Zack Jackson

Zack Jackson 4 Delays – A Eulogy of Sorts

So, I had hoped to have Zack Jackson & The Secret of Venus all wrapped up by the Fourth of July, but unfortunately, last weekend brought with it tragedy with threw the rest of our week into disarray.

Saturday, my cat slept all day. Literally; we couldn’t get her to wake up for more than a few minutes at a time. When she did wake up, she seemed to have trouble walking. Our day was fairly normal; we didn’t realize until the evening that she had not, in fact, done ANYTHING all day besides sleep (she was 17 years old, so she slept a lot).

We took her to the Vet ER (not my first choice, since the vets at that particular location don’t really know how to handle my cat. They did their poke and prodding thing, gave her some IM fluids (couldn’t get an IV in because she was a bit dehydrated) and an appetite stimulant. We weren’t able to get that in her, but we were able to give her the other medicine she’d been on since we moved; an anti-anxiety drug that also served as a pain killer.

Things seemed OK after that. Sunday, she was still lethargic, though not as much as she was Saturday. Her left hind leg seemed to be bothering her and we knew she had a bit of arthritis in that knee. I had made an appointment at her regular veterinary office earlier in the day, so we took her and had her examined by a vet who knew how to handle my cat. They took some blood and we weren’t able to get any more answers. We made a follow-up appointment for the next day when her regular vet would be in. During dinner, we heard some noises upstairs. I knew she’d gone up there to lay under a small table I have in the hallway, so I dashed up to see her thrashing around like she was stuck, though there was nothing for her to get tangled in. I brought her downstairs.

Her gait was extremely slow, her tailed held low and she stuck to the perimeters of the rooms. As the evening progressed, it seemed increasingly likely that she could not see. She’d walk into walls if her whiskers or ears didn’t touch them first. She did eat and drink and use the litter box, but only after we directed her toward them.

I’d often joked that Callie would end up one of those gnarly 25-30 year old cats before she died. At her last appointment in January, she received a clean bill of health; everything looked great for a nearly 17 year-old cat.

On Monday, the vet confirmed that our suspicion was very likely; she’d had at least one stroke over the weekend. He said that her could refer us to a nearby neurological specialist, but with a 17 year-old cat…

It was a conclusion my wife and I had already discussed. The cat we took to the vet lacked the spunk, vigor, and fight that our Callie was known for. She was blind, in pain, and suffering. We made the difficult decision to euthanize her. I held her when she started to stumble after they gave her the sedative and helped her lie down, where she fell asleep with her head on my arm. Looking back, I can say that, when they euthanized her, she went out as she lived, sleeping on my arm.

RIP my little girl, Callie.
2001 – June 25, 2018

Kitten Callie (technically before I knew her, but not long before)

 

Kitty Boops

 

Callie looking on while I write one of the Scars of the Sundering novels

 

Wassup, you?

 

A pretty girl

 

Her favorite place to sleep

 

Sleeping in our new home

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Zack Jackson & the Secret of Venus Cover Art

Once again, Joshua Pinkas has come through with some excellent, nay, AMAZING cover art for the next book in the Zack Jackson series.

We get a great view of Cytherea at the bottom right as well as an awesome… well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out what’s going on.

Zack Jackson & the Secret of Venus will be available on Kindle and in print early Spring 2018.

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Gen Con 50 Wrap-Up!

The Best Four Days of Gaming™ have come and gone and Gen Con 50 is behind us. I came away with a pleasing number of sales (which will hopefully generate some new fans for the World of Calliome and Zack Jackson), some new ideas, and a few hopes for future projects/collaborations. I would love to shout from the rooftops about a couple of these potential opportunities, but since nothing is set in stone, it really would serve no purpose save to get my hopes up. I prefer to be calm about such things until there’s something to actually talk about.

The convention itself was the typical mix of awesome and obnoxious. Fortunately, the awesome outweighed the obnoxious. I think I’m going to invest in some cloth banners to hang from the backdrop next year and eschew the pictures in frames. They’re unwieldly, unstable, and difficult to travel with. I’m also happy that only one person made the mistake of thinking MY name is Zack Jackson.

At some point, I suppose I’ll have to start picking and choosing which titles to bring. I’ll definitely have Zack Jackson & the Secret of Venus for next year (I’m hoping to have it published by the end of the year, frankly), and if my schedule holds and no immediate paid work comes up, maybe another title as well.

There is another World of Calliome novel in the works, but as I’m only about 1/4 – 1/3 into the first draft, that’s all I’ll say about it for now. Well, that, and it features a cast of all-new characters.

I can’t really comment on the gaming. As an exhibitor on Author’s Avenue, I only spent about an hour wandering the Dealer Hall, and since most vendors were closed when I did, I didn’t see much. I didn’t sign up for any events; when you work all day in the Dealer Hall, committing yourself to something else when you could be finding dinner and resting for the next day is difficult. It’s tiring, but rewarding.

The next convention at which I’m scheduled to make an appearance is GameHole Con in Madison, WI. I’m mostly scoping that con out this year, so I’m only appearing on one panel and will likely not be there all four days. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing and hope that you keep reading.

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Zack Jackson & The Secret of Venus

Zack Jackson Arc

The first draft of Zack Jackson & The Secret of Venus is complete!

Once I remembered how to write for this series (three fantasy novels in a row kind of made forget some of the character’s voices), I had a lot of fun writing it. There are several new characters to look out for:

  • Rio, a transfer student who takes a liking to Zack
  • Major Jericho, an EAC fleet officer who is on Cytherea to help with the immigration of Confederation citizens relocating to Vilicus
  • Kaneer, a Kerrolan who is Zack and Ix’s new roommate
  • Valianna Hallox, a Noble Devoran and daughter of the former Emperor of Devorus, temporarily stopping at Cytherea en route to Vilicus… Dravs may be in love…

I hope to have this one available for sale by next August (to be released at Gen Con). After a short break, I will start writing book 5, Zack Jackson & the Ruins of Athos.

You can buy the previous three Zack Jackson books at Amazon.com.

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Meet Jenny

jenny07

Art by Tadas Sidlauskas

Here’s another character from my Zack Jackson series, Genevieve “Jenny” DuBois.

Jenny is a Junior Ranger and student at Cytherean Academy, one of the EACs more prestigious schools. Cytherean Academy is on the eponymous aerostat on Venus. (See, breathable air is a lifting gas on Venus. In theory, an aerostat filled with breathable air would float in Venus’s dense atmosphere around 50 km. up, which provides approx. 1 ATM of pressure and livable temperatures, though folks still need protection from the clouds of sulphuric acid.)

She was born and lives (when she’s not attending school) on Messier Habitat in orbit around Mars. Don’t mistake them for Martians, though. Messiers are proud of their French heritage and will let you know it.

She’s pictured with a cloud glider. She’s solo rated and spends downtime at the academy helping Coach Dagon instruct other students, but thus far has resisted joining the school team as she feels it would be too much like work at that point.

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Meet Mungus

So, I’ve commissioned some more character art, this time from my Zack Jackson series.

 

mungus

Art by Tadas Sidlauskas

This is Mungus (more properly, Mungaborrarius, son of Goreborrarius Tonnarvassas, First Warrior of Clan Stonetalon), an Ersidian from my Zack Jackson series. He’s a Junior Ranger in the same troop as Zack, Jenny, and the Valtraxian, Ix. Unlike the others, he still lives on his homeworld; his temper has gotten him kicked out of all the local troops.

The large knife on his back was his grandsire’s. Ersidians once had a proud, honor-obsessed warrior culture to which they still pay lip service. Their braids are their badges of honor. The more story beads woven into their braids, the more honor an Ersidian has. Cutting a braid to give to a friend is a mark of great trust and honor and other Ersidians will leap to the aid of one who carries an Honor Braid. Forcibly cutting an Ersidian’s braids is a gross violation and is punishable by death on Ersid. The Earth-Alpha Centauri Alliance feels this punishment is too harsh for a haircut and won’t extradite criminals to Ersid.

Mungus is an interesting character to include because he doesn’t go to school with the others, so realistically, he only appears in books that take place on annual term-break Junior Ranger trips. In books that take place during the school year, he mostly shows up in long-distance correspondence.

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Zack Jackson becoming reality

Though I was inspired by Star Trek’s replicators, I feature clothing fabricators in the Zack Jackson series regularly (in fact, these fabricators are used for most household items, like dishes, clothing, and furniture). I was very gratified to see this project pop up on Kickstarter: 3D Fabric Printer.

While the technology is in its infancy, it seems that within our lifetimes we may be able to order up and create our own cloth from the comfort of our homes. It’s commonplace technology in the 43rd century of Zack Jackson’s universe. Might it be commonplace sooner than that in our world?

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Sale of the 43rd Century!

Zack Jackson page banner flat

In honor of ConQuesT 46, from 8AM May 21st (that’s today!) through 8PM May 25th, all THREE Zack Jackson novels are on sale at Amazon for only $0.99 for Kindle!

Follow the link and start your adventure in the 43rd century today!

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Thanks!

VFF Banner for webThanks to everyone who came out to my event at Indy Reads Books this past weekend, despite the crummy weather. The staff was helpful and friendly, and I appreciate the support of everyone who came out to hear me read an excerpt from Zack Jackson & The Hives of Valtra or to get books signed.

My next local event will be Gen Con (Jul. 30th – Aug. 2nd), but before then I’ll be at ConQuesT in Kansas City (May 22 – May 24). I was hoping to debut book one of Scars of the Sundering, Malediction, there, but due to illness-related delays, I don’t think that will happen. Meanwhile, I’m over 30,000 words into the first draft of book three, Salvation (Lament sits, patiently awaiting the completion of Malediction).

I’ll have some art from Scars of the Sundering to show off in the coming weeks, and I’ll be posting snippets from the first chapter, as well.

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The Valtraxian, Ix

Earlier this year I commissioned an original sculpture by David Lee Pancake of the Valtraxian, Ix. You may have see David’s work at Gen Con (he’s the guy who has those really awesome mounted dragon heads). He recently posted a time-lapse video showing Ix’s creation on YouTube.

For those of you who haven’t read any of my Zack Jackson series, yes, Valtraxians are based on Vrusk from Star Frontiers. While they’re physically similar, their society is quite different. I’ll have it display on my table at the various conventions I attend, the first of which is coming up over Memorial Day: ConQuesT. I’ll also have it at Gen Con.

Ix's sculpture stands about 12" tall.

Ix’s sculpture stands about 12″ tall. Click to valtraxinate.

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