There are no men like me. There is only me.

Monthly Archives: December 2016

My Top Blog Posts of 2016

Published December 31, 2016 in Navel Gazing - 0 Comments
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Here they are, in order from least to most popular: my top ten blog posts of 2016. Silver Empire calls for submission proved very popular, but they couldn’t beat out scandal and sex appeal. Go figure!

2016 In Review

Published December 31, 2016 in Navel Gazing - 0 Comments
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By any metric, 2016 has been a great year for me. There were some hiccups, but altogether the good overwhelmed the bad. Here’s a look back on the year.

  • My fourth child was born.
  • Our fourth annual Extra Life event raised nearly $2000 for Children’s Miracle Network.
  • Book sales for Silver Empire are up almost 10x over 2015.
  • I merged my old dojo, Madison Martial Arts, with my Sensei’s dojo, Spirit Made Steel. The resulting dojo has 3x the student base of Madison Martial Arts. Our new facility is 3.5x larger. I have a strong base of wonderful assistant instructors helping now, and our classes are better than ever.
  • Blog traffic for 2016 is up more than 7x over 2015. My best month was May, which approached the peak traffic levels of previous incarnations of this blog.
  • Blog revenue from Amazon Associates sales increased 5x over 2015.
  • My grandmother passed away after an amazing 95 year run.
  • Silver Empire published its first novel.
  • And we published our first audiobook.
  • I finished the first draft of my own first novel (read a sample chapter).
  • Our Kickstarter campaign for Lyonesse nearly doubled its goal.
  • I set new personal records on all major lifts at the gym.
  • I earned my 4th Degree Black Belt
  • Some of my favorite authors sent me free books to review.
  • I got interviewed for the first time.
  • My Twitter feed crossed 1000 followers.
  • I’ve made many wonderful new friends through the author community, social media, my dojo merger, and many other areas.
  • I published 216 blog posts this year.

2017 is looking to be an even better year.

  • After more than three years, I expect my dojo to finally start operating in the black.
  • I expect to publish both my first novel and my first novella.
  • Blog traffic will likely grow by around 3-4x.
  • Based on our upcoming lineup, Silver Empire book sales will likely grow by around 5x.
  • We plan to launch Lyonesse in the early part of the year.
  • My goal for 2017 is to publish at least one blog post every single day, including holidays and weekends. That will more than double the content on this blog.
  • And… I have a few more surprises in store for the year. What, you wouldn’t want me to reveal everything ahead of time, would you? 😉

Lyonesse Author Spotlight and Free Story – L Jagi Lamplighter

Published December 29, 2016 in Fantasy , Lyonesse , Silver Empire - 0 Comments
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Thank you to all who have contributed so far to the Lyonesse kickstarter project! We have just over 24 hours left on our Kickstarter and we’ve reached 144% of our goal! If you haven’t already, stop by and contribute. A $7 contribution gets you an entire year’s subscription – including at least 52 stories (one per week, plus the occasional bonus story) from some of the most amazing up and coming science fiction and fantasy authors. And if you’re interested in one of our lifetime subscriptions, keep in mind that this will be your last chance to get one. They are only available through our Kickstarter campaign – when it ends, they will disappear!

Meanwhile, we also have a handful of more established authors on our list, and today I’d like to talk about one: the talented L. Jagi Lamplighter. Some of you may also know her as the Mrs. John C. Wright. Mrs. Lamplighter is the author of the Books of Unexpected Enlightenment series (which I have previously reviewed here, here, and here). She’s also the author of the Prospero’s Daughter series, and the editor of Brian Niemeier‘s Soul Cycle series (of which I have reviewed books one and two, and will get around to book three very soon!). I can also say that I have the great privilege of having contracted her to be my own editor for my upcoming novel Post Traumatic Stress.

Finally, as a special thank you to all of our backers for helping us with our successful Kickstarter project, I present our first Lyonesse bonus story, Mrs. Lamplighter’s, Four Funerals and a Wedding. This is but a small taste of things to come from Lyonesse, and I hope that all of you find the story as delightful as I did.


Four Funerals and a Wedding

by L Jagi Lamplighter

This story is dedicated to
Matthew and Eugie Foster,
Who deserved better

Cassandra leaned against the shovel and wiped her brow as a flock of geese flew across the face of the moon. Beside her, Archie dug steadily, unearthing the grave dirt above his fiancée’s coffin.

“You know,” the young woman picked up her shovel again, “this was not where I had expected this to end.”

“Let’s just hope it doesn’t end here,” he grunted back. “Or worse, with us both in jail.

*     *     *

For the first funeral, Cassandra wore her sunglasses. They were huge and dark and made her look like a blind owl, but they covered her high cheekbones and her eyes. Nothing showed but the nose and chin she had inherited from her Jewish father—not unattractive but unremarkable. No one ever gave the lower half of her face a second glance.

She chose a slim black dress and low black suede boots. The silver and turquoise cat necklace she had worn whenever she left the house for four years now—Jeremy’s last present to her on her last mother’s day—was a bit cheery for the occasion, but she could not bear to leave it home. She tucked it inside her gown.

Seated in the back pews of St. Timothy’s, she gazed surreptitiously at the crowd. Ahead, the family paraded slowly by the open casket, saying their last goodbyes. An old woman in black and a middle-aged man were crying loudly, but the dead man’s wife was sitting with her back straight, a look of desperate hope in her eyes.

Maybe she read the newspapers.

Cassandra pulled Nicholas’s old handkerchief from her purse and pressed it against the corner of her eyes. After four years, it embarrassed her that she still cried. But they had been four lonely years—without Nicholas, without her little Jeremy.

No one understood what it was like to have been a mother and then not be one anymore. The worst was when her friends commented on her having the freedom to spend her hours how she pleased. She would given anything to trade her freedom, her prestigious career as a photographer, and her hobbies for the mess and toil of having her family back.

The door opened, and the reporter from Channel 9 evening news came in, his camera man beside him. Cassandra jerked her head away. If he saw her, he would know. He had been at the last funeral, too.

Should she leave? Her eyes flickered to the face of the widow.

Steepling her fingers and pressing them against her lips, she closed her eyes and quieted her heart. Life. It was eternal. Nothing could be put to it or be taken away from it.

The lately-deceased man sat up in his open coffin, blinking. The rafters of the small church echoed with screams of terror and then with screams of joy.

*     *     *

For the second funeral, she wore her hair down. It fell midway down her back, like a solid black waterfall. She hid Jeremy’s necklace beneath her black silk blouse, which she wore over gray slacks. Her sunglasses still hid her eyes.

This one was held at the Presbyterian church outside of town. Calhoun from Channel 9 was there before her, a big, heavy, scowling man. Cassandra shuddered and averted her head. She had been reading his columns, and they were vile. The man poured out vitriol and bile on every subject he covered.

It made her heart ache for humanity that people paid to read such vileness.

Beneath Jeremy’s necklace, her heart beat rapidly. Would he recognize her? If he did, what would happen?

It was not herself she was worried about. What did she have to lose? It was the folks who she could help if everyone left her alone.

She had tried going to the hospital, but she felt like a harpy, waiting around for people to die. Besides, hospitals made her nervous—too many bad memories. And when she was nervous, nothing happened. Same thing if she bragged or allowed even the slightest hint of pride.

If she wanted to help grieving families and lives cut short, she had to do it quietly, privately.

If Calhoun from Channel 9 outed her—put her in the public limelight—would she ever be able to help anyone again?

*     *     *

For the third funeral, she wore a very large black and white hat. Its large brim dipped down, making it easy to hide behind. Between that and her sunglasses, her face was hardly visible. This was a good thing because the despicable Calhoun looked right at her as she left the church. His assistant pivoted the camera and pointed the blank, black lens right at her. She had only enough time to duck her head and block her face with the hat.

By the time she arrived home, her whole body was shaking.

*     *     *

For the fourth funeral, she left her sunglasses home. Without them, she became a whole new person. All heads turned when she walked into the funeral parlor as people stared at the young Asian woman, so lovely she could be a model. But no one, not even Calhoun who was positioned at the door, hunched like a vulture, recognized her as the person had been when the upper part of her face was covered.

It was a disguise she could only use once.

She also took her work camera with its zoom lens.

There was a lone chair against the wall. Cassandra pushed it into a back corner, behind a large urn containing a palm. The smell of smoke and chemicals made it hard to concentrate. Her heart was beating so loudly, she could not hear herself pray.

She closed her eyes and tried to quiet her thoughts, but the angry, leering image of Calhoun kept imposing on her peace. His latest piece on the mysterious “zombie-maker” had been so hateful that it had made her sick to her stomach to read it.

Who hated a person for resurrecting the dead?

In her imagination, she kept picturing the moment when he found her out, the finger pointing, the clammy hands grabbing her by the arm and yanking her in front of everyone. She felt lightheaded.

Only the sight of the two children weeping beside the casket kept her run fleeing the premises.

She closed her eyes and breathed, but she could not clear her thoughts.

What was it with this man? Why was he so angry? Why…

Why had she not prayed for him?

The funeral proceeded. A preacher gave a blessing. A brother gave a eulogy. Children wept. Cassandra tried to pray for the bloated, angry reporter, but her words were empty. In her heart, she did not wish him well.

There must be something about him, something that could break the spell of disgust he had cast over her, some quality, however small, that she could admire.

Nothing.

The gathering was beginning to break up. People were rising, milling, laying a silent hand on the shoulder of the sobbing widower. And Calhoun still stood there, scouring the gathering, scowling at each person, as if they were personally guilty of having murdered the dead woman. Did he never give up?

Ah, that was a quality Cassandra admired. She had to give Calhoun that.

He was dogged.

Like a spell breaking, Cassandra looked at the reporter as if for the first time. How tired he looked, how bitter, his eyes were bloodshot. He looked…like a very miserable soul indeed.

That was enough. Her thoughts calmed. She closed her eyes. She kept them shut until the children began to shout.

Outside, the Channel 9 man was standing by the front walk, interviewing the happy family. People were crying and laughing and hugging. The woman’s husband, no longer a widower, clung to her, weeping with joy and relief.

The camera was pointed right at the door.

She should have worn her sunglasses after all.

Cassandra looked around. Did she dare cut through the vestibule to find another door? Her hand brushed against her camera. Raising her head, she walked over to loathsome toad of Channel 9, whom she really could not think quite as badly of as she had before, and stuck out her hand.

Heads turned as she walked. But neither the toad nor the no-longer-a-widower paid attention to her appearance.

“Hi there, Cassandra King Crossing.” She patted her camera bag, where hit hung at her hip. “I do some freelance work for the Mystic River Press and The Westerly Sun, among other places.

His hand was big and meaty. “Archibald Calhoun. Channel 9.”

Despite her nervousness, she flashed a big smile and gestured at the crowd. “I gather we’re looking for the same thing? Maybe we could compare notes?”

“You mean the person responsible for this circus?” he snarled. “Yeah, I’d like to find that bastard.”

“What would you do if you did?” she asked casually.

“Punch the S.O.B. in the face. Repeatedly.”

“For resurrecting the dead?” Her voice rose so high it broke.

“What kind of low human being hides the fact that they can resurrect the dead? Where was this bastard when my Effie…” His voice broke.

“O-oh,” breathed Cassandra.

His face had taken on a haggard dullness that she knew as well as she knew her own name. It struck her like a blow to her solar plexus.

“I’ve been looking for him for weeks. Thought maybe he could save…s-she’d been so healthy just three months ago. We thought the cancer had been beat. Then, wham.” The big, ugly brute, who was beginning to look dear to her, rubbed at his eyes with the back of his sleeve. “Our wedding was set for tomorrow. She had bought a lovely dress—the nurses had promised to help her put it on—and her brother was going to fly in from Chicago. But things took a sudden turn for the worse. And Effie….” He swallowed, his big Adam’s apple jiggling. “Her brother ended up flying in a few days earlier, for the funeral.”

Cassandra could hear the man speaking, but she could not see him. All she could see was the glare of headlights from a car coming directly at her on a slick rainy night. She felt, again, the lurch of the car as Nicholas put the driver’s side between the danger and his family. In the heat of the moment, he forgot that Jeremy, so recently free of his booster seat, had moved over to sit behind the driver, so he could talk to his father.

If only…if only Nicholas had swerved the other way.

Cassandra yanked out the silly silver and turquoise cat from inside her dress and gripped it tightly. Her life was hard enough but… Not to have ever been Nicolas’s wife? Not to have ever held Jeremy, or see him take his first step, or win his first soccer game? Even this, even all the pain and agony of loss, was better than that.

Tears streaming down her cheeks, Cassandra grabbed the reporter’s arm. “Your fiancée, where did they put her body?”

*     *     *

For the wedding, she wore a wide straw hat with flowers tucked in the band. She even went up into the attic and took out a blue and green dress she had not worn since the last time she and Nicolas went out to dinner. The silver and blue cat looked lovely resting against the silky material.

She also left her sunglasses home.

The ceremony was held at St. Timothy’s. The press was there, not just Channel 9, but all the local stations and a few national ones as well. She could already foresee the running caption: Revenant Woman Weds.

Effie looked lovely in her white gown, her face aglow. Archie Calhoun stood beside her, proud as a bridegroom could be in his handsome tux. Looking at his round, beaming face, Cassandra could not remember why she had thought it anything but kindly and dear. The bridegroom turned his head. Across the crowded church, their eyes met.

Archie Calhoun winked.

Cassandra winked back—which never could have happened had she still been hiding behind her sunglasses.

 

The End

NEW RELEASE: The Cinder Witch by Morgon Newquist

Published December 29, 2016 in Announcements , Fantasy , New Releases , Silver Empire - 0 Comments
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Months ago, Alis joined with her new friend Cahan to fight a dragon beneath the School of Spells and War. Now she fights something altogether different: fame. Worse, her newfound notoriety has resulted in a mission to the far north. As if it weren’t bad enough that it’s so cold, she also finds herself in a tiny village whose residents innately distrust spellcasters of all kinds. Yet they tolerate her because she comes with Cahan – and because something is threatening their children. Can Alis and Cahan save them?

THE CINDER WITCH is the is the third story of the The School of Spells & War series. following the adventures of the sorceress Alis and her companion Cahan the warrior.

The School of Spells & War Tale Three, THE CINDER WITCH, is 45 pages, DRM free, and $0.99. If you enjoyed Mrs. Newquist‘s DOWN THE DRAGON HOLE, or A MIDSUMMER’S PARTY you will definitely enjoy the third story in The School of Spells & War.

The School of Spells & War is an ongoing collection of old fashioned sword-and-sorcery adventure stories following a wizard and warrior duo as they galavant across the continent of Thillon. Good-humored, powerful warrior Cahan and intelligent, skilled wizard Alis work together to serve their university, the school of spells and war, by battling dragons, investigating plots against the king, hunting witches, and dealing with the ongoing threat of the ancient and mysterious Formless.

As an added bonus, the first tale of The School of Spells & War, DOWN THE DRAGON HOLE will be free on Amazon from tomorrow, December 30th, 2016, through New Year’s Day 2017 for those who have not yet begun this delightful series.

Seriously, Blogging is Your LONG Game

Published December 28, 2016 in Blogging , Business , Philosophy - 0 Comments
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I have to admit that this post from The Daytime Renegade got me down more than a bit. I read it before Christmas, but it took me some time to formulate my thoughts in reaction to it. An excerpt:

I know that if you don’t promote or believe in yourself, no one else will but my God man, over the Internet, anybody can say they’re anything! Why should you listen to anyone or swallow advice whole without thinking critically?

There are people who pass the sniff test, of course–professional athletes and trainers, business people and parents–who have a proven record of success, have clearly thought their ideas through, and show themselves, warts and all. Take them more seriously.

And maybe that’s the way forward. My problem with blogging is this: I don’t think I really have any great insights into anything.   

I’m not saying this to get sympathy, because that’s pathetic. I am just being honest and self-reflective.

I harbor no illusions about being particularly good at anything or writing useful “self-improvement” type stuff. I have a very short track record of proven success, and it seems silly writing as though I were THE MAN. 

So what’s next for my little on-line adventures?

I don’t know, but I am going to take a blogging hiatus and really think about what I want to do with this.

First of all, I’m honored and flattered to have been linked on that list as a successful business person. At least I’m good at playing one on the Internet!

However, I think Daytime Renegade is using the wrong metrics to judge himself – as so many others do. And this stems mostly from ignorance of true realities – not just of blogging but of many other factors.

I’ve posted about it before, but it bears repeating: blogging is your long game. And I do mean long. There are a handful of successful bloggers who made the leap to “stardom” very quickly: Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan, James Joyner, Megan McArdle, Markos Moulitsas. Want to know what they all have in common? They got started in the early days of blogging, in the 2000-2005 time frame. Blogging was new, they were early entrants, and they managed to ride the wave.

Very nearly every blogger who made it big after that period has something else in common: they all slugged it out for a very long time. Either that, or they were already famous for something else.

A prime example is Vox Day. His two blogs this year have hit a combined traffic metric of over four million page views per month. That’s a huge amount of traffic – more than some “major” news outlets get. But he didn’t get there overnight. His blog has been around since roughly 2001. I know. I was reading it very occasionally then – mostly on the occasions that Instapundit linked to it. As I mentioned on my previous post on the topic, his prime blog now has roughly fifteen thousand individual posts on it (maybe more by now). That’s a lot of content for search engines to comb through, for people to link through, for new users to read through, etc.

By comparison, this will be post number 306 on this blog when it goes live. I’ve got a long way to go. I, too, was blogging in the roughly 2001 time frame – and I wish that I had continued that blog through to the present day. I am not as prolific a poster as Vox Day, and I probably wouldn’t have 15,000 posts. But I’d still have several orders of magnitude more content than I have now.

Quantity isn’t the only thing that time and persistence give you, however. They also help you build an audience – regular readers who continue to come back and read your works. Such a readership grows geometrically, not linearly. I’ll go into more details in another post later this week, but my blog traffic is up more than sevenfold from last year. That particular growth rate is somewhat high – but doubling or tripling blog readership year over year is the norm, not the exception. At those growth rates, readership eventually becomes quite high. Remember the old tale of the man who wanted one penny today, two tomorrow, four on the third day, eight on the fourth day, etc. On the 30th day his payment due is over $10 million – or four million page views.

There is another thing that happens over time. You set yourself apart from those who lack persistence. Very few bloggers are still blogging after one year. Even fewer are still blogging after five years. Vox Day has won because he’s still blogging after fifteen years – a feat that puts him in the company of perhaps a few hundred other bloggers worldwide. What special skill did he require to achieve that? None – only persistence.

[To be clear, I’m not claiming that persistence is the only skill that made Vox Day’s blog so popular; many other skills contributed to that feat. Rather, it is the only skill that made his post count so high. As I’ve already explained elsewhere, that does indeed have a massive impact on blog traffic.]

As Christopher Lansdown mentioned when he interviewed me earlier this week, very few highly successful people are young. Most of them don’t achieve true success until their late forties or early fifties. Why? Because success often requires many years of hard slogging, setbacks, persistence, and getting back on your feet.

Blogging is an extremely useful marketing tool. But for most people it’s not a short term one. The short term payoff is almost always low – and usually trivial or negligible. But even low payoff blogging often becomes very useful in the long run.

I would offer three more thoughts to Daytime Renegade as he reconsiders his blogging goals.

First, as with so many other things in life, blogging success follows a power law curve. My 2016 levels of blog traffic are pretty low (I’ve had considerably more traffic in the early years of blogging). Even so, they probably put me in the top 15% or so of all bloggers. At a guess, I would wager that 3,000 to 5,000 page views a month probably put you in the top 10%. 10,000 to 15,000 page views a month probably put you in the top 5%.

What’s the point? Compared to all other bloggers out there, Mr. Daytime Renegade, you are probably far more successful than you realize. In one sense that’s depressing. But in another sense, it should be inspiring. Because you, too, can at least double your blog traffic in 2017. In fact, you can probably increase it by a factor of 5 to 10 – which would move you far further up that chain. Unlike many of the bloggers you’ve already left far behind, you have not yet reached your peak – especially if you remain persistent. You can climb much further up the charts.

Second, you are overrating the value of originality and your own unique insights. You feel like none of your thoughts are new – but this is precisely because of all the time you spend reading: reading books, reading news, reading other blogs. You make the mistake of assuming that your readership is already familiar with all of the ideas you’re familiar with, because of course everyone else has read all the stuff you read. Doesn’t everybody?

In a word, no. Even other highly intelligent, highly educated people haven’t read everything you have. They can’t. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs on the Internet today. Roughly 1,000 new books are published every day on Amazon, with roughly five million already available in their Kindle catalog. Nobody can possibly read all of that, even if they’re independently wealthy and all they ever do is read. As I’ve said before, originality is overrated. To perfectly illustrate the point, even that post wasn’t original – and yet I’ve gotten direct feedback from readers who found it extremely useful and had never thought about it in those terms before.

You have knowledge of value to your readers, even if it isn’t new and insightful. Most major bloggers aren’t passing on their own major insights – they’re passing on insights they’ve read elsewhere. Occasionally they’ll ad some insight or synthesis of their own, but mostly not. And I don’t mean that disrespectfully to them. True originality and insight is rare. Fortunately, it’s also usually unnecessary.

Finally, but perhaps most relevant… I have followed you on Twitter, Gab, and other social media for months. In that time, we’ve actually interacted quite a lot – and I’ve enjoyed it. Even so, I had no idea you even had a blog until my wife pointed out this particular post to me. I am not alone.

Morgon tires of hearing me say it, but she also knows it’s true: the single largest problem, by far, with all of our small businesses right now is that too many people don’t even know we exist. It is the single biggest problem for this blog as well – and yours. Unless you have the money for a major marketing blitz a la Disney or a major party Presidential campaign, the only cure for that problem is time and persistence. Word of mouth works, and it works well… but it’s agonizingly slow.

Personally, I’m glad to see that there are new posts on your blog already, and that this post doesn’t mean you’re giving up. Here’s to 2017 and beyond, to exponential growth, and to persistence!

A Conversation with Christopher Lansdown

Published December 27, 2016 in Interviews , Lyonesse , Silver Empire - 0 Comments
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Fellow author Christopher Lansdown very graciously invited me to join him on his YouTube channel to discuss, among other things, Short Stories and Lyonesse. I had to put him off for a few days due to losing my voice to a cold and the Christmas holiday itself. Last night we finally managed to sit down together. I had a blast talking with Chris. The one complaint that I have is, I suspect, the largest one you’ll have, too. The conversation ran kind of long. Er, maybe a LOT long, at two and a half hours. I hope that I prove interesting enough to hold your attention that long.

View the video at the embed below.

Shady Rays – PRODUCT REVIEW

Published December 22, 2016 in Product Reviews - 2 Comments
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As my wife will happily tell you, I have a problem with sunglasses. Actually, she’ll quickly tell you that I have three problems with sunglasses.

First, I’m a freaking vampire. I wear sunglasses almost all the time when I’m outside. I’m not quite that guy who wears them even in the dark. But I’ll wear them even when it’s cloudy, especially if it’s that nasty kind of cloudy that almost feels like every way you look is glare. I have sensitive eyes, and it’s actually painful to not wear them. I spent most of my life wearing glasses with special UV coatings. Then I had LASIK done. I’m pretty sure my eyes just adapted to having the UV coating. So now I wear sunglasses.

But I’m also kind of bad about losing them. Every 12-24 months or so I’ll lose a pair of sunglasses. Just poof, gone, no idea what happened to them. But I’m not quite as bad about losing them as I seem. My third problem exacerbates the issue: I have four children. My oldest is about to turn seven. In those seven years, my children have broken about three times as many pair as I’ve lost.

In short, I go through a lot of sunglasses.

Until now, my solution has been to always buy the dirt cheap sunglasses from Wal-Mart. If they won’t survive long anyway, at least I’m not spending much money on them. I usually spend between $15 and $20 a pair, depending on current prices, and buy about 1-2 pair a year. So it’s not a ridiculous expense. At least I’m not spending $300 on a pair of Ray-Bans.

Enter Shady Rays. I became aware of the company through Twitter ads. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever bought anything based on a Twitter ad. But this goes to show you how important it is to find your audience. I was the right guy – the absolute right guy – to respond to this ad. The ad was simple and pushed two things:

  • Two pair of sunglasses for the price of one (normally $45 a pair) with a special discount code.
  • Lifetime replacement of any pair of sunglasses if they’re broken – or if they’re lost!

I saw the ad a few months ago. All I needed to do was wait for my last pair of sunglasses to die. About six weeks ago, they did. My 10 month old daughter broke them. Snap. So I dug up the promo code and hit their web site.

I found the sunglasses pictured above, which approximately resemble the style I’ve been getting for some time. I punched in my discount code for two pair, entered my credit card number, and opted to pay $6 for expedited shipping. Hey, man, my eyes were hurting. And it was only six dollars. If I’d chosen slow shipping, it would’ve been free.

The fine print quickly informed me that there is a limit to their replacement guarantee. They will only replace any individual pair of sunglasses twice. So with my two purchased pair, that would mean a limit of six sunglasses total. Also, it’s unclear if I will have to pay shipping costs for replacement pair or not. I suspect that I will have to. Unless shipping costs are outrageous, I can probably live with that. Worst case, I’ll still be paying about the same per pair of sunglasses as I’ve been paying.

A few days later my two pair of sunglasses arrived. And I can tell you this: they’re far sturdier in build quality than the cheap sunglasses I’ve been getting. They’re quite comfortable, especially after a few days to break them in. I have yet to break or lose a pair, so I can’t yet tell you how well they live up to their promises. But I can promise you that with my history I will break or lose a pair within 24 months. When I do, I’ll give an update and let everyone know how it goes. Worst case, I got two new sunglasses for approximately the same price as every other pair I’ve bought in the last five years – but with better build quality. I think these will take longer to break – although perhaps not to lose.

And so far I’m extremely happy with these sunglasses. They have a wide range of styles, so odds are good you can find a pair you like. If you’re in the market for new sunglasses, you might want to check them out.

Russia Tests Anti-Satellite Weapon

Published December 21, 2016 in Military , Science , Space , Technology - 0 Comments
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Who shot down DMSP-13?

CNN tells us tonight that Russia has recently tested an anti-satellite weapon.

The US tracked the weapon and it did not create debris, indicating it did not destroy a target, the source said.

The Russian test, coming as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to enter the White House next month, could be seen as a provocative demonstration of Moscow’s capability in space.

Russia has demonstrated the ability to launch anti-satellite weapons in the past, including its Nudol missile.

Emphasis is mine, and not in the original article. I remain suspicious that DMSP-13 was shot down by the Russians, although it is clearly unconfirmed at this point. Nevertheless, we know that Russia and China both badly want anti-satellite technology. They have invested quite a bit of money and time into various technologies for it. They know quite well that US space technology puts them at a huge strategic disadvantage. Both nations desperately want to eliminate that advantage if at all possible.

CNN strongly implies that Putin used this test to demonstrate capability and intimidate the incoming President Elect. I remain convinced that Russia has done so before, more than once. I have zero doubt that they will do so again.

What’s the right move for the US? Developing countermeasures is expensive and clunky, so that’s probably what we will do. What we should do is focus on lowering launch costs so that we can replace satellites so cheaply that destroying them is of little gain. The current “commercial space race” is already meeting success on that front. We should do all we can to speed the process. Of course, a little bit of space infrastructure wouldn’t hurt, either.

Lyonesse Kickstarter FUNDED!

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Thank you to all of our backers for helping us to get our subscription SciFi & Fantasy short story service, Lyonesse, fully funded! Thanks to your help, we can ensure a minimum payment to each of our launch authors. As a bonus reward this morning, we’re offering up this piece of art done by my sister-in-law for the Kickstarter campaign.

If you haven’t contributed yet, don’t fret! There’s still time! You can contribute now! Remember, a mere $7 gets you a full year subscription. That’s at least 52 stories! Get your subscription now and spread the word! Your friends will want in on this, too. We’d love to hit our stretch goal and pay our authors even more. Given the amazing stories in this collection, they certainly deserve it.

Authors – there’s still time to contribute! See our submission guidelines for more information!

The Secret Kings

Published December 19, 2016 in Horror , Science Fiction - 0 Comments
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Dear readers, several of you have signed up to be alpha readers for my upcoming novel, Post Traumatic Stress. I am sorry to say that the second draft is not yet ready. I promise that I will put it into your hands as soon as possible. There are several reasons it isn’t ready yet. One is that my editor, the esteemed Mrs. L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright, has been busy finishing up a prior commitment. The good news is that she is now finished with that commitment. The better news is that as a result of that, today my friend Brian Niemeier has released the third book in his Campbell Award nominated and Dragon Award winning series, “The Soul Cycle.” Book three, The Secret Kings, is available today for Kindle.

Alas, I have not yet read this book and so cannot offer a full review of it yet. The reasons for that are the same as the other reasons that I have not yet finished the second draft of Post Traumatic Stress. Please do not think that it is Mrs. Wright’s fault nor Mr. Neimeier’s fault. Indeed, I have been tremendously busy for the last six weeks or so. On top of that, I’ve spent roughly two of those weeks out of town – first attending a memorial for my late grandmother and then later on a rare and much needed family vacation. On top of all that, I’ve also been quite sick, first with about three weeks of bronchitis and now with a rather rough cold.

Finally, I encouraged Mrs. Wright to finish Brian’s work first – both because adhering to prior commitments is the right thing to do and also because Brian marches to much tighter writing and publishing deadlines than I do.

For all that, I offer my deep apologies to Brian for not having a review ready. I plan to remedy that before the month is out. Furthermore, I now have a very rich collection of excellent notes from Mrs. Wright and from my own wife on Post Traumatic Stress. I’m rather happy with the first draft, but I can assure you that the second draft will be far better as a result of her input and will be worth the wait. In the meanwhile, I suggest that you pick up a copy of The Secret Kings. Or, if you’re unfamiliar with the series, start at the beginning with Nethereal and its Dragon Award winning sequel, Souldancer.