A Review of the July / August 2014 Issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

Source: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

Source: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

If you’re not one of my regular readers, you’re probably wondering why The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction routed you to a website called “Reflections of a Rational Republican” for a review of its recent July/August 2014 issue.

Be not afraid.

Republicans like fantasy and science fiction, too. And I promise to keep politics out of it.

For this issue, guest editor C.C. Finlay selected thirteen solid stories out of a field of 751 submissions. It is also the first issue in the history of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction where prospective writers could submit stories electronically. Moreover, none of the thirteen authors in the issue has ever appeared in the magazine, which made for a refreshing change of pace. Overall, I think C.C. Finlay has an excellent eye for great stories and a rare talent for discovering new authors. I thoroughly enjoyed this issue and look forward to his next. Continue reading

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Remembering Jay on Memorial Day 2014

Every Memorial Day, I honor the sacrifice of my friend, Jay. As the world changes and the years fade, it is important that we never forget those who have selflessly sacrificed their lives in the service of our country. Jay exemplifies that long gray line of West Pointers who lived and died by the motto: Duty, Honor, Country.

Today is his day.

For the past three years, I have posted the following words about Jay. As always, the same words and sentiments still apply today.

I miss you, buddy.

The cross-currents of individual lives can be interesting things. Through time we each follow our own paths. On occasion, these paths intersect unexpectedly with those of greater men and women.

During my life, my path crossed several times with one of my generation’s finest.

I met Jay in high school. He was a serious, quiet, and determined person. He was also one heck of an athlete, leading my high school soccer team to the State Championship as its all-star goalie.

Opting for a more serious life dedicated to service, Jay applied for and received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.

After we graduated from high school, I never considered that my path might cross with Jay again during my military career.

But alas, the military community is a small one.

When Jay arrived at the National Training Center, I was happy to see him again.

Life has a funny way of timing things. Coincidentally, our daughters were born a day and one room apart in the same hospital ward.

During my last year of military service in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, I was thrilled to learn that Jay would command Echo Troop, Alpha Troop’s sister company, where I had served as an executive officer.

I knew the soldiers of Echo Troop well. At the National Training Center Alpha and Echo Troop served together every month as a Soviet-style Motorized Rifle Battalion. We ate together and we trained together.

Before leaving the high Mojave desert forever, I came to see Jay one last time to make sure he knew what great soldiers he would command.

It was the last time I would ever speak to him.

Twenty months later, while sitting in the comfort of a business school classroom in Massachusetts, I learned that Jay would not be returning home to his family.

Exemplifying the principle of leadership by example, Jay was personally inspecting a vehicle at a traffic control point in Iraq when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated.

He died on April 29, 2005.

Jay was a quiet and serious officer who cared deeply about his soldiers and his country. His integrity, loyalty and selfless service were impeccable. He made the ultimate sacrifice so that others may live in freedom and for that we all owe him a great debt.

Jay, I still sorely miss you.

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My Seventh Published Short Story Is Now Live

Source: Fictionvale Magazine

Source: Fictionvale Magazine

I’m happy to announce that my story, “Enemy Allies”, is now posted on Fictionvale.

You can find it here.


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My Sixth Published Short Story Is Now Live

Source: Mad Scientist Journal

Source: Mad Scientist Journal

I’m happy to announce that my story, “The Witchwood Whispers” is now posted on Mad Scientist Journal.

You can find it here.


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Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest Update: Second Round

I recently posted that I had entered my first novel in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Today, I am very happy to announce that, based on my pitch, my entry is one of the top 20% of entries to advance to the second round, and my name and the title of my novel are now on the Amazon website under Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror. Continue reading

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Why I Entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest

Recently, I entered my first novel in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, which Amazon has hosted for the past seven years. The contest allows a total of up to 10,000 entries for novels of between 50,000 to 125,000 words in five categories, including:

  • General Fiction
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror
  • Romance
  • Young Adult Fiction

The contest’s Grand Prize is a contract with Amazon Publishing and a $50,000 advance. In addition, the contest has a number of other awards ranging from monetary prizes to free book reviews.

Besides the chance to win a publishing contract, I entered the contest this year for three reasons: Continue reading

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Top 10 Predictions for 2013: Results

Three years ago, I started this blog with my top 10 predictions for 2011. I also polled readers on these same predictions. At the end of the year, my accuracy rate was 40%, while my readers were right 50% of the time. I continued the tradition with my top 10 predictions for 2012. At year end, both my and my readers’ accuracy rate was 40%.

I am continuing this tradition in 2013 with my top 10 predictions for 2013. This year, my predictions were more accurate than those of my readers with an accuracy rate of 80% vs. 40%.

Since I like to hold myself accountable for things I wrote in the past, now is the time I assess how I (and my readers) did.

To make things easier, I have included my original post in its entirety, but have included the results below each prediction in blue (if I was correct) and red (if I was wrong). I will also use the same coding methodology for my readers.

Note: I have been unable to close these polls because I have been having technical issues with Polldaddy.com. The results in the post below are the statistics I had available at the time I wrote this post. I urge you not to vote on any of the predictions; just select “View Results” below each poll to see how readers voted.

Without further ado, here are my predictions with the subsequent results:

Continue reading

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My Fifth Published Short Story Is Now Live

I’m happy to announce that my story, “Shooting Stars and Schadenfreude” is now posted on Mad Scientist Journal.

You can find it here.


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Tank Research

I’d been thinking about writing a novel based on a short story I’d written late last year and recently just sold to Fictionvale Magazine this past November. Over the past month, I’ve used National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) as a means to jumpstart this novel. In the process of writing the novel, which takes place in World War II, I’ve frequently struggled with trying to imagine what it was really like to be on one of the armored vehicles of the period, and that’s after accounting for my extensive experience on modern tanks as a cavalry officer in the United States Army.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to visit the world’s largest private collection of armored vehicles this past weekend on Jacques Littlefield’s estate in Portola Valley before it is shuttered and its collection scattered to the four winds. Apparently, my tour group was one of the last to see the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation‘s full $30 million collection before it transfers some of its pieces to a museum in Stow, Massachusetts and auctions off the remainder to private collectors.

Below are some pictures of World War II tanks, anti-tank guns, and armored vehicles from Littlefield’s collection. At some point in the future, I plan to post pictures of some of the more modern equipment (e.g., T-72 tank, SCUD-A and SCUD-B missile launchers, among others), but I wanted to keep this post focused on World War II.

Enjoy! Continue reading

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Three More Short Fiction Sales to Fictionvale Magazine and Mad Scientist Journal

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve sold three more short stories to Fictionvale Magazine and Mad Scientist Journal  over the last several months. “Enemy Allies” marks my first sale to Fictionvale Magazine, while “Shooting Stars and Schadenfreude” and “The Witchwood Whispers” mark my first and second sales, respectively, to Mad Scientist Journal. Moreover, “Enemy Allies” is the short story on which the novel I’ve been writing for National Novel Writing Month (i.e., NaNoWriMo) is based.

So far, I’ve sold seven short stories this year out of fifteen I’ve been submitting to various publishers. Here are some trends I’ve noticed about the stories I’ve sold: Continue reading

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