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Just Your Average Everyday Friday

My post over at the Mad Genius Club is now live. I went to an interesting place during my thought process and delved into sociological change throughout history. I probably could have written about 4,000 more words on the topic but I have a book due.

I finished Best Laid Plans last night and managed to get it in to the editor with 90 minutes to spare. I normally don’t cut deadlines that close, but yeah, it was touch and go there for awhile. Heard back some positive comments of Chosen of the Red God and that makes me happy. Now, to finish Kraken Mare before Libertycon rolls around.

I also got The Rise of the Automated Aristocrats in the mail a few days ago, the advanced reader copy of Mark Hodder’s final novel in his Spring-Heeled Jack series. I’m interested in seeing how he ties this series up. I’ve enjoyed it immensely, even though I haven’t reviewed any of the books over at Shiny Book Review. Part of it was that another reviewer was supposed to review them, and never gave me back the books when she decided not to. Another is that I just haven’t had the time lately, as evidenced by my barely making my deadlines.

Hugo voting is now open. I’m sending Murder World: Kaiju Dawn and Hill 142 for the voter packet. Since they are two of my favorite things that were published in 2014 I figured they would both be good representatives of my writing style. I just have to remember to do it this weekend. I’ve been forgetting dates and such lately since my new daytime job has been slowly devouring my usual writing time.

I really want to go see Age of Ultron tonight but I have an early day tomorrow. Maybe I can go Sunday? I don’t know. We’ll see.


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.

Uncle Timmy and the Thought Police

I’m going to tell you a little story about a good man who has been slandered and libeled by one individual who is hiding behind the anonymity of the Internets. That good man? Tim “Uncle Timmy” Bolgeo.

You see, a pathetic troll whose name I’m not going to bother typing (because it’s a nickname that the individual hides behind because they’re afraid of owning up to their actions) has, after taking random snippets of conversations and tacky jokes that Uncle Timmy publishes on something called “The Revenge”, managed to get Uncle Timmy uninvited from Archon this year. Archon, apparently, is “listening to the fans” (the one who has slandered and committed libel, but we won’t get into that at the moment) and decided that it was in their best interest to not have Uncle Timmy as their Fan Guest of Honor this year.

Let’s ignore, for the moment, the forty years that Uncle Timmy has dedicated to fandom in the South and Midwest. Let’s forget that he started and ran Libertycon for 25 years, which is one of the more popular “small cons” around. Let’s ignore the fact that the man is extremely smart and is an engineer who has a sterling reputation (except when he’s playing spades. He’s a jerk when he plays spades). Heck, let’s even ignore the fact that Uncle Timmy is an old, fat white dude who started a scholarship for a fan and friend (a black man) after he died tragically while trying to help someone.

Oh, wait. No. Not only no, but hell no. All these facts are pertinent to the lie being spread that Uncle Timmy is one big old Southern racist redneck who hates science.

The thing is, Uncle Timmy refuses to be PC. And that, apparently, is a huge thought crime. His jokes in The Revenge hold no punches, and the jokes he relays (a lot of them are mailed in or suggested) are not always tactful. But the thing is, in The Revenge, nobody is safe. Uptight white businessman? White teen with purple hair? Blonde businesswoman? Doesn’t matter, all are fair game. As it should be, quite frankly. Because the jokes wouldn’t be so funny if he focused on one particular subject (trust me, the old fat white redneck jokes get old after the 80th one).

So… yeah. Is Uncle Timmy a racist who hates science? God, I hope not. Otherwise, he’s a brilliant actor who should’ve been winning Oscars for years.

The reason I am coming to his defense so vociferously (ah hell, biracial man with a vocabulary is rolling up his sleeves) is that back when I was first starting out on the convention scene, not a single con wanted this no-name biracial guy who wrote a book as a guest. Not a one. Cons who pride themselves for their “diversity” told me to kindly “piss off”. Cons that I lived less than five minutes to wanted nothing to do with a local author. Cons who are always claiming to want to showcase new and upcoming authors wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole.

Then I got this email from Uncle Timmy and his daughter, Brandi Spraker, completely out of the blue. They’d heard about me through Travis S. “Doc” Taylor and wondered if I would be up to being a guest at Libertycon. I was thrilled. I was also confused, because after asking around, I’d heard that only “Baen authors” wanted anything to do with Libertycon. Which didn’t bother me much, because I enjoy almost all of the authors in Baen’s stable. Eric Flint, Charles Gannon, David Weber… all of them I’ve read, and all of them I enjoy. So I accepted and flew across the country to be a guest. And you know what?

I’ve never felt so welcomed at a convention as I was at that Libertycon. That’s even taking into account that the fans got me so trashed that I don’t really remember any of the panels (except the one that I yelled at John Ringo because of… something about aliens, humanity and sex? I forget). I promised I would return the following year, and I did (which resulted in a trip to the ER that is rather embarrassing). Of all the cons I’ve been to, Libertycon has, quite possibly, the best memories associated with it. And it made other cons easier for me, since the fans who go to Libertycon oftentimes attend other regional cons as well. They, in turn, have gotten me into other cons. And all this was possible thanks to Uncle Timmy.

What the Archon convention committee decides is, in the end, up to them. But before they listen to one lying individual who seems to have a vendetta, perhaps they should ask around and see just who Uncle Timmy really is. They may be surprised to find that Uncle Timmy is a well-respected and well-liked person who has helped thousands, if not tens of thousands, of authors and fans over the years.

But fortunately for me, due to their decision, they’ve helped me cull the list of potential conventions I will be attending in the future.


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