I got the final piece of artwork for STONELANDS, my Work-Long-In-Progress, back from the Pentagon, cleared for publication. I love sending them something with redactions already in place only to get it back with more redactions added.

What made this fun is that I used to build, and brief, maps like this all the time in the Army. I even used the same template that I used for briefing materials, right down to the classification bars. This is representative of the level of detail you’ll see throughout the novel.

If you have a beta version of the manuscript, this map will replace the map of the operational area for the initial reconnaissance mission on Page 99.

The final image in the novel won’t be blurred.

We currently have three trade publishers holding the STONELANDS manuscript under consideration. If I haven’t talked about it much, it’s because, well, it’s under consideration.

If nobody bites, I’ll probably just publish it myself. It sucks that the traditional publishing model takes so long, but this is just the way it goes. It also took nearly a year to get the final artwork together and approved.

One of the publishers has already had the manuscript (without artwork) for a year, and all three holding it under consideration have gushed about the story and the writing; they just don’t know how to market it because there is nothing like this out there. I’ve looked; my agent has looked; the publishers have looked. The great dichotomy of traditional publishing is that every editor says they want something new, but when they get something groundbreaking, they won’t buy it because there’s nothing else like it.

If this sounds familiar, the same thing happened with the initial manuscript for DRAGON’S TRAIL, and when I self-published it, it sold over 10,000 copies in 18 months, received mainstream critical acclaim, and qualified me for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in Science Fiction and Fantasy. So I feel pretty good about STONELANDS. Now that the final piece is in place, I’m working on COIN OF THE REALM, which will tie the two series together. I’ll cover COTR in a future blog post.

In other news, I’m now fully medically retired for combat-related injuries after 8 mobilizations.

It hasn’t been a restive retirement. Besides the paperwork nightmare and what has amounted to a six-month–and ongoing–Scavenger Hunt designed by idiots (as I’d mentioned in my previous post), I had extensive surgery yesterday to repair injuries that the Army half-assed and I aggravated severely. This is fun because we have to wonder what else in my 1,500 pages of medical records they decided to punt on.

We know that I have several more to go after this, including a rebuild of a separated shoulder and the repair of a neck fracture that the Army classified as a “soft tissue injury” and never treated. (Yes, I put my hand up seven more times with a broken neck, because that’s just what a badass I am.) By the time they bolt, glue, and plate me back together, I’m going to be unstoppable. Again. Well, unstoppable-er.

 Side note: the orders moving me into the medical retirement program are dated the day after the last U.S. troops left Afghanistan. This is hilarious to me because I signed up for the surge in Afghanistan in 2009 at age 39 when the Army raised the recruiting age to 42. 

Anyway, all these good times aside, I may be more active on this blog. I have to be, because I was permanently banned from Twitter a few months back, then unbanned, then re-banned when the South African Shitwit took it over. This time, I was banned as part of a list entitled “Oven-Worthy Intellectuals” forwarded to then-content moderator Andy Ngo by a white supremacist militia leader who took issue with me pointing out the deficiencies and dipshittery of the troops in his attempted flex pic. [Tips for militia members: 1.) Don’t pose in Amazon paintball gear; 2.) If you call yourself “Militia Special Forces,” if your optics are on backwards, I’m poking fun at you; 3.) No matter how much stuff you put on it, you’re not fooling anyone worth fooling if you’re posing with a Bushmaster rifle.]

There may be a post on social media strategies someday later, when I’m not out of my skull on painkillers and Scotch. I’ll talk to you, then. Cheers.