The Further Adventures of Tom Stranger, Live from KhanQuanCon XIV – Part 2

 

Continued from: http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/the-further-adventures-of-tom-stranger-interdimensional-insurance-agent-live-from-conkhanquan-xiv/

NARRATOR: During the last episode of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent, rampaging demons had invaded a science fiction convention in Nebraska. Have you ever seen that Italian movie, Demons, by Lamberto Bava? From Italy, 1985? Okay, it is pretty awesome. Especially like when that hooker’s face explodes with the big green puss ball before she turns into a demon? It was just like that… Well, anyways, Tom arrived in order to help that dimension’s version of Larry Correia, because another dimension’s Larry Correia had purchased Stranger & Stranger’s Comprehensive Plan. The following events were recorded by Larry Correia (in a very Clive Cussler like turn of events) . I mean the first Larry, who’s a novelist, not the rich one. I know this parallel dimension thing is complicated, but try to keep up.

Advertising created by the Robb Allen School of Interdimensional Design

 This episode of the Further Adventures of Tom Stranger has been brought to you by CorreiaTech. Now with 70% more Wombat.

#

We were trapped. Some sort of demonic magical force-field was covering all the doors and windows. The main hall and game rooms had already fallen before the fearsome onslaught.  The demons had swept through the convention, killing many and mutating others. It was ugly.

The surviving  geeks, authors, gamers, and fan boys of KhanQuanCon XIV were making our final stand. We’d barricaded the green room door with a pallet of self-published comic books, temporarily stopping the demon’s advance, but we could hear the mad scratching of their instantly infectious talons on the other side.

“Those comic books won’t hold forever,” I stated with grim finality.

“They’re graphic novels,” corrected the author with a sniff. He adjusted his beret. “They’re about man’s inhumanity to man and our existential struggle for—“

“Crap, dude, whatever.  Fine, those graphic novels won’t hold forever.” I looked over at the last folks who’d made it in before we’d sealed the door. “What’s the status out there.”

 The girl in storm trooper armor was really shaken up. “The monsters attacked the room holding the panel on writing space alien on human love scenes. It devolved into how to write Kirk/Spock slash fic. It was horrible.”

“The panel discussion or the demons?”

 “The demons… mostly. The panelists put up a good fight, but they were overrun.  I didn’t see anyone make it out alive.” She began to sob. “It was awful. Oh, John Ringo, NOOOOOO!”

“Keep it together, Trooper. We need to think of a plan. Has anybody seen Tom Stranger?” The other refugees exchanged confused glances.  “Average guy, average height, average looking, has a bowtie?  Awesome laser pistol?” 

“Oh, that guy.” A Jawa pointed at the barricade. Or maybe it was a short dude in wearing a robe made out of brown carpet, but the LED light eyeballs were a cool touch.  “He stayed out there . Said something about having to find his intern.”

Crap. That meant that the Interdimensional insurance agent I’d just discovered I had was probably dead or worse. We were on our own. “Okay, listen up. We need weapons.”

One of the Society for Creative Anachronism people stepped forward and lifted his sword. “Thou dost knoweth of our exquisite blades and skills, me lord. The foul denizens of Hades shall taste our steel! Huzzah!” Everybody else wearing a tunic or chainmail also yelled huzzah.  I estimated at least a dozen huzzahs, which is certainly an above average number of huzzahs. “If we can but liberate our stores in the marketplace, we can arm the entire vanguard with halberds and falchions!”

“Huh? What are sandwiches and birds supposed to do?”

“No, Larry,” Sarah Hoyt interjected, “Those are medieval weapons.”  She was all sorts of smart about historical stuff like that.  

“The Russian lady is right.” The SCA guy switched back to normal English. His name tag read Sir Galen. “There were a bunch of axes and swords over in the sales room. If we make it over there, we can slay the **** out of these ****-nozzles.”

Now, that I could understand. “Okay, you guys can do that while the rest of us do something useful. Who’s got real weapons?” Most of the Baen authors and Barflys present immediately drew their concealed handguns. Luckily they knew that those No Guns Allowed signs were just helpful suggestions. Somehow Michael Z. Williamson had even smuggled in an M-16.  “Freaking A, dude, how’d you get that in here?”

Mad Mike shrugged. “I stuck some gears on it and told security it was part of a Steam Punk costume. If we were at LibertyCon I would have brought some real guns.”

“Excellent. We’re going to have to kill every last one of these things if we’re—“

“Hey. Who put you in charge?” asked an exceedingly large woman wearing a Team Jacob t-shirt.

“That’s Tony Soprano! Don’t piss him off!” hissed her friend in the Team Edward shirt.

“I’m not James Gandolfini. I’m Larry Correia.”

“Who?”

“The author?” Nothing. “The Monster Hunter series?” Blank stare. “Grimnoir Chronicles? Dead Six?” I sighed. “Never mind. Listen, lady, if we’re going to live, we’ve got to fight.”

“Violence never solved anything,” the Jacobite answered with the grim finality of a hippy who’d never once read a history book, ever. “I say we hide here until help comes. We’ve got food.” She pointed at the table of M&Ms and Ritz crackers (and you guys never knew how many perks there were to being a writer!). 

The buzzing of my phone distracted me from the Twi-Hards.  The display on my Blackberry indicated that it was my co-author Mike, calling again. I excused myself from the crowd and answered.  “Dude, now isn’t a good time. I’m trapped at the Con by a bunch of demo—“

“It’s always about you, isn’t it?” Mike grumbled. “You’re a terrible life coach.”

I sighed. “Okay, what happened. Did you find your kidney yet?”

“I think so… The Red Dragon Triad has it. I’m having a car chase with one of them now. But I kind of… well…”

I used my stern voice. “Mike… You know Step Four is making a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself. What did you do this time?”

“Well, I sorta kidnapped one of the girls from Chinese food place on accident.”

Someone was shouting in Chinese in the background. She sounded really angry. “How do you accidentally kidnap somebody?”

“Hey! **** happens, okay? Quit judging me,” he shouted. Now I could hear police sirens in the background. “Aww man. I gotta go. I’ll talk to you later.” As he hung up, I could make out the unmistakable rattle of machinegun fire.  I shrugged and put my phone back in my pocket, despite Mike’s many poor choices and need for constant encouragement, I had my own problems to deal with.  

Suddenly there was a rumble from the ceiling. The tiles broke apart and dust rained down. Immediately the Baen Barflys began to engage the hole with small arms fire. Tom Stranger popped out of the hole and dropped to the floor, dragging another person with him, the bullets sparking harmlessly off his CorreiaTech personal energy shield. (I so should have paid more attention in school).

“Ceasefire! Ceasefire!” I shouted. “That’s my insurance agent!” The wild gunfire tapered off.

Tom Stranger dusted plaster off his suit coat. “Please excuse my rude interruption. I had to rescue my intern. ” Tom Stranger scowled at the pathetic slob of a young man lying pathetic on the floor in his stained Chico State t-shirt. “I told you not to wander off.”

“But, but Mr. Stranger. We’re at a Con!” Jimmy pleaded. “There are girls. In costume… Girls in costume!” Tom Stranger didn’t respond. “Chain mail bikinis leather corsets, and Princess Leia! Princess Leia, man! And some of them have really low self esteem! I had to work my magic, know what I’m saying?”

“Is he drunk?” I asked.

“Usually,” Tom Stranger responded.  “Jimmy, this is our client. Mr. Correia, this is Jimmy Duquesne.”

Jimmy looked at me. “Dude, you were awesome as that gay hitman in The Mexican.”

There was a sudden crash against our door, hard enough to shake all the graphic novels, followed by a sanity-rending scream of hate and sheer crankiness.

“What’s that?” someone dressed as Dr. Horrible shouted.

“They’ve summoned a Balrog,” Tom Stranger stated with grim finality. “It is a nearly unstoppable force of evil. I would say it is at least a two-hundred on the Grylls Survivability Scale.”

That was a lot of Bear Gryllses. “Why don’t you just shoot it with your fancy laser pistol?”

Tom Stranger shook his head. “I lost it trying to save Jimmy from a demon.”

Jimmy got upset. “Demon? But she seemed so into me. Are you sure she was a demon?”

“I thought perhaps her tail or bat wings would have been a clear indicator, but you are a remarkably unobservant little man…” Tom Stranger turned back to me. “I have many CorreiaTech devices on my person, but only my Combat Wombat is powerful enough to pierce the nether-hide of a greater demon. I will have to retrieve it. It was by the swag table.”   

The Balrog crashed into the door again. We wouldn’t have a chance in the enclosed space of the green room. I looked out across the sea of con-goers and saw grim determination on their pasty faces. It was time to go on the attack. Nebraska was counting on us.

TO BE CONTINUED…

EDIT:  For behind the scenes info about the origin of the CorreiaTech Combat Wombat logo, go here http://blog.robballen.com/2010/07/16/p4195-in-a-dimension-far-far-away-a-short-story.post  It is rather awesome.

New interview with me

There is an interview of me in the current issue of Arkham Tales:  http://www.nathanshumate.com/?p=3016

Ask Correia 7: The Ending

I’ve gotten a couple more writing based questions recently. I’m glad you guys enjoy these, because I enjoy writing them.  I’m going to try to get through a couple this week.

How do you approach writing a “knockout” ending for your novels? -Scott

Oh, that’s a good question. The really awesome beginning is what will help sell your novel, but the really awesome ending is what people are going to remember.

One important thing, and I don’t know what the actual “literary” term is for this, but if you make a promise to your readers anywhere in the book, you need to fulfill that promise before the end. If you don’t, then you’re going to leave them feeling cheated.

You’ve probably all heard of Chekhov’s Gun. (old rule, in theater, if there’s a gun on the wall in the 1st act, then somebody has to use it by the 3rd) Okay, I don’t buy that. Though a lot of author’s seem to think it applies to writing, it is a theater rule, and theater has props, and props cost money, so that’s why they had to use that gun.  In writing, you can have all sorts of things that show up that don’t have to actually be used in the overall plot.  You can have things that just show up because they’re interesting, entertaining, or fun, and then they can go away and never get mentioned again.  For example, I had random factoids and interesting things pop up in MHI, just to set mood or atmosphere or to give a glimpse into the world, but it wasn’t necessary for the plot itself.  (Humboldt Folk in Natchy Bottom. Why were they there? Because they’re friggin’ creepy).

More important though, is that if you’ve got something that you’ve set up, and you’ve promised the readers some sort of resolution about that point, then you need to make sure it is in there. Otherwise they’re going to come away feeling ripped off. That doesn’t mean you have to answer every single question raised in the book, just those that you gave some indication that you would. (for example, in MHI, I explain Earl, but I don’t explain Franks).  If you’ve got an epic quest for a magic super weapon to defeat the mystical big bad, and characters sacrifice and die to get to it, you probably can’t just forget that it exists for the final act. I’m not saying you have to use it, as long as you’ve got an enjoyable story reason not to, but don’t just drop things that you get bored at as a writer.

Now for the actual end scene, of the books that I’ve finished (Monster Hunter International, Monster Hunter Vendetta, Hard Magic, and Dead Six) and the two that I’ve got mostly done (Monster Hunter Alpha, Swords of Exodus), every single one has a big climatic event at the end. I suppose that you can have books end with something other than a fight scene, but those aren’t the kind of books that I read or write.  I like to end with a struggle. I enjoy taking all the drama, tension, and stress that has built up through the book, and throw it all out there at the end. I want the reader to grin stupidly after the end battle and say “****ing A! They sure kicked some (monster, terrorist, magic samurai) ass! Boo Yah!”

You’ve got to have build up for the end. Your reader needs to be nervous that not everybody is going to make it. There needs to be a threat. But you can overdo it a bit though, and then you’ve got Ewoks defeating the Empire, (which I have been accused of, but oh well).     

There is a fantasy series that will remain unnamed, because I actually really respect the author, and I love his other series. But throughout this massive, epic novel, there is this one man that goes from a minor village schlub to the most powerful wizard in the world. He goes on this huge journey, and then when he finally faces the hugenormous Big Bad at the end… he hits it with a stick and the monster dies.  Hookay… (well, it was a magic stick) Then in the next book, the now even more powerful sorcerer fights an even more awesome big bad, with hundreds of pages of build up, and then he twirls a couple times, hits it once, and kills it too.  I didn’t read the third book in the series.

When I look back at why I didn’t bother to finish that series, it was because I felt let down. I felt like the author had made some promises, but he’d not fulfilled them. So I drifted away. That’s the opposite of what you want to accomplish as a writer. You want to drag them back. You want them to end on a emotional strong point. (it may not even be a happy emotion, but try to avoid anger toward you at least).

The end fight doesn’t have to be an massive Michael Bay style orgy of explosions and slow-mo crashes. It depends on the type of book you’re writing. I just finished Mr. Monster by Dan Wells. (review coming soon) and this isn’t a big action kind of book. It is a character study of a sociopathic teenager who doesn’t want to turn into a serial killer, who battles demons. (and it is AWESOME).  But the ending had tension, because you cared about the fate of the character, and then he uses his brain rather than brawn.  It is an emotional ending, and it is a great ending.  

I really wish that you guys could hurry up and read Hard Magic (coming Spring 2011 from Baen Books) because I think it’s got the strongest ending of anything I’ve ever written. I tie up like five different plot lines in one action sequence. There’s emotion. There’s death. There’s loss, revenge, betrayal, conspiracies explained, and Tesla super weapons.  It’s three straight chapters of ask-kicking interspaced with conflict resolution of the uber-violent kind. And a teleporting magic ninja fight on top of a flaming pirate dirigible. It is EPIC.  

So make sure you wrap up all the important stuff, and do it with emotion so that the readers care, and your story will have an awesome ending. And when in doubt, add explosions.

One more thing. After the big end scene, you’re going to want to do a wrap up. Don’t go nuts on the wrap up. This is a good spot to fill in any of those blanks the reader’s may need to have to feel complete. You don’t need to tell the rest of the character’s life story. Don’t drag the wrap up out longer than you have to. My original wrap up on MHI was way way way too long, because I felt the need to tell everyone’s life story. (the edited version is much cooler, and people seem to really enjoy the parental letter) Don’t go too long and carry on after the story is over! If what they do next is that interesting, that’s why you get to write sequels!

Show the reader what you need to show them (look, a brief scene of everyone living happily ever after, or uh oh, here comes the setup for the sequel) but don’t drag it out too long. Peter Jackson got to do thirty minutes of hugging at the end of Lord of the Rings, because he’s Peter Jackson, and we’re not.

Question #2

There’s an issue in my writing that I’m having trouble with and would be interested in getting your take on. The latest story idea I have takes place in Mexico, and therefore almost entirely in Spanish. Obviously, I’m not going to write the whole story in Spanish, so do you have any advice on how to write a story that takes place in another language . . . without using that language too much? – Cameron

What I’ve done so far is that I give some clue to the reader that they’re not speaking English, and then I just write all the dialog in English. If the POV character is speaking the same language as those around him, then you can easily get away with that. (actually in MHI, just assume that most of the characters are speaking Southern).

I try to tweak it when the POV character doesn’t speak the language. If you’re writing without an all-knowing narrator (which I always do) then the reader is only going to get what the POV gets. So if he doesn’t speak Spanish, then he’s not going to understand what is being said. If you’re writing in the third person, and you have a scene between two Spanish speakers, it will be a given to your audience that they’re speaking Spanish.

In Dead Six, many of Lorenzo’s scenes would be entirely in foreign languages, but because of the set up, the readers are aware of this, and there isn’t any question. I’ve not had that confuse anyone… yet. (knock on wood).  When he’s speaking in Arabic to another Arabic speaker, I may make some little reference at the beginning of the scene about that, but then I just get to the important stuff. At the beginning of MHV, Owen is in Mexico. Because it isn’t a very long bit, when words are said in Spanish, they’re written in Spanish, but it isn’t anything that is really important or that will confuse the readers, so I just leave them in Spanish.  In the next scene with Owen in jail, the Spanish bits are written as if they’re in English, because it is from Owen’s POV as he’s eavesdropping, and though he can get by in Spanish, he thinks in English as he translates.

In MHI, Lord Machado’s parts take place five hundred years ago in Brazil. Once again, I’ll start the sequence with a little info for the reader to fill them in, but then I’ll try to move as quickly as possible into the story. The story is the really important stuff.

Well, that’s one that I don’t actually have a really good answer, since it hasn’t come up too much for me, but I’m hoping by throwing it out here that the really smart folks that make up the Monster Hunter Nation will throw out their ideas in the comments.

LibertyCon 23

Well, my brain has recovered enough from the 18+ hour travel day on Sunday, and the week’s worth of work landslide when I got back into my day job, to finally post about LibertyCon.

What an awesome time.

LibertyCon, for those of you not familiar with it, is held in Chattanooga.  It is kept smaller on purpose, around 500 people, but is a remarkably cool event. It is a very Baen-centric Con, and there are slews of Barflies there.  I was able to finally meet my publisher, Toni, in person, as well as many other Baen authors, including Sarah Hoyt, John Ringo, Eric Flint, Julie Cochran, Chuck Gannon, Mike Williamson (met him before though),  Les Johnson, and Patrick Vanner. In addition I got to geek out a bit when I met Terry Brooks, because Sword of Shannara was one of the very first fantasy novels I ever read. I even sat next to Darrel K. Sweet in a limo.

LibertyCon has a fun, laid-back atmosphere. People just kind of congregate everywhere to shoot the bull. I’ll definitely be doing this one again.

I did manage to screw up once. I was on one of the first panels on the first day. I had a little paper name placard at the table in front during that panel. When the panel was over, I forgot about it and left it on the table. Then an hour later it was opening ceremonies. I didn’t even realize it was the same room, (in my defense, it was very humid, and since I’m acclimatized to Utah I had dropped 10 IQ points), as I walked in and spotted my name at the front table. Okay, that must be where they want me to sit. So I sat down right next to Eric Flint, master of ceremonies, and introduced myself. (nice guy, by the way).

As the opening got going, and Uncle Timmy started introducing all the guests, I began to wonder why The very well-known Dr. Ben Bova was sitting out in the audience. I look down the table, and everyone else up there is one of the special guests or guests of honor. Then I look back out into the audience and see a bunch of other writers way more famous than me, and it kind of clicked.  I looked over at Eric Flint, and said “Uh oh. I don’t think I’m supposed to be up here.” He just shrugged and told me “too late now.”  So for the record, good people of LibertyCon, I’m not a total narcissist, (I’ve published one book! LOOK AT ME!) and I didn’t steal Ben Bova’s seat on purpose. (also a very nice man in person by the way).

I loved meeting fans and the BS sessions. The other authors were great. In fact, Sarah Hoyt and I have decided that we are cousins (Portugal is a small country).  Sarah is friggin’ hilarious, and she does remind me very much of every single one of my female relatives growing up.  

I was able to meet Dillis Freeman in person, who I’ve known on internet gun forums for about a decade. He was the opening quote in MHI. So during the Baen slideshow of upcoming works of awesomeness, when Toni gave me a galley copy of MHV to hand out to somebody in the audience, I gave it to Dillis. Luckily he didn’t have me autograph it to “anonymous Ebay purchaser”.

As an added bonus, this  Con gave me an excuse to go back down South. I love it down there. The lovely Mrs. Correia had never been South before, so I showed her around. On Sunday morning I drove her around my old stomping grounds in Birmingham, though I did avoid taking her through my favorite parts.

Mrs. Correia – “Wow, this is a bad neighborhood. Is this Ensley?”

Me – “Well, this is sorta like Ensley. Only some of the lawns are alive. And there needs to be more broken windows. And I don’t see any mangy stray dogs. Not enough trash either… And no dead bodies.”

Mrs. Correia – “Oh…” rolls up window.

I do love the South, but it was good to get a reminder of just how pleasant Utah is in the summer. It’s 90 degrees here right now, but it feels like I’m standing in a walk in fridge compared to Tennessee. It is good not to be moist.  

That said, I’m already excited for next year. Uncle Timmy and his crew put on a good Con.

p.s. Monster Hunter International is now in its fourth printing. Four printings in one year… Not too shabby.

EDIT: Mad Mike just pointed out that I forgot the shooting portion. Yes, LibertyCon has a shooting portion. It isn’t an official event, but Mike takes a crew out to the range on Friday morning. I missed the first  hour because I got there a little bit late and missed the convoy, but thankfully my GPS was able to find the address helpfully provided by the Barflies.

I’d only brought one little gun. (Kahr MK9) I’m always scared of flying with guns, because I have a fear that they’re going to lose my luggage. Mike on the other hand, drove, so he had an Ultramag .50.  Which the Barflies were able to enjoy until a park ranger showed up and he had to quickly hide it. Which is funny, since I didn’t see any signs banning .50, and hiding a .50 is a bit of a misnomer since it is the size of a piece of farm equipment.

Next year I’ll make sure I show up on time!

Back from LibertyCon

Okay, I’m back. I’ll have a bigger post up as soon as my brain starts working again.

Yesterday was the travel day from hell. Wake up at 5:00 in the morning (Utah time) in Chattanooga. Drive to Birmingham Alabama. Show my wife around for an hour. Fly from Birmingham to Las Vegas. Fly from Las Vegas to Salt Lake (while next to a totally drunk guy who was as big as I am). Land in SLC and drive two hours south to pick up the kids from my mom’s house. Then drive three hours north to get home.  Arrive just after midnight, Utah time. So almost 20 hours of travelling in one day.

I set foot in four time zones yesterday. No wonder I feel brain dead.

The Further Adventures of TOM STRANGER, Interdimensional Insurance Agent, live from ConKhanQuan XIV

 Continued from:  http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/tom-stranger-interdimensional-insurance-agent-in-arbitration-at-mordor-station/

This episode was retrieved from the files of one Larry Correia, of Earth #582-T-55451, discovered in the flaming wreckage of a convention center in Nebraska. Stranger & Stranger accepts full responsibility for the outcome of this event.

Violence nearly erupted when the fat guy wearing elf ears cut in front of the fat guy dressed as  a Klingon.  Insults were exchanged in Klingon and Elvish. Shoving ensued. I looked up from the signing table, hoping for some good old fashioned nerd on nerd face punching.  Sadly, the shoving match didn’t last long, as both men quickly became too winded to continue. Grumbling, and out of breath, they got back in line, hoping to get an autograph from the lady that played Bystander #14 in Superman 2.

“Crap, I was hoping to see somebody get stabbed with that goofy Klingon sword,” I said to the other sci-fi/fantasy authors arrayed behind the signing table.

“It’s called a Bat’leth,” corrected one of the fans standing in another author’s line. The sci-fi fan (or so I assumed judging by his Star Fleet pajamas) regarded me with barely concealed disdain.  “It is a weapon of honor. You would know that if you weren’t such a ha’dibah.”

I had no idea what that meant, but I was relatively certain that I might have beat that guy up in elementary school once.  “Hoookay, then,” I answered, whistling. I went back to signing books.

As a professional fantasy novelist, I’m geeky by most normal human standards, but here at KhanQuanCon XIV, or whatever the hell it is called, (this year’s convention motto: Ice Skating Space Mutants of Nebraska) my geek-fu was considered weak. I don’t own any costumes (unless mutli-cam and body armor counts), I’ve never memorized an anime, I’ve never played Magic the Gathering, and I’ve especially never learned any languages that originated on a TV show.  (unless Spanish originated on a TV show… I’m not actually sure about that. I’ll have to check Wikipedia. Though, since I can only swear in it, technically that isn’t “speaking”)

I passed over the freshly signed copy of Monster Hunter Omega-Force Sparkly Twilight Killers 2: The Reckoning.  “I’m glad you liked it.”

“Not really. I thought it was boring and derivative. I’m just going to sell it on E-Bay.” The “fan” scowled as he looked at the title page. “You call that a signature? It looks like a lightning bolt. You suck.” He waddled off, hoisting up his XXXL cape of invisibility for dramatic effect.  

I sighed. Some people were still a little bitter about the whole trailer park elves thing.  I looked at the lines of waiting fans. “Alright, who’s next?”

A nondescript man stepped forward. He was wearing a suit (obviously from Men’s Warehouse, I’d guarantee it) and a green polka-dot bowtie.  He was about average height, average build, average looking, so average in fact, that it was almost like he was genetically manipulated to be totally unremarkable, but unlike most of the attendees, he was well groomed, alert, and suspiciously free of “Con-Funk”.   He tilted his head, as if listening to something speaking in his ear, before he addressed me carefully. “Are you Larry Correia?”

“That’s what the sign says.”

“No,” he looked down at the cardboard placard, then turned it around so I could see. “It actually says James Gandolfini.”

“Well ,that explains why people kept bringing me Sopranos stuff to sign. Con organizers get us confused all the time.”

“Yes. The resemblance is eerie.” He handed me a copy of The Grimnoir Chronicles 7: When Men Wore Hats, one of my most popular works. (sales had really taken off since the hit movie version starring Adam Baldwin).  

“Who should I make this out to?” I asked, readying my Signin’ Pen.

“Tom Stranger.”

I signed the book, drew a happy face with a fedora (because I feel guilty that I have such a crappy signature, I’m forced to compensate with doodling), and then passed it back over.

“Thank you, Mr. Correia.” Tom Stranger stuck the book into his suit pocket and it disappeared cleanly, as if the pocket was somehow bigger inside than it appeared. His manner turned deadly serious. “Now come with me if you want to live.”

“Uh…” My phone rang.  “Hang on a second.” I took out my Blackberry. It was my Dead Six co-author, Mike, calling. In addition to writing a series of thrillers together, I was also Mike’s moral compass, financial advisor, and life coach. Knowing Mike, this call was probably some emotional crisis caused by one of his many bad choices. “I’ve got to take this.” Tom Stranger nodded, and went back to scanning the room. Mr. Stranger was an odd duck, but then again, so were most Larry Correia fans.  “Hey, what’s up, man?”

“Dude…” Mike sounded extremely groggy. (even more so than usual) “I just woke up on the floor. I’m at that Asian massage parlor on State Street in Ogden.”

Many of my phone calls with Mike began with him waking up somewhere, most often alleys. “You know, that’s not a massage parlor, right? That’s a Chinese restaurant.” 

“Huh? Oh… huh.  The girl did look at me like I was crazy when I offered her a tip for a happy ending.  I think they drugged me.”

“Okay. Check to see if you’ve still got both kidneys.”

There was a long pause. “Awww… damn it… I’ll call you back.”

I put my Blackberry away.  “Okay, Mr. Stranger. Sorry to cut you off.  What were you saying?”

“Come with me if you want to live.”

“Dude, I’m not Sarah Connor.”

“She got hot in T2,” said the science fiction author to my right. Like most science fiction authors, he was bearded, wearing a big black coat, and a hat.

“Too bad the TV show got cancelled,” said the fantasy author on my left. Like most fantasy authors, he was bearded, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, and a hat.

For some strange reason I felt the sudden urge to buy a large hat and quit shaving entirely.“I’m sorry. What were you talking about again, Mr. Stranger?”

He handed me a business card. Unlike most business cards received at Cons, this one was not printed at home, nor did it have any unicorns on it. It looked professional. “Interdimensional Insurance?”

“That is correct. And I am afraid that a rift has occurred here at this KhanQuanCon XIV science-fiction and fantasy convention event. You are covered by Stranger & Stranger, so I must protect you.”

This was a whole new level of crazy. Even by Con standards. I decided to humor him. “I’m sorry, you’ve got the wrong guy. I’ve never bought Interdimensional Insurance.”

“No. But the Larry Correia on Earth 686-Gamma-13006 has purchased our comprehensive plan. Thereby indemnifying all Larry Corrieas in existence across the known Multiverse.”

“Sounds expensive,” said the author at the far end of the table. She mostly wrote romantic emo vampire fiction for tweens. Her fans really hated my guts.

“Indeed,” Tom Stranger explained. “It is exceedingly expensive. In fact, the annual premium is greater than the GDP of most planets. The Larry Correia of that reality is extremely wealthy.”

I nodded appreciatively. “He must’ve had some New York Times bestsellers.”

Tom Stranger shook his head. “No. He does not write books, though he does have a popular web comic about an anthropomorphic moose that solves mysteries, though that is not the source of his wealth, more of a hobby as I understand it. Rather, that Larry Correia is the founder of CorreiaTech, which has revolutionized warfare across the entire Multiverse. He is commonly considered the greatest genius of all time, having invented the inertial dampener, the cold-fusion miniaturized power cell, and no-wrinkle slacks.”

“Wow…” I had once tried to change the water pump on a Chevy Caprice and it had caught on fire and burned in my driveway. “I’m not really that technically minded.”

“The primarily difference that my infolink can discern between you and that particular Larry Correia is that he attended a college physics lecture that you missed. Inspired, that version immediately invented the world’s first energy shield using only a box of Wheat Thins and a medium sized Holstein cow. You, on the other hand, missed that class, because you had somehow gotten your head stuck in a mailbox. ”

“Yeah, I remember that. Good times… Wait a second… How do you know that?” The ‘Great Mailbox Incident of ‘98’ was particularly embarrassing and I had made sure to never post about it on the internet, nor had Tom Stranger been one of the responding paramedics. “You must be from the future!”

“Not the future. Another dimension. Now quickly, Mr. Correia. We must get out of here. The demonic invasion has already begun. Luckily for you I was coming through Nebraska to pick up my correct intern when I detected the rift.  Jimmy Duquesne here is my temporary intern.”  Tom Stranger turned to introduce me to his intern, but there was no one around. “Darn it, Jimmy, where have you gotten off to now?”

Suddenly, there was a scream from one of the game rooms. A man stumbled out into hallway, covered in blood. His clothing was tattered, his hands were twisted into razor sharp talons, and his glowing red eyes bulged out of his skull as he gnashed the air with his fangs. He lurched into the crowd, howling as he began to claw madly at the other attendees.

“Damn LARPers,” muttered the sci-fi writer. “Think they own the place.”

“Nice costume!” somebody dressed as Sailor Moon told the demonic Live Action Role Player. The LARPer’s head rotated all the way around in a complete circle like something off the Exorcist. “Cool effect!” but then it was too late, as Sailor Moon was dragged to the ground in a spray of entrails and giant yellow hair extensions.

“I don’t think that’s a costume,” I said as a lung flew across the convention center and knocked over an R2-D2 cutout.  “That mother-****ers possessed!”

Tom Stranger reached into his suit and withdrew a small, but extremely awesome looking handgun. He aimed, and the demon exploded into a cloud of meat. Blood splattered the walls and attendees. Unfortunately, the other Con attendees who’d been scratched were already mutating.

“Well, shucks,” Tom Stranger said as the blood cloud rained down. “I was too late.”

TO BE CONTINUED… at http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2010/07/16/the-further-adventures-of-tom-stranger-live-from-khanquancon-xiv-part-2/  in fact.

Something kind of awesome

http://www.amazon.com/Monster-Hunter-International-Larry-Correia/dp/1439132852/ref=pd_sim_b_2

I just went over to see how my books were doing on Amazon, and I realized that I had just broken 100 five star reviews for Monster Hunter International. Sweet!  That’s a milestone for something I guess. Well, it makes me geek out a little.

Speaking of geeking out, I’m being red-shirted in two upcoming books from other authors. In one I’m a fighter pilot who dies heroically, and in another, I’m the head thug for an evil mega corporation. (make the title for that guy “financial analyst” and it sounds suspiciously like my first job…)

I’m going to LibertyCon next week, and really looking forward to it. A whole bunch of Baen authors are going to be there, so it will be a good schmmozing opportunity. Plus, Terry Brooks is the guest of honor, and Sword of Shannara was one of the first fantasy books I’d ever read.  So that is pretty darn cool.

I’ll have another Tom Stranger when I get back too. Ironically enough, this one takes place at a Con, and I’m giving myself the Clive Cussler treatment. Apparently there is one version of me in an alternative universe that has done really well for himself (the one that founded CorreiaTech and pioneered the deadly Combat Wombat) who has purchased Stranger & Stranger’s “Comprehensive” plan.

The Wombat: Inspiration for Terror.

And for your viewing enjoyment, the 100 greatest movie insults ever. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSEYXWmEse8 Warning, to say that there is some language would be a massive understatement. And they get better as they go to.  I was laughing my butt off by the end.

You can now listen to me on the radio

I was on the Sector 5 radio program last week for two hours talking about a little bit of everything. You can now listen in at the link below:

http://sectorfiveradio.com/pages/listen 

I had a great time, and I managed to get it so that Toni Weiskopf and John Ringo are going to call in for interviews too. Sweet.

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