"In my head are a bunch of squirrels. They're hyper-caffeinated, and at a rave. As long as they're all dancing to the same song, it's ok, but sooner or later one of the little buggers loses his glow stick, and it devolves into complete chaos."
The opening quote was from a panel I chaired at Tulkon last week; I was trying to explain how my mind works, and prepare the audience for the inevitable moment where I would completely lose my train of thought.
I did, as a matter of fact, lose my train of thought. Several times. The audience -- most of whom are familiar with me trying to be extemporaneous from the twice-weekly LiveStream -- laughed and rolled with it.
The quote apparently struck a chord with Cedar Sanderson enough that she decided to illustrate it, above. Yes, that is a fox at a rave, crowd-surfing on a bunch of squirrels.
Tulkon was a rampaging success for us. Very much fun, and lively. We'll definitely be going back. Apparently the Big-Arsed Book Launch Room Party for the North Texas Troublemakers at Tulkon is well on it's way to becoming a legend. If someone claims to have been there, ask them to produce their duck.
Herself was awarded her Master's degree in English this weekend. Yay!
Astrolizards was launched the last week of April, and -- unfortunately -- seems to be performing the worst of the three colouring books. Cedar would like to do a fourth around the story of Squeaks, and I'm tentatively for it, but I don't want her to lose money, so I'm mulling the idea.
Ghosts of Malta, on the other paw, took off. Holy gods, did it take off. I hope we have a couple left after Tulkon, because the National Library of Malta was gracious enough to accept my offer of a copy; and I have to present another to the Maltese Consul-General down in Dallas sometime along in here.
Speaking of presenting copies, I was talked into presenting a copy of it to David Weber during his Guest of Honor Q&A at Tulkon -- I would have been content with a drive-by book-flinging, but he very kindly insisted that the copy be signed. Very nice man, and his wife is a fire-cracker.
We have enough stories for the second anthology -- Knights of Malta will be launched at FenCon -- and we're still accepting short story submissions (anthology[dot]malta[at]gmail[dot]com). If we have enough, we'll launch a third anthology ... sometime early 2023.
Due to the intersection of evil friends and good bourbon, there will be an as-yet un-named anthology revolving around "space cowboys", which we'll be accepting short story submissions for after FenCon, to be launched ... sometime early in 2023. Probably after the 3rd Malta anthology (if we have enough stories for a third anthology).
Speaking of, I need a t-shirt that says: "Any Agreement To Head An Anthology Is Only Binding If I Was Sober When I Agreed To It", because some of y'all are Bad People.
I have a short story I'm banging off to Kelly Grayson sometime today or tomorrow for his up-coming anthology, and another later this week to Jim Curtis for the upcoming Haunted Library anthology benefiting our local library (lot of anthologies going on right now).
My next public appearance (gods willing, and the creek don't rise) will be LibertyCon -- the North Texas Troublemakers will be having another party there, and it promises to be at least as epic as the one at Tulkon. Y'all might want to bear that in mind.
That should be everything caught up. I'm off to write.
Wow, people are suddenly interested in Maltese history -- I've received several requests for reading material on the history of Malta.
I'd like to take this time to point out that we're still accepting submissions of short stories about Malta. If you have a story that is about 5,000 words to about 8,000 words, is entertaining, and involves Malta in some way, send it to:
anthology.malta (at) (g)(mail).com
You'll need to remove the brackets first, though. Death to spambots!
Alchemists, Saints and Heroes have all made their way to this place, defended its walls, and added to its ranks of ghosts and lore.
Besieged, battered, and bombed, this archipelago has seen every tide of war, turmoil, and more than a few bits of piracy. It's also been the land of courage, resilience, and grace under fire.
Ten authors have set out to bring you tales of the ghosts of Malta past, present, and future. Open the pages and meet the ancient guardians, ghost cats and inter dimensional spies that will be your guide...
Ghosts of Malta goes live in a couple of weeks, and I've received some questions which seem to indicate that folks think that submissions are closed.
We've still got to fill Knights of Malta, so:
Yes, I am still accepting stories for the Malta Anthologies.
I will be accepting submissions probably until early August, with an eye to launching the second anthology at FenCon.
5,000 to 8,000 words, but length is negotiable.
It must be entertaining, all else is subordinate to this.
It has to involve Malta in some way.
It DOES NOT need to be about ghosts or knights -- those are just the titles.
Submissions need to have your name on there somewhere. Please.
Submit stories to: anthology.malta (at) (g)mail-dot-com
Of course, you should remove the parenthesis, the spaces, and the dashes in that address. (Spambots Must Die!)
We will be doing to the Official Book Launch for Ghosts of Malta at Tulkon -- and the Launch Party is going to be fairly spectacular from what I've seen so far. If you can go, it looks to be a pretty good time.
For those of y'all who remember the old Phlegmfests, this is what took over for Herself's weekend-long parties in 2020, under the steady hand of OldNFO.
It is a weekend for tribe (and authors) to gather and just ... converse. Jonna Hayden refers to it as a "Relaxacon", and there is absolutely no structure to it. Folks bring drink, and food, and lively conversation is had, with much laughter.
And while there are absolutely no panels, I found myself outside on the porch in an informal "No [Deleted], There I Was" not-panel that went over three hours, with much giggling and the occasional Dr Pepper Sinusoidal Lavage.
Saturday evening, I had buried the needle on my People-Meter, was sitting on the unoccupied side of the venue, trying to breathe, and my friend Tom Rogneby stepped out, put a cup of something in my hand, and we sat, sipped cocktails, and watched the Texas sunset.
So, we've got rampant inflation; everyone's losing their minds over getting into a nuclear war with Russia; and the mullet is having a resurgence amongst the kids.
Does this mean we'll start getting decent music again?
Asking for a friend.
Speaking of war with Russia, a lot of folks whom I'm pretty sure were around for the 1980s are currently losing their minds -- I'm starting to wonder if there's a run on M1979 Bomb Shelters, a/k/a the school desks we were told to hide under in the event of missiles heading this way.
The title of this post is a quote from Ronaldus Magnus* when a reporter asked a question at the 1988 USSR/USA Summit in Moscow about his view of the Cold War:
"Here's my strategy for the Cold War: We win; they lose."
Holy gods, when that hit the evening news. The gloom! The doom! The knickers in knots! Inevitable radioactive death!
And yet ... we're still here, unirradiated.
Five years earlier, the USSR shot down Korea Air Flight 007 -- Panic! Distress! Overstressed Hanes/half-hitch interface! Inevitable radioactive death!
And yet -- no glowing in the dark.
Pershing II missiles deployed to Europe? Hyperventilation! Pearl-clutching! Undergarments all bunched up in the wrong places! Inevitable ... radioactive ...
And yet ... no nuclear winter to offset all that climate change.
I got burnt out on the nuclear war panic way back in the 1980s, and I thought a lot of other folks had, too, but apparently panic over war with Russia is the new hotness along with the mullet.
Don't get me wrong -- if we get into a war with Russia, it's going to suck in all new ways. Also, don't get me wrong -- unless you're in a Cabinet-level position in the Government there's not a single damned thing you can do about it**.
If you were born in the 21st Century: welcome to my youth. You get used to it.
If you came of age during the height of the Cold War: Really? Suck it up.
Welcome to my TED talk.
*President Ronald Reagan. If you don't get the reference, ask your parents. Also, get off my lawn.
**If you have concerns about the Administration's ability to handle this, and you voted for said Administration -- I don't know what to tell you. Congratulations? If you didn't vote for the current administration, and you have concerns -- might I suggest you remember said concerns in the next few elections?
If you've ever wanted to see what your Humble Scribe looks, and sounds, like -- here is your chance.
Jim Curtis and I do a twice-weekly Livestream over at his Youtube channel, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, usually at noon Central Time on Tuesdays, and at 3:00PM Central Time on Thursdays.
It's called "Live From The Blanket Fort".
This Livestream is NOT for children. Or maiden aunts. Or grandmothers. Hell, nobody should probably watch it.
I swear. A lot.
Not only do we not stay on topic, we don't usually have a topic.
When I say that I swear, I'm not kidding: I cuss like a Newhaven fishwife.
The peanut gallery is considerably funnier than we are.
I'm not kidding about the cursing.
The commenters claim that there are traditions involved with watching "Live From The Blanket Fort", including (but not limited to): "How fast can we break LawDog", "How quickly can we get him on a rant", and "There's the accent!". They're fooling with you, these are not traditions, they're snipe hunts. You've been warned.
Cedar Sanderson, inspired (I think) by a comment made by Dorothy Grant gently asked me if I would give her a story for an anthology about PTSD. She further added that the anthology was to be about Hope, and would be about explaining PTSD to those who don't have it, but live with folks who do.
This is a fairly high-stress time for me, and some PTSD issues I didn't realize that I had may be popping up every now and then, but I said I would try.
And I did. I really did, but every time I tried, I'd get about a paragraph in and the story would be crap. Complete trite garbage. And I would do something that I never do -- and that is to delete the entire thing.
I honestly thought I'd have to bail on this one, but a couple of days past the deadline, I sat down at The Blanket Fort, jammed earplugs in, and just ... wrote.
When I write, I do what I call "storyboarding". I divide my story into acts, and for each act I have a mental picture, a brief description, and -- most importantly -- a sentence from the act.
I didn't do this. I imagined a terrible scene, and then just pounded the keyboard until it was done; and when it was done, I attached it to an email, and sent it to Cedar along with a note that, "If it needs editing, you'll have to do it."
I haven't read it since, and I probably won't.
The result was "Memories, Like Dust", and it is the story of a man clinging to his sanity by the skin of his teeth.
It is the very last story in the anthology "Can't Go Home Again", and is the least of a set of stories designed around the concept that there is hope; that there is way back to Normal.
If you know someone with PTSD, please buy this book. It was written with a two-fold purpose. One, to show people who don't have PTSD what it is like; and two, to show those people who do have it that there is Hope. That they're not alone. That there is a way back to something approaching normalcy.
This isn't about money, this is about a labour of love, and a sincere attempt to help those folks who don't get nearly enough help as it is.
Most of the authors are donating their royalties to PTSD support groups, that how much we believe in this book.
Again: please consider buying this book, and if you can't, would you consider spreading the word about it?
EDIT: I've had some people contact me, and tell me they couldn't read "Can't Go Home". That is perfectly understandable, and I don't blame y'all a bit. I haven't read it, and probably won't.
However, might I ask a favour? If you have a dead-tree copy, and find that you can't read it, would you consider donating it to a PTSD support group?
During my recent melancholy state, a Facebook friend asked a fairly innocuous question, to wit:
"If Germany had done the Intelligent Thing, and sent the force which invaded Crete to Malta instead, where would the best landing sites be?"
This kind of kicked me in the slats, and I took off on a (probably excruciating) long-winded exposition regarding how bad of an idea that would have been, with a throw-away line in the middle that went like this:
So, perched on a wall over looking the Old City in Valletta are several translucent figures. Around a corner comes an ethereal shape of a Barbary pirate carrying a huge bowl of popcorn. "Did I miss it?" He gasps, sliding to a stop.
"Naw," grunts a Phoenician mercenary, scratching irritably at his beard, "They're still doing the boiling oil and red hot sand."
The assembled figures watch as the grey-clad invaders fight their way into a narrow alley, away from the Medieval murder holes conveniently built 500 years prior in the apartments overlooking the narrow street.
There is a silence, as dozens of bags, none weighing more than a pound, arc off the flat roofs distant above the stone floor of the alley.
"Oooo," choruses the group, as clouds of fine white dust billow up, and carried by the breeze channeled by the alley, drift over the German paratroopers.
Then the screaming starts.
In front of the ghosts, another figure, this one clad in the latest 1940s military kit, fades into view. A figure in a turban bounces off the parapet, produces a scroll and a bone pen, "When the powdered quicklime hit, did your eyes burn first, or was it your lungs?"
The German paratrooper stares wildly at the Ottoman, "What the [deleted]? What the [deleted]?"
"Don't know what to tell you," grunts the shade of a Roman centurion, "He's an alchemist. Popcorn?"
The offer is refused, and the Roman shrugs, and tosses some into his mouth, "I really, really," he chews firmly, "Hate this [deleted]ing island."
Well, this apparently took firm hold of several people's imaginations, and folks started writing stuff about Malta. Other folks started demanding an anthology, and ended up with Jonna Hayden (who has moved to Bugscuffle) taking me to lunch, and daring me to put one together.
Mostly to humour her and Herself, I asked on Facebook and MeWe if there were any interest in writing stories for a anthology about Malta; actually expecting to get between four and six stories; which would allow me to smile gently, opine that I had tried, and bin this idea.
When I checked the submission email address, what was in there, plus the stories being finished up ...
... came to about twenty of them. And they were all good.
So, after I got done hyperventilating, I had a talk with the folks helping me put this together, and we're going to launch the first Malta Anthology in April.
And the second Malta anthology will be launched in the fall. Maybe.
Speaking of, if you're a writer, and you have a short story (between 5,000 and 8,000 words) involving Malta, send it to:
So far, I've got twelve different covers that I need to choose from.
Well, the issues preventing me from blogging looks like they're going to persist until August of 2022 -- quite a bit longer than I had thought they would.
I have been advised -- yes these issues require advice, and rather expensive advice I might add -- that I can blog as long as I keep to "non-controversial topics", with "non-controversial" being somewhat undefined at this time.
So, time to flog some work.
As some of you may have noticed, The LawDog Files ebooks and dead-tree editions are off Amazon. This is because my rights have reverted to me, and I'm in the middle of redoing those books. Sarah Hoyt's Inkstained Press will be carrying the ebook version when I get it re-done; and I will be self-publishing the physical books via my own Raconteur Press.
Sarah assures me that she will get three books out of me -- we'll see.
In the meantime, I have been a little bit busy. Cedar Sanderson, who is a fantastic and talented artist, as well as author in her own right, took some Facebook posts I made during a particularly melancholy period here recently and turned them into a colouring book:
Well, that one was kind of a hit, so Cedar and I decided to try another one, and we launched The Ratel Saga, which is a colouring book of my five (?) part story regarding the ratel trap in our backyard in Nigeria.
Again, it has been a bit successful, and Cedar is currently working on a third colouring book, which will have the stories of the Nigerian Space Lizards, the Sapper Lizards, and the story of the Major.