New release and a spring makeover

It’s time to announce the official release of my short-story, Atoll. It’s not my latest story written. I’ve had it ready or a while but wanted to get my novel out before releasing this one.

The story is loosely connected to my novel Mathematics Of Eternity, taking  place a few decades before the events in the novel. Both stand alone, fully independent of each other–you don’t need to read one before the other, and there are no spoilers. Atoll partly shows how the world got to be the way it is in the novel and in that sense provides some extra detail and history. Here’s my cover design.

That’s not the only news though…

The cover on my short story collection Dead Reckoning And Other Stories has always had a mixed response. Personally I like it (or I wouldn’t have used it!) and think it suits the lead story well, but others have seen it as not being “sci-fi” enough, and some have said it looks more like a horror cover. So I’ve been working for a while on giving it a makeover.

As I’m planning to go to a sci-fi conference in a couple of months, I thought what better time to give it a makeover in time for that. So without further ado (or adon’t!) here’s the new cover. I hope you like it and makes the genre more obvious.

The new design is still taken from a scene inn the lead story. How that ties in to the original cover, I’ll leave for you to figure out 🙂

The new version is available now in ebook and will also be available soon in print.

The Making of Ben

When I’m writing a story I build up a collection of images that act as references for what’s in my head.  Much of the time these are things I find on the web, but as I write science-fiction sometimes I just can’t quite find anything that looks right. Or sometimes I want to work through how something might work if it were real.

When that happens I often build the object in 3D. This allows me to get more of a feel for the object in question and can help solidify my ideas and furnish me with details I otherwise might not think of. Many times very little of this detail makes it into the actual writing–it’s really background for myself. But sometimes these designs see the light of day in my book covers, such as the Three Lives Of Mary cover and the additional “character image” of Ben.

With Ben I had something very deliberate in mind Continue reading “The Making of Ben”

My Open Source Challenge – Pt2

A little while ago I set myself the challenge to only use open-source tools for all my graphics work. The reasons for this were varied. Some tools that I’ve used in the past such as 3DS Max are simply way beyond my reach, while some others (Adobe’s Creative Cloud)–while not completely unaffordable– are still expensive and have numerous usability issues (over-riding Windows settings for someone with visual impairments being the most insulting). Plus I don’t like the endless Pay-To-Play syndrome where you’re treated as nothing but a cash-cow to be regularly “milked”.

The replacements I chose were Gimp for image processing and Blender for 3D Modelling/Rendering. I’ve been working on them over the last few weeks to try out their features, stability and overall functionality.

The best proof of any software is in the results you can achieve Continue reading “My Open Source Challenge – Pt2”

My Open Source Challenge – Pt1

“And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
  You never get rid of the Dane.” – Rudyard Kipling

There’s been a recent trend where many companies, especially in the area of software, to make their products subscription-based. Some of the big names have gone down this path, such as Adobe with its “Creative Cloud” option. Likewise, Autodesk introduced a subscription option for its famous 3DS Max software a year or so back and Continue reading “My Open Source Challenge – Pt1”

WIP It Good (no flower pot required)

With the redrafted novel back in the hands of my first reader/editor (hi Hil!), I’m taking a slight break from pure writing. Not that I’m not writing. I’m working on a couple of new short stories, but it’s also time to do some prep work that will become part of the support material for the novel.

To that end I’ve been doing some 3D modelling using Blender and here’s a little shot of a WIP.

hopper

This is planned as a single-seat utility vehicle, used on space construction jobs. The model needs some refinement and the textures are very temporary, but that will come later.

Oh and here are the flowerpots…

devo

Update: Here are a couple more shots after refining the model and textures further. I’ve also added in some interior detail. The glass tint isn’t quite right, I think that a UV layer should have more purple (haze? 😉 ) and be darker. That will be corrected next.

hopper1

hopper2