Katie Stanley – Writing Warrior of August

August 10, 2019
Helicopter

Katie serving her country

Meet Katie Stanley. At five feet, three inches tall, the petite blonde sitting on the keyboard in the corner probably doesn’t fit your stereotype for a warrior. In fact, if you saw her sipping a coffee and reading through a textbook you might mistake her for your typical college student. But that’s where you’d go wrong. Katie isn’t just a writer. She’s a warrior; a U.S. Army soldier that represents only one half of a percentage of the entire country that is actively serving in the United States Military. In between work, physical training, personal responsibilities, and college classes, Katie somehow finds the time to write. This is what makes her my Hero of the Month and the Writing Warrior for August. I was privileged to sit down with Katie. Below is what I’ve learned from her about her life, her service, and her passion for writing.

 

First off, let me say what a privilege it is to be interviewing you. Tell me, when did you know you wanted to be a soldier?

Thank you for having me, I’m excited to be here. I would put that around 2nd grade, as I began to avidly read history and realize the legacy and history of the US Army. I put that dream on a back burner after high school, was a certified manager in a Custom Frame Shop (the artwork kind) for a few years. One day I realized I wanted to do something better with my life, affect the bigger picture of the world in a positive way, and get my degree.

 

That’s such a neat story. I love your tie to history and the legacy of the U.S. Army Soldier. You must be proud to of yourself to have inserted yourself into that history. Tell me, what was your family’s response? Was there any opposition? How have you handled it?

They were a bit surprised, the draft in the Vietnam War was the last military service in our recent and immediate family tree. My grandparents have always been supportive and proud. I’m naturally independent and an introvert, so opposition spurs me to prove people wrong beyond a doubt, and do even better things. One of my favorite quotes is from Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”. That has helped me push through times I was wanting to give up, re-class, or settle for average.

 

Skydive

Katie fulfills a bucket list item of hers

Something tells me you put away “settling for average” a long time ago. One of the pictures you’ve provided shows you skydiving. Tell me about it? Would you do it again?

Skydiving was awesome, totally would jump again! I was the first one out of the plane, and the weightlessness was incredible. What struck me the most was the raw silence up there, with little wind resistance, you could feel the wind but not really hear it. Also, you feel kinda awesome up there, overlooking the terrain, people, and commerce, the adrenaline surging, you’re invincible and a badass, but then realizing how small you actually are in the big picture of the world. What I mean is, you feel like a Marvel superhero, and yet another countless ant all at once. Perhaps I think too hard and deep, but that’s what I wrote in my journal that night. Oh yeah, I’ve been journaling for the last 12 years. It helps with de-stressing and organizing the day and my goals on paper.

 

We all learn lessons in the military. Can you provide an example of a situation you learned from? How do you apply it to your life outside of the military?

I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and overthink everything, looking for the logic in it, how it makes sense and fits. However, in the military, you often have to fall back on your training and let reflex/habit take over, no time for hesitating and overanalyzing. As a result, I have become much better at thinking on my feet, developing a rapid good judgment. I have also developed much better briefing skills, especially with little to no warning.

 

Were there any particularly hard or stressful situations you’ve found yourself in during your time in service? How does it impact you today?

I can tell many stories from my deployment; one, in particular, we stopped being re-supplied for nearly two months, so rations became very tight and small. Then, when the overdue shipment arrived, albeit moldy and questionable health and safety, chow tent salvaged what they could, but the camp managed to get e-coli. During that time, I was working most of every shift, sleeping in small 3-5 hour blocks when I could, while limping around on a knee injury I’d taken out there. When I returned home, I was under 100lbs. The entire experience showed me how far I could go, what I could do under the stress, pain, and hunger, what I was made of. The impact today, well, I have a more thankful perspective towards clean air, water, and the abundance of food in the States. The deployment experiences haunt me, but I’m working through it every day. Plus, now I have an iron stomach haha.

 

I don’t think any of us come back from deployments the way we left for them. You aren’t alone and, even when it feels like you might be, you should know you have brothers and sisters that have your back. Thanks for sharing that. In your free time, you find time to write. What genre do you write in and what is the inspiration for your writing?

I write YA and Sci-Fi. I like to write stories that the adventure is just as interesting as the characters, the reader returns for the experience and people. I like to brainstorm on paper, combine a few “What Ifs?”, or turn an idea or common acceptance on its head. It’s also a healthy escape and de-stressor from work.

 

Between the early mornings for PT, the long hours at work, frequent trips, training rotations, exercises, and deployments, how on earth do you find time to write? What is your method or discipline?

I stick to smaller, more manageable goals, like an hour a day. Instead of playing video games in the evening for a few hours, I write, catch up on homework, meal prep, and network. Make a list of what’s important to you, your goals, and compare it to what you actually spend your time doing. Then reconcile the two. Achieve a balance in work and grinding away at goals, and being human and chilling, reenergizing.

 

That’s great advice. You are taking action where most people just dream – you’re ACTUALLY writing a novel! What are some tips that you’ve picked up along the way?

Allow yourself to write badly, the first draft will not be perfect, that’s what editing is for. I have a sticky note on my desk, “You are permitted to write badly”. Many people have writing advice, and it can contradict each other, and confuse you. Find what works for you, writing is a blend of art and rules. Lastly, but vital, write. Don’t let social media, salty writers, or the dazzling successes of famous authors make you doubt yourself and never go after your dreams. Writing a book, even if not published, teaches you so much, it’s a good experience.

 

Talk to me about your work in progress. Can you give us a high-level synopsis for your current work in progress?

A time traveler, Jason Hawkins, stuck in the future and in the middle of a war for control of earth’s last mega-city, must fight with the rebels who took him prisoner and impounded his time machine, if he wishes to repair it and go home. But with the enemy’s secret double agent shadowing his every move in among the rebels, his days are limited as the city’s dictator wants Jason’s impounded time machine to change the tide of the war, and maybe even history itself.

 

It sounds fascinating and I can’t wait to read the novel! All writers have their own style and boundaries. What should we expect when we pick up a book by Katie Stanley?

An exciting, fresh story that readers return to for both the adventure and the characters. Expect layers of foreshadowing, high stakes and tension story, and characters you’d love to grab a beer with in the modern world.

 

Okay, side question but I have to ask, which one of your characters would you grab a beer with and what are you drinking? I’m usually the designated driver among my friends, so I could imagine the same outcome with the military personnel of my book. Top of my list would be Led Fire, the wise-cracking guy with a funny name, and an even odder past that he either lies about or is too shadowy and vague to believe.

 

Five years from now, where do you see yourself realistically? Now take the gloves off… where are you without constraint?

Realistically, finished with my BA and having a job in Business Analytics, my SF trilogy self-published, and a house with land, a corgi, and cat. Dreaming next level, haha, some agent or editor picks up my book from Amazon or general buzz if I dare to dream that big, and just HAS to give it a second life on the traditional publishing side of the house. My day job is interior design, or back to the art world of custom framing and somehow I make enough to live comfortably. Or I land a nice gig to write scripts for video games and movies.

 

I can’t find anything wrong with that! It sounds like an amazing dream and I wish you all the success in the world. Okay – last question. Whether you planned it or not, you are a role model. There are younger women and girls that will look up to you as a soldier and an author. What would you like to tell them?

You’re beautiful, amazing, and have so much to offer, never sell yourself short or allow others to limit you. Only allow people into your life who want the best for you and will build you up. Don’t apologize for being your authentic, awesome self. Go out there and fearlessly live your best life.

 

Thank you, Katie. It was a delight to interview you.

 

Look for Katie’s book to hit the shelves in 2020. In the meantime, follow her on twitter @KTStanley2500 or on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/ktstanley2500

Nightfall

May 28, 2019

[Author’s Note: Nightfall is a fictional piece that describes the future of squad warfare using tools currently being developed by the U.S. Army’s Synthetic Training Environment-Cross Functional Team. Throughout this story, you will read about intelligent tutoring, virtual rehearsals, drone mapping of terrain, distributed operations in denied environments, and other complexities of facing a peer-threat. In time and resource-constrained environments, the Synthetic Training Environment is committed to developing capabilities that help Soldiers out-think and out-maneuver their enemy.]

 

 

Part 1

 

Nightfall. The word spun round and round in Teddy’s mind until he couldn’t take it any longer. They used to own the night. Not anymore. Now, nightfall was in a wholly different category, one of punch and counter-punch that lasted for a seemingly endless period of time until eventually, the sun returned and the damage could be assessed. That was the trouble with taking on a peer threat – it changed the way you fought, trained, and thought about combat.

But that wasn’t the only thing that had changed. Leaders predicted there would be strike windows and invested in smart rockets and robotic tanks. In the digital age, however, all of those became nothing more than paperweights. Robotics wasn’t far enough along to reliably carry out missions without human pairing and the millions spent on GPS guided munitions went dumb once the sky became saturated with electronic attack and advanced counter-measures.

This was the new way of war – one that was dictated not by the power of artillery or the grind of armor, but by the ferocity of electromagnetic attack, the void of intelligence and GPS, and by an electrical humming that never allowed one to fully rest. His platoon sergeant, Sergeant First Class Klunk had commented that for the first time in history you could hear your cancer growing. Nobody laughed.

When the sun set and darkness crept over the horizon time seemed to stop. Sure, the trees still swayed with the wind, but it always felt as if the sun would never rise again. When midnight slipped to 2:00 a.m. the night had a way of playing with your mind. Your thoughts weren’t your own and, when aided by the ceaseless humming of friendly and enemy jammers and the eternal pounding of randomized “dumb” artillery, thinking was just white noise carried away in the wind.

Tonight would be different though. No longer were the infantry bringing up the rear while artillery hammered Otso’s eastern forests and tracked behemoths plowed east towards Donovia. With Donovian air defense bubbles largely impenetrable and the air war stalemated, this became the Army’s fight, and who better to represent the Army than a digital Soldier grafted into the middle of the 21st century.

Teddy was glad to have a role in the front. Over the last week, his squad had played roundup for disabled autonomous vehicles and scrap duty of sensitive circuit boards. Only once did they have a real Donovian autonomous tank roll into their assembly area but its targeting circuit was already fried from EMP bursts and it had run out of ammunition hours ago. It still made for good target practice though; the U.S. Army never liked the cost of self-driving targets. Sergeant First Class Klunk joked they should thank the Donovians for providing the equipment free of charge.

Teddy lifted his Soldier Augmentation System, or S.A.S., to his forehead and looked across the tree-filled landscape. Craters pocked the ground, uprooted trees packed the already thick underbrush, and the smell of tree sap and smoke hung low in the air. Enemy scouts were setting fires and clearing new fighting positions at the edge of town. The area was gearing up for a real battle. A battle Teddy would get to be a part of.

A member of Teddy’s squad shifted her weight to his left. The dull thuds of plastic and metal equipment raking the ground accompanied her. Sergeant Sally Johnson. She was good. You had to be out here; there was no room to be anything other than good. War managed all on its own to fill the rest with bad and Teddy suddenly found himself appreciating everyone on his team all the more as he lay in his hastily dug trench.

He watched her for a moment, seeing a pale glow reflect off her cheeks from her own S.A.S. She was studying. Her augmentation system was likely reviewing her movement that day and providing feedback to increase efficiency. It was also recording whatever cellular and radio frequencies made it through the electromagnetic screen line to glean any information about the civilian population and enemy movements in the area. Once compiled, the S.A.S. would give Sergeant Johnson expert advice on Donovian tactics to increase her lethality and survivability in the upcoming mission.

What Teddy found the most interesting about the S.A.S. was that each tutor was learning and operating independently of another. Their neural nets were built that way to harden them from electromagnetic attack but there was an advantage to the disconnected learning. Each S.A.S. tutor was developing its own best practices and assessing the environment based on its paired Soldier’s capabilities. This injected a level of disciplined randomness into an otherwise doctrinal and mathematical equation. From what they had seen so far, this disciplined randomness made it nearly impossible for the Donovian’s centralized AI to analyze their movements.

Nightfall. Teddy shifted his own weight now in the narrow dirt trench he had dug a few hours before. After a week of waiting, Charlie Company had finally made it to the first Donovian controlled town in Otso. Now, only fifteen kilometers from the forest’s edge, Teddy felt giddy. Inspired. Ready.

A dull tone sounded through the humming in his ears. His S.A.S. had something to tell him. Teddy licked his lips as he lowered his goggles over his eyes. His tongue brought back the taste of sweat and the feeling of a sandy grit smeared against chapped lips. As the goggles fell over his eyes they flickered on and then became transparent, illuminating the night around him and adjusting the color to a natural spectrum. It was as if the sun had never set.

“What’s up, Rex?” he asked candidly.

Rex wasn’t a real person but its internal neural net had allowed it to develop a personality all its own. Teddy had been encouraged to name it when he was issued the S.A.S. and the name Rex felt about as right as any other name. Plus, when you have two minutes at the new equipment fielding facility prior to deployment to think of a name, why not go with an old dog?

“Your pulse is up,” Rex responded. “You must be excited. Remember to breathe deeply to keep your CO2 levels down. You don’t want to get shaky. The enemy is always watching.”

Teddy grinned. “Thanks, Rex, but just give me the news already,” he begged.

Rex wasn’t the best yet at mimicking the emotional tone of the conversation, but it did its best to present the news in an upbeat form. “The platoon is being ordered to clear the North-West portion of town. There is a jamming platform we have to destroy. As before, this movement will be pre-synchronized by your tutors but executed individually. There won’t be any communication with the rest of the company due to enemy jamming.”

Teddy nodded and Rex, sensing the overly human response continued. Soon, a three-dimensional map hovered above Teddy’s trench. “I’ve been analyzing the mission and comparing it to what we know about recent enemy activity. Only a portion of the intelligence push came through and the news is a few hours old, but it lines up with what I’ve captured on civilian frequencies. They know we’re coming and reports of troop reinforcement on the western edge of town appears accurate. Unfortunately, my data push to the CP was ineffective.”

Rex drew a black line between Teddy and the town’s clearing and labeled it “Phase line Black – 5K-Probable EMP and Mortar Contact.”

“We’ve got a lot of rehearsing to do, Teddy,” Rex warned. “You have a fifteen-kilometer movement and the assault starts at 0200. Like I told you earlier, you cannot expect to have any contact with the rest of the platoon or company until you have destroyed the enemy jamming platform in the town. This movement will be pre-synchronized but distributed in action.”

A route was charted through the trees with a series of graphics that told Teddy where his contact points were, rally points before the objective, and the best guess array of enemy forces. As he moved, these graphics would be displayed in his vision and updating him on enemy locations and changes to his route. The goal was to get Teddy and the rest of the squad to think faster with the information they were given. The quicker information could flow from intelligence, sensors, and the rest of the squad, the better Teddy could be at out-thinking his enemy. In a war where both sides were armed with artificial intelligence, the speed of thought translated into appropriate action was measured in milliseconds.

“At Phase Line Black,” Rex continued, “I might have to go inside depending on the severity of EMP strikes. But I can manage my own rhythm and will try to prevent disruption to your assault against the objective. If you’re ready, I’ve built a full-scale model of the terrain behind you. I suggest we begin rehearsing immediately. SP is at 2200.”

Teddy nodded and shuddered to himself. Unlike Sergeant Johnson, Rex had only been with Teddy for a few months. “Going inside” was a reference to Rex transferring himself to a non-conductive implant inside the top of Teddy’s cheekbone. The implant served as Rex’s digital twin and stored his data until the EMP wave could no longer damage his neural network. While it sounded harmless, every time the transfer took place, Rex would suggest he had heard and learned things inside of Teddy that made him feel dissected. Sergeant Johnson assured him the feeling would pass. It hadn’t.

Climbing to his feet, Teddy turned around to find a full scale, virtual rendition of the warehouse on the north-western corner. Their objective. Other members of his squad were moving about virtual renditions of their own. Teddy couldn’t see the objects they were interacting with, but like synchronized swimmers, they would eventually come together and rehearse as a team with their tireless tutors guiding the whole event.

 

 

Part 2

 

At exactly 2200, Teddy pulled himself up from his foxhole, touched his sensitive items, and walked quietly into the forest. Twelve feet above him hovered a small drone that silently mapped his environment ahead. For pennies on the dollar, his squad could use a three-dimensional printer to create a new drone if this one crashed, fully equipped with all the sensors and cameras that provided Rex the ability to identify enemies before he was confronted by them.

Illuminated in his goggles were also the other members of his squad, flanking him to his left and right and emanating a dull blue hue. The mesh network created by his S.A.S. would show his team even when occluded from view. This prevented friendly fire and ensured he wouldn’t get ahead of the platoon, becoming a victim of friendly fire himself. Concentration, he told himself as he recited the principles of the offense in his head. Move dispersed and come together to concentrate our attack against the enemy.

Branches cracked and leaves crunched as Teddy moved slowly through the thick undergrowth of the forest. Uneven ground chewed at his feet. Thorns clawed at his pants. He hardly felt any of it.

His focus was on the mission. Scan for enemy. Listen for noises. Look for trip-wires and mines. As he moved, Rex called out phase lines and occasionally reminded him about his heart rate and breathing. Beyond the mission, Rex encouraged him. Each time Teddy found himself wondering if he could take another step towards actual combat, Rex piped in with a joke about Donovian incompetence or reminded him that his training was more than sufficient.

Before his most recent joke ended, Rex’s voice changed. “Incoming!” he called, followed by “Get down!”

Teddy obeyed and mortars burst around him. Dirt fell. Leaves and branches thudded against his helmet. No time to think.

“Get up,” Rex ordered. “500 Meters East. Run!”

And he did. Through brush and thorns and craters. Grenades clanked against his rifle as he ran but there was no point in being silent now. They were close. Blue halos on either side of him indicated his squad was running too. No orange. They had all made it through the first barrage.

Teddy hit the dirt when a number on his goggles indicated it was time to stop. He looked back and watched the rest of his squad hit the ground too. More mortars burst behind him. Red icons appeared on his screen in front.

Machinegun fire erupted through the trees. A pulse of blue and yellow shot skyward. His drone above fell clumsily to the ground.

“Low crawl,” Rex ordered. “The clearing is right ahead of you.”

Teddy obeyed, scraping his body against dirt and rock to maintain as low a profile as he could. Mortars ripped through the trees and bullets snapped overhead. Another burst of blue and yellow erupted in the center of town, this time causing his goggles to sputter and flash. A friendly halo went from blue to yellow. Someone was hurt but he knew he couldn’t stop. They had to suppress the enemy. Achieve overmatch. The continuous humming of enemy electromagnetic attack grew loud and then even his own squad disappeared from his S.A.S.

Jammed. The mesh network was off but Rex was still there and he was keeping time. As long as all the other Soldiers in the company obeyed their own tutors, the operation would go as planned. More rounds snapped overhead, but Teddy had made it to the berm. Cover. He felt relieved. The silhouettes of buildings against a darkened sky appeared before him. Rex marked a spot at the corner of town. His objective.

A machine gun nest, outlined in red, sat directly in front of him. Their attention was to their left. Teddy brought the rifle to his cheek and fired. A Donovian soldier fell. Another took cover behind sandbags. The machine gun re-oriented on Teddy. He fired again and again, watching his rifle rise and fall in a rhythmic motion that assured him of his actions. Two more soldiers fell and a third Donovian crawled towards the machinegun.

An ammo count-down on his S.A.S. warned him he would have to reload, but now his squad was online with him and picking up the slack. More gunfire burst from the tree line to his south. Achieve overwhelming fire. Achieve fire superiority. Suppress the enemy.

“Reload,” shouted Rex’s voice into his ears, but a dull buzz of rotor blades washed out Rex’s voice. Drone Swarm. Teddy dropped his magazine, inserted another, and slammed the bolt forward. A light flashed behind him as a friendly EMP burst neutralized the incoming drones. They fell lifelessly into the town beyond. A third volley of mortars burst around him but the bulk of the explosions were to his south. First Platoon was doing their part and now it was time for him to do his.

60 seconds. The red words flashed in the corner of his goggles as he continued to scan for Donovian soldiers. First platoon would engage enemy fighting positions from a support-by-fire while second platoon breached the concertina wire and sandbags that Donovian soldiers emplaced earlier that day. Teddy dropped his second magazine and secured a third in his chamber, verifying the counter in his goggles updated with his new load. He checked his grenades and adjusted his helmet. Nothing had fallen off.

30 seconds. Once a path was clear, Teddy would be the first through the breach and towards a warehouse on the north-western corner of town. Second platoon would follow and clear south allowing First platoon to hit a platoon-sized air and missile defense platform in the center of town.

Airburst artillery shattered above him. They were trying to flush him out but the canopy of trees shielded his body from the fragments. Teddy rolled his body to the right and pushed hard off the ground. His gear clumsily beat against his back as he pushed through the trees and into the open field. As he ran, a mine-clearing line charge erupted in front of him sending fragments of concertina wire and sand into the air.

Teddy hit the ground as more machinegun fire peppered the breach lane, listened for debris to stop falling, rolled his body to the left and clamored back up. The constant pounding of friendly machinegun fire flew overhead. Heat from fire and electricity bathed Teddy’s cheeks as he dashed through the breach and threw himself to the ground on the other side.

But then he was through. The noise was behind him. Buildings were in front of him.

“Get up!” shouted Rex. “Get to the building in front of you.”

Teddy obeyed. With arms shaking and legs burning he climbed once more to his feet and took cover behind a red brick building. He could feel other members of his squad hit the wall behind him.

“Door dead ahead,” Rex reminded him.

Teddy smeared the sweat and grime from his eyes and blinked. A pat on his shoulder indicated the fire team was ready. The third man in the stack, Specialist Jakes, jumped ahead of him and crossed to the other side of a wooden door, brandishing a black battering ram.

He held up a finger. One. The fire team rocked their bodies’ back and forth in unison feeding off of each other’s energy and working up the momentum to enter the room.

Two. Jakes hit the door with the black metal and rubber battering ram. Simultaneously, Sergeant Johnson leaned over and tossed a flashbang into the room.

Three. Teddy had no choice but to move forward with the momentum of his team. Johnson’s flashbang exploded as soon as he entered the room. Blinding light and noise engulfed him but Rex adjusted his goggles so that they darkened the split second the grenade went off and brightened immediately following. Flashes of light shot wildly from a blinded Donovian in the far corner of the room. Rex highlighted his enemy and Teddy fired twice before he button-hooked his movement to clear the near wall.

More rifle bursts erupted behind him indicating the rest of the stack had also found targets.

“Clear!” shouted Jakes and a familiar female voice also echoed the call.

Sergeant Johnson surveyed their foothold but there was no time for relief.

“Jakes!” she hollered. “Clear the stairs!”

Teddy quickly moved to Jakes’ right and removed another flashbang. Jakes shook his head. “Hand grenade,” he whispered.

Teddy complied and the two of them, side by side, crept up the steps with Sergeant Johnson behind them.

At the top, Teddy pulled the pin, dropped the spoon, and counted to three. He didn’t make it. Gunfire burst through the wall, striking Jakes in the left side and throwing him off balance. Pain shot upward from his arm into his neck and down to his toes. The grenade rolled from his hand and burst pre-maturely into the room.

Had he been hit? Time slowed as he tried to push Jakes off of him but he could feel his strength failing. Hands and boots clambered over Teddy but his vision blurred. Where was he? Who just climbed over him? Soon he felt his own body being dragged down the steps and then, a familiar voice began coaching him.

“You’re fine,” Rex told him. “Slow your breathing. Bring your knees up to your chest.”

Teddy obeyed, listening to Rex but hearing gunfire above him and wondering if Specialist Jakes and Sergeant Johnson would be alright.

“That’s it. Slow your breathing,” Rex continued to coach.

Fingers worked gently on his shoulder and then something was pulled tight. They moved down to his side and wrapped something across his stomach. He could hear voices but they were distant to Rex’s. The shadows above him were fuzzy and poorly shaped. Why weren’t his eyes working? He tried to stop thinking and trusted that Rex would translate the important parts. More footsteps rushed past him.

“What’s happening,” Teddy grunted.

“Your fight’s over,” responded Rex in a cavalier tone. “But you’ll be okay. I reported you as stable once the pressure dressing was applied to your wounds. You won. The building is secure. We’ll have the objective before the sun comes up.”

Teddy closed his eyes and willed his body to obey his instructor.

“Keep your knees up and slow your breathing,” Rex continued. “Your fingers will feel funny but that’s normal. You might feel some moisture behind your back but that’s normal too. Stay calm. Ground Evac will come once the objective is clear.”

Teddy focused on his voice.

“Did I ever tell you about the Donovian that walked into a bar?” Rex asked.

Doomsayer Available Now!

December 3, 2018

Science FictionThat’s right folks! The final installment of the “Conquests of Brokk” trilogy is finally here and I’ve been working extra hard to get everyone’s attention… I even put together a Book Trailer which you can watch here.

I know now that you’ve seen the trailer you’re wondering: “Why isn’t Thane headed to Hollywood?” You’d be right to think that. But for now, writing is my thing. Still… I’m always looking for cast members when the series does make it to Hollywood, so shoot me a note, leave me a review, buy a few books for me to autograph in time for Christmas, and get to reading!

Synopsis: Brokk, Commander of the mighty Rogue Fleet, desires more than just his exile come to an end. His heart is set on revenge and his aim is to be the ruler of the Jark Empire. With his Armada resupplied and a powerful priestess at his side, Brokk intends to stop at nothing until his goals are achieved. Despite Brokk’s plans, Cale has his own intentions for the Galaxy and his own desire for revenge. As conflict descends on the Jark Empire, a fog of war masks the plans of the remaining species in the Galaxy and a battle for positioning begins.

 

Here are some things I’ve enjoyed most about writing the book series:

Favorite Technology: Interstellar Artillery

Favorite Character: Tamara

Favorite Planet: Jark

Favorite People Group: Mateen

Favorite Warrior Class: Scouts (of course)

Favorite theme: As Doomsayer ends, there is but a single, absolute certainty: when leaders leave morality to chance, the battle for galactic supremacy will become a long, starless game of bided time and infinite retributions. For what each will forfeiteach will pay.

 

One last thing: Please consider buying a copy and leaving a review. It helps so much with author rank and visibility. Happy reading!

 

 

 

Facts and Stats – The Battle for Tassi

October 21, 2018

 

“This was the single, greatest massacre in our history and yet there is still no justice.” –  Cale, Commander, Tassian Expeditionary Space Fleet.

 

Soldier Astronaut  40,000,000

Number of Jark soldiers that trampled Tassian Ground

 

Tank  700,000

Total number of tanks involved in the invasion and defense of Tassi

 

Aircraft  120,000

Quantity of Tassian aircraft destroyed during the Jark invasion

 

Artillery  415,000

Number of Jark Artillery that shelled Tassian cities

 

 

 

“It all happened so fast. The artillery, the invasion, our surrender. By the time they started rounding everybody up and executing us, there was nothing for any of us to do but to die.” – Tassian Survivor

 

 

Killed or Missing  1,315,000,000

Total number of Tassians killed or missing in the Battle for Tassi

 

 

 

“I remember her horror. There was an acceptance of her fate and a rejection of the facts all at once. I waited until the soldiers left and then climbed over her body to escape.” – Tassian Survivor

 

 

“He is an exile. Our government had no part in his actions. If we find him, we, along with the galactic community will bring him to justice.” – Edet Gadalje, Jark representative to the Galactic Council

 

The Miracle of Life on Earth

June 12, 2018

Last week, NASA announced they had exciting news. NASA’s Curiosity rover had found “organic compounds” on Mars. Essentially, NASA discovered carbon in rocks dating back billions of years.

It is important we make the distinction between organic compounds (carbon) and life because these two couldn’t be further apart from each other. NASA has not found life. They haven’t come close to finding life. They’ve merely found carbon which exists naturally and can be formed as part of geological processes.

To make this important distinction is everything because everything in our ideology hinges upon this distinction. Are we unique in the universe? Is Earth special? Does other life exist? Did Mars seed Earth with life from a meteor strike?

I celebrate science and the scientific discovery, but there is a very important perspective that we need to take here on earth: We must be in awe at the miracle of life on Earth. NASA’s study could suggest that billions of years ago, the building blocks necessary for life to form on Mars were present just as they were present on Earth. Yet Mars is not teeming with life. Earth is. Mars is not teeming with bacteria. Earth is. Mars is not teeming with rivers. Earth is. Mars is not surrounded by an atmosphere. Earth is.

The fact is that hundreds, if not thousands, of conditions must exist for life to form or thrive. This is what makes Earth unique and ultimately makes life a miracle – Earth is the only place in our known universe that possesses the conditions for life to thrive and we should spend more time celebrating that.

Doomsayer Cover Art is Here

April 22, 2018

Hold onto your horses… or for those of you without horses, hold onto your pants because I’ve got some big news for you! The first cover art design for the final book in the series “The Conquests of Brokk” is here. Take a look at the art below and let me know what you think.

Science Fiction

 

 

As many of you know, this is probably the first of many cover concepts before we complete the book. Some themes in this book that we are representing on the cover are Brokk and his golden eyes, priests and prophets to the dead, the molten planet of Jark, and Space. Lastly, you may not have guessed how much internal debate we had about breaking up the word “Doomsayer” into two words for the cover. What do you guys think? One word straight across or violate the laws of language and stack them as we have above?

 

 

Cryptocurrency: My Thoughts

January 15, 2018

With all the back and forth on cryptocurrency, I thought it would be worthwhile to provide thoughts from the perspective of a science fiction author.

My prediction: Cryptocurrency is the platform that will enable financial wealth throughout the galaxy and can be tied to a host nation or planetary system.

The Good Aspects of Cryptocurrency

  1. It represents two of the four elements of national power (Military, Diplomacy, Economic, and Information).
  2. The Economic element should be self-explanatory but the information element creates a giant leap for harnessing a global wealth at the national level. So important is information in the digital age, that forty years ago Orson Scott Card predicted in his book “Speaker for the Dead” that the only requirement to control colonies throughout the galaxy would be the ability to control their information.
  3. Cryptocurrency doesn’t weigh anything. To use a fiat currency on a Moon or Mars colony would also mean expensive transport costs. International participants would have to pay conversion fees of their own currency, and then the conversion companies would have to transport the non-standard currency back to earth. Digital currency is weightless and global – no conversion, no transport, no problems.

The Not so Good Aspects of Cryptocurrency

  1. The Bible predicts it and this just might mean the end is near(ing). Revelation 13:16-17 says: “Also it [the beast that exercises authority over the Earth] causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.” If a cryptocurrency (Bitcoin or Ethereum for example) becomes a global standard and becomes controlled by one entity… it could spell the end of the age.
  2. Digital information is not as secure. I’ve read the arguments on encryption and private wallets, but digital information is still subject to theft – and this is a big problem because we are talking about theft affecting millions of users versus street robbery in fiat currency. In fact, there have already been multiple hacks of wallets and exchanges. At least you can fight off a mugger with fiat currency, right?

One counter-point (from a soldier…me):

Some people recently have attacked cryptocurrency because it is arbitrary in value. Unlike gold, cryptocurrency isn’t tangible and will not maintain any long-term worth. My issue with this isn’t because I don’t like gold. I love gold. It is shiny and my wife kisses me whenever I offer her something made of gold.

My issue is that gold is also arbitrary in value. Keep in mind I’m a soldier… but if I want gold I can’t use gold to take it. I need guns made of steel. Bullets made of lead and copper. If I want food in a post-apocalyptic world, I won’t be using gold to get food, I’ll be using bullets. I can’t mine gold with gold, I need to mine gold with steel, or iron, or even wood. If I want water, I won’t be using gold to get it. If I need heat, I won’t be using gold to generate it. Gold has an assigned value and to be honest, I suggest investing in lead and copper to protect your assets instead of Gold. BUT… since we have assigned gold a value, I see no reason to not afford the same to any cryptocurrency.

 

Final Word:

I own cryptocurrency. Maybe Brokk should too…

Fable Poetry

August 27, 2016

A Bedtime Poem

 

Careful child, for when you sleep,

Trolls and goblins like to creep,

Through the field and to your bed,

Such awful terror, such wretched dread.

Once outside an ogre waits,

To the mountain, that’s your fate,

They’ll walk you through the blackest nights,

To a goblin’s market, their paradise.

The wretched beasts will sell you there,

It’s awful grim but don’t despair,

The Kingdom cares a lot for you,

And one brave knight might rescue… you.

– A fable told to the children of the kingdom

Fractal Space, Rogue Fleet, and Other Updates

August 5, 2016

Fractal SpaceI’m excited to announce that after several edits and rewrites, Fractal Space is finally published! I’m looking at one final proof of the paperback before I publish that one as well, but for now, you can read the book on Kindle here.

With Fractal Space, I’ve deviated significantly from my first novel Trials. Think Space Opera and Military Strategy combined into a battle for galactic supremacy.

Synopsis: Brokk is the chosen one. His golden skin proves it, his supreme leader has given him the warships, and the dead have accepted his sacrifice. With an armada of battleships and forty million soldiers, Brokk will be chancellor of the Tassian system by nightfall. Even the best of plans can come unraveled, and for Brokk, the desperate moves of a vagrant named Casika risks destroying everything he set in motion.

The battle for Tassi begins with an artillery barrage so vicious the sky itself is darkened. Find out how it ends.

While you can buy the book on kindle, if you have reviewed my other books and signed up on my ARC list on the front page of the website – I’ll be sending you a free copy in the hopes that you’ll consider leaving me another review.

 

 

Rogue Fleet

Now, for what I think is even cooler news: The sequel to Fractal Space is less than a month from being published itself! Check out the cover and and the website for more details. As always, I’m excited to hear what you think about the cover for the sequel!

Synopsis: Abandoned. Forsaken. Hunted.

When Brokk’s campaign fails, he realizes that he has lost not only his prize but his home world as well. With no support from his government and labeled a renegade by his leaders, Brokk is forced into hiding. While he rebuilds his fleet, Brokk meets a powerful new ally and makes a dozen new foes.

As Brokk navigates the criminal underworld and plans his next move, one thing is certain: the Galactic Order will not stop until it has brought Brokk to justice. But surrender is not in Brokk’s blood.

 

 

 

 

Gaining the Foothold

July 7, 2016

Wow, has it been a long time since I’ve had the time to write anything on here. News first, then the short story which is a snippet from my latest novel. I’ve titled this tiny little portion “Gaining the Foothold.”

  1. Fractal Space is basically complete. I received the proof today and now begins the process of reading through it to make sure the cover and pages look exactly the way I want it. If time permits, we’ll be just weeks away from publication!
  2. I’m 50,000 words into the sequel of Fractal Space. There’s no title yet but I’m excited to follow Brokk’s story. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
  3. I’ve started to feel guilty about not returning to write the sequel to Trials. I’m excited to say that it’s coming; the prologue and first chapter are done!

I hope you enjoy this little snippet from the sequel to Fractal Space. If the text gives you an idea for a title, I’d love to hear it!!

 


Gaining the Foothold

 

Hatches hissed white plumes of oxygen and carbon dioxide as metal screeched against metal. Sizzling could be heard beyond the copper and lead shield that protected Masai and his company of Raiders from the immense heat of lasers cutting through the steel exterior of the space port. A heads-up display in his pressurized combat helmet indicated the breach would be ready to rush through in twenty seconds. A lot could happen in twenty seconds.
Masai felt a nudge against the back of his space suit and twisted his body awkwardly to look back. A fat red face, coated in sweat stared back at him through an amber tinted visor. “We’ve still got fifteen seconds before we do anything and you’re already sweating?” Masai joked through his helmet’s radio system.
“Give me a break,” panted Mayo, the number two man in the stack. “I don’t think my climate control is working well in here.”
“You better have my back,” Masai growled. He knew Mayo did. Masai was hot too and each of them were about fifty pounds heavier than the next biggest guy in the company. They didn’t get their position because of speed. The first two guys through a door or the hull of a ship were bullet magnets. The thicker the man going through, the fewer bullets traveled through him and into the next man on the team. Seize the foothold, their commander would growl. I don’t care how you die after the foothold, but you had better get us through that door and into the next room!
And they did, time and time again Masai and Mayo got their company into the next room, established a foothold to build up fighting power with the rest of the company and won the ship.
His heads up display blinked quickly. Five seconds. Go time. Masai gripped his rifle and took the weapon off its safety, selecting the fully automatic feature that allowed him to send six hundred and forty three rounds into the enemies fighting position before he had to throw in a new drum.
His shoulders ached, body rigid, slight rock back, work up the momentum. One second. The steal hull of the space station slammed down and his own lead and copper shield suddenly vanished. Push forward. He felt light as a feather running as fast as he could through the smoke that concealed the gap in the breached hull. Hot orange steal, melted at the frame still glowed around the edges as he pushed forward. Flashes of light and bullets from enemy defenders snapped past him, slamming into the metal walls of their boarding bay behind them.
Through the door, turn right. Follow the wall. His heads up display illuminated three combatants which he held down his trigger on until they fell to the ground. More shooting now behind and in front of him. A grenade rolled to his feet, which he kicked away just in time to watch explode in a flash of light. His helmet tinted black protect his vision and his suit blocked the concussive boom that would have left him stunned and disoriented.

Another target, another ten round burst, enough to penetrate the armor of the enemy suit and tear through flesh.
Hit the corner, swivel left, stay along the wall. The room was longer than he thought it would be and opened up into a wide bay that held boxes of supplies and wheeled vehicles to carry the equipment throughout the station. Smoke cleared and his helmet couldn’t find any more targets in his sector. “Clear,” Masai shouted, which was soon echoed by Mayo and about twelve other voices.
“Push to the next chamber,” his commander calmly said through his radio.
No time to rest, and suddenly Masai was aware of his heavy breathing and profuse sweating. His head felt clammy and his fingers were cold. He noticed a red warning light flashing at the upper left of his display. Suddenly the arm of his suit tightened and compressed against his flesh. A needle stabbed him in the leg. Adrenaline; he’d been shot. Losing blood. Keep going, take the next room, but he couldn’t, and before his left foot struck the ground he was falling backwards into his own induced abyss.