A Cavalcade of Current Events!

Holy Hannah, there’s a lot to catch up on! I’ll try to keep this brief.

So, I try really hard to not link up my day job with anything involving stuff I do outside of work–largely for legal reasons (it just works out better that way_. Now that I’m about to not be working that job anymore…..I don’t have to worry about it any longer.

See, for the past ten years, I’ve been an enlisted airman, working as an electrician for the United States Air Force. While deployed overseas during the tail end of 2020, I started developing some really funky health issues that resulted in me getting sent home early from that deployment, so they could send me to a specialist to figure out what was going on. The good news is, they figured it out, and I’m getting treatment for both of the medical issues they discovered. The bad news? Both of those issues are incurable, and while I can treat the symptoms, they both disqualify me from future military service.

So……effective May 27th, I’ll be permanently retired. 10 years, 1 month, and 4 days in.

“But Brennen, what does this mean for your writing?”

Well, I’ll tell you what it means. Once we get my retirement pay and benefits sorted out, I’ll be able to give y’all a better answer….but without getting into the weeds too much, if I end up pulling enough….I might be able to write (and other things–more on that in a minute) full-time. Which would be pretty badass. At the minimum, I’ll at least be writing more.

Speaking of writing more, my buddy Lawdog has a new anthology series coming out–a collection of fun, fictional stories involving the island of Malta, which is probably the only place on the planet that is as fortified as the root beer he drinks.

(Given that he was born there, this shouldn’t be that surprising.)

The first book, “Ghosts of Malta”, has already been released–it has a bunch of other talented authors I have the privilege of knowing and/or being friends with: J.L Curtis, Cedar Sanderson, John Van Stry, Brena Bock, and many others whom I recommend following. The second book, “Knights Of Malta”, which will feature stories from my buddies Manni Ratliff, Jonathan LaForce, and yours truly, will be released in September of this year. Also in September of that year, around the 16th through the 18th, I’ll be attending FenCon in Dallas, Texas, partly to support my friend Larry Correia (who is attending as a Guest of Honor there!), and partly to help hawk copies of Knights of Malta, alongside the rest of the North Texas Troublemakers. If you’re in the Dallas/Fort Worth area around that time and wanna meet up for lunch or beers, look for the feller wearing the hat on the logo!

In other news, at the encouragement of mad genius Barry Lambert (of “Station Road Rat Rods” fame), I’ve decided to shamelessly cash in on a few of my hobbies (construction work, fiddling with cars, road trips, etc.) and create videos depicting that kinda stuff. If those sorts of shenanigans interests you, you can find that channel, “Old Hat Nation”, on YouTube (we also have a group on the Facecult, if you’re so inclined). I’ll probably be updating that group in tandem with the YouTube page and this blog–which hopefully will mean more frequent updates across the board (no promises, but I’ll give it a shot!).

There’s one other piece of news to announce…..but I’m not allowed to announce it yet. I’ll tell y’all as soon as I can.

Thanks for all the love and support, guys. Hope you guys enjoy the books and the videos that are going to be rolling out. Talk to you all again, soon!

“Unmasked: Tales of Risk & Revelation” Now Released!

A new anthology I participated in, “Unmasked: Tales of Risk and Revelation” is now for sale on Amazon!

The anthology, which actually came out a month ago (apologies; it’s been a busy month), was put out by none other than Kevin J. Anderson (yes, that Kevin J. Anderson) and the grad students of the Master’s-level publishing class Kevin teaches at Western Colorado University (these students actually put this out as their final project for this class!).

There’s some very good people in this anthology (my good friend J.L. Curtis, chief among them), 21 stories in all. I, for one, am particularly excited about this anthology because I got to include a character I’ve had stuck in my head for the past five years (If you guys do buy this anthology and like the character, let me know, and you’ll see more of her in the future!).

Finally, all of the proceeds from this particular anthology go towards Kevin’s Wordfire Press, which, aside from producing his own works, also helps make the projects in his publishing class possible, so you’re funding a good cause with every purchase!

Special thanks to Deborah Kevin, Amanda (Montadon) Spriggs, and Kevin himself for having me aboard. This was fun to participate in, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Thanks, guys!

Book Bomb! “Time Slip”, by Terra Vagus

…..No, this isn’t a post on explosive literature.

At least, not literally explosive.

I’m taking a page out of Larry Correia’s playbook, and helping promote budding authors by pimping their books with what he calls a “book bomb”. Basically the way this traditionally works is, I promote a book, and for the next twenty-four hours, we monitor the sales for 24 hours, and try to push up its ranking on Amazon as high as possible.

Of course, this is easier when you have over 9,000 active followers, like Larry. I sadly do not. But hey, we’ll give glory a good go anyway.

“Time Slip” is the breakout book of a high school friend of mine, writing under the pen name of Terra Vagus. 96 pages long, with photography by Aaron Olvera (another high school friend), it’s a collection of poems that, together, tell a story, based on Terra’s actual life experiences. Some of the subjects covered gets into pretty heavy territory: Family trauma, relationships, death, drug abuse, and so on, but the book has an underlying theme of hope and redemption, rising above those things and working towards a better future. I don’t know about y’all, but optimism and hope are two things I believe the world needs a lot more of, so this collection is coming out at a good time.

The book is not available on Amazon, but it is available via Barnes & Noble’s website (linked above). Currently, at the time of this posting, the sales ranking is at 562,685. Spread it around, buy the book if you can, and let’s see how high we can move thing thing up the charts!

The Shrillness of the Lambs: A Baen’s Bar Update

Some of you have been following the coverage of the Baen’s Bar situation (If you haven’t, click that link for a summary).

In the two days since my last update, more details have emerged. A while back, Toni Weisskopf, Baen’s head editor, had been invited as Guest of Honor to DisCon III in Washington, D.C., the venue of this year’s WorldCon (for those unfamiliar, WorldCon is where the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) vote on the Hugo Awards every year). This is pretty significant, given that Toni had been previously snubbed as a Guest of Honor in 2015, despite having the largest number of nominations to be named so in WorldCon History, because the SFWA was feuding with Larry Correia and friends over the “Sad Puppies” campaign, and it was the Sad Puppies that had nominated her. Given the history, it seemed the SFWA was trying to make amends.

Since the Sanford piece came out, however, there have been calls in the comments on Mike Glyer’s “File 770” blog coverage of the Sanford piece to have her removed as Guest of Honor (I have no intention of forwarding what little traffic I have to his website, as it truly is a wretched hive of scum and villainy; but if you really want to see what his followers have been saying, you can head there yourself. Just beware; there be monsters). Welp, they called over to the WorldCon/DisCon organizers, and demanded she be disinvited.

And they caved. For the first time in WorldCon history, a Guest of Honor has been officially disinvited.

I’ll spare you all an in-depth breakdown of why this is bullshit–Larry Correia already beat me to the punch, and I’m sure the other Baen authors, who hold a lot more clout than me, are going to come out with their own statements (when they do, I’ll update this post)–but I will say that I strongly disagree with the decision. Toni is a great editor, and an incredibly nice person. When I proposed to my now-wife at LTUE last year, Toni was one of the people who came to congratulate us. She’s done more for her writers than any other editor I’ve encountered or heard of to date (at the time of this writing, she has never published anything from me, so I say this objectively), and as far as I’m concerned, she sets the bar for the professional editing standard, and has for over 30 years. It’s rather abhorrent she’s being treated this way.

And it’s all because she allowed a forum on the company’s website, that had existed long before she was in charge, where users could express views that these people didn’t like. This treatment, from the same organization that not only defended a pair of rapists and child abusers in their midst, but helped cover for them for the better part of 30 years.

Interestingly, those that demanded her removal are still not satisfied, instead complaining that the WorldCon folks did not do it fast enough, and that it shouldn’t have taken a mob petitioning effort to remove her–they say WorldCon should have removed her as soon as the Sanford piece came out. (Again, not giving Mike Glyer the traffic; if you want to see it, head over yourself). Never mind that everybody from David Weber to Eric Flint has more or less agreed that the article was nothing more than a hit piece to get Baen deplatformed. They say she should have been removed immediately, even before she had a chance to clear her name.

Well, I can say stuff too. Not just with my voice, but with my dollar. And my dollars are no longer going to go towards supporting these people.

I won’t go to DisCon. Not that I was planning on it–the only time I really go to the East Coast is on business–but I do have friends over there, and I’ll advise my friends not to go. They’re free to do what they want, of course, but I will say that by giving them your money, you are supporting this nonsense. And if WorldCon comes to a another con that I frequent, I just won’t go that year.

I won’t buy books put out by the SFWA. If it won a Hugo Award after 2005, that’s going to be my indication to stay away. If an author announces themselves as a proud member of SFWA, I will avoid buying their books.

I will not accept nominations or awards from the SFWA. If I get one, sorry, I don’t want it. I don’t want to be affiliated with those people. Toni grew up with the SFWA crowd, and has worked in the same circles for years. If they treat her like this, what are they going to do to me if I join?

If you, my dear readers, still want to support the SFWA after this, I can’t, and won’t stop you. That’s your choice, and if you want to support them, that’s your prerogative. Just know what you’re supporting, and that your support lets these people know their behavior is okay.

Want to help Toni, or show support? Let the DisCon and the SFWA staff know you disagree with the decision. Tell your friends.

And, of course, buy Baen books.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” -Evelyn Beatrice Hall, Friends of Voltaire

Update: It has been brought to my attention that at the time of this writing, the venue that was supposed to host DisCon III/WorldCon has gone bankrupt, and the con organizers are struggling to find a new venue. On top of that, apparently DisCon had put up a deposit to rent the venue, and when it folded, the venue’s owner was unable to refund it. The con organizers are apparently retaining legal counsel.

And that just couldn’t happen to nicer people.

Update #2: Eric Flint has issued a statement, as has David Weber.

Update #3: Toni Weisskopf has issued her own statement:

The committee of Discon III approached me this week to discuss the allegations about Baen’s Bar that were posted at Patreon. Baen is conducting a thorough investigation, which we feel we cannot rush, and has taken down the Bar while we conduct the investigation.

I do understand the immediate appeal of Discon III wishing to act quickly to respond to their community. Today they informed me of their official decision to remove me as their Editor Guest of Honor.
While I strongly disagree with the committee’s decision, I will regretfully accede to their wishes.

They Came From The Woodwork

The Baen’s Bar situation is an interesting one.

For those not in the know, Baen is a sci-fi/fantasy publisher, one of the few, if not only, major publishing houses that are still independent and not locked up under a corporate conglomerate. Currently ranking eighth among fiction publishers, total, Baen publishes authors across the political spectrum, from Eric Flint to Tom Kratman. Their current head editor, a real nice woman named Toni Weisskopf, is a firm proponent of free speech, and the only thing she requires from her authors is that they’re able to write a good story. On their website, they have a forum known as “Baen’s Bar”, a place the company’s founder, Jim Baen, could have conversations “of cabbages and kings” with authors, editors, and fans alike. Built in the days before social media became a big thing, Baen’s Bar still exists, mostly attended to by a small group of the old guard who never made the jump to mainstream social media and a small contingent of newer folks that got tired of mainstream social media.

Somewhat recently, a writer known as Jason Sanford, a guy best known for short sci-fi stories, political leanings, and defending Brad Vice’s plagiarism of Carl Carmer, took it upon himself to do some hard-hitting investigative journalism into the posting habits of the Baen’s Barflies (what the forum regulars are known as). He published his findings on his Patreon site the other day, accusing Baen’s Bar of being a hotbed of “racism, sexism, homophobia and general fascism”. It is worth noting that most of the linked evidence in his investigation leads not to actual posts on Baen’s Bar, but to posts on other blogs, doing their own hot takes. On top of that, several of the posters his article cites suddenly joined the forum, which had been mostly quiet for the better part of a decade, after January 6th. It is also worth noting Mr. Sanford made no attempt to contact Baen directly and air his concerns; in fact, unconfirmed reports are saying that complaints have instead been lodged directly to the server host of Baen’s website, allegedly in a bid to get Baen’s entire website shut down. Given Mr. Sanford’s history, the credibility of his cited evidence, and the fact that this sudden wash of inflammatory posts did not appear until after events at the Capitol, I personally do not believe his article was written in good faith, but hey, you be the judge. His article can be found here.

Several Baen authors came out with statements defending the publisher, including a statement from David Weber on his personal Facebook page, and another from Larry Correia (which also quotes David Weber’s statement in full, and can be found here). Also, yesterday, Toni Weisskopf came out with an official statement from Baen, which can be found here. In it, she states that Baen’s Bar will be temporarily shut down while the company conducts an in-depth investigation of its own regarding Mr. Sanford’s allegations. This is largely being regarded as the smart move: Baen can find out for itself and prove or disprove the allegations, and let their website host service know they’re handling it. It’s a common sense move that’ll hopefully keep the host service from shutting their site down out of hand.

Cue Jon Del Arroz, comic artist, author, and general pot stirrer. Never one to let a perfectly good controversy go to waste, he has been decrying Baen’s move as “caving to the SJW mob” on virtually every social media platform he is on (YouTube link here), and doing his level best to make conservative writers look like the crackpots the left thinks we are. And, when rightfully called out for stirring the pot, Mr. Del Arroz and his followers are now trying to claim that “Larry Correia and his mob” are blaming him for getting Baen’s Bar shut down.

The mental gymnastics required to follow that logic warrant a gold medal and a corporate sponsorship.

Baen is one of the last publishers left that does not require their writers and editors to adhere to a certain political ideology in order to work for the company. A lot of other people in the publishing industry openly do not like Baen for this reason, Mr. Sanford included. This reads less like a good-faith exposé and more like an attempt to screw Baen and its authors and editors over by deplatforming them. Given what just happened with Parler, whether you agree with it or not, the evidence points in that direction. This means that if you are at all a believer in the First Amendment, you need to be paying attention to what’s going on here.

As for Mr. Del Arroz and his antics: He needs to sit down and let Baen work. Just because I happen to share a writing credit with the guy (we both were published in the same anthology last fall), does not mean I’m endeared to the guy at all, or afraid to tell him when he is out of line. Which, in this case, he is.

In the meantime, what can you do to support Baen? Buy their books, and tell your friends to do the same.

UPDATE: Eric Flint has weighed in. You can see his statement here.

A Modern Good Samaritan Story

(AKA: Why anybody who says the Blackfoot Nation is nothing but troublemakers is full of shit)

Ever since I first moved to Montana, any time I hear a mention of the Blackfoot Nation, or that someone is driving to Glacier National Park, somebody always says the same thing: “Don’t stop in Browning! You’ll either get robbed or stabbed! The Blackfoot are crazy!” I’ve heard it from non-Natives, I’ve heard it from other Native tribes, and always pretty consistently.

I’ve never really paid it any mind; I usually stop at the Exxon in Browning to get gas, whenever I’m up that way (gas is about 20 cents cheaper there than the other last stop before Marias Pass, East Glacier Park Village, and the Exxon in Browning has a better food selection inside). Every time I’ve stopped, I’ve never had a problem. Most of the people I’ve encountered there have been pretty nice. So I’ve always taken such statements with a grain of salt.

Then, last night happened, and after that, I’ll never pay heed to that stupid rumor again.

A buddy of mine, currently deployed, asked if I could drive up to Kalispell and pick up a parts snowmobile for him. I was driving US Highway 2, between East Glacier and the top of Marias Pass, when an Montana Highway Patrol trooper came cruising up behind me, cherries and berries flashing. I pulled over onto what I thought was the shoulder, only to discover that the highway didn’t actually have a shoulder, instead getting sucked into a dropoff, burying the passenger side of my truck in a deep snowdrift.

Healy is not amused.

The MHP trooper slowed down (which tells me he did see this happen), but didn’t stop. Granted, he was on his way to an accident scene a few miles ahead, involving a big rig that had jackknifed and was blocking a lane of traffic, but come on–when I rolled by the scene of the accident later, there were at least eight patrol cars from three different agencies, a local fire & rescue unit, and three snow plows on scene. Nobody was injured, from what I understand. Most of those folks were already there, and most of the police officers were just sitting inside their cars. You’d think the guy could at least manage a “Hey, don’t worry, we’ll call for someone to help you” before continuing on his way. But I digress.

So I’m stuck, in the middle of nowhere, in -13° weather, with no cell service and several miles from the nearest town. I wasn’t entirely screwed; I had an emergency kit, to include a long length of logger’s chain, provisions, and the truck with still running with a mostly full tank of gas, but being stuck in the middle of the northern Rocky Mountain Range is not exactly an ideal situation. I got out of the my truck and tried to flag someone down for help. Over the next half-hour, I got passed by:

  • Another MHP car,
  • A Glacier County Sheriff’s Deputy,
  • a truck from a nearby fire department, affiliation unknown,
  • a snow plow from the Montana Department of Transportation,
  • and at least five other vehicles.

Waved at all of them. Not a one of them stopped.

You know who did? A man from the Blackfoot Nation.

I didn’t catch his name, but he said he was a principal at the school in Browning; he was on his way to watch a wrestling team meet in Whitefish this weekend. Also a former Marine. Offered to pull me out, no questions asked. Made a bit of small talk afterward, and got back on the road. Nice guy, wish I would have caught his name.

So when somebody tells me that the Blackfoot Nation is full of ne’er do wells and troublemakers in the future, I’m going to raise the point that one of their people stopped to help me out of a jam when not even the local police, fire department, or Department of Transportation would.

Big D-Minus to those other people, but a big A Plus to the school principal with the red F-150. He is a credit to both his students and his people. The Blackfoot are All Right in my book. And I wish that gentleman and his students luck in their wrestling meet this weekend.

Stopped on US 2 a few miles ahead of where I went off the road, about a mile from the accident with the semi (top center of photo). The man who saved my bacon is in the red F-150 in front of me. Note the temperature in the bottom right corner of the photo.

“Space Force: Building The Legacy” Audiobook is now available!

“Space Force: Building The Legacy”, the anthology I took part in last spring (and winner of the 2021 Helicon Award for Best Military Sci-Fi/Fantasy!) is now available as an audiobook via Audible! Narrated by Theo Holland (who did a really good job; the narration of P.A. Piatt’s “Best and Brightest” alone is worth the purchase!).

Link to purchase is here. Give it a listen!

Green Grass and High Tides for December

Proud to say that I’ve been accepted for Wordfire Press’ Unmasked anthology, edited by none other than Kevin J. Anderson and his fine class of students at Western Colorado University.

This makes me happy for two reasons: One, this makes me three for three for anthology submissions this year. And, while my health issues and extenuating circumstances have kept me away from my laptop lately, the fact that I’ve gone from never having been published before to having three stories printed in a year without a single rejection letter is unheard of. So, go me. The second reason I’m excited is because I’ve finally been able to use a character I’ve been kicking around in my head since 2016, yet up until now have not had a good story to use her in. The fact that I’m finally able to do that makes me proud.

I did an interview for Richard Paolinelli’s Superversive Sunday Spotlight that will be aired on January 31st. Richard’s good people, and his Superversive project is one of the greatest things to happen to the writing community since the dawn of the new millennium. Check him out at https://scifiscribe.com/.

Other than that, not much to report, but when I do, I’ll be back here.

November Update

Hi, all, hope everyone’s doing well. (Lord, I really need to give this site some more attention). Here’s more or less the State of the Nation today:

-On the book front: Got picked up for another anthology (link in the Books section). “Divided We Fall: One Possible Future” was a fun (and somewhat prophetic) little thought exercise started by a buddy writing under the pseudonym of Mack Henkel. Decided it was something I could have a little fun with, so I cranked out a story, and here we are. Print and ebook versions are available via Amazon.

In addition, I submitted for yet another anthology (and trying to finish a story for a fourth). The first is being edited by a team of students at Western Colorado University supervised by Kevin J. Anderson (!!!); the second is an anthology for FantaSci and Chris Kennedy Publishing. Fingers crossed on both of those.

-On the photography front: Looks dismal for this year. For a good chunk of this year, I’ve either been sent away from home for work purposes, or put under a restriction of movement (read: basically stuck at my house, except for medical appointments and to grab essentials) because I traveled out of state. As such, my ability to get out has been limited. Hoping that changes sometime soon.

Hope you all are doing well. I’ll update when I have more news to share.