Olague: In the Beginning There Was . . .

The long horror book that is Olague has begun. I first started having the inklings and little ideas two years ago, a few months before my son was born while doing my daily jog. The ideas grew bigger and became brainstorming sessions and that’s when I knew it was going to be a book.

Two years down the road, with lots more brainstorming, research, and writing down ideas, on Monday I started writing the prologue; 2350 words later on Tuesday I finished the prologue. I’d forgotten that when you’re writing something long, like a book or novella, as opposed to a short story, characters assert themselves a lot more strongly and pretty much take over. I’d had an idea in my mind for the voice of the character and the feel I wanted the prologue to start with, and as I started putting the words on the screen, Patricia, my character, started being herself and telling the story how she wanted to tell it. It’s a weird feeling and the important thing is to realize what is happening and not just scrap what’s coming out because you’re not happy with it. It’s your character coming to life and no matter how much you might want to control what they say and think, they’re going to do it their way or not all.

This is my first novel using Scrivener for plotting and writing a novel and so far it’s been an absolute delight. It’s like having an entire filing cabinet in one easy program on your computer. I can easily access various pages of notes all organized by what they are referencing, whether it be a chapter, a part of the book, or the overall manuscript. All the research notes are there. I’ve had to invent a town and create a map for said town (surprisingly named Olague) and I can have photos in there under locations for easy access and zooming available if necessary. It keeps word counts and allows you to view multiple screens at the same time, so I can be looking at research or a character sheet while working on a chapter. There are really no limits to what you can do with Scrivener it seems.

I also like to keep “word meters” when working on a novel, and I’ve added one to the right hand column on Bookbanter. I got the counter from Sarra’s Word Meter, and it looks like this:

250K is my estimated word count for the book, obviously, and I have this niggling feeling in the back of my mind that it may surpass that. Depends on how the novel goes.

For now, the prologue is in the books (so to speak), next is an interlude chapter, and then Chapter One!

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Olague: A New Road Taken




Next week, with the regular season of baseball for 2015 coming to an, I’ll be starting a new novel. I haven’t worked on writing a book in a few years. The last time was with White Horse (still in early editing stages) when I wrote “The End” on November 5th, 2011. I’ve had this book growing in size and complexity for over two years now and I’m ready to start putting some actual words down.

I knew early on that I was going to have to invent a location for the book and soon settled on the name of the town and the book: Olague. Below you’ll find my detailed map of the town I’ve created located between Petaluma and Novato. It’s going to be fun putting some created people in this invented place that I’ve been playing around in my head for a long time now.

Any posts on the subject of this novel will be under the keyword Olague.

So here goes!


Book News: Banned Books, Doctor Moreau Returns, Reading Potter-esque & More!


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It’s banned books week and hears your URL HQ for everything books that people don’t want you to read.

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“Aurora” by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit, 2015)


Kim Stanley Robinson, bestselling author of the Mars Trilogy, dazzled readers and fans with his previous book about space, 2312, putting a whole new spin on humanity’s future in the cosmos. In his new novel, Aurora, he takes the idea of a colony spaceship traveling to a distant planet to colonize it and what happens. Of course, with Robinson, nothing is ever straight forward and lots of strange and unpredictable things occur.

There is a ship traveling through space and time that has been doing so for centuries. The ship is massive and is featured on the cover of the book: a central core that becomes known as the “spine” with two great rings. The ship in many ways is its own planet, with different “lands” or “countries” and thousands of people all different and unique. The ship is on its way to the Tau Ceti system where there is a new place the 2,122 travelers hope to call home. The ship has been traveling for 160 years, generations have been born, grown up, grown old, and died on the ship. Now, the current generation will reach the ship’s final destination.

The book mainly focuses around a family: Devi, the mother is essentially the ship’s “engineer”; Badim, the father; and our main character, Freya, the daughter. The book opens when Freya is a teenager and having issues with her controlling mother. The ship is still some years away from Tau Ceti, and Freya decides she’s had enough of home and sets out to see the many areas of the great ship. What began as a short and simple journey becomes a multi-year pilgrimage. She travels all over ship, interviewing and talking with many, many different people. She eventually becomes the most renowned inhabitant on the entire ship; during her journey she also learns a lot about her mother and what an important member and woman she has been to the ship and its people.

The ship eventually reaches Aurora and a substantial landing party is sent down to investigate. One of the member’s has her suit penetrated in a fall and her skin is broken, blood flowing, but there appears little wrong with her. She is kept in quarantine for a few days and develops a cold; then she asphyxiates and dies. Then the rest of the landing party become stick. Some commit suicide, while others die in the same strange way. The colonizers now have a decision to make: do they stay in Tau Ceti and try to colonize another nearby planet or moon, do they continue working on trying to adapt and survive on lethally hazardous Aurora, or do they turn the ship around and head back home?

Robinson posits a fascinatingly brilliant theory in Aurora: humanity has specifically evolved to survive on Planet Earth, wherever they hope to travel to in the universe they will be landing on a planet or moon where they have not evolved and face high risk to become sick and infected, much as colonizers and explorers of the past infected indigenous peoples with viruses and diseases that the native people had never experienced before, though in this case its the planet infecting the arriving invaders.

In Aurora, Robinson never holds back on his characters, letting them lead and tell the story. The story goes down avenues readers would never expect it to, and the author explains how it comes out the other side. Like Neal Stephenson’s recent Seveneves, Aurora is a fascinating story about humanity’s drive to explore and discover, and to survive at any cost.

Originally written on August 27th, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Aurora from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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2312  Galileo's Dream

“The Robusta Incident” by Jennifer Fales (Amazon Digital Services, 2015)

Robusta Incident
starstarstarHalf Star

The term “corporate zombie” has become a cliche at this point, overused and in some cases misnomered. So, Jennifer Fales decided to write a book about it to the ultimate extreme. The Robusta Incident gives a whole new meaning to the term “weird,” as in this is a weird book where a lot of weird stuff happens, but then if you like all things weird, you’re going to enjoy The Robusta Incident.

Howard Danishefsky is feeling pretty low in his life. Living in a dead-end apartment that gives him little joy other than being a place to crash. His boss, Melinda Carpenter, is an ex, who gives him a really hard time every day, and he really can’t stand, but at the same time she’s very beautiful in all the right places, and he can’t really admit to himself he still has the hots for her. Meanwhile, he works as a chemist for the Robusta Corporation, an international coffee conglomerate, and feels he’s going nowhere face. A dead-end job for a dead-end company in a dead-end world.

His father is a renowned astrophysicist he’s never met, who is an important member in the Consortium of Evil. And then, there’s his Russian mother, who is long dead, but shortly after she passed, he started hearing her in his head, and now, she never fails to give plenty of pointless advice and criticism throughout his day. He’s also a heavy drinker and, after work, seeks to get completely sloshed as quick as possible, and wake up in his crappy bed in the morning, feeling like something that shouldn’t be alive.

So Howard decides to throw everything to the wind and try something different. You see he’s concocted this strange serum that he starts putting in the coffee that everyone drinks at work. Each day, he adds more, and the employees blindly drink more, as they become slower, more lethargic, and spend chunks of time just standing around doing nothing as if in a trance. His main target is his boss, and ex, who he is happy to turn into a zombie and control.||But then, a voodoo queen finds out what’s going on and gets involved, as does an aging professor and someone who seems like he should just back into the coffin he apparently came from. As if that isn’t enough, the corporate zombies start doing what zombies tend to do: eat people; and they’re starting to eye him up like a tasty morsel. Maybe he’s gone a little too far this time? But he’s waiting for that call from the Consortium of Evil any day now.

Readers get to experience a week in the work life of the very strange Howard Danishefsky. The Robusta Incident at times gets pretty repetitive, as we experience Howard at home waking up, getting to work, working, then going home from work, drinking and going to bed over and over. While the author was wanting to show these five days, the book could’ve used some editing out of some of these repetitive scenes that seem to go nowhere and aren’t really necessary. But weirdness and the need for editing down aside, Fales has a very distinctive voice with her character and the story which will certainly catch the eye of many a reader and hook them till the end.

Originally written on August 3rd, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Robusta Incident from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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