Project Fahrenheit – Sneak Peak

Prologue – Herschel

03:01 August 19, 2845 – INS Subjugator – 350 kilometers above ESO26487

          The Viceroy is dead. The Drums of War sound in the Curia Imperator, and there is talk Emperor Testive may deploy The Fleet into The Vandar Territories. SOSA has again pushed up our timetables; I don’t know how much faster I can go, and the worst part is, no one will tell me where you are. Where ever that is Herschel, please be careful. I’ve been looking at your picture, wishing you were here with me. I’ve missed you and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t re-read your messages more times than I can count. It seems like just yesterday you standing there on the tarmac, your smile brighter than a thousand suns. Despite being suffocated by the sea of humanity on Heimdall; the more I think about it, the more I realize that I’ve never felt quite so alone. I feel adrift in an endless void without you. I wish you could come home, but with the talk of war, I’m nearly certain your absence will be prolonged. Little Ashton asks about you every day. He has his father’s eyes. I love you more than I thought was humanly possible.

Yours forever and always,


       The Com skittered across the nightstand, as the small motor sputtered and vibrated to get Herschel Kingston’s attention. He rubbed at this bloodshot eyes then looked down at the screen’s clock. The soft light felt intrusive in the dimly lit Captain’s Quarters, and he squinted fighting back the beginnings of a headache. He let out a long sigh as the numbers came into focus. It was already zero three zero-one hours. He yawned as he tried to blink away the pain, but it didn’t seem to help. He scratched absently at his chin, the stubble ringing out in the silence; he needed a shave, but like most luxuries, it would have to wait. He pulled up a mental list of who would be on duty Gamma shift and as best as he could remember, Lieutenant Wilkins would have the Conn. If it had been anyone else, he might have dismissed the message, but if his XO was paging him three hours before he was due on deck, something must have been seriously wrong. It gave Hershel an uncomfortable feeling in his gut, like the night of Ashton’s birth, when his doctors had told them his son might not make it through the night. He pushed the thought from his mind. If it had been that bad, he would have gotten more than a high priority page. He took a deep breath. Calm and composure, he told himself as he walked across the room to where his coin gray dress shirt hung on the door. Calm and composure.

He slipped it on but left top button unfastened. He hated how restricted it made him feel, and while he valued discipline, his crew enjoyed slight reprieves from the by-the-book leadership most Captains in the Imperial Navy leveled against their crews.

He fastened the two golden cufflinks into place, tugged on the cuffs and smiled. They were a gift Lara had given him when he had shipped out of Madeeha two months ago. Each resembled a pair of miniature anchors stylized after turn of the millennia seafaring vessels, something Hershel had taken a keen interest in since his childhood. The polished gold glistened in the dimly lit mirror as he ran a hand through his silver-gray hair.

“Calm and composure,” Hershel said to the Captain in the mirror, “Calm and composure.” He took a deep breath, opened the door, stepped out of his quarters and headed down the short hallway toward the bridge of the ship.

The bulkhead heralded his arrival by way of the metallic cycling of locks and the hiss of compressed air, as if to tell the crew your captain is here. Eyes shifted, but aside from Lieutenant Wilkins, the crew continued whatever business.

“Captain on deck,” Wilkins said, as he snapped off a sharp salute.

“As you were, I have the deck,” Herschel said.

“The Deck is yours Sir.”

Hershel looked around the room at his topnotch crew. He had handpicked nearly every member of the bridge and they had not disappointed. They were eager, some might even say ecstatic, to have been deployed aboard the newly christened INS Subjugator. She was a state-of-the-art frigate with more armaments than any ship in her class, and amenities that rivaled even the most luxurious civilian vessels of her size. Fresh from the Deidameia Orbital Shipyards, the Injunction II Class frigate was the first of its kind, and they all felt lucky to be the first crew to server aboard her.

“Status Report Lieutenant Wilkins,” Herschel said above the hiss of the bridge doors. He felt a grin form on his lips as he watched the crew hurry about their posts. The pits bustled with activity as crew members exchanged data reports and reviewed sensor readouts. It was organized chaos, and he loved it.

“Ensign Ribley can bring you up to speed faster than I can Sir,” Wilkins said, as he shifted his weight from one foot other. Herschel narrowed his eyes, and was about to open his mouth when he heard someone call his name.

“Captain Kingston, Sir,” a voice said above the chatter. Hershel turned toward the center most console and saw a young Ensign standing ridged beside her station. The velcro name badge read S. Ribely, and despite her outward calm, her eyes flicked nervously between Hershel and the console. “I thought it prudent to alert you, Sir.” He dismissed the salute with a wave of his hand.

“At ease Miss Ribely, I’m all ears, as long as it’s not another communiqué or Situational Status Report.”

“No Captain. I’ve been tracking a powerful anomalous reading on the long-range scanners for the past ten minutes.” Her short-clipped words were direct and to the point, a trait he appreciated. “Then our mid-range scanners picked up some sort of distortion two minutes ago, that’s when I sent for you. Something exited Warped Space heading at high velocity toward the star. However, it just changed course. It’s now tracking on a near vector approach.”

“Mister Wilkens,” Hershel said. “Material Condition III. Miss Ribely, put this on the Holo.” A moment later a large three-dimensional grid appeared in the space above the console, and a few heartbeats later an electric tritone buzzed four times in quick succession to alert all personnel that all airlocks, bulkheads, and fittings were to be sealed. Hershel looked down at the small three-dimensional representation of space around the Subjugator.

“Play this back to when it first appeared,” Hershel said. Ribley pecked at her console and a moment later a small bulge appeared and slowly moved across the grid. Hershel cleared his throat and Ribley increased the playback speed. He watched the small orange blip move across the system then looked out the view ports, as if it would confirm the anomaly’s true nature.

“I thought it was an error,” She said, “but I had engineering check the calibration on the sensors. Nothing to report. Then there’s the fact that it changed course. If you look at our current grid, the sensors first picked up the disturbance here, in quadrant A1. Object is currently moving through quadrant C27, no, D28.”

From across the pit Flight Officer Fitzpatrick chimed in. “Mid-Range Spectroscopy finished. Large quantities of Steel alloy and Titanium, Sir. The object appears to be solid. Measurements estimated at 91 by 150 meters in length with ten percent margin of error. Initial scans put it at 30,000 kilometers per hour.”

It appeared to be a ship of some sort then, though that didn’t explain the strange anomalous signatures Ribley had detected. Hershel expanded the quadrant map to include Sinus Aestuum. It was the main trading hub of the Prilox Sector and was nestled on the moon Sinus. The Subjugator was as far from Sinus as you could get and still be considered in-system. At his last check, Hershel had them in a holding pattern about 350 kilometers outside the orbit of a moon the computer noted as ESO26487, next to one of only a few dozen Link Buoys in that section of the Wolf-327 Star System. Personally, Herschel had never heard of the planet the ships computer had identified as PBI3272, nor had anyone else on the crew for that matter. The only real destination for any law-abiding citizens of the Empire would be Sinus Aestuum Space Port.

“Captain,” Fitzpatrick said, “I don’t know what to make of this.” His voice had gone tight and Hershel turned to see him wipe away the sweat from his brow, as he leaned down to his console. “I re-calibrated the array three times Sir, and secondary scans from the High Intensity Solar Arrays are now showing the object just shy of 85,000 kilometers per hour. It made the transition in three fifths of a second.” That didn’t even seem possible, he didn’t know how many G’s the crew would have been pulling like that, but he doubted it was survivable.

“Thrust signature?” Hershel asked, as he punched in a string of code into a console beside Ribely’s monitor without waiting for a response.

“Yes sir,” Ribely said, “Picking up three distinct tightly clustered thruster readings now. It appears they were attempting to mask speed, sir.” She leaned in closer to the monitor, and then turned fully in her seat to face Hershel, “At that speed, I’d say they’d need to have Darnell Class II Drives sir, but that jump.” She just shook her head. “These readouts are off the chart, Sir.”

“Those don’t look like any Darnells’ I’ve ever seen,” Warrant Officer Weller said from an adjacent terminal. “I’ve never even heard of a Darnell with that sort of anomalous burst, look at those pluses.”

“Dose that readout match the engine ID?” Hershel asked, to no one in particular.

“Hard to tell sir,” Weller said. “It’s within the IMI and Navy parameters, but analysts allow for a margin of error up to ten percent, and someone would have had to have done some serious custom overhauls.” Weller tapped the duraglass screen in front of him as the ships on board computer began to run a series of calculations. “We’re looking at a 93% match based on the constant speed and fluctuation. It could be part of a Republic Strike Force, but they would have just pulled over 9.3 million G’s of trust. Anyone on that ship is less than paste.”

“Bring up all Link Buoys in the surrounding quadrants,” Hershel said. A moment later a projection of the system map appeared on a holo-table located between the crew pit and the command chair. Small yellow beacons began to populate throughout the system, with the majority clustered around PBI3272 and Sinus Aestuum, with the remaining few near the planet Pril and her moon Prilox. He followed the path from the warp field disturbance along a straight vector out of the system. “There are no buoys in its flight path.” He said to the crew.

“I agree with the Lieutenant, Republic,” Sergeant Wilkins said. “That or pirates.” He stepped up alongside the table and looked at the map. “Maybe smugglers,” he added after a moment.

“Either way, they’re not using the buoys which indicates they don’t want to be seen.” Hershel said, and rubbed at his eyes. They burned form having spent the last few hours sifting through hundreds of reports and reading the letter from Lara. Her words of war echoed though him as he watched the object continue along its path.

“Did no one hear me?” Weller asked, a pang of panic in his voice. “9.3 Million G’s that’s not a ship, that’s some sort of massive unmanned ship or craft.”

“Like a drone?” Wilkens asked.

“That or maybe a huge torpedo. Whatever the hell it is, there’s no way anything organic is onboard.”

“Sir,” Ribley said, her voice barely audible above the din. Hershel turned and looked down to see her transfixed on her screen.

“Ensign,” Hershel said.

“Uh,” she shook her head, “The- the ship-” Hershel heard the hesitation in her voice, and he felt his stomach tighten. “The ship it- it vanished Sir.”

“What do you mean? It couldn’t have vanished. Was power cut to the thrusters? I want every active and passive array scanning that field,” Hershel said. He half ran to the main bridge viewport, but saw only empty space and the moon far off in the distance.

“No sir, no sign of any ships or thruster signatures in sectors A1 through S34.”

“We’re negative for any infrared, pocket radiation. Spectrometry is also negative for anything larger than five by five meters,” someone else called out from the pit.

Hershel thought back and remembered an email he had received from a Lieutenant Colonel Tristel a few weeks’ earlier. He had requested that he keep his scanners out for any strange anomalous activities in their vicinity. Apparently, Lieutenant Colonel Tristel had personally placed the request as some sort of advanced research project for IMI. Hershel looked back to the holo-table, and zoomed into the spot where the anomaly had vanished. He tapped a button on the table, and rewound the hologram and watched the object vanish again. He felt his stomach churn and turned toward the command pit.

“Expand your search quadrants,” Hershel said then pulled out a small tablet from the holster strapped to his thigh. He keyed in an 18-digit passcode, followed by both a finger and retinal scan. Moments later a photo-scanned document flickered to life, and the image enhancement suite brought the otherwise fuzzy digitalized copy into a crisp resolution on the screen bearing the title; Imperial Military Intelligence. Classified Top Secret. Project Fahrenheit.

“Expanding search into quadrants A1 through AB42”

“Larger,” Hershel said as he scrolled through the document.

“Quadrants A1 through AD44 are empty Sir. Quadrants A1 through AE47 are also coming back null for queries across all system scans.” Ribley said.

“Keep searching,” He said as he scrolled through the report.

“Quadrants AE49-50 all clear. Sir should we- wait. Quadrant AH-” the gasp that slipped form her mouth brought Hershel’s eyes up from the tablet. He could hear her try and clear her throat. “The object- jumped? Now showing in quadrant AH36. Can someone else confirm this?” She asked, the controlled panic now fully showing through on the young woman’s face.

“No,” Wilkins said, “Anomaly in quadrant AH42, 45, 47! Sir, it’s moving, and fast! Now on a direct vector approach.”

“How long until it’s within range?” Hershel asked as he continued scrolling through the document.

“I- I can’t- It’s already in range Sir.” Wilkins said as he tried to steady his hands to run the calculations a third time. He shook his head. “It had to have been going near 432,000 Kilometers per hour, at that speed- 26 seconds until its danger close.”

The automated Tactical Computer System came to life as the object entered the ships restricted space. “Warning; object on direct vector approach. Course correction engaged.” The synthetic vocals of the T.C.S. were warm, almost sedate, with an elegance that rang of old British aristocracy. “Warning; object on direct vector approach. Course correction engaged.” Hershel felt the slight sway of the deck as the Subjugator began to take evasive action. The maneuvers in question were by their very nature unpredictable, and the sudden directional change in thrust caused Hershel to feel as if he had doubled in weight. The ship’s stability compensator caught up a moment later, and he could steady himself as he turned back to the pit.

“Sir,” Weller said, “I’m picking up five tight beam radio and lasers, it appears we’re being targeted.” Kingston nearly dropped the tablet as he turned and ran across the intersecting walkway toward the command chair and strapped himself in.

“Lieutenant Wilkins, General Quarters! Ribley, patch me through on a secure line to IMI, Lieutenant Colonel Tristel!”

Before he could finish, Wilkins – without a moment’s hesitation – lifted a latch and punched the general quarter’s alarm. A cacophony of klaxons trumpeted the warning throughout the Frigate as the ships Tactical Computer System initiated its defense protocol.

“General Quarters, General Quarters! All hands man your battle stations,” the computer said. The synthetic voice nearly matched the klaxon in intensity, and within moments men and women across the ship dashed to their posts as nearly all remaining bulkheads sealed shut throughout the ship. Those not on duty were unceremoniously roused from their slumber, into a throng of utter madness.

“The flow of traffic is up and forward on the starboard side, down and aft on the port. Set material condition ZENITH throughout the ship. This is not a drill, repeat, this is not a drill.” The computer continued to bellow the order as Hershel ran through a sequence of preparations on the mainframe for deletion of all records and classified records in accordance with the material condition. The voice of the ships main computer faded into the background as Hershel furiously deleted file after file.

“Sir,” Ribley said, “I can’t raise IMI.”

“Try another channel,” Hershel said.

“I did sir, I tried them all. We’re being jammed.”

“Can you get through to Daniels?”

“We made contact, but no response.”

“Damn it,” Hershel said. He unfastened his restraints and jumped into the pit and pushed Ribley aside and took hold of the Com Array. “Mayday, Mayday, this is Captain Herschel Kingston of the INS Subjugator, we are in need of immediate assistance in quadrant AX42. Unknown hostile object en route. I repeat again this is the INS Subjugator, we are in need of immediate assistance in quadrant A-”

The deck lurched beneath his feet, and the unmistakable groan of metal under stress echoed from somewhere far below.

“Sir, hull breach in the aft medical bay!”

Hershel switched the Com to the gunnery team. “Bring the PDCs online.”

“All batteries are online sir,” Gunnery Sargent Esperson said. “Awaiting your orders Captain.”

“All batteries open fire.” The silence which hung in the air seemed to drag on for an eternity, then the Com crackled to life.

“At what?” Esperon asked. “Sensors are clear; I don’t have visual-”

“Just open fire,”

“But sir-”

“Open fire god damn it!”

Within a heartbeat the bridge was illuminated as a dizzying array of light shot forth from the Subjugator’s 28 Fokker-Mueller Point Defense Laser-Cannon Batteries. The faint sounds of high-powered energy being released made the hair on the back of Hershel’s neck stand up as the frigates 14 Starboard Gauss Gun Batteries let lose a stunning bombardment of high-powered tungsten slugs. He smiled at the sight. His crew was fast, even he was impressed with how quickly they had responded to the attack, but there would be time for accommodations later, he had a ship to destroy.

“Status report,” Hershel shouted down the pit.

“All batteries are online sir,” Lieutenant Wilkins said, “Engineering is reporting that shot at the Medical bay missed the main reactor; though we have a rupture along the Starboard maintenance shaft, but it’s been locked down. Repair drones en route as we speak. No casualties reported.”

“Shield status?”

“Shields at maximum strength, sir,” Wilkins said, as he poured over the streams of data beginning to spill off the monitor and onto the side terminals.

“Then how the hell did we get hit?” Hershel asked. He ran his finger along the readout terminal as he searched for any clues.

Lieutenant Wilkins blinked for a moment, and then turned back to his stations screen, then over at Ribley’s. “Can’t be sure Sir, sensors didn’t detect anything, but my guess is some type of railgun-” The deck shook again, this time much harder than the first, but most of the crew was braced this time and only two members of the navigation crew who had just entered the bridge, lost their footing. A moment later Hershel heard a thunderous explosion.

“What the hell was that?” Ribley asked as she looked over at Wilkins screen.

“Sir, I’m getting a readout now, ship is danger close. She’s already opened fire, but I’ve never seen anything like it sir. Multiple high-energy energy batteries along with what I’d classify as some sort of gauss gun emplacement.” Wilkins said, then picked up the com. “Esperon, target all firepower on that cruiser.”

“Mr. Thompson,” Hershel said to the helmsman, “bring us about, divert power to the engines.”

The helmsman nodded and punched in a strong of commands. A heartbeat later the Subjugator groaned as another hit tore through her shielding like a hot knife through butter, and despite his firm grip on the back of Wilkins chair, Hershel and everyone else not strapped into his or her seat fell to the floor. The Klaxons began to shriek in a higher pitch as the lights flicker then failed completely. A moment later the emergency lighting flickered, then bathed Hershel in an eerie blood red, as the Helio-Dyson I Backup Fission reactor’s flywheels spun up, and the generator came online.

“Main reactor is offline and venting plasma. Engines 3 and 6 are non-responsive. Decks 4 through 7 are venting atmosphere, but damage should be contained,” Wilkens said. Ribley jumped in as her screens fizzled back to life.

“Belay that order Mr. Thompson,” Hershel said as he got to his feet. “I want power taken from the engines redirected to the starboard shielding.”

“Sir, Lieutenant Riley has lost contact with aft engineering.” Ribley said. “I’m receiving word of massive casualties.” Hershel could see the sweat pouring form her brow. He looked around the bridge, and saw the wave of uncertainty was already in motion, and a storm of utter chaos would soon follow.

“Calm and composure,” He said and slapping Ribley on the shoulder. “We’re still in this. As long as we remain under power we’re not out of this fight.” He turned to Weller and put a hand on his shoulder. “What are their shield status readouts?”

“They appear to be eating everything we’ve thrown at them and holding fast,” Ensign Weller said. Hershel closed his eyes. Hershel had that sudden sickening feeling in his gut again. Nothing the Subjugator had thrown at the ship appeared to have even left a scratch. He looked down at his own ships read outs and saw their shields wouldn’t hold out much longer. The amount of damaged they had already suffered with their shields up was bad enough; he did not even want to consider what would happen when they failed.

“Divert power from all batteries to our shields and engines. Try to raise Lieutenant Riley again, and send word to forward Engineering, tell them to send a few men aft, see if they can’t bring at least one of those engines back online then prepare for an emergency jump.” Everyone on the bridge nodded and began punching in commands and moments later the space around the Subjugator went black as the gun emplacements all ceased to fire.

“Shields are back Sir, holding steady at 100%, but they’re still punching rounds through the shields. Nearly one in three are making it through to the hull.”

Hershel’s com crackled to life, it was Gunnery Sargent Esperon. “Captain, I’ve lost power to-”

“We’re getting out here, keep your men at the ready.” He clicked the com shut before Esperon could reply, then turned back to the crew. “Damn it, anything not being used to power the shields needs to be divert to the main engines, everything. Get us the hell out of here.”

“Sir!” Ribley said, the fear in her voice gone. “Sir, Look!” Hersehl looked out the view port and smiled. Three Imperial Naval vessels dropped out of their jump and into slow space. They had taken positions on all sides of the assailant, the largest placing itself between the unknown ship and the Subjugator.  “Sir, I’m getting their signatures. It’s The INS Vendetta, Vengeance, and Valor. They’ve all opened fire on the ship. She’s turning to engage.”

Kingston fell into his chair and let out a breath he had not known he had been holding, as a cheer went up among the bridge crew. He was almost certain they would never had complete the jump with the damage they sustained. Until five seconds ago they had been as good as dead. Now two Imperial Injunction I Class frigates and a massive Imperial Destroyer Class Dreadnaught would even the odds. That ship, whatever it was, was no match for firepower of that magnitude. His mind wandered back to the message from Lieutenant Colonel Tristell, and he felt almost silly for thinking that this could have been what he had been referencing. This was simply some sort of Republic Drone Ship, a powerful, but no mysterious anomaly.

“Open a channel to the captain of Vendetta,” Hershel said, “I’d like to thank them for their timely aid.”

“No need sir, they’re already hailing us.” Ribley said, her face a grin from ear to ear.

“Patch them through Ensign,” Hershel said, and a moment later the cool crisp voice of a woman in her late fifties came across the bridges speakers.

“This is Captain Casel Shamoor of the INS Vendetta,” she said. He could hear the smile on her face. “I heard you could use some help Captain.”

Hershel let out a laugh and ran a hand back through his hair. “I hate to admit it, but we certainly did. These clowns seem to have really given us a run for our money,” he said with a grin. “I was just about to ask if-” Hershel paused as he heard a sudden clamor fill the com. The whole bridge of the Vendetta erupted in a sudden clamor, all of it indistinguishable aside from one word; incoming.

Hershel turned to Wilkens. “Are you picking up anything in the vicinity of the Ven-” He stopped as he heard Shamoor over the com.

“Reroute power to the PDCs, I don’t want those things getting-”

The com died as a brilliant light brighter than a thousand suns poured through the duraglass observation windows that ringed the bridge of the Subjugator. The black emptiness of space faded to absolute white, and despite the tinting, the enormous explosion blinded everyone who had been unfortunate enough to witness the horror. After what seemed like an eternity Hershel’s sight slowly returned, though he almost wished it hadn’t.

Hershel and the crew stood in awe, eyes transfixed out the observation windows. They had all seen them; they were there, an indestructible Imperial Naval Flotilla, which had pulled them from the jaws of certain death. Yet now, in their place only hunks of twisted metal and dust remained where only moments earlier the saviors had been. The sheer scale of carnage, the countless lives lost was incomprehensible. He looked around the bridge and saw every pair of eyes now fixed on him, waiting for their captain to pull another ace out of his sleeve, to save them as he had so many times before. He was supposed to be the man who lead the charge, and saved the day. Yet here, now, against these truly insurmountable odds, he finally found himself lost.

He took solace in the fact that his cowardice would be short lived, for as he turned Hershel saw the true source of what had wreaked so much havoc in such little time. The single vessel was no longer alone. Dozens of ships just like it had materialized where the Vendetta had been moments before. No, not dozens, hundreds, he couldn’t keep track of the blur. Every moment another blinked into slow space, all letting lose an unholy salvo of energy beams and metallic slugs. Herschel Kingston fell to his knees in final defeat wishing more than anything he could meet his son and hold Lara one last time. He whispered her name as the INS Subjugator vaporized around him.




Draft Number One Completed

The first draft of my Science Fiction manuscript is complete. I wrapped it up Saturday October 1, 2016 at 12:08 AM. 329 Pages / 94,630 words in length, and I got it done three days sooner than my spreadsheet predicted. Which on a side note, proves that spreadsheet works great!

Now comes the editing and revisions. This is new territory for me, and I know that the first thirteen chapters are going to have a lot of revision work to do. People, names, places, locations, sinister plots, sex changes, etc… Here’s hoping I can query by the end of the year!

Writer’s Block and Anxiety

It’s 9:47 PM, and I have only written 1,172 words in the past 58 minutes. I feel like I am running at 100 mph with a two-ton weight chained to my leg. I feel like I am not getting anywhere, and I feel like I am going unbelievably slow. The funny thing is I know I am not going that slow. In fact, looking at my spreadsheet (which you can read more about here “tracking your progress,”) I know I am doing far better than I was three weeks ago. I used to write at about 500 – 600 words per hour, and now on a bad night, like tonight, I’m still hitting 1234 words per hour.

Maybe it is just because I had a few days where I was close to 2,000 words per hour. It felt like the words were flying off my fingers faster than I could type, except my hands somehow were keeping up with my mind, which was a great feeling. So when my hands are outpacing my thoughts I guess that makes things feel a bit slower. Well before writing this post, I told myself I should think positive, instead of thinking of the negative things which sometimes haunt my mind. Things like, I’m bad at this, or my manuscript must suck, or why even bother. Instead, I told myself to focus on the things I know I am good at, what my beta readers have told me I am good at, and as it turns out, UNC agrees with that idea.

“Writing anxiety” and “writer’s block” are informal terms for a wide variety of apprehensive and pessimistic feelings about writing. These feelings may not be pervasive in a person’s writing life. For example, you might feel perfectly fine writing a biology lab report but apprehensive about writing a paper on a novel.

You may struggle when you are:

  • adjusting to a new form of writing—for example, first year college writing, papers in a new field of study, or longer forms than you are used to (a long research paper, a senior thesis, a master’s thesis, a dissertation) (Hjortshoj 56-76).
  • writing for a reader or readers who have been overly critical or demanding in the past.
  • remembering negative criticism received in the past—even if the reader who criticized your work won’t be reading your writing this time.
  • working with limited time or with a lot of unstructured time.
  • responding to an assignment that seems unrelated to academic or life goals.
  • dealing with troubling events outside of school.

This is how I was feeling. I was fine working on my world building, I was making excel sheets left and right first the word count tracker, and then a fictional language creator/manager (more on that in the new few days) but when I sat down with my manuscript, working on a chapter that I had been excited to write, had plotted ou from beginning to end, it just seemed that nothing was going to come of it. I knew I needed to fix that.

Identify your strengths

What was  I good at, well my beta readers, who I have begged and pleaded with to give me as brutal of feedback as they can, have told me many good things. Such as I can paint the scene for them where they feel like they are there. They can picture every detail and get sucked into the story. They love the descriptions I use, the way I link the plot together. So while I might have some work to do on characterization (I’m doing a lot better, I promise) I don’t need to focus on that right now. Not that I don’t need to improve, but if it makes me feel like crap and stops me in my tracks, I can focus on the positive for now, and tackle the hard stuff tomorrow.

So what are your strengths? UNC gives some great examples. Maybe you

  • explain things well to people
  • get people’s interest.
  • have strong opinions.
  • listen well.
  • am critical of what I read.
  • see connections.

Whatever it is you do well, focus on that when you feel like you’re up against at an emotional wall. Don’t let your inner editor and critic tell you that you suck, tonight, they suck.

Tracking your progress

A few years back I was listening to an episode of I should be writing, and heard Mur Lafferty talk about something called “The Magic Spread Sheet” desgiend by Tony Pisculli, which was supposed to help people stay on track and meet their writing goals. While I never used it myself, there seem to be a lot of people that have found it very useful. You can find a link to her page explaining The Magic Spreadsheet here.

Why Tracking Matters

You might be thinking to yourself, why would I spend time logging my word count in a detailed method? All I need to do is see how many I wrote each day and make sure it is above my minimum daily word count limit I have set for myself, right? Yes, and no. Yes in the sense that even the most basic word count tracking and goal setting is something all writers should be doing. It gives you something to strive for, something to let you know that you are reaching a goal you have set for yourself. However, that is only the beginning, the foundation on which you will build your writing skills. If you really want to improve the speed and efficiency as a writer, it is important to get metrics on how you write.

Know Your Metrics

How many words per hour did you write today? What is your average word count per hour? When are your peak writing times? When are your least productive time and/or environment? These are all questions that you should know the answer to, but questions you may not have thought to ask yourself. Let’s be honest, most, if not all of us would love to write full time. If that is the case, why would you not treat your writing time as you would any other job? I’ve developed my own spreadsheet for logging my writing times just as I would if I punched in and out of a time clock at my day job. The sheet has space for times and breaks, so I know exactly how long I have been writing. You would not go to work all day and just hope that someone remembers exactly how many hours and minutes you spent doing that job, and the same should be said about your writing.

My Spread Sheet

I have seen a lot of spreadsheets out there which try and give you a comprehensive idea of how you are doing when it comes to tracking your writing. Unfortunately, none of these sheets have all of the things I want. (Not to brag but,) My day job has me working heavily in excel, which has allowed me to create a sheet, which feel, is a bit more robust than some of the other sheets I have seen. Google Drive is awesome, I love it, my first two manuscripts were written completely in Google Docs (I’m not paid to say that I just cannot say how much I love Google’s products. My friends say I’m their unofficial mascot.) However, Google Sheets is a subpar and extremely underpowered spreadsheet program which simply cannot compete with excel in even some of the most basic tests. The only thing sheets blows any competitor, including excel, out of the water would be in the ability to live edit side-by-side within the sheet. For those reasons I have chosen to step out of Google Drive and use excel (Still, I do save it in Drive so I can access it across all of my devices!) That being said, if you’re set on using a sheet on the web, via Google, you can get some extensions in the Chrome Store. Personally I use Office Editing for Docs, or if you own Microsoft Office you can also use Excel Online which also has a Chrome extension.

The sheet calculates out your word count per hour base off of the time spent writing and your finished daily word count. I have added conditional formatting, to show if my daily word count and words per minute are in an acceptable range (my minimum daily word count is 750 even on days I don’t feel like writing.) I added a star point system to collect point which are given out on days when I meet my goals. It also has a drop down menu which lets me choose from my predetermined list of activities such as writing, editing, plotting, etc so that I know exactly what I spent the day doing a week, month or years from now. I then collect all of this data and put it into a pivot table so I can digest and understand these statistics to better improve my writing. After a few weeks, I should be able to tell when my most effective writing times are when my words per hour peak and when they fall off, so I know how long is too long.

If anyone has questions, or would like a copy of the sheet for their personal use, drop me a comment and we can talk about how you too can use excel to help improve your writing.







So I’ve been using the sheet for 21 days and I can start to get some useful data out of the sheet. I wanted to share the update so everyone could see just how useful this has been for me, and can be for you. I’ve gone from writing around 500 to 600 words per hours, up to about 1,500 to 1,700 words per hours in the last few days. In the past 11 days of consistent writing I’ve churned out 21,893 words compared to the previous 10 days (fourof which were spent on editing and world building) I only wrote 3,991. So while it is not apples to apples, my daily word count hardly broke 1,000 and three of the days it was between 400 and 808. My average words per hour were only at 706 compared to my now 1,293.

The spread sheet (and my amazing girlfriend,) have helped keep me motivated and my butt in the chair.









If you want to try out my spread sheet, feel free to do so by downloading a copy of the file here. If you do, please leave some feed back and I’ll make improves based off of the communities requests. I will also be working toward making social features akin to the “Magic Spread Sheet.”

[DOWNLOAD – 6.8.15]

Back at it

After wrapping up my first foray into the writing world, I began submitting query letters to dozens of agents. After weeks of waiting I got a few responses asking for a few pages or chapters and in the end had two ask for my full manuscript. After months of waiting and countless nights of stressing, I got back my rejection letters.

I was thrilled, believe it or not. While I was sad I was not offered representation, I had the chance for real agents to review my book. I got some very positive feed back and some tips on how to fix the problems in my novel.

I let that digest and began thinking of how to tackle the issues. I knew my characters were not strong enough and my voice wavered far too much. It’s been a long time, and I’ve been focusing my time on trying to flesh out my world and my characters. Life caught up with me, and I unfortunately took a step back from my work, but I’ve renewed my determination to get this right, and am back at it. I’ve set a small goal of writing at least 750 words a day, to keep my momentum going, but I don’t want to stop there. That’s my bare minimum, even if I can only put 30 minutes or an hour in, I want to hit that goal, and I think that’s important for you to do.

On Friday I picked up 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron(Rachel Bach,) and while I have not finished the book yet, I have to say the advice in there is something that all aspiring writers should take to heart, and for only $0.99 it’s a steal.

More to come soon!

Have a thought or suggestion? Shoot me an email, or better yet, leave a comment and let’s have a discussion!

I’m back, with a new writing weapon!

I took an unintended break from the blog, and really focused on my book. I’m about 71,000 words into it, and half way done with chapter 17. I am shooting to wrap things up between chapter 27 and 30.

So what is this writing weapon I have? A nice little tool I found that I feel helped improve my work; The Emotion Thesaurus. I have not gotten the e-book or hard copy yet, (I plan to next paycheck.) but the blog I’ll link at the end of the post has a lot of helpful links on it that will help you better describe your characters feelings, with more showing and less telling.

Let me know what you think! Spread the word, and buy this awesome book.


Google Books update

I don’t know about you, but I love Google. Today they rolled out a bunch of new features such as a music streaming service that could destroy Spotify, along with a host of other cool updates from a gaming hub for android that will allow users to sign into their favorite games and see the leader boards and try to beat their friends.

Aside from that Google books added a nifty feature that allows you to upload your own personal titles in EPUB or PDF formats, and you can either upload files from your computer or import books that are already stored in your Google Drive account. This is good news for if you are giving your book a read over and want to put down the phone and grab the tablet, or then move to the computer, your data syncs just like a normal book!

This is also great for beta readers, if you get a PDF you can upload it and read it like a normal book, instead of opening a PDF reader or using the kindle app and then having to remember where you left off last time. The best part is you can upload 1,000 for free!

Not only that but if you have gotten PDF or EPUB books from a give away and have the file, you can upload them, even if you did not get them from Google.

Check it out at


Update on Rise and weekend goals.

So I had planned to finish Chapter 6 Thursday, but it looks like I won’t be done with it until Friday.

I’ll be starting more of chapter 7 this weekend, maybe I’ll be able to punch out 6 and 7 before Monday. I’ve been picking up speed with my writing lately.

I have learned setting a goal, even if it is write 300 words today keeps you writing. Try tacking your words in a spread sheet. Helps keep me in check by tracking my work.

What are your writing goals for the weekend?

Religion in your world

What does religion do in your world? How does it drive world events? Does it effect and influence politics? Are the gods of the inhabitants of your  world real, or only a mythology created for an alliterative motive? 

In Elidamara there are many religions, but in Estorad, where the first book Shadows of Virithimis takes place, there are two prevailing religions: Ker Ma’Ral and Margrism. 

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Ker Ma’Ral is the older of the two. It was gifted to the Quelarian from their god Madriel. It is a belief in two gods locked in a never ending struggle that directly effects the world, as Madriel’s counter part, Emeron, has taken a physical form twice in their history.

Margrism is the predominate religion in Estorad, spreading east from the Kingdom of Etermith. It is the belief that the lesser gods spawned by Madriel, or Amara, are divine beings that intervene in peoples lives and oversee harvests, life, death, birth, love, etc. Followers of Margrism do not worship Madriel, as they do not believe she directly intervenes in the lives of mortals.   

In Elidamara the acts of Gods do actively play a role in the world. Religious leaders bribe government officials, and different religious groups fight each other for dominance.

Having these facts when designing your world can help give it a feel of a real place. Two dimensional religions and traditions can feel fake and forced. Even if your readers never see the majority of what you know, it will always seem more realistic than if you just slap something together as you go.

How do you incorporate religion in your world? How many gods have you created in your spare time?