Hammerfield is coming…

Hopefully by now, the name Hammerfield means all sorts of useful and intersting things to you. This is important, because we’re about a week away from the Hammerfield Saga dropping. I will be so thrilled when the rest of you are able to know how Season One of The Science Officer books winds up.

It is not the place I expected when I set out. There were three Javier Aritza books out (The Science Officer, The Mind Field, and The Gilded Cage), and I had left things in a kinda dark place. (You tell me The Gilded Cage is a bright and cheery book. I dare you.) So I knew that I wanted the fourth book to be a little less dark. The result was The Pleasure Dome (#4), which might still be my favorite of all of them.

Coming out of that, I had already planned the basic elements of the War of the Pirate Clans, but writer-brain rarely lets me know what is actually going to happen until a page, or sometimes only a paragraph ahead. The Doomsday Vault (#5) was intended to run pretty much as it did, being something of an homage/pastiche to Run Silent, Run Deep, at least intellectually. And to set up a massive confrontation with the asshole from The Pleasure Dome.

From there, things went sideways on me.

One of the things that people have commented about my writing is that my characters tend to grow and change over time. I do. Frequently, someone asks me about something in the past and I will respond with “That was so many me’s ago, I don’t ever remember him, or the person he became, or the six after that.”

I know that some authors believe that your characters should stay roughly the same over an arc of stories, but that never feels right to me. Are you the same person you were five years ago? Would you make the same choices now you would have then? Don’t get me wrong. I like who I am today, and wouldn’t go back and make easier choices, because I would never be here.

I could have been a lawyer. Would have been magnificently successful, but I’d be on my third trophy wife by now and utterly miserable. Could have been a professor. Would have been successful there, but I’d be dull and boring (no offense, Lew and Nat, or Ken and David).

So here I am, totally different guy from the one I was then.

Javier grows. I won’t say grows up, because adulting is rarely as much fun as teenaging, but you get the point. If you have been paying attention to the early stories, you will know just how damaged he is. I won’t say flawed, because that suggests permanency. He’s damaged. Healing, but slowly. Over the course of the War with Valko Slavkov, he has to make hard choices.

More importantly, he has to turn into the man he could have been but never became, but for reasons never discussed. You’ll learn what they are now. Why he blew up his career with the Concord Fleet. Why he has two ex-wives. Why he ended up alone on a Sentient Probe/Cutter with only Suvi and the Four Musketeers to keep him company.

At the same time, the other characters grow. They are all damaged, to one degree or another. (As are we all, when you think about it.) Wracked by guilt and loss. Pain. Might-have-beens. Each of them has to face their own darkness and come to terms with it. Zakhar. Suvi. Afia. Pete. But most importantly, Djamila.

Her arc is almost as big, and almost as important, as the one Javier goes through over the course of these eight books. In The Last Flagship (#6), she has to come face to face with death itself, and confront an angry AI in control of an entire First Rate Galleon. And then, Djamila must find the willingness to step past the fear that has been with her for so many years. She must do the most intimidating, frightening thing she had ever done in her entire life.

Dream.

So The Hammerfield Gambit (#7) and The Hammerfield Payoff (#8) come out in a week.

Thank you to all the amazing people who have pre-ordered. The numbers are kinda frightening and boggling for me to look at. Hopefully, you will find yourself satisfied with where Season One went to. It was eight titles. Season Two will be nine, because I have partly written a transition piece, three short stories that introduce new characters for Season Two and set the galaxy up for where you go when you might never safely return to Concord space.

I will not, however, be dropping them every two months, like I did these last five. That pretty much consumed my life, and I really want to concentrate on getting Jessica Keller’s story told. I just finished the first editing pass on book six: The Red Admiral, and I’m rather pleased with it. It’s long (135k words, when Javier runs 25-30k each), and deep. And begins a new interior trilogy (6-8) that sees the war with Buran get serious.

I have three Jessicas to write, and a couple of other projects that I can’t tell you about until summer. I will promise at least a couple of Javiers each year for the next couple, at least until things settle down a little.

I have titles for most of Season Two. And I don’t really anticipate it going into multi-volume story arcs. I like the ability to tell a story at 25-30,00 words. I have to stay on topic. It is the novella equivalent of a short story: Get in, get out, without meandering.

Instead, they will be single issue stories. And I plan to focus a little more on the science side of The Science Officer, and a little less on the piracy. After all, as you will see in a little under a week, Javier and the crew of the First Rate Galleon Hammerfield are rather done with piracy, and poised on the verge of a grand, brand new adventure.

I hope you will join me for their voyages, and I look forward to hearing from you what you think about the Hammerfield Saga.

 

shade and sweet water,

bd

West of the Mountains, WA

Thoughts on OryCon

So, last week I was down in Portland for OryCon, a writer-heavy sci-fi/fantasy con (this was #39) that is my favoritest and the one I consider my home con. (There are personal reasons I avoid certain conventions in the further PWN.)

This year, I got in early and applied to be on panels, and offered some ideas of panels I wanted to be on. I have a vague background in science, having done all the nerdy science things when I was kid: Science Camp, Space Camp I and II, etc. I write SF. So they put me on the Science track.

Lovely, and wonderful. However, lemme tell you about this one panel I was on. I didn’t speak for the whole panel, and nobody noticed, because I had two full on astrophysicists, plus two other hard-core astronomy experts up there with me. I learned a lot. And really didn’t have anything meaningful to add, because they were rather more interested in grinding axes, but it was fun.

On other panels, I contributed more, because I got to take the position of the damned, dirty hippy, living in the woods, working on putting my whole farm on solar power, living off a well and septic, and growing fruit. Nowhere close to self-sufficient, but more than enough research and experience to hold my own with two experts on a panel called “Backyard Survivalist.” They wanted to take people completely off the grid, living in the back yard rough. I was talking about passive solar heating, growing herbs in window boxes, and inside planter boxes for things like tomatoes and peppers. Damned, dirty hippy, off saving the world and all that.

Also, the importance of all the fruit I grow: “Fresh fruit lasts for days. Dried fruit lasts for weeks. Canned Fruit lasts for months. Fermented fruit lasts for years.” And I got to explain to people how to make dish-washer jam.

  • Put your fruit in the pan, along with your lemon juice.
  • Start heating it up and then add your sugar or honey in my case.
  • Stir continuously while heating slowly.
  • Bring the whole thing to a rolling boil and hold it there for a while.
  • Decant into your freshly-cleaned jars.
  • Seal the jars up and put them in the dishwasher.
  • Run it overnight on the longest, hottest cycle you can, with the longest steam cycle.

Not as good as a water bath or a pressure cooking, but the fruit will last for several months without problem in the fridge, and I usually bribe people with it anyway, since I consume so little bread these days. And my joy is the “whatever’s ripe this week” process of making jams and fruit butters.

Let’s see, what else? Did panels on all sorts of science topics. One panelist made the case for a dedicated, long-term series of missions that culminated in a Mars base. Another made the case for asteroid mining. So, of course, I went snowballs, explaining how you should colonize a comet, where you ended up with giga-tons of available water, so you could crack it for oxygen, burn the hydrogen for heat and low-level thrust to move your new home around, and purify the rest to run through a full hydroponics system so fishes will clean it and you can grow vegetables. (Seeds and fish eggs are amazingly small and light to launch to orbit). Then I can trade water to the asteroid folks for metals, and to the Martians for exotics that they can mine. You end up with a full solar economy. Plus people started using my term “homo solaris” to describe people who live in permanent low-grav situations, rather than returning to the Earth. Imagine a woman roughly three meters tall, all fingers and toes, like Larry Niven’s The Integral Trees.

The rest of the time, I got to catch up with friends that I only see at OryCon, and if they come to CampCon with us in June. Met with an unindicted co-conspirator for a secret project next summer, working out details.

Planning to go back next year. Hopefully I’ll see some of you then. Or if you are a writer in the PSW, do you like camping? Isolated campground in June. Long weekend. No interweb access. Sit down, shut up, and write. Kinda awesome. You should come.

shade and sweet water

bd

West of the Mountains, WA

The Rangers

As most of you know, I don’t get particularly political on my blog, for the most part. That’s intentional, because I’m not making enough money here to justify pissing off any segment of my fan base, just because we voted for different folks and have different opinions on the best way to do things in this country.

So it was with a bit of trepidation when I answered a call from Bob Brown when he wanted to put together an anthology called “Alternative Truths” and go all in on what the 2016 presidential election meant (or at least implied). Sure, I write political, but anyone who had paid a lick of attention to me knows that my politics frequently rotate around “sticking it to the man” rather than any one ideology.

But then a poster caught my eye on the social medias. Anyone with a bit of history should know the name Martin Niemoller, and appreciate the implications:

First they came for the scientists.

And the National Park Service said, “LOL. No.”

And went rogue, and we were all, like “I was not expecting the Park Rangers to lead the Resistance. None of the dystopian novels I read prepared me for this. But, cool.”

So I envisioned a world where those Rangers had gone totally rogue. But I didn’t set it during the war those men and women would have fought. That would be too easy. People would argue every jit and tittle I wrote. So I put it thirty-five years into the future, the winter of 2052-2053 CE. After things had broken down and started to be set to rights.

And for a narrator, I picked a kid who wants to grow up and be a Park Ranger. An 025, to use the technical parlance.

Never set out to write a Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian SciFi Western, but you know how these things sneak up on you. And I sent it off to Bob, figuring it would be way too weird, considering how topical and political the rest of his planned anthology was going to get. (I know a lot of those folks, and met a bunch more as we chatted on social media during all this. I was going to be an outlier, any way you cut it.)

Bob surprised me by taking the story, but he’s got a soft spot for cowboys, so that probably helped.

The story surprised me by spawning four quick sequels, picking up from the end of “The Last Ranger” (which is the one in Alternative Truths), and carrying Dale Embry forward into the spring of 2053, a pivotal time in his life, and his world, as the war between the Coastal Republic and the Confederated States has heated up.

So you have five stories now: The Last Ranger, The Maiden, Forty-Niner, Posse, and Refuge. It is an interesting world, because I never read westerns when I was a kid, and barely watched any. Had to do a lot of reading as I worked, so I could get a feel for what the genre required in the way of language and tone. (Not sure I made it, but I’m damned proud of the results.)

Didn’t have a chance to make it into the second anthology in the series: More Alternative Truths. I generally have my writing schedule penciled in pretty solidly six to twelve months out, but Bob cornered me over the weekend at OryCon and reminded me that he’s planning to do a book 3 at some point, hopefully with long enough lead times that I can write something he’ll like. Might be another cowboy story, as I have enough notes for a couple of novels at this point, or a whole passel of short stories I can put into another collection. Might be something entirely else. Won’t know until I see the spec from him.

Right now, I’m waiting mostly to hear from you folks what you think of the dystopian future. Think I’ve sold about ten copies of it so far, but that’s not unexpected. Most of you are Science Fiction fans, rather than post-apocalyptic readers. You read to escape the ugliness of the day, rather than to wallow in where we might go.

But I think you would enjoy these three reads.

So give them a go and let me know what you think.

Cheers,

b

The Sins of The Fathers – new superhero bundle

So I haven’t said anything to pretty much anybody about this project, because it turned out to be way more complicated than I thought it would be, and take longer, but we’re finally here.

Last spring, I was talking with a bunch of writers I know about doing a new bundle on bundlerabbit.com. This one would be different than most, because instead of it being a collection of existing stories, I wanted everyone to write me something brand new. And hit a theme in a genre that was not necessarily something most of them had tried before.

But it sounded like fun, and they all wanted to play.

And thus: The Sins of The Fathers bundle was born, now available for pre-order at all the major sites, coming out on Nov 15 everywhere.


The story I wrote for this project was “Expectations,” which is more or less a sequel to my story Kid Lexington. That first one took place in the Modern Gods universe, like all my superhero fiction so far and took place in an alternate 1952 with superheroes.

Approaching a sequel, I decided to go someplace way different. Without giving away too much (no spoilers here), the story picks up in the summer of 1974, and centers on the two daughters of Kid Lexington, now 18 years old and facing a world where they must confront the family business. The expectations about them putting on a mask and going out into the world to save it or damn it.

The challenge I had set to all of the writers involved is contained in the sales blurb:

Time passes. Teenage sidekicks grow up. Heroes and villains settle down and start families.

The bundle will be themed around the next generation of kids taking over the family superhero/villain business. Stories about people in masks and how they interact with the youngsters coming along, rather than just inter-generational family drama. Superheroes make everything crazier.

Does the hero retire gracefully and let the teen sidekick take over the name and costume? Did the children of a supervillain join the family business, or become heroes and work to thwart their own parental units?

Nine fantastic people joined me on this bizarre voyage, contributing their own visions for what it is like to grow up in a world where you have power and can make a difference. The stories are serious as well as silly. Modern and historical. Romance, Comic Book, Dark, and Chop-socky, depending on your tastes and needs, but these are all top-notch writers, exploring new ground for many of them.

I hope you will enjoy this bundle, and explore the worlds and works of my nine unindicted co-conspirators as we forge a trail through crime and mischief.

Thanks

b

 

Driving Inspiration

People ask me why I get up at such an incredibly early hour in the morning. Part of it is that I live a ways out in the woods, and work kitty-corner from Safeco Field in downtown Seattle. Thirty-two miles each way, with no reasonable mass transit solutions that wouldn’t drive me utterly nuts.

In addition, traffic in Seattle sucks. If I left for work any later, I’d spend twice as long in traffic going the same distance, possibly three times as long. And arrive at work amazingly grumpy.

So I get up at 4:00AM and go. It is a lovely, pleasant drive at that time of morning. Still dark, and flowing, rather than bouncing in stop and go traffic with timid drivers. I get to work early, eat breakfast, have coffee, and then have a couple hours free time to write before I have to go to work.

There is another lovely benefit. I only turn the radio on at ten minutes to five to catch the financial news on NPR. The rest of the time is spent in silence. I use that time to think about the next chapter, the next scene, the next story. Fabulous Publisher Babe™ likes to go for a walk around the long block every hour or so when she writing and it serves the same purpose for her. That moment to refresh.

There is something about a long drive that just inspires me. During the recent total eclipse, we drove down to Oregon to visit a friend of mine who lived in the path of totality. (Traffic coming home horrible, but we got down a whole day early, stopped for brunch in a quaint little town, took backroads, etc. Relaxing.)

She and I also like to talk about the state of publishing, and writing, and things. Anyone who has gone spent any time with us can attest to that.

During the drive, we explored some of the new tools and software that was available recently. In the process, I came up with a new top secret writing project that will see the light of day next summer. Not something that probably would have come about, but we had five hours to just talk, isolated in the truck, and explore things.

I know others who walk, like she does, or hike. Perhaps they knit, or something else, but for me, it is that time that I get to drive.

What is the thing you do to recharge your batteries?

The Doomsday Vault goes Audio!!!!

Woo-hoo.

I kinda feel bad for Matt. He loves doing the audio for the Science Officer books, but he was NOT prepared for me to write five of them this year, or to drop them so close together. He is, however, going like hell on the rest.

And today, I got the notice from Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) that the audio book of The Doomsday Vault is now available. (And I’m confident he’s already at work on The Last Flagship as we speak.)

Sales are good. Reviews even seem pretty good, once people get out of their system that these are novellas, every single one of them.

Science Office books run 24-30,000. By design. Short, fast, hard hitting, rather than make you wander over 150,000 words for the same amount of actual story-telling. (and no harrowing of the shire along the way, either.)

Quick, get yours today. Or tell your audio book fiend that 5 is available and 6 is coming!!!

The Last Flagship

The Last Flagship

As some of you might have noticed, the newest Javier Aritza/Science Officer story (#6) is finally available everywhere. What a few of you have also realized is that #7 and #8 are also now available for pre-order everywhere, dropping together on Dec 10.

When I started writing The Science Officer, it turned out to be right at 24,000 words. The second one in the series, The Mind Field, also came in at around that length. When I decided to write more, starting with The Gilded Cage, I made a conscious decision that they were all going to be novellas, rather than novels or short stories. That means, in my head, 20,000-30,000, with most of the recent ones running up against that 30k mark and occasionally over.

Going into this meta-project, I wanted to make the storyline a little less dark and apocalyptic, especially with how grim The Gilded Cage turned out, and so The Pleasure Dome was a lighter, breezier piece that let me start exploring the nuances of the players, rather than just the world.

Which brings us down to The War Of The Pirate Clans. When I wrote The Pleasure Dome, it was just a caper, but I saw where the story needed to go, and that it would be a long, drawn-out affair. And just what I needed to round out Season One at eight episodes. (By the way, I am already into #9, but working on Jessica #6 first right now, plus a few other projects.)

Being (in my mind) a television show script, I wanted a cliff-hanger ending, or a double episode. Until I actually finished #7, I had originally planned to drop #8 in February 2018, but #7 does not stand on its own feet, considering how many people I would piss off if I made them wait an extra two months to see what happens as a result of The Hammerfield Gambit. And it would.

At the same time, I wasn’t going to suddenly make one of the books so much longer than the rest. I like it that Javier comes in at around 25k. Fast to write. Compact story that does not leave any space for extraneous meanderings, so I have to focus. They are a fast read as a result, because you step onto a ramp when you open page one and go.

I have seen other writers in my field, and occasionally compare my style to theirs. I write “fast books” because I paragraph aggressively, which means short, rather than long blocks of text. You read them quickly and get to the end needing a cigarette, rather that spending weeks slowly digesting the tale. Plus, I try to keep my little side stories to just a paragraph, or maybe even only a phrase, rather than a whole section of the book or a chapter that really doesn’t add anything to the overall story, except maybe depth or ideas for other projects later.

So I wrote five Science Officer books this year, fully intending to drop them every two months to keep y’all entertained and happy. And, like I said, #9 is coming, and actually going to be three short stories that all wrap up together, and I have the first of those done and the other two planned and in the hopper to write when I have some space. No spoilers, so I can’t go into too much detail. (Which sucks for me, since only two of you know how The Hammerfield Payoff ends.)

Let us just say that Season Two takes our heroes and villains off in a slightly different direction, and lets me introduce (and re-introduce, in one instance) some exciting characters and get a little more “Sciencey” with my stories.

I hope you enjoy. Thank you for all your support and encouragement. And your understanding that I’m only writing these things as Javier and the others dictate.

shade and sweet water

bd

West of the Mountains, WA

There are still good people…

So I haven’t posted much of anywhere lately. Been heads-down busy on various projects, including helping Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) with her girlcave, the new corporate offices of Knotted Road Press. Last weekend, hanging a bunch of fiberboard and sheetrock to close in all the walls. It is nearly ready for all the pretty work to begin.

Somewhere along the way, I picked up something nasty. (Viral skin infection is the consensus.) Went to the walk-in clinic this morning because whatever had caused my arms to break out and my face to puff up had hit her as well and was getting worse. We had walked down from the top of Cap Hill, had breakfast at a little joint, then to the clinic. In and out for both of us in under 30 minutes, and the doc gave us some better cream that is helping.

Somewhere along the walk back up the hill, I apparently lost my wallet out of my back pocket, and never noticed. (Drugs that do fun things to the brain right now.) Got back to her place and sat down to check the news before the next round of stuff, and I have an email from a complete stranger who had found my wallet, located one of my BW business cards, and asked if that was me.

You can imagine my panic. She left a number to text, so I did. As well as an email reply.

Nothing. Long pause. More panic.

Finally, hear back from her. Turns out she and her friend had been in the process of walking clear over to Volunteer Park Cafe  from somewhere south, to have crossed my path home and found my wallet, and wanted to get there before replying to me, to have a stable, public place to meet (woman meeting total stranger male, you know the drill).

Texts me. We drive over, get my wallet, I thank her profusely. Offered her books. Flipped a coin my head to buy them breakfast (no money gone, cards all there).

Got home, still vaguely fuzzy in the brain, but much warmer feeling. Sent her books anyway.

I have been grumpy smurf at work all week. Have described the situation there as a general swirly-thing-alert (for those of you old enough to know what that is without looking it up).

So in the middle of all that, it was just lovely to run into a generally good person, who found a wallet, looked through it to find contact information, and reached out.

Makes me feel better about the world. And that’s a good thing.

Hopefully, you have little things in your life that bring you joy as well. Learn to notice them, and appreciate them.

 

shade and sweet water

bd

West of the Mountains, WA

Freebies and Good Deeds

So there is a new bundle out there. Aliens Among Us. I’ve talked about it before, and want to circle back.

My first novel Imposters is in it. Right now, for as long as the bundle runs (couple more weeks), anyone who asks can get a free copy of the short story The Shipwrecked Mermaid, which is a prequel that helped me craft the universe.

You don’t need to read Mermaid to enjoy Imposters, but it gets way more fun when you understand where that Queen of Hearts coffee mug came from. And it helps me to remember that I want to write more stories set in that world, when I have time. And I will.

So forward this note to your friends. Or ping me and I’ll send you a book you can forward on to them. No purchase necessary. I won’t even add you to my mailing list, unless you ask.

You are signed up, right? And read it? I’m always amazed because I tend to give things away for people that read all the way to the bottom, but few people ever actually do. Their loss.

Better news: the charity Dean and Allyson have chosen for this bundle is Able Gamers.

From their website:

ABLEGAMERS ENABLES FUN!

We give people with disabilities custom gaming setups including modified controllers and special assistive technology, like devices that let you play with your eyes, so they can have fun with their friends and family. We’re using the power of video games to bring people together, improving quality of life with recreation and rehabilitation.”

We’re Science Fiction fans. That means we tend to be gamers as well. Able Gamers helps make sure everyone gets to play.

So please do your part to help, get ten novels for a great price, and stop by to say hello. Or take this chance to introduce someone else to the fun of some of these great authors I’m in the bundle with.

b

Aliens Among Us

And I don’t mean strangers from a foreign land. Well, maybe, if your idea of a foreign land is actually a different planet.

I hinted at it with the last blog post, but it is now officially a thing, so I can talk more. The Aliens Among Us bundle is now live and ready for people on Storybundle. (I’m kinda blushing because Dean had some amazingly nice things to say about me and my book.)

For your money, you can get ten titles, including anthologies, collections of weird (I’m not kidding. Planet Bob pushing the envelope as only he can. “Smidgen the snack cake, a high tech pastry with murder in his ultrachocolatey heart.” Seriously?), and novels from some of the top Sci-Fi writers in the field, like Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, Kevin J. Anderson, and Mike Shepherd.

And, because I love you people, I’m including a freebie outside of my novel, the prequel that sets up Imposters: The Shipwrecked Mermaid.

Rick Pine wasn’t always the suave, daring chef with his own bistro and no time to do anything but laundry and sleep. A year ago, he was just a guy on an assignment, a felon cooking for other felons doing cleanup after a disaster. And then the mermaid came into his life and changed everything.

You don’t need the read The Shipwrecked Mermaid before you buy and read Imposters, but it will make your reading so much more fun, when you understand where that damned coffee mug came from and why it is so important. And who the girl really is.

For the next three weeks, I’m offering anyone a copy of Mermaid for free. Anybody who wants, ping me and I’ll send you the ebook.  Then go buy the bundle and enjoy some really out there thrills.

Strike quickly. This is a one-time offer, and then the bundle will be gone forever in a few weeks.

cheers,

bd

West of the Mountains, WA