Blaze Ward has a new book out?

Amazon just let me know I have a new book out. A little background:

Around 2005, I stopped writing poetry with the sort of passion I had previously had. That was when my first wife was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer and given six months to live. (She ended up making it a little over three years, but there was never going to be a cure, and she was only bad the last six weeks or so. The end, when it came, was two days. But that’s a story for another day, maybe. I miss her everyday.)

The poetry had been epic fantasy, for the most part, with occasional forays into what might be considered contemporary fantasy as well. As you can see, I have slowly started publishing it, but you’ve seen perhaps a fifth, maybe a quarter, to date.

Getting back. I wrote a play. Don’t ask me why. I had become someone else. That someone wrote plays.

I used to be into drama, when I was a kid. Did a pair of three-week things every summer for a number of years, where we learned a new short comedy, two-act musical, and traveled around to all the summer schools in town performing them.  (If you ask, Val Cheatham is probably the person most responsible for how I turned out. I hope he knew that. Probably been 30 years since I’ve seen him.)

So I wrote a play. Or rather, I took an event, and filed off enough of the serial numbers to protect the guilty. The play is Strangers, and is contained in Beyond the Mirror, Volume 4: Dramatic Worlds.

It is based on a true story. I can say that, now. They were Italians, not Irish. It took place in the midwest, instead of Boston. And the FBI never showed up on the doorstep. Most of the rest of it went down just like that. (There is a reason I spent most of the 90’s with a loaded firearm within easy reach of my bed. It involved pointing a loaded .357 at a couple of people as they sped off in their car. I’m pretty sure they were the guardian angels, but never asked.)

As far as I know, today, 2017, I’m the only person directly involved in that situation still alive. She died about twenty years ago from a drug overdose, after her life took a downhill turn. Many of the boys got incarcerated by the FBI in the early 90’s. A few of them went down fighting instead.

That is neither here nor there.

I wrote Strangers. Liked it. Liked Cisco and Jefferson enough that I wrote another one, Sins of the Fathers. By then, I was on a role. Witness For The Prosecution. Leap of Faith.

Ran out of things to say for Cisco. By Cisco. About Cisco. Tried a few times, but there were no words. Poked at him occasionally, but he really had run out of things he needed to say. And I had become someone else a few more times. (Did write a few other things in that interval that ran out around 2010. They’re coming next month in Volume 5.)

Then everything went into a trunk. Tried my hand at writing screenplays. Have a few of those, but never got beyond the “maybe we’re interested, but you want too much (read: any) money…” phase. Probably not going anywhere, but the door is open.

Fast forward to 2013. I had dated Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) after Donna died, but it never really went anywhere. Then we connected again, but in the interval we had both become other people from then, and it worked.

She convinced me to start writing again, with intent. You’ve seen the results. You will continue to see them.

But I also published some of that old poetry. And last fall, I asked her sister about the plays, and Kris was all over that.

This is the future. As an indie press, we can put out anything we want. Ebooks cost nothing to keep up forever. Paper books are print on demand, so we don’t have to front any cash for stock that we have to stash under a bed and eventually throw away.

Just publish.

And keep publishing.

Gamer joke: Every single time you hit the publish button, roll 10d6, target number 58. If you succeed, you’ve just written Harry Potter. Or Hunger Games. etc. Lots and lots of money. Over time, that number slowly comes down. And as people like you, that number slowly comes down. When you hit twenty or twenty-five novels, that number comes down.

But you have to keep publishing. (And you have to keep learning, and improving your craft, and, and, and…)

For me, I’ve been writing as long as I have had words. There are things I wrote thirty-plus years ago, long hand, still sitting carefully in my pile, waiting for me to get around to typing them into something I can publish, someday.

So I have a new book that just came out. Beyond the Mirror, Volume 4: Dramatic Worlds (Cisco). In the process of writing this post, the Babe just reminded me that she has put #5 up for pre-order, so I stopped long enough to “claim” it on Amazon (long, technical discussion unnecessary here). It will come out next 10th. (March 10, 2017, for those of you keeping score at home.)

I keep hoping something will explode. It will, one of these days. And in the meantime, I hope to entertain folks with my words. (My dirty little secret? I don’t do this for y’all. I write because these are the stories I want to read, to hear, to know. You are just along for the ride.)

So thank you, in case you haven’t heard it enough from folks like me. Most of us wouldn’t be here without you.

shade and sweet water,

bd

West of the Mountains, WA

There is a new BlazeWard.com Marketplace (or “Why I Love The Future…”)

So first off, my apologies for two blog posts in one day. I had set a reminder to myself to update the marketplace, and then promptly forgot and wrote the other blog post. Then my alarm went off. Whatever.

Back at the Master Publishing Workshop in October, somebody said Society6.com was the best choice for custom branded swag. They were right. I had way more options for stuff that I could put an image on than I ever expected. (And I’m drooling a bit at the thought of a custom comforter, but not today.)

Long story short, I finally managed to put up the Auberon ship’s Badge as something you could slap onto a coffee mug or a t-shirt (I have the first of both coming in the mail as you read this.)

Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) specifically did a tote bag, so she could order one for herself.

All that and more is now available, and I’ll throw more things up there as time and demand dictate. (Anybody want Athena’s badge slapped on something to order?)

Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the new BlazeWard Marketplace. (As hosted by Knotted Road Press and Fabulous Publisher Babe.)

Y’all go nuts.

It’s working (and I’m a little freaked)

So,

Late last night, I got an email ping on my phone. Glanced at it. Email from Amazon that Blaze Ward has a new book available for pre-order. (by the way: Beyond the Mirror, Volume Four: Dramatic Worlds, but I digress).

Occasionally, I also get emails from Amazon telling me that Blaze Ward has a new book available for sale.

In this modern age, any author with a smidgen of talent (including me) can write a story, post it, and people anywhere in the world can buy it. (Last night, at Fabulous Publisher Babe’s(tm) Annual Wine and Chocolate Party, I had a conversation with a friend and co-worker about how I sell copies of The Forestal in Japan. In English. Go figure.)

What slows us all down is what we call discoverability. There are maybe five million books available on Amazon. The search tool is pretty good at “if you liked X, you might like Y” but it lacks that moment in the bookstore when you say “that looks interesting” and buy something completely out of left field.

Jeff Bezos (Grand Pooba, Amazonia) wants to win. Simple as that. To do that, he makes his company as customer-centric as possible. (Seriously, the man is known to randomly sample incoming customer requests and complaints, and forward them to the correct department/person with a personal note expecting a solution within hours. And he gets it.)

So the tools are there. But many people don’t necessarily understand them.

This is where you (the reader who makes all of this possible for us) come in.

On an author’s Amazon page (here’s mine, for example), there will be a button on the left side, right below the cool picture of me that the ever-amazing Chris Barnett took. Once you click it, you will be “following” that author. That means that you get an email from Jeff whenever that author drops a new story.

(By the way, please copy/paste that last little bit and forward it to ALL you friends? All of the authors I know need more fans, and they get that by more people knowing they exist.)

So now my friends and fans who follow me on Amazon will know about my new books. And if you don’t want to support Amazon, you can still sign up to follow, so you’ll get the note, and then go buy it over on Kobo, or iTunes, or d2d. Wherever.

I promise that I will never go exclusive on one platform (unless “fuck you money” is involved, and maybe not even then), because I want to be available where you prefer to shop. I have actually stopped listening to certain artists and never bought another album of theirs, after they did an exclusive deal where the ONLY way to buy their latest album was to get it at Walmart. (This lefty union-supporting, everyone-succeeds, nutcase will never set foot in that place again. There are other chains with the same product that pay their employees a living wage. But that’s my soapbox moment. YMMV)

So you should sign up for my Amazon page. And you should sign up for my newsletter. (I just sent the 2017 Winter quarterly earlier this week, and you missed it. But the next is coming in May.)

And then you should go hit all your other favorite authors and do the same with them. Get connected. Most of them will even lose a personal note from you, even so simple as saying thank you.

And then, back to the Wine and Chocolate Party. “If life gives you a little more, it is better to build a longer table rather than a higher fence.” We do this to help support our various artist friends, and to help them meet other artists in a wonderfully relaxed and fun atmosphere. I personally grabbed more than one person, and dragged them over and introduced them to another with “you two go talk.” Several new business ventures and projects came out of it.

It was awesome.

I discovered last night that one of my friends and co-workers (who is scandahoovian by ancestry, and about as American as they get) speaks Korean. It’s a convoluted story (all the best ones are) but we got to talking about me selling dark, epic poetry books in Japan. And I asked if she might be interested in possibly translating some of them into Korean, because why the hell not?

If she says yes (went home and promised to think about it), I can do a sub-licensing deal with her for Korean-language rights. She can translate it, and sell it as such, and she keeps all the money (or whatever deal we end up doing. YMMV). She’ll even own the copyright on the form (The Forestal, translated into Korean, probably world-wide rights because you never know where someone wants to read American dark epic fantasy in Korean, right?). And we could do more, if she discovers that she likes doing this sort of thing.

And hey, I know LOTS of other writers who might say “Korean? I’m in.” and support her in a lifestyle to which she might become accustomed.

This is the future. Anything is possible, limited only by my imagination.

Y’all are doomed, now.

 

shade and sweet water,

bd

West of the Mountains, WA

 

 

Uniforms of the Fleet, Vol One: Some thoughts

Uniforms of the Fleet, Vol 1

Hopefully by now you have seen the news. Had a small hiccup when the file was uploaded, and the pre-order was set to the 20th instead of the 10th. These things happen. It’s now out there.

Thank you to the people who have ordered your copy. It is also available as a print book, because my whole purpose was to do a coffee table book, rather than just another ebook. My apologies on the price, but I’m making about two bucks per copy sold, I think. I would have liked to run it through CreateSpace directly, but they don’t do the size I wanted. These new people are trying to be a competitor to Amazon, and they’ve been pretty good to work with.

Getting back to the purpose, there are twelve portraits in the book, plus ship badges and a cover.

The cover is Command Centurion Jessica Keller, on the day she took command of CVS Auberon.

Inside are the following people:

  • Yeoman Nadine Orly
  • Flight Cornet Cho Ayaka Nakamura (“Furious”)
  • Engineering Centurion Moirrey Kermode
  • Senior Engineering Centurion Iskra Vlahovic
  • Senior Marine Centurion Phillip Crncevic (“Navin the Black”)
  • Patrol Centurion Dash Mitja and Göll
  • Command Centurion Denis Jež
  • Fleet Lord Arott Whughy
  • Fleet Centurion Jessica Keller
  • First Centurion Petia Naoumov
  • First Lord Nils Kasum
  • Suvi

Because I could (my motto these days), there are ships badges for Auberon and Athena as well.

At some point, if anybody says something (hint hint), I plan to look into putting one or both onto coffee mugs, t-shirts, and maybe lunch boxes. I have not, because that can be a pain in the ass if nobody actually wants one. I mean besides me. I’m going to get a coffee mug. And maybe a lunch box. Doing patches has crossed my mind as well. Any thoughts?

The rest of the book contains information on uniforms, awards, medals, and general culture. For me, it was an exercise in putting everything down on paper in a way that made sense to those people who live outside of my head.

And also, because I’m learning to costume, and want to make myself a uniform at some point. Dunno which. Doesn’t matter. It’s for the cosplayer in me, and for anybody else who wanted to get the little details right.

And here’s the best part: I got contacted by one of you who was interested in getting copies of the prints as electronic files that he could use as screen-savers on his laptop. I didn’t have anything like that, but I have an amazingly awesome partner in this gig. If you have not gone and connected with Shannon Marie Chavez, you are missing out. She has been putting together some amazing artwork for people. Posters. Postcards. Backgrounds for your computer. Stuff. It is all her art.

My words, her eye.

The other night, I get this frantic email from her, because she’s not sure how tall everyone is. Fortunately, I’m a nerd, and have EVERYTHING in an encyclopedia file for exactly this reason. So I send her back a list (Name, height).

She’s doing a group shot. Oh My God is it gorgeous. You’re going to want it. Once she gets a little more organized, she’ll have a full website to handle these things, but for right now, either contact her directly, or reach out to me and I’ll forward you over.

When I first met Shannon Marie, I was at a book-signing and she just walked by. Liked the cover on Auberon, but it wasn’t her thing. I talked her into it. And then found out she was an artist. I promised I would make her famous, but she didn’t think I was serious. Fabulous Publisher Babe™ still giggles at that. Because Shannon Marie is turning into a pro. She’s a little twitchy still, but she’ll do fine.

Hopefully, she’ll make so much money from her art that I can convince her to do Volumes Two and Three over the next few years. Because there will be more.

So again, thank you.

——————————–

Now, it’s Sunday afternoon as I write this (planning to post Monday morning, because I’m out at the farm with minimal interwebs). Out my back door, the deer have finally meandered out of sight, back around behind the barn. Momma and this year’s twins. Cute little blacktails, happily munching on a wall of blackberry bramble for me. Joy.

(Update: they went as far as the overhang and bedded down, so I need to stay over here and not go out to the composter unless I want to scare them away. Probably should rearrange the wood at some point and throw some hay down for them.)

Got the workshop finally destroyed yesterday. Burned all the scrap and hauled the final 760 pounds of wet insulation and rotted sheetrock to the dump. Need to put a magnet into the burn pile and get out around 40 pounds of nails. (Anyone skilled at building an electromagnet? Wanna come redneck with me?)

Only dirt remains.

Fabulous Publisher BabeTM is planning her own little girl-cave in its place. She won’t live with me, but she’ll be more willing to spend time out here if she has her own space to retire to, when peopling gets to be too much. Sometime this summer, the shelf for the girl-cave will be delivered. Then we’ll build it out, she and I and maybe a couple of my step-daughters who know tiling. And then she’ll have her own little backyard (well, front yard) writing office, 16’ by 12’. It will be kinda awesome. There will be a tiara party for the housewarming.

The only thing left at that point will be to rebuild the barn (old and falling apart) and turn it into my own writing office and maybe designstudio, so I can work in quiet.

After that, I want to build my own dread gazebo on the overlook (pond, driveway, trees) on the other slope of the hill, and maybe a six tatami tea room for special occasions.

When I turned forty, I went to London for my birthday. Actually celebrated on Trafalgar Square that day. Decided that I wanted something like the farm when I was sixty, and needed to work my way into it. Got lucky along the way and managed it before I turned fifty. It’s paradise on earth, at least my slice.

Mark your calendars. First Saturday in August will be the Art Colony BBQ. Artists, weirdoes, and dead critter to eat. (The critter will be eaten, not the artists or weirdoes.) My way of giving back, of building a longer table, of being a better human. And people get to meet people, and several of the artists last year came away with business opportunities. More ways to art for a living.

Does it get any better?

 

Ninth Pohang Legion, Grand Army of the Republic of Aquitaine

Today’s blog post topic is about the Ninth Pohang Legion: Heavy (Cataphracti)

The Grand Army of the Republic is a ground-based military force fielded by the Republic of Aquitaine. Until recently (The Siege and Conquest of Thuringwell), it was considered a defensive force, intended to protect worlds of the Republic against invasion by forces of the Fribourg Empire, raiders, or native revolutionaries.

This has now changed.

The Grand Army is made up of units called Legions, commanded by a Legate. This generally holds for infantry units, scouts, and armor. Each Legion is made up of five sub-units. For infantry or cavalry, these smaller groups are called Cohorts. For Armor, the unit is called an Ala. (plural: Alae)

At the basic level, the Ninth Pohang Legion is all about tanks. Specifically the Heavy Battle Tank known as Solenopsis, Fire Ants. Each tank has a four-man crew, with the commander either being a senior enlisted man (Decurion), or a junior officer (Lance Centurion), plus a Gunner, a Loader, and a Driver. Three tanks make up a single Lance, the smallest unit in the field.

Three Lances of tanks are organized as a Squadron. These nine vehicles are trained to operate as a three-fingered unit under the command of the most senior officer present.

Three Squadrons of tanks are known as a Patrol. The nominal Table of Organization and Equipment (TOE) will show twenty-seven tanks, if all of them are in the field, plus the addition of a Command Lance.

COMMAND ELEMENT

The Command Element for a Patrol is composed of a modified Patrol Commander model Solenopsis tank, outfitted with better communications gear, plus a Support Lance. This Support Lance is a Recovery Tank, a Logistics Tank, and an Air Defense Tank.

The Recovery Tank is a built on the same hull as the Solenopsis. Instead of the rotating battle turret with the 66mm particle cannon, the vehicle has a small, fixed bridge for the Commander to spot from, and a crane attached to a winch powerful enough to pull another tank out of most awkward situations. Frequently, a Recovery Tank will have a dozer blade on the front to help clear a path to rescue, but actual Armored Assault is the province of a Breacher Tank (see below).

Because the 66mm particle cannon on most tanks uses an expendable ammunition round, the Logistics Tank is responsible for transporting reloads in the field. Like the Recovery Tank, the vehicle loses the turret for a small bridge/cockpit up front, and gains a vented, armored, cargo box on the rear (think pickup truck). It also drags a larger armored trailer behind it, also on powered tracks. The Logistics Tank also has a crane, but one designed to lift the heavy ammunition crates from either of the transport boxes and land them on the rear deck of a nearby tank.

The Air Defense Tank keeps the battle turret of the Solenopsis, but removes the main gun for a pair of autocannons, one on either side for parallax, loaded with a variety of ammunition types. Like the Logistics model, it also has a tracked, armored trailer, but one that is generally loaded with spare autocannon ammunition, to give the crew the ability to be profligate when acting.

Above the level of a Patrol is the Ala itself. This is made up of three Patrols, plus a Ala Command Tank, for a nominal TOE of ninety-four (94) vehicles, of which eighty-five (85) will be Heavy Battle Tanks and nine (9) will be the three Support Lances.

The Ala is commanded by a Cohort Centurion, roughly the equivalent rank to the navy’s Command Centurion. Depending on the unit, they might be quite senior.

HEADQUARTERS

Every Legion is comprised, as noted above, of five major formations. These will be four core Cohorts or Alae (numbered 1-4), plus a 5th that is the Headquarters Section. HQ will include a Logistics/Transport Section, an Armoured Assault Support Section, an Artillery Section, and a Pioneer/Construction Section, the latter with dedicated construction vehicles, usually slightly-armored versions of civilian equipment.

The Armoured Assault Support Section usually contains one or moredozer-blade-equipped Breacher Tanks. This is built on the same Main Battle Tank hull, but instead of the 66mm cannon, it is equipped with a demolition gun, which is a form of short-barreled howitzer with an extremely large bore, fired horizontally. The size of the ammunition reduces the number of rounds that can be fired in battle, so the Breacher is used to open a gap for the rest of the unit to exploit, with either high explosive rounds or armor-piercing, depending on the nature of the obstacle that needs to be destroyed.

Another vehicle in the Armoured Assault Support Section is known as the Scorpion. This tank is built on the same hull as the Recovery Tank, but instead of a crane, it has a rear-mounted, articulated arm used to drop fascine bundles. The fascine bundle is made up of several dozen sections of pipe, wrapped up tightly. When a unit encounters a ditch too wide and deep to cross, the Scorpion will drop a fascine bundle into the ditch that other tanks can drive across.

In a similar manner, an Armoured Assault Support Section frequently includes a Mobile Bridge, which is a tank with a folding section of metal that can bridge major gaps or collapsed sections of bridge in a few minutes, to maintain the momentum of the attack.

The Assault Ramp Carrier is a variant of the Main Battle Tank where the turret is removed but not replaced. Instead, the hull is sealed tight, with available snorkels. Hydraulic ramps, several meters wider than the vehicle, are attached at the front and rear. In battle, the Ramp Carrier drives up to a slope too steep for another tank to climb, locks itself down, and deploys the ramps for following tanks to drive up and over a wall or embankment.

Finally, Headquarters Section will come equipped with what troops have traditionally called the Bakery Tractor. Bakery Tractors are used to establish a laager for tanks. This is a specially-built vehicle with a large backhoe that digs up soil and drops it into a hopper. The soil is then mixed with a chemical classified as a Reflectant, which is a plasticizing material that will stabilize the soil into soft bricks that are extremely resistant to both energy weapons and physical impact.

The Bakery outputs standard sized bricks that are scaled to Human (10cm x 20cm x 40cm), Vehicle (20cm x 40cm x 80cm), or Fortification (60cm x 80cm x 120cm), with a hollow bottom designed to lock into nobs that stick out the top. They retain a rubbery, squishy feel, and will stop or slow most small arms bullets, and spread the impact of an energy beam over a large surface, preventing melt-through or super-heating.

COMMAND

The Legion will be commanded by a Legate, who has roughly the equivalent rank of the navy’s Fleet Lord.

In the case of several Legions acting together for an extended campaign, overall command will be designated to a Governor, or possibly a Margrave, with rank equivalent to a First Fleet Lord. Such a commander may occasionally be the senior-most Legate present also being given overall command (see the archaic term Marshal).

While an Armoured Legion like the Ninth Pohang will have four full Alae on paper, and for training purposes, the usual disposition in the field is the three Alae only, with a fourth (any of them) being swapped out to support a different Legion. The new fourth unit will be a different Alae/Cohort that is attached for a campaign or extended mission. Examples include attaching a Rapid Assault Ala (Armored Rifles), or a Heavy Scout Ala (Wheeled or Tracked). Infantry and Cavalry Cohorts are also options, but much more rare, given the nature of the two forces. On occasion, an entire Artillery Cohort has been attached.

The most frequent arrangement is to attach an Ala of Mechanized Scouts (Wheeled or Tracked), depending on the terrain. This formation is a spearhead for an assault, normally used to break up formations where hostile forces have managed to dig themselves in tightly and the costs of an infantry assault may be prohibitive.

RANK STRUCTURE

  • Legate (Commanding Officer)
  • Primus Pilus (“First Spear.” Second in Command. Field Commander. )
  • Cohort Centurion (Commander of an Ala)
  • Patrol Centurion (Commander of a Patrol)
  • Lance Centurion (Commander of a Lance or Squadron, depending on seniority)
  • Decurion (Senior Enlisted rank)

Losing the past

This past weekend, Fabulous Publisher Babe™ and I went out to lunch with a woman who had been her best friend since Junior High School. (We’ll just quantify that as “a while ago.”) Babe and I got to talking beforehand about those sorts of things and I came to realize that the guy who had been my best friend in Junior High and High School is someone I have not talked to in more than eighteen years.

And I won’t even take the blame for that one.

His birthday falls about two weeks after mine, and we used to split the difference and celebrate on the fourth of July every summer. When we were fourteen, the plan had been to celebrate our 30th together in Washington, D.C., and our 40th in London.

Never did get the story, but about six months before that 30th, he announced he wasn’t interested, wasn’t going, and kinda sorta walked away from even knowing me. This was the era before rampant social media and electronics, so it was still a long distance call to ring someone up on the phone, and email was about the only way to really stay in touch with someone who lived 1500 miles away.

It really was possible to lose touch with someone, especially if he stopped answering emails. And he did.

So she and I did a quick catalog. “Folks I have spoken with in the last few years.”

My best friend (J***) in 4th-6th grade, before he went to a different Jr. High. Found him through another long-time friend (and ex-girlfriend I’m still on good terms with.) Still communicate a bit via social media.

Said ex-girlfriend whom I’ve known for over thirty years. Saw her in the flesh four years ago when I went to visit in Colorado.

And then, nothing. Really big chronological gap.

Another girl. I knew her vaguely in High School, but we didn’t start to date until I was in college, and I never got that serious because she didn’t seem that interested. (Turns out she was that shy, but I’ve never claimed to be telepathic.) After 1987(?) talked her again next in about 2007. Still exchange messages, occasionally, but haven’t seen her in those thirty years.

In college, met Conan the Librarian and Pike. Went to school with neither. Met Conan when I was a volunteer with emergency rescue, like him. Met Pike through Conan. Lost both of them in the early and then mid-90’s and found them again in the last 3-4 years.

The first girl I ever really fell in love with. Again in college. That was thirty years ago. Haven’t seen her in twenty. Still exchange messages via social media on occasion.

Met Snake in college. He was my roommate for about five years. He died extremely young, about fifteen years ago.

Met J**2 through Snake. Haven’t seen him in 25 years. Still chat via social media on occasion.

Same goes for M**2. Met him through Snake. Found him on social media in the last year, through J***2.

Met Swamp Rat in LA when I was out there in the early 90’s. Haven’t seen him in about twenty years. We chat on occasion.

Met Coop in the LA days. Haven’t seen him since I passed through central Cali about five years ago driving back from a friend’s wedding in Vegas. Might go years between emailing him.

Met Dusty in the LA days. Lost him in ’94. Found him again in 2011. He’s up here in Seattle, but it’s probably been a year since I’ve seen him, and only email on occasion.

Met J9 through Charlie, and she (Charlie) died nearly twenty years ago now. Last saw J9 in about 2008.

Etc.

etc.

So I got to thinking. I moved to Seattle in ’97. Will celebrate 20 years here in about six weeks, as a matter of fact.

I’ve just listed all of the people I can think of, off the top of my head, that I knew before 1997 (family not included), that I could easily reach out and talk to, if I had a question.

It is not a particularly long list. And many of them are folks in the third or fourth circle of friendship these days. Modern technology allows that. In the old days, the kind of folks you would just hear gossip about from your mother, talking to their cousin, or something.

The baby in my Tuesday Gaming Group I’ve been playing with for probably twelve years now. The oldest of that group I met in about ’98, so he and I are coming up on twenty years soon. The other two fall in the middle. There are a couple of others that come and go depending on time and commitments, both of them new in the last ten years.

I grew up in a different age. And did different things.

It was possible to just completely fall off the face of the earth, without actively deleting old friends to get them off you social media page, or walking away from your account, or abandoning your phone number (although I did that twice, for personal reasons).

And imagine explaining to the next generation the prohibitive cost of calling someone in a different state, and why you had to wait until after 7pm or the weekend, when the rates went down.

But, in the long term, it was a good idea for me to leave everything behind.

I was extremely angry at the world.

I had my reasons, and I’ll defend them fiercely. Five of my closest friends from along that road are no longer around to share with me how much better things have gotten for my life over the last few years.

On the one hand, I don’t miss the person I was three years ago, or ten, to say nothing of twenty or thirty. (I’m pretty sure me just being alive at this point will cause a number of people to have to pay off bets against. Their loss, for assuming…)

How about you?

How many of your friends are you still in touch with, from when you were bright-eyed, obnoxious kids together, dreaming of taking over the world?

I always wonder, whatever happened to some of those people I used to know. Did their lives turn out mundane or crazy? Did they go all white-picket-fence, like M**2 did?

I keep getting more bohemian as I get older. And that’s okay. I’m having fun. True fun. The kind where you wake up in the morning excited about the possibilities, as opposed to dragging out of bed angry, and going and putting in your time at a job you despise as you work for a weekend of mind-numbingness and hoping that death comes and relieves you of you misery soon.

Do me a favor? Send a note to that best friend. Or your oldest friend. Check in. Say hi. See what’s going on in their life and what you’ve missed. Not for me, but for you.

Do that with several other people. Just ’cause.

For me, if you know anybody that might remember me from the olden days, send them this note and ask them to reach out to me. Seriously. Good Lord only knows what they’ve been up to. And my craziness is kinda off the scale, even today. Would be interesting to hear about their adventures.

I graduated high school when I was sixteen in ’86. Finished college in ’89. Left and did grad school in SoCal, and then stayed around until ’95. Was back in Wichita for eighteen months. Been in Seattle-ish since. Will base camp here one of these days, but will travel again.

I can tell you when something happened, based on what city I lived in at the time, since I moved 17 times between summer of ’90 and fall of ’01.

But I’m also in a very small group. Most people statistically are born, raised, live, and die in about a fifty-mile circle. Sad, but not everyone wants to have adventures. Or decide to move cross country and try someplace else for a while. I figure I’m about halfway on my journey, so I’ve got a lot of miles left in me, and a lot of adventures left to have.

But it is also nice to revisit the old days. For me, there is always a taste of “there, but for the Grace of God, go I…” but still. We live in a magical future, where you never have to truly lose touch again.

So, go talk to someone.

 

shade and sweet water,

bd

West of the Mountains, WA

2016 – Okay that was interesting…

This time last year, I sat down to organize my notes and figure out what was going on. FB reminds me of anniversaries of interesting events. I have my own in the calendar.

January 7, 2015.

My world kinda turned upside down. I had previously published Beyond the Mirror, Vol 1 and Vol 2. Two collections of fantasy shorts and epic poetry. Late in 2014 (early Dec, I think) I dropped Volume 3: Alternate Worlds, which was the first collection of SF. At the same time, I published the first Javier novella, The Science Officer.

So far, so good. People (who are not blood relatives, even) were actually buying my books and enjoying them.

January 7, 2015, Science Officer exploded.

It went from selling 2-3 copies on a good day to 70-90. Stayed that way for a while. I frantically finished the second in the series: The Mind Field, so I could sustain traction. Managed it.

I was already starting to transition to novel writing, so I kept it up. 2015 was a pretty good year.

2016, I decided to try some new things. Not all of them worked. I personally love White Crane, but not many other people do. And I understand that it is book one of a trilogy, and most people won’t touch it until I finish the other two. Your loss, by the way. 🙂

In 2017, I am going to publish a number of other stories in the same (Modern Gods) universe. People with super-powers, coming to grips with it. And Society coming to grips with them.

And you know me. Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) has correctly identified my underlying literary theme as “sticking it to the man.” So the new stories are not epic battles to stop evil being from destroying the universe (except when they are), but stories about the little people who are involved.

The first story is scheduled to come out in the third CampCon Anthology: “Steam. And Dragons.” It will be published in March, and be available for pre-order in February. More than a dozen folks this year, writing fantasy, science fiction, steampunk, horror, as well as post-apocalyptic stuff.

I wrote a silly story about a breakfast dragon.

In June (if not earlier), I will actually be editing a bigger superhero anthology tentatively entitled “Hiding Behind The Cowl.” I asked my writers to give me longer stories (10-20k instead of 3-6k) and have gotten some really great stuff. Hoping it sells enough that I can convince them to do it annually or bi-annually. TBD. But poke them and let them know you want MORE…

Just sent off a stand-alone (#3) story to my first readers to review. Again, minor character with barely any power, trying to find herself and her place in a world that she doesn’t understand, and doesn’t understand her. Probably come out in the fall.

And #4 will be a (superhero) short-story collection I just started of extremely short pieces  (2500-3500) wrapped around a common theme of food and cooking. Have the first done, and twelve plotted. They don’t take long, and they make me giggle.

But back to 2016 for a moment.

The Third Javier story came out: The Gilded Cage.

The Fourth Jessica: Goddess of War.

Plus more Alexandria Station Stories with Doyle/Piper (Demigod), and Vo Arlo (Siren).

White Crane, the first of Kai Di’s trilogy. Fairchild, the beginning of Dani’s series.

I even made more money in 2016 than I did in 2015, which is always a good sign. Not enough to walk away from the day job, or even schedule a date when to walk away, but getting closer. (If sales of the latter two novels had been better, we’d be in better shape. That’s what I get for having too many series not developed enough. Lesson learned. And I promise not to start writing what I hope will be my grandest SF epic yet (The XXXX XXXXXXX) until I get some of the others done. I might write them anyway, and just not publish them until much later. Or not.

Because I haven’t said it enough times: Thank you. I would still be writing without the support of the fans, but it would be in spare time, and not doing anything with it. (Like the last 30 years.) That I can possibly make enough money to live on is because you like my words enough. But it starts with you.

I crossed 1,000,000 sellable (modern) words in the middle of 2016. Took me 2.5 years. Hoping to do the next million in a shorter period, but I have a day job, so I consider the 415,000 words I wrote in 2016 to be pretty damned spiffy. Goal is more every year, Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

So, back to 2017.

More fantasy short pieces coming. I’m trying to fill in some of those series from Mirror 1 and Mirror 2 and move them all along. (Brak: Feet of Clay) Adding new series and characters when I must.  Many that make me giggle, including Akahana.

In Feb and April, two new Beyond The Mirror volumes (4 & 5): Dramatic Worlds. Four plays about Cisco in Vol 4. Two plays, two monologues, and a comedy sketch dialogue in Vol 5. Maybe eventually publish them all individually. Maybe not.

Just sent the fifth Jessica Keller novel off to first readers yesterday. The Flight of the Blackbird. Scheduled for late spring or early summer.

Working now on the fourth Javier story. The Pleasure Dome. TBD.

Dunno what comes next. Not that worried. Won’t run out of ideas before the world collapses.

Anything you want to see?

And as a reward for actually reading this: want me to send you an ebook? I have several nobody has read yet. You can be first. I could not do this without you.

 

shade and sweet water,

bd

West of the Mountains, WA

Happy Eggnog!!!

Because I can… has kinda become my mantra this year. The only limits to my career are my imagination and patience, so I am having way too much fun.

I’m out at the farm today (Xmas Eve), with no interwebs and no interest in going into town, but then I realized I could hit the website from my phone. So I get to take five minutes to wish everyone a good holiday of their choice and denomination.

HAPPY EGGNOG, everyone. I hope you have as good a time as you can.

And I’m feeling festive. Anybody wanna read something, lemme know what you haven’t read yet and I’ll send a book. Or forward the note to a friend. I won’t deliver it until Monday, but it will still be fun.

b

Preorder: Uniforms of the Fleet, Volume One

Good news.

I have a new book up for pre-order. It’s been a year in the making, but I’m really jazzed about it, and I hope y’all will be, too.

Uniforms of the Fleet, Volume One contains thirteen color plates (including the cover) with characters from the Jessica Keller stories (including Command Centurion Jessica on the cover and Fleet Centurion Jessica inside). Others included on this pass are:

  • Nadine Orly
  • Furious
  • Moirrey
  • Iskra Vlahovic
  • Navin the Black
  • Dash
  • Denis
  • Arott Whughey
  • Petia
  • Nils
  • Suvi

Additionally, there are two color plates for the starship badges: Auberon, and the Star Controller Athena. This is what everyone wears as a patch on their left shoulder when in uniform.

For the badges, assuming desire on YOUR PART (speak up over the next month or so), I am hoping, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, to do coffee mugs with the Auberon logo, and maybe t-shirts. Lunchboxes? You tell me what you’d like to see, so I have a chance to do it right.

One of these days, I’d even like to do action figures, but you’re going to have to recruit more of your friends to buy more of my books so I can finally transition to full-time writer and leave the joys and heartbreak of database programming behind me forever. That will be an expensive undertaking, unless one of you happens to be a 3D modeler who could create the files and maybe decant the figures. (If so, let’s talk. I’m all about licensing agreements, these days.)

More good news: I just finished the first draft pass of the next/fifth Jessica novel: Flight of the Blackbird. It will go to first readers in early January, with an expected publication date in May, 2017, Good Lord willing and creek don’t rise. More news as we get closer.

Right now, I’m deep in the editorial phase of a new anthology I put together with several of my friends, also due out Spring. It will be an anthology of superhero stories, but different than the normal ones. What I asked the writers to give me is not so much how they became costumed heroes/villains, but “Why?” What causes someone to dress up in tights to fight crime and right wrongs.

And because I wanted deeper stories, I asked for pieces in the 10,000-20,000 word range, to give people space to play. The results were astonishing, as we move forward, and big. They range from 13,000 all the way up to over 35,000. Hopefully, five powerful stories (contracts not finalized yet, so I don’t have everyone nailed down, but I will put out something, even if some of them decide to back out later. Not that I’m expecting it.) that explore a range of themes.

They are more than just another superhero story, because they are intended to be about the psychology that drives someone. They entertain me. Hopefully, you will find them awesome as well, so I can convince everyone and then some to come back for another volume next year, and maybe make this an ongoing thing.

As promised, I have been writing short stories every month, so you don’t have to go so long between hits. Finished the one for November and it’s being first readered. December is going a little long, but that’s okay. It’s at 6k currently. Probaby 8-9k when I get there. New character, new world, new series.

Am planning to go back and look at the older fantasy stuff and write additional stories in some of those worlds over the course of 2017. My original goal had always been to do heterogeneous collections on theme (fantasy, SciFi, etc.) and then pull together all the characters into their own collection when I had enough mass to justify it. Brak 4 coming out in November was an example of this. I figure it will take nine to get the first volume done. Then I can either write a novel, or tuck in more stories, or just keep going. Kaleph, Alicia, Suren, and Jesilyria are on my radar.

Starting in January, I hope to get into the fourth Science Officer story with Javier.  Might do a couple in 2017, depending on time and muse. Stay tuned. There are a bunch of those in my head and my notes, so its not like Javier will run out any time soon. (Jessica will go nine and done. Although JG is still on my ass to write her a prequel trilogy of Young Jessica stories. Maybe. One of these days. No promises.)

I hope that the season finds you all well and safe. I write these blogs because I can. And for the advertising. And because it helps me crystallize my thoughts and plans. Hopefully, you find them as interesting and useful. Or at least silly enough to read them clear down to the joke at the end.

Okay, maybe not joke, but offer.

I’m in a winter-gift mood. Is there a story in my catalog that you haven’t read yet, but wanted to? Lemme know and I’ll send you an ebook, either as an email or a sideload to your kindle. And if you have read them all (thank you!!!) and want first crack at something that I haven’t published yet, lemme know. The Adventuress came about because I sent it to Maggie to cheer her up, and her response was so great that I decided to put it out.

So please, lemme know.

 

shade and sweet water

bd

West of the Mountains, WA

Fundraiser for a good cause

Reminder: there will be a fundraiser that starts at noon on Wednesday and runs for a day.

I have the link here, but it’s not live at this second, so you’ll get a 404, but check back.

Your chance to get a signed copy of Auberon delivered, plus I’ll tuckerize you into a coming story (probably Science Officer, maybe Jessica Keller, or something you’d like.)

Help make the world a better place this holiday season.