Putting pen to paper

Time for a writing update.

I’ve been fairly quiet when it comes to the Internet, because I’ve spent the bulk of my writing time on the novels in progress. To say I’ve had a productive 365 days — make that 425 days, because I’m counting from last February — is an understatement.

– February 2014 – Finished The Bloodheart, a 70,000 word fantasy novel

– May 2014 – Finished a rough draft of a second Quantum Mortis novel, 74,000 words

– July 2014 – Finished For Us Humans, a 96,000 word sci-fi novel

– August 2014 – Wrote Turncoat, a 5,000 word sci-fi short story (published in December 2014 in Riding the Red Horse by Castalia House and nominated this spring for a Hugo Award for Best Short Story)

– April 2015 – Finished Airfoil Origins, a 150,000 word superhero novel

Whew! After all that, much of the rest of my work has been editing said projects. Okay, it’s not all editing. I tried to set aside Airfoil because I told myself it would be best to let it sit a spell before I leapt into a sequel. That didn’t work. I missed the characters and the adventure immediately, so I’ve put together about 8,000 words over the past few weeks.

I’m also doing some writing for an online gaming project, creating fictional back story at 3,000 words or so a pop. I finished one section a couple weeks ago and have now started on a second.

All this writing took a backseat to a half-week Computers in Libraries national conference in Washington, D.C., the past few days. Best part about going to a giant conference in a large city? (Besides the conference, of course, which gave me a thousand ideas for improving and altering things at our library.) Answer: bookstores. There were three bookstores and a comic book store within six blocks of our hotel. I stopped at every one. Heaven!

‘Turncoat’ receives nomination for Hugo Award

The news is official: Turncoat, my short story featured in the Riding the Red Horse anthology of military science fiction and fact, has been nominated for a 2015 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. You can click on Turncoat anywhere in this post to read it.

You’ll remember Riding the Red Horse was released in December 2014 and has since garnered excellent reviews. My short story chronicles an artificial intelligence that serves the integrated man-machine forces in their interstellar uprising against humanity, set after Quantum Mortis: A Programmed Mind and centuries before the events of Quantum Mortis: A Man Disrupted and Gravity Kills. 

I’d seen Turncoat listed on the Rabid Puppies slate posted by Vox Day, and was pleased to read positive comments from folks who’d enjoyed reading it. Despite feeling confident about the quality of the story, I was surprised when I received the email a couple weeks ago informing me of the nomination.

You can see the full list of Hugo nominees here.

The Hugo Awards will be announced Aug. 23 at the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention or Sasquan 2015 in Spokane, Wash. I plan to be there.

Meet Frank

Continuing my sketching projects, I give you Frank Belasco, mentor and trainer for the main character in my recently completed superhero manuscript. Here’s an excerpt from Frank’s first appearance, as narrated by the hero, Brandon:

The light’s red on our end. Green for the crossing lanes. There’s a white Prius coming from the left and a green Mercury sedan from the right.

Frank arrows us right toward their center.

A silver Suburban comes racing up behind the Prius. I brace my hands on the dash, and get a glimpse of a man with dark sunglasses leaning out his passenger side window, something black in his hands. My librarian’s brain classifies it as an Uzi.

Frank barrels through the cars, tires screeching. Horns explode on all sides of us. The Uzi chatters, cutting over the sounds of drivers yelling and vehicles swerving. He glances sideways, long enough to fire five shots from his gun.

The windshield of the Suburban explodes. It sideswipes the front end of the Mercury, barely missing our bumper as we streak through the mess. Can’t see what happens to the Prius.

frank belasco FINAL

Another ending, another beginning

This past weekend I wrapped up my superhero novel, Airfoil: Origins. It was a very in-depth project that took approximately 10 months to complete, starting last January with several on and off times before I started in earnest last July. It’s a beast, weighing in at 145,000 words (about 530 pages), a length to which I haven’t resorted since writing the original Commissioned manuscript back in 2008 that eventually got split into my first two novels The Word Reclaimed and The Word Unleashed.

Airfoil is also only the second time I’ve written a story that takes place in the present, which, I have to admit, takes some of the pressure off vs. writing sci-fi. I don’t have to go into great detail to describe a certain car, other than color, make, model and such. A starship, however, is a wholly fictional construct, and so requires a great deal more imaginative effort.

But even as this project closes out with my next round of editing, there’s new stories on the horizon. Such as:

– The Bloodheart, my first and so far only fantasy novel, which I’ll be self-publishing. I’ve sent off materials to the cover designer and that design should prove outstanding, based on his prior work

– A 60,000 word military sci-fi novel I may get to write, if my outline is accepted by the company in question. Of course, I have to create said outline first. Details to come later.

– About 3,000 words of fictional background and story for an online game, due the middle of April. I’m about a third done with that.

– Revisions and rewrites on the second Quantum Mortis novel, which has been on the back burner for a while. My publisher and I are both insanely busy.

Something else I’m feeling the urge to do is revisit the world of The Word Reclaimed. To that end I’ve composed an outline and started character creation for a novel that takes place several years after the events of The Face of the Deep set and its accompanying novel Broken Sight, involving a brand new group of heroes but also catching up characters from the original books. I know they’re not real, but in an odd way, I’ve missed them. Ask another author. They’ll understand.

There’s another bit of news I’m not at liberty to divulge, but check back in soon, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I know I am.

Mile marker

Reaching certain stages of a work in progress resonates with me. I find that keeping track of word count or page count provides a tangible reassurance that yes, I am nearing the completion of a project.

That’s the case with my superhero novel, tentatively entitled Airfoil: Origins.

Last spring, I wrote a two page prologue that finds the hero in media res with the supervillain of the story. It’s meant to give a snippet of action, showing the hero’s developed potential, before I dive into the how of his superhero journey.

Today, while working in the last few chapters of the book, I came full circle to that part of the story, where the reader catches up with the prologue. It was satisfying, both to know that the end of the story is near and to see that the action ties back in nicely with the beginning of the story.

I don’t have an approximate release date for Airfoil: Origins. I am aiming to get it to my publisher by the end of March, give or take, but since there’s no firm agreement in place, nor is there a contract binding me to a deadline, it’s low pressure.

I’ll it at that with some art I cooked up while sketching from graphic novels, coloring in Photoshop and finding generic backgrounds to combine into action scenes.????????airfoil in flight 1brandon overlook 1 final

Interview and the Works

Enclave Publishing, the home of most of my books, has posted a new interview with yours truly. Give it a read if you’re interested in odd facts about me, and news about my writing.

The most pertinent update I can share here is I’ve surpassed the 100,000 word mark on my superhero novel. That translates to roughly 350 pages. I’ve got probably another 100 to go. My goal is to finish it this spring. Notice I leave “Spring” as a vague term. Writing goals are elusive when you work full time and have a family. Unless there’s a hard and fast deadline to which one is contractually bound, they don’t amount to much.

That said, I’m having great fun writing this one. It’s not space-borne science fiction, nor is it steampunk, as my previous published works have been. But for the past several completed manuscripts, I’ve tried my hand at new things, including fantasy and modern day adventure, the latter of which has a heavy sci-fi element.

Speaking of sci-fi, Riding the Red Horse by Castalia House continues to gain positive reviews. I’m glad for the publisher and my fellow authors in this anthology, but would be a liar if I said it isn’t satisfying when people complement my story, Turncoat. I’ll end with a few examples:

– Each story left me wanting more of the universe in which it takes place (my favourite of the shorts was the last one: “Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa)

– “Two stories that standout above the others were Turncoat by Rzasa and War Crimes by Cheah. Excellent stories that illustrate humanity in inhumane and even entirely non-human protagonists and characters.”


Red Horse arrives

Riding the Red Horse is now available from Castalia House, both on their website and Amazon. It’s gotten some fine reviews, and the biggest excitement for me is being published alongside authors such as Tom Kratman and John C. Wright. And of course, the big spoiler is that none other than Jerry Pournelle is featured in the anthology.

he short fiction I wrote for this compilation is called Turncoat and follows the adventure of a self-aware machine intelligence that is caught in the middle of a burgeoning galactic war. It takes place in the Quantum Mortis universe several centuries prior to MCID Chief Warrant Officer Graven Tower’s cases in A Man Disrupted and Gravity Killsand not long after the tale of spy vs. spy Vox penned in A Programmed Mind

Like I said, you can get it both at Castalia and Amazon, whatever your pleasure.


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