In case anyone is wondering

I’ve published a couple of updates to The Lion in Paradise — mostly they were typos or MLIs (Momentary Lapses of Intelligence) and don’t really affect the story per se.  Calling Delaney a Major when she was a Colonel at that point was probably inexcusable, though.  And I know it’s 5.56 NATO, my fingers just didn’t type that; they typed .556 NATO.  The latter, if it were real, would probably be a much better calibre, anyway.  But it’s not real, so oh well.

And if you knew how much time I spent proofreading the damn thing and still missed those errors, well…it just is what it is.  We’re trying to move, there’s an HR crisis at work, and I’m just.  Fucking.  Tired.

So anyway…how’s life in the clean world?

Another BTW, and it’s a bit of a spoiler, so you’ll have to highlight it to read it:  If you read the first half, you know Ariela has an adopted daughter in addition to the two of her own.  If you’ve read the second half, you may be scratching your head at the adopted daughter’s absence.  There is a reason for that, and it’s as simple as the adopted daughter is on al-Saḥra’ pulling duty with the SFM at that time. Don’t worry, though; she shows up again in the Epilogue.

And that’s all I have at the moment.  Book’s live, go buy it or read it on KU.  Thanks 🙂

The Lion in Paradise is released

Actually it was released last night, per my previous post, but there were a couple of extremely minor typos and I refreshed the manuscript this morning.

All Col. Dr. Ariela Rivers Wolff, M.D., Ph.D., USSFM – the Lion of God – wanted was a little piece of paradise to call her own.

Being stuck on a desert world – even if she was the CO of the premiere battalion of the 1st U.S. Space Force Marines that was based there – was not getting her any beach time. Mostly because, without an ocean, there’s really no beach at all.

But she’s got a fix for that problem.

Now, if only the academics studying the problem of terraforming the exile world of al-Saḥra’ would get out of her way . . .

. . . and if only the religious fanatics who want their planet left as a desert, despite all the water from the planet’s former oceans being accessible only a few miles down, will leave the terraforming project alone long enough to see the good it will bring them . . .

. . . then, the Lion would truly be in Paradise.

But even in paradise, black clouds – and black ships – can herald danger . . .

Another free book promo

Independence Day is coming up!*

You’re going to relax on the beach, or laze around on the couch.  Either way, you’re looking for something science-fictiony to read.

Got you covered.  I’m running a free promo for all of the Timelines books (both novels and the three short stories, two of which are really more like novellas).

And yeah, you could read these books for free on KU — but I’m offering to give them to you for free FREE free starting Sunday, June 27, 2021, 12:00 AM PDT and running through Thursday, July 1, 2021, 11:59 PM PDT.

In other words, why borrow them from KU when you can own them forever?**

Here are your links…but remember!  This promo doesn’t start till [insert Jan Gabriel intoning, “SUNDAY…SUNDAY…SUNDAY!!!!”] Sunday, June 27, and if you’re in EDT like me, it won’t show up till 0300.  Why?  Because Amazon works in the Pacific time zone.  If you have an issue with that (and WTF are you doing up at 0300, anyway, for crying out loud?), please feel free to complain to Amazon.***

Please note that the books below are arranged in the author’s intended reading order.

January 1993. Somalia. Operation Restore Hope. A Marine platoon pulling a security patrol runs into an insurgent ambush in Mogadishu, and when the platoon commander winds up unconscious from a blow to the head taken when an IED rolls his command Humvee, and the First Sergeant is killed as soon as he exits his vehicle, command falls to a badly wounded gunnery sergeant — initially trapped in the same vehicle with his platoon commander and their driver, but conscious and alert and ready to bring some personal hell down on the RIFs…if he can just get out of this damn vehicle, grab a rifle, and drag himself and his busted-up, non-working leg over to a firing point without bleeding out.

June 1993. Washington, DC. A First Lieutenant with a freshly-healed scar on his head encounters a beautiful redheaded floor nurse at Bethesda Naval Hospital. He’s there to see his Gunny, who’s been stuck in the hospital with a broken femur since he was transported home in February. He’s the platoon commander who was knocked hors de combat by the IED, and he’s been sent to find out why his Gunny is obstinately refusing to accept an important decoration for his participation in the incident.

Turns out that’s going to be quite a job, because Gunny’s got his reason. Will the Lieutenant, and his ally the nurse, be able to convince his Gunny there’s a better reason to accept the decoration?

Might be they’ll need a little help from a friend…

John Wolff has been handed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Again.

He’s already saved the love of his life from an early death – thirty years after she died.

Now, a beautiful young woman, who is clearly his daughter, has appeared from the timeline branch where that same love of his life survived and married his counterpart.

She says they need his help fighting off invaders from the far future. Who, by the way, are looking for him. Why? Because they want the starship drive he and a friend invented, the precursor to their time machine. Problem is, in her timeline, it hasn’t been invented yet.

What man can resist a cry for help from his own daughter?

Particularly when the invaders think she’s a saint. Or possibly, a devil wearing saint’s clothing. And they’re looking for her, too.

Thus begins the Timelines Saga, and the story of the Lion of God.

Thirty years ago, Dr. Ariela Rivers Wolff, M.D., Ph.D., AKA The Lion of God, had a pretty exhausting week.

Her world was invaded by time-traveling soldiers, she was nearly turned into human toothpaste by an experimental dimension jumper when she went to find her parallel “Dad,” who just happens to be able to borrow a Space Force fleet to come and take out her world’s invaders . . . and then she found out she was considered by those same invaders to be a saint in their odd religion, and one of the targets of their invasion. If that wasn’t enough, she nearly fell completely out of the universe into a time rift, being saved only by the skin of her teeth by her parallel “Dad”.

After all that, learning she was going to be the one to bring universal healing and long life to the human race in her particular timeline was just the icing on the proverbial cake.

Anybody else would go home, turn off their phone, pull all the blinds, lock all the doors, and take the rest of their life off. But Ari isn’t “anybody else”. And her cult of admirers across two timelines won’t take “nobody home” for an answer.

Fast-forward thirty years. Scientists have detected radio transmissions in an unknown language from several hundred light years away. And now she’s been asked to use her special “saintly” skills as demonstrated on her last “mission” to make first contact with whoever they are.

And that’s only the beginning.

Looks like Ambassador Dr. Ariela Rivers Wolff, M.D., Ph.D., is going to have another pretty exhausting week. Or six.

Delaney Wolff Fox is a spy. A cute spy. A deadly spy.

A spy you want at your back when stuff gets real.

From a palatial office in Johannesburg, to a fancy whisky bar in Sydney, Australia, to a beautiful private beach in southwest Florida, to the great and wild city of New Orleans, Captain Delaney Fox, United States Space Force Marines (Intelligence Division) finds herself beset by assassins at every turn, while first saving an alien government’s valuable artifact from the South African cartel that’s stolen it, and then being assigned to guard said artifact while it completes a world tour, on loan from that same alien government.

But like the proverbial fox in the proverbial henhouse, you can count on Delaney to complete the mission and come out with the prize, intact and in hand – even if the “farmer” isn’t all that keen about her doing so.

Captain Delaney Wolff Fox is back.

She’s just led her team on a months-long hunt through the penal world al-Saḥra’ (known otherwise by its semi-satirical name “Sanddoom”), looking for an industrial-sized illegal drug “kitchen” that’s been supplying colony worlds with various illegal substances via a network of involuntary migrant “mules”. That hunt ended satisfactorily, and rather explosively, with the destruction of the “kitchen” and hundreds if not thousands of personnel associated with it.

Now the team is heading back to Earth, hoping for some well-deserved shore leave . . .
. . . but it’s not to be. A long-sleeping foreign agent has been found in a stasis chamber in an abandoned Chicago warehouse, and it’s up to Delaney and crew to investigate the mystery, by traveling back to the year 2017 to find out why the agent was placed in stasis then, and why the stasis seems originally to have been planned to end in late 2020.

And when the sleeper wakes, asks for and consumes an entire pound of goose liver pâté, and asks for more, it’s pretty obvious they’ve got

A Dragon In The Foie Gras

___________

* Whether Slow Joe Biden or your lockdown-happy governor or mayor likes it or not.

** Really, this seems like a no-brainer only a socialist wouldn’t understand.

***  If you didn’t grow up in Indiana, or what is known as “The Region” up around Gary, Indiana, in the 1960’s-1970’s, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.  Try this.

Mappy mappy

The planet Sanddoom (er, sorry, its inhabitants insist on the name al-Saḥra’, these days) will figure pretty largely in the first half of The Lion in Paradise, so I thought I might provide a teaser map.  (Click to enlarge.)

The map was generated with the planet generator found here.  “Sea level” (if a completely dry desert planet can be said to have a “sea level”) is located at the black outlines.  The lighter the color, the greater the elevation.

A couple of notes about the place names:  Kanz al-Sultan (كنز السلطان, “The Sultan’s Treasure”) is the location of the great mine which has already been described in The Lion and The Lizard.

The city al-Madinat al-Jadida (المدينة الجديدة, “The New City”) is the name finally tagged to the Nameless City which was the original dumping ground, er, relocation target, er, place which was built rather rapidly for all the forced migrants back in the 2030’s and was never given a formal name.  When the USMC intervened on Sanddoom (sorry, al-Saḥra’) in 2047 (as described in The Lion and The Lizard), they found the ruling Islamic Council had refused to name the city because they had never accepted being exiled in the first place.  So the Marines, being Marines, simply called it, “The Nameless City.”  Of course this was taken up by Space Force and the Space Force Marines, as well as by the new Governor they had imposed on the planet, and was used incessantly and officially until the Islamic Council finally broke down and gave the city a name — which was meant to evoke the city of Medina back home in Saudi Arabia, but since “Medina” just means “City”, calling the place “The New City” was just as much of an asshole move as calling the planet, “The Desert” (which is what al-Saḥra’ means).  For what it’s worth, the inhabitants mostly call the city “Jadida” for short.

“First Water” and “The Great Rift” will be explained in the book.

The book, by the way, is about half done.  Or half baked.  Whatever.

Oh.  Wanna see what the planet looks like, terraformed?  Of course, that’s much later.

This book is kicking my ass, but it’s going to be fun when it’s done.

Preliminary art

Here is a preliminary cover for The Lion in Paradise, which is about 3000 words along and I don’t believe will be in anyone’s hands until sometime early next year.  At least, that’s the schedule.

Again, this is preliminary and subject to change, but it’s mostly the way I want it.

Errata

And no sooner do the new books go up than I find two words, one in each book, that’s incorrect.

Well, because I’m OCD, I fixed them and re-uploaded the books.  So if you downloaded before today, you may want to go into Amazon’s “Content and Devices” area and tell it to redeliver The Lion and the Lizard and/or A Dragon in the Foie Gras to your Kindle reader or device.

The error in TLATL is on page 279 of the Kindle edition; the word “reducing” should be “oxidizing”.  I fixed the first instance of the word on page 278 but missed the second instance on page 279.  Mea culpa.  (And nobody’s bought the paperback but me, so we’re safe there.)

The error in ADITFG is on page 54 of the Kindle edition and is simply a brain fart on my part; Delaney’s older sister is named Raven, not Becca — Becca is her great-aunt (John Wolff’s sister).  Again, mea culpa.

With any luck, that’s it.

The Lion and the Lizard — Live!

Or at least, it will be when Amazon finally decides to make it show up.  This link actually does work, but so far the book isn’t showing up on my author page.

The Kindle e-book is available now, both for purchase and KU.

There is a paperback edition, also, but Amazon had trouble with the cover, so I had to diddle it and reupload, necessitating ANOTHER review period…so it will be up when it’s up, I guess.

Nearly ready

I have not one, but two books (a novel and a novella) nearly ready for the ceremonial pushing of the “Publish” button.

First, the long-awaited (by me, anyway, because I had to sweat blood to get this one done, but it was worth it) sequel novel to The Lion of GodThe Lion and the Lizard.

Thirty years ago, Dr. Ariela Rivers Wolff, M.D., Ph.D., AKA The Lion of God, had a pretty exhausting week.

Her world was invaded by time-traveling soldiers, she was nearly turned into human toothpaste by an experimental dimension jumper when she went to find her parallel “Dad,” who just happens to be able to borrow a Space Force fleet to come and take out her world’s invaders . . . and then she found out she was considered by those same invaders to be a saint in their odd religion, and one of the targets of their invasion.  If that wasn’t enough, she nearly fell completely out of the universe into a time rift, being saved only by the skin of her teeth by her parallel “Dad”.

After all that, learning she was going to be the one to bring universal healing and long life to the human race in her particular timeline was just the icing on the proverbial cake.

Anybody else would go home, turn off their phone, pull all the blinds, lock all the doors, and take the rest of their life off.  But Ari isn’t “anybody else”.  And her cult of admirers across two timelines won’t take “nobody home” for an answer.

Fast-forward thirty years.  Scientists have detected radio transmissions in an unknown language from several hundred light years away.  And now she’s been asked to use her special “saintly” skills as demonstrated on her last “mission” to make first contact with whoever they are.

And that’s only the beginning.

Looks like Ambassador Dr. Ariela Rivers Wolff, M.D., Ph.D., is going to have another pretty exhausting week.  Or six.

This book really needs to be read before the novella A Fox in the Henhouse.  Mea culpa; I finished Fox way back in December and didn’t feel like waiting on The Lion and the Lizard, which at the time was in the throes of writer’s block.  BUT, as a bonus for those who may have been scratching their heads over stuff I wrote in Fox, you now have its sequel, to wit:

A Dragon in the Foie Gras is a novella, the next story in the continuing saga of Captain Delaney Wolff Fox (the daughter of Ariela Rivers Wolff, the Lion of God; you may have heard of her).  And it should definitely not be read until after you read The Lion and The Lizard.

Captain Delaney Wolff Fox is back.

She’s just led her team on a months-long hunt through the penal world al-Saḥra’ (known otherwise by its semi-satirical name “Sanddoom”), looking for an industrial-sized illegal drug “kitchen” that’s been supplying colony worlds with various illegal substances via a network of involuntary migrant “mules”.  That hunt ended satisfactorily, and rather explosively, with the destruction of the “kitchen” and hundreds if not thousands of personnel associated with it.

Now the team is heading back to Earth, hoping for some well-deserved shore leave . . .

 . . . but it’s not to be.  A long-sleeping foreign agent has been found in a stasis chamber in an abandoned Chicago warehouse, and it’s up to Delaney and crew to investigate the mystery, by traveling back to the year 2017 to find out why the agent was placed in stasis then, and why the stasis seems originally to have been planned to end in late 2020.

And when the sleeper wakes, asks for and consumes an entire pound of goose liver pâté, and asks for more, it’s pretty obvious they’ve got

A Dragon In The Foie Gras

Yeah, OK, yuk yuk yuk.  Sorry; I couldn’t help myself.

As soon as they’re published, I’ll post links.

I have a bone to pick

With Amazon.

It’s not about Jeff Bezos being a rich commie, or about him suddenly discovering that mail-in balloting is rife with possibilities for error and fraud.  It’s about Amazon Logistics and their crowd-sourced delivery scheme, and some weird shit that seems to be going on with their print-on-demand service.  But also about what they think is important and what isn’t.

As those of you who know me know (and if you’re reading this blog, of course you know), I dabble a bit in Science Fiction.  We take this moment for self-promotion (as if this whole blog isn’t about self-promotion):

I published this novel as a Kindle e-book last July, but because of time constraints and issues with putting it together, I didn’t create a paperback edition at the same time.  I finished the paperback edition in December, uploaded it, ordered a proof copy, fixed some issues I found in the proof, re-uploaded, and let it go live.  It’s sold two copies.  Which is not a big deal because I make only 34 cents/copy in royalties for the paperback vs. $2.03 for e-books.  So definitely buy the e-book.  Or read it on Kindle Unlimited; I get a fraction of a cent for every page you read on KU, so I’m good with that.

Bottom line, the paperback, for me, is mainly a vanity issue.

Amazon will sell authors as many copies of their print-on-demand books as they want, at Amazon’s cost.  (Well, within reason; there’s an upper limit and I don’t recall what it is, but I’m way, way south of it.)  In my case, that’s $4.44 per copy.  Plus $1.11 shipping, even though I’m a Prime member (which is another nitpick).  So that’s $5.55.  Which means if I sell them at the cover price of $7.97 (plus s&h if I have to mail them), I actually make $2.43 — a little more than I get for the e-books.  So yeah, if you want a print copy, and you want me to autograph it, please don’t order it from Amazon – email me or message me (I’m on MeWe and Signal) and we’ll work something out.

So I ordered ten author copies on December 31, so I’d have some available to autograph for people who’ve said they want autographed copies.  (Yes, there are a few of them out there.)

First (big) nit:  Three weeks for delivery!  No, I can’t afford to pay you for faster service.  So yes, I’ll wait till “January 22-24”.  WTF, assholes, I have Prime.  (Yeah, yeah.)

Second (big) nit:  They charged my card on the 20th for the entire 10 copies.  I’ll get to why I’m annoyed at that in a moment.

Third (big) nit:  They delivered one copy before we woke up this morning.  The other nine copies are currently in limbo somewhere between the printer and us.  This is the reason for nit #2.  Where are the rest of my copies?  Still in Monee, IL, for all I know, and possibly not even printed yet.  But still, supposed to be here by 10PM today!  Pardon me while I snort, politely.

Fourth (medium) nit:  The Amazon Logistics driver left the package in our mailbox at 7:57AM (I didn’t even roll out of bed till nearly 9AM; it’s Sunday), then had the balls to report “Your package was delivered.  It was handed directly to a resident.”

Fifth (small) nit:  Amazon drivers are not authorized to leave packages in USPS mailboxes.  It is in fact a federal crime for anyone but the USPS or the resident to place items in the box.  But Amazon drivers do it all the time, anyway.  I guess that beats leaving it sitting on the driveway in the snow.  (Why, yes, one driver did that once.  Another driver left a (paper, not Tyvek) envelope on the uncovered part of the porch in the rain.  Luckily it was one of those heavy, almost waxy brown paper envelopes, so the inside was perfectly dry.)

So now WTF are they going to do?  Dribble the rest of the books out to me, onesee-twosee?  That’s pretty poor service, regardless of how small a fish I am in their great big author pool.

Anyway, it looks like I’m finally going to have a few copies to autograph and mail, so there’s that.

EDIT, 25 Jan 2021:  They finally got here this morning.  And were left just off the porch, in the dirt, behind a bush, where they would have gotten soaked had I not seen them and brought them inside before the rain hit.  Sigh.  And apparently packed by a group of mentally-deficient chimpanzees, but thankfully undamaged.

Paperback TLG maybe late next week, plus musings

Probably interesting only to myself, given sales reports, but I’m waiting on a paperback proof copy of The Lion of God to show up next Wednesday; if the proof is satisfactory, the paperback edition (6″x9″ trade paperback) will go on sale on Amazon for $7.97.

Interjection before I start to pontificate:  The paperback version will have the corrected errata mentioned in this post.  I am also going to update the Kindle version today, so if the errata bother you, you’ll be able to re-download it at some point later this weekend, that is, assuming the review process goes quickly on a holiday weekend.

Before anyone thinks I’m overpricing what they may consider a half-crap debut novel, I get a whopping 34 cents of that.  And the minimum cover price would be worse if I clicked the “Expanded Distribution” box — close to $12 when I experimented last night.  Those are Amazon’s minimums (well, the minimum for standard distribution is actually $7.40, a price point at which I get $0.00 royalty).

I honestly don’t know how anyone makes a living at this shit.  I’m personally damned hard-pressed to spend $10 for a book (frankly, I’ll only do that to buy the latest in C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series, which I’ve been reading since the first book came out in 1994, and maybe a couple of other things), but so many “pro” releases — even in Kindle, with what really amount to tiny production costs, most of which are on the author’s side — are $9.99 these days.

When I sell The Lion of God as a Kindle download, I get (for my $2.99 cover price, which is the minimum if you want in on the 70% royalty scheme, which has certain benefits the 35% scheme doesn’t) a $2.03 royalty.  This makes sense, because it costs Amazon a pittance to make the book available as a download (dirty little secret:  This is how they can afford KU).  Unless you use their crappy cover designer, ALL production costs are ultimately borne by the author (and even their cover designer doesn’t cost them much, since it’s extremely limited).

I would estimate in covers alone I have close to $3,000 invested.  $1,600 of that was to buy a new computer that could handle a high-resolution DAZ3D render in a couple of hours vs. a couple of days — but that computer was bought with at least one other use in mind, so the cost is “distributed”, as it were.  Could I buy covers, like, find a cover artist whose work I admire and commission them?  Sure.  Do I want to deal with an artist?  No.  I have an artist friend who does covers (he has made some absolutely gorgeous retro Star Trek covers and even “movie posters” for TOS episodes) and evinced little or no interest in making mine, though to his credit he did mentor me through the process of getting DAZ3D up and running, and we continue to share tidbits back and forth as I get better with the program — and he admits he’s glad I got into it because my questions stimulated him to get off his butt and work with it again.

The bottom line of all of this is, unless something happens and I suddenly start selling hundreds of copies of my books a year, I will never get my investment back.  But I don’t care.  It’s a hobby, not a job.  I already have a job and I want to retire from it in about five years 🙂  I didn’t write at all for 20+ years because writing was already my day job, and it wasn’t fun to jump from writing technical materials all day to writing fiction at night, which is known as taking a “busman’s holiday.”

As it turned out, our idiot governor shutting down half the state (and our equally idiot mayor shutting down the rest of the city) because of the WuFlu meant I had a lot of time on my hands starting in March that used to be taken up with going out to dinner with friends and participating in fraternal activities.  Not to mention vacation travel, and going to see the kids and grandkids in Fort Wayne once a month.

So you got what I did to break the monotony.  My contribution to “what if?”

Thanks for indulging my imagination. 🙂