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
That’s Mickey Spillane, not me. But that’s a manly writer photo, right there. Seemed fitting. So, I’ve been busy. Really busy. Too busy to do much blogging, either here or over on The Unity Wars. Going to try to start picking up the slack on that soon, once I get draft writing somewhat stabilized. Given some market research, and seeing how the last book has done, The Unity Wars is moving somewhat to the forefront for the moment. That doesn’t mean that Brannigan’s Blackhearts is going away anytime soon; it is, however, going to slow down just a bit. Probably going to be four books per year, rather than six. I’ve barely scratched the surface on High Desert Vengeance, Brannigan’s Blackhearts #5, but I should be able to hit it hard after the next couple of weeks. Look for it in August. I’m also working on a pitch for another project that hopefully I’ll be doing with another author and good friend of mine. Can’t say much about it yet; we’re still hashing out the details, and he’s got to sell it to his publisher. Keep your fingers crossed. And with that, back to the word mines with me.
What’s the key? What makes a combat scene really “authentic?” Pain. There’s an old saying in the Recon community: “Recon ain’t fun.” It’s pain and agony and suffering, only faced with the grit and perseverance to get through it and survive, to kill the enemy before they kill you. Over on Tom Kratman’s wall on FB, the subject has come up of a young woman on a panel at Life, The Universe, And Everything 2017. She claimed at one point that “gamers can write good action scenes, because we’ve experienced that.” No. No, you haven’t.
“Timeliness” is a temptation that I think most military/spy fiction writers have to deal with. “Ripped from the headlines!” and “Prophetic!” are compliments that reviewers have used for works in the genre going back to Tom Clancy, at least. Those same phrases have been applied to some of my own work, and I’ll admit that it can be somewhat affirming (though often in a grim sort of way) to see events move in a generally similar direction to that predicted in one of your novels. It shows you that you read the situation fairly accurately.
No, this isn’t about InRangeTV opening an account on PornHub. (Yes, apparently that’s a thing. No, I haven’t gone looking for it, nor will I.) This is about the facet of much Action Adventure writing known colloquially as “Gun Porn,” wherein the author includes (and often lovingly describes) various cool and interesting firearms in the story. This isn’t particularly new; a lot of Louis L’Amour westerns describe interesting (and sometimes obscure) weapons that aren’t commonly found in the run-of-the-mill western (particularly on screen). But as with any element of storytelling, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.
That’s right. I’m already hammering away at Brannigan’s Blackhearts #4 – Frozen Conflict. If you’ve finished Enemy Unidentified, you might have a bit of a hint of what this one’s about. I’m trying a bit of an experiment this time around; I’m working on this one simultaneously with working on The Unity Wars. Write Frozen Conflict four days a week, work on The Unity Wars two days a week. We’ll see how it works out. Now, back to the word mines.
I got talking action movies with a buddy recently, and we got on the subject of where the line of realism versus entertainment lies. We’re both combat veterans, and we’ve both seen long periods of mind-numbing boredom and moments of chaotic weirdness that happen in combat. There are often comments on action movies, and action novels, about how “realistic” they are. And while some things are easy to quantify, some elements aren’t so much. Including the question, “Just how ‘realistic’ should a piece of action entertainment be?”
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.
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