Author Archives: Blaze

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

—————————-

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.

20240219

[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.

20240212

[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.]

Having a Monday. Recovering from last week. Went down to Portland to help move my niece from storage unit A to B. She’s got temporary medical issues and cannot lift anything more than five pounds. We filled a 15’ truck twice. Three of us. After four hours driving down that morning.

Then I had an allergic reaction to her pot smoke, so instead of being down there for a few days, I stayed in a hotel Wed night and drove back to Seattle Thurs morning. Fabulous Publisher Babe™ rode home Friday on the train and I picked her up.

Busy.

Over the weekend, I nuked the Milestone Indie Publishing Newsletter off Substack. Conflicted, but they made it easy.

I am a proponent of the First Amendment. People are free to have their opinions, limited by threats and imminent danger, as the USSC has explored in great detail.

There are nazis out there. Racid racists. I’m related to a few, but I don’t talk to them anymore.

Substack has a Nazi problem. I don’t mind that they host those folks on their platform, because it could just as easily be reversed to the point that folks like me would be kicked off for not having a racist-enough opinion of things. Everything Hitler did was legal, because he came to power democratically, then exercised emergency powers to rearrange the laws to let him do the rest. The Holocaust and Liebensraum. War.

Substack fucked up, as far as I was concerned, when they took joy in announcing that not only were nazis welcome on their platform, but that they were working hard to financially support said folks, instead of grudgingly accepting their first amendment rights to be there.

When someone tells you who they are, believe them the first time. When you have nine people and a nazi eating lunch together at a table, you have ten nazis. Simple as that.

We have talked about moving back off Substack, but they make that experience as painful as humanly possible. Not even bad software could explain it, so I assume that they’ve done that on purpose. Couldn’t turn off billing or do much of anything.

Finally just downloaded all the emails, sent folks a note, and nuked the entire site.

You can celebrate your nazis and incentivize them. I’m not playing.

At the same time, I have NDAs around a new project, so I’m not at liberty to talk about it. Might be a replacement for Milestone. Might not. Not my project, but I got invited to participate and possibly make some money in the process. There will be more news come summer.

At that point, we’ll figure out our next steps.

Additionally, I’m tangentially related to the folks that are bringing Author Nation to replace the 20-to-50 conference in Vegas in November. Planning to attend. Might be a panelist or even a speaker. TBD.

I have a busy year ahead of me. Such that I’m hoping that I can hit 750,000 words this year, down from about double that two years ago. Had to cut things back across a wide swath of my life, mostly so I had that much space for the writing. Mostly, playing by ear at this point and not adding anything while looking for places to remove things. That’s why Milestone went away for a while*.

On the writing side, I am about halfway through Ollie 3. Gonna come in at 80k, give or take. There should be four of them total, with a big chunk of story wrapped up in 3, then one last mystery to solve in 4.

Space Opera Xenoarchaeology. Because I can.

Am working on a new universe. Also space opera, but unrelated to anything else, save that I’m using The Deeps as a starting point and hoping that I can start the first novel in that series when I finish Ollie 3.

Marrakesh is doing pretty well. Thanks to everyone that has had nice things to say about Diplomat At Arms. Varfelis Station is coming up next. And I have more Captain Boru stories to tell, plus Maddox and a few others.

For now, mostly just grinding. Keeping forward momentum as I try to keep the lights on around here. Hope your Monday is going well.

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.

20240205

[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.]

Year Two of The Thrill Ride is in kickstarter right now, in case you missed it. That includes three new Chace Haig stories.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mlbuchman/thrill-ride-the-magazine-year-two

Have you backed it yet?

We’re still trying to figure out the Milestone Indie Publishing Newsletter. Probably sending a short note this week putting it on hiatus, but that’s so we can bring it back in the fall or something. Got some stuff going on right now that I can’t really talk about. Kind of overlaps and might subsume it at some point. If you miss it, stay tuned.

Spent last week working on the old fence in the afternoon. Previous owner had fenced spots for horses, but I’m not sure if they were his or someone boarding. Got large areas with a top of barbed wire and then three rows of straight stuff. Problem is that a lot of it has disappeared under blackberry and overgrowth. He died in 2006. I bought the land in 2010 and finished the house in 2015. Been slowly winning the war against blackberry, but it is a hard struggle. (I don’t own goats and am too cheap to hire them for what people want to charge around here.)

Slowly winning, though. Pushing it back. Blackberry is not native to Washington. It was brought in to help fence cattle, who won’t eat it. And to provide a fruit crop for farmers. Seven varieties, and none of them are harmful. Just invasive as fuck and you gotta crush them time and again.

Last summer, I started clearing the bowl at the bottom of the hill. That will require a year or two to finally keep it under control. The grass will choke it, if you keep it mowed down.

At some point, I plan to sell this place and move to town. Will be 55 this summer, and that amount of physical labor stops being fun after 60 or so. When I do, I want everything to be in the best shape possible for the next owners, so I can get the most money out of them. Heh. That means clearing and planting and mowing and whatevering. Getting downer trees and burning them. Keeping paths cut through the brush.

Stufffff.

And it keeps me in shape. The shoulders are mostly healed at this point, letting me actually use a machete last week for the first time in 8 months. And things look a lot better, but the winter is not over and I lose trees with every windstorm.

On the writing side, I am approaching 30k on Ollie. Target 80k for book three. Expecting it to run 4 and done for now, but I’ve left threads to explore later.

Started planning out a whole new series over the weekend. Started with the universe of The Deeps (itself inspired by Leah’s Mirror Mirror universe), and moving into a place of mercenary navies, working up from the Condottieri Era of Italy, 14th and 15th Centuries, give or take. Also adding into some faint horror elements, mostly because The Deeps lend themselves to such things.

That, and the tvtropes page on the Eldritch Starship. And the Alien Starfish Starship.

If you venture down into The Deeps, what might you find? I don’t know, because I haven’t worked out all the rules yet for the physics. Undecided about having aliens in the classic sense, or merely space-Cthulhu and friends as dark gods you might encounter.

Lovecraft had some interesting ideas on Cosmicism, until Derleth decided that he had to “Fix” everything by making “happy gods” to make it all a giant war between good and evil.

I don’t need space angels and space devils in my science fiction, but beings so strange that no basis for communication can be fun. How do you talk to Hastur, anyway, if he sees you as an ant or especially tasty vole that he can catch and eat?

There are dark things down there, once you start pushing deeper into such hyperspatial realms. And many of them want to eat you if they can catch you.

From there, I have a crap-ton of notes, including a full progression of book titles that follow the old rank-escalation concept of an officer, where he gets promoted between books, thus ramping up the operatic elements and increasing the stakes.

And, like Jessica, it lends itself well to all manner of spin-offs. If what folks really want is epic space opera, it behooves me to make sure y’all are entertained.

Speaking of which, I had a busy weekend, and am planning to send you folks your story later tonight. Was gone all Saturday, with Friday consumed in the prep and Sunday a blah day to recover. Mostly back now. The Wine and Chocolate Party was a blast, even if it was smaller than previous ones as the late notice meant some folks had already made plans.

The people who showed made it memorable. Looking forward to doing it next year. And having a big BBQ in the summer, like we do.

Past that, back to the words.

This year is another slowdown, and I have to adjust my brain to it. There will be days and weeks I don’t write at all for various reasons we don’t need to go into today. My hope is that I can hit 750k this year, down from 1M last year and 1.4M the year before.

Having things that excite me to write means that I will get a lot of words on the days I can.

Hope y’all stick around for all the fun.

shade and sweet water,

blaze

West of the Mountains, WA

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20240129

[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.]

Ugliest part of the cold is over. Gray and over 60F this morning, which was nice. Still doing cleanup around here after all the crazy winds and rain.

Saw ALL the elk on Thursday. Walked down to the mailbox (quarter mile) and saw a butt up in the trees. Said hello. Twenty heads came around and started scampering back deeper into the brush.

Thursday night, I went to run errands. When I came back, I drove SLOWLY up the driveway. Saw eyes first. Then butts. Then bodies. That was about thirty more, and looked like the nursery herd, because younger/smaller elk.

Friday morning, one of the trees by the driveway had been rubbed raw by antlers, so the bulls had all been by. That’s the usual pattern, with the Matriarch leading three groups up and down the railroad tracks that run below my hill. Poop everywhere, but also normal. And it will be dealt with eventually.

2024 is shaping up to be weird. Bad weird, not good weird.

Probably not doing the Kickstarter for Air Pirates, because that would be one too many, at a time when I don’t have spare spoons. Already expecting to dial down the word count this year again. Significantly. Like down another quarter from last year, which was down a quarter from 2022.

Hopefully, only this year, and we can get back on track later.

Good news: the Kickstarter for Thrill Ride Magazine Year Two is about to start.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mlbuchman/thrill-ride-the-magazine-year-two

I managed to score a quad this year, putting in stories to all four issues, and even getting a cover credit (my first!) in the process. Plus, there will be a lot of bonuses and extras available.

And I even have been notified that one of my stories will be in the 2023 Best Of Thrill Ride when it comes out. If you haven’t gotten the first four issues, now is a good time, plus you should back this for Year Two. Lots of amazing stories by awesome authors.

On this side of things, I have finished another Becket Fernsby story (#5 so far) and started the third Ollie novel (of four, I think). About 15k in. Xenoarchaeology. A great deal of fun. These have been running 80k apiece, so I have a while to finish this one.

Also working on some other projects. New universes that I want to put some short fiction into, mostly to explore new ideas. And to keep my world-building chops greased.

Had an interesting breakthrough yesterday over breakfast.

I don’t always want to write ongoing space battles and opera, because a singular diet of such a thing can grow boring and monotonous. And seems to be what the fans want.

I’m sorry that Last Stand never really generated any excitement (sales haven’t been horrible, but they weren’t that good, either). I will write more of those, but not in blocks. More singles as I have time and inclination. Or until they explode and find their fan base.

On the flip side, I did realize that Corsac Fox does have that big opera feeling with space battles and such, and I have a ball writing those. Three (Lords of the Endless Plains) and Four (Warlord of the Spinward Reaches) are coming this summer. Additionally, I have Five (The Lost Tribe) done and the First Reader for whom it was dedicated absolutely adored it, so I’ll share it to a few others now that I have his comments and corrections embedded.

Additionally, the Warlord of Yaumgan books (Heather’s War) are lots of space battle. The first two are rather dark, and required that I go some ugly places in order to really grapple with it. Wasn’t really looking forward to that part, but writer-brain perked up and told me that Number Three is brighter.

The worst part of the worst is done. The Fanatics who, having won the battle and annihilated the good guys they found, couldn’t get home (their own carrier destroyed in battle) and refused to surrender and become prisoners, so they literally lined up their Aeromechia in formation, and opened their seals to vent the ships and kill themselves.

I hate fanatics. Those people really are, and part of what Heather is fighting against.

But that battle held the line. At least for now. Bought Heather the time to push back hard.

Guadalcanal, in World War Two terms, with Okinawa yet to be faced. And the eventual invasion of the home islands, where shit will get really ugly.

But it’s Heather. And Veronika Provst is coming along nicely as a character.

After Heather’s War, Veronika is being positioned as something of another Jessica Keller. Except that she’s from Fribourg. And Tomas Provst’s granddaughter.

But I have plans for her, and full fourth series in the RAN universe, a generation after Jessica’s time on Auberon and starting to draw together all those threads and hints that I have been putting in for years now.

Stay tuned. Lots coming. Operation Marrakesh for now, then Corsac Fox, then Air Pirates of Cyrenaica.

And whatever other fun arises.

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.

20240122

[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.]

Monday, and I’m in the process of purging my mailing lists. (lovely typo there. “mailing lusts.” Don’t ask.)

Every newsletter accumulates people. They sign up and maybe stop reading. Or kill the email. Or were using their burner for some reason. Every couple of years, I purge. Using MailerLite, it is WAY easier than it used to be. I ask it for inactive people, then send a “Hey, YOU!” email to those folks. Anybody who responds drops off the inactive list immediately. Eventually, the rest go away.

Saves me money, because mailing lists cost cash monthly. Better this way.

If you got one, I’m not bluffing, but it’s nothing personal. Just business. Reply and you’re safe. (iPhone users usually, since it no longer allows tracking. But I know a LOT of nerds who are as computer security conscious as I am.)

Past that, life in general. Went north Saturday and picked up half a cow. 350 POUNDS of meat, offal, and bone. The coffin freezer is COMPLETELY full, as are both freezers in the houses. Worked out to something around $5/pound delivered, which is AMAZING for the quality and quantity we got. And we can do this because we have the lifestyle. And the tools. And the mindset.

Anti-Stodgy. Y’all give it a try.

Okay, writing news. Finished Knight Errant, the first Maddox Nevin story. Now that you have read Trial By Leviathan, you know sort of who Maddox is. After book 5 (Crossroads), he spins off for reasons we cover in that book. Different kind of story, with more Space Western flavor attached. Marrakesh was derived from Patrick O’Brian, and Napoleonic Era sailing. Wooden Ships and Iron Men, to quote the old saying (and the boardgame). The A’Zedi Survey Corps books let me go a different direction, while expanding the universe and forcing me to go deeper into history and stuff.

Gonna be fun. Not sure when it comes out, but the target is 2025, because 2024 is full already.

After that, I wrote the next Holden Barick story. Number Sixteen overall, split between Holden and Reilly primarily. Still having enormous fun with these, and eventually I will publish a book one of the Scattered Tribes Chronicle, but that’s like 200,000 words in a single spine. And Book One. Shit’s epic, yo!

After that, I started the next Beckett Fernsby story. For those of you that have read Gulliver’s Other Travels, you have now met Beckett. I’m almost done with story number five, and they will be in Boundary Shock Quarterly initially. Issues 025, 026, 027, 028, and 030. (029 is a First Contact story starring WarDog Charlie and His Eminence Daniel, the Duke of Los Angeles in Exile. Certain of you know the man. The rest can suffer in silence for a while.)

Not sure what I start next. Possibly the third (of four) Ollie novels, also targeted at release next year. Space Archaeology. And Gods, but only sort of. One of those open series I’m trying to complete. God knows I’ve got enough of them.

Considered the third Heather, but I gotta be in a kinda dark place for that, and I’m not. Rather cheery at the moment. Had a couple of amazingly good days last week and the weekend, and don’t feel like embracing mean to write Heather. And that’s the necessity.

Consider yourselves lucky.

Random question: I tend to end old series on a note where I could pick it up and extend it. If I was to go back and do so, which series of mine would be your vote? (Jessica doesn’t count. That Phil and then Heather.)

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.

20240115

20240108

[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.]

Don’t wanna say it’s cold out here, but I’m pretty sure I just saw a moose migrating south for the winter.

Saturday, it was 9F and 50mph. FUCK.

Sunday was calm.

This morning was 22F and windy again.

Had a live tree come down across my neighbor’s driveway. Since it is an easement across my property, and she’s close to 90 these days, I was just about to go out Sunday morning after breakfast to chop it up when her son arrived. The Fabulous Publisher Babe™ had put my car at the bottom of the driveway, and I’d blocked it at the top, so he came up my side, wondering if someone had abandoned a car. Since he had his chainsaw (as usual) we chopped the tree up pretty quick, loaded the good wood in his truck to dry, and he spent the day up at the top of the hill fixing her well pump.

I spent the day goofing off.

Got a busy day today, but the words are flowing well, so we’re good. Holiday in the states, but the restaurant wasn’t crowded until I left. Clear roads, just cold and blustery.

Writing side is good. I’m not sure how close I am to finishing Maddox, but we’re at 34k right now and the first of two finishing movements is starting. Having read Trial By Leviathan, you finally know who Maddox Nevin is. He’s the star of the new A’Zedi Survey Corps series, along with a cast of fun new folks.

And I have more Marrakesh books planned. Plus more Survey Corps. This is the one where I asked if anyone wanted to be Tuckerized, and got a LOT of responses, so a goodly portion of the crew will recognize themselves when the book comes out. And if you wanted to, and didn’t send me back the form, you aren’t in. But you still could be. Gotta have your signature on the form first, because this one is so many people.

Nuff said?

Not sure what next project is. Probably some shorts, because I need to keep up there. More Holden. More Beckett. More Harper. More fun.

Got several series partially completed, so my goal in 2024 is to get those all wrapped up so they can come out in 2025+. Heather. Giles. Ollie. Peter Najjar. Flight Officer Brannon. Whoever else.

I’m likely to be writing less in 2024, having already slowed down from 2023. She wants to travel, and that will involve not taking computers a few places. And driving long distances, so there will be days or even weeks I don’t write. That will show up later when I don’t have as much to publish. Or end up writing serialized shorts as monthly things. Dunno. I think that’s 2026 at this point, so I have time to sort it out.

If you live somewhere other than Seattle, let me know, because we’ve got long trips planned to various places. Vegas, Mexico, and Minneapolis already, with more options as we think of things.

Past that, never mind the moose.

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.