This blog post was originally published on the old Word Foreword on March 18th, 2018.
Update time! I've finally decided to make the move to a new blog platform. Starting later this month, I'll be moving from Blogger to Squarespace. I'm looking into porting over all the existing posts now, which should be fairly straightforward (since everything is text), but also adding some images to break up the long blocks of words.
I’m moving towards wrapping up the first draft of my new project, which is tentatively called 571 Days. I'm excited about it and looks like that draft will finish at 95k words. It's an exhilarating jump into science fiction for me and has opened a lot of new doors for me professionally and personally.
571 Days was the first project I jumped into the first draft with something I wanted to say fully intact. This story came about a conversation I had with a friend back in 2013 or 2014 when I lived in southern Illinois and had a roommate was looking to do programming – we talked about developing a little pixel game together, something super easy that was a way to test dialogue trees. So I wrote this story where you were the therapist on the first ever intergalactic ship looking for extraterrestrial life.
As the ship's counselor, you were aware of the other crew's stress levels, happiness, etc. and you were in charge of the morale of the team. The different crew members got along (or didn't), had quirks that you needed to attend, and had specific events occur at various points of time or contention.
That game never really happened, but I held onto that idea. And one day in early 2017 it came back to the forefront of my mind when I had an epiphany about the characters and their empathy (particularly the main character) and 571 Days was born when I realized who Brandon Jackson, ship’s counselor, was.
The book focuses on Brandon's relationship with Captain Danielle Childers, his ex-girlfriend who left him fourteen years before the beginning of the story for his toxic behavior. Brandon has grown and learned to be empathic, and wants to make amends for his shitty ways – but Danielle hasn't exactly forgiven him for what he's done. And now they and 11 others are on board the first intergalactic starship responding to the first ever communication with alien life.
Talking about this kind of toxic behavior is crucial to me. I'm ashamed that I've been on the giving end of that kind of action, and I've been on the receiving end of it as well, which is why I felt it was vital for me to talk about. 571 Days won't be a redemption story – Brandon doesn't want redemption for what he did. He just wants to be a good person. A better person.
I hope you’ll take this journey with me when the time comes.