Crying Planet (GALCOM Universe Book 1)


Cover of spaceship near planet as shuttle heads below

Hope Delgado has only one goal: to be an old woman. But the ghosts have other ideas. When Galactic Command comes calling with an offer–a bracelet to block the ghosts–she realizes that it might save her life. But GALCOM wants her to travel in space to another planet to fix a ghost problem that is threatening the population. To save her life, Hope must do the one thing doesn’t want to do. Things are never fair, and it’s about to get worse …

Available from your favorite booksellers including Amazon.

Men and Women Military Living Together? Shocking!


The Marines Corps has some growing pains with regards to women living with the men in the field.  Any one of the military services are notorious for being slow to change, and this particular change is pretty glacial.

“You’re going to have sex, you’re going to have love, you’re going to have relationships, and it’s going to overly complicate the command structure,” Marine veteran, Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, told the Marine Corps Times.

Army was doing what the Marine Corps is fighting at least twenty-five years ago.  When I deployed with my unit to Desert Storm, our platoon stayed together in one tent.  Two women, the rest men (don’t recall how many, but it was not more than eight).  It did not destroy the morale of our platoon, and we did have sex.  It did not complicate anything.  We just put up cloth walls for privacy, which everyone did, because there wasn’t a whole lot of privacy to start with.

Eventually, as we got more women assigned the unit from the inactive reserves, then we split off into two women only tents.  The other woman and I were disappointed; it was much better being with our platoon.

Yes, we did have some issues with soldiers having sex and one who got pregnant–but it wasn’t because they were living in the same tent.  It was because we were there under very stressful circumstances and also because we were there for a long time.  It’s one part of the war experience that military tends to pretty much pretend like it doesn’t exist, then blame the women for being there, as if only one person was responsible not the stressful situation.

Navy Not Understanding Women


Uniform changes are always hard for the military personnel.  It was something we wore every day, so a little change could be a big impact.  We got the black beret at tail end of my time in service.  The thing was awful.  The previous hat was cotton and could be tossed in the wash when it got sweaty from work; the new one had to be dry cleaned.  The new one also cost $40–do you know how easy it is to lose a hat?

This particular change the Navy did was bizarre.  They wanted the all the sailors to look alike, so they declared everyone would have one uniform–with the default being the male uniform.

Which means with some women, they will have to be several sizes up and do some major alternations.  And the Navy has a lot of different uniforms–they have the white one we’re used to seeing and its winter black companion; the camo uniform; the work uniform–all with different hats as well.

Not all women have the same shape, so some alterations are always necessary, even with regular clothes.  But changing clothing made for a man’s body to fit for a woman’s body–that’s at least one, maybe two major alterations–on four different uniforms, each with multiple sets.

I spent $25 to have darts put on a shirt so it would fit me better.  That was a minor alteration.  Even though the enlisted get a stipend (Army was clothing allowance), I wouldn’t be surprised if it only covered the cost of buying the uniforms, not on alterations.

It also amazes me that the men are complaining that the women are being treated as special for asking for clothes that fit and don’t require extensive alterations.

Inaugural Military Review


Disclaimer:  No political comments!  Any political comments will be deleted.

The Inauguration is Washington, DC’s big party.  The city fills up with people from all over and it’s a lot of pomp and ceremony.  We’ve had hotels in the area booked up all this week and next week, at least as far out as Quantico.

One of the things that was pretty cool was when the new President reviewed the troops.  I’ve been in parades before.  When I was in the Army, it was nothing like the parades in downtown DC, which have far more spectacle and better uniforms.

The ones I was in were on the Fort Lewis parade field, which was a big grassy field around a mile all the way around.  The uniform was the battle dress uniform.

We’d go out the day before and practice, because there was some special drill and ceremonies that were associated with it.  Drill and ceremonies involves certain types of marching moves.

In this case, we had to do two wagon wheel pivots, with the soldiers closest to the edge of the field being the spoke.  As we pass the viewing stand (bleachers in our case), the sergeant yells out “Eyes!  Right!”

Snap!  Our heads all turn to the right, facing that viewing stand until we pass.

I never saw much when I was in the parade beyond the person in front of me.  So it was pretty cool to see the military review as they passed in front of the Capitol’s steps.  If you see the footage again on the news, watch the heads of the soldiers as they pass.  You’ll see very clearly that their heads are turned towards the President in an “Eyes! Right!”

Inside the cockpit of the Blue Angels


My father sent this to me.  It’s a camera inside the cockpit of one of the Blue Angels.  Some stunning footage!

Kirk Vs. Picard vs Janeaway


This video has celebrities identifying their favorite captains.  Despite the number of series, it was primarily between Kirk and Picard, which an occasional Janewaway.

I like both Kirk and Picard, but for different reasons.  Kirk fits the original series, and is very much of the cowboy era from when the show spawned.  Picard is more thoughtful, ore educated, and fits how the next show was.

The other captains …

Meh.  I want to like Janeaway.  She’s the first woman captain lead on Star Trek for a show that has an unfortunate track record of leaving the women in the background.  BBC’s been showing Voyager, and I’m struggling to stay involved in it.  The scripts aren’t that good.  The show might have suffered from the finding their way home premise.  But also I think the writers struggled with how to do a woman captain.  Janeaway was never consistent–she was either too hard, or too emotional.

And I get it’s tough to have a woman in command and write the character in a way that works.  So many of the traits needed to be in command don’t come off as well with a woman (which is what women CEOs struggle with).  I worked with a powerful woman, and frankly, most people did not like her and said worse behind her back.  But we all respected her and her knowledge.  And we did get occasional peaks inside the armor.

It might be that Janeaway shouldn’t have been on the screen as much and had another character–not necessarily the first officer–to balance her out.  Hmm.  This is where Star Trek’s lack of enlisted comes into play.  That would have been a perfect fit for a Chief of the Spaceship senior enlisted to bring out Janeway’s the better traits to the audience.  A senior chief could do something like this because he or she would have a lot of experience, probably as much as a Navy captain; whereas, it would be more difficult for a lower-ranking officer to do it.

Q&A on Productivity


Andrew Vaughn had a series of questions relating to productivity that I answered here.  I know one of them is not a surprise to the people here, but I still get people (and in fact earlier this week) who are like, “Wait?  You were in the Army.”

Yeah, that comes from being the least likely to join the Army …

What the Heck is a Military Order


I’m working on a scene in the next book in my GALCOM series (the first is Crying Planet, coming out this month).  The main character is a civilian contractor recruited by the military because she can see ghosts.  So she is serving on this big spaceship, the only civilian there.

And the subject of orders comes up.  Most of everyone’s experience with orders is probably seeing Captain Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation bark, “And that’s an order!” (or probably any movie with military officers), or soldiers answering “Yes, sir” like robots to a command they are told.

It is a such a different experience in the military from the civilian.  If I got a cold, I can call my boss and tell him I’m not coming in because I’m sick (and he would probably be happy that I wasn’t there to give it to him).  But when I was in the military, my only option was to go to Sick Call.  If the doctor, or more likely medic for a cold, said I was fine, he would tell me to return to duty.  If I was really sick, like with a virus, they might give me “quarters,” which are orders from a doctor that say “Stay in bed for 24 hours.”

But it does look strange to the civilian because they have the choice of deciding while the military does not.

It’s all in the military mission.  We train with the expectation of going to war.  That’s the daily life of the military.  War is where orders become very important.  Orders work hand in hand with the chain of command (that’s the officers) and the NCO Support Channel (that’s the sergeants).  They will be in communication with other companies and battalions to know what’s going on.  For example, they might know that artillery is going to be fired in a particular area and to keep soldiers out of that area.  Obviously, me as the lower enlisted, am not going to know anything about that.  Nor would I need to.

Because the leadership has this additional knowledge though, they are the ones who give us the orders.  And if something goes wrong, they are also the ones who will give us new orders.

War situations cannot ever have a too many chief problem.

It’s chaotic and stressful to start with, so it needs one unified voice,  and that’s how orders fit in.

Inauguration 2017

This morning, we have rain, and it will be turning into sleet and snow later in the day.  Kind of wimpy rain, considering what it’s supposed to turn into.  Anything ice strikes terror in Washington, DC. because we’re such a commuter town.

By the way, Wednesday it was 72 (no, that’s not a typo).  Any bets on what it will be like on January 20?

All the hotels are booked way out to Quantico at least, which is about 30 miles (and probably a 2 hour drive to downtown during rush hour). I was trying to help someone book a hotel, and nothing was available. I told her to start calling around because there might be cancellations, so hopefully she gets a room and not too far away.

New Things in Writing

This week, David Farland had three tips on writing on the senses, which is an advance level skill.  Part 3 talked around something I hadn’t thought about: Light.

Non-appeals. The worst kind of non-appeal occurs when you simply neglect to show us something. For example, let’s say that you start a story and your character goes outside his house. You as a writer might imagine that it is dark, but you’ve never told the reader that it is night time. So when your character gets mugged and can’t describe his attacker, the reader might be confused. (This happens quite often in stories. Always let us know what the light source is in every scene.)

So something new to play with in the story!

Weird Typos and Other Distractions


Dena Wesley Smith has a post up today about typos.  In this case, it’s what every blogger has probably experienced–someone zooming in to inform us that they caught us in a typo.

You have sinned!  You made a typo!

I don’t know what it is about typos, but they bring out the worst in people.  I suppose if you attach writer to that and suddenly we’re supposed to be perfect with the words.

Hmm.  Tell that to my fingers.  I am constantly making corrections because I am a lousy typist.  My fingers get tangled up and sometimes I have words that are mostly spelled correctly,  but have an extra letter in there.  Particularly as I’ve gotten older (to the point of reading glasses), it’s harder for me to tell if I have too many i’s and l’s, especially if the font is small or condensed.

But then sometimes extra words creep in, and where they’re not supposed to.  I wandered into an existing scene, did a quick spell check (three typos, not too bad), then read it.  Found this:

Hope passed added the flatware to the plate and passed up up, but left the glass behind

Clearly I was thinking it too many directions when I wrote that!

I like checking soon after I write because occasionally I run into one where I have to stop and think about what I was trying to say.  If it’s too long after, I have to strike the sentence entirely because I don’t remember.

Working on Multiple Projects

This week, I was part of an online INTP discussion, which was quite fascinating.  Filing was actually the major part of the discussion, and how hard it is just to put pieces of paper in files.  It’s like details, and I don’t have much tolerance for it.

But, also my natural state, I like hopping between projects.  Sometimes it’s a break, or a way to get a different perspective.  Sometimes I even get bored.  Doesn’t mean the story is getting boring, but that I need a break from it.

At the moment, I’m working on a science fiction novel, a mystery short story, and a fantasy short story.  Both the short stories are set in Morro Bay, California.  I’m thinking of wandering around between them, following the flow of what I want to work on.  I ended up getting hung up on the fantasy for a week because of a combination of getting stuck (let critical brain in and went in the wrong direction) and wanted to get it done.  The result is not as much done as I wanted to. I probably would have figured out the problem if I’d hopped to a different story.  Sometimes I need a little time to process where I need to go next.

Washington DC’s big party: The Inauguration

That’s only a few weeks away now.  We will be shut down close into downtown because all the streets will be closed.  Expect it to be cold.  We were 11 when I went out to my car yesterday.  Probably no better.  But that’s typical weather for this time of the year.  At least things will finally get back to whatever normal is after that.

Only six more weeks until Spring!

Being an INTP in the Military


When I first got out of the military, I was able to do a Myers-Brigg test to see where I fit on the 16 personalities.  I’m an INTP, which is probably the smallest percentage out of all the personalities.  But when I saw the results of that test, I realized how true they were.

Among other things, I found the Army to be very toxic to creativity.  I did not do a lot of writing when I was in, though I had purchased a computer.  Part of the problem was that I did live in the barracks, and it’s hard having to be in the room and wondering if someone was going to interrupt me for work.  I was the only person in my platoon who lived in the barracks, and I often got tagged when one of the other platoons said, “Sorry, we can’t do this.”

But everything was also very structured, rigidly so.  I did the training schedule every week, and we mapped out each day, hour by hour and followed that schedule.  If we were going to a training site at 1000, that’s where we were.

And no one liked messy of any kind.

I’m messy when I work.   Messy, but not disorganized.  It’s just a part of my process.  Not like a coworker’s desk that I visited a few weeks ago that scared me.  I thought if we had an earthquake, he might actually be in danger!

My squad leader always fussed at me because of my desk.  At my second duty station, there was a sergeant who would go behind me and straighten up to his standards.

Then there was my room in the barracks.  It always had to be ready for inspection at any time.  There were weird rules like if you had a single magazine, you couldn’t have it sitting on the desk. It had to be put in a drawer.  Um, I read library books.  What was I supposed to do with them?

So even when I went “home” at the end of the day, I couldn’t really be me, and me is important is being creative.

When I got out, it was like all those years of being forced to be so neat exploded, and I got really disorganized and messy.  It took a while to rally all that back in to a more normal state.

But because of all this, I always thought I was terribly disorganized.  I was completely shocked when a co-writer admired how organized I was.

Sometimes things are not always what they seem!