Thursday, June 21, 2012

A month?

Has it really been a month since posting?
Wow. Time flies, lets see, since Mother's day? Another trip to Georgia, a Piano concerto and a boys choir, a trip to Dmanisi (the archeological dig in Georgia where the oldest Europeans can be found),  and crazy lots of work. In fact I would classify work as 'Bat-shit' crazy. Should go through mid August, and then I have my 2 weeks of Army duty for the Reserves.
I did manage to break way and spend much of the day with the fam, and my sister and niece at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA. So not all work and no play, honest.
Outside the Wire seems to be doing well on Amazon (usually top 100 in free short story ebooks). If you read it post a review, this bumps up the buzz, and increases 'sales' (okay it's free, so maybe I should say 'downloads').

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's day to the two mother's in my life;
The mother of my children, and the mother of me!

Thanks for all you've done.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Last Month's trip

I've been a bit busy and remiss in posting. My new schedule has me going back and forth to Georgia (the country), regularly, and I realized on VE day that I hadn't published anything since before my last trip.

So, last month, in addition to working, and going to a Handel Opera, Radamisto (I've never done Baroque Opera before- so it was something different) I did a day trip with two friends to a the Davit Gareji Monastery Complex, also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The place is hewn from the rock, starting sometime in the sixth century. It sits out on a lonely escarpment right on the border with Azerbaijan. When you walk the back side of the mountain to see the old caves you actually cross the border once or twice. Anyway out there in the middle of no where, in a cave, is a great place to contemplate your relationship with God, but it also sits on the path from the Mideast and Central Asia toward Europe.

The Mongols, Tamerlane, the Persians and the Bolsheviks all did their best to put the smack-down on the site, but still it's there. Experiencing a bit of a resurgence as well. When we there a bus full of German retirees were volksmarching their way through the complex.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

VE Day!

Victory in Europe, sixty-seven years ago today, or yesterday (7 May) if you were a Commonwealth country or tomorrow (9 May) if you are part of the former Soviet Union (FSU). The 7th was the act of surrender in France, while it was ratfied on the 8th. Not sure why the Soviets thought it was the 9th...I think it has something to do with time zones though (or maybe it was the kickoff of the cold war?).

Anyway, happy VE day, the end of tyranny and facism in Europe! Seems funny while looking at the International news. Putin 'elected' as president (with Medyedev back as PM), Hollande is President -elect in France with a decidely nationalist agenda (with Merkel of Germany warning the new President not to try to renogotiate the austerity deals), oh and a facist group springing up in Greece gets a seat in their parliment... good times.

Oh, and all this during a economic slwodown... anything sound familiar about this?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Double Dip of Easter

Easter. To much of the world it's chocolate bunnies and jelly-bean filled baskets. But to the roughly 2.2 Billion Christians this is the day that makes them Christian. (The belief in a crucified dead and buried Christ who descended into hell and and on the third day -Easter- rose again to subsequently ascend into heaven to sitteth on the right hand of God the Father- were you sleeping in Sunday School?)

So this year I was with family and friends on the 8th of April and I had my fill of chocolate bunnies and fellowship. I also made the trek to Georgia on Easter Sunday evening where I will get a second helping of Easter! This year Eastern Easter is on the 15th. I know, people always say, really? Why is theirs late?

Well, that's history. Seriously.

The gentlemen at the Council of Nicaea (c.325) agreed that Easter would be on the first Sunday after the full moon that came after the vernal equinox. On the Gregorian calendar the equinox falls on 21 March. Well, the Eastern Christian Churches use the Julian calendar, so their 21 March is our 3 April. Last year both east and west celebrated Easter on the same Sunday, but often they are off a bit (22 March to 25 April in the west and 4 April to 8 May in the east). Why a week? I have no idea. But it means I will be bloated with hard boiled eggs!

I really enjoy the traditions and opportunity for reflection Easter provides. In Georgia (an Orthodox Christian nation) they have a whole set of comparable Christian traditions- the palms on Sunday, the eggs, feasts with family and friends, the works. The same but different, and I have not seen a single chocolate bunny (except for the ones I brought).

Oh, and music festivals. More on those later.

Monday, April 9, 2012

GOB is the grittiest and most satisfying werewolf novel, ever read

By Clayton Bye, the writer, reviewer and web guru. Don't just take my word for it, read it here at the Deepening[HERE].

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Spring in Virginia means garden planting! In 2010 I had put in a raised bed garden, but had neglected to fill the beds with soil. Hard to grow veggies, melons and corn with no soil. Impossible to do the last year I was in Georgia (country not state, come on). So on my return I ambitiously tackled my honey-do list, and finished what I had started 2 years ago. (Sometimes projects are like that, aren't they? Great start...but..). Tomatoes, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, and strawberries, with plenty of room in the garden left for anyone else in the family to plant...hint hint..

I also finished the draft, edited and mailed off my long Short Story (8K words)- Fistful of Dead. I submitted it to 'Dark Trails' anthology being put together by Michael Knost. I liked the story and had originally seen it as a novella, not a full-on novel, but the arc was pretty complete at 8K words, as was, so I submitted for the anthology. My other 2 novels started as short stories, I let them ferment in the back part of my brain as they were, for a year or so, and then had the juice to expand them into novels. We'll see...

But the best part of getting the weird western out of my system is that I can now turn back to my real WIP, well after I finish the garden, and then I have another trip to Georgia (the country- come on,we talked about this...), and the sheep need to be sheared, and...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Free on AMAZON- Outside the Wire

Outside the Wire, my collection of short stories is now free on Amazon! (Here).

Only 2 months after I put it up at the Kindle store with a list price of free (they charge a minimum of .99, and are reticent to drop it much lower). So go, what are you waiting for!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Gladiator, the yeast unleashed, and a 'Fistful of Dead'

The final step in the brewing of my first batch of beer: bottling. Overall, the beer came out pretty good. Gladiator IPA. Now, I don't think it's going to win a gold medal for beer of the year or anything, had good balance between the malt body and the Hops (only Magnum and Centennial hops so it was a nice bitter IPA style, but not a complicated hop composition) while the rye malt gave a spiciness I enjoyed.

The picture is taken in front of the kitchen window, and you can see my barn in the background. (Shout out to Chemi kargi megobari, Dato Garciashvilli, zalian didi madloba, batono).

On the writing front; I have finished the first draft of the weird western that I was working on. Came out under 10K words, so more of a novellette than a Novella. I will devote a future post to describing what I think are the differences- promise.

In the town of Restitution, Wyoming, 1869, legendary gun-hand and Town Marshal, Ephraim Stone, keeps the chaos of an out-of-control range war from breaching the borders of this desolate, windswept cluster of shacks. Until he's back-shot and the violence floods past his cold-dead corpse, lying there in the rutted main street. The town's people have no talent for gun-play, but they do have the corpse of a man that did. Now if only they can wrest his soul from the darkness and raise the dead, they just might get even odds at life for them and theirs.

A Fistful of Dead, coming summer 2012.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Back Again

So I mentioned that I left my expatriate assignment in Georgia a month ago (Feb 16). But I haven't really left Georgia (the country). After brewing my beer and setting it up in the basement to dry-hop, getting an unbelievable number of honey-do's completed, and almost getting my biological clock reset over 2 weeks, I was back to Georgia for the past 2 weeks.

(One of my coworkers was kind enough to point out that he can't ever miss me if I don't actually leave...)

While there, I worked (obviously), attended a supra, slammed drinks till after midnight with some former US senators, attended a Tbilisi State Conservatory graduation piano recital, and worked on that Weird Western Novella (mostly on the long ride back across continents). It's coming along nicely and rejuvenating my dejuvenated juices; after a year and half and only 69K words to show for my Military Scifi book I was starting to sag.

My wife was able to join me for a week of the two in Tbilisi (best part). She had a Turkish Air flight, while I was on Lufthansa/United. I left 20 minutes before and made it to Dulles about hour and half ahead. It was all in the layover, honest.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fun with Yeast

People have hobbies, right? Mine include reading (and writing) fiction, weight lifting, running, sheep farming, I used to do a little martial arts and archery and have tried (unsuccessfully) to play the viola. Oh and anything my kids want to do becomes an immediate superseding interest.

Well, an expatriate friend of mine in Georgia (shout out David) was a big fan of homebrewing. I'm a beer fan, and a scientist, and I've used yeast (for a yeast two-hybrid experiment- a little different than brewing, but still, unicellular fungi are unicellular fungi, right?). So when he wanted to try to brew some good American style ales in Georgia, I was in. A few batches and I felt I could give it a go after I got back to the states. And I did. I named the concoction Gladiator IPA (for the battle I had to engage in with the equipment, and it's loaded on Hopville ). So far, so good. No contamination, yeast seems to be bubbling. I racked and am dry-hopping now while I run back to Georgia for some meetings.

And here is the wort before (left) and after (right)
primary fermentation. Right now it's a bit too bitter..yeah, even for me, but hoping it mellows a bit.

Who knew something so tasty could be so nasty looking?

Fun with yeast!

Monday, February 20, 2012


Outside the Wire is now available Barnes and Noble!
It's almost viral!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

OTW Review

Outside the Wire received its first review (HERE).

"This author has a natural talent to weave words into descriptive stories ... the style of writing with details keeps the reader's interest ... savor each word knowing the tale will end too soon."

And Sue Mahoney was kind enough to post this to Amazon and Smashwords as well! Thanks Sue.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Made it!

Lot's to reflect in my year+ as an American Expat* in Georgia. For now, though sad to be separated from my friends and colleagues, but I am just happy to be back on the farm. My 15 year old did an excellent job keeping the place going during the intervals between my too infrequent visits.

I also need to confess an infidelity. Yes, I cheated on my military scifi work in progress (WIP). I not only outlined, but actually started a weird western novella. I know, terrible.

*In Barcelona an Argentinian guest worker said she didn't like it that citizens of the USA referred to themselves as Americans (after asking my nationality). So my questions to her were; 1) what other country includes the word 'America' in their name (It sounds stupid to say united-statesian) and 2)what country did you, Argentine guest worker lady, and everyone else think that I meant when I said American? I didn't think I was being continent insensitive...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Outside the Wire on iTunes

Outside the Wire is available on iTunes (Free)

So any of you viewing this blog on an iPad can click your way to 30,000 words of bountiful entertainment.
(Be careful, it's scarey!)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Coming Home

I face the end of expatriate assignment in the FSU country of Georgia, as one might expect, with mixed emotions. I have made a great number of good friends here, I've experienced a rich and charming culture, I've been introduced to foods I didn't know that I couldn't live without, I've racked up a metric tonne of frequent flier miles, and learned a great deal about myself, the International business environment and the world in which we live in a way that I could never have done had it not been for these experiences.
With all that said, it's been a rewarding but also very tough thirteen months. Particularly on the family that I alternatively drug across nine time zones and abandoned to their own fate over the past year. I could not have done it this were my wife and children not possessed of a positive, adventurous and expeditionary disposition. Or set of dispositions, I suppose. So thanks to you, my family.

Back to the states on Thursday! Four days and a wakeup! I'll not be leaving the project, but rather managing it from the states, with regular site visits. It's a tough trip, but I'll be able to put the time in at home that I need to,

SO what do I need to do at home? Well, first kid stuff. Scouts, soccer practice, Karate practice. Next I have a million differed maintenance farm chores that have built up and are all now waiting for me. Trees, a garden and Hops that need planting, sheep that need all kinds of things. A son and daughter that may run this little race in the fall with me that we need to prepare for. A new Army job (remember I'm a colonel in the reserves) to in-process and learn. Little things like that. And, no, the Word Count meter on the WIP isn't broken, it's stalled out for the near term. But more about that later, right now I have packing to do!

Monday, February 6, 2012


The Caucasus Mountains are an impressive sight up close. This weekend I had the opportunity to tag along on a ski trip. (No, I didn't ski. I am better suited to clumsy sports where something heavy is picked up and bone breaking at high velocity is less likely.)

But I did partake of the Georgian tradition of the 'Supra', the excesses of great food, and the succession of toasts, and great camaraderie. (Georgians really are the best hosts I've ever met).

But the mountains are very impressive. We went to 'Gudauri'. Decades ago it was a bend in the road on the old Russian Military Highway. But over the past 20 years of independence, it's been developed as a ski resort . Panoramic vistas, lots of locals and a few dozen intrepid multi-national skiers (Americans, Brit's, Ukrainians, and some people I knew weren't Georgian, but couldn't figure out). The lift tickets were 30 Gel (about $20) for the day. Now that's super cheap by US standards, for such impressive slopes, but you have to get here, which is no easy task. And of course there is the Georgian tradition of queuing, which takes some getting used to, but overall, a worthy destination.
Oh, and it wouldn't do justice to the country to leave out a Georgian church. The one in this picture is perched on the lip of the gorge, maybe 2500 foot drop, just on the other side.

And no, I got a lot of work for work done, but nothing on the NIP.

The electronic anthology seems to be doing okay. So far.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Amazon too

Outside the Wire is Available (click on 'Available') on Amazon for 99c!

Now remember this collection was meant to be my own little anthological experiment in electronic publishing. It's been a little bit of a pain to work through, but not impossible, and if you follow the guides that are out there, straight forward. The hardest part of this experiment was of course writing well. (Which I hope that you think I have done, if you have read my 'stuff'). Then there was putting it together into a format that won't end up 'jacked up' on an e-reader ( 'jacked up' you see is the technical term for the default condition of documents typed out in word without disabling all of those helpful auto-functions, like tabbing and spill-czecking). The cover art was a picture I took at the Tbilisi zoo and had a fellow who knew what he was doing edit it into a cover image in order to make the whole affair look professional. Oh, and a little patience too, that was important.

I loaded the anthology to smashwords (where you can download it for free) and from there it is supposed to be made available on all e-reader formats except Amazon , and lets face it Amazon is the 800 pound gorilla of ebook publishing, so you have to do that one. The only challenge with Amazon online publishing was that I couldn't make the book free initially. So I loaded OTW for the lowest price I could- .99c.

Remember, I have alreay been paid for all these stories once, and it is only a 30K word collection, so I didn't feel like I needed to make any money on this. OTW is an experiment in online publishing, but it is also meant to collect all of the stories that are already out there in one spot and advertise my work to people who haven't seen it.

Before I could get the price dropped to zero on Amazon, I even sold a few copies. It also appears to have knocked my two novels, STG and GOB off the peg, selling a few copies of both the paperback and kindle versions on Amazon.

So there you go. Experiment was a success. One more step forward in my plans for world domination and becoming a legitimate pulp-fiction genre writer...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Available Now

My epubbed anthology is now available at Smashwords (Click Here). I promised that you would love the price, and I hope you will; it's free. I figure that I was already paid once for each of these stories (three times for one of them), and it didn't cost anything but time to put this together (and the cover image), so I thought I would pass the savings on to you. (If you really, really want to pay something, put an extra fiver on the plate on Sunday, or stuff it in one of those boxes that charities leave at the counter of stores, say thanks for the book and pretend it was to me. )

I mentioned in previous posts about the changes in the publishing industry, self-publishing, electronic publishing, etc, so I wanted I to see how it worked. Outside the Wire is my contribution to the movement.

Smashwords (my profile) seems to be a great venue for those that want to publish, but as I have said, there are many many works of varying quality.

Another online community that I have found which is a good outlet for authors is Goodreads (my profile). It's also a great place for people that are interested in books, especially genre fiction, and connect with others with similar interests.

So my next step is to figure out how to get it on Amazon...

Thursday, January 26, 2012


January 24th is an epic day in my household. (And by Epic, I mean that I had better treat it epically or there may repercussions.)

My anniversary!

Okay it's also my wife's anniversary too.

This past 24th marked 25 years of blissful matrimony. I say 'mostly' tongue in cheekily as we've been through a lot together and there have been with us, as with everyone else that marks this silver milestone, many ups and a few downs; we have walked side by side raising four wonderful children, having twelve or so changes of residences over five states (and 2 countries), six churches, college, graduate school, postdoc, Houston (need I say more), attack helicopter flying. deployment to the war in Iraq, nursing school, family (hers and mine), farm chores, all of this with the day-to-day effort of growing together and not apart.

Friends and aquantances often ask how me have managed to 'Make It' to having a good marriage. I try not to laugh when they ask. You see, I don't think we've 'made it' because it isn't over, right? It's like asking a fit person how they 'made it' .
They haven't made it to 'being fit' they 'are fit', and the minute they stop working on it is the minute they will begin to atrophy and soon will no longer be fit. Fitness is a state of being, not a goal with a beginning middle and end. Our marriage is like that. We didn't make it to having a good marriage, we are having a good marriage. It is something we continually work on, together, and the minute we stop working on it, it will begin to atrophy and soon will no longer be good.

So how do I commemorate twenty-five years of working together? Well, this year it was Barcelona! (being in Tbilisi and my wife in the US, it was the nicest midway point I could find). It is a lovely place. I highly recommend it. When we got there the weather was lovely, the scenery is lovely, the food great, great museums, arts. I would go back in a heartbeat, and long before Paris..just sayin'.

We started the actual day watching the sunrise over the Mediterranean. Then a starbucks (I really miss starbucks in Georgia) and then went to the Sagrada Familia. A lovely cathedral dedicated to the Holy Family, designed by the architect Goudi. Really awe-inspiring, and I thought an appropriate place for an anniversary. We found a bar with a real American IPA (also very missed in Tbilisi) and ended the day with a fabulous paella.

So, to my wife Kelly, thank you for twenty-five Wonderful years!

(That's her in the scale model of the cathedral arches- isn't she cute?)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Coming in 2012

Outside the Wire; seven andrenaline-filled, spine-chilling tales from the Author of 'Succumbing to Gravity' and 'The Gift of the Bouda'.

Coming in 2012.

This is an anthology of six previously published short stories, including:
Succumbing to Gravity
The Gift of the Bouda
The Long Road to Sanctum
Dougie's Hand
The Sacrifices of Automated Tabulation

and one previously unpublished short story;
The Virtual Huntress

The tales feature fallen angels, demons, lycanthropes and those with perception challenges set in the steampunked past, the postapocolyptic future, and the hardboiled present. Genre-wise; horror, urban fantasy, steampunk and near future science fiction. You'll love it. And you'll love the price.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


It's natural to reflect as you hit a milestone. We do this collectively at the turn of the calender from one year to the next. Being overseas I've been missed most of the US end-of-the-year retrospectives; only CNN's unbiased voice to let me know what happened last year. And some of the slightly left of CNN English-language Euro channels (I get more channels, but they in Georgian or Russian and it's a great exercise to learn the language, but I have no idea what they're talking about, generally). I ussually prefer to look to what's on the other side door, rather than spend too much time reflecting what has past, and 2011 was a heck of a year.

So 2012? Well, the end of the Mayan calender is in 2012, food for some good end of the world speculation. Sorry if I sound like an apocalyptic buzz kill but I think for the Mayans it already happened; the Mayan civilization (as such) was pretty much done in the 1200's, so I'm not planning on digging a fall-out shelter. Just sayin'

I'll be redeploying stateside in 2012. Will very much miss the friends I have made here in Georgia, but looking forward to getting back to the family and farm in Virginia. From a writing perspective I'll be self-publishing an ebook anthology this year. I also plan to finish up my Mil SciFi epic and begin to shop it around.

The picture should be obvious metaphorically right? And you know, Georgians have some really cool doors.