Two blog posts in a day? *GASP* The end is surely nigh!

For those who don’t know, I’ve been an NFL Draft junkie since I was 14. Seriously, I used to do analysis for the local sports talk radio station in Tallahassee on it.

That said, here are a few of my thoughts heading into tonight’s selections:

CLEVELAND BROWNS — If the Browns take Trubisky first, they deserve every boo they get. I watched Mitch at UNC. He’s a solid player with some really good attributes. Know what he doesn’t have? Experience. The guy started all of 13 games in college, and in no way does that make for an NFL resume. Not even close (see Mark Sanchez, Akili Smith, Blake Bortles, etc.).

Garrett’s your pick, Brownies. Don’t spike yourselves in the nads by choosing otherwise unless you can land the mother of all trades to move down.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS — If Cam Robinson or Ruben Foster are there at 19, TAKE THEM! Otherwise, trade down if you can find a partner. I love Dalvin Cook, but he does come with legit injury concerns and the Bucs have other, more pressing needs to fill. It also bears mentioning that this is a very deep RB class, meaning they’ll inevitably have the chance to snare one in later rounds. (Dalvin n early Round 2?)

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — Don’t overthink it, Jags. Take Fournette and be done with it. Rumors abound that Tom Coughlin loves Deshaun Watson, and while I do, too, I don’t in the first round. Great kid, enormous talent, but a project nonetheless.

Learn from your Blake Mistake, guys. Don’t reach for a QB when you’ve got tons of other needs, especially at OL which couldn’t block a statue last year.

WATCH THE BACK HALF — Depending on how the nights’ first half goes, the back half could make for a lot of intrigue. There are several teams in need of a QB, though most (I think) have enough sense to know that none of these prospects are worth drafting high. Take Watson, for instance. A team would be nuts to take him in the Top 20. The Pittsburgh Steelers at pick 30, on the other hand, could be a magical fit. Ben Roethlisberger is in the twilight of his career, and the team needs an heir apparent. Watson could ride the pine with no pressure from fans to start then slip in when Big Ben retires, conceivably without some much as hiccup to offensive production. (see Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay).

The Saints, Cardinals, Chargers, and Chiefs all bring similar situations with established veteran starters.

If Watson and others fall (or Dalvin, for that matter), expect some jostling as teams move back into the late-first round to get them.

PRIMETIME STILL SUCKS — The NFL Draft should be held at noon on a Saturday, period. End of story. In moving this even to primetime, ESPN might as well have been announcing to the world that they hate sunshine and puppies.

Stop hating sunshine and puppies, ESPN. Do what’s right and move the Draft back to Saturdays… and while you’re at it, STOP FIRING PEOPLE!!!

Happy Draft Night, y’all! I’ll be on Twitter for as long as I can stay awake if you want to chat picks (@ianjmalone).




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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!!!)


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!



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.

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!



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.

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. 
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). 
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. 
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.
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. 
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!

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!!!


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.
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!
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!  😉 
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!!!

Hello again, everyone, and welcome to a brisk autumn edition of the Mako Manifesto.  
Many of you read this blog because you know I’m a writer, and whether it’s to learn more about my work or the craft in general, you come here looking for indie-related content.  As a regular reader, though, you’re also well aware that I’m a total mark for college athletics, particularly where my beloved Florida State University (FSU) Seminoles are concerned.  Therefore, given the magnitude of this weekend’s “Clash of the ACC Titans” between third-ranked Clemson and fifth-ranked FSU, I’ve elected to bump the literary stuff to the end of this blog in favor of a good old-fashioned, armchair-QB sports rant.
… Drum roll please!!!
THE matchup
For all the historical flack given the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) for its lack of legitimate football contenders (most times, rightfully so), the conference has rebounded nicely of late in the forms of FSU and Clemson, both having returned to national prominence with regular 10-win seasons and impressive victories over top-tier BCS opponents. 
This Saturday night, however, these two teams will meet in Death Valley, South Carolina for what will undoubtedly be the biggest game in the history of their budding rivalry.  At stake: a clear path to the ACC title, and quite possibly a berth in the BCS National Championship Game. 
Make no mistake about it, folks, both teams have a major point to prove with this game. 
For Clemson, it’s the chance to shed, once and for all, the “national pretender” status that’s haunted them for years, and avenge 2012’s loss to the Noles in Doak Campbell Stadium.
For FSU, meanwhile, a win here represents a major step toward reclaiming the “dynasty” mantle lost to them in the twilight years of the Bowden regime.
The individual storylines for this game are endless, though here are a few to consider:
          Clemson senior QB, Tajh Boyd vs. FSU redshirt freshman, Jameis Winston
          Clemson’s high-powered offense vs. a young, revamped FSU defense under first-year DC Jeremy Pruitt
          FSU’s running game vs. Clemson’s at-times shaky defensive front
FSU fans, we used to balk at the term “Game of the Century” because we heard it nearly every other week from 1990-2000.  Then came the infamous Jeff Bowden experiment on offense, and well… you know the rest.  Granted, much has happened since Fisher’s installment to right FSU’s misfortunes (our renewed status as perennial Top-5 recruiters, for starters) but this game still represents our best shot yet to show the world we’re back on top of the mountain. 
In other words, win this game and people will begin to take you seriously again.
Clemson fans, the same point applies to your program.  As it stands, you deserve major kudos for your successes to-date.  You and you alone rose above the mediocrity of this conference to assemble a top-flight football program capable of beating anyone in the nation, and you’re amassed wins over LSU, Georgia, Florida State among others are a testament to that.
Nevertheless, nobody forgets a 70-33 drubbing like the one you took from West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl, particularly when it happens on global TV.  Thus, a win Saturday night is every bit as vital to your legitimacy as FSU’s.
So… what’s my prediction, you ask?  
Listen, I firmly believe FSU has the talent and the coaching staff to win this game, to say nothing of their superstar QB in Winston, a kid on-pace to torch the record books before leaving Tallahassee.  Primetime top-five matchup or not, “Famous Jameis” will show no fear when he marches into that stadium — hostile crowd or not — and his team will do likewise for his leadership.  Couple that with FUS’s near-limitless pool of talent at the offensive skill positions, and yeah… this is definitely a winnable game for the Noles. 
On the other hand for Clemson, Boyd and Watkins are insanely good, as are most of the role-players around them, the vast majority of whom are seniors craving a national title in their final year of eligibility.   Factor in the clear home-field advantage of Death Valley plus FSU’s massive inexperience on defense, and — as much as my brothers and sisters in garnet may hate me for this — I’ve gotta take the Tigers in a barn burner.
So there you have it, Clemson fans.  I’m picking your team to beat mine.  Enjoy it, live it up, smoke it, do with it what you will.  Just know this… you had better beat us while you can.  Because starting next season… you won’t get that chance again for a very, VERY long time.
Red Sky Dawning update
Book two of the Mako Saga continues to unfold.  At present, I’m about 75% finished with the first draft, and I’m really excited about where the story has gone.  As I’ve said all along, RSD is, in many ways, a changing of the guard with regard to main characters.  True, everyone is back — Lee and Mac included — but this chapter of the saga really gave me the chance to flesh out some of the other characters and introduce some new ones (one of whom I’ve been dying to write since book one, but couldn’t fit into that part of the mythology). 
FYI, I also got to create my own form of MMA (Kachuro) which, as a dude, is just plain awesome!  J  
My hope is to have the piece ready to go to beta readers by the end of the year, with copyedits and proofing set for early spring followed by a summer 2014 release. 
Friends in indie places
As any author knows, one of the toughest aspects of the indie biz comes with balancing one’s time between writing books and promoting them.  Therefore, it’s always nice to find others who can help you with the latter, thus freeing you up for more time with the former.
Paul and the crew from Self Publisher’s Showcase (SPS)want to do just that.  
As implied by their name, SPS is a new service devoted to helping indie authors promote their work.  What sets them apart from their competitors, however, are their rates ($3 a month, respectively) and the expansiveness with which they do so (author profiles, interviews, book reviews, blogs, extensive social media coverage, easy-to-access sales links, etc.).
Ordinarily, I’m not a big fan of paying for grass-roots marketing services like these.  Even still, that’s a lot of bang for a little buck, and if you’re like me (full time job with a family at home) you need all of the writing time you can get.  
SPS can help you facilitate that.
Alright folks, that’s gonna do it for now.  I’m off for an afternoon walk with my pooches then it’s back to the apartment for another round of laundry and RSD edits.
Everyone take care, have a great week, and remember… GO NOLES!!!
PS- I’m totally in the market for a good potato soup and or corn chowder recipe for the game this weekend.  If you’ve got one handy (especially if it involves a crock pot) hit me up with an email, tweet, or Facebook post.  Thanks!!!  J

Wheeeeewwww, so thathappened!!!  Of course, by “that” I mean Dragon Con 2013.  
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, allow me to defer to the always lovely and ever-talented Jewel Staite (Firefly) for a quick explanation.
“If San Diego Comic Con is your handsome older brother with a Ph.D., wearing a fancy suit and driving a Prius, Dragon Con is your loud-mouthed sister who’s dressed just a tad inappropriately and most likely coming off a bender in Vegas.” (Quote courtesy of Staite’s blog at
Simply put, Dragon Con(held annually each Labor Day) is a four-day party in downtown Atlanta whereby 50,000+ of your closest geek family and friends commandeer five of the city’s biggest hotels for a weekend-long extravaganza of pop culture and art. Concerts, venders, celebrity panels, autograph sessions, author workshops, world-class cosplay exhibitions — you name it, and it’s at D-Con!
Obviously as an author, this is a prime opportunity to meet fans of my book and spread the word to others who may want to check it out (hence, the IJM free ebook weekcoinciding with the event).  Still, whether you’re an author, cosplayer, musician, or just a fan in jeans and a Skynet t-shirt, Dragon Con is a fantastic good-time, period. 
Among this year’s attendees: 
·        James Marsters (Buffy/Angel)
·        Timothy Zhan (NY Times bestselling author)
·        Stephen Amell (The CW’s Arrow)
·        Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)
·        Neil Gaiman (NY Times bestselling author)
·        Brent Spiner (Star Trek: TNG)
·        Peter Davison (Doctor Who)
… in addition to all-star panels for: 
·        Battlestar Galactica
·        Smallville
·        Doctor Who
·        The Walking Dead
·        Stargate SG1
For aspiring authors, meanwhile, the Writing a Knock-Out Novel and Writing Careers in the Post-Paper Era workshops offered some outstanding insight on not only how to craft a story, but what to do with it once you’ve finished the project.
As always, pics of all above and more are up on my Facebook page, plus stay tuned for additional photos from next month’s Escapist Expo in Durham, NC. 
Pigskin Pick’em
This month also marks the glorious return of real FOOTBALL!  We’ve slaved away for the last five weeks with the garbage imitation that is the pre-season (aka the NFL’s methadone) and now it’s time for the real-deal Holyfield!  So, for any last minute fantasy footballers out there still sifting through draft intel, here are a few thoughts to consider. 
IJM’s Fantasy Bust: Wes Welker (WR, Denver Broncos)-I hate saying this because I love Denver this year, and while this should in no way be interpreted as a slight against Welker, it’s simply a recognition of the talent around him.  The fact is, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are great receivers, and both bring a pre-established rapport with QB-great Peyton Manning to the passing game.  Will Welker get his fair share of looks?  Sure, particularly from the slot.  However, given the players around him, it’s a safe bet he won’t see the 100+ balls a year that he saw in New England.
Welker is still a great pick in 2013, just not for the 2012 price tag.  If he falls down the board, then by all means take him.  If not, spare yourself the reach and grab an upstart back like Cinci’s Gio Bernard.
IJM’s Fantasy Sleeper: Brandon Weeden (QB, Cleveland Browns)– Do I think Weeden is a top 10 QB?  No, but I think he’s got the potential to be on account of the system he’ll be playing in and the coaches conducting it, namely his offensive coordinator. 
Listen, there are two things we know about Norv Turner: 1.) He’s a crap head coach, and 2.) he’s one helluva friend to quarterbacks as an assistant.  Troy Aikman, Phillip Rivers, Jeff Garcia, Brad frickin’ Johnson, for crying out loud!  Turner knows how to coach an offense — and if the job he did with Cam Newton in Carolina is any indication, so does his boss, Cleveland HC Rob Chudzinski.
Let’s be clear: Weeden is not a QB1 starter.  He could, however, be prime trade-bait by the end of the year which is why you grab him in the later rounds and sit on him to see what happens. 
‘Gone, baby, gone’
So, I started Gone Girl from Gillian Flynn and I’ve gotta admit, it almost lost me in the early going.  There is A LOT of marital drama in the first third of this book, so much so that it felt less like a crime thriller and more like a Lifetime movie.  
… I’m a dude, people.  We don’t do Lifetime movies…
Anyway, somewhere towards the end of Part 1, I was teetering on the verge of returning this one to Audible when it happened… the opening paragraph of Part 2, and the proverbial “HOOOOOOLY $#%T!!!!!” moment that occurs with every good murder mystery.
Folks, never in all of my years of reading have I ever seen villains become victims and victims become villains like I did in Gone Girl.  It was downright schizophrenic, I kid you not.  
Great read if you like psychologically twisted thrillers, but don’t mind a fair amount of raunchiness.
Alright gang, that’s it for another edition of the Mako Manifesto.  Thanks as always for dropping in, and to those attending the Expo in Durham next month, do stop by, say hello, and grab some swag. 
PS- You didn’t honestly think I’d wrap this without at least uttering the name, “Jameis Winston,” did you?  *deep breath followed by long exhale*  Nole fans… buckle up!  😉