Friday, January 24, 2020

So the Veil Verse book is done.

I finished it last week, and I'm just waiting on Will's approval (Blaise really enjoyed it) and the cover artwork to show. I haven't sent it to my editor yet, I'll probably do that in a few days, I want my Beta readers to finish with it first.

The title of the book is 'Take Two' and it will be published under John Van Stry and not Jan Stryvant. Most likely it will go live early in February.

I may have a Shadow short or Novella out next week. Depends on how much work I can do over the weekend, and how much Star Citizen sucks me in...

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Just a General Update

So, someone mentioned to me that I hadn't posted here in a while, so I thought I should perhaps catch everyone up. I have been working, the first draft of the Veil Verse book is almost complete, and I'll hopefully have that off to Will and Blaize soon, so I can find out if I'm okay, or if I mangled their universe horribly beyond description.

I did end up taking off pretty much all of December.

I do have plans for a bunch of stuff this year and I'm starting to work on some of it, I just needed a bit of a break after all of the work on Valens, which pretty much was non-stop for two and a quarter years. It was like one of those big rock tours where you spend every moment in a new place working your butt off but not getting to see the sights :-)

I do want to do a portals of infinity book next. I have some plans to turn out a few more Shadow things, hopefully in the near future. I also have a short series I'd like to write between now and any future Valens series. I've already done some work on that, so I do want to develop it more.

I'm also thinking of a possible stand alone Valens novel, something to span the space between the two series. Probably a bunch more short stories at some point as well. I just need to work on my roadmap for this year.

So yes, I'm still writing, just took a bit of a break before getting back up on the horse.

As for audio books, the next publishers pack, should be out Jan 28th. The last audiobook for Valens (which will be coupled with - I think- the last set of short stories) should be out March 28th.

The next Portals of Infinity audiobook, well I talked to the guy who has been doing them for me, and he's going to let me know whats going on with him, his day job has been working him long hours lately, so he hasn't had any extra time.

For those interested in the Hammer Commission series (which for those of you who are Harem fans, yes there are some harem aspects) I will be writing more in that world. But I don't have a date on anything at this moment.

I'm also on Patreon, and while I know a lot of folks can't afford a regular $5 a month contribution, I am going to see about giving something to the $1 crowd as well, to thank them for their continuing support. I probably should redo my patreon, but I think I've already got more than enough tasks to manage, so I don't want to screw it up.

So hopefully that wasn't too confusing.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Nathan Lowell - If you like old school space Science Fiction

If you're a fan of the 'old style' or 'old school' Science Fiction, stories of big space ships plying the starways for trade and other reasons, with all sorts of interesting things thrown in, then you should read Nathan Lowell (Amazon Link)

I came across Nathan's Solar Clipper series quite by accident many years ago, and I have to admit, it was a really wonderful story. Except for the end, there was something that happens in the last book (and you'll know it when you read it) that kinda annoyed me. When I finally got to meet Nathan earlier this year (2019) we talked about it and he told me why he did it, and honestly? He was right, it needed to be done. It helped make the story better and it helped make the stories that came after it more interesting as well. He told me he got a LOT of grief over the incident (which I won't tell you because spoilers) and looking at that, it tells you just how many people bought it and loved it.

As an aside that incident in the story didn't stop me reading him. And I was grateful when we got to discuss it over dinner one night when we met at a convention.

The man really is a gifted writer. I've read most of his works (eventually I will read all of them). I highly recommend his stories, the clipper ship aspect is done well with some very interesting takes on things that are uniquely his and that definitely improve the story. As Nathan was once a sailor and spent several years on the seas, he understands the aspects of being at the mercy of the ship you are on and how you can't expect help to be there in a few minutes. That understanding ads a uniqueness to his stories that you can feel when you read them.

So again, I highly recommend Nathan Lowell's Solar Clipper series and the books that run after it.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Black Friday Sales!

Starting at 8AM PST (don't look at me, Amazon picked that time) I'll be having a 'Black Friday Sale'!

The following books will be 99 cents until Monday Morning:

Portals of Infinity, Book 1: Champion for Hire
Portals of Infinity, Book 2: The God Game

The Hammer Commission (Book 1 of the Hammer Commission Series)
The King of Las Vegas (a Hammer Commission Book)

Book 1 of the Days of Future Past Series - Past Tense

Also, written as Jan Stryvant:

Black Friday - Book 1 of the Valens Legacy Series
Perfect Strangers - Book 2 of the Valens Legacy Series

And on Sale for Friday and Saturday until noon at 99 cents and then Sunday and Monday morning for $1.99:
Shadow 

Link to Black Friday Sale Page 

Friday, November 22, 2019

I played High School Football!


I'm sure that by now everyone knows that Al Bundy played High School football. And just how many TD's he scored in the big game. As is often the way of so much of Hollywood and modern TV, the people who write this stuff often seek to deconstruct some of the more important parts of our culture, of the bedrock that has made us what we are, or rather perhaps, what we were.

Now where I grew up, school sports had some import, but they were really only important to the people who had kids in school, and those kids. But they weren't mocked. When I moved to the west coast, school sports really lost a lot of their importance, and the closer you got to any city, the less anyone cared. But now that I'm living in the south again (I was stationed in Mississippi when I was in the service, hence why I can spell it without having to look it up), I have again seen the dominant and almost overwhelming role that school sports plays here.

And that's a good thing.

You see, there are a lot of lessons you're supposed to learn in school. How to think for yourself is the one that's been under attack lately. Basic history, math, economics, those things are pretty much long gone. Don't even get me started on civics. But all of those things were there to teach the basics, to stop you from being ignorant, to give you a sense of place in our country, let you stand on your own two feet, and prepare you to make something of yourself.

High School sports have a different lesson. High School sports is about teaching you to cope. To cope with failure, and just as importantly, to cope with success. You win some, you lose some, right? But how many kids nowadays have never been allowed to lose, so the first time they come up against adversarial situations, not only are they destroyed by it, but many times kill themselves over their failure? How many kids who suddenly find success, and not knowing how to deal with it, lose everything?

That's what playing sports teaches you, up and above teamwork, respecting the others on your teams and respecting the opponents, it teaches you how to come back after failure. How to deal with loss, how to keep keeping on, how to persevere, how to come back and try again. Those are very important lessons to a young man or woman. School sports also teaches you that when you win, that's not the end. You still have to go back out there and win again, and again. Or maybe next time you lose. You learn that just as failure is temporary, winning is temporary as well. Because there is always something new, there is always another challenge.

Life is like that.

And that's why I never really cared for that little joke. Yeah, on the one hand it's kinda funny that Al's biggest achievement is something he did in High School, and he never did anything again after that. It's also kind of sad. People who did well at school sports do not necessarily go on to be rich and famous, or even highly successful. But I've noticed there tends to be a lot fewer failures among those folks than those who never participated. Because you only fail when you stop trying, and the goal of school sports is to teach you to keep trying. Even when things are at their worst.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

An Ending

As many of you probably know, I've been writing this little side project for the last two and a quarter years: The Valens Legacy Series   When I started this series I only expected it to go for six books, even though I had plans all the way out to eighteen. I worked very hard at all of it and I was surprised when after the first arc (books 1 thru 6) the next arc was eagerly awaited. So I wrote that, and then the third and final arc. The series did shrink from 18 to 17, because the second arc ended up more as five books instead of six.

As I told everyone when the story began, it had an ending. It wouldn't stretch out forever, it wouldn't run on until I just abandoned it. Everything would be tied up. I like stories to have an end, especially something with a long overarching story line to it, even if that story line isn't apparent at first. The success of the series, which sales wise is up there with most of the traditionally published authors, is still rather shocking. Honestly, if someone had ever told me I'd write a 17 book series, where every book was a best seller, I'd have asked what they were drinking.

But yet, here I am.

I have been blessed in that, as an engineer I got to work on many ground breaking projects and programs, some of which changed the world in ways we never expected to happen. I got to do things that were new and exciting and some of which made a very big difference. Now as an author, I'm working once again on things that are new and exciting, and which to me at least, have made a very big difference. (And all those folks ripping me off I'm sure it made a difference to as well ;-) ).

So now it's time to move on to other projects. I have two promised books I need to write next, one of which is a POI novel. After that, well I have a short series I'd like to write, very short. No more 17 book behemoths! After that, I most likely will revisit Valens, for a sequel, but I think somewhere in there, maybe I've earned a short vacation.


Sunday, November 03, 2019

Batteries — The New Perpetual Motion Machine.



We've all seen it, many times in fact. Someone starts to go on (and on, and on, and on, ad infinitum) about the many miraculous powers of the electric car. They will end all pollution, they will stop the oceans from rising, they will feed the poor, clothe the naked, stop babies from crying, and perform many other miracles daily.

And of course, woe be unto all you heathens who say otherwise.

Now, I'm an Engineer by training. Being an engineer is like being a Marine. You don't join the Marines, you become a Marine. Well the same is true of Engineers. You don't learn Engineering, you become an Engineer. We have different thought processes than the rest of you, because we've been trained into it (I once had to prove this to a lawyer, he was quite shocked). The entire first two years in Engineering school is all about teaching you to think about things differently. And you get rewarded when you do, but I digress.

So, back in the day (up until the 70s sadly), perpetual motion machines were all the rage (they still are among the uneducated — which is anyone who hasn't studied physics, that stuff they used to teach in high school). Well in my High School physics class we went into great detail about why they don't work. In my college physics classes, we revisited that whole notion again and were yet again shown why they didn't work, only now we went into things like the 'Three Laws of Thermodynamics' to get down to the nuts and bolts of it.

And then electrical cars came about and a whole group of people lost their minds.

Now let's clear up a misnomer: Today's electric cars are really Battery Powered Cars. Yes, they have electric motors and run off of electricity, but as in all things, the devil is in the details. Battery powered cars are a dead end. They are un-economical, they pollute (horrendously), and they are dangerous. Far more dangerous than a petrol, or gasoline, or diesel, powered vehicle.

'But how can this be?' you ask. 'We've been told that electric cars are the way, the light, and the second coming of environmental glory!' Well yeah, there's a simple explanation of that. It's called: LYING. Everything you've been told is a lie. And please, hold the shocked expressions and the gasps of incredulity. Governments are more shocking when they tell the truth. Lying is what they do the rest of the time.

Now, while electric cars themselves are an interesting idea that may one day go past the 'fad' stage, Battery Powered Cars are a joke. A dead end. Something that has failed every single time it's been tried, and the only reason they've gotten as far as they have this time is because of the massive amounts of your tax dollars the government has pumped into it, so it isn't readily apparent that all of the companies doing it are losing money. (The same is true for Wind Power and Solar Power — but that's a topic for another day).

There is only so much electrical power that a battery can hold. And that's a lot less than the same volume or weight of gasoline. Some people will then say 'but we just need better batteries'. Well no, you need to change the laws of physics, and unless God himself comes down from heaven and makes it so, it ain't happening. I've had this argument with people who should know better, but sadly they apparently never took a physics class in their life.

Next is the whole 'but electric cars don't pollute' lie. No, they pollute, and odds are they pollute more than a fossil fuel vehicle. How? Well that power has to be generated somewhere and the same 'electric car' progressives are also 'anti-nuclear power' luddites. So all that power is generated by gas, oil, or coal, (and please don't bring up wind or solar, they're net negatives in the power generation world and generate a lot of pollution as well). So the energy for your electric car is generated at a fossil fuel plant, possibly as far as thousand miles away (if you live in California, that's almost a guarantee), and because of physics (that ole party-pooper) they have to generate more power than you need, because a fair deal of it will disappear on its trip from the power plant to your house.

So no, you're not being 'economical' you're being wasteful.

Now let's take a look at those batteries. They're just full of harmful, deadly, and very toxic, substances. Making them is very much an ecological nightmare so what do you think disposing of them is going to be? They're going to need special and very expensive treatment involving a lot of very toxic and harmful chemicals. Or you could just ship them to some third world country were they'll throw 'em all in a pit and bulldoze dirt over them and create a new Love Canal that'll be someone else's problem. So the construction and disposal of those batteries from your Battery Powered Car do more polluting than any fossil fuel powered car out there. Actually I wouldn't be surprised to discover that a coal-burning car generates less pollutants in its lifetime.

And don't forget! Those batteries are only going to last five to seven years, and then you have to replace them! At great cost too! Kinda kills the resale market, doesn't it?

Next of course are the hazards. We've all seen gas powered cars blow up in the movies, but we know that's Hollywood. Cars burn, and the gas tank can 'explode' but it's not that big of a deal. The fire is easily contained and burns out in twenty minutes, tops. But electric cars? They burn for days. That's right, an electric car catches fire? Well hope you have a few days to sit around and baby-sit it. Because that sucker is going to burn for a very long time. Hopefully it won't go off in a massive explosion that levels everything around it (BLEVE), these days that's rare, but it has happened and will happen again.

Oh, and don't forget that the site of your electric car fire is now a hazardous waste site that will cost tens of thousands of dollars to clean up.

So yes, Battery Powered Cars are stupid. They only exist in the numbers that they do because the government (which means you) is paying for them. They are, in effect, this generation's 'Perpetual Motion Machines', a stupid, idiotic, and pointless waste of time, effort and our tax dollars.

Again, I have nothing against electric cars, just Battery Powered Cars. If the people (and the government) behind electric cars were serious, and not just a bunch of folks looking for easy government handouts (and the attendant government corruption that comes with all scam programs) they would be investigating and developing Fuel Cell technology. Fuel Cells have the benefit of low (or no) emissions, and can be quickly 'recharged' like say, filling a gas tank. They're also smaller, say gas tank sized, unlike the gigantic batteries in Battery Powered Cars.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

For those of you looking for Michael-Scott Earle

For those of you who are Michael-Scott Earle fans, the whole fight with Amazon is over, and unfortunately, Michael lost.

BUT Michael-Scott has his own website now: https://www.michaelscottearle.com/ 

So please, if you like his books, go check him out! It's a lot harder to find out what he's got going on now that you can't see it on Amazon, and let's be honest, you shouldn't trust Amazon to always let you know what's going on. They do make mistakes, and of course, they don't know what's going on offsite.

So mosey on over to his website and consider subscribing to his newsletter. For that matter, you should consider subscribing to all of the authors you like newsletter's. Because that way you'll know just what's coming out and you won't have to rely on some algorithm to remind you.

Thanks! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Fame

There's this song, which I guess qualifies as an 'old song' now because it came out ten years ago. It's called 'The Fear' by Lily Allen, and it says so much about our society these days that it's really pretty sad.

I don't know much about Lily Allen myself, I do know that one of her big things was songs with a lot of explicit and racy lyrics. But damn if she wasn't doing pretty much exactly what she sang about in 'The Fear' in a lot of her other work.

At some point in our society we went from venerating the wise, the smart, and the brave, from making heroes of the people who protect us, serve us, and lead us, to making heroes of people who entertain us.

Now, as an entertainer myself, yes entertainment does have it's place in the world. But I'm a lot more famous for the for the books I've written, then for the work I've done that has saved hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives.

When did our world become so upside down? I sometimes think I know when, and I maybe even why, but it's best to keep those thoughts to myself - especially now that it pays the bills!

But it has led to a culture, a society, where so many people are fixated on achieving fame more than anything else. Fame at any and all cost. We have people whose sole business is being famous and they don't contribute anything to society, not even entertainment. They just exist to be famous.

Makes you wonder what's coming down the pike next, doesn't it?

Sunday, October 20, 2019

I can't believe that I forgot to post this

All three of the audiobooks for 'The Days of Future Past' Trilogy have been bundled into one big audiobook (19 hours).

So for those of you who like audiobooks and want a long one, here it is:

Link :> Days of Future Past Trilogy on Audible

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Being an Airline Pilot Doesn't Mean Shit


Okay, I'm going to slaughter a few sacred cows here today, because if there is one thing I am awfully damn tired of hearing, it's how many hours an airline pilot had before he did something INCREDIBLY FUCKING STUPID before flying his airplane into the ground in a completely AVOIDABLE accident and usually (but not always, thank God) killing people.

I've seen this happen with my own two eyes more times than I care for, and heard stories about far too many more. Yes I'm a pilot, though I haven't flown in some time. I was also a Flight Test Engineer for Grumman aerospace, then General Dynamics, then Lockheed. I did that for about seven years. Dealing with accidents (though I never had to deal with a fatal one) was part of my job. Whenever there was an 'incident' and the pilots were told that the 'company representatives need to talk to you', I was one of those 'representatives' on the other end of the phone.

Now this little rant is because they announced the preliminary findings on the crash of B-17G '909'. After listening to this, anybody who knows anything about B-17's knows exactly what happened. Unless they change the preliminary findings, if what they said was true, it's blatantly obvious what happened.

But before we get into that, I've heard bandied about, several times now, that the PIC (Pilot In Command) had over 20,000 hours. People say that like it means something. Well you know what? Ralph Kramden had over twenty years as a bus driver! In NYC no less! So let's put him in a formula one race car and make him drive at Indy and see how he does!

Some of you may find that to be a bit facetious, but it's not. An airline pilot is a bus driver. No more, no less. That's all you are, and in this day and age it takes even less skill than driving a bus, because everything is automated. Korean Airlines, which you may recall flew into the ground at SFO, did so because between the pilot and the copilot they had landed that aircraft less than a dozen times COMBINED. Now yes, KAL is a bit of an extreme example, their pilots are hands down the worst in the world, but they prove the point. Flying a modern airliner is easy.

Now, another quick aside here. My father flew in B-17's, B-24's, and B-29's. He was a gunnery instructor during WW2 and he had thousands of hours in all of those aircraft. He knew a lot about flying them, and he saw a lot of them crash. The biggest problem was that with the training aircraft, it was not uncommon for them to lose an engine on takeoff during training. As they'd train the pilots while training the gun crews and the bombardier so every flight took off heavy weight. If you banked into the dead engine, the plane would crash and everyone onboard would DIE.

You'd think having been taught that, and told that many times, it wouldn't happen. Yet my father saw it happen several times. But those were green pilots, right? And this was before ANY safety regulations for flying existed. Little known fact: More Army Air Corps crew were killed during WW2 in training than fighting the war. A lot more. When the war ended they were still losing something like 10,000 men a year. That's when it was discovered that training was where they lost everyone, and not over Germany (something that they could cover up during the war, but not afterwards — think about that a moment).

So, let's get back to the issue at hand. We have a pilot in 909 who has 'over 20,000 hours as PIC'. But apparently no one ever taught him how to deal with an in flight emergency? Apparently he never had a safety brief? And apparently he didn't really know all that much, for all of his hours flying, about B-17's.

How can I say this? Let's make it simple: He fucked up by the numbers.

Now, getting over whether or not he should have even taken off (magneto problems), I want you to think about this: He's taking off in a B-17 that is either heavy, or damn close to it. It has eleven people on board, and being Americans, you can pretty much guarantee that the average weight of those people is over 200lbs. So he's flying with over a ton of cargo. That's a lot of weight. On take-off, one of the more dangerous phases of flight in an aircraft he loses an engine.

He doesn't declare an emergency. That right there probably would have cost him his license for the rest of his life. He's in a heavily loaded airplane with eleven people. A B-17 has problems climbing out with all four engines running, he just lost one, and he doesn't declare an emergency? What the hell! Is there a commercial jet in the world today that if you lose an engine you don't declare an emergency? I can't think of one, if someone else can, please tell me.

Now why didn't he declare an emergency? To me it's obvious: He didn't want to do the paperwork. He didn't want the airplane to be grounded. He didn't want to have to give those eleven people their money back. He didn't want to do a lot of things and that right there is why he shouldn't have been flying that airplane. Why he shouldn't have been flying any airplane! He had stopped putting the safety of his passengers and aircraft first.

There is no other explanation. Don't tell me he 'forgot to declare an emergency', he's got 20,000 hours! Right?

This brings us to the moment he doomed the airplane to crash and killed the 6 people onboard — and lets not sugar coat it. HE killed them. Through his negligence and yes, stupidity. It's harsh to say that, especially about the dead, but when it comes to preventable accidents that kill a lot of people, I'm not much for giving slack. So here he is, he's got an engine out on the right side of the airplane. Anyone with a brain knows that if you bank into that engine, YOU'RE GONNA CRASH. Okay? That's not a 'possibility' it's a cold hard fact. You are going to crash. People are going to die.

But he can't bank left. It's a right-hand pattern; he has to turn right, into the dead engine. Now if he had, oh I don't know, DECLARED AN EMERGENCY, he would have been able to turn LEFT like he SHOULD HAVE. But you know what, there's all that paperwork, the refunds, the plane being grounded... Nah, I have 20,000 hours! It'll work THIS time, for ME!

Yeah, well it didn't. The aircraft continued to sink (lose altitude) until it crashed. I'm personally amazed he made it as far around as he did before he hit the ground. I'm also amazed he put the gear down. You're barely flying, and you have to know you're gonna crash, and you put down the drag? WTF? Yes, I know it's common for a lot of pilots to think that they're going to make it, right up to the moment they crash and die. I've read more than enough cockpit voice recorder transcripts from dead pilots. You keep working the problem. But when you caused the problem, maybe you should take a moment to reconsider your choices? Sure a gear up landing sucks, especially in a propeller driven airplane. But you can fix that.

So yes, 909 was 100 percent pilot error. I don't know if no one ever told him that you can't bank any WW2 era bomber into the dead engine and expect to keep flying. If not, they have a serious problem that needs to be addressed. But the bigger problem here was that the pilot threw safety out the window, fucked up by the numbers, and crashed the airplane killing 6 people. Makes me wonder about how he survived those previous 20,000 hours, right?

And it also shows that those 20,000 hours don't mean shit. You take a bus driver and put him in a finicky high performance vehicle, and you sure don't expect him to go out there and win the Indy 500. You don't even expect him not to crash. Hours in airliners don't translate to hours in other aircraft. To date I have witnessed three crashes in person — one of which almost killed me. All three of those pilots had over ten thousand hours of experience. But the amount of experience they had in the airplanes that they crashed, under the conditions that they were flying in, it was a lot less than that. And it showed. Because they did stupid shit, which in one case got 11 people on the ground killed and dozens more injured.

Too many airline pilots think that because they have lots of hours, they have lots of skill. I've seen this too many times and once even had some gal tell me that she knew more because she flew an A-380, when we were discussing flight characteristics in a small single engine airplane.

Well I gotta lot of skill sitting on my couch at home, and guess what? It's directly transferable to damn near any airliner out there. This isn't to say all airline pilots are unskilled, I've met a lot who I would trust to fly any kind of aircraft. But that's because they fly airplanes other than an airliner. They learned on many different aircraft, transitioned through many different aircraft, and have found themselves in many different and difficult situations. But let's be honest here: Flying is easy. It's so easy that anyone can do it. But flying is also inherently unforgiving of mistakes. You can't just pull over to the curb. You have to land, and there are only certain places where you can land safely.

Because of this, there are a lot of rules when you're flying. There are also a lot of rules that apply to each and every type of aircraft. When you start breaking these rules you are literally taking your life into your own hands. In some cases you are literally committing suicide. Now that's fine if it's just you, but it's not fine if other people are counting on you. And when you start putting ANYTHING before the safety of your passengers: You're done.

That guy who was flying 909? Yeah, I met him once. I thought he was an okay guy. I even flew in that very airplane. So I gotta ask myself: How the hell could he have been so damned stupid? And I think that the foundation that owned that airplane needs to sit down with all of their pilots and tell them that if they're not putting the safety of the passengers and the aircraft first — paperwork be damned — then they shouldn't be flying for them. Or perhaps, anyone.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Another Valens Legacy book is done.

Book #16 in the Valens Legacy just went live. #16, Times Like These.
For those waiting for the next POI book, that should be coming in late Fall.

Here's the link for the new Valens -> Times Like These

And the cover: