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    Arrival at Blue Skull – Summertime Blue – Extract #1

    24th March 2016 - Author: John Campbell Rees

    ‘I’m Lieutenant Ilayanksya 461/09 Wadz, the Duty Chemist for this plant.’
    ‘Pleased to meet you, I’m…’
    ‘I know exactly who you are Subaltern, I have been ordered by the Major to take you to his office.’
    There was no hint of friendship in the other style’s voice. Fortunately, there was no enmity either. ‘And he wants to make this formal, I see you are in mufty, so I will take you via the changing room.
    ‘No problem,’ said Nevamarsya. The two continued through the plant to an airlock. Once through it they both removed their masks.
    ‘Won’t I need more Emprintable Fabric?’ Nevamarsya asked.
    ‘No, you don’t,’ Lieutenant Ilayanksya replied.
    With the expected buzz from the Emprinter, her clothes changed into an uniform, but not the one she was expecting. Nevamarsya tugged at the hem of the short tunic/dress of the informal uniform, usually worn by waitresses, barmaids and younger female shop workers whilst on duty, in a vain attempt to make it longer.
    ‘Sorry about this. The old letch in charge sets dress code,’ said Lieutenant Ilayanksya ‘I can’t change it. No need to put your hair into a ponytail, he likes styles to wear their hair down on duty. However, you will need a cap.’
    ‘I see why you wear the lab coat. Can I borrow one?’
    ‘You’ve got far better legs than I have, maybe it will distract the old fool a bit.’
    ‘Thank you, but I still like to chose when and where I show them off.’
    Finally a reaction form the other girl, who laughed out loud.
    ‘What about the other staff, what do they think?’
    ‘Since I arrived here it’s just me, the major and the Winter Jumpers, aka Subalterns Bendertant and Queltodant.’
    ‘I suppose they are thick and woolly.’
    ‘Got it in one. As the only female down here, I have to put up with a lot of sexist crap.’
    ‘I’d read about that.’ Nevamarsya was amazed, ‘I thought it was all made up. Surely the Major doesn’t really think Anthers are superior to Styles?’
    ‘In every way. He is one of a small minority, but sadly one that is growing. Added to that he is a real Root Supremacist. He’s a bundle of joy to work for.’
    They arrived at the Major’s office, and Lieutenant Ilayanksya knocked politely on the door.
    ‘Enter,’ said the voice inside the office, as the door automatically swung open.

    Chapter 17 – Down in the Dumps – p244-245


    No Comments - Categories: Nevamarsya, Summertime Blues, Yanillo

    Emprintable Fabric

    21st May 2015 - Author: John Campbell Rees

    One of the first things I chose to include in my fictional world was Emprintable Fabric. It all dates back to when I read an article about the material that made up the screen of a Kindle. Basically, that is a sheet of tiny spheres, that are either black or white, depending on how they are charged. This sheet sits on top of a layer of electrodes that change the charge in the bubbles every time the page changes. The great thing is once the bubble has been set to black or white, it doesn’t need a constant charge to stay that way, it remains in that state until the next flash of electricity from the layer of electrodes beneath. Now if the article had ended with that simple explanation, nothing would have developed from it. However, the article ended by saying the manufactures were trying to develop a version of their material that was as thin and as flexible as real paper.

    Into the equation then came memories of adverts for kitchen floor coverings made from layers of tiny foam bubbles sandwiched between vinyl. And that made me think. Wouldn’t it be great if you had textile made up of millions of tiny sphere, like the vinyl flooring, but without the vinyl sandwich. What if the bubbles reacted to an electric charge the way the bubbles in a Kindle display reacted. The colour and size of the bubbles in the clothe would change only when an outside force changed the charge within it.  Dirt and stains could be expunged from the clothe as it could be made to reform itself without the foreign particles causing the stain. More radically, the outfit you were wearing would change as you were wearing it, just by looking in a mirror, choosing an outfit and letting the clothing do the rest.

    No Comments - Categories: Summertime Blues, Winter Squad

    Character Sketch #6 – Pemisegant Awaiting Rescue

    15th October 2014 - Author: John Campbell Rees

    Junior Cadet Pemisegant 2This is how I first imagined Pemisegant, when he was still a minor character who appeared in one episode in the novel. A grubby little boy sitting in a drainage ditch after a reckless misadventure, waiting to be rescued.Originally, after his fifteen pages of fame, he was going to spend the rest of the novel in the background. Then I started writing the story of how he ended up in the ditch and once he had introduced himself, just like Tabbernant his role kept on getting bigger and bigger.

    No Comments - Categories: Pemisegant, Winter Squad

    Character Sketch #5 – Nataliscya : A Girl on a Bicycle

    25th September 2014 - Author: John Campbell Rees

    Nataliscya on her bicycleThe Winter Squad live in a world whose technology is based entirely on the boundless imagination of the Spirit of the Tree. He has access to the knowledge of every apple tree that has ever existed. He has used this knowledge to find a way to make the seemlingly impossible somehow possible. Flying cars, no problem, unimaginably fast computers, a doddle, clothes that change themselves as you are wearing them, a cinch. With all these technotoys so easily available, I decided that at least one character would chose something really old fashioned as their favourite form of personal transportation, just because they could.  So Natalicsya loves going places on what we would recognise as a clunky 1950’s style ladies bicycle, with a wicker basket in front and a tinkling bell on the handlebar.

    Then it struck me, Natalicsiya would go riding when she was off duty, and not in uniform.  So I jiggled the image about a bit, as can been seen below.Nataliscya on her bicycle 2

    No Comments - Categories: Natalicsya, Winter Squad

    A Novel Experience : The Third Edition (Reprint)

    11th July 2014 - Author: John Campbell Rees

    More progress to report. This time from April, 2013.

    So, after a polite thanks, but no thanks from one pub­lisher, I imme­di­ately started work on a new draft.  i reworked the first three chap­ters, hav­ing moved Chap­ter 3 down to Chap­ter 6, and then reworked the chap­ter struc­ture again, mov­ing bits of the old Chap­ters 5 and 6 into the old Chap­ters 1,2 & 4. and re-editing the text into the new Chap­ters 1–5.  Then I removed half of Chap­ter 27 and all of Chap­ter 28 to tighten up the ending.

    The next big change in this draft was refer­ring to the hero­ine by name from page one.  Pre­vi­ously as she does not get the name Neva­mar until Chap­ter 6, I referred to her in the text by her ID Code NM331/29.  This did lit­tle to gen­er­ate empa­thy for the char­ac­ter.  So she thinks of her­self as Neva­mar and the text calls her that, even if other char­ac­ters refer to her by ID Code within the dialogue.

    Whilst I am on the sub­ject of dia­logue, after a friend read the first three chap­ters, it was sug­gested that there was far too much expo­si­tion that was bor­ing to read.  It would, I was told, be bet­ter if I had char­ac­ters dis­cussing a par­tic­u­lar plot point instead of hav­ing it explained in a big slab of text.  Then I had to address my mother’s biggest bug­bear, the fact that I didn’t attribute dia­logue enough.  She said that I knew who was say­ing what, because after all I had cre­ated the con­ver­sa­tions, but that was no help to the poor reader, who was expected to fol­low the ping-pong of who said what in a con­ver­sa­tion.  So I went through the man­u­script adding “he said” or “she said” where nec­es­sary to the dia­logue. I don’t think it is nec­es­sary for every line of dia­logue, but every so often, the ping-pong of con­ver­sa­tion needs to be com­mented upon.  Espe­cially if there are more than two char­ac­ters in the room and Char­ac­ter D is about to butt into a con­ver­sa­tion between Char­ac­ter A and Char­ac­ter C, whilst Char­ac­ter B sits and lis­tens, only speak­ing if spo­ken to.  Also, it is impor­tant to remem­ber that  when attribut­ing speech, only three verbs are per­mis­si­ble, SAID, ASKED & REPLIED, and of those SAID is King.  Said is the sim­plest way of show­ing that some­one is speak­ing, so should be use most often.  Asked should only be used if a char­ac­ter is ask­ing a ques­tion whilst speak­ing, like wies Replied should only be used if the char­ac­ter is answer­ing a ques­tion whilst speaking.

    No Comments - Categories: Winter Squad

    A Novel Experience : The Second Volume (Reprinted)

    - Author: John Campbell Rees

    This post is from 3rd February, 2012, when things had moved along a bit.

    Wednes­day morn­ing I submitted the first three chap­ters of my novel In the Tree of Life plus a syn­op­sis of the rest of the story to JoFletcher­Books, a new sci­ence fic­tion, fan­tasy and hor­ror imprint of Quer­cus Pub­lish­ing.  A few weeks I found out that they cur­rently have an open sub­mis­sions pol­icy.  This means that authors not cur­rently rep­re­sented by an agent have a chance of get­ting pub­lished. This seems like too much of an oppor­tu­nity to waste.  Even if they reject my novel, it has spurred me on to fin­ish the man­u­script, and pro­duce some­thing I can sent to lit­er­ary agents, as I will need one to rep­re­sent me as I am seri­ous about get­ting this novel pub­lished and writ­ing more.

    When I last wrote about my novel, back in Octo­ber 2011, the man­u­script was fifty seven words in total.   I have added an extra fifty thou­sand to the total, but given the amount I have edited I have prob­a­bly writ­ten close to a quar­ter of a mil­lion words to get to the stage the man­u­script is now reached.  The man­u­script now has 107,678 words in total.  Back then it was still the orig­i­nal short sto­ries and four other inci­dents badly glued together. Even then, the short story was not very com­plete, many scenes were still only basic descrip­tions that needed dia­logue and more def­i­n­i­tion. Some key char­ac­ters, like the pre­vi­ously men­tioned Sery­nazsya were poorly described.  One entire roman­tic sub-plot did not even exist, as the char­ac­ter it fea­tured was still only men­tioned in pass­ing in a sin­gle paragraph.

    So, I have been busy get­ting rid of bad gram­mar, plot holes and logic bombs.  For instance when I wrote the first draft of the novel, one of my major male char­ac­ters had a name start­ing with the let­ter “S”. Later on, I dis­cov­ered the way I had set the soci­ety up in my world, only a par­tic­u­lar group of  women had names start­ing with “S”, so as it would be impos­si­ble to change his gen­der, the magic of mod­ern word processor’s “find and replace” func­tion replaced all men­tions of Sel­ton­nant with Kel­ton­nant, all ref­er­ences to Uncle Shelty to Uncle Kelly and finally the half a dozen uses of the roman­tic pet name Shelto to Kelts.  Like­wise, Aia­ly­nazsya became Sery­nazsya, Serah and Rynzy respec­tively.  Which is prob­a­bly a good thing because even I was hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ties pro­nounc­ing the girl’s orig­i­nal name.

     At this point, it is worth mentioning that the submission I sent to JoFletcherBooks was embarrassing and I am not at all surprised that it was rejected.  That manuscript was very flabby, and still had its original title In the Tree of Life.  It was after this rejection the novel became Winter Squad.

    No Comments - Categories: Winter Squad

    A Novel Situation (Reprint from my old Web Log)

    - Author: John Campbell Rees

    This article originally appeared in my old Web Log, The Journal of the Browncoat Cat ,back on 11th October, 2011. It’s when I first mentioned to the World that I was writing a novel.

    As you might have noticed, My updates to this web log have sort of dried up recently. There is a rea­son for this. Whilst I was on hol­i­day in August, the story idea for a poten­tial novel I have been work­ing on recently achieved a crit­i­cal mass. The begin­ning, mid­dle and end of the story were all there. The char­ac­ters stood up and intro­duced themselves, the set­ting became fully fleshed. All I had to do was write the damn thing. On Fri­day, 12th August, I sat myself down on the shady veranda out­side the One-5 Club on Deck 15 Aft of the MS Grand Princess and began typ­ing the words “CHAPTER ONE : NM331/29 sat at its work sta­tion, one of the many wooden work sta­tions in the long cir­cu­lar wooden cor­ri­dor where it spent every day…” and the rest is history.

    I have cur­rently writ­ten 57,217 words of the man­u­script.  The broad out­line of the story is now filed on my PC, and a hard­copy of the work is progress is now is exis­tence.  I have now got to go back and fill in the gaps.  I wanted to con­cen­trate on get­ting the whole story on paper, at the moment. Now that I know the story works, that all the cogs and gears of the plot turn, I can go back and start describ­ing the loca­tions in greater detail, so that other read­ers will be able to pic­ture the places that I have dreamt up.  I think that the fin­ished first man­u­script should be about 80,000 words long.

    And now that I have the bare frame of my Novel in place, I can devote some time to putting my thoughts on life in gen­eral down here on this web log.

    No Comments - Categories: Uncategorized

    Character Sketch #3 – Tabbernant : Old Blue on Blue Eyes

    1st April 2014 - Author: John Campbell Rees

    tabbernant PortraitHe has never been able to simply do as he was told Tabbernant has always wanted to know why he was doing what he was ordered to do. This is a problem in a society based on the instant obedience of military discipline. So, Tabbernant believes he will end his career as an Officer, the way he begun it, as an Ensign.
    This does not bother Tabbernant, who is more than just the cook for the Winter Squad.  He is also a shrewd Venture Capitalist who has devoted his time to forwarding innovation and original thinking. His almost supernatural ability to pick a winner have made him one of the richest people in the Tree.  He plans on sitting back and enjoying his upcoming retirement.

    When I was writing Winter Squad, my sister Carolyn was disappointed when I told her that my characters did not have the green skin she imagined they should have.  She said that Tree People needed something to make them more obviously alien. So from that point onwards, in my mind Tree People have light blue eyeballs that are sensitive to toxins in the blood stream. This did not find its way in Winter Squad, but I will think of a good reason for it and include it in the sequel, Summertime Blues.

    No Comments - Categories: Summertime Blues, Winter Squad

    Character Sketch #2 – Keltonant

    11th March 2014 - Author: John Campbell Rees

    Keltonnant PortraitMajor Keltonnant, Sharlensya’s uncle from the Trunk. He is  the Winter Squad’s doctor.  He pretends to be gruff and businesslike, but everybody knows he is a big hearted and generous person underneath.

    No Comments - Categories: Winter Squad

    Character Sketch #1 – Sharlensya : A Face to Launch Many Thousands of Words

    9th March 2014 - Author: John Campbell Rees

    Sharlensya Portrait

    Picture I have always known what my characters look like.  In the first draft of Winter Squad, I included long descriptions of each character. The problem I found was that they slowed the pace of the story telling, putting the reader’s imagination into a strait jacket. So they were edited out by the third draft, and instead I included only the briefest of descriptions, feeding the readers imagination and letting it run wild.

    8845842 However, I would still like people to have a better understanding of my original vision.  The picture to the bellow was drawn by Welsh comic bock artist Mike Collins at the 2013 Cardiff International Comics and Animation Expo.  I showed him a badly photoshopped image I had created. It took him about ten minutes to do a rough sketch and after fifteen he had completed the picture. They say that imitation is the greatest compliment, so I have made this picture as the starting point for all the pictures in this series of drawings.  It gave me a structure to work within and to embelish.  I hope Mr. Collins approves.

    No Comments - Categories: Winter Squad