Robert Collins’ blog: writing fantasy and science fiction; reading and watching stuff; living minimally
Monitor is available again!
It's back as an ebook, but now it's in print as well. It also has a new cover by Wichita artist Kelly Peterson. Here's what it's about:
A woman scientist travels back in time. A TV preacher warns of the “mutant danger.” A teenager’s training to be a mutant hero. A mutant villain with ambition. How are these four people connected to a mysterious hero known as the Monitor?
Can the future be changed? And can a person be changed trying to do so?
For now, the book is on sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. It should be up at Apple and Kobo soon. Check my store page for links.
I don't have any specific events planned to promote the new release of the novel right now, but I will have copies at the events on my schedule.
Over the weekend of October 11-13, I was at Encounters, Wichita's SF convention. This was the second year for Encounters.
I got an Artist Alley table again. I sold 24 books at the con, plus 3 more were paid for by someone who'd gotten the books from me earlier in the year. That adds up to 27 sales at the con this year. That's up from 15 books sold last year.
Also up were the number of brochures I handed out. Last year I gave out about a dozen brochures. This year I handed out close to 30. In fact, I ran out on Saturday, so instead of taking part in any evening activities, I drove home after dinner and printed up a second batch.
This year I applied for a panel. My panel on writing and publishing science fiction and fantasy ended up being scheduled for Sunday at 3 PM. Well, someone has to draw the short straw. A handful of people did come to the panel. One young man asked most of the questions, but others took part as well. I'm glad I did it, and I plan to put in for a panel next year.
I saw quite a few familiar faces, both from around here and those who came from outside the Wichita area. I didn't get to meet any of the guests, which was a bit of a bummer. Overall, though, I had a great time. From what I heard, attendance was up a lot from last year. It's good that word is getting out about Encounters. I hope everyone who was there had a good time, too.
There's more book news on the horizon, and at least one more event coming up this year. Because of some glitches, I've created a new events page. Check there for my schedule of cons and book talks.
Talk to you soon!
Back in the hobby (again)
So, I'm going to give model railroading another shot.
I have a little extra time on my hands. I don't want to spend it just sitting around, watching TV, or listening to music or podcasts. Model railroading has been in my life for decades. It's not a hobby that I want to give up without making one more go to remain hooked.
A while back I found a website about micro & small layouts. The layouts featured got me thinking. If I built something small and manageable, a layout I could easily move around, I might run trains more often. The site informed my about puzzles and other ideas to make a very small layout work over time.
Among the forums at nScale.net is one on layout planning. One of the posted threads is in that section is called the "144 Square Challenge." The idea is to build a layout worth operating in 144 square inches, or 1 square foot. That, along with the micro layouts site, got my mind thinking.
Pictured above is the start of my first effort at meeting these challenges. The design is a small yard called an "Inglenook." The idea of Inglenooks is that you have space for cars that you organize into trains. You have an arrangement that makes creating trains a bit of work.
In this case, I have an extension that will only let me move 1 car at time. The siding at the top is Siding 1; it holds 1 or 2 cars. Below that is Siding 2; it can hold up to 3 cars. Below that is the Main Line. Let's say that car A is on Siding 1, and cars B and C are on Siding 2. The challenge is to get them into A-B-C order, moving 1 car at a time. It takes time to get them into the proper order. Begin rearranging the sidings the cars are on, and making up a train will take time and planning. The same goes for adding a fourth or a fifth car into the mix.
This is what real railroads do. Railroads have to organize trains to make it easy on the crew. The crew has the job of setting out and picking up cars along their route, in a limited amount of time. Organizing the cars before the crew departs the yard helps them do that job faster, with a minimum of wasted time, wasted fuel, and extra risk.
That's what I'm hoping to get out of this little layout. I'll try to blog about my progress as I put down scenery, a backdrop, and do some operating sessions. I have extra material left over, so with more track I can build a second layout with a different sort of operational puzzle.
We'll see where this train goes this time around...
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