Potpourri July 2020

This Saturday, I will be presenting on Writer’s Research for the St. Louis Writer’s Guild.

jamesyoung_2020 (This One)

You can join for free via Zoom.  

I’m basically going to talk about how to do historical research and also chase down various things about writing.  There’s going to also be a lot of Q&A, so if you’re wanting to pop in to ask me random questions there will be a chat available at that blog link.  No, I will not be debating “What is the best fighter of World War II?”

Nor will I be getting much into Victorian-era work.  Why?  Well, in addition to not being a Victorian historian, two hours after I’m done, the indomitable Holly Messinger is also doing a talk for the Olathe Public Library.  For those who don’t know Holly, she writes Weird West stories, does costuming, and also knows a bit of Kung Fu.  If you’ve ever had a bunch of burning questions about Victorian-era dress, where to find Wild West information, or general gothic tid bits, it’ll be well worth your time to drop in.  Here is the Zoom Link for Holly’s Presentation.

On another front, your humble narrator has just had an essay published in Proceedings‘ online magazine.  This had been an entry for their General Essay contest, and getting selected for publication from the bevy of other essays is quite an honor.

In celebration of the presentation Saturday and Against the Tide Imperial‘s imminent release (I swear, it’s almost done), I will be placing On Seas So Crimson on sale for $.99 / £ .99 from 11 – 18 July on both the US Amazon and UK Amazon sites.  (Sorry for any other Amazon sites, but those are the only two it will let me do a countdown for.)

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https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01B175FJG

In addition, Those In Peril, the first Phases of Mars anthology, is currently on sale for $.99 on Amazon and will be through Saturday, 11 July.  

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Last but not least, my novellas A Midwinter’s Ski and Pandora’s Memories will likely become audiobooks by the end of the year.  I look forward to hearing them “brought to life” by a crackerjack narrator who sounds awesome, but more on that once things are closer to getting finished.

I will expound on many of the above things in my newsletter, but wanted to give people a quick heads up on some of the things going on.  If you’re not a member of the newsletter, you can join it here.

 

 

2019 in Review

Man.  It seems like just yesterday I was celebrating the imminent release of Those In Peril and preparing to go to Life, The Universe, and Everything (LTUE) Symposium in Utah.  Next thing I know, 2019 is in the rearview mirror, the Phases of Mars series is complete, and Against The Tide Imperial is…well, still not done, but definitely getting there.  Still, 3 anthologies in a year is not bad, and objectively I think it was a fair trade.  I mean, guys—I edited S.M. Stirling, Kevin J. Anderson, Taylor Anderson, Sarah Hoyt, and David Weber this year.  In books with my name on the front cover.  Shout out to Chris Kennedy for taking on a beer bet and to team “and more” for being amazing.

By the numbers, over 1,500 people visited the page this year, which was almost double the number of folks who showed up in 2018.  Thank you for coming along on this wild ride, and here’s to hoping that you continue to enjoy a glimpse inside the crazy.  Externally, this was my second year in a row over 1,000 books sold / 500,000 Kindle pages read (not counting the anthologies) both online and in person, and with at least one book coming out that will helpfully increase.  Moreover, I learned a lot this year about marketing, networking, and this profession in general.  While those could be 20 or more blog posts in and of themselves, the “Top 3 Things I Learned in 2019 Are”:

#1 Professionalism Matters—Nothing like being the chief editor for something to help you realize one’s reputation precedes you.  From the perspective of dealing with fellow authors, I was taken aback by the number of folks who do not understand some basic etiquette in dealing with their fellow human beings.  Or the importance of things like, “Hey, when the requirement says 7-10,000 words, that means you don’t turn in 6500 and cop and attitude with the editor.”  People will remember if you pull some prima donna crap when you really didn’t have to, and word spreads quickly.  Likewise, if you become, shall we say, radioactive in other venues, there will be folks who have problems with sharing a common battlespace with you.  Bottom line:  If you’re involved in a project, be on time (or admit that you’re not going to be able to do something in a timely manner), write to the specifications, and don’t be a jerk.

#2 People Plan, the Universe Laughs—I can honestly say 2019, while not the craziest year I can remember (oh hey, 2009), was up there.  Between deaths, getting forcibly invited to someone else’s car accident, a new job, and various other “What the Hell?!” things that occurred, I’ve come to realize the path to sanity involves accepting that life is chaos.  Don’t get me wrong–I’m still very much a work in project on this.

However, I’ve increasingly tried to take an objective look at what has occurred, then ask myself “Why did this happen?”  If it’s someone else’s fault, that’s usually followed by “Was this accidental, malicious, or unforeseeable?  If accidental, has the other party acknowledged their role in the negative outcome and taken measures to keep it from happening again? If malicious, is this salvageable or is it time to just close that particular airlock?”

If it’s my error, “What have we learned and how do we keep from dropping that ball again?”  This is usually followed by “How do we make amends?”  Because saying “I’m sorry…” is kind of pointless unless there’s an actual intent to make things right.

Above all these things, however, 2019 taught me this:  “If I died tomorrow, would I be happy I spent ___ minutes / hours / days dealing with rectifying this problem?”  Because having someone go from “I’m glad I’m finally going to meet him…” to “Whoa.  He’s going to be dead in less than eight hours…” definitely made me start assessing time and how I spend it.  Spend time doing what you love and with people who make time for you, as our hourglass only has so much sand in it.

#3 Network Makes The Dream Work—Among the “people who made time” for me were my writing tribe.  It really does take a village, and one never knows what connection will suddenly bear fruit.  I can honestly say that in 2019 I had positive interactions with people I first met back in the 1980s, went to school with in the 90s’, served with in the Army in the ’00s, and even folks I saw in passing at a random con sometime in the last six years.  In some instances this was expected.  In others, it was definitely one of us saying to each other or about someone else “Uhhhh, you know, let me see if _____ can help with that, because holy smokes you’re in a bad way”-response.  The outcomes were almost always great and definitely far better than I would have accomplished on my own. Whether it was fiscal (increasing royalties!), introducing me to another pro who provided a story (or stories) for the anthologies, or just providing a “morale boost” when I was questioning my sanity for even pushing on with this crazy dream, I’d like to issue a blanket THANK YOU! to the tribe and fans at large.  You all made 2019 great, and I look forward to what 2020 has to bring.

All right, that’s enough from the foxhole for today.  I’m going back to figuring out what happens when over 100 American aircraft surprise six Japanese carriers equipped with stolen British radar.  That’s right, it’s called “alternate history” for a reason, and boy howdy does the Kido Butai having decent radar change a lot of factors involved in World War II carrier fights.

 

Warship Wednesday–Death of a Prince

It is my intent to do a 2019 Year In Review blog post at some point before the end of the month.

Until then, feel free to read some in-depth analysis of the Prince of Wales‘ loss.  Much like reading an autopsy report will tell you quite a bit about how the human body fails, this account makes it easy to understand how the PoW basically became a wreck after a single, unlucky torpedo hit.

News From the Con World

This mirrors what a lot of other vendors have said about the 2019 season and concerns about 2020. While I will be potentially doing as many shows, I’m definitely leaning towards new markets with proven performers.

This is also something to consider for the larger author community. One may have to take a deep breath when looking at overall sales numbers and also pay strict attention to marketing. Things may get bumpy for a bit.

WWII Quick References (NOV 2019)

Figured I’d perchance save loyal readers some gumshoe work down the road if they ever want to do a World War II story:

You can find ONI drawings for World War II references (like for your cartographer to draw ship outlines) here.

This is a good time zone converter for those cases when you go from Hawaii to Mombasa  to Ceylon all in one chapter.

Finally, lunar data for those pesky night Mosquito attacks.

Now, back to the Kido Butai vs.  Her Commonwealth Navy’s Far East Fleet.  Later!

An Interesting Take on Procrastination

I think procrastination is the bane of most authors.  Having carved out time to write, cleared the calendar, it is all too easy to lose a couple hours on social media or “just one more turn”-ing it through a computer game.

Apparently there’s a study out that shows this may not be “You’re a bad time manager…” but actually “Something is emotionally bothering you.”  I’m certainly willing to entertain the argument–I know that emotional upheaval can be a double-edged sword as far was writing motivation goes.  (“Double edged?”  “Yeah, let’s not talk about the fact the original Will Colfax novel got churned out during one of the most difficult years of my life.”)

So maybe all the advice people give about “clearing your head” before sitting down to write has some merit?  Or perhaps that’s why some people write better inebriated, as they’re too smashed to care about the emotional debris flying around in their head space?  Food for thought…

Shapes and Such

So while I’m busy editing To Slip the Surly Bonds‘ entries, here’s something else for your reading pleasure:

Shapes, Part I: The Shape of Airpower

Note that his opinions and experiences with naysaying the airframe reflect many of my own with regards to the F-35.  (Neither the author’s opinions nor mine reflect official DoD policy.  Nor do they mirror those of our respective services or the U.S. government.)

As I’ve mentioned before, very early on in the F-35’s development someone in the other services should’ve said, “Fine, let’s give the Marines’ their jump fighter (or seriously modify the AV-8), and everyone else who needs a power projection platform will take this in a different direction.”  For various reasons (to include the foolish belief that, after the Cold War, great power conflicts were a dead issue) this was not done–and now all the armed services have a fighter that is more F-105/F-111 than, say, F-16.  That’s…that’s not good, and I’m glad to see purchasing additional F-15 platforms is being vehemently discussed.  I’d prefer they were F-22s, but the Eagle‘s inherent growth abilities continue to provide dividends.

Big picture, it’s probably time to also consider augmenting our current heavy bomber fleet with something off the shelf.  How many cruise missiles can you fit into a Boeing 767?  I don’t know, but maybe that’s something Congress should direct the Air Force think about. 

 

Another Interview and a Blog Tour

So a while back I did an interview for a local Web TV show.  You can see yours truly in all my “Whoa, that was a quick seven minutes…” glory here.

 

Also, a reminder that I start an audiobook blog tour on Monday.  I’ll try to remember to post links here for new and interesting info.  😀

Finally, Aries’ Red Sky is still for sale on Amazon through Saturday for $.99.  If you know someone who loves Sci-Fi, feel free to gift them an e-copy.