Look, Up On the Shelf! It’s a Frog!

The Ribbit Awards will soon have long been an established predictor of the literary award seasons, and so it is with great pleasure that I accept the inaugural award for Best Short Work for “Sudden Rescue”.

Years from now when my wide-eyed great-grand children look up and ask grand-pops what I did to help science-fiction overcome its dark age of ruin, I’ll be able to point to my shelf and say, “Did I ever tell you about that frog right there?”  Then they will roll their eyes, tell me that I’ve already told them about it like, a billion times already and can they just log back into the datacore already?  Their friends are streamdancing the latest fractalscores.  I’ll chuckle, sit back in my grav-chair and sip my synthjuice, and let them do that thing they just said.  It’ll be great.

For now, I’ll just play this award show on an infinite loop:

In all seriousness, the Ribbit Awards are fan awards, voted on by the nominees (who I’m assuming are fans) themselves.  We didn’t take things overly seriously at the Award Show, but that’s because we don’t take this part of the game too seriously.  On the other hand, the voters represent a broad cross section of fans, and with few exceptions, they are the kind of people whose opinions on literature I respect.  So to have them vote for my work over that of a Mark Wandrey or a Dominika Lein, the other two nominees who I’ve read and who both have a phenomenal amount of writing talent, means a lot to me.  I’ve no doubt the other two nominees, Jody Lynne Nye and Bethany Jennings,  are also well worth reading – just making the list for the Ribbit Awards is worth bragging about.  In fact, knowing that my work can stand shoulder to shoulder with theirs, meant the world to me.

If you want to see what the fuss is all about, watch the video featuring the always charming John C. Wright, the always energetic and fun Jon Del Arroz, and even a special guest appearance by Sam!  And of course, if you want to read a prestigious award winning book this spring, here’s your chance: 

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New Look

I’d gotten a few reports that my website wasn’t working with some of the newer, most esoteric web browsers, so this weekend I rebuilt this place using an older template.  If you can’t see this, let me know.

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Adventure Constant, the Price Reduction

I’m experimenting with a soft release for Adventure Rising, the further adventures of Jack Dashing.  Rather than push for a big opening day release, I’m playing the algorithm game and counting on Amazon to do some of the selling for me.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Meanwhile, if you’re thinking about picking up a copy and haven’t read Adventure Constant, the first in the series, your life just got a little easier.  I’ve lowered the price of Adventure Constant to just ninety-nine cents.  Pick up a copy, and then strap it, because Jack Dashing’s race across a world a lot like ours, but way more adventurous, are a roller coaster.  And in the sequel we learn a lot more about Jack, his good friend Dr. Abduraxus, and the rest of the adventure multi-verse, all while finding a little time to romance a girl (see below), launch a revolution, and make a few more friends along the way.

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My Very First Sequel

Jeffro Test: Passed!

It’s high time I showed off the cover for my next book.  Out soon, Adventure Rising, fulfills the promise of the post-script of Adventure Constant.  Jack Dashing escapes from our world, but finds himself in a New York City that makes a mockery of his own.  Chased by wild predators, hunted by the servants of a vicious despot, and cautioned against his usual heroics, Jack once again searches for the one man who can send him back to the earth where he belongs.

Adventure Rising defies categorization.  It’s one part alt-history, one part dystopian fantasy, one part zeppelin-filled steampunk, and one part two-fisted adventure, but it’s all pulpy action with just a touch of romance.  Put your expectations aside and brace yourself for a few surprises, because you’ve never experienced a New York City quite like this one…or maybe you have, and you just didn’t realize it.

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So Many Irons

Great news for fans of my audio work!  I’ve started recording another novel for the fine folks over at Castalia House.  We don’t generally like to over promise, so you’ll have to wait a month or so to find out which one, but rest assured it’s a fan favorite and one all too

The 50+ hours spent recording this novel will slow down my writing productivity, and that’s perfectly fine by me.  We’re engaged in a cultural war here, and the audio book hill needs a little love from Team Western Civilization right now.  So far as I’m concerned, I’m not stepping back, I’m just redirecting my fire from the written word hill to the spoken word hill.  And this particular novel is one hell of a volley.  It’s been on my ‘too read’ list for a while, so it’s a pleasure to get paid to read the thing.

Even with the recording, we’ll still be on track to release the sequel to “Sudden Rescue” before the end of the third quarter.  So fans of E. Z. Sudden will be glad to know that this recording won’t push that book’s release back.  In fact, I recently received the artwork for the cover, and it’s unlike any cover I’ve put out yet.  It’s a new twist on a classic sci-fi style that you are going to love.

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Post-Superbowl Post-Hangover Sale

Now that you’ve recovered from yesterday’s football game, why not treat yourself to a little light reading?  Four novellas and short story, all featuring a big dang lizard that needs a good slaying before it runs amuck can be yours…

But wait!  Don’t order today!  Tomorrow, it goes on sale for a measly zero dollars and ninety-nine cents.  The special price is only good for one day though, so make sure you wake up early and grab yourself a digital copy.  It’ll help you pass the time while waiting for next season.

And watch this space for a look at the cover to my next novel, “Adventure Rising”.  Newsletter subscribers have already had an advance peek at it, and can confirm it features the action-packed heroics you’ve come to expect from a PulpRev author.  The book hits Amazon sometime in the next two weeks, and you’re going to love following Jack Dashing’s adventure across and over and under a New York City at once all too different and all too similar to the one in our world.

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Dance Card Status: Full

Got ’em lined up into next year and it’s only just February.

The early part of 2018 will see the release of my first two sequels, one for Adventure Rising and one for Sudden Rescue.  I’ve got short stories coming out in a couple of collections, and I’ve been invited to contribute to a shared universe for a project that I can’t talk about just yet.  But it’s going to be really impressive.

Because that’s not enough work, I’ve got a YA novel in the works that’s unlike most of those on the market today.  Thanks to the ensqualming of tradpub, YA has come to mean, “plain girl that’s a secret badass taking on a dystopian regime”.  My YA novel is pretty much Red Harvest on a playground.  Yeah.

As usual, I’ll be doing everything wrong from a financial perspective, but having too much fun from a creative perspective to lose any sleep over it.  God first, readers second, profit…eventually.  That’s my motto.  If any of this sounds appealing to you, why not sign up for my newsletter.  I’ll be dropping a first look at the cover to my next book this Sunday.

Spoiler alert:  It passes the Jeffro Test.

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The Feedback Cycle of Virtue

I’ve long argued that Western men thirst for stories that reflect their culture, and that Hollywood’s woes and the decline in readers clamoring for mainstream fare are healthy signs for the future.  It’s time to show you a proof of concept.

The following review of my latest novel, “Space Princess” was written by a reader with exactly one review on Amazon.  I’ve edited out most of Gryphon’s praise for the book (full review here), because the context of the review is much more important from a cultural standpoint than what makes “Space Princess” such an engaging read.  As you read this, consider that Gryphon represents hordes of readers.

I’ve been reading quite a few independent published novels over the past few years. There are some gems out there, and a number of them happen to be very fun Catholic novels. Or at the very least, novels that show an accurate Catholic world view, while having some fun in a given genre. Take the secret agent fun of Val Bianco or Declan Finn, or the vampire novels of the latter. Even the great Father Baptist books by William Biersach, or the eclectic works of Karina Fabian. There is a unique joy in the reading of these books, because I take it they were written with a fair amount of joy. They are likely written for the joy of writing and telling a story, and because there is Hope at the heart of them, they lift you and you are happy to have made the trip through their world. I digress a bit.

I wish there were more science fiction or fantasy like this, and have a few on my reading list that may fulfill my wish. For now, this hits a spot for the modern Catholic nerd who wants to race around and save the galaxy, for Altar and Throne. As Lewis presented Earth as a place others noted because “Our Beloved” had become one of us here, Mollison likewise presents “Holy Terra”. I found it similar, and love the idea. I’ll leave it there because I want you to take the journey.

Gryphon gave “Space Princess” five stars, but I consider this a six star review.  Plenty of people enjoy my novels, but Gryphon enjoyed “Space Princess” enough to sit down and really think about the work.  Gryphon then chose to take action to spread the word about it, and did so in a way that was wholly new and potentially fraught with peril.  What if no one liked the review?  What if no one cared?  That takes courage, and that my novel might have played a small role in encouraging Gryphon to embark upon this path to help push back against the regression of western culture means far more to me as an author than any written praise that might show up on Amazon.

It should mean a lot to you, too.  Because Gryphon is only the tip of the spear.  He represents hordes of consumers starved for soul-nourishing fare, who have only recently begun to understand how empty their diets have been for the last few years, thanks to the sometimes difficult to unravel feedback process that operate in cultural shifts.  The enemies of truth, justice, and the American way have taken advantage of the feedback cycles to push back against virtue in media.  For decades they worked to feed a system that made it hard to supply entertainment reflecting the ideals of Christendom due to lack of demand, even as that very lack of demand arose from the dearth of a supply of examples of the ideals of Christendom.

That was the whole point of forcing conservative voices out of coastal elite media offices for so long.  As the examples of virtuous stories dried up, so too did the public’s desire for virtuous stories.  Which led to the coastal elites pushing ever more venal media onto the public under the safe cover of arguing that ‘there’s no demand for it’.

And then self-publishing came along and cut that Gordian knot.  It didn’t matter if there was scant demand for stories that reflected American or English or Christian ideals because the people crafting those stories weren’t interested in the pursuit of wealth or fame at the expense of those very ideals.  If they could produce works that they felt good about, and those works found an audience – no matter how small – then the effort was justified.  People who have their souls nourished by positive stories don’t relapse, but seek out more examples of those stories.  And more and more of them, as exemplified by Gryphon, are turning away from the empty media generated by the coastal elites and toward the far more fulfilling works crafted by self-publishers.

And so we find ourselves entering a cultural springtime within western culture.  Thanks to readers like Gryphon, the feedback cycles are operating towards Christendom’s advantage now.  And the future looks sunnier every day.

Click here to soak up a little sunshine yourself

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Local Kine Comics

Think global, buy local, they tell you.  Aurite*.

It’s been a long time since I bought a comic book that wasn’t wrapped in a brown paper bag.  It’s not what you think.  After a dry spell, a few years back I bought a couple packages of 10 titles for a buck and gave them to the kids to see if they had any interest in comic books.

They didn’t.

That confused me until I read a few myself and realized that Marvel and DC had undergone the same tectonic shift away from adventure stories and towards virtue signaling and ‘adult’ themes.  That experience chased my whole family away from the medium for five years.  Between the rise of Alt*Hero, the analysis of SJW comics provided by Diversity and Comics, and rubbing elbows with some solid and cool hard core comic fans online, I found myself with a hankering for a hit of sequential art that had long lain dormant.

My first choice was Alterna Comics, a smaller publisher that uses news paper, charges less than two bucks a title, and has a fun and engaging presence on the Twitter machine.  Unfortunately, my comic shop does not carry them – they probably will soon as I asked for them by name, and the clerk said I’m not even close to being the first.  Undaunted, I decided to go the local route and picked up the first issue of ‘Aumakua: Guardians of Hawai’i.

Page one got off to a tense start.  The one page backstory presents a deep and meaningful nod to the local Hawaiian folklore and explains that long ago the Native Hawaiians knew that someday people would try to steal their land, and that the gods responded by sending the Aumakua, mighty warriors of legend sent to defend the land.  Presumably from people like me, but whatevs.  On page two, we learn that the modern iteration of the defenders (shown above) are not the soulful saints of a Black Panther or a Luke Cage, they are a definite work in progress.

The basic premise of the story is simple – a giant not-at-all-Godzilla attacks Honolulu during the biggest nerd convention in town.  Which leads to the first of a couple of genuine belly laughs the comic provides.  One grateful attendee decides to personally thank Seoul Hot, a Korean and fire-themed superheroine, a little too personally.

Must have been a Magic: The Gathering event, too!

Surprise!  PedoBear reference for the win.  A couple of the other jokes are a little too fourth-grade potty-humor for my tastes, but in a nice touch, the Hawaiian Superman – Mighty Moke would be the guy with the afro shooting the shaka (that’s “Hang Loose” for you mainlanders) on the cover – shows up late to the party.  Which leads to one team-member pointing out that he arrived, “Just in the nick of Hawaiian time.”  Might not mean much to most people, but trust me, that joke kills on this island.

Which brings us to the elephant in the room.  The cover features five different ethnicities, which would be  red flag of danger on a mainstream comic book.  Handled by a team of stiff-necked New York creatives, this comic book would be overbearing, preachy, and insufferable.  Handled by a team of laid back island kine goofballs, this comic book is light, fun, and engaging.  Looking at the cover you’ve got a (presumably white) surfer, a Samoan, a Hawaiian braddah, a Korean girl, two more Hawaiians, a Portugee supergenius, and I think a white guy in a gecko suit.  None of the masked superheroes take off their disguise, so it’s a little hard to say for sure.  And that’s okay.  This is one of those titles written to reflect strange mélange of cultures that has sprung up in Honolulu over the last 250 years as it has served as a city where East meets West.

More to the point, the creative team doesn’t view these characters as paragons of representation whom they dare not insult by giving them weaknesses or challenges.  The Superman analog – Might Moke – is late to the fight.  He is arrogant.  He is rash.  His heart is in the right place, but he is young and needs the stern, guiding hand of The Royal Hawaiian Guardian (the old man in the Pith Helmet) to keep him on the straight and narrow.  It’s the sort of thing you don’t see in more mainstream comics, and that absence is part of the reason for the decline of the major publishers.  Interestingly, the creators of this comic, by treating the issue of representation so lightly, have tapped into something deeper than the midwits who strive to make the world a better place through purse puppy writing.

Although eight characters is a little crowded, each hero receives just enough center spotlight time to introduce himself and do something cool.  Only a couple have a character moment more than superficial, but it works within the “pilot episode” context.  A lot of the dialog is in pidgin**, which may make it a little harder for non-locals to follow, but if you aren’t stupid, you can translate into King’s English easily enough.

If you have a love for the modern Hawaiian islands, and you want to pair that with your love of comic books, this one is a keeper.  It’s fast, fun, and adventurous, and everything that a comic book should be.  I’ll be picking up the next couple of issues in the series to read for pleasure (rather than as an autopsy on what not to do), and ultimately that’s the best measure of a comic book’s success.

*Pidgin for “All right.”

**The local bastardized dialect that features a lot of dropped prepositions, a refusal to pronounce “th” as anything other than a “d”, and a lot of slang.  The comic includes a glossary at the back, which includes a full translation of a three panel Hawaiian language argument.  The translation is in-necessary as the art and body language of the characters makes the meaning plain enough, but it’s a nice bit of service for fans who prefer to have everything spelled out.

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Candyland 2.0

Late last year I tried to turn my four year old daughter into a proper hex-and-counter wargamer by running her through the first few scenarios of Advanced Squad Leader, but she just cannot ever remember to pop smoke before rushing a full squad through a lane open to fire by a squad support weapon.  Kids these days, I tell ya!

Having learned my lesson, this past Christmas focused on a hunt for games suitable for helping her move beyond the realm of Candyland.  Candyland is a fantastic game – it is the perfect introduction to gaming, what with its imminently relatable fluff and its focus on the core game concepts of taking turns, obeying the dictates of the randomizer*, and looking forward in the game.  “Oh, I hope I get a blue card on the first turn so that I can take that shortcut,” is music to a gaming Dad’s ears.

After a few months of learning colors and making no decisions, she was ready for something a little more involved, and so my Christmas gift list included a healthy dose of games that could help up the complexity just enough for her without being overwhelming.  In the end, we found three, and the best part of the hunt was that I didn’t have to give any money to Hasbro to find them.

Rhino Hero is a basic card stacking game.  Players are dealt five cards and have to play them as the ceiling/roof of a building.  A separate stack of folded cards is used to build the walls of the tower.  To complicate matters, some of the roof cards have a rhino icon which forces the next player to carefully remove and place a small rhino-shaped block onto the top of the tower.  It’s a bit like Jenga, but with cards and with the advantage of forcing players to choose the order in which to play their cards.  The little bit of strategy is less important than the opportunity this game provides for challenging a child’s manual dexterity, and the fact that even an experienced adult sometimes fumbles the ball means that the kids have a pretty good chance at learning how to be a good winner when playing against their parents.

Tiny Park is a ‘fill in the card’ version of Yahtzee game where players roll five dice to generate resources that they can use to buy attractions for their tiny park.  Players have three chances to get the resources needed to buy an attraction, and the attractions have Tetris-like shapes, which forces the players to plan ahead when building their rides.  Unlike the other two games, this one lacks any player interaction and becomes more of a race to finish your park first, but that provides ample opportunity for teaching your child how to plan ahead, and how to judge risks as they select which dice to reroll.  The import of teaching them how to make these small scale decisions occurs in Tiny Park without the pressure of adversarial competition, making it a prefect introduction to the basics in a low pressure gaming environment.

Rally Run mixes the pathfinding fun of Streetcar style game with the memory checks of the Match Game.  Players have wooden car tokens that have to race to the center of a five card by five card grid, retrieve a fuel can and finish line, and then race for the win.  The cars move from one over-turned tile to the next, with the path of the card being revealed only when a car is on the tile.  Instead of moving – such as when blocked in by the dreaded dead-end tiles – players may swap the positions of two of the face-down cards.  A full version of the game with a seven by seven grid might make for a better adult version of the game, but the small size and fast play make this perfect for younger children, and the randomness of the cards help level the playing field, making this a perfect game for older kids to enjoy as well.

All three games are light on rules, and a little heavy on the luck, which makes them perfect starter games for children ready to move up to the next level of board games.  They all play in a matter of a few minutes, making them perfect for those whose attention spans are growing, but not quite ready for a full-on game of Diplomacy.  And they are all pretty cheap – I think 15 bucks is the most I spent on any of them – which makes introducing them to your gaming table a low-risk investment for you.

I’ll definitely be giving more HABA games a shot in the future.

*I’ve gamed with more than a few DMs who could use a Candyland refresher on that score!

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