Note on the Buy Stuff tab

On the Buy Stuff tab, just to clarify, the CafePress site with my logo stuff usually ships fairly quickly. The autographed books and patches come from me directly, and I’m a one man operation, so don’t expect it to go fast. I will usually make it to the post office every 2-3 weeks. That’s if everything is going smoothly and I’m not swamped by some deadline or problem.

Well, I can’t say one man operation, since I do get my daughters to address envelopes, but since they can’t drive, you’re still stuck waiting on me to get to the post office.

All of my books are available autographed and personalized if you want it, but I usually wait a little while before selling the newest books directly. The reason being is that I would prefer for you guys to buy them from stores when they first come out instead. The reason being that I get the stat boost for the bestseller lists that way. So if you want an autographed copy of The Monster Hunters which is coming out next week, your best bet is to order it from Uncle Hugos.

In fact, if you want an autographed book to give as a gift for something like a birthday that is less than a month away, try them, as they will actually ship it quickly, and have quite a few of my autographed books in stock.


Big interview with me over on The Colored Lens  I was really talkative on this one.

Fun with Photos Time

Edit: WordPress is being really weird with photos lately. I had these seperate with captions on each, but that post got eaten. Well, we’ve got guns, guns, and more guns, lots of new MHI tattos and misc MH logos showing up in various places, all from fans.

I always say the same thing to anybody that wants to use my logo for anything. Go for it, as long as: A. it is for personal use and you’re not making money off of my stuff, and B. You send me a picture to put on the blog.

The tattoos are awesome. I’m not a tat guy myself, but more power to you if you are into that. I’ve got to say that as a writer, seeing somebody put your stuff on their body kind of blows my mind. That’s incredibly humbling.

The jersey picture is from Craig Outzen, who will be one of the shooters on 3 Gun Nation next season. According to Craig, I helped introduce him to 3gun competition a long time ago. We competed together a lot, but then I got busy/lazy and fell off, while Craig got better and better, and now he’s one of the top shooters in the country.  Note the happy face on the jersey however. :)

The mini was painted this weekend while listening to the Spellbound audiobook. I’m getting better at this hobby. I call him My Little Oni (he seems like a jolly guy), and I’m sure he’ll be menacing Writer Nerd Game Night soon enough.

The Burning Throne, Episode 28: City of Shrines

Continued from: 

This week’s episode is from our GM, Dan Wells. (author of the Serial Killer series and Partials).  After Machio blundered himself into getting kidnapped, Zuko, the monk turned wanted criminal turned ronin turned Spider clan, went after him, but then wound up going off on his own. This was Dan’s way of catching us up on what that character was up to. Specifically this is continued from this one:  Basically Zuko is a pawn in a cosmic game.

City of Shrines

Fosuta Zuko perched on the roof of the temple—not “the” temple, really, for there were dozens in this city, perhaps hundreds. Gisei Toshi was an enigma: a hidden city with high walls and no doors; a closed community that spoke only to itself, produced all its own food, and traded with no one. Its entire purpose seemed to be protecting its own secrecy—and its temples. Zuko had come to think of it as the City of Shrines.

Shrines that no one could ever visit, and that nobody but the monks who lived and died here would ever know existed.

But then who had planted the map, and how had Zuko found it? And what did the words mean, written in his own blood on the wall of a cave he’d never seen before:

My Death is Coming Soon.

Zuko touched the map, safely tucked in a scroll case, wondering again if any of his questions would ever be answered. He had scoured the City of Shrines, explored the greatest temples, and spied on the wisest of monks, but he was no closer to understanding any of it. The city had filled him with awe, then frustration, and now dread. It was a locus of a power in a world that hung by a thread. The people here, the power, the secrets—if they got out, he could only imagine what would happen. The Empire was besieged on every side, even as it tore itself apart from within. Was his map, and that blood-drenched message, an answer to their problems? Was it a key to his own power?

Or did it mean nothing at all?

The moon hung low in the sky, a wicked scimitar of light nearly shrouded in darkness. Zuko peered again at the map, then down at the temple before him. Seen one way, the map led only to the city, marked with a delicate kanji: “Here.” Seen another way, the map pointed at the center of the kanji itself, to a spot within the city. It had taken him days of study to pinpoint the spot, but there was no mistaking it. The shrine before him was dark and stunted, almost as if the city itself were afraid of it—or was trying to forget it. He glanced at the city, but no one was around. Night had fallen, and the city had gone to sleep. A single light burned in the shrine below him, faint and sickly. Zuko leapt to the ground and walked in.

“Ah,” said a voice, thick with age and phlegm. Zuko looked to the back corner of the shrine to see a fat monk, disheveled and greasy, his eyes milky white and blind. “Jiro, here already?”

Zuko said nothing. Let the old man talk; perhaps he’ll say something valuable.

“Quiet tonight,” said the monk, waving a flyswatter with one hand while scratching himself with the other. “Suit yourself. But tell me, Jiro, why is the moon so full?”

Zuko glanced back outside; the moon was a slim crescent. If anything it had been slim for too long—it was still waning, and had been for three weeks, as if it didn’t dare to disappear completely. He looked back at the monk and answered softly, wondering how the old man would react to an unfamiliar voice.

“It is not full, but nearly gone. Soon we shall have a new moon, and it will wax again and become full in time.”

“A new moon,” said the monk, swatting at his chest and neck. He mumbled again: “A new moon.” He sat blankly, staring at nothing with his round, white eyes. Zuko waited, wondering what the old man would say next, but after nearly a minute of silence Zuko grew restless. He walked to the side of the stunted stone building, peering at the grime-caked kanji that littered the wall like scribbles. He could read it, he thought, if he could only clear away the moss, but as he reached to touch it something stopped his hand—an inner warning; a deep-seated revulsion that drew his fingers back with an involuntary shudder. The wall did not want to be touched, and his body did not want to touch it.

“It is you,” said the monk, his voice changing in tone: still gruff and ill, but now curious and perhaps even…awestruck? Zuko couldn’t interpret it. He looked at the old man only to see him staring back, his eyes still dull and blank but his face pointed directly at Zuko’s own.


“The full moon,” said the monk. “Walk back—all the way to the other side.”

Zuko frowned, shooting quick glances to the shadows in anticipation of an ambush, but he saw nothing. He shrugged and, curious to see what the monk was talking about, crossed back across the entryway to the far side of the shrine.

“The full moon,” said the monk again, grinning. Several of his teeth were missing. “I thought it was the moon, and then I thought the moon was you, but no. You have been touched by her, and her touch is there for those who can see it.” He grinned again, shaking his hand disapprovingly. “There are few who can anymore.” He settled back against the wooden screen behind his seat, leaning against it heavily. “You are not Hitomi, but you are not Jiro either. Tell me your name, moon-man.”

Zuko watched the old monk cautiously, trying to decipher the hidden meaning behind his words. “You speak in riddles.”

“The hardest riddles are those unintended,” said the monk. “I speak plainly, and it is you who chooses to confuse yourself.”

More riddles, thought Zuko, or truth I cannot fathom. He looked at the monk firmly. “Touched by the moon?”

“And sent by her, I’ll wager,” said the monk. He swatted idly at a fly on his face. “She is wrapped in darkness, and she is losing. If she has touched you, spoken to you, used you, it is because she needs your help.” His face grew dark, and for the first time Zuko saw a wave of fear pass over the man’s features. “What has she sent you to do?”

Zuko thought back through his story, piecing the tale together: he didn’t remember anything about the moon, but he didn’t remember anything else, either. He had come on his own volition, but only because of mysteries—or clues?—that he had found in that cave. Was he searching for the truth, or was he being manipulated for someone else’s ends? The thought gave him pause, and he glanced at the shadows again; the shrine seemed smaller than before, darker and more oppressive. The lone candle flickered weakly, and the fat monk leered from his corner.

“Sent by the moon,” Zuko whispered. He drew his katana and held it before him, half in menace, half in nervous defense. “This is no moon shrine, monk. What it is?”

“This is no shrine at all,” said the monk, “it is a tomb.” His voice was hoarse and terrified. “Here lie imprisoned the remains of Bunrakuken, the Prophet of the Dead Moon, who sought to raise Lord Onnotangu from the dead.”

Zuko advanced, katana firm in hand, his eyes glancing warily at the dank, grimy stone that surrounded him. “Why would you honor such a monster here?”

“This is no place of honor,” said the frightened monk. He leaned back as far as he could, his eyes locked on the looming blade made pale and yellow in the candelight. “This is a prison. Bunrakuken was a bloodspeaker more powerful than death itself. Some say he was not even born. If his bones are removed from this building—” He stopped, and Zuko thrust the katana against the sweaty folds of the old man’s neck. The monk whimpered and continued. “If his bones are removed from this building, and from the wards that contain him, he will rise again and return to his ritual.”

Zuko’s voice was a hiss. “And raise Onnotangu from the dead.”

The monk quivered, feebly correcting him. “Not Onnotangu, but the dead moon; the ritual was very specific. It referred to Onnotangu when the bloodspeaker created it, yes, but after tonight? Who can say?”

Zuko glanced behind him, to the moon so dark and low in the sky he could barely see it. The walls seemed to press close around him, almost as if they were reaching for him, hungry to clasp him close and smother him in darkness, just as the moon beyond was clutched in…he didn’t know. Something.

My Death is Coming Soon.

“The world is besieged,” whispered Zuko.

“The world is nothing,” said the monk. “The war in Heaven has begun.”


To be continued next week with another B Team game, which I even wrote haiku for. 

There is much wisdom in this rant

I’ve never seen this blog before, but somebody sent me a link. That there is a fine rant about dumb female stuff from a female’s perspective.

The Monster Hunters omnibus is out soon, with the most absurd eBook prices EVAR!!

And Uncle Hugo’s has signed copies. (you can also preorder signed copies of Monster Hunter Legion there too).

If you want an eBook for your Kindle, Nook, or eReader:  And that is only $6.

SIX DOLLARS for all 3 MH novels. That is HALF a CENT per PAGE!!!

I’m thinking about doing some sort of spread the word contest for this next week.

Hard Magic on the short list for British Fantasy Awards

Okay, I know absolutely nothing about the British Fantasy Awards, and the short list is rather long, and I have no idea who votes for these things, but just in case one of you voters reads this blog, there you go. :)

EDIT: I’m the only Baen author on the list. :)

EDIT again: Actually it looks like there are only a handful of Americans on the list at all.

Final EDIT: Never mind, my Google-fu is weak. They have already released the final 6.

Gaspar Correia on the Battle of Chalons

If you aren’t familiar with it, Minimum Wage Historian is one of my favorite history pages on the web, and it really should get a show on the History channel. It would be a whole lot better than the Ancient-Hitler-Nostrodomus-Aliens shows they usually run (though to be fair the new Hatfield/McCoy movie looks pretty good).

MWH has lots of great history, but presents it a little differently. Instead of just talking about historical events, he has a roundtable discussion about the events. Only the guest panelists made up of various historical figures (Most of whom are insane) and brought forward to today. (for example, Ceasar discovered a love of Hot Pockets, as he logically should, because come on… Hot Pockets are awesome).  Plus Napoleon trolls the comments.

Zach discovered that there was a conquistador/historian by the name of Gaspar Correia. He comes from the same area as my ancestors, but I have no idea if we are actually related. (Correia is a relatively common Portuguese name) However, he had a reputation of being the least reliable of any of the historians of that era because he pretty much just made crap up… Defeating entire nations with a couple dozen guys can get to be so ho-hum, so why not spice up that map with some gargoyles and maybe some laser beams?

And it wasn’t enough to just make up normal stuff, but his journals usually featured monsters and magical adventure.

“Hey, Correia, what’s on the other side of those mountains?”

“Well, Captain Vasco.. That’s where the Mole People’s City of Gold was melted by dragons.”

“Well how about that? Okay, let’s get back to work. This village ain’t gonna massacre itself!”

So MWH has added Gaspar, my ancestor(?), to the panel. Obviously, being another Correia that was fixated on making up stories about monsters, he is full of useful info.

Some reviews

I found this video review of MHI:

And the UK’s Fantasy Book Review loved Spellbound.

The Burning Throne, Episode 27: The Proper End of a Bokken

This week’s episode was written by Steve Diamond, who is playing Ide Todo.

Ide Todo is a pacifist, who tries to solve problems through negotiation and intelligence, as opposed to clubbing problems with a tetsubo. He’s a consumate politician, and the leader of the Paper Lanterns. He has become increasingly important as the campaign has gone on and now he is a mover and a shaker. During the Night of Assassins he was injured in an attempted murder by a ninja. So his 2nd in command and his bodyguard have decided that it is about time that Ide Todo learned to defend himself.

Coninued from: 

The Proper End of a Bokken

Ide Todo lowered himself slowly to the bench.  His sweat-laden robe clung to his body and every muscle ached.  In his travels he had observed countless duels and now he had witnessed more than his fair share of skirmishes and battles.  Still, in all that time Ide Todo had never been the one to pick up a bokken, much less a dai tsuchi.  He knew his place, and that place was court.

But the events of the past few days had changed that thinking.

Todo stretched his neck from side to side, then worked his back.  In the center of the courtyard Hida Makoto eyed him.  The Crab’s face was a study in neutrality.  Did he want to laugh at his new student or berate him?  Why can’t he exercise such emotional control when talking to anyone outside the warrior brotherhood? Todo wondered.

Chiyoko stood where she was in the most ideal position to respond to any threat.  She still had trouble meeting Todo’s eyes.  What was he to do with her?  She took the blame upon herself for the injuries Todo has sustained, and had begged for the right to perform seppuku.  Todo had denied her request of course.  He knew where the true blame should be placed.

At his own feet.

He had been blessed by the fortunes thus far, that much was obvious to Ide Todo.  How else could one explain living through so many violence-filled encounters?  His companions had kept him from death thus far, but other people’s skills could only go so far.  When the goju had attacked, Todo had watched his life flash before his eyes.  He had been in the wrong position with no real knowledge on how to protect himself, and had nearly been killed for it.  His yojimbo had claimed dishonor for failing, but surely that failing had belonged to Todo himself for not being in the best position to be protected.

And so Todo was here in the courtyard, trying not to show his complete exhaustion after only a few minutes of training at the hands of Makoto.  Todo clung to his pride and refused to show just how tired he was.  He had the feeling both Makoto and Chiyoko easily saw through his posturing.

“Again,” Makoto said.  His voice was flat, but left no doubt as to who was in command in this situation.

“Instruct me, Makoto,” Todo said as he rose from his seat.  He stretched his legs which felt devoid of strength.  “Where do I need to improve?”

“Do you truly wish my honest assessment, Todo-sama?”

“When I instructed you on the basics of etiquette,” Todo replied, “I told you what you needed to hear, regardless of how hard it would be to take.  How can a samurai learn if no one tells him what he does wrong?  I would expect nothing less than the truth of you.”

Makoto winced, his first expression of emotion so far.  “Then I will tell you the truth Todo-sama.  You will never be a great warrior.  Not even close.”  Todo noticed that Chiyoko’s balance shifted ever so slightly.  This was not the time for her honor to get in the way of truth.

Ide Todo let out a laugh and forced a smile onto his face.  Tension drained from the courtyard, and Chiyoko resumed her previous stance.  “Makoto, my friend, you tell me nothing new.”  He walked forward and rested his hand on the big man’s shoulder.  “I wasn’t born to be a warrior, and I don’t expect one of even your immense skill to change the Fortunes’ plan for me.  No, I simply ask that you show me how to keep out from under foot in a skirmish, and how to keep from stabbing myself in the neck when attempting to protect myself.”

“The best way to keep from stabbing yourself is to wield a blunt weapon, Todo-sama,” Makoto said in perfect seriousness.

Todo laughed again and patted his friend’s shoulder.  “Truer words have rarely been spoken.  But in the case that I cannot carry one of those enormous dai tsuchi into battle, what can I do?”

Makoto nodded and rubbed a hand over his jaw.  “You are wise to know your limitations.  However in order to best understand how to defend yourself, you will at the very least need the most basic training in a few varied weapons.  Will you trust me in this?”

“Of course.”


From the balcony of the courtyard in the shadow of a pillar, Akimi watched the process.  Ide Todo was practically helpless at this stage, and a part of her wanted to call out Hida Makoto for wasting his time.

But the other part of her was impressed with the both of them.  With Hida Makoto for wishing to mold even this unworkable piece of clay into something slightly better, and with Ide Todo for wanting to become a better man and a better samurai.  The two of them were like an odd set of brothers, though they would likely deny it.  Akimi had caught brief snippets of conversation where Todo would instruct Makoto in the ways of the court.  It only made sense that there was a measure of exchange.

She had to admit, Makoto was very good at training.  Whether it be the growing troops of the Paper Lanterns or his leader, Ide Todo, the results were always for the better.  Of course it took a mind willing to learn, and Todo certainly had that.

And hour passed and still she watched the training.  Amazingly Todo seemed to be adapting to the basics.  He had a keen eye for repetition and a keener mind for memorization.

Akimi glanced below towards the entrance to the courtyard and found Todo’s yojimbo, Chiyoko, staring at her.  Nothing escaped that woman’s notice.  Akimi shook her head.  No, that wasn’t entirely true.  Chiyoko was simply unable to see beyond her own honor or weaknesses.  The men wouldn’t be able to see it, but Akimi could.  She saw the brief instant of worry when a threat had materialized only to vanish when the yojimbo realized the threat wasn’t human.

There are some things a woman can’t hide from another woman.

But Ide Todo had a mind that even the most intelligent would be wise to pay attention to.  She smiled to herself.  If Chiyoko wasn’t careful, Ide Todo would slyly talk her out of her shortcomings.  And then what would she do with her honor?

“If the situation demands it, all you need to do is keep the enemy from killing you,” Makoto said between a slow series of strikes.  To Todo they likely seemed a blur.  “All you have to do is last until one of us comes.”

Todo nodded, but made no actual reply.  Another series of swings and cuts from Makoto.  A slap of wood against flesh.

“That is the cut that wounded you before,” Makoto said.  Akimi could tell how hard he was trying to keep an apology from escaping his mouth.  “Why did I get through your guard?”

“You are faster and stronger,” came Todo’s reply.  “I imagine that will be a common theme if I am faced with most opponents.”

Makoto nodded.  “This is all true.  Chiyoko will kill all who attack you, but she cannot fight everyone at once.  As skilled as she is,” he turned and bowed to her, “far more skilled in a duel than I, there are limits to all of us in battle.”

“And what are your limits, Hida?” Chiyoko asked.  Her voice was quiet, but carried to all corners of the courtyard.

“In battle?  My limits are the ones the Fortunes place on me.”  Chiyoko nodded in acceptance, and Makoto turned back to his student.  “We will go over these lessons as many times as you require, Todo-sama.  Until you can effectively stall your aggressors.  Are you ready?”

Akimi could see his labored breathing.  But he did not ask for a break.  Admirable.  This was the type of man that could inspire people without even realizing he was doing so.  He was only a few years older than her, and uncommitted to anyone…

No, this was not the time for that kind of thinking.  Plus Chiyoko would likely think of it as an insult and request a duel.  Some women…


Todo closed his eyes and let himself collapse in his room.  He thought he heard a low chuckle from his yojimbo, but when he cracked an eye open her face was expressionless.  A sure sign of guilt.

“What think you, Chiyoko?” he asked.  “Should I wade into hoards of shadowland abominations with a bokken held high?”

She thought for a moment longer than he expected.  “I have no fear facing the tainted.  If you wish to fight them I will guard you.”

So serious, he thought.  Fortunes help me.

“However I would request that you allow me to show you the proper end of the bokken to hold before doing so,” she said, a small smile tugging at the corner of her mouth.

That’s more like it.  I’d hate to have to go to Magatsu for levity.

“I will send for wash water,” she said and stepped outside the room.  She would be back within moments.  She was a good yojimbo.

The training had distracted him from his burdens.  His messengers had been sent back off to their information collecting.  His troops were being trained by either Makoto or Akimi.  Both Hoketuhime and Shimura owed their lives to the Paper Lanterns.  And then there was Bayushi Ejiro popping up like a plague bearing insect everywhere the Paper Lanterns traveled—was he simply a small nuisance or someone who needed to be…taken care of?

The thought sickened Ide Todo.  Only months ago he would have berated a man for seriously entertaining those types of thoughts.  One of the first lessons he learned about the Scorpion was how you could never trust them.  But was that always true?  They were loyal to the Empire, just in a very different way.  If the Empire was to survive the Oracle of Dark Fire to the north, and the Shadowlands to the south, everyone would be needed.  Even Bayushi Ejiro.


A servant entered with wash-basin and clean cloth keeping her gaze respectfully lowered.  She carefully set the basin on a small stand beside the door and bowed as she exited.  Todo knew he should go wash while the water was still likely warm, but that would involve standing up.  He closed his eyes.

“One of your commanders, the ronin Akimi, was watching your training today,” Chiyoko said from the door.

“What do you make of her?” he asked without opening is eyes.

“She goes through personal trials.”  Todo heard the hesitation in his yojimbo’s voice.  “She has lost something or someone recently, but she is trying to recover something else entirely.  I think she is drawn to you more strongly than even the others.”

The Unicorn smiled.  “You are very good at reading people, aren’t you?  I imagine it is a skill beneficial to dueling.  No doubt a reason you are such an accomplished duelist and the Topaz Champion.”

“It is true.  The skills of observation are key for any samurai.”

“Something we agree on,” Todo said.  He propped himself up on elbows and studied Chiyoko.  “But these things you mention are far deeper than just casual observances.  I know of her doubts.  How do you?”

She shrugged, a gesture he found oddly out of place on her diminutive figure.  She reminded Todo vaguely of his dead brother’s daughter.  She was a Battle Maiden somewhere on the sands.  “Some things a woman cannot hide from another woman.”

A remarkable observation, that.  “And what do you observe of me in your little time as my yojimbo?”

“You care too much for others and care not enough about yourself.”

He shook his head.  It was uncanny how true she could read everyone.  “More insights learned from many duels?”

“No,” she said. “I read your journal.”

The courtier’s mouth hung open in shock.  He only closed it when she smiled again.  There was a mischievous light in her eyes.  She pointed at the wash basin.  “You should wash up.”

Ide Todo found himself chuckling as he stood and walked to the basin.  There was another lesson his sensei had taught.  A good yojimbo protects against physical harm.  A great yojimbo knows how to keep his or her ward protected from the doubts that undermine in the quiet moments.

She didn’t realize it yet, but Chiyoko was becoming a great yojimbo.


To be continued next week with the City of Shrines:


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