I’m happy to announce that my book, The Bellerophon: Ambush, has gone live…again, but this time as a heavily updated 2nd edition. I’ve asked Amazon to push the updated version so that readers who previously downloaded a copy will have in their possession a greatly improved version complete with 4-5 thousand additional words of content as well as many (too many!) resolved grammatical issues. Also, the timeline has been moved to the end of the book as a final chapter under the heading “REFERENCE.” Previously the timeline was at the beginning of the book. Some loved it. Too many didn’t. I’ve also included a short excerpt from my upcoming work Sigma Draconis which can be found after the timeline. Thanks for the continued support from my readership and the patience while I prepared this 2nd edition. It’s been a journey to say the least!
Series Review: Helix
My Rating: 1 craft beers on a 6-pack scale (to get through this turkey I needed WAY more than a 6-pack!). I will be accepting donations to help me get through the suffering that is sitting through the first 13-episodes of this disaster.
Runtime: 13-episodes 40-45 mins each
Directed by: Various
Creator: Cameron Porsandeh
So I caught a commercial/trailer for this series more than a year or so ago and filed it away in my brain. As time went by it hovered in my memory until it merged in my mind with the commercials for The Strain (which I still need to watch) and Fringe (which I have watched most of but still need to watch the last season+). Being busy with work, life, and naps I’d all but forgotten about Helix. I haven’t watched Syfy since they killed Stargate: Universe so I never caught the series when it was first run. Then, a couple weeks ago, Helix popped up on my Netflix radar and the memory of this promising series resolved from the fog. I added it to the queue and prepared for a marathon. I primed the couch and stocked the larder ready for a Saturday morning start for the planned day-long session. Unfortunately my plan was derailed when I found Helix to be…not so very good. If I’m going to spend a whole day sitting on my butt watching the TV, instead of doing the dozen or so more productive things, the program needs to be pretty good. Not great. Just pretty good. And Helix definitely does not as “pretty good.”
I managed to make it through the first season but it took me far longer than I had originally planned. I simply seemed to find things to do instead of watch Helix like…wash my car in the rain, reorganize the glassware in the kitchen cabinet according to height, and count the servings and calories in my emergency ration stash so I know exactly what’s in inventory for when that alien invasion occurs (which I assume is soon).
As is my normal practice I will not include any spoilers in this review though I can tell you that one of the main-ish characters in the first several episodes doesn’t make it half-way through the first season and THANK GOD for that! If you watch Helix you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say the acting of the clichéd bandanna wearing, rock music enthusiast, straight-talking scientist Doreen character is simply terrible. Terrible. Terrible. The acting is bad. The reasoning her experienced and supposedly intelligent character uses is simply awful and really detracts from the story. Just about every second her character is on the screen time is better spent taking out the trash or checking your work email on the iPad (yes both of those are similar tasks).
The main character of Dr. Alan Farragut, played by Billy Campbell, is not so very good by itself but thanks to the terrible Doreen character your ire is not focused entirely on him. Why he feels the need to talk in a husky/whiny voice (tough to pull that off at the same time) for the entirety of the first season is beyond me. I need to also mention that Campbell is 30-years older than the character played by Jordan Hayes. I won’t go any further on the subject but it is worth noting. If you watch the show you’ll understand. Thankfully there are moments of mystery that work to pull you into a slowly developing story. From time-to-time Dr. Hatake, played by Sanada – perhaps most recognized as the swordmaster in The Last Samurai – pops in and drops a little morsel of mystery like Hansel and Gretel leaving bread crumbs. Now if only those bread crumbs led somewhere interesting. There was so much promise in this show in the beginning but it just kinda continues on without really getting all that interesting. There’s some side story going on regarding stolen children I think. I should know but I found my attention often waning throughout this turkey. Oh, one last glaring issue with Helix. The team led by Campbell that is trying to do…whatever it is that they’re trying to do…is part of the CDC. Is that organization really so inept that a group of their most senior scientists runs off to cure a big bad bug and when the home office doesn’t hear from them for a long time there’s no response? Just one of the many, many plot holes in the show.
I’ll probably watch the second season when it’s on Netflix but I won’t seek it out. When it shows up on the recommendations list I’ll add it to the queue but not before. I’m not going to search it out. I do have to mention that there was one thing I enjoyed about the show. The hokey elevator music that plays during the title crawl is out of place and yet it’s oddly catchy.
Now can I recommend you spend a weekend watching this? Sure…but only after you’ve expended all other entertainment options, completed all chores, and reorganized your hope chest. Note: as I wrote this review I’ve steadily deducted points from the rating. I’m going to stop here out of concern I’ll soon be into negative numbers which isn’t fair to the two or three people that worked hard to bring you Helix.
P.S. 75K+ words into Sigma Draconis and more than a third of the way through the 2nd edition of The Bellerophon: Ambush which I hope to republish soon. I’m excited about both projects and the many, many project yet to come. SD is going to be cool but very different than my first book.
J.W. Kurtz update.
I’ve been writing and editing like mad. Recently I pulled my book from Amazon for a short hiatus as I do some heavy re-editing. I hope to have the 2nd edition out by then end of January. I’m about 80% done with this renovation project. I can promise you this…IT WILL BE MUCH BETTER than the 1st edition plus it will have a snippet of my 2nd book. I’ll update, tweet, post like crazy when edition 2 is done. I miss checking the Amazon Authors page daily!
My second book, Sigma Draconis, and just where exactly am I on that? I’m nearly at 80K-words. I would say I’m well over halfway through the first draft. Maybe a little more. Maybe a little less. I hope to have it out by the middle of the spring. I wish writing was my fulltime job but it isn’t…for now. The sequel to my first book will be started in earnest the day after I finish Sigma D.
In the meantime I hope to post some more movie/show reviews soon.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for checking-in.
I’m in the market for a good editor and proofer. I will be writing 2-4 books a year…for hopefully forever! So this could be a long term working relationship. Please leave a comment on this post or DM me on Twitter if you are up for this and have previous experience. I’d love to chat with you.
This will be brief.
I only wanted to share that besides the Sigma Draconis sci-fi project and The Bellerophon: Ambush related novella, I will also begin work on a short novel in honor of my dog Sasha who passed away this past weekend. Upon her departure she left me with a final gift: inspiration. I miss her very, very much (just going through the motions at work right now) and I hope to honor her memory with a story that will be lasting. This will be a YA/Sci-Fi story concerning the loss of a beloved pet.
Author Updates: SEE BELOW
This is a notice for any of those dog lovers out there that read my posts to please be aware that this one may be kinda sad. I’ve been off my daily writing goal for some time. The reason is that one of my dogs, a 5-year old golden retriever named Sasha, has been battling an autoimmune disorder since Labor Day. A couple trips to emergency vet hospitals, a couple weeks of hospital stays, and weekly blood testing and therapies have not solved the issue. Her last prognosis (received yesterday when I picked her up from the specialist ER in Seattle) was “Guarded to Poor.” Fingers crossed and trying to stay positive is all that is left. She has a chance but it will take weeks to months for her to recover if at all. Thank goodness I had the foresight to get pet insurance for her because all I can say is her name should be spelled $a$ha as the dollar signs are completely appropriate. In truth there should maybe be another dollar sign in her name. Please know that I am still finding time to get some writing done be it in the morning before work, after work as soon as I get home, on the weekends as much as I can between chores that have to get done, and even while in the shower…I won’t go into the details on that one. Thanks for the continued support through the downloads and fantastic reviews that are both thoughtful and constructive. It helps tremendously. And thanks in advance for the positive thoughts for Sasha. She’s just a fantastic girl. My wife and I love her very, very much.
UPDATE: It is with a heavy heart that I share the passing of my little girl, Sasha. She put up a valiant fight but the deck was stacked against her. The night of the 15th and into the morning of the 16th of November there was a battle fought and lost. She was brave and as strong as she could be but on the morning of the 16th it was time. We said our goodbye, held her paw, and watched her drift off. The tears are heavy and will continue to be so for some time. I miss my girl oh so very much. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers. We were lucky to have her in our life. We only wish that it could be for just but one more day.
Update: Sigma Draconis
Still working hard on this project. Or trying to. The illness of Sasha has kept me from this project and I am okay with this. Very okay because she is so very much worth it.
I’m 54k-words in and I feel it’s coming along. Wish I had an extra day a week to get this done sooner for everyone. I took a personal day last week to write and another one the week before that. Gonna run out of personal and sick days if I’m not careful but I FAR ENJOY WRITING much more than what I do during my regular work day. FAR, FAR MORE! A note on SD: if you’re looking for a blow-it-up-explosion-a-second ride…this is just a little different book than my first work for Kindle. This has a more thorough explanation of the colonial system, corporate future of space, and characterization of the various actors. Yes there is action. Yes there is ancient alien stuff. Yes there is adult language. And yes it will be longer than The Bellerophon: Ambush. I hope people enjoy it as much as I’m enjoying the writing of it.
Update: Captive Galaxy Novella
Sitting at about 4K words on this. I hope to have this in the 20-40K range and released ASAP. Kinda a wide range I know but I’m letting it go where it needs to go. If it’s 20K words then it’s 20K. I’m not going to needlessly lengthen or shorten it. It knows what it needs to be and I am just the tour guide of the exhibit. This novel is more in line with The Bellerophon: Ambush in regards to being a more fast-paced military science fiction work. Super fun to write it is. It is written in the first person and is more space marine-ish. It’s also warming me up for the direct sequel to TB:A because there will be some first person parts in there regarding a discovered journal. When I put out this Novella it will be released singly and as part of an updated TB:A combined release.
Stay tuned for more updates and more film reviews. While on sick-dog-watch-duty I get to watch a lot of movies and I really enjoy writing those reviews. I’m glad folks liked my last one on Snowpiercer.
Thanks for the support and as always…
Sigma Draconis update:
Sigma Draconis threatens to end me, I swear it! I’m about 55K into the story and it wants, calls, to be split into a two parter! This was a project that originally started as a novella mind you so perhaps you can understand my trepidation and concern. Well…it’ll get done for no other reason than I’m super excited to begin my other projects. I really wish this is what I did full-time!
Novella update: I’m aiming for 30K with this one. A fast, fun, and exciting piece centered around one of the characters of my first book. It’s coming together. I hope to have this one done soon before Christmas and then Sigma early into the New Year. If I could devote the time I want, that it deserves, to this project I’d already be done! It is what it is…
Thanks to all those that have supported me by downloading my first novel. I hope to get more out to you soon!
Writing Project(s) Update:
First off I’d like to thank my readers in Australia. October was a pretty good month for downloads there. I taught my students the awesome song Waltzing Matilda weeks ago so obviously that news made it’s way from Washington State to the land down-under and thus the uptick in downloads there. I love that song…perhaps the best unofficial national anthem ever. The real one, “Advance Australia Fair,” is the official anthem but the one everyone really knows is Waltzin’! Love it!
Sigma Draconis is coming along. Not as quickly as I’d like but it’s coming along. The trouble is not the writing. It’s finding the time to do the writing! Holding down a full-time job with a commute that’s more than an hour round-trip really cuts into my writing and brain-working time. I’ve changed things up this week writing at home a couple hours before I leave for work. This worked well for me while I pecked away at The Bellerophon: Ambush last spring. I tried to change things up this year by writing after work but then people saw my light on which then obviously meant I was there to answer their questions…so I stopped that this past week. When your door is closed and your classroom lights are off and the only light on is your desk lamp that should say something. Many are deaf to this however. So from now on, when it’s 4pm, I’m out! If I’m still in the mood when I get home I may be able to put another 500+ coherent words for a current writing project (Sigma Draconis novel, TBA short story/novella) or to outline a new story. I have dozens and dozens of those. Writing story outlines is almost as addictive as writing the actual stories! Perhaps even more so in fact. Wouldn’t it be great to have an 8th day of the week that was all yours?! I could go with that. No wonder folks that work 4 ten-hour days instead of 5 eights are so much happier.
Long story short…the writing update for SD:
Despite the change in writing schedule, a crazy work week, and my brain outlining new projects seemingly every day, I managed to get Act/Part 1 done yesterday. The draft comes in at 50K words and without looking through it yet (which will change what I say next most assuredly) I’m pretty happy with it. It is different than my first book TB:A but I promise it’s still great fun. I’m more excited for this piece than TB:A in fact. The plan is to start Act/Part 2 tomorrow morning and see where that goes. What it looks like right now is that for sure there will be 3 overall Act/Parts and possibly a 4th. If it goes to a 4th Act/Part it will probably mean it’ll be split up into two releases so I can hit my self-imposed deadline. I’m happy either way that goes. The only problem is that it may push back the direct sequel to TB:A just a little bit but I promise it will be a month delay at most. I hope to get that done by this late spring. Stay tuned for more on that!
Update: TBA short story/novella
So this is a shorter piece of fiction following one of the crew from the Bellerophon and how he or she came to sign-on with Captain Wray. I’m experimenting a day a week on writing this. It looks to be first person which I’m very excited to do for several reasons. For one it’s great to write in this manner because you get a lot of extra dialogue and character development because you get the internal dialogue and how the character is thinking. And second it’s my homage to one of my favorite books of all-time, Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Finally, I’m exploring this point-of-view writing style because it may return for the direct sequel to TB:A. At least part of it anyway.
Thanks for following and keeping up with my notes on this and that. I watched Snowpiercer on Halloween night and a review on that film is forthcoming. Let’s just say I’m very glad I saw it.
Cheers and keep the faith!
If you find yourself in Portland, OR try Via Chicago grab some of the best pizza, craft beer, and sandwiches around.
Still going strong my brother and sister readers and writers! Thanks for giving my book a look.
Currently there are 2,947,025 e-books on Amazon.com. And The Bellerophon: Ambush is:
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,177 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
I’m writing more stuff as fast as I can. Tough to get my words in while I’m trying to teach the 6th grade especially when…don’t get me rambling about that! Anyway…I’m done with Act 1 of Sigma Draconis (FIB ALERT!). Okay…half a chapter left and then the draft of Act 1 of 3 is done but I’m over 40K words now so it’s looking like a book kinda! I’ll also be devoting a day a week (I write 7-days a week I do) to working on a novella to get something in the 15-30K realm done before Christmas. I’m afraid to really get into this though because that was how Sigma D. started!
If you haven’t already downloaded a copy…here you go. Help a starving teacher transition into the role of a full-time starving writer. Shameless I know.
Thanks to all my friends in the UK, Australia, and Canada for buying quite a few copies of my work. Hope you continue to enjoy and tell your friends!
Also, that new cover for The Bellerophon: Ambush is inbound from Portland area artist Kevin Reynolds. Who, besides being an extremely talented and creative individual, operates Via Chicago which, if you want some good pizza and craft beer (and much more), it’s the place to be in the Rose City.
Wrote a prologue today that exhausted me. Lots of description without giving it away for free in the first 1K words of the story! Gotta pay for that cow! Surely no milk for free here! I do have a concern…that the novella may turn into an actual novel. Good news is that it would be a REALLY fun novel with a hero that few would expect. The bad news is that it would move the next piece to a delivery date of Christmas or so (“or so” meaning New Years). I would rather have mid-November or Thanksgiving for the release. We’ll see where it goes!
I fall asleep each night imaging what I could create if only I didn’t have to go and teach for 8-10 hours a day!