Monthly Archives: February 2014

Choosing settings for books

TheAccord_frontI suppose it makes perfect sense for writers to use their own favorite places as the settings for their stories. Both Dave Brewster from the sci-fi series and Bill Marshall from the Heartstone series come from San Diego County, where I live now. Of course, in both of those genres (especially sci-fi), the odds of staying there very long are pretty low. That’s one of the many things I love about science fiction. I can create my own worlds and the Beings that inhabit them. Take the Vanda planetoid from The Accord pictured here. It is a massive constructed planet hurtling through space, populated by Vanda’s massive brain, as well as millions of other cyborgs and billions of human cargo. My cover designer, Ron Calica, has a knack for bringing those places and creatures to life. While his vision may not tie 100% with mine, I hope you can agree that his work is amazing.

The most recent books I am working on or have written bring me back to Earth, which is comforting. Two feature protagonists living in the San Diego area. Another is from Iowa (where I went to college and spent many family vacations) who moves to New York City (where my son lives) to make his fortune. I have to admit that I find that connection to things in my own experience very reassuring, like the couch I sit on while typing. My stories also feature my favorite international destinations, like Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Sao Paulo and Mexico. Hopefully, these connections to real places that folks are familiar with will help them connect to my characters and stories. What do you think?

48th Annual Local Author Event

authorevent2014It was my pleasure to attend the 48th Annual Local Author Event at the San Diego Main Public Library. Over 300 local authors were in attendance. It was great to see so many talented writers and be part of this group. The brand new library is a fantastic place, and I recommend any San Diego locals go check it out.

I published five novels in 2013 which are display both in special cases for the month of February, and also on the library website. The books were:

The Second Predaxian War

The HIve

Tears of Gallia

Heartstone: Sentinels of Far Sun

Heartstone: The Time Walker

A Taste of The Accord

The Accord_Sketch3The Accord is almost here! Book Five of the Dave Brewster Series follows our hero as he investigates a society of cyborgs in the Magellanic Clouds. He discovers a race of humans who hid here to avoid indentured servitude in the Society of Humanity. They lived in such abject terror that they developed the ultimate defense mechanism. They built robots that were controlled by disembodied human brains. Over time, those robots began to see themselves as the masters of people, rather than their protectors. Ultimately, the leaders in The Accord moved their brains into massive planetoids which hosted millions of robots and billions of humans. In the beginning, the planetoids were to provide security to the people. As time passed, the robots became more machine than man, relegating their human cargo to menial labor, and ultimately viewed them as a source of protein for their brains.

But now the Clouds are almost out of metal, which is critical to building more and larger robots, and so The Accord is coming to the Milky Way to expand. Somehow, Dave and his friends must find a way to stop them, but the odds are not good. The power and determination of the machines far outstrips our ability to stop them. Follow the link below to read the first two chapters of this new book. Join the Adventure!

The Accord Sample


The Undemocratic US Senate

Okay, I know the title of this post sounds partisan, but bear with me a while. My concern is more about the weighting of Senate members that their party affiliation. Now, I know the Senate is supposed to be the more calm, mature house of Congress where our elder statesmen rationally look at legislation and take state interests more in mind than citizen concerns. The theory of the founders was the House of Representatives was the people’s house, which is why they are apportioned by population and have shorter terms (after all, the populace changes their views often, and having them there for a longer term risks them losing touch with their base). Senators have a longer term so they are less affected by shifting political storms and can sit back and come to a consensus better. Of course, we all know that is not true, especially with recent changes to Senate protocol which has made the chamber strictly partisan, in my opinion.

Up until the early part of the twentieth century (before the 17th amendment), Senators were selected by their state governments. The thinking of the founders was that they would be representatives of the state, which is why there are two for each state. Each state would have equal representation so that more populated states could not run over the others. The 17th amendment changed that due to the cronyism of the body. The Senate was even called a “millionaire’s club.” It is funny that even after the change, it pretty much is a millionaire’s club even today, although many obtained that wealth due to their Senate seats. The drafters of the amendment clearly believed that by having the people vote for Senators, all the problems would go away. Of course, politics being what it is, that can never happen. Rather than having the Senate crammed with political buddies of the governors, it is packed with favorites of the political machines in each state. I cannot say which is better or worse. Even though I am personally in favor of repealing the 17th amendment, I know that will never happen. But let me cut to the point of this tirade.

The five states with the highest population have a total of 10 senators, obviously. Therefore, they get 10% of the vote in the Senate, while their states contain 37% of the people. On the other end, the five least populated states also have 10 senators, but in total represent just over 1% of the national population. That does not sound much like equal representation to me. So, if the senators do not really represent the state governments, who do they represent? Let’s compare the top and bottom states by population. I know each senator represents the entire state, but let us assume each represents one-half of the population. In California (where I live), each senator represents 17,6000,000 people. In Wyoming (where I did live for a while), each represents less than 300,000. I do not want to dredge up the issues that led to the 17th amendment, but if there are such large differences in populations by state, and their is no direct connection between the senators and state government, then who do they really represent?

To be fair, it should be known that I lean to the right, and as such, I probably should not say anything about this because most of the low population states are red. It still does bug me that solving one issue with the 17th amendment only created new issues. But hey, I am talking about politics, so who would imagine that anything ever gets solved by government.