Friday, February 23, 2018

A New Yorker on Gun Control

New York City is not home to the most stringent gun laws on the planet Earth, though you would be forgiven for thinking that, given that our last mayor has become one of the biggest anti-gun nuts in the country. We are, however, close to having gun laws as insane as Chicago.

And I want a gun.

All of my local friends want guns.

We want handguns for "out on the town" defense. We want rifles and shotguns for at-home defense. Who am I kidding? After my two gun shop visits out of state, I want guns just for the fun of target shooting. Because target shooting is fun. Also, I'm told I'm good at it.

Yes, yes, I'm know. NYC is one of the safest big cities on the planet Earth, but that also requires a police force that is literally bigger than the ENTIRE FBI. It's probably also bigger than Interpol, but I haven't looked up those numbers yet, so I can't say for certain.

Yet, everywhere I turn, there's yet another idiot online talking about how "we need gun control."

Well, we have gun control. It's called Chicago, where there's a shootout every weekend, and over a dozen fresh bodies in the morgue. It's called London, where guns are banned, but the assaults with a deadly weapon are so high, kitchen knives must be banned, and restricted -- and no, I'm not kidding. We have Australia, who confiscated guns, and all of their violent crime SHOT UP.

Then there are places where gun control means that you hit what you aim for. I call it Switzerland, the country where every home has a NATO-issue rifle. Their crime rate is insanely low.

What's what you say? Switzerland has a different culture? Funny, every time someone holds up European and Australian gun laws as an example of what we do, "it's not our culture" somehow never applies.

But okay, fine. How about we compare and contrast America.

Have you ever noticed that we don't get a lot of shootings in the South? I'll address Virginia tech and the recent Florida shooting in a minute. But one of the bigger incidents with guns in the South happened in Texas. Two Jihadi types came in with 200 rounds of ammo and AK47s -- fully automatic weapons. They were dropped by an off-duty guy with a side arm in a matter of seconds, because welcome to Texas, muthaf**ka.

But yeah, overall, places with high rates of gun ownership have a sharp decrease in gun crime. Why? Because you are either polite, or the locals will shoot you. A lot.

But then, welcome to Virginia Tech and Parkland. I always understood that the people of Virginia and Florida were always very enlightened about guns, because everyone had one and knew what the Hell they were talking about. So, when I first heard about them, I wondered what was going on.

Then I heard they were a "gun free zone" and everything suddenly made sense. Seriously, who thought that this was a good idea? Who honestly thought that disarming the law abiding was going to disarm the criminal?

And, seriously, enough about the AR(malite) 15. It's a gun so common, children use it. Nine year old girls have pink Hello Kitty AR-15s. It's not some "military" weapon. It's semi-automatic. Anyone who ever saw Under Siege should realize that semi-automatic means that you pull down the trigger, and a bullet comes out. A single bullet. The Virginia tech shooter killed more people with handguns than this "ultimate death weapon" all the anti gun nuts are so hyped up about.

But now we're told that citizens don't need guns. That's what cops are for.... then we learn that the cop at the Parkland shooting sat outside while children were slaughtered.

Seriously, what's so hard about this math?

Chicago banned guns, their crime went up.

Australia and the UK banned guns, THEIR crimes went up.

98% of shootings are in gun free zones, which mean they PROMOTE crime.

Switzerland has guns all over the place, they're cool.

The American South has guns all over the place, they're cool ... except for gun free zones.

So taking guns is not about safety. It's about control.

Did no one learn anything from prohibition? Ban something, you get more of it. There were people who drank more during prohibition than before or after it. I await the day when we have speakeasy gun clubs that are three levels under the street so no one can hear the gun fire.

You want "common sense gun control"? Get rid of the gun free zones, and let everyone carry guns wherever and whenever they want. Because an armed society is a polite society.

I am a New Yorker, and I want my guns.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

WorldCon to Make Jon del Arroz a Cake

The title is one part politics, one part insanity, so let's backtrack.

I assume I don't have to link to the whole "Christian baker / gay wedding" thing, right? Good. (Though, more recently, a California court has ruled that having a Christian baker supply a cake to a homosexual wedding WITH THE WRITING ON IT, is a violation of free speech (MAKING the baker "say" something they don't approve of), but since the baker will happily sell said person a cake, there's no violation of anyone's rights...

Wow, that drifted off topic.)

Anyway, everyone probably remembers that my friend Jon del Arroz was banned from WorldCon San Jose for ... reasons. "Violating terms of service" or some such. When pressed on it, there's some BS about Jon stating he was going to wear a body camera to document any problems he might encounter ... like verbal or physical assault... and that is, thus, an infringement of the rules. Because "people shouldn't be filmed without their consent".... during a public event. Huh.

The unofficial reason -- and the reason most often cited on social media by WorldCon's defenders -- is that "Jon's a schmuck, so he deserves it. He has it coming."

Or what Harvey Weinstein's defense team will say about all of his victims. Because they "had it coming" is such a great rationale, right?

As I'm friends with Jon, and follow some of his platforms (not all of them, that would be a full time job), I know that this has been a thing for weeks.

So, after he's talked about it for a while ... and yikes, it feels like forever ... Jon is finally going to sue these bastards.

About bloody time, too.

Now, I don't know why Jon cares about WorldCon. It's a small convention by any standard. I think it's even smaller than RavenCon, but larger than LibertyCon -- only because LC has a cap in the hundreds range.

But he wants to go, and WorldCon has no good reason for keeping him out. Seriously, among his crimes, he's threatened ... to take people to lunch....

Honestly, WorldCon, I know you have guys who are thin-skinned, but come on.

And even if I were to believe that World Con was honest about the "threat" of Jon's body camera ... then the first step is to tell Jon "please don't do that." That's easy. Jon generally plays well with others when it's reciprocated. But no, they don't want to play nice. They want to be the villain about it.

But they're even stupid about THAT. What they should have done to screw him over is to let him drag himself all the way down, THEN kick him out after he's "caught" with his body camera. It's like they're inept at being evil. They overreacted, and pre-banned him...

Really, banning Jon for the whole con before he shows up, when they wouldn't even do that to pedophiles. Yes, really. More on that below.

Now, not only is Jon suing them, he's got a kickstarter going so he can sue the bastards.

As he states on his page
Worldcon took to their website and social media and falsely labeled Del Arroz a racist bully, defaming him in addition to holding him to unstated, different standards than others for attendance at their convention. Just how unprecedented is this? Del Arroz is the first person pre-banned from WorldCon since 1964, where they banned Walter Breen -- not for the whole convention -- but for only one day. He was a convicted pedophile. Del Arroz has committed no crime, and he finds it more than insulting to be compared with such a lowlife. It's torpedoed Del Arroz’s career as a writer, and sent the industry into a spiral to call him names, defame him, and blacklist him. Worldcon has caused irreparable harm to his career with their defamatory actions.

Del Arroz is a civil rights activist in addition to a popular science fiction writer and journalist, fighting for equality in viewpoint diversity, and for libertarian-conservatives to be able to freely attend conventions without fear for their safety or being harassed. His attendance at Worldcon is very important for discourse, providing opportunity for conservative discussion, and the furthering of science fiction as a progressive genre.

Del Arroz attempted to reasonably resolve this by sending a letter requesting very little: a retraction of their defamatory comments, an apology, allowing his attendance, and having their officers attend sensitivity training over California laws against political discrimination. 
Which has got to be entertaining for someone other than me. Sensitivity training. Snicker.

You're probably seeing my attitude and going "Wow, Declan wants to string them up."

... Eh. No. You'd have to pay me to go to WorldCon. I'm content to let them languish in obscurity. Jon wants to go a few rounds with them, and, yes, he's right. What they're doing is pure BS. And, frankly ... I think Jon isn't going far enough. Were I in his position, I'd pile on punitive damages and all court costs.

I'm additionally happy because I'm kinda tired of Jon kibbitzing WorldCon without visibly DOING anything about it. I think one of my comments was literally "Could you just sue them already and get it over with?"

So, someone takes my advice seriously.

As for WorldCon .... You know, there used to be some honest people on the Left, who would say "I disagree with what you say, but I will fight for the death for your right to say it." Harlan Ellison is one of those. Peter David ... occasionally, depending on the day.

Pity the current generation doesn't have any people like that. We might have civil discussions again.

But no. WorldCon wants to play games. And now they have to bake Jon a cake.

The Planetary Awards are in

So, the Planetary Awards are in for the best SFF stories of 2017.  Anyone who has a blog, podcast, or YouTube account can vote. 

Which is most of the people I know, come to think of it.

Short Stories / Novellas
  • “Acadie” by Dave Hutchinson
  • “The Bitten Body” by AC Spahn
  • “Death on the Moon” by Spencer Hart, found in Cirsova issue #6
  • “The First American” by Schuyler Hernstrom, found in Cirsova issue #5
  • “The Pilot” by Andrew Mayne, found in Predator: If It Bleeds
  • “Trouble in an Hourglass” by Jody Lynn Nye, found in Straight Outta Tombstone

Kneejerk reaction?  Jody, hands down.

If other people, who read this blog want another suggestion? .... it's a tie between the two Cirsovas.

  • “Age of Assassins” by RJ Barker
  • “Good to the Last Drop” by Declan Finn
  • “The Guns Above” by Robyn Bennis
  • “Kings of the Wyld” by Nicholas Eames
  • “Legionnaire” by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole
  • “Out of the Soylent Planet” by Robert Kroese
  • “The Rogue Prince” by Lindsay Buroker

Do I have to actually say that I'd like to vote for myself and Good to the Last Drop? I think "Planetary Award Winner" looks just as nice as "Dragon Award Nominated series."

Not that I think I have a hope in heck. Between Cole and Anspach on one end, and Kroese on the other, I'm relatively cooked. In fact, if I'm actually not allowed to vote for myself, Robert Kroese is my bet. Out of the Soylent Planet is the third book in the Rex Nihilo series, so yeah, I'll be happy if it wins.

Of course, I hear about the nomination the day after the novel is pulled from shelves to prep for the Silver Empire rerelease. That's just timing. But hey, it's something to put on the new cover.

If you've already nominated something, you don’t need to cast a vote. It's fairly obvious who you're voting for. You can change your vote in the comments section on their webpage.

However, if you haven't nominated anything, just vote on your blog, podcast, or YouTube channel. Then, leave a comment on their page so they know about the vote. You get one vote for best short story and one for best novel, but you don’t have to use both votes if you’re only interested in one category.

The voting deadline is April 30th, 11:59PM US Pacific time.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Love at First Bite will be DOA on Monday

Dang, this has been a busy week. Venus came out this week. A Pius Stand came backthis week. I almost forgot to mention what was going away next week.

Just a friendly reminder, but my Dragon Award nominated series Love at First Bite will be temporarily off the shelves as of this Monday, February 19th. Please remember, my friend and publisher Russell Newquist will be rereleasing them over the summer.

There are several good reasons to buy these books. First and foremost being that Silver Empire may not release them in paperback. I'm sure you're thinking "Duh, why would they? No one buys hard copies anymore."  Well, I do, and so do some of my readers. So if you care about such things, you should probably grab them why you can.

Not to mention that Silver Empire will be redoing the covers. So, as of Monday, these will all be collector's editions.

Finally ... well, the Dragon awards for 2018 are open for voting. If you've voted for the previous editions to make it to the Dragon awards, and want to read Good to the Last Drop before it becomes unavailable, this is your last shot.

This is the first one, the Dragon Award nominated work. It also took second place in Sad Puppies 4, for whatever that is worth. I figured I would do ... a lot of smartass routines around vampires, playing games with the lore, while staying as true to it as I could.

I suppose you could say I weaponized my degree in Catholic philosophy. Who knew that it could come in handy?

One is a blood thirsty monster. The other is a vampire.

College freshman Amanda Colt knows few people and wants to know fewer still. She enjoys fencing and prefers facing a challenge every once in a while. She is beautiful, smart, and possibly the most interesting person on campus...and most people stop after the first adjective.

Then she finds Marco Catalano in her fencing class. He is tall, attractive, and very intense. With a mind like a computer and manners of a medieval knight, he scares most people. Except Amanda. They both have secrets, for they are both monsters.

As they draw closer, they must find the line between how much they can trust each other, and how much they can care for each other. Each carries a secret that can destroy the other. They must come to grips with their personal drama soon, because a darkness is rising. Bodies are turning up all over New York, and an army of vampires is closing in on all sides.

They have only one hope ... each other.

It was amusing when I saw that one of the biggest criticisms of book one was that the vampires were too easy to dispatch in the final battle. I thought that given the artillery I brought down on them was fairly sufficient.

But I also laughed my ass off for one very good reason: Mister Day.

I won't say I'm particularly proud of this villain. Finding a way to kill him was the biggest problem, especially considering his various and sundry powers and abilities.

.... But I managed.
After saving Brooklyn from a nest of vampires, Amanda Colt and Marco Catalano are a little banged up. He's been given a job offer to deal with vampires in San Francisco, and it's a tempting offer – it would get him away from Amanda, his feelings for her, and get her away from the darkness inside him. When a death in the family compels Marco to move to the West Coast, they're both left to fend for themselves.

But when a creature known only as “Mister Day” leaves their world in tatters, they must once more join forces against the darkness. Only "Day" is no vampire, but a creature beyond their experience. It will take the combined might of Marco, Amanda, and all of their allies just to slow it down. They have no weapons that can kill him. They have no ways to imprison him. To even fight him is death.

But they have to try, or face the end of everything they love.
Only slightly melodramatic. Largely, I think this underplayed the threat.


I had to use the title. I really did. I didn't have much choice in the matter. I love me some puns ... if you didn't realize that from the Pius trilogy.

This is the other book in the series nominated for best horror. I'll say again, I'm not entirely certain that I see how these are "horror" novels, though there are several reviews that make me thing I scare the bejeezus out of more than a few.

Then again, I did show much concept of minions...

I also had an off page, vaguely implied lesbian rape sequence...

Okay, maybe there were one or two vaguely scary things here and there.
Merlin "Merle" Kraft has been fighting the darkness for months. He left San Francisco in the capable hands of Marco Catalano and his anti-vampire team to defend them against vampires. With special operators at his command, Kraft has been killing every vampire he can find in the Middle East. After clearing out a nest in Tora Bora, he is finally brought back to New York, and the investigation that led him to vampires in the first place.

Marco is starting to spiral. He knows it. His team knows it. Everyone around him can see that he's just a bomb waiting to explode. The only woman who can bring him back from the brink is also the woman who lit his fuse.

Ever since "Mister Day" tried to murder Marco, Amanda Colt has been hunting down every lead to find the ones ultimately behind the attempt. After months of investigation, she learns that something in the dark is colder than the dark. It is a vampire assassin that Amanda has faced once before .... and last time, Amanda lost. This assassin is stronger than anything they've face before, and it isn't alone.

With Marco ready to self-destruct, and the armies of Hell ready to descend, the three of them must come together and stop a thousand-year-old assassin that has never been stopped, and has never failed to kill her target.

In all honesty, I suppose I could just ask every reader on this page to go forth and vote for this book in best horror, or even fantasy, but ... eh. Not really. I'd much rather people read it, like it, and vote for it.

I'm figuring that this year or next year is going to be my last shot at even getting nominated for the Dragons. There were over 8,000 people who voted in last year's Dragon Awards. If all of them vote to nominate this year? I may have all the nominations I'm going to get

But I'm going to keep trying. This works for horror this year, and I have a horror novel coming up that was supposed to be Urban Fantasy ... I kinda wrote a horror novel by accident. Oops.

Anyway, this is your last shot to get it before the Dragon Award nominations. The good news is that if I do get a nomination, the book will be back on the shelves just in time.
The final war is about to begin, in this conclusion to the Dragon Award Nominated series

Merle Kraft, Marco Catalano and Amanda Colt have battled against the mythical Council, a supernatural conspiracy that monsters fear. This war has brought them up against vampires, minions, and demons from Hell.. Along the way, they have accumulated allies among the police, the military, the mafia, college students, lowly street gangs, and even other vampires.

Marco and Amanda have overcome their biggest terror -- their passion for each other.

But now, they face the final threat, one that is the culmination of every threat before them. This creature from Hell has powers beyond anything they've ever seen before, and has allies of his own: including SpecOps minions, an army of vampires, and packs of werewolves.

And that was before Marco got bit.

And, while I think of it, enjoy the Dragon Award nominations.

Music Blog: EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES (Jonathan Young Cover)

Good cover. Odd song.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Coming to a Close: The Last Stand of the Pius Trilogy

A Pius Stand: A Global Thriller (The Pius Trilogy Book 3) by [Finn, Declan]
This has been a busy week for me. First there was Planetary: Venus, and tomorrow, A Pius Stand: A Global Thriller is coming back.

The Pius Trilogy, at long last, is coming to a close. I'm almost done. The stories and the book of history is coming next, and then the rerelease is closed up.

You know how hard it was to say goodbye to this thing the last time I did this?

I've actually been rather busy going through a lot of different things, so I haven't really be able to dwell on this thing finally being put to bed.

I wrote the original one-volume A Pius Man novel in 2004, during a slow season in my graduate studies -- I had written my Master's Thesis, For all their Wars are Merry, during the winter break. This original volume had guest appearances from Merle Kraft before he met vampires, Marco or Amanda. It was before Middle Earth's Most Wanted Elvin Assassin had grown into a character and took over whole novels.

The Pius Trilogy (3 Book Series) by  Declan Finn
And now, 14 years later, I can finally say goodbye.

The Pius Trilogy is the second longest running project that has consumed my life. I was 22 when I wrote it, and I'm just short of turning 36.  The only other thing that has eaten up even more of my life is my space opera project, which I started when I was 16. That's something I hope to be rid of by the end of next year.

So, there is some emotion when I dwell on the conclusion of this project for too long.

It's not even so much a matter of never playing with the characters ever again. I have already done more horrible things to Sean A.P. Ryan in Set to Kill, a sequel to It Was Only on Stun! and a bit of an epilogue to The Pius Trilogy. And several of the characters are already slated to come back in other work .... in part because I had written Pius as a capstone to a dozen other novels I had written, using secondary characters as the leads. Obviously, those will have to be rewritten. But I will be playing in this sandbox again. I'm not done with these people yet. They all have a long road ahead of them.

But this will be the last time I relive (and rewrite) the deaths, some of the more dramatic moments. The Pope's kidnapping. The final stand of the Vatican against the forces of darkness. The people I've buried. The moment when I finally, at long last, put a stake through the heart of this one son of a bastard who JUST. WOULDN'T. DIE!

I think that the first time I really ever answered the question "What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?" was on Geek Gab, with Brian Niemeier and Daddy Warpig. I don't remember exactly what I said, but my answer is still the same.

If you want to be a writer? DON'T. You have no idea what you're getting into. You really don't. Getting emotionally entangled with the voices in your head? Staying awake because of the plots and action burning up your brain until you write them down? You don't know what it's like until you get into it. But if you have to be a writer, go for it, all in. Don't even blink.

But then you have a project that eats up your life, with characters you don't want to kill, but you know must die, because they won't stop until they pay with their last breath, and they're at war with beasts who won't stop until one of them is dead. You'd think it would be easy, considering they don't exist except on paper and in the head of the author .... but no, the author has all of the biographies of everyone s/he kills. You know how they like their drinks, and their favorite songs. You know that this character grew up wanting to avenge the death of his father at the hands of the Red Brigade. You know that this other character had a girlfriend who died during the Irish Troubles, and could never love again because everything he had left went to The Cause. You know that the other one is actually a lesbian who doesn't even want to BE in this Charlie Foxtrot, but she's fully aware that the Vatican is the right team to be on, even if this all ends in fire.

And no, most of that isn't even on the page for your reader, but YOU know it, because these people are yours.

So, yeah. That's the end of The Pius Trilogy. No more battles in the Vatican. No more warring on the streets of Rome. I can finally say goodbye to the story of Pope Pius XII, the Battle of Rome, and this particular battle against the army of darkness...Next time, I'll remember to bring the chainsaw.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Writing "Love Boat to Venus" for Superversive's Latest

Planetary: Venus by [Freeman, A. M. , Hallquist, David, Brumley, Bokerah , Antonelli,  Lou , Foster, Monalisa , Willett, Edward , Burnett, Misha , Finn, Declan , St Aubin, Margot, Witzke, Dawn ]
As far as anthologies go, Venus was easy. If I couldn't write some sort of a love story, I obviously wasn't doing my job.

Let's face it, when the original calls for the Planetary series came out, I had only just finished a quartet of urban fantasy / romance novels. If I couldn't handle a lousy short story, I should hang up my pen, pack up my word processor, and take up a job in plumbing. Though I should probably do that anyway. Let's face it, it would probably be more profitable...


I had put together three short stories for the Venus anthology.

The first story was Cupid's Sniper Rifle, a short set in the Codename: Winterborn universe, years before the bombs fell. It was a love story about the parents of Nevaeh Kraft, Lance and Jennifer. The Assassins Guild was based round Venus Victorious. Love of people mean that they kill the pathological before they can do more damage. Their motto is "No greater love than this, than a man would lay down cover fire for his friend."

... That one didn't make it.

A second one was called "Crazy Love," a Galadren short story -- a story around Middle Earth's Most Wanted Elvin Assassin, set in the Pius universe. You'll actually be seeing that one. Honest. One way or another.

The third one, and the one that was accepted, was another Sean Patrick Ryan, space ranger short. Unlike his first appearance in Astounding Frontiers #1, and even in Mercuryit's later in his career, where he has a team, he's married, and he's doling out relationship advice.

Yes, relationship advice. On a solar system cruise doing the Mercury to Pluto run, hence the title: "Love Boat to Venus."

Then someone tries to hijack the cruise, and we turn into Die Hard on the Love Boat. Which, if that doesn't catch your interest, I have nothing for you.

This one was probably helped by the fact that it was the one of the three stories that actually had the planet involved... sorry, but if you look up Venus, you'll note that not only is it the hottest planet in the solar system, but the atmosphere is dotted with clouds of sulfuric acid. Yikes. Even terraforming the dang thing seems like a wasted effort.

"Love Boat to Venus" is the only way I can see doing a story on Venus...  short of having a battle in EVA suits where the solution is to crack open the antagonist's suit and kick him into the sulfuric acid clouds to be eaten alive...

[Pauses to make a note to write that fight scene]

But yeah, but that isn't exactly a story to run past an anthology studying themes of love and romance. And let's face it, I put a lot of details into fights that probably last less than twenty seconds or so. They're 3D chess games that go out of control. Therefore, if I made that EVA fight into a short, it would be the entire short.

But "Love Boat to Venus" was relatively peaceful. At least for one of my stories. Get it in Venus now.

Monday, February 12, 2018

SIGNAL BOOST: Planetary, Venus

Planetary: Venus by [Freeman, A. M. , Hallquist, David, Brumley, Bokerah , Antonelli,  Lou , Foster, Monalisa , Willett, Edward , Burnett, Misha , Finn, Declan , St Aubin, Margot, Witzke, Dawn ]
So, here we are again, yet another volume from the Planetary Anthology series is out: Venus.

To start with, yes, I'm also in this one as well.

What the Hell am I doing in this one? Venus is about romance and lovey dovey crap. When I announced that I was editing the volume on the Moon, I had several people joke that my editorial notes will focus on "Where are the explosions!?"

.... Which hasn't happened.

.... Yet. I'm not Michael Bay, after all. I have plots.

But for those who have read my novels, there will be a constant trend: there's almost always a romance. Yes, I am a romantic sap. If you'd like to have that conversation with me, I will happily meet you in a dark alley with my tactical batons.


Part of my trend around writing romantic subplots (if not straight up romances) is that I have long come to the conclusion that if I'm going to read romance done right, I will almost universally have to do it myself. So, of course I had to add my own two cents to Venus.

The flap copy reads:
Venus, the second planet from the sun, a world of sulfurous gas and tremendous temperatures where the landscape features—mountains and valleys—are all named for love goddesses. Venus herself is the goddess most known for allure and romance.

Here are twenty stories featuring Venus, the planet, the goddess, or just plain love—both romantic and otherwise. Planetary Fiction explores the themes associated with these heavenly bodies as well as their astronomical, mythological, and in some cases even alchemical significance.
[Head tilt]. I'm going to have to ask who writes the flap copies. I know the editors, April Freeman and Jagi, and this doesn't sound like her.

Anyway, the authors include
A. M. Freeman (Editor, Venus, Author, Forbidden Thoughts)
David Hallquist (editor, Mercury)
Bokerah Brumley (who has been on my show),
Lou Antonelli (Dragon Award nominated author, Another Girl, Another Planet)
Edward Willett (Author)
Misha Burnett (Author, and he's good people),‎
Margot St Aubin (Author and friend)
Dawn Witzke (Author, friend, and artist for most of my good covers)
And me.

Yes, I know there are 20 stories, and these aren't even ten authors, but those are the only ones listed on the Amazon page. And I would have sworn that Jagi was in this one. Huh.

So if you want a new anthology collection, here we go: Venus.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Music blog: Through The Fire and Flames

I'm generally not impressed with this YouTube cover artist, but he delivered a cover of DragonForce where I can hear all of the lyrics without reading along with them.

And the guitarist isn't bad either.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Creating Sean Aloysius Patricius Ryan

Sean Patrick Ryan is one of the first characters I ever created. I was going to have him be larger than life, and life kept one-upping me. He would be unstoppable ... okay, he could be stopped, he was going to die. I had that planned out. He was two meters tall, one wide, and had an affinity for blowing things up. Sometimes with fusion bombs....

... What's that you ask? I got his middle name wrong? That's too tall?

You're thinking of Sean Aloysius Patricius Ryan, or just plain Sean A.P. Ryan. Different character.

Yes, I know, it's a pain in the ass. I had started my writing with Sean Patrick Ryan, in the 24th century, as part of a space opera that swept 5 books ... though the writing was so condensed, and the spaces so small, it was s probably more like 10 books, and will probably be 13 books by the time I'm done with them.

After a while, when I went on to other writing projects, I circled back around to thrillers, and I was going to write It Was Only on Stun!

And I couldn't. Nothing came to me. Which is odd. That never happened before. And by that point I had written a dozen books. It's easy. All I had to do was sit down and write.

Nope. Wouldn't happen.

Then I wrote the name. And I was off to the races again. Except I knew he had to be different than his 24th century descendant. He would have to be shorter, for one. So this one would be 5'6" instead of 6'6". Since he wouldn't be in space station lighting, but the California sun, he would be more tan. The coloring would be the same.

He needed to have martial arts training. I didn't have any formal training at the time, so I cut and paste a lot of skills together. I had recently been really impressed by stuntmen, and what they could do without wires....

How did I get a stuntman into a thriller? Oh, he changed careers, duh.

And it got stranger as things went on. Sean AP Ryan was way too tightly wound. He needed to relax. He was more likely to explode than the high explosives in the SF version. He hated his father, had a strange relationship with his family, and may have been even more conniving and mercenary than I first imagined.

Sean Ryan quickly took over Stun! and we were off to the races.

When I started A Pius Man, I was only going to have three central characters, and some side players. There would be Giovanni Figlia, Villie Goldberg, and Hashim Abasi. That's it. Father Frank Williams would be suspicious looking, as would XO and the Pope. Okay, we'll have a subplot with the Mossad. That's it.

Then I'm about fifty pages into A Pius Man (remember from yesterday, this was when it was the massive one-book version), when Figlia was introducing the other two around. He was showing off the training the priests and nuns were getting in self defense. I mean it made sense. After all, Pius XIII is from the Sudan, he's not paranoid, he's experienced in being shot at. So of course it would make sense that...


Mutter mutter mutter ... okay. Fine. You can be a cameo. But otherwise, you're not going to be in the rest of the book. You might be a supporting character. You already have your own book series.

A Pius Legacy: A Political Thriller (The Pius Trilogy Book 2) by [Finn, Declan].... Okay, fine, you can drive a car. You can't do anything wrong by driving a car.


All right. Now that you've been shot at, you can have some curiosity and... WHY ARE THEY SHOOTING AT YOU THIS TIME?



Before I knew it, Sean A.P. Ryan had taken over A Pius Man.

Don't worry. I had my revenge in A Pius Legacy. Heh heh heh. That'll teach him not to go where he's not invited.

Why, yes, I did just say I taught my fictional character a lesson.

Don't worry about it. I'm a writer. It's legalized schizophrenia. I'm allowed to play with my imaginary friends.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Writing A Pius Legacy

A Pius Legacy: A Political Thriller (The Pius Trilogy Book 2) by [Finn, Declan]

So, now that Silver Empire has rereleased A Pius Legacy: A Political Thriller .... what the bloody blue blazes was I thinking when I wrote that ruddy thing?
To start with, keep in mind, The Pius Trilogy was originally one 800 page monster called A Pius Man, and I had thrown in everything in that book. Largely, the problem was that the villain just wouldn't die. Even better, the bastard decided that he wanted to be Moriarty when he grew up. Not the one who appeared on the pages of Doyle's work, but the mastermind he painted to be retroactively responsible for damn near everything Holmes had to face. So, of course, this meant that the villain had backup plans. And just wouldn't die.

Granted, the "just wouldn't die" part came later. In the original one book version, the criminal mastermind suffer all of the problems he did in the full trilogy. There was no airport confrontation. There was no final battle for our heroes. Of course not. That was the climax to book one of The Pius Trilogy, not the climax to the single volume tome. So, our bad guy got away, and came back later with a follow up plan.

The follow up plan being every Left-wing psychopath's wet dream about the Catholic church: prosecute them for crimes against womyn, Muslims, Jews, etc, because the "evil church" stood against aborting children and contraception, and also launching the Crusade, the Inquisition and the Holocaust, among other lies.

So, let's kidnap the Pope and put him on trial in front of the Hague.

"Under what law?" you ask? Since the only international law in existence is natural law (that's a religious thing, can't have that) it's up to the most corrupt group of scoundrels in existence to make it up.

Enter the UN.

Yes, the United Nations! Home to more kleptocrats and dictators than anyone realizes. Did you know that about 2/3rds of the UN aren't democracies? That's right. How else would Syria and Sudan end up on commissions for arms and human rights, respectively. If you ever wonder how the UN rules against the United States so often, you may not have to wonder anymore.

But what would the UN do to prompt the kidnap and prosecution of the Pope? Easy: passing an International RICO statute. This is another wet dream of Lefty idiots, using it against the Catholic church for "hiding pedophiles" (funny, there is a higher percentage of pedophile teachers, yet no one is arresting the teacher's union).

In case you don't know, one of the things RICO does is confiscate any and all proceeds from a crime.

In short: it makes for a wonderful way to commit a legal heist.

So, the UN passes a RICO "law," it passes, game over.

"But wait," you say, "how could the security council allow it?" To which I answer: the Security Council is who? The UK, the US, Russia, China and France. The French need the money, Putin cares only for Putin, the Chinese hate Catholics, the UK doesn't care one way or another (remember, the English ruling class have their own church, and the Monarch is the pontiff), and the US?  Well, hey, that would require a President who thinks that nuns should be made to pay for birth control, sterilization, and abortions. And that would never happen....

Oh wait. It did.

As you can see, the last President was fairly good for the trilogy to move forward.

In the one volume A Pius Man, the entire incident with the Pope ran only about 50, maybe 70 pages. It was an interlude that made the next part necessary. When it came time to carve up the book, well, that became a problem. If I left in the legal fiction needed for the final action against the Vatican, that would be a really long book with talking at the front and fighting at the back. If I kept the kidnapping and trial of the Pope, that would be a really short book. What could I do to keep everything and have three novels?

Answer: Don't just kidnap the Pope. After all, there are other ways to wage war.

Hence a political thriller. After all, war is politics by other means... or is it politics is war by other means?

Either way, time for the villains to wage their own political battle. It's one part propaganda, one part bullets.

And don't kidnap just the Pope. Kidnap some of our heroes, and have a long, painful conversation. Though those people who liked what I did to Mister Ryan (I presume there's one of you) will have to settle for a more vague account of what I put him through.

Not to mention that a lot of this book involved a more thorough introduction to the characters. Because I was so damn tired of reviews saying they couldn't keep track of the characters, my mission was to compensate.... I may have overdone it a touch.

I won't, like so many, try to compare it to Empire Strikes Back.  It's a part two where the threat escalates, with a To be Continued at the end. That's it.

But yeah, there's a reason that Jim Butcher likes beating up his characters: you never know exactly what the results are going to look like.

Then the fun really starts.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Awards Season 2018 (Part 2, Fight)

Yes, just a little follow up post. I don't intend to make this a habit, since even I'm tired of posting these, I'm almost certain you're tired of reading them. So I'm going to make this a collection of quick reminders, and a bit of an update.

Anyway, a quick look at what's up.

This one is a book blogger's award. They have two categories: short and long. Click on the above link for the instructions.

But if you have a blog and write about books, knock yourselves out.

I have only two books from last year that qualify, I think: Live and Let Bite and Good to the Last Drop, books three and four of Love at First Bite.

Yes, I only released two last year. I suck. Everything else was in a short story collection.

Also recall that Richard Paolinelli's Escaping Infinity came out last year. As did Another Girl, Another Planet. And Starship Grifters book 2, Aye, Robot, Jon's For Steam and Country, and Jagi's latest.

Though JD Cowan has already put Drop up for this award. Who knew?

The really important thing though? If you are a book blogger, you need to have your nomination in by February 14th, 11:59 PM US Pacific time.

That's A WEEK FROM TOMORROW. If you have a book blog, get cracking.

Technically, this has been open since October, 2017. In part because everything eligible for nomination is first published between 7/1/2017 and 6/30/2018.

You can the click above in order to start voting.

Technically, I've got a single book that is eligible: Good to the Last Drop, book 4 of Love at First Bite....

This, of course, will be a problem with having Silver Empire rerelease Love at First Bite: Good to the Last Drop will not be available for purchase for the majority of the voting process. So, sure, I'll throw my hat in the ring, but I'd put this as less likely to even get the nomination this year than in previous years ... and I was 50/50 on whether or not that would happen.

If you have not yet read Good to the Last Drop, buy it now before it is removed from the shelf. That should be around the end of the month. So you will want to get cracking.

If you want my thoughts on the Dragons, they're not many. My reading speed this year has been severely compromised by nonstop work.

Best Science Fiction Novel

Karl Gallagher: Torchship Captain.  Yes, really. I haven't enjoyed a book series so much since David Weber's earliest Honor Harrington.

Nope... that's it. That's all I have. Most of the others that I mentioned for the Planetary award aren't available for the Dragons -- they were too early in the year. Karl's book came out in September, a week after my novel, so I know he's eligible.

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

Since Larry doesn't want it for Monster Hunter International, I don't have anything offhand. The only fantasy that I recall reading offhand in the last year has been Monster Hunter Files. That's it. I think I read Terry Goodkind's The Nest, but that's from a few years ago. I'm starting to wonder how much fantasy I actually read boils down to being Jim Butcher.

If you want a suggestion from me ... perhaps Good to the Last Drop if you want it for fantasy instead of horror?

Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel
The Awful Truth About Forgetting (Rachel Griffin, book #4).... seriously, can we get Jagi an award for this series already?

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

I want to say David Weber. But I suspect that this might sooner go to Timothy Zahn for the Honorverse prequel novels. Just a guess.

Best Alternate History Novel
.... Someone tell Lou Antonelli to hurry up and finish his sequel to Another Girl Another Planet already. Other than that...

Okay, I may have a good one for this soon, as soon as I hurry up and read Hans Schantz' Hidden Truth series-- more specifically, book 2, A Rambling Wreck. It came out at the early end of the eligibility deadline.

Best Media Tie-In Novel

Thrawn: Alliances (Star Wars) by [Zahn, Timothy]
Well, this is new. The category probably opened up as a good way to avoid having a flood of Star Wars or Star Trek books flood a category.

What I would like to happen is to nominate Timothy Zahn's Thrawn book. But Thrawn: Alliances is coming out on June 26th, which is hardly enough time for people to get it, read it, and vote. Hell, a lot of people are going to have already voted by then.

But now that we have a Media Tie-in category, can we have a best comic book movie now? That way it's not a Marvel Vs DC knock down drag out every year?

 Best Horror Novel

As usual, I have nothing. The only horror I go near is what I write.

So, there's Good to the Last Drop. Again. Yes, sorry about that.

Now, I could argue that Good to the Last Drop is the culmination of the previous three novels, two of which were nominated for Dragon Awards. I've got demons, Vatican Ninjas, vampire hordes, shapeshifters, and anti-Vampire "civilians" (a collection of police, street gangs, and the Mafia, because welcome to New York, you bloodsucking bastards).

Personally, this might be more Urban Fantasy than horror, but the last two were in horror, so I guess no one at the Dragon Award committee objects.

Best Comic Book  & Best Graphic Novel
I am so far behind on both of these categories, don't even ask me. I'm going to ask Jon del Arroz and Alfred Genesson if they could do some posts on this, that way I can link to them the next time this blog is updated.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series, TV or Internet
The Orville. No, nothing else, just The Orville.

Lucifer has gotten better, but it wasn't as good as Orville at its best... At its worst? It's just mediocre. But those are only two episodes that made me wonder what was going on with Seth MacFarlane at the time.

Other eligible titles, but nothing I'm going to make a real fuss over.

The Defenders ... meh.

The Punisher I haven't seen it yet, and the reviews are so, so mixed.

Arrow ... The only DC show I'm still looking at, but I don't think it's earned it this year.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

Justice League?  Eh. No

The Last Jedi: Hell no.

Thor: Ragnarok ... maybe

Spider-Man: Homecoming ... not out of the realm of possibility.

Bright ...? I don't think was that good. It had some nice worldbuilding, and a lot of great little touches, but they could have cut 15 minutes from the film and missed nothing. In fact, they would have done so much better had they used that time to build up the story more.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

This is a problem when you have so many games doing loot boxes that I have urges to just tell all of the games to go screw themselves.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War? Depends on who you ask.
X-Com 2: War of the Chosen -- ditto
Super Mario Oddessy.

There are, of course, Persona and Yakuza games that came out this year.... just don't ask me when. and Nier: Automata I've heard great things about, but it came out in January or February, and thus aren't eligible.

So, if you liked any of these, look up on the release date and make certain I didn't just suggest something that came out too early.

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game

Middle Earth: Shadow of War: Yes, I liked the mobile game. Move along.

Best Board Game & Best Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game

Another category I'm useless in. Calling Alfred is also more useful here than I am.

Anyway, the Dragons are coming. Knock yourself out. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Planetary Anthology: The Moon, open submission.

You will, of course remember that Superversive Press has a series of Planetary Anthologies. Each one revolved around the theme of each planet.

... They're doing 11 anthologies. One for the sun, and another for the moon. And yes, Pluto is a flipping planet, damn it.

The most recent open submission is for Luna, ... or The Moon anthology, depending on what sounds better.

Insert obligatory "That's no moon! That's a space station!" joke here.

Take a wild guess who is going to be editing that one.

Yes, me. No need to be so shocked about it. I'm allowed to handle sharp objects, and that includes the scalpel required for editing.... or the butcher knife, depending.

The theme for the moon will be relatively straightforward and obvious: dreams and illusions, despair and madness, isolation. You know, all of that fun stuff.

Stories should be between 3,000 and 8,000 words. Stories should center on themes of those mentioned above. You want someone going crazy during the full moon? Go for it. (Also see: Hollywood Moon by Joseph Wambaugh).  Want the last man standing from a mission to the dark side of the moon? It can be done (See: Rod Serling).

Do you want to write about a man crazy enough to believe he's a Middle Earth elf, but is the only thing standing between an astronomer and a legion of hit men out to kill her? You can't. I've already written it.

These are just ideas I'm throwing out there. The themes listed need not be specifically the primary plot, just part of the story.

Any genre is allowed, though science fiction and fantasy in any of the traditional forms is preferred.

Remember that this is Superversive press. There should be stories that speak to heroic aspects of man; man as he can be, not as he all too often is. The stories should to the reader’s soul. Make the reader yearn for the life that he ought to live. Nihilistic drivel need not apply.

Think this is difficult for a theme that revolves around madness and despair? Depends on the madness.

As Man of La Mancha put it:
When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!
Go out and do me proud.

Cut off date for submissions is April 1, 2018. The date may be extended depending on quality of submissions.

Send submissions to:

Friday, February 2, 2018

Music blog: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Meets Metal (2017)

Yes, I know the TV suck was cheesier than a pizza. Just roll with it for a moment. There's some good singing here, and some good guitar work.

And yes, I can write to this one. Why? Mostly the guitar I think.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Review: Torchship Captain, by Karl Gallagher

Just when I thought that the series could have ended with book two, Karl found a way to throw a heck of a monkey wrench into the ordeal.

I have already reviewed book 1 and two of the Torchship Trilogy, and boy has this been a fun ride.

But now, round three: Torchship Captain.
Michigan Long blackmailed her enemies into joining the war against the AIs. Now the secret she used is leaking out and the Fusion is shattering. Caught in the middle of a civil war, she will have to use any weapon that comes to hand—her wits, her ship, her mate.
And that barely scratches what happens in the first hundred pages.
As the Fusion -- the high-tech Orwellian world that has locked down technology since the AIs went rogue -- falls apart, well, let's just say I was wondering if this was the end of Firefly or the start of Honor Harrington. I was looking for Robert S Pierre along the way. And with good reason. If you ever wonder what a historian designing society looks like, here you go.

But a complaint I often heard lodged against Honor Harrington is her navy is "too perfect." If that's your problem, meet Michigan Long. Long is a Sparrow with Ahab syndrome. This is the book where it looks like it's gonna cost her. There is a reason no one wants to be the Count of Monte Cristo when they grow up. While it always simmered below the surface in Torchship and Pilot, this is where it, and she, goes full tilt.

One of the major threads in this book is the politics of the competing factions -- going from the Fusion Orwellian state of societal manipulation, to the Disconnect Libertarian anarchy, to a new player called "the Harmony," Confucian principles turned to totalitarian state. The politics of it were all handled deftly and in details without becoming too boring ... though it does start to drag around the middle. Someone should probably do a sociology paper on this book.

But as I hinted, there are some problems though. As I noted before, Long is basically a former Sparrow -- a spy who uses sex as a primary weapon in her missions. Unfortunately for her, she's still using it. And yes, she's married. And you can guess how just from the description. The sex scenes are thankfully not explicit, and her husband is Confucian, not Christian, so he's relatively laid back about it ... but not very happy about it. It's complicated and messy, and while it fits with the characters, personally I think it went a step too far. There's a stretch around the middle you will probably want to skim through -- between the politics and the Harmony subplot, there's some drag in the pacing. It seemed a little excessive and slow. I'm not even going to touch on moral / immoral aspects of it. I can't even say it was padding, since the book is just over 350 pages long. While book 1 and 2 fit together like one long novel, this almost feels a little off at times.

Thankfully, the book rallies quickly by the last third. At the end of the day, this wraps up every dangling thread, leaving it all tied in a bow. Everything is resolved, including elements that lead back to book 1. There was so much Fusion-Harmony politics, I half-suspected that the AI solution would happen off screen. It wasn't. It was integrated beautifully back into the overall plot. Karl could have easily made this final part a fourth novel, but he tied it off like a surgeon with a suture in a lovely 30 pages of epic warfare that I did not see coming, though I probably should have.

Hell, the only thing I thought Karl would do and didn't would be with the terraformers. But they already served their purpose in books 1 and 2.

Overall, solid book, good end to the trilogy. If you've bought books one and two, get Torchship Captain here. If you're new, just purchase the whole Torchship Trilogy.

For the record, yes, this is going to be my 2018 Dragon Award pick for Best Novel.

As an aside: Dear David Weber, if you have any problem with continuing or concluding Honor Harrington, I recommend you and Karl have a conversation sometime.