Con-tinuous Updates

Ha, ha.  I wonder how many of these I can make before even am sick of them.  Looks like Con-Carolinas is on board, though they have accepted me as a Military/Science guest vice as an author.  I’ll take it!

  1. MystiCon, Roanoke, VA – February 27-March 1; No response
  2. ROFCon, Virginia Beach, VA – February 27-March 1; No response, but I’ll probably go to this one due to proximity.  Or I’ll sleep in.  I dunno.
  3. MadiCon, Harrisonburg, VA – March 13-15; Accepted as a guest!  Super small college con.  Still thinking on it.
  4. RavenCon, Richmond, VA – April 24-26; No response (Damn it)
  5. BaltiCon, Baltimore, MD – May 22-25; Acceptance pending, but they urged me to enter for the Compton Crook Award.  And I did! No confirmation of award eligibility yet.
  6. ConCarolinas, Concord, North Carolina – May 29-31; Accepted as a guest!
  7. LibertyCon, Chattanooga, Tennessee – June 26-28; Accepted as a guest!  Long drive, I may look at car-pooling.  Very excited!
  8. Con-Gregate, High Point – North Carolina, July 10-12; Accepted as a guest!
  9. DragonCon, Atlanta, Georgia – September 4-7 (Yeah, right, this is like San Diego Comicon East); Application under review
  10. Capclave, Washington DC – October 9-11; Application under review
  11. HonorCon, Raleigh, North Carolina – TBD – October 31-November 2; No response
  12. AtomaCon, Charleston, South Carolina – November 13-15; No response

So, my travel sked is shaping up.  Stay local in February, travel to Harrisonburg March 13-15, Richmond April 24-26, Baltimore (if acceptance comes through) May 22-25, Concord the very next week May 29-31, chill for a month, then LibertyCon in Chattanooga June 25-29, High Point July 10-12, and then FREEDOM!

As for writing, almost finished with the short for the Weird Wild West project, and honestly it is turning out awesome. I’m channeling my inner Laura Ingalls Wilder, as interpreted by Sergio Leone and George Lucas.  It is not steampunk, though.  It is more . . . clock-punk?  It involves a young girl on the frontier and a Babbage horse.  That’s all I can say right now.

As for novel manuscript, it’s . . . going well?  Yeah, it is definitely a thing on which some measure of progress is being made.  Honestly, my failing here is entirely David Weber’s fault.  I met my local idol briefly at a one-day stop in to MarsCon in Williamsburg, so I’ve been reading Weber again (my signed copy) and playing waaaayyy too much of the actually very good mobile game Tales of Honor:  The Secret Fleet.

So, totally not my fault.  🙂

300 Reviews and Audiobook Awesomeness!

Greetings, faithful readers!  If you are here because of my “The Last Ship” reviews, welcome, but this ain’t gonna be about that.

Nope.  It’s gonna be BETTER.

Last night, my independently-published military sci-fi space opera novel A Sword Into Darkness (a button for which you will find to the right or below) hit 300 reviews with my bestselling retailer,  Upon hitting this somewhat arbitrary milestone, I thought I’d tell you all how the book was doing, and let you know about some BIG news as well.

First, the BIG news: the audiobook for A Sword Into Darkness (ASID) is now available for sale at,, and iTunes (soonish).  Read magnificently by Mr. Liam Owen of, this is a TOTALLY different and exciting way to experience ASID.  If you’ve read and enjoyed ASID, you owe it to yourself to re-experience it with Liam Owen’s amazing narration.  He has this gentle, yet authoritative voice that really delivers when it comes to military scenes and science fiction exposition, and his characterizations and voices for all my different characters just have to be heard.  Honestly, like me, I think you’ll fall in love with the story all over again.

If you have yet to read ASID, this is a great way to encounter it for the first time.  This unabridged edition can be listened to in just under 12 hours, and I think you’ll have a lot of fun with it (4.4 stars in 300 reviews level of fun).  Have a commute?  Do you work out or clean your house?  Do you commute to and from your work-out before cleaning your house?  If so, and you never have the time to read, YOU HAVE GOT THE TIME to try out ASID as an audiobook.

And if you’ve never tried out audiobooks before, this is a great opportunity:  enroll with free for 30 days, and your first audiobook (like ASID, hint, hint, hint) is completely and totally FREE!  Even if you don’t keep the audible membership, the audiobook for ASID remains yours forever!


Concerning reviews, and specifically my Amazon reviews which have the biggest base to draw from, folks really like A Sword Into Darkness.  How much?  Well, as of this writing, I have 174 5-star reviews and 93 4-star reviews.  Of those who just “liked” it rather than “loved” it, I have 27 more critical 3-star reviews.  I think a 90% success rate for connecting with your readers is a pretty darned good return on your investment.

The math whizzes among you might note that 174 + 93 + 27 does not equal 300.  As the aphorism goes, you can’t please everyone.  I also have 4 2-star reviews from folks which gave me points for writing the book, but didn’t like it, and two 1-star reviews, one from a guy who prefers Christopher Nuttall’s books (which I have no problem with, Chris is prolific and a damn good writer), and one guy who hated on my book so hard, I think I actually made his day.  His 1-star dismissal was, in fact, the second review I received, and that made for a bad day, but the days have gotten notably better since then.

The buyers who have written reviews (and it works out to about 1 reviewer for every 100 buyers/readers) have also shared some damn-fine write-ups.  Praising, critical, questioning, or whatever, each thing they tell me and other potential buyers are gold.  My writing on ASID has been favorably compared to Tom Clancy, Dr. Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, Robert Heinlein, David Weber, and John Ringo.  I don’t know about all that, but each of those luminaries of genre literature are my heroes and favored writers, so if my book at all recalls them, I’m beyond honored.

What can you do?  Well, If you have not read (or listened) to ASID, today’s the day to give it a shot.  If you have read it (and/or listened to Liam’s narration), consider leaving your own review.  Either way, if you are in the market or are already a fan, I welcome you to peruse the reviews on Amazon and check whether you thought it was helpful or not.  The more upchecks the 4 and 5 star reviews get, the more favorably the Amazon algorithms consider ASID, which lets me do things like justify the time spent on working on its sequel, Lancers Into the Light.

And that’ll make everybody happy.  🙂

Prose and Cons

Whew!  Sorry for the delay in posting my RavenCon report here, but I was so blasted with ideas and advice, I had to get some of it out as actual writing before it vanished like the play-by-play of a dream.  Now, however, with a thoroughly re-written and re-submitted short story complete, and plans upon plans for more SciFi-ish goodness to come, I can now relax and tell you about my first science fiction convention.

Two things stand out.

First, these are awesome people and I’ve been missing out.  It is FANTASTIC that the nerds and geeks among us have the opportunities to gather together to achieve a critical mass (not a fat pun) and then explode outward into a multifaceted mushroom cloud of fandom without reservations.

Second, I’m afraid I’m not awesome enough of a fan to cast aside all inhibitions and revel in it to the n-th degree.  In a place where introverts are encouraged to REALLY extrovert without judgement, I still found myself holding back.  There would be no costuming for me.  When exhorted to get up and dance like a monkey for a good cause, I still found myself only dancing like a nervous cro-magnon.  It was no fault of the Con that I could not release an uninhibited über-nerd upon the Richmond DoubleTree Hotel.  The fault lies with me.  I still find myself on the outside looking in, trying to find the right niche between aspiring author, published author, veteran, sailor, officer, and nerd/geek/neek/gerd.

But I’ll get there with a little help from a BUNCH of amazing new friends.  First, I finally made contact with the Baen Books crowd!  I met Gray Rinehart, their slushmaster who took so much great time helping shepherd along ASID, Tedd Roberts (Speaker to Lab Animals), Michael Z. Williamson, Sarah Hoyt, Patrick Vanner, Jim Minz, and soooo many Baen Barflies (like the Royal Manticoran Navy crew, Peggy, and Julius — who is certain global warming is directly responsible for the rise in superhero movies).  Drinking and woo-hooing were accomplished in style at two great parties on two great nights.  Sailor Jerry, we hardly knew ye.  A special shout-out goes to Joelle Presby and CDR Andy Presby, two great writers and mega-brains living in nearby Norfolk who work with the great David Weber, helping to flesh out the Honor Harrington universe.

I met and got to speak at length with the Guest of Honor, Hugo/Nebula/Campbell award winning author Elizabeth Bear.  Bear gave me a lot of great advice and encouragement and was surprisingly gracious and down to earth for such an accomplished author.  I really hope to be able to attend the Viable Paradise workshop, as she recommended (as long as I can a. Wow them and b. Afford the time and expense).  I’d love to spend a week working with writers and people of her caliber.

Writers, editors, and fans everywhere, and not a single one made me feel unwelcome or unworthy in where I am and where I aspire to be.  My favorite new contact/bud is Chris Kennedy, one of the Con guests who is in very much the same position as myself.  He’s a retired Navy CDR and former kick-ass aviator (he kicks ass in other ways now) who just released his fourth self-published book, the second book of his planned space opera trilogy, the Theogony.  Okay — no lie — go get Janissaries and When the Gods Aren’t Gods today for some great military science fiction, written by someone who DEFINITELY has the bona fides, along with a smattering of myth and fantasy.  I hope to guest at future Cons, like Chris did here.  And he did his panels in the ultimate Navy fashion:  with PowerPoint!  Best part, he also lives nearby in Virginia Beach, so I see some beers in our future.

And, of course, there were the panels and the Masquerade.  I had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and got told the best thing a writer can here:  You, sir, have an ugly baby.  (Yep, that’s a good thing.)  I read the opening of “Bumped” and they INSTANTLY knew what was wrong with it, lifting blinders I didn’t even know I wore.  That was the story I re-wrote on Sunday and Monday.  It’s shorter, smarter, and a lot more professional now.  Hopefully editors will agree.

And that’s about it for RavenCon.  Con virgin no more!  Pics or it didn’t happen?  Well, here’s some pics!20140426_122836 20140426_113456 20140426_202934 20140426_224750 20140425_224736 20140426_202955 20140426_202640 20140426_203825 20140426_131630 20140426_203032 20140426_202926 20140426_201814 20140426_121834 20140426_203001 20140426_202602