Sunday, November 27, 2005

Anok, Volume 2 review

A nice review of my second "Age of Conan" novel, as reviewed by Ryan Harvey, over on the Sword and Sorcery site.

By the way, if anyone spots reviews of any of my books out on the web (or in print) I much appreciate hearing about them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Here's wishing everyone out there a happy Thanksgiving. We have an invitation to dine with some writer friends tomorrow, but I did spend the day toiling over a hot Texas-smoker, doing turkey breasts to take along.

In honor of the occasion, I'm digging something out of the photo-archives here. One of my major hobbies is collecting 1/6th scale action figures (GI Joe and others). The 70s GI Joe Adventure Team, a group of pulp-inspired explorers, are a favorite of mine. I did this cartoon a few years ago, but it's still kind of amusing. Click on the image to see it full-sized.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Herbie delivers!

Today was our annual "launch the local toy-drive" photo event.

Shortly after we moved to the Oregon coast, we adopted the local firming toy drive as our chosen charity. I'm a toy nut anyway, and so it wasn't much of a stretch for me to check the toy clearance sections for good deals, and even when money was tight, I could usually scrape together a few extra bucks for a bargain toy.

At first, we couldn't afford much, but careful shopping (I try not to pay more than 25% of retail, and we spend on average about $5 per gift) and improving success in our writing careers changed things.

About four years ago, we discovered that we'd pretty much filled the back of our then-New Beetle, "The Tick." There was far too much for any remote collection point, so we figured out which fire station was being used to store the toys, and headed over.

Chris and I drove "The Tick" down to the fire-station collection point, walked into the lobby, and asked if there was a place we could take toys. The receptionist pointed to a collection box in the corner. We stared at it for a minute, then said, "it isn't big enough."

"Oh," she said, "I'll come and give you a hand." I seem to recall that she picked up a bag or small back, then she followed us out into the parking lot, and discovered we weren't kidding. She went back inside, and it was all-hands-on-deck to unload the Beetle.

The next year, Felix Roldan, the toy drive coordinator, asked if they could use our Beetle-full-of-toys as a photo-op for the media to kick off the year's drive, and thereafter, it's become a tradition.

This summer, of course, "The Tick" met his heroic end protecting my life in a traffic accident. We were wondering for a while if we'd be able to carry on the tradition. But then "Herbie" came into our life, and we now have a car even better suited to delivering toys to the kids.

That first year, the car seemed full, but we've now become experts at packing toys into VW New Beetles, and we've had to put those skills to the test. Last year, I drove, and we still ended up with toys on Chris' lap and on the dash. This year, Chris drove (letting us move the seat further forward) and I rode in the passenger seat with my knees nearly in my chin. Still that, plus the fact that our stuffed-animals were vacuum packed, gave us enough room to get everything in the back. Fortunately it wasn't raining today though, as we couldn't get the hatch closed!

You can't solve all the world's problems, but you can make it a better place by starting small. No child should suffer through the holidays without enough to eat, or without some small material reminder that somebody out there cares. Most areas have toy drives and food programs to help families in need during the holidays.

I encourage you to find one of these programs in your area, and contribute what you can. It doesn't have to be much. Skip that fast-food lunch today and make a cash donation, or buy a toy or some canned-goods for your local food bank. Do it, and do it now. Heck, do it later too. Just do it! Not only are their kids in need in your area, many agencies are also shipping toys to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

A toy can change a child's life. It can give hope and comfort. It can inspire a dream, or launch a career. Remember your favorite toy as a child, and the happiness it gave you? Now it's time to share that feeling.

Here are some links to help you locate a toy-drive local to your area:

Toy Drive Locator
Marine Toys for Tots Foundation

Sunday, November 13, 2005

His name is Legion!

Above: Mike Moscoe, author of the Lost Millenium series, MechWarrior, and much more.

Below: generic cola

When Titans Gnash

Left: Loren Coleman, MechWarrior legend and fellow Conan writer.

Center: Mike Shepard, author of the Kris Longknife science fiction series.

Right: Jay Lake, ultra-prolific short-story writer and winner of this year's John W. Campbell award for best new writer.

War of the Words

Left: Ilsa J. Bick, author of multiple Star Trek SCE and Mechwarrior Dark Age books.

Right: Kristine Kathryn Rusch, multiple award winner, author of a gazillion novels and stories, and successful under multiple names in multiple genres (science-fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance). Probably the Thor of this little team-up.

When Authors Clash!

When I was a kid, I used to love the comics where everyone would show up. On one scale, you had the Avengers or the Justice League of America, super-teams that often consisted of major characters with their own titles. But even better were the things like the wedding (in Fantastic Four Annual #3) of Reed Richards and Sue Storm, where literally everyone in the then-Marvel universe showed up.

Now sure, it was cool when they fought, when radioactive apes crashed the party, or when it all turned into a brawl. But even as a kid, I best liked the moments where a god-of-thunder and a guy made of orange rocks would just stand around with a drink in their hands, chewing the fat and talking shop.

In a way, I get to relive those moments, big and small, on a regular basis now. Our little town is a secret nexis in the literary universe, where authors, both great and aspiring, often meet and mingle. I still take some secret delight in looking around the room and thinking about all the books and stories people in the room have published. Even at a small gathering, the books usually number in the hundreds, and I suspect we've gotten into the thousands at times.

Here are a few shots from a genre workshop held here this weekend. Not that big as they go, but there were still shelves of books represented, award-winners, and most every genre that you could imagine. Yet there they are, just hanging out like mortal humans, sipping generic soda-pop.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Rad Party

Chris and I haven't been doing a lot of conventions in recent years, or doing a lot of parties when we have gone to conventions. Tonight, we decided to try making the party circuit. After several stops, we ended up spending several hours with the nice people from Radcon, an sf convention in Pasco, Washington.

We had a great time, and they made a very convincing case that we should attend. A lot of friends are going to be there, and it sounds like they treat their guest well, so we're thinking about it. The biggest problem for us is that Pasco is a pretty serious road-trip. Still, Herbie is due for a road-trip, so it's possible.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Check out this very nice review of "Scion of the Serpent"

Just a happy pull-quote:

"Even if the two follow-up novels never appeared, Scion of the Serpent would stand as a worthwhile fantasy read. Thankfully, the next two books are on the way…and I’m eager to follow Anok deeper into the coils of the serpent."

Friday, November 04, 2005

Orycon, day 1

Well, so far...

Terrrible traffic getting into Portland.

They put us in a smoking room, despite our non-smoking reservation.

The pocket program has no relation to reality.

Oh, well.

Tomorrow I have a panel on Stress and the Creative Lifestyle at noon, an autographing at 1, and a reading at 3:30. I'm also crashing a panel Sunday on writing tie-in novels.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Off to Orycon

Tomorrow we're off to the Orycon science fiction convention in downtown Portland, OR. It will be strange this year, as this falls on the same weekend as World Fantasy Convention, and so many of the regulars won't be there. In fact, I don't know who will be there, exactly, beyond guests-of-honor Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. Still, son-Shane will be there, so we'll have a good time, no matter what. I'll take along the camera, and see if I can get a picture or two to share.

For today's picture, I offer you something a little more abstract, a little piece I call "The Nine Lives of Banzai."

Banzai is at the very least on life number two. He got sick this year, stopped eating, and very nearly wasted away. I was sure he was a goner, but I managed to coax him into eating shrimp (his favorite food in all the world) and from there we got him back on regular food and nursed him back to health.

Well, you wouldn't know this is a cat that nearly starved just a few months ago. The other day, I looked over at the cat door in the back door to my office, and realized that Banzai was so fat, he could barely struggle through it! Now I think he's spooked, and refuses to use the cat door at all. Banzai, is not the cat of half-way-measures. But if you're ready to go all in, rub the center of this picture and receive a cosmic infusion of the Banzai-force.

Where ever he goes, there he is.

(Hmmm. There's a story in all this...)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Back on the coast

We arrived back on the Oregon coast Sunday afternoon just in time for the wind and rain to return. Typical winter weather out here What's depressing is that summer went by and I had no time to enjoy it. Hopefully next summer will be better. I wouldn't count on it though.

This is one of those "problems you trade-up for." I'll have to explain that bit of writing wisdom for you at some point.

For today's picture, I'm posting the cover for Chris' upcoming "Alias APO" novel. Watch for it next year.