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Category Archives: Fantasy

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.

Time Consuming


A brief update, since I need to finish Kaiju Apocalypse III by tonight (yeah, this has been one tough little but to crack). Murder World: Kaiju Dawn is doing well but could use more reviews. I likened it today to “Ishiro Honda and Joss Whedon teamed up for a project”. Ishiro Honda, for those who don’t know, directed the very first Godzilla movie. Joss Whedon, for those of you who don’t know… no. Not doing it. If you don’t know… Leave. Just leave. Leave this website and never return.

No review this week over at SBR, mainly because I haven’t read anything new lately (not counting Dave Freer’s Stardogs, which was good but I need to reread in order to figure out a few things that I had questioned during the book). Maybe next week I’ll have Stardogs up. Depends on how fast I finished up I, Godslayer.

I never thought that the life of a writer would be so bloody time consuming.

MW KD cover

Please


My brain couldn’t get into the mood for writing Kaiju Apocalypse III today, since this flu thingy has been kicking my butt this week. Instead of calling it a lost day, though, I decided to work on this fantasy idea my Muse has been beating me over the head with the past two weeks. I mean, I’d kinda outlined it before (okay, I drew up some geographical maps and created an 8 pointed magic system) and talked a bit about it, but I’d never actually tried writing it. I think because I was fighting my Muse again and trying to make it an urban fantasy thing when it needed to be a classic fantasy piece.

So I started I, Godslayer today and immediately put down 2,000 words. It sort of surprised me at just how much my Muse apparently wanted to write this story. So hooray for my foray into humorous high fantasy?

I see that quite a few people have purchased Murder World: Kaiju Dawn but very few of you have actually written a review up on Amazon for it. Is it really too difficult to say “This book sucked” or something else (preferably, “This book rocked!”). Everyone has been in shock over the fact that some Kardashian wrote a book and lamenting the fact that they had it ghost-written as well, and that this hurts “real” authors. No, that doesn’t hurt real authors, actually. The fact that people call it a piece of crap and managed to write 61 one-star reviews is what hurt “real” authors. I mean, people say the book sucks and jeer the fact that they can’t write, and yet they still push the sales up and give it reviews. You want to keep sh*t like this from happening, every day reader? Give a book your enjoyed a rating on amazon. It helps and also validates to the author that people have, you know, read the book.

I would love for there to be 30 reviews on Murder World: Kaiju Dawn by the end of the day. That would be awesome. It’s not going to happen, though, and I believe this is because the average reader would much rather tear down a novel they hate instead of talking up a novel they enjoyed.

And before you cough and say “Jason, what about your review of Catching Fire?” you should recall that I was practically gushing over The Hunger Games. So hold on a second before calling me a hypocrite, mmkay?

And write a damn review.

Please.

Cover Reveal


And, at long last, I can show off the cover for Hero’s Best Friend, which contains my story Hill 142, the untold (and completely alternate) version of the Battle of Belleau Wood during World War One.

Heros Best Friend

 

Edit: Oh, I probably should mention that this is coming out in the next few weeks from Seventh Star Press. Here’s their website.

Another Cover Update


…and after seeing the new cover for Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse last night, I received an email this morning from another publisher about the cover for Hero’s Best Friend, where my story Hill 142 resides and is awaiting print. The cover is in, and I must say that it looks gorgeous. There’s going to be a big reveal this Thursday, but once more am I blessed with a publisher who puts out amazing covers.

You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but if the cover looks bad ass, the potential buyer might be more inclined to pick it up over something that just has a few words on it.

Well, depending on the words…. yeah, that’s going somewhere I don’t want to go at this time of the day.

New Book


So an interesting development…

As you may already know, I had a story titled Crouching Seal, Sleeping Dragon published in a shared-world type of anthology called Sha’Daa: Pawns in 2012. It was pretty well-received all in all, and I created one my favorite characters to date.

Fast forward to this evening. The editor/creator of the series, Michael H. Hanson, sent me an email asking me if I would mind moving my story from Pawns (which was already released) over to his re-release of Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse, which he had originally published years ago. One of the short stories didn’t want to change publishers (over to new label Copper Dog), and Michael had an opening, so… yeah. I offered to write a new story for the series, and he tentatively agreed to allow me to write a replacement story for Pawns. So yeah, happy happy.

Here is the newly redesigned cover of Tales of the Apocalypse. I’m digging it personally, and I know my friend Ahren would love the gas mask.

ShaDaa-Apocalypse

What do you think?

The Accidental Lecture


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

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

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

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

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

The things I do so I can make my chili…

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

“Hope” being the key word here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Casper

More Good News


Hill 142 has been picked up for the Hero’s Best Friend anthology from Seventh Star Press. This is thrilling news, since I really stretched on the alt-history/fantasy angle of the story and was worried that it might not be well received by the editor. There was a huge element of risk involved that I wasn’t used to dealing with. So, yay!

That brings the yearly total up to four stories sold so far. Not bad, but if I actually hope to one day make a little bit of money at this “writing” thing, I’m going to need to do more. I can already hear my muse cackling in the background…

The Working Man


Part of the writing process often involves sitting back, looking over what you’ve done, feeling pleased and accomplished with yourself, and then ruthlessly cutting most of it during the edits.

My writer–brain screams in pain every time I do this. My editor–brain chuckles evilly.

One of the things I’ve seen over the years is that many people are afraid of cutting things. They have no problem going back and editing stuff but, when it comes to absolutely deleting entire paragraphs (or, oftentimes, chapters), they cramp up. Get skeered, as it were (I’ve lived in the South long enough that I get to say that). Minor spelling corrections, adding more descriptions… writers don’t have any problem doing this. But deleting a lot? Nuking an entire chapter or minor story arc because it fails to drive anything (or anywhere)? Well, that is where a writer often draws the line.

Hey, I’m guilty of this, too.

So how does one go about shutting down that creative side and focus on the stern taskmaster? Do you use two different computers? Have split personalities? Have first readers who double as editors? If you have the last one, by the way, you are one lucky individual.

Just some quick thoughts today. I’m working on Collectibles while trying to figure out how and why my resume didn’t upload to Google docs. Sometimes .docs is the best thing in the world; other times, I wish I could kill it with fire.

Also, in case you were living under a rock (or, most likely, didn’t hear) my buddy Stephen Zimmer has a short story in this new anthology called Thunder on the Battlefield: Swords, which was released on Tuesday. You should pick up a copy. Also, keep an eye out for Peter Clines’ newest, Ex-Purgatory, which is a continuation of his superheroes vs zombies novel series. It’s coming out in January 2014.

Trolling For Love


I made a huge mistake today. I got sucked back into Wikipedia.

There’s just something amazingly addictive about updating wiki pages while adding information, updating, and even deleting irrelevant material. It’s not as though I have nothing else to do (he writes as he stares at the open word document which has been mocking him for three days). But there’s just this… sense of accomplishment? I don’t know. It could be why a lot of wiki editors are fascist thugs when editing. They don’t like being told they’re wrong. Or they just enjoy being trollish.

Don’t forget that at the end of this month, Dreamers in Hell comes out. If you haven’t already, you should probably pick up Lawyers in Hell (which I’m in) and Rogues in Hell (which I’m not in) for some back story. Naturally, the books don’t necessarily “need” one another, but being able to follow serial stories like Janet Morris’ Eshi epic (I don’t know what else to call it) really makes a difference when reading the books as the series. Plus, you get other serial characters as well.

Let’s see… have you bought Michael Z. Williamson’s latest work, Tour of Duty, yet? It’s a short story collection (“anthology!” the sheep bleat in the distance) and it’s available now. Larry Correia has Warbound coming out in August. I’ve read it and it is an amazing finish to the Grimnoir Chronicles. I’ll have my copy of MHI for him to sign at LC26 this month, since this copy is #10 I’ve had to buy (people borrowing the book and not giving it back). I figured “Buy 10, get an autograph for free” or something.

Counting down until Mental Ward: Echoes of the Past is released. Gotta love all these books coming out.

Oh, I also am writing the following stories as we speak (type? converse digitally? technology is making idioms weird):

  • Blighted 
  • Most Faithful
  • No Time For Love
  • Pillars
  • Sacred Hunt
  • The Messenger

Those should keep me busy for the next few months. If not, I can always finish Wraithkin, edit some Christian Cole, or pound out Unholy Vengeance.