Author-itative

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Oh, you poor, poor fools that have the misfortune of living outside driving range of the Hampton Roads area of Virginia and North Carolina. Why do I pity you? Well, for so many reasons, honestly, but mostly because you will be missing out on a GREAT event this Saturday.

Pshaw, you say! I have a lot of things going for me outside the Norfolk / Chesapeake / Virginia Beach area. Why, I have the life of the European bon vivant, you say. I’ve got the excitement of the Big Apple — I’ve got the coolness of the West Coast — I’ve got the great vistas of the Rocky Mountains!

Pitiful, pitiful, pitiful, pitiful. Your protestations are but the last desperate gasp of the uninformed. You cry foul, but I know better, because I know about Authorfest.

Hampton Roads Authorfest, a kick-ass collection of 25 local-area authors with well over 100 books between them, books that excite, books that inform, books that stir the soul and the imagination. Books by authors who have both succeeded in the traditional publishing industry, and books by those who have struck out on their own and gone indie. Books of every genre from my own favorite (SCIENCE FICTION and all its varied sub-genres), to horror, thrillers, romance, mysteries, fantasy, young adult, crime, true crime, memoirs, humor, children’s books, travel books, and philosophy, etc. Books by such local luminaries as Chris Kennedy, Vanessa Barger, Lara Nance, Nancy Naigle, Tracy March, Malcom Massey, Dave Poyer, and Lynn Yvonne Moon. Books by authors you’ve loved for years, and books by authors you have yet to discover.

And what an event it’ll be! There’s the authors, of course, whom you’ll be able to stroll around, talk to, and connect with from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM. And there will be books to browse, books to buy (for yourself or as a gift for the holidays), and prizes to win. And there will be seminars throughout the day, full of priceless guidance if you’d like to one day be a selling author yourself. They’ll cover the Children’s Book biz, Small Press Publishing, Indie Publishing, Book Trailers and Advertising, Writing for Young Adults, Steampunk Basics, and The Game of Love in Romance Writing. I myself don’t know if I’ll be able to resist the seminars, even though I’ll be sitting a table and trying to sell my own humble pair of books.

Should you happen to have the fortune of residing within the greater Hampton Roads area (and by this I mean if you left RIGHT NOW, you could legally and safely hit the Authorfest from a range of 4000 miles), you can totally attend the event — AND YOU ABSOLUTELY SHOULD. We’ll be kicking things off at the Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library in Virginia Beach, at the 4100 block of Virginia Beach Boulevard, from 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. It’ll be a blast and you owe yourself the opportunity to meet these authors and try out their wares.

Plus, BONUS!!!, I will be there in all my humble glory.

Honestly, how could you NOT show up now?

Another Writer’s Thoughts on Interstellar

Tom Mays:

A good write-up to which I almost completely agree.

Originally posted on Brandon Crilly - Writer, Teacher, Human:

I love how the Internet comes alive when a new blockbuster comes out. We live in a society where everyone is a critic and has a voice to express their opinion of a new movie, novel, TV show, etc. Instead of deterring me from throwing in my two cents, I’ll just keep my commentary brief :)

To summarize, Interstellar blew me away. Seriously. It has been a very long time since a movie had me sitting on the edge of my seat pretty much from start to finish. I can’t entirely explain how Christopher Nolan did it, but I spent the entire movie thinking to myself “Shit, they’re gonna die” or “Oh, God, they’re screwed” and feeling my heart leap into my throat. The characters are part of how this is accomplished. Matthew McConaughey is phenomenal at making us care about pilot-turned-farmer Cooper, who dreams of something greater for his children…

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Ten Minutes of Truly Terrific Tangents

Or an hour and a half (provided you have sufficient stamina, time, and joy in your heart).

As last post indicated, I got to participate in The Writer’s Arena a few weeks ago, dropping the ghostly insanity of “The Gaslight Consultant” on them against the Arena’s own Albert Berg.  Al delivered a terrific epistolary/excerpt-style tale in “Excerpt of Classified Data Recovered in the Aftermath of Project Lethe” and I really recommend you give both tales a read, a little mid-work-week present to yourself.  In the end, the judges gave us a split decision, but the readers awarded me the win.  Yeah, ME! 

But it was an absolute pleasure to compete, I can’t wait to do it again, and had I lost to Al, it would have been a well-deserved loss, as the Project Lethe team is second to no one (with the possible exception of Smythe and Shade).  And, that — I thought — is that.  Done deal.  I won’t be hearing from those guys ever again.  Eh, not so hasty there, Tom.

First, there was Doc Occupant, a devoté of the Arena and an all-around fine fellow who decided to give A Sword Into Darkness a try since he enjoyed my short story.  And, it turns out, he enjoyed ASID enough to give me a very good write-up on his blog.  Which then earned a hearty thank you from me on Twitter.  Which then alerted Tony Southcotte of Writer’s Arena to check it out and quip a bit on the blog comments, which had me quipping as well.

Thus, my work was on Tony’s mind when he produced last week’s outstanding episode of The Human Echoes podcast, where he riffs on pop culture with my former nemesis, Albert Berg.  Was I a planned topic of their podcast?  Nope, but you never know where the rabbit hole will lead once you start meandering down that path.  As such, last week’s edition:  Candy Corn and Railguns (awesome title by the way) contains a very interesting section of tangents which somehow tie Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece INTERSTELLAR with Billy Bob Thornton’s The Astronaut Farmer, and Tony Todd from Candyman with my own research into railguns at the Naval Postgraduate School.  It’s like that old show “Connections” on PBS.  It’s odd and wonderful and zany, and I can’t wait to do an interview or just to chat with them.

The “me” part of the show is from about 28:30 to 39:00, but you really should check out the whole podcast.  I know I’m hooked and have been binge-listening to their archives.  Thank you Tony and Al!

Now, back to my dismal participation in NANOWRIMO.

 

Bows Grow Taut, Battle Approaches . . . .

(Read in the voice of a stereotypical New York Jewish grandmother) “Oi, Morty!  Whateva happened to that nice Tommy Mays boy?  Ya know, the writer fella, with all o’ dem science fictional stories and books and what not?  Ya neva heah from him no more.”

“Who?” (Hard of hearing stereotypical New York Jewish granddad)

“Tommy Mays, autha of A Sword Inta Dahkness, RAYMO, Da Rememberists, Strategic Deploymen, Dreams f’Sale (Oh my, a sale!), an’ otha fine works of science fiction and wonda!”

“Who?!”

“He was woikin’ on a sequel, and a new book o’ Christian science fiction (oh, dem gentiles, gettin’ to their shenanigans), and a couple o’ short stories?  Tommy Mays!?”

“Who!?  Where’s my sandwich?”

Aaaaaaand, SCENE!  Hi, y’all.  Just wanted to drop a line before making a pre-emptive donation to the Anti-Defamation League.  I’ve been off the blog for a while, but wanted to let you know of some things going on.

First, I AM WRITING, but I’m probably not writing on the things you want me to write on.  No progress on the sequel to ASID and only marginal growth on either Echomancer, or Demigod, my two young-adult urban fantasy projects.  I’ve had a lot of short story stuff (as well as a lot of life) interfere.

First, of course, I didn’t make it with the Baen Fantasy Award and my story “The Commuter”, but it is working its way through the magazine rejection files now, as is “Bumped”.  Should they not make it, I might do a final polish and offer them through Amazon Singles (which is not a dating site.  I stand corrected).

My first new short story product is a definite WIN and I’m VERY excited about it.  This is a quasi-sequel to an anthology of science fact and fiction regarding future warfare produced back in the 70’s and 80’s.  I forget the title of that one, but Castalia House is publishing an unofficial follow-up called Riding the Red Horse, an obvious allusion to the Red Horse of War.  Headed by Tom Kratman and edited by Vox Day, the new anthology will include essays on the future of warfare, science articles, and a BUNCH of great new short stories by some of my favorite authors, including Tom Kratman and Vox Day, Chris Kennedy, Christopher Nuttall, and little old me.  My story, “Within This Horizon” is under editing now, but I can’t wait for the book to launch and for you all to see it.

The second bit of news requires YOUR PARTICIPATION!  I have just submitted a story for The Writer’s Arena, sort of a short story Thunderdome (Two Stories Enter!  Only ONE STORY LEAVES!!).  They hold weekly fiction contests where each writer has a week to submit a story about the same particular topic.  That topic may be AI gone awry, a carnival from Hell, or ghosts – madness or reality?  Once both writers have submitted their tales, both stories get posted on the website and readers vote on the winner.  These are short tales, usually under 4000 words each, and they are a lot of fun.  This week the topic is AI gone awry, so do please go check it out and vote.  Next week is my week, which deals with “fake” hauntings:  either you have to describe someone who is a victim of a made-up haunting, or you have to describe a real haunting that won’t allow itself to be disproved.  My story, “The Gaslight Consultant” will be appearing there in mid-October.  I absolutely need your help and your judgment, with your vote going to the best of the two stories.  And if you like it, consider supporting the site with a small donation, like what you would pay for a show or an issue of a magazine.

So, that’s where I’ve been, Jewish Grandma.  Now excuse me while I go prepare for next week’s battle!

 

ASID & REMO: Kindle Countdown Deal, 8-13 September!

BookSale8-13September

You want some AMAYSING AMAZING science fiction for cheap?  You like operating under pressure of a deadline, right up against the wire?  How about both?

Monday morning, both A Sword Into Darkness (316 reviews and 4.4 stars) and REMO (33 reviews and 4.3 stars) go on sale for the low, low price of 99 cents at Amazon.com.  That’s both e-books for your Kindle device or app for less than two bucks!  But maybe you’re not sure, so you decide to think it over for a day or two.  TOO LATE, SHIPMATE!!  On Wednesday, the price jumps to a still low, but not as insanely low $1.99.  That’s okay, you think.  It’s still in cheeseburger territory.  I can wait.  WRONG MOVE, MISSY!!  It’s a countdown deal!  The time is counting down and the price is counting up!  Now, Friday, REMO’s back to $2.99 and ASID joined it, still a dollar off the usual price but the sale is almost through.  Will you allow yourself to miss it?  Will you allow your fun and sci-fi loving friends and family to miss it?! 

I think not!

And if that wasn’t enough, I’m offering a discount code for trade paperback version of A Sword Into Darkness during that same period.  Use Discount Code 5TF4MWZN at Createspace this week, and you’ll get $4.00 off the regular list price of $15.99.  That’s just $11.99 for physical ASID you can hold in your hot little hands, this week ONLY.

Plus (I CANNOT BELIEVE THERE IS A PLUS) you can still get the ASID audiobook for FREE at Audible.com with your free 30-day trial membership.

Honestly, it’s like Chistmas in September.  I am far too good to you people, but that’s me.  Selfless.  In love with the world and always trying to give back.  If I wasn’t just the humblest person on the planet, I might put myself in for saint-hood.

;)

The Last Ship, Season One – Review and Contest

So, have you felt it yet?  Do you feel it right now?  The sense that something is missing from your weekly routine, a little bit of awesome, apocalyptic, well-acted, largely accurate and respectful naval porn?

Well, I’ve been feeling it.  After a season that was either exactly as long as it needed to be (without all the fluff or pointless episodes that British series avoid with their shorter seasons, but which are endemic to American 22-24 episode seasons) or way, way too short (c’mon, you know you wanted more, as long as its the right kind of more), The Last Ship has left us.  How was the inaugural season?  Where did it soar and where did it fail?  And what’s in it for you if you care either way?

Read on!

Characters:  The Goods:  I gotta hand it to the two primary stars, Eric Dane and Rhona Mitra.  Cap’n Crunches and our Doctor Va-va-va-voom-virology were very well played, carrying considerable gravitas as well as being very easy on the eyes.  I was totally unfamiliar with Eric Dane prior to this (not a big Gray’s Anatomy watcher), but I had seen Ms. Mitra in a number of films prior to this, and was already a fan.  I think she rather classed up the whole affair.  Eric Dane played Captain Chandler as a man I’d want to follow, making him decisive, strong, and still caring for his crew.  Between the writers and his performance, we got ourselves a high quality CO.  And he did righteous anger very well. That being said, the Tom Chandler role could have been slightly more nuanced.  We did have scenes of vulnerability and doubt, but he seemed a little too good to be true sometimes, all lantern-jawed hero and never the bereft father and husband, or the CO far out of his depth having a moment of frustrated weakness where he explodes on a subordinate that simply didn’t deserve it.  But that’s a minor point.  As for Rhona, she played Dr. Rachel Scott as strong, fierce, intelligent, (a little haughty perhaps), and with both a sense of pride warring with frustration at having been doubted by her community.  I really, really appreciated that she never struck me as Denise Richards playing Dr. Christmas Jones in that excreble James Bond flick.  I believed and appreciated Rhona Mitra in her role (and she can still be my Doc anytime).

In regards to highpoints among our supporting cast, both in terms of writing and performance, my favorite was Tex (John Pyper-Ferguson), followed closely by everyone’s favorite XO, CDR Mike Slattery (Adam Baldwin).  Tex was just a joy to watch, providing some much needed comic relief while also being a badass.  Plus he had some moments of depth, vulnerability, and sorrow, especially as he began to realize his love would remain unrequited.  As for Jayne/Casey/XO Slattery, the great Adam Baldwin, I love that dude.  He played this role with much less humor and a great deal more doubt and uncertainty than I’m used to seeing from him in roles, but that was definitely the right tone to take here.  In fact, I could have done well with a lot more conflict and friction between him and Chandler.  There were moments, but they were always fleeting.  I also wish, like with Chandler, that they would have seemed more affected by the apocalypse going on around them.  Still, whether he was shooting terrorists with a 5 inch gun, or overriding his CO and continuing to look for him against orders, you knew that Slattery (the ex Chicago detective????) was the guy you wanted in your corner.

Lastly, I have to give props to our villains, Alfre Woodard, Ravil Isyanov, and Jose Zuniga.  They were all played well, with the only unfortunate point being that there was no over-arching villain as a Big Bad for the season, and they never had enough screen time.

The Less Goods:  First of all, there were no bad performances here.  That’s why this is “Less Good” than “Bad”.  But there were some roles that — whether due to their writing or the way they were played — they just bugged me and did not contribute as much as I might hope in a perfect show.  First of these is the CMC, Master Chief Jeter, played by the very good Charles Parnell.  The CMC just seemed to be too much of a saint, but instead of Jesus, he put his faith in Tom Chandler.  That’s just a bit over the top, and unlike any CMC I’ve ever met.  It got a little old, and frankly I thought it was building to a good death for him during the episode where he volunteered to have the vaccine tested upon him.  Then there is Quincy (Sam Spruell), who was just a whiney, badly manipulative, weak weasel.  As a villain he was lame.  As a protagonist, he was creepy.  Maybe that’s exactly what they wanted from him, but I just didn’t see Rachel Scott putting her faith in him.  And then we have our main points of ire:  our Two Sexy Lieutenants Being All Sexy Together.  Danny Green (Travis Van Winkle) and Kara Foster (Marissa Neitling) got better as the series went on, mostly because they were separated from one another, but every “relationship” moment was like nails on a chalkboard.  Were these characters designed to mark off some screenwriting checklist block requiring a romance?  When they were doing their jobs, they were perfectly acceptable.  When they interacted or fought or made-up, though, it was full of suck.  Sorry, guys.

Lastly, I’ll repeat a plea I made several times before:  Where are all the goddamn enlisted roles.  The USS NATHAN JAMES is an officer-fest, and that’s not good.  They make up only about 10% of the crew, but they make up 99% of your speaking roles.  There are stories to be told there, stories that will echo with your audience, and not just the one or two shoehorned in weak roles you did have for them.  I fully expected to have a strong antagonist among the crew for Captain Chandler, someone who realizes with the demise of the US and the Navy, they didn’t have to follow Chandler’s orders any more.  Is a mutiny story aboard a ship a trite cliche?  It can be, but it was still a chance to bring conflict and realism and more enlisted participation into the story.  We had weak officer counseling!  So where were the 10% of the crew that end up taking up 90% of your time?  Where were the fistfights and/or suicides among a crew under the stress of the end of the world?  Why was there never a fragging incident or a CO’s Mast that busted down an undisciplined crewman?  And not to be negative entirely, where were the scenes of a crewman showing up an officer, of an enlisted person being selfless, or inventive, amazing Chandler and earning his respect and gratitude?  Because that stuff, good and bad, is what happens aboard ship every single day.  But all we got was a chess-playing cook and a gunner’s mate that wanted to time out of service during an emergency.  Kinda weak sauce, writers. 

Wow, looking back at a lot of that last paragraph, there’s also a lot of points which apply equally to plot so . . . .

Plot:  The Goods and Less Goods:  The Last Ship deviates significantly from the novel of the same name, and that is to its benefit, as that source novel is quite dated and involved the hopeless situation of a nuclear war vice the threat of a viral apocalypse which allows for the crew to positively affect things.  We have all the big stakes here:  global apocalypse, a small crew on one ship against the world, pandemic, lost loved ones, a last desperate chance at a hopeful conclusion, external attacks, action, explosions, and conflict, conflict, conflict!  If the story had ever paused, or had an episode to spare, I’d suggest they could have added a decompression episode, a Sunday at sea or a Crossing the Line ceremony to show the crew letting loose a little and having some nice character moments, but maybe next season.  Like I said before, the episodes and the season were very tightly written with no extraneous eps (except for one . . . ).  The setup in the pilot was PERFECT, the conclusion was DAMN GOOD, and they kept the tension well-ratcheted for the most part, resulting in some middle-of-the-season eps that were equally amazing.  I had my favorites, as I’m sure you do, which is the gist of the contest I mentioned earlier, and more on that later. 

Were there things I would have changed?  Of course!  Continuing with what I mentioned in Character above, the show could have benefitted from a Big Bad to carry through the season instead of episodes where sometimes the only antagonist was bad fortune and there situation.  Now, many of these episodes were necessary, but if we could have had a hint of an overarching Antagonist as well, I’d have done it.  Maybe introduce Alfre Woodard earlier, make her their cheerleader at home, so when she turns out to be L’il Miss Hitler, it’s even more jarring.  Maybe give Roskov a scene or two in more episodes, even if the Russians were nowhere near the main action.  I’d also have had more incidents of desperation or interactions with other vessels, where the crew as a whole was forced to confront the deadly realities of the disease, though the episodes where that did occur were much appreciated.

Only one episode actively pissed me off, and I think you’ll know it if you’ve been reading these.  That one ep exemplified all my fears of a Navy TV show, mostly because that was the one time the writers and consultants truly failed in terms of Naval Realism.

Naval Realism:  The Goods:  They actually filmed about 85% of the series on actual US Navy destroyers, and that setting shined through.  The tech jargon was spot on for the most part.  All the pieces and parts were there and they were properly used, properly manned, and properly referred to.  This was a very respectfully crafted show, and almost reaches the high point of Naval Porn (which I consider a term of endearment).  This show (I hope) will be a good recruiting tool for the Surface Navy (which is my Navy).  I usually had a happy smile on my face while watching this show. so Thank You for almost getting everything right.

The Less Goods:  A lot of the plot tropes they used had Captain Chandler (and the XO and CMC) in the center of the action, which is ludicrous.  The Skipper doesn’t get to go on many, if any tactical away missions.  They also gave the NATHAN JAMES superpowers, allowing her to shrug off missiles, rockets, and bullets without damage, to operate over the span of entire oceans without fueling or provisioning, to hack into satellites and facilities with impunity, and to stash her helicopter in a third hangar that simply doesn’t exist.  But all of that is allowable when compared to the season’s only true stinker episode, Episode 4:  “We’ll Get There” (But you’ll probably give yourself a lobotomy before you do, so you can stand all the STUPID).  I won’t rehash it here, but I AM TOTALLY FINE IF THEY COMPLETELY RETCON HOW THE SHIP WORKS during the next engineering-centric episode, or, alternatively, if THEY NEVER AGAIN HAVE AN ENGINEERING-CENTRIC EPISODE.

A reminder, cast, crew, producers, and writers:  I’m available as a consultant, and I work CHEAP.

Contest:  So, that’s it.  I LOVED the first season of The Last Ship and can’t wait to see how the plot develops and the characters grow next season.  I can only hope they keep with the show’s central conceipt and STAY ON THE DAMN SHIP, instead of becoming a knock-off of Jericho or The Walking Dead, fighting the apocalypse upon land, with only passing references to the NATHAN JAMES.  And I want to thank you all for sticking it out and reading my reviews.  I’ve never enjoyed such high traffic on my blog before.

As a way of thanking you, since I don’t have any Last Ship  swag, I do have some sci-fi navy fun to offer.  Here’s how it goes:  Out of the season’s ten episodes, which were the best?  Give me your top 5, in order, on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, in the comments below, or via e-mail.  The first person(s) to match my list (or get closest) will win a free copy of my military sci-fi novel A Sword Into Darkness, in either e-book, trade paperbook, or audiobook (your choice)!

So, what are your top 5 episodes and why!?  Enter early and play often!  And THANK YOU ALL AGAIN.

Fisking the Guardian’s Village Idiot Again

Tom Mays:

This is relevant to my interests. Plus, my sale numbers are apparently on par with Hugo and Nebula award winner this year (which is more “sad for them” than “yeah me”).

Originally posted on Monster Hunter Nation:

Let me cut right to the chase. Damien Walter is a liar.

Don’t worry, I’ll go through the whole thing, but let’s get the important stuff out of the way for the TL/DR crowd.

In another incredibly ignorant yet smug article from the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/aug/29/space-opera-new-guardians-of-the-galaxy-ancillary-justice Damien said the following:

 Baen’s chief editor Toni Weisskopf went so far as to issue a diatribe against any and all sci-fi that did not pander to this conservative agenda.

Cite it, Damien. Cite where Toni Weisskopf ever said that. If you can’t provide a cite of where she said that, then you are a liar and you should issue a retraction and an apology.

 Here, let me help you. Here is Toni’s “diatribe”. http://accordingtohoyt.com/2014/03/10/the-problem-of-engagement-a-guest-post-by-toni-weisskopf/ People can read it and judge for themselves.

So where is the part about pandering to a conservative agenda?

Damien can’t quote it, because it only exists in his…

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