Westerns, SF, and the fun of writing Deuces Wild

In my cyber-travels earlier today, I happened upon a conversation about westerns, which asked why no one seems to write or want to read them. I wonder that too, and agree it’s a shame. I love westerns (I just finished Longmire, and if you haven’t watched that show, you should!). I’ve read tons of westerns (I have all of Zane Grey’s books in gorgeous, matching hardcovers), and one of my favorite books (book, note, not movie) is Shane. We need more westerns!

And just like I love westerns, I love science fiction. That’s part of the whole fun of the Deuces Wild series – cowboys and spaceships. I might try to write a true western one day, but for now, I’ll stick to my westerns-in-space series.

And I thought I’d share a snip of a scene from the first Deuces Wild book: Beginners’ Luck, just because it was fun to write, and I love to share the fun stuff.

I don’t know that any context is needed, it’s the juxtaposition of the two seemingly disparate genres in the scene that makes it amusing. To me, at least. Your mileage may vary:

…the whine of hover bikes grew behind him. He spun. Three of them. He grabbed a plasma grenade and lobbed it. One bike took the hit, but the other two swerved, flanking him. He dove to the ground, firing left, rolling, and firing right. He missed.

The bikes circled to make another run. But Tristan had more time to aim. Hot sand sprayed in his face as he fired. He rolled again, coughing and blinking, and fired toward the sounds of a bike.

He held still in the ensuing, relative quiet, listening for a bike as the dust settled. He raised his head, and found himself staring up at the bike’s rider, a laser pistol leveled at him.

A wild cowboy whoop echoed just then, and the biker whirled. A large copper-colored horse thundered up, Slap on its back, a rope circling above the cowboy’s head. He threw the rope, snagged the gun, and snatched it from the biker. Tristan fired, and the soldier crumpled.

Slap caught the gun in mid-air from the noose that held it as he drew the horse to a stop near Tristan, grinning. “Want a ride?”

Tristan eyed the huge beast as it pawed the ground and tossed its head. “You’re not kidding, are you?”

“Just tell me where you want to go.”

Tristan glanced around the spaceport. The Eridani had the upper hand. “Let’s go to Giselle.”




Holding your own book in your hands – wow!

The Sword’s Edge Chronicles started from a dream I had in about 1985. It slowly grew in my head, and finally I caved and began writing it in the late 90s. Many of the stories and subplots have changed over time (the overarching major plot that encompassed many years was tossed into the midden when a Ranger I had never thought of or planned for swaggered in with a wink and grin and took over the whole bloody thing), but still, I have read and worked and polished the stories for a very long time.

And Children of the Enaisi is no exception. But as many times as I’ve read it, I never read it as a book. Since it’s been published, I’ve been floating around, as happy as a mother with a newborn who goes around bragging and showing it off. I’m sure all my friends are tired of it by now.

But I did something today I hadn’t done yet, even though I’ve had the print edition in my possession for some days: I sat down and read it, well, not all of it, but parts of it. It’s a heady experience to see the story you’ve sweated over for years and lost sleep over, and mulled and rewritten, and polished, and re-polished finally in your hands.

For my writing friends: what emotions did you feel when you finally held your book or books in your hands, and read them – this time as a published book, not just a manuscript?


A Sequel that Tops the Original – a review of Children of the Enaisi


I eagerly awaited the sequel to SWORD’S EDGE and was highly gratified when I finally got the opportunity to read it. The story and the characters who carry it moved forward in their history logically but with unexpected and marvelous twists and tight action that kept me glued to the pages. It is going to be difficult to rein my impatience until the next novel is released.

What a nice review of Children of the Enaisi!

Here’s the review, if you want to read it for yourself on Amazon.



World Con and Jon Del Arroz

I discussed my own feelings about some of the Big Cons in my last post, so I won’t reiterate them here. At the end, I gave a link to an article which gave specific information about an author who has been banned from WorldCon.

I’m adding the link again in case you missed it: Conservative Hispanic Writer Jon Del Arroz Banned from Worldcon Sci-Fi Convention

And a second link to a post by Vox Day: Three authors weigh in on Worldcon

Okay, now that you’ve read those, I’ll weigh in on a personal level:

First, not that WorldCon would give a flying flip in the wind, but I’d never attend with the toffee-nosed prats in charge who are more concerned with banning those with whom they disagree and find offensive, yet do not ban pedos, and further, dismiss and denigrate those who have been the victims of pedos.

Second, some find Jon an irritant (although he has nothing on Harry Mudd), but I’ll tell you what he is from my own experience: a good writer, and more importantly one who gives back. He didn’t know me, but graciously consented to read my book, even though, being an Indie, I’m Not a Real Writer™.

To my delight, he liked it and agreed to endorse it.  (I know! I know! How dare he validate me as a writer!*)

So, that’s the kind of man he is. A bit ornery, sure (but hey, we need a little spice now and again, don’t we?), but a nice guy. I am honored to know him.



* He’s not the only one, but I shall not namedrop in this post!


When You Feel Disowned By Your Own

I’m not usually negative or political (or long-winded) when it comes to my blog, or author page, but the reality of the SF/F world is getting more and more exclusive under the delusion of being inclusive.

Let me start at the beginning, so you’ll understand what makes this so difficult for me:

I can remember as a kid never fitting in. In school, I was made fun of, and bullied to the point of coming home muddied, bloodied, glasses broken, so finally my mother enrolled me in karate. Even with the physical batterings gotten rid of (Tang Soo!), the name-calling and being mocked didn’t stop (they just kept their distance, and unfortunately, there’s no block in karate to stop a foul mouth).

And besides being “different” (who knew what Asperger’s was back then?), I loved “weird” things, and by high school the name-calling took on really making fun of those things, like Star Trek. I spent my whole day on guard, braced for attack, feeling like I had to be ready to fight. Any mention of Star Trek (except among my close friends) was derogatory.

Then I went to my first convention. The first time I heard “Star Trek” and “Spock” just inside the door, automatically I went into “fight or flight.” Then I realized – I wasn’t being targeted or made fun of, but these people loved what I did! I felt a sense of belonging even though I knew no one. We grokked! The Vulcan salute was given and returned, often with “Live long and prosper” as well. I didn’t need to watch my back. These were My People; I had found a place where I could let down my guard and just be me. I could actually relax, breathe, smile, and feel safe.

I still feel that same sense of belonging and fun at local cons (I have raised my hands when seeing cosplayers go by my table and called out “I have found my people!”), but I have a feeling I wouldn’t find that at most of the Big Cons, for example, WorldCon.

It isn’t about loving science fiction and fantasy; it isn’t about finding others who enjoy your fandoms and getting excited talking about your favorite book, movie, or TV show, or whether there’s going to be a sequel, and did she release her newest book yet? Oh my gosh, did you hear, she killed off Character A! Hey, did you read the fanfic about that series? Oh, look at that cosplayer, what a fantastic outfit! Did you see the fanfic webseries about that old show – it’s so well done! Aaaah, Spock is talking to the Doctor and the Hero of Canton, the man we call Jayne!

I don’t think I’d feel that same acceptance and exuberance at the Big Cons. I don’t fit in with their message of “striving to be inclusive of fandom,” which is only inclusive if you agree with them or if you write stories which fit their narrative.

Haven’t those now running these Big Cons understood that stories like 1984, Animal Farm, and “Minority Report” are cautionary, not instruction manuals?

Oh, and let’s not forget, even if I wrote the kind of stories that fit their “message fiction” agenda, because I’m Indie, I’m “not a real writer” and would be shunned anyway. Because, you know, inclusive.


= = =

In case you don’t know what’s going on, or what I’m talking about, “Banned from Hugo” By Moira Greyland Peat explains it very well.

When we pulled into Worldcon in need of R&R
The puppies, Sad and Rabid camped in every joint and bar
We had Trufan expectations of their hospitality
But found too late it wasn’t geared for Puppies such as we

And we’re Banned from Hugo, everyone
Banned from Hugo just for having that Wrongfun
We spent a jolly Worldcon there for just three days or four
But Hugo doesn’t want us anymore…

Our Captain’s tastes were simple and his stories were complex
We found he’d sold five manuscripts and pocketed large checks
The Thought Police were on the way—he had no second chance
His heroine was fair and blonde, and had a straight romance!

And we’re Banned from Hugo, everyone
Banned from Hugo just for having that Wrongfun
We spent a jolly Worldcon there for just three days or four
But Hugo doesn’t want us anymore…

Our Engineer would yield to none at writing Rabid tales
He wrote them for Castalia House and made a ton of sales
His favorite story didn’t win, but it got the votes of all
And now he’s got his No Award on the mantle of his hall!

Our proper, cool new Editor wrote something of her own
And when the draft was finished she was scared to have it shown
Her characters were thoughtful, worse, they acted morally
And Right and Wrong meant only that, and the good guys saved the day!

Our authors are the finest and our bloggers are our pride
And when Dave Truesdale led a panel, tempers quickly fried
We’re sorry that the truth he told was just too strong for you
The SJWs kicked him out and loudly cried boo hoo!

When Truesdale took the mic, he said some things that were no fun
The audience was rude indeed, and told him he was done!
The Emperor has no clothes, he said, the Hugos are a jest
Political correctness has become the litmus test!

And now, just one year later, they have banned Jon Del Arroz
Because he’ll bring a camera, and Wrongthink clouds his prose
#FreeJDA is what we say to the haters at that zoo
But DragonCon will be more fun for fans like me and you!

(Thank you, Moira, for allowing me to reprint this.)

Moira’s story, growing up as the daughter of a famous SF writer, can be read in her book, The Last Closet. I highly recommended it, but be aware, it’s not fun, lighthearted read.

**And for the latest news, this popped up as I was writing this post, so I’m going to put it here for further reading, should you be interested:

Conservative Hispanic Writer Jon Del Arroz Banned from Worldcon Sci-Fi Convention



A note of appreciation for my son

It’s hard as you get older to admit you need help. And I do get help from my kids, but in this particular post, I’m focusing on just one of them.

I must say, I don’t know what I’d do without the help of my older son. He takes care of house maintenance and small things too as well, such as (and this is the “small thing” that inspired this post) getting air in my tires for me (a difficult task even in warm weather due to arthritis – unscrewing the cap on the valve stem is so very painful to my hands and I cannot properly squat or kneel so I must oomph myself down to sit on the ground to actually put the air in the tires). And he goes beyond – for example, via the internet he is teaching himself about clock works and has gotten my grandfather clock working again.

I also love his feedback on my stories, and his help with science-y stuff. Oh yes, I do have My Very Own Physicist™, but my son jumps in to help as well. It was fun listening to them Skype and reading the compilation of messages they wrote to each other as they tried to figure out how a single ship could possibly take on a whole space fleet and break a planetary blockade (see Deuces Wild: Stacking the Deck). Yes, I still have all those conversations. Some of them actually made their way into the book.