Starting tomorrow morning, Thursday March 1st, we are going to bomb the hell out of Dan Wells.
It is already ranked pretty high, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Starting tomorrow morning, Thursday March 1st, we are going to bomb the hell out of Dan Wells.
It is already ranked pretty high, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
I’ve been a fan of Schlock Mercenary for many years. Though we are friends now, I was a fan long before I ever met Howard. I even snuck a flamethrower with an ominous hum into MHI.
I ate dinner with Howard last night. (Rodizo’s all you can eat Brazillian steak house, for the win!) Today is his birthday and he is having a big sale over on his page.
So being his once-every-4-years birthday, I told him I’d stick up a link. You should check out his books. And if you aren’t following his comic, you should. It is awesome.
On the Spellbound audiobook a whole bunch of people have contacted me about the fact that chapter 3 seems to be missing. Audible.com is aware and fixing it. I think that they are going to send a message to everyone that got it so far so that they can download it again.
This Thursday, March 1st will be my next book bomb. We will be hitting PARTIALS by Dan Wells hard during his release week.
More details to come. I’ve started Partials but haven’t finished it yet. (but only because because I’m editing MHL and you guys will murder my face off if I don’t have it done on time) So far, it is awesome.
Earlier on in the episode called the Nakado, the semi-barbaric Hida Makoto roped the honorable Ide Todo into being his marriage arranger. The downside is that he believes he is on a mission from the gods to marry a particular girl way way way way above his station. This week’s episode brought to you be Steve Diamond.
Old Crab, New Tricks
Ide Todo rubbed his eyes wondering when he last had been gifted with adequate rest. He let out a long sigh. Truth be told, he wondered if he would ever rest well again.
It was doubtful.
His journal stared back at him, devoid of any writing. This was the first time in years that he had been unable to form his thoughts correctly and put them to paper. The event with the Shamesword, Penance, caused a deep shiver to run through him even now, several days later. It was a dangerous artifact. It needed to be destroyed.
But what if it could actually strike a blow to the Dark Oracle of Fire? What if a person of pure heart were to wield it? The corruption would still come—Kuni Magatsu was clear on that point—but could it be held off long enough to end the war?
Or would the sword simply behave as was its nature and beguile and betray?
Ide Todo shook his head, clearing it of the poisonous thoughts. He needed a distraction. Perhaps a…conversation…with Akimi could—
“Todo-san, may I have a word?”
Hida Makoto. Ide Todo felt an unreasonable spike of fear cascade through his chest. Not because he didn’t trust the Crab. No, Makoto was honorable. Dense, but supremely honorable. He made a mental note to himself to send off a missive to Crab lands and to Hida Kenzan detailing Makoto’s deeds. He deserved the recognition. All the members of the Paper Lanterns did.
The reason for Todo’s fear was more closely tied to the Crab’s propensity for asking for the impossible.
“Makoto,” Ide Todo replied while shutting his journal. “What can I do for you this evening?”
The big man seemed uneasy. “As my nakado, I know that you have much work to do.”
“Yes.” There was that feeling again. Something bad was coming.
“Honestly, Todo-san, I worry that no matter how much work you do in the courts—even such an esteemed Courtier such as yourself—you will never be able to completely win them over yourself. So I need a favor.”
“I need you to teach me the ways of courtly etiquette.”
I may have better luck with the Yobanjin. “Of course, Makoto.” He kept his expression smooth. Open. It was one of the first lessons his sensei had delivered. “But may I ask you to elaborate your thoughts on the need for etiquette training?”
“I know I will never be the speaker you are,” Makoto said quietly. It was odd to hear such quiet humility from a man so large…and bloodthirsty. “Yet if I am to ever be with Otomo Yuni I will have to spend time in court. Courtiers and all their endless talking pushes me towards insanity. Uh, no offense, Todo-san.”
“None taken,” Todo couldn’t help but grin. “In truth the words of court infuriate me sometimes as well.” The Crab was sincere. It may take years just to instruct the basics, but—as was the case in most quests of epic proportions—there was a lot of traveling. And sitting around. And doing nothing. A man needed some way to pass the time. “Very well, Makoto. Your lesson starts now.”
“Now? Uh, OK.”
“I will be blunt with you Makoto. There are times when you talk out of turn.”
“I am just trying to help, Todo-san,” Makoto said, eyes mirroring the confusion in his voice.
“Easy, friend. I know our intentions are pure and just. It is a fault that the children of the Ide Courtier school tend to share.”
“Children? You are comparing me to a child?”
Todo held out his hand in a placating gesture. “Please, Makoto. This is exactly what I mean. You talk and respond to everything. You interpret words as insults even when they are not. You become defensive, and then you get that dangerous gleam in your eye.”
“What do you mean, Todo-san? I admit I do not understand your words.”
“And there is wisdom, Makoto,” Ide Todo said nodding his head. “Those well versed in the courtly ways will do everything and anything to get under your skin. They will stop at nothing to set themselves above you in the eyes of their companions. In the eyes of Otomo Yuni.”
“What must I do, Todo-san? How can I insult them back without caving their heads in with my tetsubo?”
“By learning when not to talk. When not to respond.” The look of confusion was plain on the Crab’s face.
“I fear I may be asking you to do the impossible, Todo-san.” Makoto sat back, dismayed. His chair creaked alarmingly. “My mind does not work the way yours does.”
No, no it doesn’t. Perhaps… “Makoto, I need you to clear your mind. Like you do before battles.”
“I am schooled in the art of battle preparation, Todo-san. It is second-nature to me.”
Todo nodded, and allowed a smile to slightly curve his lips. “Very good. I’ll let you in on a little secret Makoto. I—as well as those courtiers I consider the best in Rokugan—do the exact same thing before entering court. Tell me, what is the first thing you do upon entering battle? What were you taught?”
“Assess the situation. Keep calm. I personally seek out the target representing the most danger to my companions.”
“Being a courtier is no different, Makoto. Do I not do the same thing when we go to court?”
“Huh. Never thought of it like that.”
“While that thought is in your mind, answer me this. Should a man ever go into battle emotional? Crazed? Leave out the Berserkers for now.”
“Of course not.”
“Because too much emotion makes a warrior sloppy. Too much sloppy makes a warrior dead. Dead is not the best of situations for a warrior.”
“And should a warrior taunt you on the battle-field? What then?”
“Taunts are better left ignored, Todo-san. They never end well. I know from experience.”
“Yes. I remember.” Todo paused for only a moment before moving on. “The point is this, Makoto: the courtly ways are a form of battle. The court is a battle-field. Etiquette is simply one of the ways to make sure you remain calm. Etiquette is your defense against the verbal taunts and metaphorical sword-swings directed your way. This is your first lesson, Makoto, and I want you to watch when I have conversations with people. Listen. Watch. Often times you will notice how little I actually say. Sometimes not saying something is most important thing you can do.” Todo stood. “You will come to me every evening and we will talk. I will ask you to summarize our conversations so that I can gauge your retention. Makoto, this will take a long time.”
Makoto’s eyes had narrowed. Not in a threatening way, but in a manner that bled determination. He is far more willing than I thought. “So what did you learn tonight, Makoto?”
“You are wise, Todo-san. I initially thought you just wanted me to shut-up. But now I see what you are doing. You want me to think before I talk. This will be difficult, Todo-san, but I swear I will not let you down.”
With a nod he stood up quickly. The chair rose with him.
Ide Todo shook his head at the ruined mess of his guest-chair. Makoto was learning, but subtlety was going to take a while. The chair had been ripped to pieces when Makoto had pried it from his large frame.
A noise from outside drew Todo’s attention. Is that someone writing?
He walked quickly to the tent opening and threw the flap back in time to see Ikoma Katsu scurrying away.
Oh no. Not again…
Queue plaintive sad background music:
Hello. I’m Larry Correia, and I need your help. You too can tell stuffy literati types to go screw themselves.
Only you can make a real difference in the life of a pulp novelist. Every day, over a thousand writers of explody, action-adventure, gun-nut, monster-killin’, novels are maligned on the internet by stuffy literati critics for not being “real” novelists who write ham-fisted, navel gazing, message-fic about starving polar bears or some crap.
How can you make a difference? By nominating Larry Correia’s Hard Magic for the Hugo award for best novel.
Anyone who attended last year’s WorldCon or who is registered for the next can nominate works, You can make your voice heard by nominating what you think are the best books, TV shows, movies, and related works of the year. Make a critic’s head explode by nominating something awesome today.
I’m Larry Correia, and I approve this message.
Insert incredibly sad photo of Larry Correia here.
Okay, it is that time again. If you attended WorldCon last year, or are registered or a supporting guest for the next, you need to get your Hugo nominations in before the 11th of March. I didn’t realize that you needed to purchase your membership before January 31st, so if you haven’t bought a membership already then I believe it is too late to still do so and nominate.
But if you are part of that tiny group of a couple hundred voters out of several million readers that gets to tell the rest of us what is good or not, I’d like for you to consider my novel Hard Magic.
My biggest regret about being nominated for the Campbell last year was that Hard Magic wasn’t eligible as it wasn’t published until my 3rd year of eligibility. Hard Magic is still my favorite book that I’ve written. Hard Magic is original, different, well researched, yet still filled with teleporting magic ninja fights on top of flaming pirate dirigibles. (but don’t worry, you can nominate up to 5 works for each category, which means you can throw Monster Hunter Alpha in there too if you are feeling generous).
My other best novel noms are going to I Don’t Want To Kill You by Dan Wells, and then I’m torn on the other two and still trying to decide, because I read a lot of good books last year.
For novelettes, I had Tanya, Princess of the Elves, and Detroit Christmas published by Baen, and Son of Fire, Son of Thunder in the Crimson Pact anthology written with Steve Diamond.
For best editor, long form, I think Toni Weisskopf and Jim Minz are deserving, since they are both great editors who take care of huge, wildly diverse stables of talent.
For best editor, short form, I’m nominating Paul Genesse. He is really good.
For the other categories, I am going to nominate Elitist Book Reviews and Writing Excuses for Best Related Work. Elitist Book Reviews really does deserve a nod because I think they are the best review site on the internet, and they deserve some respect. Seriously, take a look at EBR and compare it to the review places that normally win. EBR has more, better reviews, and doesn’t limit themselves nearly as much as some of the “prestigious” (i.e. snooty) places. Meanwhile, the Writing Excuses is the best writing related podcast there is.
For best graphic novel I’m nominating Schlock Mercenary. Schlock has been nominated repeatedly, but has lost to the juggernaut of Girl Genius. Schlock has a decade of continuous, daily, better and better sci-fi and deserves a win.
For the Campbell for best new author, I’d like to suggest Brad Torgersen. Brad is known for his short fiction, and was just nominated for the Nebula award for best novelette for Ray of Light. Brad was also the Analog people’s choice (or whatever that is called) winner for last year. The dude is GOOD. And most importantly, I’d vote for him mostly because since Brad is also a Warrant Officer in the US Army, he’d accept the award in his uniform, which means that he’d refuse to wear that stupid Campbell tiara.
There are also sections for best dramatic presentation, short and long form, as in movies and TV shows, but I really haven’t watched much over the last year.
From the Audio Publisher’s Association, these are the awards for best audio books and performances for the year. I’ve got 3 nominations. Monster Hunter International (read by Oliver Wyman) and Hard Magic (read by Bronson Pinchot) are up for best paranormal, with my books taking 2 of the 5 nominations. And Bronson Pinchot has been nominated for best male performance for his work on Hard Magic.
Apparently my stuff translates into dramatic format really well.
On that same note, Spellbound is out on Audible.com now.
These events came from the same Writer Nerd Game Night as the last piece of fiction. Up first is an entry from Nick, whose character Zuko, along with Machio (Rob) had scouted ahead to the ruins of the High House of Light looking for the sword, while meanwhile the rest of us blundered into it in a nearby village.
Immediately after this entry, Rob’s characrter gets kidnapped by birds. I’ll catch you up later.
The second entry comes from Paul (Kuni Magatsu) in the aftermath of last week’s Duty & Faith. Paul copied one portion from the L5R wiki http://l5r.wikia.com/wiki/Legend_of_the_Five_Rings_Wiki detailing the history of the cursed sword we’ve been tasked with finding and destroying.
“Thoughts over Tea” - Paper Lantern Reflections
-Written by Togashi Shichiroji, now known as Fosuta Zuko at camp on the way to claim the Sword of Penance.
The formation of the Paper Lanterns has been something of a mystery to me. I have given up the Way of the Fist, in lieu of the Life of the Blade. Yet, I still have a clear connection and view of the Void. In fact, perhaps it is clearer than ever before. My black armor and katana, gifts from Isawa Fosuta, are beginning to feel comfortable, and their abyssal reflections remind me of the emptiness and fullness of the Void. It is obvious to me that the Celestial Heavens are moving. Events, such as the formation of the Paper Lanterns, the movement of the stars, the shifting emotions of the Void, point to changes larger than I can fathom.
I find myself reflecting on my companions. My companions in the Paper Lanterns are varied, and while they all seem to be good men, there are few I would trust as I do Isawa Fosuta. Perhaps it is because of the things I see in their eyes.
Tsuruchi Machio is my lone traveling companion in these mountains. The quiet suits me. It is my turn to take watch, and the night is silent. He looks at me, well as he looks at everyone, without regard. Eyes full of dispassion. There is nothing holy or sacred to the man. I often wonder if saving his life was the correct thing to do. It set me on the true path to enlightenment, so it had to have happened, but it seems as if it was wasted effort. The man has a death wish. Of that there is no doubt. Although, he seems to at least have a modicum of self-preservation, only kicking the hornet’s nest that houses the lazy or weak hornets. If he does not curb his barbed tongue and curtail his violent actions there will be nothing I can do to protect him. And I do wish to protect him. For all the frustration, I feel an affinity with him. He is an outsider, looked down on, and misunderstood. I feel like of all of the men in the Paper Lanterns, he understands what it is to be human.
Hida Makoto, a warrior who’s equal I have never seen, looks at me with jealousy. Eyes full of envy. I was chosen by Ide Todo to act as the gunso to his Paper Lanterns. To me, as with everything the Void touches, the choice has a duality of nature. On one hand, the inspiring courtier can trust me, and knows me better than he thinks. I have been with him longer than the Crab, and even throughout my search for Enlightenment-down whatever path that takes me-I would protect him with my life. I do not need to speak the words for others to hear. I need not that recognition. I will, and do, show it in my actions. I do not beg favors from the Unicorn, I simply follow him and learn from his example, do my best to keep him from harm. However, I am inexperienced. I do not know the ways of the military. I am not sure exactly how to behave as a gunso. I work better on my own, where all of my abilities can be put to use. And a gunso should not be afraid. They are courageous, and inspiring. I refused to light a fire tonight because I am terrified of its touch. How could the men under my command follow me if they knew that? Is bravery and courage overcoming fear, or is it the absolute absence of it? Perhaps I have much yet to learn from Makoto-san. Though, we are not at the Kaiu Wall, I think his methods perhaps unnecessary at times. Loyalty should be inspired, not forced. Obedience through loyalty has changed the empire. Obedience through force has destroyed lives.
The new Crab, Kuni Magatsu is severe man. He looks at me questioningly. Eyes full of suspicion. Magatsu originally drew my admiration, and now I question his judgment. His baseless suspicion angers me. I have done the impossible for my traveling companions, multiple times, and yet they do not accept me as they do each other. Todo, like Fosuta, has my unswerving loyalty, and yet the others look at me as though I do not belong. Their ignorance is their own folly however. If the Kuni wishes to be suspicious of me, he is welcome. I know my goals, and my mission, and they are synonymous with the path of the Paper Lanterns. They wish to destroy the Blade, I know they cannot, and are welcome to try. When they fail, I will take the Blade to Fosuta who I believe will be able to handle the issue.
Kitsuki Tsuze is a constant reminder of who I once was. He looks at me inquisitively as well. Eyes full of questions. I find it interesting he is the reason I left Dragon lands and fell into company with the men of the Paper Lanterns, but now he is the one I know least, and spend the least time with. Perhaps it is because he is a reminder of my former life. My former ignorance. Tsuze-san, much in the fashion of the Dragon, throws propriety to the wind. He speaks when we wants, and does what he wants. Most just dismiss it as the “irrational behavior of the Dragon”, however I wonder if it is because the man’s intellect is so far beyond our own. He has a mind beyond equal or compare. He sees things that are inconsequential to the rest of us. He sees patterns and life in the menial, much as I see the threads, and patterns in the Void. He will be an asset to Todo, if he can overcome the Investigator stigma and learn to be an appropriate Rokugani
Ide Todo is a man of singular vision. He looks at me with regard. Eyes full of expectation. His respect is something I value, and I will not fail him. I will not make a mockery of the trust he has placed in me. Fosuta saved my life, and has a tremendous presence. I would follow him into the Shadowlands without hesitation. Todo, while he does not command the same presence, and I do not owe him my life, has earned that same loyalty from me. He has treated me as an equal at all times. I understand my folly in questioning his resolve before. He may have an insignificant presence, but he has shown he can make the hard decisions and live with the consequences.
The Paper Lanterns have a Celestial pull to them. Our numbers are growing. I can feel the gravity of our efforts. I hope I can rise to the occasion and succeed as the gunso. I spoke, privately, with a number of my soldiers before I left. Their specific instructions should see them through my absence.
The sun rises and it is time to wake Machio and move. I feel the press of time to get the Blade and back to the Paper Lanterns before dark.
From the Private Scrolls of Kuni Magatusu, Crab Clan Shugenja
We have the Shamesword of Penance locked in an iron and jade box provided by our fore-thinking and esteemed leader, Ide Todo. The sword, a wakizashi, was in the possession of the ronin, Nobu, the proclaimed leader of the Mountain Spirits. Nobu was twisted by the sword and the Shadowlands tainted medallion he wore. We learned all of this when we confronted him in his village after we found he was hiding objects of magic from us, which we thought could be artifacts looted from the High House of Light. After Nobu refused to meet with Ide Todo, insulting him greatly, Hida Makoto demanded that Nobu come out.
I wanted to burn Nobu’s hut down around him with the Fiery Wrath of the kami, but Ide Todo is much wiser than I in matters of negotiation, so Makoto knocked with his tetsubo.
Out came Nobu a moment later. I sensed the Shadowlands taint strongly upon Nobu and a battle commenced. Hida Makoto fought with him on the steps of the hut. The power of the Shamesword kept Nobu alive after a blow from Makoto-san should have left Nobu quivering and twitching on the ground.
The other ronin saw what Nobu had become when I used Jade Strike upon him and revealed him for what he truly was, a man tainted by the vile power of the Shadowlands. The ronin did not interfere, and if they had, their ghosts would have haunted the mountains forever. It is good they did not fight us, for Makoto would have had to kill whichever of them tried to stab me in the back as I punished them all with the Fury of Osano-Wo.
The battle continued and Nobu made his fatal mistake. He blasphemed the entire Emerald Empire and enraged the true spirits of the mountain. A very strong earth kami answered my prayer and crushed Nobu with a granite boulder infused with jade power. Hida Makoto finished Nobu and destroyed his amulet with repeated blows from his tetsubo empowered with hungry fire kami, who melted it down.
When Nobu lay dead, we took possession of the Shamesword of Penance.
Later that day, I traveled to a shrine dedicated to the mountain kami and offered sacrifices to all of the elemental spirits. Then I spoke with the conjoined spirit of the awakened kami within it and the dead samurai, Hitomi Akaui. The two spoke as one.
The sword was deceptive and spoke in circles. It desires to be reunited with its first wielder, Hiruma Todori, a great man to whom I have met on one occasion. The sword says it must be reunited with him if it is to be destroyed. I doubt this is the truth.
There is a part of me that wishes to pick up the sword and understand it completely, peering into the place where the soul of the samurai is trapped, but that road will only lead to great dishonor—and perhaps some understanding of how to destroy all of the Shameswords. The sword tried to tempt me, and I tempted it back. My scheme has failed for now. The course of action we will follow now will involve asking a wiser man than I what to do.
The sword has done what it was supposed to do, and shamed me, for I have failed Ide Todo and Hida Kenzan. It has not yet been destroyed.
The Kuni that I am is glad that the sword is still whole, for I will study it as closely as I dare. If I can discover how to destroy all of the Shameswords, a great blow will be landed against the darkness.
As I think of how to destroy this blade I have decided to write down the known history of the swords. I will try to remember the exact text of the scroll I studied several years ago.
It began like this . . .
The Bloodswords were amongst the most terrible dark-artifacts ever created, and many maho-tsukai attempted to recreate the feat of Yajinden. It wasn’t until the 12th century when the madman, Kokujin succeeded in creating a new set of blades.
Kokujin’s plan was never fully understood, but somehow he used the legendary Anvil of Despair to forge several swords. Each crafted from the soul of a disgraced Dragon hero. Each blade contained a distilled version of the sins of the soul used. As with many cursed Nemuranai the blades seemed to have a malevolent will of their own, appearing to be able to move around under their own power and choosing their bearers. It might be possible that Kokujin chose their bearers, but this is unclear.
In 1159 Kokujin issued a challenge to the Dragon Clan, asking them to send their seven finest warriors to attempt and end their conflict once and for all. This was a trap designed to capture the seven, create more Bloodswords and free the First Oni so Kokujin could learn the true name of Fu Leng. The oni was defeated, as was Kokujin, but not before he could create three more Shameswords
The Blade of Penance was one of the first Shameswords to be created and was given to the Hiruma family daimyo, Hiruma Todori. Todori was given the option of taking the sword or leaving it for the Bloodspeakers to find. Not wanting to risk the cultist obtaining such a powerful nemuranai, Todori took up the sword. Later attempts at destroying it however proved fruitless. In desperation Todori turned to the Crab Clan Champion Hida Kuon for aid and was told to take the blade to the Dragon. Togashi Satsu explained to Todori the secrets of the blade and convinced him to leave it in the possession of the Dragon. Since then the Dragon have studied the blade, but have not found how to destroy it without also destroying the soul within it.”
I, Kuni Magatsu have no compunction about destroying the soul of the Dragon Clan samurai within the Shamesword of Penance. Hitomi Akaui has been dishonored and to redeem himself his soul may be the price, but if there is a way to destroy the sword and save his soul, I will consider it, though mercy is never to be given to those who are tainted by the Maho of the Bloodspeakers or the touch of the Shadowlands.
Coming next week, Ide Todo attempts to teach Hida Makoto how not to get totally murdered in court in Old Crab, New Tricks. http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/the-burning-throne-episode-16-old-crab-new-tricks/