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Tag Archives: military sf

2018 Dragoncon AAR (and long awaited update)


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 Fangmasterand then also Ortu Lunathe 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.

 

Cover Reveal


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.

Darkling.jpg

Meet the Character — Vincente Huerta


(I was tagged in this by Amanda S. Green. She introduced her favorite character, Ashlyn Shaw, star of Vengeance From Ashes, here.)

As I walked into the bar, I began to wonder just what the hell I was getting myself into this time. Sure, I’m the author, and I create these people, but some of them seem to be able to slip the reins and run around without proper supervision. Vincente Huerta, the main character from Murder World: Kaiju Dawn, ship captain, smuggler, and all around pain in the ass, was one of those characters. He was brash, arrogant, and really needed to be smacked in the mouth. Unfortunately, this interview called for just one character, so there was no Jasmine to help me keep him in check. Which was a shame, really. I could use some backup when dealing with guys like him. It keeps me from killing them.

I spotted him fairly easily. He looks just as I figured he would: slightly overweight, thinning hair, in dire need of a shave. Taller than I expected, though, and much bluer eyes than any man with that Hispanic-sounding of a name should have. Contacts, perhaps? I wouldn’t put it past him.

He looked up as I approached. I almost grabbed a nearby bar stool and hit him right there. I have no idea why, I just did. He had this… smugness about him that I desperately wanted to beat out of him. I mean, seriously. He gives off that “I’m an ass, beat me with a baseball bat” vibe. For once I understand what a Charisma roll of 8 is really like.

“You’re late,” he told me. I looked at my phone, confused.

“No, I’m right on time,” I countered.

“In my line of work, if you’re on time, then Customs gets you. Always be early.”

What a load of crap. I’m being lectured to by my own creation. I seriously need to kill this asshole off.

I joined him in the booth and watched him pound back a shot of bourbon. Cheap bourbon, I’ll add. The man hasn’t found much work lately, and times were lean, even for the most effusive of alcoholics. I ordered water from the passing waitress, who nodded in my direction before sending a scalding look at Vincente. I smiled. Nice to know that I wasn’t the only one who wanted to smash his face in.

“So what did you want to talk to me about?” he asked.

“Well, for starters, tell me about your past.”

“Nothing interesting there.”

I pull out my notepad and look it over. “Considering I have your life story right here, I’d say that you were lying.”

“If you have everything, then why are you bugging me about this stupid interview?”

I swear to God I’m going to break his nose.

“Look, Vincente… I just want to hear it from you. For instance, I have you being married twice. That caused some consternation with me, since I don’t think that was meant to be.”

“Tell me about it. We managed to null that marriage less than ten hours after it happened. Glad that woman agreed.”

“Which woman?” I asked. “Mooney?”

“No, not her,” he growled. “The other.”

“Come on Vincente,” I prodded. “What’s her name?”

“You’re the damned writer, you spoil the sequel.”

He had me there. I hated spoilers. Especially when they were my fault.

“Okay fine. We’ll try talking about something else then. Tell me about your ship.”

For the first time, he takes an extreme interest in the interview. “My ship? She’s beautiful. I converted the interior holds into airtight, individual storage bays and added an armored personnel carrier for those smuggling rendezvous where I might get shot at. She’s got the best communications ‘net on the market, and that includes the black market, and my engineer can get her into skip space with hardly a bump. She’s the real deal. You looking to rent her out?”

“No, not really.” I was sort of confused by his response though. I was pretty sure that he no longer had the Fancy and was, in fact, in the market. But then again, the guy is a born liar.

“A shame. I need the money,” he said as he began to slide out of the booth. I looked at him, surprised.

“Where are you going? I have a few more questions to ask you.”

“Sorry chief, gotta run. My permit’s about to expire and this here rock doesn’t do credit the way they used to. Plus, I think I owe the dockmaster money.”

I watched him walk away and I couldn’t help feeling that I’d gotten the shaft. Sure, he answered a few questions, but this wasn’t what I had been hoping for. I wanted to have my readers get to know him, and instead–

“Here’s his tab, sir,” the waitress slipped me Vincente’s bill as she passed by. “He said you’d take care of it.”

Son of a bitch. I hate that guy.

Murder World: Kaiju Dawn Deal


Murder World: Kaiju Dawn  is currently on sale for a mere $0.99 right now on Amazon Kindle (Prime members get it for free, as always). You really, really should buy it. Then review it. Then tell all your friends about how you’d sell your second born for the sequel (first born is a bit steep).

MW KD cover

Lost Words


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?

 

Kaiju Day 3


I’ll be out all day, but I woke up to something wonderful this morning.

Yeah, totally made my day/year. If I ever have kids, the first one may be named “Kaiju”. Don’t forget to review it after you buy it.

Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy — Sam Schall’s “Vengeance From Ashes”


vengeance from ashes
I’ll be reviewing this SF novel next week (probably Monday) but I wanted to give this one a “shout out” right now. Oh, and quit judging books by their covers. It’s rude.

This is one of those military SF novels that grabs you and won’t let go. I’ve taken my time reading it these past few days, savoring every page. It’s a good book, and reminds me quite a bit of Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. You should go and buy this book on Amazon right now. Really. Right now.

Consider this book pimped.

Stupid Busy


I’ve been stupidly busy the past few weeks (to steal a line from my friend Gerry). This is going to be a long update, so you may want to grab something to drink, or let the dog out.

First off, let me say that Mysticon 2014 was an absolute blast. It went off without a hitch, and I actually got sleep this time around. The con hotel booked me in a room with two beds, and the beds weren’t big enough to for two people (well, big enough for two people to sleep in… other things were probably possible), and I was right below the big room party of 503 (that party will go down as one of the all-time greats at a con…. legends will be shared, stories told, events exaggerated upon), but other than that, it was fine. Once again I missed the opportunity to LARP, but this year it was for a good reason: I was running a fan table, attending panels, and trying to squeeze in enough time to sleep and eat.

I was actually running behind when I got to Mysticon. I had about an hour before my first panel, so I got checked in and situated without too much hassle. Quite a few people were more than interested in my booze supply, which I donated to the party Doc was hosting that night in his room. It’s hard to traverse a con hotel without someone taking notice that you have a massive box of booze. That first panel, Cats On A Keyboard, was fun and I got to share my horror stories of trying to write a book while dealing with two cats and a new dog, all while under a deadline from Hell. The other panels were pretty good as well, except I missed my Boot Camp — Past, Present and Future panel due to someone needing emergency assistance (ER-type stuff) and I was running around trying to find the right people. Then I forgot, started talking to an old friend, and promptly remembered my panel… with ten minutes left. Tom Kratman kind of looked at me funny when I walked in, because I had seen him earlier that day and I mentioned I was looking forward to our panel.

We also had a great recruiting drive for the Official Honor Harrington Fan Association. My ship, the HMS Wolverine, recruited 33 more people to join. That’s the fan table I was babysitting for most of the weekend (with the help of the crew). Jasmine, Melanie, Jonny, Doc, and Gerry (even Tina managed to drop by and help recruit, while running a convention) were all a tremendous help and watched the table long enough for me to actually experience the con and do some shopping (I picked up an awesome Doctor Who shirt from Mystik Waboose). Next year, though, I’m not sure I want to run a fan table again. It was a lot of work, and while the payoff was great, did I mention that it was a lot of work?

It also coincided with my second guest post over at the Mad Genius Club on equality and diversity in SF/F. Needless to say, I’m quite opinionated on the subject, and went off on a tangent about how Equality ≠ Diversity. It all started when I read something about “Con Or Bust” which, at first glance, seemed like it was a good idea. Then I read more, and then I got pissed, then read the rest, and became enraged. You can read the actual article over at MGC here. Once more, I get the urge (even three weeks later) to scream at people “quit getting butthurt about stupid sh*t!”

On the writing front, I haven’t heard anything from the agent regarding my collaborative work with Eric Brown (titled Hand of God). Granted, I don’t expect to hear anything this soon, but still… I’m impatient, and in an industry where the core belief is that patience is rewarded. *eye roll* In the meantime, Wraithkin is also sitting on someone’s desk (computer, tablet, whatever). Bonus, though: when I was literally walking out the door to Mysticon, I got a message from Eric.

Eric: Hey, want to write another MilSF story?

Me: Uh, duh?

*we talk ideas for about five minutes*

Eric: Cool! I’ll send you what I was thinking in a few days!

So he sent me something that…. wasn’t MilSF. Apparently he decided to write a zombie novel instead and wanted me to co-author it with him. Zombies are fun, but not really my thing, so I declined and started writing the bare bones idea that we had shot around (I was half-joking when I suggested a few things, then realized I really liked the ideas the longer I was able to think about them) and sent it to him. Now we’re writing a book called Murder World, which I unwittingly named after some comic book character or something (I’m still a little confused about the premise). It’s funny as hell, and it’s going to be an action packed, blood soaked, carnage filled exhibition of testosterone and nerd rage…. or something. I’m not sure yet. I’m trying to offend as many people as I can here, so cut me some slack.

And then, three days ago, he approaches me with another book collab. Kaiju Apocalypse is already being worked on, and looks like it’ll be done by the end of the month. It’s pretty sweet so far, though it needs some cleaning. I think it’s going to be a novella, though, and not a full-sized novel. Still, lots of fun and carnage, and Kaiju!

So, yeah, stupid busy.