times, which intrigues me because I never even watched the show until a few weeks ago.

During the next hour there’ll be giveaways of my novels, bits of background on my story that’s included in Lucky Stars, character profiles, and much more. As Neil deGrasse Tyson might say … Come with me. :D