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The Force Is With Me: Star Wars Rogue One Plot & Characters Review (SPOILERS!)

rogueone_onesheeta_1000_309ed8f6Now that Rogue One has been out for a while, I felt it is finally time to write an analysis of the characters and plot of the latest Star Wars installment.  Few people can deny that this is the prequel that captures the spirit and feel of Star Wars (those who do are entitled to their opinions, but the rest of us seem to think it’s great).

As a note, I’m adding some filler here just to make certain anyone who wants to avoid spoilers won’t have anything spoiled.  *Spoiler Warning: The rest of this review will delve into some plot and character details*

While Rogue One is a fast, exciting, and tension-driven war movie set in the Star Wars universe, the beginning is something of a mess.  There’s no opening crawl, a decision made to thematically separate the movie from the space opera feel of the others.  It arrogantly states, “We don’t need to tell you what’s happening, pay attention and we’ll show you.”

Which is all well and good, except at the very beginning it jumps around from planet to planet and through time rather quickly.  If you aren’t paying attention (and possibly even if you are, you’ll have no clue what’s going on right up until Jyn Erso is sat down at the Rebel Base on Yavin 4 when they explain everything through exposition.

It’s sort of like they made the decision not to have an opening crawl and then decided, “Crap, we need to slip it in, we’ll just have some characters explain it all.”  Which is fine.  We get some time to meet some of the characters, to establish Captain Cassian, Jyn Erso, and to see that the Director Krennic is kind of an asshole.  Still, it feels like they could have done a bit more showing than telling, but it’s a style choice that works, despite being a bit silly in some regards.

Moving on, we’ve got the Imperial defector, Bodhi who gets captured by an apparently unhinged Saw Gerrara, the leader of a splinter faction of rebels on the planet of Jedha.  Bodhi is carrying a warning about the Death Star, sent by Jyn’s father, Galen Erso.  Now this is another area where I feel the film sort of loses it’s course.  Saw is an enigmatic character, who seems to have lost touch with reality, one moment being helpful and the next… well, the next he’s accusing Jyn of being there to kill him.  It doesn’t make a terrible lot of sense, and there’s so much odd stuff about Saw that we’re left wondering: what’s up with his legs, how was he injured, why exactly has he lost it, why did Jyn’s father trust him with his daughter’s life?

We can extrapolate a lot of this, but it’s all distracting from the overall plot for a character who gets killed so early in the movie.  There might have been some wider idea for the character in other outlines for the film, but what we’re left with is sort of a box of crazy that distracts overall.  His splinter group of rebels, on the other hand, fits in very well with the overall “dirty” theme of the movie.  Not all of the rebels are going to be idealistic, kind-hearted folk like Luke Skywalker and Leia.  Saw’s rebels are scary and violent, opening fire on the Empire in a crowded market place and using grenades indiscriminately.

The torture of Bodhi, the Imperial defector sort of serves that point too, but it feels like another rabbit hole at the same time.  The Bor Gullet seems like a random thing to throw in there, particularly when it’s stated power didn’t seem to convince Saw Gerrara of anything.  And the “madness” that it caused didn’t seem to last long enough to serve any plot point.  Mostly it leaves you with some confusion about what the thing is and how it does what it does… then it’s gone.

Rolling onwards, we see the rivalry between Moff Tarkin and Director Krennic, which culminates in Krennic utilizing the Death Star to obliterate the rebellious city and the old Jedi Temple in a display of the Death Star’s potential.  This is a fantastic scene for a number of reasons, many of them fairly subtle.  We see the casual disdain for life that the Empire’s senior officers hold, where Krennic feels nothing but relief that his weapon worked and then anger that Tarkin steals the credit.  We see Tarkin’s arrogance in how he only cares about how the Death Star will improve his standing with the Emperor.  All the other Imperials just seem to want to lick up scraps of power from the two officers, their shock at the destruction turning to support for Tarkin as Krennic is sent scurrying to plug security leaks that made him look bad.

The “beautiful” comment from Krennic is particularly good as it shows that he has an appreciation of beauty, yet lacks any morality to consider that he just killed thousands, possibly millions, of people.

In a not-so-subtle detail, the Death Star eclipses the sun for the city, circling in an orbit that blocks out the light to the planet just before it obliterates the city.  It’s an ominous omen, one that sets the viewer on edge as they realize what’s about to happen.

Another subtle detail is that, unlike Alderaan, we actually see the place they destroy.  The audience sees Jyn Erso rescue a young girl in a firefight on the streets, delivering the child to her mother.  That girl, her mother, and everyone else in the city is annihilated.  We don’t see their last moments, but we see the city vanish in a cataclysmic explosion that also kills off Saw Gerrera and his rebels.

The main characters barely escape, witnesses to the terrifying might of the Empire.  They also come to the decision to go to rescue (well, Captain Cassian is there to kill) Galen Erso, after Bodhi gives them the location to find him.

Their travel to Galen’s research facility is an excellent use of characterization.  We see the different characters play off one another.  Chirrut and Baze were earlier introduced well and their few words in this scene establishes them further.  Chirrut is obviously a force sensitive, not a Jedi, but in tune with the Force.  Baze is cynical, but his bond with his friend is strong, showing that there’s some depth to his character.  The way they address the destruction of their home is subtle but strong.

The interaction and chemistry between Cassian and Jyn also works well.  Cassian, dark a character as he is (lets face it, he shot a former friend in the back at the start of the movie), wants to believe in Jyn, but at the same time he’s determined to follow orders.

The battle at the research facility is fantastic.  Confusion between Cassian’s superior and the team sets up a series of mistakes that results in the rebels bombing the facility, killing Galen in the process.  Cassian is given a moment to kill Galen, but decides to trust Jyn instead, only to see a rebel Y-Wing blow up the platform anyway.  We get to see Bodhi, Chirrut, and Baze all do what they do, all in interesting ways.

The rest of the movie moves along with an inevitable feel.  The rebel council reject an attack to seize the Death Star plans.  The main characters decide to go anyway and Captain Cassian comes forward with a grizzled host of warriors who volunteer for the mission.  Without going into detail, he establishes them as desperate, hardened fighters and they look and act the part.

The final fight is a chaotic mess and in that they do a fantastic job of capturing the feel of combat.  The rebel plan goes well enough as Cassian, K2, and Erso infiltrate the facility.  I had a moment of eye-rolling as the unshaven Cassian walks around in an officer uniform, but other than that, the scenes play out well.  The firefight kicks off, many of the rebels knowing that they’re going to die just to create a distraction and buy time for Cassian and Jyn.

The firefight kicks off, quickly becoming a mad scramble as more and more Imperials flood the area, an entire garrison against a handful.  We get a moment of excitement as the rebel fleet goes to help… but that’s dampered by the fact that the rebel arrival results in the closure of the shield gate, trapping Rogue team on the planet.

At this point, every character seems to realize there’s no escape and the movie does a fantastic job of showing that realization.  Every one of them reacts in a different way.  Bodhi is shaken, almost panicked.  Chirrut seems to accept it.  Baze scowls.  Jyn and Cassian are all about how to accomplish the mission.  It’s a fantastic bit of storytelling that sells the characters even more.

As an observer, I’ve got to say that it’s the second time that the rebels seized defeat from the jaws of victory (the first being where they kill Galen Erso with a bomb when he would have known best how to destroy the Death Star).  Granted, there’s no guarantee that Jyn and Cassian could have got the plans out of the facility, to the shuttle, and then escaped, but they aren’t left with that option as the fleet arrives and the Imperials close the shield.

At this point, characters begin to die.  K2 goes first, the quirky and humorous droid going out in a poignant fashion, saving Cassian’s life and doing his duty to the last.  With the realization that they need to transmit the plans, Bodhi has to get a message out, setting up a sequence of events where a transmission switch needs to be activated in the middle of a firefight.

rogue-one-star-wars-baze-malbus-chirrut-imwe-death-scenes-218390-640x320Chirrut by far has the standout scene here, chanting “I am one with the Force.  The Force is with me.” As he walks through blaster fire to activate that switch, in a scene where every other rebel who tried was cut down.  This scene is fantastic and as he blindly flips the switch, only to be blasted the next instant, we’re given both a heroic moment of self sacrifice and a gut-wrenching blow as a character we’ve grown to enjoy dies in his moment of triumph.

Bodhi transmits to the rebel fleet to prepare for the data transfer, but then he dies a moment later as a stormtrooper grenades him.  It’s a quick, abrupt death, Bodhi not even having time to say anything before his shuttle explodes.  Yet he’s done his job, he got the message through.

Then we come to  Baze.  Here he has an excellent moment, where his faith in the Force is restored as his longtime friend, Chirrut, dies.  This crowning moment results in Baze taking up his friend’s chant… only to kill a few enemies and die to a random grenade.  In my mind, it’s the one flaw to he end sequence.  Baze should have either died with his friend or had some suitably essential role.  His death as it is is just sloppy.

We’re then back to Jyn and Cassian, the latter who has a brush with death.  Jyn sets up the dish to transmit, nearly dying in the process.  She gets to confront Krennic, Cassian saves her, and she transmits the data to the fleet, not even knowing if they received it. Then she and Cassian stumble out of the facility just as Moff Tarkin fires the Death Star.

Krennic’s death is appropriately ironic, dying from his own creation, given just enough time to realize it and then vanishing.  Jyn and Cassian have a heartbreaking moment, long enough for them to say that they did the right thing, that they gave the rebellion a chance, a bit of hope, before they perish.

Then Vader arrives.  His star destroyer smashes several rebel ships as they try to escape, and he boards the rebel command ship to regain the plans.  His scene where he appears in the corridors is again, excellent.  The tension and terror is raw.  This isn’t a scene where the death of these nameless rebels doesn’t matter.  They’re dying as one of their number tries to get the plans to safety.  It’s a brilliant scene because, like their compatriots on the planet, they know they’re going to die.

The last bit of the movie, as the plans are passed off was done perhaps a little too smoothly.  I see some logic issues with the command ship having the Tantive IV docked inside it for the entire battle.  Couldn’t they have used that firepower in the battle?  For that matter, why not have a last desperate transmission… and why didn’t Vader’s star destroyer block it’s escape?  We know it’s got to have the plans in A New Hope, but couldn’t they have showed that in a less orchestrated fashion?  It’s a small thing, but it disrupts what is an otherwise fantastic ending, giving us a “feel good” for all that the characters all died before the movie really ended.

Thematically, the film is an odd mix of darkness filled with hope.  The rebels really are fighting a desperate battle against tremendously long odds.  They’re always outgunned, always on the run, they are never safe… yet they fight on.

The movie gives fantastic depth to the older movies.  Rewatching them afterwards, there’s far more impact as rebels die, knowing that each of them has their own story and seeing the terrible cost to the rebel alliance for each victory.

Rogue One is a fantastic story.   It’s a fitting prequel, the prequel that many fans wanted from the beginning.  This is a tragic story, one about normal people caught in a terrible time.  Yet at the same time, the characters exhibit some of the best traits of soldiers and humans in general, exhibiting faith, self-sacrifice, and loyalty unto the end.

There’s some flaws overall, but those are small things, minor imperfections in an overall fantastic movie that had excellent characterization and a powerful message of hope.






The CLFA December Booknado!

Some cool-looking new books and some books discounted.

Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance


A furious blast of fiction freedom blows away the tired, the formulaic, the predictable, and the didactic! Click on any of the images below to learn more and buy the fresh fiction listings in the December 2016 installment of the CLFA Booknado!


planetPlanet of the Magi: A Space Fantasy by Erin Lale
Expected to grow up to become a Magus, a wielder of dark magic, Dije rebels by seeking the forbidden white magic — and then faces an alien invasion.

Quest to the North: A Minivandians Tale by Tom Rogneby
After the battle that ended the first book in the Minivandian’s series, Ruarin and her companion search for their friend in the deadly lands to the North.

Scout’s Law by Henry Vogel
Terran Scout David Rice put the long-lost colony of the world of Aashla back in contact with the rest of the galaxy. Now he must fight to protect Aasha’s early-industrial…

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It’s the November CLFA Booknado!

Renegades: Out of Time along with a lot of other great books, check them out!

Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance

The November CLFA Booknado churns across a darkened literary landscape, demolishing tired, old, ideologically Progressive pap and blasting fresh fiction choices all across the land! Pick up one of our featured titles today and join the movement.

Click on the book image to learn more and shop!

(Titles are considered new releases and/or sold at featured promotional price points as of November 14 and 15, 2016.)


   Keeping the Faith (Book Two of the John Fisher Chronicles) by William Lehman
It was suposed to be an easy case, a good way to “get back on the horse” and because it looked like a ‘Thrope case, it was right up Detective Fisher’s alley. Of course, nothing is ever easy when Fisher is involved, and when they found the murdered Marine, it all went south…

  Blood of Invidia (Maestru Series Book 1) by Tom Tinney and  Morgen Batten
Aliens, Vampires, and Werewolves…Oh, My!

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The Sacred Stars Snippet One

Here’s the first snippet for The Sacred Stars:



Faraday System

United Colonies

June 15, 2407


The Aurorae‘s defense screens flared as multiple beams struck.  The impacts rocked the destroyer and threw Alannis Giovanni against her seat restraints.  “Increase power to front defense screens!” She snapped.  At the same time, she keyed up a new set of targets, “I need target data on the enemy gunboats!”

“Working on it,” her sensors officer said.  “Half my target sensors are down, I can’t get a good read on them.”

The enemy gunboats were a design based on Admiral Collae’s Hellbores.  Each of those frigates mounted a heavy spinal beam, far larger than any ship but a cruiser could effectively mount as a standard weapon.

They made up for that by being fragile and slow, they simply didn’t have enough power to operate their heavy weapon as well as other high-power systems at full capacity.  They were also obvious targets under normal conditions, their reactors, capacitor banks, and the discharge of their weapons made them beacons on sensors.

But they and the other ships in the attacking force had already damaged Aurorae.  Half her systems were out and the other half were barely functional.  She had no telemetry data for her missiles at all, which hardly mattered since only two of the destroyer’s eight missile tubes remained intact.

Missiles, she thought.  “Set missiles to internal guidance and fire on my mark!” Alannis snapped.  They only had Mark III’s left, which had external telemetry and a secondary electromagnetic guidance package.

Alannis brought the Aurorae around.  Without telemetry, the missiles would travel in a straight line until they acquired their targets.  This was the equivalent of blind firing and hoping she’d hit something… but it was better than nothing.  “Fire!”

The Aurorae‘s two missile tubes spat their remaining seven missiles, all aimed at the formation of enemy ships.  Alannis rolled the Aurorae away just as the enemy opened fire again.

This time, at least two of the beams struck under the leading edge of the defense screens and the bridge lurched and smoke and sparks billowed through the compartment.

“Forward projectors are down!” the engineer shouted.  “Missile tubes three and seven are destroyed, and our remaining defense batteries are offline.”

Alannis grimaced as the Aurorae limped away from her pursuers.  Their sensors were so blind now they couldn’t even watch their missiles, she wouldn’t know if they were on target or wildly off-target until they detonated.

“Fighter’s coming in!” her sensor officer called.

A moment later, Alannis saw the faint signatures.  Her lips drew back in a snarl as she saw their vector, the fighters were almost on top of them and lining up for a close-range attack run.  “Roll ship, twenty degrees and engage with final protective fires!”

She saw out of the corner of her eye that several of the missiles she’d launched had detonated, but her gaze was fixed upon the incoming fighters.  The surviving defense turrets opened up, but they were firing blind as a deterrent to the enemy fighters’ accuracy more than anything else.

Those fighters fired their missiles at less than a thousand kilometers, just far enough out for the missile acquisition systems to engage and for the warheads to safely activate.  Thirteen of the fifteen fission warheads detonated around the Aurorae and the ship vanished in a ball of nuclear fire.

Alannis’s screen went black and red letters flashed: Simulation Terminated.



The tactical display froze with the damaged Aurorae frozen, angled as she fired her missiles.

“So,” Captain Penwaithe asked in a dry voice, “Just what the hell did you think you were doing at fifteen forty-eight?”  The tall, black officer was in charge of the Academy’s Final Simulation Exercise, the very last evaluation that every cadet had to complete.

Alannis sat perfectly straight and addressed him in as professional a manner as she could manage.  “Sir, with my telemetry damaged, I couldn’t control my remaining missile loadout externally, so I fired them on internal systems only.”

“A desperation ploy,” Captain Penwaithe said, his voice gruff.  “Sometimes that pays off and sometimes it doesn’t.”  His tone of voice suggested that most often it was the latter.  He activated a switch and the tactical display resumed play.

On the display, the seven missiles fired out, a rough cone as they fired across the arc of the Aurorae‘s relative motion.  She could see right away that only four of the missiles would go anywhere near their targets.  Three of those picked up the enemy gunboats and homed in.  Two detonated on target, killing the enemy frigates and the third detonated near enough that the frigate showed heavy damage.

Yes, Alannis thought with satisfaction, I got three of them.  As far as she knew, none of the other cadets in her class had managed to damage more than two of the ships, even her friend Ashtar Shan had only killed one and damaged a second.

Yet the missile tracks didn’t end.  The four other missiles continued outward, long after the Aurorae succumbed to the fighter’s close range salvo.  Three of them winked out as the simulator counted them inconsequential and erased them… but the last one blinked to show it had acquired a target on its internal passive sensors.

Alannis saw where it was headed a moment later and she bit back a curse.  The simulated missile homed in on the damaged civilian freighter that the raiders had used as bait… and then detonated.

“Congratulations,” Captain Penwaithe said.  “You took out a quarter of the raider fleet along with thirty-three simulated innocent civilians.”

Alannis flinched at that.  In reality, those civilians would be dead or worse anyway, with the raiders free to kill or enslave them.  But in the simulation, the objective had been to save them.

Not that anyone had, but the Aurorae simulation wasn’t about winning, it was about fighting it out until the end.  After over two hours in the simulator, she felt completely wrung out.  Her ship suit stank of sweat and her body felt like it was made of rubber.  She knew that they kept the heat turned up in the simulator to make it all the rougher, just as they deliberately put traces of chemicals to irritate the eyes, nose, and throat of those in the exercise.

It was also part of why they’d had her up for the past twenty four hours prior to the exam’s start.  They wanted this to be as grueling a test as possible.

“Sorry, sir,” Alannis said.

“You need to remember, cadet, that your actions have consequences,” Captain Penwaithe said.  “Now, other than your final write-up, you’ve completed the Aurorae simulation.”

“Wait… I passed?” Alannis asked in surprise.  She had thought that by killing the freighter, it would be an automatic failure.

“You passed,” Captain Penwaithe said.  He hesitated and then gave a slight shrug, as if what he was about to say wasn’t strictly speaking within the realm of an instructor, but that it was good mentorship.  “The Aurorae is meant to test your ability to perform under a highly stressful combat environment.  You managed it well enough.  While we do run scores based off survival time and how well you acquit yourself, the primary measurement is your ability to function and make decisions.  Sometimes making any decision in time is better than making the right decision too late.”

“Thank you, sir,” Alannis said.

“As a note… those cadets who participated in putting down the Dreyfus Mutiny typically test well in that regard compared to those who have not,” Captain Penwaithe gave a grim smile.  “It’s the element of having been in combat that makes the difference, I think.”

Alannis felt her face go wooden.  She’d known Admiral Dreyfus, her brother had considered him a friend… and the reminder of his betrayal still hurt three years later.  It seemed that most of the people she had respected had eventually betrayed her in one way or another.  Like Reese, she thought, letting people get close never seems to work out.

“Well,” Captain Penwaithe seemed to realize that he’d hit a nerve, “that concludes the oral evaluation.  You’re dismissed, Cadet Giovanni.”


Snippet Two

Taxes for Writers Part 2

Taxes add more stress to your writing!
Taxes add more stress to your writing!

In my last bit on taxes, I went into what I’ve learned as far as tax deductions.  Now comes the less fun parts.

Writers, God(s) help us, are considered self employed.  This has a number of effects upon the money we earn and the taxes we have to pay.  As far as the US tax system and the IRS, being self employed puts most of the burden upon the writer.

There’s three types of tax that all US Citizens pay.  There’s Social Security, Medicare, and then income tax.  Normally, you only have to pay a net 7.65 percent of your income to social security and medicare.  The problem is, your employer is paying the other 7.65 percent.  As a writer, your employer is you (regardless of whether you publish with a big company or not, they push the onus of paying that to you), so you have to pay all 15.3% as the self employment tax.  Now then there is income tax on top of this.  What’s nice about being a writer is that your deductions come from both areas, because your income is what is left over from your earnings after your expenses.  In case you didn’t notice, right off the bat you’re in around a 30% tax bracket.  This is pretty painful if you’re writing with no other income.  It is especially painful when you are supposed to pay your taxes quarterly, or face fines from the IRS, and you may not receive your royalties until months after the quarter (trust me, it’s happening to me now, it hurts, I’m paying taxes on income I still haven’t received, which comes from my savings…)  Bringing those taxes down a bit you have the things I listed in the previous tax article, which is why keeping track of all that is essential to making sure you keep a little bit of that hard earned money.

Your royalties from book sales are income, much like a contractor.  That’s how you should report it and that’s how you should take deductions.  You report your income from 1099-MISC’s, which acts much like your W2 from a normal job.  The exception, as stated above, is that you have to pay the full self-employment tax rate.

One caution: most publishers and publishing platforms don’t do automatic withholding.  So you’ll need to balance your income between your normal job and writing.  The last thing you want at the end of the year is to file your taxes and learn that you owe more money to the IRS.  (It sucks).  On the other hand, you want to avoid paying too much early on, so monitoring your sales and adjusting your payment to the IRS throughout the year is the best tactic.

This is important because if you are a professional author, this is your income.  You’ve probably spent tens or even hundreds of thousands of hours writing, honing, and perfecting your craft.  You’ve earned that income, you can’t avoid paying the taxes on it, but you can make sure that you only pay as much as necessary.

To make things more complicated, if you are buying covers or other services (Audiobook narration or editing, for instance) of over $500/year to a single person you have to file a 1099-MISC for that person’s income… and they have to pay taxes on it.  Filing a 1099-MISC isn’t hard, you can get the form from the IRS and do it yourself or you can use Turbo-Tax’s 1099-MISC form.  To make matters slightly more complicated, you only do a 1099-MISC when paying in cash or check.  When you do a payment through a bank or a platform like PayPal, you have to do a 1099-K, because the bank tracks and reports the payment to the IRS.   The annoying part is that you need the person’s Social Security Number in order to report it.

The good news is that since these payments are business expenditures, you get to deduct them from your income.  If you aren’t otherwise tracking your earnings and budget throughout the year, you can quickly see if some things are paying for themselves.  If, for instance, you spent $3000 for audiobook narration, $500 on a cover, and another $1000 on professional editing but only earned out $2000 from your book sales, you might want to reevaluate your expenditures.

One other thing.  Because writing is a business, I highly recommend setting up a separate “writing” checking (and possibly savings) account for this.  Not only does it show to the IRS your intent of making this work, but it also makes it far easier to track your payments and income as well as your expenses.  Not only should you keep your receipts and document your expenses, but you should also monitor your income from book sales, track how your books trend up (or down).  These things will help you as a professional, especially as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

As a disclaimer, I am not a tax professional, I’m heavily reliant upon the things I’ve learned from writing conferences (where they have tax panels) as well as using programs like TurboTax and even going to some tax professionals.  Also, this is just an overview, more to get you thinking in the right direction than anything else.

Here’s some other links you may find helpful

Taxes for Writers

Tax Advice for Writers

A Reblog and a Note on Moving

Cedar Sanderson has a post up on her blog about something very important: food.  More specifically, she contacted me for my favorite recipe.  While she did it a little differently than me, she’s posted my recipe for your reading (and eating) pleasure.  It’s a simple one, but what can I say, I like cooking with beer.

In other news, I’ve mostly completed my move to Denver (more specificially, Aurora).  Unfortunately, it has drastically impacted my writing time, the past week and a half has been nothing but prepping for the move and we’ll be unpacking for weeks.  It had to be done, since my new job is here in Denver, but I’ll be glad to be done with all of it and back to writing on a regular basis again.

The good news there, at least, is that my commute to and from work has gone from 3-5 hours a day to around 1 hour a day.  That added time means I can hopefully write more.

That’s all for now, thanks for reading.

Kal’s November 2015 Forecast

November is here, which means 2015 is rapidly coming to a close.  Looking back so far, I’ve had four books published this year, I’ve finished an additional novel, and I hope to have two more finished and sent off to my beta readers by the end of the year.

Most recently, Henchman Press just released my book, Odin’s Eye, the sequel to Fenris Unchained.  What excited me about that novel was trying to one-up myself.  Fenris Unchained is a novel full of twists and turns, a spy-thriller set in the far future.  Odin’s Eye takes that basis and goes the route of a high-tech heist, as the characters must steal a sophisticated computer algorithm from a high security facility on a corporate-owned planet.  Think Ocean’s Eleven (the newer one) set in space with mercenaries, cyborgs, and genetically modified super soldiers.

For this month, I’m trying to close out The Fate of the Tyrant and I’m starting to spin up on Renegades: Out of the Cold.  My goal is to finish the next Renegades book by mid-December and to move on to other works.

In other news, I’ve got a day job now and I’ll soon be relocating to Denver.  While Colorado Springs has been home for me for the past three years, I’m excited to give Denver a try.  Plus, as a bonus, it’s still Colorado, my favorite state.

Thanks for reading, everyone, and take care!

Free this Weekend: Look to the Stars

Look to the Stars, a short story by Kal Spriggs
Look to the Stars, a short story by Kal Spriggs

Since I’ll be at Liberty Con this weekend, I’ve made my short story, Look to the Stars, free on Amazon.  This is a short story set in the Shadow Space Universe and tells the story of Mason McGann, a smuggler who lives in the shadows.  Mason finds himself drawn into a dangerous game of politicians and warlords, where one wrong step might spell the end not just for him, but for millions of innocent people.  It is set before the events of The Fallen Race and can be seen as a prologue, of sorts, for the Shadow Space Chronicles.

Mason McGann is a smuggler, a liar, and a cheat. With his ship impounded by customs, he figures he has no choice left but to auction off information about the lost Dreyfus Fleet. But things are never what they seem when you hold information that can change the course of history.

Look to the Stars is free on 28 and 29 June, 2015 on Amazon.  Get your copy here.

50 Shades of Polychrome

PolychromePolychrome by Ryk Spoor is now live, you can read the review from Capitol Cat Editing below and follow this link to find it on Amazon.

Kal Spriggs

This is a guest blog from Amanda at Capitol Cat Editing in for Kal this week.

My latest read has been Polychrome by Ryk E. Spoor.  This book is a combination of fantasy, fanfic, romance, and action.  The author does several things well; like capturing the rhythm and syntax style of L. Frank Baum, the imagination and magic of Oz, and paying homage to the characters Ozites have come to adore.  Spoor also references many other cult classics and will inspire many geek moments for his readers.  His vocabulary is also delightfully versatile and refreshing.  My chief complaints are more matters of opinion versus any grievous errors in plot, theme, or overall ability — with one exception: sexuality.  The theme of redemption is very well done and definitely contributed to some of the best parts of the book.

Spoor is clearly a hardcore Ozite.  He references details from most of…

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Taxes for Writers, part 2

Here is part 2 of my Taxes for Writers section, reblogged for those who may not have seen it last year.

Kal Spriggs

In my last bit on taxes, I went into what I’ve learned as far as tax deductions.  Now comes the less fun parts.

Writers, God(s) help us, are considered self employed.  This has a number of effects upon the money we earn and the taxes we have to pay.  As far as the US tax system and the IRS, being self employed puts most of the burden upon the writer.

There’s three types of tax that all US Citizens pay.  There’s Social Security, Medicare, and then income tax.  Normally, you only have to pay a net 7.65 percent of your income to social security and medicare.  The problem is, your employer is paying the other 7.65 percent.  As a writer, your employer is you (regardless of whether you publish with a big company or not, they push the onus of paying that to you), so you have to pay all…

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