Dunesteef Does “Scare Tactics”

The audio fiction magazine Dunesteef has published an audio production of my horror story “Scare Tactics.” They really nailed the voices, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. It’s free to listen, so click the link and check it out.

Episode 194: Scare Tactics by Aeryn Rudel

Lindsey is a paranormal investigator, but she has an advantage on most, because she has the demon Adramelech captured in a Raggedy Ann doll, and it does her bidding, which makes casting out the demon really simple. Today, however, things are different. The house they’ve come to investigate has an actual presence that’s already there, and it has bad intentions.

Acts of War: Aftershock – Interview

We are rapidly closing in on the release date for Acts of War: Aftershock, and this week, Mike Ryan, publications director for Privateer Press, interviewed me about writing the book. So, here’s Mike’s interview questions and my answers.


MR: How do you feel the relationship between Stryker and Magnus changes in Aftershock compared to where they were in Flashpoint?

AR: The book begins with the two of them reluctantly accepting they must be in each other’s lives (and way). Magnus has accepted his demotion to major and Stryker has done what he can to get Magnus out of his hair while still trying to get some use out of him. Stryker doesn’t trust Magnus at all, and Magnus believes Stryker is an idealist, which, in his opinion, makes for a poor leader. Not exactly a great place to build trust and cooperation, you know?

As events in the book unfold, an understanding develops between the two.  They must face facts: sometimes the other guy’s approach is the correct one. This is a bitter pill to swallow, but it does create a foundation where they can work together for the good of Cygnar.

MR: The introduction of Ashlynn d’Elyse to the novel adds a new element to the series, yet she is not exactly eager to work with our heroes. How did you approach getting into her character?

AR: Ashlynn blames Cygnar, at least in part, for the fall of Llael during Khador’s initial invasion. Though Cygnar had good reason to withdraw its forces—their own territories had become vulnerable—they left what remained of the Llaelese military in a bad way, all but assuring a Khadoran victory.

Now, Cygnar has marched back into Llael to “liberate” the country and place the long lost heir of King Rynnard di la Martyn on the throne, an, heir, mind you, that is currently betrothed to the new king of Cygnar. To Ashlynn, this simply looks like a power play, like a young king trying to expand his territory through a combination of political marriage and military strength. When the book begins, it’s difficult for her to see Stryker’s force as little more than another invading army, and, hey, who could blame her?

That’s where I started with Ashlynn. She’s angry, bitter even, that her country has become an arm-wrestling match between Khador and Cygnar. She’s been fighting tooth and nail to keep the Resistance going and kindle what hope remains to the Llaelese people. She’s seen friends and family die, had to make alliances that could prove disastrous in the future, and she’s running out of men and resources. Of all the characters in the book, she has the most to lose and few reasons to trust those claiming to be her allies. That anger drives her in a lot of ways, pushes her to keep fighting even when it seems hopeless, and our heroes have a lot to prove if they want to win her as an ally.

MR: Readers who are fans of Khador are going to be pleased to see their faction well represented in Aftershock. What are the challenges of shifting to the Khadoran point of view in a book that is focused on Cygnarans as the heroes? 

AR: The main challenge is to present them as antagonists but not necessarily villains. Khadoran leaders like Supreme Kommandant Gurvaldt Irusk and Assault Kommander Oleg Strakhov are not evil men; they’re not the monstrous inhuman horrors that run the show for Cryx or Legion. It was important to make sure they came across as soldiers first, men whose loyalty to their country is just as fierce as our Cygnaran heroes. Of course, from the Cygnaran point of view, the Khadorans take actions that are villainous or even cruel, but when we jump into the Khadoran POV, you see a different perspective, one that makes these action justified and even necessary from a Khadoran viewpoint.

MR: You clearly enjoy writing battle scenes–they are among the very best scenes in the book. How do you choreograph a big battle compared to an individual one-on-one fight?

AR: I do like writing battle scenes, especially in the Iron Kingdoms. I mean, you got multi-ton warjacks duking it out, warcaster flinging spells and steel, not to mention armies clashing in battles of truly epic scope. In other words, there’s a lot to work with.

The one-on-one duels are like chess matches, where each fighter matches wits and skill against the other, looking for the tiniest opening to exploit, or, in the case of Ashlynn d’Elyse, just straight-up owning anyone dumb enough to cross swords with her. These battles are almost always from a single POV, and the characters’ personalities, backgrounds, and, of course training dictate a how they fight. Here, I tend to get more detailed with specific techniques, weapons and armor, and how these things affect the outcome of the duel.

In a big battle, there is always an element of chaos. It might be controlled chaos, and the generals and leaders of clashing armies are certainly looking for tactical advantages to exploit, but with so many men and machines on the field, no one can see or know everything that is happening. When I write big battle scenes, I like to jump from POV to POV, both to get a varied sense of how the battle is going, and to use those quick cuts to highlight that element of chaos and the vast scope of the conflict.

MR: What was the writing process like for you in working on Aftershock? Did you find yourself re-reading Flashpoint to get back into the groove?

The first draft for this one went quicker than the first draft for Flashpoint, and I think a lot of that had to do with how much I needed to establish in the first book. Here, I hit the ground running and got right into the action, right into the meat of the overarching plot for the trilogy.

I reread Flashpoint in its entirety before I started writing Aftershock, just to get into the right headspace, and I always had a copy open while I was working on the new book. I referred to Flashpoint constantly, both as a refresher on the events that led up to Aftershock and to make sure the continuity between both books was correct.

MR: Do you have a favorite scene, a favorite moment, in Aftershock that you are particularly pleased with?

As much as I enjoyed writing the battle scenes, it’s the quieter, character-driven moments that stand out for me. There’s a number of them that come to mind, but I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, so, first, I’ll point to one that’s already spoiled. The return of Sebastian Harrow, where he slithers into the ranks of the Resistance as a spy for Irusk, is one of my favorite moments, and you can read it right here on this blog. There’s no action in this scene, but the gravity of what’s happening, and, of course, the foreshadowing is huge.

Another scene I like quite a bit is the initial meeting between Asheth Magnus, as a representative of the Cygnaran army, and Ashlynn d’Elyse. These two have actually never met in the fiction before and know each other only by reputation, so it was a lot of fun to write that historic scene. This is largely a conversation, but with two legendary warcasters and a fairly tense situation, it’s more than a little dangerous, especially for Magnus, who finds himself at a rare disadvantage.


If you have any additional questions about the book, fire away in the comments section below. I’ll answer as best I can.

If you’ve missed any of the Aftershock articles and updates for the previous weeks, you can find them right here:

Week 1 Update Week 8 Update Week 15 Update Week 22 Update 
Week 2 Update Week 9 Update Week 16 Update Week 23 Update 
Week 3 Update Week 10 Update Week 17 Update Week 24 Update  
Week 4 Update Week 11 Update Week 18 Update Week 25 Update  
Week 5 Update Week 12 Update Week 19 Update Week 26 Update  
Week 6 Update Week 13 Update Week 20 Update
Week 7 Update Week 14 Update Week 21 Update

Acts of War: Aftershock is available for preorder in print and digital from Amazon, and you can buy and read the first book in the series, Acts of War: Flashpoint, right now.

          

Buy Print – $14.99                                Preorder Print – $15.99

Buy eBook – $7.99                               Preorder eBook – $7.99

Acts of War: Aftershock – Excerpt #2

We’re moving ever closer to the July 12th release of Acts of War: Aftershock, and this week I have another excerpt to share with you (if you missed the first one, you can find it here). This time we’re focusing on a character introduced in Acts of War: Flashpoint, a villainous mercenary named Sebastian Harrow. Formerly one of Magnus’ go-to cutthroats, Harrow betrayed Magnus and nearly crippled the Cygnaran effort to liberate the city of Riversmet. Well, like the proverbial bad penny, Harrow has turned up again, and this time he’s got a very powerful backer.


Free Llael, Rhydden

SEBASTIAN HARROW LEANED BACK IN HIS CHAIR and sipped the watery ale in his mug. He’d chosen a table at the very back of the Crooked Billet’s taproom so he could clearly see the door. There was another exit in the kitchens, but the woman he’d come to meet wouldn’t come from that direction.

The Crooked Billet was the kind of pub that didn’t mind if a man wore his weapons openly, and Harrow’s left hand rested lightly on the grip of the heavy repeater holstered at his hip. He could draw the gun and fire two shots accurately enough to hit anyone in the room faster than most people could draw a breath.

He had reason to be cautious. Although Rhydden was the greatest bastion of the Llaelese Resistance, it had also recently become home to a large contingent of Cygnaran soldiers, an army he had been a part of until a better opportunity had presented itself. He grimaced at the circumstances that had brought him here, that had forced to him take risks with less upside than he would like. He had served Asheth Magnus during the warcaster’s time in exile, had helped the man put his puppet king on the throne, and for this, there’d been promises of wealth and power. Those promises had evaporated the moment Magnus accepted a position in the Cygnaran Army. Harrow hadn’t signed up to be an honest soldier, to bow and scrape and take orders from the likes of Lord General Coleman Stryker, so when a captured kayazy merchant had offered him the chance to explore opportunities from the Khadoran side of the conflict, he’d taken the chance.

Harrow swallowed more ale, shivering at the awful taste of the stuff. The Crooked Billet, like all the pubs in Rhydden—a city overcrowded with Llaelese refugees and far too many soldiers for a man in Harrow’s situation—was short of resources of every kind, including those required to brew something better than the bilge water currently filling his cup.

The taproom was filled with Rynnish and Umbrean citizens, mostly working-class men and women. There were a few men in uniform, both Cygnaran and Llaelese, but their demeanor and their very presence here said they were just grunts, nothing to be worried about and no one who might recognize him from his short time in the Cygnaran military.

The woman he was waiting for, however, was someone to be worried about. By all accounts, Captain Tegyn d’Lowys was formidable; she was responsible for some of the more important espionage work done on behalf of the Llaelese Resistance. He’d gotten her name from his new employer, Supreme Kommandant Gurvaldt Irusk, and his instructions were simple: meet her, convince her he was valuable, and then become part of her organization.

Meeting the Khadoran warcaster and military leader had been a sobering experience. Pytor Aleshko had promised to introduce Harrow to powerful members of the Khadoran military once they reached Merywyn, the largest seat of Khadoran power in Llael. He assumed such men and women would be interested in the information he possessed about the Cygnaran Army and the crate of devil’s gasp he had taken from Riversmet. He hadn’t expected to meet the highest-ranking warcaster in the Khadoran Army, nor had he expected he and his men to be clapped in irons the moment they set foot in the city. It seemed Pytor Aleshko had not forgotten or forgiven the interrogation he had endured at Harrow’s hands, despite Aleshko’s escape from Cygnaran capture.

Harrow had expected to be ruthlessly interrogated and, once he had given all the information he had, to receive the mercy of a bullet. But Irusk had other ideas. He was more interested in what Harrow knew about the Llaelese Resistance than what he knew about the Cygnaran Army, and the Khadoran had made Harrow an offer. He was in need of informants within the Llaelese Resistance, and if Harrow would serve as one, the rewards would be significant. Harrow had agreed, mostly because Irusk had made other, more hostile promises, like there was nowhere Harrow could go where he would not be found, brought back to the darkest hole the supreme kommandant could find, and made to endure suffering he could scarcely imagine. While Harrow had spent much of his life around dangerous men—Asheth Magnus topped the list—there was a calm sincerity in Irusk’s threats that had chilled him deeply. He would take another gamble, serve the kommandant, and try to keep the number of great nations looking to kill him to one.

The door to the Crooked Billet opened, drawing Harrow back from his memories. He’d been given a description of Captain d’Lowys—tall, robust, with short-cropped black hair, and, oddly, a jovial demeanor—and the woman who walked into the crowded taproom fit it perfectly. She wore a slight smile, and the relative squalor of the taproom did not seem to bother her. Her uniform was standard for an officer in the Llaelese Army: breastplate over a padded grey jacket with purple trim, trousers, and high black boots. She was armed with a hand cannon on her left hip and a long, thin-bladed dueling sword on her right.

Captain d’Lowys moved through the crowd easily, offering a polite word to those in her path. She was making a beeline for Harrow’s table—she’d obviously been given his description through one of Irusk’s double agents.

Harrow sat up and removed his hand from his weapon. Captain d’Lowys stopped at his table and stared down at him. Her smile had disappeared.

“Nathaniel di la Torys?” she said, using the name he’d been told to adopt. Her voice was high and appealing, though it still carried the authority of an experienced officer.

He nodded and gestured to the chair opposite him. “I am he, Captain d’Lowys.”

The Llaelese officer moved the chair so it faced the front door, as Harrow’s did, and sat down. “Your name was given to me by a man I trust, a man who says you may be able to help the Resistance.”

“I hope I can,” he said, slipping into the prepared lie. “I wasn’t born here, but this is my mother’s country, and after what I’ve seen in Rynyr…”

She nodded. “Rynyr has suffered under the occupation, as we all have. What did you do there?”

“Mercenary,” he said. Often the best lie contained at least some truth. “Baron Palyn di Mir was hiring mercs, guard duty mostly, but he paid well.”

A slight frown crossed her lips. Whether at the mention of the so-called “Powder Baron” of Rynyr, an enthusiastic Khadoran collaborator, or because many soldiers had no love for mercenaries, he couldn’t say.

“Is that what you’re looking for now?” she asked. “A job?”

“No, ma’am… Well, yes, I suppose, but it’s more than that.” He needed to look naïve here, like he was unsure of what he was doing and what he was offering. He’d done merc-turned-soldier for real, so it wasn’t too hard. “Like I said, I just couldn’t stomach what was happening in Rynyr. I saw some terrible things.”

“And you grew a conscience, Mister di la Torys?” she said. “Just like that?”

She was smart and experienced, and she might have sniffed the lie he was spinning. He looked down at his drink, as if he were avoiding her gaze. “Look, I understand your position. I’m not ashamed of the work I’ve done, and I’ve fought for some right bastards in my time, but, this…this is different.”

“Why? It can’t have been the first time you’ve seen people mistreated by tyrants.” Her blue eyes bored into his.

“It’s not,” he said and looked away. “My surname is di la Torys, and my mother used to tell me that at one time it was di la Martyn.”

Captain d’Lowys threw her head back and laughed. “So you’re royalty, are you? The long-lost heir? You’re too late, you know—some snip of a girl in Cygnar beat you to it.”

“No, I’m not claiming to be related to old King Rynnard. It’s just…” He paused and took another drink, something a man might do if he’s having trouble talking about something personal.

“It’s what?” she said, and he detected a slight hint of interest.

“It was a story she would tell me when I was little, that I was something more than the son of a barber in Ceryl. I stopped believing it when I got old enough to know better, but just the

same, she made me feel like Llael was where we belonged. I never felt at home in Cygnar, and when she died, I left it. I thought the job in Rynyr was bringing me home, and maybe it has.”

“How did your mother die?” Captain d’Lowys asked.

This part he had to get perfect. It was the capstone on his tale, the part that lent credence to his change of heart, his desire to see usurpers and tyrants overthrown. “My father was a brutal man, and he pissed away any money we had on drinking or gambling. When he didn’t have coin to spend on his other pursuits, he’d entertain himself by beating his wife and son. One night, he hit her harder than he intended—or, hell, maybe he did intend it.”

Captain d’Lowys was watching him intently now, listening to his story rather than simply looking for the holes in it. Just a bit more, he thought.

“I was sixteen,” he continued, “and while he was kneeling over, sobbing and trying to wake her up, like he was sorry for what he’d done, I went to his room, took his pistol, and shot the son of a bitch in the back of the head.”

There was a short space of silence between them, and then she said, “Your surname. It’s your mother’s?”

He nodded. She was putting it together, filling in the pieces for him. Almost there.

“What was your father’s?”

“Mrovka,” he said quietly.

She breathed in deeply through her nose and sat back in her chair. “A sad tale, Mister di la Torys. And an interesting one. A half-Khadoran, half-Llaelese mercenary seeking to avenge his mother and forget his father. Is that about right?”

“Something like that,” he said.

“But to hear a sad tale is not why I agreed to meet you. You said you have information that could help us. Perhaps you should get to that now.”

He fought down a smile. She believed enough of his first lie that she might believe his second. He did have information, though it had come directly from Irusk. “I spent most of my time guarding the citadel. That’s where they do whatever they do to keep the volcano from blowing sky-high.”

Captain d’Lowys’ eyebrows’ arched slightly. She hadn’t expected this. “Go on.”

“Well, that citadel had another purpose,” he said. “It’s also a prison.”

The Resistance captain held up her hand and glanced around the taproom, her eyes scanning the business slowly and methodically. When she was satisfied, she leaned in closer. “Continue.”

“The Khadorans are holding someone there, someone important,” he said.

“Who?”

He held up his own hand. “Now, I could tell you, Captain, but you need to offer me something first.”

She shook her head in disgust. “The mercenary again.”

He slammed his hand down on the table, sloshing ale from his mug. “No.” His voice was low. “Did you hear nothing I said?”

The anger was feigned, but it had the desired effect.

“My apologies,” she backpedaled. “What is it you want?”

“I want to fight Khador for the Resistance. I want to make a bloody difference if I can.” He leaned in. “I want you to give me that chance, and I’ll give you the information I have. I’ll tell you who it is they’re keeping in Rynyr.”

The name Irusk had given him meant nothing to him. It was a Llaelese name; that was as much as he understood. But Irusk had said the name would be very important to the Resistance and all but assure Harrow was accepted and placed where Irusk wanted him.

Captain d’Lowys picked up his half-empty mug and took a pull. She grimaced and set it down again. “Let’s go somewhere we can get a proper drink, and then you will tell me what you know.”

“And then?” he asked.

“And then… How do you feel about returning to Rynyr, Mister di la Torys?”



If you have a question or comment about the book or my writing process, ask away in the comments section below. And if you’ve missed the updates for the previous weeks, you can find them right here:

Week 1 Update Week 8 Update Week 15 Update Week 22 Update 
Week 2 Update Week 9 Update Week 16 Update Week 23 Update 
Week 3 Update Week 10 Update Week 17 Update Week 24 Update 
Week 4 Update Week 11 Update Week 18 Update Week 25 Update 
Week 5 Update Week 12 Update Week 19 Update
Week 6 Update Week 13 Update Week 20 Update
Week 7 Update Week 14 Update Week 21 Update

Acts of War: Aftershock is available for preorder in print and digital from Amazon, and you can buy and read the first book in the series, Acts of War: Flashpoint, right now.

          

Buy Print – $14.99                                Preorder Print – $15.99

Buy eBook – $7.99                               Preorder eBook – $7.99

Acts of War: Aftershock – Dramatis Personae Part III

We’re twenty-five weeks into the production of Acts of War: Aftershock, and here’s part three of the who’s who and what’s what in the novel. For this final entry, I’ll be introducing some (not all) of the secondary characters in the book. These are not POV characters, but they do play important roles in the novel. The real difference between these characters and our main protagonists and antagonists is they are (mostly) of my own creation.

So, let’s get to it.

Captain Lissa Archer

Captain Archer is a young but extremely capable Storm Lance captain who serves as Lord General Stryker’s adjutant. She’s often in the thick of things, leading the Storm Lances into battle and fighting alongside her lord general. Like many in the Storm Division, she admires Stryker, but her job is also to make sure her CO doesn’t take unnecessary risks, something for which he is, uh, kind of infamous for. She’s blunt, to-the-point, and isn’t afraid to tell Stryker when he’s being an idiot, as respectfully as possible, of course.

Captain Reece Keller

I love mercenaries, and I especially love Steelheads, so with Ashlynn d’Elyse taking a prominent role in this novel, I jumped at the chance to include some of the rough-and-tumble swords for hire. Captain Reece Keller is the head of a Steelhead chapter in Ord, though he’s of Cygnaran descent. He leads nearly a thousand halberdiers and heavy cavalry in the employ of Marshal d’Elyse, and in many ways serves her as an unofficial military advisor (something her actual military advisors aren’t too keen on). He’s a veteran merc with a personality that might be described as charming or grating, depending on who you talk to.

Swift Sergeant Isaac Dane

One of the senior-most field agents for the CRS (Cygnaran Reconnaissance Service), Swift Sergeant Dane is a ranger who has refused promotion to stay active in the field. There are few in the CRS with his degree of field craft, and he excels at reconnaissance missions or hit-and-run style guerilla combat. He is assigned to Major Asheth Magnus primarily to keep an eye on the veteran warcaster and to report to Lord General Stryker if Magnus strays too far from mission parameters. He is a stoic and professional soldier who takes his duty to king and country very seriously. As you might imagine, Magnus is not exactly thrilled to have Swift Sergeant Dane on his staff.

Lieutenant Shamus Brigland

A former pirate who served on the infamous Calamitas under the even more infamous warcaster and privateer Captain Bartolo Montador, Lieutenant Brigand took up with Asheth Magnus when the exiled warcaster worked as a mercenary. When Magnus was pardoned and rejoined the Cygnaran military, Brigland followed and received the rank of lieutenant in the Trencher Corps. He is devoted to Magnus but has eagerly taken to his new life as a soldier, seeing it as a fresh start and a way to remake himself as a legitimate warrior after a less-than-legitimate history. As one might expect of a former pirate, Brigland is crass, uncultured, and he’s not exactly a “rule follower,” all traits Magnus finds useful.

Specialist William Harcourt

A field mechanik in the Cygnaran Army, Specialist William Harcourt has only recently joined the Storm Division and has very little combat experience. He is a gifted mechanik, however, and displays an affinity with warjacks that borders on the supernatural. He comes to Lord General Stryker’s attention by demonstrating that affinity with Ol’ Rowdy, Stryker’s infamously cantankerous Ironclad. Harcourt becomes Rowdy’s dedicated mechanik and is thrust into battle alongside the warjack so that he can perform repairs in the field. Harcourt is unsure of himself, but Stryker sees his worth and attempts to bolster the young man’s courage and confidence by testing his mettle in the crucible of battle. If you’ve been following these updates, you know Specialist Harcourt is, uh, even more special than his rank suggests. 😉

Crash & Soldier

Crash and Soldier are a pair of ancient warjacks that have fought alongside Marshal Ashlynn d’Elyse for many years. The two Mules have logged nearly a century of combat time, and as old warjacks are prone to do, have picked up a number of personality quirks. Crash is so named for its habit of charging into combat, eschewing its battle mace in favor of using its own multi-ton body as a battering ram. Soldier has adopted many of the traits of the professional fighting men and women it has served alongside for decades. It generally requests permission from Ashlynn before engaging in any military task, often performing a crisp salute with its mace before charging off to destroy the enemy. Like Stryker and many other warcasters, Ashlynn has developed a close bond with Crash and Soldier and treats them more like the human men and women under her command than expendable machines.

Corporal Horgrum Stonebrow & Sergeant Victor Sharp

One of the first Trencher Express Teams, the duo of trollkin sniper Horgrum Oakheart and his spotter and CO Sergeant Victor Sharp provided ample proof that the new units could be incredibly effective in the field. Horgrum and Sharp were assigned to the Storm Division shortly before Cygnar’s invasion of Llael to bolster Stryker’s reconnaissance efforts. In the past, the pair have worked at counter-sniper operations, though they are excellent scouts as well. Horgrum has been a part of the Cygnaran military for nearly two years and is still unused to the culture and customs of his human brothers in arms. Much to Sergeant Sharp’s chagrin, Horgrum often speaks when he shouldn’t and rarely acknowledges proper military protocol. Despite all this, the trollkin’s fearsome skill with his weapon more than makes up for his lack of decorum.


If you have a question or comment about the book or my writing process, ask away in the comments section below. And if you’ve missed the updates for the previous weeks, you can find them right here:

Week 1 Update Week 9 Update Week 17 Update
Week 2 Update Week 10 Update Week 18 Update
Week 3 Update Week 11 Update Week 19 Update
Week 4 Update Week 12 Update Week 20 Update
Week 5 Update Week 13 Update Week 21 Update
Week 6 Update Week 14 Update Week 22 Update 
Week 7 Update Week 15 Update Week 23 Update 
Week 8 Update Week 16 Update Week 24 Update 

Acts of War: Aftershock is available for preorder in print and digital from Amazon, and you can buy and read the first book in the series, Acts of War: Flashpoint, right now.

          

Buy Print – $14.99                                Preorder Print – $15.99

Buy eBook – $7.99                               Preorder eBook – $7.99

Submission Statement: March – May 2017

Well, as you can tell by the title of this one, we’re playing a little catch-up. I haven’t been nearly as active with my short story submissions in the past three months, largely because my focus has been on Acts of War: Aftershock, my impending novel from Privateer Press. I haven’t been completely inactive, but these three months are well below my usual submission rate. Anyway, here’s what we’re dealing with.

March, April & May 2017 Report Card

  • Submissions Sent: 8
  • Rejections: 6
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Other: 1

Yep, my submission slump continues and is not helped by the fact that I haven’t sent out many stories over the past three months.

Rejections

Six rejections for the period, only one of which can be categorized as a “good” rejection.

Rejection 1: Submitted 2/25/17; Rejected 3/19/2017

Thank you for submitting “XXX” to XXX. We appreciate the chance to read it. Unfortunately, we don’t feel it is a good fit for us and we’re going to have to pass on it at this time.

Garden-variety form rejection from one of the pro markets in my standard submission rotation. Not much to see here.

Rejection 2: Submitted 3/13/17; Rejected 3/28/2017

Thank you for submitting “XXX” to XXX, but we’ve decided not to accept it for publication.

We appreciate your interest in our magazine.

Another standard form rejection from a pro market. This is the first time I’ve submitted to this magazine, largely because they primarily publish fantasy and sci-fi, and I primarily write horror. I recently finished an urban fantasy story that fit the bill, though, so I took the plunge on a new market.

Rejection 3: Submitted 3/29/17; Rejected 4/9/2017

Thank you for submitting “XXX” to XXX, but we’re going to take a pass on this one.

Yet another standard form rejection, this time from a pro audio market. This is the same story from rejection two, by the way.

Rejection 4: Submitted 3/19/17; Rejected 4/16/2017

Thank you for your interest in XXX. Although we enjoyed reading your story it is not the right fit for our magazine. We hope that you can place it elsewhere. Please feel free to submit to us again when we reopen our submissions.

This is a form rejection from a fledgling market, so I don’t have enough experience with them to tell if this is standard or higher-tier. It has some of the trappings of a higher-tier rejection–enjoyed reading, feel free to submit–but you never know if those statements are sincere or simple niceties until you have more rejections to compare. At this point, I’m going with standard form rejection.

Rejection 5: Submitted 3/20/17; Rejected 4/26/2017

Thank you for submitting “XXX” to XXX. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite meet the needs of our podcast.

This is a form rejection from another pro audio market. The story is a reprint submission of one of my more well received horror stories, and I was champing at the bit waiting for the rights to return to me so I could submit it to this particular market. I really thought it would be right up their alley, but, as you can see, that wasn’t the case. Please don’t take this is a complaint or a criticism of this market’s selection process or their editors’ tastes; it isn’t that. There’s nothing even approaching a guarantee in publishing, and sometimes your instincts on where to submit a story can be a little off or just flat wrong.

Rejection 6: Submitted 5/19/16; Rejected 5/22/2017

We have read your submission and unfortunately your story isn’t quite what we’re looking for right now. While we regretfully cannot provide detailed feedback due to the volume of submissions, we thank you for your interest in our magazine and hope you continue to consider us in the future.

Finally, a tiny ray of sunlight into the black void of submission purgatory. This is a higher-tier rejection from a pro horror market for a brand new story, one that I think has real legs. Getting this higher-tier rejection from one of the toughest markets in the biz is a good sign, and I’ve since fired it off to another pro market. Those of you who have followed my blog for a bit or who submit horror stories on a regular basis will no doubt recognize this rejection and the market from whence it came.

Other

One “other” for this period, a further consideration letter.

Further Consideration 1: Submitted 2/25/17; Rejected 3/19/2017

Thank you again for your submission. We really like this story and would like to add it to our short list, if that is okay with you. We will have the final decisions by July 1 at the latest. Let us know!

This is a new semi-pro magazine that publishes “extreme” horror. I sent them the only story I have that really fits that bill, a story that’s been on the cusp of publication before. This is good news, and unlike rejection five, where my submission instincts were a little off, it looks like I might have paired the right story with the right market/editor here. We’ll see. I certainly have a barrel full of rejections that arrived after a nice letter like this. 🙂


Okay, we’re all caught up. I’ll start doing these monthly again in July. Now, tell me about your recent submission triumphs and woes in the comments.

Acts of War: Aftershock – Dramatis Personae Part II

Week twenty-four and part two of the who’s who in Acts of War: Aftershock. This time we’re talking about the secondary POV characters, which are the antagonists for the novel. We get inside these characters’ heads but to a more limited degree than the primary POV characters. That’s not to say they aren’t important. Quite the opposite. In many ways these characters drive the story, forcing our heroes to make incredibly tough decisions that will echo into the next book and beyond.

Khador fans will certainly recognize these names, and once you read the novel, I think you’ll agree they’ve done the Motherland proud.

Supreme Kommandant Gurvaldt Irusk

Supreme Kommandant Gurvaldt Irusk was born to make war. Irusk’s meteoric rise to power is the product of sheer determination, devotion, and strategic brilliance. His instinctive grasp of tactics allows him to see weaknesses where others do not, his commanding presence inspires his soldiers to greatness, and his innate magical capabilities enable him to exploit every situation to the utmost. His accomplishments have inspired a generation of Khadoran officers and made his name known throughout western Immoren.

Perhaps the greatest military genius in the Khadoran army, and arguably in all of western Immoren, the High Kommand has named Supreme Kommandant Gurvaldt Irusk “the empire’s perfect officer.” He exercises absolute control over men and machines in the chaos of battle, and his accomplishments inspire awe and respect in both allies and enemies.

The invasion of Llael cemented Irusk’s reputation as one of the greatest military leaders in history. He began the campaign against Llael with a series of lighting attacks on the nation’s western cities and fortifications in the heart of winter. Not expecting an attack until spring when the traditional campaign season in the Iron Kingdoms began, these early assaults caught Llael completely by surprise. Irusk flawlessly coordinated his subordinate warcasters together with artillery, heavy infantry, and cavalry to win decisive victories against Llael time and time again. His attacks were performed with such speed and brutality that some parts of Llael surrendered without firing a shot.

Irusk is a perfectionist with an icy demeanor that promotes an air of absolute authority. He is devoted to the Motherland and despises the political machinations of men he considers beneath him, and he tends to negotiate in court with the same brutality he displays on the battlefield.

Irusk’s inability to capture Northguard in his initial assault stands as one of the few blemishes on his military record, and the empress’ scathing indictment of his failure shamed him deeply. After a short leave of absence, he returned determined to redeem himself in the eyes of his sovereign. When Irusk marched on Northguard a second time, he did so with the finest army ever assembled by the Khadoran Empire. The Cygnaran fortress fell after a single day, and Irusk personally raised the Khadoran flag over its ramparts. This was one of the highest points of his career.

Since that time, Irusk has endured a number of setbacks including Khador’s failure to secure the Thornwood in the last major clash with Cygnar. He believes this effort would ultimately have succeeded had he been given sufficient time and resources. Instead, the empress deemed the effort too costly and ordered him to withdraw to consolidate the empire’s other gains. While he understands the value of rebuilding Khador’s treasury, he considers the recent invasion of Llael by Cygnar to be a direct result of letting the enemy recoup its losses rather than forcing them to the breaking point. He intends to take whatever means are necessary to crush Cygnar’s recent invasion attempt.

Irusk enters combat with a saber that once belonged to his father, which he had transformed into the fearsome mechanikal weapon he now calls Endgame, a hand cannon, and a stunning array of arcane abilities. Though he is one of the greatest military minds in the Iron Kingdoms and excels at leading vast armies to victory, Irusk does not shirk from entering the fray personally. He is a formidable swordsman and his precise control of his warjacks and his human troops often make him more than a match for his counterparts in Cygnar and Llael.

Assault Kommander Oleg Strakhov

Assault Kommander Oleg Strakhov has spent decades carving a bloody trail through the kingdoms of western Immoren, eliminating high-profile targets and destabilizing opposing forces with well-orchestrated strikes. Strakhov stands as a Khadoran legend. Those who tell of his deeds speak of him as more specter than man, an unseen force capable of accomplishing impossible tasks under cover of night and leaving no evidence of his passage.

One of the most hated and feared warcasters in the Khadoran army, Oleg Strakhov has earned a well-deserved reputation for tactical genius and utter ruthlessness in battle. He is the consummate special-operations soldier and has served Khador for nearly two decades, though the particulars of his missions were only known to a select few until the invasion of Llael. Here Strakhov rose to prominence by eliminating many of Llael’s most competent commanders, including Archduke Alreg Vladirov and his command. The archduke’s removal early in the war was a crippling blow to the Llaelese.

Strakhov’s wartime accomplishments earned him the notice and respect of Kommandant Irusk, who called upon the kommander’s talents to help him create the new Assault Kommandos. Strakhov trained the kommando officers, forging them in his own image and instilling in them many of the tactics and brutal battlefield doctrines that made him so successful in Llael.

Strakhov has also been active in the hostilities with Khador’s greatest enemy: the nation of Cygnar. He led the Assault Kommandos in many battles against Cygnaran forces occupying the trenches surrounding the fortress of Northguard. There his Assault Kommandos were sorely tested but inflicted terrible casualties on the Trenchers opposing them. Eventually, they were instrumental in overrunning Cygnar’s forward positions in Irusk’s final attack on Northguard.

Many of Strakhov’s greatest successes involved covert missions where his improvisational skills were pushed to the limit. Fluent in multiple languages, Strakhov is an expert in operating behind enemy lines. He has performed feats such as disguising himself as a Cygnaran warcaster to gain access to city defenses during the Khadoran attack on Point Bourne. He subsequently infiltrated a Cryxian base to rescue Kommander Alexander Karchev before that revered warcaster could be turned into a weapon against the Motherland. Yet his skill and luck cannot always protect him from the risks he takes. Strakhov lost his eye in a brutal battle of wits and reflexes with Cygnar’s most esteemed gun mage strike team. Strakhov might as easily lost his life, so considers an eye a fair price. This setback only fueled his animosity toward Cygnar and its defenders.

Recently raised to the position of Assault Kommander, Strakhov continues to strike terror in the hearts of Khador’s enemies. Joined by his elite kommando escort and armed with a pair of mechanikal trench knives and a deadly death whisper carbine, Strakhov eliminates adversaries as readily either in the brutal press of melee or with a well-placed bullet from range and cover. He is skilled at using his warjacks and Assault Kommandos in ambushes or strikes against enemy positions, inflicting devastating casualties before the enemy can respond.

Note, the information in these two entries is drawn primarily from the Khador Command book (and some earlier resources).

If you have a question or comment about the book or my writing process, ask away in the comments section below. And if you’ve missed the updates for the previous weeks, you can find them right here:

Week 1 Update Week 9 Update Week 17 Update
Week 2 Update Week 10 Update Week 18 Update
Week 3 Update Week 11 Update Week 19 Update
Week 4 Update Week 12 Update Week 20 Update
Week 5 Update Week 13 Update Week 21 Update
Week 6 Update Week 14 Update Week 22 Update
Week 7 Update Week 15 Update Week 23 Update
Week 8 Update Week 16 Update

Acts of War: Aftershock is available for preorder in print and digital from Amazon, and you can buy and read the first book in the series, Acts of War: Flashpoint, right now.

          

Buy Print – $14.99                                Preorder Print – $15.99

Buy eBook – $7.99                               Preorder eBook – $7.99

“Confirmed Kill” Excerpt & NQ 72

I recently penned a short story titled “Confirmed Kill” for No Quarter magazine #72. For those of you who don’t know about NQ, it’s the in-house magazine for Privateer Press and covers all things WARMACHINE and HORDES, including the occasional bit of fiction. The story centers around two characters, a Trencher Express Team comprised of trollkin sniper Corporal Horgrum and his partner and spotter Sergeant Sharp. Both characters appear in the Acts if War series. I introduced them in Acts of War: Flashpoint, and they have a slightly larger roll in Acts of War: Aftershock.

Anyway, Lyle Lowery, the editor-in-chief of No Quarter magazine has granted me permission to post a short excerpt from “Confirmed Kill,” so, without further ado, here it is.

Northern Thornwood, 606 AR

“Take them and go!” Horgrum’s father shouted, pointing his axe at the tree line. Vargal Oakheart was an aging trollkin, but still mighty, and his voice boomed over the din of gunshots and battle cries.

Horgrum shook his head. “No, I will fight.” He had his own axe in hand, but its blade was clean and dry, unlike his father’s, which was stained red with the blood of the invaders.

Vargal glanced behind him, where their village burned, where humans in crimson armor slaughtered their people. He turned back to Horgrum and put a heavy hand on his son’s shoulder. “We are lost, Horgrum,” he said, his voice thick with sorrow. “Take your brother and sister and flee.” Solissa was thirteen and Kolor was only ten, too small and too young to fight. They hunkered behind their older brother, wincing at each booming report of an enemy rifle.

“And go where?” Horgrum demanded. He was twenty years old and a seasoned fighter, and the thought of leaving his village and kriel sickened him.

“South, to Cygnar,” Vargal said. “You will be safe there.”

Horgrum opened his mouth to challenge his father, but the sound of hooves cut short his protest. A human in red armor astride a great black horse emerged from the smoke and flame.

“Go!” Vargal shouted and shoved Horgrum backward. He took his axe in both hands and turned to face the enemy.

Horgrum pushed Solissa toward the trees, and she took Kolor’s hand. They ran.

Before he entered the woods, Horgrum turned back to see the human warrior barreling down on his father, lowering his lance. Vargal twisted away from the weapon, lashing out with his axe at the passing horse. The great blade hewed through one of the animal’s legs, and it crashed to the ground, throwing its rider. Horgrum smiled as his father closed on the enemy and split the human’s skull with a short overhand strike, cutting through steel and bone.

Horgrum’s grip tightened around his own axe. These humans, these Khadorans, were not so strong. The kin could defeat them. He took a step toward the clearing.

“No, Horgrum.” Solissa’s hand on his arm stropped him.

Vargal had pulled his weapon free from the corpse and turned back toward the battle. Through the smoke Horgrum could see more trollkin and humans fighting. He could help his people. He could defend them.

He took another step, and a single sharp report rang out. His father stopped midstride, and blood poured down his back from a fist-sized hole that had blossomed between his broad shoulders. He collapsed to his knees, and then pitched over into the dirt.

Horgrum shook off Solissa’s hand and raced toward his father, screaming in rage. He made it five paces before another shot rang out. The bullet struck his axe, smashing it from his grip. He dove to the ground. Bodies lay everywhere, human and trollkin. His hand fell across the butt of a rifle as something huge loomed out of the smoke, a human warrior encased in steam-powered armor that made him nearly as large and powerful as a full-blooded troll.

Horgrum picked up the rifle. It was big by human standards, long-barreled and finely machined. He had never used such a weapon, but he’d seen them fired. He rested the butt against his shoulder and curled his smallest finger around the trigger; the others would not fit inside the guard. The armored man charged, and Horgrum stared down the rifle’s barrel. A sense of calm flowed over him, his rage and fear drained away, and only the enemy and the rifle remained. He drew in a breath and aimed as best he could, peering through the attached scope and adjusting until he felt centered over the enemy’s heart. He pulled the trigger, and the gun bucked against his shoulder and spat smoke.

The armored human stumbled, and Horgrum was unsure if his shot was the cause, or if he’d even hit his target. Then the man faltered again, blood sluiced down his helmet from the visor slit, and he fell over backward. Horgrum had not hit the spot he’d intended, but Dhunia had graced him with a bit of luck.

Horgrum had no time to celebrate. Another shot rang out and dizzying pain lanced through his right shoulder. Another soldier appeared. This one wore no armor, but he carried a rifle like the one Horgrum had taken from the enemy corpse. He was an older man, with greying hair falling from beneath a red cap. His face was hard and angular, and a livid scar ran from his right brow to the middle of his nose. This was the human who had killed his father.

Despite his wound, he wanted only to find a way to kill this man, but Solissa’s voice from the tree line called him back to reality. “Horgrum, more soldiers are coming!”

He broke into a stumbling run toward his sister, expecting the human to shoot him in the back. No shot came, and he made it to the trees, the enemy rifle gripped tightly in his right hand.


If you liked this little excerpt from “Confirmed Kill,” head on over to the Privateer Press online store and pick up No Quarter #72 for the rest of the story. There will be more Horgrum and Sharp in my upcoming novel Acts of War: Aftershock releasing July 12th.