I am very wary of publishing on the internet the projects I have underway. It is too easy for unethical people to steal my work. So, with apologies to potential agents and publishers, I will be rather circumspect. However, it is possible to provide some details about the work, without actually publishing the works themselves.
Note: This web page is under construction.
I was intrigued by the concept of Dark Elfs while reading Ring of Words : Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, Edmund Weiner and Jeremy Marshall. The book made reference to the work Mr. J.R.R.Tolkien's work with the Old Norse language and mythology, and of the concept of anti-elfs or "Dark Elfs." Justiciar ur hinn Dokkalfar is the result.
To break into writing screenplays, I need several examples of my work. I was told to write the screenplays for television programs that have been cancelled. In that way, the people evaluating the scripts will have less fear of problems with accidentally using the ideas in a presently running series. These scripts are intended to be "throw aways."
The problem with this approach is that I write fantasy fiction. The fantasy fiction market is absolutely polluted with fan fiction. Now, I honestly don't hold anything against writers of fan fiction. They are simply enthusiastic people who are expressing their enthusiasm. Name a fantasy fiction television program, and you are likely to find hundreds of examples of fan fiction online about that television program. I do not write fan fiction, but I find myself repeatedly pigeon-holed with that crowd. I rather resent that, as I am not "just an enthusiast" for one particular show. I am enthusiastic about the art of writing and writing well. As a result of all the fan fiction, I must write three full scripts, instead of one. As someone with a day job and a home life, three full scripts is quite a time consuming project. Regardless, I am plowing onward with it. To promote myself better, I am writing movie-length scripts, which makes the project that much more difficult. All that fan fiction has made it harder for me to break into writing screen plays. I do not actually resent the fan fiction folk, except they make my job harder. In some ways, the existence of fan fiction can be a good thing. It means I must write even better to get noticed, and my goal is to write markedly better than the pack.
Another problem with writing spec scripts for fantasy fiction is that there are a limited number of fantasy fiction vehicles that reach the market. I separate fantasy fiction from science fiction here. So, I do not count Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, et al. Then, there is the whole super-hero sub-genre, which could be considered fantasy fiction, I suppose. I tend, though, to think of fantasy fiction as more of a swords and sorcery, dungeons and dragons kind of thing. There are very few television programs with swords in them, which limits severly the number of different spec scripts I can write. And most unfortunately, the fantasy fiction that makes it to the big screen or to the little screen quickly develops a cult following which then generates huge amounts of fan fiction. On the other hand, the fact that fantasy fiction is so well received portends well for any fantasy fiction vehicle that reaches the big or small screen. It surprises me that the agents and networks do not see this.
Amazon Wolf is set in the late bronze age in the Caucasus region. It is based on the ancient Greek myths of
the Amazon warrior women. To support this book, I have done extensive research on the Caucasus region; on the
archaeology in the Urals where warrior women graves have been found; and on the Hittites, Scythians, Sarmatians, Amazons
and "the Sea People" (predecessors of the Ancient Greeks). I find the Caucasus to be a fascinating portion of the world
that is little considered by the people of the United States. Though the book is fantasy fiction, I wanted to build a
sense of reality by using real world peoples, places and cultures. I wanted to be very subtle in the beginning on the
fantasy fiction aspect of the work. In the first chapters, the book is almost pure historical fiction, set around
1200 BC. I hesitate to mention some of the historical points I use in the book, for fear of idea theft. However, I
will gladly discuss them with agents or publishers.
One thing I will admit is my use of the ancient Greek gods. Magic is a gift from the gods. So, the kinds of magic available to an individual is based on the realm of the individual god giving the magic. This "world structure" device has built within it a conundrum. Hecate is the Greek goddess of magic. So, if other gods give magic to their followers, what kind of magic is it when compared to the magic given by Hecate?
As I work in the missile field, I have experienced some very interesting missile test failures. I have also kept my ears open, and have collected the stories of many folk in the missile field. The reason for running a missile test is to see what happens and frequently the unexpected happens. Because of the nature of the business--secrecy--I have no way of knowing if all these stories are true, and in fact, some of them can easily be disproved. (I make this statement right up front.) That fact does not make the story any less entertaining or illuminating. Some of the stories are downright hilarious. Some of the stories are tragic. Sometimes, when the missile test is successful, the results are awe inspiring.
Example anecdote: This anecdote I received second hand, and I have no idea of its authenticity. I do not even
know which program created this story. In any case, the company was testing an anti-ship missile with a television camera
seeker in the nose. The missile was intended to be launched from a ship. You must remember that this kind of test occurs
very quickly. The missile leaves the tube, zooms to where it is going and detonates. We're talking a matter of seconds.
From hindsight, here is what happened. After launch, the missile saw itself reflected in a wave and decided to attack
itself. It dove for the wave and smacked it. At that point, all the gyroscopes "spilled," the television camera broke
and the rocket motor was still burning. So, the missile was unguided, skipping along the waves at a very high rate of
speed. I imagine that the missile was quickly destroyed by range safety. But replay those events at a real time speed.
All the team knew right after launch was that the dang thing suddenly decided to go wave hopping as soon as it left the
tube. There would have been a stunned silence from the test team, with the classic "WTF?" reaction. In some ways, it
seems rather funny for a missile to turn into a dolphin like that. Still, I am sure the Captain of the ship had to have
had some choice words to the test team about what this thing could have done to his ship. Undoubtedly, the next series
of tests were from some platform other than a Navy Ship, until it could be proved that this kind of thing was not going
to happen again.
Look at this incident from another angle, though. Could this have been predicted? Probably, provided the people on the project had an infinite imagination. In reality, this is exactly the kind of thing uncovered in a flight test. Possibly, the hardware was modified to prevent the camera from seeing the waves. I am sure that the software was modified to take wave reflections into account. Perhaps, some algorithm was included to be sure that the possible target was actually a little above sea level. Or, there could be an over-riding algorithm that would prevent the missile from getting too low, regardless of any targets being in the water. You don't want the missile to fly any lower than the highest wave-top seen by the camera, or perhaps any lower than some pre-launch setting. Regardless, the next flight was guaranteed never to smack the waves. The engineering team, engineering management, company management and the Department of the Navy would be all over that team like a bear on honey, making sure of that fact. The safety folk likely got involved. Software was likely added such that in the event the television seeker went bad, safe the warhead and if possible stop the rocket motor (e.g. breech the case).
This is the nature of flight testing, though. Find something unexpected and then fix it in a definitive way. The news media would call this test a failure, because the target was not hit. What they don't see is that the program was improved so that this failure will not happen again. With the increasing complexity of missile software over time, and the increasing difficulty of the missions being flown by missiles, it is remarkable that missiles get so reliable in so few flight tests. I am reminded that the P-38 Lightning of WWII fame was really not combat ready until it received a second generator, around the "J" model. Until that time, if you lost the wrong engine, you were on battery power. Dive brakes did not come until later, and many pilots were lost before then. Let's see, XP-38, YP-38, A, B, C... 11 different models before the first real combat-ready aircraft was produced. Now-adays, people who oppose every missile program get media attention to propose cancelling a program with one test failure--even before the "A-model" is produced! This is called balance in journalism. Simply find someone who opposes the position, regardless of how many times they have been wrong in the past.
It is hard to describe a photography text book without getting into enormous technical details. In the past,
photography 101 courses started with black and white photography--which is a highly advanced subject. They started there
because the chemistry was cheaper and the processing was (on the surface) less involved. Getting the mechanical details
sorted out about how to take a picture, how to process the film and how to make a print were what mattered. All that has
changed with digital photography, but most of the text books out there still rely on many of the techniques used to teach
photography in the past. They start from the beginning and work toward the finished product. We all know what happens
in such classes. The quarter or semester runs out before getting to the finished product. So yes, they get some camera
techniques and some feel for light, but they have no idea where to go with their photography. They have no idea how to
plan an excellent fine art print. They leave the course without knowing what a fine art print really is! I propose the
exact opposite approach. Let the course start with finished prints and examine what makes each print excellent. Do not
bother the students with trying to duplicate the results. The students need not even have a camera. There would be no
lab fees, no chemistry, no enlargers and no field trips. The course would be equally applicable to digital and traditional
photography. Do not worry how to create these prints. Just focus on what makes a good print. In Photography 110, "The
Camera," we can start to use the print features we learned about in Photography 101, but don't worry about that now. This
course would be ideally suited for an on-line learning situation. The assignments would be to examine several photographs,
and discuss on-line what was good and what was bad with each print. The tests would be very similar to the assignments.
Give a page review of each photograph, stating both good and bad points.
In Photography 110, we will still be giving critiques on photographs, except the photographs will be your own and will be the photographs of others in the class. It will be the same structure as Photography 101, except the assignments will include taking photographs (and posting them on-line) as well as giving critique. The goal is to give the photographer a foundation in how to constructively criticise his or her work, so that photography is a life-long learning experience.
This approach to photography is roughly the same as my approach to writing. The more I know about how great novels are put together, the more I can apply those techniques to my own work. In photography, I look at composition, contrast, tonality, color saturation, quality of the light, etc. In writing, I look at the quality of the dialog, emotional feel, conflict, tension, sentence quality, word choice, etc. It is the same technique, only a different language. If you want more of my critique technique, see .