4, About the Lodestar Series

Representing ‘The Lodestar’ by Rita de Heer
an image sourced from light shining on stainless steel

Although I began writing this series well before the others, the Lodestar featuring was always the alien spaceship. The people making Souzadelay Island their country had no inkling of the Lodestar’s reality. They saw it as a peculiar stationary star that sometimes grew bigger, as when it came nearer to Earth, and sometimes shrank.

At the end of the Back to Earth series, the alien spaceship-in-a-doughnut situation resolved itself the hard way. It was Kosi Lionhair’s uploaded mind, you may recall, who in a moment of boredom, wedged the alien spaceship in the center of the Ark Ship’s torus.

When the amalgamation touched the Earth’s atmosphere, the torus tore loose. Parts of it burned, parts fell to Earth. Jeb and some of her people landed on Aerk Island in the Australia Archipelago where they then lived for millennia, watched over by Kosi in the starship that, with time and forgetting, became known as the Lodestar.

Remember that this is all imaginary, Space Opera ‘science’? Though Earth is, of course, a real planet!

The series begins with the SkinGifters, an unfortunate people who had to make more and greater sacrifices than seem possible for them to continue to exist.

I: Ahni SkinGifter is the main character, as well as the title of her story.

3, Half Shaman in Space

Some good scenes in this, some nasty events, and all the sometimes hard-to-understand stuff in between where I tried to explain what life was like in the alien starship, also known as the “Octahedron”. If you’ve been reading along, you’ll have met this starship in Earth Girl, a mysterious object hanging low in the sky.

In this installment of what was to have finalized the trilogy, Jeb the half shaman meets Kosi Lionhair, the once-upon-a-time Earth Girl. Jeb and her people are in survival mode. As the human ‘face’ of the starship’s bored alien AI, Kosi causes Jeb and her people plenty of grief in the name of fun. A dramatic mix.

What follows is a taster … I’m having to learn a few more moves in the Compile section of Scrivener

Chapter 1: Entry
I’m aware. I’m awake. My breathing sounds loud. The space I’m in sounds big, so I’m not in the shuttle. I fall … but only a short distance. My legs seem too long.

I feel around me. Carpet or something under me, my hands and my thighs. I don’t hear Mongoose breathing beside me. I don’t feel him.

Snap! I open my eyes. Mongoose isn’t beside me!

I’m wearing a thin white tunic. Mongoose isn’t beside me!

I kneel up. Stand. I’m in a group of animals, still-as-statues, sitting or standing or frozen in a leap. Each on its own brown carpet square on a raised area in a huge white hall. What is this place? Where’s Mongoose?

Tiled white walls. White ceiling. White floor below the … carpeted podium? Among the statues I see animals I know. There’s a meerkat. A puma. A bear. A woodchuck. An orangutan. They are all life-sized.

No. They are all the size of human beings! There’s a thylacine with a front paw that is a different brown to the other. In the square next to the place where I was, is a mongoose. Sweat springs from me, is soaked up only where the skimpy tunic touches me. Everywhere else it rolls down me. I’m clammy in seconds. My heart hammers in my chest.

To be continued

Installment 2

Dryad after the Clear-felling, mixed media by Rita de Heer

This gig … of dumping 20 years worth of my work online … is turning out to be harder than I thought it could be. I had real trouble today just going to a File, saving it as a pdf, then inserting it here. This morning I first trapped myself thinking up a good title for this project. “A Broken Universe” sums it up quite nicely, I decided, since I could never get the timeline to gel.

I spent a couple of hours chasing through my Documents File for the long version of the Half Shaman in Space for Installment 3. As if it matters whether I post long or short, or anything in the order of the events, or anything.

But it does. There seem to be a few readers out there. Installment One did quite well.

Could only find a very short version. And I edited a couple of Files. And I did Delete a few odds and ends. Not a wasted day. Finally found what I was looking for in the Trash. Did retrieve it.

But anyway … installment two of the whole story is Half Shaman. One of the two published volumes, as it happens. Go to this Page for the details. https://wordpress.com/page/ritadeheer385131918.blog/1007

‘Story Debt’ Installment 1

In an effort to pay off my story debt, I’ll be posting links to all the stories set in this universe, that I worked on from 2000 to 2020. Most are second and third drafts, or in beta-reader mode. None have had a final professional edit. I have no energy, or time, to finish, edit, publish or market them. Those years are done, as I have explained in the blog.

Earth Girl was to have been the first installment of the saga …

‘Ideas Debt’

Ideas shining like stars and dulling past their use-by-date
mixed media, Rita de Heer

I’ve been reading quite a bit about the ‘ideas debt’ (Jessica Abel) that many creatives allow themselves to be burdened with. Me included. And what to do about it as new creativity is slowed, and even stopped, while you figure out what to do with all this material that owns you, and what you owe it.

A form of emotional blackmail that you lay over yourself, I’ve started to think. Include here the people who know and love you, who know how much you invested in your project. There’s a chorus. But? But?

In my case this is where I spent twenty years learning to write novels, and then writing about a dozen interlocking science fantasy novels, most set in the same universe if not time span. Only one, maybe two, have been published. I see that I’ve left them behind so far already, that I don’t even recall whether I published that second one or not? Tch tch.

The recent two year gulf, gap, hiatus in my life put paid to any more work in that arena. I have no energy for finishing them … most are in the final chapters, or as far as beta drafts. The getting ready for marketing, and the marketing itself … exhausting.

I wonder if I have enough energy to turn each one into a pdf and post it as a blog installment, for example? Prefaced one and all with the same little letting-go story?

Watch this space.

Lego: MILS Base-plate

The minute I saw a Lego base-plate, I knew I’d have to find an alternative.

Underside of Lego base plate in green, my version of a MILS plate in blue etc

Most of the building I’m doing is on my smallish round dinner table. When I have guests stuff has to be able to be moved easily to shelves. Just how weak and bendy the original base-plates are was amply illustrated to me by Darryl of Bevin’s Bricks on Youtube cutting one up with a box cutter.

I already searched through possibilities like glueing base plates on cardboard and building on ordinary plates and joining those with other ordinary plates. Neither of which attracted me. The first because it’s hard to stay accurate. The second because of heavy and awkward builds springing apart when you least expect it. I’ve read about builds grievously falling apart while being transported from one table to the next. Not ideal, in other words.

Then, on one of the FB groups I joined, I saw mentioned the MILS plate as the next development in the search for a strong base plate. Following that up, I saw a good explanation on Bevin’s Bricks. [Though I have again forgotten what ‘MILS’ means. I have a life-long memory glitch in relation to acronyms.]

Me constructing a ‘proper’ MILS base plate right now would’ve meant ordering the required parts, and weeks of waiting on covid-struck postal services in several countries. Even getting supplies by post from my local brick resales outlet a few suburbs away, usually takes a couple of weeks.

Not helped this week that I’m house-bound again, waiting to be told whether I have covid or another lurgy. Well, I know I have a lurgy. Ten days of coughing.

But … I have six alternate-lego base plates, lots of blue 2×2 bricks and red 2×2 bricks that I have no idea where to use, a few 30-year-old Technic 1×6 bricks, and a bunch of blue sun-damaged plates of all sizes. Can I achieve something with them?

I could. Very likely the ordered honeycomb of professionally built MILS base plates is not present in the internals of my sandwich base plate (below) because I spaced the reds and blues according to need, not design. I’m very happy with it and am aiming to put another one together tonight.

Behold my sandwich/MILS base plate.

Learning Lego

Yesterday I was reminded that Bosley & Co need at least 2 more hard hats to be able to pass building inspections. Off went another order to BrickResales.com.au for hard hats, a few other building site necessities, and a trio of frying pans for the new outdoor dining setup. LBT’s (Australian delicacy: lettuce bacon and tomato sandwiches) coming up.

While most of the structures I build are MOCs, aka My Own Creations–for the ongoing story– every so often I buy a set for what I can learn from them.

This week, I tackled the (shown above) Campervan Model #Lego60283. Took me a couple of thoroughly enjoyable hours to put it together at the same time learning two techniques that’ll help me keep the interiors of my own models accessible.

First there is the camper’s easily lifted off roof. This has made access to the vehicle’s roof spaces so easy, I’m planning to use the technique for some of the apartments in Bosley & Co’s proposed multi-storey build.

Starting with the ground-floor cabins, I discovered that once you put a roof on a place, the windows and doors are too small for adult fingers to access the interior. Furniture, for example, that needs to be installed inside, has to be done during the build, or the build carefully dismantled and done again with extras included.

In that mode, there are cabins on the site that have been built three times. Jackie and Jed Cranedriver’s now very fancy hut is a case in point. Version One looked like a grey box. Version Two had some color in it.

Third time, this time, it has a swing-open wall similar to the one in the camper-van. I love it. Though it will take further study to get the colors matching where they are meant to. I can foresee a fourth rebuild.

Jackie Cranedriver on her newly built cabin.

The Hardware Store Rebuild:

Part One of a ‘Bric-Fic’ Fantasy

Despite the optimistic style of the title and subtitles, this is a story about ‘trying’ to publish a bric-fic fantasy. It’s been a zig-zag journey of dead-ends, so far, and I wrote this paragraph last because even WordPress is not productive when asked to do something a little different.

I’ve always wanted to name a new genre, and here it is. Little did I know it’d be in the arena of AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego) but that is also what I am. An AFOL.

The genre has been in existence for a while, I’m sure, since the Lego Group has been going 90 years, and I can’t be the only one who’s ever seized on these bricks and the mini-figs to tell a story. But it’s hard to find them, to compare my work, without a genre label.

Let me know if there is a term already out there?

After producing a slideshow on my desktop, I’ve been trying to find a good place to publish. I’ve tried a FaceBook Page, an Instagram account, and a WordPress slideshow with varying success rates. None of them more ideal than daily FaceBook posts on my Feed.

The slideshow block on this site likes photos, but finds captions harder to deal with. It’s another learning curve of the two-steps-forward-one-step-back variety. Something like a muddy path.

A gallery of photos and text boxes may serve. We shall see.

You can see in the third pic that the caption continues beyond the bottom of the page. Conclusion? A gallery will not do. The ‘captions’ are often too long.

I need a structure to input once, not one that needs me to scroll to the place where it exists, for every photo and every caption, copy, then scroll back to where it’s wanted. Wondering now if a table will work …

Nope! A prefabricated WordPress table does not stretch or accommodate photos and long captions, the way a word processor table does. Lucky last for today, I’ll try the column block:

Scene 8:

“After I dump the foundation blocks, fetch what?”

“Park the run-about and help me install the blocks.”

“But Boss, the scaffolding is cluttering up the yard. I should get that first.”

“But Dan, nowhere here to put it until we get the blocks in place.”

Scene 9

Beep. Beep. Beep.

“Tip them out. Dan, I’ve got Drew here to help me. You go wrangle the forklift attachment. One of the sparkies will help you get the electrics connected.”

“Right-ee-oh, Boss. Hey Drew, don’t let him run you ragged!”

“Boss and I are good, Dan. We’re brothers.”

“Well, that’s good to know!”

And that is it … the ‘column block’ feature stops working after two photos. It lets me input more text, but refuses another photo.

THE END