Reading List

I’ve had a couple of requests for a recommended reading list, largely for stuff similar to the Praetorian series.  I’ve also been asked about stuff similar to the Jed Horn series, just not as often (since Jed seems to have a slightly smaller following, that shouldn’t be surprising).  So, after a little thinking (and a little turning around to stare at the bookcases behind my desk), I’ve got a few recommended reads, fiction and non-fiction, that might fill the bill. Continue reading “Reading List”

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Why I’m Branching Out

Some reflections on this subject have started, in part because of how long it’s taken me to get into Lex Talionis, in part because of a few of the reactions I’ve gotten to the announcement that the fifth book in the Praetorians series will also be the final one.  After all, my primary audience seems to be focused on the Praetorians, so why not keep telling stories about Jeff and Co.?

There are a few reasons.  For one, when I started the Jed Horn series with A Silver Cross and a Winchester, I found that I just needed a break, a different outlet for my mind.  That need hasn’t gone away, which is why I’ve been alternating between series and genres for the last couple of years.

I’ve also made the statement that I’ve put Jeff and his boys through some pretty harrowing stuff over the last four books.  I was starting to touch on how it was wearing on Jeff as a man (not a Mack Bolan superman) in The Devil You Don’t Know.  That’s coming out in spades in Lex Talionis.  Most real-world shooters only have so many years of running and gunning before they either go contract (which in real life tends to be far less eventful and far more comfortable than what the Praetorians have been up to), or get promoted into more administrative and logistical jobs.  Even before that, far more time is spent in training than in actual combat.  I’ve developed a (admittedly small) reputation for realism, if compressed realism, as Dave Reeder put it, and to not show the toll that the high-risk, low-support operations have put on these guys would be straining that realism to its breaking point.

The fact is also there that the Praetorian series was born of a particular mindset, coming out of the Marine Corps.  Not to compare myself to David Drake (The man is a grand-master.  I am an apprentice.), but Drake once said that the Hammer’s Slammers series was born of a mindset post-Vietnam that he really didn’t want to go back to.  I’m not quite entirely in the same boat, but I increasingly find myself thinking along somewhat different lines than I used to.  Some of this will be reflected in Jeff’s own internal journey through Lex Talionis.

I have found in recent months that there are some themes that I can explore through somewhat more fantastical and speculative genres and settings that are harder to get into in the military action thriller business.  I have found my muse drawn in that direction more and more lately.

Also, from a purely mercenary standpoint, the mil thriller market is dominated by big names that I simply can’t compete with in the indie market.  The likes of Tom Clancy (and his posthumous ghost-writers), Brad Thor, and Vince Flynn (again, posthumous ghost writers included) are the sure-money bets that Big Publishing will back, and they are the sure bets that most readers are going to pick up.  The indie thriller market is a very niche one, and it’s hard to get noticed in the shadow of the rest.  So, diversification offers more options and a broader audience.

None of this means that I’m abandoning the shooter genre.  There are more near-future war stories on the horizon, albeit with new characters and new problems that need to be solved through speed, surprise, and violence of action.

There just might be more stories coming out in other, less familiar settings.

Lex Talionis Chapter 5

The sound of pistol shots could only mean that things had just gone very, very bad.  Of course, being the East Side, we heard sporadic gunfire all the time.  If I had been inclined to wishful thinking, I might have been able to put it down to just another couple of gangbangers removing themselves from the gene pool.  But the timing, the direction, and the fact that the explosion we’d been waiting to hear hadn’t gone off yet, disinclined me to such hopes.  Bryan was probably dead, and our first diversion was a bust.

Strangely enough, I didn’t feel the surge of rage and frustration that I probably should have.  I was in the zone, game face on, and I just did what came naturally anymore when things inevitably fell apart.

I attacked. Continue reading “Lex Talionis Chapter 5”

Life, The Universe, And Everything

No, that’s not a lead in to a Douglas Adams joke.  Though it could be.

Life, The Universe, And Everything is a writer’s conference in Provo, Utah, mostly concerning Science Fiction and Fantasy.  I first went last year, and ended up having a blast, in large part because I got to hang out with Larry Correia for a good chunk of the three days, as well as meet Steve Diamond, who runs Elitist Book Reviews.

I’m going again this year, and this time, I’ll be a panelist.  Self-published or no, having eight books out means I can sort of coherently talk about some of this stuff, so I’ll be on four panels, discussing several aspects of writing in the genres I dabble in.

On Thursday, Feb 16, at 1300, I’ll be on the “Modern Warfare” panel, along with the creator of the Dead Six series and my co-author on “Rock, Meet Hard Place,” Mike Kupari.  My reason for being on that panel should be self-explanatory to anyone who’s read my stuff.

At 2000 the same day, I’ll be on the “Convincing Conflict” panel, since “conflict” seems to be the primary characteristic of my fiction.

On Friday, I’ll be on the “Military Culture” panel at 2000, again with Mike, as we enlighten those who haven’t been in the Green Machine as to the manifold uses of creative profanity and the drawing of dicks on everything not nailed down (and some things that are nailed down).

Then, on Saturday, at 1700, I’ll be on the “Apocalypse vs Dystopia” panel, since the Praetorian series can be said to be fairly dystopian.

I’ll also be signing books on Friday evening.  Not planning on the gala though.  Too cheap.

So, if you’re in the Provo area that weekend, it’s $45 to attend.  If not for me, it’s at least a chance to get to see Larry and Mike and a bunch of other awesome authors.

Might Need To Spend Some More Time Here…

So, by way of Brian Niemeier’s blog, I was pointed to this blog post by Nick Cole:

http://www.nickcolebooks.com/2017/01/11/platform-you-need-one/

Now, for those who are unfamiliar, Nick Cole got dropped from his publisher for, apparently, purely political reasons.  That’s not a problem I have, so far, faced, in large part because I’ve been entirely indie from Day One.  Where I have run into a problem is that I don’t really have a platform, aside from Amazon’s algorithms, which really only work for you if you’ve already sold a lot.  (Insert something about vicious cycles here.)

So, in light of Nick’s advice, and since Facebook is hit or miss (mostly miss, if my numbers mean anything), I’ll be making an effort this year to blog a bit more.  Can’t guarantee that it’s going to be every day, but at least a couple times a week.  I don’t intend to let it get in the way of novel writing, and I frankly can’t say what exactly I’ll be covering.  I’m a better storyteller than I am a blogger.  It might get fairly random, though I fully intend to stay the hell away from politics as much as possible.  That stuff’s poison, and I don’t need any rage-induced aneurysms, thank you very much.  (For one thing, that would mean that you, the reader, wouldn’t be getting any more books if that happened.)

Lex Talionis Chapter 4

“Damn, these guys ain’t even trying to blend in, are they?” Jack muttered.

“No, they aren’t,” I replied from the back of the van, where I was already snapping pictures.  We’d done a few recon passes just by driving through the neighborhood, with the passenger looking like he was texting while he took pictures with his phone, but the bigger Nikon provided better quality, and the van meant that we could get better pictures in general.  Trying to be discreet with the phone usually meant that the angles were poor.  Sitting in the back seat of the panel van, I had a lot more freedom of movement.

Right at the moment, my viewfinder was filled with a relatively fit young man with a pencil mustache and immaculately gelled hair, wearing shiny pants, an equally shiny black shirt open nearly to his sternum, and a short, white jacket.  A thick gold chain around his neck and mirrored aviator sunglasses completed the image.  I couldn’t see from our vantage point, but I was sure there was a pistol in his waistband.  The handful of other young men around him weren’t as fancily dressed, though they were still wearing that sort of northern Mexican, garish, semi-formal attire that, to someone looking closely, screamed “sicario.”  These guys weren’t the baggy-clothed local hoods, any more than the other groups we’d picked out over the last few days. Continue reading “Lex Talionis Chapter 4”