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The man, the myth, the legend.

Category Archives: Baen Books

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.

 

A Snippet from “Forged in Blood”


So I’m in another Baen Books anthology, this one titled Forged in Blood which is edited by Michael Z. Williamson and is based in his “Freehold” universe. Here is a quick description from the book:

NEW STORIES OF A MYSTICAL KILLING SWORD SET IN MICHAEL Z. WILLIAMSON’S FREEHOLD SERIES 

WARRIORS AND SOLDIERS TIED TOGETHER THROUGHOUT TIME AND SPACE.

From the distant past to the far future, those who carry the sword rack up commendations for bravery. They are men and women who, like the swords they carry, have been forged in blood. These are their stories.

In medieval Japan, a surly ronin is called upon to defend a village against a thieving tax collector who soon finds out it’s not wise to anger an old, tired man. In the ugliest fighting in the Pacific Theater, an American sergeant and a Japanese lieutenant must face each other, and themselves. A former US Marine chooses sides with outnumbered Indonesian refugees against an invading army from Java. When her lover is stolen by death, a sergeant fighting on a far-flung world vows vengeance that will become legendary. And, when a planet fragments in violent chaos, seven Freeholders volunteer to help protect another nation’s embassy against a horde.

Featuring all-new stories by Michael Z. Williamson, Larry Correia, Tom Kratman, Tony Daniel, Micahel Massa, Peter Grant, John F. Holmes, and many more.

The following is the intro for mine:


In all of life there is a song. A natural rhythm, as it were, to the order of the universe.

Every heartbeat, every inhale and exhale, contained a note which ran in perfect harmony with the heart of the galaxy.

For Operative Lieutenant Rowan Moran of the Freehold Military Forces, the music of the universe reached its crescendo whenever he wielded his katana in the embassy’s dojo. With each cut a new note was created, with every thrust came a change in pitch and tune. His constant practice in the ancient art of iaido could easily be parlayed into a musical score, so quick and precise were his movements.

Even after many years of practice, however, his movements were not yet perfect. The music which was supposed to flow through him in steady rhythm was not present, a clunky thresh piece over the symphonic artistry which he was supposed to feel. The blade felt wrong in his hand, the sword unbalanced. He knew that there was no way the sword was the issue. Neither was it the art. No, he knew that the problem lay within himself. He frowned and made three more quick cuts through the air, the blade of the sword flashing in the bright light with each movement. His frown deepened and his brow furrowed in frustration. Iaido was not supposed to be easy, but no matter how hard he tried to lose himself to it, he was unable. This he blamed on his own failings. For as deep into the art as he was, Rowan could never fully lose himself. An Operative was never fully ignorant of his immediate surroundings.

“Good morning, Ambassador,” he called out as he flicked his wrist slightly. The katana whispered through the air and, with movement borne of long practice, the face of the blade was wiped clean on his sleeve. Historically, it was a maneuver to wipe the blood of an enemy off of the face of the blade before the katana was sheathed. To an iaidoka, however, it came as naturally as breathing.

“Good morning, Lieutenant,” Ambassador Kiem Luc nodded respectfully in reply. He always tried to surprise Moran, and always failed. “Your form looks good today.”

“Thank you, sir,” Rowan said as he sheathed the blade. He turned and looked at the shorter man. “The answer is still no, sir.”

“I could order you to go,” the ambassador said with a small smile. There was no heat in his statement, merely fact.

“I still don’t understand why you insist on me accompanying you alone to this function,” Rowan complained in a low voice. “I told you that I was more than happy to remain as an anonymous member of the protective detail.”

“And as part of my protective detail, I want you to accompany me inside the event as my social companion,” Kiem said as he took a step closer. Rowan could see that the season politician was doing his best not to let any irritation appear on his face. “Caledonian policy prohibits armed guards within the presence of their royals, which puts the Freehold in a bind. Our ambassadors are not to be unescorted by at least one armed guard anywhere outside the embassy. The Caledonians want us to play their power games and I refuse. I’m irritated, and the Citizen’s Council is as well. Caledonia, Novaja Rossia, all of them. They know we want to withdraw from the UN and they’re making fun of us for thinking we can. It’s time that they learn that their morals are not our own, that our customs and beliefs are not theirs to dictate. We are more than an idea, Rowan. We’re an actual nation. It’s time for them to quit looking down on us.”

Rowan could read the tension in the ambassador’s body language and mentally grimaced. “No offense, sir, but you are a bit on the short side.”

Luc smiled. “If I thought I had any chance in hell, Moran, I’d kick your ass.”

“Noted, sir.”

“Social escort, Rowan,” Kiem said, his tone changing ever so slightly. “Please. Just you alone. No one else from the detail. Caledonians should be providing enough security to blanket the entire building, so you alone should be enough on the inside. Outside we’ll have a Rapid Response Team ready to move at a moment’s notice. That way I get what you want, and you get what you want.”

Rowan thought it over. The head of the embassy’s security detail would likely flip out over the idea of the ambassador going in practically unescorted, which made Rowan a bit happy, they were still following the rules, per se. While he respected the woman, a little professional competition never hurt anybody. Plus, there was no reason for him to avoid the “pie with a fork” training he’d received. Still, there was one thing that continued to bother him.

He hated formal functions with a passion.

“I need you, Rowan,” the ambassador pleaded. He laid a hand on the Operative’s arm. “I won’t lie and say that it would be the end of the world if you didn’t attend and I had to take someone else, but I can’t think of anyone else that I would want on my arm tonight.”

“You,” Rowan breathed as he bowed his head in acquiesce, “are a slimy politician, sir.”

“Not slimy enough for Earth, though,” Kiem said with a small smile.

“Thank Goddess.” Both men could readily agree upon that sentiment.


What’s really cool about this anthology is that everything follows a timeline, and mine is set specifically 50 years or so before the event in Freehold. Since I’ve listed this book as one of my Top 5 all-time favorite science fiction novels, you can imagine just how happy I was to have been invited to participate. And then, cherry on top, given me a character and story that Mike had thoughtfully outlined already in The Weapon.

The story wrote itself, really.

Here is the list of contributors for the anthology. This is one hell of a collection of authors who write science fiction. I’ve read all of these stories and I can honestly say that they are all very, very good.

Here is the link where Larry Correia snippets his story as well, as a bonus because I’m super freaking nice.

Contributors
Zachary Hill * Larry Correia * Michael Massa * John F. Holmes * Rob Reed * Dale Flowers * Tom Kratman * Leo Champion * Peter Grant * Christopher L. Smith * Jason Cordova * Tony Daniel * Kacey Ezell * Michael Z. Williamson

forged-in-blood-cover

Coming September 5, 2017 from Baen Books

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.

Sold! And Please Tip Your Waiter


That turnaround time has to be some sort of record.

Murder World has a new title and a home. Severed Press (those who brought you Kaiju Apocalypse by myself and Eric S. Brown) bought it Wednesday morning (less than 12 hours after we finished it), and we decided to go with a different title. It’s now Murder World: Kaiju Dawn.

Why did we do this, you ask? Well, two reasons. The first is marketing. With Murder World, quite a few people asked me if I had written a Marvel novel. I had no idea that the name was shared by anything until someone pointed me in the right direction. So… slide in the secondary title of Kaiju Dawn and suddenly it’s an easy genre to guess (is giant stomping creatures of death a genre yet? It should be).  Secondly, this leaves us open to write the sequel, Murder World: Kaiju Darkness.

I’m an evil man, what can I say?

Then today I got the contract in the mail for Wraithkin. This has been a long time coming (six years, two months since I began this novel) and it’s a very nice feeling to have this book out there. The publisher, Naked Reader Press, is one I specifically chose for this book. I like their writers and their editors, and that means quite a bit to me in the grand scheme of things. I mean, if you can’t stand what a publisher puts out there for the world to read, then why in the heck would you want them to publish your book?

So two books sold in the week, Kaiju Apocalypse is still hanging around in the Top 100 on Amazon (go awesome people!) and there is, more than likely, another Murder World book on the way. This has been a rather good week.

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!

An Update of Sorts


An update, of sorts.

Amazon has gone ahead and put M.C.A. Hogarth’s Spots the Space Marine back up in their ebook section. Judging from what I’ve heard, this is a pretty good book that others should pick up to help support the author. Plus, she donates a percentage of book sales to the Wounded Warrior project, which is pretty cool in itself. I’m broke, which is why I haven’t bought a copy yet. However, as soon as I have funds, I’ll be buying it and eventually reviewing it over at SBR.

However, I have not been able to confirm that Games Workshop has (or will) back down from their trademark claim. Spurious it may be (and it is, it really is), somebody in their legal department believed that it was a viable claim, meaning that unless an some sort of injunction or ruling spelling out the exact terminology of what a “trademark” may cover for GW, I doubt that they’re backing off. What’s probably going to happen is they’ll wait a few months, until the internet forgets, then hit someone else over another term.

One potential course of action that Hogarth could take would be to claim protection under the First Amendment, since Amazon is a US company and she is in the US. The trademark fair use law (under US copyright law) actually allows for this, despite what GW claims. While not as easy to work within like the copyright fair use law is, it still allows some wiggle room, since she is not using the Space Marine as GW uses it. Otherwise Lucas (and now Disney) would have shut down Darths & Droids years ago. GW may think they’re the 800 pound gorilla in the room, but they’re nothing but an ant if the mouse stepped into the fight. And if the mouse is leaving Darths & Droids alone, well…

That’s one thing authors need to remember. Despite what fancy legal departments wish for you to think (on behalf of their clients, of course. No self-respecting law firm wants to screw over anybody… wow, I typed that with a straight face even), you have just as many rights (if not more) as corporations.

Somebody asked me via email if I was worried about burning my bridge with Black Library. A little bit, sure. Everybody is worried about burning bridges in their lives. But I can’t stand by and watch while an author gets trampled into the ground by an overbearing company armed with lawyers. If that means I cannot write for the Black Library, then so be it.

I’ll just work harder to get published by Baen. Toni knows how to treat her authors.

At A Severe Cost


intellectual property

noun: Law. property that results from original creative thought, as patents, copyright material, and trademarks.

For those of you who haven’t heard, M.C.A. Hogarth has run afoul of the behemoth gaming giant Games Workshop over her use of the term “Space Marine” for her novel, Spots the Space Marine. Games Workshop has demanded that Amazon pull down the ebook copy of Hogarth’s book due to their claim of intellectual property rights violation. Amazon, following their odd pattern of listening to big publishers while simultaneously claiming to help the little guys (which confuses me to no end), left the print version of the book up while removing the ebook from sales. Hogarth, who cannot afford the the cost of a lawyer, has taken to the internet for help.

I hope the internet responds. Here’s my effort to help, and I encourage others to do the same.

Games Workshop is wrong here, people, plain and simple. They are claiming that because they used the term “Space Marine” in an ebook last year, they can claim intellectual property ownership over the term “Space Marine” for all books. Their high-priced lawyers say they are correct. Their high-priced lawyers obviously haven’t read any E.E. “Doc” Smith or Robert A. Heinlein. You know, guys who were writing and publishing books in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s talking about Space Marines?

A tiny bit of research shows that Ace Books has been offering the Kindle version of Starship Troopers for a few years now. Obviously, the Heinlein estate would have a better claim to the IP rights of “Space Marine”, no? Or, for that matter, wouldn’t John Ringo and Travis. S. Taylor be able to have litigation for Games Workshop pilfering their term of “Space Marine” from their ebook of Vorpal Blade, which actually coins the Space Marine anthem in 2007? Because Baen Books offered eARCs (electronic Advance Reader Copies) to their readers, that would mean that Games Workshop is behind in the times and owes Baen Books a ton of money, right?

That slippery slope of IP law is a dangerous one when one doesn’t do their homework…

Look, I’m a fan of Games Workshop. I play multiple armies of their tabletop strategy games (Blood Bowl, Necromunda, Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000) and have generally been supportive of their product. Hey, I even plotted out a trilogy a few months back because I really wanted to write about Bretonians for their publishing arm. I was at the opening of the local GW store back in December! But now… now I’m not so sure I want to be as supportive of them any longer.

I know I’m not going to be buying their product until they stop harassing Hogarth, that’s for certain. I’m going to be encouraging friends to buy stuff from Privateer Press instead (who, coincidentally, have some gorgeous gaming models of their own). I’m also going to stop buying the Horus Heresy books (which sucks, because I love those books) and encourage people to pick up a copy of Hogarth’s Spots the Space Marine.

We teach our kids to not be a bully. I think it’s time we also remind companies that bullying comes at a severe cost.

*If you would like to read Hogarth’s POV on this, please go here. Hopefully it hasn’t crashed yet.

Wrath of the Book Gods


At the risk of incurring the wrath of the book review gods (because my reviewing schedule is as steady as the men in Kim Kardashian’s life), I plan on reviewing Sygillis of Metatron (The League of Elders, Book 1) by Ben Garcia tomorrow over at Shiny Book Review. It’s a strange name, yeah, but it’s a pretty good book. It had some WTF? moments but overall was fun. I just started the sequel yesterday (sorry Ben, I’m a procrastinator) and the prologue had me giggling a bit. Only a bit. More than a bit and a man of my…. stature becomes decidedly frightening.

So I found out that I have stories in three separate books coming out in the next 90 days. This makes me giddy because that means a lot of people should be buying the books for their loved ones for Chrishannakwanzaa. Sha’Daa Pawns (Crouching Seal, Sleeping Dragon), What Scares the Boogeyman? (The Cold), and Dreams of Steam III (The Finder’s Keeper) should all be out soon-ish. I’m particularly excited about The Finder’s Keeper and Crouching Seal, Sleeping Dragon, primarily because those are writing styles I have never tried before. Okay, I might have tried them, but I never really succeeded at them until now.

Also, for those of you who are curious, my younger brother Nick made it home safely from his first deployment to A-stan. He was able to keep in semi-reliable contact throughout his deployment (the wonders of Facebook). Operation Baen Bulk sent his brigade some much-needed supplies, as well as free books (which he has torn through; voracious readers run in this little strange family). Baen Books remains one of my favorite publishers to this day (even if they haven’t published any books of mine) due to their constant and unwavering support of our troops.

Ack. First day off in a while and I’m farting around instead of working on Nightwalker. It’s… almost… done… just… a… little… more…

Seriously. Maybe 500 more words and then it’s time to edit it.

Then off to the main editor after alpha reader tears it a new one.

The Book Gods must be appeased!

Two Items of Interest


Casper thinks that Dr. Evil is a pansy.

I’m still battling… whatever this is (headcold on steroids is my best guess), but I have finally managed to start feeling a tad bit better. So that means I can get back to work, right?

Yeah, sure…

I’m procrastinating right now on finishing A Promise Made, and though when I started the procrastination process I had a good reason, for the life of me I can’t seem to remember what that solid reason was. Oh sure, I can complain about not having the right mindset for the protagonist (I’m not crazy, after all), in the end it just boils down to me not really wanting to write this story at the moment. I should finish writing it; it’s a great story so far. But… I’m going to sound petulant here, but I don’ wanna

I really, really want to work on Wraithkin. I can’t, I keep telling myself, because I have previous engagements.

It’s strange. I always thought I’d be horrible at writing short fiction. Actually, if you look at my early work in this category, I really was horrible. I didn’t grasp pacing, didn’t know quite how to start the short without bombarding the poor reader with back story. I went through boot camp (that’s what it felt like!!!) back in March and hey, look at that: I can write short fiction now. Well, I write decent short fiction. There’s always room for improvement, I believe.

Next subject of order…

It’s not as though Larry Correia needs the help, but his latest novel, Dead Six, is scheduled to be released next week. I enjoy Larry’s work immensely, but I’m posting a reminder to go out and buy this book because the book’s co-author, Mike Kupari, is currently deployed to Afghanistan disarming roadside bombs. Yep, that’s what the guy does for a living. Some writers did their “I was there” spiel in their bios (hint: I was in the safest place known to man when I was deployed… on board a US Navy vessel), but Mike Kupari is missing his debut release because he’s too busy preventing assholes from killing American soldiers. Seriously. He disarms IEDs.

So why wouldn’t you want to buy his book? It’s good, and best of all, it was written by a nice guy.

Can’t wait until next week? Well then, buy it here.

 

Release Day for Larry


It’s release day!

No, not for me, but for the uber-cool Larry Correia. His latest release, Hard Magic: Book 1 of the Grimnoir Tales is now available through Amazon. Technically not coming out until next Tuesday, you can get a jump on the rest of the crowd by ordering it today.

My review is up at Amazon, and Walt Boyes reviewed it for Shiny Book Review awhile back. It’s a great novel, one I would totally have people book bomb if, you know, more than 20 people visited here a day.

If you have Webscriptions, the book is currently only $6 for the ebook. That’s a deal, though the trade paperback is still under $10 on Amazon. Both are great deals, though. Go buy them and, you know, take care of the (not-quite) starving artist.

Monster Hunter Ballad


Someone decided to write and sing the “Monster Hunter Ballad” for Larry Correia‘s novels, Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta. The performer is Gray Rinehart, one of Baen Books editors.

Eggs In A Basket


I was reading an email this morning from a friend about a mutual friend who has put all of their eggs in one basket, specifically placed all of his books with one single publisher. I thought my response was going to be an easy “Well, it works for John Ringo”, but then I really thought about the various dynamics involved when it comes to Ringo and just about everyone else out there. I realized that though it may work for authors who are “mid-list and up”, it’s not a good marketing plan for those of us who toil down in the lower tiers of publishing.

Most publisher these days work with a big-name distributor. If they don’t, then there’s no way their books are getting on the shelves. Places like Ingram, Simon & Schuster and Baker & Taylor all ensure that publishers books reach the reading masses. Unless you have a deal with one of them, you are destined for a vicious marketing campaign using word of mouth, social networking and any other available resource at your fingertips. This may include exploiting your friends and their loyalties.

But… what happens when a publisher loses a distributor? What happens to the author whose books suddenly disappear from the bookshelves of stores?

I’m generally against putting all your eggs in one basket. Yes, loyalty is usually rewarded, but it’s not like the publisher is putting all of their eggs into one basket (unless it’s those guys who publish Stephen King and use his earnings to pay off their new writers…). Publishers usually have a small army of writers in their stable. What’s stopping an author from doing the same?

Mostly fear, I believe. I mean, you get that one contract after dozens and dozens of submissions and… you don’t want to lose it. You want more contracts, and the publisher has already shown that they like your work. So you keep submitting, ignoring the rest of the world as you narrow your focus onto what you think the publisher is going to like.

Then one day, poof! Just like that, your publisher is gone or changed from within. Suddenly all those years of toiling for them are wasted because the new editor-in-chief isn’t a huge fan and wants you to resubmit. Unless you’ve been making them a lot of money, you’re starting all over again. And this time, other publishers who have been watching the markets already know if you’ve reached your full potential or not.

Now, if an author had gone and had multiple publishing houses publish his or her work, then one folding isn’t a huge deal. Oh, it’ll hurt, but it’s not like you had all of your eggs in one basket. You had the “risk” spread around, much like the stock market. You had a science fiction book with Baen, a fantasy series with Tor and a young adult series with Scholastic outside of the “failed” or changed publishing house. You’re set, in other words. You pick up your boots and march on.

And when you get the rights to your book back from the other publisher, you can talk to the current publishers about re-releasing your older books. It’s a smart way to ensure that when your publishing world burns, you have a nice fire hose and thousands of gallons of water to protect everything else you have.

Whoopsies… Uh, Free Books!


Had a moment of panic last night while i was hashing out some minor details for Wraithkin (did you know that when an object orbits around the sun it’s called a heliocentric orbit? I didn’t know that…) when my Pandora station warned me that I was about all out of music for the month. You see, it gives you 40 hours a month free, and then after that you either pay $0.99 for the rest of the month or $36.00 for the entire year. That’s not bad until you remember that you’re paying for something you can get for free via your radio station.

Now, if you’re listening to hard metal, you generally can’t find that one your local radio station. Heck, the only time I hear “Enter Sandman” by Metallica is when SteveFM is preparing to broadcast a Hokies game (yes, Virginia Tech comes out to “Enter Sandman”. It’s why I adopted them as my second school, and am trying to figure out a way to implement the “chirp” from Ball State into their chants), or very rarely on one of the classic rock stations.

But this isn’t a music post. Well, not really. I was thinking of what Sarah Hoyt‘s been doing down at her little corner of the web and realized that, outside of the first six chapters of Corruptor and the almost complete The Absolute True Story of Santa Claus, I didn’t really have any samples of my work. Part of that is my utter suckage at writing short stories (as evidenced by TATSSC), and part of it is that I really don’t know what to write. Should I put up some newly created short stories? Or perhaps I should post snippets of something? I should I post a link to a bunch of free books so you can read them all in your spare time?

I like the first option, the second… not so much. But the third, the third I believe is a winner. So here’s a link to Baen’s Free Library.

Yep, free. No email registration required, no DRM locking you from sharing them with your friends. Go and read. I’ll see you next month, after you’ve worked your way through their free library.