So, last week I asked if anyone would read a “Choose Your Own Adventure” format book if I wrote one.
I am pleased to announce that “On The Menu Stains Of Madness,” a Mythos – style short story (which was my original attempt to get into THE CACKLE OF CTHULHU anthology from Baen Books) will appear in STUPEFYING STORIES on March 18th, just ten days from now. I’m honored to appear there, and especially with this aberration of a story, which I never really thought anyone would buy.
I understand why Alex Shvartsman rejected this one. It’s not quite as funny as the one he bought, but it is much, much, weirder. Bruce Bethke is going to have fun with this one, I bet. And I hope you all will, too.
Tomorrow, a novel that I am really extra-excited about releases, which is Todd Fahnestock’s Rhenn the Traveler. Rhenn was, in a sense, along with, Khyven, the major protagonist of first book in the Eldros Legacy, Khyven the Unkillable. Now, Khyven the Unkillable is quite possibly the best sword and sorcery novel that I read last year, and its sequel, Lorelle of the Dark, was in every way a worthy follow-up. So, I know what I am reading for my next novel of the year, and I hope you will too. I will not lie to you and say that this choice has nothing to do with the fact that I, too, am working on and Eldros Legacy novel, but even if that were not so, I would have been glad to read these books. You can buy Rhenn the Traveler here starting tomorrow or preorder today!
So, I’ve wanted to share these for a long time, but life has meant that I have very little time for hobbies I used to enjoy a great deal, like model and miniature painting. I must first of all thank my dear friend and fan Ralph Seibel of Germany — who I have known for far longer than I have been writing — for designing these minis on Hero Forge and sending them to me. It has been years, but I finally managed to break off some time to paint them, and I really wanted to do a good job, so here they are:
Dr. James DeGrande, calming down a fire lizard, his No. 75 dragon scalpel at his side, and Paralyze and Painless at his back.
His assistant, Harriet Templin, witch and all around animal wrangler, fresh from some activity that involved blood and less savory fluids.
When Ralph sent me Harriet, he apologized(!) that he hadn’t been able to give Harriet the hunchback that she is described as having, but he DID send her with a backpack, and a little work with a Dremel and some paint fixed that problem up easily.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this vizualization as much as I did. Unfortunately, my eyes aren’t what they used to be, so these did take awhile. But they were worth every second. Great thanks again, Ralph.
Today, I get to announce the release of my story, “Jeanne d’Architonnere,” in the anthology Chicks In Tank Tops from Baen books. This is an especially fun story to announce. If you are a regular follower of mine, it will come as no surprise to you that my day job is being a history teacher at a local high school. Despite this (or perhaps because of this) I rarely delve into the arcana of writing alternate history. However, when I was invited to participate in this anthology by my editor, Jason Cordova, I very much wanted to bring one of my favorite daydreams to life.
Most people know that Leonardo da Vinci drew up blueprints during his lifetime (okay, sketches really) for a war cart ringed with cannon that would later become popularized as history’s first idea for the modern tank. Of course, da Vinci’s version had no engine beyond the feet of the soldiers who would presumably man it, and it was conceived of as a purely anti-personnel unit.
What fewer people know, is that da Vinci also conceived of a breech-loading, steam-powered cannon. This weapon, which he called the architonnere, worked by superheating the barrel and breech of the gun. After each round was introduced into the breech, and the breech sealed, a bell would allow water to enter just behind the breech, where it would instantly flash into steam and thus fire the round.
I will hasten to add that as a historian I do not consider it terribly realistic to speculate that the real Leonardo da Vinci would, in any conceivable set of circumstances, actually be able to marry all of these ideas together along with a flywheel drive to create the tank, or (since that word was the result of a code name given by the real armored fighting vehicles’ British inventors) the tortoise, as it is described in the story, but that’s where fiction comes in. I hope you will all enjoy the story of Jeanne d’Architonnere and those of my fellow authors.
I thought I’d celebrate the launch of the book by giving you the full piece of art that adorns the cover. Isn’t it wonderful?
The book is doing quite well, considering, having made it up to 4th place in the Amazon New Releases in Action Adventure today. If you’d like to try helping me make it to #1 and the coveted Orange Tag, please feel free to purchase it by clicking the book link below!
So, the novel launch should have been today, but my editor was doing very important things at 20BooksTo50k, a wonderful Las Vegas conference that I hope to be able to attend someday. That means it gets pushed back just one week, so not really a big deal. But, to tide us over, I’m going to give you a sample snippet of the book. I’d also like to point out that those who receive my newsletter (hint, hint!) have already seen this snippet. You can be added to my newsletter here.
Azriyqam lowered her voice. “I do have news, but not from my father the Crown. I assuredly want your attention, but I do not want it overly focused on me. The dragon that I arrived on, do you know his name?” “There are so many dragons, who could name them all?” said Tselah. “He’s one of the Knights-Commander, I believe,” said Elam. “I’m going to get this wrong, but I have trouble with your right name, too. It’s… Coo-ree…ark, isn’t it?” “Almost. Sir Cooriarh. He is one of the chiefs of the Throne’s guard. He is circling us now, and will land in a little less than two hours unless I walk out before that time.” Elam sat back and folded his arms. “You know, Haraad used to threaten people before they’d offered him any harm, too. I’m not going to flatter you by pretending that I ever particularly admired you or thought of you much at all when you were just the Responsibility, but I never thought you one to be like him.” A spike of icy rage shot through her at that, but when she saw Tselah’s smile at her reaction she bit down on the angry response she felt coming. “I would prefer you to consider it less a threat than a warning, in case you should be tempted to consider… desperate courses of action.” “And why should we be tempted to do any such thing?” asked Elam, quietly. “Is your father or the throne planning something that should make us despair?” “No. Or at least, that very much depends on what you say next. You wish to know why dragons have been stopping and examining your ships. I will tell you: they are looking for a missing dragon.” Azriyqam watched closely for their reaction…
This is my first ever sequel release, just over a year after the release of the original RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CROWN.
It comes out one week from today, available at Amazon.com and from New Mythology Press, an imprint of Chris Kennedy publishing. There are no preorders, but I will blog again when the book is up.
There’s no way, here, to explain how much I have learned in the writing of this sequel. It is completely different from writing an original novel. It’s like balancing a whole future on the tip of your finger while dancing. The book that will release a week from now is not the same book I started writing in July of 2021. That book will be – well, to be honest, it won’t ever be written, because I discovered about 40,000 words into it that it was fragments of the third book in the series, which, by the time book two was finished, I realized would be changed a great deal by the events in this novel.
Right now, I am working on yet another sequel, specifically the long-awaited further adventures of James and Harriet, which will be titled ALL CREATURES IN HIS THRALL. Progress is slow, but steady. I’m afraid that one of the reasons it has been so long in coming is that I started writing book three of that series as well. I think that book will, indeed, be published someday, but first I am going to have to finish this one. It turns out that I am still pretty new at this author thing.
One funniest things that has happened during the blog hiatus is that this blog has gotten an insane amount of traffic from a completely facetious post that I did about a year ago concerning my completely fictional and humorous take on the script for Top Gun: Maverick. It seems that there are many many fans and possibly pirates who have been trying to get their hands on the script for this movie, and a number of them have found their way to my blog. I hope it gave some of them a laugh. And, if they were pirates, I hope it wasted their time and frustrated them. In any case, I would like to say thank you to all my fans for hanging in there and for giving Responsibility life. I am so glad you have enjoyed flying with her.
I’m embarrassed that it has been so long since this blog updated. Really? Over four months, and THAT was a reblog? That’s just sad.
Although this year has, in many senses, been a triumph in the worlds of my writing — one novel released, one major (for me at least) award, and two anthology invites — it has also, by other measures, been a very hard year. There have been losses in my family. I’ve been on the same pandemic ride with the rest of you. Conventions have cancelled, plans didn’t work because someone got sick, might have gotten sick, or just decided differently, and recently, a major writing hope… went away.
However, if there is one piece of wisdom I have gathered over this “career” of mine, it is this: it will always be harder than you think. It will take more work than it “should,” and it won’t be “fair,” however that useless term is defined. So, we go on. We just go on.
And, we find new things to do, too. We go back to old things and remember the joy they gave us. So here, I leave you something new: I’m not an artist, not really, but this is the closest I can give you to a visual of what Responsibility, the Princess Azriyqam looks like in my head. Hope you like it:
I am honored to be part of a wonderful five-book giveaway sponsored by David (D.J. Butler), the author of WITCHY EYE (which is a wonderful read, BTW, set in an incredibly unique alternate reality America of the early 1800s). We are each giving away five signed copies of our work in five packages. You can enter multiple times, and I hope you will. Simply click here to be taken to the entry platform.
Take Responsibility. And Sarah Calhoun, St. Tommy, and Joaquin Serrano! Happy Reading!
Okay, this is late for an AAR from FantaSci. I know, it was two whole weeks ago, but let’s just say that the two worst times for any writer whose day job is teaching are the end of May and the beginning of September. Now that the feverish activity surrounding the last two weeks of school are out of the way, I can pretend I have a blog again.
The people at FantaSci were awesome, and I’d like to especially thank my editor, Rob Howell, who shoehorned me onto panels and shared his reading time, because up until we knew that my novel was releasing here, I wasn’t really officially part of the con.
I’m so honored to be part of Chris Kennedy Publishing and New Mythology Press; these guys really made me feel at home. And for the first time in my life, I had fans — like, actual, honest-to-God FANS — stop me in the hall and ask me to sign copies of a book. MY book. With, like, my actual name on the cover! And they bought copies! Of my book!
So, I got to hang out with Larry Correia, who was nice enough to blurb this novel, and he is one of the most helpful senior authors I have ever met. Friday was my reading, and while it was understandably not well-attended, neither was anyone else’s, let’s be honest.
The highlight of my con was undoubtedly the Baen Roadshow, because 1) my picture was up there TWICE as the only mortal to have yet achieved the honor of winning both Baen Awards, and 2) Toni Weisskopf, the publisher of Baen, used the opportunity to mock the difference between Fantasy Scott and Science-Fiction Scott pictures. Hey, what can I say: those Jim Baen Memorial pictures of previous winners were intimidating. They were wearing ties and I lost my cool.
But people kept coming up to me and congratulating me on my wins. Like it meant something! See, the thing is, if you tell your “normal” friends or co-workers, “I won a SFF writing award,” they’ll go, “Oh. That’s nice. Congratulations.” But, really, it’s not part of their world, and it’s kind of like telling them that your club curling team won the state championship. Okay. That is a thing that some people — odd people — do. But at FantaSci, people are INTO club curling! I mean, SFF. And they GOT why it was a big deal!
Also on Saturday, I was on a panel with Rob Howell and Barbara Evers discussing what made magic and magic users work. Probably do another blog entry on that. And then I also got to hang out with Robert “Speaker” Hampson, who kindly gave my kids little stuffed Wroguls (NOT octopuses) and whose book about these awesome aliens DO NO HARM I heartily recommend!