Work De-Motivators – Things That Sap Morale in the Workplace


I have learned over the years more about de-motivation than actual motivation.  Usually I obtain this knowledge while fulfilling the role of “whipping boy” for less-than-able managers (not at my current employer of course!)  What I have discovered is that when you look at what kills motivation you often can gain the important knowledge – what DOES help spur motivation.  Bear in mind I’m work in Information Technology, so my perspective can be slightly skewed – sometimes more than others.

So, in an effort to expand our knowledge, here are my big de-motivators list – in no particular order:

Seemingly random decisions by leadership.  The word “seemingly” is important here.  It’s actually pretty rare when a leader makes a totally random decision.  There’s almost always some reasoning behind it – some context for the decision.  Often times though, I’ve found, that the decision is communicated and not the reasoning or context of why the decision was made.  Without understanding “why” something is being done, the only conclusion I’m sometimes left with is that the decision was made by pulling it out of their collective asses.

Cutting back training. I worked in the auto industry – so I understand what tough economic times are.  Yes, you do have to cut expenses from time to time – and training is the proverbial victim of this.  Training is one area I am sensitive too.  Training is a pact between the organization and the individual. Training individuals says, “We see you being around here for a while and want to optimize you.”  When training is constricted to the point where it isn’t happening – the effects on many people is that they don’t believe that the organization cares about them as individuals.

Leap before you look leadership.  “Any jackass can burn down a barn,” or so the old saying goes.  Making a decision without all of the pertinent information can sap a team’s motivation.  I have seen current management buzzwords about “fail forward,” where people are willing to make mistakes to learn from them.  This kind of thinking creates the illusion of innovation, when in reality it is frustrating to the staff.

Analysis paralysis.  The opposite of leap before you look – this de-motivator is a lack of decisions making.  Sometimes the decisions are easy to make – but analysis paralysis is a major drain on the energy of an organization.  The quest for absolute perfect knowledge and buy-in is often the same as not taking a stand at all. Managers who constantly look for more data are often fearful of making the right decision.

Promotions that seem…well, crazy.  We’ve all been there when the promotion list comes out and we say, “What the hell?”  When promotions are given out to, well, morons of individuals whose only competency is killing senior leadership’s butt…it can be highly demotivating.

No apparent roadmap of where we are going.  I am most effective when I know what I am working towards.  I don’t need all of the details, but I like knowing a little bit of the end-state vision.  When I understand how my work gets us all further towards a goal – I get a sense of satisfaction.  Pretty simple really.  When I have no idea what the goal is I have no idea whether I am part of the problem or part of the solution.  Managers who say it is not about the destination, but the journey, are just deflecting that they don’t know where they are going.  Have you ever taken a family driving vacation, with the kids, in the summer, with no destination in mind?  In fact, a lack of vision can lead people to not take any steps at all out of fear they might be doing the wrong thing.

The Teflon Factor with leaders.  When presented with an issue or problem, a good leader will take an active role in resolving it.  A de-motivating leader will look to his or her team and say, “You people all have a problem.”  Accountability is a critical element of motivation of teams.   People look to managers/leaders to be in the same boat they are.  Managers that deflect issues down to their team erodes motivation of those teams.

Rewards and recognition applied unequally.  A messed up rewards and recognition system has the exact opposite of its intended purpose.

Conflict avoidance.  Some managers harbor the illusion that all conflict is bad.  That’s not true at all.  Conflict can often be protective.  Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but sometimes it forces people to deal with organizational or people issues that have to be resolved for the team(s) to grow.  Dodging conflict, ignoring conflict – these things drain organizational energy.

An attitude of, “You should be thankful you have a job…”  That’s odd, I thought I had a career?  When under pressure, some managers resort to the attitude of, “you’re lucky we keep you around.”  First off, let me tell you if I feel lucky.  Secondly, nine-times-out-of-ten when someone has told me I’m lucky I have a job – I feel quite the opposite.

Micromanagement.  There are times we all need a little direction…well, all of you…frankly I’m good.  Seriously though, some “leaders” think that leading means telling everyone how to do their job.  Most employees don’t need that.  They need a manager to run interference for them, remove obstacles, not tell them what color to make a Times Roman font in PowerPoint so that it stands out.

My purpose was not the come across negative…snarky, yes, negative, no.  If you look at this list you can see some gems on what provide motivation – the exact opposite of these:

  • Provide teams with concrete decisions and why they were made.
  • Invest in your people (train them).
  • Make informed decisions.
  • Make timely decisions to respond to the business.
  • Lay out a convincing and compelling vision of where the organization is going
  • Leaders need to hold themselves accountable to their teams.
  • Apply rewards and recognition fairly and proportionally to the value of the work being rewarded.
  • Employ constructive conflict techniques to resolve issues.
  • Let employees tell you (and the rest of the organization) that they are glad to be part of the team.
  • Tell your people the results you want and let them amaze you as to how they do it.

Thoughts?  Rebuttals?  Recriminations? Did you like this?  Go read my book, Business Rules, The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords.  (Catchy title eh?)


Review of HBO’s Paterno

True crime stuff always pulls me in and I thought it was great that HBO was going to take a run at the Jerry Sandusky debacle at Penn State.  Having seen Al Pacino play Dr. Kevorkian in a HBO show, I was hopeful to get some real insights as to what actually happened during the turmoil of the case.  I thought with the passage of time, we might get some clarity around the events that rapidly unfolded.

I was disappointed.

The HBO film, Paterno, is a bizarre collage of bits and pieces that barely hang together as a movie.  I stuck with it to the end, because I was still in search of some resolution.  Don’t make the same mistake I did.

Paterno comes across as entirely unsympathetic from a character perspective.  He is detached to the point of senility.  The question remains through 99% of the movie as to what he knew and when he knew it.  Only in the last few minutes do we get a glimpse of how many decades he covered for Sandusky.

The reporter character who broke the case is about the only character you can latch onto as redeemable and her parts are a jumble of disjointed segments leaving you to wonder what she actually thinks and believes.   Her character could and should have been used to guide the viewer through the allegations of misconduct.  In reality, you get the feeling she is along for the ride with the rest of us.

We never see the critical scenes where Paterno is told of Sandusky’s terrible infractions or his action.  All we see is Pacino’s character struggle to remember the event and blow it off as not important.  There are parts of this movie that either were left on the cutting room floor or never filmed in the first place.

Pacino’s acting is great but there is nothing in the character he plays that viewers can or will identify with.  The victims of Jerry Sandusky are backgrounds to a choppy plot.  What was needed here was a treatment like All The President’s Men or The Post. What we get is dull and filmed with lots of strange moving camera angles and poorly written lines about characters none of us can identify with or care about.  It fails as true crime or even as fluff-entertainment.

I was disappointed in HBO this time around, a rarity.

The 30th Anniversary of the Disappearance of Keith Call and Cassandra Hailey – The Colonial Parkway Murders

What happened here was only the end of the story…the abandonment of Keith Call’s car

Every year April 9 passes, and every year there is no resolution to what happened to Keith Call and Cassandra Hailey.  This year is no different other than this is one of those milestone anniversaries – three decades of more mystery than answers.  Every five years the media pays homage the four pairs of Colonial Parkway Murders.  Every five years the same questions are asked.  Who did these crimes?  Why?  But the most nagging question of all remains, “Where are Keith and Cassandra?”

As a writer you get to know some of these families of the victims.  The completion of the book does not end our relationships. My co-author/daughter likes to say, “We are never off the case.”  She’s right. One thing I have come to appreciate is that these are, for the most part, good people. They too are victims of this killer, and carry the emotional scars to prove it.  In the case of the Colonial Parkway Murders, the burden of remembrance of their loved ones has, in some cases, passed from the parents to the surviving siblings.

Almost all have said that this pair of murders stands out.  In the other killings the murderer left mortal remains…the families know somewhat what befell their loved ones.  Not so in the case of Keith and Cassandra.  Their families have no graves, no memorials, nothing.  It was as if they drove off April 9, 1988 into oblivion.

The facts of the case do not change materially over time.  Keith and Cassandra went on a first date together.  When you see their photos, they look as if they were stars of a John Hughes from the 1980s.  This was not a romantic date.  They went to a movie and a party new Christopher Newport Community College (now University.)  At the party, they didn’t even spend time together.  Keith was on a two-week break from his long-term girlfriend; and Cassandra spent her time at the kegger talking to her former boyfriend.  They left the party before 2:00am, Cassandra’s curfew.  It was just enough time for conscientious Keith to get her home in Tabb, Virginia.

The next day their car was found on the Colonial Parkway – abandoned.  Their clothing was in the back seat.  Three of their shoes were in the car as well.  The keys were in plain sight as was Keith’s wallet and Cassandra’s purse.  There was no sign of either victim.

Extensive searches were launched along the Parkway.  In a strange twist, another body was found in the York River near where the car was found – but no sign of either of the victims.

So what happened to Keith and Cassandra?  The Park Rangers foolishly suggested they went skinny dipping in the 40 degree weather.  Most of the searches concentrated their efforts on the York River and the Parkway…but there never was a bit of physical evidence to put either of them there.

The truth is only their killer(s) know for sure.  What I am confident of is that whatever happened didn’t happen at the Parkway.  Even if we wildly stretch our imaginations and assume that Keith and Cassandra were going to go somewhere to make out, it would not be the Colonial Parkway.  Keith didn’t frequent it because of the murders of Cathy Thomas and Rebecca Dowski there is 1986.  Cassandra felt that he road was creepy and avoided it.

Whatever happened, in my opinion (and some in law enforcement) took place between the party at Christopher Newport and Cassandra’s home – along the Route 17 corridor.  Yes, the car was found at the first rest area on the Colonial Parkway, but that was all.  I doubt that either of them were on the Parkway.  There’s no physical evidence of it.  That was simply where the car was dumped by the killer(s).

Did you see this car the night of April 9, 1988?  Contact the FBI if you did.  

There are questions that nag at me, both as a researcher/investigator and an author.  The short version includes:

  • Where did Keith and Cassandra confront their killer(s)? If it was along Route 17, why weren’t they seen by someone that night?
  • How did the killer(s) get them to pull over?  Was it someone impersonating police officers, or someone actually in law enforcement?  Was it a flash of police lights or some other ploy to get their attention?
  • Where are their remains?  With all of the development in the region, one would think that someone would have come across their remains over the years.
  • I have long believed that the removal of their clothing and shoes was a means for the killer to exert control.  Why fold up their clothing and put it in the back seat of Keith’s car?
  • Why take the car to the Parkway to abandon it?  Was it a taunt aimed at authorities?  There were dozens of places that car could have been left – why on the Parkway?
  • Did the killer order them to drive around that night?  There were empty beer cans in the back of Keith’s car on the floor.  Did the killer take them for some sort of ride at gun or knife point?  To where?
  • How did the killer get away?  Remember – we are dealing with multiple scenes of this crime.  One, where Keith and Cassandra were confronted. Two, where they were killed.  Three, where their remains were disposed.  Four, where the car was abandoned.  Some of these may be the same scene, regardless, there was a lot of potential travel that night.  After the car was left on the Parkway, did the killer have an accomplice pick him up – or did he walk off into the night?  If so, how did no one not notice him?
  • What DNA, if any, can be recovered from this crime scene that is of use?  Bear in mind, the Park Rangers rooted through this car twice, removing the clothing and contents then restaging the vehicle.  How contaminated is the material they have left?

Of course, one of you may have the answers.  On April 9, 1988 you may have passed Keith’s red Toyota Celica pulled over somewhere?  Did you see the killer walking along the Colonial Parkway?  Did you see someone at Keith’s car at the pull-off on the York River?

Sadly, we are left with more questions than answers.  The passage of three decades has done little to fill in the gaps in our knowledge.  While to me, it is important to know who this killer is; it is far more important to learn where Keith and Cassandra are.  If the murderer is reading this, and there is a good chance that he is (organized killers follow their crimes), let the families know where you put their bodies. There are a lot of ways to do this without risking your exposure.  Send a letter to the press, to me, or the authorities.  Tell the families where they can find their loved ones.

After three decades…justice needs to be served.  If that is not possible, perhaps closure for the families is a good place to start. Let’s hope that the killer is reading this and has an ounce of humanity still left in him.

Annual BattleTech April Fool’s Humor – BattleTech Products That Never Came to Market

MechWarrior Mullet Wash?  

Every year on April Fools’ Day, I try to remember to drop a little bit of humor for the fan base.  Last year, it was a tribute to BattleTech Fan Fiction:  I managed to offend, at my last count, 214 fan factions in the BattleTech universe with that gem.  So I figured I would go for the gold this year.

This year’s April Fools’ gift; a glimpse into the catalog of BattleTech products that never quite made the cut.  Back in the heyday of FASA, a lot of this kind of stuff might very well have been on the table.  Remember when FASA would put products in the catalog and never deliver them?  Me too.  So, pretend for a moment that I dug these gems out of my ‘archives.’ These are products that got shelved for one reason or another – usually good taste prevailing or because of outright legal issues or protests by various segments of the fan community.

Succession Wars – The Operational/Tactical Board Game.  In the end- there can only be one.  That’s right, the big one you’ve been asking for.  Fly your company to any world, land, and slug it out using Total Warfare BattleTech rules.  The map covers the entire Inner Sphere including the planets, on a tactical level!  Exciting?  Yes.  Map size, roughly 22 square miles (not including the Periphery booster pack to be released this fall).  Succession Wars ships will all miniatures of every single ‘Mech, jumpship, dropship, and tank used in the four wars; roughly five overseas standard shipping container’s worth.  The painting set alone consists of ten 50 gallon drums of everything from Steiner Blue to Kurita blood red.  Two collector’s dice and a 5,128 page hard cover rules book is included, complete with painting instructions for every ‘Mech, in every unit, in every war.  Playing time after an exhaustive set up – roughly 4.7 years (the Third Succession Wars Introductory Scenario).  The box art alone is billboard sized, perfect for your man (or Clan) cave.  Pre-Orders get a custom Hanse Davion miniature.  (Note: Some assembly required).

BattleTech Formal Dinnerware.  Every fan has wanted the dining plate service from the Hanse Davion/Melissa Steiner wedding, now they are available.  Relive that moment when Maximillian Liao grabbed those plates because they had the worlds of the Confederation on them.  Gotta collect them all!

Clan Home Tattoo Kit.  Ever want that Jade Falcon on your chest, of those patterned neural implants on your face?  Of course you have.  Now you can.  With the Clan Home Tattoo Kit you can get your own battery powered tattoo needle and all of the colors of the Clans – Jade Falcon Green, Wolf Red…all of the popular one.  With official BattleTech clan templates, you can be the most stylish player in your group.  Forget painting miniatures, you have a whole body that can be marked up.

Comes in glow in the dark ink! 

Joanna Brand Prozac. ™ Anyone can take mood altering drugs, but you’re a BattleTech fan – you demand more.  With Joanna Brand Prozac, with a special slow-release fury inhibitor, you can be calm some of the time and still have those outrageous outbursts you can’t get with off-the-shelf Prozac. Control your inner rage and fury with Joanna Brand Prozac.

Clan Coupling Lotion.  For Him and Her. Most Clan Warriors like it rough and this coupling lotion is designed just to create that intimacy.  The men’s tube is a special mix of ghost pepper juice to make you howl in agony while the women’s tube contains a micro-sand grit to add to your mutual pleasure.  Nothing says loving like Clan coupling! (Note this product does not prevent freebirths.  Use with birth control or sterilization drugs.)

The Word of Blake’s Greatest Hits CD.  Sung by the Hilton Head Choral Society, these musical chants are designed to help you relax as you do the Blessed Blake’s work.  A must for lovers of Gregorian chants accompanied by bagpipes, whale-song with a touch of disco and gansta rap.  Includes the hits, “I Wanna Watch the Whole Universe Burn,” “That’s Not Our Jihad,” “I’ve Got that Andurien Feeling,” “Doesn’t Everyone Give Warships For Christmas?” and, “I’ve got the Blessed Blake On My Mind.” Perfect for those moments when you are contemplating killing all of your coworkers in a fit of hysteria and rage and setting the building on fire, just for grins.  Forget karma – spread a little chaos with some wonderful and relaxing dance and meditation tunes.

Super Abs with Vlad Ward Workout DVD’s.  Building off of the highly successful, “Nicolai Malthus Zumba” DVD series, the Super Abs with Vlad Ward focuses on his unique brand of exercise and hatred of freebirths to create rock-hard stomach muscles.

Supplement:  The Lower Castes of the Clans.  Ever want to role-play a factory worker, or perhaps a delivery boy in the Clan occupation zone?  The mysterious lower castes are finally revealed!  Anyone can pilot an OmniMech, but it takes a scientist to come up with a cure for a warrior’s insomnia or preparing a meal for your NPC family!  The grocery shopping tables offer a great view into the diet needs of the lower castes.  This is your opportunity to explore this fascinating and often gripping parts of Clan society.

BattleTech ‘Mech-Scale Airbrush.  Ever get frustrated using your standard model airbrush with your tiny BattleTech mini?  We have heard your cries and are releasing a new micro-airbrush, specifically for painting your never-ending collection of ‘Mechs.  This airbrush releases an almost invisible stream of paint, so small you can get that cockpit window to sparkle! Comes with a micro-sized air compressor and an eyedropper for putting in the paint!

ComStar – The Card Game of Building Trust and Betraying Mankind.  (Marketing Department Note:  Kudos on the catchy name!)  In this exciting fast-paced card game you try and maintain your HPG network while secretly raising an army to destroy your fellow players.  Avoid the Deliberate Blackout or Sudden But Inevitable Betrayal cards!

The Republic of the Sphere Domino Set.  In this set of 300 dominos, one in every 12 falls over on its own, making setting up the pieces a real challenge.

Kai Allard Liao Hair Gel. Ever wanted to get that slick-backed greasy-boy look for your hair.  Now you too can look like the champion of the Solaris arenas.  Kai Allard Liao Hair Gel comes in three flavors (including Minty PPC Blast) and four colors (including the very popular Yen-Lo-Wang florescent orange!).  Want to impress the ladies, slick up with Kai Allard Liao hair gel.  (Marketing Department Note:  Tests on lab animals shows this causes a rash in less than 30% of people who use the product – make sure we put a tiny warning label on it.)

Game Scale Game Map Set.  Let’s face it, you’ve always wished the BattleTech miniatures were built to scale with the hexes.  We could shrink the minis, or we can make the hexes larger.  In this option, the game scale map set, each hex measures six inches, making our maps roughly 9 by 8.5 feet in size.  If you’re gonna play, play big! Finally your minis will look to scale!  With foam backing each map weighs less than 90 lbs!

Beta Strike.  Alpha Strike made for quick play.  Beta Strike goes the other direction.  With eight pages of damage tracking, you will be able to track damage to each myomer bundle, every PPC capacitor, every laser optic unit.  With over 2000 pages of rules, Beta Strike takes roughly three hours to play 30 seconds of battle time.  Beta Strike uses real world physics too!  Machineguns have real world ranges, as do missiles.  So detailed, so realistic, you can smell your granddaddy’s sweat inside your neurohelmet!

Tiaret Nevversan Bikini Wax Kit.  Nobody does body waxes like Elementals.  Tiaret Nevversan Bikini Wax can be used to remove unsightly hair from those intimate places, can strip rust off of iron or steel, and can even be used to strip paint off your car!  FDA approval pending.

ComStar Smart Phones.  Modeled after a 1980’s Motorola Cellular Phone.  Three out of every ten will secretly record your calls and share your messages with your enemies.

ComStar – We Put the W in Quwality! 

Attack of the Sentient Chickens Sourcebook.  You thought that Far Country was a one-off fluke?  No way.  The chickens are back and this time they come piloting BattleMechs!  Complete stats on the Chick Filet and Colonel Sander’s Battalions, and the new Fricassee, Hot Wing, Honey BBQ, and Clucker Class BattleMechs.  New weapons include the extended range Kenny Rogers’ Roaster-Flamer.   The chickens are back and this time it is war.  Saddle up, it’s a finger-licking fight to the finish!

BattleTech Tee-Shirts.  This is your chance to make a true fashion statement.

  • Information is ammunition!
  • Don’t mind me, I’m following the Exodus Road.
  • Task Force Serpent:  I went all the way to Huntress but all I got was this stupid t-shirt.
  • Terra or Bust! (with your choice of invading clan logo).
  • The only good Wolverine is a dead Wolverine.
  • Schizophrenic?  The Free World’s League Wants You!
  • I’ve got your triple-strength myomer right here (arrow pointing down towards to waistline).
  • I Conquered the FRR and All I Got Was This T-Shirt.
  • Word of Blake – Putting the Fun in Jihad’s For the Last 12 Years.
  • House Liao – Beating off Davion Aggression for Centuries (Marketing Department Note:  Make “Beating Off Davion” highlighted in red…snicker)
  • Cuddle-up with a Clanner.
  • I’m with ComStar so you can trust me (wink)
  • I was cool long before I became Unseen.
  • Once you go Bounty Hunter you never go back.
  • Tupac killed Natasha Kerensky.
  • At least my mother was not a trueborn!
  • Smoke Jaguar = Party Animal!
  • There’s no league like a Star League.
  • Wilson’s Hussars – You miss us, don’t you?
  • You mess with me, you mess with my entire Clan (Available with All Clan Logos in the background)
  • First one to Terra wins!
  • Need an Exterminator? Contact Malvina Hazen at ComStar Account 2003157A
  • (Image of four Atlas’s)  Steiner Recon Lance Reporting for Duty!
  • (House Marik purple shirt) I’m with Stupid (with arrow pointing up.)
  • Once you go Fidelis, you never go back.
  • Remember Outreach! (with glow in the dark mushroom cloud)
  • Elementals – Genetically Engineered in the All The Right Places
  • Waco’s Rangers – “Curse your sudden and inevitable betrayal.”
  • Clan Widowmaker – When you absolutely positively need to stab your comrades in the back…
  • Tanks are nothing but roller sakes for BattleMechs.
  • I’m old school, I pilot Locusts and Chargers.
  • Once you go Clicky-Tech, you never go back.
  • Somedays you roll boxcars on every hit location.
  • Trueborn on the streets, Freebirth between the sheets.
  • ComStar – When it absolutely, positively has to be there in a week or two.
  • Focht off!
  • Some days you’re a Sea Fox, some days you’re a Diamond Shark.
  • Mechwarrior:  “What do you Highlanders wear under your kilt?”  Northwind Highlander:  “Yer girlfriend’s lipstick laddie!”
  • I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve taken a PPC shot to the head.
  • BattleMechs – Laying waste to mankind…just because.
  • Clan Tin Sloth – Because we all take this game to damned seriously
  • Fortress Republic Security Systems.  Keeping mankind safe for 15 years-ish
  • I’m so hot I’ve got a +3 to hit
  • Old School BattleTech.  I remember defending a world with a Company of ‘Mechs and when ice ships, salvage, and periphery pirates were problems.
  • Real ‘Mechs Don’t Click
  • There is no honor in artillery bombardments
  • Nicholas Kerensky – Making House Liao Look Sane for Centuries
  • “I challenge you to a hexagon of equals!”
  • I’m about to go surat on your sorry ass!
  • You can take my needler rifle when you can peel my cold dead fingers from around it.
  • BattleMechs – Stomping Infantry into a gooey red paste for over three centuries.
  • Savannah Masters – Death From Below.
  • Don’t mess with me, I got my start on Solaris VII.
  • When the going gets tough, the tough go on Exodus.

Devlin Stone Whiskey.  Like the Republic, it is so smooth that it is almost tasteless.  You have to put it on ice for 20 years in order to drink it, and when you do, it kind of sucks.  But the bottle is a collector’s item, so we know you’ll buy it.  Best served with RoS Saltine Crackers (catalog number 3025)

Solaris VII Sunglasses. Ray Bans are for wannabe hipsters.  The really cool look are Solaris VII Sunglasses.  Perfect for those sporting events where someone may be killed.  Solaris Sunglasses are made of shatter resistant ferroplastic so that if you are hit with a piece of stray shrapnel, your broken sunglasses won’t be a concern.

Victor Steiner-Davion Plush Toy.  From the folks at Build a Bear; a soft plush Victor-Steiner Davion.  He’s incredibly small, warm, and cuddly for those night when you wonder if assassins are going to creep in your windows.  Comes with a ComStar, Republic of the Sphere, Federated Suns, Lyran Commonweath, Star League, and Federated Commonwealth uniforms.

Land-Sea ‘Mechs Sourcebook – Building off the stunning universal love and success of Land Air ‘Mechs; this supplement details the naval aspect of convertible ‘Mechs.  The Tigershark, for example, appears as both a recon ‘Mech and a small houseboat, depending on its configuration.  Why limit your gameplay to the continents when there’s a whole ocean worth fight for?  It’s time to take to the high seas with your ‘Mechs.  This contains all 38 different Land Sea ‘Mechs, special rule of play (including eight different classes of torpedoes, all with ranges that don’t even match today’s weapons!)

Rock ’em Sock ’em ™ BattleMechs.  The classic kid’s toy comes back, this time featuring an Atlas and a BattleMaster as the toy punching robots.  This new version features sound effects from battle, including a voice that yells, “Punch out!” when your ‘Mech’s head is knocked off.

You got a critical head hit!

Melissa Steiner Mycosia Pseudoflora Flower Bulbs. Now you can have flowers all over your yard and gardens to remind you of Melissa Steiner-Davion.  These genetically engineered flower bulbs are perfect for even the feeblest gardener.  (Marketing Staff Note:  Too soon?)

Horse Brand Boxer Briefs.  Your favorite freebirth now can be cozy with your junk all day long.  Horse Boxer Briefs provide little relief on hot days, because Horse would have wanted it that way.  They come in one color, green.  With a thick waistband for extra support, this brand of men’s underwear shows you are endowed in the same way as their namesake.  “If you are going to let your junk swing, swing it like a Horse.”

Focht Formalwear Eyepatches Line.  Missing an eye and looking for a high quality eye patch or just wanting to look stylish for that next formal event – Focht Eyepatches are the way to stand out.  Made of durable material that conforms to your face, these patches say, “I’m full of intrigue while still looking awesome.”  Make sure you check out our Bluetooth enabled patches!

BattleTech 12 inch Action Figures – Complete with ‘Mechs!  Anyone can make a three inch action figure.  We decided to go old-school G I Joe and do 1:6 scale action figures.  Comes in a five foot crate to hold the ‘Mech, these figures are fun for kids and adults alike. With Kung Fu Grip, your MechWarrior can climb up and sit in his or her cockpit and lay waste to your living room.  ‘Mechs have chopping and kicking action and PPC and laser sound effects.  The cockpit even lights up red for those nasty headshots.  The initial set includes Morgan Kell (and a transparent ghost ‘Mech), Natasha Kerensky, and Jamie Wolf.

House Liao Brand Fortune Cookies.  Having Chinese food tonight?  How about serving House Liao Fortune Cookies as part of your desert?  You won’t regret it.  These BattleTech-House Liao themed fortunes are perfect to add to your menu.  Here’s a sampling of fortunes you might find…

  • Today you will join a cult of ancient assassins. Good for you!
  • In the house of the insane, the sanest person is the one that recognizes the craziness in others.
  • Don’t trust the people you are eating with, they are conspiring against you.
  • Your sister is evil and plotting to kill you.
  • Someone at this table poisoned your food.  You know what you have to do.
    Cherish your children, but do not trust them.
  • Today is a good day to attack your neighbors – they would never expect it.
  • It might be best to kill your brothers and sisters, they are up to no good.
  • Don’t kid yourself, you are the smartest person at this table.
  • Those voices in your head, listen to them.
  • A knife in the back is policy rather than crime.
  • ‘It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.”
  • The only enemies that matter are those you have not killed yet.
  • Crazy people always have more room because no one wants to sit next to them.
  • Do you really know who prepared your meal?
  • The loudest voice in your head is probably the one to listen to.
  • Your neighbors are up to something.  Best to kill them now.
  • This is a good time to plot against the most threatening member of your family…or your sister…whichever is easier
  • The person on the left is planning on your demise.  He who strikes first, wins.
  • Follow your destiny.  If you don’t have one, take someone else’s and follow it.
  • Face the day knowing that everyone is out to kill you and you will never be disappointed.
  • The Warrior is not as feared as the Mad Man.  Be the Mad Man.
  • Betrayal is honorable if done for the right reasons.
  • Redrum Redrum.
  • That isn’t your normal mailman.  Best to kill him now.
  • Remember – Melissa Steiner stopped to smell the flowers once and it didn’t work out well for her.
  • Your imaginary friends cannot be fully trusted.  Nor can your real friends…or your family for that matter.
  • Tomorrow will bring you joy, happiness, and the death of someone close to you.  Embrace the day!
  • He who is most paranoid, wins.
  • You do not have to kill your enemies.  Simply put them in situations where there is a high probability that they will be killed.  Eventually the math works to your advantage.
  • Batshit crazy is not a state of mind, it is the mind of State.

Word of Blake Camouflage Miniatures Paint Set.  You get ivory, stark white, off-white, light gray, eggshell white, semi-gloss white, white-white, holy-blinding white, reflective white, and gloss white.  Everything you need to paint that lance of Wobbies so they will be camouflaged and blend in.  Perfect for that WoB fan out there (all three of you.)

IWM Scale MechWarrior Miniatures.  Sure you have an impressive collection of Iron Wind miniatures, but do you have the minis of the pilots that go with them?  No?  Well now you can. These MechWarriors are scaled to your existing ‘ Mechs so you can use them in play.  Each comes with a small Iron Wind collectable magnifying glass to assist in painting.

Neuro-Motorcycle Helmet. Show your colors by wearing the only officially licensed BattleTech helmet.  Sure it has a limited field of vision and can appear a bit bulky, but it tells everyone that you are a true road warrior – a MechWarrior!  Comes in Dragoon’s Blue, Highlander Black, and Federated Suns Gold.  (Marketing Department Note: We need a sticker that says, “Warning – you cannot use brain impulses to balance your motorcycle.”)

“Widow-Wear” Natasha Kerensky Line of Lingerie.  Based on the original cover for Tales of the Black Widow, no one dresses as seductively/scantily/skankily than the Black Widow, and now you (or that special someone in your life) can wear her exclusive line lingerie.  Widow-wear features black leather thongs, a line of distressed t-shirt tops, and plastic-ferro bras.  Ohh, sexy…

Admit it, you’ve had fantasies about her – in the 80’s.  

Republic of the Sphere Snuggie.  Nothing makes you feel warm and safe like a Republic of the Sphere Snuggie.  This one-size-fits-all snuggie is perfect for those chilly nights and is stylish – emblazoned with the RoS logo on a bright yellow background (read into that all you want).  Show your true colors and keep warm while you do it.  You’ll want to beat your swords in the plowshares after a few minutes in this puppy.

Taurian Concordat Nipple and Nose Rings.  I would say more, but you are digging out your credit card and wanting to make sure there is no limit on how many you can order.  Am I right?  We would offer body piercings for other parts of the body but the head of the marketing team is a bit squeamish when it comes to testing new products.

Nova Cat Tarot Cards.  If you want to see the future, do it with Nova Cat Tarot Cards.  Each card features a famous Nova Cat warrior or Clan ‘vineer.  Perfect for those dinner parties or business luncheons when you want to get a quick read on how your next career move will go.

Play Doh ™ Hesperus BattleMech Factory Fun Set.  Remember Play Doh? Now you can use these specially created molds to create scale-size Play Doh BattleMechs.  Comes with a can of Steiner Blue and a mix of grays, greens and browns.  Make your own camouflage patterns, then press and wha-la – you have a Play Doh ‘Mech all ready to put on the map and it is fully posable.  Fun to squash when they are taken down too.

Word of Blake Android Tablets.  The most secure and connected Android tablet on the market.  They connect to any WiFi, even if they don’t know the password and they pass on all of your personal information to a bunker in Hilton Head…for security reasons.  If you type in anything bad about the tablet or The Word of Blake, their battery explodes.  (Note from Marketing:  TSA will not allow these on aircraft.)

Hanse Davion Cologne.  Going out on the town?  Splash on some of The Fox!  Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to smell like Hanse Davion?  A loser or Capellan sympathizer, that’s who!  The sweet smell of success is perfect for those nights of power-hungry marriage and intimacy.

House Liao Bath Mat.  Brilliant green and yellow with a map of the Capellan Confederation, this bath mat is a soft plush 80% cotton, 20% ferro-polyester blend.  Feel powerful as you stomp your feet on the Confederation after ever shower or bath. Perfect for that House Davion fan.

Sword of Light Night Light.  I would describe this, but it really isn’t necessary.  Who wouldn’t want their kid to sleep under the war red glow of a bloody sword shaped night light?  Father of the year – right?

Marik Brand DNA Test Kits.  We all want to know our linage and when it comes to the need for DNA testing, House Marik knows best!  Ever wonder if your brother was swapped out by an evil organization and replaced with a doppleganger?  Don’t we all?  Now you can verify with a simple DNA swab.  Results tell you what percentage of House or Clans your DNA is made up from.  How cool is that?

Combination Drone and Game-Scale Overlord Dropship.  Anybody can build a scale model of a dropship.  Let’s face it, we all have.  This is a different.  Using state of the art drone technology, your dropship not only is to scale, but can fly in over your game board and land!  Complete with running lights, this dropship is a must-have for any true player.

ComStar Bath Robes.  Rich white thick robes emblazoned with the ComStar logo, these are perfect for those slow days around the house while you hum the songs of technical manuals.  Stay toasty warm while you plan on stabbing the back of humanity.  Note:  This replaces Product Number 3025-A. the reversible black/white ComStar/Word of Blake robes.

Lego ™ Mad Cat.  This three foot tall Lego kit has over 5200 parts and includes a hardcover building manual that is over 120 pages long!  Long tedious hours of fun are guaranteed as you build this queen of the battlefield.  Complete with a fully twistable torso and PPC’s.  Delivered in a simulated (and collectable) SRM ammo crate.

BattleTech Faction Dice Polishing Towels.  These microfiber towels are printed with your favorite House or Clan and are designed to clean your dice of the nasty oils and dust that can screw up your rolls.  Based on the same technology as glasses cleaner towels, these polishers ensure the best possible rolls of your die.  Do you want to risk that PPC shot will hit your head?  I think not!

BattleMech Jewelry.  From the team at Iron Wind Metals, necklaces of your favorite ‘Mechs.  This heavy metal bling is both hip and jump!  Love your UrbanMech, then show it when you wear it around your neck.  IWM is also making a line of Pandora bracelet tokens from cast-offs arms, legs, or torsos.  The ladies love this stuff – we swear!

Kurita Brand Bath Salts.  Have a stressful day fending off the Clans, killing Davions, or treating your mercenaries like garbage?  Don’t we all?  Well, settle down in a nice safe warm tub of water and pour on some Kurita Brand Bath Salts to ease your tensions and give your skin that sweaty glow.

BattleMech Mud Flaps.  BattleMech mud-flaps make a statement as you cruise down the road.  They come as an Atlas, and Awesome, and one blank (for whatever unseen ‘Mech your heart desires.)   Impress your neighbors and fellow commuters.

UrbanMech Home Trash Cans.  Need I say more?  Let’s face it, we’ve all thought this at one point or another.  Simply step on their feet for the top to open.  Far more useful than the real UrbanMechs in the game.

Magistracy of Canopus Belly Dancer Outfit.  Embrace your hedonistic ways with some erotic dancing.  This authentic Canopian outfit is enough to seduce even the most celibate Blakist.  Comes in sizes from small to XXXL because we know our target market.

Build-A-Ghost-Bear.  Working with the wonderful folks at the Build-A-Bear Workshop ™, we have come up with a Ghost Bear version of their popular line of children’s playthings.  Each one of these custom-builds comes with an authentic Ghost Bear voice box that simulates the roar of an actual Ghost Bear!  Don’t worry about it frightening your kids, they will eventually get used to it and sleep like little cubs.  The optional four inch razor claws remind your youngster to be respectful of pets – so it is a animal-friendly as well!

Go-Bots Cross-Licensed ‘Mechs.  Sure, you’ve heard of the Unseen, but what about the Re-Seen?  Working shit out with Harmony Gold is too hard – so we opted for another partner.  Our marketing team have secured the rights to the Go-Bots cartoon series and we are going to release their unique form of ‘Mechs into the BattleTech universe.  We know you will be excited to see Bolt and Beemer in action on Tukayyid!

Uncle Chandy Sweatpants.  These Kurita maroon sweatpants are made from special fibers infused with melted Wizkids MechWarrior ™products to give them a wick-away of perspiration.  They come with two hidden pockets, because we all have something to hide, and an optional holster or katana sling.  Extra inner thigh chaffing padding sewn in.  Available only in extra-large sizes.

The Star League Ultimate Sourcebook.  Details the name of every person, ‘Mech, ship, etc., that left on the Kerensky Exodus, what happened to them, and tracing where their ‘Mechs ended up as well as their genetic legacy.  This book clocks in at 2,956 pages, so you know the fans will eat it up.  There are even tables provided for salvage of ‘Mechs and where each component ended up.  If you wanted to know the nuts and bolts of the SLDF, this is your book

Scale Model Black Lion Battlecruiser.  It takes a Clan to raze a village – or so they say.  Let’s face it, orbital bombardment is the way to go.  Why settle for small miniatures when you can get the scale model of the real-deal?  This model is six and a half feet long with a special four foot plastic stand so you can poise it above your battlefield.  The shadow of this beast over your map boards alone will scare your enemies.  With over 417 molded plastic parts, it is a Level 5 skill build – not for amateurs.  Purchase the optional lighting kit and you can really dominate the game.

BattleTech Food Products.  Nothing says good eating like BattleTech Brand foods!  We aren’t so much concerned about the nutritional value as we are in getting our brand out in the public.  Look for these exciting products.

  • ‘Mech-O’s Pasta.  Shaped like your favorite 3025 ‘Mechs and served in an orange goo that is supposed to be a tomato sauce, these little clumps of misshaped carbs are just what you need for dinner tonight. Offering no nutritional value and a heavily salted taste, you’ll want more!
  • Tukkayid Tarts.  Sure these are merely rebranded PopTarts ™ but the kids love them.  Covered in white ComStar frosting, these toaster pastries come with a collectable foil card of a famous ‘Mech or pilot in every box.
  • Cup O’Liao Soup.  It’s mostly water that you provide with more than its fair share of crazy noodles and a lone mushroom.
  • Ghost Knights Hot Sauce.  Made up from the tears of the fans of the Republic of the Sphere (all eight of you), mixed in with our special harvest of Ghost (Knights) Chili Peppers, this sauce is guaranteed to sear your lips, throat, and lower intestinal tract.
  • BattleMech Peeps.  Gluten free!  Comes in UrbanMech, Trebuchet, Exterminator, and Flashman shapes.  Soft pure sugar heaven.
  • Red Corsair Frozen Pizzas.  Okay, we admit it, we are taken Red Baron ™ pizza’s and slapping on a new logo.  You caught us on this one.
  • Kurita Crunch Breakfast Cereal.  Packed with so much fiber you will have to run the bathroom half-way through your bowl.  Kurita Crunch includes tiny sushi marshmallows to create the illusion that you are eating something fun.  Kurita Crunch packs in more than eight times the daily requirements for three vitamins.  Don’t rush out to conquer the Inner Sphere or crush the Davion hoards without a hearty bowl of Kurita Crunch.
  • Hell’s Horse’s BBQ Sauce.  A deep bourbon flavor with a kick (get it – horses, kick?)  Burns going down, burns coming out – so you know it is authentic.

Barrel of Goliath Scorpions.  A rebranding of a Barrel of Monkeys ™ game, this one using plastic scorpions.  What could be more fun than stringing up a chain of dangerous plastic scorpions?

Malvina Hazen Brand Dog Collars.  Usable on humans as well; these thick studded leather collars are just what you need to keep your dog, or captive young girl, in tow.  (Marketing Department Note:  We really need to vet this idea with our legal department, especially the human bondage aspect.  This opens the door for a whole line of Malvina-based S&M gear if they approve.  The R&D guys seem really excited to test this stuff, go figure.)

Rasalhague Door Mat. Emblazoned with the FRR’s dragon logo and the word “Welcome!” It is perfect for you to wipe your feet on – especially if you support Clan Ghost Bear.  It’s less washable than it is disposable – just like the FRR!

Calamity Kell Western-Style Boots.  With a name like “Calamity” you know they have to be tough.  Emblazoned with the Kell Hound logo, these women’s leather boots are the envy of every MechWarrior out there.  Great for line dancing or kicking some Clan-ass!

Freebirth-Control Foam.  Coupling is wonderful but not everyone wants to bring a bouncing ball of freebirth into the world.  If you want to prevent those unwanted pregnancies that lead to warriors that upset the balance of power in your Clan, try this contraceptive foam.  Comes in Jade-Love and Wet-Wolf scents to add to your pleasure.

Republic of the Sphere Jenga ™.  Each game piece is woodburned with the Republic of Sphere’s logo and the name of a world from that government.  Let’s face it, we all want to see it collapse, so why not do it Jenga-style?   You’ll have fun deliberately knocking it down.

Skye Scotch.  Nobody is contentious and cantankerous as our fine distilling staff at the BattleTech Distillery (actually it is six perpetually drunken Canadian CGL Demo Team Members.)  Skye Scotch has that flavor that, after a few shots, will have you wanting to rebel even from your own family.  Aged nearly eight weeks in Brent Evan’s garden shed, each bottle is sealed with a half-melted Age of Destruction Clicky-Mech (all Atlas’s of course).

Helmar Valasek’s Weight-Loss Shakes.  Who cares about Oprah?  I want to know what will take the pounds off of the big guys.  Well, here’s your answer – Helmar Valasek’s Weight Loss Shakes.  Guaranteed to take off five pounds in the first week!  They come in black licorice, spring onion, Lyran mint, and ComStar vanilla.  (Marketing Department Note:  Per the Legal Department, we need a warning label that these products may/will cause anal leakage.  We suggest using a 4 pt. font)

Your waist and neck should not be the same size.

Team Banzai Sourcebook.  By popular demand, the ultimate sourcebook for Team Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers – starting with the Gray Death Memory Core through the Fourth Succession War.  After Harmony Gold, we figured, “What the hell, let’s piss off Peter Weller and Jeff Goldblum!”  Comes with a fold-out centerfold map of the NAIS academy and a copy of our Cease and Desist Order from Sherwood Productions…as good as any certificate of authenticity.

The BattleTech Staff Sexy Poses Calendar – 2019.  We know you have been waiting on this one.  It was hard to get Randall to strap on that thong, and Brent to put on the body glitter.  It took three of us to hold down Loren for the bearskin rug photo shoot – but it was all worth it.  Many shots mirror early BattleTech covers such as Brent posing as the Black Widow and Mike Stackpole replicating the cover from Sorenson’s Sabres (it was hard getting him into a pair of jorts.)  This year features a centerfold group shot of all of the fiction authors.  Authentic BattleTech Barf Bag included! (and required).

BattleTech – The Collectable Pog Game.  Hey, Pokemon came back into vogue, we are just ahead of the curve.  With roughly 2000 pogs to be released, you’ll be collecting these for years to come.  Sure the game is simplistic, but we can repurpose the artwork from the BattleTech collectable card game for much of it.

Unmasking a Killer – The Golden State Killer – Mid-Season Review


Headline News Network’s (HLN) Unmasking a Killer is two episodes in to a five part series on the Golden State Killer that terrorized California in the 1970’s and 80’s.  There’s a lot of buzz around the Golden State Killer, new books (including Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark), several new series, etc.  I have to admit, I knew very little about these cases until the last year.  As a true crime author you tend to be heads-down on certain cases and only have cursory knowledge of others.  It’s a matter of maintaining focus.  All this means is I cannot tell you how comprehensive this show’s coverage of the cases are.

I saw some of the Golden State Killer series on ID Discovery on these cases and wasn’t dazzled with their presentation or format.  It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t seem to flow very well.  Not so with HLN’s Unmaking a Killer.  Two episodes in and I am hooked.  To me, it is all about the packaging of a good true crime on TV.  The HLN series talks to some of the victims, but really engages law enforcement who worked the cases.  The reenactment elements are short visuals, not overboard like you see on some series.  I like hearing from the people that worked the cases on my true crime TV, because they often offer details you haven’t heard before.

As someone who knew little about these crimes, Unmasking has done a great job of taking me on a journey as to how the East Area Rapist (EAR) and the Original Night Stalker (ONS) are actually one-in-the-same.  The second episode takes you through the MO of the EAR – what were his signature actions, how he stalked his victims carefully, etc.  In a visual checklist on the screen, you really get a sense as to how this horrific criminal meticulously worked.  Unlike most criminals, the East Area Rapist would call some of his victims’ years after the crime, to continue to torment them.  This is not your typical serial killer or rapist. This sick bastard is diabolical.

I got hooked.  In fairness, it is hard for a true crime series to compel me to watch.  This is one I make sure I follow.  It is on Sunday nights and has disturbed two Sunday’s worth of sleep so far.  Well done HLN!  Combined with the Patty Hearst series on sister station CNN, it is clear that CNN/HLN are dipping their toes into the true crime market.  Does this mean another true crime network is not far off?  I tend not to think of HLN as a true crime channel, despite the series Forensic Files. We may have to rethink that now that they are putting out quality shows like Unmasking a Killer.

So far, this is what I call, reflective true crime…a retelling of the crimes and investigations. There’s no heady promise to unearth new evidence, not yet.  This is opposed to the investigative true crime series, like the History Channel’s Zodiac, where the investigators are pursuing new leads and doing new(ish) investigative work.

I recommend you DVR or On-Demand watch this series!  They even have a follow-on podcast after each episode.  #truecrime

True Crime Book Review – The Shawcross Letters – My Journey Into the Mind of Evil By John Paul Fay


If you read my reviews, you know by now I tend to be pretty fair.  Now and then I will simply pass on doing a review rather than write a bad review and risk injuring an author’s reputation.  I try and be nice because I expect the same from my peers.  I struggled with this review for two weeks, wondering if I should do it.  My publisher encouraged me, despite my reservations.

I write for the same publisher as this book and requested a copy for review.  It came with a warning from my publisher, “this book is not for everyone.”  I am sure there are some fans of the genre that are bound to be drawn to this book…possibly for all of the wrong reasons.  I think readers should know what they are getting into first.

I can’t say this is the worst true crime book I have ever read, but I cannot recommend it – not to the general fans of genre.  It is disturbing on so many levels that it reminds me of an auto accident.  You drive by, knowing the scene is potentially gruesome, but slow down to look regardless.

Trust me, with this book, the scene is gruesome indeed.

The book is about the author, John Paul Fay, who corresponds with Arthur Shawcross, a renowned serial killer.  The book flip flops between the story of Fay’s life and the letters he receives from Shawcross.  Fay is far from being a sympathetic character in this twisted saga.  He is a person that collects and sells mementos from well-known serial killers.  I have never understood that entire bizarre underground market.  Why would anyone want Charles Manson’s autograph?  I will never understand this kind of collecting.  Worse yet, through this book, you get a glimpse into how convicted murderers make money on these sales.

Fay’s life is not the “boy next door” story.  His father has abused him, he suffers from addiction, and was even involved in some abuse of a woman…which he claims he doesn’t fully remember.  It is hard to form any sort of emotional bond with this character, he is damaged and so far removed from the world I live in, I cannot recognize him.  Yet in this book he is oddly baring all of his flaws.  I wanted to sympathize with him, but never found that common ground.  You may feel very differently.  I kept on reading though – searching for that connection to Fay that slipped through my fingers.

One image that bothered me was that he sent photos to Shawcross of his pregnant cousin, further feeding the serial murderer’s fantasies.  What kind of person does something like that?  One gets the feeling that Fay saw Shawcross as possibly his only real friend in the world…and that such actions were necessary to keep those ties alive.

The letters from Shawcross are sick, vulgar, disconcerting, and horrific. In some respects, reading his letters is like watching an episode of Mindhunter, only darker and without the balance of morality.  You see this killer for what he was, a slice of evil that preyed on people for the sheer thrill it gave him. There is nothing redeeming about this man.  The fact that he was able to make money and have sexual visitors did nothing to help my impression of our prison system.  The best part of this book was the knowledge that Shawcross was dead.

Trying to figure out which sub-genre of true crime this book fits in is impossible.  It is not a true serial killer book, because the vast majority of the book is about Fay’s lifelong journey.  It is not a psychological thriller because it is far more troubling than that. It doesn’t reveal anything new about Shawcross or his crimes.  In fact, crime plays little role in the disquieting relationship between Fay and Shawcross.

It is the only true crime book I have ever read that I deleted from my Kindle afterwards.  Some of that was embarrassment.  This is something in the genre I write in.  Another reason was I didn’t ever see myself going back to this book. Some images are burned into my memory.

This book is not for the squeamish or the faint of heart.  On one hand, it is the only book of its kind in true crime.  It is not the kind of book that should be read at night or when you are alone.  It is not a book for the “typical” true crime reader.  One should wade into this book carefully, with trepidation, fully prepared for the stark and sometimes sickening shock factor you are about to embrace.


The Day the Music Died – When the Classic ‘Mechs Became Unseen

How in the hell do you “unsee” something this freaking iconic?

In digging through my BattleTech archives I came across this gem – when we were told that ‘Mechs and vehicles were to be Unseen.  The day the music died for us as authors was June 5, 1995 when we got a cryptic letter explaining to us that we were not supposed to use these BattleMechs (and oddly enough the Galleon light tank) as images or in scenes that might appear on the cover of books.

Scan_20180318Scan_20180318 (2)

You have to bear in mind, back then, we had no idea what the artwork was going to be for books until it just showed up one day on a cover flat.  So using these ‘Mechs for key characters simply became a no-no for us.  That didn’t mean we couldn’t use these ‘Mechs, but not where they might end up on the cover.

Personally I thought that was more of FASA’s problem than it was our problem.  I remember calling Donna just to clarify.  She wouldn’t tell me much other than it was the result of a lawsuit and the letter pretty much told me everything.

I was bummed, and a little pissed off. Yes, we wrote about characters to tell our stories – but the BattleMechs were characters in the universe too.  Jamie Wolf piloted an Archer.  It was as iconic as the USS Enterprise was to Star Trek.  Having these classic images simply denied to us for main characters just felt like restrictions we didn’t need or desire.  Freaking censorship…

Believe me, I would have preferred the Archer Christifori pilot a Warhammer – but that was denied.  I knew he would have to be on the cover.

You can see that they also gave us an alternate list of ‘Mechs we could use, most of which I have ignored over the years.  A Flea – seriously?  You can see my notes (scribbled) on the Archer.  Really, an Apollo?  No way, Bombardier was the way to go.  I felt it was best to just follow my gut rather than their recommendations.  Treat this as, “Blaine does not follow orders well.”

I thought you fans out there might like to see this little tid bit.  While it offers nothing new or universe changing, it is interesting.