Using a goofy review to give a peek behind the curtain of how collaborations work

Normally it is customary that authors never respond to their reviewers, because that is seen as uncouth. Some authors would say, barbaric, or unprofessional even. Luckily for me I’ve built my career on doing everything basically ass backwards from what publishing considers normal. (considering I actually open Tom Stranger 2 with a scene responding to all the bad reviews of Tom Stranger 1, I even make money with it!)

So far most of the reviews for my latest book have been good. However, there’s a couple that made me laugh because of how goofy and off base they are. This one in particular for the audiobook is going to peg the Brandollini meter, but it illustrates a few things about how the writing process/reviewing works, that I thought might be professionally helpful for the writers who read this blog to understand how my collaborations work.

Having never read anything else by John Brown I can’t say Gun Runner is exclusively his story, but I can say it’s definitely not Larry Correia’s style of writing. “

Ha. Bullshit. 😀

Okay, this line of attack is one that I get on pretty much every collaboration I’ve ever done, and it’s just downright wrong. I’ve seen this said about my collabs with Kupari, Ringo, Hoyt, and now Brown. And I guarantee I’ll see the same thing said by some crank next year when the collaboration with Diamond comes out.

First off, these people assume that they can pin down my “style”, which is funny considering the same dude wrote Ashok Vadal and Jimmy the Intern. I’ve already demonstrated that I don’t give a shit about tone or genre, can write wildly divergent PoV characters, and bounce around as I see fit from world to world, so it’s kind of amusing that somebody thinks that I’ve only got one style in my tool box. (I’ve also ghost written some shit that would blow your mind because none of you would ever in a million years guess it was me. I can be a chameleon when I feel like it.)

Second, there is this goofy idea that collaborations consist of some phoned in nonsense where the junior author does all the work and then the senior author just sticks his name on it in some cash grab. Sure. Some authors do that. I don’t. Feel free to ask any of those many authors I listed above about how hands off I am on all those books. I take a great deal of professional pride in the fact that all my collabs are actual collabs. Everybody who knows me knows that I’m too much of a workaholic and a control freak to not make sure something with my name on it represents me.

Plus, it is always kind of hilarious to watch people guess which character/scene was written by which author, as everybody continually gets it all wrong, and I never say shit because I like watching very self-assured people be incorrect. (this is particularly fun on the Ringo collabs)

While there’s interesting elements the pace of the story is torpid, the characters are somewhat flat and cliched and many scenes that should be immersive and exciting are very much just watching the action. I kept listening, hoping it would get better, but when redundant explanations started occurring that the reader is fully aware of, having seen all that info during the introduction, I called it quits. I’m about six chapters in and can’t take any more of the dull, remedial storytelling.

Oh ho ho ho. He ALMOST pulled that off! For the first bit he had me believing that he was an honest reviewer who simply had a conflict of taste (and taste is subjective and thus can’t be wrong) and wasn’t just another troll review. Except then he had to go and overreach by saying how many chapters he made it in.

Chapter six is 60 pages in of a 439 page book. Of the “dull and remedial” storytelling that occurs in those 60pages, 14 are a panicked evacuation/rescue mission like the fall of Saigon but with more mind control and giant robots, from one character’s perspective, then the rest is a heist story on a different planet that goes from subterfuge, to a street chase, to a train job, to riding a stolen mech into outer space, from a different character’s perspective. During those 60 pages we briefly introduce probably ten named characters, and though almost all of it is action sequences, we toss in a lot of backstory and world building to lay the groundwork.

If this guy found that intro torpid, he really needs to stop doing meth. That shit ain’t good for you. 😀 So there you have it people, if you are flying high on crank, Gun Runner is not for you. Also, quit scratching yourself. It makes sores.

The “redundant explanations” is amusing, considering that the change between our rough draft and the final, Toni Weisskopf had us PUT MORE EXPLANATIONS IN. Because behind the scenes John and I both come from fantasy/action/thriller backgrounds where you under explain until you can’t, and Toni had to educate us that sci-fi audiences tend to expect more clear laying of groundwork earlier on, so we didn’t need to explain how the fundamentals of the universe worked for the next 400 pages.

But what does Toni know? She’s only considered one of the most successful and prolific editors of sci-fi in the genre’s history.

“Oliver Wyman does a terrific job on narration, but even he can’t save Gun Runner. “

At least he didn’t bag on Ollie. Because Ollie rocks. Nobody was going to believe him if he did that.

“Not sure what is going on with Larry Correia.”

Well, I do have a newsletter you can sign up for if you are curious. 😀

“This is the second story I purchased, based on his name and have been disappointed with the results.”

Hmmm… curious. Out of my 25 books in half a dozen different genres/worlds. I’ve let you down twice with my profound torpor? Or, more likely my take on space opera ain’t your thing, but rather than just put a low rating on it because it wasn’t your thing, you had to pontificate about my lack of work ethic and dishonest business practices to try and scare other readers away?

Is he a sponsor for other authors now? ”

You caught me. I’m really billionaire James Patterson, and I keep 20 younger authors chained to computers in my basement dungeon.

 “Or is it his publisher using his name to draw sales?

Well duh. 😀

Publishing education time! Gather ’round aspiring authors and random internet cranks, and I’ll explain what a “collaboration” is. That’s when more than one writer gets together to write a story. My publisher, Baen, has a long and successful history of pairing authors together. Usually one of them is more famous than the other, which helps drive sales, and helps get the less known author’s name out there, which boosts the sales of their books. (though this isn’t always the case, like me and Ringo both being bestsellers when we teamed up, and some writers are just an endless powerhouse team up, more famous together than apart, like Niven and Pournelle, or “James S.A. Corey” which is Ty Frank and Daniel Abraham)

And here is a dirty little secret about these terrible cash grabs that us rich and famous authors do just to hoodwink poor customers like Johnny InternetRando… Collabs actually take LONGER than writing a book by yourself, and then we SPLIT the money. BRILLIANT! 😀

This charge is extra funny on Gun Runner however, considering that this is the book John Brown and I plotted live for a two hour panel in front of 200 people at LTUE.

Regardless, I’m aggravated with their misleading representation.

Okay, I actually snort laughed when I got to that line. I wasn’t going to say anything about this until I hit that sentence, and then I was all like, oh man, this bullshit has got to go on the blog. Just for educational purposes for other writers, because that’s so goofy. That was the point where my Benefit of the Doubt killed itself in shame.

What’s next? The ‘narrated by’ isn’t accurate either?

That’s not a bad idea. I was actually thinking the next book I’d put Oliver Wyman, Bronson Pinchot, AND Tim Gerrard Reynolds on the cover, and then 20 hours of audio would just be a repeating 30 second loop of Adam Baldwin making manatee noises. WE WILL MAKE MILLIONS!

Or as Wendell would say (for 20 hours straight!) Fleeerp mewhoo HOOOON!

However I bet that would still crack the top 10…. Hmmmmm… Damn it. That is actually tempting. Get thee behind me, Satan!

“Not happy with the bait and switch.”

Hahahahahahah Hahahah
Oh shit…
That’s awesome. 😀

Dude. See that cover? It has both our names on it. This isn’t one of those ZOMBIE TOM CLANCY in giant letters at the top with “presents” in little letters, and then tiny tiny print in the bottom corner “By JimBob ScrubHack” books. John and I wrote this book together.

Hell, I usually don’t go into that many details of who did what in a collab, but I’m going to here for educational purposes. I’ll even give you the timeline. We started this project clear back in 2015 (when I was less famous!) when we got ideas from my at the time 10 year old son, and then used those to plot an entire book over a two hour period in front of a live studio audience. When we got done, we looked at each other and said, wow… that’s actually pretty solid. We could write this.

And then it wasn’t until 2018(?) after the successful conclusion of some of my other collaborative contracts that Toni asked me if there were any other collabs I wanted to do. I pitched two, this one with John and another one with Steve which this reviewer will surely hate next year.

John is also a successful thriller writer (he got his start doing epic fantasy at Tor around the same time I wrote MHI. We did some book signings around the country together which is how we became friends). In 2018 we got together and did a more in depth brain storming session based on the panel we’d done at LTUE. Then I wrote a detailed, scene by scene outline, that was about 10k words if I recall correctly. We then hashed that out for a few weeks back and forth via email before John went to work.

I’m trying to recall file sizes now, so these might not be 100% accurate but they are close enough you get the idea. John wrote the rough draft over the next few months, sending me updates about every 20k words. I’d make comments and send them back. John put those together into a 100k rough over about 4 months and sent it to me, where the poor guy had to wait a couple of months because I was finishing up another book (Destroyer of Worlds I believe) that was on deadline. (and I can’t switch back and forth between worlds because it takes me about a week to find the right voice for a project)

I sent him back a bunch of notes and he revamped all those. (some day I will tell the tale of poor Bruce, who John loved, but who didn’t make my brutal uncaring cut!) John made a slew of changes and we ended up with about 100k of rough draft.

Other novel sent off, I took that 100k and chopped it down to about 90k, and then wrote it back up to 130k. And that was not -10k in one spot, + 40k in another. Those edits were spread throughout the whole thing. Every page. It took me about two straight months (because I edit/write at about half the pace I write/write).

To put this in perspective, from beginning to end for me to write a novel by myself is usually 4-6 months, but I’m so clever with all this bait and switching, that this collaborative method takes twice as long to turn in a product and afterwards I only get half the money. BRILLIANT… It’s almost like there are creative or artistic reasons to collaborate or something, but I’ll get to those.

Then John got the manuscript from me and went through it again with all my notes. At this point I think we were about 140k when he sent it back to me. I really liked it. I did one last small edit pass, and then sent it to Toni.

Toni went through it and came back to us with some changes that she felt were necessary. At this point that whole opening chapter, Fall of Gloss evacuation/rescue scene DID NOT EXIST. We’d only referred to those events in passing bits of backstory and conversations between Jackson, Jane, and the Captain. Toni is normally anti-prologue, however in this case she thought it was necessary to tell the story and set the themes.

And now here is the part that is really going to piss off our erstwhile mind-reading totally-not-a-troll reviewer… Because I’ve written a couple dozen books for Toni and know how to incorporate her edits, and we were now on the clock with the deadline approaching, and John had gone back to finishing up one of his books, I told John that I’d take care of all her edits, including writing what is now the intro. John had an idea for the new opening that he started on, but I’d just read a thing about the Fall of Saigon and wanted to get a visual equivalent to everyone trying to get on the Huey.

Yes… That first opening part that this reviewer managed to suffer through which he was so certain wasn’t MY voice? On the contrary, that’s the longest part of the whole book that I wrote pretty much by myself. I kicked it over to John after I was done and he had a few suggestions that I implemented, but that opening Holloway scene was mine.

So going back to his clever thesis of: “but I can say it’s definitely not Larry Correia’s style of writing. “
Whoops. 😀

(EDIT: final word count was 154k)

Okay, so goofy review out of the way, why should authors collaborate? I’ve written about this in depth in some of the Ask Correia posts, but it comes down to creative reasons. The book that you write with someone else is going to be different than the one you write yourself. This can be good or bad. It depends on each author’s strengths and whether you play to them or not. It’s also a learning process, because every time I write with some other author I inevitably pick up some new tool that I can add to my personal tool box for writing my own books.

Sometimes a collab can be a cash grab for the bigger name, but psychologically I’m not wired that way. I couldn’t put out a book without working on it (and the the logistics of the back and forth are going to make it take longer than I could do it by myself no matter what). But some authors do that sort of thing and their fans love it, so more power to them. I wasn’t joking when I called Patterson a billionaire. (If he’s not, he’s got to be close by now). Heck, if George Martin collaborated maybe all the GoT fans would have gotten a satisfying conclusion by now.

I wrote Gun Runner because I had a lot of fun plotting it with John, and he’s a cool guy to work with, and it was a new genre that I’d only ever messed with in short fiction. Every collaboration I’ve done has been for a different reason, but ultimately, the most important thing a writer can do is make sure they are having fun. Because if you keep having fun, then your fun is contagious through the page, and your readers have fun too.

If you do what internet cranks tell you to do, you’ll be miserable. And then your writing will be miserable. Its the same way I tune out all the needy types who bark at me You Should Be Writing X Instead of Y! Because series X is their favorite and they hate that I waste time on series Y. Except they’re idiots who don’t understand that creativity isn’t simply a faucet that you can turn on and off. I write series Y (and W, Z, 4, and !) because that is what is fun. And because I’m having fun with those, I can then go back and write more X without me ever getting tired or bored.

Collabs are the same way. They mix things up for me. Working with another author gives me a chance to step back and refocus on my craft. I can’t just take things for granted. I’ve got to think things through because I need to be able to explain why those are the things to do. I’ve been pretty consistently good for a long time across a bunch of different series, and I think one of the reasons I’ve been able to keep up that level of productivity/quality is because about every three books I write one with somebody else.

You also have to check your ego, because sometimes you’re wrong and the other guy is right. And recognizing that they’re right and why they’re right helps you become a better author.

That’s another reason that I don’t recommend collabs for two newbs starting out. From what I’ve seen those projects usually turn into train wrecks. Good collabs usually have an ultimate decision maker, but they work best when both of the collaborators already know how to write. (that said, some newbie collabs turn out really awesome, so once again, there are no hard and fast rule to this stuff. If you can make it work, it works)

But anyways, there you go. That’s how collaborations work for me.

Final note, honest reviews are awesome and appreciated. Authors love reviews, good, bad, the more the better. Just spare us all the mind reading and pontificating about our character and business practices because it’s fucking embarrassing. 😀

Read the Room, Jeep!
Gun Runner Release Updates

123 thoughts on “Using a goofy review to give a peek behind the curtain of how collaborations work”

  1. “This is the second story I purchased, based on his name and have been disappointed with the results.”
    ~
    ~
    “Having never read anything else by John Brown I can’t say Gun Runner is exclusively his story, but I can say it’s definitely not Larry Correia’s style of writing. “
    ~
    So he’s purchased two ILoH books and is now an expert on the ILoH’s ‘style of writing.’
    Yeah… OK, Sunshine.

    1. I took that to mean he bought more, but twice I have failed him with my awful torpor. From the context I am assuming they were both collaborations.

  2. I’ve got to disagree with you Larry, you do have a style. And that style is a writing damn good stories.

    For real, though, maybe this guy confused style with setting or genre. It’s always possible he picked this up, saw a big monster on the cover, and expected an urban fantasy thriller like MHI.

    I’ve got a couple nitpicks with Gun Runner’s universe, but those are mostly related to some of the science and technology involved. I’m well aware most people won’t notice or care. The story is great 10 chapters in, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.

    1. Yeah, you’re an engineer though. If you didn’t have problems with my science hand waving I’d be worried about you. 😀

      1. My biggest complaint with any Sci fi is the science. My bride just hits along side the head.

        I actually read the review in question, and looked to see if the gentleman had posted on the wrong audible book.

    2. I mean, if you’re going to start critiquing a space opea’s technology, you might as well start with FTL travel and go from there 🙂

      1. Well, operas have everybody singing through life (plausible) and death (not so plausible), as well as invisible orchestras (something that early film sound musical producers worried a lot about audiences not being able to buy, unlike organs played live in the theater for silent movies).

        So FTL is the deathbed aria and the invisible orchestra of space operas.

      2. I always hated that FTL argument. Yes, FTL seems impossible to us right now. At one time, humans exceeding the speed of sound was considered impossible. For that matter, not much further back, so was heavier than air flight. Fast forward only a few hundred years, and those ideas are laughable. We might believe that FTL is impossible, but will it always be? I would argue that we don’t know.

        Oh, and Space Opera is not Hard Science Fiction. The focus is on a good adventure story rather than scientific rigor. So the FTL argument doesn’t really apply anyway.

    3. I’ve heard that’s the ultimate stress of writing sci-fi- the fan base has a large portion of people who will look at your science and be put off by it. That said, they’ll forgive a lot for a good story (I think that was a Larry Niven interview).

  3. I’m still working through Gun Runner, so can’t begin to “review it” but can say that I’m really enjoying it so far.

  4. Funny you mention the collab with Ringo and I had to do a double take to make sure you didn’t have something out there that I had missed as I always thought of the Memoirs less as a collab than as Ringo playing in your world and you editing his stuff to keep it within canon. I’m only about the same distance into Gun Runner (ebook version for me) as Mr Troll Reviewer and I don’t see anything he wrote being true so far.

  5. The only issue I had with the book was the number of times you had the individual tell “Gee, I could jack in but I can’t, I just can’t”…

    But I can definitely see the “movie” like quality of the book. Keep in mind when Hollywood calls I can play a good corpse. Or exploded body part. My range is good….

    1. Yeah, that’s a fine line on overuse and I may very well have crossed it, but I used that several times to illustrate that he’s basically an addict. Only in this case he’s like a recovering addict that works in a meth lab.
      Some people like drugs. Other people like driving giant robots. 🙂

      1. This tweaked at me a bit too, because when I first finished I felt like there was a promise unfulfilled, that Jackson arrived at his crisis point, made his choice and didn’t sacrifice anything for it.

        My brain stewed on that for a while, then kicked me in the ass and said “you idiot – you were so distracted by the repetition of Jackson’s promise that you forgot about JANE’S part in that promise!”

        (I’m trying not to spoil so if this is coming across clumsily I apologize.)

        Point being, you were doing something deeper than the surface impression I started with and it took me a while to truly appreciate it.

  6. Ha! I saw that review and I thought it seemed odd.

    Thanks for the breakdown of your process. I love behind-the-scenes stuff. Gonna start listening to Gun Runner next week with hubby.

  7. Ten hours of Baldwin hoooning would be epic. I might start a Reddit to get it on the NYT Best Seller list just for fun.

      1. Maybe you could have him make an ASMR album of gentle manatee song and conversation, guaranteed to HOOOON the listener to sleep. Maybe some ambient bubbling noises. Or it could be set in his office.

      1. You could probably make bank on a charity kick-starter for whatever charity if you had the Adam Baldwin Hoon audiobook read by Wendell as the prize. Twenty minutes because of course, Hoon is packs in a lot more than English.

  8. Ok, so I have 3 takeaways here:

    1: you have stuff that I don’t know about, so I am going to wonder for a long time what you’ve ghostwriter

    2: I need to find out if there is video of that live plotting session

    3: I need Gunrunner in my life

      1. We may never know, but it is fun to speculate! Lord knows that with the range your writing has shown, we can’t even dismiss the possibility of you ghostwriting historical romances…

      2. In terms of “never knowing” what you are ghost writing…how can we make sure that you get paid if we don’t know what books to purchase?

        Or do we just randomly buy stuff by “unknown author names” in the hopes that the royalties go into your pocket and not someone like Scalzi or Jemisin?

        (On a more serious note, this may be the first time that you have ever indicated that you have ghost written stuff. One finds out new things every day.)

        1. There should be a contest for the stories/novels we would *most* want Larry to ghostwrite. Like “No life is complete without hair gel: an autobiography” by Mitt Romney…

        2. In general, I think ghostwriters get paid a flat fee upfront, and the royalties go to the author listed on the cover. So, assuming that was his arrangement, Larry has already gotten paid for “The Mail-Order Bride of a Duke,” or whatever his ghostwritten novels might be.

          1. I was assuming Edwardian bodice-rippers myself. He collabs with Hoyt, starts thinking, “I could do that,” and Boom, Harlequin Books on line 5.

  9. I finished the book within a day or two of purchasing, and I happened to notice that the beating then like a piñata until candy comes out metaphor was used twice in the story; was that once by each other?

  10. Thanks. I totally forgot about this colab. Now I have purchased the audiobook. This guy has no clue, honestly, your books vary so much its hard to pin you down. The only thing different I noticed is you tend to see the world through the MC’s eyes, instead of trying to force the audience to see the world though your eyes. Its nice.

  11. So A) Especially when you started it, I think John Ringo might have been surprised to have been considered your “junior author…”.

    (Still amazed you kept him PG-13ish)

    B) Why on earth would responding to comments be uncouth? I’m a cook, more or less, and when people are legitimately unhappy, I want to hear about it. ( When they claim they paid cash, “a few weeks ago”, can’t remember the exact date, for a large group, and now decide they want a refund, I am less sympathetic.)

    C) There are some definite style differences. Noticeably, when you’ve worked with vets – but that seems to be more about weapons and combat scenes being more detailed.

    1. I didn’t keep Ringo PG-13ish, I just got the final editing pass.
      Ringo is awesome. 🙂 Our audiences have come to expect certain levels for certain things though, and I would have a had a lot of pissed off moms if I’d left some things.

      The uncouth bit is just regular industry wisdom. Responding to bad reviews makes authors looks nuts/petty. However, I tend to make it funny and it’s obvious I’m having fun with it so I do manage to sneak in some actual knowledge of how stuff works too.

      C. That’s true. It goes back to the whole playing to the strengths thing.

        1. Seriously. I mean… when’s the last time mainstream commercially successful authors had a no-holds-barred throwdown like that?

          (Paladin of Shadows notwithstanding – I’m still really curious what was cut there. And for Ironhand’s scenes too. Really. Curious.)

          Obviously it would have to be written under pseudonyms to protect existing brands and markets. But where there’s a will and a market there’s a way.

          1. Dang. I completely forgot about Chuck Rogers and BOTA. Still not up to a Correia / Ringo throwdown but still a contender. He just kind of said “You know what? I’m going for it!”

            And he did. And it has sold. A lot. And there’s a sequel in the works. So… just saying: it is possible! 🙂

    2. If authors aren’t very very careful, responding to bad reviews can be a waste of their time and/or make them look a bit too much like Norman Boutin, author of the unquestionably awful Empress Theresa. The book is bad enough, but he was convinced anyone who didn’t like it was a Bad Person with Bad Taste and also he was bugnuts. Nowadays, criticism of his awful book is always intertwined with personal criticism of his inability to take criticism.

      So for a lot of authors, I think it’s easier to just tell themselves “I’m never responding directly” and that’s the most sure-fire way not to accidentally slide into Boutin territory.

      1. There was also the Anne Rice thing, where she was basically attacking people who wanted to give her money for books. On her Amazon book pages, IIRC. After publicly saying how it was great that fans could comment in Amazon reviews, she went on the Amazon review pages and denied that anyone had the right to any negative reviews of her work, because they just didn’t understaaaand.

        I wasn’t even anywhere near her fandom, and I heard about it and snarked about it. She made herself look extremely stupid, and offended a lot of paying customers. Tequila doesn’t make people drunker than the Internet.

  12. Interesting backstory to a fun read. I’m not far into it yet, damn having to work! But it’s a good read so far.

    I’m wondering how many of those “I can never do X” are foreshadowing. In due time!

  13. Oh, damn, I just got to my red shirt appearance. Poor fictional me! Really, great job with that scene. Couldn’t have asked for a better red shirting. And props to Oliver Wyman for getting the pronunciation right.

  14. Godd@..(expletive) Larry… I wanted to wait for the paperback, but now I want Gun Runner bad… Thanks…

    But in all seriousness. Thanks for the look in the kitchen. I’ve never really found a style with writers, only if they could tell a story well, and I agree that fun seeps through. Thusfar I loved all your books, and Ringo’s

    Cheers from the Netherlands!

        1. Uitstekend! And now I’ve exhausted my old Dutch skills. Tjonge jonge. Spent a wonderful 2 years there back in ’87-’89. Mijn vrouw en ik zijn van plan om in 2022 to bezoeken. Can’t wait.

  15. Now I am really curious as to what you have ghostwritten. Yes, I know that you can’t tell us for solid, legal reasons. The curiosity remains though.

  16. I got about halfway through this, jumped over to Audible and bought Gun Runner, then came back to finish your article. Can’t wait to enjoy it as I have everything of yours

  17. Love the insights on this blog. If even half of the writers out there plied their craft the way you do, I’d be broke.

  18. Well, FWIW I just finished the book (the Kindle text version, though, not the audiobook). Overall, I liked it more than the Monster Hunter series, but less than Destroyer of Worlds. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad book by any means, but I think that reviewer has some reasonable points. The book does start off a little slow, and the pacing is a bit inconsistent throughout — though, as LC points out, the final escape/boss fight is pretty cool. But the characters do feel quite a bit flatter than those in Destroyer of Worlds.

    Actually, I just remembered that John Ringo also co-authored the Empire of Man series (yep, Wikipedia confirms it), and I can definitely see some resemblance (by contrast with Weber’s other books). Maybe I just don’t like John Ringo. *shrug*

        1. You’re not fooling anybody, buster! That whole throw-the-werewolf-out-the-window scene was TOTALLY ghosted by John McClain!

  19. I do love getting to laugh. I bought hubby a couple of your collaborations. I’ve only read the ones with Mr Ringo. I enjoyed Memoirs very much, but actually find his books not to my taste.

    I just cleared six novels off my stack in a badly needed mental break/reading binge so there is room. I may have to swipe GunRunner off my husband’s pile.

  20. So first up, I had to be careful reading through the comments to avoid spoilers (HEY! I’m only up to them going to pay Warlord a visit prior to delivering the Citadel ‘mech!) and I did notice a bit of a change in “style” there.

    That being said, so far I’m enjoying the book and I have to wonder how many of the aforementioned reviews are more from the pearl-clutching, SJW crowd who find any story about independent individuals not relying on government to solve their problems to be anethema…

    I’ve found in my many years of reading, some authors can go between genres and still write stories I enjoy reading (note, *I*, not *everyone,* taste again) and others…
    Not so much…

    As for the “knowing” who wrote what part of a collaboration? Yeah, I kind of doubt it on general terms, unless it was one of those “junior guy wrote everything and experienced writers’ name is on the book to get it to sell” situations. Example for me, “Fallen Angels” by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn. Or at least *I* sure can’t tell the differences and I love me some Niven…

    1. I will recommend Steven Barnes’ forward to Beowulf’s Children, which in part discusses the writing process for all three novels they did as a trio, and is a touching story on its own.

  21. Yeah, some of the tech is questionable, but a good read overall. Jumping genres leads to comparisons of things written in the other genres which confuses the hell out of folks. Different genres use different ‘metrics’ if you will to tell the stories.

  22. I want to laugh at the reviewer but I think you get more traffic here when people argue about which collaborator wrote what than anything other than a gun-related post, so I guess idiots are a great way to generate traffic?

    BTW, enjoyed Gun Runner immensely. I mentioned to Gary today that you have yet to write something I did not enjoy.

    1. Hey, if you’re THAT Mike Massa, I really enjoyed River of Night. Actually, that’s still true even if you’re not him. Just more apropos if you are.

  23. I bet the “do not disclose stories” were exercise scenarios for the military.

    If not, get some military buds to float your name around. Your knowledge, writing style, and professionalism are what they want.

    Heck, it could turn into another revenue stream.

  24. I wonder how this reviewer would react if you did a story with an imaginary collaborator? Just make up an extra name for the cover but write it solo. For extra fun, use a character name from one of your other series to see who catches it.

    1. Or he could pull a King/Bachman and write a pair of connected books under different names. Desperation and The Regulators are some of my favorite reads.

  25. Whenever an author talks about “I can’t just write [x]; sometimes I have to write [y]”, three words float across my mind:

    “Paladin Of Shadows”.

    I watched how that unfolded — I will never disbelieve the plot of a horror movie again…. >:)

      1. Speaking as one who was never much into epic fantasy of the “Conan the Barbarian” style, I gave “Son of the Black Sword” a chance….after all, I bought it right before sitting in on the book signing in Houston and felt I had to try it….Was not disappointed, also bought the sequel and will eventually get “Destroyer of Worlds” too after finishing Gunrunner….Haven’t run into anything Larry does that I didn’t like to one degree or another….so yes, try it.

  26. I finished gunrunner today. Honestly, it didn’t grab me the same way your other books do, I did like it, just not as much. The story is great, the characters are awesome, i think i hated the lady Original more than I hated Warlord. The rebels aren’t some trope-ish paragon of virtue.
    Toni is right about scifi. I like alot of sci-fi and i definitely expect a different approach with it than i do anything else. I agree with the sci-fi needing more groundwork up front. Yall told us for a long while that mechs are better when flown by mind, but didn’t show it or explain why until the big running fight through big town. I kept waiting for the explanation. Lord knows how you would show that with a character who avoids linking with the mech, and trying to shove it into exposition would be boring. On the plus side, you did an awesome job showing it, I’ve read just a little bit of Warhammer, and yall did a way better job on that aspect. Oh well, that’s a hard line to walk.
    I loved your collab with Ringo and Kupari. I wasn’t big on the Sarah Hoyt collab, dont know why. Objectively it was a great story, and a really cool and different sort of look into the monster “underground” scene. But it just didn’t grab me.
    That was a cool look at the inside of the process. Thanks.
    P.s. please tell me who came up with the line in the dead six book about “the machine guns joined in like a chorus of belt-fed angels” that is the best piece of prose ever written!

  27. I’ve always been a big fan of collaborations (one of my favorites is The General series by David Drake and S.M. Sterling, published by Baen Books, naturally), so I definitely grabbed my copy of Gun Runner. If it’s anywhere as good as the Dead Six collab (number two behind MHI on my ranking of Larry’s work), it’ll be more than worth it.

  28. I haven’t read Gun Runner yet, but I’m exactly 0% surprised that a new book in a totally new world written in a genre that Larry hasn’t typically done as much would be “different” from his other books. Kind of like he’s intelligent and versatile.

  29. In the middle of the book now. Haven’t found any boring bits.

    I suspect this “reviewer” is not tall enough for this ride.

  30. I read Gunrunner as an eARC. I’ll be honest I never got super invested in it, but it was good enough that I bought John Brown’s Dark God series. That trilogy? God, probably killed it off over a weekend. So now John Brown’s now on my Amazon Follow list. Collaboration Working As Intended.

  31. Hopefully you enjoyed my review (currently the first one on the page). The one titled “Giant robots, bandits, and murderers.” Because your son was right, it’s cool. That reviewer was full of it. There’s no way to tell who wrote what because that’s how it’s supposed to be when good authors collaborate.

  32. Granted, I’m only 4 chapters in, but I thought it was obviously a story you contributed to. It’s also very good at keeping a brisk pace and exciting cliffhangers. So I guess I have not hit the alleged dull part.

  33. Well, if the combination of tight prose, memorable characters, believable dialogue, and great storytelling is a “style,” then yeah, I guess you *do* have a style.

  34. This may sound funny, but think Gun Runner read very Corriea-ish.
    Rational evil villains.
    Mercenary do-gooders.
    Characters have secrets.
    Hyper competent violence.
    Terrifying monsters.
    Sounds like Larry to me.

  35. Typical ILOH that I bet I will find. Sophisticated sentences which cause the work to flow rather than chop along. Jeeze that sounds pretentious but you really do know how to do more than just subject verb object, so your prose does sing even when it’s about gore. SVO, SVO, SVO all the time is fatiguing. Also, an unexpected moment of poignancy where the reader gets misty in the eye. And it will be really unexpected. I haven’t started Gunrunner yet but I’m going off prior experience, ie AFAIK all the ILOH’s bibliography.

  36. Finished Gunrunner and boy, what a ride!

    Stay strong in your conviction and Do What You Do. It has been working for years and still appears to be in tip-top order. Nevermind the people who have no taste. The rest of us still remember what fun actually is.

    Also: there was a post a while back about more merch being issued. Dare we wonder: more challenge coins? An Atlas model?

    An entire line of mech models? Plus crew challenge coins? And a Fifi? The mind boggles at the plethora of possibilities.

  37. Ok whatever dude, I knew it was you writing Lorenzo the whole time!

    Really enjoying Gunrunner thus far. Wyman is knocking it out of the park, as usual.

  38. I came across this on a link from another site, and it brings up a question I’ve always had: how do collaborations work? Do you write and swap chapters, agree on a detailed outline? How do multiple authors put together a storyline that stays on topic and in-character?

    One of the things I find off-putting as a reader is inconsistencies in world and character. For example, when Asimov went back to his Foundation series after decades, I found it very difficult to stitch the old books to the new ones because of a huge shift in tone and environment.

    How do you make a tight, consistent story on a collaboration?

    1. It depends on the collaborators. And, at that, the particular collaboration they are on. Some alternate chapters. Others thrash out an outline, have one of them write it, and then the other revise it.

  39. Bought it a few days ago, looking forward to starting it tonight.

    Amusingly your post made something click in my brain and realize John Brown wrote Bad Penny, which I enjoyed.

    So I’m looking forward to reading this just a bit more.

  40. Out of curiosity and a desire to learn better plot development, is there a video of the 2 hour session you did for LTUE?

    1. I have the PPT and handout at the link below, but I doubt they’ll be helpful to you. It’s just a couple of slides for what was an hour or two-hour session. https://www.johndbrown.com/2015-ltue-presentation-materials/

      However, I am presenting on plot at the LTUE conference this week. It’s all being delivered remotely. In fact, I just uploaded the video to the conference site. It’s a 58-minute video where you learn my story framework and the tools that make plotting so much easier. You might find that one helpful.

  41. I picked up Gun Runner on Kindle and Audible because I like to switch back and forth, but haven’t started because I was finishing another book.

    On the subject of collaborations, the one I’d love to see is Larry and Ringo take on a Black Tide Rising story. That would be really fun.

    1. I was mildly confused when the Black Tide Rising anthology came out without a Correia contribution. Real life – a 20-year-old felony means you can’t have so much as a handgun. Black Tide Rising – being caught red-handed in an act of piracy on the high seas means you ONLY get a single handgun. (Also, these were Russian mafia and therefore with a Krasnovian connection).

  42. Well, thank you! I had been wondering what your collaborative process was and you answered it for me. According to Kindle, I’m 26% done and really enjoying it.

  43. the only nit I have with the story is that only 3 years have gone by between the beginning and the main part of the story, travel time is rather significant (I am not going to go back and count but it seems around a month per trip) and a good number of trips should be pretty routine, so 3 years seems on the short side for the number of adventures that they allude to.

    but this is a pretty minor nit, and (unfortunately) a pretty common one in space series. it’s a continuity error that tends to catch my attention (may be due to all the sailing era stories I’ve read where travel time dominates)

  44. Enjoyed the book, your writing is very approachable (at least in my opinion and keeps me engrossed). When I read the prologue, the Hanoi evacuation immediately crossed my mind!!!! Great job! You exactly evoked the feeling for me and the scene that played in my head was immediately recognizable!!!!

  45. He’s an ignorant asshole, but I kind of get what he was saying about a change in style. Like you said, for a true collaboration both authors are contributing, so you’d expect the output to be different than what either of them might write alone. Sometimes that different output won’t match people’s tastes. I like the colors red and yellow just fine, but if you mix them together you get orange which I don’t like as much. Doesn’t mean that orange is bad or people are wrong for liking it, it’s just a matter of personal preference.

    Sometimes the results of a collaboration are just surprising. I would not have guessed that Correia+Ringo would equal weeaboo marty stu monster hunter, for example 😉

  46. I find audio books slow because, well, they’re slow. And reactions to narrators can be super personalized.

    I’m still leery of audio books.

    Working on it. 😛

    1. Hey Lovely! Been awhile. Missed you.

      I have the similar problems with audio-formats. Sometimes I like to scan or skip, and the pacing of audio feels like a ball and chain. Although it’s probably blasphemy to confess that I scan entire pages. I blame that speed-reading class back in high school. Yin to the Yang I guess.

      Still enduring Althouse? You should escape. The air out here is fresh and the water is cool 🙂

  47. It’s really interesting when you pull the hood up and let us take a peek on how things work in the real world.

  48. I would like to validate your point about collaboration.

    My good friend turned my onto John Ringo (A Hymn Before Battle) , and I was hooked . I was cash rich at the time and could by Hardcovers, and Baen included a CD Rom disk with a bunch of Free stories .

    And I was further addicted. To Baen and their stable of Authors.

    And when your collaboration with Ringo came out , I bought the eARC , and now I had a new addiction Correia. Luckily for me as often as I could I bought the monthly bundles , so I already owned several of your works .

    I read them all , and bought the e copies of the ones I needed to fill the gaps ( as Lazarus said , if I kept the hardcovers the ship would never lift ).

    I have enjoyed all them , some more than others and some surprised me , that I did enjoy them .

    So frack this pinhead , please keep writing and take my money .

    Monster Hunter is my fave

    The Grimnior Chronicles was an unexpected pleasure

    Saga of the Forgotten Warrior totally surprised me as I don’t usually go for Sword and Socercy.

    1. Man I miss those CDs. There used to be a site archiving them, but I think Ben had to make them take it down after some ebook deal with Amazon(?) or something

      1. It’s still there: Fifth Imperium

        As I recall, they had the site formatted so you could download individual books. That was considered a ‘derivative work’ so now you can only download the entire CD images. Which was what I did anyway.

        A couple hundred great books there.

  49. “First off, these people assume that they can pin down my “style”, which is funny considering the same dude wrote Ashok Vadal and Jimmy the Intern.”

    Not to change the subject or anything, but thanks to a certain Dilbert character I’m still waiting for you to write the saga of “Ashok the Intern.” Just sayin’.

  50. “I can be a chameleon when I feel like it.”

    It’s pronounced “ka-meleon”, not “cha-meleon”. Real authors would know that, and would be better at making sure the “inner voices” of random people reading your blog posts would use proper English!

    😉

    And I appreciate how you occasionally take a bad review and use it to launch a blog post describing your creative processes! Real authors don’t do that. I’m glad I occasionally read the blog of someone who’s only pretending to be an author!

    😀

  51. Posts like this are one of biggest reasons I keep coming by your site. Entertaining and educational.

    Also a lot less… bitter/grumpy than a chunk of your last posts. Must have be enhaving a good day. 😀

  52. ZOMG… is the Alternative Larry scribbling Romance? Just keep people guessing…

    I’ll vote for thriller/mystery myself… Or a spy scenario or fourteen, heavy on the pulp…

    When we have a target, we will buy.

  53. “I’ve also ghost written some shit that would blow your mind because none of you would ever in a million years guess it was me. ”

    I knew it. Your really Chuck Tingle

  54. It’s true about the narrator reactions, a good narrator can make a bad book worth listening to, while a bad narrator can really ruin a book (whoever read Reflexive Fire had me turning off before the first scene, and Mark Vietor could read a phone book and I’d be entertained).

    As for slow, yeah I agree, but I used to do audiobooks when I drove for a living, worked perfect then.

    Half way through Gun Runner and it’s awesome, reviewer has his head up his rear, no surprise.

  55. To be fair, there is a bit of repetition of the prologue in the beginning chapters of the book.

    And Jackson apologizing to Tooey (I’m listening to the book, so I’m uncertain of the spelling) over an d over for dragging the big Samoan into the mess is a little annoying.

    While I can’t claim I can tell where Brian left off and Larry started (or vice versa) I can tell this story has your fingerprints all over it. Good job integrating the parts each of you wrote!

    I am thoroughly enjoying the story. Oliver Wyman continues to deliver. Warlord sounds like Lord Machado.

    Thanks for letting us have an inside glimpse. Your son did a brilliant job world building this story. (I’ve been waiting for the story since you told us about it in your world building class.) You and Brian did an excellent job writing it.

  56. When I read that Larry has done some ghostwriting, and that we’ll never in a million years guess what it was, first thing that came to mind was “hooooly crap, Larry wrote a Japanese-style Isekai light novel with graphic choo-choo scenes, and we’ve never know til now!”

    😀

    Can we at least get a hint?

  57. When I read that Larry has done some ghostwriting, and that we’ll never guess what it was, first thing that came to mind was “hooooly crap, Larry wrote a Japanese-style Isekai light novel with graphic choo-choo scenes, and we’ve never know til now!”

    😀

    Can we at least get a hint?

  58. The worst one I have seen between good authors was David Drake and Eric Flint. It was like David gave Eric some outlines and Eric was mad about fascism or something–which is weird because Drake is a hard core dem–so he wrote whatever he felt like to teach us a lesson about anarchy is the way.

    The hands down worst were also Drake, John Lambshead and Tony Daniels. I was embarrassed to have purchased those books.

  59. Well thanks finished (and loved) it and I will say there was one non Larry Correia like tone in the book.

    Very little description of the various guns, I don’t think we ever got a real idea of what the exact loadout was of any of the mechs.

    And I wanted to know, dang it!

    Great book, I really, really, hope a sequel comes out some day.

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