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Your Call to Cthulhu is Important to Us, Please Hold

20 Oct

I’m not a big fan of American horror, but I do like the psychological fear (usually present in foreign horror films) element, if it’s done well. Cthulhu touches on that nameless horror, that unseen fear, that tinge that comes right before you turn on the lights. Now put that in a banal setting like your workplace.

That’s the beauty of this short story anthology, Corporate Cthulhu, which deals with that fear of the bureaucratic, the fear of being out of the loop, and the terrible consequences if you DO know.

Of course, I’m prejudiced because one of my stories, Shadow Charts, is part of this anthology. I took my experience from having worked in hospitals for 11 years and put it in a story about an inner-city hospital hiding a strange secret; patients check in, they don’t check out. I actually set it in an old hospital building I worked in (it only recently got demolished)… so I think it works great!

However, there are several other stories I enjoyed in here. Boedromion Noumenia by Andrew Scott was insanely well researched and very creepy. Incorporation by Max D. Stanton was excellent. And there are twenty more of these!

So I really suggest you pick up this book and let me know how my story… and others turned out! By the way, what do you think of Cthulhu as a subgenre? Is it played out, do you enjoy it, not your thing? Let me know in the comments below!

Balancing Unusual and Formula

17 Oct

So getting ready for @nanowrimo in three weeks means that I need to get my story idea ready. Although I’m usually a “pantser,” after my last story, I realized I really need to plan out where I’m going with my next story. So welcome to the world of mystery templates.

Because I realized my sci-fi story was turning into a mystery, I figured I needed a mystery template. So I found the “Classic 12-Chapter Mystery Formula” which will give me the structure I need to plan out my story. The first chapter made me realize that “Oh, just shooting the victim doesn’t really help.” Although most of my story was planned to be the chase of the villain, not as much the search, I realized that I need to set up clues for the hero to identify the villain later.

So moving onto Chapter 2 shifted my perceptions on where to start my story. Don’t start it on the frontier planet, with the hero brooding over the victim’s death – actually SHOW the murder, show the world that the hero comes from, show WHY the hero cares. I know – this sounds obvious, but I’ve always found that the hero(s) need to have backstory, which means to me, “Why should I start from the beginning?” I’m always a fan of getting to where the action is, not the build-up. But in mystery, the build-up is ALSO the action.

Then Chapter 3 tells me to start a sub-plot; check, already had that planned. However, I’m not to the frontier planet that I want the reader to go to. So I’m realizing I need a sidekick for my hero as a way to explain to the author how we get from urban planet to frontier planet. It also allows me to develop the hero and start to get to the nitty gritty of what makes this character–and their universe–really cool.

So I need to figure out Act II – direct the investigation towards a conclusion which later proves to be erroneous. My original plan was to make everyone on this frontier planet a suspect, since a) there’s less people and b) why would someone move to a hell planet when you live in virtual paradise? So everyone there is trying to hide from something. Think Alaska. 🙂

This where I’m currently stuck, because this means I need to flush out the folks who live on hell frontier planet. Act III, where the sleuth figures out he’s on the wrong track… that’s going to be easier once I figure out the other suspects.

What do you think? Am I on the right track with this formula? Do you like templates? Do you despise them? Let me know in the comments below!

Fear of the Big “P”

11 Oct

I respect missionaries – their job is incredibly hard. Conveying a message to people who don’t want to hear it is a skill that is incredibly difficult and demoralizing. Even when it’s something you believe in, it’s demoralizing not to make any progress. Promoting your own book feels like preaching to the unconverted.

“Promotion” is a dirty word. No one wants to be bombarded with ads – eventually, they become part of the background. For example, there’s two ads on this page that you haven’t even noticed. What I find that works is that you want to be catered to; if you feel like you’re being courted rather than lectured, it’s far more effective.

Take elections, for example. Direct mailings – straight to garbage. Robocalls – turned off. Staffers calling you… okay, I’ll listen to you. Staffers coming to your door – I’ll be polite. The actual candidate showing up to your door? Wow!

I’ve voted for someone on my city council purely because they came to my front door and made their pitch. Wouldn’t have voted for them otherwise. I’m going to vote for my state rep, even though I voted against them in the last election, because they bothered to personalize their response to me instead of a form letter. It doesn’t take much to convince me, even though I know it’s probably just a staffer in her office. They bothered to try. I know what a form letter looks like, but you had a real person respond to me – you got my vote.

That’s why I use this blog – it’s a way of promoting my books in a way that… hopefully doesn’t annoy you. My hope is that you get a taste of my writing, you like what you see, and you want to see more. I’ve got plenty of free samples in my Stories page and I keep my Kindle prices low ($1.99) to help make it easy for you to get my books.

So again, I’m going to shill for my new book, Defending Our Sacred Honor, and ask you – what advertising seems to work for you? I can’t approach all of you in person and suggest you read my book. I can’t go to conventions at the moment so I can do that in a friendlier way. I don’t have your phone number (I don’t want your phone number), so what kind of promotions work for you? Doesn’t have to be book related. Let me know in the comments below!

Fear of the Audiobook

2 Oct

I really want to make an audiobook. I don’t have the money to pay someone professionally, but I have all the equipment and I know I can do a good job with it. So what’s stopping me?

This particular procrastination is brought to you by the letter T… for “time.” Recording and editing an audiobook is a serious time constraint. My job involves editing videos and making subjects like international law interesting for college students (not the easiest job in the world). That being said, I’ve only dipped my toe into audio recording, and that was many years ago.

I know it’ll take a lot of time. Reading my own book, Defending Our Sacred Honor, is the easy part – somewhere I’ve got to find… let’s say eight hours of uninterrupted time to do this and not something else. This is not easy with a wife, a young teenager, and a pre-teen in the house. Sure, I could break it up into smaller chunks, but why do that when I can write short stories, or play computer games, or get drunk? 🙂

Which leads to my next concern – physical space. I have my bedroom, but I’m worried that since I don’t have sound cancelling foam around me, it’s gonna sound tinny and awful. What’s worse, even though I’ve got software to correct a lot of that, I don’t have a sound editor’s ear. What sounds perfectly fine to me might annoy the crap out of a potential customer because there’s an air conditioning buzz in the background. I’ve got a microphone and editing software – that’s it. Don’t have a closet that’s soundproofed to get this done.

So even though audiobooks sell almost as many copies as ebooks, I’m reluctant to put in the time for an inferior product. I suppose offer it cheaper and put in a warning that there might be background noise, but I fear that’ll scare off the potential customer.

So I’m torn. Has anyone out there experimented with audio? Any hints on how to get over my fear of failure? Let me know in the comments below!

Why You Should Read Sci-Fi

29 Sep

If Christopher Booker is right, and there are only seven basic plots, then why do we keep reading them in the same genre? It’s time to branch out and take a chance… and the first place you should go is science fiction. Why? Because it has a great secret that no other genre has.

The universe is a character.

This can be terribly exciting. The way the author uses the universe tells you everything about the story he wants to tell. Let me use one of my own universes as an example – the Fatebane universe is one of a balkanized space. Every planet is its own government, loosely united in an Association, which means although you have basic human rights, how they’re enforced or applied in different contexts vary considerably. The title character’s job is to defend this Association – who wants to destroy it? Those who wish to consolidate power. So I’m telling a story about the balance between personal freedom vs. desire for stability.

Contemporary fiction is supposedly easier – you already know the universe. You don’t have to figure out what is happening in the world because you live there. And yet… that is a lie. The setting of your favorite “serious” fiction is simply another universe. Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan introduces you to the universe of Chinese older women who live in California; it also introduces you to their life stories, which are set during the Chinese Civil War. The difference between my universe and this one is that… oh, I’ve heard of that.

Mystery writers are constantly trying to build a quirky universe; gardeners who solve murders, Navajo (Dine) detective solving homicides on the rez… all of them are in the real world, but deliberately show you a part of the real world that you’re not familiar with. If you worked at a pizza joint and someone was helping the police with solving death by cheesy crust, you wouldn’t buy it. Because you’re infinitely familiar with the universe.

So what you really want is to discover a new universe.

Since the universe is a character in and of itself, sci-fi helps you do that with ease. To quote one of my favorite authors, John Steakley, the difference between fantasy and sci-fi is “a hobbit or two.” So if you prefer not to learn the tech, fantasy is the same idea without it. Again, how the author constructs the universe tells its own story. So why bother pretending you know the real world and dive deep into an imaginary one?

Let’s take my recent book, for example, Defending Our Sacred Honor. I put at the beginning of a civil war between Earth and its colonies. The problem is that the Terran Confederation Space Force is a science and exploration agency, not really designed for space warfare. So how does an increasingly dominant Earth in a world filled with humans who have overcome death fight this independence movement? Simple… sell commissions to the highest bidder.

I’ve already thrown out three things that might appeal to you. Wait a minute… humans who have overcome death? How did we get that? What kind of society does that create? Why do the colonies want to break away? And how on Earth do rich boys/girls do trying to fight a war that covers multiple solar systems?

Do you start to see the appeal of sci-fi now? Or at least my book? 😀 Of course, I could be off base. Am I preached to the converted? Or is there something about sci-fi that turns you off to reading it? Let me know in the comments section below!

Return on Investment

21 Sep

Well, that’s disappointing. This has been the third month of my social media expansion and although I now have 7800 followers across 5 platforms, my return on investment has been… far lower than I wanted.

Okay, this is going to sound like whining, and… maybe it is. Thankfully, I haven’t spent any money yet (although maybe I should), but I have invested a significant amount of time into Albigensia Press and getting its name out there. How much? It takes me about 20-30 minutes each day to write these blog posts and another 30-60 minutes each day to grow followers. I do this 6 days a week, so let’s just call it an hour a day. So I’ve spent 78 hours of my life building this up.

So I was estimating a 1% return on investment. The hope was that 1% of the people who follow me would actually be willing to buy one of my books. That’s a hideously low number, but considering the miniscule amount of marketing I’ve absorbed over the years, I thought that was significantly conservative.

<whine mode> Turns out I was way over estimating. I’ve sold (drum roll please) exactly 9 books in three months! Are you #*$&@#($ kidding me?! That’s a tenth of a percent! Exponentially smaller. What the #*$& do I have to do?! </whine>

Am I concerned with the money? No. No one becomes a writer (or teacher… and I’m both!) to become rich. The investment I want is for people to actually read my work. Now if you’re reading this (sigh), I guess that counts. After all, this blog does force me to build up my writing ability, and… that’s investment, right? But it’s hard to be hopeful. Especially since this takes a significant amount of time out of my day.

Now here’s the positive spin – nine books is more than I have ever sold than in the last 10 years I started publishing my own books. So I guess if I look at it from investing a significant amount of time, I get a significant increase in readers, then… I’m on the right path. But man, it’s hard to be positive.

Now… am I about to stop? No, because as I explained above, I am making progress. But Lord, I was hoping to make more progress. Are you on the same path as me? Did your grounded expectations turn out to be woefully optimistic? Let me know in the comments below!

How Much Tech is Too Much Tech?

19 Sep

Ultratech – going beyond traditional science-fiction, using technology that can’t be conceived for even three generations. The problem is… does the lack of a cultural context alienate your readers?

So I’m struggling with my next story idea. After watching the Cyberpunk 2077 game trailers, I really got excited for doing “_____punk” again. However, I don’t want to do steampunk, I can’t finish my atompunk story, and I don’t have a good cyberpunk story. So how do I play with the ideas of extreme technology and societal collapse?

I made the mistake of picking up Ann Leckie’s award winning series at Book 3. So I had no context for the world she created. There was a human who’s the main character, but she used to be a ship, but somehow she gained command… okay, that I can move past and enjoy the book. However, it was the culture and the terminology that was so alien that I couldn’t connect with it. I finished the book, but I was left with a *bleh* at the end.

I feel like she was trying to do something different and cool but I had no way of appreciating it because I had nothing in the modern world to attach it to. It had something to do with the verbage and how that indicated how they ranked in their slave/less slave society, but it made it difficult to appreciate the story.

Now the best way to handle that is usually to have your point-of-view character be a normal human from our time, but that’s not going to work unless I want to pull a Buck Rogers or Planet of the Apes idea. Another solution is to have the society not changed much, but with the tech insane (this is the Star Trek: TNG theory of “technology changes, but man does not”), but that seems disingenuous and not authentic.

I don’t have to have all the characters speaking in future English or cityspeak: “Monsieur, azonnal kövessen engem bitte!” As much as I love using alternative languages in my writing (my favorite is Oranje = Dutch/Afrikkans with English sentence structure), maybe just using some unusual words for slang can help without distorting my reader’s connection.

Have you got any ideas? If you have a solution – or a similar problem – let me know in the comments below!

Got it in the Mail!

13 Sep

Yep – got my author’s proof in the mail! Today my new book, Defending Our Sacred Honor, is now available for both Kindle and Print! Pick it up today for $1.99 electronically or $7.99 in paperback!

Release day is the best day!

The Past is Prologue

9 Sep

As my new book is coming out on Sunday, it’s time to pimp it out! (“Pimp My Book” – next reality TV smash?) So today, enjoy the prologue of Defending Our Sacred Honor, which will be available on Kindle and Print-on-Demand paperback September 13th!


Blood sprayed onto his helmet when his shipmate was ripped apart by a shredded bulkhead. Where the hell did the Rebs get this much firepower? he wondered, quickly shifting the life support away from non-functioning decks. The old-fashioned push buttons–the same ones he’d been complaining about for years–suddenly didn’t seem as obsolete with sparks and bodily fluids dancing in the fluctuating gravity.

“Jax!” The captain called out, gripping her chair in a death grip. Her face was outwardly calm, but the rest of her body told him she was just as terrified as him. “What did we lose?”

“Boat Bay, Third Habitat Ring, and Water Reclamation, ma’am,” Specialist Second Class Javier “Jax” Jackson answered without checking the status board. “Sealed them off.”

“Guess we won’t be having showers for a while,” the captain gave a wan grin. “Polly, have we managed to hit them at all?”

The assistant weapons officer—the primary was down in sick bay after getting his leg crushed—checked his sensor readout. “They’re streaming atmosphere, ma’am, but they keep firing.”

“Nothing but freighters, Intel said,” the captain said. A shudder went through the ship as a nuke got a little too close to the hull. “Seems like someone added some firepower. Do we have anything to stop them?”

“We’re out of missiles, ma’am,” Polly answered, “but shells are working just fine. I got Manny trying to rig the com laser to fuck up their sensors, but they’re dancing out there. Getting a solid hit seems nigh impossible.”

“If you don’t mind floating in zero gee, you can maneuver all you want,” the navigation officer piped up.

“Nothing’s impossible, Betty,” Captain Jenny Fullerstein smiled, “so why don’t we do the same?”

“Spin’s not gonna slow us down, ma’am,” Jax answered. “We’re not a thrust-only ship. Besides, we stopped pushing the spin when they opened fire.”

“I need options,” the captain demanded.

“We’re almost out of shells,” the weapons officer explained, “but then again, so are they. I swear they’re shooting trash barrels at us every other shot.”

“Trash barrels?” Jax asked.

“When it’s flying at several thousand feet a second,” Polly replied, “an apple peel can rip you to shreds.”

“If Manny’s laser works, it’s gonna dazzle them,” the navigation officer—Lieutenant Beatrix—explained, “but I don’t think they’re gonna stand down because they can’t see us.”

“And we’re running out of hard weaponry,” the captain admitted. The fact that they had double the normal load of nuclear weapons was in violation of several Space Force regulations… but those were written before the Confed declared war. “Polly, can you tag them before we run out of shells?”

“If I’m lucky,” the assistant weapons officer admitted sheepishly.

“Then hold fire,” Captain Fullerstein ordered as Third Lieutenant Herb “Polly” de Paulo cancelled the load cycle. “What’s it gonna take to get a hit?”

“A lot closer, ma’am.”

“We could probably use the grapples at the range you’re talking.” Jax scoffed.

The captain gave a small smirk. “Then we’d definitely get a hit, wouldn’t we? Betty, move us danger close.”

“But that’ll…” Beatrix started to object.

“If we’re out of shells, so are they. I want to read the serial numbers on their maintenance covers before we launch our next nuke. Understood?”

The senior lieutenant gulped and nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
CSS Community of Harmonious States hit the thrusters and bolted towards its opponent. A couple more shots came their way, but no one charting the projectile trajectories on the converted freighter would have imagined the drastic change in course. On the bridge, the spin section soon found all its gravity shifted to the left side of the ship, and only the safety harnesses on their chairs kept them at their stations.

“Time to intercept?” Captain Fullerstein asked.

“Five minutes,” Beatrix replied, “assuming they don’t break off.”

“Oh, they’re not breaking off,” the captain smiled evilly, “not unless they want a nuke in their ion drive. Polly, I want you ready to fry their ass when I give the word.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Herb nodded, sweating profusely in his helmet as he constantly updated the calculations.

A flashing light came on Jax’s screen. He hit the report button and announced. “Engineering reports strain in the fuel containment. Estimate auto-shutdown in ten minutes.”

“We don’t need ten minutes,” the captain shrugged. “How’s it looking, Polly?”

“I only got three shots.”

“Probability?”

“Their erratic maneuvers means I’m lucky if I make a near hit at range. Standard spacer radiation shields make nukes useless unless you can actually rattle their hulls loose.”

“I need the odds, lieutenant,” Captain Fullerstein reminded him, “before we overfly them and give them a shot up our ass.”

Herb hit a few more buttons on his screen. “The computers say we’ve got a one in three chance in one minute, 50/50 in two minutes.”

“Three shells, three chances,” their commanding officer chuckled, “perfect symmetry. Plan your attack for one minute.”

Jax tried to focus on the ops screen—the specialist knew he wasn’t even supposed to be on the bridge. He was repairing a loose power converter when all hell broke loose and the freighter jumped them. Lord knew where the ops officer was, if she was even alive, but luckily they all had their suits on them since they catapulted in system.

The seconds passed by—even Polly’s mad calculating had stopped—as they waited for the inevitable shot. Ten seconds before launch, Beatrix announced, “Target’s changing course.”

“Where?”

“Turning right towards us!”

The captain looked at de Paulo and said, “Hit ‘em!”

Herb slammed his firing key and their last three shells blasted out of the ports five seconds early. The freighter had predicted their plan and tried to narrow its target profile; but de Paulo had them locked up with his guns for the past minute. Anticipating their next erratic shift, he planted one nuke ahead, one on top, and one below them. The turn completely threw off the forward nuke, but it slowed the ship enough that the freighter was sandwiched between the two remaining shells. The first shell rattled the ship enough to weaken it, but the second finished the job.

Within seconds, the target was nothing but scrap metal.

An audible sigh escaped from everyone’s mouths. After an unexpected moment of silence, Fullerstein said, “All right, Betty, cancel the thrust, and get the spin working again. I’m starting to fly off this seat. Lollipop?”

“Dead,” Jax reminded her, looking at the remaining torso of the communications officer.

The captain paused—the shock was quickly replaced by her duty—and it was only a moment before she replied. “Jax, see if our comm console is still working. If so, send a message to the planet. We demand their surrender before we reach orbit or we’re nuking their settlements.”

“But ma’am,” de Paulo said, “we don’t have any nukes left.”

“Yeah, but they don’t know that,” Fullerstein laughed. “Let’s finish this and go home. I’ve had enough war to last my lifetime. Pity it wasn’t that long for others.”

Community returned to Earth orbit a month later. As they braked in from the catapult point, Space Force sent them the awful news; half the ships sent out to handle the insurgency were lost, presumed destroyed. Since the declaration, more colony worlds had seceded from the Terran Confederation and most of their personnel had either died in combat, or worse yet, resigned their commissions and joined to fight with the rebels. Once the model of orbital perfection, Earth was now a mess. Every dock was full with new construction; stable orbital paths and La Grange points were all jammed solid. The Confederate Senate had imposed a massive new tax on all its member states to pay for the war effort. Of course, that was in violation of the Articles, but so was seceding from the union. Space Force found itself rewriting the regulations as they were suddenly shifting for a war footing they weren’t built for. But even with all the new ships that would soon come online, after Space Force’s disastrous first campaign, there were few soldiers left to fight it.

Specialist Jackson’s own ship was directed to a stable orbit, the hole in space was carved out by a rapidly departing freighter. Even though Community’s damage demanded a dock, there were no docks to be found. Tugs were intercepting to keep her in place until a dock could be found.

“Incoming message from the CNC,” Jax said, now the de facto communications officer on Community, ever since Lollipop lost her head.

“Put it up, Jax,” the captain nodded.

The holoproj appeared and a smaller version of the man with too much gold braid appeared on their ship. “Captain Third Class Fullerstein?”

“Yes, sir. As I reported once we jumped in system, the rebellion on Teegarden…”

“Thank you, captain, I did receive your report,” the commander-in-chief cut her off. “Did you receive mine?”

She nodded. “I was sorry to hear the news. We lost a lot of good people, sir.”

“That, Jenny, is the understatement of the century. So much for the object lesson.” He quoted the propaganda phrase that senators had been bandying about when they left the fight. “When we received the first news back—from the Rebels, no less—that’s when the Senate kicked into gear and started the construction boom you can see up there.”

“I see. But if we need ships, surely a dock can be opened up for Community…”

“No, Jenny,” the CNC abandoned all formality, “maybe you didn’t read the report as well as I thought. We might need ships, but we’re all out of qualified men and women to fly them. I’ve ordered shuttles directed to Community. They will ferry off your personnel to Unity for debriefing and reassignment.”

Reassignment, Jax went pale at the words, that’s the worse news of all. After two years with this crew, I can’t believe I’m losing them.

“But what about Community?”

“The Association-class corvettes are being retired.”

“What?!”

“Don’t look at me like that, Jenny,” the CNC moaned. “Ships like Community are just science platforms with defensive systems. We don’t need science vessels—we need warships.”

“Then what happens to…”

“We do need the battle steel. Community will be scrapped and the materials used to build new construction. And before I hear you whine about it, Jenny, I’m doing that to all of our cur… surviving vessels.”

“Where will my crew be reassigned?”

The CNC sighed. “That’s why I’m calling you myself, captain. I need to spread out your experienced personnel across the new fleet. Hopefully, they’ll leaven the rest of the new recruits we’ve got coming in.”
Fullerstein blinked. “So… they’re no longer my crew.”

“I’m sorry, Jenny. You’ll need to clear your possessions from the ship and take it with you on the arriving shuttles. You’ll each get your marching orders when you get to Unity. I’m sorry it had to be this way, but I need you—all of you—now. We can’t win this war without you. Do you understand?”

“I don’t like it, sir, but I’ll obey.” Despite the fact that (until recently) the Space Force was a primarily exploration and scientific unit, it was still a military organization. When command said jump, you asked how high.

“Good girl,” the CNC nodded. From anyone else, that comment would have been insulting, but the youthful-looking commander-in-chief of Space Force was old enough to be the captain’s grandfather. Near immortality had led to some strange social mores on Earth, and a lot more colonists wanting to get away from the homeworld because of it.

“I’m sending the formal orders on a separate circuit on this comm line. Please thank your crew for their dedication… and victory.”

“If I know them, sir, they’re already watching you on a hacked circuit.”
The CNC gave a wan smile. “The shuttles will be there in an hour. Discom.”

“You heard the Old Man. Start packing your bags,” Jenny said, and with her eyes tearing up, she said, “don’t leave anything behind you want to keep. And… most importantly, I’ll miss you.”

Jackson crammed into one of the waiting shuttles and took the fifteen minute ride to Confederate Space Station Unity of the World. Through the random perversity of the universe, all of his close friends were split off into different shuttles, and he was stuck next to Lieutenant de Paulo. He really didn’t know the officer socially—most of them lived in a different world than the enlisted—but in a crew compliment of fifty, the specialist knew everyone personally. “Guess we’re traveling together, sir.”

“Hey, Jax,” the weapons officer smiled, “did you get any hint on where we’re going?”

“No time,” the specialist shrugged. “Guess we’ll find out when we hit Unity.”

“Wonder what we’ll get. What ship, I mean.”

“Knowing you, Polly, they’ll put you as captain of a freighter.”

“Very funny.”

“Hey, you know important supply ships will be!” Jax gave him a wide smile. Herb de Paulo had big ambitions and little experience. How he managed to get past Vice-Lieutenant is one of the great mysteries of the universe, Jax thought.

“Well, when I get that freighter, I’ll make sure to ask for you as my laundry officer.”

“It would be a good career move,” the specialist rolled with the joke, holding up his lapel. “Have you seen whiter whites?”

De Paulo smiled back. “Eh, I’ve seen better. Remember when we served on Bright April and Sergeant Iyer kept demanding a spotless uniform?”

“Who do you think programmed in the extra bleach, Polly?”

“I thought that was you! Everyone thought it was MacNamara.”

“But the sarge never said a word,” Jackson shook his head, “he kept wearing that star-white outfit for the rest of the tour.”

The lieutenant chuckled. “He was an amazing ball-buster.”

“I hope he made it.”

“Iyer? Trust me, if he ran into the Rebs, pray for the Rebs.”

“At least his uniform would survive a supernova.”

The shuttle started its final braking towards the station. The weapons officer sighed and held out his hand. “It was good knowing you, Jax. When I see you again, you’ll probably make Major.”

He shook his hand. “Not without another eight years of college, Polly.”

“This is war, Jax,” de Paulo shrugged, “anything can happen.”

Once they docked and everyone filed out of the shuttle, the shore patrol flunkies were there in force. Before he could say goodbye to everyone else on the shuttle, he was shoved and pointed down a corridor, just like everyone else. With regret, he followed the hallway and kept walking. It didn’t take long before the specialist soon found himself at a desk, manned by a bored little private second class, who seemed upset that he was taken away from whatever game he was playing on his console.

“Name, sir?”

“Specialist Jackson, serial number 27 Alpha Omicron…”

“That’s enough, sir,” the private intoned, “I have your file right here.”

The clerk took a moment to read the file and shrugged. “You’re promoted to Vice-Sergeant and need to report to the CSS Our Sacred Honor as soon as physically possible.”

Jax just stood there at the clerk’s desk, stunned. Within the hour, he had just lost his crew mates, the next he knew, he had been jumped up four full ranks! It took him twenty years to reach Specialist, and he only took the technical rank after he realized that it would take another ten years before he could even hope for Vice-Corporal, and finally become a non-commissioned officer. Now with the stroke of a stylus, he was suddenly one of the Lords after God… on a brand-new spaceship!

“Do you need a printout of your orders, sir?” the private asked when the newly minted sergeant hadn’t moved.

“No,” Jackson tentatively said, “but, uh… what dock is Our Sacred Honor at?”

“The Our Sac…”

“It’s not the Our Sacred Honor, private,” Jax corrected, “it’s a ship. That means you treat her as a lady, not a thing.”

A confused look came across the clerk’s face. “If you say so, sir.”

The new sergeant became annoyed. “How long have you been in the Space Force, Private?”

“Two weeks, sir.”

“And you’re already second class?!” Jax turned red in anger crossed with astonishment; it took him three years to earn the second thin chevron.

The clerk cringed a little before the veteran. “Things have changed since you went out, sir.”

“Sergeant,” Jackson shook his head in disbelief, “not sir. I work for a living. Now… tell me where to find Our Sacred Honor.”


Do you like it? Do you hate it? Tell me in the comments below! Are you interested in reading more? Click on the link to pre-order!

Defending Our Sacred Honor

2 Sep

In space, no one can laugh at your ships… but they can send you a nuclear missile as a comment.

My book is available on Kindle for pre-order, coming out on Sunday, September 13th! I’ll release the paperback version at the same time. What’s it about? Well, read on!

When the Terran Confederation decides to impose their will on their colonies, civil war breaks out, and they call on the Space Force to crush the rebellion. Unfortunately, the TCSF is a scientific research body, and half their fleet gets eliminated in the first month. To fight the insurgency, the Confederate Senate resorts to begging rich patriots to fund their war machine, but they need some incentive… so they let those donors command the ships.

So it’s up to Javier “Jax” Jackson, an old hand in the Space Force, who went from repair specialist to Chief of the Boat to save this mess. Can he train his new crew of inexperienced trainees, his group of  even more inexperienced officers, and keep their new captain from blowing up the ship? Meanwhile, there’s a war to fight, and what the rebels lack in technology, they make up for in creativity.

The only question is… is Jax sneakier than the Rebels AND his own crew? For Jax, the answer is the difference between life and death.

This little space opera has been seven years in the making… not that I worked on the whole time, it mostly sat in an (electronic) drawer. However, once I decided to get serious about working on my self-publishing press, I took another look at it, edited heavily, and now it’s ready again!

And it’s available for the low, low price of $1.99 US online! ($7.99 if you want the dead tree version.) I try not to pimp my own books on my blog too much, but I’m trying to make it easy for you to get it!

Not that you can comment on a book you haven’t read yet, but if you’ve read any of my blogs or short stories which I give away free, have you noticed anything I do that you like… that you hate… styles I keep repeating? Let me know in the comments below!

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