Saturday, September 11, 2010

Order Icarus Falling Today! Official Copy.

Finally, the wait is over for "Icarus Falling" to purchase. Click on the book cover link on the right to order at Lulu the Parking Orbit Publishing product. Get it now and tell your family and friends who would be interested in some adventure reading. Don't forget to request a copy for your local library.

It can also be ordered as an e-book in a PDF format to be downloaded to your computer. This can be read in Adobe Acrobat, or transferred to an e-book reader that supports PDF files like the Kindle DX. Changes have made it more reader friendly.

After ordering, drop on by again to share your thoughts on the book or subjects relating to it's story. Maybe there are questions you have that you would like answered in a sequel. Perhaps your into the unknown and paranormal and have some stories or theories to share. Whatever your reason, come back for good conversation.

Good reading to you!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Icarus Falling Editing update

We have finished the final edit (fingers crossed) of Icarus Falling. The final proof arrived from the printer today and it looks good. The Kindle version of the book is finalized. Once the Kindle version is released by Amazon, we will provide the links to buy either the print or Kindle version. Stay tuned, it won't be much longer!

I'll write up a tutorial on how to prep your book for the Kindle using open source software as soon as I get the chance.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Editing update

We are now about half through our editing and preparation to release the Kindle version. We hope to release both the print and kindle version simultaneously. Thank you to the Ubuntu community for recommending some LaTex (text processing) software. I've downloaded Lyx Document Processor and will probably pull the book into that once we have finished reading the book for the millionth time. I'm hoping we can get a nicely formated Kindle version ready for testing in a few more weeks. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Preview of First Chapter

I want to thank those who made comments on the blog about the production process. As a thank you I present part of the first chapter in anticipation of Icarus Falling release. Enjoy, and don't forget to get the book when it comes out to read the whole story:

Chapter One:
Long Journey From Orbit

A burst of light raced past the jet as the pilot watched with amazement. He had never seen anything like it in his life. Over the radio he said, “I have the bogey at my one o-clock. Following in pursuit.”

"Stay at a distance and do not engage,” said the officer in charge at the ground command center, Colonel MacKay who lived for moments like this, chasing after the unknown in hopes of advancing military technology. Colleagues thought he was strange, but he quickly advanced in rank and position. Black operations saw potential and hired him for more restricted missions. Today the mission included chasing unidentified flying objects detected nearby an airbase.

“Man, that bogey is fast,” the pilot reported back. “I’ll do my best to keep up and continue tracking.”

Colonel MacKay checked in with his ground radar operator, “Where is the bogey located at this moment?”

“Twenty miles from our staging position.”

“Good, this might just work. Keep me posted on the tracking updates. We don’t want to lose this one.”

“Yes sir,” the radar operator said, keeping close attention to the blips on his screen.

The relatively small alien craft looked like a bright star or airborne searchlight. It was slightly larger than a jet pilot’s cockpit and continually changed illumination patterns of blinking white, red, blue, and green. Other similar lights were seen earlier in the sky, but had long since raced away. Fully armed jets targeted for attention this single craft like a pack of carnivorous hunters picking out prey.

Within ten minutes time the small craft had already changed course three times. It became difficult to continue keeping up with the twists and speed increases. Air Force pilots had a hard time staying in position. Surprisingly, the craft didn’t leave them alone in the sky to contemplate what they witnessed. It was waiting for something.

“Sir,” the radio operator said to Colonel MacKay, “I’m getting another bogey from outside the target area. This one looks much larger.”

“How large?”

“Perhaps, a quarter of a mile long,” the radar operator couldn’t believe what he picked up. “This is huge.”

“I don’t care about the larger contact,” Colonel MacKay said, leaning in to get a closer look at the radar signature. “It is too big to take down.”

The radar operator warned, “The smaller one is closing in on it. Could be a docking ship.”

Colonel MacKay picked up the radio, “All pilots, keep the bogey in target zone. Do not let it escape.”

A flurry of acknowledgments sounded back. Two strings of jets roared over the skies to head off the small craft. They set up a virtual wall between it and the larger craft, keeping it from escaping. Despite all advantages the smaller craft had, it didn’t reach beyond the staging area.

Seeming to recognize the trap that was set, the smaller craft completely turned around. It darted toward a higher elevation to get out of the way of oncoming F-22 Raptors. In the process of turning and climbing, the small craft hit a jet that flew above trajectory.

The pilot of the craft exclaimed in distress, “Mayday, mayday. The bogey hit my plane. Repeat, the bogey hit my plane.” Warning sirens erupted inside the cockpit, making it hard to hear any response to his cry for help. “It clipped my left wing. There is a loss of maneuverability. Going down. Going down.” Reaching forward, he grabbed onto the ejection handle and pulled hard, “Ejecting!” The cockpit window blew out and his seat shot high into the night air. A parachute tripped opened with a violent thrust, letting the pilot slowly drift to the ground.

The jet was less fortunate. It plummeted to the ground in a huge fireball that brightened the general area of its crash. Smoke billowed up and marked its last position. Rescue personnel immediately scrambled to retrieve the pilot and clean up the broken mess.

Noticing the commotion from the downed jet, Colonel MacKay asked over the radio, “Do we still have the bogey?”

A pilot still in pursuit responded, “Command, we still have the bogey in sight. Climbing elevation to match its location.”

Colonel MacKay gave out a sigh of relief having felt certain the small craft escaped the trap. He looked at the radar for any confirmation it was still within the strike zone. The radar operator pointed out the green blip showing where it was in relation to Air Force formations. They were closing in and keeping it from meeting up with the larger craft.

On the ground were air-to-air missile teams ready for their part in the operation. Col. MacKay checked with them, “Strike Zone One, Bogey is nearing your position. Watch for it and set guidance systems to lock-on. ETA in less than five minutes. Air Group is setting priorities.”

“This is Strike Zone One,” said a crackling voice over the radio, “Our radar confirms target. Initiating triangulation coordinates.”

“Launch with positive lock on bogey.”

“Positive lock ranges inconsistent. Can’t let loose with negative.”

Colonel MacKay wasn’t worried about getting a direct hit. It had to be close enough to cause damage. Complete destruction negated the purpose of the mission. “Permission for launch set at best guess.”

“Permission for best guess lock-launch noted Sir,” a switch soldier said. “Do we have at will?”

There was no answer at first. Colonel MacKay checked information on his own radar. The small alien craft represented by a green tint moved swiftly across the screen. Other blips representing Air Force craft looked comparatively sluggish. The unidentified craft made rings around them.

“Strike Zone One ground launch asking again for attack permission.”

Colonel MacKay hesitated to answer back, but the small craft eventually entered the intended parameters. “Launch at will and best guess.”

“At will acknowledged, Command.” The small craft continued to make elaborate changes in direction, elevation, and speed. Launch control wasn’t sure if they could get any useful lock on the target. Still, they had a mission to perform. The minimum accessible lock was found and the missiles engaged. Grey trails of smoke lifted up behind tiny yellow fireballs. At first it looked like the missiles might actually hit the erratic object, but at the last second it veered too quickly off course. Explosions could be seen and heard for miles as missiles detonated.

“Did we get it?” Colonel MacKay asked with excitement.

“Negative,” answered ground and air attendant.

Colonel MacKay checked the radar to reorient where the small craft might have gone. He saw the blips indicating Air Force positions, but there seemed to be no sign of the pursuit subject. It was as if the craft had gone invisible.

The radar operator noticed the concerned look on Colonel MacKay’s face. He searched the radar frantically for any sign of the small craft, but didn’t see it. “Sorry Colonel. Nothing on radar. It seems to have left our range of influence.”

“The larger craft? Has that left as well?”

“Sorry,” the radar operator said, continuing to scan the screen, “both of them . . . vanished.” He couldn’t think of a better word to use.

“They must have been toying with us. Maybe they were testing our resolve and capabilities. No matter, we were doing the same.” Colonel MacKay took one last look at the radar screen for any hope. There wasn’t any forthcoming, “Carry on and keep me informed of any new contacts.” He left for his office to write up a report. The immediate mission failed, although valuable information was acquired.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Writing in an open source world

The story of how Icarus Falling is being written and published is almost as interesting as the book itself - that is if you are nerdy kind of writing geek. The book was originally written in MS Word 97. Over the last several years, our computers have been upgraded a few times and my wife migrated permanently to Linux, Ubuntu specifically.

Most self-publishing books describe the process of publishing by utilizing various commercial software packages - MS Office and Adobe InDesign. You may also need Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. And don't forget Adobe Acrobat Pro for PDF creation. These are the packages that print house and publishing firms work with and they want your manuscript done exactly the same way.

BUT, those software packages are very expensive and big, far too much for most of what we needed. And thus we entered the world of open source software. Many software packages have matured and are competitive with their proprietary counterparts. Icarus Falling was prepared almost entirely with open source software.

Open Office
The manuscript had to migrate to a more up-to-date word processor and Open Office was it. When we tried to copy and paste or import from Word 97, funny things happened during the transition. We also keep the books with the spreadsheet Calc.

This package is similar to Adobe InDesign, QuarkXpress or PageMaker (of yesteryear). This program let us create the layout and look of the interior pages and the cover. We used the stable release which still has some bugs, but worked pretty well. The development releases look pretty spiffy and my wife can't wait for them to be released as stable.

One word of warning about Scribus. It will choke on large files, some kind of memory problem. IOW, we couldn't lay out the whole book in one file. We had to break up each chapter into it's own file. Each chapter was then exported as a PDF. Printers require that your book exist as one large PDF. For that you will need a different utility.

This is the open source version of Photoshop. It does nearly everything that Photoshop does except for one important thing. Gimp doesn't have the ability to save your image with a CMYK color profile (I think the developers are working on it). Printers require CMYK in order to print color images. We managed a workaround for one printer. We did the image editing and tweaking in Gimp then pulled the image into Scribus, which was later exported as a PDF. This seemed to work pretty well. The second printer we tried didn't like it. Another possible work around is to custom make the colors in Scribus to compensate, but we still need to play around with this.

We used Inkscape to design and draw the logo of our publishing company and imprint, Parking Orbit Publishing.

PDF Shuffler
This is a smart, little utility that allowed us to pull all of our separate PDF's into one PDF file. If we go back and edit one chapter, we can open this up and replace just the pages we need.

We still have the book trailer to produce and the e-book. Again e-book tutorials show how to prepare your book using proprietary sources. We are working through the process now with open source and perhaps we will create a tutorial when we're done. In any event Amazon makes the process look very simple and it isn't really. At least if you want something that looks good and is easy to read.

And all of this was done on an Ubuntu desktop.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Temporary Delay For Improvements

Some changes are coming for the novel from when it was first put up for purchase. Because of unforeseen circumstances the release date has been temporarily postponed. This is to give a chance to improve on the customer satisfaction in the ordering processes. Changes will include how the product can be obtained, an easier check out process, and improvement to the text for an even better reading experience. An online book trailer and added online content is also in the works.

Many thanks are given to those who have shown interest in the project. Don't worry, you will still have the opportunity to get the book before the rush of the holiday season. please post any questions you might have or if you still want to order a pre-release copy.

Thank you for your patience. It will be well worth the wait.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Icarus Falling Last Preparations

Preparations are getting set for the release of Parking Orbit Publishing's "Icarus Falling" novel. Layout is complete and with final editing still to be done. More information will be available, so keep reading here.

Warning: for your own safety keep watching the skies. You have been warned. Purchase the book when it comes out and find out why.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The "Icarus Falling" Story

They didn't come in peace.

David Hendricks is a former United States military officer trained to reverse engineer foreign technology. During a private consulting job with the FBI, he is recruited by a covert operations unit specializing in recovery of alien spacecraft. It is a job he might regret taking.

A Top Secret U.S. government agency plans to do more than look at UFO wreckage. They want to bring down a ship using a little ingenuity and lots of luck. Colonel MacKay, the mission commander, is an overachieving hard-nosed military expert who will stop at nothing to succeed. Starting intergalactic war is a small price to pay.

Cory is an alien abductee angry over his long years of insane torture. Finding out about the mission, he convinces the military to use him as bait. Dr. Sheila Brannan, who specializes in terrorist organizations, will use paranormal mind games to communicate. Both find themselves unprepared for the encounter.

For the laid back pragmatist Hendricks, getting along with his quirky colleagues is the first step of survival against an alien culture fighting to keep secrets. Deadly intentions guard wonderment and technological marvels. Success could bring the greatest discovery or the worst disaster.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Closer to Ready

This last week the book proof for Icarus Falling  arrived for preview. No date has been set for the release yet, but corrections are getting made. Most of the edits are word choices, grammar errors, and missed paragraph indention. After the book proof has been read and adjusted then a more solid date of publication can be announced. Of course, keep checking back here for new information and any schedules. Its all in the starting stages; a very exciting time.

If you know others that might be interested in science fictions, U.F.O. stories, or reading in general, pass this blog along to them.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What is Parking Orbit?

You might ask what Parking Orbit refers to? The answer is fairly simple; a temporary orbit by a spacecraft. The reasons for this maneuver, as explained in wikipedia is that:

  • It can increase the launch window. For earth-escape missions, these are often quite short (seconds to minutes) if no parking orbit is used. With a parking orbit, these can often be increased up to several hours.[1][2]
  • For non-LEO missions, the desired location for the final burn may not be in a convenient spot. In particular, for earth-escape missions that want good northern coverage of the trajectory, the correct place for the final burn is often in the southern hemisphere.
  • For geostationary orbit missions, the correct spot for the final (or next to final) firing is normally on the equator. In such a case, the rocket is launched, coasts in a parking orbit until it is over the equator, then fires again into a geostationary transfer orbit.[3]
  • For manned lunar missions, a parking orbit allowed some checkout while still close to home, before committing to the lunar trip.[2]
  • It is needed if the desired orbit has a high perigee. In this case the booster launches into an elliptical parking orbit, then coasts until a higher point in the orbit, then fires again to raise the perigee. See Hohmann transfer orbit. In this case the use of a parking orbit can also reduce the fuel usage of an inclination change, since these take less delta-V at high elevations.
For science fiction fans, it has been used to describe temporary visitation of a planet while members of the crew investigate the surface. An example would be the many times in Star Trek when the Enterprise comes to a new planet. It circles the alien globe while Kirk, Spock, and Co. beam down or land in a shuttle. After the mission is finished, they will leave the temporary orbit and go off to explore other strange new worlds.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Adventure Begins

Hello and welcome.

This is a place where readers of all kinds can come to hear about the latest Parking Orbit Publishing news and interact. Coming soon will be the novel Icarus Falling about a secret government agency bringing down an alien spacecraft to discover hidden secrets. Follow the blog for character bios, other projects, sci-fi book reviews, author notes, discussions about the fantastic and scientific, and much more.

Buy the literature, come again, and enjoy.