Night’s Black Agents is done

Time for editing, and then it’s on to ‘A Place For War’ …

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#FreeAwfulNovel Part 4: Short and Sweet

Two chapters today. Combined they are STILL less than the mammoth chunk from part 3. Not sure, but I think I probably wore myself out back when I wrote that part, heh.

Hopefully you’re enjoying the awfulness! The stack of paper in my closet slowly diminishes …

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New release day, status updates, and miscellaneous shenangians

You know Shenanigans, right? The restaurant with all the stuff on the walls?*

I’m proud to be a part of Silver Empire’s latest release, the horror anthology ‘Secret Stairs.’ As it stands, ‘Stairs’ is the #1 new release best seller in its Amazon category! Go team!

If you’re even somewhat familiar with Reddit and/or Creepypasta, you’re probably familiar with the 21st Century urban legends that have sprouted up around those discussion boards. Slenderman is probably the most famous example. As far as I’m concerned, the digital campfire stories that have cropped up around the idea of mysterious staircases in the wilderness where strange things happened were just as good.

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#FreeAwfulNovel Part 3: The Chapter That Never Ends, and stuff blows up

I’m not sure where I got the ‘spirit of cooperation’ bit from part 2. Probably Independence Day, unless I miss my guess — there’s even an annoying aide, a la James Rebhorn’s character in ID4.

Also, I apparently expected the UN to be much more functional and effective than it’s proven to be in the last 20 years. Hey, what can I say. It’s science fiction and I was writing from the doe-eyed perspective of youth.

If I were to update this for today I think I’d have to bump the setting out at least 40-50 years. In part 3, in particular, there’s a lot of tech that we aren’t even sniffing yet. That’s one of the ongoing bummers about being a lifelong science fiction fan. For the most part, reality just disappoints. “Oh, you thought there’d be fusion reactors in the 21st Century? Ha! No such luck. We do have Hoverboards, though. No, not like that. Well, they don’t really hover.”

In more modern news, I’m rounding around home on the end of ‘Night’s Black Agents’, so there should be some content relating to that, soon. I’ve also got a Paxton-verse short story in a pretty impressive anthology that drops next week. More on all that later. For now, pull up a chair. You might want to get a drink or possibly use the restroom. This part’s a doozie.

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#FreeAwfulNovel Part 2: Yay, politics!

So in part one, a privately-funded venture to colonize another planet was minding their own business when they made first contact with a mysterious fleet of alien vessels.

Teenage prose notwithstanding, here are a few things that jumped out at me as I scanned through the prologue and first chapter:

1) I had forgotten it, but the prologue is basically a copy-paste of a later chapter in the book with the names changed. Lay that foreshadowing on like peanut butter, baby.

2) I envisioned we’d have near-light speed communication, interstellar travel, and privately-funded spacecraft by 2021. Two-and-half strikes; Elon Musk comes pretty close, and if anybody in private industry is going to colonize the galaxy, it’s probably him.

3) On the bright side, I made mention of someone reading a newspaper on a tablet-like device, but heck, Star Trek: The Next Generation had that. No credit.

Onto part two. What happens when the folks back home get word about the event?

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“Night’s Black Agents” status update & what’s next

I’m about 85-90% through the first draft of “Night’s Black Agents.” It’s hard to put a firmer number on it than that, because you never know when the climactic battle scene will go crazy on you. And (semi-spoiler) there are two of those in this one.

Subject to tweakage, here’s the initial blurb:


Paxton Locke saved the day, killed the witch, and got the girl.

Well, sort of. Recovering from the beatdown he received at the hands of the witch’s familiars, Paxton and his new partner–don’t call her a sidekick–Cassie are headed to Phoenix. A spate of mysterious, ritualistic murders has the police baffled. Who better to find the perp than someone who can speak to the dead?

While Paxton hunts a killer, far deadlier creatures stalk him–and in the Valley of the Sun, a mystical cold war is about to turn hot.

After that, my plan is to take a bit of a research breather for a week or two before beginning work on “Tombstones.” The idea for this project has been rattling around in my head for a long, long time, and I want to get it right. Fingers crossed, I’d like to have it wrapped up before LibertyCon in July, then work on the final* volume of Z-Day, “A Place For War” late summer and early fall.

I’ll be putting up part two of #FreeAwfulNovel later today. Feel free to comment, point at, or laugh. It’s 21. It can take the shame.

* Final of the first trilogy, at least. <wiggles eyebrows>

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Kicking off a new feature – introducing #FreeAwfulNovel

The year was 1997. The Internet was slow, and I listened to way too much Alanis Morissette while wearing Berks with white socks. Don’t judge me. I was 19, and I knew not the ways of men.

Sorely disgusted, I shuffled out of a theater one fine day in early November. The long-awaited adaptation of Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” had come to my local cinema. And while I found high points a-plenty (nice to meet you, Dina Meyer – thanks for being awesome, Clancy Brown and Michael Ironside) the film was almost unrecognizable from one of the science fiction books that served as a cornerstone to my young fandom. No power armor? Stupid faux propaganda commercials? I expected better from the guy who did Total Recall. Heck, after RoboCop you’d think power armor would be EASY to at least do lip service to.

I’d written my first novel earlier in the year on a succession of devices. I started out with my grandma’s old Olivetti Studio 45 manual typewriter, upgraded to a Xerox MemoryWriter electric typewriter (loaner from one of my life-long friends, Duane) and eventually, a refurbished Compaq 486DX/33 courtesy of another friend and mentor, Kent. I met Duane,Kent, and Rex when I hired on at my first full-time job after high school. They not only were tasked with training me, I somehow shanghaied them into becoming my first beta readers, and God bless them, because I’m sure it was a slog getting through the prose of a kid fresh out of high school.

My first novel is gone so far as I know. It was the proverbial ten pounds of potatoes in a five-pound sack; a four-part epic that, if I recall correctly, clocked in at just under 1,000 8.5×11 pages. There were clones, a world-wrecking meteor shower, bad guys, good guys, wasteland cannibals, and a whole bunch of other stuff I’m probably forgetting.

Cleaning out my closet a while back, I found a heavy cardboard box. When I opened it, I was shocked to see my second novel. I began writing it not all that long after my disappointing experience with Starship Troopers. Like most teenagers, the word ‘humble’ was nowhere in my lexicon, but I will give myself a little credit: I didn’t set out to better Heinlein. I was a teenage idiot, but I wasn’t that stupid. I just wanted to tell a better story than what I saw on the screen that day a few weeks before Thanksgiving, 1997.

Did I succeed? I honestly don’t remember. It’s been just shy of two decades since I’ve so much as looked at this manuscript, and I’m going to share it here, bit by bit, warts and all.

Welcome to #FreeAwfulNovel.

Without further ado, I give you the prologue and Chapter 1 of WARHAWKS. Let’s go on this journey together.

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