Character sketch from a Call of Cthulhu game

I’m playing in a game of Trail of Cthulhu (it’s like Call of Cthulhu but uses the Gumshoe rules from Pelgrane) We are in Arkham Massachusetts in 1938. The rest of the group is a Doctor, a Scientist, an Artist, and an Antiquarian. I went with Criminal.  For each player character you need to note their drives and the NPCs who are their sources of stability. I was inspired because I’d just rewatched Brawl In Cell Block 99 (fantastic movie, where Vince Vaughn is the world’s most efficient redneck killing machine), so I decided to write this little character sketch.  I found the pic from google searching “1930s mugshots”. 


Massachusetts Bureau of Prisons. Parole Hearing Record.

Location: Black Gate Penitentiary, Arkham Massachusetts

For inmate: Vaerst, Vincent Thomas   Prisoner No: 9371/45

DOB: Jan 2, 1905. POB: Florence, Alabama  Trade: Laborer  

Eyes black Ht 6’3” Wt 230 Hair

Marks   Scars, rt face, extensive arms & knuckles, both. Tat, large cross on back

M.O. etc. battery and various classes of larceny. A general thief and bad character.

Known Associates: 828/45, 765/38, 1256/32, 223/45

Partial Transcript of Parole Interview

Thank you for taking the time to hear my story, honorable members of the parole board. I, Vincent Vaerst, am terribly sorry for the crime of which I was convicted. Incarceration has given me the opportunity to reflect upon my many poor choices.

Yes, sir. I believe that I am fully rehabilitated. Chain gangs build a strong constitution, and I spent my evenings in rigorous study of the Bible. If set free, I shall endeavor to never again fall to wickedness.

No, ma’am. I would never again strike a police officer in the mouth with my fist and knock out several of his teeth. That was uncalled for and I am greatly ashamed of my actions.

No, sir, I will never again associate with the likes of Big Tony Delgado or his gang ever again. Like many men in our great nation at the time, I was out of work and desperate to take care of my young family. Mr. Delgado offered me money, and in a bout of weakness I took it. I swear that was the only time I’ve ever performed such deeds, and I will never do so again.

Sorry. As I told the judge and the police detectives, I’m afraid that I never got the names of the other criminals who were involved. Nor do I remember their faces. It was very dark. Mr. Delgado did not order us to crack that safe. We came up with that scheme entirely on our own. The police pressured me to testify against Mr. Delgado, but since he had nothing to do with it, that would’ve been dishonest, and I would not add perjury to my crimes.

Oh, these? (–prisoner holds up hands to display disfigured knuckles to the board–) I was accused of knee breaking for Mr. Delgado’s loan sharks, but never convicted—because I’m innocent of such violence! These here were ‘cause I was a bare knuckle boxer for a time. These scars were earned honestly. Or sorta honest. I swear.

My people? That’s a curious question. What do you mean, sir?

Oh, you’re a professor. So that’s why this is being recorded. I understand. You’re probably trying to comprehend the… what is it… socio economical whatever of my upbringing…I’ll have you know, sir, that I’m no malformed half-wit of poor breeding… Yes, eugenics you call it now. Well, professor, my crimes are not a result of my blood. I come from a proud line.

My family has been here a long time. I’m not some kraut off a boat. I know Massachusetts is rich in history and y’all probably trace your lineage back to the Mayflower, but my forefathers were Hessians, arrived not too long thereafter. Brought here to fight against George Washington, but they stayed, as rebellion… I mean a love of freedom… was in their nature.

They ended up in the south. My grandfathers were confederates. Not because of commitment but rather geography. I come from coal miners, steel workers, and timber cutters, there’s even some Cherokees in there somewhere, but all were honest hard working types, despite the many accusations of thievery, moonshining, and bootlegging alleged against us.

Yes… that file you got there is correct. Of my five younger brothers one was convicted of bootlegging. He was an anomaly. My older brother died in the Great War, in France, a noble sacrifice and example to us all. I would’ve emulated him, but I was too young and missed the war. Upon release from this place I will proudly hang an American flag over my front door.

The mark upon my back? The Vaersts are Roman Catholic, sir. My parents are exceedingly devout, good people and stern. We were raised to keep an eye out for evil doings. There’s a spiritual darkness in some of the far back woods of the south, strange folk, and rumors of worse in the swamps where the moss hides unspeakable things… not too different from some of the places around Massachusetts if the more superstitious prisoners here are to be believed.

Sorry, sir, I was rambling. To answer your question, the tattoo was for protection against temptation and a reminder for me to do my best.

Well, yes, ma’am, obviously it didn’t work last time. But as a reformed man and penitent sinner, I will continue to seek counsel from Father Matthias, who is respected local clergy. Oh, you know him too, ma’am? I have built a friendship with Father Matthias over the last year because he serves one day a week as the Black Gate Prison chaplain.

What would I do if paroled? I have been a boxer, a lock smith, I’ve cut trees, and worked in a Bessemer steel mill. During the worst of the depression I rode the rails to whichever town there was rumor of work to be had. Should you show mercy to me this day, I shall go directly to the docks and apply for membership at the Stevedores Union, for a recent letter from my wife told me that they are looking for men with strong backs.

Yes, sir. I figured my wife had something to do with this. Normally I would not be up for parole for at least another year, but since you called me in today I assumed my wife must’ve begged her daddy to put in a good word with the warden.  That must’ve been difficult for her. She’s a very proud woman.

No, ma’am, I shall not lie. For I have lived a life of poverty and challenge, Lauren is my bright and shining star. I love her very much, and she has waited faithfully for me.

She comes from a line of French aristocrats, and her father, an educated man like yourself, Professor, did not approve of her marrying someone he termed a backwoods cracker German. But that’s just how things go sometimes. They threatened to disown her, I’ve caused a great many arguments in her father’s mansion, and she’s still on the outs with her family.

She was pregnant with our first when I was incarcerated. – Why, yes, ma’am, since I was out of work and unable to provide for my family, her pregnancy did contribute to my desperation when I took that ill-fated safe cracking job. No. I have not yet met my son. All I have is this photo of them which she mailed me…. Here you go. Yes, ma’am, they are beautiful. This tragedy weighs heavily upon me, and has caused me great and considerable guilt. Please don’t cry, ma’am.

Should I be released, I shall do my best to provide for and protect my family. Upon my family name and with god as my witness, you have my solemn oath.

Parole Status: Granted     Date: March 20th, 1935

Photo from


My House of Assassins Book Tour Schedule

I will put up another post with the addresses for each location (some of the stops are at chains with multiple locations) once I get the final detail list from my publicist, but here are all the cities I will be stopping in next month.

February 4 5:00 PM | Minneapolis, MN
Uncle Hugo

February 5 7:00 PM | Houston, TX
Half Price Houston

February 6 7:00 PM | Dallas, TX
Half Price Books-Dallas

February 7 7:00 PM | Oklahoma City, OK
Barnes & Noble

February 8 7:00 PM | Wichita, KS

February 9 2:00 PM | Kansas City, MO
B&N-Kansas City

February 10 2:00 PM | Edwardsville, IL
Books A Million

February 12 7:00 PM | McLean, VA
B&N-Tyson’s Corner

February 13 6:00 PM | Virginia Beach, VA
Books A Million

Immediately after that I will be at LTUE in Provo Utah.

What I got done in 2018, and January Update Post

2018 was a really busy year at the Correia house.

Book Stuff

Target Rich Environment, Monster Hunter Memoirs: Saints (with John Ringo), and Tom Stranger 2: A Murder of Manatees were all released in 2018.

I wrote House of Assassins, which will be out in February, edited Noir Fatale (with Kacey Ezell) which will be coming out in May, and wrote Monster Hunter Guardian (with Sarah Hoyt), which will be coming out in August.

I also wrote the first part of Destroyer of Worlds, but don’t know the expected release date for that yet, as well as a few new short stories that will be coming out in various places. I’ve got two collaborations in the works, a sci-fi with John D. Brown, and a fantasy with Steve Diamond.

Target Rich Environment 2 is also mostly done, I’m just waiting to hear back on two particular stories I want to use to see if I’m able to reprint them or not. (they both tie into movie franchises so they’re a little tighter about that kind of thing than on most anthologies).

The Dead Six series (with Mike Kupari) is going to get rereleased as an omnibus.

Despite my career repeatedly being declared “irreparably damaged” I’m doing awesome. My last royalty check for 2018 was the biggest I’ve ever received, because it turns out that Monster Hunter Siege was the biggest launch that I’ve ever had. Siege did extremely well in its first royalty period.

Also, The Monster Hunter Files anthology did shockingly well (of the many anthologies I’ve been in, I can count on the fingers of one hand how many earned out and paid royalties) and I was able to send a nice check to every one of the contributors right before Christmas, which was pretty darned cool.

Game and Tie In Stuff

The Monster Hunter International role playing game using the Savage Worlds system should be shipping sometime in the next few months. We needed to wait for Savage Worlds to do their new addition, and they kickstarted that at the end of 2018.

Sometime in 2018 I will be releasing Gritty Cop Show, the game. The very first test game of it was a year ago New Years. We did another test game on the 28th, after brutally murdering Pat’s character, I’m tweaking the rule about minor bad guys adding bonus dice to knife attacks  😀

I’ve got another exciting game thing going on, but can’t talk about it yet.

I optioned the rights to Monster Hunter International for a TV show several years ago, and it’s still sitting out there “in development”. Which basically means that I’ve got no idea what’s going on, I just cash the checks.  Hollywood is weird.  But I do like cashing option checks, so if anybody wants to option any of my other stuff, let me know. Grimnoir would make such a good TV show.

Appearances and Book Tour 

I’ll be doing a book tour in February for the release of House of Assassins. I’ll post the final schedule and stops in the next few days. I’m hitting several cities that I’ve never been to before.

In 2018 I traveled way too much. Between the travel days and the event itself, every con I attend kills the better part of a week’s writing productivity. Last year I went to DragonCon, GenCon, LibertyCon, FanX, LTUE, Salt Lake ComicCon, and I think I’m forgetting some others.  (and that’s not counting the Origins debacle, which though I didn’t travel, dealing with the fall out of their unprofessional stupidity was still a massive time suck).  Plus I did a couple of research trips for various projects.

For 2019 right now I’m only planning on going to LTUE, SpikeCon, FyreCon, and FanX. And notice that all of those are in Utah!

Personal Stuff

There were a few big things that happened to the Correias this year.

We have been building a house. Because of the location and size, it has been an epic and time consuming process. (if you follow me on Facebook I’ve been putting up construction photos the whole time).  Last January we had put in a bunch of infrastructure (it required a half mile driveway just to access the construction site) but hadn’t broken ground yet.

Now we’ve got most of a house. We got buttoned up (roof, windows, and doors) before the winter, so they’ve been working on it all year. They got the insulation in before New Years, and right now they are working on the drywall.  Fingers crossed, and we’ll be moving in sometime this spring.

My oldest daughter moved off to college. Having adult kids is weird. She’s doing fine (and has a story in the upcoming Noir Fatale anthology).

I lost 60 pounds in 2018. I went from size 44 waist pants to size 36. I’ve not worn size 36 pants since high school.  I was 335 at my fattest and I’m 275 now. I’ve posted about this in more detail before, but it has been a combination of low carb and intermittent fasting, so it really hasn’t been too horrible.

And I got a Sig 365 for Christmas.  🙂

Future Stuff

As of right now I’ve got a pile of books planned. Two collaborations in the works. Another Grimnoir trilogy. A bunch more MHI and Saga of the Forgotten Warrior, as well as a few other things that I want to try out.

Hopefully we’ll be moving to Yard Moose Mountain this spring, and then selling our current house.  So it is going to be another busy year.

Last and most importantly, I want to thank you guys, my readers, because you are awesome. I’ve got the best fans of anybody in this business. I hope you have a great new year.



Noir Fatale cover reveal

Coming in May 2019, Noir themed sci-fi and fantasy stories, edited by me and Kacey Ezell,

Featuring stories by:
David Weber
Laurell K. Hamilton
Sarah Hoyt
Kacey Ezell
Robert Buettner
Alistar Kimball
Griffin Barber
Michael Massa
Hinkley Correia
Christopher L. Smith
Michael Ferguson
Patrick Tracy
Steve Diamond
Larry Correia

I wrote a new Grimnoir story. David wrote a new Honor Harrington story. Laurell wrote an Anita Blake story. Which checks the boxes for some big universes.

Then there are some awesome new ones. Steve Diamond’s wrote about a secret policeman set in the world we are collaborating on a novel, reminiscent of WW1 eastern front trench fantasy with dark fairy tale magic. Hinkley Correia wrote about a ghost hunting detective in Tokyo.  Patrick Tracy’s story feels like a D&D adventure if Raymond Chandler was your GM.

There’s sci-fi, urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and alternative history, all with a hard boiled edge.

Griffin Barber takes a necromancer on a heist. Co-editor Kacey did a sci-fi take on a classic set up.  Mike Ferguson and Chris Smith told a really cool detective mystery on an orbital. And Mike Massa did a really unique supernatural WW2 story.

And there’s so much more. I loved being able to be one of the editors on this anthology. It came out fantastic.


BOOK BOMB! Featuring two books this time, A Star Wheeled Sky, and In Plain Sight

It is Book Bomb Day!

A Book Bomb is when I pick out a deserving author who could use a publicity boost, and get as many people as possible to buy their book in the same day on Amazon. The more people who buy, the higher it goes in the sales rankings. Once it gets on some bestseller lists, that gets it in front of even more new eyes. Success breeds success, the author gets new readers, and most importantly, the author GETS PAID.

This month I’m doing something a little different as an experiment. See, I get so many requests for BBs, from so many talented authors, that there is just no way I can do them all. I have to spread these out or they lose their impact, but I get about twenty requests for each one that I can actually do.

Then it turned out that this month, two good friends of mine, who are both extremely talented authors, both had wildly different style books coming out the same day. Both are awesome. Both would probably appeal to my fans.  How could I pick just one?

So this month, we’re going to try a CLUSTER BOOK BOMB!

First up is the epic sci-fi novel A Star-Wheeled Sky, by Brad Torgersen. (not to be mistaken for the super evil Brad TorgersOn, because that guy hangs out with Straw Larry, and he’s the worst)


Brad is one of the most talented sci-fi writers around. The problem for Brad right now is that he’s  a Warrant Officer in the Army National Guard, and he’s currently deployed overseas, which sure throws a wrench into going on book tour (not a real big sci-fi audience where Brad’s stationed right now).

And next is In Plain Sight, by Dan Willis. I picked this one is for my Grimnoir fans who are waiting for me to finish the next trilogy, because it’s a magical detective story set in the 1930s New York.

As an added bonus, it looks like the Kindle Unlimited version is FREE, and it’s only 99 cents if you want to purchase it! Our last BB featured a 99 cent eBook, and you guys bought so many of those, you shoved it clear to the top of all of Amazon.

Right now Brad is at:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,711 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

And Dan is at:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,939 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,048 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

And for Dan,  we’ve already got a fancy NUMBER ONE NEW RELEASE tag for him. 😀

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

So we are off to a great start. Please tell your friends.

EDIT: Lunch hour update, still moving right along. Brad is doing okay in paperback, but doing much much better in ebook.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,108 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

And then Dan is CRUSHING it in eBook. Which just goes to show the power of a .99 cent eBook to attract new readers.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #631 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

EDIT: still climbing! Here’s Brad,

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,665 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

And for Dan, top 500 on ALL of Amazon.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #491 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

Update: For the night time crowd, Brad first:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,985 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

And then Dan, actually hit #1 in Steampunk. That’s awesome.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #394 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)