But Wait! There’s More!

Yeah, yeah, I know, nothing but shameless promotion these last couple of posts. But, at least the covers are pretty.

Here’s one:

and another:

So, why these two covers?

Glad you asked: along with The Ship to Look for God, both collections are free on July 13. It’s like a Ginzu Knives promotion, but no one loses a finger (well, a couple of people lose a lot more than that, but you’ll have to read the stories to find out what).

To summarize:

1. Three books are free on 13 Jul. And 13 July only. The aforementioned Ship, The Moonlight, and The Last Man.

2. The Ship Looking for God is now available as a pre-order, for 1.99. Released 14 July.

Think of it: free stories. The first Ship for free. Then the second Ship for almost free…

C’mon, $1.99? You can’t even get one Ginzu knife for that.

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The First Hit of Crack is Free

It’s here.

Well, not quite. The only place it’s immediately available is CreateSpace, but you should hold off because I’m planning a few things.

I’m going to make The Ship to Look for God

free. For just one day. The Ship Looking will be 1.99 for the three days following, then will go to its normal price of $5. BUT, Ship to Look will be permanently reduced to 1.99.

‘Cause, ya know, after one hit of crack, you’re hooked.

I’ve already sent out some ARCs for Ship Looking, and I’m going to do a Goodreads giveaway of both. I’m looking to do all this around 10, 11 July. Just gotta get some things arranged first, so stay tuned.

 

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The Adventures of Gracie the Wander Cat: Fishing with Fredo

Gracie here.

Yes, yes, I know, been awhile. Well, I’ve been busy.

See, summer’s almost here and I have much to do.

Especially since this past winter put me way behind schedule.

So, gotta get to it. The outside work:

And, when it gets too hot, the inside work:

Wait. What did you ask? What about…who? Russell?

Russell, Russell…oh, yeah.

Him.

He’s uh…on vacation. Yeah. Vacation.

Anyways, I AM busy doing things, like whipping the new scratching post into shape:

Check it out. It’s even got a break room.

A secure one, thank God, so I can get away from this:

Traumatizing.

Wait…

…did you ask about Russell again?

Look. He’s on vacation. He went…fishing. Yeah, fishing. I saw him off myself.

So, stop asking. Just. Stop.

 

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Before and After

The backyard in February:

After a little bit of work, the backyard now:

The garden. Eggplant, tomato, pepper, pumpkins (which just showed up uninvited), spaghetti squash, cucumbers, strawberries, cantaloupes, watermelons, gourds, and even hops:

Son approves:

as does Gracie:

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Awe. Some. Con.

I went to AwesomeCon 2015 because I’d never been to a reaaally big con as a vender (vendor, whatever) and, well, you only live once. As far as we know.

I showed up on Thursday, a day before the official opening, to set up, which was great. If you’ve ever had the joy of trying to reach a venue in DC during rush hour on the morning of the event, you know just how great. They even had volunteers unload my truck and cart everything over to my table. Nice.

The con was held in a place big enough to store two or three aircraft carriers:

and was a bit empty on Thursday:

That changed over the next few days:

Place got mobbed. This was my set-up:

right across from this guy:

That’s Ron Wilson. Freakin’ Ron Wilson, Marvel royalty, member of the Bullpen.

While I was genuflecting, another guy showed up:

Scott Edelman.  Freakin’ Scott Edelman, Marvel royalty and another member of the Bullpen. He was on a panel and heard that Ron Wilson was on the floor so stopped by to reminisce. I geeked out:

That was not my only Brush with Greatness. I was hanging out a bit with the guys from MOLDS. They invited me to tag along while they did a podcast with Brian O’Halloran. I schmoozed with O’Halloran’s minion whole this was going on, and had fleeting contact with Ming Chen and Walter Flanagan in the process. Yes, I genuflected.

The 501st was there in Force (get it? get it?), under the command of their Empress, Anna Mitchell:

They are throwing CapitolCon in a few weeks. You didn’t know that? The Trekkies do:

That’s Abby, who was Countess Zorro and Frederica Kruger in previous cons.

Lambert and Ash from the Nostromo:

That’s Claudia and…crap, I forgot his name…who are also attendees of previous cons. Your name is Claudia, right?

Cast members from the web series Starship Farragut. Except the woman in the middle. She’s not.

Carbonite, when you need to protect your computer and Millennium Falcon pilots:

Lego Avengers:

Ladies, please don’t do this:

Instead, please do this:

Captain Britain:

Captain America:

Captainess America:

Hawkeye:

Wolverine and Storm:

Storm on her day off:

Another Storm. Or, wait, the White Witch. No, it’s Storm:

Pizazz:

Yes, she is.

Me and Mario down by the schoolyard:

The Lizard:

who became:

and then became:

Obviously, a chameleon.

Kids, eat your vegetables, And your brains:

so you can grow up to be Ezio:

or a Space Marine:

Gossamer:

So, despite some weirdness:

a great time was had. Even old enemies were reconciled:

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Games, Guns, and Motorcycles

During ID4 Con (see below), I met Dave Fisher, who runs a game store in Martinsburg, WV called Your Hobby Place. He invited me to a BBQ that his store and several others were hosting on May 16th and, well, BBQ, who can resist? So, I went.

Turned out to be quite the todo:

with the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club, the West Virginia Citizen’s Defense League, and the Blue Ridge Rocketeers, among others, in attendance.

Heck, if I had known it was a 2nd-Amendment-and-firepower kind of day, I’da brought my .45. Or my .357. Or my .44. Something.

This was my setup:

in front of Dave’s store:

right next to the truck park:

There was even a band:

Quasi-Flannel, and they were purty good. Hire them for your next bar mitzvah.

It was hot, damn hot,  fortunately relieved by an excellent breeze and, later, by a series of insane thunderstorms (avoided by the skin of respective teeths). Casting a glance to my right, I noted an impeccably dressed young man decked out in suit and tie, and broiling to death in the full sun so I sez, “Hark, young stranger, perforce to move your table right up against mine and sell your wares in relative comfort.” ‘Cause I’m just that kind of guy.

That’s how I met Victor Nieves, shown here getting a proper man hug:

By this time, he had come to his senses and shed coat and tie. He is the author of this book:

Epitaph: Reveille. Military scifi. Get it.

Brave guy, too. Not only did he show up to a MC Club and Gun rally in a suit and tie, but hurled after this dog:

when it broke free and plunged into some nearby woods. He rescued the dog from an anaconda or an a alligator or something. Story’s a little muddled.

For some reason, our cozy little shelter became quite the popular hangout, even Swamp Rat, the President of the local VVMC chapter coming by to sit for a spell:

I got to meet a lot of cool people, including a recent grad of the Naval Academy (hi Zach!) and a recent USMC member (which is silly because once a Marine, always a Marine,) a couple of members of Stribling’s Battery who knew people I knew, and a couple of drunks. I sold a lot of books, got a pork BBQ sandwich out of the deal, and this game:

Yeah, I’m a geek.

 

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Stick a Fork in It

The Ship Looking for God is done.

Three full revisions. I could probably do at least one more, or two more, or thirty more but, you know, stop. You can revise until death, seeking the perfect. It’s not perfect. But it’s ready.

I found myself doing at least three reads of each chapter during each revision (hmm, three seems the operative number). So, let’s see, 37 chapters, times 3, then times 3 again, carry the two…333 times I read the thing. Wait, 999 times, ’cause it’s three times for each revision, and there were three full revisions. Right?

This is why I’m not an engineer.

At any rate, the three reads of each chapter were necessary. During the first one, I was so thrilled with myself that I just went “Wow, this is great!” and then, you know, came to my senses so through it again and, Holy Hannah, this thing needs some serious work! I sometimes revised individual sentences up to twenty times before they were right (yes, I’m obsessive. Or anal. Pick your word.) Then another run-through to make sure it all held together and, Holy Hannah, did I just make a massive structural error!  For example, I inadvertently added an extra deck to the ship. That took some major scrambling to fix.

All of this took a while. But, no wine before its time. I owe you that.

So, now, a cover, some formatting, then a Goodreads giveaway and maybe some things on Amazon.

And a release party at CapitalCon.

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The Best of Days

Of course I saw Ultron. Of course. It’s Marvel. C’mon.

I saw it last night, my son being gracious enough to buy me a ticket at the local Alamo (the best theater chain in America. Beer and a movie? How can you resist?) because, you know, Marvel. C’mon.

The first 25 minutes, though, I was unhappy. It was too Marvel. Comic-booky, if you catch my drift, with lots and lots of AI fighting all over the screen, suffused with lots and lots of downright hokeyness which, yes, I know, it’s a comic book so how do you avoid it? Well, by not giving us lots and lots of AI fighting all over the screen. What the hell is this, a video game? And, what the hell is this, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch show up in the middle of the fight and kick everyone’s ass and then just…walk away?

 

And, by the way, “enhanced humans?” Fox, Disney, knock it off.

So, yes, I was unhappy at the end of the sequence. It was starting to look like Iron Man3, Spiderman3, and other assorted major disappointments, which was even more disappointing. They could have at least waited until Avengers3 before they screwed it all up.

But, then, that 25 minutes was over. And the next 2 hours…wow. Just, wow.

Not gonna get into the details. Go see it. And realize that we are heading towards the Infinity Gauntlet.

These are just the best days.

Yeah, cities are burning, savages are marching, but I am watching my childhood come alive, in 3D, in some cases. And my childhood is being treated so…respectfully. Just is.

Now, these are not my Avengers. I mean, where’s Giant Man? Wasp? And Quicksilver is not dead. War Machine was not a part of the second team. But Joss Whedon knows that, and gives enough nod at the Avengers I knew and loved growing up that I cannot be upset. It’s obvious he knows and respects the history, even though he presents it differently. C’mon, Stark didn’t create Ultron; Giant Man did. But Whedon had Stan Lee say “Excelsior!” I almost fell off my seat.

And, did I mention, Infinity Gauntlet?

I can die now. Well, at least, after the next two Avenger movies. And the next three Captain America movies. And Doctor Strange. And the Netflix Iron Fist series…

 

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A Rose Lasts a Day, a Book, Forever

Anna Mitchell, Commander of CapitolCon and a stalwart of the 501st Legion, invited me to share a table with her and Alesha Austin, a librarian for the Rappahannock Regional Library, to celebrate World Book Day. World Book Day? Well, I’m there.

WBD was hosted by Casal Catala of DC, and those guys did it up right. They set up canopies and tables right in the middle of Dupont Circle and had dozens of volunteers on site to help unload vehicles, which, if you’ve ever tried to unload a vehicle in the middle of a DC traffic circle, you know how life-threatening that is. I was in and out of the circle in less than five minutes. Finding a parking space, though, different matter. Those of you who ever tried to park in DC can empathize.

WBD coincided with the Catalan celebration of St. Jordi, and, in keeping with that, Casal Catala was handing out roses and books because a rose lasts the day, a book, forever. Man. Were I so poetic.

The setup:

It was just cool. No, downright cold, with a stiff north breeze ( as you can tell by my flapping banners)

and lower 50′s all day. I now know how people can die of hypothermia when it’s well above freezing. But, you know, so what? We had a blast.

Anna and Alesha had this excellent promotion called Blind Date.

See those bags? There’s a book inside, but you don’t know what book; all you know is the genre, which is written on the outside of the bag. Pays your $2.00 and takes your chances: could be the best date ever, or a dud. They had brought at least 2 bins full and, by the time we ended at 1700 (5:00 pm, civilian time), they were down to maybe 15 bags of Paranormal Romance. Because, well, paranormal romance.

My view of Dupont:

Water and coffee in the foreground, both being survival items.

A read-aloud for the kids:

I met a lot of great people, just great. CapitolCon and moi got a lot of exposure we ordinarily wouldn’t.

And I am definitely doing this again next year.

 

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I am Hawkeye

No, that’s not Hawkeye. That is a wizard conjuring a spirit. The picture was drawn for me by the Sorceress of Citadels, who is the little sister of the Mistress of Assassins, while I was building my manors and trying to get the crown.

Perhaps I should explain.

This past weekend, I attended Id4Con, which is a very small gaming con. How small? Well, Rhode Island could beat the crap out of it in a war. But, it was nearby and I’d never been to a gaming con before and, always seeking to expand horizons and readers, decided a whirl to give it.

Set up in the vendor’s room along with eight others:

where the atmosphere was electric. Here’s my table:

Yep, right beside the door, which was actually good, providing some protection from those crazy Pathfinder gamers next door. They throw things. Note the placement of the Dark Legacy RPCG (role-playing card game. I know the lingo) directly in the middle of my table, a lure to the unwary gamers passing by so I could then trap them with the Sales Pitch of Death. But, gamers are a wary lot, and the majority successfully resisted, somehow detecting that I was no gamer.

And I’m not. Not by current standards, anyway. Yes, I am an Assassin’s Creed fan, and, yes, I have a crapload of tactical and strategic board games, and there is my ownership of Dark Legacy as contrary evidence but, I’m just not. Had I been, I would have known that gamers come to a gaming convention to…get this…play games. No, seriously, they do. And you wanna know something else? They usually bring all their stuff with them. In other words, there’s very little visiting of the vendor room except maybe to replace some dice or get a cool picture. Books? Fah!

But, hey, in for a penny, so I decided to hie off to the playing fields and partake of the action:

Okay, well, most of the action was on paper and in your head but there were some pretty cool things going on, like this Deep Space 9/ Star Trek/Borg  onslaught:

Epic.

Nearby the Mistress of Assassins and her little sister, the Sorceress, invited me to play the card game, Citadels, with them, the guy from Halloween, and the Marshall of a crime-ridden district:

It was a lot of fun, depite the Assassin taking me out every other round or so. She also drew me a picture:

Talented with a knife. Talented with a pencil.

And then I ran into a group about to play Marvel Heroic Role Playing. Marvel? A chance to BE a Marvel character? Ask me twice? No need.

I was Hawkeye.

Along with SpiderMan, Daredevil, Black Widow, Black Cat, and Moon Knight (and a couple of Gaming Masters, including James standing at the left, who was the guy running the whole shebang):

we foiled a dastardly plot by A.I.M. to supply energy weapons to the Family. Now, I admit I didn’t really have any idea what was going on (what’s an Effect dice, again?) but I had a blast. My last official act before returning to this universe was shooting an EMP arrow from the top of a building ledge straight down the hatch of an A.I.M personnel carrier.

Yeah, I’m a badass.

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