Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Friday, January 01, 2016

A New Job

 I'm going to pin this to the top for the foreseeable future, and all new posts will be beneath it.  The one thing I didn't include in this post was contact information.  If you want to contact me, but not through this blog, email me at mike dot weatherford at gmail dot com (words used to confuse the spambots). 

I've been one of those Christians that has always said, "Use me, Lord, in whatever capacity you wish."  Well, don't do it unless you mean it, because He'll find a job for you.  He's found one for me.

I spend an inordinate amount of time on the Internet.  I have some physical problems that make it difficult for me to do most things.  That keeps me from doing most of the things normal Christians do -- volunteer in one or more capacities in their spare time.   But God will find a way to use us in whatever capacity we're able to be used.  He has tasked me to minister to the Internet communities I belong to.

There are some things that I can't do.  I can't marry people, since I'm not an ORDAINED minister (if you need an ordained minister, I'll refer you to my brother-in-law).  I'm not to preach.   I'm not to make any distinction about creed -- in fact, faith (or even the absence of it) is not a criteria.  And I'm not to take any money, even for others.

What I CAN do, and what God wants me to do, is to minister.  To pray for the sick, the lonely, and those in pain.  To listen.  To provide a shoulder to cry on, and a hand to hold in the dark. 

The Internet has brought people together from all over the world, into online communities.  There are many people who prey on such communities, but there are few who minister to them.   God has tasked me to minister to those communities I belong to.  I will do my best to serve Him, and my communities.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Insults, injuries, and illnesses

It seems like a larger number of people than normal are hurting this year, whether financially, physically, or emotionally.  This is the time of year, though, when celebrate a great gift -- the gift of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  No matter how badly you feel, no matter how much you hurt, no matter how empty your pockets may be, each of us is richer because of His birth, life, and death.  I pray for all people everywhere that this Christmas season will ease that pain, that something will happen to bring joy and happiness to each one's life.  

Friday, August 09, 2013

Thank You

I wish to express my sincere thanks for all of you that came to the Human Wave Garage Sale.  I hope, after reading the book I offered, that you'll try some of my other stories.  Just as a tease, there are three more in the works... 8^)

Good news???

I received a letter from the Veterans' Administration this morning, informing me that, since I was a service-connected disabled veteran, and I had signed up for veteran's medical benefits, I am covered under Obamacare, and that my coverage meets the "minimum requirements" of that program.  I expect a similar letter soon from the Department of Defense, since I'm covered under Tricare for Life as a military retiree. 

I've never used the VA medical benefits, since I do have Tricare (and now Medicare, since I'm over 65), but it's nice to know they're there if I ever do need them, especially when traveling.

That said, I do wish that Congress would "find a little of the Cowardly Lion's lost courage", and defund or repeal the Obamacare monstrosity.  I see nothing good coming from it.  I also expect to see the Democrats push for a "single-payer" program -- totally government-run health care similar to what they have in Britain -- as a "solution" to the problems they created with Obamacare.   I hope there are still enough patriots in this nation to rise up in arms against such a "solution".

Thursday, August 01, 2013

A Bleg...

Just a comment on the Garage Sale  (previous post):  If you read something you like, please do the author the extreme favor of leaving a favorable review wherever you downloaded the book.  It will help them, and help you get more books you like.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Human Wave Garage Sale

The Hoard has Descended!

     Sarah Hoyt and friends have decided to have a Science Fiction Garage Sale -- free or greatly-discounted ebooks with a future that holds promise and reward for people who work hard.  There's no dystopia here, only excitement, pleasure, and plain, naked FUN.   Many of the writers below are fairly new to publishing, but not new to knowing what they like.  Unable to find it in today's print world, most of us have decided the only thing to do is to write what we'd like to read, and allow others to decide, one way or another, what THEY like.  The Garage Sale is a chance to sample the works of these new writers at a greatly-discounted price, or for free.  
     Most of us are Facebook Friends of Sarah Hoyt and others, and spend time together online as part of a group affectionately known as Hoyt's Hoard (sometimes as Hoyt's Huns, but that's only when there's beer involved).  Join Sarah and the Hoard at According to Hoyt, and Sarah, Amanda Green, Dave Freer, Kate Paulk, and others at The Mad Genius Club, for updates on electronic publishing, writing, and more.

Read and enjoy!

When did it become fashionable for published fiction to be full of self-loathing for qualities most intelligent humans value? Where's the adventure, the courage, the fun? We suppose it was about the same time that Literature Majors because the arbiters of what was good and right in publishing.
Fortunately their reign of grey goo and boredom is at an end.  Having gone Indie, authors can choose to write humans as they wish.  And since most authors are (allegedly) human they can even write heroic humans who fight for things that have meaning.
The ennui of the cognoscenti no longer holds sway. The new bad boys on the block are Human Wave authors, whose characters might sometimes be trapped in dystopia but never helpless. And if they must go down fighting, they do so gloriously and for principles bigger than themselves.
Be daring.  Be creative.  Be revolutionary.  Read (and write) Human Wave.

Ill Met By Moonlight -- Young Will Shakespeare is a humble school master who arrives home to find his wife and infant daughter, Susannah are missing, kidnapped by the fairies of Arden Woods, the children of Titania and Oberon. His attempts at rescue are interrupted and complicated by a feud over throne of fairyland, between Sylvanus, king regnant, and his younger brother Quicksilver who is both more and less than he seems. Amid treachery, murder, duel and seduction, Shakespeare discovers the enchantment of fairyland, which will always remain with him, for good and ill. Free from the 1st to the 5th of August.
Spinning Away -- In a world where the ability to pick what news will interest most people is very real power, Layna Smythe strives to stay ahead of her rivals and alive. She often forgets that she's also lonely, until an attack reminds her of the man she left behind. Free from the 1st to the 5th of August.
Crawling Between Heaven and Earth -- Sarah A. Hoyt’s first short story collection, initially published by Dark Regions Press in 2003.  Contains most of Sarah’s early published work. Free
Wings -- Second short story collection. $2.99

Michael Hooten
Cricket's Song, Book 1: The Cricket Learns to Sing -- Cricket is a young orphan growing up on an obscure farm in the country of Glencairck.  He wants to be just like Harper, who plays for the people through the winter, but Harper is not content to let him just learn how to harp.  He teaches him the ancient traditions of the Bards of Glencairck, a noble order that is responsible for not just entertaining the people, but for providing impartial judgement to their disputes.  When Cricket is old enough, he enters the wide world  and finds that not everyone knows the old rules, or follows them.  He has to decide for himself what is right--and how far he is willing to go to defend his beliefs. Free for Kindle August 1-5

Alien Frontier -- Fifteen-year-old Norma Teague must avoid getting drafted into an alien army. However, her home village demands that she go since she has a magic belt that lets her destroy any armor made of matter. $1.99

Hitchhiking Killer For Hire -- A border gang beats Ex-Special Forces soldier Sam Harper and leaves him for dead in the desert. Sam must discover “Why?” in this story of government corruption and human smuggling in the near future west. Dedicated to Louis L’Amour. Free for Kindle August 1st through 5th

Flash of Fire -- A collection of super short stories (1000 words or less) on the subject of fire. Ranging from the love of a volcano goddess to natural phenomena encountered as humans explore a distant planet, these stories evoke a sense of wonder and awe at the nature and power of fire. $.99 for Kindle August 1 through 5th

Battlehymn -- (Also Barnes & Noble)  It's a story of giant robots, forbidden love, princesses in danger, and the power of rock 'n roll. If you're a fan of Macross, you might enjoy Battlehymn. $1.99

Snow Angel -- When a child's imagination leads his mother to a startling discovery, she must then protect him and his guardian from unknown danger. A human mother is fiercer than angels! Free July 31 to August 4
Little Red and the Wolf-Man -- Little Red wears a red cloak, and keeps her shotgun hidden under it. But Grandmother has the biggest secret in the forest, and she is dying… can Little Red help the forest dwellers? $1.49

Cynthia -- (Also Barnes & Noble) Cynthia was a nice girl from a prestigious family, with a "nice-girl" education.  That didn't help much when she found herself chased by an organized criminal element, captured by pirates, and stranded on a planet that was so deadly human government had declared it forbidden.  Luck, in the form of Rat - a trained survivalist - can help, but will it enable her to survive? $0.99

Kiti Lappi
Fourth Sword -- A portal fantasy: woman from our world gets transported to one with an ongoing generations long war and working magic, and finds out, after some adventures and to her chagrin, that she was taken there for a purpose. $ 1.49
The Demons of Khemas -- A tavern wench has fallen for a barbarian swordsman (not that she admits it). When he disappears she needs to find out what happened. $ 1.49

Short stories:
Nights of the Wampyrs -- A small town has problems with a couple of vampires, and the only people who figure out what is going on realize they have to become vampire hunters. Old school vampires, based more on the European folk tales than the later fictionalized versions. First story tells of the birth of one vampire, the two others concentrate on the hunters.
    Raven’s Night $0.99
    After Night Descends $0.99
    Night Work  free from 1st of August to 5th, $ 0.99 after that

Dealing with Elves -- A young woman is drawn to a forest where elves live. Urban fantasy, mostly a mood piece. Free from 1st of August to 5th., $ 0.99 after that.
The Task -- A ghost story set in a traditional fantasy world, a peasant girls shelters for a night in an abandoned castle. $ 0.99

Bureau of Substandards Annual Report -- (B&N)Five short stories of that pearl among pan-dimensional bureaucracies, the Bureau of Substandards--and the stalwart security janitors, attack admins, and bemused subdirectors that serve there. $1.99
The Long Way Home -- (Book 1 of the Sequoyah trilogy) (B&N) Webspace pilot Moire Cameron is one of the best--but even she can’t fly her way out of a catastrophic drive failure that triggers a time-dilation bubble. Left suddenly eighty years out of date, she is on the run in a world she no longer knows, caught in the middle of a human-alien war while agents of Toren hunt her for the information only she has--the location of the pristine world of Sequoyah.$1.99

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I had an idea yesterday evening after reading a post at Sarah Hoyt's weblog after the group's normal commenting yesterday.  I don’t know if this would work, but I’ll toss it out here to be kicked around.

Many (most?) of us that comment regularly on that page write SOMETHING from time to time. My idea was to write short pieces — ten to thirty pages — and post them on Amazon for $0.99. Write about anything you know, from English to History to Geography to Math to computer programs to… well, you get the idea. Aggregate a list of what’s available, and where. Maybe give away something now and then to get people interested. It won’t make anyone rich, but it would certainly help destroy the education monopoly, and give home-schoolers another, non-PC source of study material.

If anyone reading this wishes to contribute, remember three rules:

1).  The new material must be original work, but you can reference other material if you follow fair-use principles and footnote your work extensively.  You can't just pull something out of the hat (without references), or extensively copy someone else's work.

2).  Whatever you write can't use Wikipedia or other similar online works (a -  they're not reliable enough, being subject to rewriting and editing that can change the entire slant of a document, and b) - you want what you write to be your own work, so you can claim it). 

3).  List the references you do use, and do enough research that you're able to list some articles and sources for further study, but that weren't used to prepare your article.

You can post your work elsewhere, other than the normal ebook publishers, but you should always keep your price the same everywhere you do post it.  An outline at the beginning would be exceptionally welcome to students, just as your bibliography would also be helpful.

As I said, you won't get rich, but maybe we can undo some of the more horrible things that have been done to our education system.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Free Books

I really need to work on this weblog more often, but there are just so many things demanding my attention -- and a really PAINFUL bad back that make many hours unusable for anything.  One of the things that has attracted my attention and taken quite a bit of time is the number of very good FREE books for Nook and Kindle.  I've used many of them, and each of them supplies something the rest don't.  NOTE:  Remember to match the format you're downloading with your reader.   Here's a handy chart copied from, that shows what formats are available for what ereaders.  I've added Kobo, since their file didn't include it.

  • Kindle / Kindle Ereader App - Opens files that end with .azw (from Amazon), .mobi, .pdf, .txt, .prc.
  • Nook / Nook Ereader App - Opens files that end with .epub, .pdf., and .png.
  • Sony / Sony Ereader App - Opens files that end with .epub, .pdf, .png, and .txt.
  • Apple iBooks App - Opens files that end with .epub and .pdf.
  • Kobo - .epub, probably .pdf.  You might also check to see if your Kobo reader will open .txt files or .png (graphic) files.

Even if you don't have a reader, you can enjoy these free books.  Just go to Barnes & Noble or Amazon, and download their free application to allow you to read these books on Android, IPhone, or PC.  You may also like to download the free Kobo reader, which is compatible with Nook.

One thing that you'll find out almost immediately is that you'll need some way to manage your ebooks, as well as converting some that you download (those not DRM-protected) from one format to one that's compatible with your ereader.  The best program I've found so far is Calibre.  Not only is it relatively easy to use, it will open books in whatever format you download them in, including some of the more arcane ones -- and, it's free.

If you'd prefer to do this on your own, here's one simple method to "open Pandora's box":  simply type in $0.00  into your favorite search engine.   That brings up 167 million hits - too many - but it does give you somewhere to start.  A better search string is "free Nook books" (replace Nook with Kindle or other sources to search for your particular reader).  This search string will bring up 78,000 hits under Bing, and 1.4 million using Google.  I'll make it even easier, and provide links to some of the best sites on the web.

The first place you'll want to check for free Nook books is with Barnes & Noble.  B&N doesn't list how many free books they have, but it's a bunch!  WARNING:  Open each book in a new tab and make sure it's the whole book, and not just a "free preview".  You'll also be able to determine if it's a book or just a short story (the query won't separate them).  B&N says they have 1850395 free books, but a large number of those are previews or short stories.  There are plenty of different books available, in multiple genres.

Another excellent source is Reading Fanatic.  This site requires you to register, but it's free.  They also supply a free toolbar that you can use to sign in or search their site. 

You might also want to try BookBub.  This one works a little differently:  you have to register (enter your email address) in order to get their daily listings of books, or you can try browsing their recent listings.  BookBub doesn't sell or distribute books themselves, but aggregates the offerings of other sites that do.  Please be careful visiting these sites, as some of what's available won't be free.

One of the best places to find free ebooks is Project Gutenberg.  Project Gutenberg has as its primary goal placing all public domain works online in multiple formats.  Don't think these are just books from the 1800s by unknown authors!  Some of the works listed by Project Gutenberg were originally published in the 1950's and 1960's.  There are plenty of classics, also - books from such authors as Alexander Dumas, H.G. Wells, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Willa Cather, Edgar Rice Burroughs, William Shakespeare, Jack London, and hundreds of others.  Definitely worth your time!  Make sure the copy you download is compatible with your reader device.  Project Gutenberg usually offers more than one format, but not always.

Another excellent source is Many Books.  This is another site where you have to be careful, checking the format the books are available in, and whether they're books or short stories.  They don't usually list previews.

My second-most favorite site (after Project Gutenberg) is  Feedbooks.  They have several thousand free books, as well as books for sale.  Make sure the price is "$0.00" before you download.  They have several built-in searches by genre, and you can also search by author.

Open Library is another site that requires you register, and books are only available to be borrowed.  It functions more or less as an online library.  A number of public libraries also offer ebooks that can be downloaded.  You might wish to ask your local librarian if they participate, and how.

Here's another one:  Bookyards.  They have quite a few authors listed, but I haven't used them yet, so I can't guarantee how well they work.

GoodReads is another site that offers free ebooks that I personally haven't used.   I have a good excuse -- I already have over 400 books downloaded, and have read maybe five or six of those.  My personal "TBR" (To Be Read) list grows with each passing day.

You might also want to check out Smashwords .  Most of the books on Smashwords are from newer authors, but there are a few titles by best-sellers.   I hope to have my books listed here in the future, but not for free.

Kobo also has a listing of free books compatible with its device (which usually means it's also compatible with Nook) at this location.

If you're a history or political science buff as I am, the Federalist Papers has a large list of books that can be downloaded, mostly in .pdf format.

Here are a few other sources.  I haven't done much with most of them, simply because there is far too much available from the ones I've previously listed that I still need to download and read.   These are listed more or less as I grab them.

Internet Archives
Google Books
Sony eBookstore Free ebooks
Obooko (British site)
Ebook Directory
Open Culture
Book Depository
Ebook 3000 Free books, including textbooks.
Ebooks to Go
Best eBooks World  Many non-fiction, some fiction and poetry.
eBook Mall Free books.  They have others for sale.

There are also lists you can join to get a daily offering of free ebooks and bargains.  Two of these are listed below.  If anyone has any additional suggestions, please feel free to post them in comments.

Pixel of Ink
eReader News Today

I wasn't aware myself what all was available when I first started this.  Since then, I've found quite a few sites that, while they don't always provide free ebooks, they do provide some very useful information ABOUT ebooks, and links to more.  Here are a few discovered with a search for free ebooks:

Freebytes  page on free ebooks.

This is something else I hadn't seen before, but worth taking a few minutes to preview.  This is a discussion net on free ebooks.  Check it out if you're interested.

Free e-Book Download Net

I could probably continue this list indefinitely (most queries for "free ebooks" bring up between 35 million and 40 million hits), but that would be exhausting, and some of the links aren't really for "free" books.  If you do such a query, read the page very carefully, as some of them only allow you to "preview" a particular book, or to download an exerpt (usually a couple of chapters).  Others require you to "subscribe", and that may open you up to a constant flow of spam email.

In the meantime, enjoy!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

An Unabashed Plug for a Very Good Friend

I like Sarah A. Hoyt.  I mean, I REALLY like her -- as a person, as a writer of science fiction, and hopefully, as a good friend.  I enjoy her website According to Hoyt, I enjoy her books, I enjoy her writing at Mad Genius Club, and I enjoy the occasional emails we exchange.  One of these days I'm going to conquer my medical problems and go over for a personal visit, since we both live in Colorado Springs, and she's extended the invitation.  I want to meet her in person, I want to meet her husband Dan, her sons Robert, and Marshall.

Sarah's book, "Darkship Renegades", came out just before Christmas.  I'd asked my children to get me a copy, and they did -- both of them.  I also got a copy of her previous book in the series, "Darkship Thieves".  I enjoyed both immensely.  My only problem with both books is that, since I read at about 450 words per minute, they lasted less than a few days for both.  I'll go back and re-read them this summer, hopefully at a slower, more relaxed pace.

Sarah is far more prolific than I am.  In addition to "Darkship Renegades", she has several other books either already out, or coming out in the next few months.  A follow-up to "Darkship Renegades", "A Few Good Men" will be out in March.  "Noah's Boy" will be released in July.  This is part of Sarah's "shifter" series, which includes "Draw One in the Dark" and "Gentleman Takes a Chance".  (If anyone would like to buy me a present, I need this last book, preferably for Kindle.)

You can follow Sarah on Facebook, and join her group at Sarah's Diner (by invitation, I believe, but I'm not sure).

I'm not much of a reader of fantasy, but Sarah offered a new fantasy novel "Witchfinder" (currently in edit, I'm not sure of the publication date) on her website, a chapter every Friday.  I became hooked, and couldn't wait for her to complete the novel.  Now I want a chance to read it all at once, in edited format.

Sarah has been exceptionally good at promoting the work of her weblog readers.  This has helped boost the sale of my novels five-fold.  This poor effort is my attempt to reply.  Do visit her website, do visit her listings on Amazon (Search for 'Sarah A. Hoyt'), and do buy her books.  If you like science fiction, you won't be disappointed.

PS:  Sarah has written (and may currently still be writing) other venues.  I haven't read any of them, but if they're anywhere as entertaining as her science fiction, they're a winner!

Friday, January 25, 2013

"Why Does It Matter?"

I've read a lot about Hillary Clinton's testimony to Congress about Benghazi, and her statement of "What difference does it make?"  I'd like to answer that as someone from the trenches, someone who spent the majority of his life in the Military as a mid-rank NCO.

First of all, Mrs. Clinton, we in the military have a policy that is implemented from the bottom to the top:  we do not leave our wounded -- or even our dead -- behind.  Yet not only did the Obama Administration leave people behind, they did so when they had plenty of available forces to rescue them.  That sends a message to everyone that wears a uniform, or who has ever worn a uniform:  this administration doesn't care about you.  Not only did they leave Americans behind, not only did they withhold support that was readily available, but they actually relieved commanders of their position that pushed hard to actually do what they were trained to do, and what had been instilled into them from the moment they entered the military. 

Can any reader imagine what this does to morale among the lower ranks?  Among the officers that have sworn to uphold the Constitution, and to do all they can to rescue any wounded or dead comrades?  Any officer who believes the Constitution is above the petty behavior of elected or appointed official?  It's deadly.  If it were MEANT to destroy faith among the military in their leaders, it couldn't be more deadly. 

The decline in morale among the military is only slightly greater than that among parents and loved ones of those, not only in the military, but anyone who is serving in what could at any moment become a hostile environment.  There is no faith that any member of this administration would go out of its way to rescue hostages, anywhere.  If you work for an embassy, if you're part of the military assigned to an embassy, or if you're part of a military unit assigned to a hostile war zone, you're on your own if you're captured.  If you're just an employee of a multi-national company and happen to work in what could be a hostile place (I.E., Algeria), you can't expect this administration to care.  This administration won't put itself out on your behalf, or even on your nation's behalf, if it might cost them even one vote in the next election, or one bit of bad press.

We've come a long way in the last 100 years, from an armed force that was hardly capable of wiping the nose of a tinhorn guerilla (Pancho Villa) to the finest and best military in the world today.  Yet it only takes one incident like Benghazi to destroy it all  THAT'S what difference it makes, Madame Secretary of State.  Both you and your boss are idiots for not understanding that.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

My "Other" Life

 December 28, 2012:  Time for a major update!

I've become an almost full-time writer over the last year.  In the process, I've all but forgotten this weblog (the major exception was posting the chapters of "Greenfields" here one at a time until the novel was finished).   That was a mistake.  I really need to get back to writing on this weblog at least every week, if not several times a week.

I have started reading a half-dozen writing weblogs, which is making my writing better.  At the same time, they're taking up a lot of time I used to spend doing other things (mostly reading online "news" sites).  Here are a few refreshers:

I've finished and posted three novels this year:  "Rising Storm", a sequel to "Cynthia", "Greenfields", a stand-alone in the "Last Flight" universe, and "LOST!", a stand-alone novel in the "Kings Cross" universe.

I've started between six and eight NEW novels, including "Skye's the Limit", a sequel to "The Wizard of Skye"; "King's Bench", a sequel to "King's Cross"; "Ysiyeh", the final volume in the "Cynthia" trilogy; "Roll of Honor", a totally stand-alone novel, "Heretic", a totally stand-alone novel, and a revised and updated "Introduction to HTML for Writers", plus three or four other fiction works I haven't decided on the title for yet.

I'm still not really anxious to make a lot of money writing. I'd much rather be READ than RICH. I used to give more books away than I sell -- now it's about an equal split. I especially like to give my books to people I've met and interacted with over the past 45 or 50 years. I especially like to give my books to people I went to high school with, to those I've served with in the Air Force/Army/Marines, and those I've met and developed a friendship with on the Internet.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't like to make some money at this. That is the true measure of success, I'm told. I don't want to make money off my friends and family, but I wouldn't be unhappy with making money from THEIR friends and family. Word of mouth is still the most successful form of advertisement in any market.  I just have to keep it in the low five digits if I'm to continue to draw Social Security!

For those of you who don't yet know, here are my books, in the order I wrote them, with a brief teaser and a link to where they can be found.


 (For Kindle, go here, for Nook go here.)
Mankind has wondered about life elsewhere ever since he realized the lights in the sky were other stars. Scientists dedicate their entire career to looking for extraterrestrial life. Professionals in more than a dozen specialties try to envision new ways to contact other civilizations. Nobody expected them to "just drop in".

-- In the middle of the night.
-- Forty miles from nowhere.
-- In a blizzard.
-- By the gross.

When aliens drop in, it can change your life forever.

Jim Frasier simply set out to rescue a stranger who made a wrong turn heading for a ski holiday. Instead, he finds himself trying to cope with disaster on a dozen levels at once. He has to somehow keep 700 aliens from freezing to death. He has to get help, and he knows that if he doesn’t do it quietly, he’ll be overrun by media and the curious. The complications are enormous – Jim has never faced anything like this before. Food for 700 people, with obvious different backgrounds and different nutritional needs, is alone a catastrophe waiting to happen, and that’s just one of many problems he faces. Just accepting these strange creatures actually exist was a major challenge.

Debbie Fontenot, young, deeply battered by a past she'd like to forget, suddenly finds herself shoved into a series of dilemmas. On a professional level, she’s challenged to provide emergency treatment to creatures that are definitely not human, but who, without care, will surely die. She’s confronted on a personal level by events that shove her into the arms of a loving older man.

And John Tolliver, the sheriff of a small, peaceful mountain county, suddenly finds himself not only the center of the most historical event in a thousand years, but is also confronted by murder, mischief, and a plot to steal half the county.

Last Flight from Queensland Station

 (For Kindle, go here, for Nook go here.)
Queensland station was a nice place, until a rogue neutron star decided to pay a visit. Then the entire civilized galaxy had to pitch in to move the inhabitants out of harm’s way. A few brave scientists, and the crew of the Galactic Communications and Information (GCI) heavy cruiser Excalibur, would remain behind to record the planet’s demise.

Another group, using the evacuation of Queensland Station for its own purposes, plans to make it Excalibur’s final moment, as well. Their failure puts the lives of more than two hundred men and women in great danger, and sets up a confrontation between what some feel is the most powerful non-government group in the galaxy and those that have attacked it.

Last Flight from Queensland Station is suspense, drama, intrigue, romance and comedy, mixed together in a fast-paced, easy-to-read story.


(For Kindle, go here, for Nook go here.)

Cynthia Canarias was a nice young girl who'd attended all the "right" schools, learned all the "right" subjects, and always moved in the "right" circles. Cynthia wanted more than just a quick marriage to the "right" person - chosen by her mother - and a long, dreary life as someone's personal possession. When she tried to find a different life, she found out just how poorly all those "right" things prepared her for reality.

Reality turned ugly quickly, and Cynthia found herself thrust into a series of difficult situations that took every bit of ability, skill, and just plain luck she possessed to survive. She and her new friend, her first real friend, Judy Garcia, not only managed to survive, but to end up fabulously wealthy young ladies. Judy also found romance, and began her own family. That was something Cynthia desperately wanted, but it seemed to constantly elude her, until one young man with the courage to persist entered her life. Reality once more interfered, and Cynthia was once again faced with the possibility of a deep personal loss. Fighting for what she wants encounters some complications, including some totally unexpected - and even humorous - ones.

The Wizard of Skye

(For Kindle, go here, for Nook go here.)

Jaren Nordreiker was a nice young man from a planet that didn't believe in mental powers - what the rest of the galaxy called "Magic". He'd still found a way to attend the prestigious "College of Wizardry" on Frome. His newly-minted diploma, even with honors ribbons, appeared to be no help, however, in finding a job in his chosen field, weather manipulation. He'd been barred from joining the Society of Magicians, who control most of the jobs graduates from the College of Wizardry usually fill.
Finding a job that didn't require membership in the Society of Magicians wasn't impossible, only quite difficult. Jaren finally accepts conditional employment on the strange world of Skye, which apparently won't hire anyone who IS a member of the Society. It's not an easy job. The weather on Skye can be unbelievable at times. His job is made more difficult by another person who unknowingly interferes with his work, and by a growing feud between the Society of Magicians and worlds like Skye.

King's Cross

(For Kindle, go here, for Nook go here.)
Steve came fully awake slowly. He knew he wasn’t alone in the room. There were at least three other people with him – he could see that many feet. He had no way of knowing if there were more in the room without letting them know he had regained consciousness.

“I think he’s awake,” a quiet, whispery voice said.

“Good,” a more guttural voice answered from behind Steve. “We have much to say to him, and much to discuss.”

“Where’s Tommy?” Steve asked, not moving from where he lay.

“Tommy? Oh, the boy. He’s safe, don’t worry about him,” the guttural voice answered. “You are hungry. You need to eat and drink. When you are finished, we will talk.”

“I want to see Tommy! He’s my responsibility. I’m supposed to keep him safe,” Steve answered.

“Eat, young Marine,” the whispery voice said. “Your young boy child will not come to harm. He is safe with us. Hurry, eat. We have much to discuss.”

Steve realized he wasn’t going to get any further answers, and gradually sat up. The room was small. The seven people in it made it even smaller. One reached down and grasped his right hand, easing him to his feet. As Steve stopped swaying, an eighth person brought a tray of food into the room. Her appearance – she was definitely female – and her clothing gave him his first indication of who had kidnapped him. That knowledge only made him more curious. Why would the Universal Church, known for its peaceful behavior and generous philanthropy, suddenly begin kidnapping people?

Being kidnapped was just the beginning of a new life for Steve, one he’d never have considered before. Only time would tell what that new life would mean, not only for him but for his sister and her husband, his best friend and fellow Marine, Rob Wollcott.

Rising Storm

(For Kindle, go here, for Nook go here.)
Cynthia Canarias had finally found the man of her dreams, and had married him. Their future was destined not to be one of quiet comfort, however, as events around them wouldn't let them be ignored. Cynthia and Tim were forced to expand and change their lives time and again as the enemies that arose against them pressured them, pursued them, and hounded them and their commercial companies.
Cynthia and Tim, with Judy and Bodinghe, were under constant attacks from both internal enemies of the Council of Worlds, and also by dozens of invading species of aliens. Some of the invading species were friendly, but still placed demands on Cynthia and her family that only expansion and growth would relieve.

The more Cynthia worked to reduce the pressure on her family, the more she came to the attention of the Council of Worlds government, until she's forced both by circumstances and government action to take over as the governor of DownHome. Her actions draw both anger and praise as she continues to succeed against incredible odds. Cynthia has to decide, repeatedly, if the costs of success are worth it, and what she should do as the dangers grow around her.


(For Kindle, go here, for Nook go here.)

Jeff Sullivan, a geologist under contract to evaluate several mineral veins for the company that hired him, thought he was the only person on the as-yet-unnamed planet. A brigade of Global Communications and Information (GCI) battle marines forced him to re-evaluate the situation. What would GCI Marines be doing on this out-of-the-way place not one in a billion people had ever heard of?
A herd of mongolores, a species native to another world several hundred light-years away, tells Jeff that something was not right where he is. The actions of another group, an unknown alien species herding the mongolores, forces Jeff to not only seek shelter from the GCI Marines, but also warn them they are in danger.
Jeff volunteers to help the Marines discover who is behind the mongolore stampede, and several other hostile attacks. In the process, he helps uncover a major plot aimed at destroying both GCI and much of the Council of Worlds government – from within.
Fate and circumstances force Jeff into roles he had not expected to play for another decade, including that of husband, father, and most importantly for him and his family, protector. He finds himself embroiled in both GCI and Council of Worlds politics, trying to keep his wife, his family, and his new friends, safe.


(For Kindle, go here, for Nook go here.)
The prestigious Sun-Dancer luxury passenger liner on a voyage in between worlds in a crowded part of Human space was on course and on schedule when their world fell apart around them. First they were kicked somewhere within a huge sphere, but no longer in Human-occupied space, then ejected from Transspace. Then their engines were destroyed, and most of their stored power is lost. The crew manages to wrestle the ship to the ground on a mercifully inhabitable planet nearby.
The captain of the Sun-Dancer would soon come to view that as a minor miracle. Factions form from the very beginning - those that don't believe the ship is disabled, those that believe they'll be found immediately, and those that don't believe they need "them" to help them survive, even those that believe they should be waited on as if nothing had happened - create a hostile atmosphere matched by the hostility of the flora and fauna of their new home.
The shaping of a somewhat stable society from among a dozen bickering parties, establishing a place to live on a hostile world, and smoothing the hostilities between human and alien societies, would require all the leadership, energy, and activity the surviving passengers and crew could spare.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Let there be ... Aliens?

Science fiction is the fiction of the future -- almost exclusively the future of humanity.  It almost always shows descendants of today's human population in futuristic settings, doing things that few even consider possible today.  Much of it shows ONLY humans.  A few stories include non-humans, ranging from semi-intelligent to super-intelligent aliens, allied with, indifferent to, or in direct conflict with humanity.  Sometimes aliens are the bad guys, sometimes the good guys, and frequently mostly for scenery or a plot device.

How realistic are these depictions?  We'll never know if/until we meet them.  The one thing that's certain, however, is that IF you're writing Science Fiction, and you use alien creatures in your work, how realistic are your characters to your readers?

Past depiction of aliens run from human or almost-human to so bizare they're almost impossible to relate to.  Some of them work, some of them don't.  Let's look at what a realistic alien needs to possess in order to "work" -- to appear realistic to readers.

One of the major considerations for creating aliens is to construct a realistic social structure.  Individuals, regardless of the type of creature you create, cannot extend beyond it's own ability, and no individual can do everything it takes to build civilizations.  To expand beyond the individual requires a social structure, whether it's the family, tribe, nation-state, planet, or greater.  The more complex the alien civilization, the more complex the social structure needs to be.  This doesn't mean you have to create that social structure in your book, but you MUST create it in your mind, and remember it when writing your words.  This is THE major blunder writers make when working with aliens.

Social structures need advances in individual capability to develop and mature.  That means language, probably art, and definitely science.  It doesn't mean it has to be anything LIKE human language, art, and science, but that the alien society has developed something similar. 

No alien is going to get beyond the early hunter/gatherer stage without the ability to create and use tools.  While a multiple-armed tentacled creature could develop the ability to use tools, its society would be definitely more constrained than something like humans with opposable thumbs (it takes a tremendously greater amount of mental activity to control twelve limbs than it does to control two limbs, two hands, and ten fingers.  Intelligence isn't likely to expand beyond basic tool usage, because too much brain activity is being concentrated in manipulating appendages -- or otherwise brains are so huge they don't fit in confined spaces).

Our alien has to have sense organs in order to percieve its environment.  Another strike against our tentacled creature above would be the probable necessity of having a unique sense organ for each of its manipulative appendages.  Coordinating that much information would again require such a huge amount of brain space that there would be little room left for intellectual pursuits. 

That doesn't necessarily mean that our alien's sense organs need to be the same ones we use.  There may be an alternative to the five senses we employ (sight, touch, hearing, taste, etc.).  There may be a telepathic sense that provides all the external evaluation sensors we employ, or an all-inclusive sense of touch that lets the individual interact with its world.  It isn't as important what they are as that they exist, and have understandable parameters that establish what they can -- and cannot -- rely upon their sensors to provide.

Those sensors also have to relate directly to the world where they developed.  For instance, let's say that our aliens developed on the planet around a red dwarf.  Red dwarfs don't give off enough light for the human eye to function well.  The alien's eye would have to compensate for that dimness in some way -- by a better vision transfer means than our rods and cones, of larger eyes/vision organs, or by the ability to significantly manipulate the vision organ to provide a greater range of operating, such as down into extremely low frequencies.  At the same time, a creature that has developed around an F-type primary needs the ability to restrict the amount of light that enters the sense organ, or they'll end up with eyestrain.

We need to back up just a minute, and inject a little hard science.  When we talk of red dwarfs and F-type stars, we're talking about stars of different brightness -- and also, of different evolutionary development rates.  The best source of information for this is the Hertzsprung-Russell (Hertzberg-Russell) diagram (do a Google search).  ANYONE who wants to write science fiction and wants to get out of the Earth's solar system should know this information implicitly. 

The Hertzsprung-Russell diagram plots stars according to their size/surface temperature.  There are three basic groups of stars:  the MAIN SEQUENCE, the WHITE DWARFS, and the GIANTS.  The main sequence stars are divided into CLASSES based on their surface temperature, from the hottest to the coolest.  These solar classes are O, B, A, F, G, K, and M, with a half-dozen other classes to classify the non-main-sequence stars.  An easy way to remember this is the mnemonic "Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me."  Stellar main sequence evolution also relates to size/surface temperature, with the largest stars being the shortest-lived, while the coolest stars live the longest.  This is because of the star's energy budget:  an O-class star must burn massively more hydrogen than an F-class star, and an F-class star burns significantly more hydrogen than an M-class dwarf.

All of this has meaning for your alien civilization.  An O-class super-giant would never exist long enough for a civilization to form before exploding into a supernova, destroying any planets that might exist around it, and any developing civilization that might have existed.  On the other hand, an M-class dwarf would probably not provide enough energy for something akin to plants to develop, much less a civilized society.

This doesn't mean that M-class dwarfs don't have planets -- we've already discovered some that do.  They just aren't a very good choice to find an advanced civilization.  The best, most logical choice would be around the suns that can provide enough energy for a civilization to come into existance, enough longevity for the long, slow evolutionary process to take place, and sufficient energy to keep the process moving.  This pretty much leaves with F-, G-, and K-class stars.  Luckily for us, these groups make up the second-largest number of stars in our galaxy (and any other, for that matter), behind M-class dwarfs.

All of this leads us to our next biggest area of consideration:  the environment in which your civilization develops.  That depends on two things:  the output of the source of energy, and the distance from that source where your planets are located -- the so-called "inhabitable zone". 

What this actually defines is the zone where water can exist as a solid, liquid, and gas, at least during part of its stellar cycle.  This more or less defines the "inhabitable zone" for humans and aliens similar to them.  That DOESN'T mean that some weird form of life can't exist in other areas, such as the clouds of Jupiter-type planets, the surface of Titan and similar environments, or other areas, just that it's less likely.  The energy budget for such creatures would be so small their movements would have to be measured over decades, or the source of energy would have to come from other sources, such as gravitational forces that heat Jupiter's upper atmosphere to temperatures similar to those found from central Europe to the tropics  (Robert L. Forward's novel "Saturn Rukh" handles this very well, and very intelligibly).

So, our alien has to fit his environment, which has to fit his world, which has to fit his sun.  That means his development through stages to intelligence, then up the ladder to where he can at least contemplate life elsewhere, to where he can physically search for that life among the different stars.

One other thing needs to be discussed, then I'll shut up:  sex.  How do you handle alien sex?  You cannot ignore it -- just as it's a main driver of human development, it will most likely be a main driver of alien development.  The drive to reproduce is what keeps the numbers climbing, and civilization being forced to come up with more and more ways to accommodate the higher numbers.  Civilizations that don't have a population growth don't have any other kind of growth, and soon die.

Alien sex can be anything from asexual (very unlikely, but possible, especially on a planet with surface conditions similar to Titan) to requiring up to a dozen individuals to succeed (very possible, especially on a planet around a very active sun, where multiple copies of the genetic record are needed to keep mutations from destroying the society).  Sex, like the other characteristics of your alien, are shaped by its environment, not our wishful thinking. 

The following is just a personal evaluation of aliens, and only shows how I have developed and depicted the aliens I have used in my stories.

I believe that there are far more planets in our galaxy than most scientists are willing to admit.  I also think that much of the identification of large, close-in gas giants is actually the detection of multiple planets, instead of one.  I can't see gas giants being viable around F-type and hotter suns.  The solar wind would strip any atmosphere they may have from them, leaving a rocky core which would be significantly smaller than what's being measured. 

I also believe life is far more pernicious than most people think.  Life is found everywhere on the planet Earth that it can exist, from the permanent snow line to the deepest depths of the oceans.  I would expect life to develop wherever there was the possibility for it, which would include an energy budget to allow it to exist, the raw materials for that type of life, and the time for it to have evolved.  (I also believe that when God created life, He created the OPPORTUNITY for life to develop - a viable energy budget, the raw materials, and a gentle nudge based upon the laws that govern the universe [created by God, so they're God's Laws].

With life, Intelligence should also have developed.  That does NOT mean it's "our" kind of intelligence, or even something we can understand -- just that intelligence will develop anywhere there's the possibility for it.  All in all, I think we have a lot of friends - and enemies - awaiting us once we learn how to get to them. 

Monday, December 03, 2012

A change of passion.

I haven't written very much lately, mostly because I either haven't felt well (chronic pain limits a LOT!), or I've been busy.  On the busy part, consider that I finished "Rising Storm", the novel I've been working on the last three years, and written AND PUBLISHED both "Greenfields" and "LOST!", two new novels now available on B& for Nook, and for Kindle.  I'm also trying to rebuild my publishing history, and may move it to another website, if possible.  I've also got another five or six projects in various stages of completion.  One of them, "King's Bench", is set in the same universe, and employs a few of the same characters, as "King's Cross", but is otherwise quite different.  The other project, "Ysiyeh", will be the final book in the DownHome trilogy.  I also plan to link to the writings of recent friends, especially Sarah Hoyt, Amanda Green, and Cyn Bagley, plus others. 

I've got a few other projects in the works other than my writing, and I'll try to discuss some of them here, also.  I also plan to write more about society and politics, so if that's your cup of tea, keep coming back.

I've got a couple of medical tests scheduled for this week, and I may or may not discuss them here.  I also plan to do quite a bit more cross-posting about medical developments that affect me personally, and that also affect some of my friends. 

I haven't given up stamp collecting, and I'll still post something now and then about that, too, along with whatever else I think of.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

New Book

 This is the beginning of my new novel, the one inspired by the commenters on Sarah Hoyt's weblog,">According to Hoyt.  It was a great party, and a nice free-for-all.  This novel is the payback... 

 I'm looking for a title.  I've had several come to mind, but they just don't seem right.  I'm open to suggestions.

 I've listed the table of contents to give everyone an idea of what's in the book.  I'm currently writing Chapter 11.  Several chapter titles have changed since I wrote the outline, and several more may change before I'm finished.  That's not unusual -- no outline ever survives the awakening of the characters.


Table of Contents

Table of Contents ii
Dedication iii
Disclaimer iii
Prologue: CRASH! 1
Chapter 1: Breakout 4
Chapter 2: First Kill 19
Chapter 3: Uprising! 29
Chapter 4: Multiplication 49
Chapter 5: ...and Division 75
Chapter 6: Theft and Desertion 95
Chapter 7: Swarm! 116
Chapter 8: Growing Pains 128
Chapter 9: Feast 145
Chapter 10 . . . and Famine 164
Chapter 11: Reprieve 184
Chapter 12: Rainy Season 202
Chapter 13: Summer? 203
Chapter 14: Rescue 204
Epilogue: Found! 205


This book is dedicated:
To the memory of Ric Locke, an author whose story ended too soon;
To Sarah A. Hoyt, who has openly accepted the battle of tutoring many new authors, and helping us all in the development of our writing skills;
And finally, to Sarah's commenters on a particular thread at>According to Hoyt
( from June 23rd, 2012. That free-for-all resulted in the idea for this book. Thank you, the members of that event. Here's the final result. I hope you enjoy the ride as we have an adventure together.


This book is a work of fiction. The characters, locale, and activities are solely from the imagination of the author, and do not reflect any real people, places, or actions. Any resemblance to people, places, or things, past, present or future, is purely coincidental.

Copyright 2012, by Michael A. Weatherford and Weatherford Enterprises. All rights reserved.

Prologue: CRASH!

What in...”
Gayle Martin picked herself up off the floor of her small second-class cabin, and started to get back into bed. She hadn't felt anything except landing on the floor. As she pulled back the thin blanket, the ship lurched a second time. She managed to put her hand out in time to keep her from being slammed head-first into the bulkhead wall.
This isn't right,” she thought as she turned over and sat down on the bed. “Something has to be wrong. What's going on?
The message was repeated over and over. A shiver of fear ran up Gayle's back as she lay down on her bed and fastened the straps that would hold her in place during any maneuvering the ship would do. Frightened, she lay back on the pillow of her bed and closed her eyes.
She had no idea how long she'd lain there when she heard a blaring alarm shriek throughout the ship. Moments later, the ship began bucking and shaking, threatening to toss her from her bed once more. She reached out and tried to steady herself with her hands, but with little success.
The alarm, and the bucking and shaking, went on and on – how long, she couldn't tell. Suddenly there was a massive jolt, followed by a different shake, one that lasted for several long seconds. When the shaking ended, the ship was absolutely still.
That announcement had a very different – and ominous – sound to it – different than all the others she'd heard during the five days of her current voyage, or any of the other three voyages she remembered taking. Significantly frightened, she continued to brace herself against the walls and ceiling of her sleeping booth.
What followed wasn't so much frightening as confusing. She could feel she ship moving, especially as its rear swung around as if the ship was pivoting into a parking gate. There was also a low-pitched vibration – not quite a sound, but a slight, rhythmic shaking. The shaking continued for about three minutes, then all movement stopped.
Second-class passengers weren't allowed much in the way of luggage, and Gayle had little to pack. She quickly dressed and stowed everything she owned in her one small bag. She grabbed the blanket from her bed, both the clean and dirty linen from the small sanitary unit, and the tissue box from the fold-out nightstand next to her sleeping booth, and shoved everything but the blanket into her backpack with her passport and tickets. She tied the blanket around her waist, slung her backpack over her shoulder, and picked up her suitcase. She was ready to leave before the announcement had been repeated three times.
The hallway outside her small stateroom was in chaos. Many of those traveling second-class were parents with young children. The Hans, in a larger stateroom across the hall from hers, had four children. Two of them were in the hall, crying, holding tightly to their mother's hand.
Hello, Marie,” Gayle said, kneeling down beside the two small children. “What's the matter, hon?”
Gayle didn't really know the family, but they'd seen enough of each other in the hallway, in the second-class dining facility, and elsewhere to be on speaking terms. Marie was the next-to-youngest, barely four years old, and obviously the most upset.
Can you take her outside with you, Gayle?” Mrs. Han asked. “Tom is getting the luggage, and the two boys can handle themselves, but I could use some help.”
Of course,” Gayle responded. “Come with me, Marie. Let's go see what all the fuss is about.”
It was hard making progress. People and luggage filled the hallway everywhere. Slowly they made their way to the main cross-hall that led to the closest passenger loading doors. Marie kept looking back to try to see her parents, but that was impossible over the mass of people.
Gayle silently led Marie through the dozens of corridors that wound through the ship toward the stairs that would lead to the ground below. Crew members were directing everyone toward the few open exits, all on the right side of the ship. Finally they arrived at the airlock.
Here we are, Marie. Now we can see where we landed,” Gayle said as they stepped into the open airlock.
What lay beyond the doors shocked her into immobility. She had expected a terminal building and docking facilities. Instead, there were miles and miles of trees on low rolling hills, with snow-covered mountains in the near distance. The wind was cool, but not cold. The air was full of strange smells.
This was definitely not what she'd expected.