Air: Generation Mars, Book One

The surface of Mars has the biggest volcanic mountains and deepest canyons in the solar system. There are the remains of water features everywhere, both tiny and vast, yet water hasn’t flowed on the surface for over three billion years. The whole planet is red because it’s rusty. Actually, it’s not really red—more of a brownish orange with blacks and greys and whites mixed in. But someone long ago called it “the red planet”, and the name stuck. A day on Mars is about 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth and is called a sol. The sunsets are upside down from those of Earth: shades of blue layering out from the Sun, diffusing into yellows and pinks and oranges above. Mars has two moons that move in opposite directions across the sky. There is very little atmosphere, and what there is consists mostly of carbon dioxide, the same gas that we exhale here on Earth. The wind blows hard at times, yet the atmosphere is so thin that you might barely notice it. Such winds can lift dust from the surface though, sometimes creating massive dust storms that blow for days. Occasionally, one of these storms will grow to cover the entire planet.

Which is all to say that it’s a weird place.

Air: Generation Mars, Book One

Available now:…/dp/1733731024

(image: composite logo with Luis Peres)

Scratching the Surface on Planetary Society list!

The Planetary Society’s Emily Lakdawalla publishes an annual list of recommended children’s books about space. Scratching the Surface made it onto this year’s list!

I’m honored to be included with all these other great titles.

Busy busy

The bulk writing, the writing just to get traction and capture the story is long done. Now it’s finesse and fleshing out and filling holes and making consistent: the hard stuff. This is going to take some time.

In the meantime, here’s an outhouse on Mars.

Word count over the past few days: 3796

image: composite using artwork by Luis Peres from the second book and an image from


Writing update

Today’s word count: 288

These counts will be very bursty and uneven for a while. Some days will see entirely new sections, with high counts. Others will see glue text, as I bring pieces together and smooth the edges.

(BTW, the images I post with these updates do, in fact, have relevance to whatever I work on that day.)

image: public domain

Writing update

Today’s word count: -1461

I said changing tooling at this stage would be dangerous.

But I expected this. It’s all part of the Delta-v equation for putting a story together.

That figure reflects the 2063 words removed in redundant sections and the 602 new words I wrote today.

So far, I’m digging Scrivener. Splitting and moving segments around is trivial: exactly what I need as I start bringing sections together into a coherent whole.

image: Richard F. Penn (

Writing update (changing horses)

Scary stuff today: I am trying out Scrivener ( for the first time.

I’ve always written my books in Word, opening a new file for every scene or thought, then pasting them all together into one document at some point when it felt right. This worked great for the first book (~5000 words), not as great but still ok for the second (~17,000 words), and will likely be terrible for this new one (currently ~21,000 words and growing). The proliferation of files and resulting loose-ends is becoming difficult to manage. Scrivener is a writing tool that is designed to help manage a large writing project. We’ll see.

Why is this scary? Well…

Today’s word count: 0

image: Chuck Dent (

Writing update

My use of the word “finished” in the previous post, regarding a bout of research, was inaccurate. The research is never finished.
I got a little further on the writing today, but also realized I need more info on a key topic.
Today’s word count: 1237
image (Apollo era A7L Primary Life Support System): NASA

Writing update

Just finished a huge bout of research: reading papers and contacting professionals in an effort to make sure the story fits with known science and technology. Today is the first day I’ve actually sat down to just write since my previous update.

Today’s word count: 1154

inflatable airlock image: NASA

Research break

There probably won’t be much writing for a few days. I need to slow down, do some research on some of the wild things I threw in during this sprint, and get the timeline in order.

Writing update

With today’s entry, I have completed the primary plot arc. That sounds like a big deal, and I guess it is. But there is still soooooooo much to do. The timeline is full of inconsistencies. POV wanders willy-nilly (omniscient, but needs taming). I’m way out on a limb with some of the technological events. There is no Act 1 or denouement. Much of the storytelling is fragmented and includes notes to myself. Characters need further development…

So, a milestone of sorts, but nothing to celebrate.

Today’s word count: 952