Why Chinese Intelligence has my records

By | Comms | 4 Comments

The other day, I got an email from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) letting me know that my SF-86, the form I filled out in order to obtain a security clearance, had been stolen. While OPM never came out and said it, the general conclusion is that this was performed electronically by hackers in league with or directly employed by the Chinese government. Let me tell you what’s typically on an SF-86: Everywhere I’ve lived, everyone I know, everything I’ve done, for the last decade. This includes criminal history (I have none), detailed medical information, Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about friends and family, where I’ve traveled, my foreign contacts, my business interests and financial information. It’s incredibly comprehensive. And now in the hands of folks I don’t know, who have no allegiance to me, who may well be committed to my undoing. I have read solemn speech after solemn speech from OPM’s leadership, from officials at USCYBERCOM, from all…

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An Open Letter to TheBoyInTheClock

By | Comms | 5 Comments

Dear TheBoyInTheClock, My friend Sam Sykes, an author of no mean repute, turned me on to your story, The Spire in the Woods. I finished it yesterday, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m not a huge horror fan. I read it once in a while, and mostly consider it another variant of fantasy. So you know my tastes, my favorite horror novel is probably Joe Hill’s N0S4A2, which is the only work of fiction I’ve ever read that actually frightened me badly enough to impact my sleep. That was before I read your story. The Spire in the Woods is fantastic. It’s a nod to both campfire ghost stories and the Lovecraftian sub-genre. It has a consistent magic system, its protagonist is flawed without being irredeemable, its supporting characters are believable and compelling. The stakes are high and you keep ratcheting them up. You extrapolate history and locality with a resonance that really transports. The reveal at the…

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You’re better off lifting than weeping

By | Comms | 9 Comments

Writing, like any artistic endeavor, is fraught with mental health pitfalls. This has always been the case, for as long as we’ve cared enough about artists to learn of their personal lives. Some of this is due to the uncertain nature of the business: fortunes rise and fall quickly, ambition is rarely paired with reward, and the snipe-hunt for respectability and social-standing is most often tied firmly to non-creative fields. And some of this is genuinely linked to root level mental health: your brain making too much of the sad chemical, and not enough of the happy chemical. In recent years, many prominent members of my genre have admitted to their struggles with depression, and I’ve seen it cut through luminaries in every other aspect of my life. I am now reading Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage, only to discover that Capain Merriweather Lewis (the explorer of Lewis & Clark fame) suffered from severe depression that most believe led to his…

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An open letter to Chief Warrant Officer Brad R. Torgersen

By | Comms | 622 Comments

Chief Warrant Officer Torgersen, As you are no doubt aware, The Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell Repeal Act of 2010 removed barriers to homosexual members in the armed services, who may now serve openly and as equals. You have long held the position that homosexuality is immoral behavior, and most recently made denigrating jokes regarding the orientation aimed at Mr. John Scalzi. Your moral positions are your own, and I will not question them. However, I will remind you that you are a military officer and charged with the leadership of men and women of *all* walks of life, religions, creeds, sexual orientations, socio-cultural backgrounds and ethnicities. Every single one of these people has the right to believe that you will faithfully discharge your duties as an officer, not spend their lives carelessly, not make them endure unnecessary hardship, that you will care for them with compassion and dedication. On or off duty, you are *always* an officer. Your repeated statements of your thoughts…

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The Skull Throne Release Day

By | Comms | 2 Comments

Buy it on Barnes and Noble Buy it on Amazon Buy it on Indiebound Buy it at Powell’s THE SKULL THRONE, by Peter V. Brett, is out today. As I type this, the book is ranked #54 out of all books on Amazon Kindle. Not #54 out of Dark Fantasy, or Science Fiction and Fantasy, or even Fantasy. #54 in BOOKS. All books. This includes the Harry Potter novels, and 50 Shades of Gray, and the Bible. Suffice to say that the book has received a warm reception, and I couldn’t be happier if I’d written it myself. I’m one of the lucky few who got to beta-read the book. Pete and I have been encouraging one another to write, and pushing one another to be better at writing, for somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 years. He has pulled my fat out of the fire personally and professionally, propping me up during a crisis of faith, convicting me when…

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