Hey folks. Welcome to another edition of the Mako Manifesto!

First things first, I want to give a big, hearty THANK YOU to everyone who’s purchased and or reviewed Red Sky Dawning on Amazon. Speaking as both the author of the book and a guy running a business, you have no idea how much I appreciate that. Those are the things that keep this series going, and afford me the chance to pay for stuff like quality editing and cover design.

Next up: At Circle’s End. That’s the tentative title for the third and final book of The Mako Saga, and I’m happy to report that I’m already well into writing the first draft.  With any luck, I’ll have the beta manuscript ready for edit by the end of this year.

Okay, so now that the housekeeping is done, let’s have some fun, shall we?

Lots of people have asked me what this saga would look like as a film series. Whether it’s for the characters, the action, or the overall tempo of the books, folks seem to think these stories would translate well to that medium — and I, for one, tend to agree!

I’ve made no secret of my love for movies over the years, and I can hardly think of anything that would geek me out more than to see my little slice of the sci-fi genre on the silver screen. But what would that look like?

The following is my dream list for a Mako cast and crew. Coincidentally, it’s also a fairly telling exposition on my at-home viewing habits, so no judging! 😉

(Links go to IMDB pages)

Director: Jon Favreau

So, has anyone reading this blog NOT seen Iron Man or Iron Man 2? If there were ever a director to nail a Mako movie, it’s Favreau. He just gets it. Beyond the fact that he makes an awesome action film, he’s also extremely adept at showcasing the unique charms of each member of an ensemble cast — a necessity in a Mako film. Otherwise, all you’re left with is another SF-themed explosion fest with pancake-flat characters that no one remembers after they leave the theater, and honestly, who needs more of those?

Screenplay Writer: Eric Kripke

Fans of the CW’s Supernatural (a Kripke creation) know exactly where I’m headed with this. For all of the series’ action, horror, suspense, and gore, it’s Supernatural’s emphasis on family, togetherness, and loyalty that’s kept it on the air for eleven seasons. To quote one of the series’ stars, Mark Sheppard, “After all this time, we still care about the Winchesters.” That’s a testament to the characters this show (and its writers) have built, and thematically speaking, it’s exactly the kind of approach I’d want in a Mako screenplay. Oh, and the kickass, classic rock soundtrack. That’s a must, too. 😉

(Visions of an SF-13 Mako Starfighter streaking through space to Van Halen’s “Aftershock”… Hell yeah!!!)

Cast

Lee Summerston: Jensen Ackles (Supernatural) Okay, so I’ll admit it. I’m a total mark for Dean Winchester. Having conceded that, Ackles is perfect for Lee. He looks the part, he knows his way around a sidearm in an action sequence, and he’s a Texan, which gives him the requisite “country boy swagger” for the role. Moreover, he plays “conflicted” better than most give him credit. To this day, I still don’t know why he hasn’t made the jump to big-screen action star, but I’d be thrilled to give him the shot with Mako.

Danny Tucker: Stephen Amell (Arrow) Another CW mainstay, Amell would rock the part of Danny. He can do “pretty boy,” i.e. Oliver Queen, but he can also go full-on darkside like a champ when the chips are down. Pair that with the story told in Red Sky Dawning, and I think most would agree Amell would be ideal for this character.

Evelyn “Mac” McKinsey: Rosario Dawson (Daredevil) Candidly, I’m just an all-around Dawson fan. Whether it’s for her dramatic work on Netflix’s Daredevil or her comedy in Clerks 2, she’s just a wonderful actress to watch. On a related note, few do “snarky tomboy with a twist of demure” better than Dawson (kinda crucial for Mac), plus her native-New Yorker status means she’d rock a Yankees cap.

Hamish Lunley: (Unknown Actor) Mako needs an actor every bit as unique as the character he’ll be playing. To date, I’ve seen plenty with Hamish’s charisma and personality, but none with that AND the necessary physical stature. I’d probably go to the theatrical ranks for this one.

Link Baxter: Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) Seriously, does anyone in Hollywood do “hot-headed, punk-ass good guy” better than Jesse Pinkman? No one else would even read for this part if I could get him.

Madisyn Reynolds:: Rachel McAdams (True Detective, Wedding Crashers) McAdams has shown a lot of range in her career, and as any reader of both books will attest, that’s fairly key for Madisyn (a character who evolves quite a bit from books one to two).

Katie Summerston: Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) Any chance to put ‘Starbuck’ back in space is fine by me. However, my love of Ron Moore’s BSG reboot notwithstanding, Sackhoff would make a fine Katie. She’s sassy and quick-witted, but she’s also a very cerebral actress who conveys a lot of confidence on-screen. Katie has to be funny and charming, sure, but she’s also got to take command in a crisis. Sackhoff does all of that and then some.

Chief Engineer Kris Wyatt: Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise, 24) Mild-mannered gentleman with humble origins and the engineering IQ of a savant… Trip Tucker, maybe? Trinneer would nail Kris Wyatt. Furthermore it’d just be nice to see him in more than a bit role outside of Enterprise. He’s a solid actor, really solid, and it’d be great to see him on this kind stage.

ASC Fleet Admiral Markus Katahl: Dennis Haysbert (The Unit) Okay, go ahead and get the “you’re in good hands” jokes out now. Long before Haysbert was the spokesperson for All State, he was (and still is) a fine actor. His portrayal of Jonas Blane in TV’s The Unit was out of this world. Combine that with his physical stature and presence on-screen, and he’d be phenomenal as Katahl.

Commandant Alec Masterson: Ian McShane (Deadwood) McShane is a world-class actor, period. However, it was his portrayal of Al Swearengen, the sleezebag bar owner with the sliver tongue in HBO’s Deadwood that earns him the role of Mako’s top villain. Alec Masterson has to ooze evil from every aspect of his character, from the manner in which he carries himself to the way in which he annunciates his speech. He should crawl up your skin like a disease, and McShane would deliver that in spades.

Alystierian High Chancellor Lucius Zier: Timothy Dalton (Penny Dreadful) The former 007 is regal and proper, though he’s also got a down-to-Earth charm about him that’s essential to the character. Zier’s a grizzled old dog with a lot of moxie, and he’s not afraid to go toe-to-toe with anyone in parliament when the occasion calls for it. At the same time, he’ll kick back a shot of Smithson’s with any grunt at the bar, and Dalton has the chops to deliver all of this with ease.

Sgt. Major Keith Noll: David Ramsey (Arrow) ‘Diggle’ would kill as a drill sergeant, plus he’s already got an obvious rapport with Stephen Amell on-screen.

Capt. Shannon “Layla” Baxter: Michelle Rodriguez (The Fast & the Furious, Lost) Admittedly, this feels like a bit of a copout on my part since Rodriguez played a character eerily similar to Layla in 2009’s Avatar. In my defense, however, I’d like to state for the record that I penned the early draft of my character in the summer before Avatar hit theaters, so there. I call dibs.

Dr. Jon Reiser: Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) Like most genre fans my age, I was a huge Herc fan back in the day. But Sorbo’s come a long way since then, as an actor and a person. I just finished his autobiography, True Strength (great read), and there was a lot about Kevin’s story that resonated with me, especially since strokes run in my family. He’s a tough guy, and those experiences combined with his already affable personality would translate well to the role of mentor that is Mimic Project founder Jon Reiser.

Capt. Nathan Briggs: Matt Smith (Doctor Who) I remember when Smith was cast in the titular role of the hit BBC series, and the uproar that ensued from a lot of old-school fans who thought he was too young and “pretty-boy looking” for the part. But then he hit the screen and it was all over. Smith’s portrayal of the eleventh (later the twelfth) doctor was not only good, it was one for the ages on a show that’s been around for nearly a half-century. True, he played the character with all of the quirky panache that fans know and love, but there was an unmistakable gravitas to Smith’s Doctor that hadn’t always been there. Despite all of his charms and flamboyance, you always got the impression that there was A LOT going on this character’s head. He had a history, a long one, and it hadn’t always been kind to him. Thus, no matter how light or campy the stories got, it was Smith’s ability to bring that ever-present, “man out of time” weight to this iconic character that made his version of it… well, timeless. It’s also Nathan Briggs to a tee.

Other notable cast:

Auran President Rick Wylon: Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy) NO JUDGING!!!  😉

Capt. Vince Ryan: Joe Flanigan (Stargate Atlantis) Cocky fighter-jock commander with spiky black hair.

Capt. Jeff “Blazer” Hastings: John Cena (WWE Raw) Aside from the fact that he just looks the part of Hastings, Cena’s an amazing guy in real life, and it’d be my pleasure to have him in my film. Read this article about his involvement with the Make-A-Wish Foundation if you want to know why.

Lt. Victor “Scar” Mann: Terry Crews (The Expendables) Again, Crews looks the part of Scar (minus the shaved head), and I’m just a fan.

Lt. Marshall “Tino” Weller: Zachary Levi (Chuck) Much like John Cena, there will always be a place in my movies for the original nerd-herder himself, Chuck Bartowski. Love that guy.

“Bartender” Bruce: Bruce Campbell (Army of Darkness) Be honest: with a line like “you primitive screw-head,” would you want anyone else? Plus, I’d totally write a demigod reference into the Praetorian OC scene if Sorbo took the Reiser part.

In closing, you’ve probably noticed the absence of any bigtime, A-list movie stars on this roster, and there’s reason for that. For starters, I’ve always envisioned the cast of a Mako film as being only modestly familiar to a lot of mainstream movie-goers. Perhaps the biggest reason, though, is because in many ways, Mako has always been an homage to the stuff I grew up with as a kid (movies, TV shows, etc.). So what better way to draw that out on-screen in a Mako film than to cast a lot of those actors and actresses in the very roles they inspired?

Okay, gang, that’s gonna do it for this edition of the Manifesto. Have a great week, enjoy the new book, and as always… keep on rockin’ in the free world!

RUAH!!!

IJM

RSD 2500x1563-Amazon-Smashwords-Kobo-Apple

Arrives exclusively on Amazon April 30, 2015.

PROMOTIONAL NOTE: Book one in the series, titled MAKO, is currently available for free download from Amazon. Offer expires Tuesday, March 31, at 11:59 pm EST.

RSD Story Synopsis

Five years after the historic Battle of Dulaston, Danny Tucker, Lee Summerston, and the Renegades have settled nicely into life on Aura — yet none more so than Tucker.  Fueled by a rising career as an ASC staff sergeant and a love unlike any he’s ever known, Danny is in the prime of his life and at last free of the demons that have stalked him for years.

Some demons never die, though, and when an old enemy beckons to settle a personal score, Danny soon finds himself swept up in the backlash of a climaxing civil war, and straight into the crosshairs of a father’s bloodlust for revenge.

RED SKY DAWNING is the much-anticipated sequel to 2013’s MAKO, and the tale of one man’s quest to bury his past and protect those dearest to him as the fate of billions hangs in the balance.

Hey guys, Ian J. Malone here.

Well, it’s official: RED SKY DAWNING (the direct sequel to MAKO and book two in THE MAKO SAGA) arrives for sale in e-book and paperback on Amazon, April 30, 2015. The audiobook will follow shortly thereafter on Audible and iTunes.

I know it’s been a long time coming, gang, but I think you’re really gonna like this one. 😉 As always, thanks for your support of the series, and hit me up anytime via my website (ianjmalone.com) if you’ve got questions.

Cheers, and hope you’re staying warm.

IJM

Hey guys, keeping this one brief since most of us still have tons to do before Thursday. That said, I didn’t feel right about closing down 2014 without giving you at least a taste of what’s to come this spring.

So, without further ado…

************

RED SKY DAWNING Official Synopsis

Five years after the historic Battle of Dulaston, Danny Tucker, Lee Summerston, and the Renegades have settled nicely into life on Aura — yet none more so than Tucker.  Fueled by a rising career as an ASC staff sergeant and a love unlike any he’s ever known, Danny is in the prime of his life and at last free of the demons that’ve stalked him for years.

Some demons never die, though, and when an old enemy beckons to settle a personal score, Danny soon finds himself swept up in the backlash of a climaxing civil war, and straight into the crosshairs of a father’s bloodlust for revenge.

RED SKY DAWNING is the much-anticipated sequel to 2013’s MAKO, and the tale of one man’s quest to bury his past and protect those dearest to him as the fate of billions hangs in the balance.

************

Merry Christmas, everyone. Thanks as always for your support, and God bless you and yours this holiday season.

Cheers,

IJM

Hello again, everyone! Welcome to fall and the Halloween edition of the Manifesto!

Today we’re discussing what has long since been the great unicorn for most indie authors- — brick and mortar book sales. I use that metaphor because, like the unicorn, most indie authors have heard that bookstore sales exist, but few if any have every actually seen them.

Before we get started, though, I did want to take a sec to remind all of my Carolina peeps that this weekend marks the return of HonorCon to the Hilton North Raleigh-Midtown, Friday, Oct. 31, though Sunday, Nov. 2.

HonorCon is a science fiction convention held annually in Raleigh to celebrate achievements in the genre of military scifi. Guests this year include the likes of David Weber (THE HONOR HARRINGTON SERIES) and Timothy Zahn (STAR WARS: THE THRAWN TRILOGY) among others.

I myself will be doing a panel on indie publishing with my colleague, Chris Kennedy (THE THEOGONY) in Room D on Friday at 5pm, so hope to see you all there!

FYI, for those who can’t attend, you can view the slides from our presentation on my website’s For Writers page.

Okay, let’s get on to the meat n’ taters of this puppy, shall we?

The Backdrop

Like many indies, I knew when I started out that I wanted to offer my book in paperback. And why not? For one, it’s just one more platform to make money on, and for another, what author DOESN’T want to see his or her work in printed form?

I was also quite cognizant, however, that sans the help of a major publisher, I’d never have the resources to print a thousand copies of my work for the purposes of trying to flip them for profit.

… Enter the world of Print On Demand (POD) Publishing!!!

How does POD work?

POD is a glorious thing because it gives your readers the option to purchase your work in paperback form—albeit at a few bucks more per unit—but in a way that precludes you, the publisher, from paying any overhead. In a nutshell, if a reader wants a paperback, he or she simply logs onto Amazon, B&N, etc. and clicks the “buy” button, at which time the company prints a single unit, mails it out to the customer, then deducts that order’s production and royalty costs from the retail price before sending you the rest.

As POD services go, there are tons to choose from, but only two that really matter:

CreateSpace: A subsidiary of Amazon
Ingram Spark via Lightning Source

I know some might say that Lulu and or BookBaby are good ways to go, but I’ve never dealt with either, nor have I ever heard a good story about their services from those who have. Just sayin’…

Which POD service is better?

CreateSpace is pretty much a must. Now I know there’s a lot of hate out there for Amazon these days, but frankly there’s a reason why they’re the 800-poud gorilla where sales are concerned. Thus, as an indie, you can’t afford to not be on Amazon. There’s just one problem with that… outside of Amazon, and in some case B&N, no one else will order from CreaseSpace BECAUSE it’s owned by the aforementioned gorilla that seeks to put them all out of business.

Enter Ingram Spark via Lightning Source whom EVERYONE ELSE orders from.

NOTE: It also bears mentioning that both companies give authors the option of selling their works at a discounted rate to bookstores and venders — a must if you hope to get carried. Before you reach that point, though, you’ll want to purchase your own ISBN from Bowker and make sure NOT to utilize Amazon’s expanded distribution feature.

So… now that you’ve gone through all of that work (and financial investment if you had your books professionally formatted), you’re good to go, right? You’re on Amazon; you’ve opened a Spark account for your local bookstore on the corner; you’ve offered all at a discount to make them as cheap as possible for everyone involved… now it’s all about building business relationships with your local venders, right?

Well, as my buddy, Lee Corso of EPSN’s College Gameday would say, “Not so fast, my friend!”

See, there’s just one little problem: Bookstore owners, and rightfully so, want the option to return books that don’t sell to the publishers who printed them… publishers, which in this case, means you. Not Amazon/CreateSpace or Ingram Spark/Lightning Source… you.

Example: let’s say John Smith Bookstore in Raleigh wanted to stock 10 copies of my book, MAKO, in their store using the $10 discounted purchase price I offered them through Ingram Spark — a price that netted me somewhere around 15 cents per book after Spark’s production and royalty fees were deducted. (Gotta spend money to make money, right?)

Fast-forward three months, and Smith has only sold 1 copy of MAKO, at which time the store opts to return the other nine for a total value of $90. I, not Ingram Spark, am obligated to repay that amount, even though I made less than $1 on the entire transaction.

See where this gets sticky if you’re an indie?

Of course, the simple solution would be to set up your Spark account with non-returnable books, which authors are certainly entitled to do. However, as one local vender told me, 95% of most bookstores won’t even look at you, much less consider stocking your books because you’re name isn’t a proven sales brand and they don’t want to get left holding the bag for unsold units.

So what’s the answer?

Sadly, right now there isn’t one, which, sad to say, means that as an indie, seeing your book on physical shelves should in no way be a priority to you. Offer a non-returnable POD option then concentrate all of your efforts on selling e and audio books since those will bring in 95-99% of your revenue. That sucks, I know, because like a lot of you, it really does mean something to me to support, and be supported by, my local stores. But if they won’t work with me, then I, as a business person, need to focus on working with those who will… and that, dear brick and mortar stores with your endless tales of falling fiscal skies, is Amazon.

Bloggers Note: I have seen where some bookstores are beginning to stock “local author sections,” and I’d definitely encourage any author who can get in on that to take full advantage of it where possible. Even if it only means they purchased one copy of your book, they still PURCHASED one copy of your book. So reward that. Throw them the occasional tweet or Facebook post, and take the extra second to plug in their corresponding handle or hashtag so people can find them straight out of your text. Con-goers, let fans know that they can find your work on shelves at those locations. Anything that shows the vender, “Hey, thanks for supporting me. Now let me return the favor as best I can.”

It’s all about mutuality, folks.

Ta ta for now! Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Halloween this weekend, and can’t wait to see a lot of you at HonorCon!

RUAH!

IJM

PS – Should have my first round of editor feedback on RED SKY DAWNING within the next couple of weeks. From there, it’s on to line edit then to a proofread then to formatting. All told, the second book in the #MakoSaga is set for an early 2015 release.

Greetings again, dear readers, and welcome to another edition of the Mako Manifesto — this time by way of its new home at WordPress! Why the change from Blogger, you ask? Eh, it’s complicated. But suffice it to say, the decision to move had a lot to do with the business end of things, i.e. better distribution options, better analytics, and well… mainly because I’ve never been one to go too long without change.

And so here we are, with a new site, a new look, and lots of MAKO news to discuss.

RED SKY DAWNING (RSD) BETA is in the can

As of July 31, eyes not belonging to me were reading the latest adventure of Lee Summerston and the Renegades, thus officially beginning RSD’s final run to print whereby I get beta feedback by Labor Day then make changes in time for submission to my editor on Oct. 20. After that comes another round of changes followed by a round of line-edits followed by more changes and a proofread — BREATH — then the file is finalized and sent off to my e- and audiobook designers for production.

It’s a lot, I know, but I consider myself extremely fortunate as an indie author to be able to afford such a rigorous process this time around. That wasn’t the case with MAKO, as I was operating on a shoe-string budget and completely out of pocket. That meant one round of edits through friends then another through a solo-editor I found online who, to her credit, did a fabulous job considering the size and scope of the task she was hired for.

(Author’s Note: MAKO was re-released onto Amazon, B&N, Kobo, etc. in January 2014 following a comprehensive re-edit and proofread.)

Fast-forward to the present, and RSD is getting the manicured treatment by comparison — a good thing, too, given the size of this story. As I’ve maintained all along, RSD is a much bigger tale than MAKO in nearly every way, though especially where world and character development are concerned. Bigger stakes, bigger themes, bigger conflicts, bigger everything.

Out with the story stuff already!

For those who follow me on social media, some of this might seem a bit redundant to you. However, in the interest of wetting the whistle a bit for those who don’t, here are a few of the themes we’ll be tackling in book two of the Mako saga:

Five years have passed since the events of MAKO: At the conclusion of book one, it was pretty clear that every member of the Renegades (Lee, Mac, Danny, Link, and Hamish) had found something on Aura that he or she had begun to latch onto. Be it a career, a person, or in Danny’s case, the outright dread of returning home to Earth, something clicked for each of them, and that’s played a major part in sculpting their lives ever since.

Danny is the star of the show: Yes, everyone is back — Lee and Mac included — but Danny Tucker is the protagonist of RSD, and it’s made abundantly clear right out of the gate that while he’s very similar to Lee in many respects, he’s also quite different in many others. Chief among these differences is the manner in which he deals with people who cross him… and we’ll just leave that right there for now. 😉

Who are the Alystierians… really? In many ways, MAKO was the story of the Aurans, i.e. who they are as a people, where they came from, and why they’re at war with the Alystierian Empire. As is usually the case in war, however, there are two sides to the equation, and RSD is where we get the other’s point of view. Why did the Alystierians attack Aura in the first place? What forces drove that decision, and how have things changed since the ASC’s advent of a pure-caldrasite (C-100) technology, i.e. the SF-13 Mako Interceptor? Then finally, why are the empire’s commandant (Masterson) and chancellor (Lucius Zier) seemingly at odds as was briefly referenced in MAKO?

With regard to that last point, trust me when I say, folks, that not only is this rift explained in RSD, but it has far-reaching consequences for everyone involved.

Lots of new characters: As has been alluded to already, RSD sees the introduction of several new characters — among them Katie Summerston (Lee’s sister, and a worldclass scientist/surgeon), Nathan Briggs (an Alystierian soldier on the Kamuir), and Zier. It also sees the fleshing out of other characters like Layla, who sports a new title in RSD, and Kris Wyatt, a man who readers will find has changed quite a bit in the last five years.

When will RED SKY DAWNING hit shelves?

Ideally, I’d love to have RSD out by Christmas. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, though it’ll largely depend on how soon I can get through my editors’ suggested changes which will surely be extensive—as they should be. That’s the job of a good editor, to point out where your story is weak so that changes can be made, and where your story shines so as to maximize that impact for the reader. It’s a long and arduous process. But in the end, and as any NYT bestseller will tell you, any story is always better for having gone through it.

Okay, gang, that’s gonna do it for this, our maiden voyage on WordPress. Thanks as always for stopping by, don’t forget to stay tuned to FB and Twitter for all the latest updates, and see you back here next time for another edition of the Manifesto!

RUAH!

IJM

PS- Just three more Saturdays until my beloved Seminoles of Florida State begin their defense of the 2013 National Championship in college football. Cool weather, ice cold beer, football, and a crock-potful of homemade chili… MAN, I love this time of year!!!


Okay, so I typically touch on a bit of everything in this blog, from sports to music, movies, food, and of course… writing.  That said, tonight is FINALLY the NFL Draft (should’ve been two weekends ago at noon on a Saturday, but I digress) and given that this is one of my favorite days on the sports calendar, I’m devoting this edition of the Manifesto exclusively to that.  
What follows are my own thoughts on a few teams I follow, as well as a few of the notable storylines going into eight o’clock. 
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
As a longtime Bucs’ fan, I enter tonight’s draft with my first real sense of optimism in years.  Lovie Smith is a fabulous coach, and moreover, our knuckleheaded owners seem to be giving him the necessary latitude to implement his plan for the team.  The question now is: where will he go when the clock strikes zero on Pick 7?
Were it up to me, I’d take Darqueze Denard, CB from Michigan State.  I know, I know, I know.  The Bucs need a receiver opposite VJ, and that’s real.  However, this is an extremely deep draft at that position, and Jeff Tedford will still have his pick of the litter in round two. 
Denard, meanwhile, is clearly the top corner on the board, and given the Revis debacle plus Tampa’s membership of the NFC South (home to Brees, Newton, and Ryan) you can never go wrong with bolstering your secondary. 
And just to be clear… Don’t even think about a QB at 7.  None of these guys warrant a Top 10 selection, period.  Not Bortles, not Carr, and especially not Manziel (a late second-round talent, tops). 
CAROLINA PANTERS
Since trading in my Florida residency for that of a North Carolinian, I’ve kept fairly close tabs on the Panthers as they naturally occupy most of the local football coverage around Raleigh.  
So, where should the Panthers go at Pick 28, assuming they don’t trade out?  Simple.  Wide receiver.  For one, it’s far and away their greatest need, and for two, this franchise took a beating from the fan-base for botching the Steve Smith situation.  Should Carolina have kept Smith?  Perhaps, though I think you could make the case that Smith was old, and the time had come to upgrade that position. 
The only problem is, that’s exactly what Carolina didn’t do.  The Panthers signed no one in free agency, and that rankled a lot of feathers around Charlotte.  Now comes the chance for Rivera and co. to rectify that problem by drafting a shiny new toy for Cam Newton… a guy who is all but forbidden from stretching the field in Mike Shula’s POS offense, but that’s a topic for another blog in August. 
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
The Jags pick at three, and I’m anxious to see how this one shakes out.  The obvious choice here is Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins, IMHO.  I love this guy, and I truly believe he’s a star in the making. 
Still, this team has a ton of needs, not the least of which is quarterback.  Add to that the never-ending whispers surrounding a Jags’ move to Los Angeles, and if there was ever a franchise in need of a face, it’s this one.  
Johnny Football?  Maybe?  
Again, I hate Manziel as a prospect.  It’s nothing personal.  I just don’t see his game translating to the pro level.  Conversely, though, the hard truth is that Jacksonville, as a club and an NFL city, hasn’t been relevant since the Clinton Administration.  Now factor in Manziel’s upside if he does succeed (jersey sales, prime-time television slots, ad revenue… all through the roof), and the Caldwell/Bradley camp would be stupid not to at least look at him.  
Talk about a roll of the dice, though… too rich for my blood.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Not spending much time here, but on account of my wife who grew up a die-hard Skins’ fan, I’ll touch on it.  
Washington  is still paying the price for RG III, and thus won’t select in tonight’s first round.  When they do pick, however, they need offensive line and a tall receiver. 
Regardless of who’s under center (I’m not entirely sure it shouldn’t be Cousins, by the way), they need better protection than the garbage they got in 2013.  I mean, whatever happened to the Hogs, anyway?  That used to be the hallmark of Washington football. 
As for WR, the Skins have a fair amount of talent at that position with the addition of Desean Jackson to Garcon and Moss.  The only problem with those guys is that Peter Frickin’ Dinklage could out-jump every one of them! (A little nerd humor there, sorry).  
Get a guy with some ups, Gruden, and your offense will definitely be the better for it. 
OTHER STORIES TO WATCH…
Quarterback Roulette
As always, there’s gonna be a run on QBs.  It’s just how the NFL is built now, and regardless of the fact that none of these guys are fit to carry Andrew Luck’s jockstrap, several teams will draft them as if they were.  (Lookin’ at you, Minisota!)
Among this year’s class, however, I do like Teddy Bridgewater.  I watched his entire career at Louisville, and I love the kid.  Say what you want to about his pro day (it was one day in shorts, people), TB is sharp and he makes all the throws.  Granted, he’s a bit undersized and his arm is far from a bazooka, but for my money he’s far and away the most NFL-ready prospect of the bunch.
Bortles is solid but raw, Carr came from the same peon program that sold me Trent Dilfer, and I’ve covered Manziel. 
Aaron Murray of Georgia, on the other hand, could be a nice find in round three.
Texas to play ‘Let’s Make a Deal?’
They should, if possible.  St. Louis got a king’s ransom for RG III, and given the chance at a similar haul, the Texans should most definitely take it. 
Clowney is a gamble to me.  I know physical he’s a beast, and there’s no denying what he did at SC.  But equally as undeniable is the fact that he also took his fair share of plays off. 
In short, this guy could be the next Warren Sapp, or Booger McFarland.  Only time will tell, and considering all the other needs Houston has right now, it makes sense to let someone else take the risk and fall back for Buffalo’s Khalil Mack who fits their system better anyway. 
Soap Opera Watch
If by some miracle Manziel falls to pick sixteen, I’d pay good money to be a fly on the wall in the Dallas war room.  For all the trumpeting Jerry Jones has done on Romo’s behalf, the Cowboys’ owner LOVES making a splash, and taking the singlemost polaring figure in this year’s draft—from Texas A&M, no less—would definitely do that. 
Plus, let’s be honest, Jerry is just hypocritical enough to do it, too.
Alright guys, that’s gonna do it for this one.  To my readers who care nothing of sports, I promise to get back to the literary stuff next month.  But again, I’ve been a Draft nut for years, and I really wanted to sound off before the commissioner hits the podum tonight. 
Everyone take care, have a great weekend, and best of luck to you and your favorite team as we eyeball another year of “America’s Passion.”
Cheers, and Go Bucs!
IJM


Welcome one and all to Spring 2014!  Hope the holidays were fabulous to you and yours, and that your new year has started out with a bang — or at the very least, with little if any snow.  (What up, fellow east-coasters!)
As I’m sure will come as no surprise to those who know us; 2014 got off to a roaring start in the Malone house.  I’m happy to report that my first ever panel at this year’s illogicon in Raleigh went off rather well, despite a few pre-show jitters on my part.  We had a nice turnout, and I’d like to thank everyone who stopped by, as well as my partner on the panel — Lynn MacNamee of Red Adept Publishing.
Now it’s off to April when I’ll be part of a similar panel on indie publishing at this year’s ALT*Con in my hometown of Tallahassee.  Stay tuned here and on FB/Twitter for date/time specifics as they unfold.
RSD edits continue
The second draft of RED SKY DAWNING (Book Two n THE MAKO SAGA) continues to unfold.  Now that I’m back in the swing of things, I’ve had the chance to really dig into the content, and while there’s obviously loads to do, I’m happy to report that much of the story’s content from draft one remains intact.  As was certainly the case in book one, I find that the action scenes are always the toughest to write — a point usually reflected in my page count at the end of a given writing day.  Give me a setting, a conversation, and a pair of characters, and I’ll bang out 3,000 words in two hours.  But exposition, world-building, and tactical design?  
… Yep, put on a fresh pot of coffee and bunker in, cuz it’s gonna be a while.
I will say this, however, with regard to story differences: RSD is a more serious piece than MAKO in a lot of respects.  Believe me, you’ll pick that up in the prologue, and it’s a theme that carries straight through the entire story.  Don’t get me wrong, RSD still has all of the party humor, snarky dialogue, and pop culture references that most of you dug about book one… that’s the Renegades.  But this is a story set five years after the events of MAKO, and A LOT has changed in the lives of every member of the team.
MAKO hits actual bookshelves!
I’m also happy to report that MAKO may soon be available for purchase at your neighborhood brick and mortar bookstore!  As a lot of folks know (especially other indie authors), many independent shops won’t deal with CreateSpace as it’s owned by Amazon… you know, the 800-lb gorilla that’s presently trying to put them all out of business?
So, for that reason, I’ve expanded my distribution net by opening an account with Ingram Spark, and as such, bookstores can now go online to IS and order MAKO at wholesale by simply using its ISBN (978-0989032704).
FYI to anyone near Tally, I’ll be discussing a lot of this at the ALT*Con panel next month.  Trust me, this may seem like a fairly trivial thing at first glance, but it’s really not.  
R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Bucs fans… FINALLY!
As most of you are probably not Bucs fans, I won’t dwell on this.  But given the absolute nightmare surrounding my favorite NFL team for much of the last decade (most of which was self-inflected on account of piss-poor leadership from the front office), I can’t tell you just how stoked I am to see Lovie Smith in charge and making changes.  Greg Schiano, like Raheem Morris before him, was a joke of a hire — A., because he wasn’t remotely qualified for the head job, and B., because he had no clue how to manage an NFL locker room once he got it.
Smith, by contrast, is the antithesis of this.  He’s a great coach with fantastic credentials and strong ties to the Tampa community.  Moreover, he’s a man of impeccable character who commands the respect of all who know him.  To put it another way: he’s a leader, and a damn good one… something this team has sorely lacked since the Gruden days, and some even question whether we really had it then.
Great hire, Tampa Bay… finally.  Now let’s go play some football!
Okay guys, that’s gonna do it for Blog One of 2014.  Take care, keep in touch, and as always… Happy Reading!!!
RUAH!

 
IJM

I love Christmas time, I really do.  I love the weather, the lights, the food, the time with friends and family… all of it.  Now couple everything I just said with the awesomeness that is New Year’s and college bowl season (which I’ll address shortly), and this really is “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Thus, much like last month’s Thanksgiving edition, we’re gonna keep this one fairly short with some minor house cleaning — then we’re out.
Red Sky Dawning (Draft 1) is done
Yep, it’s finally finished… the first round, anyway.  Mako: Book 2 is finally in the can, and while I plan to tinker with it a bit over the holidays, it’s my intention to burn full-steam ahead on it once I return in January.
I won’t spend much time on this, as I’ve already shared quite a bit about RSD’s plot and characters in previous blogs and during my interviewwith Self Publisher’s Showcase.  But, suffice it to say, I hope to have a solid manuscript ready for beta reading by the spring, then editing in the early summer.
Ruah!!!
Illogicon 2014 is right around the corner!
For those attending Raleigh’s illogicon science fiction convention Jan. 10, I’ll be partnering with Lynn MacNamee of Red Adept Publishing and others to present iAuthor: Indie Publishing 101, an in-depth panel discussion of all things indie books.  
Among the topics to be covered:
        The pros and cons of indie vs. traditional publishing
        Indie publishing platforms (KDP, Smashwords, etc.) and which to use
        Book mediums: E-books vs. print vs. audio
        Marketing through social media
        Setting a budget/deadlines
        The need for editing and cover design
 
Be sure to stick around after the panel and say hi, as I’ll be answering additional questions and giving away swag.  Truth be told, though, I just always enjoy meeting you guys.  J
IJM’s Bowl Game Predictions
Because I couldn’t resist, the following are my predictions for this year’s slate of BCS bowls, plus a handful of other matchups that struck me as potentially fun: (winners in bold)
        National Title: Florida State vs. Auburn (Totally a homer pick, I know, but I love this matchup for FSU.)
        Rose: Stanfordvs. Michigan State (GO NERDS!)
        Sugar: Alabamavs. Oklahoma (Saban won’t lose again, sorry OU.)
        Fiesta: UCF vs. Baylor (Knights had a nice year, but they’re no match for the Bears’ offense.)
        Orange: Clemson vs. Ohio State (As much as I abhor picking a Meyer-led team, I just don’t trust you in a game that matters, Clemson.)
        Russell Athletic: Miami vs. Louisville (Without Duke Johnson, “The U” falls in Bridgewater’s finale.)
        Chick-fil-A: Texas A&M vs. Duke (Johnny Football puts up stupid numbers in this game.  Aggies in a route.)
        Gator: Georgiavs. Nebraska (Also a homer pick, as my sis went to UGA. GO DAWGS!)
        Cotton: Missourivs. Oklahoma State (SEC all the way.)
        Alamo: Oregon vs. Texas (Mack Brown’s team rises up to send him out with a win.)
Okay, folks.  That officially puts the wraps on this, the inaugural year of the Mako Manifesto.  To everyone who follows this blog, you know I appreciate it, and I sincerely hope you’ve had as much fun reading it as I’ve had writing it.
In closing, and on behalf of the entire Malone household, I want to wish each and every one of you a very, Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.  As mentioned up front, we celebrate this time of year for a lot of reasons, the most important being the birth of Christ… which according to scholars, probably happened in April, but it’s whatever.
Don’t worry.  I’m not gonna beat you over the head with the “reason for the season” speech.  A., that’s not the purpose of this bog, and B., because the massive overuse of the phrase makes me want to punch my own nards.  Still, if you get a chance, take a moment to ponder why people like us believe in Christmas.  Then ask yourself two questions:
1.      Can I, at the very least, entertain the remote possibility that Jesus was who he said he was, and if not…
2.      Why?
Cheers, gang, and “see you on the other side” for 2014!
IJM
PS- For anyone scrambling to find last-minute, low-prep menu options for the holidays, check out this article in last week’s Raleigh News & Observer on Christmas meals and crock pots.  CRAZY helpful stuff!


Ah, Thanksgiving… How I’ve missed you and the gluttonous, calorie-rich glory you represent!  Smoked turkey breast, spiral-cut ham, deep-fried venison, sweet potato souffle, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie, banana puddin’, chocolate cake… vegetables that I’m sure someone not named Ian will eat!  I mean, seriously people!  Throw in all of your favorite friends and family with some good, ole fashioned college football rivalry games, and what else to you need in life?
Alas, it’s with a mix of cheer and fear of indigestion that I must digress…
Okay, so in the interests of time management (and because this cold is totally kicking my butt), I’m gonna keep this one short with a few housekeeping notes: 
Red Sky Dawning is almost done… the first draft, anyway
Draft one of the Mako Saga’s next chapter is nearly in the books, and I think you guys are really gonna like it.  Naturally, there’s still loads of work to be done (as is always the case with opening drafts), but the framework for the story is in place along with most of the key elements that will comprise the next chapter of the saga.
A new editor = Mako 2.0
I’m proud to welcome Raleigh-based Red Adept Publishing (RAP) as my new editor moving forward.  I bring this to your attention because A., I know many of you are fellow indie authors in need of a good editor, and B., because I’ve hired Lynn McNamee and her staff for a fresh proof of Mako to buff out some of the final blemishes from the original manuscript which, at the time, had tapped out my budget.
I’m running through the Track Changes now, but hope to have the new files formatted and up for sale by Christmas.  FYI, this in no way alters the story you’ve already read.  It’s more or less just an extra pass for grammar typos and spelling.
Illogicon 2014 in Raleigh
Speaking of Lynn and RAP, I’ll be partnering with her to conduct a panel on indie publishing at this 
year’s illogicon, held Jan. 10-12 at the Embassy Suites in Raleigh.  At present, I still don’t have any date/time specifics, but once I do, I’ll bounce them out via social media.   
Alright gang, that’s it for this Turkey Day edition of the Manifesto.  All the best to you and yours this weekend, travel safe if you’re on the road, and see ya back next month for BCS picks and an in-depth discussion of why non-alcoholic eggnog is useless!  😉 
RUAH!!!
IJM
PS- Wanna give a quick shout-out to all the seniors on this 10-0 FSU football team.  Regardless of all of the legal crap that’s swirling around you right now, you guys were the class that kick-started this program’s climb back to national prominence and you’re to be commended for all that you’ve achieved.  Now, how about we roll on down to The Swamp and carve us up some Gator, shall we?  Good luck, boys, and GO NOLES!!!