Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

This morning: over a hundred (!) emails asking what I think about the HALO 5 story and the FALL OF REACH adaptation. I haven’t got so many similar queries since Kilo-5.

My apologies, but I just can’t comment.

Kosher SymbolIt’s not Kosher for one writer to comment on another writer’s work—especially since in the past I’ve contributed to the HALO franchise. I either come off sounding like I’m currying favor with 343 or like I’m venting my spleen.

Neither is cool.

So … unless you’re the New York Times offering me a column on pop culture vis-à-vis video games, please go play/watch the latest HALO offerings and make up your own mind.

You know what you like 🙂

Thanks for understanding.


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Waiting for HALO 5

I got more than a dozen requests today that are a variation on: “You know people at 343. Can you please talk to them and get them to turn on my copy of HALO 5 early?”

Short answer: No.

Slightly longer answer: This is highly unlikely as there are servers and/or other infrastructure that has to be turned on to make this happen, and it’s not on, and it won’t get turned on for both reasons technical and the tens of millions of marketing $$ tied to a specific release day … which is not today.

And more of an answer than you wanted: My pull with 343? You’ve got to be kidding. If I sent them an email on your behalf — they’re just as likely to ban you account!

Have patience. Stay strong HALO fans 🙂



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Q/A Writing Advice

blood_penI get a hit with questions about writing every day. I thought I’d post a recent Q/A session with one young person wanting to write graphic novels. This is not my field of expertise, but what follows are a few pointers that apply to writing in general. If comic professionals want to chime in, I’d appreciate it.


1) What’s the first step to getting in the world of writing graphic novels? 

You might want to start by writing your own comic (and finding a partner to do the art (unless you’re an artist as well). There are several avenues for getting self-published, but in any event, this will serve as a calling card when you start talking to comic industry experts. If you approach them without such a sample, well, no one is going to take you seriously.

I got involved in a few comic projects because people approached me to write them after reading and enjoying my novels.

Regardless of the media, you need to show people you can write before you’re going to get a job as a writer.

SIDE NOTE: I believe artists are the real heavy lifters in the graphic novel world. They put in 10 times more work than writers. They have my respect. And “successful” ones tend to cripple their hands and burn out their eyes by the time they are 35.

2) What books should I read (if any) to help my writing?

Strunk and White, The Elements of Style
The 38 Most Common Writing Mistakes, James Bickhamm

3) What cities are best connected to the graphic novel scene; or is it not quite like screenwriting in Hollywood and New York? 

Marvel is the only holdout, staying in New York City. DC is now in LA,  Oni is in San Diego, Dark Horse and others are in Portland OR.  All of them (ok maybe not Portland) are expensive places to live.

4. Do you know the process of how people interview/recruit/get connected for writing for comic books? 

No. I’d hit up the comic cons and talk to the writers and artist for tips.

5) In your opinion who’s the best new Sci-fi writer?

I like Earnest Cline. His READY PLAYER ONE  is wonderful. His ARMADA is not so wonderful. Lessons to be learned from both books.

6) What can I do to help prepare myself for a career in writing? I suspect it’s just writing, but I wanted to ask. 

ha. “Just” write. Like that’s easy. 🙂

Write every day so you make it a habit. Write from an outline so you don’t waste time. Try to learn something new about the craft every day. Write your first novel (or whatever) first, and then worry about how to market and sell it. Stay off the internet.

7) Are there organizations that could help me get a foot in the door for screenwriting or graphic novel writing? 

None that I know of. In fact there are many people and organizations that will happily take your money and don’t really help you.

8) How many pages a day do you write? 

500-1000 words a day. If I’m lucky.
Good luck!


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Unsung Hero of the HALO Franchise

It’s only fitting as Blue Team makes it’s reappearance in HALO 5, to remind fans that much credit is due someone who has been largely overlooked and forgotten. In fact, there wouldn’t be a Blue Team at all without this guy.

indexIn 2001, Eric Trautmann was part of the team that brokered the deal to create the first HALO novels. He was also my editor on the project, and for anyone who has seen one of my first drafts this is a true Herculean labor (the one with the stables). Most important, however, there was a point when the novels were ordered killed and Eric T saved them.

I was halfway through our crash dive schedule to get the FALL OF REACH out in seven weeks when Eric T tells me…

Eric T: The powers that be don’t want the novel anymore. They’ve ordered it killed. They don’t want a backstory for the Master Chief. They want him to be a blank so gamers can just fit into the avatar.

Me: (choking on my 18th cup of coffee that morning) What!? (panicking) What do we do? I’m halfway through this #*%&(% thing.

Eric T: (annoyingly calm): Don’t worry about it. Keep writing. I have it covered.

Me: How do you have it ‘covered’? I’ve only got three weeks left!

Eric T: Here, have another cupa coffee. Keep typing…

So Eric T went away, and in what I can only characterize as a cross between UN diplomacy and the bargain Vito Corleone made to get Johnny Fontaine out of his original contract (i.e. he made them a deal they couldn’t refuse), like magic the objections just … vanished.

The rest as they say is history: More than a dozen HALO novels out, and 2 million copies sold by yours truly alone.

So, next time you’re entertained by all the HALO fiction out there, please give respects to Mr. Trautmann, and if you’re in the area visit his and his wife’s amazing store in Olympia. (the best comic/card store on the West Coast in my opinion).


PS: okay , okay — if you really want to hear about Eric T’s Sillian deal in his own words go here: link.  Click the “direct download.” Halo story starts around 17 minutes.

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Scalagari Out in the Wild

I published The Enchanted Knot today on the usual electronic book-selling sites. The print-on-demand version is out too on Createspace, but it’ll take a few days to propagate to the rest of the retail websites.

Here is the entire cover (back blurb included) for your perusal:






I started The Enchanted Knot many years ago as a precursor to the Mortal Coils books—kind of a stepping stone between the saga of the Dreaming families in Pawn’s Dream, and the larger world I was beginning to imagine where many other magic-using families secretly control the world (and, of course, vie for power with one another). There’s more to the story of why this wasn’t published until now … but I’m saving that salacious bit of dirt for the non-fiction book on writing I’ll publish one day 🙂

I hope you like The Enchanted Knot.

I want to thank my family, friends, and fans for their overwhelming support. I couldn’t do this without you.


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