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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Want a free book?

I’m in Silver Empire’s upcoming “Secret Stairs” anthology. The stairs concept was inspired by a series of online ghost stories, which in itself is a pretty fascinating concept: folklore of the modern age, spread virally through the Internet along the lines of Slenderman.


You can go here to check it out. The only catch is, if you snag one of the copies, please leave a review! My story is indirectly associated with the Paxtonverse of ‘Fade’ . . . and, by the by, I’ll have some interesting news regarding Pax in the not-so-distant future. . . stay tuned. 🙂



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Making Peace Is a Deep, Pulpy Adventure

I largely agree with HP’s review here. Making Peace is good stuff.

Every Day Should Be Tuesday

“Actually,” another twitch at his deep voice, and a slight hunching of her shoulders, “we are here to take you into custody, under authority of the Keepers.”

The room was silent.  I wondered who would claim ownership of my estate in the event of my untimely death.”

It took me a little while to get into it, but Making Peace sneaks up on you.  Smith has crafted a fine debut.  The steady stream of action is complemented by a lot of heart.

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New Release Snippet: Night’s Black Agents

I’ve been slacking with the new content, so here’s a special treat for the  weekend.

At the end of ‘Fade’, Paxton got out of the hospital and headed to Phoenix with Cassie. The road trip is about to go off the rails . . .

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2017

Every Day Should Be Tuesday

2017 introduced me to a lot of great writers.  Looking back over last year, I am pleased to see the diversity among those writers.  My list splits very evenly among fantasy debuts, indie books, and vintage SF.  This is also the first time in the last four years I haven’t needed to use nonfiction writers to round out my list (though if I had read as much nonfiction as I should have, that might not have been the case).  A few highlights: Robyn Bennis’ The Guns Above and Luke Bauserman’s Some Dark Holler were two of the best books I read this past year and are criminally overlooked.  I really, really need to read more Leigh Brackett.  And finally reading some Robert E. Howard really blew my mind.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish (for now).

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‘A Place Outside The Wild’ now available in audio

It was a mammoth undertaking, and kudos to my narrator, Chris Check. The finished product comes in at a massive 21+ hours, so if you’re looking for something to invest an Audible Credit on, it’s plenty long enough.

Check it out here.

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Here we go again (Rotten Tomatoes)

Merry Christmas, everyone! Going to keep this short and sweet, but I couldn’t resist after watching Bright on Netflix the other night while finishing up the gift wrapping.

And yeah, just like Justice League, the critics have whiffed on this one. One reviewer even called Bright the worst film of 2017. Not sure if the My Little Pony movie is included in that list, but my Twilight Sparkle-lovin’ daughter was meh on it.


Anyway, Bright. I agree with the audience on this one. Check it out. Lord of the Rings crossed with End of Watch. Not an altogether new concept for those who’ve played Shadowrun, but a fun popcorn flick.

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