Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Character Creation: Sean P Ryan


Sean Patrick Ryan was my first creation. He was born sometime in 1998. Technically, he was part of a fan fiction I wrote… but back then, I didn’t know that fan fiction was a thing, and what little I knew of was basically “insert self into X TV episode” … which was always boring.

But by the time I was done with the first draft of the White Ops saga, the story looked nothing like the TV show. I had made up more background data and mythology than I had ever gotten out of the show… and that show had a LOT of history and mythology in it.

My premise started fairly simple. In the TV show, a comment was made that that a fixer and gangster who made two appearances in season one had “been taken down.”

That was news to us. We hadn’t heard the name in four years by that time. Who took it down? Why? How?

Enter Sean Patrick Ryan.

I originally designed his physical build on St. Thomas Aquinas—who, depending on who you listened to, was either short and fat, or two meters tall and one wide. It’s hard to tell, considering Aquinas had started all of the fat jokes told about him.

I was young and stupid, and made Sean … I won’t say perfect. He’s not a Mary Sue. He didn’t get beaten up as often as Jim Rockford or Harry Dresden (The latter wasn’t even published yet) but he wasn’t invulnerable. Every time I made him look invulnerable, I came up with some new way to hurt him. This is science fiction, after all, I can always arrange something.

I had him grow up in a monastery so he could be well-educated… maybe over educated. I gave him an eidetic memory so he could make offhand references.

He was a telepath, because why not?

He was Irish, because I was more of a cultural chauvinist back then than I am now.

He was an orphan, because why burden him with parents.

By the time I was done with the first draft, I had written “2,000 pages” and four “books” in fifteen months.

Why the quotes?

My “2,000 pages” were full, 8.5” x 11”, one-inch margins, and single-spaced. Yes, single-spaced. I probably wrote closer to four thousand pages in that time.

By the time I was done, I was a writer, damn it. I had rewired my brain so much that ideas wouldn’t shut up until I wrote them down.

But I knew I could do nothing with fan fiction. It’s trash. Maybe work on it later.

Over 20 years, it’s later.

Unfortunately, Sean Ryan would not leave me alone in the meantime. When I started the novel It Was Only on Stun!, the book would simply not just start until I had a main character… who turned into Sean AP Ryan…

Damn it, Sean!

Okay, fine, it’s one lousy book. Big deal. How much harm can Sean do in one lousy book? Obviously, he had to be different. He ended up a foot shorter, and more athletic, less academic … and much tighter wound. Seriously, much tighter wound.

Then somehow, Sean AP Ryan ended up in A Pius Man. I don’t know why, he just showed up. He wasn’t supposed to be in that book. Then the character who was SUPPOSED to be the lead got killed off, and guess who took over?

Seriously, I can’t get away from him.

Then something else happened offscreen. After Pius, Sean AP Ryan of the 21st century wanted to be a pirate. He was going to steal from terrorists and countries as an alternate revenue stream. Technically, he was a privateer. He was even going to call it the “Impossible Mission Fund,” because all the Ryan’s are smartasses.

So, when I had finished The Pius Trilogy, I went back to White Ops again. Unfortunately, Sean AP Ryan had altered my timeline. The entire timeline. What he was pulling in 2022 was screwing up 2360. In fact, he ended up warping an entire alien culture.

Because of course he did.

Other things had to be rewritten of course. As I grew up and took more physical training, like Krav Maga, I knew that Sean Patrick Ryan of the 2300s needed some sort of martial art. Bar fights are nice, but barroom brawling and size will only go so far. Especially when there are aliens that are bigger, meaner, and stronger.

In this case, I didn’t need to change Sean much. I added something to the Holy Order of Saint Patrick. Now, they ran RennFaire—the intergalactic version. This time, Sean’s memory became useful for picking up martial arts from across the universe.

Sean was not just an orphan left on a doorstep. He had a family reputation. And a family business. And a family fortune.

As with everything else I’ve ever written, it simply spiraled from there.

Buy White Ops Here

My other books


Monday, January 17, 2022

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Politics Kills

One of the more entertaining emails I’ve gotten lately in response to the substack was “How dare you talk about politics with your readers!?”

Long time readers of mine will eventually stop laughing.

I’ve spent over a decade trying to avoid politics. Somehow, it never seems to work. 

Then again, as the saying goes, “Just because you’re not interested in politics does not mean that politics isn’t interested in you.”

And good Lord, has anyone noticed that politics has an unceasing interest in us?

Once upon a time, I described my politics as “leave me alone and no one gets hurt.” I would have used the word “libertarian” until the Libertarian Party made it a dirty word… also, I met some “big-L” Libertarians, who insisted that I was doing it wrong every time.

But yikes, the government has decided that it needs to be involved in everything. I’m fairly done with it.

I would love—dearly love—to go back to a time when I could be apolitical. I miss those days when I just told everyone to go to Hell, I don’t need to pick a side, be gone with you.

It took several books of Saint Tommy just to get away from politics. Because politics was the scariest s*** I could think of. And some of it was. Some of it is made scarier in that my horror fancies have become current events. Because OF COURSE THEY DID.

One of the nice things about doing science fiction: I can get away from current events. 

Sure, there are some things that are still kicking around that are political in nature. Frank Herbert’s quote is still good.

Not to mention that the old axiom “The more government can do for you, the more government can do to you” will still come into play.

Also, that people are stupid, governments are corrupt and power hungry, and the more things change, the more they stay insane.

Things like that.

But I get to play with certain elements that don’t really come up that often. Look at organic technology. How well does it plug into a ship? Or a person? 

At the end of the day, the short version is that this is very much Babylon 5 or DS9, if it were written by Baen authors. 

This isn’t really a surprise, my main SF influences are Babylon 5 or Baen: Weber, Ringo, Zahn. I’d like to think that this is more space opera than anything else.

Hopefully, I can get through the rest of my life without needing to do politics ever again.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Mildra the Monk Podcast

So I was on another podcast. This time, I had the embed link this time.


So here… we … go. 

Monday, January 10, 2022

Happy New Year, I'm Back

I know I’ve been incommunicado for weeks now. Part of that is that I drove all the way to Ohio for Thanksgiving… then I drove back. Yes, that’s an 11 hour trip, and about 700 miles. One way.

Then I promptly started updating my substack, and all but forgetting the blog.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve done two podcasts. Here’s one: if only because I can’t embed the video.

I’ve started work on my next book series: Honeymoon From Hell. Book 1 is The Neck Romancer. 

More on that later.

I’ve been setting up advertising and future podcasts for my new release, White Ops — which is just book one. Feel free to click on the link, for the simple reason that this one is going wide. It’s not in pre-order for hard copy yet, but that’s coming. But if you don’t want to go near Amazon, you don’t have to.

I’ll see about what happens with book two and book three.

This of course, doesn’t even count that I have more books in White Ops in the works. They are already drafted. They just need me to hit them with a hammer some more.

Yes, I know, I’m juggling the creation of one series while editing the other. But remember, this is me. With my writing speed, I hope to have all five books done by the time I have reports on the White Ops series already in the queue.

But that’s one disaster at a time.

As for Honeymoon From Hell

The late and somewhat lamented Harlan Ellison used to perform a trick.

He would sit in the window of a bookstore and pound away at a typewriter, grinding out short stories. As each page was written, he would post it in the window of the bookstore so people could read the short story as it was written.

It was a cute trick.

And if you’re on my Patreon account, you can see this unfold in real time. 

Because Marco and Amanda are back. 

And they're going to get married.

You may recall, some time ago, that I said that Love at First Bite was over. Finished. Fine.

It still is.

Honeymoon From Hell is the sequel series.

And my trick? I will post a chapter a week over on my Patreon. Once a week. For as long as it takes for me to finish writing it. This will be the raw footage, if you will.

And after that, I will publish the books.

So far, the outline to Honeymoon from Hell is like this.

Book one: The Neck Romancer: Our heroes get married and go on a honeymoon (by train). The first stop is Chicago (only the good parts). So of course they run into a Necromatic alderman.

Book two, Blood Country: Marco and Amanda go to California (wine country). They get sucked into a problem involving state senator Roland Lee, who is also dealer in magical weaponry.

Book three, FangCon: The honeymoon ends with WyvernCon, and an old enemy of Amanda’s surfaces.

Book four: Saints and Monsters, THE NOVEL. Marco needs some training in Rome. And he’s going to meet a New York cop who’s a little saintly.

Book Five, Family Business: Someone was behind the monsters of books 1-4, and he's sick and tired of our heroes screwing around.

The posting on Patreon begins January 5th, 2022.

My publication date is … I don’t know yet. You’ll know when I do.

I’m working as fast as I can.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Cover reveal: Main Street DOA

My White Ops space opera is set in the 2360s. My main character, Sean Patrick Ryan, is different from Sean A.P. Ryan of It Was Only On Stun! and Pius.

First, this is the original Sean Patrick Ryan. His temperament is more… even. He likes to read books. He doesn’t exercise an insane amount, but he’s 6’6,” he’s a tough sumbitch.

But he’s a Ryan. Being forced to relax and have fun … isn’t in his nature.

Unfortunately, he’s also a smartass.

So, when his alien boss asks “Sean, you’ve been through three wars in the last two years. What are you going to do now?” His kneejerk reaction is to say “Of course, I’m going to the Happiest place in the galaxy.”

The joke doesn’t translate.

Which is how Sean Patrick Ryan and his team of interstellar Knights Templar end up being sent to an amusement planet.

At least for a few days, Sean is going to content himself by looking at the security arrangements. Genetically altered dinosaurs and prehistoric sharks aren’t his thing. Nor animatronic tour guides.

But when terrorists take over the planet, this is Sean’s idea of a party.

It’s time for a show down on Main Street: DOA.

It comes out in the ides of March. 

You can pre order the book here: https://books2read.com/WO3

Also, the cover.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

White Ops #2 Cover Reveal: Politics Kills

 In the first novel of the Space Opera White Ops, I explode a looming threat to the galaxy from a Mongol cannibal horde from another galaxy. They are dark. They are evil, and they are HUNGRY.

Unfortunately, they’re also really powerful, and that’s when the fun starts.

By book two, there is no hiding from the threat. It’s out, it’s ready to declare war on … everything.

Now it’s time to get people to work together.

The politics of that is going to be a killer.

Book #2 is here. It comes out in February.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Enter: White Ops

Many moons ago, when I was 16 (1998), I started writing. Soon what started as one lousy collection of short stories spiraled into a Space Opera epic over 4000 pages. I wrote all six books of them in 15 months.

Does that sound impressive? Well, I was under the impression that a book was 300-400 pages.

I did not know at the time that the pages of any given novel DID NOT EQUAL the same number of typed pages… on 8.5 x 11 paper… single spaced.

So, yes, this spiraled a little. I don’t even know what the original word count is on each book.

In the years since, I’ve rewritten these Space Operas countless times. Seriously, I’ve completely lost count. There are few things that resemble the first draft. There are days I can’t recall what’s in the final draft (I hear Jim Butcher has similar problems with some Dresden books).

Think Space Templars versus cannibalistic Mongol hordes from another galaxy.

Why is it White Ops? Because unlike Black Ops, this is covert ops for the army of light.

If you’re interesting in taking a look at the series, it is already up for preorder. It will be out January 18th. Yes, it will be available on hard copy. Eventually.

And now, the cover to book one.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Lou Antonelli is dead

Louis Antonelli was a relative latecomer to being an author. He didn't publish until he was 46 years old, in 2003. But in less than 20 years, he wrote over a hundred stories to publications around the world.

His dayjob was a professional journalist, For the past six years, he was the managing editor of The Clarksville Times

His first novel was alternate history novel Another Girl, Another Planet, which was reviewed here at Upstream Reviews. When it first came out, I insisted that it be nominated for a Dragon award. He said that if he was nominated, he owed me a beer. Lucky for him, I don't drink. When a rain storm and massive traffic problems prevented him from attending DragonCon that year, he sent me his speech, just in case I had to give it for him. Sadly, it was a year Harry Turtledove was nominated.

When I came down to Dallas in 2019, Lou and his wife drove out to meet me and my wife Vanessa, and we hung out with Moira Greyland. Lou joked that it was "PuppyCon 1," and all we needed was Larry Correia.

When the Upstream Review went live last week, he texted me to thank me to the review. I was happy to hear from him, since I wanted to see him while I was visiting Texas this week. But he told me he was texting from his hospital bed. He was in for heart troubles. When I asked him how serious it was, he did not reply.

Lou Antonelli died on yesterday, October 6th, he was 64 years old.

I am in Texas for a wedding. I may have to stay for a funeral.

~Declan Finn

Texas, 2021.