…They pull me back in!

When the Fictorians invited me to contribute some thoughts to their month-long seminar on tension, I thanked them politely but told them I was out of the game.

“You’re not out until we say you’re out,” Jo Ann Schneider growled. With an ugly smirk, she pushed a polaroid across the table at me– my missing iPad, battered but recognizable, bound with duct tape, sitting on today’s newspaper.

“You’ll pay for this,” I said. But she was already gone.

Gritting my teeth, I sat down and started typing . . .

Everyone else is posting Rogue One reviews.  So why not me?

Rogue One : * * * * (= four out of five rogues.)

When I first saw it, I also gave The Force Awakens four stars, which in retrospect feels a little generous.  I’m not going full South Park on this or anything, but most of what I really loved about that movie was that I was basically watching Star Wars again.  Rogue One, despite the fact that it is essentially a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead-style behind-the-scenes story that runs parallel to the original Star Wars, is vastly more original.

This is not to say that Rogue One doesn’t lean heavily on  the source material.  As astute critics have pointed out, RO completely depends on you having seen SW– it never attempts to explain things like the Force, and the ending would be deeply unsatisfying if you didn’t already know that this is not the end.

But, whatever, I have seen Star Wars, so I do know that the Rebels succeed in blowing up the Death Star. (Oops!  Spoilers!)  So to me this was a wonderful companion piece that took nothing away from the original and filled in some holes– even some that I never really thought about before.  (Like: Why isn’t there a big old Rebel fleet at Yavin 4 when the death star shows up at the end of Star Wars?)

There is definitely some of the usual Hollywood baloney in that the film often makes the choice to show a big cool explosion instead of having people (on either side) do something smart.  But this is the nature of the medium– movies are more explodier and less smartier than books.  I had a great time, as did HRH.


5. Finding good ways to use previously unused footage of Red Leader and Gold Leader from the original trilogy.  Very cool.  This is the kind of recycling I can really get behind.

4. Warwick Davis playing a little alien dude with a BFG.  I wanted more of this guy.

3. The sarcastic killbot and the we’re-not-jedi monks.  Make this a TV show, in the vein of Kung Fu or Scooby-doo.  Throw in Warwick Davis.  To hell with continuity.

2. Darth Effing Vader striding down a dark and smoky corridor, cutting down rebel after rebel.

1. Five year old in the movie theater behind me asking aloud, “Are they dead?” during the final scene when our heroine and hero are nuked into radioactive vapor.  Hilariously tragic.


5. Zombie Leia.  Her lines were good, but I just couldn’t stop wondering if she was a cartoon or a Cylon skinjob or what.

4. No Bothans.  And, yes, the internet did remind me that the Bothans died to get the plans for the second death star– not the first one.  And, no, I do not care.  This movie should have killed a Bothan every three minutes.  Two, maybe.

3. Zombie Tarkin. Shudder!  Seriously uncannied my valley. Definitely knocked off a half star for this.  Maybe a whole star.

2. Forrest Whittaker dying for absolutely no reason at all, other than he didn’t want to jog down to the spaceship. Lame.  I mean, I would definitely die in that scene for the same reason, but I go to the movies for an escape.

1. Tarkin and Leia.  So terrible.  I can’t stress this enough.

Anyway, thanks, J.J. Abrams for a great Star Wars movie.  It was tons of fun.  And I look forward to handing over my money to see the next standalone Star Wars flick: OLYMPUS MON: THE MOTHMA STORY (coming in 2018).

[Cross-posted at House Of Payne.]

Texas cons

Greetings, adoring public! This month I’ll be attending a couple of Texas conventions. So if you’re in the neighborhood, stop on by and say howdy.

On June 3-4, I’ll be at the Dallas Fan Expo. You can find me and my books at the WordFire Press booth, along with Kevin J. Anderson, Rachel Caine, Cat Adams, Quincy J. Allen, Dave Butler, and A. Lee Martinez. Signatures, photographs, and hand-drawn cartoons of fiery flying gnomes for free.

And on June 17-18, I’ll be at Houston Comicpalooza, again at the WordFire Press booth with a huge gang of awesome authors. And Saturday morning at 10 AM, I’ll be participating in a panel discussion entitled “I want an advance: How to attract a publisher.” Come bask in my wisdom, or mock my ignorance. Both are valid choices.

See you soon!


There’s an awesome anthology coming out this summer, and I’m going to be in it! My story is called “Lullaby,” and it’s about a mama and papa dragon trying to get their babies to sleep. Hey, write what you know, right?

The book is called DRAGON WRITERS and it is being edited by Lisa Mangum and published by WordFire Press. It has lots of awesome authors in it– including perhaps my very favorite living writer, Brandon Sanderson. Can’t even explain how geeked out I am to see my name on the page next to his.

Anyway, here’s the official table of contents:

Dragons are creatures of legend. And so are writers. Within each writer is the power of a dragon. . . . The power of creation.

1. “I Hate Dragons” by Brandon Sanderson
2. [untitled] by Jody Lynn Nye
3. “A Pretentious Sonnet I Wrote” by Adric Mayall
4. “The Dragon Went Down to Dyfi” by Peter Jones
5. “The Final Fold” by Josh Vogt
6. “Li Na and the Dragon” by Scott Parkin
7. “Wayne and the Gator” by Kristin Luna
8. “Lullaby” by John D. Payne
9. “Eat Your Heart Out” by Joy Dawn Johnson
10. “Which Way to the Dragon?” by Michael Angel
11. “Manifest” by Brandon M Lindsay
12. “Heart of the Dragon” by LJ Hachmeister
13. “Salvation, on Painted Wings” by Kevin Ikenberry
14. “The Essence” by Frank Morin
15. “Reconciling with the Dragon” by Mel Koons
16. “His Greatest Creation” by Jace Killan
17. “Shattered Pieces Swept Away” by Greg Little
18. “Love Notes” by Nancy Greene
19. “Soot and Cinder” by Tristan Brand
20. “Dragon Years” by Robert J. McCarter
21. “Dust and Fire” by Aaron Michael Ritchey
22. “Black Tide’s Last Ride” by Mike Jack Stoumbos
23. “Claiming the Future” by Peter E Sartucci
24. “On Dragon’s Wings” by MJ Carlson
25. “The Dragon’s Child” by Todd McCaffrey
26. “Sweetly the Dragon Dreams” by David Farland

Can’t wait to get a copy of this, so I can start gathering autographs from all the incredible people who contributed. Hooray!

Submission Saturday’s three year anniversary

This last Saturday (11/7) marked three years since my decision in 2012 to submit a short story for publication every Saturday. I have missed more than a few Submission Saturdays, but I have always made them up later. In fact, I think I did a few extra somehow.

So anyway, here’s the last three years, by the numbers:

* 162 total submissions
* 38 personal rejections (or submissions held for consideration)
* 17 stories submitted at least once
* 8 submissions currently pending response
* 6 stories published (or accepted for publication)

I talked with some other authors about my numbers to see if they were more or less normal. In particular, I wondered about my submission success rate, which was about four percent (6/162).

Then one of my friends pointed out that I had sold more than a third of my stories (6/17), and if that was my measure of success then I was doing an order of magnitude better than I thought. That really made my day.

It also helped me realize two things. First, we all define our own successes, which can be a very good thing. Second, it’s good to have friends who help you see the good in the world.

So if you have a friend who is defining their success in a way that makes them miserable, do for them what my friend did for me. Help them see what they’re doing right, what’s going well.

Who knows? You might make their day.