New “Prohibition Orcs” today

People ask me why there haven’t been any more Prohibition Orcs tales.

They exist, but you haven’t seen them. Traditional publishers have bought them. And traditional publishers are sloooow. They pay, though, and they get me exposure. (How do you know getting paid in exposure is real? Authentic exposure comes with a paycheck. Anything else is a knock-off.)

But today witnesses the escape of a new Prohibition Orcs story.

I’m this issue’s guest author on Uncollected Anthology.

You can pick up the entire anthology, or grab just my story. But really: less than five bucks? Get the whole thing.

This story will come out in print on October 1st 2020. For those of you collecting in print, it’ll be branded like the other print titles. The ebook version is branded like an Uncollected Anthology project.

And no, this is not an April Fool’s joke. April Fool’s has been cancelled this year.

Sponsoring a “git commit murder” sequel

With my travels over the next couple of months, I’m not getting much done on my next tech book. I haven’t even definitively chosen what’s next; writing SNMP Mastery burned out a few critical nonfiction brain cells, and who knows when I’ll find fresh replacements at Dollar General. (I shoulda sprung for an IKEA brain.)

So I’m writing a sequel to git commit murder.

After some highly informal and scientifically bogus polling, I’ve decided to offer sponsorships on this book.

The first time I tried a sponsorship for a nonfiction book, I thought it was a daft idea. It worked. I’m still shocked, but it seems that the financial bucket I call “Give Lucas Money For No Good Reason” is now a substantial part of my income.

I think sponsoring a novel is a daft idea. It’ll probably be pointless. But what the heck, it’s no more absurcd than writing a book about the Standard Unix Text Editor.

If you are so inclined, you can sponsor git sync murder in print or ebook.

My stretch goal is to have this book ready for Penguicon 2020. If that fails, it’ll be a month or two after. I know what the book is; all I need to do is sit down like a proper pulp author and type the blasted thing out.

The MWL 2020 Asia Tour

Yep, I’m a big star now, touring Asia and everything! Sort of. Two countries. Two cities. The world’s most minimal tour. I’m a big star, in a really really tiny universe.

19-22 March 2020, I’ll be at AsiaBSDCon. I’m presenting a four hour tutorial on FreeBSD jails, as well as attending the conference.

The fine folks at HasGeek are sponsoring me on an accompanying trip to Bangalore, India, for three events. (Cool fact of the day: they’re not conferences in India, they’re events, because a “conference” apparently involves the Indian government and this isn’t a government thing.)

25 March, I’m offering a public lecture on Where is the Sysadmin Today at Juspay’s offices. I have rants thoughts. Oh, do I have rants thoughts.

27 March, I’m attending Netconf. This is an Unconference (Unevent?), so the program won’t be set until it starts. I’ll be proposing my new SNMP talk. I could also give any talk I’ve given before. If you’re attending and want me to give a specific talk, please comment or use the contact form to ask me to submit it.

28 March, I’m doing a reading of git commit murder at Champaca Bookstore, as well as a Q&A with Swapneel Patneka and anyone else who opens their mouth.

Why do this trip, when I loathe travel? Over the last twenty years, I’ve promised several folks that I would one day attend AsiaBSDCon. I keep my promises. I’m looking forward to being there, but not to getting there. The Bangalore trip is serendipitous. Presenting technology is how I built my career. Bangalore is a technology center and obviously a place I should present in. HasGeek asked if I would be interested, I said “if you could put an event by AsiaBSDCon,” and those folks actually went and did it. I’m simultaneously amazed and honored that they’ve gone to such trouble.

Plus, HasGeek opened discussions by promising gelato. They did their research.

I’ll have a couple free days in each place, yes, and I’ll take advantage of them. I’d rather like to attend a few classes at the Hombu Dojo, but… Fly across the world, teach crowds of strangers to whom English is a second language, talk to folks about areas I’m an expert in? Sure. Set foot on Ueshiba’s tatami? I’ve only practiced martial arts for eighteen years, there’s absolutely no way I’m worthy.

And India’s history is thousands of years deep, plus there’s elephants and tigers and… and… everything. I can’t decide what to see.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m cutting down my traveling. This trip will cost me at least a week of writing time before the trip, and probably two weeks of writing time afterwards as I recover. It’s at least a month of proper writing, all told, and probably more. I can’t authoritatively say that this is my final trip to Asia, no matter what. I can say that I’m not planning to travel so far again. If you’re on that side of the world and want to meet me, this is your best opportunity.

I will do Penguicon and BSDCan in 2020, but otherwise, I’ll be home making words.

A different sort of interview, on tabletop RPGs

Obscure MWL historical trivia: I got my start writing tabletop role playing games. It seems they have greater staying power than I ever thought they would.

The Plus Or Minus podcast interviewed me about my TTRPG Gatecrasher, which came out in 1995. A good time was had by all.

Also: 1995 was a quarter of a century ago. Not quite half my lifetime. Dang. I’m old. When did that happen?

Hear Me Read Without Leaving Your Chair

Last winter, I sold a story to a Pulphouse Magazine anthology called Snot-Nosed Aliens. Shortly thereafter, I read the entire story at Penguicon 2019. It was caught on video.

Now that Snot-Nosed Aliens is out, I’ve uploaded the video.

I’m told by a parent that this tale is PG-13; comic violence and a couple of “hells,” but no f-bombs or people being eaten alive by their spleens or whatever. So, consider yourself warned.

Patronizers, I’ll have the rights to the story back in a few months and you’ll get your spiffy ebook.

“FreeBSD Mastery: Jails” and a new novella

The paperback, hardcover, and electronic versions of FreeBSD Mastery: Jails are all available at multiple stores. Not all stores–Powell’s and Waterstones, for example, always seems slow to get my new books. But it’s at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and several others. And the reviews seem positive:

The timing for this book release is perfect; coinciding with my exploration of the use of jails within FreeBSD. I’ve yet to read this book, however, the author being Michael Lucas, I trust it will not disappoint.

Haven’t read it, but trusts me? That’s great, and slightly worrisome. I hope I don’t find one day it’s been revised to a single star. In any event, the jails book took longer to write than any other tech book I’ve written. I hope you find it useful.

And then I have a new novella out–Winner Breaks All. And it already has a review:

Do you ever wonder if you’re a psychopath or just really efficient?
Do you think indecision is the worst possible sin?
Do you really dislike when people talk about curing you of what makes you you?

Then this is the book for you.

A fascinating and insightful exploration of “personality disorders” and what can be done about them and what should be done about them packed into a very tightly plotted story of future corporation intrigue.

Although I’ve published this on 1 April, it’s a very real post.

“Sudo Mastery 2/e” sponsorships available

People, especially those who have previously sponsored my books, keep asking me when the sponsorships for the second edition of Sudo Mastery will be available.

I don’t intend to start seriously writing this book until the end of April. May has Penguicon and BSDCan, which will take lumps of time out of my schedule. I meant to hold off. But people ask enough that it’s turned out to be easier to open sponsorships than keep answering “not yet.” So:

Here’s ebook sponsorships and print sponsorships for the second edition of Sudo Mastery.

Patronizers, of course, will get their name in this book as their patronage level dictates.

And as a reminder: I now have a mailing list to notify people when I’m ready to take their money for no good reason I have sponsorship opportunities.

Ebook sponsors get their name in the mobi and PDF versions. Print sponsors get their name in every version of the book, plus a physical gift to show my gratitude.

Why am I not starting work on this book until late April?

My health was iffy for the last couple of years. Now that the bad half of my thyroid is out, I feel much better.

But during those two years, I started four novels. I finished zero, because I lacked the energy to drag the book through the critical middle. That many incomplete manuscripts has built up into a mental bugaboo, a nasty little voice in my head that says I can’t finish a novel any more and that I’ve lost the mysterious “it” and I should get a job as a hamster cage cleaner.

If I take two-three weeks and pound hard on Terrapin Sky Tango, I will a) finish a novel and b) get that little voice to shut the heck up. I know what the rest of the book is. Sort of. Okay, I know where the climactic final fight is, that’s close enough to knowing the ending, right? And it’s a blood-and-guts novel, which comes more naturally than eating gelato. I’ve spit out some successful short stories after that bad lump of Lucas Loaf got extracted, so I know the fiction-writing brain works again.

I just need to grit my teeth and spend some time with Beaks, crushing that inner critic. Which isn’t that bad. I mean, if I get killed hanging around with her, she’ll feel bad about it.

MWL’s 2018 Wrap-Up

I set some ambitious goals for 2018. How did I do?

There’s a few reasons why. A relative fell off a roof and suffered a traumatic brain injury. I’m the family member that won’t get fired for not showing up to work, so I handled a bunch of it. There’s something about arguing with hospitals and rehab clinics that totally saps one’s mental energy. I lost a few months of productivity.

I figured that was why I was tired and slow. But: no.

Enter HP Lumpcraft, also known as “the abomination formerly known as the right half of my thyroid.” The surgeon did a fine job. It looks like I won’t even need a zipper tat to cover up the scar.

Theoretically, a slowly escalating thyroid debacle explains last year’s anemia.

With HPL out, I’m feeling better than I have in a long time. Sadly, my cardio is utterly shot. I haven’t only been forbidden to exercise for the last few months, I’ve been forbidden to do anything that made me sweat. Apparently a “thyroid storm” could stop my heart. That sounded bad. I chose to become one with the recliner.

The upshot is, in 2018 I wrote 51,000 words of nonfiction. They appeared in:

FreeBSD Mastery: Jails was delayed by the aforementioned TBI and thyroid. It’s about half done.

On a more upbeat note: SSH Mastery and Relayd and Httpd Mastery are available in hardcover. And to my surprise, you people are buying them. All future tech books and novels will appear in both hardcover and paperback.

I wrote 121,800 words of fiction. That should be at least a novel, but unfortunately I didn’t finish any novels. Finishing a novel demands a mental clarity I lacked. All my the fiction that actually entered the world was:

Winner Breaks All will be issued as a standalone in 2019, as soon as I get the rights back. When I get the rights back to SttH, it’ll go to my Patronizers but not to the general public. Giving SttH a cover that matches the Immortal Clay tales is prohibitively expensive, and short stories don’t make that much.

Here’s a partial pic, minus Face Less and BSQ #4. I’ll post a true final 2018 pic once my copies of both arrive.

2018 in print

So what does 2019 hold?

I am assuming that the thyroid lobectomy fixed my root cause problem. It’s a hopeful assumption, yes, but I can’t plan based on the idea that my health is still mysteriously fubar. The only evidence I have for this is that my word-per-hour productivity more than twice what it was before surgery. That’s the only indicator that matters, right?

First, I must exercise. A healthy writer is a productive writer. I gained a good twenty-five pounds this year, and blame HPL for every one of them. My double chin is his fault. Losing weight is straightforward: eat well, and exercise. The latter is where I’ve fallen down.

I’m working back up to an hour of forms first thing in the morning, five days a week, plus 2-3 nights at the dojo. I started today with ten minutes, and plan to add a minute a day. Yes, that’ll stagger back and forth as my body demands. I turn 52 this year, I can’t charge full speed ahead any more.

My flexibility is gone. You are as young as you are flexible, and my physical inability to kick people in the head really wounds my soul. After each bout of exercise I’m spending fifteen minutes on the stretching machine. For the record, this morning I hit 49″ between my ankles, or not even a right angle. This measurement is personal to me and this particular stretching machine, but the only person I’m competing with is me, so it’s all good.

I still have the standing desk. I’ve been using a stool most of the time since September, but standing full-time is the goal.

The last health goal is to master a split keyboard. Should make my shoulders happier. The Kinesis Advantage2 made my wrists happy, but rather than the Kinesis split keyboard I decided to try a Keyboard.io because the connector cable is a standard cat5. The Kinesis split keyboard has a built-in cable that maxes out at twenty inches, which is too limiting for my eventual use plan. (As I work at a standing desk, I’m pondering strapping a keyboard to each thigh and truly relaxing as I write.) I’m already pretty well adapted to the keyboardio, except for the all-important arrow keys. My most frequent key combination, CTRL-SHIFT-arrow, is kind of annoying on this critter.

I’m breaking up my word goals a little differently this year. Last year I wanted to write 600,000 words. This year, I want to write 50,000 words a month, or… 600,000 words in the year. Only words meant for inclusion in books and magazines count towards the 50kwpm goal. This blog post doesn’t. Book announcements don’t.

Why do it this way? A yearly goal is difficult. You can’t get to December and go “oh crap, I’m 200k words behind!” and make it all up. With a monthly goal of 50,000 I can get to January 25th, say “Oh, crap, I’m 20,000 words behind!” and make it up in a couple of long-but-not-impossible days. I’ve written 18,500 words in one day when I really needed to. (No, I won’t tell you which words they were… but you lot bought them, read them, and told me you enjoyed them.)

That’s 2-3 hours a day, six days a week. It leaves time for tech research, experimenting, and testing, plus the annoying minutia of being self-employed. (Sometimes, owning the means of production kind of sucks.)

Also, if I fail one month, next month is a clean slate. I want to set goals I can achieve. Psychologically, it’s better for me to say “I met my goal ten months out of twelve” than “I failed my 2019 goal.”

So, there we are.

What books will those 50,000 words per month be? FreeBSD Mastery: Jails for sure. Probably second editions of N4SA and Sudo Mastery, because of stupid publishing industry reasons. But I honestly have new content for both, so that’s okay. Finish novels I started, like git sync murder and Terrapin Sky Tango.

After that? You’ll know when I know…

New “Immortal Clay” short story

I’m pushing to get Bones Like Water, or Immortal Clay #3, finished by the end of 2018.

While you’re waiting for that, though, the latest issue of Boundary Shock Quarterly has an Immortal Clay short story. Shoot Through the Heart is about a couple of teenagers “survivors” having a really bad day while trying to make the world better. Get it at Amazon, Kobo, or anywhere else ebooks are sold.

Don’t want to buy a whole magazine for one story? Buy it for all the other stories too. I’m appearing with a bunch of other authors. If you’re not convinced, SttH will appear as bonus content at the end of Bones Like Water.

As it’s halfway through 2018, I should confess that I’m not going to accomplish my 2018 goals. Life simply hasn’t gone as I’d hoped. I’ve pushed too hard on projects I should have given up on, and not worked on projects that my heart is screeching to work on. But, there will be jails. And there will be watery bones.

After that, we’ll see.

Author Discoverability

I’m at BSDCan, so it’s a great time to talk about the discoverability aspect of being a writer. My goal is to make a living as a writer for the rest of my life. My literary craftsmanship affects that, but it’s not the biggest factor.

When you read a book, a couple things can happen. You might get quit reading partway through and forget about it. You might read the book, take what you need, and move on. Or, if the author twiddles your brain just right, you’ll track down everything else the author has written and buy it all.

As a matter of craft, I need to improve my writing so that it’s more likely that people who happen to encounter my books experience that addictive dopamine rush.

But as a business, that’s insufficient. Businesses can grow, stagnate, or wither. I can scrape by on stagnation, but eventually my current readers will die and my business will wither. Yes, yes, dead readers are a tragedy and I’ll mourn each and every one of you, but more importantly, they’ll interfere with paying my mortgage.

So I need to grow my business, which means expanding my readership.

Growth means exposing my work to new readers. Every reader exposed to my text risks experiencing that dopamine rush and suffering addiction. This is called “advertising.”

I appreciate all the folks who tell others about my work. Frankly, a person’s word to a friend is the most powerful advertising you can have. But in some ways, I’ve achieved market saturation. If you run a BSD, you’ve been exposed to my books. If you watch BSDNow, you know who I am. I’m grateful that Allan and Benedict admit that I exist.

Parts of the non-BSD world know I exist. Every time Julia Evans says something nice about me, I get a sales surge. NixCraft supports my work with reviews and public statements. These folks help pay my bills.

So, I know my work can generate appeal beyond my core BSD crowd.

I’m now looking for other podcasts to appear on, for both fiction and nonfiction. I’ll be on IT in the D on 30 July. A couple other podcasts are in discussion.

Ideally, though, a book sells itself. A book generates buzz. One book that “hits” drags in many new readers.

I’ve had a viral hit in the last twelve months. A book brought in more readers than any podcast I’ve been on. That book is, of course, Savaged by Systemd.

When something works? Do it again, but differently. Maybe as a dystopia rather than satire. And with blockchain instead of systemd.

In unrelated news: I’m a bad person, and I should feel bad.