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Category Archives: Appearances

2018 Dragoncon AAR (and long awaited update)


So my very first Dragoncon is in the books and I gotta say, with a few exceptions I had the best time of my life.

So without much ado, rewind to 9 days ago…

I was going to leave Wednesday originally but work requirements prevented this from happening. So instead I left the house at something like 0600 with plans on arriving in Atlanta around 1400 that afternoon. However, my roommates were arriving early, so I managed to finagle the Hilton app and get an early checkin time for no extra cost. Score!

The drive was relatively uneventful, for a change. Usually I almost die a few times on the drive to a con, but for some reason I hit almost no traffic until I was just about in downtown Atlanta. However, before then I could see my hotel from about 6 miles out.

I’m not kidding.

The Westin at Peachtree Plaza has something like 70 floors in it, and this was where the four of us were crashing. It was the so-called “quiet” hotel of Dragoncon, which I was thankful for. The Hyatt and Marriott were freaking insane with their parties and whatnot, and I need… space? Quiet? So I checked in and promptly posted a picture to my Instagram account showing the view. And whoa, what a freaking view! I could see everything from there: the stadium where the Atlanta Hawks played, a giant ferris wheel that looked impressive from the ground but puny from my room (40th floor), and lots of buildings everywhere. It’d been years since I’d been in a large metropolis… I forgot just how many people there are in big cities.

So I rolled in and met up with my roommates… sorta. We were mostly ships passing in the night the entire weekend, and while I’m glad we all had our own personal space it would have been nice to hang out with them a little more. Still though, I had fun.

So Thursday evening I was starving and looking for food. Ran into the Internation Lord of Hate, Larry Correia, who hatefully guided me to food where I could divulge in hateful mchatey hate-filled sustenance. Unfortunately, I suck with directions and got lost. I wandered around and discovered the underground food court eventually. The problem was that in order to get to it from my hotel side you had to go down a CVS and then navigate into it. The CVS staff was awesome and were immensely helpful while handling 80,000+ congoers all weekend. Found a terrific Cubano food place and ate like a fiend. Prices were a bit high (a common theme the entire weekend) but the food was delicious (another recurring bit). Finally fed, I found my way up to Speaker’s Speakeasy.

This used to be Barfly Central but this year, since Tedd “Speaker To Lab Animals” Roberts was hosting it in his suite, it was renamed. There I got to meet up with some old friends and make some new ones. For some reason I’m blanking on who was in the room besides Speaker, but it was nice to catch up with them all. From there I headed back to the Westin, where I ran into David Weber and his awesome wife, Sharon. David was recovering from a fall and was kind of doped up on pain meds, courtesy of a broken nose and some stitches. From there I briefly met up with my publisher and friend, Chris Kennedy, who was in the bar holding court. Surrounding him were some of his authors, including Mark Wandrey, Kevin Ikenberry and (I think) Jon Osborne. All of them had their spouses in tow.

Question: when I meet my fellow male authors, their spouses always seem to be more attractive and “out of their league”. It seems to be a rule of thumb. Just an odd observation that I’ll probably have people screaming at me in the comments over.

Pooped, I finally crashed around 2300. Friday promised to be a long day and I knew I would need to rest.

I woke up around 0700 Friday morning. Stupid, considering how little I was going to sleep for the rest of the weekend, but still… I tried to be quiet for my roommates (one of them stumbled in at around 0400 or so) and made my way down to the Starbucks in the hotel. Ran into my publisher again and we briefly talked about the sales of Deathlords, Book 3 of the Kin Wars Saga. The book had gone on sale Thursday and reception has been amazing so far. A lot of people have yelled at me for the opening scene of the book, when they received a gut punch that they were not expecting.

We talked briefly about Book 4 and he mentioned that I should be writing in the Four Horsemen Universe, which had been co-created by him and Mark Wandrey. When I reminded him that I’d written in two anthologies, he countered with “novels”. That sort of caught me off guard, since I was already writing a 4HU novel with my old writing buddy Chris Smith.

I then went over to the dealer’s room and found Nerd Mecca. Three floors of vendors, with wares ranging from handmade personalized nerd wall clocks to massive dragon and fairy wings for those searching for that elaborate costume piece. I found kilts as well (didn’t buy one, instead snagged one of a friend’s old ones) and some other really cool gifts, including something for my housesitter. I realized that it was getting close to time for my first panel so I hustled over to the Marriott, where I sat in on The Pen & Sword.

It was a pretty crowded panel and quite a few people were there to listen as myself, Kevin Dockery, Marc Allen Edelheit, and Mark Wandrey spoke about how we armed our protagonists and the pitfalls of dealing with modern and classical weapons. The best example was the classic “safety on a Glock” incident.

From there I headed back up to Speaker’s. Along the way I had to pass through the throngs of partygoers on the main levels of the Hyatt and Marriott. It was plain to see that Dragoncon was officially underway as thousands of cosplayers were out showing off their costumes. There was everything from inflatible dinosaurs to a woman in a walker cargo lift from Aliens. It was amazing.

I went back down to the Fantasy Gathering panel, which was more of a room for all of us on the fantasy lit track to sell our books and meet the fans than anything else. There I got to meet Todd McCaffrey again, Quincey Allen, and JoHanna Moresco, one of the violinists from The Cruxshadows. I’m pretty sure I was only at stage 9 of 10 on the blushing level. I sold quite a few books and had a blast. I packed up quickly and headed out at the end, done for the night. I needed sleep, and bad.

Was up at the butt crack of dawn because one of my roommates was in the Dragoncon parade, and I promised to get pictures. I had a special invite up to one of the rooms overlooking the route, so I got to see the parade with no obstructions. While watching the parade I spotted Larry Correia and his wife, Bridget, on a similar balcony practically next door. Lots of waving and facial expressions made (as well as a dance off at one point) made for a fun viewing experience of the parade.

From there I had to hustle because my next panel, Amazons & Assassins, was about to begin. It was a pretty interesting panel, and my first one with both S.M. Stirling and Eric Flint. I didn’t talk much on this one, preferring to listen as two masters of the craft talked about their own writing experiences. After that it was over to the Baen Books Traveling Road Show, where the winner of the Best Military SF Story was announced. My friend Kacey Ezell won for her short story in the Forged in Blood anthology. That was awesome, and then Toni Weisskopf (editor of Baen Books) showed off some of the new books coming out, including the cover for Deathlords, which was pretty damn cool.

Next panel was Stealing from the Past, which was… I don’t know. I actually don’t remember anything about it. Weird. Yeah, Saturday night was a bit of a blur actually. I don’t remember much after the Road Show, though I do know I bought a really cool art piece from the Art Show.

Sunday was fun. I got to do my first of two book signings at the Baen Books booth, which was myself, Mike Massa, and John Ringo. Mike and John cut out a little early due to panels, and Larry Correia showed up a bit early, so I got to hang out with three of my favorite Baen authors. Got to talk up the Black Tide Rising anthology and hand out beads for Baen. Nobody really wanted my signature, which was okay, because I stealth signed the sh*t out of those Baen bead necklaces. 😀 Take that, oppressors!

I’d also made a mistake in not bringing any of my own books with me to sell. I didn’t think I was allowed to do this. My bad.

Then was my Four Horsemen roundtable panel, which featured just about every single 4HU author attended who was there. It was here where I finally came up with a solo 4HU novel (titled Fangmasterand then also Ortu Lunathe collab with Chris Smith). It was a lot of fun. After that I prepared for the I:scintilla/Cruxshadows concert. That was probably the most fun I had all con, as I got to meet the band afterwards and catch up, since it’d been over 10 years since I last saw them. Got to hear a lot of their newer stuff as well as older songs I was more familiar with. What a great concert.

Monday the con began to wind down. I was on a final panel with some authors and it went okay. Got to meet Cat Rambo at the last panel, which was interesting. From there I went to went back to sign more books at the Baen Books booth. Then it was off to the Dead Dog Party at some restaurant. I forgot the name of the place. It wasn’t horrible but for the prices I was expecting a little more.

Before the Dead Dog Party, however, I was taking the escalator when a con staff volunteer was attempting to go up. He had a large travel bag, a sleeping bag, and looked, well, exhausted. His bag got caught up in the escalator and he tried to dislodge it. In the process of doing so, he lost his balance and fell backwards. It looked like he was stuck on the escalator and it looked like it could get ugly in a hurry, so I tried to help him back up to his feet and off the escalator. He was confused and he fought me a little, trying to continue going up. However, because he was fighting me, he wasn’t getting to his feet, and that was when I decided I needed to move his ass off the escalator, willing or no. I reached under his arms and hauled him off the escalator. He was shorter but bigger than me, so he had a better center of gravity. Unfortunately he had no balance, and fell backwards on top of me as I was getting him off the escalator. He also, incidentally, landed on my wrist and dislocated it.

That hurt like hell. Fortunately we were able to get it back into place and hotel security and staff helped him to his feet. They made him drink water and then started asking him questions. That was when we found out he couldn’t remember when he last ate, slept, or drank water. That is a fail.

Con staff — make certain you get sleep every night, eat twice a day, and shower once. That should keep your wits about you so incidents like this don’t occur. I’m okay but I’m going to have to go to the doctor’s this week to see about damaged ligaments in the wrist because I’m still in a lot of pain. This could have all been avoided if the guy had just gotten some rest.

Tuesday morning I shoved off for home. Along the way I stopped to have lunch with David Weber and Sharon, and catch up on how David was doing (sore). Eventually I got home and passed out.

For my first Dragoncon, it was pretty smooth. The Fantasy Lit track (where I spent most of my time) was run very well and, outside of a few tech issues with the mics, there weren’t any problems. I was asked if I was coming back next year. I said yes, of course, though I failed in procuring a room so far.

Getting a room for Dragoncon is akin to the Hunger Games — may the odds be ever in your favor.

 

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Libertycon 27 AAR


So Libertycon 27 came to a close and all in all, it went tremendously well. I met new people, made new friends, ran into old friends, made a fool of myself (this is typical) and am now dealing with a very screwed up sleep schedule.

So I rolled into Libertycon about three in the afternoon after caravaning most of the way with the Docfather, Speaker to Lab Animals, Cubby’s Handler and Speaker’s kids. In case you didn’t know, most of my friends have way cooler nicknames than I. Check in went smoothly, and got to my room before my brain started to rot. Checked out the hotel and got my name badge early because I’m special (a recurring theme for the weekend). Ran into a few people whose names escape me at the moment and went out to eat with Doug Dandridge, Larry Southard and a few others at a pretty good pizza joint nearby called Lupi’s. It was fun, but I was exhausted and called it a night fairly early.

Naturally my body hates me, and I was up and ready to go at 6 am. I managed to laze about until 8 or so before my stomach reminded me who was in charge. I had some snacky food from the road trip left over and ate that, since ConSuite wasn’t ready yet. This surprisingly lasted me until lunch. Ran into a few Barfly’s, and then suddenly a wave of people arrived. 1 pm rolled around and Libertycon 27 was officially underway.

My first panel wasn’t a panel at all, actually. It was an autograph session in which I shared table space with Dr. Travis S. Taylor, book artist Kurt Miller and Peter Grant. Had to tell quite a few people “No, I don’t have any of my books with me at the moment. I’ll have them tomorrow, though” a few times but, overall, a fun little session. I did get to talk more with Kurt Miller later the next day, and he’s a really cool guy. We had more in common than I would have guessed.

I managed to sneak into ConSuite a grab a bit to eat at this point without making anybody annoyed (I think they were closed while prepping dinner) and then started to explore the Dealer’s Room. Lots of cool stuff from Michael Z Williamson, Mystik Waboose and The Missing Volume, as usual. The downside of being a poor, starving artist is that I have to budget myself and not go crazy. Next year, I always say. I did pick up a limited edition hardcover of Williamson’s “Freehold”, but that was on Sunday. Oh, it was also the last one. Muwahahaha!

After that it was opening ceremonies, where we got to meet everyone. Jim Minz did an excellent job of MC’ing, and the usual “John’s at the pool” call came out when John Ringo was introduced. Lots of fun for the crew when I was announced as they proceeded to boo me. All in good fun, of course, but it still caused a few frowns from people who don’t understand my friends.

I was free for a bit at this point, and I don’t remember what I did until my 9pm panel, “What’s New in Military Science Fiction”. No booze was involved, I swear. I just don’t recall what I did up to that point. But this panel led to my only complaint, as I was sitting next to K. S. Daniels. On the other side of her was… John Ringo. *sigh* John likes pretty women, loves pretty colleagues, and while absolutely 100% faithful to his wife, the man is a born flirt. So I’m listening with one ear on the panel and the other on John talk to Ms. Daniels… and talk… and talk… and pretty much talk some more to her. It would have been wildly amusing had I not been trying to listen to the panel and him at the same time (John’s a funny guy, and he has some great con and war stories). Walt Boyes moderated and kept everybody more or less on task (more or less) and we wrapped it up. Oh, and I also made a complete ass of myself during this panel. You see, we were talking about what sort of change we would like to see in MilSF and so on, and I proceeded to utter the absolutely brilliant phrase of “hope and change” in the midst of, up to that point, a pretty good speech. I realized what I had done the second it had happened, and everyone got a good laugh.

Afterwards I found myself in ConSuite with a bunch of Baen authors, notably Rick Boatright, Charles E. Gannon, and Walt Boyes. We talked a bit about me writing in the 1632 universe and came up with a story idea for me to run with. Now, to sit down and actually write it…

Finally went to be around 1:30 in the morning, since my sleep schedule was already screwed up. I had a lot going on the next day, and wanted to be awake for it and well rested. So of course I was up at 6 again…

Fortunately, Christine Dorsett had breakfast going when I woke up. Biscuits and gravy with scrambled eggs, which was really good for the starving man. I had an 11 AM panel that I barely made it to (I almost forgot this one) and got to chat with Gail Z. Martin and a few others about what’s good in urban fantasy. I may have pissed off the steampunk fans in the crowd when I suggested that urban fantasy is all about how one interprets it and a compelling case could be made to call steampunk such. Oh well, not the first time I’ve pissed off a bunch of steampunkers, and it won’t be the last.

I had a reading at 4 PM, which I read the first two chapters of Murder World: Kaiju Dawn, but since I was competing with the Baen Road Show, I think I had two people there. But afterwards came the cool part I didn’t talk about before. For the first time, I was invited to the Baen Books dinner. I got some face time with more of the authors, talked to Bill Fawcett some, finally figured out who Regina Kirby is (I’ve known her online for years, but never actually met her in person), and hung out with Kurt Miller. It was great and I had a lot of fun, and hope that I’ll be invited again in the future.

After that, I made it back to my 9 PM panel about Iron Clad Press, which was sparsely attended. We talked about our stories, the book I owe the publisher (I’m working on it!!!) and what we wanted to write in the future. Then it was over to the release party for Sha’Daa: Pawns, which went well. Helped get them set up and proceeded to talk story idea with editor John Manning and fellow author Chris Smith. Hung out for a bit, then went to bed. I was beyond tired.

Oh! I forgot to talk about meeting my coauthor in person for the very first time! Poor Eric… the guy was wiped out from his drive, and I was extremely hyper from lack of sleep, and I may have steamrolled him when we first met. On the plus side, he got to meet David Drake in person and a bunch of others as well.

Sunday I had another author session, which I was able to sign my books and sell them (I sold out, yay!). Brought new people into the Kaiju Awareness Foundation and picked up new fans. A quick bite to eat, then it was over to my Kaiju panel.

The Kaiju panel was… well, awesome. Eric had mentioned beforehand that he wasn’t sure he would offer much, and between the very engaged crowd and myself, we managed to get him to talk about a ton of books, Kaiju, MilSF and other stuff. We had a fairly crowded room for just the two of us, and the Libertycon fans made Eric feel right at home. We also got the crowd involved in future Kaiju novels when we decided to open the floor up for random cities to be destroyed by Kaiju. My favorite was Seattle, since the image of a Kaiju using the Space Needle as a javelin caused much laughter.

Overall, Libertycon 27 was a blast. I can’t wait until next year.

Guest Blogging Elsewhere and Libertycon Schedule


I guest blogged over at Sarah Hoyt’s site today. More on the Marion Zimmer Bradley issue, how it relates, and me asking why the SFWA hasn’t kicked out their 2013 Grand Master and open pederast Samuel Delaney. I, uh, kinda lost my cool a bit.

I’m going radio silent for the weekend. I won’t be around until Tuesday of next week. This weekend is Libertycon!

  • Friday, 3:00PM — Autograph signing — kicking off the weekend with some autographing, I might sign a few books. I’ll mostly be sitting back and plotting books while watching the more important authors be bombarded by their fans. I’m signing with Peter Grant, Kurt Miller and Travis S. Taylor. I dream of the day when I can have Kurt Miller do one of my book covers.
  • Friday, 5:00PM — Opening Ceremonies — Yada yada yada.
  • Friday, 9:00PM — What’s New in Military SF — This one should be fun, since I’ve written a ton of MilSF and Kaiju novels recently (6 in the past 10 months alone). I’ll be with Walt Boyes, K. S. Daniels, Bill Fawcett, Mark Wandrey, Charles Gannon (woot!) and John Ringo (woot woot!). That’s quite a large panel, which means someone (not me) has the unenviable task of trying to rein in John.
  • Saturday, 11:00AM — Urban Fantasies — This one… uh… okay, I can do this one, but I feel this is not my usual dog and pony show. Scott Baker, Louise Herring-Jones, D. Alan Lewis and Gail Z. Martin will be with me on this one.
  • Saturday, 4:00PM — Reading — Huh. Wonder what I’ll read to the people.
  • Saturday, 9:00PM –What’s New from Iron Clad Press — One of my publishers is rolling out a bunch of books this year, and I owe him a Tobias Fox novel. This one will be fun, but I’ll probably be late getting there due to prior commitments elsewhere.
  • Saturday, 10:00PM — Book Launch Party — Iron Clad Press, Moondream Press and Perseid Press are all having books come out this weekend, and are having a massive launch party. I’ll be there (since I have books from each publisher) and probably about ready to drop at that point (I get tired easily).
  • Sunday, 11:00AM — Autograph signing — another one, though most people are probably still recovering from the previous night’s drinking. I’ll be there, sleeping (or signing, whatever).
  • Sunday, 1:00PM — Kaiju – Why Do We Love the Big Monsters Who Stomp us to Pieces? — Eric S. Brown, and I are gonng talk Kaiju, lots of Kaiju, and nothing but Kaiju. This one should be fun.
  • Sunday, 2:00PM — What’s New from Moondream Press — Another one of my publishers and we’ll be talking Sha’Daa more than likely.

Mysticon Schedule


I’m going to be a little busy at Mysticon next weekend, but fear not! I’ll be manning the fan table for the Official Honor Harrington Fan Association: The Royal Manticoran Navy quite a bit, so I’ll be very easy to find.

  • 5:00PM Friday — Cats On A Keyboard: Basically we’ll be talking about our pets and how they completely influence and ruin our writing time, as well as interject themselves into our books. This one should be fun, since I’m doubly cursed with two cats and a dog.
  • 1:00PM Saturday — Busting the Wall: Pretty much listening to writers tell you how they broke their writer’s block. Since I’m of the school of “You’re just looking for an excuse to be lazy and not write so you’re blaming writer’s block,” it’ll be… different.
  • 4:00PM Saturday — Reading: I’ll be reading my short story, Hill 142which recently came out in Hero’s Best Friend.
  • 8:00PM Saturday — Boot Camp – Past, Present and Future: Military trainign through the ages. My first panel with Tom Kratman, and moderated by Charles Matheny. I already know who’s going to be dominating this panel (hint: not me).
  • 10:00AM Sunday — Answering the Casting Call: basically the do’s and don’ts of showing up to a casting call. I actually have multiple film credits to my name as an extra, so this one is pretty much me saying “don’t be a tard” for an hour.
  • 12:00PM Sunday — Book Signing: I don’t need to explain this. I don’t have copies of my book to sell, so… it’s more of a “meet and greet”.
  • 2:00PM Sunday — Opposition In All Things: conflict in stories. My theory? If there’s no conflict, then your hero is probably boring.

There’s also a Royal Manticoran Navy room party on Friday night at 9pm, but I have no idea where. I’ll give you a hint: if you find the guys in Manticoran Navy uniforms, that’s probably our party.

The Accidental Lecture


I sent off Homeworld: Rockfall to my coauthor Eric Brown yesterday afternoon. The first draft is done (yeah, I was slacking) and though it “only” took about 5 weeks to write, that was a rough five weeks.

While the book itself isn’t the longest thing I’ve ever written (I’m looking at you, Corruptor) it is, by far, the grimmest. I don’t think I’ve ever dug that deep into the MilSF genre before when writing. Not even Wraithkin went that dark, and considering what Wraithkin is all about, that’s saying something. To match Eric’s style, you need to channel your inner David Drake (if you have one of those) and try to keep up. Eric’s a very talented guy who is more known for horror than MilSF (at least, for me in any case) but when he wants to, he sure can imitate Drake nicely.

That’s not a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong. There are thousands of writers out there who wish they could sounds like David Drake. Eric’s one of the few who can pull it off.

My poison ivy is finally clearing up. My right side of the face is cleared at last, though the skin is extra dry (and flaky… ewwww), I can see my eye now without having to search for it. It still “feels” a little weird, like I still have some swelling around the zygomatic area, but all in all I call myself “healed”.

Still haven’t gotten my deer yet. I’m… perturbed by this. Of course, last time I didn’t get my deer until the last day of hunting season, so if the pattern continues… man. I’m going to be out there freezing my butt off again. The good side to that, though, is that if I get my deer at dusk, then I’ll be able to just hang it up in the shed and finish skinning  it the next day. The downside? Skinning it the next day, when the deer is nice and cold and stiff.

The things I do so I can make my chili…

Okay, so I need to rehash my brain and get out of the MilSF set that it’s is. While I should buckle down and finish WraithkinRockfall is still stuck in my mind and I really am worried that the two will seem too similar if I try finishing Wraithkin now. So I’ll need to get something “fun” written, like a Tobias Fox story (which I owe 6 of right now) or my little short, I, Godslayer. This should allow me enough time to “reset” and get the right frame of mine back for wrapping up Wraithkin and shooting it over to the agent to see if he likes it. I originally thought that I would have Unholy Vengeance done before October 31 but since I’ve barely cracked 10,000 words… I think it’s going to be closer to February by the time that one gets done. But still, at least I have some sort of time frame now as to when I hope to get things done.

“Hope” being the key word here.

Next week over at Shiny Book Review, my interview with author Kal Spriggs will be going live. Kal was a good sport about being interviewed, and barring some technical difficulties, his interview should be up on Monday. Barb is interviewing the polymath/rocket scientist/author Stephanie Osborne soon as well, and then there’s going to be one other interview going up a few weeks after that. Yes, we’re still doing book reviews, but right now interviews are easier on us (mostly). I still have three books I need to review (Mike Resnick’s The Doctor and the Dinosaur; Seanan McGuire’s Discount Armaggedon, and Misty Massey’s Mad Kestrel (which I’d been meaning to review for monthsnow). Barb’s got a full plate on her hands as well, so bear with us.

Other than that, my con schedule for 2014 is starting to fill up. I have a secret desire to attend Worldcon next year but unless I come into a lot of money, I doubt I’ll be making the flight to London, no matter how much I’d love to go. I’ve never been to London (or England) and it’s on my bucket list. Yeah, it’s weird that I’ve been throughout the Middle East and Eastern Europe, but haven’t gone to London. NASFic is a possibility, since it’s in Detroit and is close enough-ish to drive. But for right now, I’m only attending MysticonRavencon and Libertycon. I had to turn down an invite from MidSouthCon since they are too close to Ravencon, and I usually give con preference to whoever asks me first. I’m still toying with the possibility of Congragate but since they’re very close to Libertycon, that might present some problems.

I’ve already seen people gearing up for NaNoWriMo, which is always confusing for me. I mean, while you’re “prepping” for NaNo, you could be, oh I don’t know, writing? I understand that a lot of people enjoy the support of other writers during NaNo, and I guess that makes a lot of sense, since everyone wants to be told that their writing is awesome and that they can do it. But I think that’s also a potential downside to NaNo as well. Everybody is so busy cheering one another on that, somewhere in the mist, the entire goal of “writing” gets lost. Skewer me all you want (I know you will, Mandi) but if you’re too busy applauding and cheering everyone else, then when do you have time to write for yourself?

Writing is a job. That’s the mindset that anyone wishing to be a writer full-time has to accept. There’s a set time you write, and you stick to that. For me, it’s from 9am-1 or 2 pm, depending on what my deadline is. I do this every day, Monday through Saturday, unless I’m out of town on Saturday. It sucks writing in the mornings, because my brain is fragged and I haven’t really woken up yet. But it’s beneficial as well, because I’ve now established a pattern of consistency and, as you may have read up top, my coauthor and I wrote a novel in 5 weeks. That’s… insane. Really.

Set your writing goals, then stick to them. It gets easier.

Wow. This got long in a hurry. And I got to lecturing. My apologies. Here is a picture of my cat.

Casper

LC26 AAR


Ah, Libertycon… where sleep goes to die.

As usual, I had a blast at the convention and would like to thank Brandy and Derek Spraker, as well as the rest of the Libertycon staff, for putting on one hell of a con. The food was good (except I forgot to mention my onion allergy, which almost caused a trip to the hospital), the staff was friendly and the atmosphere was mostly fun and friendly.

I rolled into town Thursday around noon and was exhausted. I had worked the night before and, in order to be on a daytime rotation for the weekend, had to stay awake all day Thursday so I could be semi-functioning during the con. For those of you who thought I was angry or distant, I’m sorry. I was just exhausted. I really can’t wait to go back to days so my sleep schedule can be what everyone else’s is. So yeah, Thursday… my room wasn’t ready at noon (not surprised) so I ran into Peggey, who introduced me to her friend Johnny-minion (that’s what the name tag said; don’t judge me), who was tasked with keeping me company while I wandered the hotel grounds like a zombie. He (mostly) kept me out of trouble, and we did lunch at the Brewery next door to the “world famous” Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Note: it’s not so much “world famous” as it is a “Southern thing”. If I’m dropping that much money on a hotel, my room had better not smell like ass.

Anywho, Johnny-minion kept me out of trouble and passed me off to my handler when she arrived with Scott. I stumbled around, I think I ate dinner (I was beyond reasoning at this point) then was served alcohol in Grill Sergeant’s not-quite-a-party room party, where I ran into The Amazing Writing Hoyt’s (Sarah, Robert and Dan– not sure where Marshall was), Michael Z. Williamson, Evil Penguin, and Speaker to Lab Animals (to be known as S2LA from here on out… that’s too much to type). Tried some of Grill Sergeant’s BBQ, which helped clear up that sinus problem (and woke me right the hell up). Ran into Chris (one of my fellow reviewers at Shiny Book Review as well as aspiring author) and generally had a good time. I think I crashed around 10PM, since I wanted to be up early the next morning for my first ever Range Day.

I’ve been coming to Libertycon since 2006 and I have never managed to make it to a Range Day, which is something of a Baen Barfly tradition at LC. Usually it’s because I oversleep but, with my sleep schedule already out of whack, I was wide awake at 7am. Got some breakfast and caught a ride to the range with Chris and Doc, who is going to  be a character in a future book (Doc is a combat medic in the Army, much like my little brother Nick). He’s a really cool guy who also happened to be on a panel with me later that night.

So we do Range Day, shoot a lot of pictures of Zombie Shane, watch Tripp blast away with an AR15 (he pulled the trigger so fast that it sounded like a fully automatic…. and then the kid giggled. That was some scary crap right there), managed to get the nickname “LT” as I, the one with the map, kind of got us lost as we went hunting for food, and finally made it back to the Choo Choo in time to do registration.

I got into the wrong line (naturally) and then proceeded to confuse the hell out of everyone as they tried to figure out who I was. I mean, they “knew” me, but I think the registration people were expecting someone a little… older? Possibly. I still look “youngish” enough to confuse people. Got it all straightened out, grabbed my schedule, and went back to ConSuite to see who else had arrived.

Which was just about everybody.

Too many people to list, but I was especially happy to run into Vonnage and SubDude, who is no longer in the Navy. This means our Havoc Lords series will finally get written. Yes, I’m writing another series. But this one has SCIENCE in it. REAL SCIENCE!

So my first panel was Opening Ceremonies, which is just a basic introduction of the main Guests of Honor. Larry Correia MC’d and did a pretty good job of it. Right after that was my first “real” panel of the weekend, Dreams of Steam: Gadgets and Gizmos.

One of the first things I learned on this panel is that I really don’t “know” steampunk. Oh, I can write about airships (primarily because I treat them as navy vessels that fly), but outside of that, I really never gave much thought to the whole “technology” side of things. To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s steampunk, splatterpunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk… so long as the story is character driven, it’ll sell. I tried to get this across but I don’t think I did a good job communicating it. Hey, I was out of practice — cut me some slack.

I spent the next 45 minutes signing books. Lots and lots of books. Over 100, I think. It seemed like everyone had a copy of Lawyers in Hell, What Scares the Boogeyman?Dreamers in Hell or Sha’Daa: Pawns for me to sign. This was fun, and I plopped my butt on the ground so I could sign without being in the way. I’m glad I have an easy signature. That could have been painful.

I had a few hours to kill after that so I went back to ConSuite and BarFly Central, where one unfortunate individual told me that the food at BFC was for Bar Flies only. He was corrected of this (honest mistake, since I didn’t have a BarFly ribbon) and I got some food, and ran into Larry Correia for the first time.

I did not fanboy. You should be proud.

Also of note: Larry isn’t kidding when he says he’s a big guy. My neck hurt looking up at him, and then his wife is my height, so it was as though I were in the Land of the Giants. He’s a really cool guy, though, and had to run as he had wayyy more panels than I did. I lounged around some, talked with MadMike about some ways to kill zombies (because that was our next panel), and then it was off to my best attended panel of the weekend: Messiest Ways to Kill a Zombie.

I had thought, coming in, that my chemical reaction/explosion would be the winner. Nope. John Ringo wrote about how a tank spun out across a road slicked down with zombie guts. However, I will admit that I liked S2LA’s idea about the pathogens and how to really make things “messy”. The crowd was pretty good and Larry kept everyone in check (even John) and it was probably the most fun I had on a panel all weekend.

Didn’t party much Friday night (was tired) and crashed. Good first day to the con.

Saturday wasn’t as much fun, though, and that was mostly my fault.

BarFly Breakfast was hosted by Quilly Mammoth and his wife Christine, with the donations going to Operation Baen Bulk and Wendi’s Toof Fund. Good food, but I was a bit cranky because I was still tired and managed to find myself over at the Dreamers in Hell Roundtable, which had… zero attendees.

Seriously. Crickets, man. It was a kick in my ego’s nuts. Thankfully, I don’t have much of an ego to start with.

The roundtable turned into business planning meeting as the authors talked about their next story ideas. I mentioned a few ideas I had for Ponce de Leon and talked about Of Woe and Sloth. Other than that, I kept quiet mostly and let them handle the meeting (which is what I suspected I would be doing anyway). Afterwards we did a group photo of the Hellions authors (Susie took some pics, I hope I get to see them soon) and I was off to do my Autograph Session at the Perseid Press table.

Signed a few more books (seriously, where the hell did all these books come from?) and mostly talked to Tom Barczak about how well-behaved his three boys were. Saturdays, for some reason, are usually something I don’t remember afterwards. It’s not because I was trashed (I wasn’t) but mainly because there’s just so much going on that it’s hard to keep track. After my signing I was invited to the first ever Christening at a Libertycon.

Took some amazing pictures (that baby is going to be a linebacker) and got to watch something I’d never seen before. Sitting here now, typing this out, and I realized I’d never seen a Christening before. I didn’t think about it at the time it was occurring (I was taking pictures) but now… wow. To be invited to such an event makes me feel amazing. Honored, even. I’m thankful that the Vanner’s invited me to watch and attend.

After this I needed food. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time before my next panel, Sha’Daa: Pawns and Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse re-release. Two people showed up for this one, and I didn’t really get to talk much about my Sea Dragon vs Navy SEALs fight. I was starting to get a bad feeling about my panel attendance and a noticeable pattern was starting to form. Ugh. Well, at least I have other stuff I can talk about, right?

With that in mind, my next panel, The World of Steampunk Roundtable almost kicked off a fight because, as I admitted earlier, I don’t really know steampunk. I held my tongue as I listened to someone who self-describes himself as a “dick” bitch about how society is horrible and lacks manners and class, which is why he does steampunk. That made little sense at the time and now, two days later, makes no sense at all. I think what he wanted to say (and was afraid of not being “PC”) was that he desired the stronger distinction in classes like there was in the Victorian Era. I may be wrong, but that was my impression.

He also called me “one of those writers” when I admitted that I call my steampunk story “steampunk” because it rolls off the tongue better than “alternate history with varying technologies” or something. *shrug* And? I’ll take my check and cash it either way, TYVM. 🙂

I was extremely grumpy at this point and needed some food, so it was back to the ConSuite for me. I got to drinking (it’s a CON, people… if you don’t drink, you’re either a recovering alcoholic or underage, or found religion) and managed to miss my next panel completely. Uh, oops?

Worst part was? The ConStaff were presenting me with an amazingly kind gift and had a big “roast” planned, and everyone was in on it.

Why didn’t someone tell me to make sure I was AT THAT PANEL?!?! ARGH!

To those of you who planned the party: I am really, really sorry. I don’t think I can express enough just how sorry I am.

Book release party for Dreamers in Hell was next, and the announcement that Iron Clad Press will be publishing my first Tobias Fox novel, Unholy Vengeance, was made. I spent the next five hours hanging out with John Ringo, Miriam, Mel, Grill Sergeant, and various others at poolside. Funny story there…

John (talking to Melanie): Jason’s given you one of my books to read, right?

Melanie: Yeah.

John: Okay, good.

Melanie: Yeah, he had me read Ghost.

John (horrified expression on his face): I am SO sorry! (glares at me)

Me: …I thought it would be funny…

I really did. So did everyone else. Ah well. Afterwards I crashed because, well, I was still tired and the con was starting to kick my butt.

Up early, packed, checked out. Found some food in BFC and prepared for my last three panels of the weekend. What’s New in Horror moderated by Larry Correia, and I had a lot of fun on this panel. Talked about the various projects we were working on as well as the stuff in horror we all liked, including I Am Not A Serial Killer. Good conversation and the time really flew here.

Bought some shirts, saw Melanie and Scott off, and got to hang around for a few more hours with Larry at the Dead Dog Party. Shared my story about how I accidentally insulted Niven and Pournelle (long story) and got to share the SEAL mission from hell with a few friends (SubDude was extremely helpful, since his memory is better than mine and the story will be showing up in one of the Havok Lords books later). Talked a bit with Robert Hoyt (creator of Ninja Nun, of which I am a HUGE fan) and caught up with a few other people.

I will admit, the drive home last night was scary. I had to stop somewhere in southern Kentucky because I was too tired to drive and managed a nap. Got home around 4 AM and promptly crashed.

Overall, the con was a blast as always. I can’t wait until next year and I hope I can go.

Libertycon 26 Schedule


I meant to do this last week but real life interfered. Okay, so here is my schedule (according to the LC26 website):

FRIDAY

  • 5:00 PM — Opening Ceremonies: Pretty self explanatory, though I may just be hanging out near the back of the room. That’s where I usually am during huge crowd gatherings, since I don’t do well in large crowds.
  • 6:00 PM — Dreams of Steam: Gadgets and GizmosThis one will be fun, since people from both anthologies (Gadgets and Gizmos) will be present. Cindy MacLeod is moderating, and I have full faith in her ability to keep me in check.
  • 10:00 PM — Messiest Ways To Kill A ZombieI begged to get put on this one, because the writers on this one with me (Larry Correia, John Ringo, Michael Z. Williamson, Scott W. Baker, Dr. Tedd Roberts, Philip Wohlrab) are freaking insane (except for Wohlrab, possibly, not sure yet) and disturbingly creative. It should also be my best attended panel of the weekend, primarily because of Ringo, Correia and Williamson.

SATURDAY

  • 10:00 AM — Dreamers in Hell Roundtable: It’s primarily a round table discussion about Dreamers in Hell, one of the anthologies I’m in that’s come out this year. Since there are a lot of people on this one, I’ll more than likely take a back seat and let the others do the grunt work, possibly chiming in with humorous side comments every ten minutes just to remind people I’m there. Plus, it’s early, and I’ll be less than functional before noon. Which sucks, because…
  • 11:00 AM — Autograph Session: Seriously, I’m not sure who thought it would be a good idea to have me on panels before the sun is in the western half of the sky. I’ll be polite, possibly quiet, and probably not very coherent. On the plus side, I’ll sign just about anything*.
  • 4:00 PM —  Sha’Daa: Pawns and Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse Re-releaseI get to talk some about Kasyarna, my ancient sea dragon and the ass whoopin’ he lays down upon SEAL Team Two**. Planning on a fun time, especially if someone asks me about why the dragon decided to puke when he did.
  • 5:00 PM — The World of Steampunk RoundtableOne of the only panels that I’m on that I’m not sure what’s going on. My steampunk story, “The Finder’s Keeper”, is more of a mystical steampunk/alternate history story than pure steampunk. Nonetheless, I’ll have a brave front and do my best.
  • 9:00 PM — What Scares the Boogeyman?This will be fun, though probably not much contributed from me. The other stories in this anthology were longer and more fleshed out. I just wrote about a little boy and the evil in the house. I do recommend picking up a copy of this one beforehand, however, since a lot of the authors of the book are going to be available throughout the weekend to sign it.
  • 10:00 PM — Dreamers in Hell and Tomb of Kulchun Launch Parties; Irredeemable Order of Hellions and The Fictioneers HostingI probably won’t be there for the entire party, but I’ll definitely be there. I think that there might be an announcement about other things as well (unsure of this yet) and lots of food, drink, and really interesting people. Plus, it’s in the ConSuite, which means FREE FOOD!!!

Sunday

  • 10:00 AM — What’s New in Horror?Another one of those ‘Holy Gawd it’s early!’ panels, which will have all of us talking about what we’ve sold in horror lately (for me, more than anything else, which is disturbing because I consider myself a SF writer) and what we’re looking forward to seeing. My only other panel with Larry Correia, which is a shame because he’s a really cool guy.
  • 12:00 PM — Autograph Session: I’ll be a little more awake this time, I swear. Just remember to bring me the blood for the Blood God to sacrifice*** and we’re cool… what, all out? Seriously? AGAIN?
  • 1:00 PM — ReadingMy dulcet tones will be on full display as I attempt to stammer out one of my upcoming stories. Not sure which one it’ll be, yet, though I’m leaning towards “Wake”, since it’ll be coming out right after Libertycon. If not “Wake”, then possibly “Hill 142”, which I loved writing.

So that’s my schedule. Now you know how to avoid me. If you can’t find me at all, there’s a 50/50 bet I’m either sleeping or in BarFly Central (which, coincidentally, is not in the bar).

See you in a few days!

* — “Just about” anything is a broad disclaimer. Please do not ask for babies to be signed, that just makes things awkward. Also, please keep clothing on. PLEASE.

** —  No SEALs were harmed in the writing of this… oh, who am I kidding? Those poor bastards got hosed.

*** — Do not substitute with Clamato. What do I look like, some emo sparkly vampire bitch poser? BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!

Dreamers in Hell Available


Dreamers in Helis now available for Kindle over at Amazon. The print version should be up within 24 hours (if, like me, that’s what you prefer). I’m pretty certain that if you order by the end of the week, you’ll have it in your hands in time to get 13 of the authors to sign it at Libertycon this year. I know I’ll sign it.

Plus, look at the gorgeous cover. GORGEOUS. You want it. You need it. You crave it.

Dreamers in Hell

Mysticon 2013 AAR


So it’s late Sunday afternoon at Soldier’s Retreat and I’m coming down off of the high that was the awesomeness of Mysticon 2013. Finally got to meet Col. Tom Kratman in person, which was a hoot, because that man can tell a story. Had to keep it relatively PG-13, however, due to the underage midgets in the room.

Okay, so on to the convention after action review.

Left Lexington on Thursday since I wanted to be relatively fresh at the con for the following day, so I made a beeline for Casa Boyd. Got there, I think I had a salad and promptly crashed. Hey, cut me some slack. I’d just driven 6 hours and I’m not used to seeing that much daylight.

Trooping through the cold wastelands of Vur-gin-ya, our intrepid hero marches on.

Trooping through the cold wastelands of Vur-gin-ya, our intrepid hero marches on.

He carefully traveresed the Eye-rahn Gait Ice Falls...

He carefully traveresed the Eye-rahn Gait Ice Falls…

Friday I rolled in to Mysticon around 3 or so. I didn’t have a room (I stayed with friends in town) but that wasn’t going to stop me from doing what I do best — party crash. Unfortunately, I found out later why I couldn’t seem to find any sort of room party whatsoever.

The line for attendees started here. These volunteers worked their tailfeathers off the entire weekend and really deserved a prize.

The line for attendees started here. These volunteers worked their tailfeathers off the entire weekend and really deserved a prize.

Anyways, the con has tripled in size since the first year of existence, and with the concom working their tails off to keep up with the  sudden influx of attendees. With the Author Guest of Honor being Orson Scott Card and the Media GOH Peter Davison, you could say that there were a lot of people.

So there I was, trying to figure out what I was going to do next, when suddenly someone told me that the dealer’s room was open. Since the con hadn’t really started yet, I was a bit surprised. But I sauntered in anyway and saw that, despite a lot of vending booths, there wasn’t a lot of things I could see myself wanting. However, I did score a comic book from Travis Surber (author/artist of Hainted Holler), as well as a Dr. WHOrse. Seriously. It’s freaking awesome.

The really freaking awesome Doctor WHOrse, by Travis Surber, and it's all MINE!!! Muwahahaha!

The really freaking awesome Doctor WHOrse, by Travis Surber, and it’s all MINE!!! Muwahahaha!

I did run into Mark Morgan, who is a villain in CorruptorHe gave me permission to use his name, and so I made him an awesome villain. He’s a nice guy though, even if I portrayed him as a money hungry, greedy little cyber terrorist.

My first panel came up and I had almost as many attendees as panelists. I was prepared for this, however, since I’ve noticed that my panel attendance grows throughout the weekend as more and more people discover that I’m actually a little funny at time. But I discovered quickly on this panel (Genre Mashups) that a select few people were more eager to sell their book than talk about the topic at hand. Again, I’m used to this, so I quickly decided to make the audience laugh at me (note: not with me, but at me. I sacrificed myself for the greater good), and this killed the self-promo bid and got the panel back on track.

After the panel ended (thankfully, nobody was killed during the making of the panel) we headed up to the con suite. There we saw the ultimate in cake design: The TARDIS, in cake form, complete with a working light and sound effects.

The TARDIS, edible form.

The TARDIS, edible form.

Sufficiently impressed, I headed back down to my next panel, Law Breakers or Makers, where we would proceed to talk about how all of us follow our own universe’s rules and a pox upon the household that breaks their own rules. Oddly enough, Stephen King came up once or thrice. No idea why **coughNeedfulThingscoughcough**.

Afterwards I went back to my friend Peggey’s house and crashed there. Was exhausted, but a fun and successful Day One.

Day Two began with me oversleeping. Yeah, still not entirely used to be awake in the daylight, but needs must and all that. I soldiered on and, after a quick bite to eat, headed back to Mysticon. I was hoping to find some room parties to go to that night, and hang out with some very cool people after my last panel (the infamous Iron Author) was completed. I found Tom Kratman, Andrew Fox (author of Fat White Vampire Blues) and Clay White (with his son, what’shisface) just by hanging out at the con suite. I figured my odds were good at meeting Orson Scott Card there (didn’t even see him all weekend… our panels never coincided), but alas the odds were not in my favor.

Note to self: do not live in District 12. I’d be screwed.

Went to the Baen Traveling Road Show and scored a free book (John Ringo’s Tiger by the Tail) and finally met Laura Haywood-Cory in person. Ran into Leon and KatieKat while I was in there, and dinner plans went astray when I went to the hotel restaraunt and they went elsewhere. That was okay, except for the fact that my dinner came five minutes after left and I had to get it delivered to my next panel, which I was almost late for.

My next panel, Kill ’em!, was a lot of fun and I got to share how I killed one character not once, but twice in the same book series. This was met with some skepticism until I explained the way to properly nuke a grave from orbit. After that, everyone was on board (as well as feeling sorry for me, since previously mentioned character is based on someone) and the audience was really into it. Tony Ruggiero (author of the Immortal Servitude series) did a great job at balancing my relative insanity, and we all agreed: no character is sacred.

George R. R. Martin would have loved that panel.

Afterwards I scarfed down my dinner and met Peggey, David and Ellie as they were preparing for the Masquerade. Ellie was a Weeping Angel from Doctor Who, and a very good one at that. She won a prize (along with the mini-Dr Who and the mini TARDIS — all kids who were under 10 and dressed up like Doctor Who) and I took a few pictures of them.

Mini TARDIS with mini Doctor Who and mini Weeping Angel.

Mini TARDIS with mini Doctor Who and mini Weeping Angel.

Afterwards it was time for… IRON AUTHOR!

This is something I had never done before and was eager to try it. However, as soon as the words “Disney Stunt Cock” were thrown out there, I knew I was doomed.

The sick and twisted authors of IRON AUTHOR. Not featured (aka hiding) KT Pinto and myself.

The sick and twisted authors of IRON AUTHOR. Not featured (aka hiding) KT Pinto and myself.

…so skipping over specific details…

Thought about going to the Bella Morte concert after the last panel but by then I was exhausted. So I staggered back to Peg’s and fell into bed, remembering to set my alarm since I had a book signing at 10 the next morning.

Made it to the book signing on Sunday with about 3 minutes to spare. This was my singular complaint about the weekend — why in the world do you schedule the younger authors to do signings at oMG in the morning after a Saturday night? Sold my last copy of Lawyers in Hell and talked to the amazing Amanda Carruba about potential book covers later on down the road. Ran into Brandy and Derek Spraker (they who run Libertycon) and had breakfast with them, which was nice because they are absolutely awesome people. Ran into a few more familiar faces (sorry if I can never remember your names. Really!) and then called it a day after making one last journey through the Dealer’s Room.

I have to say, even with the massive amount of people in the con, it was a fun time to be had. I was able to duck away from the larger groups with some ease and find some quiet time to myself, which is important if I want to keep my sanity. I also was able to meet some new people, sign a book that someone had purchased at a con in Texas and came all the way to Mysticon just for me, and reconnect.

Definite good time. Hope everyone enjoyed themselves!

Steampunk Dalek. Inebriate! Inebriate!

Steampunk Dalek. Inebriate! Inebriate!

Accomplish-y Writer


I feel all accomplish-y right now.

Put up a review of Maurice Broaddus’ King Maker, which is a fascinating retelling of the King Arthur legends, over at Shiny Book Review. I also cleaned my kitchen, did the litter boxes, and (almost) took out the trash. I mean, I saw that it was almost full, so it’s not like I’m ignorant of my garbage situation…

You know what? Nobody comes here for that information. Sorry, sorry.

I’m still going to be at Mysticon this weekend, but I won’t be staying in the con hotel because I’m broke. So no late-night parties for me involving alcohol. Which keeps the “OMG did you hear what Cordova did last weekend at Mysticon?” stories to a minimum. I still am haunted by Libertycon 21.

Nothing else going on. Trying to get as much writing as I can done before I head out. I really need to wrap up two short stories for their respective anthologies by Thursday.