Tag Archives: phil giunta

Too Many Damn “-uptions”!

With the constant disruptions, eruptions, interruptions, and other “uptions” in my writing schedule over the past seven months (honestly, over the past 19 months, but we won’t go there)—and with the piecemeal progress on my SF novel—I decided that the most effective way to regain traction and reignite my enthusiasm would be to review what I’ve written thus far from the beginning.

To that end, I finally sat down and edited the first four chapters late last night, which effectively rekindled my energy for these characters and the story! I hope to read the next three chapters later today, take a deep breath, and press onward with an eye toward completing the first draft by the end of the year.

Time or Distance

I’ve never taken this much time to finish a draft of anything so this has been frustrating to say the least. Once I start a project, I normally write every day or at least every other day.  Time away from a project can provide fresh perspective—and it has in this case—but an extended absence can also cause loss of interest and momentum. So time to get back on it!

With the home renovation finished and the situation at my job hopefully stabilizing soon (more details here), I hope to resume a normal routine in the coming weeks… or at least until the next “uption”!

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced extended delays in their writing schedule. Feel free to vent and share your pain in the comments. I could use some schadenfreude!

Book Review: Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus by Isaac Asimov (writing as Paul French)

Along with his diminutive but dauntless sidekick, Bigman Jones, David “Lucky” Starr travels from Earth to Venus when fellow Council of Science member and longtime friend, Lou Evans, is charged with corruption and theft of an experimental yeast formula.

During their flight to Venus, a message from Evans warns Starr to stay away from the planet. This of course only entices Starr to press onward. As they approach Venus, Starr and Bigman discover that their pilot and navigator have succumbed to mind control and turned against them, sending the vessel crashing into the ocean.

After a brief scuffle, the pilot and navigator regain control of themselves, but recall nothing of the incident. Starr and Bigman repair the vessel and dock in the underwater dome city of Aphrodite. There, Starr and Bigman meet with senior council member, Doctor Mel Morriss, only to learn that previous incidents of mental aberrations have occurred in the recent past—and Lou Evans might himself be a victim.

Starr requests an interview with Evans, but his fellow councilman is reluctant to explain his actions. Their conversation is then interrupted by an emergency—a junior engineer has fallen victim to mind control and is threatening to open one of the airlocks and flood the entire city! Worse, Lou Evans takes advantage of the distraction to escape in a personal submarine into the oceans of Venus.

Can Lucky Starr save the underwater town of Aphrodite from destruction, recapture his fellow councilman, and solve the mystery behind the mind control before the next incident destroys every living human on Venus?

Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus is the third book in the series and is just as entertaining as the previous entries. Asimov creates a clever and plausible mechanism by which the mind control is executed.

The feisty Bigman is noticeably more subdued than in the first two volumes. His most heroic moment is hustling through the city’s ventilation shafts in an effort to cut off power to the airlock before the engineer can flood the city. After that, Bigman is reduced to steering a ship and asking Lucky for clarification about certain scientific concepts during their adventures.

Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus Cover

In the 1972 Signet editions of the series that I’m reading, Asimov added a disclaimer regarding the inaccurate descriptions of the planets when this series was originally published in 1954. Such details as the existence of an ocean on Venus, for example, were merely speculation prior to the images sent by the Mariner II probe launched in 1962 that debunked the theory.

Onto Lucky Starr and the Big Sun of Mercury

Delaware – The Coastest with the Mostest!

My wife and I spent another fantastic vacation in Rehoboth Beach, DE with several wonderful friends. The latter half of the week delivered sweltering temperatures ranging from 96F to 100F, but that didn’t stop up from having a marvelous time!

It was a busy and fast seven days I could absolutely use another week at the beach just to finish the book I’m reading and get some writing in, but I’ll jump back into writing once I’m home. It was quite a tempest of activity including daily morning walks along the beach and boardwalk, catching SpiderMan: Homecoming at the Midway Theatre, parasailing in Dewey Beach with my friend Renee, shopping and lunch in Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island, a trip to Cape Henlopen State Park, shopping at Heritage Antiques in Route 1 and in historic downtown Lewes, and of course, ice cream from various shops including the Royal Treat and King’s Homemade Ice Cream.

Finally, no trip to Rehoboth/Bethany would be complete without visiting our favorite toy shop, Yesterday’s Fun—both in Rehoboth and in Bethany.

Henlopen Lighthouses

Cape Henlopen Beach Cape Henlopen Dunes Cape Henlopen Dunes Cape Henlopen State Park

Fort Miles 8in Gun Fort Miles 16in Gun Fort Miles and Tower 7

Henlopen Lighthouse & Cape May Ferry

Parasailing with Renee Parasailing with ReneeParasailing with Renee Parasailing with Renee

Parasailing with Renee

Imperial Guard action figure Starfish decorationResin Shark and Sailfish Star Wars Bamboo Cups

Deka Return of the Jedi Pitcher Deka Return of the Jedi Pitcher

I also held a book signing at Browseabout Books on Thursday. I only sold one book, but I enjoyed chatting with people, including my friend Mary Ann who was in town on vacation for the week.

Browseabout Author Signing Ad Browseabout Signing-WhiteboardBrowseabout Book Signing Maryann & Phil at Browseabout



Book Review: Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids by Isaac Asimov (writing as Paul French)

One year after David Starr’s adventure on Mars—where he encountered a benevolent race of energy beings living in isolation below the planet’s surface while investigating a food poisoning scare—Starr sets off to eliminate a growing pirate threat originating from our solar system’s asteroid belt.

David “Lucky” Starr, a junior member of the Council of Science, proposes that an expendable, unmanned vessel, the Atlas, be sent to the asteroid belt with the intention of allowing the pirates to capture it and tow it back to their base—where explosives rigged in certain sections of the ship would detonate.

Starr’s mentors, Doctors Conway and Henree, endorse the plan but are shocked when they learn from Starr’s sidekick, the diminutive but capable Bigman, that Starr had decided to board the Atlas in order to infiltrate the pirates.

As planned, the ship is captured by a pirate vessel, commanded by one Captain Anton, who suspects that Starr, traveling under the alias Bill Williams, is a government man. After narrowly winning a duel to the death with Anton’s first officer, a surly and stout pirate named Dingo, Starr is dropped off on a large asteroid, where he encounters a hermit named Hansen, who claims to help the pirates on occasion in exchange for his safety—as long as he remains on the asteroid.

However, Hansen recognizes David Starr as the son of the late scientist Larry Starr. Further, Hansen has a small vessel that can take them off the asteroid and he pleads with Starr to help put him contact with the Council of Science base on Ceres.

Once there, Hansen is not at all forthcoming with information about the pirates and he claims to have forgotten the coordinates of the asteroid he calls home.  However, Starr had taken notes on the way from Hansen’s asteroid and decides to return in his own vessel, the Shooting Star along with Bigman. Eventually, they locate the asteroid, but Starr quickly finds himself ensnared in a trap set by the pirates led by Dingo. They capture him and take him below the surface, where Starr observes a manufacturing plant and main base of pirate activity.

Will Lucky Starr escape the asteroid alive and make it back to the Shooting Star? Even if he does, will he and the Council of Science be able to stop a raid on Ceres by a fleet of pirate ships bent on recapturing Hansen? What’s more, how will the Council of Science eliminate the pirate threat from the asteroid belt once and for all?

Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids

Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids is the second volume in a six-book series. As with David Starr, Space Ranger, which I reviewed here, the story is an easy, fast-paced read. This time around, the plot twist was predictable, but that did not diminish the enjoyment of a vigorous, rip-roaring adventure. Onto the next!


Of Home Renovations, Work Disasters, and Book Signings…

In a previous post, I discussed the recent home renovation project that consumed most of June for me. I painted a large portion of my second floor through the middle of the month and the renovation was completed as of June 29 with the installation of new carpet! Now, approximately 80% of our second floor has new carpeting.

Since then, I have been busy reassembling our dining room and library with little or no time at all for writing. In fact—and to my chagrin—my SF novel-in-progress took a back seat for the entire month, but that wasn’t entirely unexpected to be honest.

New Carpet-Library

New Carpet-Hallway  New Carpet-Stairs

Empty Bookcases

Bookcases Filling Up

To make matters worse, a severe storm struck my area on July 1, causing a partial roof collapse at my workplace, accompanied by flooding and a natural gas line rupture to the generator that provides power to a portion of our IT equipment in the event of a main power failure—which also occurred.

As a member of our IT Infrastructure team, I was called in to assist with disaster recovery implementation, an activity that required participation not only from my own immediate team, but various members of our corporate parent’s IT group as well as vendors of the two or three of the major hardware and software platforms we rely on.

After a continuous 50-hour conference call, during which I slept no more than 4-6 hours, our systems were restored and business was able to resume. Unfortunately, the disaster occurred on my birthday, forcing me to cancel all plans with my wife and family. A final critical issue remained outstanding into Monday that I was not able to resolve until July 4…so that holiday was also lost.

It has been a brutal four weeks, friends. I am exhausted to the point of burn out and as of this writing, we are still working through new and unexpected problems, while I’m still working to put my house back in order.

On a high note, the Bethlehem Writers Group announced the winners of their 2017 short story contest and I am proud to have taken an Honorable Mention (as I mentioned before!) with my story “So Hungry…,” which will be published in the fall edition of the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable online magazine.

Also, I look forward to my book signing at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, DE on Thursday, July 13 from 11AM to 1PM. The titles available for purchase at the signing include my paranormal mystery novels, Testing the Prisoner and By Your Side as well as the speculative fiction anthologies Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity and Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity, and of course, Beach Nights!

Lastly, I will be meeting with Firebringer Press publisher Steven H. Wilson next week to discuss the release of my paranormal mystery novella, Like Mother, Like Daughters later this year.

Once the mayhem subsides, I hope to return to work on my SF novel in progress and resume some semblance of a normal routine.

Enjoy your summer!