The Sanguire trilogy is written! YAY! Broken Trails should be out by the end of the year! YAY! My vacation starts today – fifteen days of pure nothing to do but putter around the house and cuddle my wife! YAY!

Now what?

(insert photo of writer deflating here)

I can’t go long without creating; when I do take too much time before the next project, people get hurt. Just sayin’. (And sometimes it’s me, cuz my wife smacks me upside the back of the head for being an ass. Can’t blame her in the slightest, really. I know how I can get.)

Fortunately, I’ve spent the last few weeks wishing I was anywhere but current day Portland, Oregon with my Sanguire characters. (Hence the bliss at being free from the books until edits hit my email! Ugh! I’m sick of these people!) In my free time, I’ve been daydreaming about (drum roll, please): Freya’s Tears. Therefore, this long, windy post is going to be about how a space ship and crew came into being. (That’s your warning. Leave now if you bore easily.)

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Nearly thirty years ago, my girlfriend-at-the-time dragged me into role playing games. (Good gods! Has in been that long? Where did the time go?) Dungeons & Dragons was the rage among her crowd, but there were plenty of other games we flirted around with – Star Frontiers, Traveller, Shadowrun, Cyberpunk. I split off from the group when they got into the White Wolf vampire games, but the futuristic science fiction RPGs really made an impact on me. (CyberEpic is an offshoot of a Cyberpunk nomad gang I created for the game. Hel, my name is from the same nomad gang, Tribe Redhawk!)

To be honest, our gaming group never actually played Traveller when I was involved with them. Adrian had all the books, and I read them from cover to cover. Being an introvert living in a house with two wild boy children, I’d lock myself in the spare bedroom (Adrian’s study) and world build. I had a notebook in which I had built a ship and created the crew, star systems, planets, trade routes, etc. My ship was a scoundrel — it looked legit, but would smuggle goods for the right price. I even had two sets of books for it in case the authorities boarded! (I’m a geek, whaddya expect? Sheesh!)

Years later, I’m still a geek. I’ve been involved in online Star Trek RPGs for a dozen years first on an independent ship, and later on a number of sanctioned ships through the Obsidian Fleet. During that time I’ve learned how to play well with others as well as take a leadership role in the game, but haven’t gotten over my anal retentive tendencies. I’m obsessive about information, scouring bookstores and the web for things to use in game, be it gear or plots or character interactions. I think writing with other people has also helped my writing immensely; it’s easier to see the broader picture when you don’t have complete control over character interaction, and allows for a more…fluid sense of storytelling.

But I digress. This is a post about my latest idea.

Lately I’ve wanted to get out of the Star Trek universe, break away a bit, you know? Something more along the lines of Firefly than Trek, something less bright and clean and technologically advanced. Over the years, my online research has given me ample material to work with from all manner of RPGs. A couple of years ago, I found the original Traveller books and a bunch of resource material for the game. SCORE! A cruise through Powell’s Bookstore netted the Judge’s Guild Navigator’s Starcharts, and lo, the Zeta Lyman Sector of my universe was born. I bought a handful of ebooks giving potential plot ideas (100 Space Opera Seeds, etc.) which resulted in a whole mess of potential plotlines for future books. My BFF, Shawn, accidentally bought too many Star Trek Role Playing Game books, and sent me her extras, thereby giving me different aspects of ship and character creation to work with. The list is endless.

Then there’s Firefly. If you haven’t seen the series, do so now! It’s wicked
fun. Joss Whedon outdid himself here. It only lasted a year, but the show is as viral as the original Trek was — it’s spawned hundreds of Browncoats groups who have worked together to raise money for a number of charities. (Can’t Stop The Serenity takes place here in Portland on August 20th, proceeds to go to ??? I can’t wait!)

Damn! Wandering off topic again!

Okay, okay… Got Traveller – check. Got RPGs in general – check. Got Firefly – check. What else? Oh, yeah!

Jack McDevitt is the final piece here. Another golden find at Powell’s, I picked up Eternity Road and absolutely adored the novel! From there, I devoured every title he’s published. The majority of his stories come from an exo-archeological point of view – characters find weird and wild things at dig sites all over their section of the galaxy created by various long-dead alien civilizations. It’s like Indiana Jones among the stars!

So have a good ideas for the ‘verse, the ship, the various adventures my crew can get into… toss in some sabotage, back stabbing, and romance, and I’ve almost got a story, hey? What’s left?

D’oh! Main characters! (I do write lesbian romance novels, of course. Can’t have just one.) The first is someone I created for one of my Trek games, Elisibet Ulfarsdottir. I liked her character so much, I thought I’d import her into the captaincy of a mid bulk transport to see what happened. The other is a derivative of Dusky Holt from CyberEpic. (No, not the same character, but similar.)

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So there you have the equation:

Traveller + Star Trek RPGs + Firefly + Jack McDevitt + character imports = Freya’s Tears

Desperate for cash to keep the ship running, Captain Elsibet Ulfarsdotter agrees to haul twenty stasis chambers to a medical facility…only to discover they are occupied by kidnapped children.

(Author’s note: Not all ideas take this long to germinate. Your mileage may vary.)

Today’s post was inspired by the topic ‘How did you come by your latest idea?’, this month’s question on the Merry-go-Round Blog Tour, an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers, and find out what’s on their nightstands, check out the rest of the tour! On the 11th, the entry was by D. Anthony Brown. Tomorrow, see what David Bridger has to say on the matter! Happy reading!

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