Yes, patient readers, it has been a very long time since my last update. Our little family moved in January–only about ten miles down the road, but with our health issues and the amount of stuff that we old people have accumulated, it was tough. Just about every medical issue that I have managed to surface and, working together, they managed to lay me low for months.
I have made a slow but thorough recovery and am almost back to where I was before we started packing back in December. I have made some lifestyle changes, and my doctor and I have made some medication and other changes to how we are handling my many issues. As a result, I am seeing a lot of improvement and I am able to work longer hours and to produce stuff that is of the quality that I insist upon.
Now, having reassured you that I am not at Death’s door, I have news about a number of subjects that I would like to relate to you:
The Next Big Novel
I might as well start with updating you about the follow-on novel to the “Man of War” Trilogy, because–whenever I talk about anything else–the reaction from many fans seems to be “Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s all somewhat interesting, but you left the crew of the USS Cumberland in life pods and other small vessels floating around deep in Krag space with no apparent hope of rescue and it’s been like that for years so when are we going to get to learn what happened to them?”
I wish I could give you a specific date, but that’s not going to happen until I finish writing the thing, make whatever publication arrangements are going to be made, and then work out a date. Right now, I am still writing. I have had several false starts, mostly occasioned by poor health resulting in poor writing. I’m trying to produce a book that will be a fitting member of the series, and that means not going forward with the product until I’m happy that I’m doing good work. It has taken me a while to get back to where I think my writing is where it needs to be, so I am back at work on the next major novel, To Stations My Lads.
I wrote the short novel, The Hunters of Vermin, published last November, as part of the process of finding my style again and assuring myself as to the quality of my work. These books come from a very special part of my inner self–they are an expression of some very deep emotions and perceptions–and I can’t write if I can’t get my mind and my heart to go to that place.
So, what I can tell you now is that there absolutely will be a next book, and more books after that and that I am making slow steady progress. Please be patient with me. These books and these characters are at least as special to me as they are to you. When all of us journey to the stars together, I want the trip to be a good one.
For reasons that elude me, the fans who organize Science Fiction conventions in this part of the country continue to invite me to serve as a panelist at their gatherings. When asked why they would invite someone of my rather limited literary stature, one organizer told me, “You’re an interesting and provocative panelist. If you’re on a panel, we know the discussion isn’t going to lay down on the floor, stick its legs in the air, and die–you’ll keep things lively.” So, I’m “lively.” That’s not even in the top fifty adjectives I would apply to myself, but I suppose we’ll have to go with that.
There are two appearances for which I have firm commitments over the next few months and one likely for early next year.
First, if you are in the Phoenix area this weekend (June 22-24), I will be at LepreCon44, which will be held at the Hilton Doubletree Phoenix North. Here is a link to the convention website. https://leprecon44.org/
I understand that, as of this writing, tickets are still available and there are still rooms available at the convention hotel.
Not only will I be on several panels, my role has somehow morphed into being a member of convention “Staff” as well, such that in addition to the panels in which I am a participant, I will be moderating several others. Here is where being a grizzled old trial lawyer comes in handy.
The folks who run this one have been very nice so far and I’m looking forward to seeing what they have put together.
Second, I have a firm booking over the Labor Day weekend (August 31-September 3) as a panelist at CoKoCon, also in Phoenix, also at the Hilton Doubletree Phoenix North. I’ll know the place like the back of my hand. I understand that there is a Pappadeaux’s restaurant nearby, so maybe I can get some decent shrimp and crawfish while I’m there one time or the other.
Here’s the website for CoKoCon. http://www.cokocon.org/
This is a new convention put together by the team that put together last year’s Westercon (July 4 weekend 2017) which was a wonderful convention, except for the trip home. That journey was interrupted when my vehicle came into contact with the rear wheels of an 18 wheeler headed in the opposite direction. We were both driving about 60 MPH so my vehicle was totaled. I was fortunate that my only injuries were bumps, bruises, a million tiny glass cuts, and two broken ribs. Of course, I don’t blame these folks.
Actually, I was very pleased with how last year’s Westercon ran, so I’m looking forward to more of the same from these organizers. I hope that they are successful in establishing a long-running Con that grows and develops over the years. You should make room for this one on your calendar.
While there is not a firm commitment yet, I expect that I will probably attend CondorCon in San Diego this year. I missed it in January due to health issues, but I am looking forward to going back this year. It will be held February 22-24, 2019 at the Handlery Hotel in Hotel Circle, which is–I hear–the traditional venue for this Con. These folks have a website at: http://www.condorcon.org.
I’ve attended two CondorCons and enjoyed them both immensely. My experience is that this is a well-run, friendly convention with a good atmosphere and interesting guests. I really had fun interacting with the other panelists which doesn’t always happen at these things.
Inclusion in Anthology
A few months ago, Pam Stack, the creative force behind the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network contacted me. I used to host a program on that network called Science Fiction Spotlight Radio but had to relinquish my microphone because of a combination of health issues and frustration with the wretched Internet service at my former residence, which made the technical aspects of hosting the show very challenging.
Pam asked me to contribute a short story to an anthology that a spin-off entity, Authors on the Air Press, is set to publish this October. The anthology has an interesting concept: radio hosts with programs about a range of literary genres submit short stories in their program’s genre, with the twist that all stories must somehow revolve around events at a radio station.
Surprise, surprise, surprise–I took the bait and submitted a story. I don’t know whether the solicitation means that the story WILL be in the anthology, but I will let you know one way or the other.
The story, “Good Morning, Vendiamatrix” is my first serious effort to write in this format. There was a hard limit of 6500 words, which posed a serious challenge for me. I brought the story in at 6499 words, after several rounds of severe pruning. The first draft pushed 8000 words and that was WITH my making an effort throughout to keep to the word limit. I think I may have been trying to use a novella idea as the basis for a short story which my father, who won several short story competitions when he was in graduate school and who was a natural with the format, told me was a common problem. It was an interesting experience, though, and I learned a lot about the short story as a literary form. Compared to the novel, it is a very different kind of animal.
After I get my novel projects a bit further down the road, and if readers respond positively to this story, I might try again, this time with an eye toward submitting it to the mainstream Sci-Fi magazines.
I love the smell of rejection letters in the morning. They smell like . . . experience.
Getting back to the mainstream of this evening’s symposium, the anthology is still untitled and I’m not positive my offering will be included. When I know more, I will certainly update you.
I submitted a long list of prospective titles for the book, and we’ll see if Pam uses any of them. I thought a few were at least moderately clever. Here’s the list. You are certainly free to come to the conclusion that they all suck, just don’t tell me in the comments because I’m not the one making the decision so why ding my ego for no good reason (unless you’re just sadistic, in which case there’s no stopping you, is there?).
Cue the Writer
Audiobook Versions of Indie Publications
I’m pleased to announce that, in light of fairly recent new program at Audible dot com that brings together indie authors and audiobook producers and provides for the producers to be paid with a royalty from sales rather than in cash up front, I am making arrangements to produce audiobook versions of my two independently-published works of short fiction, Deadly Nightshade (a novella, approximately 37,000 words in length), and The Hunters of Vermin (a short novel, approximately 62,500 words in length, about as long as Lord of the Flies), both of which are prequels to the “Man of War” series.
There will probably be three products: a version of each of the two works separately and a “combo” consisting of both offered at a slightly lower price than total of the two if bought separately. I am currently going through a surprisingly tall stack of audition recordings from which I will select a Producer/Narrator combination. With all due respect to the eventual Producer and Narrator, I’m not expecting a product that will be on the same level as the 47North books narrated by Ray Chase, but I’m confident that we will be able to offer a solid, professional product that will be worth your hard-earned dollars, pounds, euros, etc.
Look for future announcements regarding these topics on this page. I hope to meet some of you at these conventions.