News, Progress, & SWEET, SWEET FREE SHIT!

Howdy, fans and random stoppers-by!  Welcome!

Tom here, writer of all that stuff over there to the right (or below, if thou art a visitor from the mobileverse), here with a progress report.  I’m very glad you stopped by — make it a regular thing!

Mutineers Daughter Print Cover

  1. The Mutineer’s Daughter is doing well, with solid, consistent sales and page reads.  I don’t have the numbers and tracking I did with A Sword Into Darkness, since I’m just one of the writers on this one vs the (self/indie) publisher.  The great Chris Kennedy has been tracking the day to day sales and page reads there, and he’s satisfied, if not blown away by it.  We’re not doing the numbers that ASID did when it exploded in sales and reviews, surprising me right out of the gate, but it has not yet flashed out of the pan.  As I can’t track sales and Kindle Edition Normalized Page (KENP) read data (which is how Amazon monetizes reader interest for the Kindle Unlimited patrons), I can and do track the book’s sales ranking and my author ranking.  As you can see below, I did see an immediate rise, and it has stayed fairly steady since then.

TMD Sales Rank

Mays Author Rank 2014 to Present

However, it has not drawn the massive numbers of eyes either ASID or the Fourth Horsemen Universe novels have.  A couple of 4HU novels have been released since TMD, and they are all outselling it.  Now me, I’m very proud of TMD.  Its writing, characterization, and complexity are much better than ASID’s, and Chris seems very happy with what we did as well.  So why isn’t it boosting through the roof?  I dunno. The cover?  I love it, but it does look much different from the other covers in its sub-genre.  The fact that Chris’s fans weren’t expecting my hard sci-fi space stuff, and my fans weren’t expecting his gritty ground-level teen rebel angst?  Now me, I think of it like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!  You got your peanut butter in my chocolate!”  They’re two great tastes that go great together, but for fans that aren’t expecting the other, does it look like a Frankenstein’s Monster amalgamation?  I dunno.  I think the main issue is that we need to get eyes on it and reviews in it.  So far it’s received 29 positive 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon, and only got one negative-ish one rating on Goodreads.  The fellow involved tweeted with me and he regretted the fact that he just bounced off some of the plot choices in the last few chapters.  That’s gonna happen, so I’m not bent out of shape.  Me?  I’d love to hear what y’all think?  If you’ve given TMD a read, please consider messaging me and/or giving it a review.  If we can get the numbers up, the Amazon algorithm will start to work for us, and bring more eyes on.  I also have sent out a number of review copies that I hope will begin to bear fruit soon.  (and if you are a reviewer, I’m happy to send you a paper or e-copy with my compliments)  We are not sitting idly by awaiting an audience, however.  Chris and I have already met up and semi-plotted out the next two books in the In Revolution Born series, and each is more epic than the last!  Now is the time to get on board.

2.  Speaking of A Sword Into Darkness, followers on Twitter will know that I’ve finished the first “half” of the sequel Lancers Into The Light.  I put “half” in quotes because it finished about 40% over my targeted word count.  The first half is practically a novella in and of itself at 70K words vs the planned 50K words.  I’m mighty tempted to just publish it stand-alone, but it really should have the second (smaller) half to balance it out.  I still plan to finish the second half by summer and have the book out before fall, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, if you would like to be a beta-reader for the first half, so I can fix whatever doesn’t work while I’m building off of that in the second, please drop me a line.  You will need to have read ASID first, but the numbers say there’s about 40,000 of you that have done that, so just let me know.  It’s been a long, arduous, frustrating 4 years of work on the sequel, and my profound apologies to those who gave up on seeing it, but life intervened and I lost the will and wherewithal to work on it for the longest time.  With the patient support of fellow writers and my lovely girlfriend Kristin, however, I’M BACK, BABY!  Stay tuned!

ASID Full Cover 3c

3.  And for those who DON’T know what I’m yammering about, and who would like a preview of what my writing is like before you try on The Mutineer’s Daughter or put Lancers Into The Light on your pre-sale list, there’s NEVER been a better time to try out A Sword Into Darkness.  On April 20th and running through the 27th, ASID will be ONLY 99¢!  And if you are a Kindle Unlimited member, it’s free like always!  ASID is a good bet, with around 420 reviews at Amazon to help convince you.  So, try it yourself, push it onto your friends and family, proselytize it to your co-workers until security carts you out of the building.  DON’T MISS OUT!

Stay tuned for more SOON!  Take care, y’all.

 

Achievements Unlocked for THE MUTINEER’S DAUGHTER!

Woo-Hoo!  First of all, THANK YOU to all of you that hopped to and helped Chris Kennedy and I have such a GREAT book launch weekend, no Foolin’ (get it?  Because it was April Fool’s Day aaaaaand Easter . . . .  I’ll shut up now).

Eggcellent . . . .

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I won’t bore you with the whole play-by-play but, briefly, when The Mutineer’s Daughter launched on Amazon on Friday, it had an insurmountable, back-of-the-pack sales rank in the 600,000’s — which basically meant around 600,000 books were ACTIVELY selling better than it.  Pitiful, but it was pre-official launch.  After the early readers, early reviewers, my Facebook and Twitter friends, Chris’s minions from his mailing list, etc. got done pushing it, it rose to the lofty sales rank of 11,600.

Now, that may not sound really impressive to you . . . but it kinda is.  For a self/indie/small-press publication, opening weekend, with just word of mouth and a bit of intra-Amazon advertising, THAT’S AMAZING.  Yes.  11,000 books were selling better.  But that’s 11,000 out of ALL the books Amazon sells.  Which is a lot?  I’ll have to ask Chris what the actual sales were, but I’m pleased.

Along with garnering 19 4-and-5-star reviews, getting an aggregate of 4.7 – 4.8 stars, and reaching the lofty rank of 11,600 before falling into a more reasonable 16,000 range, I thought it couldn’t get any better.

Then I googled myself.

(don’t look at me that way . . . it’s not a sin . . . .)

And that’s when I saw that the great Nyrath (Winchell Chung of Atomic Rockets — the best dang science resource for space sci-fi authors and game designers on the internet) had not just given TMD a glowing review, he had also awarded our book the prestigious Atomic Rockets Seal of Approval!  Aaaaand the Radiator Award!

 

The first goes to books or games that are suitably “hard” with their science and space physics.  Things have inertia.  Acceleration takes time and velocity builds, which then has to be decelerated against.  Nothing is 100% efficient.  Energy and reaction mass has to come from somewhere and they impose limitations which then have to be accounted for.  There’s (for the most part) no stealth in space.  There’s no sound and distances are VAST.  You can’t zip around or bank your space fighters.  You, in fact, realize space fighters don’t really work that well, even if it means your inner X-Wing or Viper pilot dies a little inside.

That doesn’t mean you can’t cheat a little for the sake of telling an exciting story.  If you didn’t cheat a bit, every realistic space story would be slow and methodical and locked in our solar system using drones and probes.  You can have great stories like that, but too much reality can limit the imagination.  However, you don’t have to go full space fantasy like Doctor Who or Star Wars either — not that those aren’t fun in their own way.  Too often, though, they require the use of oo much secret handwavium or macguffinite to resolve the story in favor of the protagonists.  That’s like writing (and reading) on easy mode.  Deus ex machinas everywhere.  The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver and Star Trek’s transporter basically do WHATEVER the stories require, and after a while that just gets lame.

Writing/reading “hard” science fiction is a joyful challenge, sort of like solving a puzzle, or really getting into a game of chess.  Everyone knows how the pieces work.  The enemy can see your every move, and you can see every one of theirs, and you still have to pull out a victory or achieve tactical surprise!  There are no 11th-hour saves from out of nowhere.  Instead, whatever cheats you MUST use in order to keep your adventure moving briskly at the speed of plot have to have limitations.  They need to have well-defined rules and costs that prevent them from being some sort of deus ex machina, and — once established — YOU CAN’T BREAK THEM, even if they involve physics that don’t exist (yet) in our reality.  That’s how you can have faster-than-light travel (even if it breaks causality in our physics) or super-duper-efficient fusion drives, like in the suitably-hard The Expanse series and novels.

So, yeah.  The Mutineer’s Daughter does that, as A Sword Into Darkness did before it.

The second award is — in its words — For Excellence In Realizing Heat Needs To Go Places ‘N Shit . . . .

The ships in TMD have fragile, easily crippled radiators to expend all that pesky waste heat into the vacuum of space.  They are both a hassle and a constraint to be exploited.  Remember, on a fusion-powered ship, the worry isn’t that you’ll freeze in the cold vacuum of space if your systems fail.  The worry is that you’ll be roasted for years as your whole hull reaches thermal equilibrium with the reactor and you SLOWLY cool off via inefficient infrared emission.

Not enough people appreciate convection through the atmosphere.

So, THANK YOU, Atomic Rockets!

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And as if THAT wasn’t enough, Chris Kennedy sent out a shout this morning that the fun of the weekend WAS NOT OVER.  Because this morning, Amazon ranked TMD as the #1 New Release in Children’s Science Fiction Ebooks regarding Aliens, which jumped our numbers up all over again.  From 16,000 back to 11,000, then 10,000, 9000, 8000, 7000 . . . finally peaking at a sales rank of 6920!  Again, big number, but MUCH SMALLER than many.  That made us rank not only on the New Release list but also on the regular list.  At this point we are at #2 of all Children’s Sci-Fi Ebooks – Aliens, ABOVE in the list A Wrinkle In Time at #4.  That’s not to say we’re better than Madeline L’Engle’s classic, just that it’s nice to be in such company – especially as that book has a movie out now.

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Now, would I think of TMD as a Children’s Ebook?  Heck no!  It’s young-adult at most and is written to appeal to teens and adults alike.  Sailors are in there.  Sailors curse.  I’m just waiting for the first angry parent to dress me down because the antagonist in chapter One says “Fuck”.

But until then, I’m enjoying these lofty ranks, these 23 stellar 4 & 5-star reviews, and looking forward to where this might go.  Thank you all!

X-Mas (and a new Improbable Author post) Comes But Once A Year

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Merry Christmas, all!  As well as Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, and an excellent Ramadan, Boxing Day, Yule, Saturnalia, Festivus, Officially Sanctioned Non-Religious Winter-esque Holiday, or whatever else brings you indoors this season and causes you to get nostalgic with family and friends, drink, eat, and exchange gifts and good will.

I don’t wanna judge.  Me, I’m celebrating Christmas with me and mine.  As such, posts may well be infrequent (much drinking and writing to do), but as posts have already been infrequent, I thought it prudent to say something about why I haven’t written in three months.

I’m well.  Nobody is dying.  Family is good.  Work is looking up.  I’m in a generally up-beat mood most of the time.  But not everything is coming up roses.

Change has come to my life.  My wife and I have split up (sort of, it’s complicated).  This has somewhat adversely affected my progress upon the new novel, the sequel, my scripts, short stories, and marketing for the stuff I’ve already put out.  It’s not the only reason I haven’t written.  There is a lot of my own laziness, procrastination, writer’s block, and lack of a truly professional writer’s work ethic in there as well, but our separation and eventual divorce (as well as the associated issues with selling a house and moving) does color most of that.  I am not blaming her.  My lack of progress is upon me, but as many of you have been faithful fans, and as I have not held up my end of that bargain, I apologize.

As for the whys and what happeneds, that is a private matter between she and I.  The whole story (or a version of it) requires the purchase and pouring of multiple drinks in person.  My ex, my professional life, and most especially my kids deserve the grace of discretion.  What’s important is that we are both dedicated to our children, we get along, and we hope to one day be past this enough to be friends and take joy in each other’s futures, loves, and accomplishments.

What does this mean for you?  Pretty much nothing.  It’s just an apology and explanation.  But here is what I will give you:  an update and a gift!

Update first.  I am on the last chapter of Book One in Lancers Into The Light, the sequel to A Sword Into Darkness.  I anticipate Book Two going faster (I hope, anyway) and its a bit shorter.  I originally wanted to be done and launch around year’s end, but that’s not gonna happen.  I still would like to launch in the next quarter, and possibly do a launch party at RavenCon.  To facilitate that, I will be looking to getting feedback from Beta Readers of the first half while I’m finishing the second.  If’n you’d like to participate and give me some constructive feedback, drop me a line and some contact info here, by e-mail, Twitter, Google +, or Facebook.

I’m also working on a short for the Jim Baen Memorial Writing contest, but mum’s the word on that for now.

As for a present, last year I won the Liberty Island Holiday Writing contest with a little story about war, robots, Christmas, and French Meat Pies.  I’ll share that with all of you here later today or tomorrow, and I hope you all enjoy it.

Happy Holidays!

The Partly Informed Voter

Hey, all.  I’ve been off the computer as of late (well, off everything that isn’t Parks and Rec or Justified binge watching), so I apologize for the lack of recent posts, updating my writer’s group, or making progress on my projects.  I can’t say why I’ve been off.  It’s been more of a general “blah” feeling than anything else.  Maybe it’s the winter.

But with the advent of March, I am renewed unto the approach of Spring, groundhog be damned.  I’m feeling UP and ready to tackle the blog-o-sphere and my own writing career yet again!  Read closely — there is much to catch up on:

– First and foremost, I am a contributing member to SASQUAN, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, and as such I have a terrible and awesome thing:  a vote!  Yes, it is now within my capability to vote for the (lately) controversial Hugo award for the best works in Science Fiction.  Nominations close March 10th, so this is YOUR last chance to make suggestions to me for what should receive a nod.  I have no delusions that my own novel or stories will make the cut, proud of them though I am.  Nominees don’t need many votes to make the ballot — on the order of 160 or so.  I have more than enough 5-star reviews of ASID to think that I have 160 people who would back me, but I doubt the Venn diagram of my readers and SASQUAN voters would intersect to that degree.  Back when I had dim hopes that I might make the Sad Puppy slate (one side of the Hugo controversy), I might have had a slot, but it was not to be.  Many of the Sad Puppies devotees have read and liked ASID, but there are better books out there and they justifiably got on the slate.  The same goes for my short stories — my audience and the average SASQUAN voting pool are not the same group of people, so no joy.  That being said, who SHOULD I vote for?  I have a few that I’ll be backing, but there is room on my card for others to tag along.  Should I fill in my gaps with Sad or Angry Puppies?  Should I strike out for balance and vote for books touted by the other, “non-controversial”, “I don’t see anything wrong with the awards”, “there’s no inherent bias among WorldCon voters” side?  Check out my existing slate tomorrow and let me know what I should add!

– My active SFWA membership has not come through yet.  I’m qualified six ways from Sunday, but no joy yet.  Must investigate.  I am happy that my friend Joelle Presby got her membership, however.  That’s a future SFWA board member there, folks.  Me?  I couldn’t be bothered.

– I’ve completed about 1/4th of DEMI-GOD and it is going well (except for my operational writing pause throughout much of February).  I’m eager to finish, but worry about how the story grabs you.  I expect the editing phase to be arduous.  This is not a spiffy sci-fi military adventure like my last one.  This is much more social science fiction and much more character driven, so I worry about my past readers losing interest.  Once I get further on, I will be requesting beta-readers, so let me know if you want to participate.

– I’m spending today re-writing my sci-fi western for the Weird Wild West anthology.  Gotta get that in before the window closes.  Just need to punch up the beginning.

– I also need to post my new short story for sale as a Kindle Single.  Let the 99 cent experiment begin!

– Movies you should check out:  Jupiter Ascending (a visual masterpiece that should only be watched completely drunk), Kingsman (an AWESOME flick which is both a deconstruction of Bond and the best of what makes Bond), and The Lazarus Effect (which is being unfairly maligned as either a Lucy redux or a Flatliners copy.  It is neither.  It is a good low-budget horror flick, though I did think the villain had some issues with her motivation to go FULL-EVIL at the end.)  I’m thinking about adding a feature here called the BLUF review for Bottom Line Up Front where I lead with my final judgment and then go into detail.

– Should I get in to You Tube?  I have a face for radio and a voice for books, but there is a whole media out there that I’m missing out on.  Recommendations?

– And, lastly, for a special treat, go check out The Human Echoes Podcast, where you can hear yours truly debate and riff off of Albert Berg and Tony Southcotte of The Writer’s Arena about the movie Armageddon, space science, the end of the world, and 50 Shades of Grey (which may or may not be related).  It was my first podcast, but I had tons of fun, and you should absolutely check it out.

Later!

SFWA Now Accepting Indie-Publishers!

About damned time, I say.  Found this post, just as I was filling out my membership based upon my 2014 banner year, in which I made both my third and fourth qualifying short fiction sale.  And now it looks like, as of March 1st, indie-published SF/F authors and those from small, non-qualifying presses may now qualify as pros as long as they published a minimum of 10,000 words at 6 cents a word, or received at least $3000 in royalties+advance.  Man, I got that 20-fold in the last year alone! Like I said, good year.  For the official announcement from SFWA President Steven Gould, go here.

Now, a lot of my compatriots (conservative-ish / libertarian-ish / military sci-fi / red-state-leaning-but-largely-apolitical / indie-hybrid apostates) are largely dismissive or downright hostile toward the SFWA because of the organization’s perceived ideological bent of late (and not without reason), but I find myself leaning toward optimism and traditionalism.  I want to be part of things like the SFWA, the Hugo, the Nebula, and the SF-writers’ community because of what those things are supposed to be, even if the reality of what they are currently rubs a lot of folks raw.  I’m not a controversy type of guy.  I’ve yearned to join the club for so long, that I’m gonna join it, even as others are abandoning it as unwelcome or irrelevant.  Who knows?  Next year, I might agree with them.  But this year?  This year, maybe I can do something to right the ship (should it prove to indeed need righting).

And congrats to all of those on the Sad Puppies 3 and Rabid Puppies slate for their inclusion in the alt-protest list of books and works that often get seemingly excluded from consideration for the Hugo Awards.  There are some seriously good pieces on that list and they absolutely should be considered for a Hugo, ironic inclusion or not.  I imagine that my own nominations will include a lot of those.  There was an outside chance that A Sword Into Darkness or one of my three short stories published in 2014 might have gotten included on the slate, but alas, it was not to be.  Could I still get a Hugo nom even without Sad Puppy backing?  Sure.  Pigs can also fly with a sufficient amount of explosives applied.

 

Con-ventional Warfare

Sometimes life just kicks you in the balls.

The guys reading this know what I’m talking about, and I’m fairly certain that most of the ladies will know what I’m talking about with a fair degree of empathy, even if I don’t know what the female equivalent would be.

I don’t talk about my day job much here (and I will stick to the usual doing-something-for-the-Navy-somewhere-on-the-East-coast) but I will expand on it a bit to let you know that I’ve essentially been biding my time at one job, awaiting the opening of another one:  the DREAM job for one in my line of work, the gold-or-silver ring you wait for your whole career to bring you to.  Well, after doing everything the job asks for the last two years, and getting ready to go to the DREAM job . . . it was, of course, snatched all away.  Now I have essentially a year more to wait, hoping it will come through this time, and being promised a variety of things to assuage me.  I hold no animosity for my current job or the folks that had to give me the bad news, but DAMN IT.  Just damn it.

So, I was feeling pretty low.  I made vague plans to hit the water in my new kayak, stymied only somewhat by the fact that it was due to be rainy and freezing all weekend.  Whatever.  It fit my mood.  But theeeennnnnnn . . . .

Super-Indie Author Chris Kennedy sent me a note saying “Forget all that reality stuff!  Come and kick back with me at IllogiCon in Raleigh, NC!”  And wouldn’t you know it, I did and it was awesome!

Illogicon is a fun, fan-run science fiction convention about half to a third the size of my only other experience at RavenCon last year.  But since it was smallish, the rules weren’t quite so rigid, and they graciously allowed me to participate as a panelist.  I sat in on “Using the Military in Fantasy,” “Independent Publishing 101,” “Indie Publishing Finances,” and “Worldbuilding,” and I managed not to embarrass myself during a single one.  In fact, it almost appeared that I knew what I was talking about.  I also attended but did not participate in “SF/F for the Younger Generation,” “Using Religion and Spirituality in Science Fiction,” among others.  I talked up A Sword Into Darkness, REMO, and Riding The Red Horse, gave away a few copies and a bunch of postcards and business cards, and made and renewed contacts galore.  Not only did I touch base with Chris, I also met fellow indie superstar Ian J. Malone, Baen Slushmaster Gray Rinehart, Intergalactic Medicine Show Editor Edmund R. Schubert, Baen Editor/Publisher Toni Weisskopf, and authors Clay and Susan Griffith, Gail Z. Martin, Jacqueline Cary, Christopher Garcia, and Misty Massey.  It was a great time, not least of all because my little Gabster came with and impressed everybody with her involvement and her last-minute cosplay.

It was tons of fun and inspired me to hit the keyboard hard so I can finish Demigod, write Lancers Into The Light (ASID 2), and put out even more shorts in 2015 than I did in 2014.  They also inspired me to get my name out there more.  So, even though I’m probably a day late and a dollar short, I’ve sent in queries to guest or panel at a bunch of area conventions this year.  I have no idea how many (if any) will say yes, but here’s what a 100% attendance schedule would look like:

  1. MystiCon, Roanoke, VA – February 27-March 1
  2. ROFCon, Virginia Beach, VA – February 27-March 1
  3. MadiCon, Harrisonburg, VA – March 13-15
  4. RavenCon, Richmond, VA – April 24-26
  5. BaltiCon, Baltimore, MD – May 22-25
  6. ConCarolinas, Concord, North Carolina – May 29-31
  7. LibertyCon, Chattanooga, Tennessee – June 26-28
  8. Con-Gregate, High Point – North Carolina, July 10-12
  9. DragonCon, Atlanta, Georgia – September 4-7 (Yeah, right, this is like San Diego Comicon East)
  10. Capclave, Washington DC – October 9-11
  11. HonorCon, Raleigh, North Carolina – TBD – October 31-November 2
  12. AtomaCon, Charleston, South Carolina – November 13-15

I don’t know if any of these might say yes, but I may attend some of the closer ones regardless.  I’ll definitely be attending RavenCon.  It was just too much fun last year.

All in all, a pretty good weekend after all.  Thanks, Chris!

For Your Consideration . . . .

Hello and welcome, science fiction award board members, voters, and fans!  Please enjoy the canapes and wine being passed around.  The envelopes with your individual bribes will be under your chair in the main dining room after the presentation.  AFTER the presentation, sir.  Please wait until the end.  Let’s try to maintain some decorum, shall we?

There are a HOST of science fiction awards.  There’s the ones most folks know about, like the Hugo,the Nebula, and the two different Campbell awards.  There are also about 76 other awards given out on an annual basis.  The problem is, as a newbie and an ostensibly indie one at that, I don’t know awards people or awards voters.  But I am quite proud of my success in 2014, and I’d like to think I might be able to play in the big leagues with those who know and participate in award circles like it’s second nature.  It may be childish, but unlike some who eschew awards or believe sales alone are the only reward one needs, I do want that validation from the community (and I believe that recognition can’t necessarily hurt sales either).  Is my stuff award worthy?  I dunno.  I’d like to think so.  They’ve garnered rankings, reviews, and comments equivalent to those received by nominees and winners in the past.  But my worry is that my pro-sale stories were never seen (there is a LOT of stuff published in magazines every year), and my indie stuff carries the stigma of being indie/self published crap (there’s even MORE indie stuff published every year, both masterful and . . . less so).  So, rather than campaigning, I just wanted to get a reminder out there that I do have eligible works for consideration.  And if YOU have eligible works you’d like to see get more recognition, by all means plug-away in the comments below!

Eligible Short Stories – Pro-Market Published:

1. “The Rememberists” – Daily Science Fiction, July 15, 2014 – What do you do if you cannot escape your past, if things did not go they way they should have?  Hire a rememberist!

2. “Bumped” – The Grantville Gazette Universe Annex, December 2014 – An in-love mad scientist and a tough dame share a first date, only to be interrupted by three noir-ish baddies on a heist.  Collisions ensue.

Eligible Short Stories – Semi-Pro, Small Press, and Amateur Published:

1. “Within This Horizon” – Riding the Red Horse anthology from Castalia House, December 2014 – A damaged space navy officer contends with becoming “orbital debris,” relegated to the backwards, useless, bluewater navy, and must deal with both his own dashed expectations and the bitterness of a CO in the same situation.  (for a free review copy of my story or the anthology, e-mail me, private message me, or comment below)

2. “The 1011000-100110110000011010011 Truce” – Liberty Island Magazine, Alternative Holiday Short Story Contest Grand Prize Winner, December 2014 – The shift to automated warfare may or may not save lives in the end, but you’d never see a situation like the 1914 Christmas Truce of WW-I again.  Or could you?

3. “The Gaslight Consultant” – The Writer’s Arena, Reality Bites competition, October 2014 – Who better to drive someone crazy, or make them believe they are seeing ghosts than a team that may actually be crazy (or who sees ghosts)?  NOTE:  This was not my best story of 2014, but there are absolutely some stories on The Writer’s Arena that should be considered, especially the best of the year I saw there: “Words on the Wind” by Lu Whitley, a great soft-fantasy/magic piece.

Eligible Short Stories – Independently Published:

1. “Dogcatcher Blues” – REMO collection by Thomas A. Mays, April 2014 – A disgraced soldier is ordered to carry out a terrible punishment duty, rounding up man’s worst friend on a pacified rebel planet.  But picking up this cybernetic Hellhound is more problematic than others.  Rather than fetch a simple unintelligent feral, this dog is a deserter who will do ANYTHING to avoid going back.  I could simply name any story in the REMO collection as eligible (other than the previously published “Strategic Deployment”, but this story is my favorite and I kick myself for not submitting it for pro-publication before putting it in my collection.  (for a free review copy of my story or the whole collection, e-mail me, private message me, or comment below)

Eligible Novel – Independently Published:

1. A Sword Into Darkness – Stealth Books, January 2014 – 30,000 copies sold in 2014, 349 reviews on Amazon with a 4.4 star average, 3.88 stars on Goodreads with 33 reviews and 531 ratings, and great independent reviews on a number of sites (check out the book link on the right or down below if you are on mobile).  This was my pride and joy and a financial boon in 2014.  Is it literary or award-worthy?  Like I said, I don’t know.  I do know that if you appreciate a classic style and theme, if you like smart military sci-fi space opera with respectable physics, if you love pull-em-up-by-your-bootstraps, libertarian-leaning tales of space navies or overcoming alien invasion, and if your favorites include Niven, Pournelle, Heinlein, Clancy, or Ringo, then this is a book for you to vote for.  (Again, for a free review copy, e-mail me, private message me, or leave a comment below.)

So, we’ll see.  Chances are I won’t be remembered around awards season.  There’s just too much good stuff out there, but if you haven’t checked out mine, I think you might like it.

Plus, friends and followers of The Improbable Author, if you would like to plug your own work for award consideration, by all means let us know about it in the comments below.  I know that indie/self published shorts and novels have gotten nominations before (if rarely), and I would love to see one win, and if not mine, then another worthy indie.

Thanks!