Thursday, June 21, 2018

Writing Update and Sneak Peek

Map for Visionary From The Stars

I HAVE been working on the sequel to the Alien Mind like I promised. I just have everything on paper for now as I've been writing at doctors appointments and while waiting before interviews (I keep my resume's in a leather folder with a few clean sheets of paper and a pencil just in case). Unfortunately, this means I don't have a sneak peak from the sequel ready to share yet. AWWWWW!  I know! I'm sorry!

However, I HAVE been having some success with editing/rewriting Visionary From The Stars here lately (my second book and NOT related to The Alien Mind). I'm currently about halfway through the manuscript (FINALLY!). It took me forever to get here!

Meantime I have alternated between wanting to toss out my map and subsequently realizing I drew it that way on purpose at least half a dozen times. This map may not make it into the final book, I draw to keep myself organized when describing a scene. I do however include these drawings on the Fan Extras section for each book which can be found listed on the Books tab above.

So, since I can't give you a piece of the sequel (Darn! It is getting good too!), for this week's sneak peek, I'll give you a piece of Visionary! I hope you enjoy it, feel free to tell me what you think!

Also, I'd LOVE to hear what you are working on! Doesn't have to be writing related. Anyone doing any projects this summer? Tell us about them in the comments!


“There should be a small stream coming up soon,” Chris stated while walking and peering into his MTD screen. Focused on the screen, he bumped into Laurie. Mumbling an apology he put his computer away and paid attention to the path.

“We should find two more members waiting for us on the other side of the stream.” Bushwhacker informed them.

 Upon reaching the stream, they crossed on natural stepping-stones they found midstream. When they reached the opposite bank, there was no sign of the expected ECOPs. 

“Where are they?” Chris asked.

Bushwhacker was scanning the forest edge stream bed with careful scrutiny.

“Perhaps we should signal them?” Laurie suggested.

“Yes, I suppose so. They’re probably just late,” Bushwhacker replied with a nod.

All three ECOPs took out their tegars from their belts, extended them with two shakes of their wrists, and commenced generating the signal. Two iguanas came dashing from the woods. They too were making the call in response. As the group came together, they each put away their tegars. The iguanas bent over panting and laughing, their hands on their scaly knees.

After they caught their breath, they both straightened up and introduced themselves.

“I’m Mon,”

“I’m Nom,”

“Sorry we’re late,” they chirped in unison, 

“Chameleons had farmland disputes,” 

“We just managed to get it all settled.”

Bushwhacker smiled and nodded, “Quite understandable, it is farming season for the chameleons. Whirlp expected something like that to come up… Mon, Nom, this is Laurie Kingston and Chris Hagan,”

“A pleasure,”

“To meet you,” said Mon and Nom smiling.

The brothers were identical, Laurie noticed, from the way the ridges above their eyes curved to the pattern in the scales down their chests. They both had orange spines running down their backs and multiple black rings down their tails. The tips of their tails were the only physical trait Laurie noticed a difference in; one was black the other green. The brother who had identified himself as Mon wore a red braided bracelet around his right arm.

“You two are twins!” Laurie exclaimed with a laugh.

“You are also iguanas, like Tarpin, if I’m not mistaken,” Chris added.

The way Mon and Nom kept jumping and hopping around, it was hard to tell.

“Right and,”

“Right again!” The twin brothers answered as they continued dancing in place on their tiptoes. 

 The children laughed.

“We thought Tarpin,” Mon started.

“Would  be joining us.” Nom finished.

“He will join us at the meeting,” Bushwhacker answered.

The twins stopped dancing and started doing arm circles.

“We should probably make camp now,” Bushwhacker continued, looking toward the setting sun.

Chris and Laurie went off to look for edible plants while the twins went to look for firewood. 

Bushwhacker put together a fire ring with rocks from the riverbed.

Soon after everyone had eaten, the twins stretched out on the riverbank and fell into a watchful sleep. 

Bushwhacker and the children sat beside a merrily crackling fire.

“Are Mon and Nom always this energetic?” Laurie asked. 

“They have their days. Mon and Nom can be serious when duty calls. Even so, you haven’t seen the worst of it. I’m just glad the Chameleons had the sense not to let them anywhere near their sugar cane; now that makes them hyper!” Bushwhacker answered.

Chris chuckled as he found himself trying to imagine Mon and Nom more energetic than they were today.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Writing Update and Sneak Peek


So, since it has been a long while, I thought I would do this a bit differently. I have started writing again, and have finally found the appropriate plot line for the sequel to The Alien Mind- which may turn into a trilogy or more (no promises). However, I have three kiddo's, I've just graduated (Magna Cum Laude- yay me!), and hope to start working full time here soon. Which ultimately means getting this book written will not happen quickly.

So. My idea was to update you on my word count with a sneak peek. I'd like to declare once a week, but depending on the week I may not get anything written so for now... I'll just leave it at that. If you subscribe to my blog or social media channels you will get the notification when I've posted a new update/peek here.

So here goes:

Today I wrote 2,078 words in the sequel to The Alien Mind (which does not have its own name yet)

I started Friday, and had a wedding yesterday so my total word count is 3,891 so far.

I may write a tiny bit more to finish off this scene before I head to bed but that's where I stand at 11pm today.

(update... 2,451 written before heading to bed... with a final word count of 4,658)

As for the sneak peek... Here is one of my favorite pieces (unedited):

A thousand options ran through his head. Ellery needed an experienced mind healer. He could ask the humans if he could take her back to Aun to be looked at, but if the humans refused things could get bad. If his Aunantet friends helped him get the children out of here it could look like an Aunantet attack on a human colony. That wasn’t what Aun stood for. But he also couldn’t just leave her here like this…

Daniel moved toward the door.
“Commander Mandel, this girl needs more help than I can give her. She needs an experienced mind healer.”
“She won’t be allowed to leave this facility!” Commander Mandel replied.
Daniel stepped back through the atoms of the door. “Could you repeat that?”
Commander Mandel stiffened as he repeated his statement. “She is under the care and protection of Earth and its government now.”
“I wonder, does Earth or its governments know what you all are doing to these children all the way out here?” Daniel growled, narrowing his eyes at the commander.
“You have no proof son,” The Commander smiled threateningly. “So unless you have any further business here, I’d suggest you leave.
Daniel eyed the Commander before stalking off back down the hallway towards his friends. 


There were a few pieces from today that I am just aching to share with you, but this one was my favorite. Daniel has grown a bit since the first book and I am really enjoying allowing him to come into his own a bit more! 

So... that's it for now. Would you care to share any projects that YOU have been working on? Doesn't have to be writing related- I love hearing what everyone has been up to!

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Alien Mind In Audiobook

The Alien Mind Audiobook Giveaway!

The Alien Mind Audiobook cover
Click for a free 30 Day Trial of Audible
AND The Alien Mind free!!
I am really excited about this announcement! For the FIRST TIME EVER- The Alien Mind is now in fully narrated audio, complete with different voices for each character! I am thrilled with the quality of my producer, Brian Meslar's work and was absolutely amazed at how well he was able to unknowingly match the characters voices to the voices I've always heard them speak inside my head! It gave me goosebumps so bad I had to review it in short spurts!

In honor of this first ever release of The Alien Mind in Audiobook format I am giving away a free audiobook copy! Use the Rafflecopter to get your entries recorded!

You can go here: to listen to a sample of the narration!

The Alien Mind is also available in Kindle and Paperback through amazon as well as Large Print, Paperback, and Hardback through Barnes and Noble!

Meanwhile, I'm busy working on my senior project for my Electrical Engineering Technology degree, and building a circuit to decorate my graduation cap with (because I am totally geeky like that). I'll be sure to update you here when I finish!

Oh, I also have editing on Visionary From The Stars to tackle but that has taken a back seat to my senior project work honestly. I'll be sure to keep you updated on this as I come along too.

Remember! You have till the 31st to get all your entries in and you can enter each option once a day!

Friday, February 16, 2018

A Book To Read On Valentines Day (and Why)

Hi fellow book lovers! "My Bookish Blog Hop" group on facebook is celebrating Valentines Day by doing a 'My Bookish Valentine' blog hop!  Click here to join our group

Between my college classes and running around to get my kids a little something (as well as my husband), I completely forgot to make sure this post went live on Valentines. Thats ok though, because I'm sure I'm not the only one who was too busy on Valentines Day to do much reading. -> I plan on catching up this weekend! :)
I don’t really have a Valentines Day book. But… I do have a short list of requirements…
Has to be sweet
Has to pull at the heart strings
Has to have some sort of romantic element

Suggestions: Anne of Green Gables, Jane Eyre, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice… and dare I say it Stephenie Meyer's ‘Host’.

I also have Authors Jo Linsdell and Skye Hegyes here today to share their lists!

Jo Linsdell

Susan Hatler writes great romance books. Her series have a nice mix of characters too so whatever your current relationship status you’ll probably find a character you can connect with in one of her books.

Skye Hegyes -

I don’t generally read a lot of lovey-dovey books on Valentine’s Day, but one I think I’ll be reading to my kids this year is Love Monster by Rachel Bright about a monster finding someone to love him. It just looks too adorable not to read.

So what about you? Do you have a favorite book to read on Valentines Day? Or perhaps you are still looking for that perfect Valentines book? What are YOUR requirements- Please do tell ;)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Book That Other People Love But You Haven't Read Yet

Hi fellow book lovers! Valentines day is coming up and "My Bookish Blog Hop" group on facebook is celebrating by doing a 'My Bookish Valentine' blog hop and you are all welcome to join!  Click here to join. 

Today for My Bookish Valentine Blog Hop I am sharing with you a guilty secret... GASP SHHHH!

Today I am sharing with you a few books that other people love but I haven't read yet:

Lets see...
  • I'd really like to read the Maze Runner books
  • Game of Thrones
  • Fifty shades of... (though the Harry Potter rendition I heard at comic con had me laughing so hard I doubt I could read them)

Hmm... I think those are the major ones. There are plenty of sci fi classics I'd love to find; Asimov, Heinlein among others. I've been reading mostly fan fiction in spurts between my electrical engineering classwork. I graduate in May though, hopefully I'll find more time to read then!

Do you have a particular book you would recommend that I read first? Leave your suggestion in the comments!

I also have Jo Linsdell and Skye Hegyes here with me today to share their lists:

Jo Linsdell

There are so many books I could list here. Anything by V.E. Schwab and/or Maggie Stiefvater. I see so many book bloggers talking about books by these authors and I’ve yet to read anything by either of them. Another one I always see people getting excited over is The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I’ve been meaning to get round to reading those for a while now.

Skye Hegyes -

Dear gods, this is a long list. There’s a lot of books that many people seem to love that I haven’t gotten around to reading yet. I haven’t read anything by Brandon Sanderson yet, although I would love to. I also hear a lot of good things about Sarah J. Mass’ books, but have yet to read any myself. One of the books I’d like to pick up this year that I have heard good things about is Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

Do you have any books in your TBR pile (To Be Read) that you are embarrassed to say you haven't opened yet? Do tell!
Meanwhile, be sure to stop by tomorrow at Casia Schreyer's blog:  where we will be talking about 
our favorite fictional couples!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Industrial Electronics- Building a Power Supply

Hey everyone! I am back from a bit of a hiatus due to my engineering classes at Florence Darlington Tech. I am working towards my degree in Electrical Engineering and due to the curiosity from friends on facebook I have decided to share a project I worked on this past semester.

I had to build a power supply and write up a report. Here goes:

To build a power supply, three circuit sections will be needed. Knowledge of transformers, how to build a filtered bridge rectifier, and how to build a voltage regulator is also necessary for this project. A transformer, four 1N4001 zener diodes, a 741 Op Amp, a 2N2222 Transistor, four resistors, a zener diode, and a capacitor will all be needed for this project.

To begin, we started with a step down transformer which was built with a 10:1 or rather a 0.1 turns ratio. This lowers the incoming 120Vac coming from the wall outlet. This particular transformer was center tapped so we could pick either 13vrms or 26vrms. We chose to wire it for 13vrms. Using the formula Vsec=(Nturns)(Vpri) we would come closer to 12vrms however Vrms from the wall can fluctuate within a range so for this report I will stick with 13vrms as it was already established on the transformer. 
In order to know that our transformer was working correctly we need to calculate the peak voltage expected on the oscilloscope screen. Rms=.707(vp) gives us an 18.387Vpp. The oscilloscope verified this by displaying a 18vpp (approximate) sine wave. The sign wave is far from the flat positive voltage we need for DC. 
To start smoothing this sine wave out, we need to build a bridge rectifier. To build the bridge rectifier, we wired together four 1N4001 diodes in this pattern:

We were careful to keep the positives and negative ends of the diodes in the proper direction. At one point, failure to double check our work resulted in the melting and untimely death of a few diodes. The capacitor and the load resistor were chosen to keep the ripple factor low. With a 20KΩ load resistor and a 10uf capacitor our ripple factor turned out to be 4.2%. We could have modified this by switching out the capacitor and resistor and using these formulas until we created the desired ripple factor:

Vr(pp)= 1/(fR_LC) x Vp(rect)
VDC= (1- 1/(2fR_LC)) X Vp(rect)
% ripple factor =vr(pp)/ VDC

Connecting the bridge rectifier up to the oscilloscope produced a 18vpp approximate ripple wave to appear on the screen. This is possible due to the diode positioning. During the positive half of the AC sinewave cycle, one pair of diodes conducts the current while the other two are reversed biased. As the negative half of the AC sinewave cycle passes the reversed biased diodes become forward biased and conduct current while the first pair become reversed biased. The process repeats itself bringing all the negative voltage into the positive. Like this:

Adding the capacitor into this circuit creates the sawtooth like ripple. This is created by the capacitor charging during the positive cycles when the diodes are forward biased and discharging as the cycle begins to drop (when the diodes are reversed biased). This created a signal on the oscilloscope like this (exaggerated):

This still isn’t flat DC though. We need to build a voltage regulator to smooth this out. For this we will need a 741 Op Amp, a 2N2222 transistor, three resistors, and a zener diode wired in this configuration:

A zener was chosen to set a voltage of 6.2 volts and R1 was chosen to be 1k to limit the current to the zener and help it maintain a nearly constant 6.2 volts no matter how high or low the incoming voltage goes as long as the current does not exceed the zener limits. In order to create a flat DC voltage this voltage level held by the zener holds the positive input of the op amp at 6.2v creating a reference voltage. Any time Vin decreases or the IL (the load current) increases (due to a decrease in the load resistance), and vice versa, the voltage divider created by R2 and R3 insures that a proportional increase or decrease is applied across the negative input of the op amp.
The difference between the two op amp inputs is amplified by the gain and sent to the base of the transistor. This change in voltage applied to the transistor causes the emitter at Vout to increase until the voltage to the negative op amp input matches the zener input at the positive terminal. This creates a flat DC voltage who’s voltage we can predict by plugging the zener reference value and the chosen R2 and R3 values into the gain formula:

Vout= (1+ R2/R3)Vref    ->      (1+(10k/10k)) x 6.2= 12.4V expected output.
The power supply was completed by connecting the two circuits together by a wire connected in parallel with the capacitor and resistor from the bridge rectifier circuit over to Vin of the voltage regulator:

Connecting the oscilloscope across vout and ground showed that the signal that was once sawtooth in shape was now a flat and solid 12V (approx) DC readout.

To test whether our power supply could handle a variable load we connected an 80k potentiometer at Vout in parallel with R2 and R3. Keeping an eye on the oscilloscope we were able to turn up the resistance to find where the transistor could no longer keep up with the current load (and could no longer keep the voltage at a stable 12volts). As the transistor failed this caused the signal on the oscilloscope to become distorted once again. We unplugged the potentiometer and tested the resistance with a meter to find that the transistor was able to handle the current and keep a steady 12v signal going to the output as long as the resistance of the load stayed under 6K.

Using what was learned in this project it would be possible to replace pieces of the circuit to create a power supply that could operate at higher voltages or tolerate wider load resistance variances. It was very interesting to see firsthand how each part of the circuit worked individually and then how they changed the Ac to Dc once they were connected together. The greatest challenge for me during this project was making sure the diodes in the rectifier were all going in the proper directions and figuring out where everything was in relation to the diagram once we started adding the circuits together. 

  If you have come this far (Holy smokes CONGRATULATIONS!) and have questions (I'm sure you do!)... feel free to leave them in the comments or reach out to me on facebook/twitter ;)

Also, hit the subscribe button because I will be going back to writing sci-fi short stories on my blog as well as entering in updates on my current work in progress which should be out of edition hopefully before May 2018... Just in time for ConCarolinas- I hope.

Meanwhile... run on over to Amazon to get the updated edition of The Alien Mind on kindle for just $0.99 till Jan 1st (afterwhich it returns to $2.99)!

Till next time-> Never stop reaching for the stars and exploring your potential!

Friday, October 27, 2017

E-books or Physical Copies for Teens?

So, I heard something today, will not name names or point fingers but it made me sad. The comment was that certain schools are being encouraged to shy away from physical books in their libraries in favor of e-books. While I do enjoy e-books, I don't think they are always a good fit for children.

The reasons for a school district to advocate for e-books are admirable:

Less paper
Less fire hazard
Takes up less space
E-books can be checked out and re-checked out where physical copies eventually come into too much wear and tear.

However, remember dear readers where you first learned to love reading. It wasn't sitting in front of your computer. It was in a library! Staring down all the rows of pretty book covers and waiting for a cover to jump out and grab your attention! This is how you found new books too! You picked up a copy of a new book that was unfamiliar to you and you read the back description. Maybe you decided to try out the first few or last few pages.

The feel of the cover. The feel of the pages between your hands. The atmosphere developed by the way the text and/or illustrations were presented in the book. All of these things helped stimulate your decision to take the book home for the week or not!

E-books are great too, don't get me wrong. Amazon's kindle program even has a way to allow authors and publishers to add extra details like character and location descriptions, or even definitions with their kindle x-ray feature. (look for the "x-ray enabled" notation on the amazon book page) This makes a book more three dimensional and can even further the reader's learning if they come across a link that teaches them something they never knew! If the e-book reader comes with a 'read aloud' feature, that could certainly help those who struggle to read as well.

Do I think schools could successfully transition to e-book only? Sure. The problem is enabling the "find a new book" phenomenon that comes so easy with physical books. Perhaps large screens could take the place of shelves and display rows of book covers with the book description... this would take a lot of money that most schools just don't have. Plus, can you guarantee that each child in your district has an e-reader (or is capable of being responsible for one?).

Where I stand right now... I believe with my entire being that children of all ages need to have access to a diverse physical library within their schools. Not every student can get their parents to take them to the public library. I believe that without a drastic change in how we store and display e-books, that ebooks could have the effect of turning children AWAY from reading. With less physical books trying to grab their attention replaced by nothing but hyperlinks on a webpage... I feel that less children and teens will even bother to read.

Keep the e-books for the busy adults who don't have space in their already full briefcases for a physical book.

Long live the physical libraries stocked full of paperbacks and hardbacks beckoning every young adventurer to come and sit a while!

Library photo credit: Enokson Book Talker Hangers via photopin (license)


If you would like a Signed Copy of The Alien Mind I would be more than happy to send you one!

You can email me at jennings (dot) vlj (at) or send me a private message on facebook (@vljennings)- which is often faster.

Paperback copies of the new edition are 14$ and Hard Covers are 24$. Both prices include shipping!

I also provide free digital copies to reviewers.