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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

LC26 AAR


Ah, Libertycon… where sleep goes to die.

As usual, I had a blast at the convention and would like to thank Brandy and Derek Spraker, as well as the rest of the Libertycon staff, for putting on one hell of a con. The food was good (except I forgot to mention my onion allergy, which almost caused a trip to the hospital), the staff was friendly and the atmosphere was mostly fun and friendly.

I rolled into town Thursday around noon and was exhausted. I had worked the night before and, in order to be on a daytime rotation for the weekend, had to stay awake all day Thursday so I could be semi-functioning during the con. For those of you who thought I was angry or distant, I’m sorry. I was just exhausted. I really can’t wait to go back to days so my sleep schedule can be what everyone else’s is. So yeah, Thursday… my room wasn’t ready at noon (not surprised) so I ran into Peggey, who introduced me to her friend Johnny-minion (that’s what the name tag said; don’t judge me), who was tasked with keeping me company while I wandered the hotel grounds like a zombie. He (mostly) kept me out of trouble, and we did lunch at the Brewery next door to the “world famous” Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Note: it’s not so much “world famous” as it is a “Southern thing”. If I’m dropping that much money on a hotel, my room had better not smell like ass.

Anywho, Johnny-minion kept me out of trouble and passed me off to my handler when she arrived with Scott. I stumbled around, I think I ate dinner (I was beyond reasoning at this point) then was served alcohol in Grill Sergeant’s not-quite-a-party room party, where I ran into The Amazing Writing Hoyt’s (Sarah, Robert and Dan– not sure where Marshall was), Michael Z. Williamson, Evil Penguin, and Speaker to Lab Animals (to be known as S2LA from here on out… that’s too much to type). Tried some of Grill Sergeant’s BBQ, which helped clear up that sinus problem (and woke me right the hell up). Ran into Chris (one of my fellow reviewers at Shiny Book Review as well as aspiring author) and generally had a good time. I think I crashed around 10PM, since I wanted to be up early the next morning for my first ever Range Day.

I’ve been coming to Libertycon since 2006 and I have never managed to make it to a Range Day, which is something of a Baen Barfly tradition at LC. Usually it’s because I oversleep but, with my sleep schedule already out of whack, I was wide awake at 7am. Got some breakfast and caught a ride to the range with Chris and Doc, who is going to  be a character in a future book (Doc is a combat medic in the Army, much like my little brother Nick). He’s a really cool guy who also happened to be on a panel with me later that night.

So we do Range Day, shoot a lot of pictures of Zombie Shane, watch Tripp blast away with an AR15 (he pulled the trigger so fast that it sounded like a fully automatic…. and then the kid giggled. That was some scary crap right there), managed to get the nickname “LT” as I, the one with the map, kind of got us lost as we went hunting for food, and finally made it back to the Choo Choo in time to do registration.

I got into the wrong line (naturally) and then proceeded to confuse the hell out of everyone as they tried to figure out who I was. I mean, they “knew” me, but I think the registration people were expecting someone a little… older? Possibly. I still look “youngish” enough to confuse people. Got it all straightened out, grabbed my schedule, and went back to ConSuite to see who else had arrived.

Which was just about everybody.

Too many people to list, but I was especially happy to run into Vonnage and SubDude, who is no longer in the Navy. This means our Havoc Lords series will finally get written. Yes, I’m writing another series. But this one has SCIENCE in it. REAL SCIENCE!

So my first panel was Opening Ceremonies, which is just a basic introduction of the main Guests of Honor. Larry Correia MC’d and did a pretty good job of it. Right after that was my first “real” panel of the weekend, Dreams of Steam: Gadgets and Gizmos.

One of the first things I learned on this panel is that I really don’t “know” steampunk. Oh, I can write about airships (primarily because I treat them as navy vessels that fly), but outside of that, I really never gave much thought to the whole “technology” side of things. To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s steampunk, splatterpunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk… so long as the story is character driven, it’ll sell. I tried to get this across but I don’t think I did a good job communicating it. Hey, I was out of practice — cut me some slack.

I spent the next 45 minutes signing books. Lots and lots of books. Over 100, I think. It seemed like everyone had a copy of Lawyers in Hell, What Scares the Boogeyman?Dreamers in Hell or Sha’Daa: Pawns for me to sign. This was fun, and I plopped my butt on the ground so I could sign without being in the way. I’m glad I have an easy signature. That could have been painful.

I had a few hours to kill after that so I went back to ConSuite and BarFly Central, where one unfortunate individual told me that the food at BFC was for Bar Flies only. He was corrected of this (honest mistake, since I didn’t have a BarFly ribbon) and I got some food, and ran into Larry Correia for the first time.

I did not fanboy. You should be proud.

Also of note: Larry isn’t kidding when he says he’s a big guy. My neck hurt looking up at him, and then his wife is my height, so it was as though I were in the Land of the Giants. He’s a really cool guy, though, and had to run as he had wayyy more panels than I did. I lounged around some, talked with MadMike about some ways to kill zombies (because that was our next panel), and then it was off to my best attended panel of the weekend: Messiest Ways to Kill a Zombie.

I had thought, coming in, that my chemical reaction/explosion would be the winner. Nope. John Ringo wrote about how a tank spun out across a road slicked down with zombie guts. However, I will admit that I liked S2LA’s idea about the pathogens and how to really make things “messy”. The crowd was pretty good and Larry kept everyone in check (even John) and it was probably the most fun I had on a panel all weekend.

Didn’t party much Friday night (was tired) and crashed. Good first day to the con.

Saturday wasn’t as much fun, though, and that was mostly my fault.

BarFly Breakfast was hosted by Quilly Mammoth and his wife Christine, with the donations going to Operation Baen Bulk and Wendi’s Toof Fund. Good food, but I was a bit cranky because I was still tired and managed to find myself over at the Dreamers in Hell Roundtable, which had… zero attendees.

Seriously. Crickets, man. It was a kick in my ego’s nuts. Thankfully, I don’t have much of an ego to start with.

The roundtable turned into business planning meeting as the authors talked about their next story ideas. I mentioned a few ideas I had for Ponce de Leon and talked about Of Woe and Sloth. Other than that, I kept quiet mostly and let them handle the meeting (which is what I suspected I would be doing anyway). Afterwards we did a group photo of the Hellions authors (Susie took some pics, I hope I get to see them soon) and I was off to do my Autograph Session at the Perseid Press table.

Signed a few more books (seriously, where the hell did all these books come from?) and mostly talked to Tom Barczak about how well-behaved his three boys were. Saturdays, for some reason, are usually something I don’t remember afterwards. It’s not because I was trashed (I wasn’t) but mainly because there’s just so much going on that it’s hard to keep track. After my signing I was invited to the first ever Christening at a Libertycon.

Took some amazing pictures (that baby is going to be a linebacker) and got to watch something I’d never seen before. Sitting here now, typing this out, and I realized I’d never seen a Christening before. I didn’t think about it at the time it was occurring (I was taking pictures) but now… wow. To be invited to such an event makes me feel amazing. Honored, even. I’m thankful that the Vanner’s invited me to watch and attend.

After this I needed food. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time before my next panel, Sha’Daa: Pawns and Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse re-release. Two people showed up for this one, and I didn’t really get to talk much about my Sea Dragon vs Navy SEALs fight. I was starting to get a bad feeling about my panel attendance and a noticeable pattern was starting to form. Ugh. Well, at least I have other stuff I can talk about, right?

With that in mind, my next panel, The World of Steampunk Roundtable almost kicked off a fight because, as I admitted earlier, I don’t really know steampunk. I held my tongue as I listened to someone who self-describes himself as a “dick” bitch about how society is horrible and lacks manners and class, which is why he does steampunk. That made little sense at the time and now, two days later, makes no sense at all. I think what he wanted to say (and was afraid of not being “PC”) was that he desired the stronger distinction in classes like there was in the Victorian Era. I may be wrong, but that was my impression.

He also called me “one of those writers” when I admitted that I call my steampunk story “steampunk” because it rolls off the tongue better than “alternate history with varying technologies” or something. *shrug* And? I’ll take my check and cash it either way, TYVM. 🙂

I was extremely grumpy at this point and needed some food, so it was back to the ConSuite for me. I got to drinking (it’s a CON, people… if you don’t drink, you’re either a recovering alcoholic or underage, or found religion) and managed to miss my next panel completely. Uh, oops?

Worst part was? The ConStaff were presenting me with an amazingly kind gift and had a big “roast” planned, and everyone was in on it.

Why didn’t someone tell me to make sure I was AT THAT PANEL?!?! ARGH!

To those of you who planned the party: I am really, really sorry. I don’t think I can express enough just how sorry I am.

Book release party for Dreamers in Hell was next, and the announcement that Iron Clad Press will be publishing my first Tobias Fox novel, Unholy Vengeance, was made. I spent the next five hours hanging out with John Ringo, Miriam, Mel, Grill Sergeant, and various others at poolside. Funny story there…

John (talking to Melanie): Jason’s given you one of my books to read, right?

Melanie: Yeah.

John: Okay, good.

Melanie: Yeah, he had me read Ghost.

John (horrified expression on his face): I am SO sorry! (glares at me)

Me: …I thought it would be funny…

I really did. So did everyone else. Ah well. Afterwards I crashed because, well, I was still tired and the con was starting to kick my butt.

Up early, packed, checked out. Found some food in BFC and prepared for my last three panels of the weekend. What’s New in Horror moderated by Larry Correia, and I had a lot of fun on this panel. Talked about the various projects we were working on as well as the stuff in horror we all liked, including I Am Not A Serial Killer. Good conversation and the time really flew here.

Bought some shirts, saw Melanie and Scott off, and got to hang around for a few more hours with Larry at the Dead Dog Party. Shared my story about how I accidentally insulted Niven and Pournelle (long story) and got to share the SEAL mission from hell with a few friends (SubDude was extremely helpful, since his memory is better than mine and the story will be showing up in one of the Havok Lords books later). Talked a bit with Robert Hoyt (creator of Ninja Nun, of which I am a HUGE fan) and caught up with a few other people.

I will admit, the drive home last night was scary. I had to stop somewhere in southern Kentucky because I was too tired to drive and managed a nap. Got home around 4 AM and promptly crashed.

Overall, the con was a blast as always. I can’t wait until next year and I hope I can go.

Dreamers in Hell Available


Dreamers in Helis now available for Kindle over at Amazon. The print version should be up within 24 hours (if, like me, that’s what you prefer). I’m pretty certain that if you order by the end of the week, you’ll have it in your hands in time to get 13 of the authors to sign it at Libertycon this year. I know I’ll sign it.

Plus, look at the gorgeous cover. GORGEOUS. You want it. You need it. You crave it.

Dreamers in Hell

No Review, No Problem


I was set to review John Ringo’s Tiger by the Tail today and… I couldn’t. I literally had such a bad review mentally written that I couldn’t bring myself to actually do it. I know the Paladin of Shadows is a really “silly” series (okay, Ghost is… the others following weren’t that bad), but Tiger by the Tail takes the absurdity to an entirely different level.

I need to get it done this week, though. I don’t think I’m going to be able to get through Kevin J. Anderson’s Hidden EmpireIt’s very, very dull. And if I don’t finish a book, I don’t review it. Pretty simple, really.

I also am in the midst of writing this… rant is the only thing I can really call it. It’s a race-based thing, so it should be pretty volatile. The downside is that a lot of people will be offended, because I (for one) am tired of hearing “well, they’re a minority, so they should get bonus points for apply.”

Really. Hate. This.

Anyway, back to writing. I have to get The Gods Anointed out by June and I really am starting to believe that this piece of fiction has been the toughest thing I’ve ever tried to write.

The Next Big Thing


I’ve seen this going around other blogs but didn’t really pay too much attention to it until I was tagged by Barb Caffrey (hey Barb). Barb recently inked a deal for her novel, Elfy, with one of the publishers I’ve written for (Twilight Times Books). We’re also working on a steampunk/alt history story (I think that’s what it is; it’s moving along slowly and it’s meandering a bit). She does book reviews with me over at Shiny Book Review and is very patient (since I don’t do as many reviews as I used to).

Well, without further ado, let’s get this Next Big Thing started.

Anyway, here are the rules:

  1. Give credit to the person who tagged you
  2. Post the rules for this blog hop
  3. Answer these 10 questions about your current work
  4. Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can go over and meet them.

First I’ll list Larry Atchley, Jr. He writes some pretty fun stories and we are both in Lawyers in Hell.

Second, Scott Oden. He, too, is in Lawyers in Hell but I was far more impressed with his historical fantasy stuff, primarily The Lion of Cairo, which I reviewed over at SBR once upon a time.

Third, Rusty Fisher. Zombie guy. He writes some fascinatingly fun stuff and, well, yeah. Zombies. Lots of ’em.

Fourth, Michael H. Hanson. He’s my editor for the Sha’Daa Pawns anthology and all-around nice guy.

Lastly, Sarah A. Hoyt. Because I can (and she’s been tagged in this already, I’m certain).

Oh, bonus person: Dean Wesley Smith. Indy publishing guru and brilliant writer. Smart, funny and capable. I read his blog for a lot of advice, plus he’s married to the dynamic Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Lucky guy.

Now let’s get the next part of this started.

What is the working title of your book? Wraithkin (I’m going with the one that’s furthest along and not finished)

Where did the idea come from for your book? Oddly enough, the SF movie Gattaca. I found myself finding holes in the society’s rules and quickly realized I had a novel in the works. Throw in a parliamentary monarchy, a brewing civil war and an alien invasion and you’ve got one crazy book.

What genre does your book fall under? Science fiction

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version? This one is easy, because I have their pictures next to their bios on my profile building file. Allesandro Juliani would play Gabriel, the star of the book. Other primary characters would be Ryan Reynolds as his best friend, Esau; Gabriel’s love interest would be played by Tina Benko, and his enemy/ally Joshua would be played by Dominic Purcell. One of my favorite secondary characters, Sergeant Griffin, would be played by Duane “The Rock” Johnson, because he’s the only actor big enough.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Once everything is taken away from you, how far would you go to take it all back? I’m a sucker for a mysterious one-liner.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Probably neither. The publisher I want putting this book out accepts unagented solicitations, which gives me some leeway.

How long did it take you to write your book? Well, this is rewrite #4, so about three years now. It originally was written in a year, but various changes, plot shifts, characters being introduced and deleted, has left it far fuller than ever. And I still have two more edits to go.

What other books would you compare this to within your genre? I’d probably guess Armor by John Steakley, A Hymn Before Battle by John Ringo and maybe Old Man’s War by John Scalzi, merely because of the military SF element involved. At heart, though, this is a love story.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? As I said, a movie. But to expand upon that, I found myself asking what would happen when society has determined that people with genetic defects do not meet their needs, and are taxed into serfdom and chemically castrated so that they can no longer taint the rest of their perfect society. The illusion of perfection — I call them “Imperfects” and “Perfects” — is what drives this plot.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Wow, uh…. it’s very intense. I’ve tried to delve into the mind of a damaged warrior who is out searching for the one he loves most, and the path of destruction he leaves in his wake as he tries to find her. Also, people interested in good old stories of loyalty, friendship, honor.

Okay, so today’s Next Big Thing is done. Hope you enjoyed it.