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Monday, November 14, 2011

WTF Is Taking Warmage So Long?

I wish I had a nickle for every time someone asked me that.  I'd have almost a buck now.

The fact is, I was on-target to deliver the MMS to my editor by Hallowe'en, when I had a spate of personal issues ranging from sick kids to a three-molar extraction and subsequent painkiller binge, immediately after my trip to the NY ComicCon, followed by pre-holiday crap, end-of-semester crap, a wife who went to two conferences in one week, and general Super Daddy mayhem.  Oh, plus I work a demanding day-job.  So Warmage, while it's 90% complete, isn't done yet.

My bad.

When you're trying to guesstimate just how long it's going to take you to write something, you're usually off by a factor of 6 months or so.  Which means if I get this puppy done by the end-of-month, then I can get my editor to knock it out, format it, and have it up by Christmas.

That's The Plan.

But here's the thing: I might not.  Holidays and stuff.  Real life.  It really gets in the way of one's career aspirations, but what can you do?  I'm going to do my damnedest, but if it's a choice between finishing a mediocre book on time or finishing a good book late, I'll choose the latter, because I have integrety towards my craft and I am lazy.

That being said . . . I'm still shootin' for early December.  No, really.

Also, a brief note on Spellmonger: my editor has it now, and as soon as she's done slashing and hacking, I'll put up a second edition with far, far fewer gramatical mistakes.  Since my editor is a Professor of Journalism, I expect that the second edition will therefore be much more readable.  Tell your friends.

And anyone who posts a positive review on and then emails me at with the subject line: SYCOPHANT, then I'll send you the rough-draft copy of the first chapter as it stands.   A positive review means three stars or above.  I consider anything two stars and below to be negative, which means you probably don't want to read the sequel anyway.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Wreck Of The Eagle 1 . . . Article on the nostalgia of space ship toys

Okay, I'm back from the convention.  Blew my mind.  In mostly a good way.  Special thanks to Lance at Geek Box for the inclusion, the kind folks at the Newark Airport Howard Johnson's (right in the path of the planes taking off, and I didn't hear a one -- great place for your next mob hit), and the patient and understanding folks of the NYPD.  We promise it won't happen again.
The Eagle -1, last of the great NASA-inspired designs

But in between finishing up Warmage (up to Chapter 32, 188,000 words but it is, finally, drawing to a close), working my wonderful day job, doing a little marketing on the side, and taking care of my filial obligations, I had time to bang out a quick article on space ship toys.  Specifically, the mega-cool diorama of the Eagle-1, from Space: 1999 fame.  Probably the coolest ship from the lamest show ever.  If you're into collectibles, toys, space ships, sci-fi, or pre-Star Wars nostalgia, surf on over and enjoy.  If you don't . . . what the hell are you doing reading this?  Do I know you?  You're not into sci-fi?  At least?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Planning on being at the NY Comic Con next month...

A good friend of mine (hey, Lance!) is going to the show and invited me along.  I'll be pumpin' Spellmonger, pimpin' Tanith, and toutin' the new Warmage (in progress, but it should be finished by then).

It occurs to me that in the Age of Kindle, that "book signings" are going to be . . . well, bookless.  Yet too many people want the experience of some tangible sign that they actually met, conversed and/or slept with the author, live and in person.  How to solve this intractable problem?  Well, porn stars do it (because people rarely proudly display their porn DVDs) by autographing a specially-prepared one-sheet, usually a seductive glossy photo with their name and perhaps a few of their movies listed on it.  I might have one or two myself.

What I'm thinking of doing is similar.  I'm going to print out a couple of dozen decent copies of the cover of the book, maybe with some promotional crap and this blog name etc. etc. on it.  I'll see if anyone wants it.  Heck, it could be a collector's item some day.  No, really.  Don't forget that baseball cards and the like got started that way.

In any case, if you're at the con, look me up.  I'll be hanging around the cool looking tatooed dudes over at 4CornersConcepts and GeekBoxes.  And yes, consider that a plug: because if you're going to spend THAT fracking much on a "collectible action figure", then you should blow the extra grand to display (and protect!) them in style.

Oh, and I'm going to be shamelessly peddling a comic script I wrote called By Angels Hunted.  It's about a demon with a heart of gold.  No, really.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Warmage excerpt

A couple of my fans are wondering how the sequel to Spellmonger goes -- it goes well.  I'm 110,000 words into it, so far.  Here's a little something I'm using to open Chapter Seven.  Tell me what you think!

I used to think that there wasn’t anything worse than the terrifying nightmare of battle. 

Not all battle – leading a thunderous cavalry charge into an inferiorly positioned foe, destined to slaughter them quickly and brutally is actually kind of fun, once you get over the pure gore of it. 

I mean the other kind of battle, the one where the outcome is uncertain, at best, and your hope of survival is purely a matter of luck, skill, and the fickle whims of the gods.  The press of flesh and metal and hair and blood, the screams of the wounded, the dying, the calls to mothers in the speech of infants, coming from the mouths of men grown, the curses and prayers and pleas for mercy, the drums and horns and war-cries by strangers who want to kill you all combine into one ghastly symphony from hell that assaults your ears and your mind all at once. 

Mix that with the stench of fear and vomit and bile and piss and shit and mud and horse and steel and sweat, fire and ash . . . battle has a nauseating perfume all its own.   It haunts your nostrils for days afterwards, and there’s no passage of years that can dim the memory of that harsh aroma.

That’s on top of the confusion  and shock of being faced with death not once –  like when a cart almost ran over you and you narrowly escaped –  but again and again and again.  Death from the foemen in front of you, death from a fated arrow from the sky, death from behind by someone you didn’t even see was there, death from your tent-mate who mistook you for the foe, trampled by horses or bashed by maces, sliced by swords or punctured by javelins, from any direction at any time – not once, as I said, but over and over and over within the space of a hundred heartbeats.  

Where every time you blink a new foe could reveal himself, a new danger could manifest, and you are helpless in preventing or avoiding it.  Where every step you take seems foreordained to inch you closer and closer to your own grisly death.  Where the surge of terror compels you to fight madly, or to retreat madly, or to scream madly into the chaos in defiance not of the foe, but of death, itself. 

Where comrades and friends, men you diced and drank and whored with, lie gasping at your feet, their hot blood pouring from their bodies and pooling at your heels, their terror-filled eyes turned towards you in pleading despair, begging you to save them from their grim fate while knowing – as you do – that there is nothing that you can do to save them from the abyss, and that you will stand their helplessly while they die – or worse, forget about them in an instant as you dodge the next volley, next charge, next slash.

Where blood becomes as common as rain and screams are as normal as breezes, where rank and position and class have no meaning, and the basic commonality of struggling just to survive the man-made madness puts you and the greatest Duke on level.  Where retreat into drunkenness, madness, or impervious detachment is the only remedy to the stain of the assault on your memory.  Where the subtlest reminder of some far-away battlefield a lifetime away turns your blood to ice in your veins and makes old men wake up in the middle of the night, bawling like babies or screaming like terrified little girls at the memory.

I used to think there was nothing worse than that.  

I was wrong.  Kitsal Hamlet was worse than that.

OK, a little florid maybe . . . 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New cover for Warmage . . . whatcha think?

I didn't like the first cover I did for the book, so I went back to the drawing board and came back with this.  What do you think?  Back to the drawing board again?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Steven R. Boyett

Okay, to take a moment and be non-promotional for a change, I just wanted to quickly refer to a post at Whatever, the blog of John Scalzi.  It's about science-fictiony writer stuff, just to warn you.  It includes a discussion by Steven R. Boyett about his new novel, Mortality Bridge, and how it took so very long to get it right.

This is a common problem among writers, when your vision outpaces your art, craft, or personal perspective.  It's immensely frustrating, and can lead to the justly-feared writer's block.  That's part of the problem with being a young writer -- you have the talent, perhaps, and the ambition to write, but you just don't have the chops yet.

It used to be that authors were cultivated and developed by publishing houses, who understood that a writer matures over time and (hopefully) gets better with age.  But that was when publishing was a fairly straightforward business. About the time that Boyett was writing some amazing stuff -- namely Ariel and Architect of Sleep, both of which I devoured when they came out (I mean, Ariel's about a neurotic talking unicorn and her faithful boy companion in a rugged, magical post-apocalyptic landscape, and Architect of Sleep is about the best alternate-reality story about sign-language-using sapient raccoons I've ever read.  No shit.), the publishing industry was undergoing a change, namely the death of the Mid-List Author.  Back in the 80s and 90s people were starting to make serious money in publishing, but everyone only wanted blockbusters.  And of course publishers, editors, and agents play favorites as a professional necessity, so breaking into publishing at all was hard enough.  If your first book didn't spike enough, it was quite likely your last book.

But now we live in the Age of Kindle, in which the authors have Boldly Risen Up And Seized the Means of Production From The Capitalist Publishers, the whole industry is a bit topsy-turvy.  This has had led to a whole host of problems, and opportunities, which I'll probably talk about someday when I want to rant.  Your development as a writer isn't controlled by the publisher anymore, it's controlled by direct reader feedback.

But Boyett's point was very well taken: sometimes our best work takes years to emerge.  He calls it the Big Idea.  It's the project you keep returning to as "the one" -- the one for which all of your other work is mere conditioning and preparation.  The one which you hope to be known for, respected for, the one which gets you a simultaneous sweep of the Hugo, Nebulae, and Oscar for Best Original Adaptation Of A Novel in one year.  The one which you keep putting off even showing to anyone because it's not quite right yet.

I've got my own "the one" Big Idea hidden away, and I'm just now feeling that I've got the chops -- the technique, the craft, and the emotional maturity -- to do justice to the original, exceptionally powerful vision.  It's a truism that a writer should approach every work as the most important work, ever, to ensure a top quality and entertaining product.  But the fact of the matter is that we do, indeed, play favorites.  If we're honest with ourselves we have to admit that craft and emotional maturity are just as important as a nifty idea.  Which is why you probably won't see my "the one", a noir, disturbing planetary romance called The Wolves Of Arcadia, for a couple of years, at least.  It's got a great idea at its core.  I'm almost a good enough writer to pull it off, stylistically.  The market is moving towards favoring strongly-plotted, deeply disturbing sci-fi that wouldn't have gotten past the slush pile a decade ago.

But mostly it's a matter of emotional maturity -- Wisdom, as Boyett rightly says -- that keeps the novel from emerging fully-formed.  Until I can find that point in this very special book, it will remain in the compost pile, and I will envy Boyett his breakthrough.

I'll also be picking up a copy of Mortality Bridge as soon as possible.  I encourage you to do likewise.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Princess Valerie's War is UP!

Princess Valerie's War, my second Space Viking sequel, is now live on  Cover art is to come -- my artist went on vacation.  But the book is up and ready-to-read, at half off what I charged for the first one.

Oh, yeah.  Temporary cover art for Prince of Tanith is up.  The Second Edition will be up within 24 hours, fixing a lot of little bugs and glitches that didn't get fixed the first time around.  The book is a lot more consistent and better-edited now.

And what the heck?  I dropped the price on that one, too.  Classic space opera Atompunk for the masses.

Best yet?  I'm already 4 chapters into the next one, Trask's Odyssey.  It should be out by late this year or early 2012.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Princess Valerie's War published on Kindle this week!

Hate having to wait 47 years for a sequel?  Me, too!  That's why I went ahead and did a sequel to Prince of Tanith, my first Space Viking sequel, called Princess Valerie's War.  It's arguably a better book, now that the characters are established, but I suppose that's for the readers to decide.  But here's the cover blurb:

Escape From Planet X!

When Prince Lucas Trask of Tanith and seventy of his crew from the Nemesis were captured by the Atonians, one of the “civilized” worlds of the Old Federation, things seemed bleak: he was tried in a secret court, paraded before the cameras for propaganda, and sentenced to “re-education” at the dreary secret prison known only as Planet X for the crime of being a Space Viking.  Using interstellar space ships, high-tech combat troops and nuclear weapons to extort planets of their wealth (the Space Viking’s stock-in-trade) is frowned upon by the corrupt dictatorial bureaucracy of Aton – and Trask is in the way of their imperial aspirations, to boot. 

Once on Planet X, however, it becomes clear that Aton is involved in something far more sinister – a conspiricy going all the way to the distant Sword Worlds, five thousand light-years away!  Lucas and his men discover clues to plots and conspiracies over a century old inside an ancient wreck on Planet X – could they also lead to a way to escape the miserable prison world?

Meanwhile, back on Tanith, Lucas’ beautiful wife Princess Valerie is on the trail of Garvan Spasso, an old adversary who has tried and failed to kill the Trasks in the past – and succeeded in kidnapping their infant daughter, Princess Elaine.  The beleaguered Valerie has ordered every resource at her command to find her daughter and punish her kidnapper, but Spasso’s ransom for the infant Heir is no less than the throne of Tanith, itself! 

Princess Valerie has her allies: Admiral Harkaman, Count Valkanhayn, her fanatical Golden Hand guardsmen, and an embarrassing number of captured warships and enthusiastic Space Vikings.  She also has the assistance of the mysterious Mr. Dawes, a very helpful emissary from the enigmatic figured known as the Wizard, whose reasons for helping Tanith are a mystery – and not necessarily a pleasant one. 

But she’ll need all the help she can get, with her charismatic husband lost among the stars.  Tanith has plenty of enemies: the rival Space Viking world of Xochitl, the Sword Worlds of Gram and Haulteclere, and of course the despicable Space Viking turned would-be usurper Garvan Spasso.  With her husband missing, her daughter gone, and her nobles grumbling about the state of the Realm, the former schoolteacher from civilized Marduk suddenly has to learn the difference between a reigning princess consort and a ruling monarch of a Space Viking planet in a time of war – Princess Valerie’s War!   

Lurid enough for you?  I love space opera, in all of its pulpy, over-the-top manifestations!  And new cover art is on the way, too, courtesy Neal Dillon.  

And yes, I've already started working on the third book.  

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Space Viking Sequel: Prince of Tanith!

Announcing the release of the long-awaited sequel to H. Beam Piper's classic tale of revenge in the far-future, Space Viking!  New York Times best-selling author Terry Mancour has published a full-length novel detailing the next exciting chapter in the life of Prince Lucas Trask of Tanith, Space Viking, raider of worlds, defender of inter-stellar civilization.

The novel, Prince of Tanith, is the first in at least three anticipated sequels to the Golden Age-era story.  It is available on Kindle ($7.99) and bound form at ($19.95). 

Prince of Tanith is set in the far future, based on the collected works of H. Beam Piper's classic Terro-Human Future History universe.  It takes up two years after the climactic Battle of Marduk, during which Lucas Trask finally caught up to the man who slew his new bride ten years after the horrific murder, and shot him in the head. 

His revenge taken, Trask has a whole new set of problems and opportunities at hand, from the marriage and coronation of Lady Valerie Alvaraz (now Princess Valerie Trask of Tanith) to the continued development of Tanith into a civilized world to participation in a high-priofile diplomatic conference of the Great Powers who rule what's left of the Old Federation. 

But the Trasks have many enemies: Omfray of Glaspyth, now king of Lucas' homeworld of Gram, is trying to assert his sovereignty over the rebellious colony world from three-thousand light-years away.  Lucas Trask's professional rival, Prince Viktor of Xochitl, is menacing his Realm.  Some power within the Old Federation is maneuvering to put Tanith in the crosshairs.  And a mysterious underworld figure known only as "the Wizard" seems to want to protect him from the number of assasination attempts that come his way. Caught between the newly-aggressive Sword Worlds and the deep machinations of the Great Powers of the Old Federation -- Odin, Marduk, Isis, Baldur, and Aton -- Prince Lucas steers his nascent world on a course that seems destined for destruction!

To top it all off . . . Her Highness is now pregnant with his heir.  If being a sovereign prince of a frontier world is tough, can the Space Viking handle fatherhood, too?

A delightful look back on a classic universe, this novel remains faithful to Piper's style and characters while injecting new life into the world almost 50 years after the original! 

More tantalizing details to follow, including the announcement of the second Space Viking sequel, Princess Valerie's War, forthcoming!