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The Ides of March

Julius Caesar. George Washington. Tsar Alexander. Christopher Columbus. King Odoacer.

The Ides are significant to all of them.

Caesar, of course, met some blades. But, he was already a very sick man. And it was hard to keep a secret in Rome. What if he went that day knowing his fate?

Washington faced a coup among his officers at their winter camp in Newburgh. They hadn’t been paid in months. The war wasn’t technically over as negotiations dragged on in Paris. He made an epic speech few have ever heard of. But what if he hadn’t?

Tsarist Russia ended on 15 March 1917. The world has never been the same. But what if Alexander hadn’t abdicated? What if the Tsarina had come up with a desperate plan to turn the people against the Communists? An appalling sacrifice?

Columbus returned to Spain on 15 March 1492. But, he brought more than word of the New World back with him. His crew also brought Syphilis, previously unknown in the Old World. But what if that Syphilis was something more deadly?

King Odoacer, the first King of Italy after the last Roman Emperor in the West, was assassinated by Theodoric on the 15th of March 493. But what if the tables were turned?

In honor of this momentous day in history, I’ve made the Ides of March free on Nook, Kobo and Google Play.  It’s loading on Apple and should be live shortly.

Eagle’s mission to Washington’s camp which turns out to have much more than a speech at stake is free in all modes, pdf, mobi and epub HERE.

The MP3 audio of any of those missions is available if you email me at

More great giveaways are exclusive to those who are on my email list which you can sign up for here.  My web site is being completely redone in order to make it easier to find my books and the orders they’re written in. I’ll also be uploading a new Readers Guide on all platforms soon which contains all my titles and information about how they’re connected.

Valentines Day (A Time Patrol novella) will be out next month!

Nothing but good times ahead!



Passengers– an intriguing scifi movie with a moral question mark at the center

First, Jennifer Lawrence was paid 20 million to star in this while Christopher Pratt got 12 million.  When I think of Jennifer Lawrence, I always go back to Winters Bone, a superb movie, which was one of her breakout roles. If you haven’t seen Winters Bone, check it out. The way she stalks those hills– superb.

Anyway. This movie was not well received from the reviews I’d read and the overall reaction. So I have to be contrarian and say I really liked it. I actually liked it better than Arrival, which was well reviewed and everyone thought was the cat’s meow, whatever the hell that means, and Cool Gus doesn’t like cat’s meowing anyway. That’s just my weird brain, which we’ve discussed.

I think the core problem with Passengers is the decision Pratt makes. When I workshop writing I talk about how redemption is the strongest character arc, but there are times when the hero isn’t redeemable. A lot of people think his decision fell into that category. I think its on the fenceline. The bottom line is, the way the story played out, he was certainly redeemed; twice.

Maybe it was just me the writer– I liked how it was obvious the writers had really looked at a lot of issues and answered them one way or another. Some people might not have liked the answers, but at least they were addressed. The climax felt a bit cliche, but it’s sort of like writing a thriller– you’ve only got so many ways to threaten everyone.

I also liked some things that weren’t done. No children at the end. That was interesting. I knew what the crew would see walking out after they woke– told my wife about halfway through what that would be, but I was wondering about kids.

One thing is that science fiction allows us to showcase moral issues in unique ways. Reality is grey. Decisions are hard.

We watched it in our new den, with the fireplace going and Cool Gus snoring at our feet so maybe that helped too. Cool Gus makes anything better.

I’ve currently got my web site being rebuilt and am excited about that. A cleaner, simpler look, where you can find books in order, links, and the key info. No bells and whistles. Just the deal.

Also, I’ve been redoing and adding a bunch of slideshares. I put all the years from the Time Patrol missions sort of together and have been linking things and cleaning them. Feel free to check out the free slideshows here.

I’ll be presenting for the Chattanooga Writers Guild on Tuesday evening if anyone is nearby and wants to stop by.

Nothing but good times ahead!



Fences. A powerful movie.

I don’t think it’s just because my own father was a garbageman, like the character Denzel Washington plays in Fences, but that is a pretty amazing connection. My dad worked for the Sanitation Department of New York City for decades until he retired. Starting as a “sandman” which meant on the back of the truck tossing the trash in (when the cans were metal, there were no plastic trash bags, just the paper bags from the supermarket) to Superintendent.

I describe the movie as powerful and it is. Well-acted, superbly directed, and most of all, coming from a gut-wrenching play. You can tell it was a play first. And that Denzel Washington, who directed, wanted to stay as close to the source material as possible. The cast is tight, the shots are tight, the settings are minimal.

Viola Davis won best actress for her role as Rose and she deserved it. There was the special moment. A moment when something passes across her face, where she breaks, where she will never be the person she was before, and you can feel it. I have to wonder what she dug down and drew up for that scene, but it hit me. I haven’t been a big fan of Denzel Washington for a while, since he seemed to be playing the same guy– himself– but he was excellent as Floyd Maxson. No subtlety in the names there– Rose and Maxson.

The entire cast was superb. The writing, which of course makes everything, was wonderful. Based on the play by August Wilson.

As Rose finally admits, Floyd is larger than everyone. He filled their house and the yard, in which much of the action takes place. And the literal fence is being built, or rather, not built.

The focus is on pain and hard-earned learning passed from generation to generation. How much do we pass on, mostly unwittingly? How do we help and damage those who follow us? How do we act out our own failures in life?

Are we excused somewhat if our life was so hard for the pain we inflict on others? Whose life might not appear to be as hard?

I don’t like to give spoilers. To me the key to the ending was Cory, their son, deciding to go to the funeral. The ability of Cory to change, when Floyd couldn’t, was the key. There were many moments when Floyd Maxson could have put someone else first and he always failed in the moment. That doesn’t mean he was neglectful overall; quite the opposite. As he points out, often, he took care of his family. He put food on the table and a roof over their head. How much more can one want?

Here is a key exchange that shows the spectrum:

Cory: Hey pa!

Troy: Hmm?

Cory: Can I ask you a question?


Cory: How come you ain’t never liked me?

Troy: Like you? What law is there sayin’ I got to like you?

Cory: None.

Troy: All right then. Don’t you eat every day? Answer me when I talk to you! Don’t you eat every day?

Cory: Yeah…

Troy: As long as you’re in my house you put a “Sir” on the end of it when you talk to me.

Cory: Yes, Sir.

Troy: You eat every day?

Cory: Yes, Sir.

Troy: You got a roof over you head?

Cory: Yes, Sir.

Troy: Got clothes on your back?

Cory: Yes, Sir.

Troy: Why you think that is?

Cory: ‘Cause of you?

Troy: [chuckles] Hell, I know it’s ’cause of me. But why do you think that is?

Cory: ‘Cause you like me?

Troy: Like you? I go outta here every morning, I bust my butt ’cause I like you? You’re about the biggest fool I ever saw. A man is supposed to take care of his family. You live in my house, feed your belly with my food, put your behind on my bed because you’re my son. It’s my duty to take care of you, I owe a responsibility to you, I ain’t got to like you! Now, I gave everything I got to give you! I gave you your life! Me and your Mama worked out between us and liking your black ass wasn’t part of the bargain! Now don’t you go through life worrying about whether somebody like you or not! You best be makin’ sure that they’re doin’ right by you! You understand what I’m sayin’?


Understanding is all there can be. We can’t change others. But coming to some sort of peace with an understanding, in many different ways. It is what it is.

My wife and I were talking about it afterward. We wondered how others viewed the movie. Do those who come from damage see it differently than those who don’t come from damage? Certainly, right? But what do they see?

Worth another viewing.



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