Hour of the Wolf Part 1 – The Suspense is Killing Me

Special delivery for a Ms. Hazen? Would you please sign for this?

No spoilers here, just some mild-mannered creative rambling.  HotW is only a few days away now and frankly, I’m on pins and needles. Unlike most books, I won’t know what people think the next day after the release because this book is massive – both in story and sheer bulk. 

All of the threads are finally brought together and spun into a tapestry of a massive conflict for control of Terra.  With Divided We Fall we got the entanglement of the Dragoons in this fight (if they arrive in time).  With Rock of the Republic, we got some depth into the defense of Terra and the Republic of the Sphere. With Icons of War, we got the recovery of the McKenna’s Pride. In Children of Kerensky, we get the Clan strategies and characters that will play such an important part of all of this. We ended that book with the word, “Clan Wolf – Jump!” Elements of a half-dozen Dark Ages novels come to bear as well.   

There are powerful characters with great arcs that are queued up and ready for action.  You will meet new characters as well that may play key roles in the new era.  Some live, some die.  Read up on your Shakespeare.: “…if it be a sin to covet honor, I am the most offending soul alive.”  Songs will song of these coming events, lines in the Remembrance will be crafted, legends made, myths crushed., dreams trampled upon.

With all of the new BattleTech product focused on Tukayyid, I find myself chuckling internally.  Tukayyid?  That was a speed-bump in the invasion.  This…this is the battle for the prize.  If you think about it, Tukayyid was around 1/3 of Mike’s novel.  Hour will take readers into the fight themselves, for almost the entire book.  There is enough here for 30 years of picking apart the battle and its nuances.  Let’s hope it doesn’t take that long for CGL to do map sets…

This showdown has been coming since 1989 in many respects; the conquest of Terra.  Make no mistake, this is the end of the Dark Ages and the start of a new era – the era of the ilClan. To me it feels like we’ve been stuck for years in the Jihad and Dark Ages eras, with a lot of false starts. 

If you are new to BattleTech, this book is going to be a great entry point for you since it ushers in a new age.  It is a great place to start new with the rest of the fan community. 

Ah, the fans.  The fans have been great and hilarious with their predictions – which I encourage.  Some are so out of left field that it leaves me wondering about the drug intake of the fan community.  A few out there have actually gotten close.  It is always amusing that people try and interject their favorite faction into some sort of scenario where they come out on top.  You just keep holding onto that passion you Wolverineeies!

One fan asked, “What mini’s should I buy?”  Now that is a good question.  The new ‘Mechs, and there are quite a few, won’t be out for a while.  Here’s some that you may want to consider:

  • Savage Wolf (you might need two or three of these)
  • Shrike (check the cover)
  • Jade Hawk (Delta Galaxy, CJF)
  • Carnivore Tank (you need one of these, and trust me, it is a worthwhile investment)
  • Ares Superheavy (or two)
  • Dire Wolf (‘cause there ain’t no party until the Dire Wolf’s show up’)
  • Elementals – lots of Elementals
  • Padilla Artillery
  • Trebaruna
  • Dominator

Is this another “Meanwhile in the Periphery meme?” or is Blaine hinting that this might actually be part of the Republic Armed Forces? If so, when will the minis be for sale?

So, for a while, I will be going quiet on this blog…waiting for the book to get out and consumed. I have plenty of other writing to do, including some BattleTech and non-BattleTech stuff.  I will likely be online January 1 just for grins.  I look forward to your feedback as you, the reader, are put in the cockpit and sent into the fight with the rest of the cast.  Seyla ya’ll!

Retirement – Year One

A year ago last week, I retired from working in the world of the Corporate Overlords (early retirement – I’m only 57). My departure letter is still epic and makes me smile. Farewell Letter. I learned a lot about retirement and thought I’d share some tid bits for those of you that might be considering it. 

You need something to do.  Me; I am one of the owners of a small game company and a writer.  Retiring meant that I could focus on doing what I love, writing.  I am cranking the books out as a result and loving it. In many respects, I’m working longer hours now but I only answer to myself.  Our little company, Creative Juggernaut, launched a successful Kickstarter and delivered on it already. 

 A lot of people that retire don’t have something to fill their lives and that is a lot more challenging.  For those folks it is easy to get sucked into watching TV.  You need to dive deep into your hobbies and interests…don’t be a couch potato. It doesn’t matter if it is model trains, playing games, visiting national parks, or working on a book – you need some things to do.   

Time becomes fuzzy.  When you worked, the weekends had meaning.  When you are retired, every day is Saturday.  There are a lot of times I don’t even know what day of the week it is – let alone what number on the calendar.  Most importantly, I don’t care about what day of the week it is.    

Don’t make an unachievable honey-do list.  I had a friend that retired and had a goal of cleaning out his garage.  It hasn’t happened yet.  Look, when you set a big goal, it is easy to blow it off.  You need to have small, achievable goals for home improvement projects.  Break a big task into small ones.  Don’t say you’ll get the whole garage/basement done, settle for one wall or one room.  Make the goals achievable. Do that, and you’ll be surprised at how much you can get done.  

Continuous learning is important.  When I was at work they made us take classes and I resented most of them.  When you force someone to take a class, it usually is because of some management failure or legal issue.  Outside of work, there were a lot of things I wanted to learn how to do.  So I went to our community college and took a welding class.  I wanted to make some furniture for our new house and wanted that industrial look. It took a while, thanks to Covid, but I finally finished the class.  I found there are discounts if you are over the age of 55 in some instances for classes, so make sure you ask.  I am always looking to keep my mind working by forcing it to learn new things.   

Exercise.  Look, your whole life you said that you simply didn’t have time to work out.  Well, now you can.  Get up and get at it.  I have found that now that I don’t have to fit it into my schedule, I work out longer at the gym and go more often. I feel like I am the only person to come through COVID in better shape than when I started.   

You need some sort of routine.  Humans are creatures of pattern and behavior.  So come up with some sort of schedule for your life, even if it is very basic.  It gives you a reason to get up and some sort of way to measure time.  I have found that even a very basic routine gives my life the structure I was missing from when I was ‘working for the man.’

Spend time with your loved ones.  My wife and I are building a new house.  So, temporarily, we are in an apartment.  It is pretty cramped and you’d think we’d be at each other’s throats, but we are actually having a lot of fun.  We have identified some 20 different restaurants we have never eaten at and are slowly working our way through the list.  Every meal is date-night.  Additionally, thanks to COVID, we watch our grandson every other week while he does virtual schooling.  I have seen more of him and my daughter in the last three months alone than I did in the previous two years.  My grandson and I play Fortnight and have fun together.  (PS.  I recommend video games – they help with concentration, hand-eye coordination, and are a lot of fun.)

I also take the time to call my other relatives. I always felt rushed before retirement, having to squeeze in time for other people.  Not any longer!  I try and connect every few weeks and it is a meaningful discussion.

You won’t miss your friends from work as much as you think. I keep in contact with four people from work, two of which are still imprisoned (working) there. I had to cut off a few ‘friends’ entirely because they posted terrible political posts that I could not tolerate. (I find that I don’t have the need to engage with people about idiotic political stuff like I used to.) I don’t miss work in the least. There are only two people that can tell me what to do, my wife and my dog. When I hear about stuff happening back at work, I find myself satisfied that I made the right decision at the right time. Keep in touch with your real friends from work.

 Feel free to share this with people who are considering retirement.

Comments On Twitter And What They Really Mean

Social Media

Twitter is a playground for me.  I don’t take it seriously.  If I wasn’t a writer, I wouldn’t have a Twitter account or even think about using it.  Nothing really makes me mad since Twitter is filled with idiots.  I go for the chuckles – either from posts or responding to them.

In some respects, I am a troll.  There are times I post shit simply to make people overreact.  Snarky comments are my binky in life.  Of course, in the last few months, Twitter has become a savaged battlefield of social media.  Lives and reputations are merely part of the poorly written body count in a war that has consumed the world.  If you make even the most innocent of comments, there are a dozen people that will pounce on you.  In two hours last weekend I was called a Nazi, a member of the Gestapo, a gun-nut, a Socialist, a racist, and a moron.  I am none of these things…though I am toying with “gun-nut” based on the accusations leveled at me.

The social media hostility level is at Defcon 5.  So for those of you that want to venture into the Twitter-verse, here’s some common lines I saw dropped over the weekend – and what my interpretation of what they really mean is.  Enjoy and share!

“I respect your opinion, but…”  You are so wrong I actually threw up a little bit in the back of my mouth.  Who knew you could be so stupid.

“What qualifies you as an expert?”   I am smarter than you and want to prove it.  If proven wrong, I will simply call you a Nazi or racist, so it’s all good.

“Nazi”   You don’t 110% agree with my thinking so my solution is to resort to labeling you the worst possible thing I can think of. It doesn’t matter if the subject is your favorite flavor of yogurt, if you don’t completely agree with me, you are, quite literally, one of the worst persons in history.

“Racist.”  I couldn’t spell Nasi (or is it Nazi?) but I want you to know I am giving you a label and hate anything you type.  Rather than refute or debate it, this is the only bullet I have in my gun, so I use it for just about anything.

“Socialist”  Stop whining about free stuff you believe you are owed by society.  Speaking for society, you aren’t owed shit.  Get back to work.

“I’m no expert but…”  I’m TOTALLY an expert because I can use ‘the Google’…

“Troll”   You dared to challenge my post and rather than use logic, I resort to name calling to diminish your validity on the topic at hand.

“On Fox News they said…”  You are a grumpy old man who is usually busy yelling at kids for being on his yard.  PS – this is me.

“On MSNBC they said …”  You are detached from reality and likely a Marxist, Anarchist, and get your news from The View.  Admit it, you think that Joy Behar is a hottie, don’t you?

“Play adult games – win adult prizes.”  If you go off and break the law and act stupid, don’t be surprised when someone opens a can of whoop-ass on you. (Please post videos of you getting your ass kicked – thanks!)

“We’re all good.”  I grow weary of this battle of words.  Can we call a truce?

“Let me be clear…”  I will use little words so you can understand what I am attempting to say.

“My bad.”  Crap, you called me out on my bullshit post. Curse you!

“Apologies”   Drop dead, but do it quietly.

“You are a bad faith actor.”  You dared challenge my idiotic thoughts and have fought me to a stalemate.  Curse you!

“You’re a hater.”  Actually, I hate you, but it is much more fun for me to call you something bad and hater works for me.

“WTF?”  Are you on booze, weed, meth, or a combo of the three?

“I’m sorry…”  I am totally not sorry but prefer to sound reasonable.

“Gaslight”  You are attempting to manipulate people into thinking a way I don’t want them to.  Stop it.

“Bro”  I was born after 1999.

“Apparently…”  You have no idea what you are writing about.

“Gotcha!”  I am giving myself a participation trophy on Twitter. Mom says I’m the best!

“Quit ur whining…”  1.  I lack the ability to spell complete words.  2.  I don’t have a logical argument to refute your facts, so I am just going to call your comments ‘whining’ and hope you go away.  3.  With these spelling skills I will be working in the fascinating world of fast food as a career.

“It’s extremely disappointing to hear you ___ ”  I am SO much smarter than you that my solution to your point is to talk down to you.  Here, let me draw you a picture…

“Oh, I know…”  No, I really don’t have a clue. I do have an opinion though, one I will shove in your face, right now.

“Peaceful protesters.”  Rioters

“Everyone knows…”  Everyone I know who thinks the way I do believes the way I do on this subject.  I have actually conducted scientific polls to verify this.  We all got together and agreed that you are stupid by the way.

“Vote vote vote!”   Vote – three times, for my candidate.

“If you ask me…”  No one asked me, but I feel my opinion is SUPER important.

“I must have really been on target when I called you a ______”  It is bothering me that, after I resorted to name calling, you have not replied.  In fact, it is bothering me so much that I need to try and prod you into reacting…so I can call you another name.

“Seriously?”  God you’re fu*king stupid.  I mean like drunk cheerleader stupid.

“I have a right to _____”  I know nothing about the law, but play a lawyer on Twitter by describing rights, rules, and laws that simply don’t exist.

“What you don’t understand…”  How could anyone be this stupid?  Now I will explain it to you as if you were a 3rd grader.  Even then, it’s hit or miss as to whether you will get it.

“Using only a GIF, describe _____”  I am far too busy to read.  I prefer pictures but Pinterest is SO complicated.   So please, take 10 minutes to go search the web to tell me something that I really don’t give a shit about.

“It is clear that you ____”  Allow me to accuse of being or doing something that you are not, simply to garner overreaction on your part.

The Chronicling of our D&D Campaign Part 37 – The Chalice of St. John


Welcome to the novelization of my current D&D campaign, told through the perspective of the characters. For me, it lets me do a little creative writing between more serious projects. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this one. Enjoy!


“I think the best reason for us to get the chalice is simple – it could be used against us by Barristen,” Theren said as we assembled in the morning. To me it made sense.  The Chalice of St. John was said to have resurrective powers. We had flirted with death many times – and the chance to die and come back had appeal to me.

“I like the idea of an artifact that can keep me living forever,” Althalus added wryly. Somehow when he said it, it made me nervous.  We bid farewell to the Order of the Sapphire and went to the town gate and gathered our weapons.  I was going to miss Alistair.  The people there were friendly and seemed to really like us.

“What was it that was guarding this chalice?” I asked.

“A beguiling female demon.  I think it’s a succubus,” Althalus said.  “So I’m super-onboard with this little side trip.”

Our first night out, I heard the sound of a nearby wolf pack, howling in the distance.  I approached the nearest of the pack.  I pulled some jerky out of my haversack and offered it to the wolf, which it greedily ate. It took some coaxing on my part, but soon I was able to get close enough to pet it. When I looked into its eyes, I could sense a bond between us.  I lured it away from the pack and towards our camp, offering it scraps of food. I knew the ways of the wolf as a ranger, and calmed the beast with a magic spell…convincing it that I was its friend. The wolf cuddled my side.

“I love puppies!” Althalus said from behind me.

“Don’t hug him,” I warned.  “He and I are companions now, or we will be by the time I am done training him.”

The next day was uneventful until the afternoon.  I was on point as usual, when I picked up the murmurs of goblin voices.  They chattered in that babble they call a language for a few minutes, then mysteriously went quiet.  My wolf began to growl.  Theren stepped up and cast one of his fire spells into the brush, flushing out these beasties quickly.  Goblin arrows rained down on me, one hitting in the right shoulder and sticking there.

Althalus blasted away with his emerald green eldritch power, sending one of the goblins flying back with smoking holes in its tiny chest.  Some fired back at our Warlock, I was hit again as I drew my bow and unleashed an arrow, hitting it in the throat mid-squeal, leaving it with gushing blood and a gurgle as it staggered back. My second arrow hit it as well, leaving it clinging to life.  My new wolf companion sprung and tore at it, ripping it futilely.

Theren cast ice knife – hitting one and exploding shards of ice out from the damaged one.  Goblin parts flew into the air, along with a rain of sickly green blood.  Althalus blew another one apart, tossing its bloody corpse back some ten heads.  The remaining three goblins opted to flee in a panic. My trusty wolf tore at the loin cloth of one who managed to scramble and run away, tossing it about playfully.

As we marched on, the mountain range to the west seemed to loom before us. We marched on for two more days with little incident.  During my watch I heard a lute playing in the distance.  I stealthfully woke up the camp.

“That lute…it’s out of tune,” Theren said as he yawned.

“Who would be out in the forest playing a lute?” Arius asked.

We opted for caution.  After two hours or so, the music stopped.  No one seemed to be approaching the camp.  The next morning we notice camp smoke rising from the north of our site. Exercising caution, we paid them little heed.  That night, however, we were approached by one of their protectors.

Cautiously we approached the small gray-robed party.  Althalus opened a dialogue with them and determined they were the source of the lute music.  They were led by Brother Mortimer and said that he and the others were looking for the Stairs – like us.  They said that one of them, Sister Margaret, had gone before them and had not been heard from in days.  To me, they seemed pretty sincere and not much of a threat. I wondered if she was some sort of virgin, off to be sacrificed – and I kind of found that appealing.

Althalus told them we were heading to the Stars as well.  He seemed to know about the Chalice of St. John as well.  Margaret went into the old priory there and she never came back.  There were eight of the parishioners including Mortimer and he invited us to join him.  We didn’t detect any deceit in what he was offering.  Packing up, we joined them. Most of them seemed intrigued with Arius given he was a paladin.

I asked if they knew anything about a succubus, but Mortimer said it was likely an old-wives tale.  “The church abandoned the old priory in the Stairs ages ago, for reasons only known to their exalted leadership.  The pilgrims went there to try and find the abandoned artifacts there and recover them in the name of God.”  So why did the church abandon this place?  That answer was for us to discover.

Two days travel west we arrived at the Stairs.  It was a massive crack in the mountain range, rising high into the heavy mists above. Old worn and weathered stone stairs twisted and rose up crack, towering above us.  Mortimer and the others called out for Sister Margaret but their voices merely echoed sadly upward into the heart of the mountain range. Margaret, we learned through scraps of conversation, had been chosen by her village to lead the pilgrimage.  Her party planned on waiting at the foot of the Stairs, waiting for her to return.  On the other hand, we were planning on foraging onward.

As I led the party upward, the stone walls of the great crack seemed to come to a close, the stairs ending where the walls came together.  It seemed odd to me – after all, the stairs went upward for hundreds of feet, but led nowhere but a dead end.  Theren simply walked forward into the crack, seeming to pass through a veil or magical curtain of some sort.  On the other side the steps continued upward.  Theren leaned back to us and told us it was all an illusion.

We dallied with the thought of telling the pilgrims we had found a way in, but Althalus cautioned against it.  “What good does that information do for them?”  We opted to remain quiet and press on.

The stairway twisted and turned upward – well-worn where footfalls had slowly eroded the steps. We were concerned that a fall might kill one or more of us.  I found a few bits of chain and long dried blood on several steps. At the end, hundreds of feet up and into the mountain, we came to a sealed door with the words, “Speak unto God,” carved into it. We were unsure how to proceed – the door was sealed and would not open.  “Which one?” Althalus asked. “There are a lot of gods.”

Arius stared at the door deep in thought.  The paladin pondered the stone door in silence.  He knocked on the door but nothing happened.  He then lowered on one knee and prayed in front of the door and it cracked open with a deep echoing crack – sending a billow of light dust outward.

The chamber held a large dais in the middle of the room, and two statues flanking it.  We could make out a door at the far end of the chamber.  As we approached we saw that the statues had been vandalized, their heads had been broken off and were on the floor under a thin film of dust. Theren lit the sconces and noticed some strange shadows in the domed ceiling.  The creatures moved on us, thin black shadows, almost a void in the air.  Five of them darted in at us, moving like men.

I drew my bow and fired, missing one, hitting with the second shot. My wolf moved in front of one near Arius and attacked, ripping at one of the ethereal shadow-creatures, knocking it to the floor.  Althalus unleashed his magical beams – slamming into one of them, knocking it into the wall, leaving an inky black splatter where the creature existed.

Theren’s quarterstaff shimmered in the air hitting one hard.  Arius unleashed his holy smite with Skullringer, killing one instantly.  The room became a blur around me.  One hit Theren, making his body sag as it drew away his strength.  I sent an arrow into the injured one, killing it.  My trusty wolf savaged his downed shadow. Althalus’s emerald beams cut down the last one, cutting it into shreds.

We moved to the door on the far wall and opened it.  A rush of air almost blew out the flames from the torches in the sconces.  A long two-head wide stone bridge stretched out over a vast chasm, hundreds of feet deep.  The walls were some fifty heads away, flanking the bridge. Above, the chasm opened to the sky, giving us enough light to see the stark white bones and rusted armor below.

“They could have at least put up some rails,” Althalus said.  None of us thought it was very funny.

Theren devised a plan to transform into a giant spider. He went across for a short distance and two pendulums with spinning blades swung across, one hitting him, one missing. That was enough for him, he moved under the bridge, moving underneath.  In one portion, he found a five foot piece of the bridge missing, it was an illusion.  If we had crossed we would have plummeted to our death.  He spun a web over the spot and reached the far side.

The spider-Theren returned and, after some strange signals with his legs, convinced us to climb onto him and he proceeded to shuttle us across one at a time, under the bridge.  I was forced to leave my pet wolf behind, which saddened me greatly.  He had already proven himself a worthy companion.  One of our trips had triggered a log on chains swinging across – enough to knock anyone on the bridge off if we had been there. It took us over an hour to get across.

The bridge ended in a landing with a single ironoak door.  Arius turned the handle and pushed it open.  It was a sixty by twenty foot room with a pair of alabaster baths and two water pools.  No doubt this is was where pilgrims could cleanse themselves when this had been managed by the church.

As Arius moved near one pool, the water took form and struck at him, slamming him hard.  An Elemental!  Theren fired webbing to restrain the creature, but it failed to have any effect.  Arius bore the brunt of the wet assault.  I leapt in with Nightstalker and Bonebreaker, splashing water about the room. Althalus’s eldritch blasts left wisps of steam from the holes they burned. Arius hit with Skullringer and a blast of holy smites, spraying water everywhere in the room.

Theren changed back to human form, lashing out with his thorn whip spell – the whip harmlessly passing through the creature.

The elemental turned on me, overwhelming me, grappling me.  I could not breathe, water filled my nose and mouth. I wanted to use my teleport ring, but the water made uttering the word impossible.  Althalus’s beams tore into the form.  Arius slammed it again with Skullringer, finishing it off.  I dropped to the floor, gasping for breath.

We found a golden cross embedded with emeralds in the pool. Theren took it and put it in his kit. The room appeared to be a dead end, so we searched for a hidden door, which our druid found.  A narrow hallway stretched out then turned a hard left.  Further exploration led to stairs down, deeper into the mountain.  Theren fell into the trap pit with spikes, falling 15 heads and tore up his legs.  We pulled him out. At the end of the snaking hallway was a large chamber.  Paintings, long ago defaced, lined the walls, which made me cringe slightly.

Althalus spoke up.  “Which one of you want to take point?”  We all gave him a scornful look.  There was a strange symbol in maroon, perhaps dried blood on the floor.  The shattered skeletons of over thirty dead littered the floor.

“That’s demonic,” the Warlock said pointing to the symbol.  “This is some satanic shit right here.”  We saw a hallway at the far end of the chamber.  I got an ominous feeling about all of this. These were once holy grounds…so that symbol boded ill.

“We should rest up,” Arius said.

“Here?” I asked.

Theren and I surveyed the hallway at the far end, hoping to avoid any surprises.  It went back 25 heads to a dead end.  Suddenly a stone slab dropped and began a slow grind.  Theren cast a spell on it to stop it, tipping the stone over. I found a hidden door at the end.  Thoughts of resting vanished for the time-being.  We moved down another twisting hallway.

We entered a massive chamber, 45 heads across, circular, with a tall ceiling that was domed.  I led the way into the room.  There was a massive heap of thick iron chains.  A raised seat in the center of the chamber with a female seated there.  She had giant bat wings and the stubs of horns on her head.  She was adorned in armor.  The braziers next to her lit up as I stepped in, illuminating the room.

Athalus followed me, half-stumbling into the room.  Looking up at her, his skin went pale.  “It’s a Cambion, the offspring of a Succubus.”  I had no idea what he was talking about but none of it sounded good. She seemed unfazed as we entered.

“You’ve made it father than most, for that I respect you,” she said in an eerily calm voice. “I am Chinahara.  Who are you?”

I puffed out my chest.  “I am Brandon Winderford,” I said proudly.

“Oh, so we’re going to tell her?” Althalus asked. “What the hell…I am Althalus, seeker of the Sapphire Eye.”

“Let me guess, you came for this?” she hissed.  “The chalice has been the perfect bait for me to lure in true believers and kill them.  I look forward to tasting your blood.”  She smiled, but not a good smile, a bad one.

She turns on Althalus.  “So you are a slayer of devils and demons? Drethcara, the gnawer of bones!  Long have I wondered what happened to him.  You carry his head like a trophy – Devil-slayer.  You will be the last to die so that you can see your friends perish.”

“I’m oddly good with that,” whispered Arius. She turned her eyes on him and locked her gaze.  I turned and drew Nightstalker, which burst into brilliant light, and charged at Chinahara, swinging hard.  My sword glanced off of her, but Bonebreaker did hit her gut hard.  Suddenly, Arius drew Skullringer and to my amazement, he reeled on Althalus, narrowly missing the warlock.  “What the fuck?”

Theren dropped a moonbeam on her, bursting her into flames, adding to the light in the room. Just then, the chains on the floor started to move, pulling together and forming up to a humanoid shape.  “A chain golem,” Althalus muttered.  Things got instantly worst.

She moved out of the moonbeam and onto me, hitting him with beams of fire. The chain golem started spinning, whipping the chains like massive flails.  Althalus turned invisible, disappearing in a blink of an eye.

I lost my grip on Nightstalker, sending it skittering along the floor, tossing up sparks.  “Aw crap!” I spat, still hitting with Bonebreaker.  Theren heated the metal of the golem, but that only seemed to make it both glow and get stronger.  Seeing that was failing, he transformed into a bear.

The sight of the bear got Chinahara drew her wrath. One of her beams of fire burned the fur of our druid, the stench of burned hide stung my nostrils. The chain golem hit me with a chain hard, hitting me hard, making my ribs ache.  My vision tunneled and I fell into unconsciousness.  The last thing I remembered was hearing with Chinahara commanding Arius to attack the bear.  The blackness took me away, muffling the rumble of the battle around me.

I regained my wits and managed to stagger to my feet.  The battle was still raging around me still.  In a throbbing haze, I moved in behind the Cambion and cast a spell that wrapped her in vines, which she snapped easily.  I hit with Bonebreaker, again, only scratching the armor.

Theren returned to human form, then made an attack, but bearly (intentionally) scratched her. The chain golem lashed out at but missed, the air whishing with the chains.

Althalus, no visible, hit her with his eldritch blast.  Chinahara hit the wall hard, hissing, then seemed to collapse inward, blinking out of the room. I staggered towards the chain golem, hitting it with a glancing blow.  The rattle of the chains from the impact did not bespeak any real damage.

Arius, in control of his senses again, hit the creature with Skullringer.  The smite of the blow made the chains expand outward for a moment, then reform again.  The golem turned on me, hitting me so hard that I once more blacked out, skidding along the floor.  I saw a tunnel in the darkness and started to drift towards a dot of light. Death loomed and I was prepared to face it.  Something tugged at me, pulling me back.

When I came too, there was a mound of chains and my comrades, drenched in blood and sweat, lit up by the flames of the braziers.

The following are the previous installments. I hope you enjoy the campaign so far. Be sure to follow my blog if you do. 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

Part 14

Part 15

Part 16

Part 17

Part 18

Part 19

Part 20

Part 21

Part 22

Part 23

Part 24

Part 25

Part 26

Part 27

Part 28

Part 29

Part 30

Part 31

Part 32

Part 33

Part 34

Part 35

Part 36

Character Background Material

My New Campaign




Moving and Packing Tips

Perhaps the worst product ever sold.

My wife and I are building a house so we had to pack and move most of our possessions into storage, move “essentials” into a temporary apartment, and, if that wasn’t enough, tomorrow we help my daughter move to her new house.  So, for the last 2-3 months, moving is something I have developed a competency in.  I thought I’d share some tips that will help you.

It’s just stuff.  Be prepared to throw stuff away. I don’t care who you are, you saved a lot of stuff that you know you will never use.  It is work to box it, costly to store it, and a pain in the lower back if you never are going to use it.  So, get rid of it.  Take pictures of stuff rather than keep the stuff.  Getting rid of your excess house is tricky because of COVID.  Learn the hours and rules of your local landfills.  Ours said they closed at 4:00pm but in reality, the gate closed at 3:50pm.  (I was tempted to argue with these folks but they have a rough enough job, working at a dump.)  Each landfill/dump is unnecessarily complicated – such as you can only bring one load a day or if you come in a truck you drive to a different area.  This weekend I got into an argument about geography – whether I really lived in the county or not (despite the evidence of my driver’s license).  Key here, learn the rules before you start hauling.

Donate.  We wanted to donate a lot of furniture.  That was nearly impossible given COVID.  Goodwill stopped taking the stuff.  Salvation Army stopped all pickups, as did the local RESTORE (Habitat for Humanity).  Even when they are open, they have rules and limitations.  With everyone cleaning their houses out during their time at home, many charities are full up as well.  We found a local charitable thrift store that gladly helped us out.  Make sure you keep the paperwork for your tax deductions to charity.

Boxes.  Some UHaul locations have a fantastic selection of oddly shaped boxes – like for lamps.  Lowes and Home Depot have boxes too.  Use the smaller boxes for the heavier stuff if you can.  I got a mix of boxes and sizes, making it like a game of Tetris for the movers to stack stuff for storage.  They told me that having a mix of sizes is a good thing – you can get more packed in a truck.  So…there you go.

I didn’t buy my boxes all at once.  We got ours in small batches and ended up with only three that were left over.  We used of about 45% small boxes, 30% medium boxes, 20% large boxes, and 5% extra large or strange shaped boxes.  Your results may vary.

Tape.  Do NOT buy Duck Brand Shipping Tape.  If the Duck people are reading this – your product sucks!  It wouldn’t even stick to itself for more than 10 minutes.  I’m not sure how it even stays rolled up.  It frustrated the hell out of us to pack a box and watch as the tape simply let go. I was going to complain to them but I feared they would send me more of their product.  Spend the money on good tape, it is important. This isn’t the thing to try and save a few cents on.

Glassware?  Use paper.  We bought bubble wrap and wrapping paper from UHaul.  The paper was the absolute best for wrapping stuff.  It is relatively cheap, easy to use, and you avoid all of the cutting of bubblewrap.  Most importantly, it works (based on past experience).

Mark your boxes.  Put down what room you want them to go into.  UHaul makes some tape that is great for this with bright colors for each room of your house as well as the name of the room.  Yes, the movers will tag the stuff, but they tag it based on the room it was picked up in.  You are more interested in the room it will be going to.  Keep that in mind.

Spot Shot.  We cleaned the house for two days so that the new owners could just move in.  You will have strange spots on the floor.  Spot Shot is perfect for quick clean-ups.  I have no idea what it is made of, but it works on small carpet spots.  I love this product. We used it for quick spots and the steam cleaner for the big carpet areas.


Don’t watch the movers.  You will cringe and bite your nails at some of the stuff they do to get your stuff out of the house.  Don’t watch them – focus on some other task like cleaning.

Buy help. If you are moving yourself – get a cheap four wheeled dolly.  We used this to move in a soft, box springs, mattresses, you name it.  And they only cost $11.00 at Harbor Freight.

Harbor Freight

So there you have it – unsolicited tips for moving from a “veteran.”  Feel free to share.

Some Snarky Humor – Things I’ve Learned or Confirmed During Quarantine

IMG_1091 (1)

Here is my observations up to this point – for your entertainment as we all sit at home.  Remember, I am a snarky bastard who sometimes writes stuff just to set people off – a troll of the highest caliber.  I do want to provide folks with a few minutes of provocative thought and maybe a chuckle or two.

  1. We, as a people, are easily manipulated by social media into panic buying (toilet paper).  Don’t try and justify the reality that you panicked.  Be prepared, the marketing people have learned a very dangerous lesson from this.
  2. I have come to better appreciate my wife’s company and her cooking skills.
  3. We have zero survival skills and purchase things that are of little to no use during a real emergency situation.  Good luck surviving on pickles peanuts, and jalapeno peppers.
  4. Ninety-percent of people, when given common sense reasonable guidelines, will follow them out of concern for themselves or others. They are good human beings. Ten percent are validating Charles Darwin and couldn’t dump piss from a boot if the instructions were on the bottom of the heel.  Punishing the 90% because of the idiocy of 10% is irrational.
  5. When deprived of services, people worry about the vanity-based ones the most – such as “When can I get back to my salon to touch up my roots?”  A lot of people are wandering around without their injections of Botox.  As a result of all of this mayhem, in another few weeks there are going to be a lot less blondes in the world.
  6. Many politicians have validated their incompetence – sadly meeting my expectations. Example:  Our governor came on TV to tells us we need to exhibit social distancing, surrounded by seven individuals less than two feet apart, none of whom are wearing masks.  One word: Moron.
  7. When you shut off the world economy and everyone goes home, the effects are strange and sometimes entertaining.  Like my PC, apparently it was time to reboot the planet Earth. While we have never done this before, I have found that it usually works pretty damn good with my PC so I encourage people to chill out.
  8. I have been dazzled by brilliant acts of individual kindness, courtesy, and grace. People can be wonderful.
  9. When faced with fear, people will surrender their Constitutional rights; demand that others do the same; and will report any infraction no matter how ridiculous. Yeah, that whole Hitler thing, that could totally happen here.
  10. Congress, when faced with a crisis, cannot resist spending money on things that have nothing to do with the actual emergency.  Giving themselves a raise, funding the Kennedy Center and PBS?  Really?  One word:  Douchebaggery.
  11. Thanks to Netflix, we all learned that Carol Baskins killed her husband and fed him to the tigers.  Oh, she totally did.IMG_1089
  12. We realize that police, fire, and medial workers are the most valuable members of our society – but in the end, we still won’t pay them what they are worth or for the hard work they have done.
  13. Shutting down professional sports has had negligible impact on our culture.
  14. Individuals believe their fear trumps the rights of others. I find it amusing that other people feel they should have a say about my rights are based on how they feel.  I receive similar lectures about what I say and political correctness – and those never work either.
  15. That Nancy Pelosi shelters in place in a mansion with gourmet food (and I presume a few cases of vodka.)
  16. The internet is as important in an emergency as electrical power.  Kudos to the folks that kept it up so far.
  17. Celebrities show their ‘suffering’ by not wearing makeup or doing their hair, wearing sweatpants, and going on talk shows from their mansions. Let’s be clear, none of us care about Hollywood’s hardships.
  18. Companies love to run advertising camouflaged as public service announcements.  “Look at how we are stepping up to plate to deal with this crisis.”  Yeah, you guys are real humanitarians…  We get it, you are keeping your marketing department from being furloughed.
  19. When an emergency like this emerges the media’s first action is to put the truth up against a wall and shoot it. They would put a monkey throwing feces on the air as an “expert” if it will sow fear and give them ratings.  Spreading disinformation and terror is now an agenda item.
  20. We moved way too much production of goods overseas. Time to bring that shit back home even if it costs more.
  21. Our government has a list of who is essential and tracks our movements on our phones to ensure compliance to their orders.  That should scare the crap out of everyone.
  22. We learned that we can get by just fine not buying stuff for a few weeks.  This isn’t necessarily a good lesson but good to know.
  23. Some people (not me!) have spent far too much time with their spouses and children and it shows in their social media posts.  Who knew you could be so angry?
  24. Regardless of how much money people get from the government, it isn’t enough.
  25. We turn to the wrong people for solutions in panic…like Bill Gates.
  26. Our economy is based entirely on our confidence and nothing else.
  27. Oil can go to a value of negative dollars per barrel.  I guess that means they are paying us to take the oil?
  28. I am amazed and delighted at how quickly and innovatively businesses can change their operations to cope with an emergency.
  29. There are people out there, including politicians, that take delight in this chaos.  They want big companies to fail and are gleeful that oil prices have tanked.  They are pathetic, sad, twisted people.  PS – her initials are AOC.
  30. There is no excuse for anyone not having a great yard this year…you had plenty of time on your hands.
  31. When a crisis happens and our leaders should come together behind their President, they, in turn, call any action he takes ‘racist.’ I guess when you only have one bullet in your gun…
  32. Everyone learned how to sew/make masks pretty darned fast.
  33. There were no emergency plans in place when schools were shut down.  What makes a good teacher in a classroom is not the same as what makes a good virtual teacher.
  34. People stupidly believed that posting their graduation photos somehow made 2020 graduates feel better.
  35. Liberals sincerely believe that shutting down churches and keeping abortion clinics and liquor stores open are justifiable actions.
  36. Millions of people learned how to order from restaurants on-line for delivery.  This will change things for years to come.
  37. The longer this goes on, the more susceptible people become to wild-ass conspiracy theories.  “Hillary Clinton killed Colonel Mustard, in the Library, with the Coronavirus.”
  38. When their constitutional right to free assembly is stripped from them, people will protest and resist.  Our founding fathers would approve, since they dealt with numerous medical pandemics and did not see fit to put a freeze on rights.  You think this is bad, try Scarlet Fever or Cholera. Suck it up, buttercup.  I applaud sensible protests.      IMG_0541
  39. In times of crisis, people idiotically think that the Federal Government should be a supplier of medical supplies and other things.  Seriously people…your local governments are far more impactful than a Federal response.
  40. Board games are still a hell of a lot of fun when there are no distractions.
  41. We learned that we are footing most of the bill for the World Health Organization and getting damned little for it.
  42. Companies are learning that people can work just fine from home and that remarkably little is gained by sitting in an office together.  Further, the solution to road congestion and pollution seems to be people working from home…duh.
  43. We are more of a welfare state than I never fully comprehended. I think we need to fix this.
  44. Every government giveaway of our money is going to have unintended consequences that none of us can fathom.
  45. The blurring of guidelines and restrictions is important to know.
  46. Some politicians seem to care more for non-citizens and incarcerated criminals than hard-working Americans.  This is a decision on thier part.
  47. Americans had to be taught how to wash their hands.  Geez, I learned that way before going to elementary school.
  48. Our grocery stores and restaurants have never been cleaner…and that is a good thing.

I know some of you will feel the urge to rebuttal me.  Let me assure you, I gain strength through your angst.  Like Rick Sanchez said, “Your boos mean nothing to me…I have seen what makes you cheer!”


BattleTech Nose Art Project


I retired a week ago and decided to tackle an arts and crafts project for the game room in our new house we are having built.  There will be a BattleTech theme, because, my wife is awesome.

I have always been intrigued with WWI and WWII aircraft art, or nose art.  The WWII bomber images were often of buxom women and they had a cool vibe to them.  I began to contemplate that we would have the same things in BattleTech as well.  It made sense.  You probably won’t see them at miniature scale, but it would be hard to believe that we wouldn’t have them.  So I decided to create my own and do it for a character from my work – Colonel Rhonda Snord.

I wanted a statement piece (that statement being, “I’m a geek!”) so I opted for three foot by five foot.  I got a ¼ inch sanded piece of plywood for the backing and cut the “ribs” so that there was some curve.  The cutting wasn’t tricky, but I wanted the same angle which took some hand-plaining to get it right.

I wanted a little pattern in the cross-members, so I went with some creative spacing.  These two had to be planed for the eventual curve of the metal.

The ribs

The metal was from Home Depot, you get it in three-foot-square pieces, so I had trimmed some for experimentation purposes with the paint.

I used a nail gun to nail the ribs and supports to the plywood, along with some glue.  This gave me the frame for the metal.  The key is to make a diagram with accurate measurements of where the ribs are so that when you “rivet” them you know where to drive the brad/rivet.

That’s right, Endo Steel is really just plywood from Home Depot


I laid the metal out and realized (duh) that the curve of the ribs meant my metal wouldn’t cover all of the ribs.  No problem, I decided to leave the exposed part at the top, as you can see.

Nice eh?

To rivet these, you use an awl and tap a small hole.  I did mine at about one and one-half inches apart.  Using some needle nose plyers, I used some large aluminum thumbtacks and pounded them in.  I learned that at some the ends of the curve the thumbtacks weren’t long enough and popped up, so I sunk in a few screws mixed in with the tacks and glued them in just to be sure.  Next time I am getting longer brads so they will hold better.

Imperfections are okay, remember, this is outer skin for ferro-fibrous armor we are talking about.  Some imperfections are to be expected.  I think the few I have give the piece character.  I liked the aluminum skin so much I was tempted to leave it as-is and put the art on it. But we don’t see too many bare metal ‘Mechs out there, so I went to paint.

It took exactly one can of spay paint to cover this.  For the colors, I referred to my own book, Call of Duty, which described Rhonda Snord’s ‘Mech as a dull green with the Buffalo Nickel, Elvis’s TCB lightning bolt.  Her callsign was Jailhouse Rocker – but I took the liberty of trimming that down.  The nickel, well, it just looked like crap no matter what I did. I assumed this was so big on the ‘Mech that it might not apply with what I was doing. I was going to do the TCB (Taking Care of Business) lightning bolt, but decided against that.  Let’s just assume that was on the other side of her cockpit.  I only bring it up here because I know some fan boy will be convulsing that was not 100% accurate.  Well, bear in mind, ‘Mechs get painted and repainted a LOT.  Deal with it junior.

I was going to hand stencil the letters but my tests on the scrap metal left me worried that, given my lack of artistic ability, I would screw it up.  So I ordered the stencil work, and her artwork logo (Jailhouse Rock) from https://doityourselflettering.com.  The cost was around $50 but was worth it compared to the price of me messing up such a large project.


For Rhonda, I went to cover of the scenario set and scanned her.  Three fans jumped in and helped me crop her out perfectly.  I then went to Fat Head’s web site and ordered up Rhonda.  https://www.fathead.com/custom does custom vinyl’s – just upload and rock. The cost was $35.  Strangely enough they sent me two of them.

Total cost of the project, including purchasing of metal cutters, and awl, etc., was around $200.00 total.  I’m not a carpenter or very skilled, but the time involved was around 15 hours or so – with the majority of that being putting the rivets in.

Alright, truth be told, I used my time machine, went to the future, found this replacement cockpit side for her Highlander in a junk pile, grabbed it, and came back.  All of us BattleTech authors have a time machine because all of this stuff is REAL.

You may not like it.  You may think the proportions are off and stuff, but I love it and can’t want for us to get the house built so I can hang it in the game room.

I have a three foot piece of plywood left and am contemplating doing a Black Window one too.

Tips for Writers


There is no secret sauce that will make you a successful writer.  The definitions of success as an author vary from person-to-person.  I am asked often, “What tips do you have for someone starting out?”  My snarky response is, “Seriously consider a different hobby or profession.” Writing is not easy.  It is not for the faint at heart or the thin-skinned.  It is a profession where you essentially carry on conversations with people that don’t exist, or wonder if that dude you just passed is a serial killer. It is a festering storm inside your head that when it comes out, is a jumble of emotions, words, blood and tears.  It often is a hot-mess that only you, as the author, understand.  Yet it gives you warmth and comfort.

I’ve heard it said everyone has a novel in them.  That isn’t the same as, “They should write that novel.”

No one helped me be an author, so I have no problems answering direct questions from would-be authors.  No, I won’t read your stuff, don’t bother to ask.  It hit me though, there are some pretty basic tips that could help fiction and non-fiction authors.  So here’s my list of unsolicited advice…

Write every day.  Keep a journal; write a blog; pen a column for the local newspaper – just write something! In fact, the more varied your writing, the better.  I have done science fiction, true crime, military history, business leadership, computer books, a wide range of genres.  I have written for newsletters, trade journals, magazines; you name it.  Even this blog is a writing exercise for me, forcing me to compile posts weekly.

writing 5

Writing requires discipline. It is easy to come up with excuses to not write. You need to have the discipline to apply yourself to get the next paragraph done. I have always been surprised talking to new writers who will carve out time to watch a TV show every week but refused to do the same with time dedicated to writing. Schedule yourself…make it happen.

Set your ego aside.  I am shocked that some authors ask for feedback then say, “I’m not changing it.”  Look Hemmingway, you’re not that good.  Editors, publishers, (even agents) usually have some good insights as to why you should make changes.  Listen carefully and don’t dig your heels in on the premise you are some sort of artist.  The only exception I allow myself to this is my sense of pride about the entire body of my work.

Have a place where you write.  You need a place where you can do your work – preferably different than where you do other work.  For me, I move my chair three feet to a different desk to do my writing.

Write stuff you would like to read.  You need to be a fan of your own stuff.  There are scenes I write in fiction that I actually get excited reading.  In non-fiction, I make sure I capture the right tone and feel that I like reading.

Everyone thinks they are an English major.  Be prepared for people to tell you that you don’t follow some bizarre rule their 3rd grade teacher told them about the English language.  They will comment that you are not using appropriate grammar, your use of English is poor, your editors all sucked, etc.  Some of my editors have master’s degrees in English, but some moron on the internet knows more than they do…or so they will insinuate.  Look, part of being a writer is to push the limits of our language to create illusions and characters that don’t exist.  Don’t let these idiots wear you down.

Writing 4

You need thick skin.  The internet sucks and so do people.  There are people that feel compelled to give you negative feedback.  This is not about you, but about their own insecurities.  If you want to write, there are always going to be those that try and tear you down.  On top of that is our society thinks that every opinion needs to be posted and is somehow valid.  Ignore these negative people.  Remember this, they will never write something as good as what you did.

Plot is important – not as important as characters.  When I started doing novels, I put most of my effort on the plot.  As I have matured, I have come to learn that what is remembered is not the plot points, but the characters you write about. People want to identify characters, not storyline. Create real and compelling characters, and the plot will really pop.

In non-fiction stick to the facts and let others arrive at their own conclusions.It is tempting to say, “Here’s what I think,” in writing non-fiction.  Assume your reader is smart and they will come to their own opinions and perspectives.  Your role becomes presenting those facts in an engaging manner.

Rewriting is part of writing.  Every good author has to rewrite.  Some comes from the publisher, some from the editor, some from your own gut instinct that there is a better way.  Resisting this is the path to arrogance.  Some chapters I will rewrite three times before anyone even sees them.  I have had editors that ask for additional scenes, changes, tweaks.  You do them because ultimately it makes you a better writer.  Listen to them and learn.

In fiction – use all of your characters senses in a scene.  My most seasoned BattleTech editor told me once that I was describing what people saw – but not using all of the senses.  What did the characters smell?  What did the air feel like?  I found that advice useful and have leveraged it where appropriate ever since.  It made me a better writer.

Internet facts are not facts.  Oddly enough this applies to fiction and non-fiction. Go to source material, not what you read on some web site.  It takes more time, but it is worth it in the long run.

Understand the industry. Traditional bookstores are dying.  The age of agents and big publishing houses is waning.  I had one would-be author tell me that he had to go with a major publisher rather than KDP because, “You’re only a real author if your book is in a bookstore.”  Sorry kid, it’s not the 1980’s.  With print on demand (POD) and Kindle Direct Publishing, anyone with talent can publish their book.  Easily 50-65% of book sales are digital.  Bookstores can stock your POD book. Get to know the business.

Critically read other authors. One of those uh-duh tips – I get it.  It isn’t enough to read other authors, you have to stop and ask yourself, “What is it about this part of the book I really like?”  Pull apart one of your favorite books to see why you loved it and you will learn a great deal about what you should be incorporating into your own books.

Promoting your work is part of writing.  Make yourself available for podcasts, interviews, etc. I don’t enjoy this aspect of the work personally, but it is part of being an author.  We all have spent that humiliating time sitting at a lonely table at a Borders books as people walk by.  (Yes, I am dating myself there.)

Talk to other authors.  Don’t ask them read your stuff…God I hate that.  Network with other writers so that you can get advice about the industry, tips, stuff like that.

Anyone charging you money to help you get published is ripping you off. I have never seen this work out for the author.

You have to start somewhere.  Too many authors presume you should start at the top.  True story.  I had someone reach out to me wanting to write a BattleTech novel about two months ago.  He’d never had anything published professionally, had no background in writing in the universe, but wanted one of the prime assignments you can get – a novel.  Some authors bust their ass for years to get a shot at a novel, but you want one handed to you because, and I quote from this individual, “I have an idea no one has ever seen for a book.”  I suggested that he reach out and see if he can get a gig doing some fiction for sourcebooks or tech readouts, to prove himself.  “That sounds like it will take a long time.  I don’t want to do that – can you just send me the editor’s email?”  The reality is you can’t just show up the Olympics without qualifying, and expect to run in an event.  It is lazy and arrogant of anyone to think they can just jump in with their first work as a book.  Oh it does happen now and then, but these are flukes or genius authors.  In the real world, you need to develop your skills, learned to work with editors, earn your stripes…you have to put in the work.

George R. R. Martin and the rest of the books for Game of Thrones – My Perspective

His success eclipses himself.  

You see it on social all of the time now, “When will he be done with the next book for Game of Thrones?”  It is overdue on a cosmic scale from a writer’s perspective…years overdue.  I don’t miss my book deadlines as an author, so the concept of being years late staggers me.

People want the books because they are different than the series, in some less-than-subtle ways, and they have invested long hours in reading the series up to this point.  More importantly, they have watched the stunning HBO series which has gone far past Mr. Martin’s storyline in print thus far.

I’m not anxious about the next book being published.  Why?  Because George R. R. Martin has done something that I have not seen with almost any other writer – he has made his written books obsolete.  His creation has eclipsed anything he might ever write again.  The popularity of the HBO series is so big, so vast, so visually compelling, that whatever he writes it will be compared to the series, which is nearly impossible to top. Whatever he produces as an author will be held up against the TV series based on his books!  The irony here is incredible.  George R. R. Martin has actually created a situation where writing the books is not necessary.

It is hard to comprehend of an instance where an author’s success is so great because of his works, that he cannot surpass it with the written word.  Perhaps Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  As good as the book is, when the title is mentioned, we all see Gregory Peck in our mind’s eye.  When the sequel to the book two years ago, it was ridiculed and mocked. Her characters and story had eclipsed her own vision.  People were saying that she, as the author, had not been true to the characters that she had created! The readers (and viewers) had seized her work and held onto it so dearly that no matter what was published thereafter was destined to be scorned.

Similarly, Mr. Martin doesn’t have to write the rest of the series because he will be remembered for the HBO series far beyond any words he might write.  He is facing a problem that every writer dreams of, stunning success to the point where his written worlds are obsoleted by another medium – in this case, television.  In fact, producing the books is bound to draw comparisons and raise scorn with fans, because that’s what people do on the internet, they get pissed.  Having seen the series, the haters will whine that the coming novels don’t live up to what they have seen on HBO.  If the books were released now, wrapping up the series, he would draw ire for their tardiness on top of being late, everyone will expect something miraculous.  Writing the rest of the books will only serve to fragment his fan base. I have never quite seen anything like it.

The winning move for Mr. Martin is to not play the game.  As a great fan of his work, I honestly don’t know if I would encourage him to publish any more in this series. His body of work, which encompasses the TV series, is stellar and little more can be done that would improve upon what we have all experienced.