Category Archives: Uncategorized

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

Much like John “Hannibal” Smith, I do love it when a plan comes together.  It’s another way of saying I love it when, in a story, a number of seemingly unrelated plot lines come together, and the antagonist’s brilliant scheme is finally revealed.  Say what you will about the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but Emperor Palpatine is an absolute genius!  He so expertly manipulated the Senate to position himself to be elected Supreme Chancellor to rule the Republic, and later persuaded the republic to give him the army he used to crush the Jedi and take absolute control to form the Galactic Empire.  There’s more to it, of course, which makes it even more brilliant.

In a story, if a grand scheme – a plan – is implied as an overall story arc, there better be a satisfying payoff at the end, in my opinion.  I cite Revenge of the Sith, again.  The last 45 minutes or so, from when Anakin turns to the darkside on to the end.  That is the type of payoff I’m talking about.  I feel like the payoff is vitally important when you include something like:  “…and they have a plan” in the opening credits of every episode of your epic TV show.

Such is the case with the 2004 reboot of Battlestar Galactica.  I hate reboots, but I loved that one.  It was one of the few shows I would go out of my way to watch when it aired.  I loved the characters.  I loved the hell those characters went through, although in the last season, Adama had his breakdown moments every other week and that got kind of repetitive.  It took a while for me to process and adjust to the re-imagination of things in the mini-series.  It took a while to adjust to Starbuck and Boomer being women.  However, the other things done with characters, such as the rift in the relationship between Apollo and Adama and the way the revealed Zack had died, Colonel Tigh’s alcoholism.  I liked that the world they created was relate-able  to the audience.

The first episode of the ongoing series titled, “33”, immediately gave you the sense that these people were going to be in for some serious hell.  How do people deal with an enemy that attacks EVERY thirty-three minutes?  They fight long enough to cover the fleet’s escape.  They hope…no…they pray the Cylon’s won’t find them again.  At the 33 minute mark, the Cylon’s appear and attack again.  Now imagine that going on 24×7.  Brutal.

Now take all of that plot and character greatness and imply the shows antagonists have a  huge plan for the last 50,000 human survivors…

…and not deliver on that promise!

I think the show was engaging enough for a lot of the audience to possibly not notice there wasn’t a “plan” because the Cylons were very calculating in the first couple of seasons so it may have seemed like they had a greater goal in mind.  Except there WASN’T a plan for wiping out the survivors.  Or was the goal of the plan to get the “Final Five” to reveal themselves?  No, it couldn’t have been that because the Cylons didn’t know the five were among the humans in the fleet until late in the series.

I’m aware of the prequel subtitled (ironically enough) “The Plan”.  I haven’t seen it, I’m sorry to say, but I’ve done enough reading on it to know that there was a plan leading up to the attack the wiped out the colonies.  But there’s where it stopped so far as I know.

Impromptu goals for the Cylons popped up along the way such as wanting the first human/Cylon hybrid child for experimentation.  But the pursuit of the fleet did not have an intended endgame.  If there had been, there likely wouldn’t have been a civil war of sorts between Cylons.  The path the story would have taken probably wouldn’t have had a Cylon faction joining the fleet.  The series would have built up to the grand revelation of the Cylon endgame and how most everything that had happened to that point, happened by design, and Adama and friends would have been at their lowest point realizing that they’d had exactly ZERO control over their fate up until the end.  It would have been the type of revelation that would have broken the internet.

And yet there was none.

Having Starbuck’s destiny come to fruition was done very well and the slow-burn of her story arc approaches what the revelation of the “plan” could have been, and the two probably could have been woven together to create something even more epic.  But the lack of said plan was probably the biggest disappointment of the entire series for me.

Is the revelation of “the plan” when one is implied important to you as a reader/viewer?

Comment below.

 

Till next time…

2016 Writing Goals Review – May/June

2016 has been the year I’ve done the best job of keeping my feet to the writing fire so far.  Let’s see how I’ve done on my goals through May and June.

Goal #1: Write 1,250 words a day.

GRADE:  PASS!! – This is an average, of course, but with a variance of 800 – 2500 words a day, it all works out.  I’m probably most proud of this one as its the first two month period I’ve made it.  I left my second job so I could have the time to focus on my writing goals and its paying off.

Goal #2:  Develop an outlining system

GRADE:  PASS – I actually had this done for the March/April review.  It’s still on the list because I’ve been tweaking it to my needs.  This will probably be the last time this one appears in the review and I’ll come up with another one to put in its place for the second half of the year.

Goal #3:  Publish a story every other month.

GRADE:  PASS!!! – Hell yeah, the whole reason for doing this.  In June, I released THE JACK FOEHAMMER OMNIBUS .  It’s the collected work I wrote under the pen name Jack Foehammer, plus an all new novelette and a preview excerpt from my new series CARSON LYLE’S WAR:  FOOLS GOLD – PART ONE.  Some might call this a cheat because its a collection of previously published work, but with the new material included, I’m calling it a pass.  FOOLS GOLD is due out later this month so I feel pretty good about calling this a pass at the next review.  The overall reason for putting that collection out was to get my new author platform some exposure ahead of the release of the next book and test/tweak my launch strategy based on what I’ve learned in recent months.

Goal #4:  Blog post every other week.

GRADE:  PASS!! – I passed this one by a lot.  🙂

Goal #5:  Building of my author platform.

GRADE:  PASS!! – I done a great deal with this, may be to excess and impacting my writing time but its something that’s got to be done.  The new Thomas J. Rock blog page is up and running (If you’re reading this, then you are aware).  I’ve started the mailing list.  I just got my GoodReads author page yesterday, so there’s some work to do there.  Started a new Facebook author page and signed up on Thirdscribe.  It’s all still a work in progress, but its work I’m doing almost every day.  This one is a PASS.

5/5 and I’m feeling pretty good.  Now it’s up to me to keep writing the best stories I can and see where it all goes.  To get all of the insider information and updates on CARSON LYLE’S WAR or anything else I’m working on, You can click the link below and sign up for the newsletter.  

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Till next time…

I Hate SPACE OPERA (But Not What You Think)

Well, let’s clarify that.  I love the space opera genre.  Hell, current project fits squarely in the military space opera category.  It’s the term… “space opera”.

From the Wikipedia article on space opera:  “Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, and often risk-taking, inter-planetary battles as well as chivalric romance. Set mainly or entirely in outer space; it usually involves conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons and other sophisticated technology.”  (Here’s the kicker, folks)  “The term has no relation to music but is instead a play on the terms “soap opera” and “horse opera…”

I’m probably going to catch some hell for saying this but, “Chivalic romance” and melodrama aside, what (in that definition) makes the genre deserve such a wussified name?

What typically appears in a Space Opera (ugh, it even hurts to say it in this post)?  Strong characters, usually engaged in an armed conflict with sophisticated weapons and technology.  In some cases, this can be described as:  Michael Bay movies, but with actual, compelling characters.  EXPLOSIONS! ( In my opinion)

Not that I’m putting down opera , in any way.  Please, don’t think that.  I hear Opera, in the name, and I think musical.  By that definition, the closest SF property to qualify as a Space OPERA would be the fracking Star Wars Holiday Special!  And I don’t need to remind everyone how that turned out.

I’ve watched a Nick Webb interview, recently.  I don’t know Mr. Webb, obviously, but he looks like he good be a physically imposing individual.  To hear him refer to his book, CONSTITUTION (which is excellent, BTW), as a military SPACE OPERA, just sucks the manliness out of the “military” in it (again, in my opinion).  I say “manliness”, but I don’t mean that to take anything away from female protagonists.  There are plenty of female leads that kick more ass in military s/f stories than their male counterparts.

But, unfortunately, I’m going to have to live with the term.  That’s what the industry uses for category purposes for now and probably forever.  Although, I saw the term “Science Fiction Epic” somewhere and I like that one better.

For lack of better, accepted terminology, though, I have guess I have to classify my upcoming series, CARSON LYLE’S WAR and its part one, FOOLS GOLD, as (sigh) Military Space Opera.

For exclusive info on my Military -Science Fiction- Epic -Space Opera, join my mailing list with the sign up link on the RIGHT side of this page.

Till Next Time…

 

FOOLS GOLD – Coming in July

Here’s something to wet your whistle.  Coming next month, CARSON LYLE’S WAR- BOOK ONE:  FOOLS GOLD.  Now this is NOT the actual cover, but I thought I’d throw something  together to give you something to look at.

You can read a preview chapter in The Jack Foehammer Omnibus, available now for pre-order at a special price of $1.99 and will be released on 6/26. Click the link below to check it out and for exclusive updates and content from CARSON LYLE’S WAR, you can always sign up for my mailing list with the link on the RIGHT side of the page.

Till next time!

Buy The Jack Foehammer Omnibus HERE

fools gold

Pre-Order is LIVE!

I’m please to announce the Pre-Order for the Jack Foehammer Omnibus is live!  This week, my collections of work under the Jack Foehammer pen name is available $1.99.  This includes 3 previously published novelettes, plus an all new story, FIFTEEN DAYS, in this collection.  This collection also includes a preview chapter for my forthcoming military scifi series:  CARSON LYLE’S WAR.

You can check out the product page HERE

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**Returns to regular price of $2.99 on 6/26/16. Take advantage of Pre-Order Savings**

Advancements in science and discovery are only half of the puzzle. The other half is the effect of these things on people and society. Just because we can do something, does that mean we should? What if we find something greater than ourselves? What about the things we haven’t been told about?

These four stories (written by Thomas J. Rock, under the pen name Jack Foehammer) have been written with questions like these in mind. Four stories that strive for a strong speculative element and the affect of that element on characters in the grand tradition of golden age science fiction. brought together in a single collection.

ROBBIE VS. SCOTCH – The story of an alcoholic telepath living as a recluse that adopts an artificial intelligence because its the one mind he can’t read and gets more than he ever expected.

PING TEST – Anyone that’s worked a solitary night shift job has probably experienced strange things during work that the day shift doesn’t understand. Andy is a night shift data center operator that’s been going through this for months. No believes him about the strange things happening in the server farm and its been getting worse. Tonight will test his sanity.

TULLY – Gordon Burke has been hired by a Fortune 500 company to investigate the happenings on their moon-based laboratory after disturbing photos of the treatment of test subjects reach the CEO. The work at the lab has been yielding wondrous hope for human brain disorders, but Gordon stumbles on a perversion of that work that does more than just challenge moral boundaries. Is there anything he can do about it 240,000 miles away from any help?

FIFTEEN DAYS (New Story for this collection) – Asteroid ore miners find a mysterious pulsing orb in a carved hollow within an asteroid. Once its concluded that it’s alien, in nature, the world unites to devote resources to studying the Orb. During this time, the human race has its greatest period of sustained piece in hundred years. For years, the Orb is studied but very little is learned about it. Then during routine testing, its discovered the pulse is slowing down, and thought to be a countdown. The world is faced with the question: In fifteen days, what will happen when the pulse stops?

Also included is a special preview excerpt from the forthcoming military Sci-Fi series by Thomas J. Rock, CARSON LYLE’S WAR PART ONE: FOOLS GOLD.
CARSON LYLE’S WAR is set many light-years from Earth, in a binary star system that supports several habitable worlds about twelve years after adevastating civil war between the inner colonies and the Outer rim asteroid colonies. It was a war that divided the military, the government, and the population. During this war, the FTL jump-gate to Earth was irreparably disabled and the colonies have been cut off from Earth for nearly a decade. Though the colonies are established and largely self-sufficient, The economy stagnant and quality of life has suffered greatly in this isolation from Earth.

Just like the railroad, in the old west, the ability to move goods from planet to planet quickly became one of the chief things that keeps the colonies afloat. Anyone with a ship and space for cargo can make a living…if they know what they’re doing. Carson Lyle is one such hauler. He’s smart, clever, and loyal to his fellow haulers, and is waiting for the right time and the right opportunity to resolve a terrible injustice that was done to him by both sides during the war. In FOOLS GOLD, he shows up to bid for contract work and ends up with a job that was meant for someone else that turns his life upside down.

In CARSON LYLE’S WAR, Old war wounds are ripped open. And a secret will be discovered that will send shockwaves all the way back to the Earth.

FOOLS GOLD is coming in July, 2016.

So What’s it all about?

I’ve been going on about my current project for some time now, on twitter.  You may have noticed the new progress bar on the right side inching toward 100%.  I feel good enough about what I have in the outline, so far, to tell you a little bit about it.

This is a multipart, Military SciFi series.  Book One is set many light-years from Earth, in a binary star system that supports several habitable worlds about twelve years after devastating civil war between the inner colonies and the Outer rim asteroid colonies.  It was a war that divided the military, the government, the population.  During this war, the FTL jump-gate to Earth was irreparably disabled and the colonies have been cut off from Earth for over a decade.  Though the colonies are established and largely self-sufficient, The economy stagnant and quality of life has suffered greatly in this isolation from Earth.

Just like the railroad, in the old west, the ability to move goods from planet to planet quickly is one of the chief things that keeps the colonies afloat.  Anyone with a ship and space for cargo can make a living…if they know what they’re doing.  My (as yet unnamed) protagonist is one such hauler.  He’s smart, clever, and loyal to his fellow haulers, and is waiting for the right time and the right opportunity to resolve a terrible injustice that was done to him by both sides during the war.

He shows up to bid for contract work and ends up with a job that was meant for someone else.  This job turns his life upside down.  Old war wounds are ripped open.  And a secret will be discovered that will send shockwaves all the way back to the Earth.

<Some of that might was pretty good.  I just might have to keep some of it for the book blurb, I think.>

That’s the very high level premise.  I’m shooting for something that’ll be a little bit Firefly, and a little bit Starship Troopers, with a sprinkle of Battletech on top.  As one of my favorite things to write about, Artificial Intelligence will figure heavily into it.  I got a few more things to work out, and I can start putting words to paper.

This is easily my most ambitious writing project yet.  Three books @ a projected 70,000 words each.  And with my outlining strategy, I’m gunning for a completed draft of one book each month after I start writing.  And I’ll get a better sense of a publication schedule after I get to writing.  But to give you an idea of how well things are moving, check this out:

Files

Yes…that’s a new Scrivener document for Book Two.  My outlining hit a major milestone, this week, when I got my lead in to Book Two.  After I get part way into Book One, I’ll be outlining Book Two so I can get right to work and keep this tight schedule I’m giving myself.

That’s where you can help.  I’ll be recruiting, from my mailing list, for beta readers when each book is ready for to be looked at and advanced readers to review the each book ahead of their launch date.  If this sounds like something you’d like to be involved with, you can click the link below to sign up for my mailing list and receive exclusive updates, content, and preview chapters of this and other upcoming work, as well as beta/advance reader information when the time comes.

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Thanks, again, for all your support.