Tuesday, November 12, 2013

May Your Evening Be Asshole-Free

"May your evening be asshole-free!"is not just the name of my next Ska band, it's what I think I shall start to tell friends as I depart their company of an evening.

My day was most decidedly not asshole-free.

This morning, a young, heavily-muscled munchkin walked into court, and started asking questions while we were in session. The judge told him to leave. He did as ordered, but the man-child decided to loudly announce his discontent as he departed, using expletives.

I informed him in no uncertain terms that such behavior was unacceptable.

He puffed, pouted, and petulantly called me any number of (and because he lacked creativity, the same) expletives as he walked away. The hall was packed with people, making his childish act and his hateful speech very public.

"You just a bitch without that gun and badge," he called, over his shoulder.

I did not engage with his screeching attempts to poo-fling my direction.  I had better things to do.

I returned to my other duties.  I started to let it go.

Twenty minutes later, he has the temerity to ask for assistance.

It being my duty, I agreed to assist him.

As we stepped out into the hallway, now empty of persons, I said to him, "So, if, as you claim, I am a bitch, what does that make you?"

"Huh?" was the pithy wisdom he chose to answer my query with.

"Well, earlier, you were quite clear in claiming that you were absolutely certain that I am a bitch without my star and gun. So now, I was just wondering: if a person asks a bitch for assistance, would that not make you that bitch's bitch, however temporarily?"

"What?" the philosopher asked.

"Do I really need to make it more clear, sir?"

Clearly wishing he were elsewhere, the bumpy little twerp chose to attempt to misdirect me, "I don't know where I'm supposed to be."

"I see. And do you usually shout curses at someone and then seek their assistance?"

"Dude, I wasn't shouting."

I just looked at him.

"Alright, I wasn't that loud."

"Be a man: there's no one else here to hear you say it."

"I was shouting."



"You were shouting aaaand?"


I cupped a hand behind my ear, "I can't hear you."

"I'm sorry."

"A sincere apology must be as public as the act that required it, but since everyone else knew where they had to be and have since cleared the hall, and it is my duty when wearing my uniform, star and gun, I will assist you."


"No need to thank me, it's what I'm paid to do. Now, let's see where you're supposed to be..."

Monday, October 21, 2013

CONtraFlow III and More General Updatery

I am just returned from CONtraFlow in New Orleans, where I was part of a panel titled Frontier Law. I recorded it, but need some time to get it chopped up and remember how to make them available to everyone here.

The con itself was a bit of a blur: between arriving at 4 in the evening on Friday and departing at the same time on Sunday, I felt as if I spent as much time traveling to and from the con as at the con.

Mark Van Name was the Toastmaster, and laid the groundwork for our panel during Friday's opening ceremonies, despite my failure to make it to the ceremonies. He asked the gathered crowd what they would like to learn during the Frontier Law panel and adjusted his moderator's questions and discussion points accordingly.

Note to new authors: don't make the mistake of forgetting that you need to seize every opportunity to promote. It's more of a mental adjustment than it seems, this leap from loner writer to author with a few readers and even more potential readers. At least, more than I expected. I may just be stupid.

Despite Mark Van Name's busy schedule, Alistair, Chuck, and I managed to have a fun meal with Mark and Jennie, with our usual base humor predominating.

I attended several 1632 MiniCon panels, where I learned new things and enjoyed the company of Eric Flint, Rick Boatright, Paula Goodlett, Walter Hunt, Walt Boyes,  Chuck Gannon, and many others. Eric puts on a Snerking The Plot panel, where he reveals the current drive of the series and the state of all works-in-progress. This time, he included my work on The Mughal Mission, which I had a few minutes to present to the gathered writers. As I was last to go, it was difficult to gauge the enthusiasm of my fellow writers.

Dinners were exceptional, as Eric took many of the above 1632 authors to a local seafood joint Friday night. Much fun was had and fine food eaten!

Saturday night was the Baen Dinner, hosted by Toni Weisskopf. Mark Van Name was kind enough to secure an invite for me. The meal was at Restaurant Cypress, and included great company: Eric Flint and his lovely wife, Chuck Gannon, Mark Van Name, Alistair Kimble, Walter Hunt, John Picacio, Jennie Faeries, and Tara Smith. Some of the discussion included favorite films and subcategories thereof, such as guilty-pleasure movies: I'm afraid I gave away the entire plot of Lifeforce with my blathering squee about boobies, space vampires, boobies, zombies, boobies, and mass extinction events.

Despite my carrying on, both nights were very fun and fine eats.

I roomed with Chuck Gannon (AKA The Rainmaker AKA, No Charlie Strauss) who despite being much smarter than I, was willing to engage in lengthy discussion on varied subjects, illuminating some of the darker corners of my mind with enthusiasm.

Speaking of which, I need to get some fiction writing done, tonight and soon.

But first, I was very busy with all the flying, etc, but I wasn't as busy as Brigant, who did more awesome audiobook versions of the serial installments of A Separate Law. They are available, in order, here:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Such An Ego Stroke!

So, I was checking in on my story up at the Star Citizen site, and stumbled across this little bit of awesome by a fan of Star Citizen and my story, A SEPARATE LAW:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Frontier Law Panel at ContraFlow III

ContraFlow III will be my second convention as a panel participant. I am looking forward to it with great anticipation. A couple years ago Alistair and I got it into our heads to do something like this, and now it's actually happening:

Diana Rowland, Alistair Kimble, and I are doing a panel entitled Frontier Law, moderated by Mark L. Van Name at 1100am on Saturday. We plan to lay down the law about a few subjects, namely how law enforcement would be forced to adapt to mind-readers, aliens, elves and all the other awesome in speculative fiction. The panelists have a combined 30 years of law enforcement experience at varied levels, including federal.

We hope to bring the panel to other conventions in the future, and having Myke Cole join us.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My, But I Think I Love This

"Delicate in every way but one:

The swordplay

God knows we like Archaic kinds of fun

The Old Way"

-Glory and Gore: Lorde

Latest Snippet from "1636: The Mughal Mission"

“Shehezada Aurangzeb, a moment of your time, if you please?” The Mullah asked, approaching the young prince as he strode along the gallery leading to the stables. 

Aurangzeb stopped but motioned for his retinue to continue without him. “Of course, Mullah Mohan.” 

As a relatively young man, Mullah Mohan had been given responsibility for Aurangzeb and Roshashana’s education. And since he had left the care of the Harem and such teachers, Aurangzeb still found the imam’s strict orthodoxy aligned well with his own designs for the future. Especially as that orthodoxy carried with it a core of believers who could very well prove the deciding factor when he and his brothers began the inevetible contest for the throne.

“Peace be upon you, Shehezada,” the mullah said with a nod.

“And upon you, peace.”

“Forgive my lack of manners, but there is a matter I want to broach with your father, but I am told the Emperor is not available.”

“That is true. He is overseeing one of his projects.” Which you very well know.

“I see. Perhaps, as one of his councillors, you might be able to advise me…”

“This is most unlike you, Mohan. I must say I am disappointed. Never before have you come to me in an attempt to gain access to my father.”

“Again, I ask forgiveness for my lack of manners. The matter is very important.”

“Perhaps I can hear it, and better judge what is to be done?”

Was that a look of satisfaction? Aurangzeb thought as the other man made to reply, “There is a man here in Red Fort, one who has turned his back upon God’s holy message and made mockery of our faith by engaging in worship before false idols.”

“Surely the determination of such is the purview of the learned religious courts?”

And therefore entirely under your thumb?

A sharp nod, “Normally, yes. However, this man, he is…favored by certain parties at court and, having been absent the court for years, the case against him has languished because of a lack of complaining witnesses.”

“What is it you would have of me?”

Mullah Mohan edged closer and said, voice tight with emotion, “A death, Shehezada.”


“I would see a sinner dead.”

“Who is this man?”

“Amir Salim Gadh Visa Yilmaz.”

“I have never heard of him.”

“He was sent into exile while you were still in the care of the harem.”

“He returns, despite exile? Surely that is sufficient grounds to have him executed and explain your actions later, if necessary?”

“I misspoke: he, specifically, was not exiled.”

Silently wishing for a better breed of ally, Aurangzeb responded carefully: “Mis-stated details lead to unintended deaths in such matters, Mullah.”

“Apologies, Shehezada, in my zeal to do God’s work, I overstep.”

“Yes, you do. Who is it that favors this man?”

“Your siblings, Shehazada.”


“Jahanara and Dara Shikoh, Shehazada.”

“I see. I take it, then, that this amir is also servant of Mian Mir?”

“He was once, yes.”

And therein lies the true reason you wish him dead.

“But no longer?”

“Truthfully, I do not know.”

“Yet you would have his head.”

Eyes glittering with intensity, Mohan nodded. “God wills it so, yes.”

God? Or your own pride? Aurangzeb had to turn his head to hide his incredulity. “Take no precipitous action. I will consider what to tell Father,” Aurangzeb said, turning to leave.

Mohan laid a hand on his arm.

Aurangzeb covered the offending hand with his own, pulled it from his arm and rolling Mohan’s fingers back and to the outside of the man’s shoulder, twisting fingers, hand and wrist.

Mohan, eyes wide, went to his knees.

Shifting his grip and pushing down, Aurangzeb thrust his face into the older man’s, “You dare lay hand upon me?”

White with pain and shock, Mohan struggled to speak, “I forget myself, such is my desire to do God’s work: please, the man must die.”


“Because G–“ Aurangzeb cut him off with more pressure. He had to lean over, he had bent and twisted the man’s arm so far.

“Your true reason. Tell me.”

Beads of sweat popped from beneath the mullah’s turban, “He refuses G–” the words were halted behind a cage of pain-clenched teeth.

Must I break his arm to get the truth?

“That may be, but there is something else. Answer.”

“Mian Mir always favored him.”


“Favored him over me. Loved him, not me…”

Aurangzeb released the man’s hand. Mohan pitched forward, cradling his arm.

“The truth will win you what you desire of me, Mohan. Remember this as you take what you want.”


Aurangzeb straightened, “Do what you will with this man, just be certain the act cannot be placed at my feet.”

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Two Articles That Give Cause for Alarm, and A Video Covering The Issue....

One is of a heinous crime, committed, it appears, for kicks: Shooting on SF Muni Rail

And the second article covers a more general trend that makes for bleak reading: People are stupid into their little worlds.

And this last, a voice of reason, from an entertainer: 

Monday, September 30, 2013


So, me and The Coolness played in our first game of the season this Sunday past. As The Daughter had no games, she came along, too.

We play with two refs, one on each sideline (more or less, they move a bit infield but not across the half.) I did not recognize either ref, which was reason to be cautious.

We knew the team we were up against, having played them before on several occasions. We've usually ended each game on nearly-even footing, which lends a sense of accomplishment if we come out on top.

They have an excellent stopper, a bald guy who plays hard every play of the game. He's a bit rough, but that's not entirely undesirable at your central defense, given that the refs are there to call the game and keep everyone safe.

Bald Guy leveled a few of our players, some were on fifty-fifty balls, and therefore pardonable, but others were not. While not carding offenses, there should have been a free kick or two in there.

Despite this skilled player's best efforts, we kept the ball in their end most of the first half, opening the scoring in the last few minutes. After we re-set, they came charging up and spent the next few minutes right in front of me.

They got a shot off.

As I dove for it one of my players deflected the ball into the dirt, moving it from my stretching hand to under my torso. A clapped my arm to my side, but the ball rolled under me. I landed, hard, on my left shoulder. The point hurt less than the fall, but it still wounded pride. I got up, did the walk of shame into my net, and retrieved the ball. Play resumed for a minute before the whistle blew.

I commented to my team about the forcefield that seemed to accompany Bald Guy around the field, knocking people over. I got a few chuckles.

When I went back on the field, The Daughter was shooting at the goal with a bearded man wearing a baseball cap and what I presumed were his two children. Seeing us coming, they moved off the field, leaving a thermos at the edge of the box. I picked it up and called out to them. The daughter came over and took the thermos from me and ran off. They set up an impromptu field behind my goal, started playing.

My game resumed.

They were pressing pretty hard, but we were doing well.

One of the impromptu game's balls rolled onto the field while our play was at the other end, I heel-kicked the ball back to them, making no comment, hearing no apologies.

Some moments passed in play. I collected a save and booted the ball up field. One of our players, one of our fastest players, got under it and skinned it off his head to prevent the midfielder behind him getting a piece of it. He turned to give chase, and took a few strides when Bald Guy, knowing it was a goal scoring break, came in from the side and slammed Fast Player. Bald Guy went down, but Fast Player had seen him coming and managed to keep his feet under him.

The far side ref blew his whistle and called Fast Player for the foul.

"WHAT!?" I bellowed, outraged. I shouldn't have, but I did. It was so very clear to me that the call was  incorrect and only served to punish the person who'd kept his feet that I just lost it.  It should be noted that I am capable of stopping traffic with a shout. I have actually done so, on multiple occasions. I know I was loud.

I shouted it again before becoming aware of the ref on my side of the field, who was blowing his whistle and calling out to me.

I bellowed something more about a horrible call and, "Come on!" just as I realized he was telling me not to say another word. I said a few more things.  I let my base instinct to argue get the better of me and was duly given a yellow card.

I deserved it. Entirely. The far side ref made a shit call. I should have left it at that.

I did not.

Play resumed. The ball was back and forth across the center line and there were a number of shots, all of which I managed to save.

The ball was coming across the half when another loose ball from behind rolled onto the field. I jogged up and booted the ball to the left, clearing it off the field. There's a hill that rises almost immediately from the edge of the field, and acts as an automated ball-return.

"Dude, I was behind you." I hear Bearded Cap shout at me.

"You got the ball back, right?" I say, still watching the play.

"You didn't have to kick it up there, the ball wasn't even down at this end," Bearded Cap says. He's wrong on so many levels I don't know what to say.

"Playing here," I say, wanting him to stop distracting me. The game ball is around midfield still.

"The ball was down at the other end," he repeats.

"Not your call to make," I say, "you are not playing."

"You got a swollen head," he shouts.

"Wha- No! That's right, my head is quite large, PHYSICALLY!" I say as I turn to face the man and remove my baseball cap. Who the fuck is this guy, interrupting my game with his bullshit?

The ref blows his whistle, comes rushing across the field. FUCK! I think. He's gonna throw me out.

The ref, though, is a good one: he charges past me and tell Bearded Cap to take a hike.

As he walks back to his sideline, I say, "Thank you. I've never had that kind of shit happen before."

"I saw it all," says the ref. Then tells me, "Careful, you're on a yellow."

I bite my tongue. He has a point. Had he not known what was going down, I might have been thrown out.

The game ended in a hotly-contested draw at one to one.

As I'm walking off, the ref comes over and says, "The guy is still here."

I nod.

"Let's please act like adults."

At which point he lost me. "I was with you up till that, sir. I don't need to be told such things."

Probably thinking I was an ass, he began to walk away.

"Hey, ref, you made very good calls today," I said, meaning it. He had done a great job.

Just don't ask me about the other ref.

So, the game is over, I walk off, take a seat, start to get out of my boots. All the sudden, Bearded Cap is standing over me. "I just wanted to say: you didn't have to kick the ball, the game was in the other half."

"And I heard you the first time." I say, standing up. No way am I going to let this nutbag get into position to whack me, if that happens to be his intent. "You really shouldn't be saying anything to me just now."

"You shouldn't have."

FUCK, REALLY? "Were you playing?"


"Then it's not your call to make."

"It's just a rec league, man."

"Yup, one you're not playing in, so you're not the one making those calls."

"I hope you get picked up by the pros, they'll recognize your intensity," he says, walking away.

"Rrriiight, I'm the one arguing with the guy who was minding his own business, trying to change after a tight game. Yeah, that's the way this all went down."

He joins a woman from the team we just played and the two children who'd been playing with him in the backfield. This is when I first realize that his wife or significant other was playing in the game, on the field, against me.

Now, won't someone please tell me I'm not the jackass of this story?

Oh, and for those of you who know me, you'd have been terribly surprised by the distinct lack of profanity I used in the above encounters. I was quite proud of that, at least.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The First 1636: The Mughal Mission Snippet

A bit of the work in progress:

                Caid Murad Reis returned the wolf-smiles of his crew with his own. 

And why not smile? Surely finding a fat merchant becalmed so close to Sallee is a sign that God favors our enterprise? 

As there wasn’t a good man among the crew, such signs were less wasteful than the usual methods he had to resort to in order to ensure his commands were followed. Always, the new men among the crew wanted to test him, wanted to see if the white Muslim was truly fit to lead the brotherhood. 

Such behavior had only become more common since he’d sent his son off to Grantville to plumb their secrets. The other Captains all believed he was trying to place his son beyond their reach, or worse, questioned his conversion to Islam. They campaigned, in whispers, against him. Their short-sighted bigotry would eventually prove their undoing, but for now Reis needed every cruise he undertook to result in easy profits and many slaves.

The rowers of Allah’s Mercy were drawing them steadily closer to the foreign fluyt, as they had since sighting the vessel some hours ago. By his reckoning, less than half an hour remained until the sharks were fed the blood of unbelievers. 

Murad Reis, born Janszoon, shaded blue eyes with one hand, staring hard at the slack banner hanging from the mast of the taller vessel. Several pale faces at the stern of the ship stood staring at their approaching doom.

“Hamburg?” he murmured. 

“Would explain why they are alone–no convoys like the Spaniards or English,” his first mate, Usem, said from beside him. ”Though it’s strange they should be this close in to shore.”

Murad shrugged, “Not after the storms of last week, then the calm and current to drag them close.”

Usem nodded, white turban sparkling with jewels.

“Raise our banner, let them know who comes for them.”

“Yes, Captain.” Usem gestured. 

Moments later a young sailor unfurled the banner of the Sallee Rovers, a gold man-in-the-moon on a red background, from the mast.

“Brothers, we will soon set upon the infidel and take his goods, his ship, and the lives of any who resist!”

A crashing, ululating cheer greeted his words.

“Man the guns and make ready, then!”

Murad and Usem joined the crews of the three cannon in the bow. The xebec, like a galley, had limited broadside armament because of the oars, and so mounted three of its thirteen guns in the bow. Because it lacked the banks of rowers of a true galley, it didn’t have the sheer speed of such a ship, either, allowing them to make only about four, perhaps five, knots. Still, they closed the distance, coming to within six hundred paces.

A meaty thump, like a mallet striking flesh, came from the gun-captain of the starboard bow gun.  

A sharp crack reached his ears just as Murad turned to look at his slowly slumping sailor.

“Wha-“ the man gurgled, crimson staining his lips.

Something whistled through the air above Murad. Another crack rolled across the water to him. 

Murad ducked instinctively, the men about him doing the same.

He saw it then, a tiny flash of light from one corner of the stern of the fluyt, like a gunshot, but no cottony cloud of gunsmoke. 

Shooting at us, from there? That’sanother of his cannoneers reeled back, arm dangling by a thread of meat–impossible! 

Again the sharp cracking noise rolled across the waves.

“Down!” Murad shouted, unnecessarily. His men were already pushing tight behind the cannon, fighting for space.

Another flash. 

Something rang off the cannon directly in front of him with a sound like hell’s own hammer, then went whistling through the air between he and Usem. 

Merciful Allah, how many guns does this man have?

That evil crack again.

The men were now leaning forward, close to the deck, as if bracing against a gale. 

Murad raised his head, gauging the distance. Almost five hundred yards still separated the ships.

“Faster!” he bellowed, “Row faster!”

Usem rose up to repeat the Captain’s order. He lost his life for it. The round took him in the jaw, sending teeth and bone rattling wetly across the deck behind his toppling corpse.

“Merciful Allah!” someone screamed.

“Faster!” Murad barked, the now-expected crack punctuating his order.

  The slaves responded at last, pulling harder at their oars. Slowly, the ship built speed. Several breaths passed without one of the horrible flashes, only the groan of wood on wood and the cries of the man who’d lost his arm. They were nearly four hundred yards out when the next flash appeared.

A dimly visible red-orange light appeared at the end of the flash. Barely visible, it crossed the space between the two ships and sailed by well above the deck. 

This time, the crack of the gun was nearly drowned in the cheering of his crew.

“Down, you fools!” 

A second dirty streak of light was sent their way, again appearing to have gone high. Another cheer from the men.

“Closer!” he shouted.

The crew shouted wordless aggression. Glad his men were less afraid of the strange weapon than he, Murad looked up to offer a silent prayer of thanksgiving. It was then that he saw a tiny curl of smoke rising from the furled mainsail.

As he stared, another of the burning things struck the furled sail along the spar just port of the mast. It went in, and didn’t exit. Colored smoke began seeping from the hole as the noise of the shot followed the results across the water.

“Water the sail!” Murad’s shouted order held more of an edge of panic to it than he wished.

Nearly all the crew looked up and saw the reason for the order. A collective groan went through them.

Hassan, youngest of the brotherhood and the quickest climber among them, stood to his duty and grabbed the bucket line. In moments he was straddling the spar. He dragged the first of the buckets up and started to pour it over the growing smokey stretch of sail.

The next red-orange streak ended in Hassan’s ribs. The boy shrieked, overbalanced, and fell. Even striking the deck from such a height did not end the pain for poor Hassan, who lay writhing, as if the thing that struck him continued to burn inside his flesh.

The crew moaned. Hassan was well-liked. 

Murad stepped across the boy, who lay twitching like a wounded scorpion, broken limbs flailing.

Murad’s sword hissed from its sheath. 

A small mercy.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thoughts on A SEPARATE LAW

So, my serialized novella, A SEPARATE LAW, has its final episode up at the Spectrum Dispatch site. I think it turned out well. There were certainly a lot of kind comments on each episode, and even more within moments of the posting of the tale's conclusion.

It was my first experience of such immediate feedback. It was an interesting experience. I used to think some authors were a bit obsessive about reading reviews of their work on Amazon, Goodreads, etc.  Now I know how hard it is to resist hitting that refresh button every five minutes. That in mind, I'll stop keeping my nose in the air like I'm somehow immune to the writer's urge to stand up in public and moan loudly, "LOVE ME!" while stroking our tender ego parts.

Nuts and bolts wise:

The writing of this story was fairly easy, as I found it flowed very quickly out onto the page. This is not my normal experience of writing. I agonize, normally. I fail to complete.

At about 19,ooo words, it was nice to stretch a bit without the massive obligation of a door-stop novel.

I don't normally work from an outline, but one was required for this, and it helped immensely. Beyond the immediate help with the story, I was also outlining 1636: THE MUGHAL MISSION, so the experience proved very useful. Needless to say, outlining has become my new fetish.

David Ladyman, the editor for the project, was aces, working with me when I needed assistance and, more importantly, telling me the whys and wheres of the things that did not work in the initial drafts (And there were multiple drafts for each episode: sometimes the game designers required a change, but more often it was just because the writing simply wasn't as smooth as it needed to be.).  David was extremely easy to work with, and was very enthusiastic about the story throughout.

All in all, a very good learning experience for me. One I am sure will be of use for the rest of my career.

Oh, and I got paid quite well and promptly, which is always to be desired, and seldom experienced with short fiction.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A SEPARATE LAW begins its serial run on Spectrum Dispatch!

So, a few months ago I got in touch with the folks at Cloud Imperium Games via Chuck Gannon, rainmaker extraordinaire. They read some of my previous work, liked it, and asked that I submit some story ideas, etc. I did one they liked.

We got a contract going, and I wrote A SEPARATE LAW.

Today, part one of that story is up on the Spectrum Dispatch. I very much love the title banner. I hope you enjoy it, and the story.

Friday, July 5, 2013

What I've Been Doing This Summer

Work has been the same, meaning there have been moments where I wanted to unleash my inner gorilla, but, in general, proceeding in as efficient a manner as possible. I have a long (15000 words, more or less) short story entitled A Separate Law I am under contract to produce. I am writing it in 1500-word stretches for placement on a web magazine supporting a computer game. I'm nearly done with it, finishing up the eighth bit right now. When I am, I will resume working on 1636: The Mughal Mission, with Eric Flint. I might think about something more with the games company, but I really, really want to get my novels out there, and working with Flint is a godsend as far as graduating from apprentice to journeyman writing. He's highly skilled at getting the best out of writers he works with, and I hope to learn a great deal.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Die Antwoord

This South African group has caught my attention, yes, it has: Their image is something... Hard to look away from

Friday, June 7, 2013

June 6th: A Big Day For Me, Too

On June 6th, 2012, I had a bit of great news from Paula Goodlett, editor (some style her The Butcher of Grantville) of The Grantville Gazette, a magazine dedicated to telling tales set in Eric Flint's 1632 Universe.  I received an email indicating that Paula wanted to buy the second short story I had ever written, and the first I submitted for professional publication.

Needless to say, I was flying high.

Now, a year to the day later, Eric Flint has approved the outline of 1636: The Mughal Mission, a novel Eric and I will be co-authoring over the next few months. Eric has an excellent and well-proven track record of co-authoring books (I wonder if there's a Guinness Book Of World Record entry for this). I look forward to learning everything I can from him as we write this and, hopefully, further Mughal tales.

If you see some bald guy floating by in low orbit with a poop-eating grin on, don't shoot. I'll come to earth eventually.

D-Day, indeed.

Thank you, Eric.

Now, to write it!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I Spout A Tiny Bit Of Writerly Advice:

On literary SF conventions:

Go. Even if they are a bit out of your comfort zone, or cost more than you'd like to pay for, just go.

Keep an open mind while you're there (Keeping your opinions on the hover-round-mounted Princess Leia to yourself.). Take it in, be sociable, if you can.

Ask polite questions of panels you attend, where appropriate. Express your appreciation to the participants on those panels, after, in an appropriate manner.

Do not be a creep. Not ever. If you have sense of humor and like to display it, make sure your employment of it cannot be seen by a reasonable person as an attack on a certain class of people.

Be prepared to spend some time at the bar and go out to dinner. Do not ask, but don't hesitate to say yes to any such invite. Be attentive and listen at such engagements. Be ready to answer questions, but don't seek to answer unanswered ones.

Why do I bring this up?

I said fourteen words to a writer at one SF convention, and it led to a world of possibilities.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Professional Milestone

Six years ago I was minding my own business, straddling my department bicycle in the area of 24th Street and Folsom when the radio started blaring about a fight between a man with a cane and a woman happening in the area of 14th and Minna Alley.

Long story short: I stopped the man some distance from the scene of the crime at gunpoint and subsequently retrieved the garrote he had used, he believed, to kill the woman he was 'fighting' with. I know he thought he'd killed her because he said, "Bitch was dead when I found her." The garrote had long black hairs, some skin, and blood caught in the braided wire of it's construction.

He was wrong, thankfully. The woman survived her strangulation and subsequent stomping (There's some lengthy and quite horrific video of the entire event.). I learned that the reason why he committed this heinous crime is because he wanted either sexual favors or dope from the woman and offered her counterfeit money.  She identified the counterfeits for what they were and told him to take a long walk on a short pier. He took exception and decked her, then wrapped the garrote around her neck and slowly strangled the life from her. She fought all the way, kicking and squirming.

A note about garrotes: this was the first one I had ever seen on the streets in my then 7 years of law enforcement, and it's still the only one I have ever seen taken from a street criminal. Everyone at the station, including officers of 30 and more years experience, were also surprised to see the weapon. They are rare, because they are, in my opinion, a murderer's weapon. Most criminals make excuses for themselves, saying they need a gun/knife/etc 'to protect themselves'. This is even a valid excuse, in some instances. A garrote, though, is generally used by someone sneaking up behind another, wrapping the wire around their neck, and then choking the life from them while sawing through the hard organs of the throat. In short: a murderer's weapon.

In most TV shows or novels, this would be the end of the story, bad guy caught, the victim survived. Law and Order does a better job, but even they have the cases solved and sentenced in an hour.

It never is. Last month that the suspect was sentenced. Six years.

I went to court at least five different times on the suspect's case over the course of the last six years.

During the long and drawn out process:

The defendant fired five attorneys appointed to be his counsel, he testified in a federal court as a witness against some federal prisoner from his earlier days as an inmate in federal prison.

The victim got clean, relapsed, and never did show up to court.

When I took the stand in front of two of the attorneys I was accused, variously: of racism, ignorance, stupidity, and simply making mistakes.

I ignored or slammed the first set of accusations, and owned the errors of memory I made in the long years between incident and trial testimony, even looking into the faces of the jurors and saying, "I am human, just like you. I can and do make mistakes, just like you. Any mistakes I have made in this case were those of memory caused in the six years since it happened, not of process."

The trial finally concluded in January of this year. The last attorney put up a valiant effort, but his client was not cooperative in the least, not very smart, and flat-out guilty.

Last month, at the end of this six year-long saga, the man was sentenced to 25 years to life with the possibility of parole with an additional 14 year enhancement to be served consecutive to the first sentence. Meaning, the defendant is about to do around 30 years, minimum. Already in his fifties, it's likely going to be a life sentence.

I feel good about the sentence, if not how long it took to get there. I certainly did my part to bring a bad man to justice, and hope that he will be kept from hurting anyone ever again.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Remembering, Always.

To all the veterans and families of veterans: Your sacrifices in service to our nation cannot be sufficiently honored. I render thanks and gratitude for your standing watch over us and your proven guardianship of our collective freedoms.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Music Heard Today At Baycon

A Really, Really Good Day

This morning I received the contract for some short fiction I have been contracted to write for a game company. Still haven't signed it, as I am mulling it over, but it's nice to have such things to think about.

So, a new friend of mine from Facebook, of all places, Dario Ciriello, had a guest membership to BayCon this weekend and offered it to me. I jumped at the chance and took today off from my regular work to attend.

BayCon is a local fan-based SF convention, one that's been going on for 31 years and seems to be thriving. I attended the opening ceremonies and, shortly after, saw a young woman I could swear I had seen before on Geek And Sundry and really thought, "Wow, that one is cool!"

And no, it wasn't Veronica Belmont, who I did see and recognized (Hard not to, she's the toastmistress for the con). It was maddening, though: this recognizing the Bonnie Burton and not being able to place where I had seen her, even when I read her name.

I eventually had to just walk up and ask, "Did I see you on a Storyboard?"

She was gracious and said, "No, though I have been on some other shows on Geek & Sundry."

I wasn't sure, but thought maybe: "Vaginal Fantasy?"

"Yes, I am on there."

Somewhat mollified that I had recalled her Geek And Sundry, and only marginally less uncomfortable in my fanboi moment, I stood there awkwardly. Then Veronica Belmont approached, read my t-shirt, laughed and asked if she could take a picture of me, which was something of a hit all day (It's the one about drowning morons, for sale on Zazzle). We chatted as a group for a bit, then I took my leave.

I checked in on a couple panels before hitting the bar for a beer. Sitting there, I saw Dario for the first time in person and had a very nice chat with him before he left to prepare for his panel.  I then caught up with him for that panel, which was on death and how we Americans really don't deal with it in a healthy fashion. Many insightful and thoughtful things were said by the panel and audience,  I was especially impressed by Dario, who I had only met in person twenty minutes before.

Once the panel was over I headed back the bar and again saw Bonnie, Tom, and Veronica. Seeing as I have no shame, I approached and said hello once more. Bonnie and Tom were fun and engaging, and we roved many a field of conversation for some time. I tagged along with them (remember, no shame) to the meet the guests of honor event.

Much later, I said my good evenings and started for home.

It was as I pulled out of the parking lot that it finally hit me: I had recognized Bonnie from when she appeared on Wil Wheaton's TABLETOP game of FIASCO and totally owned using stellar roleplay and awesome storytelling! The show is generally great, but she just slammed it out of the park!

All in all: a really, really good day.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dyslexia and Me, A Brief History

I've talked a bit in the past about having both ADD and dyslexia. I haven't really talked about what it meant for me, growing up.

Suffice to say that it made things a lot harder than they had to be, though not nearly as hard as some children have it. I was diagnosed with dyslexia after being held back in third grade. I attended special education sessions with a teacher at my elementary school and remember a bunch of exercises intended to train the eye/mind to track normally. My mother worked very closely with me to make sure I completed the exercises, something I am certain was not easy. Yet another reason I owe my parents all.

It worked, for the most part. I still screw up, sometimes in funny ways.

Thing is, I don't think any of it would have worked had I not been enticed to read an enormous, tattered book with an intriguing cover left on my father's nightstand: The Lord of The Rings.

I read it. I remember struggling with it over the course of months. I remember feeling my mind getting stronger as I read it. I remember the feeling of my mind growing because I was reading it. It was an awesome feeling, one that I have continued to seek over and over again, like an addict.

By the sixth grade I had overcome the difficulty that arose from my dyslexia to the extent I entered a state-wide short story competition. My short went to the state finals, but was turned down because they suspected I had not written it without assistance. I didn't write fiction again for about twenty years.

When it came to marching at the academy, I had a hard time getting the right foot forward (pun there, eh?). Assembling furniture still makes me swear a blue streak as I go left to tighten, even when saying "righty-tighty".

Anyway, it also gave me the ability to look at a picture on a wall and see, immediately, whether it's level or not, and what proportion it might be above or below a neighboring picture.

Also, I just tend to think about things differently than just about anyone else I know.

Not better. Just different.

Sometimes I see shit in a way others don't.

Don't know if it's from years of dealing with adjusting and questioning my own perspective on things or what, but there it is, a part of me I don't think I would be rid of now if I could.

An acquaintance of mine, Blake Charlton, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about our shared condition of dyslexia. He's one of those over-achievers that give me that shouted question: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH YOUR LIFE, GRIFFIN?!!! This question is shouted because Blake, aside from having a kick-ass name, is a medical doctor, a novelist, and looks like a bald badass ready to charm the pants from whom he pleases.

Regardless of my jealousy, his op-ed is an exceptional piece that can be found here. Please read it, and if your kid seems confused by which way  b and d should face, it may be that kid is going to have a rough climb that may eventually smooth out on a plane few others reach.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Vexatious Lawsuits Will Get You Some Heavy Duty Wrath!

So, I have been, for some weeks, following Popehat and their coverage of the dirtbag attorneys in a porn downloader copyright infringement case.

Following, and loving, dearly,  Federal District Court Judge Otis Wright's calling 'bullshit' on the plaintiff attorneys, who are now sanctioned in this order, after being ordered to show cause in Wright's court for knowingly being party to the action and numerous other falsehoods including creating a fictitious attorney to sue with.

Now, the reason I posted the Order is because: not only did Wright catch some dirtbags shoveling filth on their profession, and fraud on the people of the nation and courts, he's also a trekkie to such an extent that he quoted Wrath Of Kahn in the opening of his order and made numerous additional references to Star Trek in it.

Simply, irrevocably, awesome!

Sunday, April 28, 2013


The residency hotel stinks like all of them do: stale piss, malt liquor, and promise. Throw in some unwashed body and a healthy dose of curry and crack smoke, and it's all there for you: a perfect potpourri of parolee and poor. 

The carpets are so steeped in human misery they cling to the soles of my boots, eating at them. 

There's a metaphor there, I think.

If so, I fucking hate it.

My partner insisted there was someone he wants to talk to in here, leads the way up three flights of steps to this little slice of hell. If reality were any reflection of my take on it, it would have been stairs down, into a hole in the ground that just can't be closed over or filled, and just keeps weeping pus.

He runs up the stairs. Fucker is always running, everywhere. Some shit about training for a biathlon or other. 

I don't like to run. If I have to, someone's getting a beating at the end of it.

Anyway: he's knocking on the door to number 13, which I am trying not to take as an omen of shit to come, just as I am trying not to breathe the shit-laden air.

A woman answers the door, sees my partner, and quickly ushers us into her room. I glance about, desperate for something to look at other than the meth-head's tight-drawn face or the big rubber dildo lying on the unmade bed. Porn is playing on the TV. Hardcore. Not very good. Someone's blown the closet door off with black plastic garbage bag after bag of clothes. They don't look to be the meth-head's as she's a size one if she's bigger than zero. Cracks craze the plaster of the walls, continue into the glass of the room's sole window. It looks out, that window, on the neighboring rooftop. There's a couple of sky-rats doing the peck-and-waddle out there, bathing in the occasional rays of sunlight that decided to make today hotter than I wanted.

My partner sits down next to the dildo and starts gabbing with meth-head like they're long-lost buddies (he and the meth head, not the dildo, mind you), asking her for word on what's going down. "You know, on the streets." 

I tune out. There are enough lies in my head, in the world, and I don't want a meth-head's need to please laying out more for me to feast on. It's become routine: the lies, the bullshit, the patter, the running pointlessly in place. Instead I look out the window and continue my attempts to stop breathing. It's not working, though. The stink is in me with each breath, gets worse with every exhalation.

Misery. Waste. Grinding on me, that waste, that misery, the need to feel clean, to get away.

Then, something majestic and entirely unexpected happens:

One of the pigeons, minding it's own fucking business on its mindless rounds of peck and pick, that endless search for the perfect kernel of I-don't-fucking-know-what, explodes in a pillow-fight-worthy cloud of dirty gray-white feathers.

I gasp, turn to ask if my partner saw that shit, but clomp my mouth closed.

Meth-head keeps talking. 'Cause that's what they fucking do.

My partner's sharper, and twitches toward the window. But he gets distracted by something shiny the meth-head has to say.

I return my attention to the window and the roof beyond: standing there, talons-deep in the bloody red ruin of the pigeon, is a hawk. As I watch, the predator calmly steps sideways, bringing one foot down on the pigeon's neck, breaking it. The pigeons stops fighting with a final twitch and the hawk leans down and delicately, oh so delicately, tears flesh from the pigeon's breast. The meat disappears as the bird looks my way, eyes boring through crazed glass, beak open, bloody to the nares.

I know what it means to say.

I fly.

Friday, April 26, 2013


“Knows of the Crooked Path, yet thought to ask if we had a Quaestor searching out Pathless?” Qezzon asked.

“Servants of the Old Gods often assume we operate in the same manner.”

Which is not an answer, not really.

“Did he say why he was asking?”

“Pathless corpses cropped up in two places recently. Corpses with gunshot wounds.”



“He thought to ask you if we have a Quaestor running amok, using guns? Is he a fucking idiot?”

“I’d hope you’d know better than that, Qezzon. Gortah is a good man, and merely wants to learn who it is killing folk.”

Qezzon couldn't help but show his contempt: “The deaths of Pathless worry this Dreamer?”

Clemmon bristled, “It wasn’t just Pathless who were shot.”

Qezzon waved that argument away, “But guns are noble-born toys, not something we humble-born have.”

“True, but some temples do pay significant sums of money to arm their Quaestors with expensive weapons to face the Pathless with.”

Just not the Temple of The Crooked Path, no–Istar prefers we bend and take it up the ass.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Some distractions prove good for the writing, letting the subconscious work things out, some don't. I have had a little of both lately, and the plot of A FRIEND TO THE WATCH had been giving me a few conniptions, but I finally had a breakthrough last night that persisted today.  I know what happens from here, and have it already set in my head, and it arrises from this scene:I

It was already late afternoon when Qezzon felt the touch of something along his spine. He stopped his circuit of the market, waited. The not-quite itch persisted, just as Clemmon said it would. The Pathless were at it again, tracking him using the sorcery that so corrupted them.

He breathed a sigh of relief. Finally. 

Moving into an open space between groups of market-shoppers and their bearers, he glanced across the square. Seeing one of the boys Clemmon had set to watch him sitting atop some oil-merchant’s barrels, Qezzon gave the sign. He didn’t see a reaction, gritted his teeth to avoid shouting at the kid. 

A man burdened with a yoke and buckets across his shoulders blocked his view for a moment. Qezzon pretended interest in the wares of a basket weaver but walked on before the seller could try and make a sale. The boy was gone when Qezzon glanced up again, hopefully reporting that Qezzon was being tracked. Qezzon didn’t like taking it on faith the boy knew what he was about. 

Trying not to show the agitation burning a hole in his stomach, Qezzon walked to the center of the square and had a seat at the foot of the shrine-pillar of Lunara. 

Don’t like waiting. Don’t like not having people I trust to watch over me. Not much to like about any of this: I’m certainly not in love with the idea of being bait in a trap that’s not even meant to kill those hunting me. Tin Man, wonder of wonders, even agreed with me when I told Clemmon we should lay an ambush for the Pathless. Not that it made any difference in the Crooked Shepherd’s final decision.

He leaned back into the shade of the pillar as a pair of pumpkins slowly made their way through the market. For once I won’t ask that they leave, though I doubt they’ll be a great deal of help.

The sorcery pulsed along his spine, stronger now.

He stood straight. Better to be ready to run.

The bell tower was tolling the half-measure when Qezzon spied the Pathless who’d climbed the roof loitering in front of a market stall some twenty paces away. 

Qezzon almost sighed with relief. He had not come from that direction on his way here. He hoped it meant the Pathless sorcery used to track him had limits, failing to give the sorcerer the path taken by quarry, merely his current location. A slim hope, but one to cling to. Myrra must be kept safe.

He stole another glance. The servant stood beside another, better dressed man who had his back to Qezzon. The servant’s lips were moving, and the other man was leaning close, as if listening.

Not altogether bad way to keep me in sight yet limit the number of faces staring at me.

Movement. He looked up again, saw the servant walking toward him.

Desperate to flee, Qezzon stood his ground. Trying to make the movement unhurried and natural, he leaned a hand on the ledge lining the pillar’s base and waited.

“You, there.” The man’s looks were straight City Krommen, accent too. 

Qezzon cocked his head, drawled, “What?”

The man glanced around, stepped a bit closer, “My master wishes to speak with you.”

“Good for him.”

“Will you come?”

The smile came easy as he asked, “With you?”

The man nodded.

“Fuck. No.”

“Come with me or I’l–“

Cutting him off, Qezzon spoke quickly: “You’ll what? Haul me over to him across the market square, howling that you want a piece but aren’t paying?”

Brows slammed together. “What?”

“No shame in buying a piece of ass, boy or no, right?”

“What? No, that’s–“

Qezzon rolled his eyes. “Bring him here, and we can talk like civilized folk. Ask me to go somewhere again, or touch me, and I’ll lie so long and hard the truth will break, taking you with it. Boy-rapers are not looked on with joy down Sluicegate way.”

“I–You–“ the Pathless sputtered.

“I’ll wait here while you present my terms to him.”


“I hope your master didn’t hire you for that wit. Go. Get. Him.”

Qezzon let the murderous glare the man answered him with slide away, pretending his heart was not pounding in his chest. After a moment the man turned on his heel.

Watching him go, Qezzon resisted the urge to wipe the nervous sweat from his hands. He found his gaze wandering, hoping to catch sight of even one of the watchers Clemmon had put on him.

The Pathless returned, master in tow. The thief took a moment to mark him in memory: Black curly hair, dark eyes, thin lips. Nothing exceptional about his appearance. He could have been Krommen, Mìrrowan, or even an Altezan noble-born. His clothing was of fine quality, though it hardly screamed at every passing robber to make a meal of him.

The man stopped a pace from him, dark eyes engaged in their own evaluation. A silence reigned between them a moment.

A smile showed small white teeth as the Pathless waved at his servant: “You’ve made my man most uncomfortable.” Accent was pure noble-born.

Qezzon shrugged, and because fuck his servant’s feelings: “Beats a cock in the ass.”

The smile grew broader, more predatory. “I wouldn’t know.” 

Qezzon wanted to cut him and run. 

“But enough talk of pleasures sometimes taken: do you know why I am here?”


A short bark of laughter, reeking of insincerity and garlic. “Do not make me hurt you, boy.”

“Why would you do that?”

A rolling of the shoulders that wasn’t-quite, a shrug. “Because it would please me. Because I can.” Pursed lips covered white teeth as he raised a finger to them in mock thought. “Mostly, because I tire of chasing you.”

“You could always stop.”

“Or you could just give me what you were to deliver to Annon Fishmonger the other night, before you were so rudely interrupted.”

Deliver? He covered surprise with a question: “And if I said I didn’t have it?”

“I would call you liar,” one of the man’s hands disappeared into his pouch, “and let you know I don’t much like liars.”

Lashed with pain so intense it forced the wind past his lips in a high whistle, Qezzon struggled to keep from folding up and pitching face-first to the ground at the sorcerer’s feet.

The Pathless leaned in close, whispered in Qezzon’s ear: “I will learn where it is, boy. You cannot stop it.” The Pathless raised his voice for the benefit of any passersby. ”I told you not to drink so much, boy!”

Qezzon’s left hand scrabbled at the top of the prayer-pillar’s base, the effort required to keep him upright interfering with the proper working of questing fingers.

“Help him,” the Altezan said to his servant, more show for anyone wondering what was causing Qezzon’s fit. Leaning close, he whispered, “The pain will end as soon as you tell me where it is.”

Qezzon groaned, managed to raise his right hand, begging for release.

The Pathless sniffed. The pain eased slightly, allowing Qezzon to draw breath, even think: Give him what he wants and get what you want. Why not?

“Cock’s Comb,” he hissed through clenched teeth, just as the fingers of his left hand found Clemmon’s blessed knucklebones. 


Qezzon tried to speak, couldn’t find breath.

The pain rolled back a bit more. 

He took a breath, found it easier to move. “Cock’s Comb…” he said.

“Tavern and gambling house,” the servant explained.

Lunging with his left hand, Qezzon clutched the dice with the desperation of a drowning man seizing a rope thrown from shore.

Instantly, the pain vanished.

The Pathless noble-born shrieked, collapsed.

Not vanished-the curse turned on the caster!

The servant reached out, tried to catch his master.

Qezzon fled as fast as his legs would carry him.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Friend To The Watch

Been pretty active on the writing front lately. Nibbling at the edges of A Friend To The Watch, hoping to make a meal of it:

Erron turned the page and Malost had his breath stolen. Images flooded across the winesong connecting them in a rough grey tide, like jagged rocks made liquid, yet retaining their ability to tear:

The Crowned One praying before an altar, surrounded by shadow, darkness, and creatures it hurt the eye to see. Prayers answered by something in that darkness. 

A rooster, silent and still. 

Dogs, barking. 

A man with shadows leaping from his mouth searching among wooden crates. 

Men in the colors of the Duke’s Watch struggling with a twisted tide of flesh spewing from darkness. 

Darts or quills, quivering in flesh. 

Blood but no pain, followed by a long nothing and the song of distant bells. 

Malost felt Erron moving toward the sound of those bells, begin to embrace the warm tolling of Vradesh’s callDeath spiral! he realized. Even that tiny, barely independent recognition required an effort of will Malost doubted he could match again.

Still, he struggled.

He knew nothing else.

There was nothing else.

Until the bells began to toll for him.

Fear proved a well-remembered goad, then.

Too stupid to know you’re beaten! he recalled the first Pathless he’d killed screaming at him. That Pathless was long dead, a heap of ashes in a nameless temple to some Pathless power, denied Vradesh’s embrace for all time.

With a gasp like a drowning man escaping deep water, Malost surged free, falling flat on his face.