New Montague Portal omnibus, and a free novel

I’ve released an omnibus of Montague Portal novels and stories, Aidan Redding Against the Universes.

It collects Forever Falls, Hydrogen Sleets, Drinking Heavy Water, Sticky Supersaturation, and No More Lonesome Blue Rings in one convenient doorstop. Yes, in this order. It’s not exactly chronological, but Montague Portal fans have strong opinions on the order they should be read in and who am I to argue?

You can grab this omnibus in ebook, print, or a luxurious dual-layer illustrated hardcover at:

With the release of this omnibus, the short novel Forever Falls is now free. Yes, this is very much a “the first hit is free” situation. Many folks won’t try a new author without a free sample. The hope is that they’ll read Forever Falls, want more, and save themselves a few dollars by buying the omnibus.

And with this, I’m pretty much out of procrastination. I guess I better start work on $ git sync murder.

My books on Google Play, for now

Google has been actively hostile to authors for years. That has changed, somewhat. You can now find much of my fiction and nonfiction on Google Play, for now. I rather expect Google to reverse their less-hostile stance without warning, so these might come down as quickly as they appeared.

What do I mean when I say that Google has been hostile to authors? Forget the bit where they scan millions of in-copyright books and make the text available. That’s a separate problem.

Google Play offers separate terms for traditional publishers than individual authors. I own my own publishing company, but I don’t produce books quickly enough to get access to the publisher terms. Fine.

Since its inception, Google Play has let individual authors put a suggested retail price on their books. Until recently, they reserved the right to cut the price for their customers. If they cut the price, they would pay the author their cut based on the suggested retail price. Google used this to boost their platform. They could take, say, SSH Mastery, and make it free for the next thousand downloads. I would make my $6 or so on each download. I get paid, so what could I possibly object to?

I object to it destroying my business, that’s what.

Modern publishing is an ecosystem. Changes in one distributor affect how other distributors behave. Other major ebook distributor either respects the suggested retail price I set on their platform (e.g., Gumroad) or they have a Most Favored Nation clause in their terms where they can match competitor prices. Apple had this for years, but I’m not certain of its status after the antitrust lawsuits. Amazon still has this MFN clause, and it actively monitors competitors for prices to match.

Here’s how this goes horribly wrong.

  • Google makes one of my best-selling books free.
  • Amazon sees it and price matches.
  • A few thousand people download the book on Google Play. I get paid for those.
  • Tens of thousands of people download the book on KDP. I do not get paid for those.
  • Google restores the suggested retail price.
  • I spend days begging Amazon to restore the normal price.
  • Everybody I might sell that book to got it for free.

That book is dead. I made a few thousand dollars in a month but that book brings in nothing more, forever.

Writing is a passive income game. I count on each live book to bring in a few hundred bucks a month. Some, I’m delighted if they bring in fifty bucks a month. I count on last year’s books to pay this year’s bills. If you want to know more about how this works, check out Cash Flow for Creators.

Free books are a valid promotion strategy. (I’ll be announcing a free novel soon, to suck people into the Montague Portal omnibus.) I need to control their use, however.

I half-expect Google to reassert their previous model at any time. Google is spectacularly indifferent to their users. When Google blinks, I’ll be turning them off.

Mind you, I’ll keep the books set up in their publisher dashboard. When they twitch back, I’ll turn them back on.

New Montague Portal novel: “Drinking Heavy Water”

I’m pleased to announce the next Montague Portal novel, Drinking Heavy Water. Take five hundred breaths and never go home again.

Drinking Heavy Water cover


Aidan Redding’s entire goal for her time in this universe: behave. For once. Discovering seafaring aliens trashes that plan.

The aliens raise questions. Her co-workers raise more.

The answers explain it all. And ruin everything.

On a world where gravity changes every second, Redding finds herself involuntarily allied with a mathematician from Soviet Texas as she races to save not just herself but civilization.

Forget aliens. Nothing threatens Earth’s golden age so much as ordinary human beings.

Available in ebook and paperback, at all the usual suspects. Lots of links at the book entry on my site.

Grab it at any bookstore, including these.

Direct Print Book Sale


I write too dang much. And every time I have a new book out, I grab a few extra copies. An author always has a use for extra copies. He can sell them to avid readers at conferences. He can hand them to reviewers. He can level furniture and clog the plumbing. When a reader asks if I’ll sign a book, I say “catch me at a conference.” It’s all good.

Provided that said author ever leaves the house. Which is not the case for 2020.

Every single one of my 2020 events was cancelled. No AsiaBSDCon, no Penguicon, no BSDCan. I’m all home, all the time. I don’t expect any of these events to take place in 2021, either. Which means that I have extra books. So I’m doing something I swore I would never do. For the next two weeks I’m selling them, direct to readers, by mail order. Yes, I’ll sign them.

No, you can’t order via the web. This sale only runs through 9 December. It’s about getting rid of the books in my house. I’m not restocking; once they’re gone, they’re gone. So I won’t reconfigure my bookstore to handle direct print sales. Undoing such changes would burn up my time and threaten the stability of my site.

Go check the list of books I have on hand. Decide what you want. The numbers give my current inventory of not-yet-paid-for books and the price. If it is not on the list, I do not have it. If the cell is blank, I ran out of it.

Send an email to me at REDACTED, SALE IS OVER with:

  • The titles you want
  • Your shipping address
  • A recipient phone number
  • The subject BOOKS

I will send you a quote for shipping, using whatever goshippo says is cheapest. Assuming you’ve given a phone number, that is. (Cheap shippers all want a recipient phone number, while the pricey USPS doesn’t.)

Pay me. Use the tip jar for credit cards, or my business PayPal accounts at using the same email address you used to get your quote.

If you ask for a quote, I’ll hold the books until the next day. The books are sent first paid, first serve. This means I might need a day or two to get back to you with a quote; if someone asks for a quote but doesn’t pay, it’ll go to the next person.

Yes, it’s possible this could go horribly wrong. I could get flooded with demands for print books. I doubt it. I don’t have that many fans. But I am dedicated to clearing out this crap these magnificent tomes, and will work through everything as quickly as possible.

translationsI even have some extra copies of translations. When you’ve written close to forty books and have been translated into nine languages, and you get two copies of each translation, well… it gets ugly. If anything in here tickles your fancy, drop me a line. Going cheap.

If you’re a completist, there’s some rarities in here. First edition Absolute BSD, Absolute OpenBSD, and Cisco Routers for the Desperate. The PGP book. They’re half off, and I could be talked down further.

If you’re a true hard-core completist, I unearthed a few copies of the Gatecrasher books. Those I can’t be talked down on, mind you, but the fact that they exist at all is nearly a miracle.

I do not anticipate doing this again. I’m not saying I never will, but it’s gonna take me being stuck with extra books and being unable to leave the house. Perhaps during COVID-25 or COVID-33; I’ll have a bunch of new clutter books built up by then.

Temporally Shifting Bundles

A few days ago I wrote about the Big Time Bundle. It was supposed to expire last week.

I’m not saying that the US election broke space and time, forcing us to reset the end date. But the election definitely squeezed all of the air out of the world, and disrupted much of our publicity.

So we reset time.

The Big Time bundle is available for three more days. Ten books, by award-winning authors like Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Robert J Sawyer. And one by yours truly. All DRM-free. Dirt cheap. Part of the proceeds go to the Oregon Food Bank to help folks recover from the wildfires.

I’ve been reading these to take my mind off… well, everything. And they serve that purpose admirably.

In the meantime, I’m back to working on TLS Mastery.

A Very MWL Christmas

As if writing about TLS, filesystems, and apocalypse wasn’t bad enough, I also write Christmas stories. And sell them. To publishers.

Last year the WMG Holiday Spectacular sent subscribers a Christmas story every day for a month. It was a fictional Advent calendar. It included my Beaks short story, Sister Silence Night. It’s unquestionably a Christmas story. It couldn’t happen any other time of the year. And it’s also a Beaks story, so bring bandages.

This had two aftereffects.

One, the stories from the Spectacular have been collected in three anthologies: Bloody Christmas, Joyous Christmas, and Winter Holidays. They’re full of great stories, and I’m proud to be among them. I’ll let you guess which one has my Beaks story.

Two, the 2019 Spectacular was successful enough that they’re doing it again. And it’ll include Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Halloween! If you don’t feel like backing it as a Kickstarter, you can subscribe and get the stories mailed to you over the holidays. I have not one but two Christmas stories in here.

If you want more Christmas from me, here’s how you get it.

Or you can wait until late 2021 and get the collected anthologies. Like you can for Sister Silence Night right now.

Or, you could wait until I publish the stories standalone. Which will happen… later. Whenever I get around to it.

Patience is hard. And I know folks who make a living by standing beneath ladders and breaking mirrors that have better luck than 2020. Bring yourself a little joy. Buy last year’s collection and back this year’s.

Oh, and the Prohibition Orcs tale that was in the Face The Strange? Woolen Torment is now available standalone, for a buck. Because it’s short.

Lots of fiction news lately, because that’s how trad publishing works: everything backed up, and now it’s breaking through and spilling out everywhere. Not to worry, I’m still cranking on TLS Mastery. Well, cranking as hard as 2020 permits. I desperately want a complete first draft as my Christmas present…

Bundle, and the next Montague Portal novel

Those of you who stalk me on social media know that I was working to write a novel in ten days. It took two weeks, a serious failure on my part. I can only plead 2020. And now I can say why.

There’s this thing called Storybundle. For one low, low price you get a big heap of ebooks. And if you look at the Big Time bundle that came out last night, you’ll see at least one familiar name.

For $15, you don’t just get ten books. You get ten good books.

And part of your money goes to support folks devastated by the wildfires in Oregon. The Oregon Food Bank does good work, and they desperately need our support.

I’ve read most of these authors. Rusch and Smith have been spec fic powerhouses for decades. Lisa Silverthorne regularly rips my heart out, only to hand it back to me on a silver platter. Stefon Mears is the good sort of deranged, and so are his books. DeAnna Kippling is a sure thing when I want a few delightful hours on my couch. Robert J Sawyer? I ain’t worthy to sit on the same couch as him.

I have to admit that I haven’t read Kim Antieau or Ryan M Williams. I’ll be fixing that, soon. With this bundle.

I’m biased against my own work, so I’ll let bundle curator Kris Rusch tell you what she thinks.

Inventive minds. Maybe that’s what we should have called this StoryBundle. Because most of the writers here have the most inventive minds I’ve ever encountered. Michael Warren Lucas is one of those writers. He makes his living as a writer of nonfiction and fiction. His nonfiction is so specialized that when he tells me about it, I think he’s talking in a foreign language. His fiction is as clear as daylight, and filled with quirky ethical characters who somehow make the most inexplicable situation clear. Here, Michael takes us to the days when our universe was young, and time was just beginning. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch

I now have this urge to make up a technology with bogus buzzwords, so the next time I get to see Kris I can string her along. While that’d be easy, I could perhaps leverage Kris’ belief in my acumen to achieve a real prize: bamboozling other computer geeks in the room. (Yes, I am a bad person. I’ve told you that.) Fortunately for everyone, I’ll probably forget about this by the time the Zoompocalypse ends, in favor of an even worse idea.

Between this StoryBundle and my Name Your Own Price sale on git commit murder and PAM Mastery, I’m going cheap.

And there’s other news. Related news.

One of an author’s goals of a StoryBundle is to bring in new readers. The money’s nice, sure, but the idea is to gather books that share sensibility and flavor. “If you like my book, you’ll probably like these.” I know I like many of the authors here, so I’ll probably enjoy Williams and Antieu. Hurrah, more authors to devour!

But if someone reads Hydrogen Sleets and wants more Montague Portal, there’s a novella and a couple shorts. That’s it. They can go on to my other fiction, sure, but if I want to keep them? If I really want to hook them?

I need a sequel novel.

I’ve wanted to write another Aidan Redding/Montague Portal novel since… well, since I wrote The End on Hydrogen Sleets. The last few years have been ugly for my productivity. But when Kris poked me a couple weeks ago about putting Hydrogen Sleets in this bundle, it gave me a ticking clock. So I got to work, and:

Drinking Heavy Water, the next Montague Portal novel, escapes in December.

Aidan Redding’s one goal for her time in this universe: behave. For once. Discovering seafaring aliens trashes that plan.

The aliens raise questions. Her co-workers raise more.

The answers explain it all. And ruin everything.

On a world where gravity changes every second, Redding finds herself involuntarily allied with a mathematician from Soviet Texas as she races to save not just herself but civilization.

Forget aliens. Nothing threatens Earth’s golden age so much as ordinary human beings.

Drinking Heavy Water cover

This also gives me enough material for a hardcover Montague Portal omnibus, tentatively titled Aidan Redding Against the Universes. As much as I’d like to have that out for Christmas, it ain’t happening.

So: there are books. They’re going cheap. There will be more books, going not so cheap.

Another orc story, and more fiction stuff!

The “Face The Strange” anthology has escaped, including my Prohibition Orcs tale “Woolen Torment.”

I sold this story to this traditionally-published anthology back at the beginning of 2018. It was due to come out this fall, but the publisher cancelled the anthology this spring because of the plague. Thankfully, the editors chose to release it themselves on a royalty share basis. That’s less than ideal, sure, but after waiting so long I’m glad to see it happen.

The important thing about “Woolen Torment” is that every word is absolutely, 100% fact. It is an entirely true story. Other than what I made up, of course.

“Woolen Torment” will be available on its own in a couple months, once the exclusivity period expires. Patronizers will get their copy then.

You can get the ebook of FTS on Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.

On a related note:

My short story Drums with Delusions of Godhood is now available on its own. Originally published in Boundary Shock Quarterly: Apocalypse Descending, it’s full of euchre and Front Line Assembly and genetic engineering for supremacy in Dungeons & Dragons. Plus, loss of innocence and the meaning of life and all that serious stuff.

“git sync murder” status

TLDR: git sync murder will be out this year.

Slightly longer: it won’t be early this year.

In February I started writing git sync murder, a sequel to git commit murder. I’ve run at this book before, but the world put a 22-centimeter cyst on my thyroid to stop me. This time, it’s pulled out a pandemic.

The book is going slow right now. The git murder books, like all cozy mysteries, are about community. Our communities are going through the Cuisinart right now. My two primary community gatherings, Penguicon and BSDCan, have both been virtualized. I might discard the story I have and write about murder over YouTube and Zoom, but that’s not the direction I want to go right now.

As a bonus my wife is a nurse practitioner. I hear all sorts of inside information about how the pandemic is doing, and its impact on health care workers. The pandemic is doing just fine, thank you very much. The health care workers, not so much. Anything I write now will be extremely dark.

One of three things will happen (plus infinite variations on and gradiations between them, of course).

  • The pandemic will pass. Life will establish a new, sociable normal. All manner of things will be well.
  • The pandemic will hang around for a couple years, but we will fairly soon establish a new normal to cope with it.
  • Civilization collapses.

In two of these scenarios, things stabilize in a few months and I write the book. In the third, I’m grateful that I have all of my books printed on soft, absorbent paper.

I’m therefore focusing my attention on TLS Mastery and a different novel. Not saying what that novel is, because it might implode, but I’ll give the curious an extremely feeble hint. (If you figure it out: good for you! Now hush.)