Things are happening

Obviously, I haven’t posted in quite some time. Today’s post is mostly personal stuff, with a little writing and reading content at the end. Also, this is my first post using this new “block editor” thing, so I have no idea if any of this will even be readable. I have no time or inclination to learn what the block editor is all about, so I’m just typing text like it doesn’t exist.

My wife and I both got new jobs around the end of September, after being out of work for around six months. I’m not making what I was pre-covid, but my salary is much better than some of the things I was starting to look at in desperation. My position is technically a short-term contract running through the end of the year, but I’m hopeful it will turn into a longer-term job.

We’ve also moved twice, and are now in our own home. The previous owner (who was apparently a contractor, and I feel sorry for his customers) made a number of mind-boggling decisions when working on his house. These are things that I (not a construction professional) can instantly see are horrible mistakes that would only save a few dollars, but later cause infinite grief and large amounts of money to repair.

We made a number of cost-cutting measures in our personal lives, and I think we may continue with a number of them to rebuild our savings. We were without television and internet for a while, driving to McDonalds’ to use their wifi when we needed to fill out job applications or check our emails. That was one reason for my lack of blogging. We restored our internet service, a necessity since I’m now working from home, but we have no plans to get television again. It’s too expensive, not very entertaining, and the industry seems to be full of pedophiles, so I don’t want to support it.

I’m buying generic/store brand products whenever possible. In the past, I felt it was worthwhile to pay more for higher quality, but now I like saving money, and I’m tired of giving extra to corporations. I’ve always been a free market guy, but lately I’ve been watching US companies benefit from slave labor in China, then turn around and use their profits to terrorize American cities by paying to bail out rioters and then pay their transportation costs to allow them to swarm into unsuspecting communities.

I’ve moved to an area with toll roads, and I’ve been saving a few dollars by taking slower, convoluted routes around them. My wife and I used to take annual hiking vacations, but we haven’t done so for a couple of years now, and I have no idea when/if we’ll start doing so again. Not any time soon, for sure. I still have pictures from our last two or three trips that I haven’t shared online, though, so I may have some nice photo posts in the future.

We did spend some money this week preparing for the upcoming election. We’re treating it like an approaching hurricane. So, keeping our cars full on gas, getting cash from the ATM, and stocking up on all the usual stuff: food, water, flashlights and batteries, toilet paper, medical supplies. We’re also stocking up on anything we can think of that won’t go bad, and would be inconvenient to be without: toothpaste, mouthwash, vitamin pills, sandwich bags, laundry and dishwashing detergents, paper towels, and various other cleaning products.

OK, enough personal stuff, on to some writing and sci-fi content. I’ve been working on a new project, hand-writing it every night in bed before I fall asleep. I’ve produced almost 200 handwritten pages, but only have about fifteen or so typed into the computer so far. Earlier this year, I mentioned my renewed interest in roleplaying games, and this project is a supplement for the roleplaying game Traveller.

I’m putting together a book (or possibly four small books each having 1/4th the content) which contains various details about one hundred different planets, and maps of the quadrant of space they’re located in.

Instead of just coming up with one hundred ideas for planets, I gave myself a bit of a challenge. I randomly chose several features of each planet: climate/atmosphere, technology level, population, government type, and a few other things. Then, I tried to come up with an interesting story based on that combination.

I first wrote up a few paragraphs on each planet’s history and economy, trying to extrapolate from those randomly-generated aspects. Then, I wrote up several plot “hooks”, or types of adventures Traveller players might have in that environment. Finally, I generated an NPC for each planet, using the sort of mini-game within Traveller that is used to create PCs. I also wrote a couple of paragraphs of backstory for each NPC based on the planet they came from and the results of the generation process. These NPCs could be used to introduce players to the plot hooks, or could assist the PCs on their adventures.

It will be a long, long time before I get this entire thing typed up, but I’m having fun creating it, and I’m proud of what I’ve created. Once it’s done, I’ll have to decide what to do with it. Should I just publish it as my own thing, or tie it to one of the current brands of Traveller such as Mongoose or Cepheus? Should I sell it exclusively on DriveThruRPG, or are there other outlets that are worthwhile? Should I give copies to Traveller bloggers or podcasters hoping for reviews?

Anyway, now that I’m not spending 100% of my time job-hunting, I’m hoping to get back to blogging about sci-fi short stories and other topics. I don’t think I’ll go back to my previous goal of one post a week, but hopefully I’ll do better than the abysmal job I’ve done this year.

For now, here are a few books (off the top of my head) that you might want to look at. I’m currently reading Dark Fantasies, a short story collection by Misha Burnett. I’ve been impressed by what I’ve read so far. Jon Mollison has released Sudden Storm, the third book in his Suddenverse series, and I haven’t even read book two yet. CS Boyack has released a sequel to Voyage of the Lanternfish, called HMS Lanternfish. These books are pirate fiction, but with fantasy components such as magic and monsters thrown in. I’ve been talking with author Alexander Hellene online, and he’s planning to release a sequel to his book The Last Ancestor. Hopefully I’ve given you enough books to look into until my next post.


  1. Glad to hear from you. Good luck….

  2. I’ve been wondering about you. Several blog friends have dried up this year and it worries me. Sounds like you’ve changed directions and I hope it’s all positive from here on. Thanks for the nod about Lanternfish. I need to write the final trilogy volume this winter.

    1. Maybe some of your other friends will come back, after they get some things straightened out in their lives, like I did. I’m hoping all this covid-related stuff was a one-time deal, and I won’t go through such a tough employment situation in the future.

      I’ve picked up a copy of HMS Lanternfish, but haven’t read it yet. My work schedule is going to be crazy for a while, so my reading time is limited. Maybe I can do some reading around Thanksgiving and Christmas, though.

      1. I’ve told people that ebooks are forever. I’m excited that you want to read it and whenever you get to it is wonderful. I thought maybe you were more of a Grinders kind of guy. That’s my foray into cyberpunk.

  3. I’m glad things are improving for you, that was a very rough time.

    Your RPG book sounds interesting and useful.

    1. Thanks. I hope other people will find the book as interesting as I do!

  4. Wow. Glad you’re on a path to recovery at least. Hang in there!
    I think the drivethruRPG/DM’s guild route is a good idea. Does Traveller operate under an open gaming license or anything?(Not sure how all that works.)
    And if you need more reading material, I’d be happy to donate. 🙂 Though I think you’ve read quite a bit of mine already. (Just let me know.)

    1. Thanks. There is an OGL for the Traveller rules, I think, but you can’t mention the name Traveller There is a way to be able to use the official name, but I haven’t looked into what that involves. The people at Cepheus put out a version of the rules without using the name, and they will let you use the Cepheus name, I believe.

      I’d love to read more of your stuff, and I’m happy to pick up copies at Amazon to boost your sales rank. If you’ve converted anything into audiobook format lately, let me know, and I can pick up a copy at audible. My reading time is limited right now, but I’m hoping it will pick up in a month or two.

      1. I have a few things in audio but not many yet. I actually invested in a “do it yourself” course but who has time for that?? My plan is to maybe get a decent microphone from “Santa” this year and give it a try it out on my short story collections first. (Do people listen to short stories collections more than they read them? I would think that’d be a decent market but I don’t really know.) Life’s kind of kicking the crap out of me at the moment, too, so not getting much done outside of the necessities of survival.

        You can find my limited audible fare here:
        (or just search “j d brink” which is obviously what I did here…)

        I think the most fun one is Invasion, which had a mysterious spike in interest a few months back. The story was told by both a male and female narrator, and they knocked it out of the park. 🙂

        As always, thanks for the support, sir!

  5. Hope you are better settled now.

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