Ha, readers, here is a sample from my alt history trilogy! I am pretty much dying to publish this!


Ernst turned away and scuttled into the irregular belts of rubble and fighting positions. He ran from hole to hole, calling for the commander of First Company. Finally, there was an answer by a Maxim position.

“Over here, sir!”

The Maxim was firing in steady bursts, it looked to Ernst as if von Hassel was directing its fire. He nodded approvingly. He called out.

“Von Hassel!”

The Leutnant jumped.


Ernst cut to the chase. “Hey, I’ve got a company of Sturmtruppen at my back. We are going to attack right here, right now. Can you provide us with covering fire?”

“Fuck yes, sir.”

“Then wait for us. I have to go get them and lead them here. As soon as we set up, we attack. Tell your men! No fucking friendly fire!”

“I’ll arrange passage of lines. How soon?”

“Five minutes.”

Von Hassel’s eyes went wide. “Christ! That’s soon!”

“Better get moving, LT.”

“Yes, sir!”

Ernst turned back toward the south, he ran, his heart pounded. His Bergmann pumped in his hand as he sprinted along the treacherous footing, his canteen and gas mask banged along his hip. He passed back to the smashed cluster of houses where Leutnant Hofsteder and his grim one hundred awaited.

With a final dash, he reached their waiting spot. He called out.



“I’ve arranged passage of lines! We attack right now.”

Hofsteder called out.

Manner! On your feet!”

Ernst watched as dozens of men arose from the rubble. They looked like so many wraiths in the flickering darkness.

“Follow me.”

Ernst padded off, he could sense the special assault troops following in his wake. He retraced his steps, he returned to First Company’s perimeter, the chunk of blasted city that they held by their fingernails. 

Ernst grinned. He knew he was going to kick the lousy XXXXX right in the bollocks. He approached the Maxim nest where von Hassel lay.

“Leutnant! Are your men ready and warned?”

“Yes, sir!”

“Good.” Ernst turned, Leutnant Hofsteder was sending his men left and right, into a rough assault formation. It appeared to Ernst as if the man arrayed his company to attack in a rough skirmish line, divided into three parts. He crouched and hastened over to the Sturmtruppen leader.

“Ready, Hofsteder?”

“Hell, yes.”

“Alright, let’s go! I’ll accompany you; I will guide you to where I think the English commander is waiting. We hit there with everything we have.”

“Do or die, Major?”

“Is there any other way?”


“All set?”

Hofsteder looked around, he shrugged. “Yeah.” He pulled out a flare pistol.

Ernst spoke. “Hold on.” He called out between bursts of the Maxim. “Von Hassel!”


“Tell your gunner we assault now. Keep the fire right over our fucking heads.”

“Meter and a half?”

“Yeah. Close shave.”

Ernst heard von Hassel scream something to his machine gunner. He looked over at Hofsteder.



Hey all, you may have noticed that it’s been a bit quiet around here recently. This is entirely my fault, and if you want to assign blame then I am that fellow. There’s been some crazy stuff going on in my personal life, nothing to worry about, but also not something I’m getting into in a public setting.

The events of this month have skewed everything, really. It’s been an avalanche of one thing on top of another. Included in there has been a tax fiasco, among everything else. It’s been really good times.

But finally, sun is breaking through the clouds, much as our weather has done. It’s really beautiful out there, and my lilac bush is sprouting leaves at last. It is past time to continue work on my fitness and finish up my ongoing project, the long-banked alternate history trilogy.

I will have you know that I am in Act III, or the finale, of the final book in the series, which has the helpful name of “3.” This makes for exactly 111 chapters completed, with maybe ten to go. As is usual when I get to the end of a book like this, I feel an acceleration.

Maybe that’s not the right word, but it fits how I feel. Suddenly there is no problem with motivation to write, stuff picks up and the story almost begs to be written.

So I sit down and I write, usually at odd hours. My best times are early in the morning, although I’ve written at all hours depending on the household situation. My standard has been a chapter, or 2-3k words per day, everyday.

In March, I failed to meet the standard.

See vague life circumstances and distractions above.

However, something I did when this current writing blitz started in December was to plan in ample time for project completion. I established my own internal deadline as to when I want to finish up, and I mean to stick to it.

I’m not sure if it will be possible, but I want Book 3 to be done as of 1 April.

Right now I’m on Chapter 31 of a planned 40.

Today I’m feeling the bug, although the sun is shining outside. On days like today I can easily do two chapters. If I try more I usually get a headache and my left arm begins to tingle. So I try to limit myself. Although three chapters would be great, and at this point, easy to do.

The feeling I have, almost every time, at the beginning of Act III is one of falling. It feels like standing on sand in an hourglass, and you are being pulled inexorably toward the little Venturi in the bottom. It is a feeling of inevitability.

This is very good! It means the story is doing EXACTLY what it should be doing at this point in a novel- it is picking up the pace, it is speeding up.

And this was the problem with the first book I wrote.

The structure was entirely instinctive, I wrote it without a plan or an outline. There are those who say it’s a good book, but there are others that have justifiably criticized it.

Well, that book was a real learning experience. And I did learn. By the time I completed the trilogy, I had some very important friends and mentors, as well as fans (!), and I had done some professional reading about writing and structure.

So now I wouldn’t dream of starting a novel without an outline. There is no way I would commit a word to paper without taking flow into account.

But instinct is still important. Feel. It is crucial, and I’m not sure how you learn it except to read or watch a LOT.

And what I’m feeling about this trilogy right now is good.

Will I make the first of April? I don’t know.

But I’ll do my damndest.

Writing Sample

A passage from the third book in my unpublished alternate history trilogy. After a month of intense distraction, the time has come to resume work.

Bill called out.

“That’s torn it, sir! Every Heinie and his mother will drop into our fucking laps!”

“Quite, Sergeant. Lieutenant McBride!”


“We have seen quite enough, young man. Do turn your men about with dispatch.”

Tracers zipped along, they would hit objects and curl crazily into the air. Bill looked heavenward; it looked much like a series of racing fireflies disappearing heavenward. Blokes started to turn to the north; as Bill watched a man was struck. From the sound it was a solid hit; a meaty “thunk.”

The poor bastard hit the ground, a flare popped and Bill watched as black crud and bubbles poured from his mouth.

He was a goner, for sure.

Someone grabbed the wounded man by the collar. They started to drag him north, toward safety. Or at least perceived safety.

The wounded man’s rescuer took a bullet to the thigh. Bill saw a chunk fly off. The man screamed and fell. Bill looked for someone to shoot at, anybody. All he could see were muzzle flashes and the quick bright lines of the tracers.

It was time to fucking go.

McBride’s platoon hustled rearwards. Bill and the Colonel took up the trail position. They were slowed by the wounded; the further they moved the more they had. Fucking Birdcage, Bill thought. We did a recon, all right. You get close to the Birdcage, you get shot.

The night lit for a fraction of a second, and it wasn’t a flare.

It was the whizz-bang gun.

Bill heard the “whizz,” he felt the “bang!”

A chunk of shrapnel pulled at his trouser leg. Bill leaned down to free himself from what he thought was barbed wire. When he found the hole, his blood ran cold. The damn thing had nearly removed his left calf. He kept the Colonel in sight, what had been an orderly, tightly disciplined raid had turned into a headlong flight to safety.

The screams and grunts of their wounded hastened their steps. The 7.7 gun blasted them, the machine guns lashed at the retreating men.

The raid had been a costly debacle, and it had put xxxxx into a rare downcast humor. Later that day, he looked to the south and spoke.

“Sergeant, I fear the Hun is mocking us.”

Bill nodded. He lit a cigarette.

“Smarmy bastards. I should call Divarta and shell that detestable Birdcage to pieces.”

“It’ll just make it easier to defend, sir.”

xxxxx simply looked at him. He said nothing, then he returned to his vigil. He put a cigar in his mouth then he spoke after he puffed it to life with a trench lighter.

“I say, Sergeant, do you think the Birdcage would make a worthwhile study on canvas?”

Bill shrugged. “Sir, I don’t know anything about art.”

“Surely you must have studied the finer things of life in school!”

“They taught me how to read and write.” Bill paused. “And a little arithmetic.”

xxxxx harrumphed. “It is a scandal, what they call an education for the working classes.”

Bill puffed away. “Good enough to run this, sir.” He held up his Bergmann.

Reasons vs. Excuses

Alright, probably not the best pic of me, but I’m out doing something important and long overdue.

Getting exercise.

Which is getting back to reasons versus excuses. I’ll give some examples of reasons, then I’ll tackle excuses.

Reason: a cause, explanation, or justification for an action or event.

Alright, here are some legit reasons I couldn’t exercise for months. First, I became terribly sick in November. For weeks I could barely get out of bed. By the time I recovered, my family was in quarantine. The quarantine lasted about forty days. It was bad. Once it was over, we had a awful extended snap of cold weather and endless treacherous snow and ice.

You haven’t lived until you’ve tried to walk down an icy road with deep snow on the berms; vehicles passing you close by. Too close. No thanks. Plus, did I mention frigid conditions?

So my condition has suffered. It’s not good.

But for anyone who has been behind the fitness eight ball, you already know what happens next.

The excuses.

Excuse: attempt to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offense); seek to defend or justify.

With a reason there is no blame or fault. With an excuse, there is.

It wasn’t my fault we got put through the health wringer, and then the weather was abnormally awful. These are legit reasons for a lack of outdoor exercise.

No, the excuses came when the weather improved. “There’s not enough time.” (PS, I’m retired.) “I’m too busy.” (No, you’re not.) “I want to take a nap.” (Really?) “I can do it later.” (No, you won’t.) The longer the time stretched out, the more elaborate the excuses became, until they were borderline parody.

So, the BS train had to stop. In fits and starts, I started cranking up the exercise machine again. Where I’d like to be is where I was before I got sick, over 7000 steps per day on average. Nothing crazy, about an hour of movement, minimum, per day. This is where I need to be as I approach fifty years old. No excuses, just execution.

Hopefully no reasons pop up. I’ve had enough of those for one decade.

Excuses I can deal with.