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 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.

fields of fire ARC contest.

So there’s this thing called an ARC (Advance Reader Copy), which is an uncorrected bound proof copy of a novel meant for reviewers and other folks who may want to get their hands on a book before its release date. I got ARCs for CHAINS OF COMMAND, and my publisher tells me that we’re doing paperback ARCs for FIELDS OF FIRE.

Sooooo–here’s your shot at reading the fifth Frontlines novel quite a bit ahead of the official release date.

I have worked a reference to the movie ALIENS into every single Frontlines book so far. It could be a chapter heading, or a line of verbatim dialogue, for example. Once I get my hands on them, I will send a signed and personalized ARC of FIELDS OF FIRE to the first person who comments on this thread and lists all four ALIENS references from Frontlines 1-4 correctly.

NACDC flags, now in real life.

Here’s the first batch of flag patches made up by the NAC Defense Corps fan group for cosplay. The designer, Marc Gerst, came up with a super-clean flag design: two colors, and appropriate simple heraldry for the national NAC flag and the different branches of the NACDC.  Clockwise from top left, they are: NAC national flag, the Homeworld Defense flag, the Spaceborne Infantry flag, and the Fleet flag.

It’s pretty cool to see what the fan group has already cooked up, and how excited people are about the Frontlines world and the possibilities for cosplay.


back from honorcon, and some award braggery.

I just got back from Honorcon yesterday, where a lovely surprise was waiting for me during the awards ceremony for the inaugural Rampant Manticore awards.

Not only did I get the Best Military SF Novel award (for ANGLES OF ATTACK), but I also managed to win the H. Beam Piper Memorial Award. These are doubly meaningful and special because they are fan-voted awards (the membership of Honorcon and Manticon voted on the Rampant Manticore), and the awards themselves are just plain cool-looking. They are little engraved glass books, and they are quite heavy for their size. Luckily, TSA didn’t have an issue with them in my carry-on, so they made it home safe and sound in my hand luggage.

Thank you again for your hospitality and your votes, Manticon and Honorcon attendees, and thank you to TRMN (the Royal Manticoran Navy, the official Honorverse fan group) for having me as a guest at both cons.

Also: congratulations to Larry Correia (who won Best Fantasy Novel for “Son of the Black Sword”), Linda Nagata (who won Best Fantasy Short Story for “The Way Home”), and all the other winners.



what i’ll be doing with the rest of 2016.

I just returned from the Viable Paradise writing workshop’s 20-year reunion on Martha’s Vineyard. It was nice to catch up with old friends and meet VPers from other years, and the weather was ideal for some extended sightseeing drives around the Vineyard. Of course, I didn’t get too much writing done between all the socializing and panels, so this week I’m going to have to do word count penance.

There’s only one trip left for 2016, and that’s Honorcon in Raleigh. I’m not on the official program, but I’ll be doing a few panels and gaming sessions. There will also be another meeting of the Frontlines fan club (yes, I have an official fan group now, which is still kind of mind-blowing). I’ve commissioned a tailor to make a prototype NAC Fleet shipboard uniform as seen in the Frontlines: Requiem graphic novel, and that one should be ready in time for me to show it off at Honorcon.

After Honorcon, I’m taking the rest of the year to finish Frontlines #6, which will be called POINTS OF IMPACT. (Frontlines #5, called FIELDS OF FIRE, will be out on February 28th, and can be pre-ordered already in all formats.)

The dance card for 2017 is already getting kind of full. I’ll be Guest of Honor at ConStellation 8 in Lincoln, NE from April 28-30. Then I’m going to Minnesota again as author guest at Manticon 2017 from May 26-28. And I’ve already reserved a hotel room for WorldCon 75, which will be in Helsinki, Finland from August 9-13. After that, I’ll probably throttle back on cons and other engagements for the rest of 2017 a bit, but there’s no telling yet what kind of stuff will hit the inbox between now and mid-2017, so we’ll see what happens.

Traveling and going to cons is a ton of fun, but it really dings my word count because I’m already easily distracted in my natural habitat, never mind a place where there’s stuff to see and people who want to talk to you. I just need to pace myself in a manner that won’t slow the writing output down too much.

And with that, I am back to work on Frontlines #6. It’s the middle of October, which is objectively proven to be the best of all months, and the weather outside is like a parting kiss from summer. I’ll leave you with a few shots from Martha’s Vineyard, which is about twice as pretty as my cell phone photography makes it look.

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