Authors Blog Update Kaiju News Publishing Science Fiction Tobias Fox Wraithkin Writing

Too Stubborn

Air! I can breathe!

In all seriousness, it feels like I’ve been drowning in my writing the past few months. Ever since Eric and I wrapped up Kaiju Apocalypse III, it seems like my head has been underwater when it comes to writing. I may have burned myself out a bit (writing 4 books in 4 months will do that to anybody) and needed a break, but I proscribe to the “Monday through Friday, 8:00 – 3:00” writing schedule. You know, treating it like a job? It’s a good habit to get in to, quite frankly. But because of my schedule, and the fact that I mentally cringe anytime someone says “kaiju” around me, I’ve been writing utter dreck lately. This is while I’m trying to prepare the first two Christian Cole novels for publication (The Green Jewel and The Midnight Crew) and get a few short stories I owe to John Manning off to him (which I haven’t done yet, FYI), and help promote an anthology which just came out that I have the first story in (Terror By Gaslight, which has the first Tobias Fox story in it, Nightwalker).

That’s… a lot. I can see why my creativity has been flat-lining as of late.

Today, however, I woke up sort of refreshed. I didn’t sleep particularly well, but it felt as if a cloud over my motivation had lifted. Of course, I’m a little pissed off at the states of Colorado and Virginia right now, and hate and anger usually fuels my writing, so there is that. But for the first time in awhile I’m able to actually sit down and focus on writing itself, and not simply putzing around pretending to be a writer (other writers know what I’m talking about). It’s produced some decent material, most of which will make it into the final submitted piece.

I’ve also been informed that, due to the high sales of the Kaiju Apocalypse trilogy, combined with the surprising success of Murder World: Kaiju Dawn, I am no longer eligible to enter the “Writers of the Future” contest. Now, considering that I’ve never entered it any way, nor really considered entering seriously (those are some good damn writers, while I’m… meh), receiving that email was sort of surprising. I was wondering if it was a scam of some sort, but it seems to be legit, which brings me to the next question: who really gives a crap enough about me to be preemptive like that? Flattering, yeah, but spooky all the same.

I’ll have the second Murder World book (Murder World: Kaiju Dusk) ready by… Christmas? Which means publication in February? Hard to say right now. There is a lot going on in the publishing world that is making me a little nervous. And if I’m nervous, mid-listers who rely on writing as their only source of income have to be absolutely terrified. I know I would be, if I wasn’t so shallow and carefree in nature (heh).

No word on either Hand of God  or Wraithkin yet. I was hoping to hear something about the former by now, and I expect to hear something about the latter in the next few months. In the meantime, I’ve been toying around in the Wraithkin universe and am coming to realize that I created one complex universe, quite by accident. If someone ever says that I must really know politics to create such a nation like the Dominion of Man, I’m going to apologize and start laughing.

There was some other serious stuff I was thinking about talking about, then I remembered that I have an article due for the Mad Genius Club this Friday, so I figured I could save it for that. Nothing political (I think), more of a “this is cool” kind of thing. Who knows, maybe someone will learn something?

Won’t be me, though. I’m too stubborn to learn.

Appearances Authors Baen Books Blog Update Conventions Fantasy Horror Kaiju News Publishing Science Fiction Sha'Daa Steampunk Tobias Fox Wraithkin Writing

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.

Authors Blog Update

Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy — Brandon Ford’s “Open Wounds”

I need to dress up in the most over-the-top caricature of a pimp, take a picture, and have one day every week where the “Book Pimp” pimps out a new author’s work. I’m picturing a gold came, platform shoes (with goldfish inside them), feather boa, large hat, maybe a bright purple suit and… hmm… rose-tinted glasses?

Pimps still wear those, right?

This week I’ve already pimped out Barb Caffrey’s newest book, An Elfy on the Loose, and now I’m pimping out Brandon Ford’s upcoming Open Wounds. I’ll be reviewing this book on Sunday over at Shiny Book Review, but I wanted to talk about it first here.

This novel, which he classifies as a horror novel, is a story about a teenage girl who, upon her parent’s divorce, is moved across the country with her mother to Philadelphia. But while there is a psychological horror to it, I was oddly reminded of Go Ask Alice, which was published in 1971. I’d classify Open Wounds as Teen Lit, but only because the main character is dealing with issues that are far more common today than a typical horror story is.

Anyway, when it comes out you should pick it up. It’s about a girl who loses everything, including herself, and finds more than she ever thought possible at the end. It’s gritty, and has some graphic stuff in it, but… let’s just say I was just going to read the opening chapter before I went to bed and ended up staying awake until 2 AM finishing it.



Consider this book pimped.

Authors Blog Update Conventions Publishing Science Fiction Wraithkin Writing

Stupid Busy

I’ve been stupidly busy the past few weeks (to steal a line from my friend Gerry). This is going to be a long update, so you may want to grab something to drink, or let the dog out.

First off, let me say that Mysticon 2014 was an absolute blast. It went off without a hitch, and I actually got sleep this time around. The con hotel booked me in a room with two beds, and the beds weren’t big enough to for two people (well, big enough for two people to sleep in… other things were probably possible), and I was right below the big room party of 503 (that party will go down as one of the all-time greats at a con…. legends will be shared, stories told, events exaggerated upon), but other than that, it was fine. Once again I missed the opportunity to LARP, but this year it was for a good reason: I was running a fan table, attending panels, and trying to squeeze in enough time to sleep and eat.

I was actually running behind when I got to Mysticon. I had about an hour before my first panel, so I got checked in and situated without too much hassle. Quite a few people were more than interested in my booze supply, which I donated to the party Doc was hosting that night in his room. It’s hard to traverse a con hotel without someone taking notice that you have a massive box of booze. That first panel, Cats On A Keyboard, was fun and I got to share my horror stories of trying to write a book while dealing with two cats and a new dog, all while under a deadline from Hell. The other panels were pretty good as well, except I missed my Boot Camp — Past, Present and Future panel due to someone needing emergency assistance (ER-type stuff) and I was running around trying to find the right people. Then I forgot, started talking to an old friend, and promptly remembered my panel… with ten minutes left. Tom Kratman kind of looked at me funny when I walked in, because I had seen him earlier that day and I mentioned I was looking forward to our panel.

We also had a great recruiting drive for the Official Honor Harrington Fan Association. My ship, the HMS Wolverine, recruited 33 more people to join. That’s the fan table I was babysitting for most of the weekend (with the help of the crew). Jasmine, Melanie, Jonny, Doc, and Gerry (even Tina managed to drop by and help recruit, while running a convention) were all a tremendous help and watched the table long enough for me to actually experience the con and do some shopping (I picked up an awesome Doctor Who shirt from Mystik Waboose). Next year, though, I’m not sure I want to run a fan table again. It was a lot of work, and while the payoff was great, did I mention that it was a lot of work?

It also coincided with my second guest post over at the Mad Genius Club on equality and diversity in SF/F. Needless to say, I’m quite opinionated on the subject, and went off on a tangent about how Equality ≠ Diversity. It all started when I read something about “Con Or Bust” which, at first glance, seemed like it was a good idea. Then I read more, and then I got pissed, then read the rest, and became enraged. You can read the actual article over at MGC here. Once more, I get the urge (even three weeks later) to scream at people “quit getting butthurt about stupid sh*t!”

On the writing front, I haven’t heard anything from the agent regarding my collaborative work with Eric Brown (titled Hand of God). Granted, I don’t expect to hear anything this soon, but still… I’m impatient, and in an industry where the core belief is that patience is rewarded. *eye roll* In the meantime, Wraithkin is also sitting on someone’s desk (computer, tablet, whatever). Bonus, though: when I was literally walking out the door to Mysticon, I got a message from Eric.

Eric: Hey, want to write another MilSF story?

Me: Uh, duh?

*we talk ideas for about five minutes*

Eric: Cool! I’ll send you what I was thinking in a few days!

So he sent me something that…. wasn’t MilSF. Apparently he decided to write a zombie novel instead and wanted me to co-author it with him. Zombies are fun, but not really my thing, so I declined and started writing the bare bones idea that we had shot around (I was half-joking when I suggested a few things, then realized I really liked the ideas the longer I was able to think about them) and sent it to him. Now we’re writing a book called Murder World, which I unwittingly named after some comic book character or something (I’m still a little confused about the premise). It’s funny as hell, and it’s going to be an action packed, blood soaked, carnage filled exhibition of testosterone and nerd rage…. or something. I’m not sure yet. I’m trying to offend as many people as I can here, so cut me some slack.

And then, three days ago, he approaches me with another book collab. Kaiju Apocalypse is already being worked on, and looks like it’ll be done by the end of the month. It’s pretty sweet so far, though it needs some cleaning. I think it’s going to be a novella, though, and not a full-sized novel. Still, lots of fun and carnage, and Kaiju!

So, yeah, stupid busy.

Authors Blog Update Writing


I was thinking of writing an article today on race and science fiction, but… meh. No matter which “way” I transcribe it, someone’s going to get butthurt over it. Not “mildly disagreeing” with me, and not a “I think you’re wrong and this is why” conversation, but generally butthurt. Why? Because people are combative and tribal at a base level.

Oh, don’t give me any bullsh*t arguing otherwise. If you believe in Creationism, then you know we’re from a wrathful and jealous god. If you believe in Evolution, then you know we did not evolve from peaceful sloths. We are a species who goes out and does something, and our technology has made it even easier to do something when we get all butthurt. Because when someone says something that we disagree with on the internet, then we charge forth and yell, scream and froth at the mouth. Oh, it doesn’t always happen right away. We try to stay calm, measured in our responses, but like any argument we have with one another, either someone is going to admit that they were wrong, or the argument is going to escalate. And since anonymity offers people the chance to never admit being wrong without looking someone in the eye… who’s going to ever admit that they were wrong?

It takes a bigger man than I,” some would quote. It’s true, too. We like being right and hate it when people say we’re wrong. It’s in our nature. On the other hand, it’s easier to tell someone that they’re a flaming idiot douchemonkey who eats rancid meat-filled balls of Idiocy (I have no idea what the hell that is, but stay with me here) than to admit that you were wrong when you’re 1,000 miles or more away and protected by your computer monitor (or tablet, quit nitpicking). You don’t have to stand up in front of their face and accuse them of douchebaggery. It’s easier to post random argumentative bullsh*t.

Should we do anything about it? Other than remembering that one day you may come face to face with the person and discovering that they are a 6′ woman who has multiple black belts and is ready to kick your ass, what’s to stop you from using the randomness of the internets from, well, being overly argumentative.

The answer? Nothing at all. Nothing should. You are free to say whatever the hell you want (unless you’re threatening someone with physical violence, then you’re being an idiot and an asstard), but like all things, there are consequences for your free speech. People are going to agree with you. People are going to disagree. And people are going to jump on their own little podium and call you names and say you’re wrong.

A lot of people say “Don’t be a dick” and then proceed to be a dick while calling other people out on their… uh, dickishness? Yeah, that works. But instead of “don’t be a dick”, perhaps it should be “People are going to say something you don’t agree with. Don’t get butthurt about it.”

I don’t know how it happened. Perhaps it was during the 90’s, when people suddenly started getting overly thin skin and let their feelings get hurt by random bullsh*t. I remember in the 80’s saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” (For the record, I had to look it up, because Rhiannon’s “other” version of it kept popping into my head). Or maybe it wasn’t that they started getting thin skin but more of an awareness that butthurts aren’t wrong and you shouldn’t say things that might upset someone.

Quick, redraft the Declaration of Independence! George III got all butthurt about it!

Okay, that was an extreme, but still… you had a momentary flash of “That’s absolutely stupid and I’m calling you out on that!”, didn’t you? It’s okay if you did think that, because it obviously occurred to me as well. The difference is, I’ll say the same damn thing to people’s faces as well. Ask people who have been on panels with me. I’ve called one of my favorite authors a “f*cking moron” on a panel we were on together. I still like his books and respect the hell out of him, but he said something stupid and I called him out on it. He (being a bigger man) admitted that he was wrong about it, though with a caveat that I hadn’t considered and I admitted that I was wrong as well, and we moved on in the panel. Nobody got butthurt. Everyone was happy, and the audience (very much his fans) had a good laugh.

Excellent. That’s how an argument works. We still talk all the time, and at cons we’re still on panels together and even occasionally have a drink.

But the biggest part? Nobody got butthurt.

I’m glad I didn’t talk about race today. That could have been long and rambling, and caused some sort of firestorm.


Michael Z Williamson Essay

There’s a lot of varying beliefs about what the future holds, especially when espoused in science fiction. The fact that anyone can look at the history of our planet and then postulate through science fiction that anything that failed in the past will work in the future because “the right people will be running things” really makes me scratch my head.

Michael Z Williamson essay

Mike really makes an observant point, one that I missed when I first read Heinlein’s Friday. It’s one that I more or less copied when I came up with the basis of Wraithkin. You should take a look.

Authors Blog Update News Picture Writing

November Begins

Okay, so I’m prepared to hear about NaNoWriMo for the next 30 days from all writers, established pros and aspiring ones alike. I literally have created a folder in my inbox to hear about how well people are doing, purely for selfish reasons (I like the idea of shooting someone an email on the 16th reminding them that they’ve only written 3K words since the 9th… it amuses me). I’m also prepared for people the castigate me because I don’t participate anymore. The last year I participated (2007) I wrote 96,000 words before Thanksgiving and pissed off about 100,000 people. Since my pissed people to words written ratio was 1.0 : 0.96, I decided that I would avoid this problem in the future by not participating, and instead rooting for others from the sidelines.

I spent all of yesterday on the set of Acts of God, a movie about four women whose lives all intersect through a series of tragedies. The scene we filmed was a flashback to Afghanistan, circa 2005 sometime, as a patrol comes under attack in a village. The scene concludes with multiple massive explosions (which were awesome to see live) and a tense standoff between a Taliban fighter and the five remaining squad members (which included me). I was outfitted in camo and prepped, though I seemed to have missed something. It was only later when I thought about it that I realized I hadn’t received any sort of belt for a sidearm. I looked around and saw that nobody else had either.

And my complaints about being made a corporal were for naught. No, I couldn’t get a promotion, they said. Phooey. Well, Corporal “Hujak” reporting as ordered, sir. I got to choose the last name, so of course I chose Hujak. That’s how I roll, yo.

Well, I had a speaking line, which means screen credit. So that’s two films now where I received IMDB credit. Sooner or later (I think it’s four screen credits) I’ll qualify for SAG. I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but without even trying, I’m halfway there.

Anyways, here’s a few pictures from the set so that you may laugh at me and start hammering away at my lack of proper equipment.

Do you recognize this star of stage and screen? No, not me, silly.
My “squad buddy” Nick had my back during our firefight against the Taliban.
“Full” battle gear. I can already hear the cries of “where’s your reflective belt?”
Authors Blog Update Publishing Science Fiction Sha'Daa Steampunk Wraithkin Writing

Привет товарищ! (or, Greetings Comrade!)

Hello to all my new Russian friends!

Well, at least my info says that all my more recent new visitors are from Russia. Considering I haven’t been there since 1999, they must be new friends, right? Besides, it’s not like I did anything wrong in Russia… or Israel… or Turkey… and we’re not talking about Italy, so hey: it was all Rex’s fault. Well, okay, it was my fault, but that was because I assumed Rex wasn’t more naive than I was.

All right, all right. It’s my fault. I led Rex astray. I wonder how that kid’s doing these days…

I’m alive. I’m buried in books right now, both reviewing and writing, plus work has gotten intense these past few weeks. It’s going to be like this until after the holidays, unfortunately, but I think I’ll manage. I just submitted another short story, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m working on Wraithkin as much as time allows, but I’m hoping it’ll be ready to go around Christmas. Still deciding what publisher I’ll be sending it to, though Baen Books and Tor are my top two choices. Primarily because I know both publishers and like their stuff. Go with what you know, right?

I know there are three books coming out in rapid succession that I am in sometime soon. All of them, mind you, are coming out just in time for Christmas. I also noticed that Corruptor is available on the Kindle now for $3.99, which makes me very, very happy. I always felt that $5.99 for an ebook was a little too pricey. But four bucks? If people are willing to forgo a trip to McDonald’s, they can easily afford my book (and get some nuggets without breaking the bank).

Mmm… chicken…


Authors Blog Update Fantasy Publishing Writing

Good News For A Friend

Yay! My good friend Barb Caffrey has recently inked a deal with one of my publishers. Barb, as some of you know, is one of my reviewers over at Shiny Book Review. This is exciting news because she was almost convinced that she would never find a home for the novel. Now it’s residing at Twilight Times Books, and Elfy should be out sometime in 2014-ish. That’s my best guesstimate.

Congrats Barb.

Authors Blog Update Conventions Fantasy News Science Fiction


Let me tell you a story of a group of friends who went to a pretty good high school in Southern California back in the early-mid 90’s.

These kids (let’s call them “Those Guys”) were a strange bunch. Band geeks, D&D nerds, one jock (not sure how he slipped into the group), and all future Eagle Scouts (though they did not know this at the time). They were ostracized by their peers, mocked by everyone at the school (including the jock, which surprised him to no end). They were, in no uncertain terms, the non-elitists.

But something funny happened on the way to success and life.

Richard became a leading physicist and currently teaches at USC. Michael is a psychologist. David is a associate professor at a very good UC school. Jason is… well, here. The other three (Mark, Neil and Robert) I don’t know what happened to. But I’m sure they’re doing well (or well enough) since none of them had “quit” in them.

Now, I look at those guys and realized just how strange we were. We were complete weirdos and were made fun of, and yet we stayed true to ourselves (okay, I sold out by becoming a writer and using them a lot in some of my stories…). I also look at fandom as a whole and see something quietly similar and yet, seething with the same elitism that plagued all nerds, geeks and dorks since high school.

The all-powerful need of cliquism.

Yes, it’s a word.

No, I won’t prove it.

One of my favorite authors posted today about how she is no longer being invited to Dragon*Con. I was, well, shocked that the concom wouldn’t offer her a free pass since, after all, she’s a freaking major award winning author who happens to have a few bestsellers to her name. Her response was fairly polite, if a bit demure: she doesn’t think she’s cool enough to be a “real pro” at D*con. It got me to thinking about how I see fans who were ostracized as teens by the popular kids are the ones running the conventions now, and how they seem to have their own cliques and circles. They exclude “outsiders” who aren’t like them, and sometimes are very active about this. They oftentimes don’t even realize that they’re doing this, which is funny since most of us were on the outside looking in during the formative years of our lives.

But does this make it right?

I will admit that my own experiences with concoms has been hit-and-miss. There are some great ones (Libertycon comes to mind immediately, as does Mysticon, two cons I love attending because of their all-inclusive attitudes), while others seem to be more caught up in the “cool” factor of being a con and less about what cons were started for in the beginning. ComicCon is insane, Dragon*con is becoming such, and I really dislike the way FandomFest is cast aside for stars who are well past their prime (James Marsters, Bruce Campbell and Stan Lee excepted). What happened to the con being about the fan and less about the names? I know we authors sometimes have ridiculous demands (a free pass, maybe a case of soda?), but when did those who were being kept out of the cool circles suddenly become the gatekeepers of fandom?

To put this bluntly, the fans who spend the most money on our books are dying off. This sucks, because we often lose dear friends (Pam “Pogo” Poggiani comes to mind. I still miss her snarky responses to my inane questions and comments) and there is nobody to step up. The gatekeepers have done a pretty good job of chasing away younger readers and making things generally uncomfortable for new authors breaking in to the business.

This post, by the way, is probably going to have many people burning me in effigy. So be it. It needs to be said.

My fellow fen, you are not the way, the truth, the light. You are not needed to be gatekeepers but peddlers, offering your wares for a sample to get them hooked. You are book dealers, hiding in the dark corners like drug dealers, offering a taste of a world that nobody could ever imagine. WHY are you guarding those precious gates so forcefully? Why are you afraid of letting in those who are not exactly like us?

We are a powerful force with much capability to do good. We have two paths we can follow: we can be like those who once ostracized us, mocked us, ridiculed us, and created a genre of persons who now do the same to others; or we can be welcoming, let in everyone who likes to read and be geeks (even the cosplayers, bless their little anime hearts) and create a bond in society that not even politics can break (though I’m certain that if we left politics out of it, the bond would be even stronger). We can welcome the uncool, because we were once uncool.

In short, don’t be a dick.

And for the love of all that is unholy will someone tell Cherie Priest that she is most definitely cool enough!

EDIT: I mistakenly added Pam Uphoff in the original draft instead of Pogo. I’m not sure where my mind was at the moment, but I can assure you that Pam Uphoff is still alive and kicking. In fact, I think I just felt her boot upon my derriere for screwing up a departed friend’s name…

Edit #2: Apparently Bill Watters felt the same way I did and wrote an article about this same subject a few days before I broached it at the Examiner. Here’s a link.

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Saving Yourself From Yourself

I have to admit, I’m not a fan of Apple.

Oh, I have an iPhone, don’t get me wrong. I like it. It works for me and it does what I want it to do.

That being said, I don’t worship at the altar of Jobs. I don’t drink the Kool-Aid. I don’t hand Apple my credit card and scream “Take my money!” like some people I know. I mean, if I bought a MacBook or something, I’d spend another hundred dollars getting MS Office. And with what I’d be dropping on an MacBook, I could buy a tricked out gaming computer with the latest MS Office already installed. Why would I spend $1800 for a MacBook?

It makes me weep, really. With that much extra cash, someone can invest in a good laptop and put some money into savings for their future.

“But Jason,” some of you say. “Some people use it for their business stuff, like photos and music and stuff.”

Fair enough. And what percentage of people who own MacBooks actually use it for that purpose? I’ll guess 15%. For the rest of the playing field, that means it could be nothing more than a status symbol, like owning a fancy car over a practical one. Again, if someone has the money, then why not? I’m not going to begrudge anyone the option of spending their money however they want. Welcome to America.


Writers, with a few exceptional cases excluded in this discussion, are usually in tight financial straights. Most of us work a real job to pay for our writing habits. We can’t really afford to splurge on things very often, so some semblance of fiscal responsibility is needed. And honestly, a MacBook is something that a writer could live without.

$499 generic laptop with everything you need with $1300 set aside in case of a dry spell, or $1800 overpriced laptop with nothing left for a rainy day? If you ask me (I know, you’re not, but tough… my website), I’d rather have money set aside in case things get rough. A financial cushion is something every aspiring author (hell, even established ones) should aim for. You never know what could happen if a sudden expense comes up and you don’t have any money.

In 2002, I had gotten a good sized paycheck for a cumulative editing project (about a year’s worth) and had money to spend. Instead of saving it in case of an emergency, I spent it on a lot of crap I didn’t need. Fast forward five years and I was really wishing I had saved that money. Yeah, you can’t predict what’ll happen in five years, but wouldn’t having a cushion financially make anything that hits you seem not so bad?

Too many young authors are getting first advances and blowing it, forgetting that they have to pay taxes on those checks. No, the publishing company does not take taxes out for you. You don’t work for them; you are an independent contractor. Says so right on your contract. Go look, I’ll wait.

See? So new authors spend their checks and are suddenly hit with a tax bill of 25% or more (they also tax you for SSI and everything else. It sucks) months later. A few smart writers are able to write off the first year or two as a loss and avoid paying taxes, but if you do it too often you get hit with an audit by the IRS, and that is something you really want to avoid at the early stages of your career. Too often you write something off and lose the receipt, or don’t keep your records organized, and suddenly the whole tax bill comes due because that “business meeting” at Denny’s isn’t valid because you didn’t keep proper records for it.

Yeah, it happened once. Heard all about it at a tax seminar. Guy got hit with a $76,000 tax bill because of one receipt.

Don’t be that guy.

This has been your biannual public service announcement.

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Hey, someone felt sorry for me and went ahead and let my muse speak. Scary, right?

Well, here’s the link.

Also, writing. I’ll be around for a real update soon.

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Will another one bite the dust?

Will another one bite the dust?.

Amanda Green pretty much explains it all. You might want to listen to her.

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Motivate Me, Sir!

One of the roughest parts of getting through a day is the realization that not matter what you do, nothing seems to motivate you. Soda? Not working. Exercise? Not working. Two ounces of coke off of a prostitute’s ass (okay, metaphorically, but still…)? Not working.

Though I’ll forgive Charlie Sheen for the advice. He really did have good intentions.

Writing is both a joyful escape from reality and a big, nasty chore that sometimes you really don’t want to do. It combines that wonderful, freeing “I’m a writer!” feeling with the crushing realization of “Crap, now people want more books and I’m tapped out at the moment.” Which is a good thing, people.


Well, the people wanting more books part at least. Being tapped out sucks.

I digress.

So… self-motivation is needed, but you’re all out of ideas. What do you do?

Me? I crank up the music, drink lots of soda, snort massive amounts of coke from a hooker’s ass and get to work (editor’s note: what the hell is he doing today? Coke? Hooker’s? How big was that royalty check, anyways?) on the latest project.

This was all in jest, naturally. I can’t afford a hooker.


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In A Groove

I think I’m starting to get into a groove here with both writing, working and reviewing. Somehow I found the energy to juggle all of them while pretending to have this wild and crazy life. I wish I could claim it’s been enlightening, but really it’s just a lot of Pepsi. My heart really won’t like this in 30 years but, at that point, my liver should be hating me more, and since they can replace all of the above (except for those 30 years, that is…) I’m not too concerned.

So… books received this week from various publishers:

  • False Covenant by Ari Marmell (Pyr Books)
  • Hunter and Fox by Philippa Ballantine (Pyr Books)
  • Never Burn a Witch by M. R. Sellars (EMA Mysteries)

Pretty good, but we can do better. I’m trying to get other publishers to send SBR more books (since I’m getting more reviewers) but right now we’re still small. That’s cool, though, because I like reading.

I really enjoyed False Covenant (the sequel to Thief’s Covenant, which I really liked) and I have hopes for the other two. I’ll have those reviews up in a week or two (depending on how busy Keeneland is the next two weeks).

Also, welcome new followers. I don’t have a lot to share at this time, but feel free to wander around and find stuff you might like. May I recommend some of the free snippets?