Posts Tagged With: 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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Back in the Saddle

So, it’s been quiet around here lately and you may be wondering “Where is Zack Jackson 4?”

Well, I’ve been moving. Not far; I still live in the same city. It was a downsizing move. However, now that is essentially finished (still need to finish unpacking) and I can resume work on the final edit of Zack Jackson & the Secret of Venus.

I hope to have all the work completed by the end of the month and have the book in your hands by the Fourth of July.

ZJ Book 4 Cover low res

Once Zack Jackson & The Secret of Venus is wrapped up, I plan to finish my next fantasy novel (I’m already 50,000+ words into it), then start work on Zack Jackson 5.

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Themes in My Writing

I want to expand a bit on my twitter thread from today (the one about my books, not one about whatever else I talked about).

The Foundation of Drak-Anor DuologyWhen I wrote The Foundation of Drak-Anor, I had a story to tell. A story about misfits and “monsters” finding acceptance in a world that just wanted them to die. They themselves “knew” they were monsters and acted accordingly; they thought nothing of lashing out and attacking dwarves for their supplies. It’s not like anyone was going to trade with them anyway, right?

Of course, being constantly under siege by people who scream how you’re evil and unholy and must be cleansed tends to affect one negatively. With patience, understanding, and a willingness to talk, one can move past that and find common ground.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00036]In Scars of the Sundering, they’ve found acceptance (if not tolerance), and now have to learn to live with the responsibility that comes with being part of a civilized society. They also learn that they can affect the world in ways they once thought impossible to them. Plus, they learn that there are always people who wish they’d just go away and will try to erase their history and legacy.

These are themes that developed organically. Although, I did try to show that no matter how different someone may appear to be from another, we all are more alike than different. We all want to live and love, eat, drink and enjoy time with friends. Ultimately, I just wanted to tell a fun story with interesting characters.

Hopefully, I did that.

Zack Jackson page banner flatI approached the Zack Jackson series differently. From the beginning, I knew I wanted a sci-fi version of Harry Potter (though without a Dark Lord, Prophecy, Faux-Latin Magic, and Kitchen-Sink Fantasy). I wanted to tell a story about a kid, going away to school where there’s all these weird and wonderful things and constantly getting over his head, saved only by his association with his friends.

Plus, I wanted to showcase real science where I could. I made a few concessions to fun, took a few liberties with physics so I could have faster-than-light (FTL) travel, and aliens that weren’t so alien we couldn’t relate to them. I wanted to give loving homages to the sci-fi I loved, like Star Trek, Mass Effect, and Star Frontiers, and sci-fact like NASA’s space exploration program and the work of astronomers the world over, as well as introduce subjects like transhumanism. I also wanted to showcase diversity in all of its forms, which I actually had to dial back in the third book after someone observed that I was trying a bit too hard.

Hitchhiker-Symbol-iconZack Jackson needed to be set far enough in the future that we could realistically have answers to certain questions because space is huge. More huge than pop culture sci-fi usually shows. As Douglas Adams wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.”

Now that I near the completion of the fourth book in the series (and anticipating writing at least 2-3 more), I’m beginning to see parallels in the series to current events and issues. These are things I didn’t consciously put into the book, but they must’ve been on my mind at the time. The kids grow a little older in each book, a little more experienced and (hopefully) wise, so the challenges they face are more difficult and more mature in their nature. Like the Harry Potter series, I wanted the characters to grow with the readers.

Again, ultimately, I wanted to tell a fun story with the Zack Jackson series. I’m really excited to release book 4, Zack Jackson & The Secret of Venus, in just a few months. I’m equally excited to show you where the story goes from there.

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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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Best of Indy Nomination Time!

Thanks to everyone who came to see me on Author’s Avenue this weekend!

Each year, I participate in a local contest: Best of Indy. You can to vote daily to nominate your favorite Indianapolis business and personalities and I would appreciate your support in the Best Local Author category! So far, I have been the ONLY sci-fi/fantasy author represented on the list of nominees. I’m a firm believer that genre does not determine whether or not something is literature or worth reading.

Nuvo’s Best of Indy Contest nomination phase runs from today, August 16 through September 13, 2017.
People who receive the most nominations will appear on the ballot at the end of September.
Here’s how to find the Best Local Author Category:
  • Click Arts & Entertainment
  • Press “Continue” to proceed to page 2
  • Press “Submit” to get to page 3 where you can type in “Hans Cummings” in the Best Local Author field (as shown in the attached picture).
  • Press “Submit” again and type in the Captcha code.
  • Press “Submit” one final time to record your nomination.
Notes: Nuvo upgraded their system, so you’ll need to create a new login id and confirm your registration once editors@nuvo.net sends you the confirmation email. If you don’t see it, be sure to check your Spam folder. You can opt out of future mailings when you register.
Thank you for your support!
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2017 – The Year Ahead

KaleDelilahFinal-CharReedAs a new year begins, it’s time to take stock of what projects I have on the table and where they all stand.

“Burble’s Big Day”
A short story I wrote for an collaborative Author’s Avenue anthology (the quality of which I was extremely displeased with), this will also come out soon as a short, middle-grade short story book with art by Brian Patterson (of d20Monkey fame). I’m going to edit it once more for good measure, but aside from the art, it is essentially finished. It will be available at Gen Con, if not sooner, in a deluxe full-color edition. I like to have something special to offer at Gen Con, and this is it for this year. This will be great for those of you with younger children interested in fantasy.

Scars of the Sundering, book 3: Salvation
Editing and revisions are underway. I hope to have it finished and published by Memorial Day weekend.

Zack Jackson & the Secret of Venus
The first draft collects dust, awaiting it’s day in the light of editing. Basically, this is going to sit until Salvation is done. Still, I hope to have it finished and published for Gen Con.

Scars of the Sundering, book 1: Malediction – Audio version
This is still in production. I’m just waiting on the narrator (Dan the Bard) to finish. Fun fact: this is the only audio-production of a fantasy novel I know of that will be narrated by an actual bard.

Of course, none of these projects are a new novel for me to write in 2017. I’m developing a couple of different story ideas right now. One is a young-adult novel/series for the World of Calliome set ten-plus years after Scars of the Sundering. Another is a sort of cyberpunk/urban fantasy set several thousand years in Calliome’s future. I’m not sure where my muse will ultimately take me, I’m also interested in writing some supplements or adventures for a role-playing game (which depends on my mood, potential collaborators, and various licensing factors). Of course, I intend to write the fifth Zack Jackson novel in 2017, Zack Jackson & The Ruins of Athos.

Here’s hoping your 2017 will be as productive and fulfilling and I’m going to try to make mine!

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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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Best of Indy Voting

boi_VoteForMe_800Once again, I am honored to be nominated for Nuvo’s Readers’ Choice Best of Indy – Best Local Author. You can vote daily through August. I’d appreciate your support for Best Local Author. Just click the link above to be taken to the voting page. I apologize that you need to sign in, but it’s easy enough to opt out of all mailings.

Remember: a vote for me is more than that dirty peasant Dennis gave to Arthur, King of the Britons!

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New Page for Art

KaleDelilahFinal-CharReedFrequent visitors may notice a slight change to the site. I rearranged the options on the menu bar at the top of the page and added one: Visions of Art.

Visions of Art is the page on which the various pieces of character art, maps, and concept art will reside. I already posted everything on Pinterest (including logos and covers), but if you don’t have an account, using Pinterest can be kind of a pain.

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2016: The Year Ahead

So what can you look forward to in 2016?

Most of my time, at least, in the first half of the year, will be devoted to revising and publishing Scars of the Sundering, books 2 and 3: Lament and Salvation. My goal is to have Lament finish for a debut at ConQuesT in Kansas City over Memorial Day and Salvation finished to debut at Gen Con in August.

Finishing and turning in “Burble’s Big Day” will take part of my time in the first quarter, as well.

I plan to write a second World of Calliome short story in 2016, though I don’t know which characters it will feature at this point.

The big project for 2016, as if publishing two full-length novels wasn’t big enough, will be to write the first draft of the next Zack Jackson novel, Zack Jackson & The Secret of Venus. I’ve been developing bits of plot over the last several months and I expect sometime after Lament‘s completion, I’ll kick development into high gear.

2015 threw me a lot of curve balls which affected many of my plans. Malediction was supposed to debut at ConQuesT and I barely finished it in time for Gen Con. I wanted to have all three Scars of the Sundering novels finished by Gen Con so I could start Zack Jackson 4 in 2015.

Obviously that didn’t happen. Here’s hoping 2016 is a little more cooperative, ’cause I don’t have time for nonsense!

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