New Fiction! (And My RavenCon Report)

Ready for something NEW to read from moi, The Improbable Author, as well as his Amazing Friends?  (use of the phrase “Amazing Friends” does not necessarily imply I’m Spider-Man, but, yeah . . . I am)

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“THE COMMUTER”:  A new, absurd short fantasy by the author of A Sword Into Darkness and REMO! Jack is a regular sort of fellow — a father, a husband, an office drone, and a daily commuter — living in a fantastical, changed world. Jack lives in the Fractured Lands, our Earth intermixed with the realm of Faerie after the Great Stumbling of 1888. But Jack lives his life as non-fantastically as he can, sticking to the human areas and Never Getting Off The Damned Train. However, when Faerie intrudes upon his life and endangers his daughter, everyone is going to find out that he stayed away from the Fae for THEIR benefit, not his own. Because Jack is not just a dad and an office drone. Jack is a former Marine, trained to fight the Fae, and fight them he will . . . .

It’s already garnered three awesome 5-star reviews and ranks #45 on Amazon’s short story SF&F list, but it needs more and it needs to go higher!  If you are a reviewer and would like a complimentary review copy, just message me at any of my links.  If you’d like to patron me and check it out for yourself (THANK YOU), it’s only 99¢ for your Kindle or Kindle app.  If you are a Prime member with a Kindle device or a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can even read it for free!!!  And, please, if you can, post a review on Amazon or the site of your choice.

Also from the Stealth Books authors this weekend:

Postcards From The Moon

“POSTCARDS FROM THE MOON”:  An offbeat short story by award-winning author Jeff Edwards

Once upon a time, mankind dreamed of the stars. Somewhere along the way, that glorious vision got lost…

Hank Rollins is old, tired, and thoroughly regretting the missed opportunities of his youth. More than a half century ago, he passed up the chance to do something wonderfully foolish, and utterly impossible. A chance to reach for a different kind of future.

But the door may not be completely closed, because Hank is getting postcards from a boy who no longer exists, and a world that never came to pass.

I’ve read Jeff’s short (and will be posting my review later today on Amazon — I’ve already rated it a VERY deserved five stars), and it is AMAZING.  It is a literal love letter to a lost future, full of finely wrought nostalgia and such a sense of wonder that it may well buoy your spirit for the rest of the day.  The images and possibilities within are going to populate many a delightful dream.  I can’t wait for the movie Tomorrowland, but I hardly need to — this short story offers all that I could expect out of that film and more.  The ONLY thing wrong with the story is that it did not come with a forwarding address to where I could write Papa Hank back.  Because I would send that letter and go TODAY if I could!  Like mine, it is for sale on Amazon for a mere 99¢, and that is a steal for what I got back from it.

Also this weekend, I got to go to RavenCon up in Richmond, VA.  This was a GREAT con, as it was last year.  Hopefully, I can guest at it next year when they move to Williamsburg.  I was worried about Pro/Anti-Sad Puppy divisiveness, but while it was mentioned and referred to, there was no controversy that I saw.  The folks there who were nominated for Hugos — whether on a slate or not — were all treated like the honored elites of the industry they were.  That gives me hope that fandom will find a happy middle-ground and move on from this teapot tempest.

Allen Steele was guest of honor, along with Frank Wu as artist/scientist, and a whole passel of people that I met last year.  Allen Steele told a number of great stories about coming up in the industry and breaking rules you REALLY should not break.  I also sat in and participated in a number of Indie Publishing panels with the prolifically awesome Chris Kennedy.  I hung out in Baen’s Barfly Central and chatted with Jim Minz, Steve White, Jim Beall, Warren Lapine, and Lou Antonelli (forgive me if I left out your name, honored luminary, there were just so many fantastic folks).  I also ran into John C. Wright, Lawrence M. Schoen, Michael Z. Williamson, David Walton, Bud Sparhawk, Jennifer R. Povey, Christopher FREAKIN’ Nuttall, Karen McCullough, Gail Z. Martin, Stuart Jaffe, Chris A. Jackson, and Danielle Ackley-Mcphail.

My favorite Con moment was participating in Allen Wold’s Short Story Writer’s Workshop.  In it you had to write the 100 word “hook” that should open every selling short story.  It had to include character, action, setting, set up questions, and indeed HOOK the editor/reader.  I made a couple of new buddies in Isaac and Gene, and got to here some great openings and even more valuable advice.  Here’s the second-draft of my 100 words:

Bill Garner leaned forward in the darkness as the safe’s door popped open at last.  Electronic dance music thumped up at him from the floor below, but not loudly enough to drown out the unexpected squelch of something within.

Bill jumped back.  He felt certain that cash and jewels were fairly silent in most circumstances.  Something else lay concealed in the safe’s shadowed interior.

He looked around him.  He was still alone, still undiscovered.  Deciding to risk it, Bill flipped on his flashlight and shone it inside.

A glistening, mottled tentacle curled tighter about a golden urn within the safe.

The panel agreed that I’d appropriately barbed my hook.  🙂  I’m intrigued enough that I may extend it into a full story.  The best advice from the panel was from the GREAT Jack McDevitt:  “Don’t try to tell a story . . . instead, craft an experience for the reader.”  It’s one of those seemingly simplistic bits of advice that looks not-very-noteworthy in the first analysis, but once you think about it more, it is pretty damn important.  It really does change the way I look at stories.

Anyway, a great time and a great Con.  Here’s the obligatory picture gallery.  Let me know if I captured any of your souls inadvertently:

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An Improbable Year

Grab your champagne flute and somebody to smooch, y’all, because the year is done and done well.  It’s time to reflect and celebrate!  Stick with me as we reminisce about 2014 and look forward to what next year holds:

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Instead of going chronologically, I’m going to start with the little things, especially those you might have missed, and move up to the biggest things that impacted my year.

First, that which had the least major impact was my on-going and new projects.  I’ve learned that it is a tough thing to balance being a professional officer, a husband/caregiver, a father, and an independent publisher, and the thing that got the least attention in that mix was ongoing long-form work.  Short stories I was able to knock out with relative ease, with four published this year alone and another on hold with Baen’s Grantville Gazette for a possible buy.  Long-form, novel-length works proved to be my Achilles heel.  I have three projects in the hopper:  first, the sequel to A Sword Into Darkness, titled Lancers into the light, because EVERYBODY has been asking about it and I’d be a fool not to do one.  That one is still in the outlining phase, primarily since I needed a break from ASID, and also because I have two other projects to finish.  One of those is my long-suffering urban fantasy Echomancer, which is about 1/3rd complete and suffers from a lot of time/will/desire based writer’s block.  Basically, I hit a snag and never went back to it once I moved to other projects.  One of those projects is my last long-form unfinished work, which is going between the titles of Demigod and Dattoo, a Christian near-future hard-science young-adult philosophical thriller.  Is it a total genre mash-up?  Yes.  Is it going slowly?  Yes.  Is it my most exciting project and my best second bid for traditional publication?  YES.  So, the short answer is that I am working on the next book(s), but the going was slow in 2014, and I hope for more positive news in this next year.

Next in the highlight hit-parade is TNT’s “The Last Ship,” a great little show that premiered this year.  If you haven’t had the chance to check it out, you absolutely should on Blu-ray, DVD, or your streaming service of choice.  Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra, and Adam Baldwin star in a loose adaptation of William Brinkley’s 1988 post-apocalyptic novel.  It’s all about the last US warship, the destroyer USS NATHAN JAMES, which has escaped infection from a worldwide lethal pandemic, and which has the bead on a cure.  It is cheesy, fun, well-acted, well-plotted, and surprisingly accurate and respectful of how the actual US surface Navy works.  As a lark, I blogged about it all from a USN officer perspective and it did wonders for me.  It consistently brought the most traffic to the blog, and brought me a number of new fans as well, who took a chance on my reviews and tried out my books as well.  So, overall, a great success.

This next is not such a success story, at least in the relative sense.  Following good advice from my friend and mentor Jeff Edwards of Stealth Books that I needed to have something else out on the market to serve the audience that ASID was growing, I published five of my military and artificial intelligence short stories as a collection on Amazon Kindle.  REMO has been well-reviewed (39 Amazon reviews with 4.2 stars) and has sold all right, but it never has done the numbers that ASID did.  I may have been spoiled by how my first foray into independent publishing did, and I realize that collections don’t tend to sell as well long-form works, but I would have liked for it to have done better, for more people to have tried it out.  As of this post, REMO has sold 1937 copies on Kindle, with an additional 362 provided through Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (which I still get paid for).  That’s around 2300 more people that have enjoyed my stories than would have if they had stayed on my computer.  Good, but not as good as magazine circulation.  One story in particular, “Dogcatcher Blues,” is my favorite and — I think — is almost Hugo-worthy (though Baen did not originally buy it and I failed to shop it anywhere else), but I doubt any Hugo voters will ever see it.  I guess I have no room to complain, but relative to the rest of the year, REMO is my regrettable disappointment.

For this next paragraph, I have absolutely no complaint.  Short stories have been my sort of thing for a while now.  I started writing them years ago, to hone my skills and get my foot in the door of the traditional publishing industry, but success had eluded me.  I had two stories bought in years past, both by Baen publications (my favorite publishing house), but nothing to anyone else.  This year, in large part due to synergy with ASID’s success, I have published four stories in pro and semi-pro/amateur markets, with a fifth on tap for the new year.  I kicked ass in 2014 when it comes to short stories.  First was my sale of “The Rememberists” to Daily Science Fiction.  That story was HUGE for me, though it was my first flash-length story and literally VERY short.  I’ve had tons of tweets, facebook posts and fan e-mails from that one, along with two short-film producer/directors who intend to turn it into a film project.  Next, I came into contact with the crew over at The Writer’s Arena, who allowed me to participate in one of their short story contests.  Basically, you and another writer get a general topic and you each have to complete a short story in a few days, which the audience and two judges then vote on.  And my story, “The Gaslight Consultant” won!  That led them to checking out ASID (as well as my old Masters thesis online) and mentioning me a couple of times on The Human Echoes Podcast.  The first mention was all zany fun, and the second mention garnered me a very good, well-balanced review for ASID.  My next pro sale was as part of the Riding The Red Horse anthology from Castalia House.  I got an invitation to participate in their inaugural volume, and after a prompt from the editor Vox Day that they were looking for a literal sea story, I turned in “Within This Horizon,” which is now featured alongside stories and essays from Dr. Jerry Pournelle, Tom Kratman, Ken Burnside, Steve Rzasa, Christopher Nuttall, Chris Kennedy, and many others.  The association with Castalia House and RTRH has been all positive, leading to potential new projects and hopefully a chance to participate again next year.  And lastly, a little bit of victory fun.  For the holiday season, I participated in Liberty Island Magazine’s Alternative Holiday Fiction Contest, looking for genre-alternative Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus stories.  I turned in a cute little redux of the Christmas Truce of 1914, but this time between our AI robots and the combat drones of our bitter enemy Canada.  And it won the grand prize!

And the last bit of professional writing news had the second biggest impact on my life:  the independent publication of A Sword Into Darkness through Stealth Books.  I cannot thank enough my publishing partner Jeff Edwards and all the readers who gave me a shot.  You guys made my year.  As of this posting and not counting an unknown number of pirated copies (I’ve truly arrived . . . people are stealing my shit), I’ve sold just under 30,000 copies of my little military sci-fi / hard-science space opera.  Here’s how the percentages break out:

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As you can see, ASID is available in trade paperback, on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, Kobo, iBooks, and as an audiobook read by Liam Owen from SciFi Publishing.  And it is a well-regarded debut novel, with 4.4 stars on Amazon out of 349 US reviews, 3.88 stars on the tougher crowd at Goodreads through 33 reviews and 525 ratings, plus reviews and accolades from Winchell Chung of Atomic Rockets, PT Hylton, Carol Kean at Perihelion SF, 20four12, PG’s Ramblings, Castalia House, Kaedrin Weblog, the Human Echoes Podcast, and others.  I even got the Christmas treat of making PT Hylton’s favorite 14 books of 2014 in song form:

I don’t know how others do on their debuts because I’m too new at this, but I’m very very very happy and blessed with how ASID has done.  And I’m very hopeful about the doors it may open up for me.  I got a whole lotta nothing from agents and publishers for the last three years, but over the last year I’ve proven that I can at least sell a well-regarded book as a solid mid-list author.  They say you should not use self-published titles on your query letters to publishers, but if I can tell them that on my own, with no resources other than help from friends and a few judicious ads and sales, I sold 30,000 copies of my debut. maybe then they’ll give me a closer look.  Oooor, I’ll just stick to the indie crowd and continue taking in 70% royalties instead of settling for 10-15%.

And last but certainly not least, the thing that had the biggest impact on my year.  It was not the job, though that did have biggish news and a may appear here next year.  It was not my kids, though I am very proud of them and the improvements in their grades and schooling.  It was not my personal health journey as that mostly involved me getting fatter and slower despite my half-hearted efforts.  No, the biggest thing for me this year was standing by my beautiful wife, Jen, as she kicked breast cancer’s ass.  She is an inspiration to me, and I don’t think she adequately realizes how proud I am of her, how humbled I am that she continues to put up with my crap and allows me to walk beside her in life.  This woman faced down a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, reconstruction, complications to her own gastric bypass from years ago, and all the ravages to the body, psyche, and soul that all of that can wreak upon someone, and she refused to let it break her.  In fact, she used it to inspire others to get tested and to persevere, no matter the diagnosis or prognosis.  She endured shaving her head (my son and I joined her in this), losing her hair, dealing with the pain of neuropathy, the fatigue, the burns, and the fear that it would all be for naught.  She had low days indeed.  Who wouldn’t?  But she always came out on top.  And now she is on the mend and headed to being certifiably cancer free.  Her mother and I served as her caregivers, but that never stopped Jen from providing care to her family and a wider circle of friends than I will ever know.  Jen Mays, I love you and my hopes and prayers are for a great 2015 for us both.  We deserve it, and especially you.

Have a great year, everybody.  Toodles.

 

The Art World vs. Tom Mays

Damn you, Jeff Edwards, you insidious voice of reason, you.

So, if you’ve been following, you know I’m launching an ebook anthology with a bunch of my military AI short stories, called REMO.  And since the last cover I did was 96-ish % successful, I started off doing my own for this one as well.  And I’ve got a cover I like, but Jeff reasoned that hey, it turns out you are NOT a graphic designer, so you MIGHT just wanna get some options rather than commit to something developed on the fly, with a kind of art you’re unfamiliar with, and which is not necessarily evocative of a military SF anthology.

Damn correct bastard . . . .

So, on advice, I’m opening up the cover design for REMO to some actual graphic artists via the 99Designs website.  I’ve offered up a $200 bounty to the designer that can beat what I already have:

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We’re looking for a cover that is more immediately recognizable as military SF, and which looks more compelling as a thumbnail image.  All the subtle sci-fi-isms of my design seem to vanish at that size.

If you’re a graphic artist and want to compete for the bounty, go HERE.  You’ve got four days to present a proposal, so no dawdling!

Achievement Unlocked: 100 Customer Reviews for ASID!

To quote the irrepressible Sally Field, “You like me!  You really, really like me!”

Well, at least 90% of y’all anyways.  As of a couple of minutes ago, A Sword Into Darkness logged its 100th customer review, and it did it in the best way possible, with a short and sweet 5-star love note.  THANK YOU, DEAR READERS!  For those of you keeping a tally, the current count is 68 5-star reviews, 22 4-star reviews, 8 3-stars, and one each of the 2-star and 1-star variety.  I’m pleased as punch about the whole thing, not because I’m that concerned about my own vanity (though I do go tee-hee and squee a little every time I get a new 4 or 5-star one in), but because I genuinely want to show folks a good time.  I’ve stolen perfectly good beer money from you.  You deserve to have a few hours or days of kick-ass super-sciencey fun in return.

ASID is not a perfect book.  I acknowledge that, and its admitted flaws are probably what kept the gatekeepers of traditional publishing from allowing me into their club.  But, I think it is a really fun book and one I hope subsequent folks will like just as well as those 90% which have so far.  It’s my first book “worthy” of publication, and as a first novel, I get a by for some of its less-well-put-together elements by a lot of people, but I don’t think kindness is the sole reason I’ve got the track record I do.  There are a lot of things that people think I accomplished pretty damn well. 

Some commonly noted positives:  I got the science right and it’s earned its bona fides as hard science fiction, with SCIENCE actually being necessary to the plot.  Yes, I have a very important, very central, very unexplained macguffin in the story, but its limits are well-charted and used consistently.  And as one reviewer noted, everything else is done so well, they can forgive an element or two of hand-wavium.  Another positive is my true-to-life portrayal of the Navy and the military in general, as well as its interaction with corporate interests and civil government oversight.  I’m glad folks recognized this, because it really was important to me (though some did note I was a bit heavy on the lingo and mil-speak).  In this, I cheated a leeetle bit, in that I have a modicum of experience in those roles due to my unspecified day job.  So I stole shamelessly from years of interaction with superiors, subordinates, and shipmates all. 

Other elements of goodness reviewers have noted:  The characters are interesting and quirky, the action scenes are clear, fast moving, and inventive, the plot is well-balanced, flowing briskly with a realistic timeline, and I had a few real surprises for readers, things they’d never seen before, but I also paid homage to a lot of classic sci-fi that preceded me, namely that of Niven, Heinlein, Weber, and Ringo, while still putting my own spin on well-used tropes.  One of the biggest notes of appreciation most folks had was that the book was well-edited and professionally assembled.  It does not read like a screed cobbled together in someone’s basement print shop.  Apparently there is a lot of self-published work riddled with typos, and copyediting mistakes that should never have been made public.  For that, I have to give credit to my own OCD and to Jeff Edwards, a true professional and a kick-ass author who has the attention to detail to save you from my usual misspelled rabmlings.

And then there’s the not-so-positives:  my ten more-critical reviews.  Some folks think I needed a bit more editing, less for bad copy and more to remove some meandering elements that perhaps should not have made the final cut.  I’m accused of shallow characterization, but some may have had preconceptions in that regard, considering it a common element of the genre.  Now, me . . . I like my characters, but I admit that I did not delve too deeply in their pasts or their internal lives.  They grow, but this book is not about catharsis.  It is a plot-driven vehicle and I think it’s a fun one, but deeper characterization is definitely a goal for the sequel.  Then there’s the accusation of predictability, which I both understand and somewhat disagree with.  It is a book of genre-classics, an intentional homage trying to one-up or become perhaps the definitive version of those tropes.  It is recognized that there are certain expectations in the plot.  As soon as a main character recognizes the potential for an alien visitation, you KNOW there is going to be an encounter, likely of the invasive kind.  That is expected, anticipated, but predictable?  I dunno.  Recognizing that something is likely to occur, that a pleasant, fun novel like this DOESN’T end with all the protagonists dying and the antagonists upsetting the whole apple cart is not necessarily predicatability.  How was the journey to that point?  Was it worth the trip, even if you anticipated what the destination would look like and turned out to be right?

So, check out my reviews, and if you haven’t tried it yet, give the book a spin!  It’s a whole lotta fun for less than a Venti Starbucks coffee (and not nearly as bitter).

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LAUNCH DAY!!! “A Sword Into Darkness” Is Here!

After a long lead-up, the BIG DAY has finally arrived!  A Sword Into Darkness, the hard-science, military science fiction / space opera is up for sale, worldwide.  Is it a good read?  Well, I think it’s a damn good read (it certainly was a helluva lotta fun to write).  But don’t just take my word for it — listen to the blurbs and reviews already in:

“Solid adventure, intrigue and speculative space-tech, from a rising star in military science fiction.”— DAVID BRIN, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of ‘EXISTENCE,’ ‘THE POSTMAN,’ and ‘STARTIDE RISING’

Yes, that’s right . . . David Brin.  His Uplift novels were THE BEST when I was growing up.  I am beyond honored that he’s even read my pulpy science adventure.  Getting a blurb from him was completely unbelievable.

“There are brilliant first contact stories, great space combat stories, and amazing stories of technological discovery. Rarely do you find all three in the same novel. Remember the name Thomas A. Mays. You’re going to be seeing it on the bestseller list.”— JEFF EDWARDS, Award-winning author of ‘SEA OF SHADOWS,’ and ‘THE SEVENTH ANGEL’

Jeff is a buddy, but he’s practically been a bigger believer in this book than I was.  Without Jeff and Stealth Books, I’m not sure I’d ever have made it available through self/indie publishing.  And now?  Soooo glad I did.  He’s the one who got my book to David Brin and this next fine fellow:

“Sharply written, suspenseful and tightly plotted, A SWORD INTO DARKNESS reads like the best Tom Clancy novels, with a science fiction heart provided by Arthur C. Clark. Can’t wait to read more from Thomas Mays!”— GRAHAM BROWN, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of ‘ZERO HOUR,’ ‘BLACK RAIN,’ and ‘THE EDEN PROPHECY’

But, wait!  There’s more!

“A Sword Into Darkness is Thomas Mays’ debut novel, and it is a blockbuster! Kept me on the edge of my seat up til the end. And unlike so many other novels, when it promised a revelation of a dread secret at the end, it actually delivered. Puzzling occurrences make perfect logical sense as the reader learns more.  The action starts when astronomers notice something odd in-line with the star Delta Pavonis. Hilarity rapidly ensues.  But unlike so many other science fiction novels, Mr. Mays actually gets the science correct. This might have something to do with the fact that he has two degrees in physics and is an 18 year veteran of the US Navy, and has assisted with research into ballistic missile defense.  Recommended.” — WINCHELL CHUNG, guru of the Atomic Rockets site and writer’s resource.

Winchell/Nyrath is a great guy, whom (unfortunately) I’ve never met in real life.  We first became acquainted when I was on the SciFi-Meshes 3D art forums, and he critiqued my art from a very hard-science perspective.  I then followed him over to his masterful website Atomic Rockets, which is a FANTASTIC resource for any SF author or filmmaker who wants to move beyond Star Wars and Star Trek and actually get the science part of science fiction RIGHT.  He was gracious enough to read ASID, promote it on his site as a Seal-of-Approval winning story, aaaand gave me my very first Amazon.com review.  I can’t thank you enough, Winchell!

So, if you like techno-thrillers, adventure tales, sci-fi, hard science fiction, military sci-fi, alien invasions, space navies, or space operas, A Sword Into Darkness is the tale for you.  And to get you to buy it TODAY (so you can be cooler than all your buddies), we’ve got a bunch of Launch Day deals:

Buy the trade paperback on CREATESPACE, and use the coupon code AGS4XF9L and you’ll get 20% off the list price!  Valid Launch Day only — coupon expires Saturday, Feb 1st, at 0800 Eastern.

Buy the trade paperback on AMAZON,  and get the KINDLE E-book version for half-price.  Or if you just want the Kindle version, and you’re an Amazon Prime member with a Kindle device, you can borrow ASID for FREE from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Whatcha waitin’ ’round heah fo’?  Go!

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Blueprint 2.0

The eye candy continues as we close in on Launch Day (31JAN2014):

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USS Trenton (CA-1) Blueprint Shot

Similar to yesterday’s pic of the USS Sword of Liberty, this astrodynamic cruiser and her sister ship are also featured in A Sword Into Darkness as the flagships to CRUDESGRU ONE and TWO (CRUDESGRU = Cruiser – Destroyer Group as opposed to a DESRON or Destroyer Squadron).  The Trenton, built as a follow-on to the original destroyer and addressing the limitations revealed in the novel’s first big battle, features much greater redundancy, deeper magazines, and increased survivability.  Similar to our Ticonderoga class wet-navy cruisers today, the Trenton is named after a famous US battle at the state capitol of New Jersey, and there have in fact been four USS Trenton‘s in the US Navy, one of which is to be commissioned this year.

As for the pic itself, this was also made in Cinema 4D, and I so liked the missile hatch design on this one, I went and retrofitted the SOL with the same configuration and magically gave myself another 30 missiles (requiring me to do a quick re-write of the manuscript).  This missile module configuration is based upon the MK-41 Vertical Launch System used on our current destroyers and cruisers.  The retrofitted SOL is the one that graces the book’s cover, and the clever reader will note that the Trenton here is the subject of the line drawing gracing the banner of this very site.  The CAD model is not static, either.  Each of the missile hatches, the railgun turrets, and the laser blisters are all built with control axes so they can be rotated, elevated, opened, and fired, which you will see some of in future pics.

As for news, I’ve now got an ISBN for the Kindle version and CreateSpace has approved my latest iteration, from which I’ve ordered three proofs:  one for me, one for my publishing partner, and ONE FOR YOU, details for the giveaway to follow.

Stay tuned!

Launch Copy Poll!!!!

We are now T – (something imminent, gimme a break — I do this in my spare time between working, caring for kids, wife, home, sleeping, etc) for the Stealth Books launch of A Sword Into Darkness, and I need your help!

Which version of back cover / website copy below would make you more likely to spend your hard-earned beer money (or wine and cheese money, we ain’t snobby around here) on my rousing tale of near future, space-faring daring-do?

Version 1:

Humanity is not alone in the universe, and we are not ready for what’s coming.

Something is out there . . . . That’s all Gordon Elliot Lee knows.  His scans of the Delta Pavonis region have uncovered a massive energy source moving toward Earth.  Something is definitely coming our way, but no one will believe him, despite the clout he’s built within NASA and the military.  Not one to be stymied by the doubts of others, Gordon lays the groundwork to meet a threat that’s still a generation in the future.  He is determined that the Earth will be ready, even if the preparations cost him everything.

Nathan Kelley is a bloodied naval warrior, scarred by his own actions in the waters off North Korea.  Kris Munoz is an avant garde scientific genius with more ideas than sense.  Nathan and Kris are the only two people Gordon can count on as they sour the very edges of fringe science and engineering to develop Earth’s first space navy in time to oppose the Deltan invasion.

They will have to face ridicule, government obstruction, industrial espionage, and their own demons to get this insanely ambitious project off the ground.  But the challenges on Earth are nothing compared to what awaits them in space.  Against an unknown alien enemy with vastly superior technology, a handful of human scientists and warriors must become the sword that holds the darkness at bay.

The human race is about to make its stand . . . .

Or Version 2:

AN UNKNOWABLE THREAT APPROACHES EARTH

WE ARE UNPREPARED FOR WHAT’S COMING

Gordon Lee – an industrialist with the vision and the means.  Nathan Kelley – a haunted naval warrior with the skillset to see that vision accomplished.  Kris Munoz – an unpredictable genius with more ideas than sense.  These three alone will take up the task to create Earth’s first space navy.  Beset by ridicule, government obstruction, corporate espionage, and their own personal demons, it will take a miracle just to get off the ground.

And, should they reach their alien quarry, they will have to become the sword that holds the darkness at bay.

MISSILES WILL FLASH

RAILGUNS WILL RUMBLE

LASERS WILL BURN

AND DEFENDERS WILL DIE

IF THEY FAIL, OUR END IS AT HAND

Ooooor, some complex mix of the two.  If so, leave your thoughts down in the comments and we can pick and choose from the best elements of each.  The first is more informative – you know what you’re gonna get.  The second seems punchier – you know the kind of story you’re going to get.

What say you, internet?  The clock, it is TICKING!