Friday, October 28, 2016

Codename: UnSub, OUT TODAY

Codename: UnSub is out today. Yippie.

For those of you who haven't been on the site this week, Codename UnSub is about.... 200 pages.

Actually, it's about a serial killer running around a dystopian nightmare version of San Francisco. Well, even more so than it already is. This killer is professionally trained, deadly as Hell, and if he isn't stopped in time, might accidentally bring about the end of the world.

But hey. no pressure.

To be honest, I can't tell you too much about the development of this particular psycho. I can't tell you if his profile came first, or the character came first, and I built him up around the profile I generated. 

I just ended up with one of the better villainous bastards I've ever created. Wholly evil, no shred of remorse, and no conscience whatsoever. In short, someone who makes the Joker look like a choir boy.

I have, from long ago and far away, my blog casting Codename: Winterborn if it were a film.

While I will make certain to post at least one more scene from Codename: UnSub before next week is out, I already posted on a few years ago. When you're done reading that, you can purchase the book and read the rest of it. I wrote an entire blog post explaining why I had set chapter one before the end of Winterborn, and chapter two set in in between the last two chapters of the novel.

There was the announcement from last week where I mentioned what the novel was about.

I mentioned my interest in serial killers a few days ago.  I find them interesting, though let's face it, I'm not the only one who does. After all, Criminal Minds has been on for over a decade now. But I have my limits. It usually involves sexually based deviancy. I don't do rape, or children. Period. Thank you. My deviancy quota will only take so much.

And, of course, I had Mandy. The next excerpt I have in mind to post will star Mandy. Perhaps even her first appearance in the novel.

There you have it, everything on UnSub to date. With luck, you'll go out and just buy the novel already. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Codename: UnSub, and Mandy

For those people who read Codename: Winterborn have probably noted that for, aside from a brief mention yesterday, I haven't said word one about everyone's favorite part of Winterborn .... Mandy.

Mandy is ... special. She was completely and utterly unplanned. She was supposed to be a cameo in Winterborn, a simple antagonist. While Kevin hunted Senators, she hunted Kevin.

But say it with me now: and then it spiraled.

The sad thing is that Codename: UnSub was written before Mandy took over the universe.

Even the back end of Winterborn was written before Mandy. Originally, she disappeared after Kevin hopped on a plane to the middle of nowhere, Left Coast. Kevin Anderson was going to disappear into the ether, and never come out. And Mandy was just going to have to live with it.

But no, Mandy was just not going to go away. Hell, Mandy wasn't even going to stay a background character in someone else's novel.

Then again, you might remember another Mandy the mercenary from 24, she had been in three days of 24, but she left an impression. However, for those of you who remember the show, it was due to the writing, not the acting of Mia Kirshner. Her delivery was wooden and the actress seems even more shallow than usual.

To be honest, I liked playing with my Mandy. She was as mercenary as they come. She's ruthless, relentless, efficient, And she'd rather not waste words. There was one point where I wrote her speaking in as many contractions as possible. It was a nice, distinctive way of speaking. It was a way to highlight her character and emphasize it by the way she speaks.

However, doing that caused beta readers to have conniption fits.

So, Mandy bullied her way into the very end of Codename: Winterborn.

Readers then suggested she at least make an appearance during Codename: UnSub.

Guess what? Mandy now has an entire subplot to UnSub.

Because Mandy does that.

Mandy's experience with Kevin has actually changed her. Don't worry, she has no problem making a profit, and she's still fairly ruthless. Anyone who gets in her way will just plain die. Unless she needs to talk with them, then they'll hurt, and then they'll die.

However, she's become a little more selective in her clientele. Can't imagine why, huh? She's accepting jobs that bring out both the good deeds and the good investments.

And let's just say that the Islamic Republic of France is still in the picture. And they're really not going to leave the picture until the final book.

Yes, a "final" book. I've got it outlined to book 8. And each book leads into the next. This one may not look like it builds up into anything interesting, but like with Anderson arriving in San Francisco in the first place, the butterfly effect is going to unleash a full force hurricane.

Because I can't do anything small.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Going Solo

Once before, I've discussed the joy of having characters go something completely and totally alone. After all, it's what Jack Bauer and Harry Potter have in common: no one listens to them, so they have to do it themselves. In their respective cases, "no one" is a bureaucracy and know it all grown ups who are so busy "protecting" the poor innocent children while ignoring that they're the ones in the crossfire.


Somehow, I've avoiding using what I've coined as The Cassandra Effect, and replaced it with good, old fashioned paranoia.

Let's face it, in The Pius Trilogy, there's a lot of "We don't know how far the bad guys have reach, or who's on their payroll" (okay, with a touch of Sean AP Ryan saying "Screw it, I'm the ultimate badass, I don't need no stinking authorities"). There's even a bit of that in Honor at Stake (though much of that is tempered with "vampires? No one will believe us." )

In Codename: Winterborn, the majority of why Kevin Anderson rides out into battle all by himself is because .... okay, to start with, he's a little insane at the moment. He's had everyone he's close with blown up, the people at the top of his command structure are responsible, and trusting anyone in between seems like a Really Bad Idea. And he's cynical enough that he's relatively certain that leaking a covert operation, getting operatives killed, would only be worth a slap on the wrist for Senators.

I can't imagine where he would get that idea. Can you? I mean, it's not like Senators can get away with mishandling classified material and getting away with it, or commit out and out felonies and get off with just a slap on the wrist.

.... Yes. Obviously, I'm being sarcastic.

But in Kevin's case, after a while, even the bad guys in Codename Winterborn were explaining ways for Kevin to just stop killing people, and just turn over the remaining victims on his hit list, and perhaps even the media would call for their blood.  While this suggestion was never directly made to Kevin, had it been, it would have been scoffed at. Then again, I've had people dismiss the Senators in Winterborn as cardboard cutouts with no redeeming qualities. It only so happens that I've smashed together the vices of real life politicians, most of whom have actually gotten away with it. Had I only but known about Leland Yee at the time...

And what about now? What could Kevin possibly do for help in San Francisco? Who would even consider coming to his aid. This entire city looks like Thomas Hobbes on acid with a cocaine chaser. Man is a wolf to man, it's always a full moon, and there are no silver bullets. Kevin has some acquaintances: he's befriended an assassin .... the assassin has some contacts. The priests might be useful ... if they weren't under siege just by virtue of living in this town that most people forgot.

Sometimes, it helps to have the grand finale be one-on-one when everyone else in town wants nothing to do with it. "Aww, there's a serial killer in town. Is there any chance he's going to kill me? No? Then screw it, have fun, leave me alone."

Okay, so I rely heavily on paranoia and solipsistic douche bags.

Granted, this time, Kevin isn't totally alone. After all, the assassin, Kyle Elsen, will gladly step in if someone is trying to kill Anderson right in front of him.

Kevin runs into a woman in San Francisco named Nevaeh Kraft, a Eurasian woman with midnight blue eyes, and she runs a shop called Artful Krafts. You could even say she's ... magic.

And if you don't know that there's an in-joke there.... well, I suggest reading Honor at Stake. Heh.

As for Mandy, she's a subject for another time. Tomorrow, to be precise.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Timing of Codename: UnSub

As I mentioned the other day, Codename: UnSub ate the original book one of The Last Survivors.

Part of that devouring included the missionary priests who came to San Francisco, trained in hostage negotiation and the conversion of the newly disarmed. While we had considered parts of it -- mostly with how to get these people into San Francisco -- we never really talk about where we put them. How do they relate to the rest of the city? How do they make their mark? How do they deal with the Children of Thanatos?

Also, in Codename: Winterborn I made a mention of "the Burners." They set people on fire. That was it. It's the general shallow thinking of every other thug in San Francisco ... and most thugs in real life. It's taken from the concept of Bum Burning. However, most of these burners do not generally gather and operate in gangs. While they were in a throwaway scene in Codename: Winterborn, they are an entire subplot in UnSub as well as a major plot point.

While Codename: Winterborn ended with the beginning of 2094, literally at 12:01 on January 1, that's because I just wanted to end on a high note. Sure, I could have stretched it out with an additional three chapters, but... no, why? The arc in Winterborn's second half was to show exactly how Kevin's actions are the butterfly effect on acid. I established that when the priests showed up en mass. The priests and their side effects are another story.

So, since the chapters I had down were all about the priests and their introduction to San Francisco society, I would use them to introduce the readers to the society. It's a cheap maneuver, basically the Alice in Wonderland effect (or the X-Men film effect, pick one), but it works.

So Codename: UnSub backs up a bit. The prologue takes place right before Kevin meets the priests at the docks. It shows Kevin having a long conversation at arrow point with some burners, setting them up a little better. Chapter 1 takes place just after the priest pickup that is shown in Winterborn. And then we have a heartwarming Christmas chapter....

And then we have a dead body show up down the block from Kevin Anderson's place that's been beaten to death. Because San Francisco.

Why, yes, I have been to San Francisco, and I've had it swarmed by vampires in one series, and a distopian nightmare in another. Why do you ask?

But all in all, the main action in UnSub takes place a few months after the arrival of the priests. They'll be more of an established force within the city by the time the main action kicks into gear.

And then, the stage is set, and we're ready to nuke the entire city straight to hell. BWAHAHAAHAHAH.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Serial killers and Codename: Unsub

I've always been a fan of serial killers.

Okay, mostly, I've been fascinated about them from an early age because they are at both complex and shallow at the same time. They can be a source of infinite evil, especially the ones who grew up in perfectly normal households, and then became Jeffrey Dahmer, or Ted Bundy-ish. A lot of them are broken, but a large block of them are just evil sons of bitches who need to be put down like the rabid dogs they are.

Because no, to understand all is not necessarily to forgive all. Sometimes it just makes it easier to find and kill the little bastards.

Nowadays, the only way to catch a serial killer is to get lucky. Any similarities between real serial killers and Criminal Minds is ... usually in the footnotes of the early episodes, where they told you what serial killer they were stealing from that week.

There's a lot of police work, there's a lot of forensics, and you have to have teams of cops continually drilling down on the manhunt until someone gets lucky. Or good. Usually both. Because the problems of catching serial killers is usually a matter trying together a connection between victims killed (most likely) by a total stranger. In a world where most people are killed in the middle of the night, in their own bedroom, by their nearest and dearest, murder by stranger is a great way to get away with it. Strangers on a Train works for a reason.

When I was designing Codename: UnSub, it was simple: how do you catch a serial killer, trained to be a professional assassin, in a city where half the population is psychotic, and there are no cops?

And then, to up the ante, I made certain that one of the victims has the power to end the world,

But, hey, no pressure.

One of the reasons I wanted to have this be a murder mystery is that mysteries have always been a snapshot of culture, and cultural assumptions. When Sherlock Holmes assumes that a man is a bachelor by a frayed button on a sleeve, it's a bit of a snapshot of 19th century Victorian London.

For Codename: UnSub, I decided that this nightmare San Francisco needed more personality, and more depth. I was going to spell out some of the sects and factions. Because in order to find one killer in a city of killers, Kevin Anderson is going to have to dig through plenty of insanity.

Obviously, I'm not going to get anywhere near as deranged as real life serial killers. There will be none of the Ted Bundy "strangled while being raped" victims. There will be no Dahmer cannibalism or pederasty. There will definitely be no Ed Gein "ashtrays made from human skin." There will be no "stab a victim in the gut and then have penile penetration of the wound."

We're just not going to go there.

There are sadistic murderers, there are sexual sadists. There are hunters who like the stalking of victims and do little about the kill. There are some who really like to take their time.

Though don't worry, if you want something gruesome, I can manage that. I've got a killer who basically likes to beat people to death. And fight them until they fall down. Then drag them to their feet and simply continue breaking things. And then, when they can't stand anymore, continue to break every last bone in the victim's body.

So, hopefully, serial killer fans will not be disappointed in just how much of a sick son of a bitch we have in this one. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Catholic Geek: Attack of the Space Vampires 10/23 by We Built That Network | Books Podcasts

The Catholic Geek: Attack of the Space Vampires 10/23 by We Built That Network | Books Podcasts:

Tom Tinney will join us to discuss his latest novel, Blood of Invidia, complete with space vampires, and a touching father-son story you won't soon forget.

Tom Tinney is a published author of numerous Science Fiction, Flash Fiction, FantaSci and Biker stories. Yes…a Biker-nerd. His time in the service (USAF), and riding with a rougher crowd, has left enough skeletons in his closet to crush a small car. His political slant, biker attitude/lifestyle and previous experience editing a motorcycle magazine, along with homegrown writing skills, have led him to produce and contribute numerous stories and articles into various media outlets

Please keep in mind that Codename: UnSub, sequel to Codename: Winterborn will be out this Friday. Enjoy.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Movie Night: Motherhunt

Another Nero Wolfe Mystery, also from the A&E original series with Timothy Hutton. You might recognize James Tolkan (Top Gun), Bill Smitrovich (Independence Day), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and even Penelope Ann Miller (The Relic, ugh).

Enjoy everyone.

Coming Soon: Codename: UnSub

Very few people probably know or remember Codename: Winterborn. It was a revenge novel set in a distopian future. It starred a Kevin Anderson, who was as badass as I could make him, mostly for what came later.

The construction of Codename: Winterborn was as backwards as a novel could be. I had come in on the middle of the construction of someone else's world. Allan Yoskowitz, whose name you'll also note on the cover, was busy creating the San Francisco of 2095 when I ran into him. He wanted a war that created a nuclear wasteland around San Francisco, creating a pocket nightmare on the left coast. He had a series of short stories that he dubbed "The Last Survivors."

Enter me.

As Allan fed me this concept, over time, I had multiple questions: if there's a civilization out there, how much was nuked? How much of the world, and how much of the United States was left? Was there cross pollination between the two? If there was a lot, how much would cash still be effective? What was general currency?

After a while, I had one last question, a simple concept: governments are still around, therefore satellites are still around. After a while, perhaps a year at most, somebody was going to notice that there was a great big patch on the coast where there's obviously people.  In fact, if there are the standard Evil Big Corporations, someone in government circles will eventually point out that, gee whiz, people are coming to and fro from somewhere that doesn't exist.

In short, governments will obviously be aware of San Francisco, desolate distopian wasteland or not ... but enough about current events.

From there, it was an easy leap to the concept of The Inconvenient. Political prisoners that needed to be disappeared, or dangerous entities that had to be thrown away for the public good. Have a nutcase SAS operative who insists that Northern Ireland needs to be blown up? The British have a convenient rest home for him in California.

Have an American who used to be a spy and became a pain in the ass? Send him on a fact finding mission and leave him to rot.

I ran the concept past Allan. He wanted to call them "Exiles." I rolled my eyes, but it fit with the rest of the simpleminded thugs wandering San Francisco. It could have been worse: there could still be an Occupy moment. In fact, there might still be. When I suggested a spy being dropped in San Francisco, Allan wanted to call him "Mister Anderson," because someone saw the Matrix.

My reply was to call him Kevin, because I'm a smartass, and I followed Kevin J. Anderson.

I put together one short story called Letters from a Dead Man, which was Kevin Anderson looking into a terraforming company, and discovered a plot that would threaten everything that Kevin had left.

I was then offered the job of co-author.

Since I was now going to play in someone else's universe, then things got serious. I brought one of my souvenir maps of San Francisco, we laid out who would be where, and we went to work. We made maps. We made histories. We did background. We slapped together flashbacks.

And then, I started working on the project I called 2093, and it would be a prequel novel for Kevin Anderson's history. It was one part Vince Flynn's Term Limits, only science fiction, and if you had actual consequences., And by consequences, I mean that we have emotional loss, and no, not everything is resolved for the character.

For everyone who has ever visited the blog before, it then followed in the words of every other writing project I've ever been involved with, so say it with me: "And Then, It Spiraled."

For those who read Codename: Winterborn, you might have noticed that it felt like two books. This is because I was an idiot who really thought that books had to be 100,000 words or more. Also, I didn't like the idea of Winterborn being a To Be Continued, especially not for a book 1. You'll notice I tried to avoid a To Be Continued for both A Pius Man and Honor at Stake.

But as "2093" continued into the realm of San Francisco, Kevin Anderson's story apparently didn't feel finished to readers. And no one at the time suggested splitting the book.

What ended up happening was that the "prequel" ended up eating what had been book 1, and "2093" had become Codename: Winterborn. When I say it ate book one, every event of book 1 ended Codename: Winterborn, from an assassin nearly being killed to Catholic missionaries riding to the rescue.

And now, after four years, and eight books later, I'm pleased to announce the release of the sequel to Codename: Winterborn, Codename: UnSub, coming out  October 28.

Codename: UnSub is a simple premise.
Back in the "real world," Kevin Anderson had worn many hats: SEAL, spy, avenger, and Winterborn. Since being exiled into San Francisco of 2094, Kevin has tried to settle in as best he can. He acts as the threat that keeps Chinatown safe. He's got a friend in the local assassin. The private military contractor had agreed to stay away from him. The drugs dealers stay out of his way on fear of death. And the area death cult think that he's the second coming of Kali.

So who would be dumb enough to leave a body practically on Kevin's doorstep?

The murder of a local businessman puts Kevin's position in jeopardy. It makes him look week and ineffectual. All Kevin has to do is find the killer, and teach him the error of his ways, preferably in a permanent fashion. But the killer has left his mark, and it's of a professional killer. The suspects are few and far between, but they're all dangerous. 

When the next bodies start to hit the ground, it becomes clear that Kevin is dealing with something new to this San Francisco: a serial killer. 

And now, without modern forensics, databases, police forces, and relying purely on his wits, Kevin must delve into the underbelly of this nightmare city, in search of a man deadlier than any he has ever encountered before.

The one thing neither Kevin or the serial killer knows is that they're on a collision course that will either save the world or destroy it.
So, dramatic enough yet?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Game Called on Account of update

I am really tired.

Everyone is tired of politics, obviously. I want to get rid of all politicians. Round them up and throw them in a dark pit for a while until they lean some manners.

Me? I'm tired of a lot of things. I'm tired of endless promotions. I'm tired of playing three card monte with books.

I've got a five book project under discussion with one publisher.

I've got a four book project, being reviewed with a second publisher.

I've got a random book that's being reviewed by one publisher, possibly to be reviewed by another.

And I have a 13 book space opera that I need to hit with a hammer hard enough that Baen books will read it, approve it, and hopefully give me tons of money.

And did I mention that I've recorded Sad Puppies Bite Back for an audio book, and that it's currently being edited with someone with OCD tendencies and who likes the sound of my voice more than I do? (Okay, that's everybody, so not difficult).

Oh, yes, and for the five people who have read and want a sequel to Codename: Winterborn, you're going to get it. It should be out at the end of the month. Yes. Really.

Those last two? Those should both be out by the end of the month.

I've been busy.

Oh, yeah, and my joints are apparently still pissed at me for DragonCon. My back hurts like a bastard if I move the wrong way. And now my hips hurt like a bastard when I sleep the wrong way ... or the right way ... or trying to sleep in any position at all. So I'm tired that way.

So, pardon me if tonight isn't a full update. Good night.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Review: Conviction

Despite the lackluster writing and execution of Agent Carter, I have always liked Hayley Atwell, even when her character of Peggy Carter was written like a superior misandrist loon.

So when I saw the first ad for Conviction, my first thought was "Oh good, she's gotten work."

Sadly, my second thought was "Oh dear God, not the Innocence project. Haven't they already screwed up this concept in four different TV shows? Haven't they sucked every single time?"

But, just to see what Atwell was up to, I was willing to at least give it a shot.

Atwell is playing Hayes Morrison, a former first daughter, law school professor, and general basket case and screw up. Imagine if Chelsea Clinton was perfectly aware that her parents were vile, soul-sucking leaches, and grew up with sex and drug scandals of her own.

When Hayes is caught with drugs on her person, she's blackmailed into working the Conviction Integrity Unit for NYC. Her job? To judge whether or not convictions should be upheld or vacated. And no, it's not the innocence project: in fact, in three episodes, they've had 5 convicts investigated, and two of them stayed in prison. (For the record, I should note that CIUs really do exist.)

Hayes is given four people for her team: a forensics expert, a cop, a lawyer who's a reject from the innocence project, and a lawyer from the DA's office.

And why Hayes? Because when she's not imploding like Bara Dur at the end of Return of the King, she's actually quite brilliant. Also, her mother, the former First Lady, is running for Senate again, and the District Attorney would really like the Senator's support. And yes, that's one of the reasons this premise works -- no one here is filled with (self)righteous fervor about the poor innocents languishing in jail. They don't know who's innocent or guilty when they start, and in some cases, Hayes is the only one who wants to audit some of the specific cases.

The lack of pretension is one of the reasons the show works.. The second is that this show doesn't fall into patterns. She picks the first convict because she cynically declares "He's a handsome minority poster boy. The press will eat it up." The second case she selects because it is a case prosecuted by the current DA.

But the primary reason this works is Hayley Atwell, and how Hayes Morrison is written. She is brilliant, and she is also self destructive. But she holds her own against her mother and the DA, and against all of her team, none of whom seem to like her. They've taken all of the self righteous preening of every innocence project variant and replaced it with a cynical reverse murder mystery.

Let's give this a 4 out of five stars. It's better than Bull. But not a must see show.