Category Archives: Reading

Coming Soon: Valor’s Cost

I’m happy to announce that Valor’s Cost, the 4th book of the Children of Valor series, is coming at the end of the month!  You can expect it on August 31st.

“In valor there is hope.” – Publius Cornelius Tacitus 

Jiden Armstrong has seen death and destruction, visited upon people around her.  She has spent the past three years attending the Century Military Academy in the hopes that she can protect her people.  Now, though, she has lost those most dear to her.  Worst of all, the people who did it were coming after Jiden.
She’s going to have to rebuild her life.  Jiden will have to fall back on her friends and her family to recover.  She’s going to have to find a new reason to live and come to terms with her losses… and her enemies haven’t given up.  To them, Jiden Armstrong is another pawn in the game… one that is inconveniently placed.  They’re going to keep coming after her so long as she stands in their way and if Jiden can’t stop them, then the people paying the cost of Jiden’s valor may well be those closest to her.
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Kal’s August 2018 Forecast

Hey everyone, it’s August.  Just last Friday I had my latest book, The Colchis Job, come out.  It’s already at 21 reviews (as of a few minutes ago, anyway) and I’m stoked by the feedback.  If you haven’t checked it out, give it a look!  https://amzn.to/2AIUnBM

What else am I working on?  Well, I’m getting the fourth Children of Valor book ready for publishing at the end of the month.  Valor’s Cost has been a lot of fun to write and I think my readers are really going to enjoy it.  I’m going to be releasing it during Dragon Con and I’m even going to do my best to have copies of the paperback with me when I get there.

I’ve finished outlining a couple of books as well, including the first book of the spin-off YA series.  Since it ties into Valor’s Cost, I want it ready to go by the end of September, which means I have to have it done by the end of this month.

My next project after that is completing my zombie series so I’ll have a full trilogy for release starting in October.  Those books have been intense to write and if you’re a fan of the zombie genre (or for that matter if you think most people in zombie stories are morons) then you’ll like this series.  I already have the first book done and I’ve outlined books 2 & 3, so come September I’ll start cranking out the words.  I’ve also started the outline for the next Argonauts book for Chris Kennedy Publishing.  So as you can imagine, I’ve got a lot on my plate!

Way out on the horizon I’ve got quite a few other projects.  The fifth Children of Valor book I aim to have out in November, with the second YA spin-off due in December.   As I get more time, I’m also going to finish the 7th Shadow Space Chronicles book and return to the Renegades, Fenris Unchained, and the Eoriel Saga.

That’s all for now, and thanks for reading!

The Colchis Job Now Available!

The Colchis Job, a Four Hoursemen Universe novel is now available on Amazon!  https://amzn.to/2AIUnBM

Colonel Jason Azoros is having a bad year. Having taken over the Argonauts’ mercenary company when its previous owner was killed, he has arrived back at Karma to find that no one will deal with him. Blacklisted by his father, Jason is forced to do a job for him to clear his name.

The early days of humanity’s expansion into space was an exciting time, as the best of the race went to the stars. Unfortunately, some of the worst went, as well, and the Argonauts must hunt down and destroy the worst of the worst, Colchis Industries.

Colchis has powerful friends, though, and its coffers are overflowing with credits, allowing it to hire mercenaries and buy equipment beyond what the Argonauts can afford. They also meddle in genetics, and their creations range from…interesting…to unstoppable.

Outmanned and outgunned, Jason and his crew embark on their voyage short on equipment but long on attitude. One thing is for sure—win, lose, or draw, they’re going to go out in style!

 

The Colchis Job Snippet Four

Here is the final snippet of The Colchis Job, available today on Amazon.   (link: https://amzn.to/2AIUnBM) The Colchis Job is a military science fiction novel set in the Four Horsemen Universe.  For the first three snippets, follow the links: Snippet One, Snippet Two, Snippet Three.

 

A few hours later, as we closed to orbit over Anauros, my plan had come together. Ruel had been giving me nervous looks ever since I’d come up on the bridge. Whether that was because he knew that Mulcahy had come forward or because he’d heard about the guard on the armory, I wasn’t certain. Either way, it shouldn’t matter.

“Stable orbit achieved, Colonel,” Heather Valsaint reported, “Anauros landing control wants to know our intentions and if we have any cargo to send down.”

“Miss Valsaint,” I replied, “Let them know we had a run-in with some pirates in their outer system. Inform them that we’re going to bring down the survivors and let them deal with them. Tell them we’ll send down a sample of some of the equipment and weapons we’re here to sell, too.” I didn’t look at Ruel but I heard a muffled hiss, “I think I’ll take our shuttle down with them myself, there’s some questions I’d like to ask them.”

Ruel spoke up then, “Colonel, how about I take care of that, for you?”
I looked over at him, an expression of practiced surprise on my face. I hoped I wasn’t over-doing it. “Are you certain?”

“I know some people down there,” Ruel smirked. “I’ll make sure those pirates get what’s coming to them.”

I grinned back, smiling for an entirely different reason now. “That could work. I’m not sure I trust these people, though. Better take a team of people you trust.” I couldn’t help but fiddle with the watch on my wrist, feeling the cool metal against the warm palm of my hand. It was a nervous habit of mine and I hoped it wasn’t too much of a tell.

Ruel’s expression went blank and I wasn’t sure if I’d overdone it or if he was having trouble changing his plans. I was offering him a chance to hit the ground with some of his chosen people, with trade goods, weapons, and a chance for him to link up with some of his criminal contacts. It is either the best or stupidest plan I’ve made since taking control of the ship. He could pack our shuttle full of well-armed pirates and go for attempt number two to seize the Argos.

He gave me a friendly grin as he thought it through himself, “Sure, thing, sir. I’ll take Schottler, Obradavic, and Cadrun.”

I frowned as I considered it. I knew that Cadrun and Ruel were close. I hadn’t figured Obradavic and Schottler were in whatever Ruel had planned, neither of them were from Third Platoon originally, which meant he’d done some recruiting behind my back. Still, those were the four who I’d ordered Reedie to take with him to secure the armory when the pirates had attacked. If Ruel had subverted them, then he’d want them with him on the ground, preparing to attack the ship.

He would also want someone on the ship to open the airlock and prevent us from blowing it like we had with the pirates.

“How about you take Mulcahy and Scott, too?” I asked. “I think four might not be enough to handle the prisoners and to deal with any kind of customs and such they’ll have here.”

Ruel’s expression flickered. I could see him trying to figure out whether he could deal with two marginally honest mercenaries and still keep someone on the ship to help him take it over on his return. I could see Valsaint and Reedie looking on, both of them clearly confused by the interaction. They knew I didn’t trust Ruel, and they didn’t know why I would send him to the planet alone.

“How about La Voie and Rice?” Ruel asked, almost gritting his teeth.
There we are… Rice had been the one to “find” the dead Lieutenant Bohannan after the firefight on Bedarine Seven. Which meant that Ruel had probably ordered him to kill his platoon leader. La Voie, on the other hand, wasn’t on my radar, other than the fact that he’d fallen asleep during the firefight back on Bedarine Seven. I wasn’t sure if he was on drugs or if he was narcoleptic, but the fact that Ruel wanted him along was a down-check in my book.

“If you think those two will be useful…” I trailed off, not wanting to sound too eager. I could see Reedie’s eyes bulging behind Ruel and he looked like he was holding his breath and starting to turn purple.
“Probably the best ones for this job,” Ruel gave me another friendly smile, though I could tell he was frustrated and trying to stay in control.

“Fine,” I nodded. “Professor, have you loaded those crates?” I asked over the radio. I’d given him the assignment as a punishment for having let the pirates aboard in the first place.

“Yeah, uh, sir, but are you sure about this–”

I interrupted him before he could go on. “Great. Go ahead and clear the shuttle airlock. Sergeant First Class Ruel is going to be bringing the prisoners down there.”

“Roger,” Grimes sighed. I could tell from his tone that he thought I was insane or stupid, but that was normal. I looked at Ruel, “Better get moving, right?”

“Yeah,” Ruel grinned at me and I could almost read his mind. He was already seeing himself commanding the Argos.

“Lots of luck,” I said as he stepped off the bridge. All of it bad, I hope…

***

“Staff Sergeant, uh, I mean Colonel,” Grimes asked as he came onto the bridge, “I still don’t understand why…”

“Not now,” I waved a hand and looked over at Valsaint. “They’re landing?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Bring up the audio,” I said crossing my arms. I’d had Grimes conceal a radio in the shuttle’s passenger area.

“…remember, get those crates open and get the weapons out. I’ve already radioed ahead. A friend of mine will be waiting. Arm up and start passing out weapons. I want to blow out of this spaceport before the authorities even know we were here. Once we hit the ship, Schottler and Obradovic, you head for the armory, Rice and La Voie, you take a team to engineering, and the rest of you will follow me to the bridge…”

“I think that establishes their criminal intent,” I smirked. “Please forward that recording to the local authorities as a statement of conspiracy, intent to mutiny, and piracy.”

“What about the crates of weapons?” Valsaint asked nervously.

“But I didn’t load any weapons,” Grimes protested, wiping his hands on his pants. “He had me load four crates with sewage from the backed-up sewage processor. The really nasty, chunky stuff, too… God that was gross.”

I heard laughter across the bridge and my smile broadened. A moment later, disgusted shouts came over the radio and I felt a warm, pleasant feeling wash over me.

“That was a shitty job, sir,” Grimes noted looking disgruntled.
I snorted, “Well worth the effort, I’m certain. I only wish I could see Ruel’s expression as we break orbit.” I nodded at Valsaint. “Miss Valsaint, break orbit, if you would. Tell landing control that we’ve dropped off some refuse in need of processing… and tell them they can bill us for disposal if needs be.”

I sat back in the command chair and took a deep, satisfied breath. My satisfaction didn’t last long, though. I cursed and pressed the button to do another radio call, “Reedie, please send for the cleaning crew, the bridge still smells like fish.”

***

The Colchis Job Snippet Three

Here is the third snippet of The Colchis Job, coming on August 3rd to Amazon.  The Colchis Job is a military science fiction novel, set in Mark Wandrey’s and Chris Kennedy’s Four Horsemen Universe.  For snippet one, go here: (Link) and snippet two go here (link).

“Sir,” Grimes called as I came down the corridor, heading to my quarters. I’d just confirmed with Reedie that Ruel had taken his radio away when he’d been trying to report up during the gunfight with the pirates near the armory. I wasn’t too happy about that, but I hoped that I’d settled things with the display on the bridge. “Private Mulcahy wanted a word with you.” The tall, brown haired young man had an earnest expression on his face. Then again, Grimes always looked earnest. I almost wished I had a face like that, people would have believed any lie I told them.
I looked at the private behind him. Mulcahy was one of the surviving CASPer pilots, if I remembered right, and shown some good promise. I planned to keep him on. He was a tall, lanky redhead, who normally kept his mouth shut and did as he was told. Even better, he’d fought like a demon back on Bedarine Seven. “What’s up?” I asked.
“Could we talk, uh, privately?” He looked around nervously. He was from Third Platoon, which meant he worked under Ruel
I shot Grimes a glance. He’d just let pirates aboard the ship. I wasn’t sure if he’d even contemplate that someone in the company might try to off me to take over. If Ruel sent Mulcahy…
“What is this about?” I demanded and my hand fell to my slung MAC.
Mulcahy gulped and he reached out an arm to a stanchion, like he was going to pull himself away in the micro-gravity. He seemed to realize that he couldn’t get away and he brought his hands up, “Christ!” He swallowed, “Sir, I just, look…” He took a deep breath, “I saw Sergeant Ruel gack a couple of the pirates after they laid down their weapons.”
“Oh,” my hand flexed against my weapon, “is that all?” I asked, not particularly concerned. They’d been caught in the act of piracy. Most mercenaries wouldn’t even give them a trial, they’d be vented out an airlock before lunchtime to not ruin the rest of the day. Some mercs I’d dealt with would sell them into indentured work on one of the frontier mining worlds.
A Peacemaker might care, but only if Ruel had gotten creative in his killing of them. Pirates were scum, worse than scum, for they clogged up the traffic between star systems, the very lifeblood of the Galactic Union.
“N- no,” he looked around, as if trying to be certain no one else was nearby. Since the corridor was deserted, I thought it was somewhat humorous. He leaned closer and spoke softly, “They recognized him, spoke to him by name.”
“Huh,” I said. Ruel had been the one to suggest coming here to Anauros to sell some of the equipment. What if that was his plan, from the beginning? Get us here, have his pirate buddies kill me, take the ship, and then sell the equipment for himself or just keep a nice cut… The system did have something of a rough reputation, the locals probably wouldn’t even care, especially if he sold all of our gear here.
“Interesting,” I nodded keeping my expression neutral. “Thanks for telling me.”
“That’s it?” Mulcahy seemed outraged, “That’s all you’re going to do?” His freckled face grew flushed and his eyes bulged in anger. Behind him, Grimes reached forward and caught his shoulder, restraining him.
“I didn’t say what I was going to do about it, private,” I snapped. He blanched at my tone. “I realize you stuck your neck out by telling me. Now, I could transfer you over to another section, but then it would be obvious that you’d done something and Ruel is either going to figure out what it was or assume the worst. He killed two of his pirate associates because they could finger him as a pirate, what do you think he’d do to you if he thought you ratted on him?”
Mulcahy shuddered.
“Right,” I nodded at him, “so keep your head down, don’t stick out, and let me handle this.” I waited until the private nodded and then I pushed myself past him. Grimes followed behind me, but I stopped him at my quarters. “Professor, I want a two-man team on guard at the armory. Do up a roster, but I want First Platoon people on it the first rotation, Second and Third Platoons not until after we break orbit.”
“Sir?” Grimes licked his lips nervously. All this intrigue and backstabbing was out of his league. Still, at least I knew I could trust him to do as he was told.
“Ruel might try to seize the ship. I don’t want anyone from his platoon in position to do it. Brief Reedie and… hmm I think Miss Valsaint, tell them the threat. One of you is to be on each shift until we make it to Karma.” That should keep Ruel from being able to stage mutiny.
I opened the hatch to my quarters and a warm, wet, stink washed over me. I wrinkled my nose at the fishy stench. “And for God’s sake, get someone over here to clean my quarters again. Stupid mollusks…”

***

 

 

Books To Read

Just a short post today, as I’m actually starting my first day of work at my new day job (working three jobs again, oh boy).  There are some books that came out recently that I wanted to share here.

 

Sarah Hoyt has an interesting ebook, So Little and So Light.  Sarah has a way of crafting fun, interesting stories that can leave you thinking for weeks.  I highly recommend it.  https://amzn.to/2NzORmL

 

Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey have a new 4HU novel out.  If you are a fan of MilSF, give the book (and their universe) a look.  https://amzn.to/2LgebSf

That’s all for now.  Thanks for reading!

The Colchis Job Snippet Two

Here is the second snippet of The Colchis Job, coming on August 3rd.    The Colchis Job is a military science fiction novel, set in Mark Wandrey’s and Chris Kennedy’s Four Horsemen Universe.  For snippet one, go here: (Link)

“Good morning, sir,” Ruel met me on the bridge only a few minutes later. I squinted at him suspiciously. Ruel seemed far too chipper and he wasn’t normally a morning person.
“What’s so good about it?” I growled. I clutched at the back of the command chair in the microgravity and I noticed the former squad leader from Third Platoon handled the lack of gravity remarkably well.
“I got to kill people,” he grinned. “Plus, couple of those pirates had some nice equipment.” He lifted his uniform blouse over his potbelly and patted a silver inlaid pistol he had tucked in his belt.
I started to say that was a good way to make sure he never had kids, but I thought better of it. For one thing, he’d probably unloaded it already and he’d be insulted if I suggested otherwise. For another, the idea of the slimy Sam Ruel having kids sort of gave me nightmares.
“Sure, sure,” I dismissed. “Take it out of your paycheck. What happened with Reedie at the armory?”
“Your boy is fine, I just took his radio since he was getting a little excitable.” Ruel rolled his eyes. “What about that,” he waved his hand at the tumbling pirate cutter.
“What about it?” I asked. I was more concerned with ensuring that the pirates didn’t have any friends and that no one was coming to investigate. Anauros wasn’t a beacon of law and civility, but they still might have questions about what had happened.
“Well, it might be valuable, we could probably juryrig something and get her flying again.” His beady little eyes gleamed with greed. I couldn’t help but think he looked rather porcine. “They might have something worth salvaging, and if nothing else, it probably doesn’t stink like rotting fish over there…”
“There might be survivors, sir,” the female technician interrupted. “Also, it’s a navigational hazard.”
“The navigational hazard part is accurate, anyway,” I nodded. I squinted at the readouts and displays, understanding most of what I saw, but still not familiar with the way the starship’s displays prioritized and sorted information. “They’ve lost power and atmo?” I asked, thinking that was what the sensors all seemed to show.
“Yes, sir,” the tech said. Heather, I reminded myself, Heather Valsaint. I’d had time to get to know all the surviving personnel from the company, at this point and should at least remember their names. Besides, that was what commanders did, right?
“Right,” I looked over at Ruel. He’d been a squad leader in Third Platoon. A smiling, greasy man, who somehow, I felt he’d have been just as happy being a pirate as he was a mercenary. I trusted him about as far as I could throw him and given his girth, that wouldn’t be very far. Still, he knew how to get things done and he was good in a fight. But, as soon as we got back to Karma, I planned to pay him off and get rid of him.
I watched Ruel’s face as I gave the order, “Miss Valsaint, open fire with our main weapons, destroy the wreck.”
“What?!” Ruel demanded. His jaw dropped and he stared at me. His piggy little nose wrinkled up and for a second, I thought he might even go for his pistol.
“You want to hang out here and be a sitting target while we do zero-g salvage operations?” I gazed at him, challenging him to disobey me. “Maybe we should see if these pirates have any friends, maybe a mothership with comparable weapons to the Argos?” The Styx-class patrol ship had once been a Peacemaker ship, but those days were in the past. The Cartar had dismounted most of its weapons. Besides that, the ship had a dozen or more maintenance issues, ranging from the sewage venting system being clogged to the constant reek of rotting fish from the environmental system. Without a full work down of the ship’s systems by real engineers, we didn’t know how bad things might be. The damned sewage thing is a real nuisance, what the hell am I going to do with two metric tons of solid shit?
Ruel scowled. Odds were that these pirates had been a local operation. Most pirates operated on the fringes, with whatever cobbled equipment they could manage. There weren’t really that many powerful pirate fleets… but we’d barely survived the encounter as it was.
“Fine,” he scowled.
“I wasn’t asking your permission, I already gave the order,” I snapped. He glared, but gave a small nod. He understands. I’m the one in charge. I looked back at the tech and I didn’t bother hiding my smirk. “Miss Valsaint.”
“Yes, sir,” She straightened in her seat and brought up the Argos’ weapons.
She only had to fire once. The small cutter vanished in a visible flash of light. It hadn’t been a vast explosion, so there’d be debris, but hopefully none of it big enough to be a navigational hazard. “Plot the bigger chunks,” I noted, “and smash them up. Good weapons training for you. Be sure you get recordings on all of it so we can pass it along to the Peacemakers once we hit Anauros. Maybe we’ll get lucky and there’s a bounty on these guys.”
“It’ll teach no one to fuck with us, either way,” Ruel chuckled. Now that I’d established I was in charge, he didn’t seem to have a problem with my decision.
True. Maybe Ruel would be worth keeping around… if I could trust him.

***