Wednesday, November 13, 2013


As part of a small monthly writing contest on LinkedIn I decided to sit down and go over a lighthearted romp I wrote a long- ok very long, time ago. I entitled it Strange Things and used the Jimmy Hendrix song for a basic concept. Here's the excerpt I made for the contest. Tell me what you think:

     Bored. Tired. Feeling cheated. All of these things went through my mind as I slipped into my leather jacket and headed out the front door. This was the worst party I had ever been to and I was done. It was time to go home. Fortunately I only lived a couple of miles away, across the mountaintop. Fall was here but it was still nice enough to walk. So I did.

     The night air felt good after the stagnant party air. The road was rough under my boots but I’d made the walk a hundred times before. Only a hint of moon hid behind wispy clouds. I’d either drank more than I thought or just wasn’t paying attention.

     Soon enough I was across the street from the old Civil War cemetery that hadn’t seen a new soul in more than a hundred years. Mist clung to most of the old tombstones. There was nothing special about it but tonight it felt…different. I paused, staring into the graveyard. I couldn’t place where the odd feeling came from.
    “Hey boy.”
     I froze, furtively looking around for the sound of the voice. There wasn’t anyone nearby. My heart quickened. A puzzled look crossed my tired face. Someone was playing a joke on me. Hiding in the darkness. “Who’s there?”
     Again, “Hey boy, come over here.”
     The harder I looked the less I saw, until the alabaster form of an ancient skeleton came into view. The mist parted just long enough for me to catch a glimpse of him. I’d never seen the like. My stomach churned, threatening revolt. The old skeleton was sitting in a rickety old rocking chair, gently rocking back and forth.

     My first thought was someone was playing a joke on me. Halloween was only a few nights away so it made sense. Then I saw the skeleton’s jawbone open as it called me over. I don’t exactly recall what made me do it, but I soon found myself ambling over.

     “Are you talking to me?” I asked, dumbfounded. Then I realized just how dumb that question was.

     The skeleton grunted. “Don’t see no one else around here do you? Folks must’ve gotten dumber since I died. Course my eyes ain’t been too good for some years now.” He broke out in quiet laughter. “Sit down boy. It’s been a spell since I had company.”

     I had trouble accepting the fact that I was standing in a graveyard talking to a skeleton. Maybe my brain had finally tipped over the fine line between sanity and straight up crazy. Who knows? I wondered what size straight jacket I wore. Internal deliberations aside, I had nothing better to do so I sat down in an empty chair that hadn’t been there a moment ago and patiently waited for the skeleton to get on with what he meant to do. I didn’t think I was drunk, but the possibility of the beer being bad certainly entered my mind.

     Just as I was about to explore all of the logical and illogical possibilities the old skeleton reached under his rocking chair and produced a deck of beaten up playing cards. Seriously? They looked three times as old as he was.

     “You and me are going to play a little game. You win, you get to go home,” he stated matter-of-factly.

     I swallowed hard. “If you win?”

     “I take your body and you stay here.”

     How did he know I wasn’t any good at cards? His deal was all but a nail in my coffin. I knew there was no way I could win, even against a dead man. Unspeakable malice radiated off the bones, forcing me to realize I had no choice. Reluctantly, I agreed.

     He laughed again as daftly began shuffling the deck with his bony fingers moving so fast I was pressed just to pay attention. This wasn’t going to end well but I didn’t see any way out. When he finished he slapped the deck against his knee and handed it to me with what I interpreted to be a broad smile. Nervous, I reshuffled just to be on the safe side.

     The five cards slid from my hand faster than I wanted but Fate seemed to guide my hand. He picked up his. I picked up mine. I’d watched poker on television and heard all about tells and what not. What sort of tell did a skeleton have? He didn’t have a face! I began to wallow in misery. Then I looked at my cards. All I had was a miserable pair of sevens. Crap. I was going to die.

     He laid three cards down, as did I, and I gave us each three more. Without any money, the hand went fast. He slapped his knee again and laid down two pairs. Fives and jacks.

     Leaning forward, he said menacingly, “Beat me.”

     I stole a peek at my cards before laying them down. A king, a three…and three sevens. My eyes popped wide. The skeleton growled and knocked the small table over. I did it. I won! I jumped up and raised my hands to the star filled sky. I won!

     The skeleton rose. His bones grinding in an unholy sound. I thought for sure he was coming for me, but instead he tipped his head and turned away. Was this a trick? Did my eyes deceive me? No. He walked back to an old cross shaped tombstone and disappeared. The mist evaporated and I was alone in the cemetery again.

     It’s been years since that incident and I still have trouble believing any of it really happened. But then again, it’s not up to me to believe. It’s up to you.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I can't lie. All of this political banter is highly depressing. Maybe we'd be better of with a king. Then again we're on our way to having a dictator so oh well. Anyway, the real post begins now:

     Yesterday was a momentous event for me. I spent 6 hours at a book festival meeting and greeting and selling a few books. I've always said that I don't care about the money when it comes to writing. It is my calling. I've been doing it since I was a little child. Even won an award for writing a novel in high school. A very poor novel I tried to throw away a few years ago but my mom took it and hid it so I couldn't. I'm 40 now, can't we let that rest in peace?

     My validation came in the form of two middle teenage girls who couldn't stop smiling when they came up to my table. Now let me set that by saying I'm certainly not famous, not a big time player- yet. I have a small following that I steadily growing and hope to get bigger in the coming days. These two girls were absolutely giddy as I signed their book and made light talk with them. They walked away with pure bliss on their face, even thanking me for signing their book, saying it was the coolest thing ever. Can you say humbled??

     Shortly after that another older teen came back to my table with her bank (the mother) and couldn't wait for me to sign and hand a copy over. She said it was the best book ever and her mother said it would be a chore to keep her from reading the whole thing before they got home. Wow!

     I've been compared to Tolkien (what fantasy author hasn't?) and CS Lewis but heard a lot of Game of Thrones comments for the first time. To have random people get excited over what I wrote is simply amazing. It is the very reason I've worked so hard to get published and produce quality works. The money is nice too but there is nothing comparable to seeing the look of excitement in a stranger's eyes when they walk away with one of my books.

     Am I crazy, take a look and you tell me.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Let's get a little twisted....

Can anyone explain this unhealthy obsession this nation has for blaming people? I get it. Things go wrong and it's obviously somebody's fault, but how does spending tons of money on Congressional hearings to produce minimum results help anything? We are so focused on blaming people that we lose sight of trying to solve the problem. Personally I think the Obama-Biden combination is one of the worst in our history and they are stark raving idiots, but instead of griping and blaming them for things that go wrong we need to focus on fixing the problems. Who cares about blame?

It's no secret that I view the current Presidency as a joke worse than Jimmy Carter. In fact, we really haven't had a strong leader for about 7-8 years now. Bush just quit about a year into his second term. That being said, I fully realize and expect Obama to take overall responsibility for the Obamacare fiasco, BUT how can anyone in their right minds blame the President for a website that cost too much and doesn't work? In all fairness, he's just the dude who put his name at the bottom of it. The company responsible for designing and trying to build it should be held accountable more than a man who had nothing to do with it. Just my two cents.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Keep your two-faced politics, I have my country

Few moments in life are powerful enough to bring emotional change at a core level. May 19th offered me one of those special moments. A Special Forces NCO got killed around Kabul and his body was being flown home that night. HQ encouraged anyone not doing anything to line the road at midnight in tribute to the fallen. Joe Burke and I grabbed our rifles and took our places in the lines of soldiers along Disney Drive. We could see the HMMWV carrying the flag draped casket at the end of the road, waiting for the escort to get in place. Another hundred or so soldiers lined the road in solemn ranks. Everything seemed to happen at once; almost a sensory overload. A C-17 just landed, bringing with it a fresh batch of soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division. None of the newbies were enthused. Many wore fearful looks, much the same as our merry group had upon entering enemy air space all those long months ago. Marching out from the opposite side of the road was a group of our guys heading home. They were laughing and shouting in joy. Naturally there was some good natured ribbing going on between the two groups. Combine them with our silent bunch and it was almost too much. Midnight chimed and the SF procession began. A color guard marched in front of the HMMWV, flags waving in a weak breeze. A C-17 waited. The back ramp was down and an ominous red glow filled the cavernous body. Directly behind the plane, almost as if Fate had a hand in this affair, the full moon hung low and bright, illuminating the snow covered mountains in the distance. Marching boots echoed in the silence. The honor guard was comprised of fellow SF men formed up on both sides of the vehicle. Many had tears in their eyes. Others that look of anger from being robbed of a friend.  A pair of Apaches zipped by, followed by Chinooks carrying a company from the 82nd.  The soldiers lining the road snapped to attention and saluted as the funeral procession passed them. I could see the end of the casket now and it inspired strong emotions. Rage, sorrow, pride. I could clearly see the pain in those SF soldier’s eyes as they escorted their friend and comrade down the flight line and up into the belly of the plane. Joe and I went to attention and saluted with our rifles. It was much harder to keep a straight face than I imagined. I’d been to the occasional funeral back in the States but those deaths were from training accidents, not combat. This man that none of us knew inspired me. He awakened raw emotions I forgot I had. Strange pride warmed me. I can’t say where it came from but it was a moment I’ll never forget. Seeing that casket roll by I suddenly realized why I was still in the Army and why I really volunteered to go to Afghanistan. Any lingering doubts were gone, replaced by a sense of satisfaction that came from knowing each and every one of the men and women standing beside me were ready to lay down their lives for people they hardly knew. That’s it. That’s all it is. Soldiers share a bond no newscaster or civilian will ever understand. We’re here so you don’t have to be. So you never need know the horrors of war. That’s what makes us special. It’s the undying devotion to each other that sets us apart regardless of race, creed or nationality. I stayed in the Army all these years not for myself but for those next to me. We carry on despite seeing our comrades fall. We bury our heroes at the expense of our nation’s freedom, whether they support us or not. But that is merely an afterthought. While deployed the only thing that matters is the people on our flanks. There’s no way I can find to successfully convey the strength of emotions I felt after I dropped my salute. One thing I was sure of was that as long as men and women were willing to leave their lives behind to go fight in a country they never heard of, for people they’ve never met, I’ll be right alongside wearing my nation’s uniform and serving with pride. All of these events helped make my deployment to Afghanistan enduring memory that I can still see when I close my eyes on a quiet day. There are no words to describe the emotions that run through a deployed soldier’s mind when he/she is exposed to such events. Even now as I write this, almost a decade later I can still see the wounded. Can still hear the machine guns and explosions. I can still feel the cold when I step outside and see mountains.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fate sometimes smiles

I spent twenty years in the US Army. I served overseas several times including three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Through it all I never stopped writing. Long nights in Korea and under mortar attacks by the Taliban my pen continued to churn out word after word. I actually got a medal for the student of the month award for writing a very poorly done (and a knock off of another book) novel in 11th grade. I'm not a dreamer, more methodical in my approach to the future. I know what I want and, though I may not always know how to get there, always continue the assault. You see, there can be no substitute for victory. I think Americans have forgotten this. We give up too easily. Turn our backs on what we once thought was important. How did this happen? Has our culture been so watered down over the last 30 years that I need to move to a tropical island? (Not that that's a bad idea mind you) All I know is that my years of work have left me here. I had two novels professionally published last month and now have one in the Barnes and Noble catalog. Not the Nook- where any old body can post stuff, but on their bonafide bookshelves. Have I won? Is the war over? You tell me.

Monday, June 3, 2013

This time its for real

Could May have possibly been any better for me? Fate smiled down and I had two novels published through different publishers almost simultaneously. While I have yet to crack New York, there is much success to be had through smaller markets. The work is nearly double since they lack the revenue to promote heavily, but I don't mind. I've waited twenty years for this moment. The time has come for me to kick the doors open and attack. None of this would have been possible without everyone who has offered me encouragement and criticism through the years. Here's to you.

Here is a snippet of my first novel: Hammers in the Wind: Book I of the Northern Crusade. Enjoy, or not, and please let me know what you think.



High pitched screams pierced the wood and stone halls of Chadra Keep. Badron, the liege lord of Delranan, sprang from his ancient throne at the sound. His band of favored captains and counselors doing the same. His pale blue eyes boiled from shock to feral rage as he quickly registered what was happening. Screams could only mean one thing. His very family was under attack in what was supposed to be the most secure place in his kingdom. More screams and blood choked cries mixed with the sound of clashing steel. Badron snarled grimly. The house guard was locked in brutal struggle somewhere deep within the wooden halls of the Keep.

Badron drew his trusted sword and stormed off in search of the battle. The most senior lords and captains of Delranan followed him. Eight in all, they comprised a most lethal band of warriors. Their deeds had forged the kingdom from a pack of warring tribes and clans into a singular monarchy that quickly became the strongest of the northern kingdoms. They wordlessly chased at the wolf skin cloak of their king as he headed towards the royal sleeping chambers.

Fear drove Badron. Long red hair, now streaked through with gray, flowed angrily down broad shoulders. His normally pale blue eyes seethed red with rage. Wrath commanded him, wrath so strong it could threaten the foundations of his hard fought kingdom and make the old gods of Malweir tremble in fear. Muscles bunched under his jerkin. His bulk nearly filled the doorway. Badron felt the old energy flow into him. His was a warrior’s life and this night but an extension of it. The sound of glass breaking drew his attention. Badron bellowed and charged, heedless of any lurking dangers.

Fleeting visions of battle appeared through the flickering torchlight. The flash of a sword. A spray of blood. The ruins of a body lay in the middle of the hall, a crumpled mass of flesh. Badron knelt beside the corpse. The smell of blood kissed the stagnant air. Deep cuts and gashes immolated the young house guard. Badron tried to close the eyes, if no other reason than to avoid staring down into the pure agony, but rigor mortis had already begun to set in. A feathered spear broken at the hilt was embedded in the lad’s throat.

“Pell Darga,” growled Jarrik. He rubbed his bald head and spat.

The king brought his gaze up to his friend and captain. “Rouse whatever watch remains, Jarrik. I want these monsters run down and skinned alive. The rest of you with me.”

Badron led them further into the keep. The inner doors to the royal chambers were smashed to ruins. One lay in splinters across the hall while what was left of the second hung in shreds by a single hinge. Smoke curled up from the chamber, running down the ceiling. Fresh blood stained the floor and walls in ragged patterns. More bodies. Badron grimaced. From the looks of it all of his private guard had been caught unawares and slain. Their furs and spiked helms lay stained in growing pools of blood. Badron splashed his way past.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's been a long time my friend

I'd just about given up doing this blog thing. It was steadily turning out to be a colossal waste of my time but I don't like to quit things. Guess I'm from an older, better generation that what he we have now. Too many people are willing to quit and accept defeat, as if there's nothing wrong with it! I'd be ashamed to quit anything. It's not in my character. I grew up when it wasn't alright to be sensitive, wasn't fine to show weakness. My character was forged from strength (sometimes perhaps a little too much but hey, that's life) and molded by men who'd been to wars far worse than what I saw. Iraq and Afghanistan were hell, but nothing compared to Vietnam or Korea.

That being said, I have received well over 100 thanks but no thanks cookie cutter rejection letters from agents. My drive has kept me writing, that and these darn stories that need to get out of my head and onto paper! I take comfort in the fact that literary agents are quickly becoming irrelevant in the grand scheme of publishing so their 'no' doesn't quite mean as much as it used to. I got taken for a ride by Mark Sullivan and Associates when I was a lot younger and too hungry to do the proper research. They took my money and strung me along with the "I wish I could sell this now but we need to...."

No problem. I overcame and adapted and plugged along. I jumped on the Nook and Kindle wagon and made very poor sales from doing it alone. I'm not marketer or salesman. I'm a writer, an author, a magician of words. So I kept looking. I submitted books to several small publishers and now have two contracts and two novels about to be published. I'm happy and still pushing ahead. I dearly wish to break into New York and take the publishing world by storm but patience has gotten me this far. Now it's time to forge ahead and keep breaking down the walls.

Good things may come to those who wait, but who has time for that? I say attack with all possible force and reap the glory.