Monday, August 31, 2015

Honor At Stake Chapter 1, and chapter headings.

I was scrolling through Honor At Stake, and I decided that I have some fairly fun little chapter titles.

So, before I post the first part of chapter 1 (you already got the prologue and you have the book coming out tomorrow, so yes, you only get four pages)  And yes, the formatting is as good as I can get it, since I'm taking from a pdf.

Chapter 1: Love at First Bite.
Chapter 2: Always date inside your species
Chapter 3: Journey into Brooklyn
Chapter 4: Dating Sucks
Chapter 5: Vampires and Philosophy
Chapter 6: Anatomy of a Vampire
Chapter 7: Vampire Christmas
Chapter 8: Old Friends
Chapter 9: Hospital Visit
Chapter 10: Application of Fear
Chapter 11 Train Ride
Chapter 12: Meeting the Ex
Chapter 13: Elementary, My Dear Dracula
Chapter 14 Attack of the Vatican Ninjas
Chapter 15: Things Can Get Worse
Chapter 16: Bar Hopping
Chapter 17: A Quiet Talk
Chapter 18: Duel
Chapter 19: Sniper Fodder
Chapter 20  Snack Food
Chapter 21:  Negotiations, Vampire Style
Chapter 22  The Oncoming Storm
Chapter 23 Saturday Bite in Brooklyn
Chapter 24 Dance with the Devil
Chapter 25  Boston Shaman
Chapter 26 Enter The Twilight Zone
Chapter 27  Filling in the New Guy
Chapter 28  Once Bitten
Chapter 29 The Mount Olivet Incident
Chapter 30  The Battle for Queens
Chapter 31 I Can Kill you with my mind.
Chapter 32  Unresolved Issues

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Radio Show Tonight: Shadowdancer and Aff

Check Out Culture Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with We Built That Network on BlogTalkRadio

You might recall that I SWATted someone in Australia recently as part of my parody series Sad Puppies Bite Back.

Now, Rory "Shadowdancer" Modena is coming on my show, with her friend Aff.  There will be swearing and cursing and screaming ... and then they guests will come on. Heh.

See you all tonight.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

#TBT -- The Honor At Stake Roundup

There will be no new posts today.

"He said, in a new post."

I was originally going to title this one "Throwing it back, it's under the limit," but I don't do fishing jokes well.

Right now, I've done five posts this week.  For a guy who used to do 1 a week, this is all sorts of new for me.

Keep in mind, Honor at Stake also comes out next Tuesday, and I don't have anything else to say about it.... Yes, I got a plug in, like how I did that?

I would have posted a #TBT post dedicated to my blog on Sex in Novels, but it has two comments on it ... from this year.  I apparently posted it all over the place recently.

I'd talk about Honor at Stake and the publishing industry ... but I've done that one.

I've got the basics of the book down already, including the cover and the tag.

Why I went from doing thrillers that take Dan Brown out to the woodshed to taking Steph Meyer out to the woodshed.

I've covered the origins of Honor At Stake.

I've covered how I modified vampire lore for Honor at Stake.

I even talked about how a sociopath and a vampire walk into a bar...

I even discussed world building, how vampires would deal with the real world, and Vatican Ninjas.

I've even talked about the wonderful world of writing romance.

I even posted the prologue.

At 11 blogs later, I'm running out of things to say.  Except of course, to ask you if you could please buy the book.

Oh!  Wait!  I've got some reviews!  Dawn, the guest puppy of a while ago, has posted her review for the book. I'll go into that more next week, but here you go.

She even ends it by trying to get me hooked up.  Never had that happen before.

Oh, below, this is the first drafter of the Honor At Stake cover.

Given the general response I've gotten, I'm willing to never discuss it again.  Because I'm really not sure what to say about it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Post-Puppy Roundups

The Hugo Awards are the story that just won't die.

First up, there is Daniella Bova over on her blog talking about how the Puppies tie in with mainstream publishing.

George RR Martin himself boasted about how he kicked the Puppies, and then himself bitched that if Sad Puppies had not been involved, Toni Weisskopf (elite veteran editor at Baen) would have gotten an award.

Aimee Morgan, over on Facebook, had a great reply to his post ("Hugo Aftermath" on his livejournal).

Nope. No war. No SJWs. No politics. Just a whole bunch of works and people who were ignored and/or slighted because the wrong people supported them.
Don't pretend it didn't happen. You admit that works were downvoted because Puppies supported them. You admit that you would have liked to see how the competition would have gone had certain works not been supported by the wrong people (heck - you might even have gotten another award!) But it was all the Puppies' fault. Had they not had the temerity to get involved in the Hugos, none of this would have happened. Had they not had the impertinence to suggest works for nomination, this kerfuffle would have been avoided. Had they not had the unmitigated GALL to suggest that Toni Weisskopf might be worthy of a Hugo, she might have actually won.
Yeah, right. Pull the other one - it has bells on it.
The Sad Puppies said "here's a bunch of good stuff that's Hugo eligible this year. Read it, and if you agree you can nominate it for a measly $40". And peoples' heads started to explode. Oh My GOD!!!!!!!!! It's a bunch of conservative hateful white Mormon men trying to eliminate diversity in SciFi!!!!! Except, it wasn't, and the Sad Puppy list of suggest works had men and women, gay and straight, of various skin tones, and assorted politics ranging from libertarian to unknown (but probably more progressive than I).
Don't worry though. The TruFen wanted to send a message, and they did. Even without the Asterisk awards, we got the message.
And the message was "Needs more Puppies."
Exactly, as the International Lord of Hate himself mentioned, Toni was eligible for a Hugo last year, but this year, Toni got even more votes, and was shouted down by No Awards. Nice, George. Just nice.

Oh, and Aimee is female (obviously) and Catholic. So, nicely done, you Puppy Kicking bastards.

Vox Day even backs this up, as he crunches the numbers on the pre-Puppy nominations of Toni for the Hugo.  Oops.

The Novel Ninja has a few choice things to say on the subject, including highlighting just how utterly insane the entire reaction was by the CHORFs / Puppy Kickers / SJWs.

As pointed out in the post on Tuesday, Sarah isn't happy, and Cedar might be in WitSec.

Honey Badgers? Also are not happy.

Brad Torgersen has declared that the Puppy Kickers are just vicious, rabid schmucks ... okay, he didn't say anything like that, but he has discovered something I've noticed awhile ago -- when you get into something that involves politics in any way, shape or form, expect torches and pitchforks.

A suggestion for next year and Sad Puppy 4?  This should be the motto, and the general attitude of everyone who volunteers to be on the Sad Puppy list of suggested nominees.

Granted, I'm not sure how Jim Butcher avoided the labels, or Kevin J. Anderson, but that's probably because Jim is a nerd's nerd, and Anderson is a veteran. But still, yikes, if you had open support, you were beaten, kicked, and grabbed torches and pitchforks.

Oh, and for the record, no, I still have no problems being a potential Sad Puppy nominee next year. Why not?  I'm a conservative New York Catholic.  "Come and get me" is my default position.

Also, this seems to be the Hugo victory image the CHORFs want to use.

Celebrate diversity?  You people have never ridden a single New York City subway train, have you? I've lived in New York for so long, a monochromatic room makes me uncomfortable -- this group would make me get onto another subway car.

I don't think the future has ever looked so white.

The New Hugo Theme: Let it Burn

Everyone has been talking about how the Hugos have burned themselves down.

And so, Let it Burn, as sung by … any of the CHORFs, really

The lights burn bright here in Spokane tonight
Not a Puppy to be seen
A kingdom of degredation, and it looks like they're the queens
The CHORFs are howling like this swirling storm outside
Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows they tried

Won’t let them in, won’t let them see
Be the good Libs you always have to be
Don't think, just feel, don’t let them know
Well now they know

Let it burn, let it burn
Can’t hold hate back anymore
Let it burn, let it burn
Turn away and lock the doors
I don’t care
What Vox Day will to say
Let the CHORFs rage on, the dumb never bothered me anyway

It’s funny how some post'ring
Makes all of them seem small
And good sense that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what we can do
To test wrong fan-dom and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
Just thee!

Let it burn, let it burn!
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it burn, let it burn
You’ll always see me cry
Here we stand
And here we stay
Let the fans rage on

Our safe zone shields us from the air into the ground
Gerrold is spiraling in furry tribbles all around
And one thought energizes crystallizes like an phaser blast
We're never going back,
Heinlein is in the past

Let it Burn, let it Burn
Watch it all go down in flames

Let it burn, let it burn
All subtlety is gone
Here we stand at the end of days
Let the CHORFs rage on,
The dumb never bothered me anyway

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Wrong Kind of Laugh: Hugos as Joke

It has come to my attention that we of the Sad Puppies are taking the “True Fan” Puppy Kickers, far, far too seriously. Once, I joked that I was the Sad Puppy comedy corner with my Sad Puppies Bite Back series, Tom Knighton pointed out to methat I fit right in. After all, the spokes-critter was a Manatee for God's sake – all the Tweets were some variety of “Hooonnn.”

And for all that, we're still taking them too seriously.

I've seen multiple reactions to the Hugo awards ceremony. Tom Kratman said, “Yes!” Larry shrugged and said “I told you so.” Ringo said “So glad to have all my previous statements about the Hugos proven right. There is no point to tilting a diseased windmill.” Vox Day was happy to get five No Awards. Tom Kratman wanted even more. Cedar Sanderson makes me wonder if she's joining WitSec.

One reaction I have not seen was laughter.

Sure, they threw insults at us. But I've been a fat, nerdy, Conservative Catholic New Yorker for years, if I let insults bother me, I'd have slit my wrists already.

But let's look at this – They had a Dalek come out to present the award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short form), and a Dalek announces that it was a fan of John Scalzi, Puppy Kicker -in Chief…

Could I have a show of hands? How many people would want their spokes-critter to be a genocidal alien Space Nazi? 

This is like atheists getting a personal endorsement by Satan. This is Planned Parenthood getting a quote from Moloch. I'd really rather not get an endorsement by Adolf Hitler, thank you.

These “True Fans” thought it was a *good idea* to get an endorsement from one of the most famously evil creatures in science fiction. Hell, if they had said “Vox Day,” that would have at least fit the theme they had going of Vox as Supreme Dark Lord. Since Daleks run on hate, it would have fit Larry's joke of being the International Lord thereof.

But no, they picked a Dalek for a fan. Nice going, “True Fans.” Do you idiots even watch Doctor Who? Or did you figure that it was nominated every year, then google it to find the first thing that came up?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sad Puppies Bite Back XV: Bite Harder

If you are new here, this is part of a series. The whole series is collected at the Sad Puppies Tab Above

This is the end.  It's over.  The Hugo awards were announced this past Saturday, and the votes are in. It's done.

Wow.  Who knew you could carry a joke this far?

There are some more SWATting incidents I typed up, mainly because one person was ready-made, and one person made an offhand comment that I felt compelled to follow up on.  I would have SWATted John C. Wright earlier, but between the problem of trying to SWAT a brain in a jar, and having never read him, I had nothing to go on until I interviewed him for the show.

Now, a word on Vox Day / Theodore Beale.  He's ... a nerd.

I saw him speak during a webinar giving commentary on the Hugos.  A woman I watched with? Called him cuddly.  He supports the Wrights' superversive fiction movement, and ....

I was promised Darth Vader, damnit!  I got Dark Helmet!

Funny thing, Vox pretty much called the results from the other day as the Webinar started.  Then again, he almost sounded surprised about how vicious they were against the Sad Puppy nominees.

Anyway, and now, for the final time ....


John C. Wright
"The Brain"

[SWAT kicks door in, swarms house. In the front den is John C. Wright, the living brain in a jar, pounding out a novel using telekinesis.]

[JCW keeps typing]  Can I help you gentlemen? You could have knocked you know, it would have been possible that I would have even invited you in and explained the situation; though I had expected it much much sooner than this.

[SWAT team looks confused.  SWAT #1 looks at JCW.] We had reports of --

[JCW] --a deranged man waving a gun around, I know; I had figured; after all, it was inevitable, giving the current climate in which we reside. After the first few threats to my livelihood, I've managed to become accustomed to this level of stupidity and hostility that has been thrust upon me by the reprobates at Tor Books and the Morlocks who follow them.  We will not even discuss the loathsome comments of one Irene Gallo. Just because I dared to be unapologetically Catholic; I'm becoming tired of this general destructive nature of the luecrottas.  Somehow, I am a racist, though Catholicism is not a racial characteristic but a spiritual one, and sainthood is not an inherited characteristic.

[SWAT #1] Well, um, sir --?

[JCW] Yes, I'm a sir. I may be a brain, but I'm not gender-neutral.

[SWAT #1] We should probably leave now.  Obviously, someone made a mistake.

[JCW] By all means, leave. But there was no mistake. After all, look up the imbecility of the situation online, you'll learn that this was quite deliberate.  Just ignore anything that attaches me to GamerGate -- the only gamer who has read my work is one Daddy Warpig. Were I a pagan, I'm certain that I would erect a suitable shrine to Daddy Warpig, a stepped pyramid rising from the steaming jungles of Mexico, adorned with larger-than-life marble statues of raging boars coated with hammered gold, on which to sacrifice captive foes, and offer their still beating hearts to his glory!  AH hahahahahahaha!

[SWAT team looks decidedly uncomfortable.]

[JCW] Of course, I'm joking. It is almost depressing that I am required to say that to be understood.

[SWAT] Goodbyem sir.

[JCW] Good day, all.

[JCW  continues to pound out his novel, starring Vatican ninjas, Aslan in powered armor, fighting Kaiju demons]

Yeah, I've been told for quite some time that I had to include JCW in my SWATting, it just took me a while to figure out a way to properly pull it off.  And, yes, I did C&P a lot of his text from the attached links, but that's because he has such a distinct style of speaking, I wanted to nail it down. 

[SWAT opens door. It was unlocked. They charge in. SWAT leader accidentally kicks a small cat. Cat seems to be completely unharmed as it lands on its feet with a heavy thud, as though it was a heavier animal. SWAT sweeps and clears the home. They regroup in the living room.]

[SWAT #1] Did dispatch give us the wrong address?

[SWAT #2] I don't think so.

[SWAT #1 squints at a sign on the wall]  What's that? "Don't feed the kitty-dragon"? What the hell is a that? Sounds like something a kid would make up.

[Cat pads it way to center of room, and open its mouth wide, as though it's yawning, and then breathes fire, singing the nearest SWAT members.]

[SWAT #1]  RUN!!!!

Redford is an acquaintance of mine on Facebook, and oft refers to "Kitteh Dragon" in her posts. You can understand why I had to do this.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

TONIGHT, on The Catholic Geek: the Hugos and Planned Parenthood

The Catholic Geek: the Hugos, and Planned Parenthood with Daniella Bova 08/23 by We Built That Network | Culture Podcasts

Check Out Culture Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with We Built That Network on BlogTalkRadio with We Built That Network on BlogTalkRadio

So, this will happen at 7PM EST TODAY.

Sad Puppies 3 is, at long last, over.  The Final Sad Puppies Bite Back happens tomorrow.

I am, at last, finished.  Whew

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Within Temptation -Skyfall (Adele Cover)

Music to write Bond to. James Bond.

You know what, Adele has a great range, but I like this arrangement better.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Prologue: Honor At Stake


Lily Sparks was a standard issue girl with a non-standard issue boyfriend. She was short and cute and what might be called “bouncy,” while he was tall, clean cut, and cut a nice, trim figure in his army uniform. The way she was draped on his arm almost made her look like a fashion accessory, though she tended to think of the fellow as something that really looked nice on her arm.

Lily was happy, and had considered getting even happier a little later on. In fact, there was a nice, private alley that looked just perfect for getting the rest of the evening started. Her date was prim and proper, a perfect gentleman since they met.

Maybe it was time for that to change.

Lily changed direction, pulling her man to the alley. It was out of the line of sight for most foot traffic, and dark enough for her purposes. He was caught off-guard by the maneuver. When she
pushed him up against a wall and wrapped her arms around his neck, he was slow to respond.

The first noise she heard that wasn’t from either of them was a cough, followed by a wheeze. Then she saw him out of the corner of her eyes—someone with a knife. The face was young, but the eyes were worn out and old. The only visible teeth were worn away, as though ground down over time.

Lily screamed. Her date turned towards the attacker, and only stared at the new arrival a moment.

“You want to mug us?” he asked, shaking his head slowly. “That’s a mistake.”

The mugger smiled as much as he could without a full set of teeth, and came straight for Lily’s date. The two men met in the middle.

Lily screamed again, at first in fear for her date, then in fear for her life.

Then in fear of her date as he turned on her, fresh blood around his lips.

Her screams still echoed in his ears five minutes later, as the man in the uniform stood in the alley, his mouth covered in blood, the coppery taste fresh in his mouth.

He smiled the whole time. He was perfectly happy.

Marco Catalano had enjoyed that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Making Vampires For the Real World (Honor at Stake)

I've always had a problem with vampire fiction in which the vampires were so secret, nobody knew they existed.  Nobody.  At all.

Seriously, when you're around for hundreds of years, eventually somebody is going to start talking.

Which is why when I started writing Marco and Amanda, their first step was to go to the local Catholic church and start asking questions -- if only so their inquiry can be kicked up the chain of command.  The next step would have been to go to the nearest synagogue. Why? Because where else are you going to go aside from the organizations that have been around for a few thousand years?

And from the church, we will get one very simple concept: Vatican ninjas,

Yes, it feels as though I've promised Vatican ninjas for a while now.  Well, you're gonna get them.

After a while, I started working out the people who should have, reasonably, come across vampires for the last hundred years or so -- and survived the encounter. Soldiers were at the top of that list. Since there are a lot of soldiers who went from the military into the police department, there would be cops all over the country who would at least be concerned about the monsters under the bed.

Yes, I know, if I'm not careful, I'm going to end up recreating the world of Monster Hunter International.

Now, is every  last vampire going to be the loaner sulking out in the middle of nowhere?  Well, that would be hard, considering that Honor At Stake is in New York City. For the record, no, "the city" is not Manhattan.  I live in Queens, so I'm one of those people who remember that New York City has five boroughs.  Yes, I know that New Yorkers refer to Manhattan as "the city," but if a large quantity of vampires lived in Manhattan, it would be way too easy for the neighbors to realize that the creepy guy next store is not right.

.... Okay, for the most part, there are a lot of neighborhoods where you can get away with that because every other person on the block is some variety of "not right," because, well, welcome to New York.  The major philosophy of the city is "cerchez le buck" and "leave me alone, and I won't push you in front of a train, thanks." But you can't stuff all the vampires into one neighborhood.**

That's why there will be a vampire who claims to be a Roman Centurion from the Empire and he owns Little Italy! At which point, someone will smack him down and tell him that, 1) being a Sergeant in Mussolini's army doesn't count, and 2) if he doesn't sit down and shut up, he'll be driven out of "Little Italy" (which, right now, is about one square block in lower Manhattan) and sentenced to his great grandson's home in Howard Beach, enjoy it when it floods.

Yes, welcome to New York.

I created a NYC-VA President Jennifer Bosley off of
Billie Piper from Doctor Who.
And yes, there will be a governing body of vampires. The New York City Vampire Association will have monthly meetings in the far east corner of Queens, in the local VFW hall. But that's for book two.  It's also for vampires of status -- you know, the vampires that invested in the ground floor of Ma Bell (AT&T), IBM and Apple.

There will be vampire bars. There will be a nice little underground network that will guarantee fresh blood, caught that evening. There will be plenty of them that want to be 9-5 vampires (AM, of course), go home, crawl into a room with blackout curtains, and not want to get up until the next morning.

There will also be a history of vampires going back to the 18th century.  Why only that far back? Because I haven't needed a reason to go back farther yet. There will be vampires on both sides of World War II -- because Gulags and Concentration camps are natural places to make certain that the victims of vampires don't end up coming back for any reason (Let's just say that there was one concentration camp where it was replaced with a row of trees. No one really knows what happened to it. I have a nicel little supposition on that one.)

Now, why would vampires be a secret?  Well, that part is simple, and I'll give you an example. I live in New York. Announce that vampires exist. Prove it to one and all.  Watch every goth become a target of people with recently purchased bow and arrow sets, or Molotov cocktails, or try to utilize weaponry they've seen in any random vampire film.

That's why even the most demonic vampire is going to keep a low profile. Because even vampires understand that, if Satan appears in a puff of smoke in front of a live studio audience, people suddenly become very, very religious.  And you'd have every single civilian on the planet carrying enough crosses and rosaries to equip everyone in the Vatican, and still have enough left over to hand out to the tourists.

Short version: mass panic is good for no one.


** Yes, I just said that New Yorkers are comprised mostly of capitalist libertarians, but it's true. Trust me, if the totalitarian schmucks who get 90% of the national air time were representative of the city, the city would look much more like Detroit, or Baltimore.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Writing a Romance Novel (Honor At Stake)

I've obviously done romance before, but mostly as a subplot in the books I've written.

With Codename: Winterborn, for example, there were two love plots going on.  One was between Kevin Anderson and his wife.  The other was with hunter and prey, and even then, it was a little odd. It was very, very ... Laura, really.**  Though the main plot is heavy on the action.

[**Laura, a murder mystery in which a detective falls in love with the victim through her portrait. In the case of Codename: Winterborn, it was via files and seeing him in action]

With Codename: Winterborn, however, this took months, the average romance novel takes, what, days? A week or two? Then jumping into bed like sex-starved hyenas during mating season?  I think the longest was a Kenyon novel called Fantasy Lover where holding off on sex was a massive plot point.

The closest to falling in love in a matter of days was Scott Murphy and Manana Shushurin in A Pius Man, and the rest of the Pius Trilogy (books two and three take place over the course of a week or so).

But now, Honor At Stake ...

I want a damn love story. Something that looks real.  Something that feels real.  Something that takes time to develop.

Reason #3 why Honor At Stake takes place over the course of 9 months.

How do I do that?

The casual visitor to this blog says: "Well, Declan, you've been in love before, right? Use your real love life."

I say: "Have you read my blogs about my love life? It looks like a train wreck."

Yeah.  Fun fact, any relationship of mine that survived in real life for any length of time was unreal in so many ways, I can't even describe it without people calling me a liar.  Hell, I don't even believe my own love life.

Besides, I suspect that a love story that is a blow by blow of a real relationship would probably bore the crap out of most people.

However, I am a follower of one of the better romances on television: Castle.

Yes, Castle.  It has character development, a relationship that grows out from mutual attraction, to partnership, to friendship, and then to love. Heck, I've got one review that noted that's how it should work, but let's face it, when else do you see that in the romance genre?   The phrase "Let's just be friends" is pretty much the end of any romantic relationship -- in romance, and in my own experience.

And, along the way, basically everyone else sees this relationship except these two.

In Honor At Stake, with Marco Catalano and Amanda Colt, oy, these two have got relationships baggage that look like Samsonite, or maybe a Haliburton.  Emotional issues? Well, one's a vampire, the other is a killer, what do you think?

There is also, of course, the belief that some people have that they are unloveable -- "Seriously, what creature could possibly love a creature like me? Only some broken psycho would express any interest -- only the psychos have expressed an interest. And why would any "normal" person give me the time of day?"  You know, like they kinda do on Arrow.

Not that I know anything about that, of course.

So you have two creatures of the night -- would would rather be feared rather than loved, and one who eats people.

Now, I'm not going to say that this is the most unlikely duo I've ever created.  Manana and Scott were pretty much the most opposite I could get while making them still human.  As for the vampire ... well, their personalities are compatible on multiple levels.

I like little things. Little details.  Little innocent things that can be taken the right way if you look at them really hard, but don't because neither one thinks the other wants to go there. Little looks and touches, and smells and "if she hugs me any closer she's going to realize I'm having a not-so-innocent reaction," and "stay calm, or the increased heartbeat will give the game away."

You know, things like that.  I'm told I do that well.

And there are ninjas, but they'll be tomorrow.

Right now, pre-order the book.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Building Character (Honor At Stake}

I find the word "sociopath" to be dreadfully overused.

No, seriously, think about it. If a soldier kills people who are trying to kill him and has no problem with that, would you really fault him?  However, if he enjoys such a thing, he's labeled a sociopath. If he has no problem with it at all, he's a sociopath. And if he even discusses killing in a way that's not sufficiently remorseful or stressed out, he's probably labeled a sociopath.

Though Churchill and George Washington both have quotes on how much fun it can be to be shot at.

Seriously, at the end of the day, does it matter?

Now, granted, if you've got someone who actively goes hunting, that's a bit of a problem. Being an addict for being shot at and killing? That's a serial killer.

That's why I can plainly state of Marco Catalano and Amanda Colt that one is a homicidal bloodthirsty monster, and the other is a vampire. Heh. This is the fun part of Honor At Stake.

With Marco and Amanda, I wanted two people who were nothing alike.  One comes off as being warm and friendly and personable, the other is colder and clinical and happens to own a street gang.

So, yeah, fun times.

But, honestly, I liked working with these two. Marco is very much a gentleman, and believes in chivalry, and has enough martial arts training to defend anyone around him. He's also got a mind like a trap (before you ask, it's more like a claymore mine -- totally focused and highly destructive). She's got a spy's memory, and she has no problem letting him show off (it's adorable how he thinks some of his Krav Maga is new).

Marco doesn't really understand people. Amanda understands them very, very well.

They're both smart, intelligent folks who have had a long history of relationship issues. So that's fun.

Also, there is a large chunk of this that is very much reflective of my own personal life. Each of them have been alienated by "society" at large ... though that's because large chunks of said society is stupid.  I mean, really, what is so terrible with breaking someone's fingers if they try to harm someone you care about?  And power tools are an option when dealing with rapists, right?

.... Yeah, if I had to pick a Deadly Sin, it would have to be Wrath.

But they're both very, very gun shy about relationships, and with good reason.  She looks like an angel, and he moves with the grace of a martial artist. Chemistry? Enough to blow up a building. Willingness to pull the trigger? Zero.

Anyway, as far as the dietary issues inherent in being a vampire, well, did you know that donated blood has an expiration date?

And, yes, expired blood tastes ... expired. But that's what booze is for. Something to kill the taste.

Another large part of the character involves how vampirism works. There will be medicine in this, believe it or not.

Pope quiz: Is a virus alive?  Keep in mind, we're using "alive" as defined by Aristotle, which includes giving of itself to create new life. A virus duplicates by reprogramming live that is foreign to it -- other cells.  So, is a virus alive?  Yes and no.

However, does that sound familiar? Rewrite the last paragraph with the word "vampire" instead of "virus." Which means ...

Yes, a virus is undead. Which explains a lot about how other vampires are created.

Just wait until you get to the mitochondrial DNA. Heh heh heh.

How does this involve character?  Glad you ask.

Well, biting someone transfers saliva, which has the same sort of blood-borne elements as any other body fluids. Which means that being bitten will give the victim a few days of better senses, and strength, and ...

Gee, that means there will be a whole lot of biting.  Just to help the poor defenseless human hold his / her own when danger is coming.  Honest. So Marco and Amanda will have to spend more than a few times locked in an embrace with lips locked onto someone's neck.

But no, nothing relationship wise is going on here. If they tell each other that enough, they might even believe it. Heh heh heh.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Amaranthe - Theory of Everything

Amaranthe is back in my list of "Music to listen to."  And this time, I can recommend the video.  Why? Because PARKOUR

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Meanwhile, at the Catholic Geeks

So, some really odd stuff has been going on lately, and I thought I should share.

If you follow my stuff over at the Catholic Geeks (which is easily accessed by clicking the tab above), some twit named JA Micheline decided to say that Marvel should be boycotted because black characters need to be written by black writers, and Marvel will not hire black authors.  No, seriously, that was said.  If you do not believe me, go there now, I fisked the whole damn thing.

So, I channeled my inner smartass and unleashed everything I had on them.


The odd thing happened when I discovered later on that the blog was getting a lot of hits. A. Lot.  I clicked on one referring page Chicks on the Right.  I thought Huh, that can't be right. Did someone post a link in the comments?

Last year, if you told me I would make an article headline because I set my snark to kill, I would have laughed in your face. Now, it's a thing.

How does that even work?

However, it seems that Constantine is to Arrow to bring someone else back from the dead. No, really, it's a thing.

And to join in on the politicking fun, I helped my friend and blog runner Matt Bowman make fun of some fake Catholics online.

And since I didn't do a review of Ant-Man, here's someone else's review.

Can you tell I'm running out of steam?

Anyway, this week, on the Catholic Geek, I've got Jack July. If you don't remember him, tune in, you should eventually.

And if you've clicked on any of those links, you now have more than enough reading material for the next half hour, so I'm going to stop now.  Enjoy.

And if you like ribs, check out the Aloha Snack Bar. No, really. That's a thing.

Music Blog Within Temptation - Grenade

Yes, I'm doing a Bruno Mars song as music I can write to, but this version is by a group with talent.... No, I'm not a fan of Mars. He comes off as whiny.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Building Catholic Vampire Lore (Honor At Stake)

Yesterday, I mentioned how I made Honor At Stake a book out of Buffy-inspired fan fiction. But how does one do that?

In the beginning ... get the vampire lore down.  How does it work?

Step one: I want my Dracula back.

And I mean the original Bram Stoker Dracula. Something that made sense.

In the Buffy verse, those who turn into vampires (while they MIGHT have the personality and characteristics of the people they were when they were alive), are basically possessed by a carbon copy of a demon.  This is one way to make the original Dracula story make sense, especially with Lucy being pure and virtuous when alive, and a killing machine when she develops fangs.

Heck, someone in the comments section of one of my last posts insists that's exactly what Bram Stoker had written.

But do I want to do that? Seriously, that seems very quick and easy, doesn't it? Instant killing machine? I don't want to use something that could be a cheap knockoff.

Though on the other hand, I want crucifixes and holy water to work on these creatures of the night.  Why? Because I am sick and tired of these secularized vampires in my vampire fiction. Even Fred Saberhagen, whose Dracula novels I loved, ejected religion almost entirely.

I want that back. Yes, I had no problem with Saberhagen doing that, but he was the first in my experience to do that ... about twenty or thirty years ago.

Another reason I wanted  religious artifacts to work on vampires?  Logically, if left unchecked, the forces of darkness would easily overrun everybody if they so desired. And if there are demons from Hell, there is going to be a God in Heaven. And He will do something to cover our asses. Thank you. Period. The end.

... In which case, then what?  No, seriously, if I'm not going for instant killing machine, just drink blood, how do I make vampires affected by holy items?

Because here's the most important question: How am I going to circumvent free will?

Oh, well, duh, that's the easy part: I incorporate free will.

One of the things people may not be aware of with me is that I play video games.  Yes, I've blogged about it before, but it's been a while.

One of the more important parts of many role-playing video games is Aristotle's ethics: character is shaped by one's actions, motivations, and even words and thoughts.  What we do is who we are. We're formed by actions.

And what if it's the same for vampires?  The more evil or virtuous they are, the more powerful they become.  Day to day people, who just want to get home and take a nap after a long day at work, will probably be generally unaffected by holy artifacts, but they won't be very powerful either.  The vicious have problems being within line of sight of a church.  The virtuous have no problems.

.... How does that work though?

If you look through the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, he created an outline of the abilities of a post-resurrection body. This would include the ability to rearrange the atoms of one's body to slip between the spaces of the atoms in a wall -- because a post-resurrection body would be something the owner would have complete control over, because the soul would be so bound up with the body.

Well, if that's the case, why can't we expand this list into a this hypothetical extension that includes shape-shifting? Like into a bat or something?

In this case, that would make vampirism an imperfect resurrection -- or an imperfect death. If it was perfect, they wouldn't need blood.  Heh.  And the actions that form the vampire would join the body and soul tighter together, and thus increase the vampire's control over their own body, and then can do dang near ANYTHING. BWAHAHAHAHAHAAHAH


So, this might be the start of something big. I'd be able to keep crucifixes vs. vampires. I could have good vampires, evil vampires, and all of the Dracula-esque superpowers.

Hmm... does that mean my vampires are walking corpses with fangs and a personality? Or are they alive?  Answer: perfect control means they don't need to breathe or eat, but they can if they want to. And let's face it, if they keep their body processes going, they create blood by eating regular food.

We won't even go into blood from the chalice. Heh heh heh.

The next step, of course, is to add vampires to our history.

Were vampires part of the French revolution as part of the nobles being beheaded, or were they part of the peasant rushing forward to catch blood with their bread?

Do I have Nazi vampires? Commie vampires?

Why not both? After all, why else would they have death camps?

Of course, this would require some vampire spies, right?

Ooh, a Cold War with vampires, isn't that fun?

Obviously, this can go on for a very, very, very long time.

And I'm a historian by training, so guess what? I have more background than I have wanted for creating vampire biographies.

This was all so much fun. Enjoy Honor at Stake.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Developing novels: Honor at Stake origins

I've mentioned once or twice that fan fiction is more or less how I started writing. It was of a space opera tv show called Babylon 5, and simply put, it spiraled out of my control into something so totally different, I didn't need to rewrite a whole hell of a lot to make it a different universe.

However, I started doing that in 1998, before I really knew what the hell Fan Fiction was.

Then my sister decided that she was going to do something for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She based a character on me a little. He was named Marco, a bit player.

By that point, it was 3 years later, 2001. I had been writing with every spare moment, I had pumped out thousands of pages of book by then, so I took one look at her fan fiction and muttered "Come on, move over, we can do this better."

Because, really, you don't get to be a writer unless you're wrapped a little too tight ... or just a little too strange.

Before I knew it, I had written three additional stories in that little bit of business, and some of them nearly at hundred pages.

Because, again, writers: we're wired weirdly.

And, because I decided that I shouldn't let anything I've worked on ever go to waste, I later retooled it into a massive 460 page novel.

Of course, I had to retool the vampire legend a little ... okay, I mostly had to retool it so that it was coherent. Let's face it, after Bram Stoker, it gets a little strange. And when you hit the 90s, vampire lore becomes a befuddled mess (Rice, Blade, Hamilton, Whedon). It's sad when Joss Whedon probably gets it better than most. Seriously, the atheist Whedon gets it better than Marvel comics?  Geez.

Part of MY vampire killing kits.
And when I did UN-Dead (because I'm subtle that way), it opened with a government spy from my other books, Merle Kraft....

Merle Kraft is one of those characters who will simply not go away.  He's a deleted character from the Pius Trilogy -- yes, I had even more characters than in the final cut -- who first appeared in a thriller Dances with Werewolves. Merle deals in "strange" cases for the government. He started out as a spy who mysteriously, just sort of opened locks without any tools whatsoever.  Any lock.

Merle Kraft is one of three half-brothers (that they know of)-- Merle, Tal, and Dalf. One's a spy, one is a stage magician, and one seems to deal with a darker power. BUAHAHAHAHAH.

And, of course, these names are short for Merlin, Taliesin, and Gandalf.

In the one-volume edition, I opened with Merle Kraft being dropped head first into a world of vampires. Because, hey, when in doubt, use the Alice in Wonderland effect.

Then Merle started to complete disappear from the story entirely.  Marco and his sidekick, Amanda, had taken over the entire novel.

Gahhh.  Sometimes, these people never want to play well with others.

All right, fine, if they wanted to play that way -- and it wasn't like anyone else wanted to publish the bloody book -- I'd retool the novel.  Let's do it from the ground up, where the two of them met. They had to figure out how to bring each other into their worlds without killing each other.

And keep in mind, this all started in 2001, before there was anything called Twilight.

Frankly, I still think I did it better.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Excerpts from Hearts Over Mind

Yeah, just because I interviewed Karina again on Sunday, you thought it was all over, didn't you?  Well, you were wrong! Because I've got one more bit of fun from Karina.



Anyway....This one's a bit of a comedy

A Novella of the Mind Over Trilogy

Finally, Josh and Sachiko are getting married, but when events threaten their big day, they may need alien intervention to secure their happily ever after.

Finally, Sachiko is marrying Joshua! But the wedding she dreamed of is turning into a nightmare. Her Japanese grandmother has bought her wedding kimono, but not only is it psych-ward pink, but it also comes with a tsunokakushi, the traditional headdress to “hide her horns of jealousy and independence.” Her stubborn independence may be all that gets her through the crazy days before the wedding. Joshua’s fame means she’s getting touted and berated as “the future Mrs. Joshaham.” Not to mention, everyone else is planning their big day but her. She copes by concentrating on her internship, yet even that goes awry when, two days before the wedding, her efforts to save a patient’s life leave him in a permanent coma. To top it off, her cousins get Joshua so drunk, he nearly drowns at his own bachelor party! Can she find the right balance of independence and humility to navigate the disasters and capture the joy of her wedding day?

Sunday, August 9, 2015


The Catholic Geek: Karina Fabian returns to talk Mind Over All 08/09 by We Built That Network | Books Podcasts

Yup.  We're almost "out of the woods" with Karina Fabian this week -- tonight, at 7PM, we're going to have her on the air, talking about the conclusion of her "Mind Over" trilogy.

Check Out Books Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with We Built That Network on BlogTalkRadio

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Excerpts from Mind Over All

Yes, this might just end up being the week of Karina Fabian.  Probably because I'm going to be talking with her this coming Sunday, August 9th.  Heh.

When two planets are set to collide, Deryl must use his psychic powers to stop armageddon and save his home.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Interview with Karina Fabian: Mind over All

We're back with Karina Fabian. This time I get to ask her some questions on her book. You might remember this one, it's the series I described as being the best treatment of a planet since Dune.

 I'm even going to be talking on the radio show with her this coming Sunday, August 9th.

Q: So, it's over. Now what? 

I expected to be a little sadder than I am, actually. I started writing and imagining these adventures – wow - 30 years ago, so really, I’m just glad they are out in print. I hope they find their way into the hearts of many readers.

Q  Have you ever met someone who looked just like one of your characters? What did you do? 

I am not a big visual thinker, and prefer not to define my characters’ looks too closely. That’s one reason I hate playing the “what actor would you have play…” game. Having said that, it did happen once. The closest I ever came was when I was actively trying to find someone who looked like Joshua, and I saw a man in a restaurant. I surreptitiously tried to memorize his features…then decided he didn’t look as much like Josh as I’d thought.

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Spaying Season (#SadPuppies Bite Back XIV)

Seriously, if you have no idea what this is, you need to click on the Sad Puppies tab above. 

The dog of war.

It's almost over. Just keep repeating, it's almost over.  SPBB will probably have only two more left to it. This one before the Hugo awards, then one more for fallout.  Maybe one or two during, if it gets REALLY nasty. But that would probably require the host to have a full-on nervous breakdown in the middle.  Because the host is David Gerrold.

The most recent incident of SPBB is brought to you by the Guardian.  And the New Yorker.  I've linked to Larry Correia's fisking of both articles, so you get the article and the comedy relief to go with it. Seriously, Larry even fisks the byline. The BYLINE.

Short version: the votes from the Hugos are in, and the Angry Pussies?  Well, They Are Just NOT Happy!

My thoughts?  Well, read below as we return to the Top Secret Safe Zone that is the headquarters of the "Friends of Sweetness and Light,".

For the record, a bit of legal CYA. For those of you who are named in this sketch: THIS IS A PARODY.  If you come to my blog, then whine, moan and complain that "Oh, I didn't do this or that" or some other damn thing, I'm not reporting the news, I'M MAKING FUN OF YOU.  If you comment that you're offended, I will merely make fun of you even MORE, because you not only lack a sense of humor, you can't even tell when something's supposed to be a joke.

As for File 770, I have nothing against the owner, a Mike Glyer, who has made a few snotty comments at me.  Big deal. However, his comments section is run by the psycho brigade, hence my jokes.

And now, we commence, THE SPAYING.

Guest Post: Saying Goodbye: Mind Over All and Ending a Trilogy, Karina Fabian

You all remember Karina Fabian. 

I've reviewed her books before. 

I've interviewed her before. 

But now, she's posting one something that's very near to me right now.

Saying goodbye.

Saying Goodbye: Mind Over All and Ending a Trilogy

I first met Deryl in 1986. He was a college sophomore: smart, self-assured with just a hint of snark. He was studying psychic powers because he himself had them, and when his professor decided to kidnap him for study (of a more biological nature), he and his roommate fled to another world and had great adventures.

At least that’s what I thought at the time. The Miscria never sold, so I put it and my dreams of being an author aside and went on with my life.

Ten years later, as a mother and former military officer, I brushed off the manuscript and gagged. Really, a guy who suddenly manifests telepathy during puberty grows up well adjusted? That kid needed some real issues before the story would sell. By the time I got done messing with his mind, he was living in a mental institution instead of a dorm and his roommate turned into a psychiatric intern hired to befriend him because Deryl was sullen, snarky, and without hope. The Miscria became a trilogy because it took an entire novel just to convince Deryl he wasn’t crazy.

Mind Over Mind, the first in the trilogy, came out from DragonMoon in 2011, with MindOver Psyche following in 2013. And now, Mind Over All finishes out the trilogy. Over the three books, Deryl conquers his abilities and his personal demons with the help of his friend, Joshua. Then the duo teleport (by accident) to another planet, where Deryl confronts his real-life “demons”: The Master who manipulated him in hopes of making him a weapon and the Miscria who had thought he was an oracle to guide her in protecting her world. With Joshua as his back-up, he defeats the Master and wins over the Miscria (Tasmae). They marry, and he takes Joshua back to Earth and his own fiancĂ©, Sachiko. In Mind OverAll, Deryl returns to Earth to fetch Joshua and Sachiko and takes them to Kanaan where they work together to stop another planet from crashing into Kanaan. Finally, in the companion novella, Hearts Over Mind, Joshua and Sachiko finally get their wedding day.

It has been a wild ride of love and adventure, exploring psychic communication, neuro linguistic programming, and orbital mechanics. For over a decade, I’ve lived with and in some ways as these characters. Deryl fought his way back to sanity to discover he didn’t want to live a “normal life.” Tasmae discovers not all prophesies are inevitable. Joshua, a small-town boy from Colorado, had adventures like he’d only read in SFF novels, and gets to be a rock star. Sachiko heals at least from the trauma of her abortion. Even the Master turns out to be something other than the manipulative monster Deryl had loathed and feared. A centuries-long war has ended, and at last two worlds can rebuild and grow in peace.

I’ve had my own wild ride as an author. Working on these novels has introduced me to so many wonderful people and ideas. My astronomy professor in college helped me work out the dynamics of crashing planets. Friends from all over the Internet jumped in with psychiatric and medical advice. I’ve had the privilege of working with several wonderful editors at DragonMoon, each of which not only made the book better but made me a better writer. And Mind Over Mind’s cover is still my all-time fave. I’ve written and had published nearly a dozen books and hundreds of stories.

The journey with the Mind Over trilogy is over. (Although I may write about their kids. We’ll see.) My own writing journey continues on, with dragon detectives, nuns in space, and zombie exterminators. Who knows what else? It’s been very satisfying, however, to have finished the project I began as a college Freshman.

By day, Karina is a mild-mannered reviewer of business software and services for After hours, she’s a psychic intent on saving the world; a snarky dragon who thinks he saves the world all-too regularly, a zombie exterminator who just wants her world clear of undead vermin, and nuns whose callings have taken them off our world. Needless to say, her imagination is vast, her stories legion, and her brain crowded. When she’s not converting her wild tales to stories, she’s enjoying time with her husband, Rob, their four kids, and their two dogs.

Find Karina at: