An interview with me on the Otherwhere Gazette

Oh, they know me well. And they even used my Christmas tetsubo picture. :)

The Burning Throne, Episode 25: Night of Assassins

This week’s serial from Writer Nerd Game Night is by me and Paul Genesse. My guy, Makoto the delusional warrior, is still trying to hook up with the girl of his dreams, and had to make some hard choices about whether to be honorable or not. And then Paul’s prophetic Kuni madman saved the day.  

Continued from: 

Seventeenth Entry

From the journal of Hida Makoto, Crab Clan. 

I am furious. I write this in an attempt to clear my head and focus my thoughts, but I stare at this scroll as if I am about to enter combat. Truly, all I want to do is take up my tetsubo and kill… It does not even matter who, simply point me at an enemy and unleash me. Tamori Shimura would do nicely.

For the first time, I feel I understand the berserkers of my clan. O-Hinku is the berserker in our family, and I have never before grasped how her anger could fuel her so effectively in combat. Now I can see the appeal. Let it go. No pretensions of honor. No lies. There is only kill or die. Repeat.

There is a simple beauty in that.

But I will not give in to my anger. I will remain strong. I have a mission. The Fortunes have placed me on this path, and I am determined to see it through. I am pathetically unworthy of Otomo Yuni, but the Fortunes disagree. I am unworthy to serve Ide Todo, but this is where the Heavens have directed me. All I really want to do is smash Shimura’s face in and then burn Shiro Tamori to the ground, but I will refrain.

After the rage, there is duty. There is always duty.


Thoughts collected, I will attempt to record the events of the last few days. After speaking with Togashi Satsu, Ide Todo consulted with the astrologers. The constellations in the heavens draw away from each other. A strange darkness follows the moon. The sun is ahead of where it should be. I do not understand these things. Personally, I would think that since the sun is a Crab, then he should be ahead.

Apparently my harsh words against Togashi Satsu have brought dishonor to my name… The Dragon speak of honor, but they are quick to forget the other principles of bushido. Amongst the Crab, loyalty works both ways, and a wise leader serves his people, just as his people serve him. Satsu leaves his clan to burn. I do not expect him to go out and lead his army from the front. I am not so naive anymore to think that all leaders are warriors. Ide Todo does not fight, but he is a great leader.

The eyes of the starving refugees of the Dragon lands haunt my sleep. They need him, but he ignores their pleas. It may have been a breach of etiquette, but sincerity and honesty demanded I speak. Let them say that I am the uncouth Crab. I only had the courage to say what the Dragon have been afraid to say themselves.

For this I will accept their scorn. I am used to it.

We ate breakfast with Tamori Shimura. At the time, he was of no consequence to me, interesting only due to the purity of his hatred for the Phoenix. He is a young man, adopted by the Tamori daimyo. I do not think he has ever seen battle.

Several new samurai arrived and presented themselves to Ide Todo for membership in the Paper Lanterns. They told a tale of a magnificent battle against bandits, wherein one of their number, a Matsu deathseeker, was killed.

There was a Daidoji Iron Warrior of the Kakita family, who was so large and carrying a tetsubo that at first I thought he was a brother Crab. I know little of the Crane but this Kakita Fujo looks like a warrior rather than a tea sipping, flower arranging, geisha like the rest of them. But then I remember the Iron Warrior in Shiro Shinjo, and I had to break both of his arms and one of his legs before he quit fighting. Hopefully, Fujo will be of similar caliber.

Tamori Fubatsu is a melancholy swordsman. However, he is an acquaintance of Kuni Magatsu, and Magatsu-sama vouches for his dedication to the point that he asked Fubatsu to serve as his yojimbo. I think that is an excellent idea. As it turns out that I am not particularly suited for body guarding, since I prefer to be in the front, which is a terrible place to drag your shugenja. I was happy to see that Fubatsu is an accomplished musician, as the Lanterns could use some entertainment, but all he seems to play is sad songs.

Yoritomo Buwa… Hmmmm… I do not know. I thought he was a monk, and a particularly strange one at that, but the others said he could fight rather well, so I can find a place for him. Then he contemplated a peach for quite some time… so I am unsure where that place may be. Perhaps he can enlighten the Yobanjin to death.

Then there was a young Crab bushi of the Yasuki family. Boketsu is inexperienced, but I am always thankful for more Hida trained Crab. It is not a party until there are Crab. At least now I have someone to drink with. The idea of Magatsu drinking too much frightens me.

The final recruit was another Crane, and she appeared to be much more what I expected from the Crane than Fujo. Kakita Chiyoko is a tiny girl. I will be very surprised if she can fight at all. Ide Todo however, was very impressed at her credentials, and immediately took her on as one of his personal yojimbo. She was the Topaz Champion, which is apparently a rather prestigious addition to the Lanterns, and quite the compliment from the Crane. My understanding of the Topaz Championship is that it is a gempukku ceremony where a bunch of samurai children from privileged families recite poetry against each other and then duel with wooden swords. My gempukku consisted of being cast into the Shadowlands to wander through a hellish swamp of fire sludge, poison fog, tainted leeches the size of your fists, and trees that wept blood, until I managed to find a goblin to beat to death.

I will reserve my opinion of Chiyoko until I see how she fares in battle. Maybe she will surprise me.

After I got the new recruits settled in and introduced to the rest of the order, I received word that Ide Todo had been invited to lunch with Otomo Hoketuhime… This seemed to strike more fear into his heart than that time we’d fought the bloodspeaker.

Perhaps I should explain. I must remember that I do not know who may end up reading this journal after I am dead. Otomo Hoketuhime is the daimyo of the Otomo family, and as such, she is probably one of the most influential and powerful people in the Empire. She could crush Ide Todo like a bug and not even realize that he was stuck to the bottom of her sandal.

She is also to be my future mother in law, but she is not aware of that fact yet. It was up to Ide Todo to broach that subject with her. At the time, I had very high hopes. Those hopes were dashed when he reported back to me later…

Despite Magatsu-sama and I praying at the shrine to the Thousand Fortunes on Ide Todo’s behalf, lunch did not go well. Ide Todo returned, saying that he had good news and bad news. The good news was the he had not only survived, but that he might have even gained some small bit of favor for the Paper Lanterns with the noble Hoketuhime. This was even more interesting, since it was revealed that she was maneuvering herself to take the vacant throne and become empress.

The bad news was that she had offered Otomo Yuni’s hand in marriage to Tamori Shimura.

It is still very difficult to control my rage as I write these words. The Fortunes have commanded me to seek her hand. She is not aware of this yet, but Shimura will not thwart my destiny.

Ide Todo ordered me not to speak with or harm Shimura. He tried to explain how everything would work out, but all I could hear was an angry buzzing noise. A messenger then called Ide Todo away.

I am filled with despair. Kenzan said that I was a fool, that I was crazy, that my vision was a result of the oni breaking my skull… Is my brother right? Is this all for nothing? Am I wasting my time here while my brothers die on the Wall?

No. I must not think of such things.

I must stop writing. Dwelling on this only makes me want to murder Shimura. I will summon the men. We will spar. My current duty is to the bushi of the Paper Lanterns. May my frustrations help them train harder.


I pause to write this last brief note, mostly so that if my will fails during the challenge that I will shortly face whoever reads this scroll will know how I met my end. If this is the final entry, then it can be assumed that I have been killed by the Dragon Clan as a result of my murdering one of their daimyo’s sons.

I fought all of the Lanterns. They are as noble a group of warriors as any in the Empire. I am honored to serve with them. Our practice was interrupted by a messenger from Tamori Shimura, who spoke highly of my reputation as a soldier, and that then requested me to meet with Shimura for a sparring session.

Ide Todo told me not to speak with Shimura, but surely this is a sign. I have said a prayer, asking for wisdom. Is it the will of the Fortunes that I kill this man?

My only hesitation is that I do not wish to bring dishonor onto my order, my lord, or my clan, but I must face this challenge. I will use the courtly skills Ide Todo has taught me. I will speak with Shimura and try to understand what I must do. His responses will dictate whether he lives or dies, but he will not steal the woman that is to be my wife.

Having the excuse that I am to put on a display of the Hida bushi school, I have dressed in my armor, collected my weapons, and now I go forth to meet with the man that stands in the way of my destiny.

May the Fortunes guide my hand.


From the Private Journal of Kuni Magatsu, Crab Clan Shugenja

The Month of the Serpent at the Clan Stronghold of Shiro Tamori

Tasks to be done before Ide Todo meets with Otomo Hoketuhime today:

1. Tell Ikoma Katsu of the blue jar of tongues my master kept.

2. Ask the cook to prepare goat tongue for myself and Ikoma Katsu’s lunch.

3. Write letter absolving Tamori Fubatsu of any crime if he has to kill me.

4. Inspect all of the boulders in the garden suitable for killing a man

Fifth Entry Since Accompanying the Paper Lanterns

I’ve seen many young warriors die on the Wall and in the Kuni Wastes from wounds that should not have killed them. A graze from a goblin arrow or slight scratch from an oni’s claw turns deadly when the poison takes effect. Lingering death is no way for a Rokugani warrior to die. Give me a thrust through my chest or an avalanche of rock that crushes my bones and entombs me forever. I would much rather be buried alive than die from poison,

I will not stand by and watch when my friends and allies are brought low by such a dishonorable weapon as poison, and now the new Dragon Clan Daimyo, Tamori Shimura owes the Crab Clan his life twice over.

My friend, Hida Makoto saved him during an attack on Shiro Tamori, and I was fortunate to save him after the attack when he was dying from some rare poison that may be somehow connected to the Void, which was probably used by the Goju Takei assassins who attacked the castle.

The ritual to heal him took an entire day, as I bled all of the poisoned blood out of him and replaced it with some assistance from Dragon shugenja. Some type of toxic metal was inside him, but I was able to use leeches, magnetic stone, and most importantly, prayer, to find it and remove it from his esteemed personage. The Dragon family shugenja were afraid I was using blood to fuel the ceremony, but Maho had no part in what was done, and I taught the head of their shugenja the Kuni family spell how to Purge the Taint from a place. I knew the magic could not eliminate Taint from him if he were afflicted, but hoped the metal inside him would not be able to stay inside his blood.

Mountains of Praise to the Fortunes, as the young man, Tamori Shimura has been healed. It is my hope that he will become a strong leader for his clan, which has been weakened by the Yobanjin attacks and internal lethargy by their supposed champion, the Dragon of Somnolence, Togashi Satsu.

Now I have promised to help Shimura gain revenge for the deaths of his adopted parents, Tamori Shaitung, and Nakamuro, her husband. They were both slain in the attack though we do not yet know who is responsible. I suspect the Dark Oracle of Fire. Time will reveal the leader behind the assassins and I have faith that The Paper Lanterns will uncover the truth.

Lies are often more powerful than truth, and because of this fact we have recently accepted a member of the Scorpion Clan to our group. She is a young bushi and I trust that Shosuro Kage will have access to her clan’s vast information gathering network, which may help reveal many things. She has beautiful hands, but is far too young my tastes.

It is worth noting here that Ide Todo is becoming quite close to the Scorpion Bayushi Ejiro, and I hope this relationship will become one of mutual advantage. If the Scorpion betray us I shall curse their tongues and make them see the error of their ways. It would pain me to have to start a blood feud with them, as I very much enjoy their Geisha and their exceptional sake, but one must make sacrifices for the Emerald Empire.

Our time in Shiro Tamori has not been uneventful, but I am anxious to move on to the Phoenix lands. I know I will go there with the blessing of young Shimura. He is a fine young man, and as he lay dying I wondered if I should let him pass to the other side. If he were dead, my friend Makoto would not have to compete with him for the hand in marriage of Otomo Yuni. But this would be a stain I could never hope to wash away, though thankfully, the many stains on my black robes are hard to see.

Still, I see darkness around the Otomo family. They attract it to them and I don’t think a man like Shimura could withstand the onslaught of the dark forces if he married Otomo Yuni. She needs a much stronger husband, one who will not blow over in a stiff wind or fall victim to the scratch from a poisoned blade. I am almost certain that if Shimura marries Yuni he will be doomed.

My powers of prophecy are suspect, and I know of no other shugenja who sees the future in empty sake bowls, but I believe the Otomo family will always be under attack. They are cursed.

I also believe that Hida Makoto has not saved Shimura’s life for the last time. Makoto will do so again if he marries Otomo Yuni, and I intend to tell Shimura this before I depart the castle.

I cannot say how long Makoto will survive the marriage to Yuni, for the dark forces will come after him as well, but when they do come, he will be ready and a Crab’s shell is hard to crack.

My own future is hard to see, but if I have somehow survived the manipulations of the Shamesword of Penance, and the Oracle of Dark Fire, I will be at Makoto’s side, or rather running to catch up to him as he charges into combat.

I can only hope that before Makoto dies he will fill the womb of Otomo Yuni, for if my vision is correct, this child’s deeds will save the Emerald Empire from destruction.

I must tell Ide Todo of this so he can continue his work as Nakado for Makoto, and though I do not crave one, I must have another bowl of sake, for only the Fates and Fortunes know what future I will see in the bottom of the bowl.


Eighteenth Entry

From the journal of Hida Makoto, Crab Clan. 

Much has happened since I was last able to tend to this scroll. As I write the wind carries the stench of smoke through the city. Foul assassins fell upon Shiro Tamori, and though the Paper Lanterns fought well, the Tamori daimyo was murdered. I saved the life of my nemesis once, only to have him poisoned, and then Kuni Magatsu saved his life again. Shimura owes his life to the Crab twice over, and yet somehow as soon as I open my mouth I manage to make things worse again… I really should stick to killing. I am far better at killing than talking.

When last I wrote, I was about to leave to speak with Tamori Shimura. I can’t believe that was only a few days ago. When I first arrived in the sparring area of the castle, my urge was to simply break Shimura’s skull. However, such an action would bring shame upon the Paper Lanterns and Ide Todo, so I refrained and listened to his words.

The foolish boy wished for Ide Todo to be his nakado. He hoped that Ide Todo could arrange a more equitable marriage for him to the woman that I am supposed to marry. (not that Shimura was aware of such things, which is the only reason I did not crush him on the spot).  I told him that marrying Otomo Yuni was a bad idea. He did not understand, but before I could persuade him, I spotted shadows moving on the walls above us.

A Crab never hesitates to sound the alarm. Do you know what a watchman’s primary responsibility is on the Wall should a Shadowland’s attack happen? Scream before you die in order to warn your comrades.  Anything you manage to do after that is a bonus.

So I shouted for help, grabbed the foolish Shimura (who I am certain has never seen battle) and dragged him under cover. Several shuriken were hurled at us before I was able to get Shimura into the hands of the Tamori House Guard. He beseeched the earth kami to protect me from poison, and then I went ninja hunting. Now, some may say that ninjas are tales to scare children. Fabrications. I can tell you that they are not.

I killed several, and then gave chase to some that were carrying a prisoner. I expected it to be one of the many noble or important samurai staying at Shiro Tamori, but by the time I caught up, I discovered they had been carrying a servant to distract me from their real target. By the time I returned to where I’d left Shimura, his guards had been incapacitated, and he had been struck in the legs and poisoned.

Here was the man that was attempting to thwart my destiny, dying because of his own foolish weakness. It would have been so very easy to simply walk away… But I did not. If the Fortunes have placed a destiny before me, then I am certain they will provide a way for me to fulfill it that does not ask me to act in such a dishonorable manner. So I tended to Shimura’s wounds with my limited knowledge of field medicine (recently acquired from training with the Lantern bushi) and then carried him until I found one of the Tamori priests.

The castle was in a state of chaos. There were assassins everywhere. Just as I reached the courtyard, the great bell tower exploded. The concussion swept us from our feet, and fiery debris rained down on the grounds. Later, I would be told that Tamori Shaitung and her husband had been the cause of the explosion. Otomo Hoketuhime had been abducted by the ninja and taken to the bell tower. The Tamori daimyo had sacrificed herself to save Hoketuhime. Their deaths were most impressive.

Otomo Hoketuhime had to leap from a window, only to rescued by Kitsuki Tsuze of all people. Apparently, he had received word of the attack and had raced into the castle to help. I am impressed. I did not know he had it in him.

I would also learn later of the events that happened at the house provided to the Paper Lanterns. Akimi gave me a full report upon my return. One or possibly two mystical shadow creatures attacked the house in an attempt to kill Ide Todo and capture the shamesword. However the Lanterns fought with bravery and coordination, did their duty, and destroyed the shadow ninjas.

Ide Todo was wounded before the creature was destroyed. Kakita Chiyoko offered to commit seppuku for her failure in protecting him, but Ide Todo ordered her not to. That is wise. Seppuku of a perfectly good swordsman is a waste at this time. If you want to kill yourself, just walk north until you run into some Yobanjin, then do us a favor and take some of them with you in the process.

I learned that Magatsu had experienced some form of fit upon witnessing the explosion of the bell tower, and had begun to shake and foam at the mouth. Fubatsu was prepared to do his duty and execute Magatsu, but he confirmed that it was merely a form of ailment, and Magatsu had not fallen to the shamesword’s manipulations. Good. I like Magatsu. His fit caused one of the mystical assassins to underestimate him, and Magatsu summoned a large rock from the garden to smash the ninja into smoke. He made a real mess of the house in the process. There is quite the breeze in my room now.

While I was in the castle, a Scorpion arrived and petitioned for membership in the Paper Lanterns. Shoshuro Kage is a relative of Bayushi Ujiro. I do not trust Scorpions as far as I can throw them, but she is small, so I could throw her relatively far. Akimi told me that she performed well during the battle, and afterwards she was helpful in our investigation. As I have been judged so unfairly in my life, I will withhold judgment on Kage for now… But if I believe Scorpion trickery is putting the lives of my men in danger, then I will do what I must.

I found Kuni Magatsu and went with him to the castle. Tamori Shimura, who is now daimyo, was not recovering from the poison. It was like nothing the priests had seen before, and the Tamori are renowned for their alchemical skill. Tsuruchi Machio reported that the symptoms were very similar to what had caused the death of his own parents, and it was based in some form of corrupted metal in the blood.

Magatsu communed with the kami, only to discover that the metal poison was something completely beyond his understanding. Undaunted, Magatsu came up with an elaborate ritual to purge the poison from Shimura. We spoke privately, and Magatsu asked if I wished for Shimura to simply die. As a friend, he would do this for me… It was tempting, but I asked him to do his best. The ritual would take an entire day.

Over the rest of the night, we attempted to find clues as to the source of the assassins. I am not very useful in such things. Shiba Hikaru was murdered as well, so Tsuze and I went to check it out. We were denied entrance, and Ide Todo has cautioned me about threatening respectable people. Kitsuki Tsuze is very enthusiastic when it comes to investigation, so he suggested breaking into the shugenja clan’s compound. Luckily, I talked him out of it. Neither one of us is exactly stealthy, and I really do not want to be turned into a frog.

After a brief rest and inspection of the Paper Lanterns, I joined Magatsu at his healing of Shimura. When he said elaborate, he was not joking. (I do not know if Magatsu jokes). A team of Tamori healers had kept Shimura alive while our Kuni used leeches to suck all of the corrupted blood from Shimura’s body. Kanji made from the ashes of Shimura’s parents had been painted on his body, and the most sacred of spells were performed. Shimura was successfully healed. Even I was impressed.

Afterward, Magatsu, Shimura, and I went to a sake house to speak. Shimura was not yet aware of his new position or of his parent’s death. He is still a foolish young man, blinded by his hatred for the Phoenix. He is thankful for the assistance of the Crab and should prove to be a valuable ally for our Clan. Yet, when I broached the idea that he should concentrate on leading his people through this war, and not dwell on personal matters, he took that to mean that he should just hurry and marry Otomo Yuni to increase the standing of the Dragon.

At this point, I had to get up and leave, because I didn’t think Magatsu would appreciate going through an exhausting magical effort to save the life of this man, only to have me snap his neck like a twig.

It appears the Paper Lanterns must depart for Phoenix lands soon. I will go to the shrine again before leaving and ask the Fortunes for wisdom. Time is now of the essence. I must increase in glory and stature, and gain the favor of Hoketuhime, so that I am important enough to wed Otomo Yuni, and I must somehow do that before this political marriage occurs. Perhaps I should have let Shimura die, but I do not believe that is what they wish of me. Perhaps I was to be his death, and I was weak.

May the Fortunes guide my hand.


Coming next week, one of my absolute favorite pieces of fiction from this whole thing. Lessons from a Dojo of the Crab. It is awesome, flashing back and forth between ninja killing and Crab clan child abuse… err… training.  :) 

BOOK BOMB today for Dave Butler

Today we are book bombing my friend, rock musician and ultimate fighting lawyer, the man with the perfect mustache, Dave Butler, and his series ROCK BAND FIGHTS EVIL.

How this works is that we all buy his book today, and the more of us who do so, the higher his stats will go upon on Amazon. Amazon uses a weird hourly rolling average, so the more people who buy in one day, the higher the rating spikes. The higher he goes, the more lists he ends up on. The more lists he ends up on, the more new people discover him. So tell your friends.

Today’s main book is Hellhound On My Trail:

Here is why you should buy this today and tell your friends about the book bomb.

A. It is super cheap. So you’ve got nothing to lose. Dave is selling his first book for 99 cents.

B. It is unapologetic, two fisted, monster face punching, action pulp withe a sense of humor. So I figure the Monster Hunter fans should enjoy it.

C. Even critics think it is good.

D. Dave Butler is very tall. Most writers are short. I am tired of being the tallest guy at all of these writing things. I look freakish up on those panels. But with Dave next to me, I will appear normal. Okay, more normal.

E. It is a fast read. HomT is fairly short, but on purpose. Dave is trying something new, putting out novellas old school, serial style. With short, bite size, adventures. He’s got 4 of these so far. (I will link to those too if you want to take the plunge on the whole series).

So it is a cheap, fast, awesome, punch a monster in the face, story about a rock band that fights evil. So for less than the price of a 2 liter of Coke Zero (okay bad example, because Coke Zero is the precious) you can help a new writer out. Humor me and try it. You might like it.

I will update the sales rank through the day to see how we are doing. In addition, every time you make the numbers go up I will post a new fun absolutley truthful fact about Dave Butler.

Right now HomT is at:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,820 Paid in Kindle Store

EDIT 2:  We’ve gone up. So this hour’s Dave Butler fun fact is that Dave is the Avatar of Mustache. The spirit of mustaches past have congregated upon Dave’s lip, blessing mankind with the finest mustache since Tom Selleck.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,894 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

EDIT 3: Dave Butler fun fact #2. Dave Butler once served the mighty Klingon empire until he met his glorious death at the hands of Captain Eric James Stone of the USS Sutherland. Curse you, Stone, you magnificent bastard. STOOOOOOONE!

Now we’re talking. Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,320 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)


Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,083 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Dave Butler Fun Fact #3: Part of the $800,000 cost of the GSA’s Las Vegas super party were to pay to fly in Dave Butler to play a filk concert for their enjoyment. However, Dave Butler, being a man of integrity, made sure he trashed his complimentary hotel room in true rock star fashion in order to “stick it to the man”.

EDIT 5: Top thousand out of 6 million baby. Aw yeah.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #961 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Which means I owe you guys another Dave Butler Fun Fact:  Dave Butler has never killed a man in Reno, just to watch him die, however he did once hurt a man’s feelings in Bakersfield, just to see if he could make him cry. The man did.

EDIT 6: Top 800

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #815 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Fun Dave Butler Fact: When Dave Butler was younger he served as the Flash’s boy sidekick, Speedy. However, Dave was forced to retire from superhero sidekicking at the age of twelve, because his mustache had already reached Tom Selleck level awesomenss.

EDIT 7:  Top 700.  Good work gang. I’m calling it a night.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #786 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Fun Dave Butler Fact:  Dave Butler freaking owes me lunch. :)

EDIT: And hey, while you are there, Hard Magic is out in paperback… Drat… Where’s my spokeshooker when I need her?

The rest of the series consists of:

Devil Sent The Rain:

Snake Handlin’ Man:

Crow Jane:

I’m judging a mini painting contest. You guys should totally enter.

I’m one of the judges for an upcoming miniature painting contest. I myself am a talentless hack, but I am capable of looking at the pretty colors! The other judges actually know how to paint. :)  The mini painters on here should totally enter.

I guess this one has “celebrity” judges, as in a bunch of writers and cartoonists like me, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, Jordan Sanderson, and Rob Wells. Yes. I am a minor celebrity in some very small very nerdy circles, but mostly for being GI Joe’s accountant.

The contest is over on the Reaper Mini site. I love Reaper stuff.  I use their paints and brushes and have a bunch of their minis. Here is one of theirs that I’m working on now.

Freaking ridiculous, child labor laws coming to family farms

Banning kids from working on their family’s farms? Like most government ideas, that’s just plain stupid.

Farmer’s kids working on the family farm is completely normal. Kids have worked on their family’s farm since cavemen invented agriculture. Leave it to the government to screw even that up. Farm labor is helpful for the family and really good for the kids in order to build a work ethic.

People ask me how I can have a full time professional job, and still manage to write two 150,000 word novels a year… It is because I grew up on a dairy farm and everything is easy in comparison to that.  Youth today think college is hard? Nobody who has ever milked cows as a kid thinks that college is hard. College is what you do because you don’t want to ever milk cows again. Oooh, your entry level corporate position is difficult? Beats moving hay. Shut up and file. Oh noes! I may have to work late! Is it 1:00 AM, in the rain, and you are pulling a slimey breached calf out of the back end of a Holstein? No?  Woohoo! Order pizza ’cause I’m working late at my air conditioned office!

I’m not alone. Ask anybody that grew up working on a family farm. We might have complained about it then, especially when you are a teenager and you want to go have fun, but you can’t, because the stupid cows jumped the stupid fence again… But ask us as adults and most of us will say the same thing. I wouldn’t trade it.

My biggest challenge as a father is trying to figure out how to instill a good work ethic into my children without using Holsteins.

This is just another example of the ever growing government meddling uselessly in even more areas of your life. Of course, idiots who have never been on a farm will think this is awesome, because somebody needs to PROTECT THE CHILDREN! (just not from getting fingered at the airport by the TSA). This is similar to idiots who are in favor of every other bothersome useless government program that is supposed to protect somebody from something. Won’t somebody THINK OF THE CHILDREN! (just don’t think about the debt we are saddling them with).  CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE! (or at least other country’s children are our future, because all of ours going to public school are getting screwed over by unionized big education).

Look, morons that have never set foot on a farm, if you think this is a good idea, then you are an idiot. Take whatever hypothetical crisis you are worried about and shove it. I’m sure some bureucrat somewhere can cite some horrible case to justify this, but child abuse is already illegal, and the rest of this crap is just another power grab. (kind of like how we needed Obamacare because of the epidemic of doctor’s fraudulently cutting patient’s feet off for no reason and how we need gun control to control all the guns the Justice Department ships to Mexico) Government just keeps getting bigger and bigger and more and more intrusive.  Angsty liberal types love this sort of meddling until it comes back to bite them in the ass. Remember the freak out from the hipsters over SOPA? Yeah, welcome to the party. You guys cheer for government taking stuff over until it is something you’re into, then you scream facism.

This is asinine. Leave farm kids alone.

BOOK BOMB this Thursday, April 26th.

My next book bomb is going to be for Dave Butler, and it is going to be this Thursday. Dave actually had his real book bomb with lots of people helping him a couple of weeks ago, but I totally dogged him because that was Kidney Stone week from hell. So I told Dave that I would still jump in, just late. :)

I’ve known Dave Butler for a couple of years now. The reason we hit it off was because, like me, he likes to write manly, two fisted, unapologetic pulp. I think that people who are fans of Monster Hunter will enjoy his stuff. The series I’m going to be book bombing is his Rock Band vs. Evil, and the title is pretty much self explanatory.

Dave is a high powered attorney turned musician turned novelist, and even wrote an Ode to Owen Pitt folk song, plus he is the only writer taller than me, and therefore totally deserves a book bomb.

For those of you unfamiliar with how a Book Bomb works, basically we all try to buy somebody’s book on the same day. The more we buy, the higher it goes in the rankings. The higher it goes in the rankings, the more attention it gets. The more attention it gets, the more books it sells, the more new fans that author gets. Amazon’s sales rankings are calculated on this weird hourly rolling average. If enough of us buy a book on the same day, then it will start to show up on some best seller lists, which really gives an author a boost. We’ve done a few on here that have been epic huge.

So the date is this Thursday. I’ll put up a post then with more information.

Here is a review of the first one in the series.

Hard Magic mass market paperback out today

The paperback for Hard Magic is out today. If you haven’t read any of the Grimnoir series, this is where you should start (because it is awesome). If you have read it already in hardcover or trade, then you owe it to yourself to buy ten extra loaner copies so as to not endanger your precious hardcover.

I plugged this last week with this awesome advertisement that really everything that needs to be said about why you should go buy this book.  Because I am always so in tune with current events, it was the first post that I had a hooker serve as a spokesperson for MHN, but because I had a thumbnail of a hotchick show up on Facebook I got a couple thousand extra hits. If the Nigerians have taught us anything, it is that dudes will click on any link, no matter how odd, if there are boobs on it.

So from our Colombian spokeshooker:

Esta libro es muy bueno. Es mejor que el Secret Service.

I forgot Earth Day!?!

I can’t believe I forgot Earth Day. So in order to remember the Earth, here is a video of hippies crying over dead trees.

EDIT: Whoops. Didn’t post the video. :)

Guns & Fiction, me guest hosting Writing Excuses 

I recorded this at LTUE. Because I’ve got a reputation as the Gun Guy in the writing community, they wanted to get my opinion on what writers get wrong when writing guns. I could have talked for another couple of hours on this topic, but we covered the big stuff. Maybe with this interview I can help prevent some future stupid Glock safeties, guns that malfunction only when you want to have some kung fu drama, and the fact that no action heroes ever need hearing aids after their six gunfights in enclosed spaces per book for a ten book series.

The Burning Throne, Episode 24: Two letters to Ide Todo

The Friday magical samurai serial continues! 

Continued from: 

These game journals come from what we called “B Team”. Basically, Dan Wells is the GM of this campaign, and he had a tough week so wasn’t able to have anything ready for game night. So I threw together and ran a quick game, set in the same campaign, at the same time, but everybody just grabbed one of the minor NPCs. In this case, it was a few of the Paper Lanterns, and they got to rescue a caravan and defend a village from bandits.

You also may notice that Ide Todo is getting rather famous. That’s what happens when you’ve got a hyperbolic bard following you around.


Two letters for Ide Todo

To the most noble and legendary son of the Unicorn, brilliant magistrate and bold commander of the Order of the Paper Lanterns, Ide Todo the Great, whose honor and bravery knows no bounds, from the humble monk, Michiba.  

Oh, mighty Paper Champion, I have dared to write this poor letter to you in gratitude for the recent actions of four of your courageous samurai; Yoritomo Buwa, Daidoji Fujo, Tamori Fubatsu, and Matsu Barbosa. These four warriors were on the way to join your side, when they saved a caravan of the Jolly Crab Trading Company from villainous bandits in the service of the foul Dark Oracle of Fire, and in the process rescued my useless and unworthy life, as well as a young Yasuki caravan guard.

However, rescuing a poor monk was not nearly enough heroism for one day for such stalwart souls and they were hungry for more. When I told them that the village of Red Falls could be in danger from the villains, and the Yasuki reported that his father, the caravan master, had been kidnapped, they immediately set out to defeat all the bandits. There was a minor setback while some of us were set on fire, but that is only because the noble Matsu seemed to relish living life to the fullest at all times. Inspired by their bravery, I eagerly accompanied your men.

Upon discovery of the isolated village, Yoritomo Buwa volunteered to scout ahead while the rest of us meditated peacefully on the nature of heroes such as yourself. During his search, he found that the village’s women and children were being held hostage in the granary, and that the men were counted every night and morning to make sure no peasants fled for help. Most of the bandits were out on a raid. The cunning and stealth of the Mantis was astounding, and I can only thank the Fortunes that he is such a kind and honorable soul (surely inspired by your greatness, Todo-sama) and he taught many of the bandits lessons in humility and sacrifice. (mostly by beating them with rocks and sticks)

We charged the village and your noble samurai easily routed the bandits there, saved the children, saved the peasants, saved the Yasuki hostage, and even saved the livestock. That act alone would have been enough to ensure that from now on, the peasants of Red Falls will speak of the Paper Lanterns in hushed and reverential tones (as they well should anyway!) but oh no, that wasn’t enough for your mighty men (and one terrifying woman). They decided that they would stay, fortify the village, and defeat all the bandits. Truly, such courage is only possible when inspired by Goemon, Fortune of Courage, or perhaps the example set by men such as Ide Todo.

(by the way, I was blessed enough to watch the very first showing of the new kabuki play about you, performed by a group of travelling actors and based upon the writings of Ikoma Katsu. It was riveting)

Needless to say, your Lanterns were not only brave, they were clever as well. The Matsu and the Daidoji came up with a defensive plan, while the Tamori and the Yoritomo turned the villagers into an effective fighting force. (though I’m certain the peasants were quick to return to their proper place in the celestial order as soon as their services were no longer needed by their betters). Matsu Barbosa hid herself in the fields, so that she would be in a position to attack the powerful bandit leader, while the others prepared to hold the bridge.

Wisely, the first horsemen of the returning bandits were allowed to enter the village before being set upon and destroyed.

There were forty bandits! Yet your Paper Lanterns held firm. An enemy duelist, a man so terrible in reputation and visage that he struck fear into the hearts of all the villagers, challenged the Tamori to a duel. Tamori Fubatsu disemboweled the duelist and let him fall in the river. Normally Red Falls gets its name from the iron ore in the mountainside, but tonight it would flow red with blood! (if Ikoma Katsu chooses to use that line in his narrative, I would be so extremely humbled and honored. I am a huge fan of his work)

The enemy charged the bridge, but your Lanterns held them back until the bodies were stacked knee deep. Distracted, the enemy leader was struck down by Matsu Barbosa! Yet, the leader was unbelievably strong, surely blighted by the power of the Dark Oracle, and she turned and slashed the brave Matsu with a lethal blow. Now this next part you might think I’m exaggerating, but I am as truthful as Ikoma Katsu when I say that I believe I saw the very Thunder Dragon form in the clouds to bless the heroism and sacrifice of the Lion Deathseeker. Nearly dead, but inspired by the void, she ignored her wounds and cut down the enemy leader. Who luckily exploded like a Yobanjin, right in the middle of the enemy archers, scattering them!

The enemy was routed and fled like the cowards they are.

The peasants of Red Falls are building a shrine on the very spot where the noble Lioness died. I will personally return to Red Falls every year on the anniversary of the battle to leave offerings to the memory of your brave servant.

Oh, thank you noble, Ide Todo, for in these dark times, the empire needs heroes such as you to inspire us all.

-          As always, your humble servant, Michiba, monk of the Shrine of the Blaze.



To Magistrate Ide Todo,

I hope this letter finds you well. I am Yasuki Murato, Caravan Master of the Jolly Crab Trading Company, which as you are certainly aware, is one of the more prosperous and profitable merchant companies in the Empire. Recently one of my personal caravans, bearing valuable goods to the warfront at Shiro Tamori, was betrayed by our guide, and assaulted by a bandit group known as the Purity of Fire. My drivers were killed, and my son proved to be a lackluster caravan guard and allowed me to be taken hostage.

Four of the samurai under your command rescued me from the Purity of Fire, and then battled the bandit group. One of your troops was killed, as were several villagers, and one of my favorite oxen was struck by a stray arrow, but most horrifically a large portion of my valuable merchandise was damaged in the battle. This was very upsetting to me, but as a loyal Crab, I am aware that sometimes a pragmatic sacrifice must be made in order to survive. I thought about including an invoice with this letter for the fine Kaiu forged armor that one of your men decided to use as a club, as the kabuto is now hopelessly dented and thus must be sold as used, but my son begged me not to and pointed out that if I were to have been murdered by bandits, I would not be able to sell any of our remaining merchandise at all. Every now and then young people will manage to come up with something wise.

So instead of billing you, I am writing to thank your men for rescuing me. In the future, I would hope to be able to repay the favor, and I would hope that the resources of the Jolly Crab Trading Company may be able to somehow assist the Order of the Paper Lanterns.

To demonstrate my thanks and willingness to ally myself with you, as a token of my friendship, I have sent one wagon of goods with this messenger. You may keep both the wagon and the messenger. I have included much of the armor and weaponry damaged in the battle, as I would lose face for trying to sell goods with such obvious cosmetic blemishes to the Dragon, the local smiths would rob me blind for repairs, and by the time I purchase new oxen and hire new guards and drivers, it would be unprofitable to ship them anywhere else… but the equipment is still in good working order and I hope it will prove useful to your order.

The messenger is my youngest son, Yasuki Boketsu, who has no head for commerce, is a terrible salesmen, but was a student of the Hida bushi school and possesses a passable ability at hitting things with a dai-tsuchi. He was “inspired” by the show your samurai put on, and has requested that I allow him to join the Paper Lanterns for the duration of this conflict. Being able to say that one of my fourteen children is bravely fighting in the War of Dark Fire will only help boost sales, so I have granted him my permission. If he should die in battle, I will not hold that against you, especially if it is while doing something heroic that would help the image of the Jolly Crab Trading Company.

I look forward to a long and happy friendship. Should you need any deals on anything, I’m your Crab.

-Yasuki Murato

Caravan Master

Jolly Crab Trading Company


To be continued next week with NIGHT OF ASSASSINS 


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