Thursday, September 19, 2013

Some Good Pacific War Timelines For You

I'm in the first semester of graduate school and I've got a lot on my plate, hence the decline in my blogging. However, to tide you over before I upload my third batch of notes from DragonCon 2013, I'll supply you with a couple interesting Pacific War timelines from

The first one is A True and Better Alamo: The Battle for Wake Atoll. I'm not as familiar with our world's Battle of Wake Island, but based on the author's comments, efforts to fortify the island begin much earlier than they did in our history, making the island MUCH more defensible. Based on the title it doesn't look like things will go well for the defenders in the long run, but considering how the Japanese campaign in the early days of the Pacific War was run on a shoestring on a very tight timetable, a prolonged and bloodier resistance at Wake Island is going to cause them problems in the long run. After doing some more research, he decided to change some earlier events in the timeline and started writing an updated version, which you can find here.

The second one isn't really a timeline per se, but an attempt to war-game a second Japanese carrier assault on Hawaii in early 1942. Instead of assisting in operations in Rabaul, Borneo, and Java, the First Air Fleet (the major Japanese carrier battle group) is dispatched east for a second attempt to destroy U.S. carrier forces in the Pacific and (possibly) tear up Pearl Harbor and Oahu some more.

Behold IJN Carrier Attack on Hawaii-January 1942.

There's a lot of gamer talk, but as you scroll through, there's narrative depicting the results of the dice-rolling, including a B-17 bomber hitting a ship (something that happened very rarely). Given how it was the U.S. that ground the Empire of the Rising Sun to ashes, it seems to me that hitting the U.S. harder when they'd already hurt us (Pearl Harbor and the aftermath) would have been a better strategic decision that going overkill on some battles they would have won anyway, but that's with hindsight.

On the other hand, if they end up getting gutted like they did at the Battle of Midway, the war in this timeline might end up being shorter.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Notes from DragonCon 2013, Part Two

Here's the second round of notes from DragonCon 2013. It'll be like the first round, only with much less name-dropping.

One panel I attended involved people who'd been involved with several anthologies. That was interesting to me, since although collections don't sell well, the number of magazines accepting fiction is rapidly declining. My friend James R. Tuck edited two Thunder on the Battlefield sword and sorcery anthologies featuring his own work and that of two other members of my writing group (a story I wanted to submit wasn't ready, even though he graciously offered me extra time). Once I get some clout, maybe I can pitch an anthology to a publisher and they'll agree to publish it if I edit it. :)

*Putting together an anthology is tiresome and the pay's not great, but it's a lot of fun. I'll have to keep this in mind, since I've got a lot less time for fun these days. :(

*One of the panelists talked about getting 500 submissions for ten slots.

*If a submitted story is good but the anthology rejects it, the editor might keep the writer in mind for future work.

*Many stories submitted to anthologies have weak beginnings. If the submission numbers are small, editors can work with authors to improve a particular story, but if there are a lot of them, buh-bye.

*Anthology editors don't want to do actual editing. Those submitting to an anthology should polish it until it shines before sending it in.

*A common problem is that stories take too long to get started and finish too fast.

*There's no shame in using Kickstarter to get funding in advance, since anthologies generally don't make a lot of money. A good Kickstarter campaign will raise enough money to pay professional rates for covert art, editing, layout, and proofreading.

*Small presses are better outlets for anthologies. I'm guessing they were talking about pitching an anthology proposal to a publisher much like how one might pitch a single-author book to them. See the Thunder on the Battlefield situation above.

*An anthology like UnCONventional isn't going to sell a lot of copies at bookstores, but due to its subject matter, it will sell a LOT at conventions. Having a table at conventions is something to keep in mind, given how most publishers will not spend a lot of money to market a newbie author and then when said newbie author fails, it might be the kiss of death for their career (unless they adopt a pseudonym). Given how publishers will often offer books to authors at a reduced price, setting off to conventions on one's own seems like a good way of doing business.

Notes from DragonCon 2013 Part One

Sorry for the big gap in blog posts. I have recently started graduate school and between that, freelance work, and my own writing projects, that's bit into my blogging time considerably.

So here are some notes I took from DragonCon 2013:

*At a branding panel with artist John Picacio, he said art directors are the ones who generally hire artists. To become a successful freelance artist, he recommends building relationships with publishers but also be a member of the fan community via things like attending conventions.

*Many independent authors want book covers but offer too little money. He's turned them down for this reason, but suggested that second rights to an artistic work can be sold for much cheaper.

*Those interested in finding good fantasy art should check out Spectrum or visit DeviantArt. One DA artist has done the covers for several of my Kindle stories, so I've already taken that advice into account.

*At a pulp panel featuring my writer friends James R. Tuck and Delilah S. Dawson, I learned the ideal word count for pulp publisher Airship 27 is 60,000 words. That's what I'm shooting for with The Thing In The Woods, although I fear it might come up short. James has advised me to send Battle for the Wastelands to pulp publishers and once I hear back from some biggies I've already sent it to, I'll take his advice.

*With pulp, there's less need for a back-story.

*Later books in a series can feature a Dramatis Personae that's a recap without being a recap.

* is a good place to have your books recorded for audio purposes. I might give that a try with my e-books.

*Nazi rocket planes were fueled by red foaming nitric acid and 100% hydrogen peroxide, both of which will dissolve anything. When mishaps occurred and the chemicals spilled into cockpits, pilots would literally melt. This happened at least once.

*John Ringo is apparently popular in Europe. His father-in-law, a minister in Lithuania, name-dropped Ringo and doubled the number of people at his church services. Meanwhile, either Ringo himself or a friend of his (I can't remember clearly) encountered some German women who were big fans.

*Romantic fiction in Germany is apparently very BDSM/dominance-heavy. Dawson and Ringo discussed the reaction to their books in more-puritanical America and according to Ringo, his Paladin of Shadows novels fit right in but Dawson's steampunk vampire romance is very tame. Ringo's account of the reaction of his mother (and her book club) to Ghost, the first Paladin novel, was hilarious. If you've ever heard of the Internet meme "Oh John Ringo No," it's about the series. Here you go.

*Pyr Books' "Toxic City" novels taking place in a London quarantined due to the use of chemical/biological weapons are being adapted for a television series. However, it's being set in Los Angeles. Given how the first book is London Eye, I'm wondering what they're going to call the series. "Toxic City," according to one of the Pyr panelists, seems like a good bet.