Category Archives: Uncategorized

Book Plug

Many thanks to Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin over at PJ Media, who included my new novel Gods and The City in their Book Plug Friday post. There are plenty of other intriguing titles listed there, so check it out. As the title implies, it’s a weekly post, so bookmark that page to keep track of new indie releases.

Rules of Force on sale

Rules of Force, on sale for 99 cents this week.
Rules of Force, on sale for 99 cents this week.

I’ve got a promotion through eBookSoda that’s set to hit on May 1, but readers of this blog can get an early jump on it. The e-book edition of Rules of Force, the first volume in my Connor Rix series of SF thrillers, is on sale for 99 cents for a limited time. The eBookSoda push arrives on Thursday, but the price decrease has already gone through at most of the major outlets. No waiting! Alternately, you can purchase the print edition and get the e-book for free.

Rules of Force

Connor Rix was there at the beginning, when the second-generation Brazilian steroids first arrived on the scene, along with the blood boost packs. It was his job to keep the newly-superhuman rowdies under control and shut down the most poisonous of the new modification labs. Not an easy job, but unbreakable bones and state-of-the-art optical implants sure help.

But now the list of bio-engineered miracles available to the public has grown as broad as the desires of mankind. And one man is leaving a trail of bodies across the Texas Republic as he brutally takes control of the market in human modifications and suppresses all competitors. What will it take to stop him? And what price must Rix pay to bring the man to justice?

Fortunately, Rix isn’t working this job alone. He has a nearly 7-foot giant on his team with a one-of-a-kind exoskeleton boosting his strength off the charts. And then there’s the night owl who never sleeps (or so she says) but that’s not her only modification. The woman Rix wants to make his wife is along for the ride too, if she can keep her fears in check.

These four must square off against an army of Modified enforcers to bring down the man who seeks to rule the bio-enhancement trade. All they have to figure out now is if their famous benefactor is a friend or foe….

Books and Beer

Books on Tap and Circle Brewing Company
Books on Tap and Circle Brewing Company

Two subjects that are close to my heart—books and beer. Circle Brewing Company is one of Austin’s fast-growing independent breweries, and Books on Tap is an independent bookstore in the making. They teamed up this weekend at Georgetown, Texas’, annual Red Poppy Festival, giving a glimpse of what’s to come.

Books on Tap plans to combine a craft beer tap wall with the charm of a locally-owned bookstore. The people behind it are renovating a building on the town square in Georgetown, so this should be one bookstore with a lot more character than you’ll find in your average shopping center. Austin is practically overflowing with quality microbreweries, so the tap wall alone will be worth visiting. And after following Books on Tap’s Facebook page, it’s clear these people know their literature. It sounds like a great concept, as discussing books over a pint is one of life’s fundamental pleasures. They already have an online store operating, and plan to open the storefront later this year. Picture me raising a glass to their success.

Upcoming Release

godsandthecity-1Sneak peek time! My next book is close to release, and here’s an early  look at the cover. This novella is pure space opera—here’s the synopsis:

A thousand years in the past, humanity was attacked by hostile aliens and reduced to a handful of survivors. At the moment of greatest peril, the new gods of mankind were raised up. They pushed back the invaders and carried the shattered remnants of the human race to outposts where the survivors could rebuild human civilization.

The greatest of these redoubts is The City, a domed jewel on a small moon circling a stormy gas giant planet. The god Tower is its protector.

But when The City is assaulted by a power that rivals even that of the guardian god, the burden of protecting mankind’s future will fall to others. And what can mere men and women do against forces that can reshape and manipulate the universe itself?

Talia is a Radiant Acolyte in the temple of the gods. She knows the secrets and history of mankind’s protectors better than anyone.

Mik is a skilled technician who can see through the dazzling magic of the divine forces that power The City to the truth that lies beneath it.

Upon these two will fall the burden of protecting mankind’s future.

But the cost may be the very things that make them human.

News and Updates

The year might be ending, but I’m not quite done wringing the life out of it yet. I’ve got several things on the burner that I thought I might share.

ChupaCover2First, I’ve got a new cover for my novel Follow The Chupacabra. I didn’t think my first cover really conveyed the feel of the book, looking too much like the cover for a horror novel, among other problems. My designer did a great job with the original cover—it was my concept, after all, and I acquired the base illustration that he heroically doctored to make presentable—but I think my original cover concept was just flawed. Follow The Chupacabra is a contemporary fantasy that brings the legendary creatures of the American Southwest to life. The new cover, by Laura Gordon at The Book Cover Machine, captures the otherworldly feel of the book, and hints at the alternate worlds inside. What do you think? (And by the way, this e-book is still on sale for 99 cents through the end of the year.)

I’ve been pretty quiet about my next project, but it is coming together nicely, and it won’t be long until it’s finished. It may not be on sale by the end of the year, but certainly an early 2014 release. And in this novella, I dive into classic space opera. I’ve been a fan of that genre as long as I can remember. I love the grand scale of SF stories that span the galaxy, with faster-than-light starships grappling with plentiful alien races. This type of book has fallen out of favor lately, as our depressed nation embraces the post-apocalyptic (and who can blame us?). But I wanted to create a story that unapologetically jumped out into the larger universe and was just pure fun to read. So, picture the remnants of the human race huddled in domed cities on far-off worlds. They survived near extinction 1000 years ago in a war with hostile aliens, but now are protected by mysterious god-like beings. But when a new power arrives in force, even the gods of mankind may not be able to stop them. And our best hope lies with a devoted acolyte of the city’s guardian god, and a maintenance worker who knows all the secrets that sustain The City—and maybe even the gods themselves.

What else? I’ve registered for a table at Staple, the independent media expo in Austin, Texas, on March 1-2, 2014. I’ll be selling and signing all my novels, so come on down and say hey. (Technically, I haven’t received confirmation yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be in.) This event is a great way to support those of us creating books, comics and artwork on our own. There was some very cool stuff for sale last year. Hope to see you there!

Chupacabra for Cheap

Follow the Chupacabra
Follow the Chupacabra

If you’ve been thinking about buying a copy of my contemporary fantasy novel Follow The Chupacabra, now is the time! I’ve put the e-book on sale for 99 cents through the end of the year. It’s on sale across all platforms—Amazon, B&N and Smashwords, although the price drop may be slow to arrive at Apple, Kobo and Sony. Even better, that means that if you purchase the print edition through Amazon, you get the e-book for free.

Feel like following the chupacabra on a mind-bending journey? Here’s the teaser:

When do you allow yourself to believe the unbelievable? What will it take for a man to accept that mythological creatures are, in fact, part of the real world?

Ray Lenstrom faces that dilemma when a dark visitor, the chupacabra of legend, comes calling. The beast and its mate are unlike anything he has encountered before, and the implications of their arrival will cause him to question everything he has ever believed.

Ray has only one place to turn—a mysterious woman cut off from the rest of humanity who may hold the answers. She may also be the key to rebuilding his shattered life.

As Ray embraces the adventure of a lifetime, he’ll discover that reality is larger than he ever dreamed, and forgotten planes of existence lurk at the end of every path. Hidden elemental powers command the shadowlands of Earth, and bizarre creatures of legend travel endless pathways in a multiverse of alternate worlds more terrifying—and more beautiful—than any he has ever known.

Follow the Chupacabra is a 57,000-word contemporary fantasy novel where the vivid legends of the American Southwest come to unforgettable life.

Combo Deal

Amazon’s Kindle Matchbook promotion just went live, and I’ve entered my novels in the Cover, Rules of Forceprogram. If you haven’t heard, what this means is that if you purchase any of my books in paperback form through Amazon, you can get the e-book for only 99 cents extra. The program is retroactive, so if you’ve ever bought any of my paper novels through Amazon, you can get the e-book for 99 cents. Nice way to buy a paper copy for a gift and get the e-book for yourself for a buck extra. Each book page on Amazon has the Matchbook link, so it’s easy to do. To check it out, just click on the book covers in the sidebar.

Worldcon, part 3

More odds and ends from the World Science Fiction Convention is San Antonio (earlier entries below)…

1) I attended the brief ceremony for the Prometheus Award, which is given out annually by the Libertarian Futurist Society to the book that best exemplifies libertarian thought. The winner this year was Cory Doctorow’s Pirate Cinema. I haven’t read it, but I was a bit surprised by this pick. I’ve read some of Doctorow’s essays and blog posts and he usually comes off as more leftist than libertarian. Guess I’ll keep an open mind, as libertarianism includes a lot of uneasy overlap between the left and the right. Also announced was the Prometheus Hall of Fame award, given to a libertarian-leaning science-fiction classic. That prize went to Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon. I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t read that one yet either, but it is loaded onto my Kindle, impatiently tapping its foot waiting to be read.

Original Robert E. Howard manuscript and vintage issue of Weird Tales with R.E.H. cover story.
Original Robert E. Howard manuscript and vintage issue of Weird Tales with R.E.H. cover story.

2) This being Texas, there were a lot of panels and displays devoted to native son Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan the Barbarian, duh). Anything you wanted to know about Howard’s creations was explored in almost obsessive depth. I attended one panel on the R.E.H boom of the 1970s, when all the books came back in print, the comics debuted and fanzines devoted to Howard flourished. I have a million of his books, and I think I need to revisit some of them. Fun fact: Some of Howard’s early works have entered the public domain, meaning anyone can write about the characters, within limits. Hmmm.

3) The best panel I attended was Genetic Manipulation and Made-to-Order Species: Biotech in SF, which, if you’ve read my Connor Rix novels, you’ll know is right up my alley. Writers on the panel included David Brin, Nancy Kress, Ramez Naam, Sam Scheiner, Amy Thompson and Paolo Bacigalupi. This one had some good back-and-forth. Brin and Kress lamented the depiction of genetic engineering in SF movies that only shows it in a bad light, ignoring the amazing positives that are possible, and the tremendous good that can be done for people with this line of research. Bacigalupi was more worried about the unintended consequences five or six steps down the line. I thought Kress had the better of the argument.

4) Politics. Sigh. It’s probably unavoidable, but politics always rears its head at events like this. Well, technically, most of it was avoidable. The names of many of the panels had a whiff of humanities grad school about them, like “The Role of Gender in…”  So these were easily avoided. Harder to ignore was a Hugo winner blithely assuming everyone else in the room naturally shared his political viewpoint. My Eyeroll Award goes to local  artist John Picacio. John is a great talent who truly deserved to win his Hugo for Best Professional Artist, but he couldn’t resist using his moment to deplore his dumb ol’ home state for not following his preferred course of action. Sigh. Eyeroll.

Genuine historical artifacts from the Texas-Israeli War of 1999. Honest.
Genuine historical artifacts from the Texas-Israeli War of 1999. Honest.

5) And, of course, there was an amazing display of the true, no-fooling, honest historical record of the great Texas-Israeli War of 1999. Those were tense times for our state, but we came through it okay. I read this book in 8th grade, and despite its slanderous opinions on the quality of Texas beer, it remains a valuable historical textbook. Students in Texas have to read it in 3rd, 5th, 8th and 10th grade, lest we forget the valuable lesson learned from that war. Honest.

Worldcon part 2: Writers

The World Science Fiction Convention, and the Hugo awards presented there every year, has always been primarily focused on the literature of science fiction. Unlike Comic-Con out in San Diego, which has a heavy Hollywood presence, Worldcon celebrates the novels, short stories, novellas and fan magazines of the genre above all else.

Sure, there were some movie and TV stars in attendance in San Antonio this year (Hey! It’s that dude who plays The Hound on Game of Thrones!), but for the most part, the star-gazing at Worldcon involves spotting your favorite authors.

Now, I’ve been a writer or editor for 23 years, and I know my share of writers, so I don’t normally get the vapors around other scribes. But man, when you get the chance to meet and mingle with authors you’ve been reading for decades, your true favorites, writers whose stories stay lodged in your mind for life, it’s hard not to devolve into a squealing fanboy.

The grandmaster, Robert Silverberg, signing at the 71st Worldcon in San Antonio.
The grandmaster, Robert Silverberg, signing at the 71st Worldcon in San Antonio.

For instance—Robert Silverberg. He’s my favorite SF author, a multiple Hugo and Nebula winner, author of classics such as Dying Inside and Nightwings. When I found out he was doing a signing on Friday afternoon I rearranged my schedule to be there. Squealing fanboy? Well, I did stand in line for 45 minutes to get him to sign my copies of Project Pendulum and A Time of Changes, but I managed to not gush too embarrassingly.

Nancy Kress is another former Hugo winner who was nominated again this year for her novella After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall. The book had already won a Nebula award (The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America’s top award). She’s long been on my list of authors I need to read, and after attending a couple of panels she was on, I went straight to one of the booksellers in the vendor area and bought a copy and later got it signed. Impressive woman, impressive book.

But everywhere I turned there was an author whose books clutter my shelves and my mind. I attended a reading by George R.R. Martin of a chapter from his next A Song of Ice and Fire book, and might have even tried to get one of his books signed but for the line that stretched from San Antonio to Austin. David Brin was seemingly everywhere, usually on the best panels. And look, there’s Kim Stanley Robinson! No, over there, next to John Scalzi.

That kind of weekend.

So call me a nerd, a fanboy, whatever. At the bright lights of Comic-Con I probably wouldn’t recognize a quarter of the names and faces. But at Worldcon, I was taking a walk through the bookshelves of my life.

Worldcon!

Happy winners at the 60th Hugo Awards. Yes, that's George R.R. Martin in the front row.
Happy winners at the 60th Hugo Awards. Yes, that’s George R.R. Martin in the front row.

Just got back from a weekend at the World Science Fiction Convention (aka LoneStarCon 3), conveniently located practically in my backyard, just down the road in San Antonio. It was an absolutely great time. Every hour of every day there were at least a dozen panels/readings/autograph sessions/films from which to choose. I brought home a small mountain of books and gave away a few of my own. This con is the big one, the event where the Hugo Award, the top prize in science-fiction, is presented.

I’ll be posting items from Worldcon all week, but first, a few highlights. In case you haven’t Badges, 2013 Worldconheard, the Hugo for best novel went to John Scalzi’s Redshirts. The Best Novella Hugo went to Brandon Sanderson’s The Emperor’s Soul, Best Novelette to Pat Cadigan’s The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi, and Best Short Story to Ken Liu’s Mono no Aware. The Avengers won the Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (also known as: movie), while the Blackwater episode of Game of Thrones won Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. This was my first Hugo awards ceremony, and it was truly exciting seeing some of the giants in the field, talented writers whose work I’ve been reading, in some cases, for decades.

But probably the highlight of the event was dinner Saturday night with Hugh Howey and some of his fans and writer friends. Hugh is the author of the indie-breakout-to-bestseller Wool, and if you haven’t read it, you should pop over to Amazon and buy it right now. Hugh invites fans to events like this everywhere he goes, and he’s the nicest writer you’ll ever meet, a guy who goes the extra mile and then some for his readers. I made some new friends at the table that night, including the writer Michael Bunker and film maker Eric Tozzi. I can’t wait to dive into Michael’s book The Silo Archipelago, and look forward to Eric’s new release, The Scout, in November.

Next installment: Autographs!