Libertycon 31!

As longtime readers of this blog know, I regularly attend Libertycon, a small sci-fi convention out of Chattanooga.  Unlike most cons I attend (where I allegedly perform Jedi mind tricks, erm, vend), Libertycon is primarily a professional get together / family reunion.  I met my first guest blogger there, got invited into an anthology, and generally get up to all sorts of shenanigans with folks who are fellow authors.

This last year I had to skip the Con due to that pesky dissertation problem.  This year was the first time in decades the Con had moved to a new venue, the Marriott in downtown Chattanooga.  The journey down was a little, um, interesting (video tilts the right way once you hit play):

As I had not been sure I was going to make the Con, I had planned to just attend as “just another guy.”  Well, that lasted until I got signed in, looked at the back of my badge, and realized I was scheduled for several events.  Whoops!

The first of these was Chris Kenned and Mark Wandrey’s Four Horsemen Author’s Panel for all the participants in their anthologies as well as those who write full novels in the larger 4HU Universe.  As readers of this blog may recall, I’m in A Few Credits More.  I will hopefully be able to get Chris a story for the second trio of universe anthologies, as it’s a fun playground to mess around in for an old Battletech fan.  I stuck around for the mass autograph signing and also jaw jacking with my fellow authors.  It was great to see Kacey Ezell, whose alternate history Minds of Men I really enjoyed listening to.  So much so, I’ve hired her narrator for Aries’ Red Sky, with the intent being to have the print, Kindle, and audio book versions arrive within weeks of one another.  We’ll see how that goes.

The rest of Saturday was spent in panels on Space Opera, Retro-Futurist Alternate History, and what’s going on in indie publishing.  I had intended to just be a bystander for the Space Opera panel, but the always lovely Sarah and Dan Hoyt weren’t having any of that.  (Yes, it says something about how indomitable Sarah is that she can basically motivate the crowd to force me to the table.  “I’m here on vaaaaaaaccaaaatttttiiiooonnn…”) Retro-Futurist Alternate History was hosted by Louis Antoinelli, and a good time was had by all (even if I got called a pessimist at one point).  Finally, I got to sit in on a “Masters of Military Science Fiction” panel that included Chuck Gannon, David Drake, David Weber, and John Ringo.  Lots of ideas flowing out of that one, and it was timely in that it’s made me think of several things currently going on as I edit Aries’.  (Yes, I know, I should explain those things, but they involve spoilers.)

All too soon, it was Sunday morning.  Given that I was trying to not have to take leave on Monday, I had to hot foot out of Chattanooga earlier than I wanted.  Always hard leaving friends that are like family, and it speaks volumes about the con’s atmosphere that all 750 memberships sold out in under 6 hours once sales opened.  Already looking forward to next year when I’ll spend entirely too much on T-shirts and have my muses reinforced by my friends’ crazy ideas.


In support of Aries Red Sky (available here), I had some work commissioned by A.R. Crebs.  A.R. is a fellow author as well as an artist, and I’ve mentioned her before when discussing the system maps for the book’s interior.  Introducing Oscar and Ollie, a pair of otters who are the subject of a 31st Century children’s show (of which more will be written later):


Harpoon Otter 18x24Ray Gun Otter

Hope you find these two images amusing.  They serve the basis for the unit patch for VF(S)-10, the “Obstinate Otters.”

A Quick Note

Greetings all, it’s been awhile.  Lots of good news, and there will be a longer newsletter (subscribe here).  But first, three items of major import:

As of 11 May 2018 I have received my doctorate in U.S. History from Kansas State University.  Here is one picture of me getting hooded by my committee chair, Dr. Don Mrozek:



The next piece of news is that I will be at Smallville Comic Con in Hutchinson, KS on 23-24 June 2018.  We will be at Booth #44:

Smallville Map

Last but far from least, the next Vergassy Universe novel, Aries Red Sky, is available for pre-order from Amazon.  Feel free to pick up a copy so that it will download on its release date, 24 July.  Also, if you prefer audiobooks, a producer has been hired for the book with an expected completion date of 10 August on ACX.

Aries Red Sky Kindle Cover.jpg

That’s all for now!  Hope you are all doing and have a chance to pick the book up.

Planet Comic Con

Just got through with Planet Comic Con.  Good show, lots of new and old fans.  If you’re just checking in from a panel or having grabbed my business card, feel free to poke around.  The tags below should let you find things fairly easily with regards to writing, promoting, and other thing of interest to independent authors.  Happy reading!

Guest Blogging, Some News, and a Little Q&A

Sorry for some of the intermittent posting.  I have spent most of the last few days filling out interview questions for my blog tour through Goddess Fish Promotions.  For those of you who do not know what a blog tour is, basically a promotion site sets you up with guest blogs / reviews of your book on several different websites.  This is my first time trying it, so we’ll see it goes.  Even if it doesn’t work for me, successful paranormal / urban fantasy author R.L. Naquin swears by them–so it may be a genre thing.

In other news–I have recently been published in Armor magazine, the U.S. Army’s professional journal for mounted warfare.  You can find the article here:  .  It’s regarding doctrine, so odds are it may be a little dry without context.

Out of all the questions I got asked (and there were a lot), I had the most fun with the “What is your musical playlist?”  one.  I kept it limited to 15 songs, but here was my answer (with some Metal Monday Alumni):

1.) Dawson’s Christian – Vixy and Tony (

2.) Husker – Bear McCreary, from BSG: Blood and Chrome (

3.) Gettysburg Trilogy – Iced Earth (

4.) The Stars Will Fall – Crom (

5.) One Last Battle – Vic Tyler (

6.) Attack – Hans Zimmer, Pearl Harbor OST (

7.) Requiem For A Tower – London Music Works (

8.) Theme from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla—Akira Ifukube (

9.) Bottle of Pain—Combichrist (

10.) Freedom Fighters—Two Steps From Hell (

11.) The Bleeding—Five Finger Death Punch (

12.) I Love You—Woodkid (

13.) Long Live the King—Sabaton (

14.) When Winter Comes—Miracle of Sound (

15.) Even in Death—Evanescence (

I also learned that a lot of interviewers unwittingly ask the same questions.  I don’t want to steal any of the gracious hosts’ thunder, so I’ll start regularly answering a set of these questions  here on the blog / in my newsletter.  (“Newsletter?  How do we sign up for the newsletter?”  “Click here, my curious friend!”)

“A Midwinter’s Ski” was reviewed by Roses In Ink.  If you liked it as much as they did, pick it up for free on Amazon.

Last month I rode out to San Diego to attend the WEST 2017 Naval Conference hosted by the USNI (United States Naval Institute) and AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association).  The primary purpose was to receive my physical award for winning the USNI’s 2016 Cyberwarfare Essay Contest.  As a bonus, I also got to see a lot of awesome exhibits, visit the U.S.S. Midway, and talk some slight smack to a Class of ’64 USNA grad.  (“I guess we decided after 14 years to finally let your guys experience a victory.”  “_My_ class never lost to Navy, Sir.”).  This is me with the other award winners:


Here’s what the plaque looks like:


I’m pretty sure that The Prolific Trek is still muttering about driving halfway across the US to pick up something that would have easily fit in a mailing package.  But, had I done that, I would not have gotten to see the Grand Canyon:


Or totally fan boy over meeting the amazing Vincent P. O’Hara, author of several naval history books.  The one I’m holding, The U.S. Navy Against the Axis, is probably the best single-volume coverage of the USN’s surface fleet during the Second World War.  While James Hornfischer’s Neptune’s Inferno is my go to recommendation for the Guadalcanal Campaign, O’Hara’s is my choice for a complete series.


Finally, my next upcoming event is Little Apple Comic Expo (LACE).  It will be hosted at the Kansas State Student Union on 18 March from 10 AM to 6 PM.  Feel free to swing on by to see Anita C. Young and I hawking our wares.

Anyway, that’s it from the Midwest.

Young’s Ten Tips

Susanne Lambdin and I do a regular panel we call “Strategy and Tactics of Novel Writing.”  Inevitably we figure some poor sods come in thinking we’re going to talk military stuff.  For you folks, we are sorry.  For everyone else, don’t be fooled–we really do talk about how to write a novel.  We usually start of with talking about Elmore Leonard’s Ten Tips for Writers (most of which we disagree with).  Susanne then does her ten tips for writers (which I will get from her later), while I have mine:

Young’s Ten Tips For Writing

1.) Butt in seat, words on screen. You will not get writing done unless you actually sit down to do it.

2.) Yes someone has “done it before.”  Do it anyway.  Every story, when you get down to it, has been done by someone, somewhere.  You have an original spin on the “same old story”—tell it.

3.) Develop your own style of “write fu.  There are things you will do that make sense to no one else but work for you.  There will be things that work exceedingly well for others that will have your muses abandon you like rats from a sinking ship.  Figure these things out early, stick with those that work.

4.) The Shining is a cautionary tale.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play also makes Jack batspit crazy, cranky, and increasingly likely to be a homicide victim.  Take a break from writing every once in a while in order to stay fresh.

5.) Research or experience.  You do not get many chances to convince a reader you are competent.  There are boundless opportunities to persuade them you are an idiot.  Check something before committing it to paper unless you experienced it firsthand or are well-versed in it academically.

6.) Have fun.  Self-explanatory.  If you do not like your writing, your readers will not either.

7.) Join a writing group.  A good writing group is worth its weight in gold, both for critiques and for friendships.

8.) Series Bible.  You can do it early, or you can do it when you’re trying to write the sequel to the first book.  Guess which one hurts less.

9.) Nanowrimo.  It is good to get in the habit of attempting to write quickly, and Nanowrimo helps you do this.  It can also help develop good daily habits that will carry over going forward.  Finally, we’re all lab rats and reward oriented—so it’s great getting to 50,000 with your friends.

10.) Learn to find the good in every criticism.  This is not “develop a thick skin.”  Likely by this point in life you have whatever skin you’re going to get whether it’s tissue paper or ablative armor.  Instead, even if something crushes you, go have a good cry, smash a dinner plate, or burn a building down (okay, that’s excessive)…then figure out what you can learn from the shot you just took.  Odds are you’ll find something useful even in the most banal criticism someone gives you.

Clearing The Dust Off

Hey folks–sorry I have been so silent lately–lots of Cons, lots of other tasks consuming time.

First off, it’s been a great Con season so far.  Starting back in February, the tally so far has been thus:

  1. Stealthcon (Warrensburg, MO)
  2. Empower Con (Topeka, KS)
  3. Little Apple Con (Manhattan, KS)
  4. St. Louis Wizard World (St. Louis, MO)
  5. Air Capital Mini-Con (Wichita, KS)
  6. Kansas City Planet Comic Con (KC)
  7. Smallville Comic Con (Hutchinson, KS)
  8. Libertycon (Chattanooga, TN

Anyone else tired?  Because I sure am!  But this train isn’t stopping for a bit.  Next up in the chute is Kansas City Comic Con, 12-14 August.  Hope to see some folks there!