Book Recommendation: Monster Hunter International

Edit: Welcome, Monster Hunter Nation! I invite you to check out samples of my novels, the scifi thriller Dead Man’s Fugue and the new fantasy novel Destiny’s HeirJust maybe you’ll wind up as an Angry Villager, though I’m not sure I want a fan base as well-armed as MHN!

First off, I’ll start with an apology – after a mere two chapters of Six-Guns & Sorcery, I dropped the ball. I’m working on getting back on track this week with both regular updates for SG&S, and getting some serious writing done on Contract Hunt.

That said…

Writers aren’t just writers. Every writer I’ve ever talked to is also a reader, and a voracious one at that. I came to the conclusion in January that one of the reasons I’ve been struggling to put pen to paper much lately is because I haven’t been reading nearly enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I read every single day – but I haven’t been reading the right sort of stuff. (I almost put a pun in there about the “write sort”, but it seemed a bit obvious.) So, to help get my mind changed off of focusing solely on the new baby and back into writing, I’ve been going through my bookshelves and rereading my favorites, as well as tackling the new books I got for Christmas.

One of those new books has been on my reading list for quite a while based on a dozen recommendations. I regret it took me so long to get to it, and I wound up reading more than half of it on Friday night when I stayed up until 2 AM with my Peanut who wasn’t real interested in sleep.

Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia gets the gold star from me!

MHI is Correia’s debut novel, and he’s since put out quite a few more. I haven’t read anything else of his (aside from his blog, Monster Hunter Nation), so I really wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy the story. There are a number of authors who I follow regularly on their websites and get a lot from their nonfiction, but their actual paid work leaves me dissatisfied.

Important things to know about MHI:

1.) Be prepared for monsters galore.
2.) Be prepared for guns. Lots and lots of guns.

I very much enjoyed the book, which forced me to reflect a bit. I mean, I didn’t find the prose amazing by any means – it’s solid writing, with a sentence here or there that made me stop and scratch my head because of a clunk, but never so badly that it was more than a moment’s distraction. I figured out the twist at the end when I was halfway through the novel, so it wasn’t surprising. The romance angle felt as awkward as the romances in my own novels (which are admittedly less-than-stellar – my wife jokes that I “have the awkward guy down pat”).

I finally concluded that I enjoyed because it made no apologies for what it is. Correia’s biography indicates he is “hopelessly addicted to two things, guns and B-horror movies.” And it shines through unashamedly, and he makes it work.

I’m a fan of the TV series Supernatural, which is often on in the background while I’m writing (although that may be changing now that I have the Peanut underfoot; the kid doesn’t need to be exposed to that yet), but in the end, I actually found I enjoyed the MHI world more, which really surprised me. Dean and Sam Winchester’s arsenal in the trunk of the Impala is a pale shadow of the kit Owen Z Pitt totes around during MHI, and frankly, Pitt uses it a hell of a lot better.

Perhaps an extra bit of my appreciation comes from Correia refusing to handwave away issues in the same vein as other urban fantasy. My biggest pet peeve is how so many monsters in fiction are immune to anything but the special sword of slaying, and without the magic weapon there’s no way to win. Even some of the best urban fantasy I’ve read succumbs to the “my monsters are immune to gunfire” trope (I’m looking at you, Jim Butcher).

I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve seen a werewolf killed by pushing it out a high-rise window, and then dropping a desk on it. No silver involved!

At any rate, in spite of its flaws (which I really can’t throw stones at – Dead Man’s Fugue and Destiny’s Heir have plenty to go around), Monster Hunter International gets the gold star. If you’re looking for something entertaining to read, don’t hesitate to pick it up, and at 700 pages (which is what my Baen paperback ran) you’ll have a nice long read in front of you.

Believe me, it didn’t feel that long.

And I guess I’m going to have to throw in a copy of Monster Hunter Vendetta with my next Amazon order…

A Merry Christmas to all the Angry Villagers!

I’m writing this at 7:30 on Christmas Eve, but you’ll only see this on Christmas day. (Thank you, WordPress’s scheduling feature.) I’m sitting in a recliner in the hospital, and we’re quietly celebrating the birth of our first son.

I’m going to pretty much leave it at this, with one of my favorite poems/hymns. It is very much descriptive of how I feel about the world quite often at Christmas!

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”


Merry Christmas!

How Time Flies

Wow, am I way behind on posts here on Writing Under Duress.

So, I’ll do the quick updates.

1.) I have a novel I’m working on purely for Writing Under Duress. That’s right, a full novel to be posted here on a one-chapter-per-week basis. A good friend of mine is working on the cover art for it, so expect to get a sneak preview before Christmas. Until then, revel in the suspense – I’m not even leaking the title yet.

2.) Dead Man’s Fugue is currently on sale on Amazon for the two weeks before Christmas. That’s right, it’s available half off! If you haven’t picked up a copy, now’s the time to do it.

3.) And most importantly…

Destiny's Heir Cover - eBook Final

Destiny’s Heir is now up for sale! The ebook is out now, and the paperback should be available this week.

That’s not all the excitement for this week – check back to see what else is coming down the pipe. It’s a doozy!

I do apologize for the long time between updates. The next generation is due to arrive in less than two weeks, and I’m working like a madman to make sure the house is ready. Trust me, the construction pictures are ugly.

Dead Man’s Fugue – one month out

Well, it’s been a month (nearly) since Dead Man’s Fugue was released to the world. It’s been pretty exciting, and I think I’m doing rather well for a first-time author. So, here’s the quick rundown of what’s happened so far!

On Amazon, I’ve got a dozen reviews and I’ve been selling fairly well. Most indie published books supposedly sell around 250 copies or less; I’ve more than doubled that in my first month. Fortunately, the Angry Villagers got me off to a good start, and I’ve had a run on the ebook. The paperback is selling far less, but that doesn’t surprise me at all.

Kobo sales have been slower – as in, I’ve sold one copy. That’s okay, though–it’s better than Barnes and Noble, where I’m still fighting with the site to even let me publish for Nook. Yes, after a month, I’m still not able to get it out on the Nook store, which saddens me.

I finally got around to listing Dead Man’s Fugue on Goodreads, and already got a positive response. Anything to help raise a little visibility, right?

I managed to get plugged on Instapundit, and it’s a major enough site I didn’t comment on my first name being misspelled. I can deal with that, right?

I’m pretty much outed as a conservative author now, so I’ll mention my plug on The Other McCain, which actually was a prelude to a major run on Dead Man’s Fugue after the initial rush quieted.

I’m hoping to get plugged/featured a few other places, but it’s a slow process – lots of people seem reluctant to review a book for a first-time, independent author. Fortunately, that should get easier with time, particularly as my reader reviews keep coming in and praising my book. (I appreciate it!)

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the local publicity. (Note that the linked story is an excerpt from the full published article.) Yes, I wound up in full color on the front page of the local paper – an event exciting enough my brother called me from his mailbox when he saw it.

I’m having a local book signing at the coffee shop here in town on Tuesday night, from 4 PM to 7 PM. Hopefully the good publicity will continue!

I also sat down today and started putting some serious work into Contract Hunt. Between that and the work I need to get done in the house before the baby comes, I’m definitely not going to have a lot of extra time to get it done. My intention is to have Contract Hunt done by Halloween, which will give us a couple weeks to proofread and edit before publishing by Thanksgiving.

I’m not getting bored any time soon!

There and Back Again


It’s amazing how quickly time can slip away. First, the professional:deadman'sfugue

Yes, that’s the cover for Dead Man’s Fugue, the final title for the project I wrote under the working title Dead Man Walking. I know, I’m so creative when it comes to titles, aren’t I?

I finally finished my edits of Dead Man’s Fugue today, and now my mentor is in the process of editing it. (He’s been at it longer than just today.) As soon as he’s finished, either Friday or Saturday, I’ll make a final read-through to ensure everything sounds good to my ear, and it’s on to publication.

My aim for quite some time has been to have the book available the first week in September. Depending on timing, it may be pushed back a week or two, but I’m trying hard to stay on target with this.

A month ago, I would have called my deadline easy to meet. Unfortunately, between then and now, I had my appendix removed, which screwed me up for several weeks and set me far back on the project. So I’m in a bit of a rush mode right now, but pushing myself harder, even if I miss my preferred deadline, always ensures a more timely completion.

Dead Man’s Fugue will be available as both ebook and paperback. Pricing isn’t available yet, but the book will be available primarily on Amazon (as well as Barnes & Noble and Kobo).



So what else is on the agenda?

I don’t often touch on the personal here, but my wife and I are expecting in December. As such, I have a lot of handyman work to do around here–the biggest being an expansion to finish, but also a nursery to build. A big stack of the material I needed for the expansion actually arrived the week before I found myself in the ER. Recovery has been slow, but I’m finally reaching a point physically where I can get to work.

I’m also outlining the sequel to Dead Man’s Fugue. Given my tendency to change titles, don’t count on this one sticking: Skiptracer’s Contract. Rake will be back!

Also on my agenda is the release of Destiny’s Heir. Yes, it’s going to be coming out–as an ebook and paperback. I’m intending on a first-week-of-December release (along with Skiptracer’s Contract), to coincide with both Christmas and the release of the next Hobbit movie.
There’s plenty to be excited for before the year ends!


Writing Schedule

Wow, does time go fast!

So, after my post that you could expect to see a dramatic increase in writing output, there was actually…no writing output at all. At least, there was no writing output save a single post here on the website.

So, here’s the part where I make my excuses! After quitting my job, my old employer asked me to work part-time for several months to help ease the transition period for my successor–he needed training, to be shown the ropes, and to have time to find and hire his replacement. That period of part-time work will be coming to an end this Friday, and I’ll officially be footloose and fancy-free.

Also of note is that I’ve continued to work on writing The Epimetheus Project, albeit under a new, easier-to-remember and easier-to-pronounce working title of Dead Man Walking. So, while I’ve continued to write, it just hasn’t been publicly, where it could be read by the public. On the plus side, I’ve crossed the halfway mark on Dead Man Walking, and progress continues (even if I continually miss my self-imposed deadlines).

So, on the plus side, I’m going to be posting here more–I’m actually putting myself on a schedule for at least twice a week beginning next week. And these scheduled posts will be story posts, not just random musings and thoughts on either life or writing.

The first few weeks will be early chapters from Dead Man Walking, until I’ve got the details hammered out for a new story that will be exclusive to Writing Under Duress. I’m hoping to wrap up Dead Man Walking within a few weeks and push it out as an ebook, so I don’t want to give up too much of the story here. Up to the first third of the story will be posted here, but everything after that will be saved for the final, e-published version.

So what’s coming for the WUD exclusive story?

You’ll have to keep visiting to find out.

Changing Directions

I realized yesterday that I haven’t written anything on here in a while. There are plenty of things I need to write about.

First, and most importantly, I have quit my full-time job.

I’ve had a number of reasons for taking this step. I wasn’t happy working in an office, for one. While I write and play video games and work on computers, I don’t like being restricted to four walls. There’s a bit too much Neumiller in me to be content there–after all, neither my brother nor my father was content with a regular office job, either.

I also wasn’t happy with the life I have with my wife. Don’t get me wrong, I love her dearly, but we’ve found that, with both of us working full-time jobs, and my own job particularly high-stress, there was so much in our lives that we were sacrificing. We’ve struggled with the basics of housekeeping, proper eating, and spending time together. With this step, I’m able to get so many projects done we just couldn’t manage before.

And finally, I want to pursue writing full-time. I wrote Destiny’s Heir over a span of about six months, but it shouldn’t have taken me nearly that long. Quite simply, I didn’t have the time to write during the day, and when I had the time, I didn’t have the energy. I did manage an hour a day of writing most days, but it wasn’t every day and often it wasn’t even a full hour. With this change, I’ll finally have the time to dedicate to writing.

My wife, bless her soul, has been entirely supportive of me, which is great, because there’s no way I could do this without her. While finances will likely be tight for a while, she’s still bringing in a  steady paycheck, which is what makes this possible.

Second, I’m going to be focusing on writing some shorter stories while I wait to hear back on Destiny’s Heir. My mentor, Joe Nassise, and I have been discussing this at length, and he has strongly suggested I focus on self-publishing some e-books for the near future. There’s a fair amount of money to be made in that part of the market right now, and I’ve decided to take his advice and focus there for now.

My writing output should be dramatically increasing in the near future. Right now, I’m still working part-time for my old job–they asked me to work from home, half-days, to help ease the transition as they try to fill my job and add staff to cover the work I was doing. By the end of May, however, I should be working full-time for me, myself, and I.

So, what’s on my plate?

Destiny’s Mantle is moving to the back burner to simmer for a while. I need to get some of the logistics of the story worked out before I start setting pen to paper. The story’s not really on hold so much as it needs some further thought and exploration before I commit it to text.

Thirteen Swords is on my short list for stories to write, but it’s also not finished cooking in my mind. I’m still intending to write it on this site, and then convert it to e-book format when I’m complete. The story probably need to be retitled, too; originally, Thirteen Swords was going to be a single story, but lately I’ve been thinking it needs to be thirteen stories–one about each of the sword-bearers. Mostly, I’ve been tinkering with three different ideas for Thirteen Swords, and only recently (yes, I’m this slow) did it occur to me that I could write all three!

I got my start in writing long works with a fanfiction. X-Wing: The Nallera Conflict, which was a story about an ex-pirate on an undercover mission for the Rebel Alliance to purchase high-grade ore from a group of miners, to support the development of the A-wing project. Of course, much of the story is spent shooting at stuff and it isn’t at all as boring as it sounds. One of my projects is to rewrite it and set it appropriately in its own science fiction universe–e.g. make it salable.

Fourthly, I have the tentatively titled The West Point Project, which will most likely not be the final name of the story. It’s another science fiction story, most likely set in a different universe than my Nallera Conflict rewrite. I originally conceived it as a novelization for the social game Artemis, but I couldn’t come to a proper agreement  (read: that I was happy with) with the game’s owner to properly set it in his universe.

Side note: if you’re interested in social gaming–and by that, I mean gaming in a social setting, not some stupid Facebook flash game–you should really check out Artemis. You won’t be disappointed.

And finally, I have the also-tentatively titled The Unknown Enemy. The title, and the concept of the book, are loosely inspired by X-COM: UFO Defense, one of the best PC games of all time. The story focuses on an ex-Marine sniper discharged from the service after having a “mental breakdown”–claiming he and his partner (KIA) were ambushed by aliens, whom they had seen meeting with Al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq.

So, what first?

Nallera Conflict rewrite is at the top of my list, as the story is already cooked and just needs “translation”. It’s also the appropriate length for an e-book already. I’ve wanted to do something with it anyway, so I’ll be able to turn it over in pretty short order to get it ready for publication.

What follows that? I’m not sure yet. There’s a better-than-decent chance that, should the rewritten Nallera Conflict sell, I’ll rewrite Arms Race to follow, and then finally sit down and write The Talus Crucible, which was planned and outlined but never written.

Any way about it, you can expect to see my name on some writing very soon.


I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the past week just enjoying life. How so, you ask? I’ve handed out a few copies of Destiny’s Heir to people for feedback, and what’s coming back has all been positive. (Scarily so, in some cases!) My wife, who in addition to her primary and most important job as my editor and cook, does some silly English teaching thing for high schoolers and is talking to a few of them about reading it as well to get feedback from the group I’m really trying to target.

What I haven’t been doing is writing heavily. Not that I’m not motivated to write, mind you; I’ve found sometimes it’s better to take a break so I don’t burn myself out.

Naturally, that doesn’t mean I’ve been unable to stop myself from thinking about the sequel to Destiny’s Heir.

This may sound odd, but until I have a proper title for a story–even if it’s a title that may wind up changed partway through the process–the story doesn’t gel in my head. I need a convenient way to “label” a collection of ideas and tales for it to really start coming together.

I tried to short-circuit that usual problem by nicknaming the new story Destiny’s Sequel, but my mind wouldn’t let me get away with that. “It’s not a real title!” that stupid little voice keeps hissing in my ear. “You need a real title!”

On Saturday night, as I was running through storylines in my head and figuring out just how much I can adequately cover in one book, it finally clicked: Destiny’s Mantle.

In common parlance, a “mantle” is usually clothing worn as the outer layer. Biblically (and I was raised in a strong Christian home, so quite often that’s the perspective that I’ll take first), the mantle was the clothing of choice for a prophet. It was the sign of a man who had a destiny and authority under God.

Without spoiling too much of Destiny’s Heir, there are two characters who must take up their mantles–one a mantle of royalty, the other a mantle of guardianship. But are the characters both worthy and ready to wear these mantles? It’s a running question in Destiny’s Mantle, and as such, it’s not easily answered.

Of course, for those of you looking forward to Thirteen Swords, this post is probably a bad omen. Destiny’s Mantle is starting to gel so fast I may delay Thirteen Swords again to pursue the sequel…even though I haven’t sold Destiny’s Heir yet.

As my wife would say, emphasis on “yet.”


If you’ve been checking in here regularly, you’ve probably noticed two things.

1.) I haven’t been posting chapters of Thirteen Swords.

2.) I still haven’t been posting chapters of Thirteen Swords.

Largely, this is due to Destiny’s Heir.

I’ve been participating in a writing mentorship with Joe Nassise for the past two months. It has been an excellent experience and has given me more confidence in my writing than I’ve ever had before, in a professional sense. He has been reading Destiny’s Heir in sections, and we’ve been spending a fair amount of time dissecting and polishing my work.

The fact that a professional author said he enjoys my work has been great for confidence.

The downside to all this has been, quite simply, I’ve been focusing all my writing energies on Destiny’s Heir. Given that I work 40 hours a week and spend another 10 hours commuting, and I like to spend some time with my wonderful wife, and I always have plenty to do during a given week (last two weeks included sausage-making and tearing down my furnace to fix it), I have definite limits on the time I can spend hunched over a keyboard typing like a madman.

However, I finished writing Destiny’s Heir on Saturday.

That’s right, it’s finished!

My wonderful wife then devoted ten hours or so of her life to reading and critiquing Destiny’s Heir, resulting in a manuscript with lots of marks on each page. It’s great being married to an English teacher–she edited for grammar, for spelling, for style, and for story consistency. Have I mentioned I love my wife?

All that said, I now have a 1 1/2″ binder sitting on the table with corrections I need to apply to Destiny’s Heir. It’s probably a couple nights of work, and shouldn’t be too painful. And after that, I’m free to start writing again.

As I’m sitting here writing on my lunch break, I’m sketching out story ideas in my head. Some of them revolve around the as-of-yet-unnamed sequel to Destiny’s Heir. Others revolve around Thirteen Swords, which I’ve already outlined once but didn’t like the result.

After finishing Siege, I felt a bit burned out. Frankly, I was emotionally drained from saying goodbye to a large number of characters and friends. I was physically tired from the time I’d put in to wrap the story up the way I wanted. I literally lost sleep thinking about that damned story while I was working on it.

After finishing Destiny’s Heir, however, I’m not feeling that burnout. I’m taking a few days away from serious writing to relax and recuperate, but I’m very much on a writer’s high–satisfaction, pride, and hope are all intermixed.

Even though I missed the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest (as they closed due to hitting the maximum number of submissions), I’m feeling great about writing.

So, what’s next? (Besides extensive editing)

I’m leaning towards Thirteen Swords right now, just for the change in pace. While Destiny’s Heir was written with the idea of a book series, Thirteen Swords is intended to be wholly stand-alone. Unusual for me, I don’t even have a spark in the mind’s eye about what a sequel would look like.

And yes, if Thirteen Swords is my next project, it will still be posted here on WritingUnderDuress. After all, I need to have some way to drive traffic, don’t I?