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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

The Dragon Awards


The inaugural Dragon Awards (hosted by Dragoncon, the biggest party for nerds in the entire southeastern U.S.) went off smashingly. I can’t wait for them to release the results numbers so we can see just how many people actually voted. I’m going to throw out a number and say… hmm… 10,000. While that may seem like a high number, I’m guestimating and lowballing the potential voters by comparing them to the Hugo Awards and Worldcon 2016.

Worldcon had 7,338 members (supporting and attending) and 2,903 voters for the Hugo Awards in 2016. That’s roughly 39.56% of members voting.

Dragoncon had 75,000+ attendees this 2016, but I seriously doubt the voter turnout was equivalent to the Worldcon voting participation. I dropped about 20% of the prospective votes due to general apathy to awards on a whole by Dragoncon attendees, guessing that the amount of Dragon Award voters was about a measly 17%. That would make the vote total about… uhh… math sucks… I write books not equations… 11,250. This number is probably high, but still… that’s a hell of a lot of votes.

I’ll be honest. I did not nominate anyone for the Dragon Award. Not because I didn’t feel any books weren’t deserving, but because I’d read about 450+ books so far this year, so I felt limited in what I could nominate because my options were too numerous. So I decided to wait and see who the nominees were and then vote.

So what I’ll do is post my pick in italics, and the winner in bold.

  • Best Science Fiction Novel: 

my pick — Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)

winner — Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm, John C. Wright (Castalia House)

Thoughts: This was a tough category, because I thought both books had solid merits. I went with Charles as my winner due to past experiences working with him in Eric Flint’s 1632 universe. Still, Wright’s work is top-notch and there is no shame in losing out to him.

  • Best Fantasy Novel:

my pick — Son of the Black Sword, Larry Correia (Baen)

winner — Son of the Black Sword, Larry Correia (Baen)

Thoughts: I had pegged this book back when it first came out as Larry’s best work to date. I never really imagined him as a high fantasy author, and this book blew any preconceived notions of Larry being a “monsters and guns” guy away. This is one of the rare fantasy books I’ve reread multiple times where the authors name on the cover isn’t Weis or Hickman. Plus, while I love Butcher, I just didn’t feel the same about this new steampunk series as I did his Codex Alera one.

  • Best YA/ Middle School Novel

my pick — Changeling’s Island, Dave Freer (Baen)

winner — The Shepard’s Crown, Terry Pratchett (Harper)

Thoughts: no shame here. Pratchett is the greatest, and even though I secretly hoped that Freer could pull off the upset, I knew deep down that Pratchett had this one locked up. If Freer hadn’t been nominated, my vote would have gone to Alethea Kontis’ “Trix and Faerie Queen”. I don’t do YA/teen romance normally but Kontis is a terrific writer who makes “the kissy parts” not too over the top. 😛

  • Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

my pick — Hell’s Foundations Quiver, David Weber (Tor)

winner — Hell’s Foundations Quiver, David Weber (Tor)

Thoughts: Not a huge surprise here, though Django Wexler’s “The Price of Valor” was pretty good. Matched up against Weber’s SF/Fantasy mashup, though, it pales in comparison. This series is better than Weber’s Honor Harrington one.

  • Best Alternate History Novel

my pick — Germanica, Robert Conroy (Baen)

winner — League of Dragons, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)

Thoughts: For a voter, this category sucked. I had to choose between Novik, two separate 1632 novels, and Robert Conroy’s “Germanica”. There was no way I could put one above the other, so I pretty much dismissed the 1632 novels out of hand due to what I termed in my head a “vote split”, leaving “League of Dragons” and “Germanica”. I then pretty much flipped a coin 13 times (superstitious) and “Germanica” came out on top, 8-5.

Voting in this category, as previously stated, sucked. I hate when the decision is damn near impossible.

  • Best Apocalyptic Novel

my pick — A Time to Die, Mark Wandrey (Henchman)

winner — Ctrl Alt Revolt!, Nick Cole (Castalia House)

Thoughts: I have a vested interest in seeing a good friend win, so I picked Wandrey over Cole, even though I enjoyed both books equally. Considering how little press or push there was behind Wandrey’s latest, I was proud of how well he did to even make the short list. Cole’s novel was a tremendous piece of work and I’m glad that it was picked up.

  • Best Horror Novel

my pick — Honor at Stake, Declan Finn (Caliburn)

winner — Souldancer, Brian Niemeier (self-published)

Thoughts: This is the only category where I disagree with the process, primarily because I felt that “Souldancer” should have been in the Best Fantasy list. Still though, Niemeier’s “Souldancer” was an amazing (if slow-paced) work. I felt that “Honor at Stake” should have won, but I can’t fault them for sticking Souldancer in this category. It’s a weird freaking book!

  • Best Comic Book

my pick — Daredevil

winner — Ms Marvel

Thoughts: I don’t really have an opinion on this one, because the most recent Daredevil is the only comic I’d read of those on the short list. Can’t vote for something I hadn’t read.

  • Best Graphic Novel

my pick — The Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman (Vertigo)

winner — The Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman (Vertigo)

Thoughts: This one was a no brainer. An excellent book that is part of an excellent universe. I only wish that Gaiman wrote faster.

  • Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series

my pick — The Flash (CW)

winner — Game of Thrones (HBO)

Thought: Penis! Floppy Penis! God damn you, Trey Parker! I can NEVER get that South Park song out of my head whenever I hear the GoT theme song come on and it’s ALL YOUR FAULT!

In all seriousness, Dragoncon was made for something like Game of Thrones. I love The Flash, though, and with the series setting up the FlashPoint universe, the writing and series is going to be headed in a new and exciting direction. Unlike Game of Thrones, where it seems to be a long and predictable chess game where it’s Daenerys/Snow vs the White Walkers for control of the Seven Kingdoms.

  • Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

my pick — Deadpool

winner — The Martian

Thoughts: I knew The Martian was going to win, so my Deadpool vote was a defiant vote in the face of conformity or some crap. I would have LOVED to see the hundreds of Deadpools at Dragoncon race up there to accept “their” award. Alas, it was not meant to be. A terrific movie beat out a hilariously fun one.

I don’t remember any of the games I voted for, which is a bad sign. I might have missed them.

So thoughts? How did your vote compare to the winners? Any surprises?

Hugo Season


So apparently it’s Hugo season again (didn’t we just do this?), though this year I’m thinking “Yeah, I lost a lot of time and energy last year dealing with that public smear campaign. I’m not even going to pay attention this year.”

Seriously. In 2014 I managed to get a ton of writing done. 2015? Jack squat. Oh, I wrapped up a few short stories, and got most of Kraken Mare done, but when it’s compared to 2014? Nada. Zilch. Zero. Zip.

I liked it better when I was beneath the radar of the most virulent Defenders of Justice and collecting many royalty checks. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciated being included on so many ballots for the Campbell Award. Yes, this is my second and final year of eligibility, but I really don’t care at this point. As I said earlier, too much energy was expended trying to defend myself and my friends from random attacks and accusations of racism (which still makes me laugh).

I hope my friends do well again this year. I truly do. When I get my voter packet, I’ll read all the works and vote, as I usually do. But getting involved? No thanks. Being nominated? No thanks.

I’d rather just continue to get paid.

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.

Cover Reveal!


Isn’t it pretty? It’s so pretty!

For this cover I managed to land the freakishly talented J. F. Posthumus to do the cover of the upcoming historical zombie story, The Dead of Babylon. It will be released on December 18th, just in time to satisfy your holiday horrorific cravings (even though it’s set about 3000 years ago and sometime in fall, and has nothing to do with Christmas whatsoever, but don’t bother me with details right now…).

All rights reserved. Copyright 2014, Bad Moon Books

All rights reserved. Copyright 2014, Bad Moon Books

Edit: I should probably add that despite my initial “It’s gonna be free!” statement, I was reminded that I am paying a mortgage now and really need to make more money as a writer. So it’ll be available for $0.99. Huzzah. 

Please


My brain couldn’t get into the mood for writing Kaiju Apocalypse III today, since this flu thingy has been kicking my butt this week. Instead of calling it a lost day, though, I decided to work on this fantasy idea my Muse has been beating me over the head with the past two weeks. I mean, I’d kinda outlined it before (okay, I drew up some geographical maps and created an 8 pointed magic system) and talked a bit about it, but I’d never actually tried writing it. I think because I was fighting my Muse again and trying to make it an urban fantasy thing when it needed to be a classic fantasy piece.

So I started I, Godslayer today and immediately put down 2,000 words. It sort of surprised me at just how much my Muse apparently wanted to write this story. So hooray for my foray into humorous high fantasy?

I see that quite a few people have purchased Murder World: Kaiju Dawn but very few of you have actually written a review up on Amazon for it. Is it really too difficult to say “This book sucked” or something else (preferably, “This book rocked!”). Everyone has been in shock over the fact that some Kardashian wrote a book and lamenting the fact that they had it ghost-written as well, and that this hurts “real” authors. No, that doesn’t hurt real authors, actually. The fact that people call it a piece of crap and managed to write 61 one-star reviews is what hurt “real” authors. I mean, people say the book sucks and jeer the fact that they can’t write, and yet they still push the sales up and give it reviews. You want to keep sh*t like this from happening, every day reader? Give a book your enjoyed a rating on amazon. It helps and also validates to the author that people have, you know, read the book.

I would love for there to be 30 reviews on Murder World: Kaiju Dawn by the end of the day. That would be awesome. It’s not going to happen, though, and I believe this is because the average reader would much rather tear down a novel they hate instead of talking up a novel they enjoyed.

And before you cough and say “Jason, what about your review of Catching Fire?” you should recall that I was practically gushing over The Hunger Games. So hold on a second before calling me a hypocrite, mmkay?

And write a damn review.

Please.

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.

It’s Here!


kaiju apocalypse rough draft

Big news today!

Kaiju Apocalypse is out and available via ebook over on Amazon. Best part about this? Amazon Prime members get it for free!

Yeah, thought that would get your attention.

So go forth, buy it, pay for my kitties’ kibble (and Sophie’s treats).

If you don’t, you probably don’t love kitties and puppies and, more than likely, hate rainbows and jelly beans too.

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.

Reading Materialist


Wraithkin is with the agent now. I have two weeks to complete my Dark Corners anthology story (Collectibles). I should have written it months ago, but life kept getting in the way. Okay, life and other novels. And other short stories. Okay, okay, I just suck as a human being. I’ll get it done before the deadline, even if I have to pull an all–nighter again (like I did for Wake… uh, nobody tell the publisher that I wrote Wake in two days).

Sorry that my last post got so political. I typically stay out of politics on here, but something inside me snapped this past week. So now that I’m on some government watch list (well, I probably am… they won’t confirm it) I’ll be, uh, probably doing the same thing I always do on here. *scratches head* Huh.

I’m reading Cedar Sanderson’s Pixie Noir right now for Shiny Book Review. Just starting, so I don’t really have an impression of it yet. I’ve also been rereading the entire Honor Harrington series, and am currently on Ashes of Victory. I forgot how freaking long these books are, though, so this may take longer than I thought. My buddy Johnny-Minion is letting me borrow his copy of House of Steel, which I really, really wanted to read. I think that and A Rising Thunder are the only two books in the series I haven’t read yet.

Yes, I read a lot. I think all writers should read more than they write. It keeps your brain from atrophying.

Anyone else reading anything interesting right now?