Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cover Preview for Silo 49: Dark Till Dawn

For all of you that are waiting so patiently for book three, let me say first: I really am working as fast as I can!  And here is a little taste.  The cover.

What do you think?

Monday, November 25, 2013

NaNoWriMo Complete!

Yes, oh yes, I have completed the required 50,000 word first draft of a novel in the month of November.  Here is the beautimus winner badge.

What was the novel? Oh, I hear some of you out there saying, "It better be Dark Till Dawn!" Well, it isn't. I almost didn't do the NaNoWriMo this year because I was so committed to hurrying up with DTD, but in the end, I knew I would regret it. DTD is a harder book to write and I'm taking much more time with it.

I still don't have an editor since the one I want is booked for the next 5 months at least.  I'm pretty sure some of you—if I base it on your emails—are not in the mood to wait that long. So, I'm taking my time and trying to do a good job so I don't irritate you.

What I did write was a new book called "Lulu 394". 

It's a stand alone book, not a series.  I hope to launch that one after DTD.  If you're curious, here is the first draft synopsis.

"Earth's Seed project may be the only truly altruistic endeavor ever carried out by humanity. Lulu Whelkins is one of the hundreds of young scientists chosen for it but almost every human on the planet will get to ride along. At least their DNA will. Self-replicating spacecraft carrying the blueprints for Earth's life will travel the stars and slowly seek planets that are empty and waiting to be transformed. It might take a million years for each one, but what is time to a machine?

The only problem is that it doesn't work without a human in the loop. Lulu is chosen to be a "Loaded Strand", one of the few who will be reborn, over and over, as a "Load" into a new body and aid the machines in the ways that only humans can.

Lulu wakes to find everything as it should be. Her mission sets are clear and the other loads planned are people she likes. The planet is raw and beautiful and bare...perfect. Small changes around the ship are the only things that mar the perfection. A string a numbers etched behind a door, an arrow pointed the wrong way on a bulkhead. In deciphering the puzzle of these small changes, Lulu finds out more than she ever wanted to know about Seed and herself."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Reader Question #2 Answered

After I answered the first question on the blog, I got a slew of emails from readers with other questions which was delightful! I've parsed them out and found the next most asked questions.  Here is one:

Question:  How do you know/did you decide/create the biosphere of the silo? I don't remember that much detail in the original WOOL series.

Answer:  Because I'm a total geek and did an analysis of most of the main factors and filled in the slots much like a real biosphere is designed.

Longer answer:  Hugh Howey left a lot of those details vague because it worked with his stories and let our imaginations roam wild.  But I'm a scientist by profession in a couple of fields and one of the reasons I was so drawn to the original story back in 2011 was because it left me with so much to think about, figure out and draw for myself.  I think that is a natural human reaction and may have played a role in the WOOL plague spread throughout the reading world.

After WOOL 2 and 3, I decided I needed to see how big the WOOL silos really were so I took Juliette's walk as the measure in a huge parking lot and came up with an answer that shocked me.  The silos are ginormous.  They make the couple of silos I've been in seem like root cellars.  Their sheer volume means that they would have to possess a complex biosphere it order to have successive generations of healthy individuals.

And that is basically how I did it.  I figured out the required components and then selected plants and animals that could fill those needs but whose own needs could be filled with minimal other inputs.  

I get specific questions on Olives and fats a lot.  Many people seem to have wondered about that in the first books.  Olives are actually pretty easy to grow.  I grow Arbequina olives here in Eastern Virginia without a problem.  You can restrict their size with pots and their fat is high quality.  Ditto with sesame and other seed based fats. 

Hope that answers your question! You can ask me more questions using the contact form to the right.  Also, if you want me to send you an email when the next book, "Dark Till Dawn" comes out, use that contact form for that too.  I'd be happy to.  With the holidays coming, it's easy to forget about something you wanted for yourself. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Funny Stuff and an Update on Book Three

Happy Saturday Everyone!

Sorry I've been out of touch and was slow on answering some of the mail that came in via the Contact Me widget.  I think I got everybody answered as of this morning so if you haven't gotten a reply, shoot me another email because you got ate by the machine.

I had a lovely case of food poisoning that will forever leave scorch marks on my memory. That and a wonder for nurses who seem immune to anything they see in a hospital and still smile and pat your arm. No worries though, I'm functional and back at work on the book!

So, after being away from the computer for a few days I saw that some new reviews came in and, of course, I went right to them.  One of them was bad but also hilarious.

The title was, "Desperate housewife meets Plato".  I'm totally not making that up. It's right there on Amazon.  It actually made me feel a little bad because I didn't think Marina was at all like that. Fashion obsessed? No. Cheating on spouse? No. Superficial? No.

Either way, there it is, bringing down my average.  So, if you read either book and liked it, please do me a huge favor and write a review on Amazon. They don't need to be long. And, I appreciate them!

Now for the update.  Work is moving apace on the last book and I don't foresee any huge delays coming.  Given the horror of what happens when other series end poorly or haphazardly, I'm doing my best to make this be what it needs to be.

This is also NaNoWriMo, which comes each November, and I'm working on a soon to be released book for that.  It is called "Lulu 394".  I sure hope some of you that read and liked the Silo 49 series so far will venture to read that one too.

And one more thing: I've had a lot of people contact me that they didn't get notified by Amazon when Silo 49: Deep Dark came out even though they clicked that button on my Author Page there.  It is a bit unreliable.  If you want notification of my releases, use the contact me widget and just let me know.  I will only use it to let you know of a new book.  If you specifically want, I'll also let you know of any giveaways I do in the future. (None planned right now but who knows?)  I hate spam and I won't spam you.

I hope everyone is doing well out there and having a great start to the big holiday season, where shopping gets vicious and the lists from kids get long.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Silo 49 Email Question Answered - #1

First let me say how much I love getting notes from people. The little 'Contact Me' widget to the right over there is getting some use and I'm happy for it. I'm pretty shy about leaving comments where anyone can see them so I figured the widget might be more comfortable for some people. Turns out that is how almost everyone contacts me. That's okay by me!

So, along with the very kind words which help me keep writing when it gets hard, I get lots of really interesting questions. Some of the questions are really brilliant and a few of them I've gotten several times. Conventional wisdom tells us that for every one person who will ask an author a question many others will have wondered about but not asked.

The first one is from Silo 49: Deep Dark.

Question: What is that soap that Marina sees in the shower and then picks up at home? It was described as a pot or jar of dark soap that smelled like rosemary or lavender.

Answer: That was basically Moroccan black soap. Not African black soap, Moroccan.

Answer explanation for those that are really curious:  Originally, I never gave much thought to the soap and just had a bar in there. But then I realized it didn't fit in with the ecosystem of the silo. (Given that I'm a scientist in a couple of related fields, I created a whole ecosystem that would work in the Silo universe just for fun. Yeah, I know, weird.) Bar soaps require a complicated chemical reaction that would involve more burning of material, especially wood, than the silo would likely tolerate given they need some of that wood ash lye for other things as well. Many liquid soaps also are fairly high intensity efforts with chemistry and materials that can be better used elsewhere. Also, in the silo there probably isn't much in the way of true lotion, so keeping drying soaps away from skin is pretty important when you're talking about babies and older people.

The one thing that the silos have, and were designed to have, is a lot of labor with a lot of time on their hands. That means that the quicker and more efficient processes aren't necessarily the best ones for silo use.

Back to the explanation...I had a better answer than bar soap right in my own bathroom so I researched it and found that it fit just right. Moroccan black soap is made of the leftovers after squeezing olives for oil, scent squeezed from plants as oil and a bit of water when made traditionally. The process can be sped up by adding a bit of caustic material to saponify the olive paste.

It makes a sort of rubbery goo that goes in nice, reusable jars or pots and requires only the smallest amount to get clean. It is also completely non-drying, good for hair and fine for babies. Also, bubbles from soap and shampoo are the absolute bane of gray water systems on ships, and that would be equally true in the silo, given their recycling nature. Again, this kind of black soap lathers very little so it was a nice fit.

Hope that answers the question for those that wondered but didn't send a note to ask the question.

There are loads of questions that I've gotten that I'd be happy to answer. Just let me know if you'd like that by either doing that +1 thingie on the post, tweet, comment or whatever. always...all the shy ones can just contact me directly!

If you have a question you'd like answered, go ahead and ask away!