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.

 

It’s Fields of Fire release day!

FIELDS OF FIRE, the fifth book in the Frontlines series, is out today on Kindle, in paperback, and as an Audible audiobook (read by the excellent and talented Luke Daniels). You can get it here in all three formats.

Pro tip: All the other Frontlines books are still only $1 each on the Kindle, but that sale ends today, so if you want to stock up (or gift the books to someone else), today is your last day to score four for the price of one.

I like the way Fields of Fire turned out, and my beta readers and editors were very happy with it. In this book, Andrew and his brothers-and-sisters-in-arms finally try to pry Mars away from the Lankies. They have a good plan, some great new hardware, and a bunch of freshly-trained troops to throw into the battle. But everyone who served knows that battle plans never survive first contact with the enemy…and the Lankies may have their own surprises in store for the combined forces of Earth.

Go grab a book in your favorite format if you are so inclined. And if you liked it, consider leaving an Amazon or Audible review. It sells more books and makes my publisher happy, which means I get to write more books.

Anyway, now I have to get back to my traditional pursuits on Book Launch Day: stress-eating and obsessively refreshing the Amazon rankings page…

lines of departure, polish edition.

The Polish edition of LINES OF DEPARTURE is out this month from Fabryka Slow, and they continue their excellent cover illustration streak:

For the American covers, I only ever had one specification–no character faces. (That’s because I wanted the readers to picture the characters any way they wanted in their heads. Note that young master Andrew Grayson never has his physical appearance described in the books. He could be white or black or any shade in between–the PRCs are multi-racial shitholes, after all–and his hair and eyes could be any color because I never say what they are.) But if you have to do a cover with a character face, this one is very good indeed. I like how the Polish covers blend the current and the futuristic, and then coat everything with a patina of grunge. And I really dig the little spin counter on the cover that tells you which book in the series you’re looking at.

Looking at the calendar, it’s only two weeks until the release of FIELDS OF FIRE. People who have read the ARCs have said that it’s the best Frontlines book yet, and I hope you’ll buy it and evaluate that claim for yourselves.

Now I need to dive back into POINTS OF IMPACT, Frontlines #6, so you get to maybe buy that one in 2017 as well…

 

frontlines kindle sale.

Oh, hey–it’s February. That means the release of FIELDS OF FIRE is just a few weeks away.

Crazy Jeff over at the Electronic Books Emporium has discounted all four books of the Frontlines series so far to a dollar each on the Kindle. If you still need to complete your set, or you want to get a friend hooked on some Space Kablooie, this would be a good time to do so. Because FOUR DOLLARS for the whole series! That’s cheaper than a Happy Meal, with far less sodium and without the crummy toy that usually ends up under the seat in the minivan anyway.

 

wild cards I-V, now as ebooks.

The Wild Cards world is an alternate history universe created and edited by George R. R. Martin. It’s a gritty and grungy take on the superhero genre. I don’t usually play in other peoples’ creative playgrounds, but I absolutely could not refuse to be part of this one, because it’s SO MUCH FUN.

If you are unfamiliar with Wild Cards, but interested in checking out that world, Macmillan has released the first five Wild Cards books as an e-book collection. You can get it from Amazon for the Kindle here, or for all other electronic formats (Nook, Google Play, iBooks, Kobo, and eBooks.com) via the links on Macmillan‘s page.

door, ass, way out, etc.

Everybody is slagging on 2016 in social media, myself included. But the truth is that while 2016 was a dumpster fire of a year when it came to politics and celebrity deaths, it wasn’t a bad year at all for me personally or professionally.

On the work front, I wrote a novel (FIELDS OF FIRE, out in February from 47North), and saw the release of the one I had written in 2015 (CHAINS OF COMMAND). CHAINS earned out its advance in the first week of release, which was very nice, and I hope that FIELDS will continue that trend because it means they’ll buy more books from me and let me keep paying mortgage and school tuitions.

I also wrote a novella called STRIPES, which will be part of a WILD CARDS novel next year (hopefully, depending on Tor’s schedule for the book it’s in, called LOW CHICAGO).

Jet City Comics brought out the Frontlines: Requiem graphic novel, a tie-in I did with Gary Erskine and Ivan Brandon. (Gary did the art, Ivan the script, and Yel Zamor the ink. I gave them the characters and general storyline, and they just went to town with it.)

I ended the office rental experiment and gave up my cool little private eye office near the kids’ school because it wasn’t working with my writing schedule. And I did a metric ton of research and groundwork for the next series I’ll be writing after Frontlines comes to a close. All in all, it was a normal year for me as far as output goes–I seem to be a novel-per-year writer right now. For 2017 and beyond, I would like to see if I can increase that output to at least two novels a year.

For travel, I got to go to Detroit in January (ConFusion), Orlando in February (took the kids to Disney), New York City twice (taking family members sightseeing), Quebec City in April (writing retreat of sorts), Chicago in May (Nebulas and Book Expo America), Minneapolis in May (author guest at MantiCon), New Mexico in July (WILD CARDS event at GRRM’s Cocteau Cinema and visiting with friends in Los Alamos), Delaware in July/August (vacationing with kids and friends), Kansas City in August (Worldcon), Martha’s Vineyard in October (Paradise Regained VP reunion), and Raleigh, NC at the end of October (Honorcon, where I received two Rampant Manticore awards, one for Best MilSF novel, and the inaugural H. Beam Piper Memorial Award). That was a lot of travel, and it’s crazy to think that this year was a lighter travel year than 2015…

For the coming year, FIELDS OF FIRE is coming out in February, and I’ll be finishing the sixth Frontlines novel, called POINTS OF IMPACT, hopefully in time for a 2017 release as well. For travel, I’ll be in Lincoln, Nebraska in April for ConStellation as author Guest of Honor, then Manticon again as author guest in May in Minneapolis, and then Worldcon in Helsinki in August (which I will combine with a nice kid-free jaunt to other parts of Europe with Robin). I’ve also committed to being author guest at Honorcon in Raleigh at the end of October again. That’s what’s solidly on the calendar right now, and I’m sure there will be a few other engagements popping up throughout the year.

Lots of work on the schedule for 2017, and plenty of travel. This is a strange and crazy job, even if much of it consists on sitting in a chair and looking at a screen. But it beats the hell out of every other job I’ve had in my life.

Let’s just hope 2017 isn’t going to turn out in a way that will make us remember 2016 fondly…

wild cards world.

Speaking of WILD CARDS–if you’re at all interested in this shared-universe series, you should check out the new Wild Cards World, which has information on all the characters, writers, and books of the Wild Cards universe.

I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of this project. There are a lot of awesome writers in the Wild Cards consortium, and the combined creative output over the last 29 years has been staggering in scope, quantity, and quality. If you’re into superheroes, but you like your world and storylines with some grit in it, check out the Wild Cards universe.

low chicago.

George R.R.Martin announced on his Not A Blog that LOW CHICAGO, the 25th Wild Cards volume, has been sent off to the publisher, Tor. As I may have mentioned, oh, a hundred times or so, I have a novella in that volume. It’s called “Stripes”, and it features my character Khan, who is a very bad dude doing Very Bad Dude things.

I had a lot of fun writing Khan. He’s a great POV character, and his story is told in third person past tense, which is a nice change from the Frontlines narrative, which is told in first person present tense from behind young master Andrew Grayson’s eyes. It was a good change of pace, and I think the story is pretty good, but you’ll have to judge that for yourselves when LOW CHICAGO comes out. I’ll share the publication date in this spot as soon as we get word back from Tor.

what I done wrote in 2016.

Since all the Kool Kidz(tm) are doing it, I guess I will have to list my finished projects for 2016 as well. It’s a short list, so don’t get up and make tea.

I wrote FIELDS OF FIRE, the fifth novel in the Frontlines series, and a novella for a future book in the Wild Cards universe, due to be out in the next year or two (I hope). The novella is called STRIPES, and it will be part of the Wild Cards book called LOW CHICAGO.

I didn’t write any short fiction in 2016, although I’d like to go back to that particular format in 2017, and it looks like I may have a good excuse to do so. I’m also trying to increase my production schedule–there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to finish at least two full novels a year from here on out, and Frontlines #6 (POINTS OF IMPACT) is well on the way to completion. If I don’t blow my deadline, you may get your hands on that novel in 2017 as well. There are also other things in the works for next year I can’t yet talk about, but you’ll be SUITABLY AWED when I announce them.

So there–that’s how I justified my existence in 2016. Wasn’t super-prolific, but wasn’t bad either. There’s a lot of middle ground between Harper Lee and James Patterson when it comes to writing pace.

deployed military personnel, LISTEN UP!

Hey, you!

Are you a reader of the Frontlines series?

Are you serving in the United States Armed Forces?

Are you currently deployed overseas?

If you can answer all three of those questions in the affirmative, SOUND OFF and send me an email to frontlines@markokloos.com. If you can send me a few words about you (keeping OPSEC, of course–insert “size of your unit” joke here) and give me an APO/FPO address, I will enter you in a new…contest? Quest? Thing? …that I am starting on December 1.

From December 1 on out, I will pull an entry out of the mailbox on every first of the month and send that unit a little care package to provide some entertainment in the field.

I’ll post periodic updates on this…contest. Quest. Thing. And I really do need to think of a better name for it.