Parker's Story: A Writing Update

I'm still plodding along on the rough draft of this story.  If I wrote more consistently - and without months long breaks - I imagine I'd be much further along than the 121 pages I've currently got saved to my hard drive.

Don't worry, it's backed up safely to the cloud. Thank you, Dropbox. 


The pacing seems to be about right.  The call to action came in the first chapter and Parker is motivated and proactive, which means she's not just reacting.  So that's good as I'm not overly fond of reluctant heroes or heroines.  I'm trying really hard to create a character I could continue to write about even after this story ends.  For this reason, I've tried making her a little more complex than previous characters.  Not quite an anti-hero but definitely not the most straight and narrow of characters, either.  I mean, she spent her childhood with a gang of kids, learning how to pick-pocket, burglarize homes and businesses, and hack into computers.  Even though her big brother got her out of that life and encouraged her to be a bit more respectable and socially acceptable, those early years are a permanent part of her psychological makeup. 

Of course, Parker doesn't exist in a vacuum and I don't want the characters surrounding her to be too simplistic, either.  For this reason, I've started writing first person narratives for the characters that will have an ongoing role in the story.  Giving them their own voice, letting them tell their stories and giving them an opportunity to spell out their goals has been helpful.  These journals - that's how I think of them - will never make it into Parker's story.  They're just a tool in the toolbox, a way to help them be more than one-dimensional place holders. 

For example, here's Sakiya's journal entry (she's the owner and pilot of the Chimera, the mercenary space ship Parker is joining).
I didn’t belong in the Nakano family dynasty, so I left it.

I fidgeted too much, I didn’t study enough, and I didn’t behave with the proper decorum expected of someone with my lineage.  I embarrassed my mother, the matriarch in our home and in our interstellar business, even when it was not my intention to do so. My passionate nature made it difficult for her to ignore me as she so easily did my older sister, Yulene, who was frustratingly perfect.

Yulene is only two years older than I am but her poise and sense of responsibility makes her seem more like a spinster aunt than a childhood playmate.

She won’t be a spinster for much longer though. I’ve been invited to the private family ceremony in the shrine my great-great-grandfather had had erected on Esmara upon his arrival to the moon where he would secure the future of the Nakano-Raithile Corporation. It will be a small, intimate gathering and I do not want to attend.

But how does one ignore an invitation to her only sibling’s wedding?

I blame my mother for putting me in such a deplorable conundrum. If not for her, I would be helping my sister plan her special day and getting to know my future brother-in-law as is proper. But I have been disowned.

I haven’t spoken to my mother since that day six years ago when she discovered I had liquidated my trust fund and bought the Chimera. Her shock had turned to outrage when I explained my intentions.  Our family was intellectual, scientists or academics of one kind or another. Discovering I had lied about my studies for the previous three years and had instead been learning how to pilot an intergalactic space craft had actually left the woman speechless for all of ten standard minutes. She made up for her silence over the next two hours as we waged our battles of will across the entirety of the residence. Her wicked tongue had chased me to my room and the suitcase I had not planned to pack for another seven months.

I moved onto the Chimera that night and lived there alone until my pilot’s license had been legally obtained. I ate alone.  I slept alone.  I studied alone.  

I will admit I had moments of uncertainty.  How did one go about hiring a crew?  How would we obtain work?  I knew how to fly the ship but I could not fix it if it broke.  I also needed people who knew how to protect whatever we were hired to transport.  In fact, when I first decided to go into business for myself and leave the dynasty to my sister and her future offspring, I had little more than a concept to work with and no true mentor to guide me.

I began researching various positions that I thought I would need to hire for my own vessel.  I looked at wanted ads and came to the conclusion that I could pay six people’s salaries for one year without the Chimera making any profit whatsoever that first twelve months.  If we were unsuccessful, I would reduce the crew by two people at the beginning of my next fiscal year.  After that, a profit had to be made.

I would not go back to my family with my pride in hand.

I placed an ad for private security with a vague outline of the job duties associated with the position. Alongside it ran an ad for an engineer, a computer scientist, and a co-pilot. I turned away several unqualified individuals, grateful I had arranged for the meetings to take place in a public place far from the only treasure I possessed at that time.

Sawyer was the first candidate that seemed both knowledgeable and harmless. I hired him on the spot and he came aboard that night. He has been with me ever since and plays a more vital role to my crew than even Anya, my co-pilot and lover, knows.  His instincts have yet to fail me. I sometimes wonder if he’s psychic, which is ridiculous.


Sawyer and I have worked with a number of others over the last few years, but I think we’re both in agreement now that we finally have the crew we want to keep together.  There is synergy among the seven of us. We work well together and trust each other as much as a group of mercenaries can. Not that we don’t have our differences from time to time. We do. As captain and owner of the vessel, it is my job to make sure these conflicts are resolved quickly and fairly. 

My Summer So Far

Summers are one of the busiest times of year for our family.  Last year, we had a graduation party to plan, which meant we were redoing flower beds and cleaning up the yard for most of May and June. Sure, we still managed to get some weekends away in our camper, but not nearly as often as we have been able to do this year.  And the summer isn't even over yet!  We've got at least another month, possibly a month and a half, of good camping weather ahead of us.

Our Home Away From Home

Look how clean the campsite appears in that picture!  That's not normal.  Ken and I rarely camp by ourselves, which means there's usually chairs, shoes, and empty cans everywhere.  Normally, there is a group of trailers or even tents filled with our friends and family nearby. In fact, now that I stop and think about it, I think this upcoming weekend may be the first time this summer we're camping solo...unless you count the fact that we're camping at the same place the youngest boy is having football camp.  I'm not counting it because we'll be in one area of the campground in our camper and the kids and coaches will be at the other end in the cabins.  Far from where I'll be reading and sleeping.

Because, other than walking the dog, that's really all I do while we camp.


Okay, so fine, maybe I play corn hole, a frisbee game or two, and enjoy tubing down a lazy river on a sweltering summer day.

And, yes, I'm the photographer 99.9% of the time.

Of course, camping isn't all we've done so far this summer.  We also managed to sneak in a family vacation to the Boston, Massachusetts area, too.  We went with our best friends and their two boys. Driving from Michigan to Massachusetts meant we could stop at Niagara Falls if we took the Canadian route, which is exactly what we did.

Book Review: 1984 by George Orwell

19841984 by George Orwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review added on 03/09/2017 after second reading.

Date first read unknown. I was either a teenager or in my early 20s at the time.


What I remembered about this book before picking it up again was that Big Brother was always malevolently watching. That's about it. The particulars were absent from my long term memory. I could not recall much about either character or plot.

I think I will remember more after reading it a second time, not only because the story is fresh in my mind but because there was so much in this story that seemed to resonate with current events. We know that American intelligence agencies are fully capable of - and likely are - eavesdropping on citizens. The technology exists and the threat of terrorism provides fearful incentive to loosen privacy rights. In fact, on the radio this morning the FBI director pretty much said no one should expect privacy. So, yes, Big Brother is definitely watching and listening and monitoring.

This book also introduces the concept of doublethink. One has only to do a quick Youtube search to find video footage of Kellyanne Conway using the phrase "alternative facts" to explain away the current administrations lies. Further, by persistently labeling the mainstream media as liars, the administration is laying a foundation for those already predisposed to have faith in the goodness of the President they've elected to dismiss anything that might challenge their worldview.
This willful denial of reality on one hand and the eagerness to believe in these "alternative facts" is strikingly similar to doublethink.

Luckily, the similarities between Oceania and America end there. In reality, the press fights on and the three branches of government offer checks and balances sorely missing from The Party's style of governance. We do not rewrite history books, textbooks, or newspaper articles to suit a carefully structured present narrative. We object to torture where false confessions may be uttered simply to stop the pain.

Orwell's Oceania is definitely not the future anyone would wish to mold into being. Instead, it is a warning of power unchecked. It is a call to awareness, encouraging the reader to think critically and to fight against governmental oppression.

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