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Watch the Skies



February 9th, 2013

One small step... for me!

It is with great trepidation that I went out and set up an author page on Amazon. I know on some level, this is important. I haven't worked my way through the entire thing yet, but I've started. If you're really interested, it shouldn't take long - go ahead and peek at it.


I can't place a finger on any one thing that bothers me about setting something like that up. I'm not sure what exactly it is that bothers me about putting my page up and aiming people at a book that I've played a small part in creating. Nebulous, but certainly there.

I've been a fan for a while now and I read a lot of the content offered up by authors that I know. Talking about business seems to be a common topic for them, as well as many other folks connected to the book publishing industry. It's not just genre folks either. Check out this report and see how you feel about things after listening.


Maybe that's what scares me? Have I chosen a side in this game already? I'm just going to have to ride along the bumpy road of experience and find out I suppose.

February 2nd, 2013

Missing Out


I have a lot of other things I should be working on, but assuaging my personal guilt is going to step to
the front for a few minutes. It will be cathartic if nothing else.

I suffer from something that I hadn't put a finger on until recently. The new acronym is FOMO or Fear Of
Missing Out. When I logged onto Facebook this morning for the first
time in a few days I did what a number of folks do – I fell down
the Facebook hole and didn't land until I hit the last post I
remembered reading from earlier this week. I love that this new
technology allows me to keep up to date with my friends, no matter
their location. I often wonder if I'm “missing something” when
I'm not connected. Therein lies the problem. For that hour (or
longer?) when I'm scrolling along past cat videos and gun control
ravings what am I missing out on in the real world? You know, the one
where there's an actual person standing in front of me and asking me
questions or telling me about this cool new thing they've discovered
or asking me to play a game. What do you miss when you're sitting in
the passive glow of a screen?

I'm actually happy that I've begun tofigure this out. It is something that I'm going to have to deal with

moving forward if I entertain any crazy thoughts of getting any more
of my stories published. The simple truth is that today's media
environment expects, no, demands that authors or artists of
any kind have some kind of presence on the web that allows people to
keep up with what's going on in that particular person's world.
Perhaps that's part of the issue here... that sounds like the topic
of a different rant to me.

I've learned over the past couple of

years that I'm a terrible blogger. I like to comment on things and
write things down, I'm just not good at it. Not my format? Maybe
that's the case. I think it's far more likely that I'm not as
connected as so many other people seem to be. It might be (sharp
intake of breath) two or three days until I see something.
Maybe more! I'm not hasty. There are so many topics to cover in this
world and things I'd love to comment on that I'd never get anything
done but that if I dug in and really got going. I'd also sound
incoherent and ignorant on a lot more occasions than I care to think
about. I often think of this quote, “If
you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men,
I will find something in them which will hang him
Cardinal Richelieu. I take my time, I consider things, I consider
other people's opinions of things and attempt to formulate my own
thoughts and opinions on matters. Usually by that time the story has
passed and nobody's really interested any more, but I learn things
from time to time and learning's not bad.

So, what is all this “other stuff”

I'm doing while my butt isn't pasted to a seat in front of a screen?
I'm going out and playing games with friends. I'm going to committee
meetings for professional organizations connected to my day job. I'm
taking care of my kiddo, and helping her to learn about all the
amazing things out there in the world. I'm volunteering with the
Youth For Understanding exchange student program. An article from YFU
USA is the inspiration for writing this all down actually. It seems
that the amazing experience of living in another culture now suffers
from FOMO as well. Kids (and older exchange folks too) aren't
disconnecting when they go someplace new. They're missing out on what
is at hand by clutching the safe and familiar. That can't be me. I
need to go out and do, not sit and long for.

These experiences are helping me gathe material for the stories I want to tell. I just don't know how lon it will be until I get back onto the machine here to tell everyone.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on thi topic too... feel free to take your time and think about it. ;)


December 20th, 2012



It is a sick and tragic world that we live in where this is a discussion, but here we are. Body armor and bullet proof back packs for children going to school.


Sometimes it makes me worry that science fiction authors predict things well. I know there was some small amount of research (or at least a great deal of thinking and questioning) that went into the story “Peter Power Armor” in Defending The Future I:  Breach The Hull (published by Dark Quest Books). If you haven’t read that, you should.

I know there are folks on both sides of the fence when it comes to military stories and fiction; some like it, some don’t. Many people believe it is a glorification of something very ugly in human nature. Some of it can be important, and this story really struck me that way. In the future of war, who will the targets be? What is war these days and what will it become? War today is certainly not the same thing we see in the movies about World War II or Vietnam. It’s even progressing past what was seen in Desert Storm. There aren’t tanks rolling across the fields (or dunes) with waves of troops in support as much as there are patrols of vulnerable troops walking through cities where you can’t necessarily tell who the enemy is – just waiting to discover the next improvised bomb. Who do you shoot at then?

Are the acts of domestic terrorists (and yes, that is how I classify the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary and the jack-ass in the movie theater and Columbine and every other incident you care to bring up) the same as those carried out by troops assigned to cities in other countries? Should these terrorists be treated as common criminals or as enemies during war time?

Is a life for a child that has to be paranoid to that level really worth it?

As the father of an elementary school age girl, I can tell you that I don’t want her to have to live that way. Yes, she needs to know a certain level of preparedness and be aware that bad things can happen. Do I think an armored back pack is the answer? Definitely not. Beyond my own desires to avoid having my child live with that level of paranoia, there are simple, practical matters that intrude on that thought process. Does your child remember their back pack every day? Do they sit with it on their back at lunch time, or at recess? Should recess be held inside only, just to be safe? I’d answer all of those questions with a no.

I understand that this is a complex issue and that there will be people that don’t agree with my point of view. No, I didn’t talk about mental health or things related to mental health. Yes, that’s also part of the debate. I have tried to work some of these things into my thinking and fiction as well. I hope the dire predictions of the future don’t come to pass and that we can still have happy kids free from the paralyzing idea that somebody’s going to crash into (and possibly end) the world as they know it. I hope they can run and yell and laugh and smile in the sunlight without razor wire fences and armed guards. I think we should all aim for that world.


Coming soon – Best Laid Plans

November 25th, 2012

Up Against Something...

Up Against ItUp Against It by M.J. Locke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm glad that the folks at Watch The Skies recommended this title. I would not have picked it up on my own. It was a bit of a struggle to get into the book because the view point was not consistent. I wanted to get to the main view point character and stay there. That just didn't seem to work out.

I like the science aspects that tie into this story. The world building and background are really solid. I like the hero of the story. I'm really not sure what it is in particular that is holding me back from giving this book a higher star rating.

I am looking forward to discussing all of this with the group to get some other views on the story and where it went.

That being said - the huge amount of background pieces that play into the main story will likely turn into the best part of the book. All the discussions that will pour forth from gene modification to industrial automation to living conditions on an asteroid.

View all my reviews


Lunatics: A NovelLunatics: A Novel by Dave Barry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have liked a lot of Dave Barry's previous work. I didn't recognize the author he worked with on this book, but I thought I'd give it a shot. I listened to the audio version while on a long car ride, and I'm glad I took the book in this way.

The first thing I noticed was the language. I'm not opposed to the language Mr. Barry used for his character, I was just surprised. I'm used to the stuff that's printable in major newspapers, not what I got right from the disclaimer onward.

This book has some very funny moments. I would have liked it better had the entire story stayed in the United States, but it's not my choice. That was the turning point in the book for me. If the characters involved had continued to have the coincidental, caustic relationship for the entire book while maintaining the other characters in their respective families and neighborhoods I would have been much happier with it. As soon as the helicopter hit the bridge in NY and they became "terrorists" I became distinctly less interested.

If I had been reading, I would have stopped right around the switch to the terrorist scenario. Since it was an audio book and I was in traffic on I-90, I finished it. There were funny parts toward the end of the book, but it just trailed away for me rather than finishing with a bang.

I suggest you listen to it yourself. Be aware that having your 8 year old in the car with you while you listen might not be a great idea. Do it anyway, and you might just be the biggest douche bag in the history of vaginal care (yes, there were some amusing lines in there)!

View all my reviews

October 30th, 2012



I want to post a note on communications. In the day and age of “instant” everything, one might think that getting messages to each other would be easy and, dare I say it – expected? One would be wrong.

I will not belittle the things others are going through. There are places out there that are surviving based only on what those near them could do to help. We were very lucky with this storm. I understand that all levels of government are very, very busy.

When you call and tell me (in an automated message) to pull my trash cans back off the street because trash pick-up is cancelled, that’s fine. When you continue in that same message to explain that the municipality will call again to let residents know when trash pick-up will recommence, my expectation is that I’ll get another phone call. I’m ok with the same automated system – I will pick it up from the answering machine when I get a chance. No problems.

I get angry when that expectation is not only not met, but is particularly wrong. See, when I went to the house to check in at lunch time today (and was sitting enjoying some of the crazy good leftovers from dinner last night) the trash truck cruised down the street and stopped at the two or three houses that hadn’t bothered to pull their cans off the street as they were asked to.

That’s not right.

Yes, it’s a small thing, but it really makes me mad. Mad enough to be more negative than normal about things – and post about it.

Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad, BUT (you knew I was going to say that, right?) I’d already had an issue earlier in the day that kind of set me day off wrong. My boss called from the office at the time I was supposed to be there to say, "we've got power, where are you?" rather than calling in earlier to tell everyone we'd be open as he said he would.

Yes, as I’m fond of telling everyone I’ve got a very short commute. I do that because I have issues with long drives. It’s not about the length of the drive – it’s about doing what you said you would do. Communication has never been a strong point here so I wasn’t shocked, just angry. (I’ll leave out the part about exactly how non-essential a single day in the office for me is in the grand scheme of things like a state of emergency and the government officials asking folks to stay home – ‘cause that makes me really angry too).

There – I’ve vented a bit. I’m not sure it helped as I’m still angry – but at least you know why now.

October 14th, 2012

A Kiss Before Something...

A Kiss Before the Apocalypse (Remy Chandler, #1)A Kiss Before the Apocalypse by Thomas E. Sniegoski

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was decent. I think it suffered from following hard on the heels of 5 fast paced military science fiction books that I had just finished. My mood and previous reads should always be considered when selecting the next book to read.

One of the issues I have with this book is that I feel like I've seen parts of this story before. I can't place where or even be sure that what I'm feeling is real or just that - a feeling.

The fact that a large number of biblical folks all live in Boston was amusing, but was a challenge to get past after the 4th or 5th character showed up in Southie. I understand spreading them all out doesn't work out well for the story, but it strained my suspension of disbelief.

As I sit here and ponder the whole thing... what I think was missing was the strength of the relationship between the main character and his wife. I've seen the immortal paired with the mortal in other places and that might be what's driving my "been there before" feeling. I might have been hoping that relationship was as powerful as the one in City of Angels (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120632/) and this book isn't that.

Overall, as I said, decent. It's a solid 3 of 5 stars, but I'm not rushing to get the next one.

View all my reviews

September 17th, 2012

Sports Rant


Some quick thoughts on sports (since the topic has popped up recently). If you’re not a sports person – you can skip this.

I know there aren’t many of my friends that follow sports. Those that do follow, I’m certain will have comments… and probably have better arguments than I will about these short topics.

Football. I’m really glad that football season has come around again. I enjoy watching games. No, I’m not a fanatic, I just enjoy the game. I believe the level of fanaticism is a major contributing factor to big issues we have today. I’ve avoided comment on the Penn State scandal for the most part. For my friends that don’t live in the area you need to understand how difficult this was. That was the only news here. There wasn’t anything else on the newscasts until 6 stories deep no matter what it was. It was the main topic of discussion at many times when I was out and about because there are so many grads that live and work in this area. The closest pro team is a 90 minute drive away – but people have that fanatic relationship with Penn State football as if it was the “pro” team for this area. Not being from here originally – I never really got that.

I believe that fanaticism is part of what has hurt football. This culture that people connected to the team can do no wrong. We’ve seen the results of win and get big money at all costs will really cost. I know there are those out there that will say there are measures to stop this and it’s not true anymore – but I really wonder and doubt. It’s difficult to change the way money talks. What other job can you get that will pay you 4 million a year if you’re “pretty good” at what you do relative to the rest of the work force? There have been a few examples I can think of where the player tried to go and do something else and ended up returning because nothing else would allow him to meet his debts.

So – in small steps the tide might be turning. I saw a news report where a famous football player attempted to speak at an event and was denied. I’m not sure all the background on it, but the folks running the event said, “…we had a procedure and you didn’t follow it” then took the microphone away. That player still got his message out there because the media wouldn’t let that go, but the meeting didn’t make an exception just because he’s a well known former (famous) player. Colleges that used to sell out are struggling with stadiums that are three quarters empty.

The pros are still fighting on. They’re doing whatever they can to keep their money – possibly at the cost of the game itself. The refs are just the most recent example. How high will the quality really be when you’re grabbing the folks that are willing to push out the people that used to do the job? What if your employment verification system fails – publicly?



I know that sports and team activities like this are important. I know the lesser known teams like volleyball, field hockey, lacrosse… essentially anything that isn’t baseball, football or basketball still generally get it right. I’m not sure any of the pro leagues will ever get it right again.

The one hope I have that things will right themselves is a slim one. Hockey.

There are a lot of true fans out there that will hate me for saying this but I hope the lock out continues and they lose another season. Right now isn’t the time for billionaires to be squabbling with millionaires about how much they think they can suck out of the fans that struggle to pay $100+ ticket prices for a game. Yes – a GAME.

I say it’s a slim hope because hockey has already missed an entire season and it only made folks come back to it with more vigor (and cash) than ever. I still hope that enough people turn away that the financial situation rights itself. I’m disillusioned with professional sports. Maybe they’ll come around – or maybe the people will get tired of all their shenanigans and take their money someplace else. Time will tell.

September 14th, 2012

It's not Illegal

In this country it's not illegal to be an asshole. I think there should be some kind of penalty or tax, but it would be impossible to enforce.

I'm going to stay away from specifics, but I feel I should pass along a few tidbits that tie directly to a certain anti-religion film and the resultant chaos it has brought on.

I haven't seen this film, nor do I think I will. I'd rather not see it in fact. I suspect if I met the person that made it, I'd want to punch him. OR... what was the terminology? OH that's right - percussive cranial therapy. The fact that some fanatic has gone and stirred this stuff up is the part that bothers me. Why would anyone think that their religion needs to "win" against another? Does somebody else have to get torn down in order for you to feel better? I don't get it.

So above and beyond all the stuff you've undoubtedly seen in the news, the ripples go further than you think. I am a part of an exchange student support team. Again - no specifics - but I'm the representative this year for a Muslim student that's studying here in central PA. I was sent a message from national headquarters to be sure to check in on this student today - just to be sure that everything was ok. I fail to comprehend how this film maker believes that what he's done helps anyone, in any way. I don't get it. What I do know is that he's just made things a whole lot more difficult for a whole lot of people in this world. This idiot hasn't done anyone any good at all.

I am reminded of a quote from a show I rather liked: "Ignorance and arrogance all in one package... how efficient."

What an asshole.

September 12th, 2012

Misadventures in grooming


Or – why my face might have looked a little odd today.

So about half way through my morning shave this morning my electric razor crapped out. I generally don't think of this as a big deal, but I was half way done. I plugged in the razor and figured I'd continue on my merry way. Wrong. Apparently when the battery is all the way drained, it doesn't matter if you plug it in, it still doesn't work.

So there I was, half way through the shave and stuck.

I went to the electric years ago. There are a huge number of things I'm very traditional about but this is not one of them. I stood and stared at the useless plastic and metal lump in my hand and wondered what to do. My lovely wife suggested that I use her razor to finish the job... using a new blade of course. I figured I needed the other half of my face should be shaved, so I agreed.

I found out a couple of things and thought I'd share. First, a razor designed for a woman's legs isn't really designed for my face. Shocking, I know. Next, shaving cream has an amazing shelf life. I found an old dusty can at the back of the cabinet and popped the top expecting something horrible. Nope. Contents under pressure still worked just fine. Application of said cream was another adventure. I've discovered that I'm out of practice. I was a foamy mess. It's also notable that certain kinds of razors can have the blades installed in either direction. I got this one upside down on the first try and couldn't for the life of me figure out why I wasn't getting a very clean shave. Pressing harder doesn't help.

I had to start again. Eric shaves for work, take two.

I eventually got things all squared away and finished the job. My shave was done. And my face hurt. I needed to wrap this up since I was now running behind schedule.

This is where the last lesson of the day came into play. Aftershave is advertised as helping your face feel better. I disagree. I had a total Macauly Calkin moment (Home Alone – kids, ask your parents that movie is 22 years old!).

I suspect that the shaved sides of my face looked OK or my wife wouldn't have allowed me out of the house, but the sides certainly felt different all day. Thankfully I'll get the chance to start all over again tomorrow morning!

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