Hey, all.

I’m preparing the final manuscript of the second alt-history book on the Ohio Rifles series, “The Hidden Sun.”

While editing, I came across this vignette, which I had forgotten about. It does a nice job of showing a particular sort of combat leadership. When I thought about it, the entire chapter was not only an introduction to the characters that would propel the narrative forward but also about leadership.

How do you motivate guys to do stuff they really, really don’t want to do?

They try to teach you various techniques in Army leadership schools, and the US does a pretty good job of it, but for some of it you only learn the hard way. By experience under shitty circumstances.

The vignette is an excerpt from “The Hidden Sun.” Shooting for a late February release.


Eight Ball, who no longer thought of himself as Eugene Ball, looked at the new arsehole as he spoke.

“Your gun running smooth?”

“It works, Corp.”

“How many magazines do you carry?”

“Ten thirty rounders, plus Tommy has some extra for me.”

His cherry-arse Corporal nodded. “Yeah, that’ll do.”

Like you fuckin’ know, Eight muttered.

“Excuse me, fuckhead?”

He must have made more noise than he thought. Fuckin’ ringin’ ears. His corporal stood there, eyebrows raised.

Fuck it, Eight thought. “I said, like you fuckin’ know, Corp.”

The ruddy man stared at him for a second. Eugene snorted and grabbed a rag…

Something happened. Pain. Choking. Something on his throat…shoe leather…he squirmed and tried to pull the thing off his neck. He tried to shout. Couldn’t breathe…

The fucking Corporal spoke; Eugene could hear him just fine, it seemed.

“Arsehole, I ran a BAR at the Somme and Thuin. Fuck you. If you want to breathe, nod.”

Eugene nodded. The Corporal pulled the boot off of his neck. Eugene tried to get up.

A blinding thump. He was looking up at the fucking partially denuded pines. How the fuck did he get down here? He heard fucking Strohmeier’s voice.

“You try to rush me again, and I’ll fucking off you. You understand?”

Eugene understood.


“Is your gun running smooth?”

Eugene sat up and looked the corporal in the eye. His head fucking hurt. He reached inside his tunic and grabbed a smoke. He lit up. Then he answered.

“Yes, Corporal.”

Strohmeier moved on.


Strangely enough, I am not minding this edit. Usually, it’s a horrible painstaking chore, but this time it isn’t. I’m not sure why, although it may have to do with an alteration I’ve made to my technique. In any case, it’s all to the good, because I am fairly certain it’ll be a wrap on the edits by the end of the month.

I mean to publish four books this year, and I’ve made a good start.

Stay tuned.

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