With the Maelstrom Rising anthology well in the works, Enemy of My Enemy also in the works, and several other projects in development (yes, including a possible new Jed Horn story), I’m preparing to re-launch The Unity Wars. Some of you are familiar with my first science fiction work, but a lot aren’t (which is why the re-launch). I published the following on theunitywars.com a couple years ago: What is The Unity Wars? Well, it’s an upcoming series of science fiction adventures. The best description so far is, “The Clone Wars crossed with The Horus Heresy, with influence from the Lensman series, Hammer’s Slammers, and Farscape.” Confused yet? Hopefully also curious and a little excited. I fiddled around with writing science fiction for several years before I became an action-adventure writer. It was mostly Star Wars and Wing Commander flavored at the time. I’ve always enjoyed science fiction, specifically what can often be described as “space opera,” adventures in deep space and on distant worlds. And I’ve also always wanted to go back to it. A few years ago (before Disney Star Wars, which we won’t go into), I got a wild hair and asked myself, “What if the Star Wars prequels were
Well, Crimson Star has been out for a little over a week and a half, and it’s doing pretty well. A few reviews are in, and some of you have said it’s actually your favorite of the series so far. Some of that seems to be because a lot of it is much more irregular warfare, more reminiscent of the American Praetorians series. To that, all I have to say is that as the war drags on, and more expensive (and irreplaceable) assets get taken off the board, the more irregular this next World War is going to get. I was planning for Hank and his section to head out into the Pacific after the Chinese following Crimson Star, but now that the first volume of his arc is done, it’s not looking quite so cut and dried. The state of affairs CONUS is bad enough that the response is going to take time. At any rate, we’ll be back to Matt’s Grex Luporum Team in the ETO with Strategic Assets later on this year. Before that comes Brannigan’s Blackhearts #8 – Enemy of My Enemy. That’s going to be fun (we may see a certain Russian mobster again from Fury in the Gulf). However,
Coming Q1 2019 (No, this is not the possible sequel to the American Praetorians series that I mentioned a year or so ago. That one probably isn’t happening; the AP series is words complete, and will likely stay that way. This is something new.)
Dave Reeder, from Breach-Bang-Clear (which I’ve written some articles for in the past), is a bit of a fan of the American Praetorians series. So much so, in fact, that he commissioned an American Praetorians Radical Firearms RF-15 for me. Haven’t had a chance to shoot it yet, but it feels good, and it looks badass. Consider this your official Thank You, Dave.
I’m reading Chris Fox’s book, Relaunch Your Novel: Breathe Life into Your Backlist. With The Unity Wars launched, and so far doing just about as well as Brannigan’s Blackhearts (rather than exponentially better, as I’d hoped), I’ve started thinking about the fact that my backlist isn’t quite earning as much as it should be. I’ve already done a little bit along these lines, with the new cover for Kill Yuan. Reading Chris’ work, however, it could probably use some more tweaking, mainly in the blurb, keywords, and marketing aspect. American Praetorians and Jed Horn get a bit thornier. At this point, I think that a full relaunch of both series would be in order. Jed Horn hasn’t ever done as well as the Praetorian books, in no small part because I simply marketed it to my fans, such as there are, and they were looking for military action. It didn’t really make it in front of the more MHI/Repairman Jack sort of audience. So, in addition to new covers for the first two at least (and probably new type for all four), it would benefit from a full relaunch. The Praetorian books get a little more complicated. Task Force Desperate
I know, I haven’t been posting here much. Need to get on that. Probably need to do some scheduling. But I’ve been busy. Very. I’ve got another new series in the works, and it’s more than a little different from anything I’ve done before. I’ve played around with military action adventure, horror/fantasy, and heroic fantasy (though y’all haven’t seen that much of that yet). But this is going to be science fiction. Now, the funny part is that I originally started tinkering with writing, back in high school, with science fiction. I still have notebooks (somewhere) of notes, starmaps, and starship diagrams from those days. I had an entire sweeping timeline of wars between alien empires and human-alien alliances. It was, to borrow a turn of phrase from Nick Cole and Jason Anspach, WingCommanderNotWingCommander with a leavening of StarWarsNotStarWars. In fact, Task Force Desperate started out as a mil-fic backstory leading into the “21st Century Chaos” that was part of the backstory of what that epic evolved into. (It isn’t anymore; the Praetorian Series became very much its own thing.) What I’m working on now isn’t that particular epic. It’s much more “The Clone Wars meets The Horus Heresy with
I got my start as a storyteller in the dark, around campfires, up at Camp Fife in Washington State, about eighteen years ago, now. In a real way, the Jed Horn series is simply a continuation of that old tradition. There are two kinds of campfire story; the traditional ones that are passed down from fire to fire, for years, only changing in small details of the telling, flexible things that are simply the flavor the teller adds as he goes. The other kind are the ones I mostly told; the improvised scary stories. My first was pretty simple. A wisp in the woods, a curious Scout, and a game of cat-and-mouse underground with a monster that could change shape at will. It wasn’t the best spook story ever told, but I had already learned a few things from it. Between that one and a couple of the later ones, I developed a few rules.
From a piece by John C. Wright, from a few years ago: In none of the stories I just mentioned, even stories where the image of Our Lord in His suffering nailed to a cross is what drives back vampires, is any mentioned made of the Christ. Is is always an Old Testament sort of God ruling Heaven, or no one at all is in charge. So why in Heaven’s name is Heaven always so bland, unappealing, or evil in these spooky stories? I can see the logic of the artistic decisions behind these choices, honestly, I can. If I were writing these series, I would have (had only I been gifted enough to do it) done the same and for the same reason. It is the same question that George Orwell criticized in his review of THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH by CS Lewis. In the Manchester Evening News, 16 August 1945, Orwell writes that the evil scientists in the NICE [the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments, who are the Black Hats of the yarn] are actually evil magicians of a modern, materialist bent, in communion with ‘evil spirits.’ Orwell comments: Mr. Lewis appears to believe in the existence of such
ARCs. Advance Reader Copies/Advance Review Copies. How to work this? According to what I’ve learned lately, in order to really put the Writer Master Plan into effect, I need more reviews in the first week. The way to do this seems to be ARC readers. The question at hand is, “How to handle the ARC readers?” Can’t just put the book up here. This is a business, after all. So, I’ve got three options, that I can think of. Option A: A subscription service, like Nick Cole and Jason Anspach have put together on galacticoutlaws.com. For a small fee, subscribers get the content in intervals as it’s produced. Option B: Put eARCs, PDF files of early copies of the book, up for sale right here (or on americanpraetorians.com, more precisely). They would cost more than the final release Kindle copy. This is something Baen has been doing for years now. Option C: Set up a volunteer mailing list, limited to 25-30 people, who will get the early version of the story as I write it. The caveat being, to stay on the list means emailing a link to the Amazon review within a week of release. So, good readers, what
Back in June, Nick Cole and Jason Anspach released a military SF novel entitled Galaxy’s Edge: Legionnaire. I’d been peripherally aware of Mr. Cole for a while, ever since Harper Voyager kicked him to the curb for political reasons. But what he and Anspach pulled off made me sit up and take notice. Because Legionnaire, a brand-new, independently-published mil-SF novel, shot to the top 100 on Kindle, and #1 in its categories, and proceeded to stay there. For weeks. And they made no secret that they wanted to share how they did it with other authors. I talked to Mr. Cole myself for a bit, and got the gears turning, even before they released their After Action Report podcast. Cole pointed me toward the non-fiction work of Chris Fox, who has been studying what works in independent publishing, specifically Amazon, for some time. I started doing some more reading.