“angles of attack” release day.

“Angles of Attack”, the third novel in the Frontlines series, is officially out and available for purchase. Those of you who pre-ordered the book should either get it delivered today (if you ordered the physical print or audio copies), or have it on your Kindelmaschines already.

“Angles of Attack” is available via Amazon in Kindle, paperback, and audio formats here:


Go buy! Go read! And leave a review if you are so inclined. In the meantime, I am going to try and get some more work done on Frontlines #4, “Chains of Command”, instead of obsessively checking the Amazon sales ranking every five seconds while stress-binging on Nutella straight from the jar. NOT THAT I’VE EVER DONE THAT.


henry, february 2012-march 2015.

Henry is gone.

He vomited up his water and refused his food Friday morning, so Robin took him to the emergency vet, where they diagnosed an intestinal blockage. He went in for surgery, and they removed the blockage. We were hoping to bring him home on Saturday. But then he took a turn for the worse after the surgery. He came down with a severe case of peritonitis (abdominal infection), and rapidly declined on Saturday night even after they went in again to try to find what was wrong. The infection did not respond to antibiotics.

This morning, I went in to see him and maybe make the final decision with the vet whether we should end his suffering. Turns out it wasn’t necessary. They brought him into the treatment room, and he died in my arms a minute or two later. I held him and kissed him and told him that we love him. I told him I was sorry–that we couldn’t do more for him, and for all the times I didn’t treat him as kindly as I could have. I’m very glad that I was the last thing he saw, felt, and heard, because he was my dog first and foremost. He loved everyone, but he loved me best. He would not let Robin tuck him in at night without coming to the bottom of the bedroom stairs and wait for me to come down and give the OK.

It’s easier when they are old and in declining health, and you have time to expect it and prepare. I was not ready to say good-bye to Henry yet–he was barely three years old–and I am not taking it well. He was a beautiful, smart, and loving dog, and he should have had ten more good years at least. My heart is quite shattered right now because we will not have those years with him.

Farewell, Henry. If there’s a dachshund heaven, your grandmother is waiting for you, and she’ll pay you much respect when she hears that you killed yourself eating at only three years of age. It took her fourteen years to get the same achievement, and I suspect she will be duly impressed. You were a Typical Dachshund.


it printed in cuneiform.


That monstrosity is a Brother WP-1 word processor. I recently found this picture online, and boy, did it trigger some memories.

I got one of those babies in the late 1980s, when I was just out of high school. I kept it throughout my four years of military service, and it got dragged to every duty station where I spent more than a few weeks. And “dragged” is the right word here–it was an all-in-one unit with an amber-and-black CRT, a floppy drive, and a daisy wheel printer, and it weighed probably close to forty pounds. (It did have a convenient carry handle, so it was somewhat portable, but let me tell you that this thing was no MacBook Air. It tested your commitment. You really had to want to write if you chose to take your word processor the weight of a car battery with you.)

I filled up many a 3.5″ disk with my early attempts at Fictional Noveling, let me tell you. And I only got rid of the trusty Brother when I got my first PC, a 486 DX2-50, which had Windows 3.1 and Microsoft Word on it.

Man, I’ve been at this writing thing for a while. I already had dreams of making this writing thing a profession when I was still in high school. And it only took 25 years of pounding away at the keyboard!

the death of the ipod classic.

Amid the hubbub of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch introductions on Tuesday, the quiet death of the iPod classic went pretty much unnoticed. After 13 years of production, Apple has discontinued the hard drive-based iPod.

The demise of the iPod Classic was predictable. It was on its sixth generation, which hadn’t been updated in years, and sales had been declining year after year as people moved toward listening to music on their iPhones (and increasingly using streaming services like Pandora instead of locally copied music). But the iPod Classic was still a viable music-only device. In Michael Caine’s words in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, it was a one-trick pony, but it was a really good trick. If you had more than 64GB of music to carry around, it was your only option in the Apple stable, as the iPhone and iPod touch top out at that size while the last generation of the iPod classic held 160GB.

I picked up a new iPod classic not too long ago as a dedicated device to play all my music in the car, but I’ve found that I enjoy using it in a Walkman-like fashion when I’m out walking or biking because of the click wheel and the iPod’s single task nature. It’s just a comfortable little brick, and after all this time, the click wheel still makes sense when scrolling through music or changing volume. I’m glad I got.one of the last models, and I predict it will hold a full backup of all my music files for a good long while yet.

robin williams, 1951-2014.

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            The arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.
—Walt Whitman

i done did a writing retreat.

I got back from my super-secret writing retreat late Saturday night, and now it’s back to work in the regular office in the back of the house, with no company except for the dogs. For an introvert, I sure like being around my friends.

A few related bullet points:

  • The Bose noise-cancelling earbuds are completely fantastic, and I’ll never step onto a plane again without those little technological wonders in my carry-on bag. The flights I took last week were the most relaxing I’ve ever taken, despite mostly being crammed into regional commuter jet coach seats. You hit that noise-cancelling switch, and there’s an instant acoustic privacy bubble around you. They’re really good at killing loud droning like that from jet engines–it won’t be totally quiet, but it cuts the noise from a roar to a distant whisper that goes away completely when you put on some quiet music. Six thumbs up, AAAAAA+++++, would splurge again.
  • Lake Lure, NC and the surrounding area are super-pretty, and the climb up to the top of Chimney Rock is a super bitch if you’re not used to climbing 1,000+ vertical feet via wooden staircases. It also helps to not forget one’s water bottle in the car when one makes that climb with one’s friends on a sunny 75-degree day. Lovely view, though.
  • I rented a KIA Optima and had a good time with it all week. Having driven a minivan since 2005, I almost forgot that driving can be a lot of fun. The Doge Grand Caravan is starting to have enough little annoying issues that this may be the year to shop for a replacement, and another minivan would be the sensible choice, but man, does that Optima make me want to get something smaller and more nimble. (Side note: the Koreans are making some pretty nice cars these days.)
  • I will now and henceforth call Detroit’s airport “Carl Sagan International (an Albert Speer design)”. it seems like a deliberate, cruel architecture exercise to remind us of the insignificance and inadequacy of the single human form in an inconceivably vast and hostile galaxy, with futuristic trams and lightshows thrown in. It took me TWENTY MINUTES of fast walking to get from my arrival gate to the departure gate in another terminal, and I think I may have passed through three time zones and five separate weather fronts.
  • Establishing traditions with good friends is fun. Making new friends who make you feel like you’ve known them for years is fun. Committing high crimes and misdemeanors with those old and new friends is fun. Fun is good, and we can’t ever have enough of it. Friends are good, and we can’t ever have enough of those either. A week goes by very quickly when you hang out with said friends for work and play.
  • When seven writers share a lodge for a week, one fridge is not enough, and beer consumption will be enough to necessitate a grocery run pretty much every day.
  • Using one’s iPad mini as a communal WiFi hotspot because there’s no Internet at said lodge may mean you have to bump your data plan up to the next tier twice in one week.

Anyway, the trip was a ton of fun (you may have gathered that), and we’re thinking about making it an annual event. On Friday, our last full day, we took a field trip into Asheville to see the new Godzilla movie (I’ll share some thoughts on that one later), and then go to the Wicked Weed for some beer and burgers. The weather obliged all week–it was beautiful in the western NC mountains every day except for Thursday, when we spent all day inside to get more work done anyway.

I didn’t finish the first draft of ANGLES OF ATTACK in North Carolina as planned, but I made a good dent, and I still have some time until the deadline, so it’s back to work for me this week. But the trip was good and necessary. I got a lot of work done, met up with old friends and made new ones, and got to spend some time in a lovely spot. Next up on my social/writing calendar is Readercon in July, but for now I have to get back to work and finish this novel so you all can buy it and read it. I can say that it’s shaping up pretty well, and that I feel it’s at least as good as TERMS and LINES, if not better.

All right. Back to work I go. More later.


So we got a new puppy:

ygraineThat’s little Ygraine. She’s twelve weeks old, very sweet and fearlessly curious. Her first night at the Castle was as easy as you could wish for–she curled up in her crate and slept most of the night without a peep.

We got Ygraine as a companion for Henry, to continue Henry’s line once she is old enough. The other dogs like her just fine–the only issue with her presence is that Henry has already claimed her as “his”, and he’ll show aggression toward the other dogs when they try to play with her. Once the new and shiny has worn off young Ygraine, I’m sure we’ll establish equilibrium around here again.

Unfortunately, Ygraine is at the vet right now getting a nebulizer treatment and an antibiotics prescription for the pneumonia the breeder’s vet seems to have overlooked completely. We brought her home yesterday, and she had a fairly persistent cough. So we took her into the vet this morning, and he took an x-ray and diagnosed pneumonia. I’m not very pleased about that, to say the least. She’ll be fine after treatment, though, and she’s a sweet little girl who will fit in just fine here at the Castle Frostbite Novel Factory & Dachshund Kennel.


social week: it’s like shark week, only with more bourbon.

I turned in some on-schedule edits on Saturday, so I rewarded myself by drinking Cuba Libres and playing the truly excellent The Last Of Us  on the PS3 for the rest of the weekend.

This week will be the highlight of the year, socially speaking (at least for this work-from-home hermit). That’s because it’s Readercon week. I get to head down to Burlington for the annual Mingling Of The SF/F Writers, where I’ll get to meet friends again and make new ones, all while talking about SF/F and the writing business in general. This will be my third year there in a row. It’s the convention where I did my first public reading, and I consider it my home con, so to speak.

When I get back from Readercon, there will be a new round of edits waiting for me, and I’ll have to jump back into the mountain of writing work that has piled up for me, but this week is for HAPPY NERDY SOCIAL TIMES. (If you’re going to be at Readercon, stop by and say hello!)


strange foreign customs, part XIV.

Lyra will be in first grade in the fall, which reminded me of a German tradition I had forgotten about: the Schultüte.

Since about the beginning of the 19th century, German school kids get a Schultüte on the first day of first grade. It’s a big cone made out of heavy paper, decorations on the outside and tied shut at the top with a bow. They look like this:

286px Schultuete

The Schultüte is filled with candy and small items useful for school (like colored pencils or erasers). They’re usually purchased commercially, but some families make them from scratch. The Schultüte is an extremely common thing in Germany, but I don’t think any other culture has the same custom. I don’t know how it started, and even the German Wikipedia article is fuzzy about the origins of the Schultüte, but it’s been the thing to do for a first-grader’s first day going on two hundred years now.

(In Germany, Kindergarten is not part of the regular school system like in the U.S., so the start of “real” school is the first day of first grade.)

I’m thinking about making one for Lyra, but doing an Americanized version: candy, McDonald’s coupons, an iPod, a brick of .22 ammo…

the current novel schedule.

Here’s a quick rundown on the writing schedule for the next year or three, since so many people have been asking about the sequel/s lately.

The second novel, Lines of Departure, will be out in May. It’s told from Andrew’s perspective, just like the first one, and takes place five years after Terms of Enlistment.

The third novel, Angles of Attack, is in the outline phase. It will complete the three-novel storyline I had planned for Andrew and his comrades.

The fourth novel has no title yet, but it will be an “in-betweenquel” that takes place in the five-year time span between the first and second novel. It will be told from a different viewpoint and by a new character, and it will deal with the events in the PRCs on Earth while Andrew is off in space fighting the SRA and humanity’s new adversary. It’s being outlined alongside Angles of Attack.

So yeah—if you liked Terms of Enlistment, there’s a lot more to come in that universe, both from the grunt’s perspective at interstellar war, and from the civil society back home on Earth locked in its own conflicts.