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Hazel, and the Connected Universe

by Dennis M. Myers, 07/6/2019

The first few books I read were all Robert Heinlein stories. The Star Beast, Red Planet, and The Rolling Stones were all given to my by my Mother and Grandmother. After that, the fire had been ignited, and I when I started 7th grade I ran to the Buffalo Junior High School library and went straight to the H section. I can't tell you in what order I read the books, but I can tell you that in The Rolling Stones, Hazel Stone, the wiley old grandmother, was my favorite character. As I neared the end of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, a side character, a young woman named Hazel Meade married the Stone brothers, and I suddenly realized that she was now Hazel Stone, and this story, this book I was holding was a part of a larger, connected universe.

I know, I know. We're all used to that now. But I was just a kid, and this was a wake-up call for me. Over the years that followed Heinlein connected most of his stories together, as did Azimov, another of my childhood favorites. By the time I sat down in 11th grade to start writing my own stories, I began by thinking in terms of a trilogy. I worked out a story for each of three separate generations in this multi-generation journey. So I can honestly say I have always had big stories in my head.

Over the years since, I started a half dozen different stories, and wrote notes for dozens more. Then, in 2017 my cousin, Tom, challenged me to put all my stories into a single timeline. A single universe. While there are a couple ideas that don't fit, most of that work did, actually, fit into one timeline. I had thousands of years of snippets, showing different eras of my own human history. I spent quite a bit of time looking at places where the story ideas overlapped.

Then in September of 2017 the management position I had was "eliminated". You know how that feels, I'm sure. It hurt. Right up until they handed me the severance check. When I realized that I didn't actually have to find a job for several months before touching my savings, I decided to take a leap.

Now, being a software developer, I decided to use a software approach. I made a database table and put in all of my options for what I could do. They included finding a job right away and using the money to pay off debt, but also included the ideas for several stories that I could commit to sitting down and writing. Then I put a "weight" on each one of 1 to 10. I wrote a random selection that took those weights into account, and delivered me a result. The story idea that came up was the one on Luna which is now called Final Assembly. I find it fascinating that this is the story it chose, because according to my timeline, it's right near the start of what I called the Automated Empire. Tying the story together gave it a rich history, and a forward momentum that I enjoy. That's how the Rise of the Automated Empire series began.

I spent the next three months writing, on average, 2,000 words a day of story. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, here. But I am proud of that accomplishment, and by tracking my numbers, I proved to myself that I could do it. I also found so much deep satisfaction in the process of creating a story that I know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

As I write this, I am well over a quarter of a million words into creating stories in this massive universe. I am just getting started.

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