20240506

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

Ye Gads, what a weekend.

Drove down to Portland to see Fabulous Publisher Babe™ and give her some help with our niece (one month out from brain surgery and doing much better). It was also the niece’s birthday yesterday, so cake and quiet party.

Got up this morning and drove back to Seattle. And did all the things around here that needed doing as soon as I walked in the door. Watering plants in her house. Hydroponics. Refill the bird feeders. Get ready for a busy day tomorrow. And Wednesday. Fuck only knows what Thursday has planned, but that’s out far enough I can breathe.

LOTS of rain on the way home. Several errands between Tacoma and the house. Took five hours to finally get here.

Kinda tired. Had some coffee after I got milk at the grocery. Sun just came out here. Apple tree looks amazing (pic). Figs and grapes starting to bud. Pears and cherries bloomed two weeks ago. Looks like a lot of apples this fall. If you like fresh fruit, mark your calendar and remind me in August so you can come out and pic some. Fuji on the left. Honeycrisp on the right.

Corsac Fox percolating along nicely. Just shy of 66k words on an 80k target, so right on track. Except that 6 cliffhangars into 7 as one LONG story, so I need to write 7 over the summer.

Got two projects on my immediate next list, but not sure which I’ll pursue. Both SF. One heavy into romance tropes, but not Romance™. The other is the actual project that I think I shared with some of you several years ago, called Cloning Blues. It bubbled up to the top of my mind and wants to be written. I have another week to worry, so we’ll see. Probably about this time next week, matter of fact.

Gotta see what writer brain wants when we get there. And what is the inverse flip of what I’ve been doing to keep things sharp. Light/Dark. Fast/Slow. Opera/Adventure. SF/Thriller. Something. The key is always going back and forth so I don’t fall into a rut.

This one feels like Old/New, because both of the projects are entirely fresh, rather than Book N in some series, which is what I have been doing lately.

Summer’s coming. Fabulous Publisher Babe™ should be home in a couple more weeks, then plans to bar the door and hibernate for a few weeks, possibly leaving her phone with me to answer so she goes days without talking.

I’m freaking exhausted, but counting down to hopeful normalcy. I am still likely to be a little to bitey for another month, but shit happens. Y’all been warned.

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If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

20240429

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

Still working Uly and Dan. Just over 50k of an expected 80k, so that’s good. About to start the long set-piece that the front half telegraphed, which them splits the story into two big parts (Uly and Dan separated by ten thousand light-years, sort of thing), leading into book 7. Hadn’t really expected to do 6 & 7 as a duology, but what the hell do I know? Writer-brain doesn’t always tell me things ahead of time.

Then, as I’m falling asleep last night, a whole new story slams into my head. Big. Not huge, but something entirely new. Fun. Funky, but one of my first decision points is whether I want to write it as straight SF or roll it sideways into the erotica SF. (If anybody actually read the erotica I’d put out, it might be a most obvious point, but both of you don’t count, so I intend to leave it open for a bit.)

Whole damned book one. Possibly the overarching plot to a long Book One or a trilogy, with the back end open to all manner of follow-on stories, once I get the two main characters resolved.

Not Romance™, but assuredly following many of those same plot arc elements, which is extra weird for me. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl exchange fish out of water adventure sequences. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back. HEA. Or something.

Now add a hundred thousand words of hijinks or something in the middle, and Bob’s yer uncle.

Or something like that. Writer-brain obviously wants some sort of break from the stuff I’ve been writing. And I’m ALMOST back to perhaps something approaching normal. Whatever that is.

Going down to see Fabulous Publisher Babe™ again this week. She comes home on the 17th of May, and will be utterly exhausted. Niece is doing well, but the Babe is doing 100% caregiving, and her niece is as stubborn as she is.

Also working on what will be the third Swordmistress Zhen story, with #1 out and #2 currently available in Thrill Ride Magazine 05, Sisters In Arms. I’ll get the rights back this summer, so I’d like to be able to extend the series. Folks have responded well to Swordmistress Zhen and Archer Zhen. I had fun with them.

Should finish Corsac 6 in a couple of weeks. Then, obviously, on to something new. Not Science Officer 15 or Corsac 7, but maybe these new things. Got time to think. Busy taking notes on the new one, but no idea if it starts as a short story, or I just drop into novel mode and run with it.

I’m just looking forward to life somehow getting back to some sort of less stressful normal. If possible. I always knew 2024 was going to suck. Gotta keep grinding to get to 25 and hopefully we survive as a civilization. Because, unfortunately, that seems to be where we are, when one group has decided to burn it all to the ground if they can’t be in charge. And yes, I’m a little salty this morning. Comes of not enough sleep and being without my sweetie for several weeks.

More news when I know.

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

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Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

20240422

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

Got up and been running all over creation for the last several hours. Breakfast. Bank (which is a haul because the closest branch to deposit a check is in Kent now), post office (voted), grocery store, gas.

Busy busy busy. But good. Gonna go north and study some weapon forms with Sensei Johnson tonight. Learning new things. Anti-Stodgy. Hopefully, you are doing the same.

Gotta keep the brain as flexible as the body. Listen to new music. Learn new things. Eat new foods.

Took a quick jaunt down to Portland to see my sweetie last week. She’s taking care of the niece (doing much better) but stressed. Couple days of me around helped. Will go back in another week or so. She’ll hopefully be home after that for the long haul.

Always knew that Jan 1 to about June 1 was going to be stressful. Mostly got past it. Didn’t bite a single person so far, which I will count as a win, all things considered. Writing is coming along, just much slower than normal. At 45k for the month, or about 25k behind my usual pace. Might make it to Pulp 1 (84k). Might not. Shit happens.

Mostly, it will show up in 2025, when I don’t necessarily have a full calendar of novels to deliver. Not sure what I will do instead, but I have several months to write more and maybe fill in gaps.

I have the product in the can, but it’s choppy. Two Giles. Two Heather. Two Shrike. A whole bunch of Book Ones that demand series behind them. At the same time, I have existing series I could extend. A few people have asked about more Last Stand. Ideas for more Marrakesh (it only pauses at 5. It doesn’t stop.) More Corsac Fox. Etc.

But next year might be messy. We’ll see. My job is to keep writing and keep my humor. Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead, as it were.

Corsac 6 is coming along nicely. Will pick it up as soon as I post this. Sitting at 23k. Target 80k. Plus this is the sixth of seven in Block One, and I am slipping in foreshadowing of how 6 and 7 will flow, then come to a resting point. Got major plans, but there will be a gap of several years in between (years for Uly and Dan, not you).

Dunno what I write after that. Been researching early jet aircraft again, so there might be the next Red Branch on deck. Those are fun because 1949 was a year of ferment, when everyone was inventing the technology of the future, and jets went from toys to war machines. And there are so many cool designs to work with, because nobody really understood the best way to do things, so they were trying lots of things to see which worked best. Faster, higher, farther, except for the part where some idiot decided that the best way for two jets to dogfight involved getting a running start at one another, and performing a jousting pass with unguided rockets. HIGHLY inaccurate, unguided rockets. 1% hit ratio style rockets.

Guided missiles would change everything, but not for another decade or two. There’s a line in the original Top Gun where the instructor discusses the shitty kill ratios in Vietnam, and the need to train pilots better. The problem was the FFAR and the AIM-4, both of which were shit. And those lovely designers removed guns from the planes. All guns.

Even today, there are guns, because you might need to dogfight. I expect that drones will end the manned combat aircraft in another 5-10 years, and I have no idea if the next generation of UAV will just be intelligent missiles, survey platforms, or flying guns. Probably one of each, plus two dozen other things as needs evolve. Ukraine is a tipping point in weapons technology, much like World War II was.

So I’m thinking about fast planes. Because why the hell not? If any of you are knowledgeable about early jets or aviation in general and want to read Red Branch 1, please yell. I know enough to be dangerous, but not enough to be an expert. And I’m likely to start #2 soon.

But for now, more Uly and Dan.

Y’all have a lovely Monday.

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

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Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

20240415

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

Okay, slight break. Took some time off. Recovering.

Realized that, dating back to about July of last year, I have been the emotional rock upon which a number of my people had clung when their own lives got turned upside down. Best friend’s wife suddenly divorced him and I spent six months keeping him moving forward as he figured out how to rebuild his life. Fabulous Publisher Babe™ got cataract surgery last year, but fell into the 10% who needed follow-on work. Niece suffered a traumatic brain injury several years ago and never got it treated properly until it got BAD.

Niece had brain surgery on Wed the 3rd. Opened her head up with a can opener and dremeled off skull, then pulled the sheet tight and stapled it back in place. She was out of the hospital on Sunday and home. Recovering well.

Fabulous Publisher Babe™ got her other eye done on the 4th (three weeks after the first) and is in great shape. Down in Portland with the niece, basically sitting on her because stubborn doesn’t run in that family at all.

Had breakfast with my buddy this morning, and talked history and culture of martial arts over coffee. He likes to tell me that he doesn’t know anything, until you get him going and he starts deep-diving into the history of Okinawan Karate. And I mean DEEP.

Last week, I finally came home on Monday. My bucket was empty. I joked with a couple of people that I’d hit the fork in the road where my options were Depression, Exhaustion, and Xenocide. I picked exhaustion. Had nothing left to give. Canceled various things and just sat on the couch and read, because even writing took more brain that I had available.

Better today. Almost normal. Looking at when I might squeeze in a trip down to Portland, between some of the busy things I’ve got on my calendar as I try to put my life back together.

In 2022, I wrote 1.4 million words. In 2023, I intentionally slowed that down to 1.0, because I had other things I wanted to do and had to create space for them.

Right now, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to hit 750,000 words this year. Sounds like a lot, until you realize that it’s half of what I was doing, and I still write at my normal pace. It’s having time to sit at the keyboard writing. Less of that this year. Makes me a little grumpy, but these are all things that needed to be done, and nobody else could hold the line while folks were dealing with issues.

Just a matter of identifying things that don’t get done this year. Maybe pushed off. Maybe removed from whatever list. At some point, I’m likely to break my publishing streak of having a novella or more monthly dating back to late 2017. Simply won’t have enough material in hand to do. Might write some shorter stuff instead. Or simply have a year of doing something every other month so I can catch up. Dunno. Don’t really care, because I keep publishing. Keep writing. Keep having fun.

Finished Science Officer #14 in there. Exile, following the Season Two scheme of letters. (You were paying attention and caught that, right? Alien, Buried, Captain, Dragoon, Exile…) H will be Homecoming, and finish off Season Two. And Exile starts an interior trilogy Zakhar describes as the War of the Pirate Clans, Volume Two. Hoping to be able to write F and G later this year, and maybe publish two next year.

Currently about 10k into Corsac Fox #6. #3 and #4 coming this summer (June and July and up for preorder now). Would like to write #6 and #7 and drop those three sequentially at some point to bring Uly and Dan to the end of Block One. Still planning Block Four, which will end when Uly is in his mid-60s. Probably about 30 novels all told, but I don’t really know. Four big blocks of emotion and lifespan, assuming people keep enjoying it.

Not every series works. I have fun writing them, or I wouldn’t, but the amount of personal abuse I suffered for writing Last Stand means that it will be a while before I circle back and touch that realm again. Plus, while it had it’s fans, not many. (Sales were pretty shitty across that series, which was a shame because…)

But it’s Monday. Been writing. Got this blog. Will throw out a newsletter later. Back on track. Chipmunks make lousy ninjas, but they’re in spring training right now. Horse poop here and there. Cherries and plums flowering. Everything else waking up.

We’ll get there.

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

—————————-

Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

20240401

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

Slightly better Monday, but still kinda yuck. Ended up dropping $2,000 on the car last week fixing various ills. Thank you to everyone who bought books. Keeps me off the streets.

Headed down to Portland tomorrow for a few days. Niece is having major surgery, and I’m one of her favorite people, so I’ll be at the hospital with her while she’s in ICU and then recovering. Will have access to the interwebs, but my brain’s in kinda a bad place right now.

Mostly, got a list of things to do, and been knocking them off because forward brain progress isn’t really easy today. But I got a checklist. Working it.

Remember how I told you that I was going to end up dropping from 1,000,000 to 750,000 words this year, because things were likely to intrude? This was one of them. The big one, because I got no clue how it will all work out and how long her recovery will take. Me and the Fabulous Publisher Babe™ will be swapping off trips down to see her and help as she gets better. I’m still kinda less than optimal.

Good news, I’m really close to finishing Science Officer 14. Exile. Start of the War Of The Pirate Clans, Volume Two, as it were. Messy space battles and snipe hunts in a forest. Depending on how everything else goes, I might finish it this week. Dunno. Beyond my control.

From there, I’ll be sending out your Patreon Stories tomorrow night. And working on some short fiction. Not sure how many stories I’ll end up with for the next Boundary Shock Quarterly, so I might write a second one myself. Always a risk with variable themes and the cast of weirdoes I currently have. Today is Due Date, and I have five stories in hand, and threats of at least three more coming in no sooner than tomorrow. (Professionals ask their editor when they need an extension, and can usually get it because they asked and will deliver fast enough for my needs. It’s the ghosts that piss me off and don’t get to come in late.)

By the weekend, I’ll know. And we’ll go from there. Again, kinda grumpy today. Not your fault. Not my fault. It is what it is.

Hoping to start Corsac Fox #6 next, possibly after some short fiction to fill in future gaps and let the brain ramble around. TBD. Watch this space.

Not a lot of news past that. Been working on the Tai Chi and Kung Fu. My Sifu literally just sent out a proposed path to Black Belt, and three years of study has me currently less than a quarter of the way there. And that’s ShoDan. 1st. Given his logic, I might expect that I could possibly reach that level somewhere around ten years of dedicated study and a background where I was a blackbelt in an unrelated art.

Of course, part of his list includes a number of fingertip pushups to demonstrate, which my shoulder can’t do, so it is entirely possible that I’ll end up having to go study somewhere else if I wanted to actually get a black belt, while learning what he knows. He knows a TREMENDOUS amount, but can’t sort it into a single school, so if I were to somehow be awarded a black belt, I would show mastery in at least five other schools. Like, five times over Shodan.

I’m not sure I have that level of patience. And today is not the day to pursue it, because I’m a little bitey right now.

More news when I know. No update next Monday. I’ll be driving home if all goes well, so maybe Tuesday. Maybe not.

Dunno.

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

—————————-

Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

20240325

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

Grumble. Spent the whole morning at the car dealership, where I managed to get out for only $1500. (Everything they want to fix would run me about $7500 at their prices. Feel free to buy more books and tell all of your friends to buy some, because it’s been an expensive Monday, and only going to get worse.) I’m not emotionally fragile as most people would recognize it. Or rather, barely containing the snarls, instead of the sobs that many people get to when it gets overwhelming.

I just gotta get to June 1 mostly intact. Mostly. Something. Not a lot of words here today, because I got too many other things to do and didn’t sleep well last night, before getting up at 5am to get down there to spend too much money.

I need a real patron. A German Prince or something who wants to sponsor me on an annual basis to just commit art. If you know any, send them my way? Imagine what the world could be like if money wasn’t the defining characteristic of things?

Grumble.

Working on Science Officer #14. About 40k now, target 60k-ish. Working on rolling hard into Act III. Better, writer-brain helpfully explained how 14 leads into both 15 and 16. I already knew what 17 covered, because that was intended to be the end of Season Two (#9 as an interim, plus 8 more novels) and I have started building up those stories. So I should be able to roll into 15 at some point easy enough. I’d like to maybe publish two of them next year, instead of just the one I’ve been doing lately, but I’ve been busy doing other things and publishing other fiction.

Not a lot past that, because my day is kinda yuck and I’m going to go sit on the couch and veg for a while instead of thinking.

Reminder that Marrakesh 4 and 5 are April and May, with Corsac Fox 3 and 4 in June and July (all four are up for preorder.)

Cheers.

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

—————————-

Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

20240318

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

It’s always weird when I’m standing at my desk writing and see a deer walk by out the window behind the monitor. Just hanging out. Chilling. Moved over to the side yard and parked his butt under a tree for a few hours. Two of them, when I looked closer. Ignored me when I went out to do yard work. Ignored the Fabulous Publisher Babe™ when she went back and forth.

Chill.

Obviously, utterly terrified of us. Later, we had to go run errands, and one of the dorks was grazing in the yard. I came around the corner and said hi. He bolted all of about ten meters, then went back to eating.

Seriously.

Things getting more or less back to comfortable for now. Still in the middle of a six-month stretch where things are utterly unsettled, but most of that energy isn’t mine, and my job continues to be hanging cool like those deer.

I am, however, reminded of one of my favorite lines from “The Long Run” by Daniel Keys Moran.

If you can keep your calm while everyone around you is losing theirs, perhaps you have misunderstood the situation.” (roughly. Don’t want to flip through the book to locate it at this moment.)

Hoping I have not misunderstood. Being the rock against which storms break and tides are thwarted. It’s a living.

Mentioned that I was writing the next Science Officer. #14. Exile. Having fun. Crossed 20k this morning, with only a vague guess how long it is. Should probably go look at previous novels. (Don’t go anywhere.) Okay, somewhere between 55 and 65k, so I am likely around a third of the way done. Writer-brain understood that, because that’s about where I am at this moment in terms of story.

Will keep pounding away at that. Then circle back to Ollie 3 at some point. And get back to work on Ivette (needed to pause because I realized that I was missing critical component of plot and characters and needed to have those before I proceeded. Writer-brain, again.)

Reminder that Boundary Shock Quarterly has a shop now, where you can buy individual issues, as well as sign up for a subscription so you don’t ever miss one. Plus, subscriptions work out to $4 per instead of $5.

I have written six Beckett Fernsby stories so far, ranging from 25-32 only skipping 029 (First Contact) because I wrote the first Wardog Charlie story there. And will write more Charlie stories, because I have a pets issue coming up in a few years (I tend to run 2-3 years out in coming up with themes, then trying to write that far ahead).

Also working on Holden and Reilly some more. Need to keep pushing that out a ways to keep folks entertained. And possibly turn that into Vol 1 at some point, but I have a lot of ground to cover first. Sitting right about 90k, which feels like maybe 2/3-3/4 mark of the opening. Crazy big, but folks backing the Patreon at the $5 mark have been reading their adventures. Hope y’all been enjoying it.

Not a lot past that. Quiet week around here if I’m lucky. Spring, so a lot of yard work to do as things wake up. Still figuring I’ll end up selling the place in another 5-8 years and moving into the city someplace, where the walk score is at least 88. Start saving your nickles if the old farmstead appeals to you.

Chat more later.

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

—————————-

Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

20240311

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

A Monday that almost appears normal. Which is good, because I spent most of last week recovering from a head cold I picked up on the flight from Guadalajara. Then gave to the Fabulous Publisher Babe™. She’s a little pissed about that.

I had a moment in Mexico. Woke up one morning and a stranger greeted me in the mirror. It happens. Not a lot, but often enough to recognize.

Transition.

Becoming someone else.

Someone new.

A fork in the road taken.

2024 is likely to be full of them, when you think about it. This is the year when I simply ride out the storm as best I can sail it.

At present, I am roughly ¾ of the way through Ollie 3, and hit a wall where I had to put it aside. That was getting my head into the place to go to Mexico.

And I am roughly 13k into Ivette 1 (Gunship Commander), and had to put it aside, because I had to stop and rethink the plot that I had, in light of new ideas that came up while I was in Mexico.

That, and I simply had no enthusiasm for anything by the end of last week. That also happens. Think of it as a kind of hangover from the travel, plus being sick. Plus a bunch of other things.

Had to get up Friday morning hollow. Nothing there at all.

I had written notes for future projects while in Mexico. Took my phone with me for that exact reason.

Friday, I had to reach deep and tap a vein of pure rage.

Those of you who have only known me over the last decade or so have never seen me angry. Not even remotely close. Possibly a bit cross, at worst.

Not like the old days.

Not like when I was a machine fueled by rage.

Woke HIM up Friday to get shit done. He did not disappoint. Probably won’t go back to sleep for a few months, because there are situations upcoming where the willingness to go for someone’s throat with my teeth is suddenly a possibility. Hopefully not a necessity.

Shit’s on the table, though.

Got a guy who desperately needs to be popped in the mouth. Maybe a few times, until he shuts the fuck up. And minds his manners. Personally, I doubt that he’s capable of it, because he’s a malignant narcissist who likes to gaslight people.

Still trying to decide if I should bait him into starting something, so that I have an excuse to put him through a wall. Or a window. Whatever happens to be in the way.

Don’t like him. Don’t respect him. Have to tolerate him for reasons. For now.

Other folks involved have identified me as the nuclear option and refused to take it off the table, so they understand.

In Mexico, I simply projected it outwards like a scent, and NOBODY got that close. I could walk through a crowd and folks would shove others to get out of my way.

So he’s in the back of my mind as I work today.

Started the next Science Officer book. Have been drawing a blank for the longest time on what it should be. Letter “E” for those of you paying attention, but nothing past that.

Woke up in the dead of night in Mexico with the opening, which was good enough to get me into motion. Got 8k on paper right now, and just getting started.

Return of the Pirate Clans that we last saw in 7 and 8. ALL of them. At once. Come for Zakhar and Javier. And everybody else.

Gonna be a mess.

Good thing I’m in a rough mood as I write it.

How’s your Monday?

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

—————————-

Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

20240305

[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

So I’m back. Two weeks in Mexico City and Oaxaca. Fantastic trip, filled with adventures.

Stayed in a hotel just south of Izazaga Boulevard off Calle de Simon Bolivar, in Mexico City’s Centro district. And walked a lot. Like, 22-25,000 steps a day. (9-10 miles). Drank a lot of horchata (Mexican riced milk drink). Might be addicted to the stuff, as I have a batch in process now that I will finish this afternoon.

In Oaxaca, we stayed at an old house that had been converted to a kind of B&B. Ten rooms around a central courtyard, with a terrace up top. About two blocks from the main police station in town. About a block from the Ice Cream center of town. (Seriously, 9 stores around a market square, all doing ice cream and nothing else.) Oaxaquenos love their sweets. And the town is a major MEXICAN tourist destination. (Less so for westerners.)

Both places, lots of walking. And we started a bingo card for ways to eat. Actual restaurant. Cafeteria. Sit down stand on a sidewalk. Dude cooking meat in the park. Never once did I eat at any place “American” (lots of American fast food joints. Carl’s Jr is EVERYWHERE.) Also skipped Chinese, Sushi, etc. Kinda ruins the experience to travel 5,000 miles and not have an adventure.

In Mexico City, we also rode the subway everywhere. $5Mx (conversion about $17Mx to $1US) and something like Seattle’s Orca Card. (One Regional Card for All, except that it didn’t work in Mexico City and I feel like filing a (very extremely sarcastic) complaint with them over it.)

The thing I was not prepared for was Human size. I’m short for a white guy at 5’10, though exactly Human Male average for the species. In a lot of places, I was about 90th percentile for height, when I was around Mexican folks.

That much I expected. What surprised me was the sheer number of folks I encountered who didn’t come up to my collar bone. Fully grown human adults, under 4’9. But, after talking with Fabulous Publisher Babe™, she assured me that the Pre-Conquest natives tended to be that size, with someone my size being an absolute giant.

Generally friendly folks. And willing to be patient with the silly Norte who only speaks a little Spanish, but was trying and trying to be polite about it. They understand tourists, and we were likely far more respectful and polite than most.

I had a lot of fun. And learned a bunch of new things that I intend to start filtering into future writing projects. The Babe hitchhiked through the Yucatan just after 9/11, riding in the back of pick-up trucks with migrant farm workers. She was doing research for The Jaguar And The Wolf. And knows a LOT of Mayan history. I just like learning, and picked up a pretty damned useful general history of the region and people.

Hoping to return next year. Yucatan next time, as they have a new train that loops the peninsula. We considered taking a bus from Oaxaca to Palenque this time, because it and Chichen Itza have two of the best sets of Mayan ruins currently available for tourists. Next year, we might fly into Cancun and take a chicken bus across, but being able to train that distance will be even better. Details later in the year as we sort things out.

Writing. Sure. Something.

I think I have mentioned that 2024 is another slowdown year. Wrote 1.4m in 2022, but consciously dropped that to 1.0m in 2023 for reasons we don’t need to go over again here. In 2024, due to outside issues, I honestly don’t expect to get much past 750,000 words. If that. Nothing currently on my chart, but I’ll be support staff for a variety of folks all having medical and other issues this year, so there will be days and maybe weeks where I don’t write.

Brighter side, I took my phone with me and got pretty good at writing on it. Added several chapters to the Ivette Salinas/Widowmaker project that I started. I also need to finish off Ollie #3, but I had to put it aside while I got ready for Mexico, and will have to almost start from scratch this week to figure out where I was going.

Again, travel that interrupts the brain. Back now, and have a list of shit that came up while I was gone and need to address. Slowly grinding it down, but the disruption will take a week or so to settle out. And I have given myself permission to not feel guilty if I don’t write.

Brighter yet news, I was laying in the hotel room in Mexico City when the overall plot and title of the next Science Office popped up. If you’ve been paying attention, Season Two is alphabetical. Alien Seas. Buried Among The Stars. Captain Navarre. Dragoon’s Honor.

Book 14 (Season Two, #5) will be Eutrupio. Heh. That asshole Valko Slavkov finally trying to get his revenge for the Land Leviathan and Nidavellir. And he brought with him a lot of friends this time. Like I said, rough notes on plot and pacing.

Not sure how quickly I will write it. Been trying to publish a new Science Officer novel every December. Might manage this year. Might “have to” publish Corsac Fox 5 instead. Dunno. All depends on how word count and sales go this year. Last thing I want is to have to go get a real job again, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility, given how poorly sales have been over the last year and a half. And not just for me, but everyone. Tell your friends about me, so they buy my books. I got a lot of stories coming. Some ambitious new space opera, filled with “gods” and epic space battles. Want to share them all with you.

Past that, catching up. Grinding down my list. Getting back to writing.

And having a lot of fun.

Reminder that the four (so far) Hunter Bureau books are on sale on the KRP shop, if you haven’t read them. Or want to sic me on some friends of yours and have them read about an alien assassin trapped in the body of the cop chasing him.

This month only. Not sure what next month is, so it is in your interest to get on my Patreon mailing list ($1/month to see this blog in real time, plus the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter) so you don’t miss things with the delay.

Question for those of you who have read Grayson. Would you like to see Book Five stay on Earth, or hit the stars? (The ending of book four sets up both options, but I haven’t circled back around to see which story I want to tell next.)

Until next week.

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

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If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.

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[As usual, two weeks lag here, if you aren’t reading this on my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/blazeward). If you’d like your news fresher, and the monthly Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter, all I ask is a buck to help keep the lights on around here.]

Going to be out of town next week, traveling low to the ground, so there won’t be a blog post. Just saying.

Have been planning the trip for a while, and excited to be traveling some, after staying home a little too long. Got some adventures planned this year, which is part of why I’m writing less, starting today. Basically, this is the only thing I’m writing today, and won’t start up again until March (need recovery time). Plus working with my niece on her issues, which is most of March and April, but shouldn’t stop me from the word mines.

Have been working my way into Ollie 3. Crossed over 50k words, but hit one of those major inflection points and had to put it to one side, because I was kinda already traveling in my head, and wasn’t going to finish it before I left. Instead, I pivoted some to the new project (Ivette Salinas) and got a few thousand words done there. Mostly the opening, as I start winding shit up kinda silly.

Epicly huge stuff, and I need to spend some time this week working out mythologies and histories of two other cultures. Functionally, two generations of gods, if you will, like you might get from Uranus to Cronus to Zeus. And about that scale of crazy. Maybe bigger.

Fabulous Publisher Babe™ joined me for breakfast to help with a lot of leading questions, so I could work things out.

I normally write about people. That’s why I don’t write much in the true scale of Epic Fantasy, because those are stories about kings and emperors and gods. Even Jessica was merely a warlord/demigod by comparison.

Stories about people let me keep things tighter in focus. Here, though, I need to remember to push the boundaries. I have Ivette and her (sororal) twin sister Kemena. At the same time, I need to make sure that I have gods floating around.

Been researching Cthulhu and HP Lovecraft. His gods were really just extremely powerful aliens. And there was no Good and Evil involved. (Derleth did that later by introducing “Good Gods” to protect us from “Evil Gods” but Lovecraft would have punched him in the mouth had he still been alive, I suspect.) Cosmicism, is the opposite of meaning. They aren’t evil. They just don’t care. And can’t understand us because we come across to them as insects. A bug to be squished because it is annoying them.

So, I’ve been thinking about gods. And rereading some Daniel Keys Moran, because he likes to get REALLY BIG (start with Emerald Eyes, then The Long Run, and The Last Dancer. Most recently, he’s back after a long hiatus, and telling some of the future stories of The Continuing Time).

Not doing time travel here. And limiting my gods somewhat, at least in the planning stages, to keep them from overwhelming things. Mostly, a clash of cultures. So I need to work out cultures.

And think about what a civilization might be like once you have mastered genetic engineering. I think it was Dan who made the observation that a congress of gorillas, assembled to design the perfect gorilla, wouldn’t have come up with humans.

But what would you introduce? We’re a visual species, so better eyes would be useful (deeper into IR and higher into UV, but not that far. Better range, etc.). An immune system that worked better and was less likely to be hijacked. Aging is more and more being seen as a disease that can be treated and presumably defeated, so living FAR longer lifespans. (At the same time, if you achieve true immortality, I think your culture plateaus and eventually collapses in on itself).

Faster, stronger, smarter. Etc.

Eventually, you create a new species. That’s when the trouble starts. Dan addresses it quite well in Emerald Eyes. Star Trek: TOS did it with Khan.

At what point does a new species become either competition, threat, or see itself as your natural rulers and decide to subjugate the “lessers?” (Dan calls them the Leftbehind for a reason.)

Humans being Humans, I would presume that any significant advances generate a war. Haves versus Have-Nots. If you can do it slowly, and widely, you could advance an entire species enough to not create those pressures.

How many of you think that’s likely to happen?

And, being SF, I get to ask “What if…?” on these topics, then figure out how they would shape things in the future. And what the implications are. Especially if you have technology so advanced that it is indistinguishable from magic. At least to us primitive screw heads on Earth.

Quick poll, mostly to see if any of you are actually awake and reading this: What single modification to basestock Human would you prioritize first, if you were making a “perfect being?”

I’ll catch up with you in a few weeks and see your thoughts.

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

—————————-

Thank you so much for being my patron and for funding these essays!

If you’re reading the free version (which is published two weeks after the Patreon version), please consider joining the ones who do pay at https://www.patreon.com/blazeward. It’s only a buck and helps keeps the lights on around here.