Thursday 29 March 2018

Inspiration for a Cybertank Design

When I'm not obsessing over combat armour suits, I'm generally noodling stuff about cybertanks.

It's one of my passions. I have many like it.

Obyekt 279 was a Soviet era prototype tank designed during the Cold War with the expectation that atomic weapons would be in use. Here's an uncommon picture from the rear.

You can find out more about this interesting design here. I liked this rather nice quote from Wikipedia.
This special purpose tank was intended to fight on cross country terrain, inaccessible to conventional tanks, acting as a heavy breakthrough tank, and if necessary withstanding even the shockwave of a nuclear explosion. It was planned as a tank of the Supreme Command Reserve.
So we stole the divided track feature for the Panzer Jager Mark One that appears in The World of Drei series I blogged about here.

And over on YouTube there's this video.

Monday 26 March 2018

Writing Log 2018-03-23

Not a productive week for me.

A hospital check-up has resulted in a referral for a steroidal injection into my wrist, and I'm waiting to hear the results of the x-ray results, which may or may not lead to me having to restart taking medication. That's a worry.

So Monday was a write-off. Tuesday and Wednesday I was working on my Galactic Journey piece. I then worked on and finished the edits for Strike Dog, which meant I could put it up for pre-order. That was a definite win.

Thursday and Friday I struggled with finishing Break Out and failed. Met a block that slowed me to a halt. That's always a bit of a bugger. The problem was how to show not tell in a scene where there's a lot to tell and very little to show. I think I've cracked it, but I've not managed to finish the story.

So, this week I wrote 699 words, which took 12 hours, which means I managed 58 words per hour. I should take myself outside and put myself out of my misery.

My beloved is having a two week break, so I'm taking time off to do some archery, a lot of archery. One competition at Aquarius Archery and preparing for the big Pagoda Shoot run by the Royal Richmond Archery Club, which is a big deal.

So the next two weeks look like the words will remain thin on the ground too. Still, it will give me a chance to post some other stuff up that I've prepared for just this eventuality.

Finish Break Out
Start the edits on Ghost Dog
Get the print versions of Strike Dog sorted out 

Monday 19 March 2018

Writing Log 2018-03-16

Last week was one of editing and then prepping the third story in my The World of Drei series, Regroup, for publishing. Which turned out to be a proverbial pain to get right, and illuminated some other problems.

My Beta reader, Brian, pointed out that I had used inconsistent spellings for the same term. This happened because transliteration of Russian words are not standardized. So I had to go back and revise Mission One, all because yefréytor and efreitor were the same word.

I had been under the mistaken belief that yefréytor stood for corporal.

Instead, both words are transliterations of senior private. OK, perhaps I should have guessed that, but I had taken my original source at face value. And furthermore, to add insult to injury, the Russian Army doesn't have corporal's. There's no rank between between junior sergeant and senior private.

I made the mistake of not double checking my original source.


Anyway, a book arrived to brighten up this week. GURPS: Russia by John Ross.

I found a copy for a reasonable price of £13.50/$19.00 on eBay. I've seen it offered for exorbitant amounts, so I snapped it up. A cheaper option, for those who prefer, is the PDF. I read that Steve Jackson Games plan to eventually offer all their GURPs titles as POD books. Though this will cost at an estimated $35.00, which makes the copy I found still look like a bargain.

This RPG game supplement is simply stunning. I spent most of a day reading it, and learning stuff. The bibliography is excellent. And for me, I found it most helpful in understanding the way Russia thinks about things.

By that, I mean what stories they tell themselves.

And useful facts. Like after Moscow, Kiev is historically considered by Russia to be one of its the three most important cities. The other two are St. Petersburg (better known to me as Leningrad), and Novogorod.

More to the point, it's a bit of an oops for Russia, since Kiev is now the capital of the Ukraine. For me, knowing this puts a totally different perspective on the current political maneuvering's going on there. And serendipitously feeds into my The World of Drei series.

So, I found myself making notes and planning what to write next, which was all well and good until I found I had two characters with the same name in Break Out. So, instead of writing, I spent a whole day double-checking every name, and constructing a series bible that has all the named characters listed in alphabetical order.

That was headache inducing.

Also, my internet friend, Jason, sent me a bunch of Russian military information too. So I now have a lot more reading ahead of me.

Therefore last week I only managed to write 461 new words, over the course of about two hours, which is 230 words per hour. Too few new words, I know.

Finish Break Out and send it off to my Alpha reader
Finally finish the editing of Strike Dog done so that it's ready for publication

Thursday 15 March 2018

Regroup – Now Available

Now ready for sale, Regroup, sequel to Mission One the second story in The World of Drei series now available.

Trapped behind enemy lines when the enemy overran their command post, Sergeant Volkova and the wounded Captain Lenkov face a march across a frozen land. With limited supplies, their situation is dire.

The second story of a future Russian civil war set in the World of Drei universe, "Regroup" tells the story of human courage against all odds.

Buy This Book

Important Note: If you already have a copy of this series, I've updated the text. If you wish to have the new version, go to your digital library, there you will see on the far right side of the screen, opposite books that have been updated, a button that says "Newer version available."

Wednesday 14 March 2018

A Brief Time in History

That moment we all knew would come, has happened. Dr. Stephen Hawking has died. My partner was fortunate enough to see him at his last lecture at Imperial College.

I read his A Brief History of Time when it first came out. The concepts were the stuff that makes for great science fiction.

Others, I know, found his book a hard read, Critics and wags said the book that people bought, but never finished reading. That's funny, but also a little bit sad that people think that it's funny. But there again, it sums up life.

Monday 12 March 2018

Writing Log 2018-03-09

Another week, another reflective log. With added soulful, haunting melody of a Cossack dying under the green willow tree.

This last week was quite productive, despite not finishing Break Out, the next story in my The World of Drei series. It helps that I'm not feeling ill anymore.

I managed to focus and my diary records 25.5 hours at the keyboard. I produced 6,536 words, which comes out at 256 words per hour. My target was 7,500 words, which clearly I missed, but it's still my second best total for a week's writing this year.

The problem of speed remains.

At my best I peak around 600 words per hour. But, I'm losing writing time from having to go away and do research, and then getting distracted. Also, in other shocking news–not–I'm just so not a morning person, I'm really not.

However, on the good news front, I've gotten back Regroup from my Beta reader.

My plan for today is to go through the edits and get the story up hopefully by tomorrow. One annoying thing, was discovering a research error, and mistaking two translations as being different ranks, whereas in fact they were different transliterations of the same rank. Doh!

And worse still, it means I have to go through and correct the following story so as to not repeat the mistake.

This means I will also have to go back and update Mission One too.

Deep sigh.

Action Plan
Revise Regroup and publish.
Finish first draft of Breakout
Then finish edits on Strike Dog, deadline end of March.
Start next story

Thursday 8 March 2018

Mecha Size Comparison: Real Robo

1/144th scale models by Takara. USMC Abrams MBT next to a Scopedog from A.T. VOTOMS.

Back here I did a post about the size of the combat armour I feature in my books.

Being a science fiction fan, for as long as I can remember, I've had a penchant for playing wargames with models. It's my hobby. One of the arguments against using walking armour suits is their size, which you can see from one perspective is a thing, but from another maybe not so much.

USMC Abrams MBT next to an Armored Trooper VOTOMS Scopedog.

If, and the if is important, one can accept humanoid tanks that can move like humans can, then there will be trade off between being compact and low slung like a tank versus mobile and able to change posture to take advantage of the terrain.

And that in a nutshell is what drives my stories.

Working out when and where mecha (a term used to describe walking vehicles in Japan, for any reader who is puzzled by the term) would make sense.

Monday 5 March 2018

Writing Log 2018-03-02

I've been researching and planning the big battle for my next bit of writing, and as you can see this includes working out the Battalion Tactical Group formation, Takticheskaya Gruppa Batal'onov, for Operation Winter Storm. Why yes, this is the length I go too, to get the details right.

Without whining about how ill I've felt I've been using said sick time to do things I can manage. By that I mean things that don't require me to be in my creative head space, which is difficult to do when feeling under the weather. Therefore, this week I spent a lot of time doing edits on Strike Dog. I read through forty chapters, 60,000 words, tightening up the pacing to address Beta reader feedback that the middle of novel felt slow.

In between, I've been trying to do some research.

Unlike America, the details of Russian military formations is much harder to get to grips with. I don't speak or read Russian, which doesn't help either.

So I have two questions that I haven't been able to answer: 
1. Does anyone what order do units name themselves the modern Russian army, though I'll take Red Army traditions too??

In the USMC it's largest formation to smallest i.e. 7th Company, 3rd Platoon, 2nd Squad.

In the USAR it smallest to largest so it would be 2nd Squad, 3rd Platoon, 7th Company.

2. Power armour literally translates as silovaya bronya, but there again literal translations aren't always used, as the words may not mean what they're supposed to mean.

So, does anyone know the Russian name for power armour?  Given the popularity of such things in the media I imagine they might have a unique term.
Went with my partner to see the specialist about her recent health scare, and everything looks good. Also, been to my doctor this week for my six-month routine check-up, which was routine. So double-plus good.

So another week, and because of being under the weather I only managed 3,588 new words, which was 15.5 hours of writing, for an average of 231 words per hour. 

Finish the Strike Dog edits. Deadline, end of March.
Get Regroup, part three of The World of Drei out. 


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