Welcome to summertime, folks, and the latest edition of the Manifesto.  Man oh man, how much do I love this time of year?  Beaches, barbeques, buddies, and beers… pretty much my mantra for the next four months.  Throw in the summer movie season, the summer concert series (Dropkick Murphys and John Mayer this year… BAM!), plus the start of NFL training camps in late-July, and it’s no wonder why guys love this time of year. 
Suffice it to say, lots happening right now in the Malone house, not the least of which is official release of the Mako audiobook (now available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes) and the ongoing development of Book 2 in the series: Red Sky Dawning.  That means this month’s blog is of the shorter variety.  That said, I did want to take a moment to answer a handful of questions I’ve received in recent weeks.  So, here goes…

Question: What inspired you to use video gaming as a launching off point for Mako?
Answer: I grew up on films like “Tron” and “The Last Starfighter,” and while I always thought the whole “video game to reality” thing was a neat plot device, that really began to hit me as I got older and video gaming evolved from titles like “Contra” and “After Burner” into what it is now with “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft.”  Add to that the fact that various branches of the military are actually using gaming as a training tool in present day, and it seemed like the time was right to tell a story like this one.  Enter: Mako Assault.

Question: What character from Mako was the hardest to write?
Answer: That’s sort of a toss-up between Link and Masterson.  On one hand, Link was a challenge because I wanted him to be crass, but not so much that he wasn’t likable in his own right. On the other hand, villains are a tough lot to crack.  I really wanted the commandant to be ruthless, but with purpose and meaning — not just “okay Reader Smith; here’s my cookie-cutter bad guy!  Go hate him now!”  Hence, the epilogue.
Question: What’s the biggest challenge about being a writer? 

Answer: Time, without a doubt.  As much as I love writing fiction, I do have a day job and a family, both of which are major priorities in my life.  Thus, finding an hour of uninterrupted writing time can occasionally be tough.  But, you set a deadline, you carve out your schedule, and you stick to it… even if it means getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning to write.  Side Note: Coffee is your friend… 
Question: Do you have any advice for beginning writers? 

Answer: Two points:
·        Manage your time: Set a writing schedule as best you can and stick to it, otherwise nothing ever gets done. 
·        Read as much as humanly possible: I minored in creative writing in college, and while I learned a lot, nothing teaches me how to be a writer like reading (fiction, non-fiction, and every genre in between for both), then practicing the craft myself.
Question: What books have most influenced your writing?
Answer: Hard to go wrong with Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” for SF, or Jonathan Maberry’s “Patient Zero” for pure, hard-charging action.  When it comes to characters, though, nobody does it like Stephen King.  His are so rich, and so textured, and you just can’t help but fall head-over-heels in love with them, or hate them with every fiber of your being depending on whichever the author wants you to feel. 
I don’t care if you like horror or not, that guy’s a master.
Question: What have you read lately?
Answer: I’m reading Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series right now, but prior to that I picked up Lisa Gardner’s latest crime thriller, Touch and Go… probably the best book I’ve read so far this year, if you like that genre.  Even if you don’t, I dare you to put it down after the opening chapter.  Really, really well done. 
Alright gang, that’s gonna do it for this time.  Everyone take care, have a great Memorial Day weekend, and please take a moment to remember why we have this holiday — the brave men and women of the American Armed Forces who keep us safe so we can enjoy it!  
Until next time…. RUAH!!!!
IJM


Hello again, everyone, and welcome back for another edition of the Mako Manifesto!

As I sit here in front of my computer, lacing up my sneakers for yet another agonizing trot through the land of sweat, shin splints, and pollen, it occurs to me that perhaps I should stop being so selfish with my ever-pressing desire for pre-summer weight-loss, and instead devote that time to keeping you informed on all things Makoverse!  (HAAA… I do love it when I can rationalize procrastination!)
So, here goes…
Book Two Update

With my vacation to Florida now in the rearview, I’m back in NC and officially off to the races with the second book in the Mako trilogy.  Presently under the working title of Red Sky Dawning, (Stormfront was just too blah), the story will pick up some years after the events of Mako, and delve heavily into the stories of some of the other characters, as well as the real nuts and bolts of the war.  Fear not, though… everyone is back, as are a handful of new characters, one of whom just so happens to be named Summerston.  😉
Makotakes to audio

As an avid reader/listener of audiobooks, this is something I’m REALLY stoked about.  I’ve partnered with the good folks at Audiobook Creative Exchange (a branch of Amazon) and ABW Voiceoversto have Mako produced into an audiobook.  To date, we’re about halfway through the production process, and if all goes well, Mako should hit Audible, Amazon, and the iTunes Store sometime in May/June respectively. 
Stay tuned!
Makoin the news

It’s always fun to see one’s name in lights, though that’s particularly true when those lights are powered by the school paper of one’s alma mater.  As it turns out, the good folks at the FSView (my college paper from Florida State) took enough of an interest in me and my quirky little sci-fi project to pen a story on us.  Contents covered include a brief bio on my time at the school, a few blurbs about the book, some post-graduation advice to students, and finally some really nice tidbits on the charitiesI support.  
You can find the article in the Press Roomon my website, or by simply clicking here.
Random musings: 2013 NFL Draft

Say what you will about Geno Smith, this year’s crop of quarterbacks is pretty weak, especially given the strength of last year’s.  That said, I’m gonna step out on a limb here and say my boy E.J. Manuel would look pretty snazzy in a Jaguars uniform if he’s still on the board at the top of the second round.  I know, I know, I bagged on the Jags pretty hard in my book (what do you expect from a lifelong Buccaneer?) but all jokes aside, Manuel was incredibly underutilized in his senior season at FSU, and while there are definite holes in his game, I firmly believe he could excel in a read-option system like the one Gus Bradley saw in Seattle with Russell Wilson.  Add to that the bargain price he’ll go for outside of the first round—not to mention the fact that Blaine Gabbert is total crap—and Jax would be stupid not to give E.J. a hard look at pick 33.
On the other hand, Jacksonville could just as easily go the route of Matt Barkley from USC, in which case expect the jokes to continue flying, both around the league and in my books.  Just sayin.’
Alright folks, this 80-degree heat ain’t gettin’ any cooler, and I’ve gotta squeeze in a run before the fam gets home; so let me jet!  Thanks as always for checking in, hope all is well wherever you are, and don’t forget to throw up an extra prayer tonight for the good people of Boston, and everyone else touched by the horrific events at this year’s marathon.
God bless, Beantown.
IJM


Greetings, one and all, to the official re-launch of The Mako Manifesto.  We’ve waited a while for this one, have we not?
Well, it’s finally here… the story that took me three and a half years to finish…
***deep pensive sigh*** Yeah, that was a thing!
So, now that the cat named “Mako” is officially out of the bag, I realize some folks have questions, be it about me, or the series, or where both go from here.  Thus, in the days, weeks, and months ahead, I’ll use a good chunk of the space here to keep people abreast of all things Renegades — with the occasional rant about sports, music, movies, food, and books, of course!  😉  
The little story with a mighty kick
Before I go any further, I have to give a MAJORshout-out to anyone and everyone who has sprung for a copy of Mako so far.  To say that the book’s success has exceeded my expectations is… well, quite possible the greatest understatement of my life, and that’s all because of YOU!
Every writer hopes their work finds an audience when it hits the market — and I was no different — but a top-five ranking on Kindle’s military sci-fi best seller’s list?  Seriously?
Listen, it goes without saying that I love this story, for more reasons than could ever be summed up on a blog post.  I wrote Makoat a time in my life when not much was going right.  I was unemployed, my career was in the toilet, and to be blunt — I was miserable.  I needed an escape, plain and simple, and this quirky little story became that escape.  Had it never sold a copy, I’d have forever been grateful to it for that.
Now, however, I have something else to be grateful for… you guys, the ones who quite literally made Mako“fly.”
Soooooo… now what?
Trying to stay as spoiler-free as possible, I think most would agree that it’d be pretty frickin’ cruel of me to leave things the way that I did in Book 1 without having a plan for what comes next, right?  (That, and the whole “Book 1” thing is kind of a giveaway, but I digress.)
So is there more?
***flashes wry smile*** Oh yeah, there’s more.
While Mako was originally environed as a one-off piece about Lee Summerston and his friends, it picked up steam during the drafting process and continued to grow… and grow, and grow, and grow some more, until finally I had the mythological makings of, what else?  A trilogy!!!
Right now, I’m staying pretty busy with the press push for Mako, but in the weeks to come, I’ll head back to my desk — coffee cup and sunflower seeds in-hand — to begin work on Book 2 in the series… a story which, at present,  is tentatively being called Stormfront.  (I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to which character steps up in this one!)
The clock is ticking
Will this book take three friggin’ years, you ask?  No, not at all. 
Bear in mind, from the day I began Mako to the time it hit Amazon, I changed jobs twice (sadly, fiction writing is not all I do for a living), moved three times in two states, got married, became a parent, learned to write for sighted readers (I’m legally blind, so I live on audio), plus there was also the matter of finding beta readers, editors, ebook producers, etc.  Now that all of that is done and in place, the rest of the series should come relatively unimpeded.  So stay tuned…
Okay gang, that’s gonna do it for this installment of the Manifesto.  This chicken isn’t gonna cook itself for dinner, and I’ve got a new spice rub I’ve been itching to test out; so let me jet.  Everyone take care, have a great weekend, and I’ll see you around Twitter!!!  
RUAH!!!
IJM