Archive for December, 2011

The Gabriel Arc is Complete – Happy Holidays Everyone!

December 23, 2011 5 comments

Time flies when you’re writing…and working…and parenting…and shuttling a kid to Philadelphia Boys Choir and soccer…and the other one to golf and karate…and did I mention working?

At long last, the finale of the trilogy, Gabriel’s Revenge, is complete. The story of Evan Gabriel has come full circle (you’ll have to read the series to know what that means), and has also come to an end. It’s been a heck of a 2011, for me and the good commander, and while it’s been a challenge, it’s also been incredibly rewarding. I’ve met some fantastic fellow writers online, even a handful in person, and made friendships I hope last a lifetime. And I finally, finally fulfilled my lifelong dream of writing a novel – so for good measure, I wrote two more.

Perhaps the most surreal thing in all of this, besides looking at my KDP reports last night and seeing FOUR line items (four titles for sale), is the following image I put together as a header for the My Books page:

I was about to upload it to the blog when I sat back in my chair and stared at it, then called my wife over. Right there in front of me was living proof that I became an author in 2011. How about that?

So a HUGE thank you to all the people I’ve met throughout the year, both authors and readers. I couldn’t have done it without such great peer support, as well as interest and enthusiasm from readers. Knowing there have been so many people out there that took the time to read what I wrote, and enjoyed it, and reviewed it, and shared it with others, is something I’m incredibly thankful for.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!



P.S. I’m still writing – watch out, 2012!


Categories: Thoughts

An excerpt a day keeps the anticipation at bay… Gabriel’s Revenge

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s official! Gabriel’s Revenge, the final installment in the bestselling scifi-adventure trilogy, is complete and will be uploaded to Amazon and BN in time for the holidays! Here’s a snippet:


Gabriel had just cinched his straps when the Marcinko’s engines ignited, pressing each of them back into their seats in the shuttle. He heard Olszewski mutter a curse from next to him. He looked over at the private with a raised eyebrow.

“Sorry, sir. I’m a ground pounder. I hate this shit. Necessary evil to get me where I need to go I guess, but doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

Gabriel turned back to the front of the shuttle. He stared past the pilot’s helmet and out the viewport, where he could see a sliver of starry space. The ventral bay doors had begun to open.

He closed his eyes and linked his neuretics in to the Marcinko’s battlecomp feed. He saw with some satisfaction the other five in his team all did the same. He knew some did it for the thrill of watching the battle unfold, some for the situational awareness. Whatever their reasons, he didn’t blame them. It wasn’t just a learning experience for him either. He wanted to see the enemy. And see them destroyed.

The specialist that had loaded them and their gear, Allen, was also their pilot. His hand flew over the switches mounted in front of him as he prepared the shuttle for launch.

“Sirs and ma’am, hold on,” Allen called out. “The captain’s got some rapid maneuvers planned, and we’re getting spit out in the middle of them. Hope no one ate lunch yet.”

“Keven?” It was Sowers’s voice.

“Zip it,” said Brevik. “Watch.”

Gabriel kept his eyes closed and let his Mindseye show him the situation.

The Marcinko went to full power and arced down towards Mars. Gabriel felt his chest squeezed by the G-forces and tried to control his breathing as he saw multicolored stars behind his eyelids. After a few seconds the heavy acceleration eased and the stars cleared, leaving him more able to focus on the Mindseye feed.

The battlecomp tagged the blockade fighter with a red icon. The projected path of the Marcinko was just outside of its orbit, but Gabriel saw the flight path of the shuttle, once launched, went almost directly through the red icon. He remembered McTiernan’s order to the tac officer to ‘remove it from the equation’, so he was not surprised when he heard the clank of the internal missile launcher falling into place in front of their shuttle.

The rotating launcher spat two Jayhawk missiles, then immediately swung back up to the ceiling of the docking bay. Another clank sounded throughout the cabin as the launch arm grabbed the shuttle and set it into position above the open ventral doors. The Marcinko began its release maneuver and Gabriel was pressed into his seat. With a loud hiss of hydraulics that could be heard even within the pressurized cabin, the shuttle fell from the docking bay, and he went weightless.

Gabriel’s Mindseye painted a vivid image of the scene around them: the Marcinko peeling away from their position, the two Jayhawks going hypersonic in front of them, and the dusty orange globe below them. The serene image lasted only a split second before Allen fired the shuttle engines and initiated the descent.

The picket fighter never stood a chance. It was only using station-keeping thrusters and apparently not expecting an attack, especially one that came from a hole in space. The Jayhawks were on it before it even had an opportunity to light its engine.

“Hold on!” yelled Allen. Gabriel opened his eyes to look out past the pilot. The explosion of the fighter loomed ahead and grew quickly in size as the shuttle accelerated towards Mars. A sound like nails on metal decking rattled through the cabin as the debris from the explosion peppered the hull of the shuttle.

“We’re clear!” The pilot turned to look over his shoulder. “Everyone A-OK?”

Gabriel saw Olszewski raise a thumb next to him, then heard a retching from Takahashi behind him. He ignored it — at this point he was used to it — and stared out of the pilot’s viewport.

Ahead of them lay Mars. And Renay.


Enjoy the genre, like the scene? Get into the trilogy with book 1, Gabriel’s Redemption, and book 2, Gabriel’s Return, available for all e-book platforms using the links on the right of this page. Thanks for stopping by!

The official “Name the Gabriel Trilogy” contest

December 19, 2011 27 comments

As Rafiki famously said: “It is time.”

Gabriel’s Revenge is complete. After months of on-and-off writing (stupid day job…) the last sentence was written. (Just an aside – the final scene has been in my head since day one…like day one of writing the first book – and it was…powerful to write. Brought a little tear to my eye…) <– Update: Wow, I love hyphens and ellipses…

It’s going through final polish mode (polish like touching it up and giving it a shine, not Polish like the ethnicity) and will be released this weekend, just in time to be wrapped in a bow and stuck under a tree. Figuratively of course – it’ll be ebook only, at least for a few weeks. But in addition to the release of the final in the trilogy, I’ll be compiling all three stories into one large volume at a ‘special’ price, so that folks who haven’t yet gotten into the series can pick them all up at once, and have enough left over for a small coffee.

Here’s the dilemma: what to call it? My good friend and fellow science fiction author Michael Hicks (I highly recommend you check out his In Her Name series) used the term “Omnibus”, which would be the proper and accepted term for a book collection. But I don’t want to use that term because (a) Michael already has and we’re in some of the same ‘circles’, (b) the word itself doesn’t roll off the tongue well (go ahead, say it out loud – makes you want to say ‘nom nom’, doesn’t it?), and (c) it makes me think of an old Volkswagon Vanagon, though I’m not entirely sure why.

So the contest is born. What do I call the trilogy collection? Let me know in the comments below. Be creative, be unique, be interesting – and be odd if you want. I’m a little odd myself. I’m looking for something that’s eye and ear catching, accurately portrays the series, and is “sellable.” The winning entry will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card, and my gratitude forever. (Well, not forever – as the immortal poet Prince would say, forever is a mighty long time…)

Disclaimer: I have a title in mind, though not one I’ve learned to love yet. Then again, it took me a long time to learn to love peas, so… If I don’t choose one of your entries and use mine, I will choose the “second best” and award a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Most important: Contest cutoff is Wednesday, December 21st, at 6PM ET. Hey, I’ve gotta put the cover together, you know…

Good luck!

Are books worth more than gas station coffee?

December 16, 2011 40 comments

Normally my blog posts are very reader-centric (book reviews, random thoughts and ramblings), but I just received a Twitter DM last night (actually several in a row) I really wanted to talk to someone about. And since authordom is a lonely profession, I figured I’d blab about it here and see what other authors (and readers) thought.

Here’s what I received, around 1AM (yep, still awake):

“Just wanted u 2 know i finished gabriels return and really loved it, very fun, cool scifi”

“but ur price is way out of wack. its 86 thousand words for $2.99”

“i can get 3 novels 4 that price, plus free ones. u shud make it .99”

“or add some chapters and stuff 2 make it over 100k. i hope the last 1 in trilogy is .99, or i might not get it”

So yeah. Setting aside the professional athlete type of abbreviated grammar (hey, I get the 140 character limit, but 2 for to? Come on…), here’s what I took out of this:

  • This person really loved my book, which is a great compliment
  • This person feels that three bucks is too much to spend for an under-100k words novel
  • This person thinks I should add filler to a book he/she ‘loved’ to make it worth more
  • This person, who (presumably) read first two in my trilogy won’t spend more than a buck to read the last one

I appreciate the first point, I sort of understand the second, but totally don’t get the third or fourth.

We are in a recession, some of the worst financial times I’ve seen in my 40 (ahem) years, so I get the dollar issue. I really do. Do I sometimes opt for the Wawa or 7-11 $1.29 coffee instead of the $4.25 Starbucks latte? Sure. Do I cross the $2 toll bridge that’s a few minutes more out of my way than the $5 one? Sometimes. But to me those are commodities, instant purchase decisions that are used in a matter of minutes. I don’t get hours of enjoyment from driving over the bridge (barring major traffic), nor do I curl up on the couch every night for a week with the same $1.29 cup of coffee.

I’ve talked about this before. A book is worth what the market will bear, not a penny more or less. So I’m certainly not to going to argue a book should be priced based on the work put into it, or the time spent creating it, and so on. I’ve priced my first book anywhere between $.99 and $4.99, and have come down squarely on the side of price vs. value. I feel that $.99 is an impulse buy and may never get read, whereas someone who spends $3 to $5 will invest their valuable time in reading it. I believe that there is a perception out there that $.99 books are self-published junk (right or wrong) that people absolutely won’t touch with a 39 1/2 foot pole (and to some extent, that can be applied to $2.99 books, as those are the two magic price points for self-published books).

I know there’s a whole contingent of buyers out there who will buy nothing but $.99 books, and I get that. I’m not going that way. I still feel $3-$5 is a great value for a book, whether it’s 50k words or 150k. But to say add more to the book to make it worth more, even after they loved it, or saying they won’t buy the last one for that extra $2? Still scratching my head…

Am I wrong to wonder why someone would not spend less than a Starbucks latte for a novel, and instead insist on it being less than a cup of coffee from a gas station? What is the reader and Kindle/Nook book buyer’s perspective on this?

Update: In the spirit of the holidays, I changed “ten foot pole” to “39 1/2 foot pole.” See what I did there? 

Throwing in the towel on one of my favorite authors’ novels

December 13, 2011 20 comments

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, and it pains me to do so, but…I just threw in the towel on a novel by one of my favorite science fiction authors, maybe even THE favorite: David Weber.

I picked up the latest in the Honor Harrington series, Mission of Honor, a few weeks back and finally had the chance to dig into it around the Thanksgiving holiday weekend (you know, with all of my free time…) And just last night, reading in bed, I closed it, and I don’t think I can go back. Why? If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I was reading the minutes of a political meeting, or maybe a House floor filibuster transcript.

Weber has always had a knack for incorporating political maneuvering into his works very well, and I’ve found that my writing picked up some of that. (A friend remarked to me about my first book, Gabriel’s Redemption, having more politics that they thought I was in to – my reply was yes, but they’re all bad guys). And the Honor Harrington series is one of my all time faves because of the excellent action, technology, and characters. But after hitting page 310 last night (of 880), absolutely nothing had happened. The only battle that took place was before the book started, told in a past tense report. The other 298 pages were so terribly mind-numbing I had to stop – which kills me.

I really love Weber’s writing, and this might just be me as I age (not very gracefully, as my wife would say), but his last few books have really bogged down with narrative, and all of the action has almost completely disappeared. The first book in the Safehold series, which was a big departure for him away from the space settings, blew me away. The next two? Glacial pace. I have the fourth one (A Mighty Fortress) but I don’t know if I’m going to start it any time soon.

In any case, I jumped into Michael Hicks’s In Her Name: Confederation, the second in his INH series. I loved the first one (Empire), some of the best scifi I’ve read, and book 2 starts off with the same great style and action. So Mr. Weber, if you’re listening, please get back to towed missile pods, hyperspace bands, and planetary invasions…

I can’t figure it out. Is this just me? Anyone else finding the same thing with Weber, or others? I took a look at some online reviews and I don’t think I’m alone, but I’m also hoping I’m not picking up some late-blooming ADHD!

Any favorite authors of yours that caused you to pick up the towel and consider tossing?


Offsite writing – does it work for you?

December 7, 2011 10 comments

Happiness to me is an open power outlet at Panera or Barnes & Noble, a refillable cup of coffee, and some mindless background buzz from fellow humans. And with any luck, crappy wifi so I can concentrate on the task at hand – writing.

If it feels like everyone's looking at you, it's because they are...

However, sometimes I find myself drifting off and paying attention to other things, such as the rude guy taking twenty minutes to sweeten his coffee, all the while blocking access to the caffeinated goodness for other customers; or the teenager behind the counter who insists that breathing on a mug, then polishing it with a cloth is sanitary; or the posturing businessman with the Bluetooth headset, ostensibly waiting for a call (hey buddy, by the way – we normal humans call you a Bluetool – get it?).

I’ve gotten some excellent (in my humble opinion) work done at a Panera, or a Barnes & Noble, or even my local brewpub (though with the goodies they have on tap, my work was short-lived). I’ve also been so incredibly distracted I look back at my day and wonder why I just didn’t stay home in my normal writing cave, the dining room, with its stiff chair, view of a covered pool with ducks floating on it, and the ever-present kids arguing in the background.

So I’m wondering…which do you prefer? Writing out, or writing in?

New excerpt from Gabriel’s Revenge, Book 3, releasing in December!

December 5, 2011 1 comment

Coming into the home stretch to get Gabriel’s Revenge, the final installment in the bestselling scifi-adventure trilogy, released! Here’s a bit from an early scene:


Gabriel felt the tension of the bridge atmosphere ratchet up a notch as he pushed his way through the hatch. The last time he had been here, several hours ago, he had created quite a scene. He caught more than one surreptitious glance his way from the bridge crew. He gritted his teeth and pulled himself hand over hand along the railing set into the back wall of the bridge, towards McTiernan.

“Commander,” the captain said as he noticed his presence. “You’re looking much more rested.”

Gabriel squeezed one hand on the railing, slowing his approach to a stop. He gave a slight push downwards and his feet hit the deck. He straightened his other hand and pinched the material of his pants on the side of his thigh, coming to attention as best he could in zero-G.

“Captain, I must apologize for…”

“At ease, Commander,” McTiernan interrupted, holding up a hand. “I understand. I do. I’d probably be in the same mindset as you right now if I were in your situation. No need to apologize. I’d apologize to you for calling you back before the transit, but you’re needed.”

McTiernan tapped an icon on his command chair armrest. One of the wallscreens at the front of the bridge flickered, then came to life, showing a tiny blinking icon against the blackness of space.

“We received a tight-beam transmission from this ship a few minutes ago. Actually, ship is far too strong of a term.”

He pressed a few more icons and data streamed along the right side of the screen. “It’s twelve feet long, not much bigger than a communications drone, and heavily shielded. Honestly without the transmission, we would have never seen it.” He gave a small smile. “We’ve got the best sensors in the business, and supposedly the best sensor operators as well.” He cleared his throat and one of the bridge crew cringed and ducked his head a bit.

Gabriel pursed his lips. “What was the transmission?”

McTiernan nodded to his communications officer. “Put it up, Ensign.”

Giroux turned to his console and tapped at it. A tinny voice came from the bridge overhead speakers.

“NAFN Richard Marcinko, this is Corporal Lewis Grienke aboard the MDF packetship Shadow. Coded message for Commander Gabriel. Please respond.”

Gabriel turned to McTiernan with his eyebrows raised. “There’s a man in that thing?”

McTiernan nodded. “Yes, we were as surprised as you. Damned thing is less than five feet across. Must have been like flying in a coffin.”

An image of the drop capsules screaming through the atmosphere of Poliahu flashed across Gabriel’s mind. “Been there, done that.” He squinted at the image on the screen. “Have you responded?”

“Yes, Ensign Giroux confirmed the receipt of the tight-beam with our own. The corporal is asking for you personally and will not release the message without your code.”

Gabriel shook his head. “I have no idea what code he’s speaking of, but I guess you’d better get me on the line with him.”

McTiernan waved his hand to Giroux and he opened a channel. “The packetship is still half a million miles or so away, so there’s a three second lag each way.”

Gabriel nodded. The overhead speaker beeped with the opening of the comm link.

“Corporal Grienke, this is Commander Evan Gabriel. I received your transmission, but I do not have a code.”

After a few seconds, the overhead speaker crackled. “Thank you sir, voice code received and accepted.”

Gabriel glanced at McTiernan, who merely shrugged his shoulders. “Didn’t think it would be that simple,” he said in a low tone.

“He found us, Commander,” McTiernan replied. “He probably isn’t too worried about imposters at this point.”

Gabriel nodded. “Go ahead with your transmission, Corporal.”

Before the voice returned, Giroux called out. “Captain, I’m receiving a data stream overlaid on the transmission. It’s clean. Shall I put it up?”

“Go ahead, Ensign, same screen.”

The image of the ship and its statistics disappeared, replaced by a schematic of the solar system. The Ryokou wormhole was a green square, surrounded by several red dots, with Mars a flashing yellow circle. Numbers scrolled down one side of the screen showing distances, projected armament, positioning, open corridors, and other tactical data.

“Commander, I have a message from Major Andon,” Grienke’s voice continued. “He sends his regards and his congratulations for a mission well done on Eden, but has a significant warning to pass along. And yes sir, he used the word significant. You should be seeing the data I collected on my flight out. It was…tight…getting through undetected, as the wormhole approach is littered with Chinese fighters armed to the teeth. I’m sure they didn’t see this packetship, but they probably picked up the wormhole transit. I fully expect them to know you’re on the way. Major Andon’s warning is that these fighters have orders to shoot the Marcinko on sight, no questions asked.”

Several seconds passed in silence. Gabriel squeezed the railing hard enough to make his knuckles go white. “Just like Eden,” he said under his breath.

Grienke went on. “I’ve sent you the data on the wormhole area. I’m also sending you data on the Mars blockade ships as best as we can detect. The bulk of the Chinese ships are at Ryokou, only a handful around Mars. They seem to be putting quite an effort into blocking your entry into the system. Major Andon has also enclosed data on the situation on the ground, which is a second packet I’m sending you.”

Giroux raised his hand. “Received, Captain.”

“Corporal, stand by to be picked up,” said McTiernan.

A few seconds ticked by as the light speed transmission went out and was answered.

“Ah, sir, I’m supposed to continue on to Calypso to be attached to the MDF training force. This mission sort of dovetailed with my schedule, blockade or not. Lucky me, right?” A small laugh came through the speaker. “And while it’s a bit tighter quarters than I expected, I’d rather keep going than join you in a firefight. No offense, Captain.”

“None taken, Corporal,” McTiernan replied. “Safe travels, and thank you for the information.”

“Thank you, sir, and good luck. Shadow out.”

McTiernan shifted in his command chair to face Gabriel. “What is it with the Chinese connection?”

Gabriel shook his head, still staring at the solar system schematic. “Wish I knew, Captain. But I get the feeling we’ll find out soon enough.”


Enjoy the genre, like the scene? Get into the trilogy with book 1, Gabriel’s Redemption, and book 2, Gabriel’s Return, available for all e-book platforms using the links on the right of this page. Thanks for stopping by!