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New world. New everything.

We’d known two years ago that the kitty was old and going to go at some point. And two months ago, Kiera gave Leah the look that she was maybe done. It came and went quick. Leah’s been more of a mess since then than I have, but they were much closer. And her cairn is where Leah can see her and she can see both houses when she wants to haunt things.

Mostly over the immediate grieving, and down to the sadness that comes from losing someone you love, even after having a long time to prepare for it. I went through that with Donna, having a terminal diagnosis and three years.

Monday is kinda a new start. Or something.

Leah mentioned that we were emptynesters now. So much of everything rotated around making sure the kitty got fed and cared for, even when we took trips. Lots of planning.

Don’t have that now. She asked how I felt about becoming more of a nomad, but that conversation is only sort of started. And I have to cycle back thirty-five years to when that sort of thing defined me.

Not sure what it means. We’re likely to take more road trips. Starting a list of folks we know that we might visit. If you want to be on it, let me know. Not sure when or where or what. December is the recalibrating for 2024, when things change. Not sure which things yet.


Last week, I finished Corsac Fox 5. Like where it ended. And how it will flow over into 6 and 7, before ending Block One and setting up for a Block Two later.

This week, I’ve started a new light-thriller series. The Red Branch. Set in 1948-49. Main character is an ex-Soviet fighter pilot turned mercenary, operating along the margins of South American law while hunting escaped Nazi war criminals.

This is the project where I’ve been doing all the research on early jet aircraft. And how the Alliance that won World War II fell apart afterwards, before turning into Containment initially with an eye to Rollback later. The Catholic Church went out of their way to help a lot of Nazis escape justice after the way. The Pope utterly loathed communism, and saw those fascists as friends.

Look up Ratlines sometime (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratlines_(World_War_II)) and then wander down various rabbit holes.

Messy. But it also creates a fun tension where I can have Russians hunting escaped Nazis. And the lovely folks who ran Japanese Unit 731 and similar things, many of whom also escaped being hung by the neck until dead, may God have mercy on their souls.

Some nasty evil got away with it because the US was much more fascist than communist (even more so in those days than today, but you get the picture). And Peron, while largely a leftist most of the time, got pissed off at the US and some of their bullshit, so I’m pretty sure his Third Way was merely an opportunity to poke Truman and others in the eye.

It’s turning into a fun story. And a series opening where I can play with all sorts of aircraft and stuff.

One of my inspirations was the old Blackhawk comic book I read as a kid. Originally (in 1940+) it was one of the most popular comics out there, often only outsold by Action Comics (Superman) in any given month.

It ran for a long time, too. I found them in the mid-70s, when things had been rebooted and retconned some for the more modern age, before it went on hiatus and got rebooted back into WW2 only.

Setting my story in 48 means jets. And spies. And swirling alliances. And decolonialism rising, though Stalin was still in charge and it wasn’t until Nikita Khrushchev and then Leonid Brezhnev when the Soviet Union got actively into the liberation movements.

Still, messy. All the joys of Action/Adventure/Thriller, with the addition of mercenaries and fighter pilots, so there will be some air battles at some point. Plus, it lets me explore certain technologies that maybe never got exploited, but could have been. (Helps that I asked a couple of aviation experts and will rely on them as first readers when I finish book one.)

Past that, December. Not really all that motivated today. The year catching up with me, after I realized just how much emotional labor I’ve done in 2023. A lot. Heavy.

I don’t have to carry the weight alone, but I need some down time.

Plus, yesterday I found out that David Drake died. Military SF writer who was hugely influential on me as a young reader and person, and later as a writer. Him and Doc Smith, largely, shaped my voice. He’d been ill for the last couple of years, and stopped writing as a result.

And it is sad that he is gone.

Hopefully, I’ll still be writing in 25 years when I’m his age. And doing it well.

Not a lot of news past that. The Anti-Stodgy/Redneck Chef newsletter in a few days. Dragoon’s Honor (Science Officer 13) came out yesterday, along with Preacher Man (Last Stand #12). Hopefully folks have been enjoying them. I have an idea for the next Science Officer (#14, due next December, as I plan on releasing them annually going forward. Probably.)

The new series: Operation Marrakesh, starts in January, and one of my next stories is likely #6 in that series. Plus the spin-off.

How’s your Monday treating you?

shade and sweet water,


West of the Mountains, WA


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