Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I got tagged by Ian Thomas Healy for this, and it seems like a good idea.  Here are The Rules.
Answer these ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) on your blog.  Tag five writers/bloggers and add links to their pages so we can hop along to them next. 

I'll tag:  Mark Bousquet, James Palmer, Bobby Nash, Sean Taylor, and Ian Watson.

Okay--here we go:

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?
Sentinels Vol. 7: Metalgod

Where did the idea come from for the book?

First--the idea for the title came from learning that the (mostly awful) movie “Rock Star” was based on a book or story called “Metal God,” which is a reference to what heavy metal musicians that become huge celebrities are sometimes called.  I got to thinking about that title and decided that it would make a great name for a supervillain in a superhero-type story.

The idea for the story came from wanting to have the Sentinels face a very menacing villain who turns out to be both more and less than he first seems.

What genre does your book fall under?

The Superhero Prose Fiction corner of New Pulp.  It also touches on Space Opera—as do all of my Sentinels novels—but that’s mainly because superhero stories have always been adept at bridging the divides between street-level action and grandiose cosmic space opera (think of an average issue of Avengers or Fantastic Four, for instance).

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ultraa is very similar, in physical appearance, to Captain America—so see any list of “actors who should’ve played Cap instead of Chris Evans.”  Lyn (Pulsar) could be played by any talented Asian-American young woman in her teens or early twenties.  Esro Brachis would probably be the toughest to cast because of his more complex character and personality.  (Interestingly, it seems like the Tony Stark we see on the screen, portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr, is much more like Esro than he is like comic book Tony Stark!)

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Pulsar and her newly-recruited Sentinels face a deadly and enigmatic foe on Earth, while Brachis and Mondrian cross the galaxy to attempt to avert a Kur-Bai civil war!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

From 2008-2012, Sentinels books were published by Swarm Press, an imprint of Permuted Press, a noted zombie/apocalyptic fiction publisher.  In summer of this year, White Rocket Books took over publishing rights.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’ve been working on this one, on and off, for a year now.  I’m hoping to push to the conclusion in the next couple of months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The Sentinels books always have an “Avengers” and “Justice League” feel, but I think this one in particular has a little “Thunderbolts” flavor, as well.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

All the classic comics stories I’ve read over the years.  And of course now that I know the Sentinels characters so well, they inspire me to keep up with what they’re doing.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Start with SENTINELS Vol. 1: WHEN STRIKES THE WARLORD.  It all begins there.  It’s the first volume in the opening trilogy, “The Grand Design.”  Then comes the big “Galactus-level threat” trilogy, “The Rivals.” This new book, METALGOD, is the opening chapter in the third trilogy, which is called “Order Above All.”  If you like superhero action in the tradition of the Avengers, colorful characters, cosmic outer space adventure, tons of characters (good, bad, and in between), and an ongoing storyline of epic proportions, you will love this series.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Current Projects

Some other writers have posted this sort of thing lately, and I don't mind jumping on the bandwagon when it's a good bandwagon.  So here's a quick look at what I have going on right now:

My current writing and editing projects, listed in order of priority to finish.  Includes progress to date and estimated time of publication, if known:

1.  SENTINELS Vol. 7: WORLDMIND (novel)  - 40,000 words complete - Nov or Dec 2012

2.  THE SHATTERING, Legion 1: LORDS OF FIRE  -  40,000 words complete - January 2013

3.  SENTINELS (Omnibus 2): THE RIVALS  -  Complete; awaiting cover - Winter 2013

4.  DECADES OF DOMINANCE: AUBURN FOOTBALL IN THE MODERN ERA  (with John Ringer)  -  85% complete  -  Spring 2013

After these four, I'm looking ahead to continuing the BRAND project I first mentioned yesterday, plus a new (secret) anthology I have cooking, plus the next BLACKTHORN anthology, plus another appearance by GIDEON CAIN.  And of course in the wake of HAWK's success, we will be seeing FALCON and RAVEN in their own books, continuing the "Shattered Galaxy" saga.

And of course 2013 will see the second volume in this new Sentinels trilogy, Vol. 8 overall:  THE DARK CRUSADE.

Completed projects awaiting publication include a 45,000-word novel (for Airship 27), a 15,000-word novella (for Pro Se Productions) and a 15,000-word novella (for New Babel Books).

There you go-- way more than I should have said in public.  But now you have a pretty good idea of what I'm working on and what I'd like to see done and out to my readers by the end of next year, if all goes well. 

To order copies of any of my books on Kindle or for Nook or in paperback, simply visit


Tuesday, September 11, 2012


This just came to me out of nowhere about half an hour ago, and I had no choice but to write it.  See if you can tell what it's about and where it's going!  --Van

Chapter 1
Brand pulled the segmented metal door up and shoved it into its open overhead position, then gazed down at the collection of futuristic laser guns, particle beam weapons, grenades, smart flyers, hoverbombs, drones, and racks of ammunition that filled the little storage unit.  He looked it over once, then nodded his head.  He did not smile.
Turning back in the direction he’d come, he allowed himself a slight wince at the pain radiating from the searing injury he’d suffered a short time earlier.  The radium laser round had mostly bounced off the surface of his deflector suit, but the power level had been sufficient and the range close enough that a significant portion of the blast had gotten through and gouged out a chunk of his side, just below the ribs.  The pain was bad enough—though his suit had by now pumped something like a gallon of painkillers into his system—but he didn’t even want to think about what the radium charge on it was doing to his internal organs.  He needed to get into the med-coffin right away.  Unfortunately, he had too much else to do before he could indulge in such luxuries.
Growling softly at the pain that flared up as he turned back toward the storage unit, he reached in and detached a quad rifle and a blast pistol from the racks of weapons, along with sufficient charges and ammunition to see him through the job that lay ahead.  He held both weapons up, one after the other, inspecting them carefully before sliding the pistol into his empty holster and setting the rifle against the outside wall next to the door.  He also grabbed some fresh clothes, all in black, along with a hoverdisk and a force-sphere generator.  Lastly he took a new deflector suit—one that didn’t currently sport a six-inch-wide hole in the left side.
Satisfied, Brand stepped back and reached for the overhead door.  He pulled it back down, closed it securely, and locked it in place.
It took him longer than he would have liked to change out of the old suit and clothes and into the new ones.  The pain was growing more severe by the moment.  He shrugged it off.  Nothing more to be done about it for now.
The new clothes in place and the weapons secured to his person, Brand walked a dozen yards to the intersection at the end of the short aisle he’d occupied.  Rounding the corner, he stared down a corridor at least a hundred yards long.  Clean and pristine white were the walls, floor, and ceiling, with the gray rectangular outlines around the doors the only color breaking up the image.  The doors were different from the overhead garage-style one he’d just closed, too—these were standard, eight-foot-tall jobs with brass knobs.
He started forward.  Doors went by on left and right; none of them revealed any markings at all.  It didn’t matter; he knew which one he was looking for.
A few more steps and he stood before his objective: Just another white door, unmarked like all the others.  But he knew it was the one.  Drawing his pistol in his right hand, he reached out with his left and seized the knob.  He turned it and the door swung open onto a nightscape blinding in intensity and flooded with sounds of blaring electronic music and shouts.
His eyes narrowed.  He hated confusion, noise, distractions.  Hated those things with a passion. 
But this was where he needed to be.  Where he had a very particular job to do.  It was time, he knew, to get to it.
He checked his pistol once more, then stepped through the doorway into another time and place.  The door to his own world swung soundlessly closed behind him.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Excerpt from HAWK: Hand of the Machine
by Van Allen Plexico

Coming June 2012 in paperback and e-book from White Rocket Books

Raven’s eyes flickered open.

Deep, dark, nearly black eyes, they moved in quick little jumps, from left to right, up to down.  Behind those eyes, however, Raven’s mind was only just awakening, just beginning to try to make sense of the scene before her.

Where am I?

She had scarcely more than two full seconds to study her environment before the assault began.

This is what she saw:

She was in a dank, dimly-lit chamber.  A broad, round, open space in the center of the floor and the corresponding wide gap in the ceiling revealed that the entire complex was constructed of multiple levels.  She was standing against a metal slab of some sort which projected out very close to the edge of the hole in the floor of her level.  Wires and tubes lay coiled all around, ultimately connecting to wall sockets on either side of her.  No other living being was visible anywhere.  Through the gap in the ceiling, the room appeared to go up and up into the dark distance; as her eyes flickered downward, a similar sense came to her from that direction.

Those impressions were formed quickly; she had no additional time to study her surroundings.  For at that moment she was assaulted from within and without.

First came the mental invasion:  Information flooded into her mind with the force of a torrent, taking her legs out from under her and sprawling her on the cold metal floor.

Get up, boomed a voice that echoed through her head.  Quickly.  There is danger here.

Raven wasted no time in questioning the voice—who it was, where it had come from, or why it was speaking to her.  She reacted instantly, springing up onto her feet with catlike agility and taking four quick steps forward.  As she ran, the wire that had been connected to the back of her head popped loose.  She ignored this, though a part of her consciousness noted that the wave of information assaulting her mind ceased.

A second attack came hard on the heels of the first.  This one was physical, signaled by metal ringing sounds echoing up from where she had just been standing.  Ricochets from gunfire, she knew at once.  Someone was shooting at her.

Moving instinctively, she ducked and rolled, sprang upwards, soared out over the abyssal drop-off, and grasped a projecting metal bar with both hands.  Continuing her momentum forward, she swung upward, somersaulted, and with all the skills of a great gymnast, landed gracefully on the metal latticework flooring, one level higher and on the opposite side of the chamber.

Surely, she thought, that would throw off the attacker—at least, long enough for her to assess her tactical situation.

And she knew with complete certainty that she was quite adept at assessing tactical situations.  The torrent of information that had flooded into her brain in the split second before she’d moved into action was slowly resolving itself into accessible knowledge, and that knowledge included the fact that she was a Raven, an internal affairs operative for the Machine.  A quick glance down at her uniform—tight red material with blue trim and a low, green collar—confirmed this.  As such, she more than possessed the power and skills to protect herself—and to bring all hell to her enemy, wherever that person might be lurking.

Her supreme confidence served her well, driving her forward with a single-minded determination.  She clung to the shadows—the darkest depths of the already dark chamber—and moved quietly, stealthily. 

For several moments only a deathly silence reigned; naught but the drip-drip of water from some hidden source far above as it fell down through the openings to land far below, and the soft tinkling of chains that dangled from a piece of heavy machinery set into the wall above and to her left.

Then the enemy struck.  A barrage of gunfire from some sort of automatic slug-thrower gun raked the wall just over her head as she crouched in darkness.  She sprung out, body extending and then tucking in tight as she landed near the edge of the hole in the floor.  Another spray of bullets sent sparks flying past her head and vibrated the floor.  She gripped the metal latticework beneath her with both hands and swung out, her back to the void as she pivoted and dropped down.

The blinding flash of laser or energy-beam weaponry dazzled her vision but she held on until her momentum had carried her in a tight arc back over the floor of the section beneath her.  Letting go then, she performed a mid-air spin with her arms tight to her body before landing in a crouch.

Silence all around.  Silence—but she could feel it now.  The enemy was near.  Approaching, approaching…

Pitching forward, she caught herself on the floor with her left hand, spun around and lashed out with her right foot, bringing tremendous force to bear.

Her foot struck something—struck it hard—but whatever it was, it did not yield to the force of her blow.  Raven staggered back from the force of impact, dropping onto her seat, then sprang upward just before a massive fist from the shadows smashed down onto the spot she had just occupied.

Bullets sprayed out at her again from the darkness, and only her astonishing gymnastic ability prevented her from becoming perforated.  She leapt and spun and dived and twisted and somehow managed to stay a half-step ahead of the fearsome attack.

And even as she moved, her eyes snuck occasional quick glances in the direction of her foe.  Though he’d never once emerged fully from the shadows, she had gotten the impression that he was big—very big—and covered in some sort of armor.  Clearly he was armed with a variety of weapons systems.  And he was extremely dangerous.

But so am I, she thought.  And, Enough of this.

Even as she sprang from a ledge and soared across the open gap in the floor, her hand reached to her hip, searching for the pistol she knew should be there.

It was not.

Frowning, she hit the opposite deck and rolled to a stop, her hands feeling for any other weapons.

Where are they?  Where—?

Her fingers closed around the hilt of a bladed weapon of some kind.  The memories injected into her brain instantly cried out, “Katana!”

Her powerfully-muscled legs launched her across the space between her and her enemy even as she drew the sword from its sheath on her back and swung it out in a broad arc.

The blade met something—something big and broad and tough—and slashed it.

An unearthly cry resounded from the darkness.

Bullets sprayed out again, but Raven was no longer where she had landed.  Dancing to her right, she crouched and slashed out again.

Another cry, another spray of bullets.  Again the target had already moved.

Another slash, followed by a downward stroke.

Now bellowing in rage, the big adversary stumbled forward—into the light.  Raven could see him clearly.  She leapt upward and caught an exposed piece of pipe, so that now she was hanging out over his head, looking downward.

Standing more than eight feet tall, the muscular behemoth wore rugged black armor trimmed in silver.  A faceless helmet jerked from side to side as he searched for her.  Guns bracketed onto his forearms cycled and spun, preparing to open fire the instant the target was reacquired.

“Who are you?” Raven whispered to herself as she studied the strange figure.

The helmet jerked upward and he stared straight at her.  His arms redirected themselves at her, guns powering up.

Raven dropped onto his back, her sword clutched tightly in her right hand.  A sword, her injected memories told her then, that had been constructed of a complex alloy and that could cut through almost anything.

The gunfire sprayed out, bullets missing her by mere millimeters.

One quick motion with her sword.

She leapt away even as the bullets kept firing.  But now, she knew, they were firing through pure reflex alone.

For the attacker’s head had been cleanly separated from his body.  It dropped to the deck with a sickening thud.

The big, headless armored body kept firing its weapons for another few seconds—and, ironically, during that time, the bullets came closer to hitting Raven than they had at any point previously—before the ammo ran out and the body slumped lifelessly to the floor, guns still cycling and clicking impotently.

Raven stood over it, breathing heavily, her sword held tightly in her right hand.  As she breathed, as she came to be certain her foe had been defeated, she allowed her grip to loosen and the tip of the long blade tilted downward.

She formed the words in her mind, then: Machine.  Are you there?  Can you hear me?

Excerpted from HAWK: HAND OF THE MACHINE by Van Allen Plexico
Copyright 2012 by Van Allen Plexico and White Rocket Books