we can’t stop here. this is deadline country.

I am busy at the moment writing the third novel in the FRONTLINES series, titled ANGLES OF ATTACK. I sorta-kinda committed to a super-close deadline, which is good for you because the novel will be out sooner rather than later, but it’s also not-so-good for me in some ways because I have to write roughly triple my regular daily word count every day if I down’t want to blow the deadline. That leaves very little time for leisurely pursuits and such. But hey–it’s a nice problem to have, and I know lots of people who would just love to have it, so I’ll not whine about it too terribly much.

Spring has arrived, and it is GLORIOUS. The kids actually want to spend their time outside instead of glued to a screen indoors, which is a trend that I am sure will fade as the spring and summer progress.

The next official item on my dance card will be Readercon in July, where I’ll do my usual socializing and annual getting-together with friends. I’m not on the program in any way, so I can just check out whatever panels and readings look interesting, and spend the rest of the time hanging out. It is said that the hotel may actually have a lobby again this year, which will be nice. Last year’s Readercon felt more like meeting in a roadside Motel 6 for lack of an adequate social hub space. But that will be later. Until then, I have to crank out many more words so you fine people can spend your hard-earned cash on them, WHICH I TOTALLY SUPPORT AND APPRECIATE.

I may have some more important writerly-type announcements in the very near future. For now it’s back to the word-loom for me.

achievement unlocked: foreign language rights sale.


That right there is the contract for the Czech language rights to TERMS OF ENLISTMENT, making this officially my first foreign rights sale.

This is one of the many reasons why having a good agent is a huge benefit. Foreign language rights are basically free money. The foreign publisher pays an advance–check in the mail, hooray!–and then the writer gets the contractually agreed-upon royalties per sold foreign language copy. It’s free money because the book is already written, and I don’t have to translate it or do any extra work beyond signing the contract and depositing the check. My agent Evan brokered the deal and negotiated contract terms for me because that’s the kind of stuff an agent does all day, and it’s also the stuff that authors in general (and this author in particular) aren’t very good at. I don’t have the time to approach foreign publishers, and even if I did, I have no experience dealing with them, negotiating terms, or figuring out the contracts. That’s why agents get their percentage, and that’s why I don’t mind that one bit. It frees me up for writing, and getting most of the money from a foreign deal beats getting all the money from no deal at all.

I can’t wait to see the first foreign edition of TERMS out in the wild in the Czech Republic. I hope they’ll give it a sweet cover, with laser-firing spaceships and stuff.

365 days of “terms of enlistment”.

One year ago today, I put TERMS OF ENLISTMENT up on the Kindle Store and Smashwords and announced its availability on my blog, just in case a few of you wanted to spend a handful of quarters on some new Space Kablooie reading material for your Kindles and Nooks and what-not. And then things kind of took off from there. What a wild and crazy year it has been.

To recap, I self-published TERMS in March of 2013. It sold an amazing number of copies in March, and then a downright crazy number of copies in April. I was offered representation by a killer agent in April (the awesome Evan Gregory with the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency, who is not actually a killer AS FAR AS I KNOW), and then signed a two-book deal with 47North for both TERMS and its sequel, LINES OF DEPARTURE. The rest of the year kept me busy with finishing LINES, editing both novels to hammer them into their final shape as 47North books, attending Readercon in July, and reveling in the marvelousness of this new “full-time writing for a living” business.

Turns out 2014 won’t be any less busy. I’m at work on the third book in what is now the “Frontlines” military SF series, and I may be able to share some more news about that soon. Once I am finished with that novel, I’m planning to serve up a new novella in the Frontlines universe for the summer.

If there’s one negative in all this huge pile of awesomeness, it’s that I had to ditch my favored writing method of longhand first drafts for Novel #3. I have an insanely close deadline, and that mean I simply have no time to handwrite and then transcribe. Instead, everything goes straight into Google Docs as soon as I type it.

Twelve months—how radically things can change in the span of just a year sometimes. I feel extremely lucky that I can spend my days making up stuff for a living, and actually manage to fill the fridge and pay the bills with that. Even among writers, that’s a rare privilege.

from the desk etc.

It has only been out for two weeks today, but LINES OF DEPARTURE has over a hundred Amazon reviews already, which is pretty cool. There are some head-scratcher one-stars, but in general it seems to be rather well received, and reader consensus appears to be that it’s better than the first novel by a fair bit.

I’m currently hard at work on ANGLES OF ATTACK, and without dropping any spoilers, I can tell you that the fireworks in the first two were just a mild preview of the stuff I have laid out for you in this one. When it’s out, it will hopefully be received at least as well as the first two.

There are quite a few series that lost steam by the third or fifth or seventh novel and eventually read like the author was just phoning it in for the paychecks. I want to avoid that particular phenomenon. What are some of your favorite novel series where there was a steady progression of craft and quality evident as the series went along?


scalzi confesses. film at 8.



And everything he says is 100% true.

John forgot to add that he’s also part of the reason why SF/F has lots of talented up-and-coming writers. He was most generous with his time and expertise at VP XII, and so were all the other instructors. Every year, just that one workshop puts 20-some talented folks into the wild with new motivation and the knowledge that they have what it takes to get their stuff into print. WAY TO PULL UP THE LADDER BEHIND YOU.

“why had nobody thought of that before?”

MAJOR SPOILER WARNING: This post addresses a scenario at the end of LINES OF DEPARTURE, so only read past the split if you’ve read the book or don’t care about seeing the ending given away.

yes, sir, officer-sergeant-general, sir.

A reader on Amazon.com caught a detail about the jacket text for LINES OF DEPARTURE and wondered why Andrew is referred to as an officer when he was merely an acting petty officer at the end of TERMS OF ENLISTMENT, and the Kindle sample of LINES gives his new rank as Staff Sergeant. (Hey! Navies don’t use that rank!)

Here’s the explanation I provided just in case someone else starts reading LINES and gets confused as to why Mr. Grayson now has an Army rank:

In the almost five years between TERMS and LINES, the NAC Defense Corps was reorganized into a unified service structure similar to the current Canadian model. Navy, Marines, and Territorial Army were all rolled into one big happy family. The new service structure is organized into Fleet Arm, HD (Homeworld Defense), and SI (Spaceborne Infantry). (As Andrew points out in LINES: “We needed new guns and starships to fight the new threat. What we got instead were new beret colors and shoulderboards.”)

Andrew is an acting Petty Officer at the end of TERMS and (briefly) a proper PO before the rank structures change. In the reorganized NAC Defense Corps, all the ranks are Army style ranks, whether you fly a drop ship, command a starship, or trudge around as infantry. Throughout LINES, Andrew is an E-6 (Staff Sergeant).

The jacket copy got this particular detail slightly wrong (Andrew is a non-com, not an officer). I pointed it out to the copyeditor, but they didn’t correct it in time.

I trimmed a bunch of stuff from the prologue, and as a result it may not be entirely clear at first that this reorganization happened, so if you’re at all wondering what the deal is with the NAC ranks, there you have it.

how do you say “feng shui” in danish?

Three of the most dangerous words in the English language: “Legitimate tax write-off.”


We took some time to redo the office in the back of the house last weekend.

I’ve been using the standing desk I got at the Borders going-out-of-business fire sale two and a half years ago, and it works just fine as a computer workstation, but it’s not the best work desk, at least not for my purposes. I write longhand a lot and then transcribe into the computer, so I need quite a bit of elbow room. In the past, that meant I had to do a lot of moving around between two different desks, one for handwriting and one for computer stuff.

Well, thanks to amazing Danish office technology, now I can do both at the same desk. I got an adjustable standing desk from ErgoDepot. It has a lot of working surface (it’s an L-shaped table top that’s roughly six by four feet on the long sides), and it moves up and down at the push of a button via electric motor. You can move it as low as 25″ and as high as 47″. Now I can set the desk to fit the task at hand, not the other way around.

And man, just look at that thing, with the spotlights above lighting up the work surface. It looks like it’s straight out of a goddamn IKEA catalog*. It looks like the space of a hip, professional writer dude who totally knows what he’s doing. In other words, the space of someone who isn’t me. But think about how much easier it will be for me to fake competence now.

*It’s not Ikea. I know this because the instructions were crystal-clear and it only took me twenty minutes to put the thing together.




Happy New Year, friends and neighbors!


The kids got to stay up until midnight last night to jump into the new year. I was worried about them even making it to midnight, but it turns out they were just fine. The adults, on the other hand, were dragging just a little, especially me. I was good and ready for bed at 10:30pm already. THIS IS WHAT OLD AGE FEELS LIKE.

Back to work, I suppose. There are novels and novellas waiting to be started/continued/finished. Let’s see if I can best my own record for Most Things Finished In A Calendar Year. I’m shooting for two novels, a novella, and maybe a short story or three. I also want to be more diligent about updating this here Interblogs page on a regular basis.

May you all have a great 2014!

daddy used nintendo 2ds. it’s super effective!

How do you glue a first-grader to the couch? You give her a Nintendo 2DS for Christmas:


She hasn’t moved from that spot since yesterday morning.

We had a low-key Christmas here at Castle Frostbite. No house guests, just the four of us and the doggens. We had our traditional Christmas feast of Surf & Turf (lobster and venison steaks), and pretty much fritzed the day away with eating, drinking, playing computer games, and listening to Christmas music. It was perfectly relaxing.

With the kids at home until the new year, I’m taking the week mostly off from work to tackle Mount Unfolded Laundry and tend various overdue projects around the house. We’ll see if I can keep myself from any serious writing productivity until the end of next week.

Speaking of writing, here’s another Buzzfeed list I’m in:

12 Science Fiction books to look forward to in January

I’m pretty excited about LINES OF DEPARTURE, which has turned out extremely well (and which has been rather effusively praised by just about everyone who has read it already.) I can’t wait until you can all get your hands on it—and this time in paperback and audio. MY NOVEL HAS ASSUMED PHYSICAL FORM. <insert sinister, semi-hysterical laughter>

TERMS OF ENLISTMENT will see a new release at that time as well, with a matching new cover and in the same formats. If you’re asking yourself whether to drop the money on the new version: it has a rewritten Chapter 23, new cover art, and numerous smaller edits, corrections, and improvements. Because it’s a 47North book now, I wasn’t able to roll all those changes into the old version that people purchased already, as my publisher considers the new version a Director’s Cut, so to speak. But hey—they paid a lot of people to make a lot of improvements to the book, so I think it’s a justified position. Rest assured that if you choose not to buy the new version of TERMS OF ENLISTMENT, you won’t miss anything essential.

Anyway, enough post-Christmas self-promotion. I’m just really excited about this new “making a living by making up stuff” thing, and I want to keep that racket going for as long as I can. Hope you all had a great Christmas and happy holidays, and stay tuned for all the stuff coming out of the Castle Frostbite Magic Daycare & Novel Factory in 2014.