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I know. I haven't posted in a long time. But it's my birthday today and I figured I should at least pretend to get back into the game of it. And it is a game. Make no mistake. I'm supposed to posting keyword-friendly and SEO search-intensive phrases so that the Algorithm, blessed be its name, will pick up my humble posts and circulate them widely beyond my normal and allotted platform.

So of course I can screw even that up, too.

I'll do the big surprise news first (which is not a surprise if you've been following me on Twitter for any length of time). Today sees the release of my novel BLACK TRACE, technically my first though I call it my third and honestly it's my eighth or tenth, but who counts these things? It's a near-future science fiction novel about a driver/fixer named Jake Culver in a post-letdown, post-breakup United States, really California. He once worked for the Federal Police, escaped that and hid out in Orange County then the deserts of California. Only hiding only lasts so long before someone figures it out. So he has to haul himself back to his old life and piece together what he left behind.

The novel was originally written in 1991, when the future we live in now was perhaps visible in broad contour but how things would end up fitting together wasn't quite so clear. I made a lot of pretty good guesses (the Iraq War was going to leave us in a generational quagmire which would come back home, empires are ferociously expensive to maintain, water will be a weapon, we'll do everything on the internet, muscle cars represent unbounded optimism, sometimes the rain isn't wet at all). I didn't see a number of things coming. I even submitted it to publishers at the time and got nowhere with it--they wanted to break new writers in on fantasy and I was definitely leaning hard on noir and cyberpunk SF. It went nowhere.

About ten years ago, I went through a round of edits and revisions on the book. I got it copy edited and there were no structural edits to be seen anywhere. Okay fine. Did a round of submissions, but the marketplace was even more scattered and atomized then. Much less now. And yes, I even added some material. Like chapters 2, 3, 4 I think. So there's some cheating involved in my prediction cloud. Of course back then I thought that prediction was something of value and I've learned better since then. Science fiction is about the present as much as the future, at least science fiction worth reading. Or maybe science fantasy (and even then, it's about the present, only more sneakily so).

But, thirty years after completing this book, I'm ready to be done with it. I'd rather be a king of nothing than bow and scrape. Maybe I've grown up enough to learn how to let go of things. Maybe.

For the record, I think there's still a lot of good work in here. I try not to think about the missteps too much. If I was starting from nothing with the storyline today, I'd make a bunch of different choices. That's called learning. You want to count coup and sharpen your knives? Go ahead. I'll just recount that this book was written before a lot of folks I know were born and before most of them were in high school. Is releasing it now hubris or humility? Exercise left to the reader.

So if you're in the mood for some glossy and noir-infused near-future action, muscle cars and gatling guns, broken fatherhood and fantastic architecture, advertising holograms and vat-grown shrimp built on a foundation of broken hearts and money running out? Well then I've got a tale for you.

It's on sale for $2.99, which is a ridiculous price to offer an entire novel for, honestly. It will go back to $5.99 in a week or so. Because offering a novel for less than that is silly. No, I don't believe in .99 novels. Amazon makes the lion's share of the cash and I'm not into chasing readers based on price. You get what you pay for. These amounts are still wildly competitive in relation to say comics. Hubris or humility? It's a recurring theme.

I'll probably repost the preview chapters I ran awhile back. But not today. Go buy it, tell your friends, tell your enemies, tell anyone who'll listen as you spill out over the sides of your glass.

As for the rest of the work, in the publishing lacuna of MY DROWNING CHORUS (still on track for a March release), I've been writing a number of short stories and even flash fiction. The first of these was about young love, Module Q1 and the nature of fire. It hasn't found a home yet. If you've got one for it, gimme a shout. There's a couple that have been about serial murderers finding out what waits for them at the end of things. I'm hoping I don't return to that territory any time soon. Have a few more to write in response to anthology prompts and if they don't find homes there, I'm not sure what's to be done with them. It's a fun business, folks. Lots of fun.

As for the final bit of news, it's my birthday today. I'm trying to make it a happy one. It is, at any rate, better than the one from last year, where I was still mostly couch-ridden after a bout of sudden illness that was not Covid.

Keep taking care of yourselves.


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