I’m an Amazon affiliate. As such, some links in this article may be affiliate links. Shopping through them may earn me a small commission at no extra expense to you.
[The audiobook update is after the main story.]
I’ve been happily pounding on words on Patriot Shield. Despite being “poor-ish”, I’ve procured funding to start getting the cover made. And so to state the obvious, I’ll be weeks away from a cover reveal. I’m also going to start doing a much more thorough editing and proofing process than in the past. When I launch this book, it will be for sale on my own website (only) for about a month. Then I’ll release it on Amazon. I expect that to be in the February to March timeframe. That’s the BLUF, here’s the full version:
This past week, my wife’s father has had some serious medical things happening. He’s 80, so it’s nothing surprising. But she normally carries the lion’s share when we watch our grandkid, something I take for granted. So, between the 6-year-old, her dad being in the hospital for three days, and the two of us catching up on chores and apple canning projects… I’m now just a bit behind in my writing schedule. As this goes out, I have just under 40K words, and I was hoping for at least 50K at this point. While nobody can predict the future, if his health starts to stabilize I don’t see why I can’t get back on schedule by the time I’m done drafting at the end of this month.
This story has forced me back into research a bit. If you’ve read the Blades of Grass series thus far, you know I’ve had both sides of the war pull out all stops in the military violence that is in full effect by the end of Blood Red Sky. Spaced-based tungsten slugs, space-based satellite countermeasures, magnetic rail guns, and hacking are but a few of the things I’ve used in the older plots. I say that, because…
There is a new POV (point of view) character in this story named Bufford Corey. "Buff" used to work at the Sandia National Laboratory near Albuquerque. In his backstory, we find that a couple of years earlier he suffered a traumatic brain injury from a lab accident that forced an early retirement. He is prone to passing out from blinding headaches anytime he’s exposed to loud noises. He and his family have settled in the relatively quiet desert of northeastern New Mexico.
As the war unfolds and the battle lines swallow up his former hometown, his arm gets twisted just a bit into helping out on a Special Forces mission to get back into Sandia. He must escort a soldier intent on destroying DARPA level tech before it falls into enemy hands. It is some of that tech that allows him to travel into a war zone in the first place. And while I don’t have access to actual information on future war fighting battle suits, what is readily available is pretty inspiring. It helps to think of a video game character like the Master Chief from the HALO games to visualize the things our secret labs have actually been working on for future generations of soldier survivability.
The main POV in this book is Granger Madison, who was prominent in the first three books. The former Force Recon Marine/retired firefighter was less featured in Blood Red Sky, but in this book we really get into his head, his fears, and I dangle a few carrots about what’s in store for him down the road.
Of course series-main-character Lou Caldwell is back. If you recall, in BRS he’d crash landed safely near Fallon, Nevada. In this book, he’s been piloting a small single-engine aircraft all over Nevada as the Army prepares to defend the tactically vital facilities in Hawthorne from the imminent overrun by the Chinese army.
Dacso, the Hungarian henchman from Dragon Unleashed is back, though not as a main POV. He is the mostly silent battle buddy to Lauren, who was in the last book but now steps out as an underground guerrilla leader. They’re stuck in Los Angeles and trying to find a way to impact the Chinese as they bring supplies and troops into the port at Long Beach.
And one of the newer Road Runners, Pedro del Sur, is now a POV character. He’s working in a different element of the I & I (the Insurgents and Irregulars of Arizona). Pedro is one of a small team of hispanic Americans (and one Chinese American!) who will blend in and infiltrate the enemies rear units on a secret mission!
There’s a ton in store for this book, and it marks the end of one type of genre—military thriller—and starts to setup the following book to more of a traditional “end of days” story. If it’s been a while since you read the Cascadia Fallen trilogy, you’ll recall I hinted in the last chapter about a country called “the Western States of America.” After the end of Patriot Shield, the series takes a more traditional EMP-story type turn, though still written in my style of multiple plots and POVs that you’re used to from me.
If you’ve not signed up for my newsletter, I’d suggest you do so now. (And you do wind up with an e-copy of Tahoma's Hammer!) I put small sections of my current work-in-progress into every one, and it is also the place where I occasionally solicit new Beta readers.
I’m now in a position to find me a new narrator and start producing the audiobooks for the rest of the Blades series. Not producing them was 100% a lack-of-funds issue. But if I had to choose a second reason, it would be because I am not pleased with the Venom Spear actor. Suffice it to say, he was a Brit that I thought had a good mastery of American accents, but he didn’t. Way more importantly, he was unprofessional in submitting his updates to me (very late), and when I tried to implement my right to cancel the project (and still give him half salary), he went ape-shit ballistic. (Someone even shared screenshots of him in a narrators' Facebook group, bad-mouthing me and threatening to sue me, owning none of the things he did in the process.) But I used the incorrect email to try the cancellation process (missed a key deadline) with the production app (ACX), and so they never got the notice in time. My hands were tied—I was forced to plow through with the project. I think the most telling part was how he pandered to me to keep working together once we were through it.
But nothing says I ever have to hire that guy again.
AND—I also plan on never using the Audible Creation Exchange (ACX) for audiobook production again. But one of my sons is graciously investing in me and is funding the projects to get me caught up on these! (Thank you, Jon! I love you!) So off I am to a new (to me; they’ve been around) company called Findaway Voices. I’m assuming it will be months before I start getting these next books out. But I thought you all would like to know it is finally happening!