One war, many perspectives, 35 years ago.

Writing a story set in 1982 during the Falklands War, so I’ve been doing a lot of research over the last few weeks.
This is one of the best documentaries I’ve found, highlighting combatants on both sides and civilians caught in the middle. It doesn’t focus on combat footage, but on personal accounts from sailors, marines, pilots, soldiers, and civilians.

All war sucks for the grunts on the ground and the crews behind the consoles, even the Short & Splendid Little Wars fought for short-term political goals. Maybe especially those.

 

Points of Impact up for preorder

POINTS OF IMPACT, Frontlines #6, now has a product page up at Amazon, where you can pre-order books if you are so inclined. The official release date is January 9.

I keep getting asked whether pre-ordering has any benefits for me, and the answer is “yes, it does”. Good pre-order numbers get my publisher excited and help me when it comes to negotiating further contracts. They also count as Day 1 sales once the book is released, so a lot of preorders make the first month of sales financially pleasant for me. (CHAINS OF COMMAND, for example, earned out its advance just on pre-orders alone, so I got to see royalties pretty much from Day One.) In addition, the book shows up on your Kindle the moment it goes on sale, so you can pay now and forget all about it until you get a pleasant surprise in early January.

People keep asking after every Frontlines book whether that one is the last in the series. To answer for POINTS ahead of time: no, it won’t be. Even if my publisher doesn’t want any more Frontlines (which isn’t likely), I intentionally built enough time gaps between the novels to release more Frontlines material in the future. For now, however, I need to finish some Wild Cards-related stuff and then get to work on the first book of a new military SF series. In the future, I’ll most likely write two series in tandem.

Thanks for reading (and buying) my books, and I’ll make sure there’s lots more stuff for you to spend your money on in the next year or three (and hopefully beyond that.)

Emerging from the word mines

I turned in the final edits of POINTS OF IMPACT today, so now it’s full steam ahead toward publication. (I don’t have a date for you yet, but you’ll know as soon as I do.)

That makes six novels in the last five years, which isn’t bad for a slacker like me. That reckoning is cheating a little, because I had TERMS OF ENLISTMENT finished well before I got the first novel contract in 2013. Even so, that’s a novel a year so far–still not terrible. In the future, however, I want to strive to be a two-novels-per-year sort of writer.

I’ll be pretty busy on all fronts for the rest of the year. Now that POINTS is turned in, I have to finish a few Wild Cards-related items I can’t disclose yet, and then I have to get to work on a new novel. There’s also lots of travel coming up–this weekend, I’ll be at Manticon in Minneapolis, and the week after that, I’ll be attending the Launch Pad astronomy workshop in Wyoming, to help me make the science in my science fiction a little more, uh, firm. And this summer, the wife and I are going to Europe to do some global gallivanting before we attend Worldcon in Helsinki in August. I have to say that of all the jobs I’ve ever had, this one is by far the coolest, even better than the Assistant S’mores Tester temp job right out of college.

 

Novels and conventions and such

I finished Frontlines #6, POINTS OF IMPACT, and sent it to my publisher. Now we do some editorial ping-pong, and then I’ll be able to share the publication date with you so you can preorder the book in VERY LARGE QUANTITIES.

I had to cancel plans for attending ConFusion in Detroit in January because I was still working on POINTS, so I haven’t been to any conventions since late October, but now the con season is starting up again. This weekend, I will be author Guest of Honor at ConStellation in Lincoln, NE. There will be a signing at Francie & Finch bookstore, which is a block or two from the convention hotel. I’ll be there for your amusenings from 1:30-2:30pm this Saturday, April 29th, so stop by to say hi and get a book signed if you’re in the area.

Next up on my List of Things What To Write is some Wild Cards business, and then I’ll spend the rest of the year writing a new military-ish SF novel that’s not related to Frontlines. (That doesn’t mean, however, that Frontlines will come to an end with the release of POINTS OF IMPACT.)

Between the writing projects and the convention travel, it will be a busy rest-of-the-year, but that’s how we roll here at the Castle Frostbite Magic Novel Factory. I am still amazed that I get to do this for a living. It feels like I’m getting away with some sort of high-level scam, but I’ll enjoy it until they find me out.

 

Last day for your Hugo nominations

Today is the last day for Hugo nominations for Worldcon 75 in Helsinki. If you’re a member of Worldcon 74 (MidAmericon II) or Worldcon 75, and you haven’t yet finalized your ballot, now’s the time.

And I won’t engage in self-pimpage for the Frontlines stuff, but if you’re still nominating, I’d urge you to consider WILD CARDS as a nominee for the new Best Series Hugo. It’s been going on for so long, and so many great stories have been contributed to by so many talented people, that it absolutely deserves to be on the shortlist. (The nominees for Best Series must be an ongoing series of at least three volumes of at least 240,000 words total by the end of 2016, of which one volume was published in 2016. Wild Cards’ word and volume count more than qualifies, and there was a 2016 release, HIGH STAKES.)

 

My revised public schedule for 2017

After overbooking myself on cons in 2015 and 2016 a little, I decided to lay off the conventions until April this year, mainly because I have a book to finish. But the con year is about to start up again, and I’ve gotten to add a few things to the list. So if you want to meet up in person and say hello*, here are your opportunities for 2017:

April 28-30: ConStellation 8, Lincoln, NE (Author Guest of Honor)

May 26-28: Manticon, Minneapolis/Bloomington, MN (Author Guest)

June 4-10: Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, Laramie, WY (attendee) (This is not a public event, but if you’re a writer or IRL friend who lives in the area, we may have an opportunity to have dinner and/or drinks.)

July 28: Otherland Books, Berlin, Germany (Reading/Signing) (This is a free event, so stop by if you’re in or around Berlin at that time.)

August 4-6: Nine Worlds, London, UK (attendee)

August 9-13: Worldcon 75, Helsinki, Finland (attendee, although I may be on a few panels related to Wild Cards)

October 27-29: Honorcon, Raleigh, NC (Author Guest)

And that’s it for 2017 unless I get another invite I can’t turn down because I have a really hard time saying “no”.

*And yes, do say hello if you spot me at one of the cons listed and I’m not otherwise engaged. DO NOT meet up in person and say hello by coming up my driveway unannounced. That would be a little, how do you say, weird. And the dachshunds would maim you before I could even unlock the gun rack.

 

They make their females wear clothing!

So this piece of comment spam ended up in my spam queue, and it was too amusing not to share, seeing how it was probably written by a prime male specimen with impeccable morals and blinding attractiveness.

You know, I read the whole thing in the whiny nasal timbre it ought to be read in, and my first thought upon finishing was “Those grapes were sour anyway!”

In the same spirit, I hereby pledge to boycott the NASA astronaut selection process.

One for the fountain pen fans

I have a little tradition for book release days. Every time a new novel comes out, I get myself a nice new fountain pen to commemorate the event. 

For FIELDS OF FIRE, I didn’t have to shell out my own money, because this one was paid for by 47North, my publisher. It’s a gold-trimmed Parker Sonnet in black lacquer. I immediately inked it up to use for notes on Frontlines #6.

I wrote the first two novels in the Frontlines series by hand, with a fountain pen. These days, I write directly into Scrivener because of the delivery schedule for the Frontlines books, but I’ll occasionally break out the pens to write a chapter or two to mix things up. For the next series, I may just go back to longhand first. The process feels less like work when i get to put down ink on actual paper first and then transcribe later. (It also has the advantage of on-the-fly revision when you type up your longhand, and what ends up on the PC is already a word-by-word first revision.)

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FIELDS OF FIRE, Amazon reviews, and gay Russian space marines

FIELDS OF FIRE has been out for not quite a week, and it’s sitting on 54 Amazon reviews and a 4.8 star review average already, which is much better than a sharp kick in the crotch. Thank you to everyone who has bought it, and extra special thanks to those of you who took the time to leave a review.

I don’t usually respond to reviews, especially not on Amazon. Reviews are for other readers, not for me. But one thing caught my eye as I was skimming the reviews—a reader who gave me a favorable review, but felt that I threw in a gay Russian space marine “for diversity”. Truth be told, when I wrote Dmitry, I didn’t know he was gay until I got to the scene in ANGLES OF ATTACK where Dmitry and young master Andrew have a drink together and show each other pictures of their main squeezes, as soldiers do when they have downtime and some alcohol in front of them. I’m not the kind of writer who claims that my characters have their own will—they do what I tell them to, goddammit, because I’m the master of their universe—but that was a moment where a character revealed a little detail that I hadn’t intentionally sketched out, but that felt natural and proper. Dmitry pulled out the picture of his spouse, and my brain just went, “He has a husband. Huh, Of course he does.”

So no, I don’t sit down with a character creation sheet and a checklist for Maximum Diversity(tm) and threw in a gay character to advance an agenda, score Social Justice Warrior brownie points, or engage in virtue-signaling. Dmitry is gay because he is, and with all the crap these soldiers have to deal with in their alien-besieged dystopia, I found it appropriate that at the very least, showing someone else a picture of your same-sex spouse is not worthy of special commentary above and beyond “Nice picture” in that version of the future.