This one time at Writer's Camp…
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.
Between being deathly ill, work, and basketball, I have been unable to accomplish much lately.
First, the bad. I had pneumonia. It was bad enough to absolutely level me for over two weeks and I’m still not 100% better. However, I felt well enough to return to work (albeit in a limited capacity) so there is that. Basically, my stress levels were too high and my immune system was compromised due to this. I’m getting better, though.
The better? Basketball season is going well. My guys played their hearts out last night and won, improving our record to 3-7 on the season. Considering this is being considered a “rebuilding” year, I think we’re looking good thus far.
The best? Wraithkin will be out this Friday, Dec 16. Oh yeah.
And yes, I even got a promo blurb from the International Lord of Hate. That’s some shenaniganning right there (totally a word, shaddup).
It’s cover reveal day here and I am pleased to show off the cover for Wraithkin, Book 1 of a brand new series. Look at the texture, the color, the gorgeousness…
…you want to see it now, don’t you? Fine, I’ll quit yammering about it.
I feel like I just updated the site and yet it’s almost been a month since my last post. Wow…
I’m having a HUGE cover reveal here on Friday, November 18th. There will be dozens of people here to celebrate the cover reveal of Wraithkin, which is an absolutely GORGEOUS cover. It’s my first “solo” book in a while but also one that I’ve worked the longest on. I’m really looking forward to it.
Basketball season started off with a bang. We won our first game 62-37 while on the road. Next up is a tournament this coming weekend down in Christiansburg.
Release date for Michael Z Williamson’s Forged in Blood anthology, which is set in his FREEHOLD universe and features my short story Magnum Opus. It’s going to be a late 2017 release, September 5 to be precise. Might want to go ahead and preorder this bad boy now so you don’t forget later. It features some awesome authors like Larry Correia, Sara Hoyt, Kacey Ezell, Michael Massa, Tony Daniel, Tom Kratman, and Peter Grant. I was actually surprised to be invited in, and then thrilled to find out that I was writing about a character who was already canon in the series.
Other than that it’s been work, work, and work. Christmas is always crazy at work apparently, and we start our planning for it early. I mean, I’m knocking almost all of my Christmas shopping out this week.
I haven’t even massacred a turkey yet, dang it.
So the past two weeks have been very exciting.
First off, there’s a cover reveal for the next Baen Books anthology that I’m a part of. Forged in Blood, which is edited by Michael Z. Williamson and set in his Freehold universe, features my short story Magnum Opus, which is the story of Rowan Moran, an Operative before The War. It’s exciting, fast-paced, and a little sad. Personally I love it and can’t wait for people to read it.
Next is news that is even more exciting. I signed a contract with Theogony Publishing for WRAITHKIN, the first book in the yet-untitled trilogy set within the Dominion of Man. I’ve been working on this series for years and it is extremely nice to see it finally coming to fruition. They also have options for the sequels, DARKLINGS, and DEATHLORDS. I’m super thrilled to be working with the publisher and I’m looking forward to selling a TON of books with them.
Basketball season has started and my team is… not bad. We are definitely a lock-down defensive team that most teams hate to play, and I have a few big men who can dominate a game. In my head it reminds me a bit of the 80’s era Pistons. Our season starts at the home court of one of the top ranked high school teams in the state, which should be a good barometer of how well we’ll be the rest of the season.
This year started out crappy but has gotten progressively better.
Life has a way of grabbing you by the… nose and not letting go sometimes.
I’ve been deep in Darkling the past month, adding to it whenever I can and trying to get this book done by Christmas. I have a plan for Christmas and I’m trying to see if it will happen. It’s a “plan” inasmuch as a goal, really. Or a deadline for myself and others. I don’t know how else to explain it without explaining it in too much detail.
You see, Wraithkin is in the hands of both potential publisher and potential agent right now. Why the agent, you may ask? Well, primarily because I have a feeling that if Wraithkin gets picked up then I’m going to need one for the ensuing books of the series. But since I also am looking at indie publishing right now for the series potentially, I’m trying to get a feel for how this is going to work out in the long run. Gains versus losses and whatnot.
Plus, work has been hectic and basketball season is upon us, making my writing time lessen even further. I don’t have any free time right now already so this coming winter is going to be… fun? That’s the word, fun.
But then, I chose this and I love all of it, so that must make me a very special individual.
My brain works weird.
I was in the kitchen making dinner (and mentally writing Darkling, the sequel to Wraithkin), and my brain started thinking about my short story in the upcoming FREEHOLD anthology (ed. by Michael Z. Williamson).
There’s a part in the story (Magnum Opus) where it is revealed that my main character is gay. No big deal, he just wanted to be written that way (the four rough drafts that got tossed can affirm this). It was when I was thinking about my character when it dawned on me that I had written two more gay characters in the past as well. The first one was in Corruptor (good luck figuring that one out) and the second is in Wraithkin. The first one wasn’t a huge character, but the second one was a very important part of Wraithkin and was a central figure in the story.
Then my brain took one of those weird turns and I started asking myself “Is that what made him an Imperfect?”
In the “Dominion of Man” series, an Imperfect is a citizen of the Dominion of Man who was born with a genetic imperfection, be it a predisposition to cancer or something more serious, like Down Syndrome or Parkinson’s.
My first thought when I was outlining this series was “Why don’t they abort?” I mean, it’s the simplest and easiest way to ensure that the gene pool stays “pure”, right? I thought about it and decided that because of history, aborting a child (in their eyes) is a horrific thing and not even thought about. I haven’t decided what that event was yet, but it was serious enough for people to not even consider it.
Okay, so no abortions. So how do they ensure that the gene pool stays pure?
Genetic testing came immediately to mind. I figured that they were technologically advanced enough to be able to find any genetic issues by the child’s 3rd birthday. A resulting positive test would result in chemical castration for boys or surgical sterilization for girls to ensure that they cannot have any kids. The parents are also retested for any signs of genetic mutation, as are any other siblings. If another child tests positive, everyone in the family is subjected to what the child went through. Cruel, horrifying, but effective. It’s also why the population of the Dominion is a measly 100 billion spread out across 38 worlds and space stations.
But that got me thinking…
When I got into an argument about homosexuality and sin and whatever with a minister and a lesbian, I was more or less a spectator as the sparks flew between the other two. The minister (First Baptist) was adamant that homosexuality is a sin (we were born (according to dogma), therefor we’re sinners to start, so what’s the big deal?) while the lesbian was pretty much denouncing religion as a bunch of hocus pocus. It finally boiled down to “choice” vs. “design”. That was when I put my two cents in.
“If it’s by design and you have no choice in the manner, and we’re a species who are designed to sin and procreate, wouldn’t homosexuality be a genetic flaw? If is a choice, by your terms wouldn’t that mean that choosing a religion and being gay are both a mental disability?”
Let’s just say that neither party was polite while they started in on me.
I used that lesson in Wraithkin. In that universe, where genetic purity and procreation are sacrament, homosexuality would be considered a genetic flaw and the individual would be removed from the genetic pool through the methods I mentioned earlier.
Horrific? Sure, definitely, without a doubt. Unfeasible? Welllll…..
We’re already creating designer babies, are obsessed with flawless physical bodies, and shun those who are different (be it socio or physio). Our world is already on this path if you look at it with a truly open mind and not let any preconceived notions of individuality or personal rights distort your thought process. Hell, I know I would love to have children who had no physical ailments and were a lot cuter than I.
(Note to self: must find half-Viking, half-Jamaican goddess for procreation purposes only)
I’m hunting for an agent (despite me stating previously that I never needed one. Turns out, I need one)
I’m going to be chronicling my search for it here and at the Mad Genius Club. It will be enlightening and probably stretch across 6-8 months (unless I get very lucky). In the meantime I’m gearing up for basketball season and finishing Darkling and the secret collab project. Meanwhile, the agent hunt has begun. I never wanted an agent but after waiting in a slush pile for almost 2 1/2 years I decided that I wanted to cut to the front of the line. The best way to do that is to have an agent.
So… there we go.
The inaugural Dragon Awards (hosted by Dragoncon, the biggest party for nerds in the entire southeastern U.S.) went off smashingly. I can’t wait for them to release the results numbers so we can see just how many people actually voted. I’m going to throw out a number and say… hmm… 10,000. While that may seem like a high number, I’m guestimating and lowballing the potential voters by comparing them to the Hugo Awards and Worldcon 2016.
Worldcon had 7,338 members (supporting and attending) and 2,903 voters for the Hugo Awards in 2016. That’s roughly 39.56% of members voting.
Dragoncon had 75,000+ attendees this 2016, but I seriously doubt the voter turnout was equivalent to the Worldcon voting participation. I dropped about 20% of the prospective votes due to general apathy to awards on a whole by Dragoncon attendees, guessing that the amount of Dragon Award voters was about a measly 17%. That would make the vote total about… uhh… math sucks… I write books not equations… 11,250. This number is probably high, but still… that’s a hell of a lot of votes.
I’ll be honest. I did not nominate anyone for the Dragon Award. Not because I didn’t feel any books weren’t deserving, but because I’d read about 450+ books so far this year, so I felt limited in what I could nominate because my options were too numerous. So I decided to wait and see who the nominees were and then vote.
So what I’ll do is post my pick in italics, and the winner in bold.
- Best Science Fiction Novel:
my pick — Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
winner — Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm, John C. Wright (Castalia House)
Thoughts: This was a tough category, because I thought both books had solid merits. I went with Charles as my winner due to past experiences working with him in Eric Flint’s 1632 universe. Still, Wright’s work is top-notch and there is no shame in losing out to him.
- Best Fantasy Novel:
my pick — Son of the Black Sword, Larry Correia (Baen)
winner — Son of the Black Sword, Larry Correia (Baen)
Thoughts: I had pegged this book back when it first came out as Larry’s best work to date. I never really imagined him as a high fantasy author, and this book blew any preconceived notions of Larry being a “monsters and guns” guy away. This is one of the rare fantasy books I’ve reread multiple times where the authors name on the cover isn’t Weis or Hickman. Plus, while I love Butcher, I just didn’t feel the same about this new steampunk series as I did his Codex Alera one.
- Best YA/ Middle School Novel
my pick — Changeling’s Island, Dave Freer (Baen)
winner — The Shepard’s Crown, Terry Pratchett (Harper)
Thoughts: no shame here. Pratchett is the greatest, and even though I secretly hoped that Freer could pull off the upset, I knew deep down that Pratchett had this one locked up. If Freer hadn’t been nominated, my vote would have gone to Alethea Kontis’ “Trix and Faerie Queen”. I don’t do YA/teen romance normally but Kontis is a terrific writer who makes “the kissy parts” not too over the top. 😛
- Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
my pick — Hell’s Foundations Quiver, David Weber (Tor)
winner — Hell’s Foundations Quiver, David Weber (Tor)
Thoughts: Not a huge surprise here, though Django Wexler’s “The Price of Valor” was pretty good. Matched up against Weber’s SF/Fantasy mashup, though, it pales in comparison. This series is better than Weber’s Honor Harrington one.
- Best Alternate History Novel
my pick — Germanica, Robert Conroy (Baen)
winner — League of Dragons, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
Thoughts: For a voter, this category sucked. I had to choose between Novik, two separate 1632 novels, and Robert Conroy’s “Germanica”. There was no way I could put one above the other, so I pretty much dismissed the 1632 novels out of hand due to what I termed in my head a “vote split”, leaving “League of Dragons” and “Germanica”. I then pretty much flipped a coin 13 times (superstitious) and “Germanica” came out on top, 8-5.
Voting in this category, as previously stated, sucked. I hate when the decision is damn near impossible.
- Best Apocalyptic Novel
my pick — A Time to Die, Mark Wandrey (Henchman)
winner — Ctrl Alt Revolt!, Nick Cole (Castalia House)
Thoughts: I have a vested interest in seeing a good friend win, so I picked Wandrey over Cole, even though I enjoyed both books equally. Considering how little press or push there was behind Wandrey’s latest, I was proud of how well he did to even make the short list. Cole’s novel was a tremendous piece of work and I’m glad that it was picked up.
- Best Horror Novel
my pick — Honor at Stake, Declan Finn (Caliburn)
winner — Souldancer, Brian Niemeier (self-published)
Thoughts: This is the only category where I disagree with the process, primarily because I felt that “Souldancer” should have been in the Best Fantasy list. Still though, Niemeier’s “Souldancer” was an amazing (if slow-paced) work. I felt that “Honor at Stake” should have won, but I can’t fault them for sticking Souldancer in this category. It’s a weird freaking book!
- Best Comic Book
my pick — Daredevil
winner — Ms Marvel
Thoughts: I don’t really have an opinion on this one, because the most recent Daredevil is the only comic I’d read of those on the short list. Can’t vote for something I hadn’t read.
- Best Graphic Novel
my pick — The Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman (Vertigo)
winner — The Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman (Vertigo)
Thoughts: This one was a no brainer. An excellent book that is part of an excellent universe. I only wish that Gaiman wrote faster.
- Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
my pick — The Flash (CW)
winner — Game of Thrones (HBO)
Thought: Penis! Floppy Penis! God damn you, Trey Parker! I can NEVER get that South Park song out of my head whenever I hear the GoT theme song come on and it’s ALL YOUR FAULT!
In all seriousness, Dragoncon was made for something like Game of Thrones. I love The Flash, though, and with the series setting up the FlashPoint universe, the writing and series is going to be headed in a new and exciting direction. Unlike Game of Thrones, where it seems to be a long and predictable chess game where it’s Daenerys/Snow vs the White Walkers for control of the Seven Kingdoms.
- Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
my pick — Deadpool
winner — The Martian
Thoughts: I knew The Martian was going to win, so my Deadpool vote was a defiant vote in the face of conformity or some crap. I would have LOVED to see the hundreds of Deadpools at Dragoncon race up there to accept “their” award. Alas, it was not meant to be. A terrific movie beat out a hilariously fun one.
I don’t remember any of the games I voted for, which is a bad sign. I might have missed them.
So thoughts? How did your vote compare to the winners? Any surprises?
So I’m finally caught up at work and have some free time so I can update the dang site. Not that there is a lot too update, other than being forced to buy a new car. Yeah, I bought a new car because the old one got totaled.
No worries, no serious injuries, but damn it I wanted to save money right now!
Got wind that the Freehold anthology coming out from Baen Books has been placed in the queue, which means anywhere from 12-18 months until release. Even though I’ve been published many times before, this is my official second “professional” sale. Doesn’t matter how much money the Kaiju books have made me because those evidently aren’t pro sales.
Who knew, right?
Still writing, but the pace has been increasing. The sacrifice I made to increase my production rate, though has been this site. So I have a legitimate excuse for not updating the site.
But I was told that if I needed more money that I should just write faster. I countered with the argument that I could get my supporters to pay me through a Patreon, like a monthly thing.
I was then reminded that I’m not that popular yet, so the amount from that might fuel my caffeine addiction. Might.
So LC29 is in the books and I for one had a blast. I got to meet more people (always fun) and talk with some of the biggest names in the field (always productive). I got to work out the details of a new project with coauthor Christopher L. Smith and watch an old friend and gaming buddy ink a book deal with Baen Books (he’s collaborating with John Ringo on a Black Tide Rising novel).
So to start…
The drive down to Chattanooga was intense for all the wrong reasons. There was a deluge of rain for most of the drive, and then there was one hell of a detour to get around a wreck that would have delayed me by about 4 hours. But in the end it was worth it because I was finally at LIBERTYCON!
I didn’t need to check in to the hotel because I was rooming with Gerry and Jasmine this year and they had beaten me down there by about 15 minutes. So I was able to throw my stuff into the train car, give both of them huge hugs (and scaring Gerry by hoisting him off the ground) and then running out to explore and see if I could run into any old friends.
I found Matt at registration with his head down and finalizing last-minute details (I heard registration ran well, as always, and now we know why — Matt gets there days early to prepare) and ran into Rich Groller, who is the Programming Director at LC as well as a writer who has been in a few of the same anthologies as me. He was able to get me my registration and swag bag early (perks of knowing Important People). From there I wandered around and bumped into more people I sorta remembered, and then got into contact with Doug Dandridge and Larry Southard for our annual Thursday pizza run. If you are ever in Chattanooga, go try Lupi’s Pizza Pies. They are amazing.
Dinner managed, we made it back to the hotel and ran into a few authors I kinda-sorta knew. Again, names escape me at the moment, but they were really nice people. I missed the Hoyt room party (partly because I thought I wasn’t invited for some reason) and found my way over to the Grill Sergeant’s room, where there was whiskey and drinks to be had.
Note: I typically dislike whiskey. Not my preferred drink. Bad incident when I was much younger and more foolish.
After bidding the Grill Sergeant adieu, we ran into John Ringo. We hung out with him for a bit out on his room balcony before calling it a night. We all were pooped and there was no reason whatsoever to kill ourselves before the con had even started.
Friday was a bit of a blur in the morning. We had breakfast in the hotel and I decided I wasn’t going to Range Day, since it was over an hour away. Instead I wandered around and found more people. Vonnage and Subdude got hugs, and there were plenty of “Crap, I forgot to email you!” going around but all in all, it was nice to catch up before the con officially started. Though opening ceremonies weren’t until 5 p.m., I had a panel at 3 p.m. More appropriately, I had a reading.
I hate readings. I don’t like the way my voice sounds. Plus, I was doing a “Four Horsemen of the Baen-ocalypse” reading with fellow newbie Baen authors Kacey Ezell, Christopher L. Smith, and Michael Massa. They all sound eloquent and have good readings voices while I always sound like I have sinus congestion and have snorted two lines of coke while playing with a helium tank.
I’m not kidding.
It went rather well and we even had John Ringo show up to the reading (more to steal Massa away; more on that later) and the people who attended had a lot of fun. I got to read one of my favorite verses from Kraken Mare, which was a scene that was mostly written by my co-author Chris. He, in turn, actually read from a short story coming out later this year in an anthology.
Once the reading was done I made my way over to the Consuite and began my usual food hunt. Unfortunately for me, most of what they had contained onions, and I hate being stuffy and congested, so dinner plans were made. Then it occurred to all of us that I had a 2 hour signing starting at 7 p.m. in the Author’s Alley and I wouldn’t be able to go and make it back in time. I had jerky for dinner with some gatorade (healthy, right?) and then grabbed my books and headed over to the Author’s Alley.
I’ll be absolutely honest here. I expected to sell maybe 5 to 7 books, which looked about what everyone else was selling. What I did not expect was to sell every single copy I had. It seemed that I always had someone in line wanting to buy a copy of Kraken Mare. I even managed to sell all of my copies of Murder World: Kaiju Dawn, and signed a few copies of Corruptor that people had purchased from inside the dealer’s room. I was completely cleaned out in a short order and walked out of there happy and shocked.
After that I was floating on Cloud 9 the rest of the night. I don’t even remember what room parties I hit that night except that I knew I was babbling like an idiot. In all the years I’ve been at Libertycon I have never sold out of all my books. It was an amazing feeling.
Saturday started off with a 10 a.m. panel (seriously, who the hell schedules me for panels before noon?) and Chris and I did our usual “drive the moderator nuts” shtick. Fortunately our publisher was the Moderator (or perhaps that should be “unfortunately”?) and she took it in stride. Alas, I didn’t have time to eat much (see also, 10 a.m. is too goram early for panels) and I had to rush over to the Bloodmobile to donate my blood again to the friendly neighborhood
vampires blood bank.This year I did this thing called the ALYX donation which doubles the red cell donation while using less actual blood. Takes about 25 minutes instead of the usual 10 but hey, why not? Donated, got a t-shirt (woot!) and a cookie before heading back out to attend the Baen Traveling Road Show.
If you’ve ever wanted to score free Baen loot at a con, the Traveling Road Show is the best way to do it. They were handing out books galore there and it was neat to hear the authors talk about their covers for upcoming releases. I left early (nobody told me to stay) and found out later that they had all the Black Tide Rising authors come up and be recognized.
Later that night I attended the Baen Author dinner, which is always a tremendous honor. I had a panic attack while there though, since it was too crowded in a tiny little space. Thanks to Toni and the others who recognized what I was going through and gave me some space. I also have to thank Larry Correia for shifting the topic over to videogames, which allowed me to re-engage and not feel like a complete and utter reject. We geeked out on World of Tanks for over an hour and I casually mentioned to him that people would pay to watch him livestream his World of Tanks addiction. He didn’t really believe me until I told him that people paid me to stream my gaming. I told him that if I could make money, he could make a ton more.
Evil capitalism at its absolute best.
Hit up some room parties when I got back to the hotel, including the MoonDream Press release party for the latest anthology. Ended up over at John Ringo’s room again (seriously, it’s like I’m looking for someone and end up there, then I can never leave). Hung out for a bit before I decided to walk around some more before going to bed.
Sunday I found out that I had won two auction pieces. One was from Paul Bielaczyc and was an official Wheel of Time piece (The Prince of Ravens), and the other was a simple Oriental-style art piece (A Study in Shading) by a young new artist named Neko San (I know her real name but Neko San is her professional name, so I’ll go by that). I really enjoyed both pieces and now both are proudly mounted in the office. I also got to attend my final panel of the con: the Black Tide Rising roundtable.
Funny story: John Ringo pulled me aside and mentioned that he had not even read my story before the book was in print, so he had been a bit surprised when people were telling him how much that they enjoyed the Louvre story and the heist. He conferred with Gary Poole (the collaborator with John on this project) and was told that yes, Gary had indeed sent my story to John for approval.
I know John didn’t read it because the look on his face when I mentioned that Folsom Duncan was a character in the story was absolutely priceless…
Con wrapped up after this, though I did sign (what felt like) a few hundred copies of Black Tide Rising. A few times I signed on Chris Smith’s name just to screw with my buddy (you’re welcome!) but at the end my hand was cramping. Then it was on to Closing Ceremonies and then the Dead Dog Party.
However, before I went to the Dead Dog Party I was invited to go out to eat with Tedd “Speaker to Lab Animals” Roberts at a Brazilian steakhouse. I had never been before so I agreed.
Holy. Mother. Of. God. I don’t think I’ve had that much meat stuffed into me in my life. Doc and I were absolutely murder-facing the meat they were bringing by and shouting out our battle cries for more food once we tore apart the fleshy goodness. More than once did we get disgusted looks from people around the restaurant, who were appalled at out meat intake. PROTEIN, DAMN IT!
(BTW… meat sweats is a thing, and you should ask Larry just how pleasant they can be)
Monday morning we all woke up late and checked out of the hotel. I’m already missing my con family and can only feel that Heaven must be an eternal convention. Made it home late last night after picking up Odin from the dog sitter (the cats don’t need a cat sitter, just ask them) and lounged for a bit before going to bed. Received an invite to be a guest at two cons but I’m already committed for one on the same weekend so I declined, while the other is a local con here in town that is within walking distance of my house. I’m going to that one.
I miss you already, Libertycon. Best thing of all? Next year will be Libertycon XXX: The Dirty Thirty Edition. They have “Oh, John Ringo, No!” as their special 30th anniversary Literary guest and Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid!!!!) as their Literary Guest of Honor.