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Archive for the ‘Speculative/Sci Fi’ Category

Main Character Blog Tour

I’d like to thank Marta Merajver-Kurlat, author of Just Toss the Ashes, for inviting me to participate in this blog tour. To read her post, click on http://www.martamerajver.com.ar/marta/index.php/blogroll

I’ve been asked to respond to the following questions about My Main Character in a Work in Progress.

1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

The main character, Roman Starke is the most influential man in the world as head of The Bank of the Milky Way, the target of a paranormal alliance. He is a work of my imagination, although his nickname is JC (comparable to the famous Roman conqueror), and some of his personality traits were conspicuous in a 21st century Republican presidential candidate.

2. When and where is the story set? space elevator image

This novel delves into the future described in my first novel, Pieces of You. The world of 2040 has changed drastically since that novel’s protagonist died. Control of the wealth is in the hands of a coalition of three international banking corporations, with the Bank of the Milky Way being the dominant force .
The story moves between Roman’s offices: Dallas; Moscow; George, South Africa; and Shanghai and into the outer reaches of the space elevators operated by the coalition.

3. What should we know about him/her?

He is a charismatic, brutal, greedy world leader and a widower with two daughters. Calligula

First Impression of Him: Rather handsome still; doesn’t look his age. After five minutes with him, it is clear how self-centered he is (all discussions revert to him/his experiences & perceptions).
Life-changing Events: Father’s death of a heart attack at 48 and wife’s death at 43 (hit by a car while riding her bike).
Accomplishments: Took over father’s investment firm and, with a partner, expanded it to become one of the world’s most profitable (he is now one of the world’s top ten richest).
Weaknesses: Tendency to retract statements and revise values based on ambition rather than morality; allows himself to be manipulated by a team of advisors, although he is unaware of their demonic origins.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

The coalition Roman heads stores much of the basic foodstuff in outer space, transported there by a space elevator. The space elevator quits functioning after less than a year in operation when the cable is severed by a rocket veering off-course and cutting into the ribbon of carbon nanotubes. To reconnect the severed nanotubes quickly is very dangerous and no one with sufficient expertise has yet been found who is willing to take the risk. It is also very expensive and the banking coalition has not yet recovered the cost of the original placement. With the space elevator out of commission, the cost and speed of bringing food from its storage warehouse in space triples.
As the world famine becomes severe enough to produce rebellion, Roman’s daughter, Callie, tries–but fails–to influence the global leadership to expand the agricultural system they’ve created. Just as revolution seems imminent, Callie announces she will be the one to repair the space elevator. She won’t listen to her father’s objections and is helped by a team of his subordinates. In the minutes before ascension, the rebel leader, Camden, rushes up to Callie and gives her a passionate kiss. He is gone before Roman’s guards can capture him, but his kiss carries a virus and before her work is finished, she falls to her death.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

His external ambition is to bring Callie into his company, not only because she is his favorite daughter, but also because she is the only person he trusts.
His internal ambition is too be revered globally, almost like a god. His dream is to be the number one global leader, and he is well on his way.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The title is Battle of Jericho, 2040. Here’s a short excerpt:

The tip of Roman Starke’s ears got flaming red when he listened to the message from the anchor station while he pulled on his mustache. Not the usual brushing over the hairs with the pads of two fingers; instead a hard jerking that could have thinned the mustache of a less robust man. But he uttered only one word—crap. Patrice, the only other person in their South African office, jerked to attention spilling the coffee she’d been savoring. The cup bearing the bank’s nickname, Candyland Bank, hit the thick carpet with a soft thud. Wiping up the puddle was not the most pressing concern . Hearing her boss use that tone of voice and with a word that was as close as he ever got to swearing meant bad news–seriously bad news. It had to be one of two issues: trouble from his younger daughter or a lifter malfunction.
“Is it Randi again?”
“Who?” Roman seemed in another world but recovered enough to speak his elder daughter’s name into his wireless mike. As Callie’s face appeared on the wall screen, it was clear where the problem originated.
“Dad, the cars were up there twenty–“
“I don’t care if they were up there two minute ago if they aren’t there now. I’ve put millions into this project, if you will, and I won’t have it fail! Callie, I need answers. Put Torin online, please.”
“But Dad, he’s busy—“
“I’m busier. A grain shipment is due from the space station tonight. I need to know I can count on its arrival.”
The screen showed her pretty mouth inverted, each end an arrow pointing to her trembling chin. She didn’t say anything else, just turned away from the monitor.
Roman wanted to call her to come back, but he only managed a weak Cal as Torin’s features solidified.
“Mr. Starke, we’re all upset. We’re doing our best to figure out what’s goin’ on up there.” Torin wanted to add, think of her crew, but he knew that would be a futile request.
“Will the shipment be here on time?”
“I can’t promise that until I know what we’re up against. You’ll know thirty seconds after we do.”
“That will be acceptable if it’s not more than two hours and thirty seconds from now. And pray that it’s good news.”
“Yessir.” After signing off, Torin had a desperate urge to hit something, but all the equipment was too expensive to pulverize. Instead, he changed into swim trunks, settling for a quick dunk in the Pacific Ocean. When he climbed back on board, shivering and expelling water like a wet puppy, Callie was waiting at the ladder with a towel, a light beer, and a poor excuse for a smile. Still, it was enough to keep him from sounding as hysterical as the man he reported to, the one who seemed to think he had the power of a god. Well, in many ways he did.

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

My goal is for it to be available on Amazon as an e-book and a “print on demand” paperback by All Souls’ Day (November 2).

From a Plane to Rome to an Elevator into Space

 Trip to Rome & the Amalfi Coast

I haven’t been posting since before  a plane deposited three other ladies and me in Italy this May. Thank God for cameras because words cannot adequately express what we saw while roaming through Rome, Naples and along the Amalfi Coast. I’ll let these YouTube videos–okay, and the Italian music–speak more eloquently of the beauty of the art and countryside and of the calamitous ruins of the Coliseum and the city of Pompeii.

http://youtu.be/8v7eF-FSoJQ and

Travel through Space & Time

I had also abandoned my work on my second novel until just recently. Now I’m back, or maybe I should say I’m off to outer space. I’d love to have you join me to  explore what a tiny, but unified team of rebels with divine connections will encounter as they resist a global corporate empire, owners of a working space elevator, who have their own otherworldly partners. Here’s the beginning:

Space Elevator Malfunction

The two in the climber unit had no warning. One minute they were looking down at the blue marble as the elevator lifted them and their cargo of grain into deep space, the next they were space junk.


Looking skyward, the small group on duty at the anchor station couldn’t spot the tether.  At less than eight inches wide—a tiny silver ribbon in a wide open sky—it wasn’t the easiest thing to make out, even with binoculars, as it climbed upward from the space station to the counterweight 62,000 miles up. But it had hung there for fifteen months now, never swinging in the breeze, as taut as a bow string.

One end of the cable remained anchored to the floating platform on which they stood. That connection was easy enough to see. When Torin, the chief mechanic, finally spotted an airborne section in low-Earth orbit, he understood why they hadn’t immediately detected it. It was not straight up.  Rather it had drifted to the left of the anchored section and appeared to be curving just where visibility with the naked eye became a struggle.

“Omygod,” he yelled. “When did the last climber unit start up the space elevator, Callie?”

“Two days ago,” the team’s girl Friday—a title no one would call her to her face—yelled back. “According to the log, loading was completed at 6 a.m. Tuesday with the lifters aloft thirty minutes later.”

“That means the elevator car should be 10,200 feet up by now. Please take a look ’cause I’m not seein’ it. And please tell me I’m only imagining a curvature in the cable!”

Callie looked over Torin’s shoulder while he zoomed the attached camera into the right height. An empty computer screen stared back.  As she turned toward Torin, an inscrutable look passed between them.

He turned back to the screen before he said, “They would’ve made contact if they were in trouble.”

“Maybe they encountered some space debris and had to slow down. The Maintenance Climber is still not as fast as we’d like. Try a different height.”

“No, that’s not it,” he replied instantly. “The orbital debris tracking system would’ve alerted us. I’ve already initiated a comprehensive search. We’ll know in thirteen minutes if the climber cars are up there.”

Nothing. The three moving cars–a vertical railroad–that had been crawling up the screen an hour before, were now invisible. Panic made Callie’s slim body shake so that she could barely get the words out: “You’d better.. make the call.. to Dad’s office.”


If you will give me your reaction to these paragraphs, I might save you a seat on the space elevator…

I Review, too! Here’s my Critique of “The Fountains of Paradise”

The Fountains of ParadiseThe Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought the book to learn more about space elevators and Arthur C. Clarke didn’t disappoint me there. Thirty-five years ago Clark imagined a time when Earthlings would find space travel available to the masses. How? By replacing rockets with an elevator moving straight up and down along hyperfilament thread held taught by an orbital anchor 31,000 miles up and a counterweight anchored in the ground on the equator.

The magnificent part of this story is that his vision may become a reality by the middle of the twenty-first century–and using some of the same materials and procedures so descriptively laid out in The Fountains. Clarke doesn’t weave a story of magic; he shows just how difficult it will be. But it will be worth the cost and effort when humans need to escape from our planet.

Yes, Clarke does include a peek far into the future where the Starholme return to Earth at the site of the Elevator (they’re not evil aliens, though). What makes this novel mind-boggling was the other end of the time traveling. Clarke also lets us look way back to the time this same site was the home of Kalidasa, a doomed king who created astounding engineering feats as his legacy.

One astounding feat was enough for me! Including both the far past and very distant future seemed to distract from the focal point, the amazing science in fiction called a Space Elevator.

View all my reviews

On Writing, by Rod Serling

One of the discussion points in this marvelous interview is about teaching writing. Rod Serling says that every writing professor should have studied the problems of our time as they relate to the youth of our time. Since I teach communications, this point stood out for me. A second point that had personal relevance was the question “Does espousing a cause lose character credibility?” Serling’s response:”leave that soapbox behind, but carry with you at all times your sense of caring…and put it into the mouths of flesh and blood people.” Yet Serling, best known for his television series,”The Twilight Zone,”often inserted in his scripts the themes of war, politics and equality. A quote by Gene Roddenberry explains how Serling enacted this guideline:

“No one could know Serling, or view or read his work, without recognizing his deep affection for humanity … and his determination to enlarge our horizons by giving us a better understanding of ourselves.”

After watching the interview on YouTube, which point(s) are most useful or startling to you?

“You can’t judge a book by its cover”–or can you?

cover for “Pieces of You”

This is my proposed cover for my novel. Can you tell what the book will reveal by its cover?

P. S. I plan to make Pieces of You available through Amazon soon, so please don’t put off giving me your honest feedback.

Joyce (J. F. Elferdink)





Why Start a Second Novel?

Since I now have marvelous editorial assistance for the eighth and hopefully final revision of my first novel, it is time to begin my sequel. I had not planned to write a second, especially since the idea for my first came after disaster struck in my life. It’s been four years since the death of my heart’s love, and life is good. I’m semi-retired: teaching one college course most terms and benefiting in many unexpected ways from the return to my hometown.  So why return to the struggle of writing a whole book?

Because there’s another story to be told that just might make a difference in the lives of a few people…  And since it’s a sequel, it  didn’t require a major crisis to be the initiating factor. Instead, starting the project represents my need to ask another question–maybe even getting answers along the way. As Gary Scmidt told the crowd at the Calvin Festival of Faith & Writing, a writer’s focus, comes when we find and attend to that question that stirs us and leads us to write stories that say to the reader: “Why don’t you try this?”

My question: How can I act justly when I am overwhelmed by the number of  injustices prevalent in our world and feel a sense of powerlessness to intercede?

Will I find answers? There’s no assurance they will come through storytelling, but I may at the least cause others to ask similar questions. So I begin…

Here’s the start of an outline for what I am calling a science fiction novel: [I would love to get feedback from you (e.g., Does Part I’s premise capture your attention? Bring up questions? ]


Purpose: To show that spirits are active on the Earth, good and evil fighting for dominance, although world conditions make it seem that evil is winning. But there’s hope when humans team up with supernatural beings (of the “white” kind)… One of these teams will include Janine, an elderly woman whose lover, Mark, died more than fifteen years ago. She has been feeling his presence strongly in the last few months as living conditions for her family (along with the vast majority of the earth’s population) have greatly deteriorated.

Part I

Continue where Mark’s glimpse of the future left off (in first novel, Pieces of You)

  1. The world has changed drastically. Control of the wealth is in the hands of a coalition of three international corporations. Partners for ten years, one is now trying to force the other two into subordinate positions. And it seems to be working. Corporation A has created an alliance with a supernatural group, even though the price will be extremely high. (more…)

Tour Site for the Novel, A Line in the Ice

On Wednesday I will review the newly published book, A Line in the Ice, by the authors who use the pen name Jamie Craig. These ten images, a visual preview, were gleaned from searching Google Images.  Do you think you can envision the story from these clues? Please come back to see if you guessed correctly about the plot of A Line in the Ice.

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