On the Epsilon universe and its history

There are some universes that as readers, we just can’t shake.

Writers have the same problem, and as is the case with readers, viewers, fandoms, etc., the results can be both good and bad.

I like to think what’s happened with the Epsilon universe has largely been good, though I know the wait for some of the people who have read Broken Stars has been pretty bad, and while I regret that it’s been such a long wait, I have to admit that this universe is kind of my baby and I really want to get things right—which is an impulse I think most people can understand.

I started working on elements of what would become the Epsilon universe back in junior high school, though at the time I didn’t know it.  It wouldn’t be until high school that I produced the first extremely rough draft of what I thought was going to be a single book that told a very large but very rough story.  That draft will never again see the light of day (it was that bad) but it let me work through a lot of ideas and led to my growth as a writer in a lot of very good ways.

As I worked my way through various drafts of several different projects, the universe of the Epsilon series began to take shape—I used to call it “UoC,” short for “universe of conflict” which was a terrible, if accurate, name.  As it grew, the universe became increasingly complex and gained a history—and historians—of its own.

The in-setting history of the Epsilon universe starts in the 2050s with the foundation of a unit called Freedom Alpha—the exploits of the unit itself were less important than the people it brought together.  Eventually, after official first contact with several of the major alien races present in the Epsilon universe (most notably the Pharridan and the Menah) and humanity’s forays into interstellar space, the unit name comes up again, this time attached to a unit of the Stellar Marines assigned to an off-world post.  That unit, among others, is one of the few to survive humanity’s first encounters with a hostile alien race relatively intact.  It becomes the core of the 14th Stormer Elites, a unit that becomes important during the First Preytax War (circa 2105-2115) and remains important during the Second Preytax War (circa 2120-2127).  These wars are the ones that Korea Cooper—Sam Cooper’s MIA older sister, Luc Ross’s lover, and the former head of the Resistance in the sector Luc now runs—studied as part of her graduate work in history.

Those wars are far more important than anyone appearing in Broken Stars and Redeemer realize—at least at this point—with the possible notable exception of Alexander Sotheby (but more on that another time).

Up until recently, I thought the Preytax were some kind of hyperevolved reptilian species, bipedal, highly intelligent, and brutal.  That’s changed thanks to something someone brought to my attention via tumblr and I honestly wish I could find the photo credit for this thing because it’s incredible—and I have no idea where it originated, but it was like a lightning strike when I really took a good hard look at it.

It is the face of a collective nightmare, something that folklore has often warned cultures about for centuries—creatures with pale sink, black eyes, sharp teeth.

Why wouldn’t that be the face of a hostile, hungry race that has preyed upon the sentients of the galaxy for centures?

I don’t know who’s responsible for the original picture, but I am grateful to them because they finally showed me the face of a race that has reshaped the history of humanity in the Epsilon universe—and continues to do so up through Broken Stars and its sequels.

But more on that later.

Prompt for July 13, 2014 – Day 194

Aww, it’s Sunday already?  Bummer…

Fun fact: today’s opening line is actually the opening line from my first full-length novel, Epsilon: Broken Stars.

Prompt Type: Opening Line

Prompt:  “Identification.”


Got an idea for a prompt?  Email me at emklitzke (at) gmail (dot) com.

Current projects and ramblings

Well, November’s over and we’re now well into December and I’ve been busy the past few months, as I’m sure folks have noticed.  My updates for Ashes to Ashes and Awakenings have been shorter than usual for the past few months, for which I whole-heartedly apologize!  I’ve been spending some time recharging my batteries the past few weeks and prior to that was knee-deep in some plotting with a few friends for some potential collaborations (in a new fantasy universe, the science fiction universe of The General’s Lady, and in the UNSETIC/Lost Angels universe), but now I’m getting back on track with my own work and I’m loving every minute of it.

I spent my November getting deeply reacquainted with my Epsilon universe and of my NaNoWriMo work, folks may be seeing some short works about General Jackson “Longshot” Hunter, JJ Collins, and perhaps a few others that have been mentioned in Broken Stars and Falling Stars only briefly. Stay tuned for updates on that front.

More recently, I have begun to work on edits and reviews for the special edition of War Drums and the (somewhat belated) release of Awakenings book three, Omens and Echoes.  As a result, Phelan O’Credne has decided to take up residence in a warm corner of my brain and is rocking back and forth, hoping I don’t do some of the awful things I’m pondering for the universe going forward (I’m currently writing and posting book four at awakenings.embklitzke.com).  More updates on that coming soon.

It’s shaping up to be a fun end of year for me, both as a writer and as a crafter (I got a new sewing machine and have been using it to make wonderful things lately).  The new year promises to bring new goals and a niece for me to spoil rotten.

There will be some changes and new weekly features coming in the next few weeks, so check back often!

Snippet Sunday: Epsilon Universe extra

This week’s snippet is from the Epsilon universe.

Sam Cooper is Lucas Ross’s second in the Resistance.  Mac Desantis is Aaron Taylor’s pilot and temporary partner while he’s assigned to the Borderworlds, doing what the regular military can’t–supporting the Resistance in their bid to keep the Borderworlds free from the Imperium.

A funny thing happened when Sam met Mac.

They fell in love.

This never-before-seen scene is an imagining of a could be scenario that doesn’t fit into the current scheme of projects in the universe but I can’t help but share.

Snippet below the break.

Continue reading

Snippet Sunday – Epsilon: Redeemer snippet

I’ll be trying something new around here and that’s something that we’re going to call “Snippet Sunday”–when I reveal a snippet of something I’m working on or have already released, depending on the mood.

For the inaugural Snippet Sunday, we’ll be paying a visit to the universe of Falling Stars and Epsilon: Broken Stars with this bit from the current draft of Epsilon: Redeemer.

Excerpt is after the break.

Continue reading

Broken Stars nearing completion; new tale soon in the offing…

[progpress title=”Epsilon: Broken Stars” goal=”70000″ current=”68374″ label=”words”]

[progpress title=”What Angels Fear” goal=”21000″ current=”18738″ label=”words”]

 

So, I know that I tweeted that I’d announce the actual name for SEKRET PROJEKT this weekend, and it was mostly that I didn’t get around to making a blog post to that effect–it was on the business cards I was handing out this past weekend at the Grand Valley Renaissance Festival, promoting my writing as much as I was selling other things (jewelry and sewing things).

The true name to SEKRET PROJEKT is What Angels Fear, and it’s the story that I talked about in this post last summer.  It’s a short work in the same universe as When All’s Said and Done, my first Nanowrimo project.  I hope to release What Angels Fear shortly after the release of the forthcoming Epsilon: Broken Stars, which is nearing completion.

Rather than a true science fiction piece, What Angels Fear is a paranormal yarn in which normal chick Julia Kinsey meets a boy named Darien who seems a little…off.  A chance encounter in the creepy little town of Andover Commonwealth sends her down a rabbit’s hole into a mystery that could put her life in jeopardy.  It is almost a direct prequel to the story in When All’s Said and Done (in fact, as the current draft of When All’s Said and Done stands, events that take place at the end of What Angels Fear take place during the first few chapters of When All’s Said and Done).

Here’s a little taste of Julia’s story:

            A flicker of movement caught my attention and I tore my eyes away from the building, peering through the gap in the inner wall.  The angle made it hard, but I thought I’d seen…

There!  A gaunt figure stared at me from just within my line of sight.  It was a man, dark-haired and scrawny, dressed in what looked like sweats.  Though I couldn’t see his eyes, or really make out the features of his face, I had the feeling he was looking right at me.

Something about him reminded me strongly of Darien, though I couldn’t say what.  I tried to beckon him over.

He just shook his head and looked down.

What’s going on in there?

Something jerked the figure back and out of sight.  The massive gate in that inner wall ground shut with the sound of metal against stone.  No iron bars there, just solid sheets of metal.

Whatever it is, they don’t want people to know.  My pulse quickened and I stepped back from the main gate.

A hand grasped my arm.  I jerked, reeling away from the touch.  The hand snapped open and I went down on my butt in the grass.

“Who the hell are you?”  I demanded before I’d actually seen who’d grabbed me.

A woman about my age stood over me.  She had bristle-short red hair and was dressed in a black jumpsuit that made her look like some sort of extra from The Matrix.  She stared at me for a moment, then said softly, “You need to get out of here before someone else finds you.”

Someone else?  I was a little worried about anyone finding me.

She offered me a hand up.  I stared at it for a moment as if it were a snake about to strike.

“Who are you?”  I asked again.

She shook her head slightly, stone-faced.  “You don’t want to know.”

Her expression reminded me of someone else.  Oh, shit.  Darien.  That’s who it reminds me of.  It was the same blank mask of an expression that he wore most of the time, though this girl seemed much, much more functional than he did.

I took her hand slowly and let her pull me to my feet.

“You should get back to town,” she said quietly as she released my hand.  “You’re missing the show.”  She turned back toward the wall and walked toward it, looking back at me for just a moment.  With that last long, measuring look, she walked through the wall and vanished.

What Angels Fear, © Erin Klitzke 2011

 

I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t think I’d want Julia’s life.

What Angels Fear should hopefully be out by the end of the year.  And speaking of release dates…

I still don’t have a solid one for Epsilon: Broken Stars, but I hit the 68k mark this morning, which means there’s less than 2k words left to write before I meet my 70k goal.  The tale will go a bit longer than that, however (I have at least two chapters yet to write, one in the section I’m working on now and one at the end of the book).  Price point will be $2.99 when it releases, and I’ll keep things updated here when it comes to release dates and the like.  I’m hoping for mid-month, but that’s going to depend on two factors: inspiration, and how fast I can get editorial turnaround from my volunteers.

This year’s nanowrimo project, however, will be the sequel to Broken Stars that focuses on Lucas Ross, leader of the Resistance and friend of Broken Stars narrator, Aaron Taylor.  There’s a few thoughts for that already bouncing around in the back of my brain.  Hopefully, that will take less time to materialize than Broken Stars has!

Awakenings and Epsilon: Broken Stars update

[progpress title=”Epsilon: Broken Stars” goal=”70000″ current=”47107″]

[progpress title=”Awakenings WebSeWriMo” goal=”35″ current=”10″]

 

As you can see, I’ve posted updated goals for Epsilon: Broken Stars and Awakenings.  I’m goaling Broken Stars at 70k because I think that’s probably a bit more acceptable as a piece of prose than the shorter 60K original goal, and it looks like I’ll be adding at least two to three chapters to the piece (and, by extension, more background).  It also looks like we’ll be going with Cover #2.  Most of the people who’ve had a look at it like the darker text on that version, and I think I do as well.  The only thing that may change is that I may remove “Book 1” from the page and just have the title page read “Epsilon Broken Stars.”

The rationale for this is that I don’t know exactly how many books there will be or what order I will decide people should read them in (release date, as we all know, sometimes doesn’t determine these things).

I’ve been working on a new Chapter 5 for Broken Stars, which expands on Aaron’s first run off-world with Mac and Sam.  Here’s an excerpt:

 

            I left the cockpit and headed for my cabin, confident that Desantis could handle the Scarlet.  He’d done well enough at that when we’d run into a sticky spot at Alanis, where we’d almost gotten crushed between a heavy cruiser and a luxury passenger transport thanks to some damn sloppy traffic control on the part of Alanis System Operations.  We’d come out of that close call mostly intact, though we’d have to make some repairs to our secondary communications system.  We’d sheared off one of the antennas.  I had to grudgingly admit that he certainly wasas good a pilot as Caren, if not better.  Thinking that maybe he was better than her hurt something inside of me—maybe it was my pride.  I wasn’t sure.Inside my cabin, I sank down on the bunk and thought about my mother, something I hadn’t done since Caren and I had been prepping for Carmiline.My mother, Madeline Terrel, been a filmmaker—documentaries, mostly—and had met my father out here in the Borderworlds, on Cantrell.  He’d been working at the university, some sort of post-graduate work there.  She was from Epsilon, out to make a film, and met him, fell in love with him, and when they talked about a life together, it was always back on her homeworld.  She’d been proud to tell me growing up that her family had been on Epsilon for over a hundred years by the time I was born.  That had been a point of pride for her, and it was her deep connection to the Alliance capital that made she and my father go there, for him to start over and her to pick up where life left off.
            She’d loved Daniel Taylor and kept loving him until the day he died, despite everything.  Despite him leaving when I was eight.  Despite him joining the Imperium military, getting assigned to Special Projects with the father he’d always told me he hated, and then continuing to work for the Imperium with Special Projects even after Adonis Taylor was dead.  If it was some kind of fear of his father that had driven him to Special Projects, I could’ve understood that while he was still alive.  But not after he stayed with the division after Adonis was dead.  Something about that scanned wrong to me.
Then again, a lot of things about my father had scanned wrong to me in the years he’d been gone.  That had never mattered to Mom.
            Nothing I’d ever said, no evidence I could ever martial, could shake her faith in or love for the man who’d abandoned and betrayed us both.  I just couldn’t understand it.  She’d accepted that lack of understanding on my part, but I knew it hurt her.  She never stopped reminded me that in her estimation and viewpoint, he’d never stopped loving either of us.  I still couldn’t understand how she could believe that and probably never would.  It’s hard to believe someone shooting at you to kill actually still loves you.
            I rubbed the scar tissue on my left side, dead center between my lowest rib and my hipbone.  Daniel Taylor had been the cause of that a little more than six months ago, before Carmiline and before this assignment.  The medics had told me it was almost a miracle that I’d survived.  The way this year was shaping up, I was trading in lives faster than an accident-prone cat.
            No.  Daniel Taylor didn’t love me.  I was the enemy, and that made me a target.

 Copyright 2011, Erin M. Klitzke.  All rights reserved.

 

As for Awakenings, I’m not doing so hot at WebSeWriMo, but at least Chapter 9’s finished now, with the last post of the chapter set to debut on Labor Day.  I’m also going to be featured on Episode 6(?) of Webfiction World, which is supposed to record (and livecast? I’ve never actually been home at the right time to listen to any livecasts!) on August 28.  Pretty awesome stuff if you ask me!

For better or worse, Awakenings suffered a lack of attention because I made decisions about Epsilon.  At the same time, Epsilon is going to end up suffering a bit due to my need to create an Awakenings buffer.  And the E-557 trilogy, still without an overarching name for the set, suffers from my inattention due to a need to work on both!

There is, of course, the fact that I’m reading again, which doesn’t help matters (beyond helping me decompress and allowing me to be in touch with the craft as a consumer rather than a writer).  I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the latest Black London book by Caitlin Kittredge, Devil’s Business.  T-minus eight days and counting!  I just finished Storm Front by Jim Butcher, the first book of the Dresden Files.  It was not quite long enough to get me through until the release of Devil’s Business.  I may read some non-fiction until it comes out.  No decisions yet.

 

Today, more writing, then work at the store.  Joy.  Oh well…at least it pays the bills.

At least until I start releasing ebooks, it does.