Viewing: small wars

Where did it go, folks? And how did we not notice it passing beyond the veil? I’m writing, of course, of the year 2016. It feels like we’re still hip-deep in the muck of it, yet it’s all in the books and 2017 is here, insistent and fully formed. I just can’t believe 2016 is over already.

We must’ve made the mistake of blinking. That’s it.

In any case, one of the genre author’s yearly benchmarks has once again arrived. It’s awards season. I know because I just now received an email about Hugo nominations opening to registered voters. It feels like just yesterday I was typing at you about how funny books don’t win awards so don’t bother reading this eligibility post in 2016.

Well. That post still wholeheartedly applies because no funny books, including mine, won any major awards last year. I’d take a minute to go back and read it, if you’re so inclined, as it applies to THIS year even more than last year.

That’s right. I’m back, and so are my funny fantasy books. The novella series I began in 2015 with Envy of Angels only grew stronger throughout 2016, and I’ve got even more great stuff coming this year. I also did some other stuff of which I’m pretty damn proud, and a lot of it is eligible for awards.

Let’s talk about the big stuff.



I have three–count ’em, three–awards-eligible novellas this year!

Lustlocked (Jan. 26th, Publishing) — This is the second book in my Sin du Jour series, and it was the first to receive a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Featuring my most heartfelt tribute to none other than David Bowie as the eternal Goblin King, Lustlocked is the series at its most manic, wild, and over-the-top, from entertainment industry satire to demonic cartoon security guards to rabid sex lizards in the New York Public Library.

Pride’s Spell (June 21st, Publishing) — Lustlocked was followed by Pride’s Spell, which made it onto several “Best of 2016” lists, including Nerds of a Feather and SF Bluestocking. This novella is, to date, my definitive satire of Hollywood, Los Angeles, and the film industry in general, and I love it for that among many other reasons.

Rencor: Life in Grudge City (July 15th, From Parts Unknown) — Indie publisher FPU released my first major piece of fiction about pro-wrestling this year (a job I did for close to a decade in my youth). It’s a very personal story that’s also a helluva lot of fun, about two rival enmascarados (masked Mexican wrestlers) forced to come out of retirement and work together to stop a new old evil that’s threatening their equally beloved city. Rencor was the talk of the Latin Comix Expo this year, and has garnered attention from literary corners and pro-wrestling corners alike. I recently talked to Slam, Canada’s #1 wrestling website, about the book. There is literally nothing else like it out there right now, and I’m intensely proud of it.


The writing-as-a-job podcast I began with co-host and Campbell Award-winning author Mur Lafferty in 2015 only got better throughout 2016. I’ve been involved in podcasting for over a decade, and I have never been prouder of a show. Among a glut of podcasts speaking endlessly to the craft and angst of writing, we strive with Ditch Diggers to educate, inform, and provoke aspiring and working freelance writers about the business of writing, bringing our combined thirty-some years of experience to the subject. We also go out and get the best and most qualified guest co-hosts we can find to open up the topics we cover even more.

While we tend to focus heavily on genre fiction, Mur and I try to cover the broadest spectrum possible of freelancing.  We’ve talked TV writing with Margaret Dunlap. We’ve talked comics and the comic book industry with Kelly Sue DeConnick, Mikki Kendall, and Shawn Pryor. We’ve talked corporate futurism with Madeline Ashby. If you can make money writing it, we want to help you make more.

I take immense pride in Ditch Diggers because I truly believe this type of content is needed. Virtually no one takes the time to consistently educate and inform writers about the business side of what we do, and that is agonizingly reflected in the economic realities of freelance writing life.

This is our second year of awards eligibility. We ended up 11th in the Best Fancast category of the Hugo Awards last year. Now, that category was also 100% overrun by Rabid Puppy (a.k.a. “sieg heil!”) slate candidates. If that slate didn’t exist, and it shouldn’t, we would’ve been one single spot away from making the ballot. It was a bad beat that left a bitter taste in our mouths, and both Mur and I would love to see it corrected this year by just making it onto the ballot. It’d be a big win for our little podcast, and I sincerely believe it’s worthy.


“Small Wars” (Jan. 19th, — I actually managed an awards-eligible shorter story in 2016 (it’s been pointed out to me that its length qualifies it for Best Novelette, not short story)! “Small Wars” is a modern fantasy romp about obsolescence and the toils of the big and the small (partially inspired by this essay of mine). Publishers Weekly called it “shockingly poignant” and I think that’s a fairly good summary and argument for the piece.


“Beyond Words Lies the Language of Storytelling” (Nov. 30th, — Probably my favorite non-fiction piece I wrote this year, in which I reach far back in memory to talk about the first intense experience I had with storytelling and how it informed my later work and career as a writer. The source of that experience might just surprise you. Or maybe not.

“The Pelecanos Proposition and What It Means to SFF Writers” (Jan. 29th, SF Signal) — I wrote this lengthy treatise based on a subject we’re always talking about on Ditch Diggers–diversifying your revenue streams as a freelance writer. In this essay I talk about transitioning from fiction to screenwriting and the film/TV industry, the benefits, the pitfalls, and the prevailing wisdoms for and against.


[This was actually posted on Publishing’s Twitter this Friday past, but as everyone seemed to be at one convention or another I thought I’d repost it, and I wanted it up here anyway.]

This phantasmagorically amazing cover for my short story “Small Wars” was recently revealed by Publishing and was created by artist Goñi Montes under the ever superior supervision of Irene Gallo and her crew.

Check it out…

Small Wars artwork

I absolutely love this cover. It may be one of my all-time favorites of anything associated with my humble scribblings.

“Small Wars” is set in the universe of my Sin du Jour books and will be released between the series debut ENVY OF ANGELS (which drops next week on Tuesday, October 20th) and the second Sin du Jour book, LUSTLOCKED (which drops January 26th).

The characters featured on the “Small Wars” cover largely compose what my editor refers to as “The Team.” Sin du Jour is a modern NYC catering company that plans and executes events for the world of the supernatural. As such, their “Stocking & Receiving” department is actually a covert operations unit that scours the globe for rare, magical, and often highly dangerous ingredients for their menus.

From top to bottom we have: Moon, the team’s resident taste-tester/Guinea pig, who has a natural resistance to curses/hexes and whose personality grates pretty much everybody. Cindy, former Naval EOD technician, the team’s second-in-command, and probably the person most annoyed by Moon. Ritter, largely affect-less team leader who seems to have a magical solution to every problem. Hara, the silent ancient language expert who also happens to be a human mountain. Finally, there’s Ryland, who isn’t strictly part of the team, but Sin du Jour’s resident perpetually chain-smoking, wine-swilling, wise-assed alchemist who is in no small way based on Irish comedian Dylan Moran.

“Small Wars” finds the team traveling to Wales to harvest a key ingredient for a royal Goblin wedding, and ending up embroiled in a war between two subterranean races. The story was actually inspired by this essay I wrote in 2013, which has become one of my most-read/popular.

But one of the things I like most about the story is it afforded me the opportunity to explore backstory that really hasn’t fit in any of the books so far. We get to see Ritter recruiting each team member and learn more about where they come from and how they ended up working at Sin du Jour. And I got to write about the international combat knife fighting tournaments Soldier of Fortune used to sponsor in Vegas, by far one of the weirdest scenes I’ve ever taken in.

I obviously am quite fond of these characters. They’re some of my favorites from the series. Which is what makes seeing them illustrated so wonderfully for the first time such a cool fucking thing.

“Small Wars” is scheduled to go up on in January.

My continued thanks to my editor, Lee Harris, Carl Engle-Laird, Irene Gallo, and Goñi Montes.