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

—————————-

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.

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

—————————-

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

—————————-

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.

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.]

Oh, hell, there is a lot of snow in the forecast. Maybe a foot coming, without getting above freezing for several days. Not so bad if I lived in town or on flat terrain, but we’re out just past the first ridge of the Cascades going east. (Literally, when I drive to Enumclaw, there is a humpback of hill that separates the two roads for a good stretch.)

And I was talking to L* at the restaurant this morning about the various horizontal weather zones between Enumclaw and Ravensdale: Enumclaw. Birch. Veazie. Deep Lake. Cumberland. Bayne. Kanascat. Reaver. Ravensdale. Landsburg. Hobart. Etc.

I drive to Enumclaw enough to watch each zone hit. Winds and storms coming and going off the nearby mountains, which tend to be escarpments with sheer sides and valleys.

Got home safe. Going out later to do a bunch of errands. Might not leave again for a week after Wednesday, depending. Got better things to do than drive around with a bunch of yahoos who bought Jersey tractors and have no idea how to drive them.

She bought too much minivan, didn’t she?”

Writing. Took the weekend off. Not feeling well, so slept in a bunch both days instead of Tai Chi. Feeling better. Getting back into the swing.

If you remember the story I did called “The Deeps” I have dug that universe back out and have been taking notes on something in there, but well off to one side. At least I think so. Expanding the universe and the denizens. Mostly deep-diving (literally) into megapredators of the ocean, from sperm whales to sharks to rays to whatever. Things you might find if you go too deep into hyperspace.

Plus, the lighthouses. I was inspired to create this universe from something the Fabulous Publisher Babe™ wrote, about lighthouses visible in various aspects of hyperspace. My world isn’t hers, I don’t think, but got some of the same concepts to explore, and I am looking at exploring it with a series of short stories. At least for now. Stuff you folks will see before anyone else, obviously.

Speaking of short fiction, I started cataloging all my shorts, and realized that I have a shit-ton, so I have been organizing character collections. All the stories about one character, under one title. The Gunderson Case Files, Vol 2 is with first readers, because only you have read 9 and 10. Similarly, Eva & Nik, Trevor, Harper, and Pizzafarmer have all been assembled, so those will go out over the next however long.

And I have more. Maybe short collections (20-30k). Maybe actual collections, where I only ever wrote one story.

Peter Najjar, Flight Officer Brannon, and Oleg Chilikov all turned into Book Ones, so I have to write more of those before I publish them. Got a lot of books in the can to come out as we go. The Maddox Nevin novel I’m working on right now happens to be novel #100. Going to throw a Haydn Party when I finish #105, for all the obvious reasons.

Maddox is at 12k, so really towards the start. Been going slow because I’m feeling my way into a whole new everything. Derived from Operation Marrakesh, but also radically different in tone, location, setting, and concept, so I have to identify those differences and make sure everything is recognizable while changed.

Having fun with it.

Also got by comments from the editor on Thrill Ride Magazine and he’s loved all four of the stories I submitted for Year Two. There should be a kickstarter for them in February, followed by issue #5 (Sisters In Arms) in March. Then three issues where I think I have put Chace Haig stories. The first of those will come out in June, which is when I aim to drop the first Chace novel as well. Hopefully.

Not much past that. Need more coffee to get my Monday in gear.

How’s your 2024 holding up so far?

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.

20240101

[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.]

Looked it up this morning and realized that we’ve been at this for four years and change now, with the first Patreon blog dated 20190923. Been blogging for much longer than that, but I prefer only having one spot to think in public. Less need to come up with something to talk about, when I can just dive into a review and a prognostication.

Hope everyone had a nice holiday. I stayed home. Stayed in. Went to bed at a reasonable hour instead of staying up late. Slept in a bit, then got up and got to work.

Not entirely with it, but that might be lack of second coffee. Or lack of giving a shit. Been working straight through instead of taking days off.

On the writing side, I finished Red Branch last week. 1949. Exiled Soviet pilot turned mercenary captain. Look back at the old Blackhawk comics, with some twists thrown in because I get to play with early jet era aircraft and global politics.

Started the first Maddox Nevin novel, spun off from the Marrakesh series (you’ll understand a lot better when you read Crossroads, which is #5 in that series.)

Over the weekend, I built a catalog, and realized just how many individual short stories and short fiction characters I have. Lots. Had been working on assembling Agent Kiesler’s Secret War for publication (first five stories, with a promise of more later). Also been working on the Gunderson Case Files, Volume 2. Realized I have a half-dozen more. Plus a lot of other things to push out at some point.

Expect a lot of new short fiction in collections in 2024. Fabulous Publisher Babe™ suggested a series name for them that I find attractive. And lets me just assemble them and not worry about it.

I have been doing the monthly Patreon for that many years. And more years of short fiction prior to that. Plus twenty-four issues of Boundary Shock Quarterly and seven issues of Blaze Ward Presents. Plus other things.

That adds up to a lot of fiction. Most of it stuff only a handful of you have ever read, if that. A few never published anywhere before they come out now.

Gonna fix that.

Additionally, I finished the year at 1,074,484 words, down from the previous average of 1.4 million for several years. Intentionally slowing down. In 2024, I might slow down even more, because we’re looking at several long trips. Camping/Driving type, plus a few international trips where we don’t take computers with us, so no writing. Or longhand, then scanning and putting through an OCR to see how much it can pick up.

No idea how many words I will hit this year. Fewer. Still have a lot of stuff in the can to publish over the next several, so not at risk of running out any time soon. And a lot of series where I need to complete them. Or add more to the end.

Enough to keep me going. Patreon readers will also see some of the new extensions as they go, though maybe not with the full 6-12 month lag. Dunno.

New Year. New goals. Don’t do the resolutions thing, because that’s not me. And I rearrange my life in June anyway.

But changes are coming. Good ones, I hope.

What do you have on tap?

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.

20231225

[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 looked at the weekly alarm reminder and went ahead and typed. Kinda took the weekend off, but that was trying to figure out the end of the novel. That hit me last night, how to get from where I was to the set pieces I had in my mind, so it started to flow.

Then food hit.

OMG. Food.

Yesterday, we looked at each other mid-afternoon and both decided that we needed to be baking. Result: gingersnap cookies and molasses/cranberry bars. Yum.

This morning, take and bake cinnamon rolls from Krain Corner restaurant, because Shaylyn is utterly amazing. Ate two. Saved two. And got a tub and a half of frosting left, so I’m not sure what trouble I’ll get into next.

Then, the porcheta.

Fabulous Publisher Babe™’s family did a porcheta for Christmas when she was a kid. Take a pork shoulder, slice it open and insert spice rub, then rub and tie and bake.

She has a new religion these days. And a pellet grill.

Start with a pork shoulder. Cut it open to get the bone out. Finish butterflying it all the way out. Spice the inside. Rub the outside. Roll like a pinwheel. Tie off with string.

It went onto the grill about 800 last night. Low and slow all night. Got pulled around 930 this morning, when it got up to temp (about 190F).

Then, the secret sauce. Pull it and put it in a plastic trash bag, then put the bag in a small cooler and close it up to rest for two hours.

At lunch (including brussel sprouts cooked with walnuts and bacon grease), I had a hard time pulling it out of the bag. Then I tried to cut it.

A good, grilled roast has a “Bark” on the outside, like a tree. The bark held. The meat was falling apart.

Basically, we had a pulled pork porcheta. And got two big tupperware bins of meat when I got the remaining five pounds chopped and pulled. Might need to go buy some bread at some point. And cheese. And whatever. Because OMG it is amazing meat.

And will only get better next time, because this was her first porcheta using her brother’s family recipe.

Can’t wait.

Writing: I’m past 40k on the Red Branch Book One (1949, Soviet exile fighter pilot mercenaries hunting escaped Nazi war criminals), and deep into the first half of the final confrontation. Probably wrap up around 55-60k, sometime this week maybe. Maybe not.

After that, I plan to write the first of the A’Zedi Survey Corps books. If you were one of the folks that wanted to be tuckerized, make sure I have your release form, because I won’t include you otherwise. Got too many people interested in this. And the woman who I was originally going to name the ship for changed her mind and backed out, so I had to change that.

Past that, not a lot. Been chatting with folks on phone and text. Largely ignoring the family (most of whom I don’t get along with anyway and won’t go see because I don’t need the stress).

Hope your holidays have been calm and warm and friendly and that you enjoy them.

Chat more 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.

20231218

[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.]

I might post next week. And I might not, it being Xmas in the US. Won’t go anywhere. Ordered take-and-bake cinnamon rolls this morning to pick up on Saturday. Shay, because she is an amazing baker, down at Krain Corner, run by her mom forever.

Got out and enjoyed the morning. Having a hard time getting the clutch going this morning. Like, 1500 words in two hours. Mondayness.

Partly, that’s the novel. Act One was Sasha out exploring and learning what the problem was. Now I’m in Act Two and he’s bringing the posse for the big showdown. And I am working slow as I work out all the details. That happens with a new series, because each character needs a voice. Currently, writing the Commissar, who is the Spock to Sasha’s Kirk.

Gonna be fun. And have ordered myself three books for Xmas on the de Havilland Venom/Vampire, plus a two-book series on early jets, US and European respectively.

SO MUCH POTENTIAL in an era few people really know, because every history book I’ve been reading pretty much ends with VE/VJ Day, or begins with the Korean War.

Luckily, I have a background in political science, which meant a lot of history for the second half of the 20th Century. Kennan and all his ilk. The (impending) death of Stalin. All the crazy shit in 1949 as things are about to bubble over.

Novel is at 25k. Probably 55k by the time I’m done.

Any of you qualify as aviation nerds who can give it a read and point out any mistakes? I’m kinda good on piloting stuff, but a few finer details would be better.

Should finish it by January. From there, I went back to the Maddox notes and started expanding what will become the first Survey Corps novel. It will all make more sense next year when you’ve read Marrakesh, but I gotta stay way ahead of you people. That means Maddox and Padraig both. And a bunch of others.

Working on ideas for the next Science Officer. Thank you to all the lovely folks who have rated it everywhere. Will deliver “E” next Xmas, and keep on that pace. Got other things to write and finish.

And more Spandex going on in the background, because I found a gamer who wants to do Fatecore (Wearing The Cape subrules) superhero roleplay.

I enjoy fantasy, but not a straight diet of it. We used to bounce genres every year or less. Or have two things going at once to keep things fresh. And not just Hack AND Slash, either. Star Wars d6. Villains and Vigilantes. Shadowrun. Hero System. DnD. Earthdawn. Star Trek (FASA). Star Fleet Battles. Mechwarrior/Battletech.

A variety of options. Keeps Jack from being a dull boy.

If you are local to the South Sound and interested, give a yell. In person only. Somewhere between Kent and Palmer. Fatecore system modified. Modern setting adapted by both Don and I to handle things, though I plan on some Noir (30s or 50s) play at some point, heavier on rp and less on smashing.

Last Stand Season One is complete. And you now know who Pastor Mike was. And see where I’m setting up for Season Two at some point. TBD. 2025 or later, because I have 2024 already in the can.

Also, some Light Thriller coming out next year. Chace Haig. Gator. Red Branch. Plus others I haven’t written or finished.

Busy, but it’s the end of the year and I’ve hit my Million Word Target for 2023, so I’m kinda goofing off some now.

What are you doing for the holidays?

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.

20231211

20231204

[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.]

Yeah.

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.

Things.

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,

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.

20231204

[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.]

December. Corsac Fox One and Two available everywhere. I should finish Five this week. Then on to other projects.

No shooting today. Shoulder is getting close to healed, but it was pouring out there. And Fabulous Publisher Babe™ went with me this morning.

She needs a new process. We both do, but her more than me.

In case you haven’t seen elsewhere, Kiera the kitty died last Thursday. I have a blog post with details and pics, so I won’t revisit everything this morning. I don’t need to be crying right now.

Traditionally, the two ladies spent the weekend over here, then went back on Monday morning when I went out to breakfast. She’s emotionally a mess, because Kiera had been her companion for almost eighteen years. I’ve only been around for a shade more than ten at this point. They went to New Orleans for six months together. Did all things.

Until they moved out here, they were generally in the same house at all times while she was home. Only starting to send Kiera over here on Thursday nights was a night to herself.

At least it was pretty quick. And looked generally painless, at least from the outside. Monday night not doing well. Tuesday to the vet, where she got fluids and checkup and was much brighter on the way home. Wednesday, bloodwork showed that her kidneys had shut down. Thursday morning, she had a couple of hours of dying, but mostly laid there and occasionally gasped or made a twitch that she wanted scritches.

We made her as comfortable as we could. Pets so she knew we were there. Letting her know if was okay to go. Got a purr at one point. She could see us.

It was peaceful.

I’m a hot mess. Leah’s far worse. We knew it would come someday. Talked about things that would happen After Kitty, but it still hurts. Still losing a family member. One that I had complete conversations with, always on her terms.

So everything is kinda stuttery today. At least I’m in the final movement of Corsac Fox Five, so I can kind of autopilot. And Five and Six are part of a duology, so I’ll resolve some things then flow into the rest, but not until Jan or Feb, depending.

Some of you have been following The Scattered Tribes Chronicle. Hopefully, you’ve been enjoying Holden and Reilly. I’ll keep writing that in chunks, and eventually publish it all when I have 200,000 words of Book One. No idea how long it is. Long. Epic Space Fantasy Opera. The biggest kind.

And some more Gunderson and adjacent stories coming. Part of the 2000 CE project that flows out of Gunderson #10 and Captain Sapphire.

More news eventually, but this was kinda all I had to say.

How’s your Monday holding up? Able to bite through the ropes so you can escape?

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.