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Things I make up for a living.

The Science of Airships at Clockwork Alchemy 2021

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the science of airships
Hail, fellow adventurers! Clockwork Alchemy goes virtual this year, and tomorrow at 10am I'll be on a panel on the Science of Airships with moderator Laurel Anne Hill and fellow panelists Madeline Holly-Rosing and Mike Tierney. We'll be talking about everything we can fit in 45 minutes, including:
  • Zeppelins, dirigibles and blimps: what do all these terms mean?
  • The history of airships, starting with an airborne chicken.
  • The science of airships, including innovations for flight.
  • The failures of airships - what brought them down?
  • The future of airships - airships on the drawing board!
Sign up here, and the full schedule is also online. We're the first panel, at 10am Saturday, and our panelists include:

Laurel Anne Hill [Moderator]

Laurel Anne Hill—author and former underground storage tank operator—grew up in San Francisco, with more dreams of adventure than good sense or money. Her close brushes with death, love of family, respect for honor and belief in a higher power continue to influence her writing and her life. She has authored two award-winning novels: The Engine Woman’s Light (Sand Hill Review Press), a gripping spirits-meet-steampunk, coming-of-age heroic journey, and Heroes Arise. Laurel’s published short stories and nonfiction pieces total over forty. She has served as a program participant at many science fiction/fantasy conventions, including the World Science Fiction Con and World Fantasy Con. She’s the Literary Stage Manager for the annual San Mateo County Fair, a speaker, writing contest judge, and editor. And she’s even engineered a steam locomotive. For more about her, go to http://www.laurelannehill.com.

Madeleine Holly-Rosing

Madeleine Holly-Rosing is the writer/creator of the award-winning Boston Metaphysical Society graphic novel series. Previously self-published, it is now published by Source Point Press. The series also includes the award winning prequel novel, A Storm of Secrets, and an anthology.  After running eight successful crowdfunding campaigns, she published the book, Kickstarter for the Independent Creator.  Other comic anthology projects include: The Scout (The 4th Monkey), The Sanctuary (The Edgar Allan Poe Chronicles), The Marriage Counselor (Cthulhu is Hard to Spell), The Glob (Night Wolf), The Infinity Tree (Menagerie: Declassified), and the upcoming, The Birth (Stan Yak Vampire Anthology).

Michael Tierney

Michael Tierney writes steampunk-laced alternative historical fiction stories from his Victorian home in Silicon Valley. After writing technical and scientific publications for many years, he turned his sights to more imaginative genres. Trained as a chemist, he brings an appreciation of both science and history to his stories. His latest novel is Mr. Darwin’s Dragon. Visit his blog at www.airshipflamel.com.

Anthony Francis

By day, Anthony Francis teaches robots to learn; by night he writes science fiction and draws comic books. Anthony’s best known for his Skindancer urban fantasy series of novels including the Epic eBook Award winner Frost Moon and its sequels Blood Rock and Liquid Fire, all following the misadventures of magical tattoo artist Dakota Frost trying to raise her weretiger daughter Cinnamon in Atlanta. Anthony also writes the Jeremiah Willstone steampunk series, following a young female soldier in a world where women’s liberation happened a century early – and so, with twice as many brains working on hard problems, the Victorians invented rayguns and time travel. In addition to her debut novel Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine, Jeremiah appears in a dozen other stories, including “Steampunk Fairy Chick” in the UnCONventional anthology. Anthony is co-editor of the anthology Doorways to Extra Time and a co-founder of Thinking Ink Press, publisher of the steampunk anthologies Twelve Hours Later, Thirty Days Later, and Some Time Later. He’s the artist of the webcomic fanu fiku and he’s co-author of the 24 Hour Comic Day Survival Guide. He’s participated in National Novel Writing Month and its related challenges over 20 times, recently cracking one million words written in Nano. Anthony lives in San Jose with his wife and cats, but his heart will always belong in Atlanta. To learn more about Dakota Frost, visit facebook.com/dakotafrost or dakotafrost.com; to learn more about Jeremiah Willstone, visit facebook.com/jeremiahwillstone; to learn more about Anthony and his appearances, visit his blog dresan.com.
You can also take a look at my previous presentations on the science of airships, which I've been doing on and off for about 10 years now, for more details ... Hope to see you virtually there, or in the air! -the Centaur

Day 139

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cinnamon frost Sketch - I mean, full sketch, like with roughs and rendered inks and stuff, not a 15-minute Sharpie exercise - of Cinnamon Frost. Other than forgetting her whiskers, I think this came out well. While I did use a reference image, it's not precisely the same character (Cinnamon has way more voluminous hair, almost but not quite an afro), so it's hard to judge how well it came out with regards to proportions et al: girl headscarf Mirror reflecting it, it doesn't look too bad. Looking over it, there's a little weirdness with the exposed shoulder being too far out compared to the size of the head and the shape of the chin, but in my defense, I was focusing primarily on the hair and headscarf, and the shoulders were an afterthought in the render. tsorf nomanniC Drawing every day. -the Centaur  

Viiictory, Twenty-Nine Times

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camp nano april 2021 SO! Once again, I have written more than 50,000 words in a month - this time, on Dakota Frost #7, SPIRAL NEEDLE, which is close to being finished. (Yes, yes, YES, I know, Dakota Frost #4-#6 and Cinnamon Frost #1-#3 are not edited yet, editing is harder than writing, and pays less than teaching robots to learn. I'll get to them, I'll get to them, I promise). I can't figure out the new Camp Nano interface to make it cough up the usual winner banner, so you'll just get that screenshot instead. camp nano april 2021 b This is my twenty-ninth victorious Nano challenge and thirty-first attempt overall. That's great stick-to-it-ness, but I was behind for much of the month, not getting my feet under me until the 10th, but I managed a big pushes two weekends a go and a huge push last weekend, leading to me briefly getting ahead of the game right around the 28th, making today an easy coast (1500 words finished me off, though I wrote through to a notch over 1,667 words just for completeness). According to my records, that 8,154 word push on the 25th was the second most I've ever written in a day, topped only by my 9,074 word mad push to finish PHANTOM SILVER, Dakota Frost #5, on July 30th, 2016. camp nano april 2021 c Overall, a bit behind this month, which was pretty rough OKR (Objective / Key Result) planning at work. I love the IDEA of OKRs - say what you want to do (Objective, for example, write roughly 1/3 of a novel) and how to measure it (Key Result, for example, 50,000 words in the month of April), but this time it took us until almost the 20th. 3 weeks is way too long to spend on planning for a quarter's worth of effort. OH, almost forgot, an excerpt:
The questing metal fingers of the Plague Witch's "broom" branched and lunged at me. The Salzkammergutschwert’s black blade swept through the metal spikes, as cleanly as a Larry Niven variable sword through tissue paper. The Plague Witch recoiled, whirling the broom-thing, striking its black kettle end on my overextended sword hand. The Salt Chamber Sword sang out across the street, slamming into a fire hydrant in a hiss of water. But that movement naturally carried me forward, as I thought it would, and the moment the Plague Witch raised her head, I shoved my free hand at her, jamming onto her pointed beak a magical silencing wreath made of glowing vines and Technicolor feathers. “Oh, shaddap,” I said, drawing the wreath tight just as she tried to scream. The Plague Witch squeaked—she had a mask, not a beak, so the wreath couldn’t actually shut her mouth, but it could effectively gag her, and as she flailed her head, I kicked her. “And siddown!” And as she stumbled back, for a moment, I thought it was going to work. The Plague Witch writhed. I seized the Waystaff. Nyissa seized my arm. “I suggest retreat!” she cried. “No argument!” I yelled back—but retreat was not so easy. The silencing wreath wasn’t a free design, like my bluebirds or butterflies, but was an ad-hoc construct made from—and attached to—my vine and peacock tattoos, which tugged at me. “Some difficulty!” “Dakota!” Nyissa cried, pulling me away. “Let go!” “She’s got me,” I said, my feet slipping on the street. Oh, this had been a bad idea: as the Plague Witch struggled, the wreath self-replicated, drawing more and more silencing power from her own strength—but the design was imperfect, and was reeling me in towards her. “Nyissa!” Then things happened very, very quickly. Nyissa—my bodyguard, my bride-to-be, my love—darted forward, seized the Salt Chamber Sword in a burst of spray, and swung wildly at the tattoo vine connecting us. But the Plague Witch, flailing, swung her damaged broom at Nyissa—impacting her stomach. Nyissa didn’t even scream: she just doubled over in a splash of blood. The broom swept through her as the Plague Witch stumbled away, her body taken through a forward tumble, the lethally sharp sword falling from her hand—and severing the magic-tight tattoo connection. My vine snapped back to me, hurling me to the pavement. My wind went out. The Plague Witch tore off her disintegrating crown of vines, and screamed—
-the Centaur

Day 119

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vincent sketch Vincent van Gogh from "Vincent and the Doctor". Roughed in non-repro blue on Strathmore 9x12, outlined in Sakura Pigma Graphic 1 and rendered in that and Sakura Micron 08, 03, and 005, plus Sakura Pigma Brush. I erased part of the non-repro blue to try to clean it up, which ended up being a mistake as it destroyed some lines, leaving white marks through the drawing; however, using Photoshop's Black and White feature with cyans almost taken to black and blue taken to white, it dropped out the blue while adding a nice warm shading to it. Overall, not bad, though I am still squashing heads even when I am explicitly trying not to squash heads, and ending up with slight asymmetries, particularly in the left side of the beard, when I am explicitly trying to avoid that. But at least the eyes are not totally oversized this time. vincent headshot Drawing every day. -the Centaur And just ~600 words too, though much of today was cats, taxes and work. Taxes are submitted to the accountant, the cat is home from the vet after a nasty gastrointestinal scare, work is progressing (RL is hard!), and Dakota Frost is having a great time doing SPOILERS with SPOILER, so, no excerpt for you.

Day 118

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lovecraft sketch Quick sketch of H.P. Lovecraft. Not ... terrible ... per se, but I squashed his head, and there's something about the face that's wrong that also bothers me about the faces drawn by Steve Dillon in Preacher. Don't get me wrong - I love Preacher and Steve Dillon's art, but something has always struck me as slightly off about the faces in Preacher, and the same thing is going on here. If I knew what it was, I could probably fix it. But I don't, so I guess I just have to keep practicing. lovecraft headshot Drawing every day. -the Centaur P.S. 1800 words. Getting back on track on Nano.

Day 114

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serling sketch Imagine a man, who comes up tangentially during a writing session, and ends up having his mug featured in a quick Sharpie sketch on 9x12 Strathmore with no roughs whatsoever, capturing his likeness forever ... in the Twilight Zone. Meh, something's off, but I can't figure out what, with my drawing of Mr. Serling. serling headshot Drawing every day. -the Centaur P.S. Wrote 3600 words too.

Day 113

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zeit poster v2 Technically not a drawing, but the outcome of some Photoshop experimentation to see if I could turn the Tangerine Dream Zeit album cover into an image suitable for a wall poster. I think it came out well, but the above version #2 - combining the original cover, back cover, and part of an alternate cover - seems a little more jumbled than my next try, version #3, just expanding the original cover a bit: zeit poster v3 I like this simple version better, but I'm not committing to either right now; it was just an experimental idea to see if it was feasible, and also to practice some Photoshop. A final version would need a little more work on the blend of the cover, which is a quick hack right now. Drawing, designing, Photoshopping every day. -the Centaur P.S. 1800 words. Starting to get a little more rhythm in the story. Rough draftiness:
Nyissa stood in the doorway, thin as a ghost, pale as paper, blood raining down her chin and spilling over her hospital gown like something out of a horror movie. A nurse stood behind her in fear, and for the briefest instant, I thought she’d awakened in the surgery and slain her doctors in a blood rage. But she held a dripping transfusion bag clenched in one hand, no doubt ripped from the IV stand she held for support.
Actually, the Zeit album inspired this scene, as the moody first track matched Dakota's mood, and Nyissa awakens from her injuries when she hears Dakota distraught in the next room.

Day 112

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dita sketch Quick Sharpie sketch of Dita von Teese. Not bad overall, but I ended up badly screwing up the proportions and made her face so tall I had to shrink it vertically about 10%, which ... actually, wasn't so bad, compared to the original: dita headshot Ran across a more fetish-themed image of her as I was trying to design a waitress for a scene in SPIRAL NEEDLE; I judged said picture was too steamy for this drawing series, and the waitress ended up in a different outfit anyway, so you get a sketch of a glamour shot instead. Drawing every day. -the Centaur P.S. 1700+ words on SPIRAL NEEDLE. Ahead of the wordcount, behind on how much I need to do to catch up, but at least, catching up is happening now.    

Day 111

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troughton sketch Super quick sketch of Patrick Troughton. Drawing every day. And wrote 1100 words. -the Centaur

Day 110

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nielsen sketch Sharpie sketch of Leslie Nielsen, another actor who has played a vampire (came up with Dakota mocking (in her head) a vampire she met). Roughed in non-repro blue, which was surprisingly easy to remove in Photoshop, but actually made it a little bit hard to tweak the roughs to get the landscape right (hence the tilted smile) and Sharpies, while forcing me to work quickly and helping me learn the role of blacks and whites in composition, are still doing no favors on the rendering. nielsen headshot Drawing every day. -the Centaur P.S. 1900+ words on SPIRAL NEEDLE. Onward.