Dave Dobson


A review of Echo (Marvel/Disney+)

I often post reviews of stuff I watch on Facebook, and I thought I might share them here as well. Here’s my take on Echo on Disney.

Beware: Spoilers below!

The Good:
— The lead, Alaqua Cox, is a tremendously intriguing actor – I’ve thought so since she showed up on Hawkeye, and this show really lets her go hard. She is up to the challenge. She’s got a tremendously emotive face and great physicality for this role.
— The care they took to include sign language in so many scenes was really neat. It slowed down the show and made each word signed more important, but that is 100% accurate to my experience with working with deaf colleagues, and it gives the show a different and valuable pace, flavor, and feel. Also, there is some great acting and emoting you can do while signing, and many (though not all) of the actors understood that and used it to great advantage.
— A lot of the fight choreography, especially in the first episode, was awesome – snappy, long sequences with cool choices and exciting moves. Later episodes had some similar shining moments but didn’t quite sustain the level of the earlier episodes.
— The setting in the midst of a fictionalized Oklahoma Choctaw community was new and different and intriguing, although Marvel fake history seemed to replace real Indian culture in some key areas, always to the show’s detriment.
— The journey from bad guy to (sort of) good guy can be a really interesting one, and Maya does have some of that cool antihero juice here. It doesn’t quite pay off, but her criminal background is present in her decisions and motivations, her assessment of herself, and in her fractured relationships with her former family and friends, and when it works, that’s strong stuff. It doesn’t always work, and I think it should have been easy to make it work better.

The Meh:
— The story, which seemed like it might be cool initially, devolved into standard superhero stuff, which is stuff that I’m very bored with after so many Marvel and DC movies. This isn’t entirely fair to the show, because the inclusion of Choctaw historical (or historically inspired) and mythological figures added depth. However, the show was still an “I suddenly have magic powers” superhero origin story, and the powers were never well-defined or even used much, except to make the final conflict not very interesting on screen (although an OK payoff for the mystical plotlines that came before).
— The storyline stalled out a bit in the middle episodes, although they all had interesting parts. Mostly this was because the central conflicts (both comic book battles and character interactions) kept getting derailed rather than moving forward, and the stakes and options and motivations weren’t usually well explained. With regard to the central comic book plot conflict, if what Maya was doing was as dangerous as everybody said, then (1) Maya would know this and should have planned better, and (2) we shouldn’t have had time to be dorking around with all these non-super characters in a Choctaw version of Northern Exposure. Instead, it was like the big bad guy threat just got turned off for long stretches so we could show family and community. The tension between Maya and her relatives and friends was at times interesting, but it wasn’t fully defined and then never really resolved, except that everyone easily became friends again when they needed to.
— The final conflict and battle were underwhelming, weirdly constructed from a plot perspective, and short – I was hoping for more badass kung fu action, and I instead got some wonder-twins we-win-because-we’re-magic stuff without even providing satisfying deaths for the main opponents. Most of the guys defeated here were nobodies who just showed up in cargo vans – no characters, no history, no motivation, just default. That doesn’t resolve much of anything, story-wise, and it’s not a satisfying ending. They can just send more vans next week, maybe with people who will actually pull the trigger rather than taking prisoners.

The Bad:
— Kingpin is just a terribly bland character, one with no interesting or redeeming qualities or complexity in terms of motive or desire. He’s such a default bad guy, and such an obvious villain, that everybody working for him has to know that he’s just completely evil and they’ve made a terrible career choice. Anytime you execute your henchmen for no reason in front of other henchmen, you create what should be insurmountable HR problems, but henchmen never seem to deal with this in realistic ways. Definitely not here.
— In this show, Kingpin has somehow survived getting shot in the eye, which itself is ridiculously annoying. I mean, that should kill you, and it was really satisfying in Hawkeye when Maya turned on him and shot him – a real emotional high, worked up to and well-deserved. Having him miraculously survive that is a cheap, bogus reset which is just stupid and stalls out any character or plot development that might otherwise happen in the wake of his death.
— Also, they are trying so hard here to give Kingpin a tortured backstory that makes him soft towards Maya, but it’s all just clunky and weak. Fisk is ruthless. Utterly. They try to show him bonding with Maya, and I suppose that might melt his evil heart some, but not after being shot in the eye. That’s just out of character. The scenes of him acting hurt at her betrayal, yet still giving her multiple chances (sometimes at stupid ultra-convenient plot-breaking moments), were just annoying and painful to watch. It would have been a much better show if he’d just turned cold and ruthless from the start, and Maya was having to actually defend herself and her community against his overwhelming rage rather than refusing his gift of cookies. Sheesh. So weak. Better still, introduce a new, more complex bad guy trying to settle the score after Kingpin’s murder. That would have been great.

The Verdict:
This show has lots of good parts, but I was left a little disappointed at how it came out. If you’re a fan of Marvel stuff, or if you want to see a cool take on a superhero with a (prosthetic) foot grounded in both the native community and the deaf community, this might be the show for you. If you want a satisfying story or complexity that pays off rather than fading away, you can do better in other shows. The Hawkeye show was, I thought, one of the best of this kind of show, in no small part because of Maya (and Ms. Cox) as a villain. The Hawkeye show played a lot of it for laughs, while there was darker subject matter here in Echo. This still tried for some lighthearted comedy, and I appreciate that, but they didn’t quite get the mix right.

Note: I don’t read comics and have no particular attachment to superheroes. Just watching the action shows available to me, and happier when the leave the woo-woo super stuff out. I think that’s why I liked the Hawkeye show so much – he’s just a mostly normal dude. They almost did that here, but not quite, and it would have been (I think) a far better show if the power of the ancestors had manifested in Maya’s character and heart rather than in her glowing wrists.

An indie author’s 2023, by the numbers

I did a financial wrap-up of my indie publishing efforts for 2022 that garnered some interest from other indie authors. The bottom line for 2022 was that I made a little over $2000 in revenue in 2022 compared to about $6700 in expenses, for a loss of around $4700. Not great, but growing in some good ways, and $2000 of the expenses last year was for production of the audio version of Daros, a big one-time investment that won’t repeat. I thought I’d do the same for this past year.


So, let’s look at 2023 revenues. Here’s the Amazon revenue picture:

Here are the results for 2023 for individual books:


Amazon reported revenue from 11 countries, although many of them were negligible, including my three-cent totals from Brazil and India. Here is the breakdown by country – you can see the seven smallest markets fit into less than 1% of total revenue.


Here’s the revenue breakdown by format:

For me, Kindle Unlimited is a huge piece of my income. A lot of indie authors feel like going “wide” and getting rid of Amazon exclusivity helps them, but that move would have to more than double my sales revenues to make up for the lost Kindle Unlimited revenue to be worth it for me. I’m not ready to take that risk yet.


There was another approximately $218 in Audible payments for Flames Over Frosthelm and Daros. At that rate, it will take a good many years to recoup my expenses (about $3200) for creating those two audio books, making it not a very good investment, but if I am able to grow my audience and increase audio sales, that analysis might change.

There’s also a small amount of revenue for paperback sales through my online store (and also in person). The profit and volume on those is pretty negligible, but it’s probably another $50 for the year, give or take.

That total revenue, maybe $4750-$4800, is a whole lot better than last year’s $2000 or so, more than double. Yay! But why? I would hope some of it is just from having more books out (I released two this year, Got Trouble and Kenai), and also from having reached more readers as I continue to work to expand my audience. But it’s also because of BookBub.

The role of BookBub featured deals

My first four BookBub featured deals were key revenue events this year. I’ve been applying for these competitive opportunities since I started publishing back in 2019, but I didn’t get any until this year. I’ve heard that BookBub is less willing to feature an Amazon-exclusive book, so that might be part of my difficulty, but it’s hard to say.

I had four features in total this year, each of which produced results big enough to be visible in the revenue graph above:

  • March 2023: (the big one) A global featured deal for my 3-book Inquisitors’ Guild compendium (light blue above) for $0.99. This cost me $712 plus a bunch of other advertising I stacked with the BookBub, but I made the BookBub cost back in sales and then had improved Kindle Unlimited page reads for several months afterward, making it a definite win for me.
  • September 2023: Another featured deal for the 3-book compendium, this one non-US only. This cost $196 plus other stacked ads and had a much smaller impact, although I still think it was a net positive.
  • November 2023: A non-US feature for Kenai (yellow above) for $167, which I think had a significant impact, although Kenai was doing well all year since its release.
  • December 2023: A non-US feature for Daros (green above) for $167. This also seemed to do well, reigniting interest in a book that had a great 2021 but which has slipped a bit since then.

I’m really hoping that I can continue these featured deals in the coming years. They’ve had by far the best return on investment of my advertising efforts. However, I have no control over when they are granted vs. rejected, which is a little frustrating.


I didn’t do any audio books this year, which was a significant savings compared to last year. I did continue routine advertising, mostly on Facebook and Amazon, but also including blog tours for Got Trouble and Kenai. I spent a lot on some probably ill-advised expensive ongoing ads for Got Trouble on Amazon, too. Here are my expenses by category:

Promos (paying services to advertise free or discounted books) and Ads (general ads for my books) are similar, but I broke them out so that I could see what was happening. The BookBub featured deals mentioned above are a major component of the Promos category.

The “Giveaways” category is a GoodReads giveaway I did there for Got Trouble. I’ve done a few of those for other books. I’m not sure how much return there is for those, although it does get your book added to people’s “To Read” lists.


Last year, I had $2000 in revenue on $6700 of expenses, or a loss of $4700 or so, or -235% of revenue. That sounds bad, but of course I’m in this for the long haul, and I expect to lose money for a while until I get more established and figure out what expense choices produce useful results.

This year, I have $4800 in revenue on $7200 in expenses, or a loss of $2400 or so, or -50%. That’s progress, although it’s still not positive. But it’s headed in the right direction.

I have the ability (and true privilege) to be able to sustain losses like that for a while to get this going – I don’t need my book revenue to pay my mortgage or put food on the table, which is a huge advantage. And profitability is of course not a great way to measure the value of art. But it’s still interesting to keep track.

A loss of $2400 sounds bad, though. If I want things to look better, I can focus on revenue and readership, and for those categories, 2023 looks like a really good step in the right direction.

The good news about 2023

I had a huge number of paid orders compared to previous years (although many of them were at $0.99 for the BookBub deals, which made me only about $0.30 per book):

Light blue here is the Inquisitors’ Guild compendium, red is Daros, light green is Kenai, yellow is Flames Over Frosthelm, and purple is Got Trouble.

I also broke a million total pages read on Kindle Unlimited, with over half of that million coming this year, much of it buoyed by the BookBub promotions:

Light blue here is the 3-book Inquisitors’ Guild compendium, light green is Kenai, purple is Got Trouble, red is Daros, and yellow is Flames Over Frosthelm.


So, 2023 was a banner year in a lot of ways, but not yet a profitable one. The year-over-year trend is terrific, but it’s probably not sustainable – there are only so many BookBub featured deals I can get, and they’re not certain. But, if I keep writing more books and reaching more readers, I might even get this thing to work.

I’m having a lot of fun, and it’s great to see people responding to my books, and that’s the most important part.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

I quite enjoyed this story from Nnedi Okorafor. Structurally, it’s quite similar to the first Harry Potter novel (and many other such stories) – a young outsider with an unstable family situation discovers something special about herself, and a hidden world full of people with magical power, often goofy, and with a cadre of young juju-using friends and a mysterious enemy on the horizon. It also seems to be directed at a younger YA/MG audience, although I found plenty to enjoy.

I found the plot and the inevitable battle engaging but not really original or strategic. In the climactic engagement, the characters did use abilities and followed traits developed earlier, but there wasn’t a really a cycle of defeat, setback, learning, and reengagement which might have made it more than just an unstoppable train towards predetermined destiny. It was still exciting, though. I actually enjoyed the big soccer game more than the battle, even though that was just a pure sports-movie feel-good scene.

What sets this book apart from others are three things – first, a very appealing main character, second, a rich and wonderfully detailed magic system and community and world, and third and perhaps most important for this Iowan, a window into everyday life and culture in Nigeria. All of these elevated the story well above a typical magic school tale and made reading memorable and rewarding.

Wheel of Time Episode 8 Analysis (much delayed)

[Note: pretty big spoilers for Episode 8 and previous episodes follow]

APOLOGIES: It’s been a huge gap between my review of Episode 7 and Episode 8 here, like seven months. That’s probably a commentary on how little I wanted to finish this thing. Anyway, here goes.

RELATED DISCLAIMER: I have to admit, I didn’t remember what was going on much, because I watched Episode 7 back in February. So, I’m sure part of the WTF I experienced was from that. Maybe 15%.

D&D THEME FOR THIS EPISODE: The DM has taken a new job and is moving out of town, so the campaign is ending, and the DM knows they have only one session to wrap up all these half-baked storylines they’ve been sort of but not really paying attention to over the previous 16 months. Also, they split the party last time, which obviously you should never do, but especially when you’re trying to come to a fun conclusion. There’s no way this will be satisfying, but the players will pretend it was.

OBLIGATORY UNNECESSARY FLASHBACK: The episode started with a flashback to 3000 years ago in some kind of Swedish-decorated apartment with a couple in kind of cool modern-styled evening wear arguing about gender roles and playing with their baby. Relevance was not shown. However, it is clear that fashion in Tar Valon will suffer greatly over the next three milennia. Fun terminology note: This was technically a dragon arguing with a chair, which evokes Clint Eastwood’s Republican Convention speech.


— Moiraine has decided Rand is the actual chosen one because (I think) a psychic barmaid told her so. Moiraine is not taking the other potentially useful and loyal super-powerful witches and werewolves with her because everybody who comes to the well who’s not the dragon dies*.

*Actually, nobody who comes to the well who’s not the Dragon dies, negating several episodes worth of buildup and decision-making. Nobody dies at the well at all other than my hopes for a more satisfying ending.

— Moiraine’s taken Rand into some weeds called The Blight. If I were the manifestation of evil incarnate, I would try to do something more impressive than grow weeds and entrap local youth. The weeds look a lot like the Bermuda grass in my lawn, which had the unintended effect of me imagining all the characters therein as very, very small.

— The other formerly-chosen-but-now-not-chosen ones are stuck in a city called Fal Dara, where they have basically nothing to do, until the city conveniently comes under attack by an enormous army of bad guys, an army which would maybe have been better deployed in the Bermuda grass killing Rand and Moiraine if the Dark Lord had his act together.

— The climactic event, the one that we’re supposed to have been building up to all season, is a massive, well-choreographed sword and magic fight that you want to watch again in slow motion so as not to miss any of the exciting details and cool moves. Ha, ha, no it wasn’t. Instead, they go into a hole in the weeds, have a domestic dream on a farm, and talk to a low-rent Al Pacino in a dinner jacket, at which point Rand makes some kind of negging choice sort of respecting women while not actually really doing so, and Al Pacino leaves disappointed. Moiraine had a chance to kill Rand, and instead of doing so, to the vast regret of this viewer, she did not.

— Rand then acknowledges that he now knows he will eventually go nuts and destroy the world, and instead of taking his own life to save humanity, he just peaces out through the weeds, asking Moiraine for help in ghosting all his friends.

— Through a tortured sequence of coincidences, deux ex machinae, overacting, under-explaining, and dumbassery, everything and everyone gets saved, except for a few designated tragic side characters (TSC’s), most of whom announce their impending deaths just before they happen. As an author who worries about plot, realism, and continuity, this was very hard to watch.


— Mat with one t was left way behind. Apparently the actor left the show after episode 6 and was written out of the rest of the first season, which explains his awkward departure scene where he just looks into the Waze and everybody else shouts “Noooooo!” He’ll be back, recast, in season 2. There goes an opportunity to jettison one of our dumb-as-paint self-involved whiners.

— Perrin has somehow converted to pacifism in the middle of a war, which is inconvenient. This may derive from his time with the bucolic cart people, even though I’m pretty sure he straight-up ate somebody in Episode 7 after his time with the cart Quakers. When the Fal Darans decide to remodel the throne room while a war is going on in order to recover a magic horn they can’t blow (not making that up), Perrin helps, because Loial the Ogier (who, like Moiraine, has far too many i’s in his name) tells him to ask how he can help. He does this in a particularly painful scene reminiscent of a Mister Rogers episode. When Perrin finally gets a chance to bury an axe in an evil dude who’s stealing the magic horn and taunting him about his childhood, which the evil Arsenio Hall guy inexplicably spent selling lanterns in his village, Perrin just grimaces and watches the guy go. Super unsatisfying. Somebody should have buried an axe in somebody, dammit.

— Egwene gets all weepy at being left behind and then accomplishes not much. Eventually, she serves as a backup D-cell battery to the princess of Fal Dara, Amalisa Jagad (named by Robert Jordan through yet another stomping of fingers on the typewriter and then filling in some vowels in the interstices).

— Nynaeve gets subjected to the most pathetic post-one-night-stand declaration of love I think I’ve seen in a show from Lan, who should know better to come on this strong after the first date. Wait a few days and text, dude. You’re going to scare her away like this. After this, she has to teach Lan to find the woman HE’S PSYCHICALLY BONDED WITH FOR LIFE, and then she becomes another backup D-cell.


When the princess exceeds her recommended amperage and starts to blow fuses, Nynaeve seems to do something unexplained to save Egwene from the resulting air fryer cook cycle. This is badass and in character for Nynaeve. As a result, Nynaeve is rendered extra-crispy in what is apparently the unexpected noble death of a major character. Yay! Shortly afterward, Egwene cries and strokes her cheek, returning Nynaeve to medium rare and to life, thereby removing any emotional impact or badassery previously established. This unexplained capability, despite being at least a level 8 spell and exhibiting powers beyond what Jesus reportedly controlled, does not elevate Egwene above a second-rate love-interest character, and it also founds no major new religions. No death should ever appear tragic in this show from now on, because Egwene has control of mortality’s undo button.


— The sa’angreal: Moiraine says a thousand male channelers gave all their energy to this one object, which means I guess it’s just the Aes Sedai version of TwitchTV. Why they would sacrifice all their power so that Rand can carry around a green tchotchke that he doesn’t appear to need, I don’t know. I suspect they all succumbed to some kind of email scam and had their channeling accounts drained through fraud.

— Geography: Moiraine says the Seven Towers of Malkier used to be a few miles from Fal Dara, which statement only makes sense if the Blight has somehow relocated the Seven Towers.

— The bad guy dream: Unless you’re really sure it’s a dream, maybe don’t stab yourself to get out of it. Talking to you, Rand.

— The other bad guy dream: If you’re ever tempted to end a season of a big-budget fantasy show with two guys talking about life choices on a farm, do not, and give up any career you perceive for yourself in entertainment.

— Trollocs: The estimation of trolloc horde sizes was just nuts. At one point, they say “there are 60 fades, which means there are 5,000 to 10,000 trollocs.” That implies a very specific and weirdly non-integer-divisible range of acceptable fade-to-trolloc ratios, which was very confusing. At another point, in the dark, the princess gazes at the big wall and says, it looks like there are 20,000 of them. When there are five of you, the difference between 10,000 and 20,000 trollocs is not very important, I’d think. Perhaps they have prepared the Gap by seeding it with glow-in-the-dark Trolloc-counting indicator markers for easy horde size estimation, but failing that, the numerical precision of these assertions (at night, from far away) was also hard to fathom.

— Chemistry: Moiraine mentions adrenaline, which has only been really known to modern science since about 1900. Apparently the organic biochemistry field in Tar Valon is seriously on point.

— Strategy: If you have five women who can destroy 20,000 trollocs and 60 (perhaps extending to 120) fades with lightning in under 18 seconds, maybe deploy them to the field BEFORE sending every male resident of your kingdom (except those emergency-remodeling the throne room) to their deaths.

— Overhyped danger: Moiraine tells Rand to “touch nothing” in the blight, making it sound as serious as when Mat picked up that obviously evil hissing dagger in the cursed city that one time. After impressing upon Rand the vital importance of this prohibition, she and Rand and Lan touch literally everything from there on out without consequence.


— Worst motivational speech ever: Agelmar Jagad. We’re all going to die, and then everybody we know is going to die, and then everybody else we don’t even know is going to die, so it doesn’t matter which armor I wear.

— Most pathetically obvious allegory ever: Naming dream-Egwene and Rand’s dream baby Joiya, so that when Rand rejects the opportunity to buy into the fake OnlyFans world of dream-Egwene, he has to literally give up Joy.

— Most rotoscoping in a final battle scene: Rand al’Thor, approximately 1800 degrees of rotation.

— Most obvious recreation of Merry and Pippin as a boring and unimportant side-duo: Egwene and Perrin (bonus for nearly matching one of the names).


— When everybody was saying “The Gap will not hold,” within me was birthed a burning desire to see the tragic and pointless sacrifice of the male population of Fal Dara occur not in a modified dam-fort but instead in a denim-filled clothing store. It would have been far more entertaining than watching them shoot crossbows out of poorly-designed arrow slits.

— “Shallow panting”
— “Distant screaming intensified”
— [Dialog] “Must be an awful feeling”

There you go. Will I watch Season 2? Probably. Will I enjoy it? Probably not.

Book review: The Deeping Well

Ian Lehrer’s The Deeping Well is a dense, exciting tale of the subterranean. Set entirely in the caverns, tunnels, passageways, and cities carved in rock below the surface, Lehrer brings to life a richly detailed world, complete with many distinct cultures. There are the underdwarves, portrayed here with a stratified, militaristic religious society, and the dark elves, present at the edges of the world but often deadly and malevolent, and the gnomes, represented here by Flannyrd, a curious, wise, and well-traveled woman who initially seems to be a mere trader.

Each culture comes with a distinct history, lore, and language, sometimes revealed by scholarly articles included in the text, but more often by little details sprinkled into conversations or situations or through discoveries by the characters. The caverns and tunnels are full of danger, whether dangerous falls and climbs, beasts that hunt in the shadows, rushing underground rivers, foul undead scavengers, or nefarious villains. This world, with all its rich detail and differences from the surface, fills the story with a strong, gritty flavor of somewhere wholly different from what we know. Light and food, both in limited supply, are constant concerns, and Lehrer’s imagined societies all have ways of dealing with the harsh darkness that surrounds them.

The most interesting and most central race of deep dwellers in this story is the Ta’tlan, an ancient race of warriors. The main character, Cagtlan, starts the book in training to become one of the elite warrior caste, the Ayengalli, in an enclave of the Ta’tlan. These warriors fight with two swords, one to kill, one with hooks to catch or break weapons, and Lehrer’s descriptions of combat are vivid, exciting, and easy to follow. They also use Litanies – meditations that give them keener perception, the ability to cloak themselves with shadow, or the frenzied passion of fire. The Ta’tlan culture has multiple castes, a long history, and a complex religious and cultural tradition, and figuring out the intricacies of how this all works is one of the real pleasures of the book.

The story feels episodic, with distinct breaks and travel between locations, as Cagtlan and Flannyrd embark on a journey that takes them far across the underworld in pursuit of an ancient mystery and a treacherous enemy. Their quest changes shape and grows in importance as they begin to understand the forces arrayed against them, and as they find companions and villains along the way. Cagtlan is steeped in his culture, but he begins to understand more about its origins in antiquity, and he realizes some of the lessons he’s been taught make him weaker rather than stronger.

There’s a ton here for fantasy fans. Magic, epic battles, victory, loss, poison, schemes, assassins, traps, sneaking (a lot of sneaking), ancient lore and artifacts, and lots of growly dwarves. Surrounding all of it is the rich, living world Lehrer has created below the ground, affecting all of the people and the cultures in ways that feel practical, natural, and ancient. Some books have a bunch of backstory and lore, and you end up bored to tears reading yet another Elvish poem or song of the trees or whatever. Here, Lehrer gives you enough juicy details to spark interest and give context but not so much that it ever feels like didactic showboating or a chore.

A rip-roaring fantasy adventure with all the right trappings and a grimy, grim, and new world to explore. Highly recommended.

Playing with an AI artist

I’ve been fiddling around with the very cool MidJourney AI graphics creation program, which lets you order up an original picture based on a phrase. You can add “in the style of” also, which often influences the image. For example, here’s Henry VIII in the style of Gary Larson.

And here’s one my wife tried: Art Deco Forbidden City

The AI gives you four initial options, and then you can choose to enhance one of them or do variations on them or just go for an entirely new set of four.

I thought I’d try my book titles just to see what it did – obviously there’s more to go on with some of them than others, particularly Daros, which is just a word that’s often a surname. Here’s what it made for me:

Flames Over Frosthelm

The Outcast Crown

The Woeling Lass

Traitors Unseen


This is really fun. I paid up for a month’s subscription to give myself a chance to play more, and I’ve already made up some trivia questions for my monthly-ish Zoom trivia game based on it.

Woeling Lass in the SPFBO!

I’ve just entered The Woeling Lass in this year’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off, a competition for indie-published fantasy. Looking forward to seeing how it does.

The competition filled tremendously quickly this year. There are 300 spots, and 109 of them filled in nine minutes! It slowed a bit after that, reaching 161 in 39 minutes. I got in there about 55 minutes after it opened, but my guess is it will fill even faster than the 24 hours it took last year.

Daros and the SPSFC

Daros ended up coming in 15th out of 377 entries in the first ever Self-Published Science Fiction Competition run by Hugh Howey, missing the finals by a bit. That’s disappointing, but it was a really great ride, and I very much enjoyed getting to know the authors and bloggers as the competition progressed. There were four published reviews from blogger judges, and there may be more coming, because a lot more judges read the book as part of the process. Here are those reviews:

At Boundary’s Edge

Weatherwax Report

Eclectic Theist

File 770

Two other favorite moments were:

(1) when a fellow author Ben Roberts made pixel art of Guzma after reading the book

And (2) when one of the finalist judges invoked Captain Torlo:

May be a Twitter screenshot of text that says 'Rogers Cadenhead @rcade Daros was an absolute romp I thought worthy of the #SPSFC finals. It's rare to read a novel with alternating protagonists and be instantly charmed by both. Captain Torlo would have something to say about it not winning this contest. amzn.to/3w51cll Dave Dobson @GCDaveDobson May 11 Even as congratulate the excellent #SPSFC finalists, for the 23 of us who made the semis and got bad news today, feel your pain and hoist a Diet Mountain Dew in your honor. 3:59 PM May 11, 2022 Twitter Web App 1 Retweet Likes'

I won’t have another sci-fi book ready in time for the 2nd competition, but I am working on a new one and would love to enter again.

I am the very model of a Russian Major General

I saw this prompt on Twitter, and thought I’d take a stab. I hate the Russian invasion and love Gilbert and Sullivan, so it seemed worth a shot.

Despite my orders to advance my forces are unraveling.
They have no food or bandages and… Oops! Incoming Javelin.
Our army’s prowess constantly the Kremlin now intones.
But all my supply vehicles fell prey to Turkish drones.

Our plan to take the country in four days is all now cheesed.
My rubles are now worthless and our oligarchs’ yachts seized.
The condemnation coming in is nothing short of global,
And all we’ve really conquered is the ruins of Chernobyl.

The Kremlin leaders vanish and our stock market remains a sham.
We thought we had good hackers but they now have banned our Instagram.
Zelenskyy asks us to desert and soldiers are amenable.
My convoy’s stuck – a sitting duck – and that is quite untenable!

Our military strength’s a myth as you must have surmised.
We’re hated and the Russian name is constantly despised.
Though Putin’s arrogance has left us bleeding from the femoral,
I am the very model of a Russian Major General.

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