The man, the myth, the legend.
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So my very first Dragoncon is in the books and I gotta say, with a few exceptions I had the best time of my life.
So without much ado, rewind to 9 days ago…
I was going to leave Wednesday originally but work requirements prevented this from happening. So instead I left the house at something like 0600 with plans on arriving in Atlanta around 1400 that afternoon. However, my roommates were arriving early, so I managed to finagle the Hilton app and get an early checkin time for no extra cost. Score!
The drive was relatively uneventful, for a change. Usually I almost die a few times on the drive to a con, but for some reason I hit almost no traffic until I was just about in downtown Atlanta. However, before then I could see my hotel from about 6 miles out.
I’m not kidding.
The Westin at Peachtree Plaza has something like 70 floors in it, and this was where the four of us were crashing. It was the so-called “quiet” hotel of Dragoncon, which I was thankful for. The Hyatt and Marriott were freaking insane with their parties and whatnot, and I need… space? Quiet? So I checked in and promptly posted a picture to my Instagram account showing the view. And whoa, what a freaking view! I could see everything from there: the stadium where the Atlanta Hawks played, a giant ferris wheel that looked impressive from the ground but puny from my room (40th floor), and lots of buildings everywhere. It’d been years since I’d been in a large metropolis… I forgot just how many people there are in big cities.
So I rolled in and met up with my roommates… sorta. We were mostly ships passing in the night the entire weekend, and while I’m glad we all had our own personal space it would have been nice to hang out with them a little more. Still though, I had fun.
So Thursday evening I was starving and looking for food. Ran into the Internation Lord of Hate, Larry Correia, who hatefully guided me to food where I could divulge in hateful mchatey hate-filled sustenance. Unfortunately, I suck with directions and got lost. I wandered around and discovered the underground food court eventually. The problem was that in order to get to it from my hotel side you had to go down a CVS and then navigate into it. The CVS staff was awesome and were immensely helpful while handling 80,000+ congoers all weekend. Found a terrific Cubano food place and ate like a fiend. Prices were a bit high (a common theme the entire weekend) but the food was delicious (another recurring bit). Finally fed, I found my way up to Speaker’s Speakeasy.
This used to be Barfly Central but this year, since Tedd “Speaker To Lab Animals” Roberts was hosting it in his suite, it was renamed. There I got to meet up with some old friends and make some new ones. For some reason I’m blanking on who was in the room besides Speaker, but it was nice to catch up with them all. From there I headed back to the Westin, where I ran into David Weber and his awesome wife, Sharon. David was recovering from a fall and was kind of doped up on pain meds, courtesy of a broken nose and some stitches. From there I briefly met up with my publisher and friend, Chris Kennedy, who was in the bar holding court. Surrounding him were some of his authors, including Mark Wandrey, Kevin Ikenberry and (I think) Jon Osborne. All of them had their spouses in tow.
Question: when I meet my fellow male authors, their spouses always seem to be more attractive and “out of their league”. It seems to be a rule of thumb. Just an odd observation that I’ll probably have people screaming at me in the comments over.
Pooped, I finally crashed around 2300. Friday promised to be a long day and I knew I would need to rest.
I woke up around 0700 Friday morning. Stupid, considering how little I was going to sleep for the rest of the weekend, but still… I tried to be quiet for my roommates (one of them stumbled in at around 0400 or so) and made my way down to the Starbucks in the hotel. Ran into my publisher again and we briefly talked about the sales of Deathlords, Book 3 of the Kin Wars Saga. The book had gone on sale Thursday and reception has been amazing so far. A lot of people have yelled at me for the opening scene of the book, when they received a gut punch that they were not expecting.
We talked briefly about Book 4 and he mentioned that I should be writing in the Four Horsemen Universe, which had been co-created by him and Mark Wandrey. When I reminded him that I’d written in two anthologies, he countered with “novels”. That sort of caught me off guard, since I was already writing a 4HU novel with my old writing buddy Chris Smith.
I then went over to the dealer’s room and found Nerd Mecca. Three floors of vendors, with wares ranging from handmade personalized nerd wall clocks to massive dragon and fairy wings for those searching for that elaborate costume piece. I found kilts as well (didn’t buy one, instead snagged one of a friend’s old ones) and some other really cool gifts, including something for my housesitter. I realized that it was getting close to time for my first panel so I hustled over to the Marriott, where I sat in on The Pen & Sword.
It was a pretty crowded panel and quite a few people were there to listen as myself, Kevin Dockery, Marc Allen Edelheit, and Mark Wandrey spoke about how we armed our protagonists and the pitfalls of dealing with modern and classical weapons. The best example was the classic “safety on a Glock” incident.
From there I headed back up to Speaker’s. Along the way I had to pass through the throngs of partygoers on the main levels of the Hyatt and Marriott. It was plain to see that Dragoncon was officially underway as thousands of cosplayers were out showing off their costumes. There was everything from inflatible dinosaurs to a woman in a walker cargo lift from Aliens. It was amazing.
I went back down to the Fantasy Gathering panel, which was more of a room for all of us on the fantasy lit track to sell our books and meet the fans than anything else. There I got to meet Todd McCaffrey again, Quincey Allen, and JoHanna Moresco, one of the violinists from The Cruxshadows. I’m pretty sure I was only at stage 9 of 10 on the blushing level. I sold quite a few books and had a blast. I packed up quickly and headed out at the end, done for the night. I needed sleep, and bad.
Was up at the butt crack of dawn because one of my roommates was in the Dragoncon parade, and I promised to get pictures. I had a special invite up to one of the rooms overlooking the route, so I got to see the parade with no obstructions. While watching the parade I spotted Larry Correia and his wife, Bridget, on a similar balcony practically next door. Lots of waving and facial expressions made (as well as a dance off at one point) made for a fun viewing experience of the parade.
From there I had to hustle because my next panel, Amazons & Assassins, was about to begin. It was a pretty interesting panel, and my first one with both S.M. Stirling and Eric Flint. I didn’t talk much on this one, preferring to listen as two masters of the craft talked about their own writing experiences. After that it was over to the Baen Books Traveling Road Show, where the winner of the Best Military SF Story was announced. My friend Kacey Ezell won for her short story in the Forged in Blood anthology. That was awesome, and then Toni Weisskopf (editor of Baen Books) showed off some of the new books coming out, including the cover for Deathlords, which was pretty damn cool.
Next panel was Stealing from the Past, which was… I don’t know. I actually don’t remember anything about it. Weird. Yeah, Saturday night was a bit of a blur actually. I don’t remember much after the Road Show, though I do know I bought a really cool art piece from the Art Show.
Sunday was fun. I got to do my first of two book signings at the Baen Books booth, which was myself, Mike Massa, and John Ringo. Mike and John cut out a little early due to panels, and Larry Correia showed up a bit early, so I got to hang out with three of my favorite Baen authors. Got to talk up the Black Tide Rising anthology and hand out beads for Baen. Nobody really wanted my signature, which was okay, because I stealth signed the sh*t out of those Baen bead necklaces. 😀 Take that, oppressors!
I’d also made a mistake in not bringing any of my own books with me to sell. I didn’t think I was allowed to do this. My bad.
Then was my Four Horsemen roundtable panel, which featured just about every single 4HU author attended who was there. It was here where I finally came up with a solo 4HU novel (titled Fangmaster, and then also Ortu Luna, the collab with Chris Smith). It was a lot of fun. After that I prepared for the I:scintilla/Cruxshadows concert. That was probably the most fun I had all con, as I got to meet the band afterwards and catch up, since it’d been over 10 years since I last saw them. Got to hear a lot of their newer stuff as well as older songs I was more familiar with. What a great concert.
Monday the con began to wind down. I was on a final panel with some authors and it went okay. Got to meet Cat Rambo at the last panel, which was interesting. From there I went to went back to sign more books at the Baen Books booth. Then it was off to the Dead Dog Party at some restaurant. I forgot the name of the place. It wasn’t horrible but for the prices I was expecting a little more.
Before the Dead Dog Party, however, I was taking the escalator when a con staff volunteer was attempting to go up. He had a large travel bag, a sleeping bag, and looked, well, exhausted. His bag got caught up in the escalator and he tried to dislodge it. In the process of doing so, he lost his balance and fell backwards. It looked like he was stuck on the escalator and it looked like it could get ugly in a hurry, so I tried to help him back up to his feet and off the escalator. He was confused and he fought me a little, trying to continue going up. However, because he was fighting me, he wasn’t getting to his feet, and that was when I decided I needed to move his ass off the escalator, willing or no. I reached under his arms and hauled him off the escalator. He was shorter but bigger than me, so he had a better center of gravity. Unfortunately he had no balance, and fell backwards on top of me as I was getting him off the escalator. He also, incidentally, landed on my wrist and dislocated it.
That hurt like hell. Fortunately we were able to get it back into place and hotel security and staff helped him to his feet. They made him drink water and then started asking him questions. That was when we found out he couldn’t remember when he last ate, slept, or drank water. That is a fail.
Con staff — make certain you get sleep every night, eat twice a day, and shower once. That should keep your wits about you so incidents like this don’t occur. I’m okay but I’m going to have to go to the doctor’s this week to see about damaged ligaments in the wrist because I’m still in a lot of pain. This could have all been avoided if the guy had just gotten some rest.
Tuesday morning I shoved off for home. Along the way I stopped to have lunch with David Weber and Sharon, and catch up on how David was doing (sore). Eventually I got home and passed out.
For my first Dragoncon, it was pretty smooth. The Fantasy Lit track (where I spent most of my time) was run very well and, outside of a few tech issues with the mics, there weren’t any problems. I was asked if I was coming back next year. I said yes, of course, though I failed in procuring a room so far.
Getting a room for Dragoncon is akin to the Hunger Games — may the odds be ever in your favor.
I swear, I look down, get back to writing, look back up… and it’s almost been a month since an update.
How does time do this to me?
Well, this week I had not one but TWO cover reveals occur. The first one is the one that everybody has been waiting for, and HOLY CRAP it is beautiful! Here is Deathlords, Book 3 of the Kin Wars Saga.
Nice, isn’t it? Bonus quiz: can you identify the planet from the series that the suit is protecting?
Then, on Thursday another publisher released the final cover of Sha’Daa: Toys, the (from what I hear) final anthology in the Sha’Daa universe. This one will actually be out in a few weeks, but the cover is downright creepy.
They both are great, and shows once more while I will continue to support small press publishers. Both teams I work with are amazing people who put all their efforts into producing quality workmanship. I can’t ask for better people to write for.
Yes, the title is correct. Darkling is now live and available over on Amazon. I’m super excited about this. How excited? So excited I’m going to be running a giveaway for a copy of Wraithkin, Darkling, and Kraken Mare, all autographed. All you need to do is Tweet it, tag me in it (@warpcordova), and voila! one entry. You can also tag me on instagram @warpcordova to show me your share for a SECOND entry! Want to enter a third time? Post a screenshot of you sharing a link of the book over on any other site like Facebook or MeWe and I’ll add in your names. Contest starts TODAY and will end at 11:59PM EST Sunday. Winner will be randomly selected at 8:00PM on Wednesday, April 18.
Good luck, my Kinions!
Awww yeah, it’s that time once again to reveal the latest book cover. This is Darkling, the sequel to Wraithkin, and Book 2 of the Kin Wars Saga.
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.
Before you freak out and grab your pitchforks, I’m hard at work on Murder World: Kaiju Dusk. Really, I am. It’s coming along nicely, and I think everyone will be pleased to know that Captain Vincente and his crew is back for a second round. Eric and I should have this novel done by the end of July. In the meantime, you can still pick up a copy of Murder World: Kaiju Dawn on Kindle for a mere $0.99. That’s way less than a cup of coffee, and less than a reprocessed cheese and “pink stuff” burger from a fast food restaurant. So pick up a copy of the book instead of another greasy cheeseburger. Your intestines will thank you.
That was a short pitch. Huh. Maybe I should try to offer something more? Ehh…. no, I think that’s good. A $0.99 book. Yeah. Good enough.
Yesterday I had this wonderful 1800 word update ready to go up and I promptly deleted it all by pushing the wrong button. Since I don’t type up blog posts first on a word document, then paste it here, everything was completely loss. Angered (at myself, because when I go dumbass, I don’t do it by halves) I went ahead and just said “Screw it” and went to play World of Tanks instead. I felt a little better afterwards, but not that much.
Kaiju Apocalypse is doing well on Amazon, though it has slipped a little bit this week. It got into the 4,000’s (overall Kindle books) over the weekend but, since May is jam-packed with new releases from the “Big 5” bigger authors, sales predictably slipped. I hope it gets back on track this weekend, which is the usual time that ebooks see an uptick in sales. Don’t forget, the print version of Kaiju Apocalypse is available now as well. Sure, it’s short, but at least I can sign it.
Speaking of Kaiju Apocalypse, the sequel is currently being written with co-author Eric S. Brown. Right now the title is simply Kaiju Apocalypse 2 (because it’s original, right?) but it should change before we send it in to the publisher. I’m hoping for Kaiju Armageddon , but I doubt I’ll get it. Eric’ll probably name this one, since I named the first Murder World novel.
Oh yes, there will be more books in that series. I’m currently plotting it out while Eric works on KA2. Murder World: Kaiju Dawn was a fun book to write, and I hope that the sequel, Murder World: Kaiju Darkness can top it. After that, who knows? Kaiju books are a lot of fun to write. Who knew that I’d find a nice little niche for me here?
Wraithkin is with the editor. Not sure when that is coming out, but my guess would be end of this year or early next. October 2014 would be amazing, January 2015 would be challenging (sales are usually better before December, and then get better after February). I should probably continue working on Darkling as well (second book of the series). It’s sitting at around 12,000 words (I’ve started with writing Andrew’s scenes first, unlike Wraithkin, which started with Gabriel) and I’m weaving my way through it. Have to be careful how I navigate here, since Darkling is going to be much, much darker and bleaker than Wraithkin could ever hope to be (and considering the crap I pulled on my heroes in the first book, that’s saying something). Eventually (assuming they like Darkling as much as they liked Wraithkin) I’m going to wrap up the initial trilogy with Deathlord.
Yep, I said initial trilogy. You see, while it would be tempting to write a prequel series about how the Dominion of Man came into being, it’s going to be much more fun to cause the entire known galaxy to burst into the flames of war. As I said a long time ago, though the heart of this series is a love story, there is something darker afoot in the undertone of the books. Not entirely sure what (I have three scenarios, and all lead to a “happy ending — of sorts) this is, but it’s there. I can feel it.
Go buy my book! Yes, I have no shame. What, you expected a demure approach to this “selling” thing?
Similar in appearance to Kaiju Apocalypse (but a different universe and story altogether, I promise) here is the rough draft cover for Murder World: Kaiju Dawn. Co-authored with Eric S. Brown again (we make quite the team — this is the third book we’ve collaborated on in the past 8 months), it should see a release over the next few weeks.
First off, I wanted to thank everyone who bought a copy of Kaiju Apocalypse this weekend. Cracking the Top 100 in multiple genres was… well, it blew my mind. The sales are still going (#18,000 or so last I checked… if you bought it, by the way, have you reviewed it yet? That helps even more!), and you can still buy it and cause it to jump in the rankings, but I wanted to thank you for helping make me squee like a Chibi girl seeing Japanese tentacle porn for the first time.
Too much? Too soon?
I’m working on Murder World this afternoon. It’s about… 1/2 to 3/5 finished by my rough estimate (roooooough estimate). I’m still debating throwing something massive in there which would cause it to be a much longer book or not. Eric’s not a fan of the idea, but I can’t seem to shake this image of an Indiana Jones-type of temple, complete with my very own Mola Ram and some very pissed off gods. Just a thought I was toying around with. I may write it up separate and let him decide if he wants it in or not after the fact.
Jason: Surprise! I added a Temple of Doom!
Jason: Yeah, totally! I got multiple gods, a Mola Ram-like dude, and Jasmine’s going to–
Eric: …whatever. We’ll talk later.
Hmm… you know, now that I’ve talked it out with myself, it may not be such a good idea after all. I need to think this one through a tad bit more before I jump the shark here.
Anyways, go buy the book if you haven’t already. Review it if you haven’t already. Do the hokey pokey if you haven’t already.
Hah! That’s what I’m all about.