The Rangers

As most of you know, I don’t get particularly political on my blog, for the most part. That’s intentional, because I’m not making enough money here to justify pissing off any segment of my fan base, just because we voted for different folks and have different opinions on the best way to do things in this country.

So it was with a bit of trepidation when I answered a call from Bob Brown when he wanted to put together an anthology called “Alternative Truths” and go all in on what the 2016 presidential election meant (or at least implied). Sure, I write political, but anyone who had paid a lick of attention to me knows that my politics frequently rotate around “sticking it to the man” rather than any one ideology.

But then a poster caught my eye on the social medias. Anyone with a bit of history should know the name Martin Niemoller, and appreciate the implications:

First they came for the scientists.

And the National Park Service said, “LOL. No.”

And went rogue, and we were all, like “I was not expecting the Park Rangers to lead the Resistance. None of the dystopian novels I read prepared me for this. But, cool.”

So I envisioned a world where those Rangers had gone totally rogue. But I didn’t set it during the war those men and women would have fought. That would be too easy. People would argue every jit and tittle I wrote. So I put it thirty-five years into the future, the winter of 2052-2053 CE. After things had broken down and started to be set to rights.

And for a narrator, I picked a kid who wants to grow up and be a Park Ranger. An 025, to use the technical parlance.

Never set out to write a Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian SciFi Western, but you know how these things sneak up on you. And I sent it off to Bob, figuring it would be way too weird, considering how topical and political the rest of his planned anthology was going to get. (I know a lot of those folks, and met a bunch more as we chatted on social media during all this. I was going to be an outlier, any way you cut it.)

Bob surprised me by taking the story, but he’s got a soft spot for cowboys, so that probably helped.

The story surprised me by spawning four quick sequels, picking up from the end of “The Last Ranger” (which is the one in Alternative Truths), and carrying Dale Embry forward into the spring of 2053, a pivotal time in his life, and his world, as the war between the Coastal Republic and the Confederated States has heated up.

So you have five stories now: The Last Ranger, The Maiden, Forty-Niner, Posse, and Refuge. It is an interesting world, because I never read westerns when I was a kid, and barely watched any. Had to do a lot of reading as I worked, so I could get a feel for what the genre required in the way of language and tone. (Not sure I made it, but I’m damned proud of the results.)

Didn’t have a chance to make it into the second anthology in the series: More Alternative Truths. I generally have my writing schedule penciled in pretty solidly six to twelve months out, but Bob cornered me over the weekend at OryCon and reminded me that he’s planning to do a book 3 at some point, hopefully with long enough lead times that I can write something he’ll like. Might be another cowboy story, as I have enough notes for a couple of novels at this point, or a whole passel of short stories I can put into another collection. Might be something entirely else. Won’t know until I see the spec from him.

Right now, I’m waiting mostly to hear from you folks what you think of the dystopian future. Think I’ve sold about ten copies of it so far, but that’s not unexpected. Most of you are Science Fiction fans, rather than post-apocalyptic readers. You read to escape the ugliness of the day, rather than to wallow in where we might go.

But I think you would enjoy these three reads.

So give them a go and let me know what you think.

Cheers,

b

The Sins of The Fathers – new superhero bundle

So I haven’t said anything to pretty much anybody about this project, because it turned out to be way more complicated than I thought it would be, and take longer, but we’re finally here.

Last spring, I was talking with a bunch of writers I know about doing a new bundle on bundlerabbit.com. This one would be different than most, because instead of it being a collection of existing stories, I wanted everyone to write me something brand new. And hit a theme in a genre that was not necessarily something most of them had tried before.

But it sounded like fun, and they all wanted to play.

And thus: The Sins of The Fathers bundle was born, now available for pre-order at all the major sites, coming out on Nov 15 everywhere.


The story I wrote for this project was “Expectations,” which is more or less a sequel to my story Kid Lexington. That first one took place in the Modern Gods universe, like all my superhero fiction so far and took place in an alternate 1952 with superheroes.

Approaching a sequel, I decided to go someplace way different. Without giving away too much (no spoilers here), the story picks up in the summer of 1974, and centers on the two daughters of Kid Lexington, now 18 years old and facing a world where they must confront the family business. The expectations about them putting on a mask and going out into the world to save it or damn it.

The challenge I had set to all of the writers involved is contained in the sales blurb:

Time passes. Teenage sidekicks grow up. Heroes and villains settle down and start families.

The bundle will be themed around the next generation of kids taking over the family superhero/villain business. Stories about people in masks and how they interact with the youngsters coming along, rather than just inter-generational family drama. Superheroes make everything crazier.

Does the hero retire gracefully and let the teen sidekick take over the name and costume? Did the children of a supervillain join the family business, or become heroes and work to thwart their own parental units?

Nine fantastic people joined me on this bizarre voyage, contributing their own visions for what it is like to grow up in a world where you have power and can make a difference. The stories are serious as well as silly. Modern and historical. Romance, Comic Book, Dark, and Chop-socky, depending on your tastes and needs, but these are all top-notch writers, exploring new ground for many of them.

I hope you will enjoy this bundle, and explore the worlds and works of my nine unindicted co-conspirators as we forge a trail through crime and mischief.

Thanks

b

 

Driving Inspiration

People ask me why I get up at such an incredibly early hour in the morning. Part of it is that I live a ways out in the woods, and work kitty-corner from Safeco Field in downtown Seattle. Thirty-two miles each way, with no reasonable mass transit solutions that wouldn’t drive me utterly nuts.

In addition, traffic in Seattle sucks. If I left for work any later, I’d spend twice as long in traffic going the same distance, possibly three times as long. And arrive at work amazingly grumpy.

So I get up at 4:00AM and go. It is a lovely, pleasant drive at that time of morning. Still dark, and flowing, rather than bouncing in stop and go traffic with timid drivers. I get to work early, eat breakfast, have coffee, and then have a couple hours free time to write before I have to go to work.

There is another lovely benefit. I only turn the radio on at ten minutes to five to catch the financial news on NPR. The rest of the time is spent in silence. I use that time to think about the next chapter, the next scene, the next story. Fabulous Publisher Babe™ likes to go for a walk around the long block every hour or so when she writing and it serves the same purpose for her. That moment to refresh.

There is something about a long drive that just inspires me. During the recent total eclipse, we drove down to Oregon to visit a friend of mine who lived in the path of totality. (Traffic coming home horrible, but we got down a whole day early, stopped for brunch in a quaint little town, took backroads, etc. Relaxing.)

She and I also like to talk about the state of publishing, and writing, and things. Anyone who has gone spent any time with us can attest to that.

During the drive, we explored some of the new tools and software that was available recently. In the process, I came up with a new top secret writing project that will see the light of day next summer. Not something that probably would have come about, but we had five hours to just talk, isolated in the truck, and explore things.

I know others who walk, like she does, or hike. Perhaps they knit, or something else, but for me, it is that time that I get to drive.

What is the thing you do to recharge your batteries?

The Doomsday Vault goes Audio!!!!

Woo-hoo.

I kinda feel bad for Matt. He loves doing the audio for the Science Officer books, but he was NOT prepared for me to write five of them this year, or to drop them so close together. He is, however, going like hell on the rest.

And today, I got the notice from Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) that the audio book of The Doomsday Vault is now available. (And I’m confident he’s already at work on The Last Flagship as we speak.)

Sales are good. Reviews even seem pretty good, once people get out of their system that these are novellas, every single one of them.

Science Office books run 24-30,000. By design. Short, fast, hard hitting, rather than make you wander over 150,000 words for the same amount of actual story-telling. (and no harrowing of the shire along the way, either.)

Quick, get yours today. Or tell your audio book fiend that 5 is available and 6 is coming!!!

The Last Flagship

The Last Flagship

As some of you might have noticed, the newest Javier Aritza/Science Officer story (#6) is finally available everywhere. What a few of you have also realized is that #7 and #8 are also now available for pre-order everywhere, dropping together on Dec 10.

When I started writing The Science Officer, it turned out to be right at 24,000 words. The second one in the series, The Mind Field, also came in at around that length. When I decided to write more, starting with The Gilded Cage, I made a conscious decision that they were all going to be novellas, rather than novels or short stories. That means, in my head, 20,000-30,000, with most of the recent ones running up against that 30k mark and occasionally over.

Going into this meta-project, I wanted to make the storyline a little less dark and apocalyptic, especially with how grim The Gilded Cage turned out, and so The Pleasure Dome was a lighter, breezier piece that let me start exploring the nuances of the players, rather than just the world.

Which brings us down to The War Of The Pirate Clans. When I wrote The Pleasure Dome, it was just a caper, but I saw where the story needed to go, and that it would be a long, drawn-out affair. And just what I needed to round out Season One at eight episodes. (By the way, I am already into #9, but working on Jessica #6 first right now, plus a few other projects.)

Being (in my mind) a television show script, I wanted a cliff-hanger ending, or a double episode. Until I actually finished #7, I had originally planned to drop #8 in February 2018, but #7 does not stand on its own feet, considering how many people I would piss off if I made them wait an extra two months to see what happens as a result of The Hammerfield Gambit. And it would.

At the same time, I wasn’t going to suddenly make one of the books so much longer than the rest. I like it that Javier comes in at around 25k. Fast to write. Compact story that does not leave any space for extraneous meanderings, so I have to focus. They are a fast read as a result, because you step onto a ramp when you open page one and go.

I have seen other writers in my field, and occasionally compare my style to theirs. I write “fast books” because I paragraph aggressively, which means short, rather than long blocks of text. You read them quickly and get to the end needing a cigarette, rather that spending weeks slowly digesting the tale. Plus, I try to keep my little side stories to just a paragraph, or maybe even only a phrase, rather than a whole section of the book or a chapter that really doesn’t add anything to the overall story, except maybe depth or ideas for other projects later.

So I wrote five Science Officer books this year, fully intending to drop them every two months to keep y’all entertained and happy. And, like I said, #9 is coming, and actually going to be three short stories that all wrap up together, and I have the first of those done and the other two planned and in the hopper to write when I have some space. No spoilers, so I can’t go into too much detail. (Which sucks for me, since only two of you know how The Hammerfield Payoff ends.)

Let us just say that Season Two takes our heroes and villains off in a slightly different direction, and lets me introduce (and re-introduce, in one instance) some exciting characters and get a little more “Sciencey” with my stories.

I hope you enjoy. Thank you for all your support and encouragement. And your understanding that I’m only writing these things as Javier and the others dictate.

shade and sweet water

bd

West of the Mountains, WA

There are still good people…

So I haven’t posted much of anywhere lately. Been heads-down busy on various projects, including helping Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) with her girlcave, the new corporate offices of Knotted Road Press. Last weekend, hanging a bunch of fiberboard and sheetrock to close in all the walls. It is nearly ready for all the pretty work to begin.

Somewhere along the way, I picked up something nasty. (Viral skin infection is the consensus.) Went to the walk-in clinic this morning because whatever had caused my arms to break out and my face to puff up had hit her as well and was getting worse. We had walked down from the top of Cap Hill, had breakfast at a little joint, then to the clinic. In and out for both of us in under 30 minutes, and the doc gave us some better cream that is helping.

Somewhere along the walk back up the hill, I apparently lost my wallet out of my back pocket, and never noticed. (Drugs that do fun things to the brain right now.) Got back to her place and sat down to check the news before the next round of stuff, and I have an email from a complete stranger who had found my wallet, located one of my BW business cards, and asked if that was me.

You can imagine my panic. She left a number to text, so I did. As well as an email reply.

Nothing. Long pause. More panic.

Finally, hear back from her. Turns out she and her friend had been in the process of walking clear over to Volunteer Park Cafe  from somewhere south, to have crossed my path home and found my wallet, and wanted to get there before replying to me, to have a stable, public place to meet (woman meeting total stranger male, you know the drill).

Texts me. We drive over, get my wallet, I thank her profusely. Offered her books. Flipped a coin my head to buy them breakfast (no money gone, cards all there).

Got home, still vaguely fuzzy in the brain, but much warmer feeling. Sent her books anyway.

I have been grumpy smurf at work all week. Have described the situation there as a general swirly-thing-alert (for those of you old enough to know what that is without looking it up).

So in the middle of all that, it was just lovely to run into a generally good person, who found a wallet, looked through it to find contact information, and reached out.

Makes me feel better about the world. And that’s a good thing.

Hopefully, you have little things in your life that bring you joy as well. Learn to notice them, and appreciate them.

 

shade and sweet water

bd

West of the Mountains, WA

Freebies and Good Deeds

So there is a new bundle out there. Aliens Among Us. I’ve talked about it before, and want to circle back.

My first novel Imposters is in it. Right now, for as long as the bundle runs (couple more weeks), anyone who asks can get a free copy of the short story The Shipwrecked Mermaid, which is a prequel that helped me craft the universe.

You don’t need to read Mermaid to enjoy Imposters, but it gets way more fun when you understand where that Queen of Hearts coffee mug came from. And it helps me to remember that I want to write more stories set in that world, when I have time. And I will.

So forward this note to your friends. Or ping me and I’ll send you a book you can forward on to them. No purchase necessary. I won’t even add you to my mailing list, unless you ask.

You are signed up, right? And read it? I’m always amazed because I tend to give things away for people that read all the way to the bottom, but few people ever actually do. Their loss.

Better news: the charity Dean and Allyson have chosen for this bundle is Able Gamers.

From their website:

ABLEGAMERS ENABLES FUN!

We give people with disabilities custom gaming setups including modified controllers and special assistive technology, like devices that let you play with your eyes, so they can have fun with their friends and family. We’re using the power of video games to bring people together, improving quality of life with recreation and rehabilitation.”

We’re Science Fiction fans. That means we tend to be gamers as well. Able Gamers helps make sure everyone gets to play.

So please do your part to help, get ten novels for a great price, and stop by to say hello. Or take this chance to introduce someone else to the fun of some of these great authors I’m in the bundle with.

b

Aliens Among Us

And I don’t mean strangers from a foreign land. Well, maybe, if your idea of a foreign land is actually a different planet.

I hinted at it with the last blog post, but it is now officially a thing, so I can talk more. The Aliens Among Us bundle is now live and ready for people on Storybundle. (I’m kinda blushing because Dean had some amazingly nice things to say about me and my book.)

For your money, you can get ten titles, including anthologies, collections of weird (I’m not kidding. Planet Bob pushing the envelope as only he can. “Smidgen the snack cake, a high tech pastry with murder in his ultrachocolatey heart.” Seriously?), and novels from some of the top Sci-Fi writers in the field, like Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, Kevin J. Anderson, and Mike Shepherd.

And, because I love you people, I’m including a freebie outside of my novel, the prequel that sets up Imposters: The Shipwrecked Mermaid.

Rick Pine wasn’t always the suave, daring chef with his own bistro and no time to do anything but laundry and sleep. A year ago, he was just a guy on an assignment, a felon cooking for other felons doing cleanup after a disaster. And then the mermaid came into his life and changed everything.

You don’t need the read The Shipwrecked Mermaid before you buy and read Imposters, but it will make your reading so much more fun, when you understand where that damned coffee mug came from and why it is so important. And who the girl really is.

For the next three weeks, I’m offering anyone a copy of Mermaid for free. Anybody who wants, ping me and I’ll send you the ebook.  Then go buy the bundle and enjoy some really out there thrills.

Strike quickly. This is a one-time offer, and then the bundle will be gone forever in a few weeks.

cheers,

bd

West of the Mountains, WA

Inspired and silly: The Shipwrecked Mermaid and Imposters

So a little background:

I keep a long list of interesting story ideas that I want to pursue at some future date, when inspiration strikes and time slots come open. (This is doubly important since I made the commitment to write at least one short/medium story every month, while pursuing my novels. There will be slots every month to fill.)

Several years ago, for an anthology, I wrote The Shipwrecked Mermaid, which is a short story about Rick, a felon working as part of a cooking crew after a major earthquake and tsunami in the PNW. It is a pure Sci-fi piece, about an alien scout in the shape of a mermaid, who gets stuck inland and needs Rick’s help to escape and survive.

Love that story. Compact, silly, exotic. When I decided to start writing novels, Imposters was the first one I did, picking up Rick’s story a year later, six months after he got out of prison and opened his own bistro with help from some unlikely friends.

This is important today for two reasons. First, I have a new bundling project coming up in a little while, and they asked for Imposters to be included in it. It is a stand-alone novel, but the story is so much richer when you understand where that damned travel mug in the first scene went off to, and then returned from.

So I would like to help everyone get the richer experience. I’m putting this out here in the hopes that it makes its way across the whole interwebs and people getting ready to buy the bundle see it and respond. And any of you that haven’t yet read Imposters, too.

You don’t have to buy anything. Just send me a note so I have the right email address, and I will send you the mobi and epub (Amazon, not Amazon) of The Shipwrecked Mermaid so you can be prepared for Imposters. And maybe go buy the bundle, or just buy the novel individually.

Second, and why this is at the top my mind today, is for a special project I am working on right now. Won’t share any details, because we are WAY too early in the process, but I’m planning out the next story in The Collective universe, which will be a short story entitled Queen of Hearts and continue Rick’s adventures. It will come out sometime in the fall of next year (publication lead times for stuff like this drives me to distraction, but can’t be helped.) and eases me back into making this an on-going thing, rather than a one-off.

I’ve been very busy this year with Science Officer books, finishing off Season One to keep ya’ll entertained. At the same time, I’m about halfway through the next Jessica Keller novel: The Red Admiral, which should come out next summer, if all goes well. I’m not done with Javier Aritza, by a long shot, but I’m giving him a little break before I start working on Season Two. Already have part of book 9 done, and literally today I’m editing on 7 & 8, The Hammerfield Gambit and The Hammerfield Payoff, both coming out December 10th.

And, one of these days I will actually finish this arc of Jessica Keller’s story. I won’t say I’m done with Jessica, but the nine novels will tell a complete story and let me start other series where I can turn out several pieces in a row, rather than bouncing all over the place and confusing and boring people.

I just completed the first short story in a new sequence in a new timeframe for the Alexandria Station universe, taking place in 10,396 CE, during the height of The Concordancy War. This series will be the first that does not include Suvi, because she is already on Kel-Sdala at this point, preparing for the events of The Librarian.

The story is Last Leaf Falling and includes a cameo instead by CW (Concord Warship) Kinnison. Those on the ball will recognize the name as a derelict Jessica and friends toured on Bunala, towards the end of Queen of the Pirates. So I do tie all the threads together and make the entire extended universe a fun place. I’m also planning at least a few stories in the Gas Sailors era, right at the dawn of interstellar flight. I went into a lot of detail about them in the two Hammerfield stories coming up, so I wanted to use the notes to expand things.

I could continue writing Alexandria Station stories for the rest of my life and not run out of places and people. For example: Jean-Pierre will be born in 14,942 CE and have his first encounter with Suvi in 15006 CE. Or about sixteen hundred years after Jessica Keller dies.

So, yeah. Lots, and I will.

But today, The Shipwrecked Mermaid. Let’s start there before we go off on tangents. Imposters will be in a bundle shortly. Read the mermaid first. You’ll thank me for it.


shade and sweet water

bd

West of the Mountains, WA

The Last Flagship (A Science Officer story)

So,

A few of you have been paying attention, and noticed that there is a new Science Officer story up for pre-order.

The Last Flagship. Volume 6. Dropping October 10th everywhere.

A brief intro, from the beginning of Book Seventeen: Avalon:

The door chime was almost a welcome interruption.

Almost.

Javier took a deep breath, stashed everything under handy nets, and rose.

His back hurt from being hunched over too long on the four-legged stool. Probably time to go do some yoga or something. He was pretty good about maintaining his regular lifting and stretching cycle.

He ran his hand back through his short, black hair and contemplated how much of it was coming in gray now, mostly at his temples, but a little everywhere. He wasn’t vain enough to dye it, and many women seemed to think it made him look more distinguished.

Always a good thing, looking good for the women of this crew.

Privately, he made a bet with himself who would be on the other side of that hatch. There were only a few people who would come down here, rather than just call him on the comm to ask a question.

That meant it would be a private conversation.

Another deep breath, finding his calm center, as he approached the hatch.

He unlocked the system and opened it, finding himself staring at her chest. Not hard to do when her breasts were about on a level with his chin. Small ones, to be sure, hiding on top of muscles. Lots of muscles. But breasts.

Djamila Sykora. Dragoon of the private service, Strike Corvette Storm Gauntlet.

A woman 2.1 meters tall. She towered over Javier by thirty centimeters.

Her brown hair was still worn short to fit inside an armoured lifesuit, buzzed very tight on the sides and spiked into a petite Mohawk on top.

It was still the only thing petite about her.

She had bright, pretty green eyes. They reminded him of Holly, his ex-wife, but he only told her that when he wanted to annoy this woman. Mostly, it was the faint freckles, anyway.

The bone structure in her face wasn’t delicate enough to be pretty, but he suspected she could be stunningly beautiful if she ever cared to try. Not that a hardass like Sykora would, unless she was undercover on a grift. Like the Pleasure Dome had been.

Artemis, by Michelangelo.

<<<spoiler alert>>>

At the end of The Doomsday Vault, the little warship Storm Gauntlet has been savaged well beyond the point that it would be profitable to repair it. The crew is facing an end, as Zakhar Sokolov looks around and realizes that the best he can do it sell the ship for salvage and retire to a desk job somewhere.

Javier has a suggestion, but the risk will top anything the crew has faced before now. The flagship of the Neu Berne fleet, lost for eighty-five years, hidden in a place where nobody less desperate would go.

But desperation drives them all. What secrets will they find, when they go looking for the grave of a Sentient warship?

And who will survive?

Pre-order today. This is the third part of The War of the Pirate Clans, and will be wrapped up in Volumes 7 and 8:

  • The Hammerfield Gambit
  • The Hammerfield Payoff

both due out on December 10th. Because it would be mean of me to leave y’all that badly cliff-hangered at the end of 7.


And thank you, for all the support. For telling your friends. For leaving nice reviews. Every day, I get a little closer to that dream of being able to write full time, and put out enough stories to keep y’all occupied for a while. Working as hard as I can, and publishing like mad.

The Superhero stories are coming in a week:

The Breakfast Dragon

The Coffee Doctor

Kid Lexington

Hopefully, you will find them entertaining as well, as I slowly build out the world of the Modern Gods.

shade and sweet water,

bd

West of the Mountains, WA