Mercenaries haven’t really been a staple of mainstream thrillers since the ’80s. Tom Clancy introduced Jack Ryan, an analyst, as the hero of his techno-thrillers, and it seemed to set the tone for much of the genre to come. Harold Coyle’s heroes were mostly tankers. Dale Brown’s were bomber pilots. As the GWOT got started, even the more shadowy operatives, like Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp and Brad Taylor’s Pike Logan were still directly operating within the government apparatus, if so black that they “didn’t exist.” So, why did I go with mercenaries for the Praetorian series, Kill Yuan, and the Brannigan’s Blackhearts series? Well, I think that has several answers.
While Russia has taken front and center attention recently, due to the use of Russian agitprop to influence the internal affairs of Russia’s chief strategic rival (i.e., us), Russia is not the only major power that sees the US as a rival in its regional and global strategic goals. (Strangely, most of the outrage over Russia right now seems to be focused on their information and influence operations, rather than the continuing frozen conflicts in Ukraine, Transnistria, Nagorno-Kharabakh, and South Ossetia, to name only a few. But that’s another matter for another post.) China, in addition to conducting quiet resource-gathering operations worldwide, with a pronounced tendency not to care what kind of criminals they’re doing business with (see: shipping illegally mined iron ore out of the port of Lazaro-Cardenas in Mexico while that port was under control of the Caballeros Templarios cartel), has been expanding its regional military power projection, mostly focused on the South China Sea. Not only do several major shipping lanes pass through the South China Sea, making control of the waters there strategically important for reasons of power projection, but the two primary disputed island chains, the Paracels and the Spratlys, are thought to contain oil
It was brought to my attention that the option to update the Kindle version of Kill Yuan, for those who have already bought it and would like it with the new cover, was not automatically showing up. I had thought that it was supposed to, but after some digging, I found that I needed to contact Kindle Direct Publishing and ask them to make the update available. I did so, and just now got a reply that, while the changes are “minor” enough not to justify notifying those customers who had already purchased the book, the update is now available. If you have already bought Kill Yuan, and want the new cover, go to the “Manage My Content and Devices” page on Amazon (or this link: (www.amazon.com/gp/digital/fiona/manage), and there should be an “Update Available” button to the right of the title.
It’s going to be a couple days before it pops up on Amazon and iTunes, but the Kill Yuan audiobook is up for purchase on Audible! Finally! So, now there’s not only a new cover, more along the lines of the classic Action/Adventure novels (I got comparisons to old school Mack Bolan from both Jack Murphy and Larry Correia when I showed each of them), but now you can listen to all the carnage and mayhem in your car (or shop, or office, or whatever). I really think Cody did a damned good job with this one. He managed to make each of the voices distinct. It’s a good listen.
What’s that? “Second Edition,” you say? Well, as it happens, the story is the same. A couple of typos have been corrected, but that’s the only change to the actual novel. The big change is the cover. A few people have expressed misgivings about or outright dislike of the original cover, finding it a bit too much like Archer, and therefore suggesting that the book is a parody, which anyone who has read it can tell you it is not. It is an action/adventure thriller, along the same vein as the Praetorian series. Now, I’d already been hearing a bit of this, though I’d also heard from people who really liked the cover. But when the International Lord of Hate himself, Larry Correia, suggests, “You might want to consider a different cover; it looks like it’s a comedy,” you listen. So, shortly after LTUE, I contacted Kevin Granzow, who has done covers for a couple of friends of mine, including Steven Hildreth and Ross Elder. Behold: The page on Amazon hasn’t updated with the new cover yet, though the preview file on “Look Inside” has, strangely enough. The paperback is also going to be unavailable until I can get a
I know, I was going to blog more. Twice a week or so, I said. Well, it’s been busy, but here’s a quick rundown as to why. I had to take a few days “operational pause” on Lex Talionis to do some re-thinking. As originally outlined, the final chapters were a bit too episodic, as in, “This happens, and then this happens, and then this happens.” Good storytelling ties things together a bit more. It should be more along the lines of, “This happens, which leads to this happening, so then this happens, but then…” The new direction should tighten things up and get it more into the latter model. Still a lot to do; probably 20,000-30,000 words left, which will put it as the longest Praetorian story to date, a title presently held by Hunting in the Shadows, at 148.5k. Audiobook production on Kill Yuan is about half done, and it’s coming along well. That’s bitten into writing time a little, as well, as I’ve got to review each chapter as Cody finishes and uploads it. But it’s solid. He’s doing a great job. Somewhere in there, the idea that led to the “New Ideas” post down below began
So, I’ve been keeping this a little quiet until we got the ball rolling, but Kill Yuan went into production as an audiobook last week. I’ve listened to the first fifteen minutes, and it’s badass. Note, this is not the same narrator who did Task Force Desperate. Cody Parcell, who’s done audiobooks for M. Todd Gallowglass, is taking the reins on this one, and so far, he’s nailing it. Hopefully it should be up on Audible and iTunes in a couple of months. And for the fellow nautically inclined, he will be pronouncing “gunwale” properly. You’re welcome.
Today’s the day. Kill Yuan is out. Amazon’s being a little slower getting the paperback up than they have previously, but it is on the way. The Kindle link is here. As previously announced, the ebook is presently Kindle exclusive. I’m giving Kindle Select a try, which also means that if you are subscribed to Kindle Unlimited, you can borrow the book on your Kindle. Signed paperbacks are now available for pre-order on americanpraetorians.com, to go out June 10.
Kill Yuan is finished. Editing is done, the final file has been uploaded to KDP, and we’ve just got a couple more formatting things to take care of (including the final cover file) and the paperback should be ready to go. I actually hate editing, even though that’s where a lot of the work happens. By the time I’ve finished going through the work three times, beginning to end, back to back, I’m not only getting sick of it, but I’m pretty well convinced that I’m a talentless hack who has no business selling his awkward mangling of the English language to anybody. But enough of y’all apparently still enjoy my hackery enough to pay me for it, so I will continue. Anyway, here’s another snippet, since I did say there would be a few more forthcoming:
I’m about halfway through Edit 2. This will be the last full sample chapter, though I might throw a couple more little snippets out before release. Chapter 5 Dan turned and looked behind him, barely able to see five meters even with the NVGs strapped to his head. He couldn’t see Jenny behind him. Again. He turned back forward, waited until Vernon looked back, and then raised his hand to signal a halt. Vernon nodded, and sank to a knee in the muck; they were all soaked and filthy from the last four hours of slogging through the Florida swamp anyway, so it didn’t matter. Still making an effort not to make too much noise sloshing through the swamp, Dan started to work his way back to where Jenny had lost contact. He found her another ten yards back, stumbling over the roots in front of her. The Asian girl, named Cassy, was trying to hiss encouragement at her, but just from her posture, it looked like she was about all in. She was staggering, and making about as much noise as a baby elephant, her shoulders sagging under the weight of her gear and assault pack. As he got