This one time at Writer's Camp…
Category Archives: Writing
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.”
“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.
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
Today is the release of the long-awaited first book of a brand new series I’m writing. Wraithkin is out and available in both print and e-format, and the early reviews is that all my hard work has come to fruition with this book. Run and buy, share, talk about it. Publicity never hurt a writer.
Isn’t it pretty? It’s so pretty!
For this cover I managed to land the freakishly talented J. F. Posthumus to do the cover of the upcoming historical zombie story, The Dead of Babylon. It will be released on December 18th, just in time to satisfy your holiday horrorific cravings (even though it’s set about 3000 years ago and sometime in fall, and has nothing to do with Christmas whatsoever, but don’t bother me with details right now…).
Edit: I should probably add that despite my initial “It’s gonna be free!” statement, I was reminded that I am paying a mortgage now and really need to make more money as a writer. So it’ll be available for $0.99. Huzzah.
So at a very odd hour late last night, I went ahead and wrote a review over at Shiny Book Review. To say that it was an adventure is an understatement. Reputedly, this author has a history of lashing out at reviewers, so we’ll see just how interesting things get around here.
I mentioned elsewhere that the ideal author response to any review is a “thank you for writing a review”. That should be it. Drop mic, exit stage left, fade to black. For some reason some authors feel the need to tell the reviewer that what they read was not what was written, and they missed subtle nuances, etc. Word of advice: if the reviewer missed it, then it’s possible it wasn’t there in the first place.
Nobody knows the story and the characters as well as the author, and it’s completely understandable to see something that the reader does not because you know the characters and story so much better. It’s okay, really. However, lashing out and yelling at book reviewers (or going creepy cyber stalker, like this author did) is not the way to go. You are a professional now, damn it. Try and remember that, even if your Twitter feed is nothing but hyperbole and pictures of lattes (nothing wrong with either, actually).
T-minus five days and counting until Honorcon.
You might be wondering what panels I’ll be doing, or what I plan on talking about, but you may be surprised to know that I’m actually working this convention for The Official Honor Harrington Fan Association. Being the Volunteer Coordinator is, well, a job that nobody wanted so I volunteered (ha!). It’s been an eye opener, and I’ll definitely remember how hard the concom works leading up to any con that I will attend in the future. It’s not like I’m a difficult guest (at least, I don’t think I am… I have almost no requests for anything except a free ticket for my handler), but it’s always good to keep in mind the hard work that goes into running a convention.
Other than that, still writing, still reading various books and trying to find the time to review them. I have both Shattered Shields and The Baen Big Book of Monsters to review, plus a couple of Irene Radford novels. It’s not that I don’t want to review them, really. It’s just that I don’t have the time right now. Between finalizing the purchase of the new house and wrapping up Murder World: Kaiju Dusk and the con, time seems to have just zipped away. Ooh, there it went again!
However, Barb did manage to review Michael Z. Williamson’s Freehold over the weekend (one of my favorite books of all time). I don’t think she was as enamored as I with the book, but she still gave it a very positive review. She’s pretty much carrying Shiny Book Review right now, for which I’m extremely grateful (how she finds the time is beyond me).
Of course, while complaining about a decided lack of spare time, I volunteered to help out with the Youth Bake Sale at church…
Also, the lack of time has been the primary reason I haven’t written anything about #GamerGate yet. I keep meaning to but then life happens, as it usually does, and internet fighting usually takes a backseat to real life for me. I might finally write up something next week, maybe. No promises. People are going to call me a “Johnny Come Lately” (they still use that phrase, right?), but whatever. I have more important things to worry about.
Like finding the time to finish this damn book.
Speaking of, there’s still time to purchase Murder World: Kaiju Dawn and help support My Generous Lords, the Great and Terrible Kittehs! in their world domination scheme.
(I was tagged in this by Amanda S. Green. She introduced her favorite character, Ashlyn Shaw, star of Vengeance From Ashes, here.)
As I walked into the bar, I began to wonder just what the hell I was getting myself into this time. Sure, I’m the author, and I create these people, but some of them seem to be able to slip the reins and run around without proper supervision. Vincente Huerta, the main character from Murder World: Kaiju Dawn, ship captain, smuggler, and all around pain in the ass, was one of those characters. He was brash, arrogant, and really needed to be smacked in the mouth. Unfortunately, this interview called for just one character, so there was no Jasmine to help me keep him in check. Which was a shame, really. I could use some backup when dealing with guys like him. It keeps me from killing them.
I spotted him fairly easily. He looks just as I figured he would: slightly overweight, thinning hair, in dire need of a shave. Taller than I expected, though, and much bluer eyes than any man with that Hispanic-sounding of a name should have. Contacts, perhaps? I wouldn’t put it past him.
He looked up as I approached. I almost grabbed a nearby bar stool and hit him right there. I have no idea why, I just did. He had this… smugness about him that I desperately wanted to beat out of him. I mean, seriously. He gives off that “I’m an ass, beat me with a baseball bat” vibe. For once I understand what a Charisma roll of 8 is really like.
“You’re late,” he told me. I looked at my phone, confused.
“No, I’m right on time,” I countered.
“In my line of work, if you’re on time, then Customs gets you. Always be early.”
What a load of crap. I’m being lectured to by my own creation. I seriously need to kill this asshole off.
I joined him in the booth and watched him pound back a shot of bourbon. Cheap bourbon, I’ll add. The man hasn’t found much work lately, and times were lean, even for the most effusive of alcoholics. I ordered water from the passing waitress, who nodded in my direction before sending a scalding look at Vincente. I smiled. Nice to know that I wasn’t the only one who wanted to smash his face in.
“So what did you want to talk to me about?” he asked.
“Well, for starters, tell me about your past.”
“Nothing interesting there.”
I pull out my notepad and look it over. “Considering I have your life story right here, I’d say that you were lying.”
“If you have everything, then why are you bugging me about this stupid interview?”
I swear to God I’m going to break his nose.
“Look, Vincente… I just want to hear it from you. For instance, I have you being married twice. That caused some consternation with me, since I don’t think that was meant to be.”
“Tell me about it. We managed to null that marriage less than ten hours after it happened. Glad that woman agreed.”
“Which woman?” I asked. “Mooney?”
“No, not her,” he growled. “The other.”
“Come on Vincente,” I prodded. “What’s her name?”
“You’re the damned writer, you spoil the sequel.”
He had me there. I hated spoilers. Especially when they were my fault.
“Okay fine. We’ll try talking about something else then. Tell me about your ship.”
For the first time, he takes an extreme interest in the interview. “My ship? She’s beautiful. I converted the interior holds into airtight, individual storage bays and added an armored personnel carrier for those smuggling rendezvous where I might get shot at. She’s got the best communications ‘net on the market, and that includes the black market, and my engineer can get her into skip space with hardly a bump. She’s the real deal. You looking to rent her out?”
“No, not really.” I was sort of confused by his response though. I was pretty sure that he no longer had the Fancy and was, in fact, in the market. But then again, the guy is a born liar.
“A shame. I need the money,” he said as he began to slide out of the booth. I looked at him, surprised.
“Where are you going? I have a few more questions to ask you.”
“Sorry chief, gotta run. My permit’s about to expire and this here rock doesn’t do credit the way they used to. Plus, I think I owe the dockmaster money.”
I watched him walk away and I couldn’t help feeling that I’d gotten the shaft. Sure, he answered a few questions, but this wasn’t what I had been hoping for. I wanted to have my readers get to know him, and instead–
“Here’s his tab, sir,” the waitress slipped me Vincente’s bill as she passed by. “He said you’d take care of it.”
Son of a bitch. I hate that guy.
There are some nice deals going on this week.
Kaiju Apocalypse is currently on sale for only $0.99. This is would be the perfect time to get the first book in the series and try it out and see if it’s up your alley.
Also on sale is Murder World: Kaiju Dawn for only $0.99 as well. You really might want to grab this gem, since it has one of my favorite characters of all time in it. We’re still writing the follow up books to this, but rest assured that the sequel will be out this year.
Come on, what are you waiting for? For less than two bucks you can get two exciting Kaiju novels.
I was looking over my map of Weslande (my fantasy world I’m building around the story of I, Godslayer) and I saw that I had made a massive cathedral made of crystal in the middle of a vast desert. I was sort of surprised (I don’t remember doing it, but I make so many maps I wouldn’t be surprised if I did it while half-asleep) and started thinking about other maps I’ve made over the years. Since I’m a pack rat with regards to notebooks and such (I have almost 80 notebooks with random story ideas, notes, city designs, etc), I figured I’d go check to see how many maps have some sort of crystalline cathedral mentioned. When I got done going through them all, uh… yeah.
Every. Single. One.
Wow. Talk about commitment.
But then I started thinking about my childhood, and what influences subtly guided me to add some sort of cathedral like this. It was pretty obvious in hindsight.
Growing up in group homes, I never had a sort of geographical or architectural “anchor” to a place. 26 groups homes in 7 years will do that to you. But while I bounced around from home to home, there was one home I usually ended back at (albeit for a brief time only). I think I ended up there about 10 times. It was also my first ever “group home”, a place that was (once) called The Albert Sitton Home (funny story: when I first arrived there, I was confused and wasn’t sure what was going on (I’d been yanked from school). When the intake staff told me the name of the place, I got upset. I said “You mean all you do here is sit?!” I was a very literal sort of kid). I don’t remember much about the place the first time I was there except that it was the first time I was really fed well. I also remember being able to look out my dorm window and seeing, faintly, this large glowing tower with a blinking light on top of it.
For a kid who was seriously messed up in the head and nobody offering any sort of explanation (I knew what had happened, and how bad it had hurt, but I thought it happened to every kid and didn’t quite grasp why I was being punished… as I said, things were really messed up back then), this grand tower in the distance offered… an escape? It’s hard to explain. So I dreamed of living on top of the tower and eating whatever I wanted. I could play with whatever toys I wanted and not have them taken away by the other kids and broken. I could play in the sand with little toy soldiers and not have a bunch of vatos pour gasoline on my face because they were bored and the white-looking kid was an easy target.
Basically, I could be safe.
But a funny thing happened as I grew older. I went to another group home, then somewhere else, then went back to Albert Sitton Home. Only now it was the Orangewood Children’s Home, and I couldn’t see the tower from the new building. I could still see the glowing light, which I knew was now a warning light for planes and helicopters. The tower actually had a real name as well (the Crystal Cathedral), but it still held that magical allure for me. That tower always seems to be in land I base a story in (whether I mention it or not) and it always is a place of sanctuary, no matter what I call it or think of it.
I have other influences which color my writings as well (not everyone who is nice to the good guy is a good guy, for example), but the cathedral is by far the most influential.