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Bringing the StarScribes Collaboration Back to Life

StarScribes Collaboration Universe Seal

Five years ago, a group of science fiction writers got together to create a universe in which to set a serial space opera. Characters were created, plots were thickened, plans were made, but life drew a line in the sand that many of us could not cross, and we disbanded. Over the years we’d check in on one another and talk about writing material using characters within this universe but other projects and responsibilities always took us away again, leaving these stories untold. In August of 2016 I had an idea and sat down to type out a really bad story prompt using our character, Simonee Saran. I had written some material years ago that fleshed out some of her back story, but it wasn’t a plot, just a flashback, a device I use to help me flesh out characters. That prompt sat again for almost a year, until I got the itch again.

After my wife had our fifth child and third daughter from a surprise pregnancy, spare time became even more precious than usual and so I pushed aside most of my IT consulting work, and had to make a job change that took me away from my work-at-home schedule. I’m almost 40 at this point and what future I had seen in IT, developing a new open source telephony platform, had crumbled and I was ready to consider returning to writing, if not as a career, then at least as a hobby. I had some short stories sitting half-finished, and decided to polish at least the better one up as a test project for Kindle Direct Publishing. I needed to stretch my legs as it were with my writing, having let it slide for years, so I figured building an independent publishing profile would serve as a portfolio of my work, and if that didn’t aide in getting the attention of a real publisher, well, at least I was writing again, and would have something to show for it. My short story, When the Hills Fell Away, dipped into my… well I won’t call them talents, I’ll call them “things I enjoy doing” but I built that story and augmented it with line drawings that fit into the story. I also capped it all off by designing my own cover, which is something I find fun no matter how lousy it ended up, and, until I can afford a real designer, something that I’ll keep doing. But we’re falling down a rabbit hole here, that story had nothing to do with the StarScribes, but it was the toe I dipped in to test the waters and the response has been… well, nonexistent. But then that’s the point isn’t it? I’m not doing this because people are buying my work, I’m doing this because I find it fun. So, I dug out that story prompt and put an entire Novella behind it. I also designed the cover, which I think I actually spent more time on than the writing, at the time at least. I experimented with anime style character designs, but I’m not an illustrator, I just shuffle pictures around until they look good, but I’m still tickled pink over the results. Because I wrote this story and because it takes place in a universe to which I do not own the rights, I decided that, since I have no claim to it, that I’d try and rebuild the StarScribes, get the band back together as it were. The original five have all responded positively, but the same distractions of life seem to be keeping them at bay, so I am simply taking that rough novella, and turning it into a trilogy that can stand on its own should the collaborators give me permission to publish.

I’m almost done. And Simonee Saran vs. The Ice Princess of Enceladus Station is on track to be published in early 2018 at the latest. Initially, I didn’t care if I published it, I put it aside and moved on for a couple months to my next project, but after a full design on that new, non-StarScribes novel, my brain played an evil trick on me and put in front of me a scope for the project that forced me to set it on the shelf until I could get this Simonee Saran out of my head! I managed to get some early feedback on that novel, and bits of it were grim. I couldn’t just publish such a thing with my name on it unless I at least tried to produce something worth reading, so I’ve been hard at work refactoring the story, building up the characters, and rewriting scenes. Now, the refactor is done, and all that is left is a prose analysis and read-through before getting additional feedback from the early readers. During this process, my novella developed into a story arc with at least three total books. I’m calling the trilogy(?) The Girl with the Cybernetic Eye and making it perfectly clear that Simonee Saran bears no dragon tattoos. It won’t win any prizes, it may never even get a single review on Amazon, but I can say, with at least some satisfaction, “I wrote that!” And I hope that this trilogy sparks interest again in our universe by the founders who made it possible. I am hoping to turn this into a creative commons universe, with open licensing on the characters, but full financial rights to the content written within it. This will require websites, licenses, and a forum to discuss the story arc. But if there is a demand for it, I can build it. I have many more stories to tell outside this universe, but you’ll always return to what got your started, and I hope this is the story that starts the ball rolling on my identity as an author.

So, what do you think ?