Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Brief Update...

I have been down with bronchitis the last week or so, which as cut into my writing and research…not to mention my getting ready to run the Army Ten Miler next month.  There’s so much going on, I thought  a quick update was in order. 
First, on Virginia Creeper, the word “wow!” doesn’t seem to capture it.  The book has spent nine days on the bestseller list for paid-for-books.  This is my second book this year to hit the bestseller lists, the other being Secret Witness.  I have been pleased with the number of people that seem to gravitate to Creeper.  With Halloween coming up, things are bound to stay brisk in terms of sales.  I have had more searches to my web site and blog on Drew Fitzwater and the Route 211 Murders than anything else.  The number one question I get about the book is, “Is this a true story?”  Fascinating!  I’d say read the book and make your own judgment call on that.  Everything is in the book, unless you want to undertake some research on your own.  I’ve even heard there are web sites out there on the murders – so check them out (though personally I found them lacking details when I was working on the book.)  So far there have not been complaints from people up on Pignut Mountain about visitors looking for the Fitzwater farm, but, like I said, Halloween is just around the corner. 

My book on the Cuban Missile Crisis, The Fires of October, is on the downward end of writing.  I’ve already started to get requests for interviews about the book which tells me this book is going to be widely accepted.  There are a lot of great books out there on the missile crisis – mine goes at it with a relatively new angle – the planned invasion of Cuba.  I was at the National Archives a week and a half ago, pulling a wealth of new material that has just been declassified.  I’m sure even if you’re a buff on the subject, there’s new material here you’ve never seen. 
My next true crime project, A Special Kind of Evil, the murder of Daisy Zick – is progressing too.  What I’ve been surprised with is the power of social media in making contacts.  Facebook has generated a lot of tips, leads, and contacts for me.  This crime still seems to resonate in Battle Creek where I was raised.  People are passionate about who they think did it.  I only hope that I don’t let them down. 
My Bert Hall biography, The Bad Boy, will be out in October from Fonthill Media in the UK.  I’m speaking to the League of WWI Aviation Historians at the Smithsonian in early November on the book.  WWI is picking up interest as we approach the 100th anniversary of the Great War. 
That’s all for now (cough…hack!)  Time to recuperate and charge my batteries.  October and November is going to be a busy period for me.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Interview With Steampunk Author Bobby Hunter

Interview With Steampunk Author Bobby Hunter

Note: I write under the penname R.S. Hunter

What is your most recent published work?
In a couple of weeks, my most recent published work will be The Exile’s Violin, my debut steampunk novel. But if we’re going with most recent work currently available, it’s the science fiction horror story called “Jewel of Tahn-Vinh.” It’s part of the In Situ anthology by Dagan Books.

What is it about? 

It follows one woman’s quest for revenge as the world around her slides into chaos.

What can you tell readers about the main character? 
The main character, Jacquie Renairre, was a hell of a lot of fun to write. She’s definitely got a chip on her shoulder and has a “me against everybody” sort of mentality. She’s a private investigator with a personal mission that she’s been working on for over six years.

What was your favorite part of the book for you to write?  What are you most proud of?
Some of my favorite parts to write were the airship battles. Since steampunk is such a visual subgenre, I felt like I had to really nail the spectacle of big ol’ airships shooting at each other. I hope the readers are able to picture the battles in their head like I was able to do while writing it.

Another one of my favorite parts was writing the dialogue between main characters Jacquie Renairre and Clay Baneport. They come from different social circles and have completely different outlooks on life. It was a lot of fun letting them banter back and forth.
What genres do you write in?
I bounce around between science fiction, fantasy, and a little bit of horror. Pretty much any the genres that fall under speculative fiction. There’s something about getting to ask a whole bunch of “what if” questions that really excites me about SFF.

When you have time to read (?) what do you enjoy? Who’s your favorite author?
I try to make time to read every day. Most of the time, I read right after I get into bed and before I fall asleep. The amount of time varies day by day. Some days I’ll stay up for an extra hour and a half (and pay for it the next day). Other days, I’ll fall asleep mid-sentence after reading two pages.

My favorite genres to read are the same ones I like writing: science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I’m not a huge fan of urban fantasy though. Also a lot of the time epic fantasy about your standard orphan with a big destiny will put me to sleep. I love space opera and could use more of it in my life.

What is the coolest thing a reviewer ever said about your work?
Since all of my previous publication credits have come from anthologies, I haven’t had the opportunity to get a lot of reviews. However, 20,001 A Steampunk Odyssey did get a couple of reviews, and one reviewer said that my story gave them “an unsettling but profoundly necessary foundation to the prettier ideas of steampunk […] because it shows us that it’s not just gleaming brass.” That was pretty cool.

Tell us a little bit about what you are working on now or next?
Right now I’m working on finding reviewers for The Exile’s Violin. I also just finished the first round of revisions on its sequel, Terraviathan. Now that those are done, I’m ready to start the first draft of a new sword and sorcery series I’ve been outlining for the past couple of months. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it should be a lot of violent, bloody fun.

When will it be available?
The Exile’s Violin will be available in the 3rd week of September.

When do you write?  How many hours a day/week?
With my job doing SEO and copywriting for an online pet supply retailer taking up the daylight hours, I usually write at night after dinner. My fiancée will work on her InDesign projects and her TV blog while I work at the kitchen table. Some days I’ll put in 3 or 4 hours a night. On weekends, I’ve gotten in the habit of waking up first and writing for a couple of hours in the mornings. I like sleeping in, but I like the thought of having more finished manuscripts under my belt even more.

How do you prepare for a project?  Do you work off an outline of your book or write by gut-feel?
I’m the epitome of a plotter. I’ll even plot out short stories. Trying to write, especially a novel-length project, without a detailed outline almost gives me a panic attack. It’s actually gotten worse over the years.

For example: the outline I wrote for The Exile’s Violin three years ago is about 25,000 words long (approx. 50 pages). But that’s not counting the handful of other background/worldbuilding documents I wrote. But now to show how my plotting has gotten even more detailed since then: the outline for Terraviathan (its sequel) is about 45,000 words long (approx. 80 pages).

Some people claim that such detailed plotting must stifle my creativity or something along those lines. They say things like “Oh, but your characters won’t get to grow naturally and take you to unexpected places.”

I call BS on that. For me, all that unexpected discovery with the plot and characters happens during the outline phase. I’ll work through plot problems and stuff then so I won’t have to do it while I’m writing my draft. Truthfully, my outlines are basically zero drafts. They won’t have dialogue tags and description, but that’s about all they’re missing.

I’m definitely not saying my way is the only way to go. It just works for me. If something else works for you, then go for it! We all know there’s not one True Way to write.

Do you have any events or book signings coming up?  Where?  When? 
I don’t have any planned at the moment, but I expect there will be some giveaways once I get my hands on the paperback copies of The Exile’s Violin.

How can readers connect with you?  (Blog, Facebook, email, whatever) 
Readers can visit my website: I’m also very active on Twitter (@rshunter88). Follow me there if you want to talk about TV, video games, nerdy stuff, SFF, or writing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

An Inside Look At Eternal Patrol

Behind the Scenes: Eternal Patrol
Michael G Wallace

One problem with writing a story which involves WWII is the number of war historians out there that will hang on every detail no matter how slight. So when I took on the project of writing a time travel story that included two American Gato Class submarines, I knew the details would make or break the book. No one would have a problem with the time travel, but if I said the said the depth gauge was above the ballast gauge, they would throw the book down and say the entire story was unbelievable.

Even though some readers posted, in their reviews, I should have watched more WWII movies so my submarine facts would have been more accurate, several submariners have told me I had the details so accurate it was like being back on the boat.

Before I wrote my first word for this book, I spent a year and a half researching all I could about submarines. I read Commander's logs, sailor's journals and every manual, schematic, and website I could find about Gato Class submarines and their operations. This led to a lot of information about modern day subs which also came in handy as this is a time travel story.

"I did find some very unusual events surrounding the disappearance of two subs"

My research started with the Navy's record archives catalog. I found, since the Navy launched it's first commissioned submarine, (the USS Holland, October 12, 1900), it has kept a record of the location of each boat. The are listed as, "In Port", "On Patrol", "Sunk in Battle", or "De-commissioned". If a sub goes out on patrol, never returns and its fate is unknown, the Navy will officially list the submarine as, "On Eternal Patrol." It was these subs I wanted to find.

I spent days going through each page of the Navy log writing down the names of all the subs from WWII still listed as On Eternal Patrol. Once I had my list, I delved into the logs, sightings and war reports from the U.S, Japanese, and German navies to try and find out what happened to the subs. As I expected, if the Navy couldn't find out what happened, I wasn't going to have much luck going through only the de-classified reports. But I did find some very unusual events surrounding the disappearance of two subs, the USS Corvina and the USS Dorado.

While on patrol in the Gulf of Mexico, the Commander of the Dorado radioed he had spotted a German U-boat. This was the last communication from the Dorado as she was never seen again. According to German records, they did not have a submarine in that area at that time. I'm going to give Commander Schneider the benefit of a doubt he knew what a U-boat looked like and one must have been in the area. If the Germans didn't have any record of this sub in the area, it sounds like German black-ops.

"the Germans claimed they did not have a boat there at that time"

There are several conflicting stories of what happened to the Dorado. She sank under friendly fire, sank under attack off of Panama but none of these stories actually confirm what happened to her.

In my novel, I used the circumstances we know about the submarine. The last contact was that Schneider saw a U-boat in the area and the Germans claimed they did not have a boat there at that time. I knew these details would work well with my time travel story.

The second boat in my novel is the USS Corvina also listed as On Eternal Patrol. Like the Dorado, the Covina had some mysterious facts surrounding her disappearance. After months of searching through both U.S. and Japanese records, (ones that had been translated to English), I again found many conflicting stories. But, they all boil down to no one knows what happened to the sub.

The Corvina reported they were under attack by a Japanese destroyer which had an attack sub escort. The Japanese destroyer reported they had dropped depth charges on the American sub and followed her oil slick for miles. One problem here, after they dropped their depth charges, they never saw or heard from their Japanese attack escort sub. The Japanese Captain insisted he only sank one sub and it was the American boat. There was no way he would go back to Japan and tell the Emperor he sank one of his own subs.

So which sub did they sink? Debris from the Japanese sub was found by passing Allied ships hours after the attack and modern day deep water surveys have found the hull of the Japanese sub in that area but to this day no evidence has been found as to the fate of the Corvina. 

"this crew spent the next several days wondering if they had all died in an earlier attack"

So I had my two submarines for my story. But with all that research, I found so many incredible stories of what happened to our subs when they were out there on patrol. Commanders wrote about their boats being flipped upside down and dragged across the ocean floor by undersea storms. While on the surface conducting open sea repairs and unable to submerge, one submarine had a Japanese destroyer pass by only fifty yards away and never saw them. And, what I found was common on many boats, this crew spent the next several days wondering if they had all died in an earlier attack and this is why the Japanese ship didn't see them. Many subs went deeper than they were built to go causing the crew to wonder if they were still alive. Crewmen continuously made makeshift repairs with whatever they could find on the boat.

Every sub had to deal with "rogue fish." These were torpedoes that would loose their steering and come back at the sub which launched them. To make it worse, they didn't come back in a straight line. They darted all over like a tuna chasing a mackerel giving the sub no place to hide.

In the novel, Eternal Patrol, I brought all of these events into one story that linked both the Corvina and Dorado into a battle where the fate of the war, their future and our past is held on the outcome of their journey.

Here's more about my and my other books.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Interview with Tricia Ballad - Hydra Games and Beyond!

What genre’s do you write in?
I write a mix of high fantasy and romance.
When you have time to read (?) what do you enjoy? Who’s your favorite author?
I don't have nearly enough time to read! I tend to read mostly on the weekends, when we relax the limitations on video games, so the kids are good and occupied and are unlikely to interrupt me just as I get to the good part. We make a weekly library trip every Sunday, and it's always great to get home and spread out all the books we've brought home. The whole family usually spends an hour or two reading then also. Good times!

What is the coolest thing a reviewer ever said about your work?
I think the best comment I ever got from a reviewer was "Tricia Ballad’s last name is perfect for her. This short story flows like a love song. The cadence is lovely and tempo builds, leading the reader toward the sweet last notes of the melody"

Tell us a little bit about what you are working on now or next?
Right now I'm up to my ears in edits on a game module for Hydra Games. Once that's finished, I'll be working on a novel set in the gaming world.

When will it be available?
We're planning a massive release of gaming books, modules, and world novels in 2013.

When do you write? How many hours a day/week?
I write from 5-7am Monday - Friday, and I usually get 3-4 hours on the weekends. Not nearly enough time to write all the stories I'd love to tell!

How do you prepare for a project? Do you work off an outline of your book or write by gut-feel?
I'm a planner. I outline my books within an inch of their lives....and then proceed to blithely ignore my outlines. But the process helps me clarify my goals for the story, the characters and major events.

How can readers connect with you? (Blog, Facebook, email, whatever)
I blog about writing and fiction at I also hang out with readers on Facebook at My email address is

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Interview with James William Peercy

What is your most recent published work?
'Without A Conscious...', a mystery-thriller.

What is it about?
It is about a college student who wakes up one morning to find an envelope
slipped under the door of his apartment. As he opens the package, he sees
pictures of his grandmother murdered. A call immediately comes in with a
strange voice asking ‘Where is it?’ and then hangs up. The next thing he
knows the FBI are knocking at his door. Not only does he have to figure
out who murdered his grandmother, but why, connecting it in with genocide
and revenge against the United States of America.

There are four more planned for this series. The titles of the five books
will form a sentence which will only be complete when the last book comes
out. Of course, that won’t stop the series from continuing beyond five

What can you tell readers about the main character?
The main character is the reason for the title. It is how he finds his
clues in the story. Cliff Fulton was taught many techniques of problem
solving when he was a child by his grandmother. He and his family also
have a knack for unconsciously putting together facts. This is what
started the idea, 'Without A Conscious...', implying 'Without a
conscious thought...'. Yet the title is even more than that. It is the
first part of a sentence and each of the next four books in the series
will complete the sentence.

What was your favorite part of the book for you to write? What are you
most proud of?

The story is a grabber. Once you start reading, the action doesn’t stop
until the very end. There is a part where Cliff saves another person from
dying at the hand of a murderer. At the end of the chapter the person is
asking why this happened in the first place, and Cliff answers in
startling clarity summing up the whole thing in only a few words. When I
wrote that, it was the perfect completion to the chapter. This is just
one many. I also like the attraction between Cliff and Penny. It adds an
extra element making the story even more real as Cliff struggles to deal
with both heart revelations, and betrayal from those closest to him.

What other authors inspired you to undertake this project?
It began in middle school. I picked up a book in the library called ‘To
Save A Planet’ by Robert A. Heinlein. After reading that book, I knew I
had to write. I began to write everything down: dreams, stories, and
novellas. Once I hit High School, I was writing full books. The key
author, and biochemist, who inspired 'Without A Conscious...' was Johanna
Budwig who in 1950 found a way to let the body fight off cancer without
chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation.

What genre’s do you write in?
In middle school I fell in love with scifi. In high school I encountered
Dungeons & Dragons and began to mix in fantasy. It wasn’t until 2010 that
I wrote my first mystery due to some research to help my father; he was
diagnosed with colon cancer. (The main character in the mystery book,
‘Without A Conscious…’ is also named after him.) It would be safe to say
I have not limited myself as to a genre, and who knows what is next.
Poetry is also something I do every day posting on my storiestotell fb
page and my personal page.

When you have time to read (?) what do you enjoy? Who’s your favorite

I have no favorite and find reading cross genre very helpful in the
writing process.

What is the coolest thing a reviewer ever said about your work?
Anytime I hear the words 'Did not want to put it down', I know I've done
something that was worth the write.

Tell us a little bit about what you are working on now or next?
'Without A Conscious...' came out in April, and I am working on the next
four in the series.

On top of this, I currently have nine books already written and in the
editing stage, many of which have been written through the years. One of
those books, a fantasy called ‘The Wall Outside’, is supposed to come out
this fall. It is about a couple who goes on vacation and strange things
begin to happen as one is kidnapped into a magical realm. The other must
face enormous odds to get them back.

I am also currently working on finishing the edits for ‘Ivan’, a scifi
novel about a UCT, Universal Computer Tech, that enters hostile galaxies
as a day job. Troubles wait around every corner. And of course, I am
working on the second book to follow the mystery ‘Without A Conscious…’.
There are currently planned four more books, though the series will not be
limited to that.

When will it be available?
'The Wall Outside' will be out Sept 15th.

When do you write? How many hours a day/week?
I write all the time. It is one of those things I have to do.
Sometimes it is on a book or story. Every day I create a poem.

How do you prepare for a project? Do you work off an outline of your
book or write by gut-feel?

My first stage is research. I read all about anything and everything on a
topic. As I research, my mind creates a basic synopsis, i.e., the
beginning and the end of the story, and then I begin to write, or rather
the story begins to create itself. Characters meet and react like real
people, no matter what the surroundings. We must feel their agony, fears,
and joys until the final end.

Do you have any events or book signings coming up? Where? When?
Sept 28th, 29th, and 30th in Washington State. The time and locations I
will be posting on my website in the next few days at

How can readers connect with you? 
twitter #jameswpeercy
and I am on 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cracking the Plastic - Airco DH-2 and Morane-Saulnier Type N for Wings of Glory

The new release of the Ares Games Wings of Glory miniatures included two I have been waiting for.  First up, the Airco DH-2.  This represents the first pusher aircraft for the Wings of Glory (and its precursor Wings of War) game line.  That alone makes it something to get excited about.  While I’m more of a Farman fan, the DH-2 is pretty distinct and a neat addition to your early-war air battles.  
There are three minis for the DH-2.  Hawker (shown in the photo), Saundby, and Andrews.  The metal miniatures are pretty good – though the struts are a little thicker than I would have expected.  Then again, anything less and the miniature (while more accurate) would have been too fragile.  The paint job is good, but I noticed that one of the red wheels bled into the black tires.  Honestly it’s no big deal.  Most die-hard fans of the series like to repaint these anyway.  I touched mine up with a Sharpie. 
The DH-2 uses maneuver deck P.  I was hoping it would have some different performance but it appears that the folks in Areas Games released essentially two maneuver decks with this release – T and P.  The Morane-Saulnier Type N gets to use deck T. 
Now the other mini I’m reviewing is the French fighter-scout Morane-Saulnier Type N – a French monoplane to put up against the new Fokker E.III’s in this release.  Having just finished writing a book on Bert Hall – I knew he flew in the Morane-Saulnier’s at one point – though I don’t have the paint scheme for his aircraft.  Needless to say mine is going to get repainted in the next few weeks to be Bert’s plane. 
With this set you get Navarre’s Type N, Gilbert (shown in the image) or Chaput.  The mini’s are crisp with a lot of unweathered detail. 
Note:  The League of World War One Aviation Historians journal, Over the Front, ran a great article not long ago on the Morane-Saulnier’s.  It is well worth checking out (and joining if you haven’t already).   
Recommendation?  Look, if you play Wings of Glory/War you’re going to pick them up anyway so go on and get it over with.  If you wait, you run the risk that the minis will go out of production (as used to happen on the Wings of War line) meaning you get scalped on eBay.  I give the DH-2 four-and-a-half out of five stars.  The Morane-Saulnier gets five out of five.