Kindle Price Drop Sale

(crossposted at Blackfive) 

If the hamsters all spun in their cages as planned, a price drop sale began an hour ago on the Kindle version of my short story “Flight of the Fantasy



and on the Kindle version of “A Different View: DJ, Doura, and Arab Jabour (Volume 3)



Flight of the Fantasy has been getting some very good reviews (and my thanks to those of you who have read and posted your reviews!).  ADV3 has also gotten some very good things said about it (check out the cover blurbs), and has an amazing introduction by Sarah A. Hoyt as well as a foreword by my Playboy mentor David Mecey (link may be NSFW).

The lowest prices are now, and they will bump up back to full price over the next week as the sale progresses.  If you have Kindle Unlimited, they are free and you should get them.  Sale ends at midnight next Thursday.

Shameless Plug Time

My short story is picking up some good reviews, why not check it out for yourself and leave a review with your thoughts?

Also, have you bought my latest photo book?

Don’t forget, the second book in the series is on sale right now…

Also, the first book is still available too

We Are Franks

Following up on my previous post, there has been a lot of discussion on what we “not-real-fans” should call ourselves.  After all, the Waffen SJW brigade is calling us a LOT of names right now, all foul and some quite slanderous.  So much so that I note they should be glad that social rules have changed otherwise many would be well within their rights to claim satisfaction and demand seconds be named.

That said, I’ve put forward that all of us “not-real-fans” should call ourselves “Franks.”  If you’ve not read Larry Correia’s excellent Monster Hunter International and subsequent books, you are missing a treat.  The character “Franks” is delightfully complex and as much as you want (very much, at least in my case) to hate him there is something that keeps you from doing so. Hints, that are expanded as the series continues.  I’m going to try to say this without giving too many spoilers, but I feel that calling ourselves “Franks” works on multiple levels.

On the simplest levels, the Waffen SJW do see us as being Franks.  That is, they see us as traitors to the cause, an opponent they would love to see destroyed utterly and sent to hell (literally in some cases, figuratively for some), and a monster that blocks their efforts at world domination.  Those of us who feel that the Hugos should be inclusive and about good writing/art/etc.  and not just limited to the right people with the right message, of course see ourselves as warriors on the side of all that is good and right.  Warriors who are willing to get our hands dirty and do what is needed to save the world and the Hugo Awards from complete and total irrelevancy.

It also works on several more levels, which are left as exercises for the student (or those who love mental puzzles).  The fact that it uses Larry’s character and will, therefore, make even more of the right heads explode makes it even better in my not-so-humble-opinion.

So, does “Franks” work for you or do you have a better suggestion?

NOTE: You really should read this excellent open letter from Larry to the moderates, fence sitters, and others.  Links in there to a lot of needed background and history.  Bravo sir!

The Right Type of Fan?

I admit before you all that I am a fan of Science Fiction, and to a lesser extent Fantasy.  While I don’t game, I read.  I read avidly anyway, and for pleasure read a great deal of science fiction, some fantasy, and some other sub-genres that defy easy categorization (and may be of dubious enough parentage that the offspring could be mutants).  I watch some television and movies based on same, though not all.

Both Mom and Dad loved to read, and encouraged that from an early age.  Given health and related issues, reading was my escape and exploration option.  An early memory is of my Dad reading comics to me, and to confirm both age and geekiness, I miss Henry and some of the comics of a more innocent age.  Fiction was my way to explore, and sadly I was turned off to science fiction and related early on by some early exposure.

Money being in short supply, most of my reading was done courtesy of the Macon/Bibb County public library.  The main and Riverside branch librarians came to tolerate and encourage (for the most part, with one exception that still sticks in my mind) my forays out from the children’s section into adult reading.  It was one of the librarians at Riverside who suggested that despite my early experience I might enjoy some science fiction.  She slowly talked me into reading some good science fiction, and I was hooked.  Blish, Clarke, Heinlein, the doors opened and I read anything and everything.  If I liked a story, I then ready everything they had by that author.  If not, I might try one more story, then moved on.

Of course, I wanted to be all the things kids normally do:  fireman, policeman, astronaut (still do, actually, just not with stick in the ass NASA), etc.  Yet, the telling of stories and the taking of photographs has always been the dream.  It was science fiction, via the original Star Trek, that led me to realize one might could do both.  Finding out the “real” identities of some authors only added to it.  The late Jimmy Doohan actually advised me a bit on this, and the discussion we had while I was still in high school is a treasured memory.  He had come to Macon for an event, and I was one of about three people that showed up.  We ended up talking, and I told him of my plans to pursue engineering in college despite doctors and others telling me I could not do it.  (Side note:  If I had listened to the doctors, and even my mother to a lesser extent, I would not be here today.  Short version, I was born allergic to almost everything, had some other medical issues, and learned-types said I would not live, would not thrive, and would never graduate high school much less be capable of college-level work.)

Jimmy was at first somewhat horrified that his portrayal of Scotty had so inspired me.  As we talked, he quickly realized that I had thought it out, done a bit of research, and had a plan though I knew it would be difficult/nearly impossible.  By the end of the conversation, he was encouraging and supportive though reminding of reality.  It was the first of several conversations over the years, and it was one of the most unique academic counseling sessions I’ve had.

Indeed, engineering did not work out (calculus, actually) but it was discovered that I could translate scientificese and engineerese into something close to American (I gave up on English years ago, few here speak it).  So, instead of the fiction and photography, I found myself covering science and technology first as a science journalist, and then as an “evil” paid flack.  This lead to working at AEDC, and then twice as a contractor for NASA.  Picked up a couple of small awards along the way.

I also picked up something else.  My first job out of college was at what was then the largest independent bookstore in the southeast.  It was both a job (needed) and a deliberate choice so I could learn about the business of book sales and a bit about that end of publishing.  One of my co-workers was a dealer at cons, and he talked me into helping him at a con in Atlanta, and thus began my entry into cons and organized fandom.  Aside from helping him, my goal was to meet editors, publishers, and authors and learn from them.  In those days, cons were a great way to network, and learn.  I cheerfully did so.

Not only did I attend them, I began taking part on panels and was even an invited guest to a number of conventions.  I helped out a bit here and there, and because of my PR/PAO duties of the day, became Manager of Media Relations for ConFederation, the 44th World Science Fiction Convention held in Atlanta.  It was an amazing experience, as I did both that job and was, once again, on a number of panels.  I still thank the late Robert “Horseclans” Adams for preventing me from having to use one of the contingency press releases I had ready to go, and love telling the story of having Larry Niven literally throw me at a fan after a panel so he could escape.

It was also my full introduction to SMOFs (Secret Masters of Fandom), cliques, and related.  Frankly, I didn’t care if someone was with the right organization or group, all I cared about was if they could help us or hurt us.  There was a major pro author who hurt us badly, and there was a lady from an organization (of which I am personally quite leery) who was an amazing help to us.  My take in most things is that I don’t care about a persons beliefs or personal activities, much less the wrapper they live in, but in if they are the right person for the job and can and will do a good job with the task at hand.  That is not everyone’s cup of tea, to be polite, and by the end of the con I was quite disgusted with organized Fandom.  Add to it that I was being “warned” by some big-name (at the time) editors/publishers that I was dangerously close to being labeled a “fan writer…”

It was during this time that I first truly met Uncle Timmy, who was not well loved by certain crowds even then.  It was this fact that led me spend some time with him and his group, who had taken over a good bit of a nearby hotel removed from official WorldCon activities.  Long story short, I found myself recruited and helping with science programming at his new venture, LibertyCon.  Something I did for many years.

To see the number of conventions — literary, media, and other — that now do this pleases me no end.  It was not the norm, and I will say that Timmy and LibertyCon helped blaze that trail to what I see as the enrichment of all.

I honestly can’t remember when I first met Toni Weisskopf and Jim Baen, but to call them a breath of fresh air is an understatement.  They encouraged me to move into writing fiction, and we discussed some projects including a joint project with a well-known writer.  Sadly, that did not work out.  I will say right now that I think Jim and Toni both believed in me long before I believed in myself in regards being able to write good fiction (at least other than some AARs).

Why the trip down memory lane, you ask?  Well, despite reading science fiction and fantasy from an early age, and being involved with some elements of Fandom since high school, I am apparently not a real fan.  I am also, apparently, not a real writer/author.  At least according to the crowd no-longer-known-as-SMOFs-but-now-CHORFS.

If you heard splatting booms yesterday, it was CHORF heads exploding at the Hugo nominations.  As a bit of background, WorldCon attendance has dropped over the years, and it is the members of any given WorldCon that vote on the Hugo awards (for non fans, think Oscar’s of SF&F).  For a while now, low membership and attendance in WorldCons has made it easy to game the system in a quiet way to ensure that only the “right” type of works were nominated and that only the “right” type actually won.  A couple of years ago, Larry Corriea and some others decided to expose what was going on, and see about making the awards truly inclusive, diverse, and to see actual good writing start winning over those that were poorly written but had the right message.  This has completely unhinged an already unhinged group of creatures, who have attacked the effort and Larry with vitriol, lies, and more.

This year, the effort was led by Brad Torgersen, and the result was the inclusion of a diverse range of prose written by a group of politically, genderly (who cares if it’s a real word, it works and you know it), orientationally, etc. authors.  The CHORFS are now even more outraged, and perfectly happy to completely nuke the Hugo awards into total irrelevancy rather than see a broad range of fans and readers (and potential customers of said writings) take part in “their” award and sandbox.

Hugo nominee Michael Z. Williamson has already written an excellent post on the whole “not a real fan” idiocy, and there is more on the whole issue for those that truly wish to be informed at The Mad Genius Club and Sarah A. Hoyt’s place.

For me, I ain’t right in the head, and am happy that I ain’t the right type of fan.  I’m a fan who reads, watches, and jumps in to get my hands dirty up to the elbows.  I’m a fan who didn’t want to jump into the fiction market until I was happy with the quality of what I was writing.  If that is wrong, I don’t want to be right.  I want to be good, to enjoy what I enjoy, and to blow cigar smoke into the faces of the CHORFs.

Begun the SF&F Culture Wars have.  Now, let’s go win it and take back a great part of our culture.

My post on why us “non-real” fans should call ourselves “Franks” can be found here.  More to come, I’m sure.

And speaking of which, you really should read this excellent open letter from Larry to the moderates, fence sitters, and others.  Links in there to a lot of needed background and history.  Bravo sir!

Indianapolis Cigar Event

On Saturday 11 April, the Pipe Puffer pipe and cigar store in Indianapolis will be hosting a very special cigar event.  La Gloria Cubana cigars will have Master Cigar Roller Leo Peraza present rolling a limited edition Serie R Esteli for the event.  The Pipe Puffer is on County Line Road across from Greenwood Mall on the south side of Indy.  There will be more, and I note that they have a very good humidor and one of the best selections of pipes and pipe tobacco in the region.  The event is from 1-5 pm, and I am very much looking forward to it.  Hope you will consider attending as well.

Something Completely Different

I admit that internationally known photographer David Mecey is a friend, and was a fantastic mentor during my photographic internship at Playboy.  It’s all the more reason I would encourage troops, veterans, and family members/caregivers interested in a career in model, fashion, or glamor photography attend his workshops.   Over at Mission: VALOR is the chance to do so at a discount.  Go check it out.


For The Record

Crossposted at Blackfive

I was coated in hydraulic fluid and profoundly grateful as I stumbled bowlegged away from the helicopter.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a 46 or 47 (and I suspect true of any similar make anywhere in the world), you and everything in it gets a fine coating of the fluid.  Just the nature of the beast.  On the up side, the camera still hasn’t needed lubrication since (extra cleanings, yes).  As for stumbling, that came from being wedged into place among the other cargo, legs spread far wider than comfortable.  I’m not saying that the few of us that made the bird had our legs forcibly spread so wide that porn stars were shocked and awed, but…  Yes, it was painful but I was secondary cargo and glad to be able to get out on that particular bird no matter the contortions.  In short, not an atypical flight.

There were some interesting maneuvers on the Marne Express (and similar flights), but those were to prevent people from being able to easily shoot at us.  Being a sick puppy, I found them pretty fun, and they reminded me of some even more interesting rides down at Ft. Rucker back in the day (between those two trees, no, between THESE two trees!).  I will not say the Blackhawks are more comfortable than the old Hueys but will note that you can cram a lot more people and gear into them.

If anyone shot at myself or any of the units I was with via small arms fire, they either did so using suppressors or from such a distance we could not hear the shot, and were lousy shots.  At the time I was there, the largest form of attacks were IEDs, rockets, and mortars. The only time there was the sound of gunfire (other than practice ranges) was in the run up to Operation Browning, and I still wish I could have stayed for that.

As for one particular 5 o’clock Charlie, the safest place to be was his known point of aim.  Sadly, like most sports pools I enter, my picks as to distance missed/what is actually hit have a dismal success rate.  Whoever it was that kept betting on the greater than distance made out like a bandit.  Say, wait a minute…

For whatever mainstream media still checks us out, Brian Williams is a hint as to why troops neither like nor trust reporters.  If you check out the writings by or about dedicated military reporters (Dan Lamothe, Tom Kludt as but two of several articles), you will find that they are livid too.  Far more surprised I think than milbloggers, but…  I also want to point to this story about Stars and Stripes, the first major publication to investigate and run the story.  Note, however, that they were the first old-school media to run it; it was social media/new media that first began to expose it.

As for me, my decision to have my “media” badge say “Blogger” instead of press or media was reinforced by hearing more than once about previous mainstream media embeds and pithy discussions of “misremembered” reporting.  Giving the number of personal videos and other recordings made, I would not be surprised to see more than Brian Williams be deservedly bitten in the ass for “misremembering” and “misreporting” events.  My own opinion is that such extends far beyond military coverage, and the rapid circling of wagons indicates that others see this more than mildly damaging for the media.  Kudos to Tom Brokaw for his reported thoughts on the matter, and if Dan Rather has to try to defend you…

New Short: Flight of the Fantasy

My latest short story, Flight of the Fantasy, is now available on Kindle for just $2.99. It’s set against the backdrop of Libya in 1989, and set to Mannheim Steamroller’s Carol of the Bells. A tale of intrigue, “missing” nuclear weapons, and a final combat mission for a long-lost B-24.

Merry Christmas


May yours be bright and filled with all good things. Remembering Christmas’s past, in this case Doura, Iraq 2007.

Sale Over…

But, I may run some unadvertised specials.  Meantime, you can buy my new book (CreateSpace, Amazon, Kindle) and you can get print versions of ADV: Travels to Al Qa’im and Beyond and ADV: Travels with Team Easy; and, you can get the Kindle version of A Different View: Travels to Al Qa’im and Beyond
A Different View: Travels with Team Easy, Iraq 2007.  I want to share again the heart of the previous post:

A Different View: DJ, Doura, and Arab Jabour (Volume 3) is a view of the day-to-day life of the troops.  It shares one of the most amazing Christmas dinners I’ve ever had, and it shares a bit about Operation Puppy Love.  More than that, it shows how far things had come, and the hope on all sides that existed in late 2007/early 2008.  It shares what was tossed away for domestic political purposes, and stands in stark contrast to the situation today.

I think you really need to read Sarah A. Hoyt’s entire introduction, but this part captures so much of what I hope is shown in the images: Continue reading