21. September 2013 · Comments Off on A little Change … · Categories: Site News

I changed the template for the Brief … I like it a bit better, as it lets me set the ‘more’ instead of doing it automatically.


12. January 2012 · Comments Off on One More Time · Categories: Site News

Another unfortunate break in service – the hosting service for this blog didn’t tell me that the domain name was due for renewal until the day before it expired … and I couldn’t afford to renew until I got an unexpected check yesterday.

So, we’re back. And I am glad, because it would have been a bear, switching over to a new domain.

20. December 2011 · Comments Off on Miss Us? · Categories: Science!, Site News, Veteran's Affairs

Apparently, we were hijacked by some spam-originator, which resulted in trouble with the host for the Brief … and what with one thing and another, it took most of the weekend to get it straightened out.
As if having to empty out a ton of spam every couple of days, now they’ve added injury to insult. Anyway, we’re back for now, although I’ve had to assign new passwords for the remaining regular contributors.

(Addendum: 8:45 AM – on the advice of our service provider, I am having to approve all comments, to prevent the hacker from doing any more damage to our reputation. We really risk beging taken down permanently, if there are any more complaints about ncobrief.com generating spam, so I do this, apologizing in advance to all the regular commenters.)

17. November 2011 · Comments Off on I’m Still Here · Categories: Literary Good Stuff, Site News

Just one of those things – slammed with some work projects, some book projects, a new book project – for pay, yet! – and preparing for a Christmas Fair in New Braunfels on Saturday … which, since the box of copies of To Truckee’s Trail won’t be delivered until Monday next … well, yeah, that does present something of a problem, sales-wise.

One of the projects this week – and I am kicking myself vigerously for never having thought of it before – is some collections of my best posts (presently buried in various archives where I am probably the only person who knows where to dig to unearth them) for Kindle. Organize them them by several themes, do some basic editing and formatting, and put those puppies up on Amazon. I’ve got one of them up already – a collection of short stories – and another is going to go live probably tonight – a collection of essays about places, people, and matters historical. They’re going to be permanent links in the sidebar to them – so, check them out. I had some seriously good stuff there.

So, thats where that stands. And Brian is still working on the picture thing.

Being that I am snowed under with finalizing the last details for the second edition of To Truckee’s Trail, and preparing to launch the sequel to Daughter of Texas at more or less the same time in order maximize my portion of what increasingly looks like a pretty dismal Christmas shopping season with sales of my books . . . I have been only intermittently able to put my head above the parapet lately and take a look around at the socio-political landscape. A more relaxed schedule might permit me to address each of the developments listed below at length . . . but time does not permit. Heck, brevity is supposed to be the soul of wit, anyway.

1. Potential Candidate Cain’s purported sex scandal. Hey, it would be a treat to have a sex scandal in which some actual sex was involved, rather like John Edwards and his campaign-trail inamorata/baby mama? At this juncture, all we have, though – is some unspecified act(s) committed by Mr. Cain, complained of by anonymous persons (presumably female) which took place in some unspecified venue, which resulted in an unspecified money settlement . . . which no one involved can talk about, because they all signed an agreement not to talk about it. At least the time frame of this unspecified action has been nailed down by our heroically working mainstream media professions to sometime in the 1990s. Ok, it’s nice to have that specific nailed down, but seriously; unnamed sources? I’m sorry, but unnamed sources, with a charge like this do not fly freely with me any more. If you want this charge to be creditable, start naming names and specifics, otherwise I will treat this matter like the gutter gossip that it appears to be,

2. At least the matter of the rock on a hunting lease in West Texas, which had a disparaging term for a racial minority painted on it, and which was painted over at least two decades ago, seems to have been dropped – er – like a rock into the well of memory. Did any of the faithful national press gumshoes actually find the damned rock? If that’s all the dirt you can find on Rick Perry . . . Look, the guy has been in Texas politics for years. They play for keeps here, politically – the brass knuckles at no extra charge. If there were any substantial dirt to be found on him, it would have been found, long since. Oh, and thanks for floating teh ghey rumor, alleging it to have been an open secret in Texas political circles for years. I haven’t had a good laugh like that since the last time I watched The Money Pit.

3. So – looking at the list of Occupy Whatever Street supporters and backers . . . including you, “San Fran Nan” Pelosi, Michael “One Teensy Thin Mint” Moore, Mayor Bloomburg, our “illustrious”* Commander in Chief, and assorted other fellow travelers, anarchists, anti-Semites and career protest ‘tards . . . you own them, root, branch and arrest records. They are all yours, even as various OWS locations melt down gloriously into Lord of the Flies territory. I repeat; all yours. Kinda make the Tea Party rallies look good in comparison, don’t they?

4. Isn’t it well past time for the Kardashian sisters’ ration of fame to be up? I mean; fifteen minutes each, there are three of the talent-free and parasitical skanks, which adds up to 45 minutes total. I had a case of mono which lasted longer than Whats-er-fern’s most recent marriage. The Cardassians of Star Trek fame were much more interesting. And realistic.

5. Finally, in site news; this weekend Brian is going to fight off the locusts that ate his day off, long enough to look at why we can’t easily post pictures on this website. I have a raft of pictures I want to put up, including a new header . . . and, well all sorts of stuff.

Sincerely, Sgt Mom

PS: The Kindle version of To Truckee’s Trail – second edition has already gone live. I am still taking pre-pub orders for Deep in the Heart, and for Truckee’s print edition. Your purchases help support me, and this blog, so . . . a portion of your consumer dollars thrown in my direction will be greatly appreciated.

22. October 2011 · Comments Off on All Righty Then · Categories: Geekery, General, Site News

WordPress has been updated, from the original older-than-dirt version, although alas, it still doesn’t look like I can post pictures. All thanks to Brian, who I think must have been tearing out his hair last night. But now the whole website seems to be a little more functional… and somewhat easier for non-programmers like me to play with. The look of the Brief will change in the very near future: I have been increasingly unsatisfied with how very clunky it looks to me in comparison with other blogs I’ve worked with. The Brief is dated, and the pages, archives and links are heinously tangled. The adverts for my books are also totally out of date — but now, hopefully, I can so something about it all.

I like the looks of some of the WordPress templates, and I want more than ever to be able to post my own photographs. I had also been giving some thought, before this upgrade to closing down the Brief entirely, when it comes time to renew the domain name and hosting agreement at the end of the year, or attaching it as blog to my celiahayes.com website, so that I would only pay the hosting fees for one domain instead of two. No, the lights will stay on: this blog is historic, one of the very first and longest running mil-blogs, and there are now almost ten years of archives which I’d like to make more accessible.

So, we’ll be around – but get ready for a bit of a change, appearance-wise.

PS – I like WordPress’s Twenty-Eleven Theme, very much, especially if I can fiddle with a bunch of my own photos to make a custom banner.

21. March 2009 · Comments Off on A Little Bit of Editing · Categories: General, Site News

Well, I finally got around to taking down the PJ Media ads… why the heck should they soak up ad space on this blog? At this point, about all I want to promote is my own darned books, thank you. I will attempt to further tweak the sidebar to that effect, utilizing my own somewhat less than totally mad HTML skilz…

As you were.

(Gomer Pyle voice): As you were what?

Never mind.

31. January 2009 · Comments Off on They Always Do These Things on Friday · Categories: General, Site News, Technology, Working In A Salt Mine...

Received the following yesterday afternoon, while working away on a poetry book for Watercress Press:

“As you know, last September Pajamas Media began a new initiative in Internet television called Pajamas TV. When we started with our RNC coverage from Minneapolis, we noted that we would be in a Beta Phase through the first quarter of 2009. In the last few months we have strengthened the PJTV lineup with shows covering Media Bias, Education Bias, Middle East Update, Sharia and Jihad, Powerline Report, Ask Dr. Helen, Hugh News, Poliwood, Conservatism 2.0, Economy and Finance, National Security, and others.

As the end of the first quarter approaches and we near the production phase of Pajamas TV, we will continue to build our emphasis in this area. As a result we have decided to wind down the Pajamas Media Blogger and advertising network effective March 31, 2009. The PJM portal and the XPressBlogs will continue as is.

You may continue to display the Pajamas Media ads through March 31. We will be sending you information in mid-March on removing the ads.

We thank you very much for participating during the formative years of Pajamas Media and we look forward to working with you in other ways. One of those is, of course, Pajamas TV. If you have any ideas in that regard, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Our best wishes in the new year and again our deepest gratitude for your participation in Pajamas Media.


Roger L. Simon
CEO, Pajamas Media”

It seems that quite a lot of other blogs which were initially a part of PJ Media are also being kicked to the curb, as regards the advertising revenue. When PJ was first put together and the Daily Brief invited to join, it seemed like one of those ideas whose time had come; there would be an enormous range of linked blogs with all kinds of interests and specialties, and in a position to negotiate for serious advertising opportunities and the income arising from it. At least, there would be enough coming in to cover the hosting fees, and a little over. This didn’t last at the Brief for more than a couple of years: about three years ago, I was informed that the Brief didn’t get enough page views to justify any revenue for running the ads – but if page views went up, then the Brief would have that revenue stream restored. So, I went back to paying the hosting out of my own pocket, and kept the PJ ads in place, partly in hopes of eventually getting some revenue out of it and partly for the association. Because of sticking with the PJ ads, I couldn’t place ads from another agency, since PJ had the top place: so, nothing out of having them there – and nothing from anywhere else, either.

I will remove the PJ ads with the greatest pleasure, possibly even before the drop-dead date. I haven’t gotten much out of the association at all, save for PJ including my books on their “Christmas Gift” page throughout December. Frankly, it looks to me that PJ Media has become what they professed to counter – Big Media, in all it’s glory. A handful of the top blogs, all linking to each other, and the rest of us pretty well shut out. All things change, and often not much for the better.

I might as well have a bigger ad for my own darned books. I’m a little tired of looking at that Joe the Plumber picture, too.

09. January 2009 · Comments Off on OK, then – · Categories: General, Site News

We seem to have survived the short trip over to a new host… but lost all the entries for the last week. Sorry… maybe they’ll be along later, or perhaps they are drifting out among the currents of the internet, like some kind of pixilated Flying Dutchman…

I’ll repost mine, anon.

22. May 2008 · Comments Off on Michele Catalano At Pajamas Media · Categories: Site News

Michele Catalano is writing…again…over at Pajamas Media. Her first post is on the Lori Drew Cyberbullying case. She makes some good points that some of us here need to consider…including me.

Hopefully this will be a regular thing. This blog here was the first one I ever read and hers was a close second or third. While she’s gotten away from her snarkier rants, she’s still one of my favorite writers.

04. February 2008 · Comments Off on Magical Spam · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, General, sarcasm, Site News

Among my regular chores as regards maintenance of this site is that of emptying out the spam queue – which, unless there is more than a couple of hundred entries in it – I feel obliged to do a quick pass-over just to make sure that no ones legitimate comment has been caught in the spam torrent. This does happen, on occasion, although the program that Timmer plugged in more than a year and a half ago is supposed to be self-regulating. It learns, in other words. But the most marvelous part is that none of the automated comment spam has ever “leaked” into the blog, thus depriving our many readers of a handy link with which to purchase or download a dizzying variety of pharmaceutical products, porn, online games of chance and cell phone ring tones. Every once in a while, there is a spam which looks like a completely conventional and legitimate business; a spam with somewhat of an embarrassed look to it, as if not being able to figure out how it got into such disreputable company. But such are very rare – and since I do not click on the links, I have no way of knowing if they are indeed legitimate – or just generated by someone who is a little cleverer about disguising themselves.

Most of this stuff is so inept, so very bad at even looking like a blog comment that I wonder what they are getting out of generating it to start with. Sometimes it comes in Russian, sometimes Italian and Spanish, but most often in fractured English. Last week, it came with topic headings like this: “Cartoon Alien Porn” “lindsay lohan razzie” “limewire 2008 free download” and “Celebrity Cartoon Porn”. Some of the most curious comes with a two word comment that looks like someone has been playing a random matching game with a thesaurus. It results in such madly poetical conceptual pairings as “shooing inosculate” ” trimmed pestiferous” “dilutions hernial ” “fecundated anticorrosive” “surfeit psychoanalyze” “adumbratively tawdries” ” insolvent joists” “nettlier intarsia” “glutinously cosmos”. Yes, those phrases came from last weeks spam haul – I copied over the most hilarious for your delectation.

Some spam comments have just a random string of letters as text: thusly – “qjkdgtvf tdelpfnq ngwakhqb phkm ncyflb jhgikz ykwlqrcvp” but others have made a go of inserting a sentence – or at least half a sentence. All the following examples came as text for links to various porn sites. At least someone is trying. Not very hard, or with much success, but at least they are trying:

An English-language quarterly magazine targeting professional

Suzanna Gratia Hupp (born 1959) is a former Republican member

Jon Tester is a third-generation Montana farmer who understands

Hyperlinked encyclopedia entry provides a personal and political profile of the US Senator for

The last variety of spam is a real head-shaker: that’s the one that comes as a couple of hundred lines of text with links embedded in every two or three words. These go on and on and on, to the point where one wonders where the hell whoever generated it has been for the last couple of years. I believe most blog spam-filters kick back comments with more than one or two embedded links. One would think one with two or three hundred would be kicked back so far it would come out the backside of whoever sent it out – but hey, I don’t know anything at all about the thought processes of whoever generates this stuff. I just deal with the results.
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04. January 2008 · Comments Off on Random Thoughts on Interstate Highway Travel · Categories: Ain't That America?, Critters, Domestic, General, Literary Good Stuff, Memoir, Site News, Working In A Salt Mine..., World

Topmost on my list of such thoughts is – oh, god, it’s good to be home! It’s good to be able to sleep in ones own bed, to stretch out and not have cold feet, cold hands, cold-whatever-body-part-winds up pressed against the side panel of the Montero and is just a thin sheet of metal and some miscellaneous plastic bits removed from the frigid, wind-whipped New Mexico or West Texas weather.

Oh, yes, it was bloody cold out there; there was no snow to show for all that cold, but some nice patches of blowing dust and sand. The winds kicked up the day before we left Mom and Dads and made such a racket we couldn’t sleep that night anyway – and followed us all the way across three states. Nothing says “I want to go home” quite so much as vacating the area at 2 AM.

The best thing about departing in the wee hours on New Years Day – no traffic, once you finish dodging the drunks. There was one suspiciously careful driver, weaving gently down the Valley Center grade, which Blondie felt obliged to try and call 911 about – but all we got was it ringing about twenty times and then an answering machine. On 911; I guess they had their hands full. And the driver we were worried about didn’t look to be the reckless sort of drunk driver.

The “Starbuckifaction” of the coffee-drinking element has spread it’s what some would claim is an insidious influence far and wide, yea my brethren even to the truck plazas and gas stations along the interstate highway system. The Flying J/Pilot stores provide a surprisingly excellent selection of coffee… and have half-and-half on tap. Not just exclusively that ghastly powdered chalk non-dairy “cream” muck, thankyouverymuch. Extremely drinkable and for about a third of the cost of an equivalent at a Starbucks. No demerara sugar, though, but I expect that to appear by the next time I do a long, long road trip.

Oh, and speaking of coffee in the wee hours, I must pour scorn and derision upon the Carls Junior, just off the 1-8 in the eastern suburb of San Diego where we attempted to purchase some handy breakfast comestables and coffee at 4 AM. Yes, I know it was 4AM on New Years Day and the single unfortunate young person running the place was so junior as to make drawing fuzzy end of the lollipop and working that shift inevitable… but still; no breakfast items? We were told that only lunch items were available… oh, and sorry, the coffee brewer wasn’t fired up. And payment could only be made in cash. Yeah, so he wasn’t senior enough to have the keys to the debit-credit card processor or the coffee urns, but lunch items at 4 AM? Jesus jumping key-rist on a pogo stick, the whole damn reason for 24 hour fast food places is to dispense coffee!

Gas prices – not to shabby once outside California, and Blondie’s Montero got very good mileage on the highway. We filled to the top four times and came in well under budget, having allowed for gas at $3.25 a gallon when we planned the trip. Most gas stations along the interstate in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona had it within a nickel of $2.90, either way.

What to call the road-kill count – Bambi Bits? Bambicide? Whatever it is, the deer population takes a hell of a beating; that stretch of 1-10 through the Hill Country is a veritable holocaust for them. As a stratagem to keep ourselves awake and amused after coffee ceased having the required effect, we counted road kill from Mile 300 to Mile 511 in the median, on the roadway and off on the shoulder. Not counting various nasty looking smears and blots on the paving, our grand total was 49 deer, 8 raccoons or opossum, 3 skunks, 3 large birds (turkey or guinea-fowl of some sort) and 23 U-L-O-M, which is our acronym for “Unidentified Lumps ‘o Meat”. At that, we probably missed about a third as many, off-sight on the opposite side of the highway.

So – we’re home – and when I get home, the first thing I find is that Eric at Classical Values posted a lovely review of “To Truckee’s Trail” and Da Blogfaddah linked to it. With a resulting uptick in sales through Amazon. Maybe I should go away more often. Oh, never mind – provision of good bloggy ice cream will commence as soon as I finish going through my email in-box.

So, we went to the radio station’s annual staff Christmas party last night; generously catered with comestibles supplied by some of San Antonio’s finest. There were also, as Blondie described it, a fine assortment of tasty adult beverages, but no – this is public radio, so the drunken revelry was at a fairly well-controlled level. I bored the socks off a couple of hapless spouses by telling them more than they possibly ever wanted to know about Republic-era Texas and the entrepreneurial scheme and the perils of POD publishing and book-marketing. Blondie renewed acquaintance with that handful of staff members who recalled her as a high-school student volunteer working in the phone room during pledge drives.

The nearest we all came to a riotously party-hearty atmosphere was during the gift exchange, which was the white-elephant gift “Bad Santa” exchange. Everyone brought something of small value and occasionally dubious taste, suitably gift-wrapped. At the height of the evening revels, we each took a turn and drew a gift from the pile. The hope is that you go home with something a little more desirable, or at least, not as hideous and/or useless as what you brought, but this is a chancy preposition.

The rules of Bad Santa are open to negotiation, but the general custom is that someone drawing a gift can exchange it, unopened, for something that someone already has opened. Sometimes there is a limit on how often a desirable gift can bounce from person to person – and there are occasionally rather desirable items salted in among the white-elephants, which can make for a very lively exchange. At one unit I belonged to which did this, a set of lottery tickets, and a pair of hearts and teddy-bear printed boxer shorts proved to be in demand… whereas an awful plant container of hand-painted cast plaster in the shape of a tree stump with a squirrel on it had been around the Christmas exchange block for five or six years in a row. The unlucky soul who got stuck with it, returned it for subsequent Bad Santa exchanges; for all I know, it may still be in circulation, unless someone struck a blow for good taste in decorating and smashed it into little tiny bits..

The most popular items last night was a game of Texas Monopoly, a pair of Lord of the Rings bookends and a universal remote in the shape of a calculator the size of a roofing shingle – yes sir, try and misplace that puppy sometime. Least popular? I’d guess that was the 2005 road atlas. Well, the rules do say ‘white elephant’… I lost two boxes of gourmet dog treats and came home with a metal bowl trimmed with antlered deer heads. Not the least sure what I will do with it, although it might make a jazzy pet dish for Weevil or Spike.

Blondie and I are heading out to California tomorrow to spend Christmas with Mom and Dad and the rest of the family. We’re taking Blondie’s laptop, but Mom and Dad are not anywhere near being in tune with the internet age. I may be able to check in from a wifi spot alleged to be located in the public library in Valley Center… or I may not. Have a Merry Christmas, happy New Year and all that. We’ll be back after New Years, at the Same Old, Same Old.

(In the meantime, could someone occasionally approve comments and empty out the spam queue? Thanks – Sgt Mom)

Mmmm… I’m building a website. For a writer’s guild that I have joined. I’m on the board, actually. There’s this group of people I met in an Amazon.com discussion group who have decided that dammit, we need to really do something about the literary industrial complex. And holy c**p, about two dozen of us have gone and done something.

We’ve formed a non-profit writers’ guild, and plan to collaborate on marketing and publicity, and some other stuff, like a newsletter and making the scene at various book-fairs.

We have mad visions of doing for the literary industrial complex what blogging did for the legacy media. You know, storming the barricades, and all that.

Wish me luck, and keep that flaming torch handy. I may need it…

The Hollywood writers are on strike? Well, butter my buns and call me a biscuit – how the hell can you tell? Blondie just discovered that we have BBC-America in our cable package. We’re set for the next few months, what with Torchwood, Doctor Who and the new Robin Hood.

22. August 2007 · Comments Off on Jam Tomorrow – Progress Report · Categories: Domestic, General, Literary Good Stuff, Memoir, Site News, Veteran's Affairs, Working In A Salt Mine..., World

“The rule is jam tomorrow and jam yesterday but never jam to-day.”

Or so saith the Queen, and I can just completely relate, because in the mad writers-life waltz that is my own life these days, there is always the hope of jam tomorrow. The bread today is plain and budget, and naked of jam, but tomorrow it may be miraculously spread with finest-kind Confiture Bar le Duc.

Or so we keep hoping. I think the cats are holding out for a can of nice juicy salmon, hold the toast hold the capers, just plain, thank you. The dogs will be ecstatically happy with anything edible that has only bounced once when it hit the floor.

Tiny tastes of jam include the fact that “To Truckee’s Trail” is in Booklocker.com’s list of top-ten print best-sellers, and I did get an email from this bookstore in Truckee City thanking me for my query and noting that they had ordered some copies from the Ingram catalogue to stock in their bookstore. I am testing out running an ad here; home central for all things Western… and I finally got paid for the magazine article that had been published several issues ago. (What a goat rope… I’m not really sure I want to submit any more articles, not when I have to wait to get paid for months and then throw a temper tantrum. How demeaning is that? And do publishers do it because it’s a hell of a lot easier to stall writers than suppliers and printers?) But I had some paid work at Dave The Computer Genius’ place of business, and he let me use his computer and soft-wear to tweak my book-website, so my need to buy my own copy of it is put off for at least a little while. All good, all jam., or at least a tantalizing expectation of same.

Still haunting the mailbox though; last week I ordered a box of copies from the publisher; these are the autographed copies which readers have ordered, and some are to be sent out to reviewers. I ordered another box this week; more review copies, and one for the kid in the sandwich shop where I get a smoked-chicken sub every Saturday… and I have promises of all kinds of linky-love and reviews in the very near future. As soon as I have the books in hand. And mail them out.

There was that saying about promises and pie crust, though…
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12. August 2007 · Comments Off on The Literary Game · Categories: General, General Nonsense, Literary Good Stuff, Site News, Working In A Salt Mine..., World

Is that the right word… literary? I’m not at all sure it applies to me, really. I fled academia years ago, whimpering softly to myself. Especially after the one Mod Lit class that I was forced to take… well, not forced, exactly. It just fitted in with my schedule, and I thought maybe I ought to be a little more conversant with the Giants of English Lit who had published something after 1940?

Well, it turned out to be a bad move, and I never made that mistake again. If it’s in the approved canon and published after the Depression then it’s probably a tedious and politically correct wank-fest, passing laborious to read, and generally about as much fun as do-it-yourself root canal surgery. Life is just too short, and I am an equal opportunity fugitive anyway. I’ll run just as fast from “The DaVinci Code” as I will from “The Corrections”. Oprah’s Book Club be damned… unless she picks one of my books, in which case I will cheerfully play along. (Scribbling notes to myself… Oprah Book Club… is there someone I have to sleep with, or something? Will they accept decorating advice or home-baked cookies, in lieu?)

Just don’t pop off the name of the literary wonderkind-du-jour in front of me, and expect any response but a blank expression, and the question. “Umm… who is that?” Look, I read all of Raymond Chandler, once. Surely that counts for something.

So… I am not literary. I tell stories. I tell stories about people, and interesting times, with a bit of vivid color and a lot of historical research, and I try to explain about how things were, and how they happened the way they did, and how it all felt to the people who had to cope with the resulting messy situation. If I identify with any literary heroine, I’m afraid it would be Flora Post, who hated team sports and untidiness.

If that works for you, it works for me. Buy a copy of the current book, or go here or here to read about the next book plus three. Give me interesting feedback, interesting factoids… be amused. So far, I need to sell another 1,999,992 copies before I can even think about moving into the castle next door to J.K. Rowlings’. I have mailed out a number of postcards to selected museum book stores, posted some flyers in various places, and scrounged a couple of links here and there. (OK, so I have blog-fans in interesting places, ‘kay?)

I am also waiting for a check from the local magazine that I did a version of this article for, so I can order a humongous quantity of copies for review and to send to people who have ordered copies, or to whom I owe copies. The more I order at one time, the better the price break for me, you see. I expect the damned check this week, having gotten the assignment in March, done the work in April, turned it in by a June deadline, for publication in July. Really, I wish I could stall my creditors at the rate that my creditors stall me.

So, that’s where it stands. Stay tuned… I’m sure it will get more amusing.

11. August 2007 · Comments Off on Michele’s Blogging Again · Categories: Site News

Michele (she of one “L”) is blogging solo again and is looking for help with one of her infamous lists.

Head over to “A Big Victory” and add a band or a song to her top 300.

01. August 2007 · Comments Off on It’s Here!!! · Categories: General, Literary Good Stuff, Old West, Site News, World


Roll of drums, please… the great unsung pioneer epic “To Truckee’s Trail” is now available, thanks to those lovely people, Angela and Richard at Booklocker.com… here, and in the sidebar ad… I think.

A great heaping pile of thanks also to reader B. Durbin for the lovely picture which was used for the cover, and the encourangement of reader KC and mobs of others… it would have never have happened at all, but for those fans of The Daily Brief who first read the essays about the Stephens-Townsend party a couple of years ago, and who said “Wow! What a terrific story… why hasn’t anyone ever heard of these people?”

If anyone would like an autographed copy, let me know by sending the cover price plus $2.50 postage to my Paypal account by next Thursday, when I will be ordering a box of copies of it from the printer.

Later: Whoo-whooo! As of 4 PM Thursday, three copies sold, through Booklocker! Another 1,999,997 to go, and then I can think about buying a castle next to J.K. Rowlings’ !!

Even Later: As of Sunday morning, it’s added to the Amazon.com catalogue, here

01. August 2007 · Comments Off on The Book – To Truckee’s Trail · Categories: Domestic, General, Literary Good Stuff, Site News, World

It’s almost here… any minute now… just a little more time. Wait for it…

(looks at watch and wanders off, mumbling)

20. July 2007 · Comments Off on Crescendo for the Writers Life Waltz · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, General, Site News, That's Entertainment!, Veteran's Affairs, Working In A Salt Mine..., World

Just a quick update on the current book, scribbled between slaving over a hot computer, a couple of job assignments, and mundane things like… oh, I don’t know, cooking meals? Taking the dogs out for a walk. (Er, drag-around-the-block. They. Drag. Me. Just to make that point absolutely clear.)

The text is uploaded to the printers, and the cover is finished and approved… it has all taken nearly two weeks to accomplish this; much longer than I expected. I hope this might be some kind of indication that business is absolutely booming with the POD houses. I was clawing the walls with impatience all this week, but the cover is well worth the wait, thanks to B. Durbin’s very generous offer to let me use one of her photos of the Truckee River. (Appropriate credit is given, natch!)

So, once I have a hard copy in my hot little hands, and approve the whole thing, “To Truckee’s Trail” will be in the booklocker.com catalogue, all 272 pages and eighteen long chapters (with notes!) of it; a gripping read of adventure and discovery along the 19th century emigrant trail to California. I’ll be doing some more marketing, and scrounging for reviews and ad space here and there, and generally trying to sell a good few copies of it. At the very least, I can claim to write fewer clunky sentences per chapter than Dan Brown, of “The DaVinci Code” fame! (That blasted book was unreadable, to me… I kept tripping and falling headlong over sentences that sounded like entries in the current Bulwer-Lytton Bad Writing Contest!)

And I’ll be scribbling away on the Adelsverein saga, or “Barsetshire with Cypress Trees and a Lot of Sidearms”. Going by my latest chapter outline revision I’m about halfway through volume two, although as complications and side-stories develop, this is guaranteed to expand to epic proportions, so to say. There are just so many interesting people, and fascinating scenes, dramatic and historic events; a kid in a candy store has nothing on me! Of course, I can’t help writing about them, I tell stories, it’s what I am driven to do. I just completed a tension-filled account of the local Confederate provost-marshal’s men searching a house for a draft-evader… on Christmas Eve… the searchers being unaware that the man they are looking for is dressed as Father Christmas. (In the parlor, with his family… and everyone who knows what is going on is frantically pretending that nothing is the least bit out of place.)

But three volumes of about twenty chapters each… and my chapters seem to clock in at 6,500 to 7,000 words each… that will mean 400,000 words.

So, back to slaving over the hot computer keyboard…

Later: Just realized upon consulting the archives, that today is exactly one year to the date that I was fired from (Boring Corporate Entity Inserted Here) and decided to try for that “best-selling writer brass-ring-thingy”! With the very book that is about to be launched upon a hopefully breathlessly-anticipating world. So, I have way to go to beat out that Harry Potter book… still, funny old world, innt it?

07. July 2007 · Comments Off on A Milestone to Remember · Categories: General, General Nonsense, sarcasm, Site News

As of approximatly 6 PM, CST, this blog passed a not-insigificant milestone… our 200,000 auto-spam comment!

Yes, of course it was deleted… and, thanks to the anti-spam software installed by Timmer (all hail, all hail!) sometime around Christmas, none of these disgusting abominations actually sifted through to be posted. But the software includes a spam-o-meter. It was kind of like watching the odometer of the VEV turn over to 200,000. I can vividly recall that moment! It was while I was driving to work at Lackland AFB – On the 90, just a little way east of Wilford Hall… but a little uncertain about the year. Say early fall, 1996, just before I retired from the USAF!

I run my nimble fingers through the moderation queue a couple of times a day, heartlessly emptying them, all these pitifully miss-spelled attempts to look like a chummy, friendly comment, flogging prescription drugs, diverse alternate sexual experiences and perversities, payday loans… and now and again the occassional almost-legitimate looking business or service, which looks almost embarrassed at being caught in such disreputable surroundings.

Really, most of the spam comments are of such resounding stupidity as to make me wonder why on earth they bother. Absolute gibberish with a link to a website flogging pharmaceuticals sent out several hundred times over to the same website isn’t likely to last long enough to garner a link or two… nor is a vaugely complimentary mention of the colors and design of this site, especially if it has been sent about three or four hundred times with the same exact errors in spelling. And a comment larded with a hundred links to assorted pharmaceuticals or sexual kinks… like, if it wouldn’t make it through a Yahoo spam filter, why would it make it through ours?

Anyway, thought I would make a note of this. Carry on with your regularly assigned duties.

16. May 2007 · Comments Off on Faster Than The Blog · Categories: Site News

Faster Than The World (FTTW) now has a side blog up and running.  All of your favorite whack jobs from FTTW will now be posting in a blog format as well as their weekly FTTW Magazine articles.

What’s it called?  Faster Than The Blog of course.

That doesn’t mean I’m finally done for the well and all with The Daily Brief.  I’ll still save any military news/opinions for here, but in my current state of mind about the whole military…thing…there’s just not going to be much of that for awhile.

I was hoping not to burn out before I retired.  But watching and participating in some of the most recent bullshit has simply enforced my opinion that I’m making the right move at the right time.

This is not the Air Force I joined.  This is not the Air Force I love.  This is not the Air Force I spent 23 years trying to improve.  I don’t know what this is…but it’s not my Air Force.

26. April 2007 · Comments Off on My Current Project · Categories: Domestic, General, Site News, Working In A Salt Mine...

Without further ado, may I present the project that I have been working on, all this week, courtesy of my friend, Dave the Computer Guy; the website to market my books.

Well, the one that I did a couple of years ago, the one that I finished and which will be published (one way or another!) by September… and the three-part saga which I am currently working on. I am doing all this under the pen name that I began with… just to keep things tidy, and maintain my families’ assorted and respective privacy.


I am still working on some of the bits… like closing each page when you go to another one. And the “interview” page is still under construction… and my brother has promised some original art for some of the elements, rather than the bits supplied with the template.

This site is currently piggy-backed on Dave the Computer Guy’s site, so my next expense will be paying for a year of hosting, and for Dave to do some additional marketing. Feedback and suggestions are invited.

So are donations- (Paypal button over on the left, under the link for the first book.)

18. April 2007 · Comments Off on Dey Don’t Know Us Vewwy Well, Do Dey? · Categories: Site News

With all due respect to the sentiments involved…

We don’t DO silence very well.

Via Kate.

I’m with a commenter over at Electric Venom.  In a huge crowd, a moment of silence is very powerful.  In blogs?  It just sort of makes for nothing to read on my breaks.

12. April 2007 · Comments Off on The Writers Life Waltz: Lento · Categories: Domestic, General, Home Front, Site News, Working In A Salt Mine...

A little slow this week; working on revisions and rewrites to “Adelsverein Part One”, or as one of the regular readers calls it “Barsetshire with Cypress Trees”. I have begun sending out query letters on it, reasoning that by the time I hear from an agent who wants to hear more, I will have finished the revisions and polished it all to a high gleaming shine.

I also put together all the materiel necessary— basically, the first fifty pages and an expanded outline— for “Adelsverein” and “To Truckee’s Trail” both, and submitted them to Tor Books, which is just about the only one of the big publishers who condescend to review un-agented submissions. They take four to six months to make any sort of decision, by which time I’ll be well along in finishing “Adelsverein Part Two”. Part Three, maybe… depends on how fast I can research and write. (links here, here, here, and here, for those who are new to the site.)

At this point, three separate agencies have looked at “Truckee” and have turned it down. They all liked it, said nice things about it, but… and this is the Big But… sorry, no. Either it is too hard a sell, defies easy categorization, or there is no place for it in their current collection of offerings . But they all wished me luck in getting it published, and threw in some blah-blah-blah about it being a subjective business and perhaps another agency blah-blah-blah.

This is the book that just about every who has read it in full has loved, and at least three-quarters of those people are not related to me at all. Sooo… the fallback position is that if Tor turns it down, I’ll do POD, and hire my friend Dave The Marketing & Computer Genius to set up a website specifically for my books, AND do some serious marketing. Even if Tor does think it worthy (and you’ll be able to hear my jaw hit the floor all the way across several time zones if they do) or I do manage to get an agent, I will still do a book website of my own.

Hence, the Paypal donate button, over on the left, just under the link to my first book. The PJ ads support the site, donations will help me get the best book about the most incredible wagon-train story you have never heard about get out there in the mad world of books.

11. April 2007 · Comments Off on Shameless Plug (FTTW) · Categories: Site News

If you haven’t been over to Faster Than the World lately, you should check it out.  Lots of ongoing tales and serials.  Some good photography.  This week’s poll involves euphamisms for self-gratification so the spirit is much less serious than a lot of places and there’s NO politics…most of the time…or if there is, it’s completely silly.

13. January 2007 · Comments Off on Birthday, Voting, Taking Time Off · Categories: Site News

Head over to FTTW and wish Turtle a Happy Birthday. While you’re there you can vote for your favorite fake band from TV, Movies, Cartoons etc.. The dear to my heart Buckaroo Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers are currently in the lead.

And don’t let this fool you, I may start writing regularly again tomorrow or I may never come back. Maybe that doesn’t make any sense to you, but it seems to be working for me.