We wants it!

Speaking as an observer of Brexit (from a healthy distance), I can only say in response to today’s news: what the hell?

It’s anybody’s guess as to what Theresa May thinks she can accomplish by putting off a Commons vote she knew she would lose. Certainly the EU negotiators and leaders are boggling at her claim that she is planning further negotiations on the Irish backstop. Twenty-seven nations have signed off on the current agreement. There is no more negotiation. This is the political equivalent of running after a taxi with its service light turned off — that taxi is not going to stop.

In the meantime, Andy Serkis — the actor who brought Gollum to life in the Lord of the Rings films — has just made his own political stance clear with a video that is black humor at its finest. My wife and I laughed so hard we were on the edge of tears.

Behold: Theresa Gollum May, caught on video in her parlor.

(The ticking clock was a brilliant touch — not only exemplifying the posh parlor but also literally counting down the seconds…)

Posted in humor, politics, video | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Celebrating the return of rights!

It has been three years since I signed away the rights to the two Without A Front books — The Producer’s Challenge and its conclusion, The Warrior’s Challenge — and those rights have now returned to me. It’s a good, good feeling to have full control over my work again.

To celebrate, I’m offering both books in ebook format for just $2.99 each, a sale I’m only advertising to my blog readers and the book club that I hang out with on Facebook.

Why buy them again if you already have them? I can think of three reasons:

1) The gorgeous new covers. I collaborated with the same artist who created the fabulous phoenix cover for Outcaste, and the results have been glorious.

2) The Warrior’s Challenge has been re-edited, tightened, smoothed out, and had some new dialogue added. It’s a faster, better read.

3) At this price, each book costs less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

And did I mention the covers? I’m getting them printed out in poster size so I can frame them. The Warrior’s Challenge in particular knocked my socks off, with its purples and blues, the river reflecting moonlight and trees, the formal garden visible through the title, the classic beauty of the State House, and…that sword.

book cover of Without A Front: The Warrior's Challenge

You can find both books at Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Barnes & Noble — all the usual places. Head over to Without A Front: The Producer’s Challenge and click the “Get it Now” button, which will whisk you to whichever store you prefer.

The gateway to Without A Front: The Warrior’s Challenge is here.

This sale will last until Friday, as a thank you to the folks who have been with me the longest. You’re the best!

Posted in good news, writing | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Share your gifts

Woke up this morning and found this in my newsfeed, and it kind of got me in the heart. It may be an ad, but it’s an ad in the best manifestation possible: a 3-minute short story that gives holiday fuzzies and offers very good life advice.

It’s about a woman named Sofia who secretly writes, but can’t bear to share her writing with anyone for the same reason that most of us are reluctant: fear of our greatest creative efforts being…not enough. Or stupid, or silly, or offensive, or any number of reactions we tell ourselves are good reasons to hide our secret labors.

Her creativity leaks out in other ways, but always she hides it from others, until one night her faithful dog can’t stand it any longer — and releases her creativity into the night.

(After my heart melted watching this, I then watched a “making of” video and holy cow, the set they built! This was a handcrafted piece of art.)

Posted in ad worth watching, Apple | Tagged , | 11 Comments

The kilogram redefined

This long-form article on Vox is a fascinating read on both why and how the kilogram was recently redefined. No longer based on a single plug of metal stored under lock, key, and guard, it will soon be based on a universal constant.

I’d recommend the article for anyone who likes geeky stuff, but here are a few things in particular that caught my eye.

1. Anyone who tattoos both the Planck constant and the motto of the metric system (“For all times, for all people”) on their arm absolutely deserves the label of Badass Scientist.


2. I did not know that the metric system was born in the French Revolution! 

3. Currently, the exact value of a kilogram is based on Big K, the aforementioned plug of metal housed in Sèvres, France since 1889. Since that time, it has lost approximately 50 micrograms (the mass of an eyelash), which means our kilogram standard has changed with it. Because everything in the world, every balance and scale and weighing system in any nation, is based on Big K.

4. “If Big K were stolen, our world’s system of mass measurement would be thrown into chaos.” Upon reading this, my first thought was: Oh yeah, there’s a fabulous crime thriller right there. Can someone please make that into a movie starring Cate Blanchett? Thanks.

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Down the research rabbit hole

While writing Resilience, I needed to estimate how much maintenance a shuttle might need after each hour of space flight. As a guide, I looked up maintenance requirements of US military jets and was floored.


Not my shuttle.

On average, a military jet needs 10-15 hours of maintenance for every hour that it flies. When the F-22 stealth fighter was approved for development, one of the requirements was that at “system maturity” (meaning 100,000 hours of flight time fleet-wide), the fighter would only require 12 direct maintenance hours for each hour of flight.

Then there’s the F-35. You might have heard of this as the most expensive military jet ever produced, which has been behind schedule (as in, two decades) and a boondoggle of epic proportions. In 2016, the most recent year I could find figures for, the F-35 required 42-50 maintenance hours per hour of flight. A ratio of 1:50 does not sound like much of a deal to me.

Upon emerging from my rabbit hole (after spending some time fascinated by the F-35 clusterfart — and take a look at the URL for that article; it’s hilarious), I decided not to specify a number for my space shuttle maintenance requirements — but I can’t imagine an advanced space exploration entity putting up with numbers like that! So all of that research work amounted to one paragraph of text in the book.

But I never consider research wasted. Here’s one thing that came out of it for me: I instantly understood what happened at Tyndall Air Force Base.


When Hurricane Michael swept over the Florida panhandle, its eye passed directly over Tyndall. The base — which had been evacuated beforehand — was a total loss. Photos taken afterward showed that a number of jets had been left behind, including some F-22s.

(Detail: according to the Air Force, these jets cost $143 million each, but that’s just the construction cost. Factor in R&D and other expenses and some Pentagon insiders say the per-unit cost is closer to $350 million.)

Tyndall housed a fleet of 55 F-22s, at least 33 of which were sent to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio for safety. That left 22 unaccounted for. The Air Force wouldn’t admit that any of them were still on base, but the photos and conclusions soon swept over the internet. Cue fits of outrage over the idea of the Air Force simply leaving these incredibly expensive jets to be destroyed. What incompetence!

F22s Tyndall

F-22s tucked into a hangar at Tyndall Air Force Base to escape the wrath of Hurricane Michael. Photo by Staff Sergeant Matthew Lotz.

What most people (who aren’t aviation enthusiasts or science fiction writers doing research) don’t realize is that housing a fleet of 55 jets doesn’t mean that all 55 are flightworthy. Remember: 12 hours of maintenance for every hour of flight time, and that’s assuming *normal* maintenance, not unexpected repairs or having to wait for parts to be shipped. In fact, an Air Force report found that in 2017, only 49% of the F-22 fleet was mission capable at any given time.

Those jets couldn’t be flown off the base. They had to be left behind, in the hopes that the hurricane wouldn’t cause billions of dollars of damage by wrecking a handful of them. (A little math fun: 22 jets at $350 million each is…$7.7 billion.)

Just a few days ago, the Dept. of Defense finally came out and said that the remaining F-22s on base will be flown out for repairs, “under their own power.”

It still wouldn’t admit how many jets had been left behind. However, the cat got out of the bag when Senator Rubio (of Florida) sent a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force, urging her to ask Congress for funds to repair all the damaged F-22s. The letter noted that “31 percent of F-22 aircraft at Tyndall Air Force Base were designated Non-Mission Capable (NMC) and were sheltered in place.”

31% of 55 equals a whopping 17 fighters left behind to survive the hurricane. Ouch.

Posted in USA, writing | Tagged | 2 Comments

We’re #1! (Resilience unfolds)

Resilience was released at midnight last night, and I experienced something new and wonderful: I watched readers posting about it, time zone by time zone, as their pre-orders kicked in and the book downloaded to their e-readers.

People posted images of their devices with the book on it. They talked about waiting up to see it happen. They calculated need for sleep against work schedules and said things like “I’m already 20% in and had to make myself stop.”




Writing a book is a long and hard journey. Ending it this way — knowing that people in different time zones and different countries are eagerly diving in — is so incredibly rewarding that I can hardly express it.

Here’s another rewarding thing: those pre-orders meant Resilience debuted at #1 in the LGBT Science Fiction category on Amazon.

Of course, it’s not really an LGBT book — it’s straight-up mainstream sci-fi that happens to have an asexual lead and a lesbian couple, along with a whole shipload of heterosexual characters — oh, and some decidedly non-human aliens whose sexuality is really not the issue our characters are most concerned with. 



Someday, perhaps I’ll see that awesome orange “best seller” banner in a mainstream sci-fi category, but I’m very happy to see it in this one today. Readers who buy in this category are the folks I started with, many years ago. They’ve been with me on the whole journey, and are wonderfully supportive. They’re making this day a great one.

Many readers have collected themselves in a book club on Facebook, so if you’re a Facebook user and would like to hang out with curious, interesting people who have nerdy senses of humor, check out the Fletcher DeLancey Book Club. They’ll be doing a buddy read soon, with plenty of discussion that I’ll join in on. That is, once they’ve all ripped through their first read at light speed.

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Halloween = RESILIENCE

If you’ve been waiting for Resilience, the next book in the Chronicles of Alsea, I have good news: it’s available for pre-order!

You can order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books so far. I expect it to go up on Kobo and several others in the next day or so. The paperback edition will be available on Amazon and should go live (for pre-order) today or tomorrow.

Release day is, of course, Halloween — the perfect day to sit down and read a fast-paced tale about one alien learning to fit in with a ship’s crew, and very different aliens who aren’t trying to fit in at all.

You might want to keep the lights on.

Halloween Resilience

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Speaking as a finely tuned predator

As anyone who knows me can attest, I’ve loved using Apple computers since long before it became popular. That doesn’t mean I don’t gripe when it’s called for.

Apple prides itself on usability. Way back in the stone age, it even published a manual for developers on proper GUI (graphical user interface). It was groundbreaking at the time, and is still the standard.

Which is why I remain baffled (and griping!) that Apple abandoned parts of its own manual in 2011. That was the year it introduced OS X Lion — and what many of us not-so-fondly call the color vampire.

Lion sucked all color out of toolbars and sidebars, along with their distinctive shapes. Buttons that were formerly easy to find were now monochrome squares indistinguishable from other nearby monochrome squares, except for some tiny bit of detailing that didn’t exactly leap out.

Here’s the thing: we humans are predators. Omnivorous predators, to be specific. Our brains are finely tuned through a few gazillion years of evolution to instantly recognize a desired object (or a feared one) by color and shape.

We are not wired to examine a line of monochrome squares and quickly distinguish between them. We can do it, but there’s a time penalty, and it takes more effort.


With the advent of Lion’s color vampire, many of us went searching for hacks to pour the color back in, or gave up on some Apple software and used third-party programs instead. I gave up on Finder and turned to PathFinder, which is the sidebar on the left in the above image. You can see why I’ve stuck with it for the past seven years. 

Apple’s new Mojave came out last month with a much-touted revamped Finder. I allowed myself to hope.

Well, there are many things to like in the new Finder, but customization and color are not among them. So I’ll post my gripe, a tiny note on the massive internet wall, and know that it will probably suffocate beneath the blanket of assertions that monochrome is now considered more “professional.” Pah. You can keep your professional; just give me the option to be my throwback self, the omnivorous predator wired to detect colors and shapes.

Back I go to PathFinder. Call me when Apple remembers to use its GUI manual.

Posted in tech | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A little geeky problem-solving

Sometimes, when the world news is too much to handle, I take refuge in geeky things. Science and technology are constantly delivering up good stories and/or cool things to learn. And sometimes, it’s the tiny things that make me happiest. 

Here is a story of a tiny thing I learned. But first, the problem I was trying to solve…

As an author, I am constantly copying and pasting blocks of text from my writing program (Scrivener, long may it reign) into an email to send to a beta reader. The problem is that my book text does not contain spaces between paragraphs, but in an email, the lack of spaces can get confusing. So in the bad old days, I’d copy and paste the text block, then go through paragraph by paragraph to hit Return and insert a blank line after each one. Painful.

Later, I automated this with a custom service in my menubar that searched the text and replaced one carriage return with two. It worked, but required quite a few clicks and maneuverings to get what I wanted.

Yesterday I had the bright idea of using Typinator to make this easier. This powerful little app is a text expander in which abbreviations are instantly expanded into words, pictures, snippets of text, URLs — whatever you can think up. For instance, I write my email address by simply typing “oe” (short for Oregon Expat).

Typinator also uses Regex — a type of programming that could easily accomplish what my previous service did. All I needed was the exact command string.

I’d like to say that I quickly figured it out, but the truth is that I studied Regex tutorials for about two hours, then studied the Typinator Help documentation, and then threw my hands in the air and emailed the developer.

He emailed back within hours. The solution was dead simple:

Typinator solution

This takes the contents of the clipboard, searches it for single carriage returns after text (i.e. the search excludes blank lines), replaces them with double carriage returns, and then pastes the result.

So now my workflow consists of copying the text, placing my cursor in the email, and typing “=v.” (Easy to remember since the keyboard shortcut for pasting is Command+V.)

Magic. This is why I love tech.


Posted in tech | Tagged | 6 Comments

Chronicles of Alsea: Book SEVEN

It’s been an awful week for my American friends and family — and for me as well, watching from afar and feeling like a refugee. Words of encouragement don’t seem to mean much in the face of such deeply entrenched, powerful indifference to the needs or beliefs of the majority of the nation.

I can offer this, though: a small thing to look forward to, a book into which you can escape for a precious few hours.

Resilience, the sequel to Outcaste, is being released on Halloween. Appropriate, since it features some decidedly non-humanoid aliens.

RESILIENCE blog size

Resilience is the story of Rahel Sayana’s first patrol on the Phoenix, and a fast-paced tale that will pull you along from start to finish.

As the first empath on the crew, Rahel has an uphill battle from the beginning, and that’s not taking into account the cultural differences. But Lhyn Rivers is there to guide her, and Captain Serrado is making sure her senior officers help where they can.

Their plans for a careful, structured training go by the wayside when the Phoenix runs into a mystery: a cargo ship with a dead crew and signs of unwanted life.

Rahel may be new to Fleet and space travel, but her instincts and skills have always been about protection. With the Phoenix under quarantine and unseen aliens on the loose, she will do what she has always done. She will stand between danger and those who need her, no matter the risk.

Take your mind out for an adventure on Halloween — you’ll find Resilience in all the usual stores.

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