Cold War Reflections.

I served with the U.S Army from 1976 until 1981. Part of that time was spent in West Germany. In the coming weeks I'll be taking brief strolls down memory lane as I relive my time overseas.
Situated approximately twenty miles West of the Czech border lay the United States Army’s Heavy Metal playground in Grafenwohr Germany, more affectionately known as Graf by members of the U. S Army’s Armored Corps. We had other names for the place too but none that I would want to share among the civilian population.

My unit arrived in March of nineteen seventy seven for a six month deployment known as Brigade Seventy Six. We were the Second of the Sixty Seventh Armored brigade, Second Armored Division. “Hell on Wheels” commanded by General George S. Patton the III, that’s right. The son of the legendary WWII general was our division’s commanding officer.

Our stated mission was to conduct a holding action against any Warsaw Pact incursion into Western Europe until reinforcements could arrive from the U.S. Hence our proximity to the then East West German Border that followed the Post WWII Czech border. Equipped with M60A1 Main Battle Tanks our brigade faced two divisions of Heavy Soviet Armor equipped with the Soviet Main Battle tank of the time the T-72.

The T-72 was a sinister looking vehicle that rode low to the ground with a squat round turret equipped with a 125mm smooth bore main gun. The Soviet tactical doctrine was to overwhelm their enemy with numbers and it wasn’t long before we viewed ourselves as nothing more than a speed bump in the path of Warsaw Pact attack.

This was brought home to us during our orientation when we were told that to perform our mission we would need to destroy ten enemy tanks before we were ourselves destroyed. It was surreal to sit in a classroom environment while we calmly discussed the best way to destroy our opponent. There were diagrams that showed the best place to hit a T-72, that also listed the result of a hit elsewhere. Hit them here and you only kill the Gunner.

Generally the best place was the turret ring, where the turret met the hull. It was here that a hit could not only penetrate the crew compartment and set off secondary explosions, but even a ricochet could damage the turret ring locking the enemy turret and taking away their ability to aim properly.

After orientation we settled into our routine. Maintenance, maintenance and more maintenance. Followed by even more maintenance. No one knew if we would be called up so it was imperative that our vehicles were ready at a moment’s notice. This of course came as a shock to me. After spending nearly two years begging for parts for my tank at Fort Hood, now all of the sudden anything the tank needed was provided instantly. No expense was spared at keeping everything running smoothly here on the front lines of the cold war.

One major drawback to performing maintenance on our tanks at the time was the fact that we were fully combat loaded. Each tank carried sixty three rounds of service ammunition for the main gun.

There were two types of ammunition available. Practice ammo was used on the gunnery ranges then there was service ammo,  the real stuff. Practice ammo was blue while service ammo was black. Practice ammo was the same as service ammo in every respect but the warhead. Practice HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank) and HE (High Explosive) had inert heads. Service ammunition on the other hand contained live explosives.

If maintenance involved work on the batteries or electrical system the tank had to be off loaded before it could be serviced. As the main gun was fired electrically there was always the possibility of setting off a round in its holding tube if an electrical short occurred.

My Review of Death Metal by Armand Rosamilia

While the first twenty five pages were well written and readily drew me into the story, from that point on it appeared editing had been minimal at best. The story jumped from the present to the past throughout, but there were enough clues to let me know what portion I was in so kudos to the author for working hard at keeping what could have been a confusing story straight. I liked the central idea of a known author harboring a secret identity that suddenly jumps up and bites him in the ass. But I felt the twist at the end was not executed as well as it could have been. To me it seemed hurried, as if the author were in a rush to get this over with and move on. Overall it was a good read that could have been better.

Just meandering through the day.

Finally Sunday is here and I can relax a bit.  Do a little writing, added 628 words to my novella, Enter Night, this morning, which is based on a script I wrote last year that never went anywhere. I plan to submit this to Samhain Publishing and see what happens.
I'm still fighting through Reprisal. I have the basic story done, I've written the ending even though I'm still several chapters away from finishing the main story line. I've been fleshing out the sub plots, getting the character arcs headed in the right direction and all that.
Even with all this work I have to do I find myself constantly drawn to the web to check the sales rank for Shadows of the Past on Amazon. And to look for reviews. None yet, but its only been two weeks since the book was made available. Talk about impatience. I need to take a week or two and just ignore the thing. Get refocused on my future work.

I have spoken to all three local bookstore owners and each has agreed to stock my book and we've talked about a spring signing event. Since my novel was inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos created by H.P. Lovecraft I have been toying with the idea of creating a life sized replica of a Mi-Go to take to book signings to let people take their picture with. Actually I've already created the lower portion of the skeleton using 2x4's ripped down on a table saw. Once I've finished with the full skeleton I'll use 1/8" ply to create cross sections that I'll attach to skeleton upon which the final skin will be attached.  Once I've progressed further I'll post pictures here for my readers to see.

The 'What If' box

I’ve been asked on more than one occasion, as I’m sure every other writer has. Where do you get your ideas? I can’t answer for anyone else, but for me my ideas come from my what if box.

What is a What If box? You ask.
It’s a dark chamber in my mind where all the little snippets of half formed ideas mingle freely with all the little tid-bits of information I’ve gleaned over the years. It’s a rather noisy place as everything there is constantly vying for my attention as they churn about in a frenzy of never ending motion. Running into one another, joining momentarily, then separating when what they form makes absolutely no sense.
Every so often two totally unrelated pieces of information will run into one another and stick. They will sit quietly in the center of the maelstrom as they nurture one another, snagging errant pieces of information to feed their growing appetite,  until suddenly, like a bubble rising from the black depths of a desolate swamp, they will breach the surface of my consciousness where I will marvel at their appearance and wonder quietly to myself.
Now where did that come from?

Book Trailer.

Just finished uploading the new trailer for my book. Tell me what you think.

Whispers From The Dark (Review)

Whispers from the Dark

Bryan Hall:

Staring off with Secrets Beneath Bryan Hall has assembled an interesting assortment of short tales sure to leave anyone wanting to read more of his work. Several of the shorter pieces such as The Dark were a tad rough and could have used a bit more work. There were also a couple of slice of life vignettes that really didn’t work for me. The best story in the collection was in my opinion The Swim. What lies beneath the surface of Mr. Young’s pond? Tim found out, but you’ll have to read this one to discover for yourself.
Overall I found that half of the stories were exceptionally well written and the excerpt from his novel left the reader wanting to know more. I give this collection five stars even with the few stories I didn’t like.

Spores (Review)


 by Ian Woodhead:

Aside from a few minor problems that could be chalked up to the fact that the author is English and uses slang I'm not familiar with this turned out to be an entertaining read. I'm not a very big fan of the current glut of Zombie Apocalyptic fiction in general but Ian has added a twist that deserves a second look. He would have earned five stars except there there were a couple of places that could have used tightening up in my opinion. Otherwise it was an entertaining read and I look forward to ordering more work from this author.

Shadows of the Past First 3 Free

To give everyone a taste of my writing I've made the decision to make the first three chapters of my novel Shadows of the Past, absolutely free to anyone who wants to download them. They are in PDF format so if you don't have adobe reader you'll need to get it here: Adobe Reader
Shadows of the Past, the first 3 free, is here: First 3 Free
Right click on the link and select save link as to download to your computer.
As an added bonus I've included the first chapter of my next novel Reprisal.

Shadows of the Past

After what has felt like forever I am pleased to announce the digital release of my novel Shadows of the Past, in kindle format. The print copy will be following soon.

They  hide in the shadows..
     “Tell me about the warehouse, Carl.”
     “I don't want to go there,” Carl whispered.
     “The shadows.”
     Sam could feel something crawling around inside him, a thing dark and oily, responding to Carl’s terror. He recalled the solitude of the warehouse. The thoughts that went through his mind upon entering its shadowy interior.
     He who walks between the rows.
     Carl pointed a shaking finger at the building behind them.­ Among the pedestrians moving in and out through the seven revolving doors, Sam caught a glimpse of something dark.­ A shadowy figure, seen for a brief moment, then gone as quickly as it appeared.
     “The shadows,” Carl whispered with a shaky voice.
     “What's in the shadows?”­ Sam's throat was constricted and he struggled to get the words out, “tell me, Carl, what do you see in the shadows?”
     “Ssssshhhhh.” ­Carl put his finger to his lips. He whispered, “don't let it hear you.”

They have watched from the shadows since the beginning of time. Waiting impatiently for their chance to return to the world of the living.

Their opportunity comes by way of a brain damaged four year old whose fathomless black eyes hold the secrets of life and death. A child who has the unique ability to bargain with death itself.

They will do anything to possess this child.

Sam Hardin must come to terms with the guilt he feels over his wife's death in time to protect his son from the forces of evil who seek to use him as a conduit from the ancient past.

Inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos, Shadows of the Past takes the reader on a pulse pounding journey that spans three days as the ongoing battle between good and evil is joined. Sam Hardin and Jack Griffith go head to head in a fight to the death from which only one can emerge victorious while in the balance hangs the future of all mankind.