Category Archives: Writing

New York Times “Disunion”: Raiding the Keokuk

keokukMy third piece for the New York Times “Disunion” series is now online.  “Raiding the Keokuk” is about a daring salvage operation of an enemy warship in contested waters.  The warship, USS Keokuk, is one of those oddities of technology that really should never have been built.  As necessity during wartime can result in brilliant success — i.e. USS Monitor — it can also generate spectacular failures.

I’m really happy with this piece as I was able to get much closer to individuals and a single ship.  USS Keokuk, while not a successful design, was a unique looking vessel, and I have a model of her in-progress that I look forward to completing.

Direct link to article HERE.

“Shades of Blue and Gray: Ghosts of the Civil War”

shadesI’m happy to announce that Barnes and Noble and have “Shades of Blue and Gray: Ghosts of the Civil War” up for pre-order, which includes my story “Spectral Drums”.

The full table of contents, which includes many authors I’m proud to be published with, is below:

“Raw Recruits” by Will Ludwigsen
“The Swell of the Cicadas” by Tenea D. Johnson
“Bad Penny” by Carrie Laben
“Spectral Drums” by Devin Poore
“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce
“Ten Thousand Miles” by Connie Wilkins
“No More Amongst the Cities of the Earth” by Christopher M. Cevasco
The Country House” by Jameson Currier
“An Unclean Thing” by Cindy Potts
“The Blank Flag of Arthur Kerry” by Kristopher Reisz
“Three Silent Things” by John F. D. Taff
“Across Hickman’s Bridge to Home” by Russell Davis
“Mistress” by Jennifer R. Povey
“Tommy Cleburne” by Jeff Mann
“The Overseer” by Albert E. Cowdrey
“Red Animal” by Ed Kurtz
“Proving Up” by Caren Gussoff
“Vermont Muster” by Nick Mamatas
“Like Quicksilver for Gold” by Chaz Brenchley
“The Beatification of Custer Poe” by Laird Barron
“The Arabella” by Melissa Scott
“The Third Nation” by Lee Hoffman

New York Times “Disunion”: Rise of the Infernal Machines


My second piece for the Times’ “Disunion” web series has been published.  “Rise of the Infernal Machines” gives an overview of the torpedoes of the day, what we now mostly know as mines.  Crude, unstable, and mostly non-functional, they provided the Confederacy with a new weapon with which to strike back at the superior Union navy.  Despite their endless problems, they succeeded in sinking more Union warships than all other means combined (probably speaking more to the ineffectiveness of Confederate warships and fortifications than to effectiveness of the torpedoes).  The article can be access HERE.

New York Times “Disunion” Piece Published

city buildingVery happy to announce that the New York Times has published my first piece for their website.  Ironclad Fever is about the armored warship building frenzy in both North and South after the Monitor and Virginia (Merrimack) battle in 1862.

I’m extremely pleased to be able to put all of the historical research I’ve done while building models and writing stories into this format.

Giving it the sidelong glance

I recently acquired a copy of Ken Rand’s “The 10% Solution” and ran a couple of pieces of writing through the process.  The premise is simple: nearly everyone can run through a piece of work and cut it by 10%,  in the process making it sharper, more concise, and easier to understand.

The first revelation is that I had no idea how often I use “of” in my writing.  I mean a lot.  A whole bunch of “ofs”.  That and the always prevelant “and”, “was”, and “were” jumped out at me as I ran through the process in the book.  The interesting bit came when the process didn’t simply result in deleting words, but recasting entire sentences and paragraphs when those issues are called to attention, and how the resulting product is so much the better.

I’ve always taken the “walk away” approach to writing and other projects — Continue reading

Appliance Poetry

A couple of weeks ago we replaced our old refrigerator with a brand new shiny one. Before the delivery men carted the old one away, I took the above photo of its side.

Nearly fourteen years ago (holy crap, that’s a long time!) I first met my wife at a party at her place, which is now our place. As part of my attempt to woo her, I turned to the ever popular magnetic poetry set on the refrigerator. Considering the limited word palette, I don’t think I did too bad. The poem stayed on the ‘fridge all of those years, and now the words lay in a pile on my desk, as I think of something cool to do with them.


Hour of the Wolf Appearance

Recently the Altered Fluid writing group appeared on the Hour of the Wolf on WBAI.  This time it was I who was on the chopping block with a new short story.  The story, very tentatively titled, Number Thirty-Five, was a very rough draft.  I had considered turning in something that I’d worked a little bit more on, but I went ahead with the rough piece.  It turns out it was a good choice, as this time the show was a bit different as well.  We recorded the critiques at a meeting in September, and did the radio show 4 months later.  This allowed us to discuss the story as it was critiqued, and also gave us the chance to talk about some of the changes that have come about in edits.  Since recording the show i have continued to work on the story, inspired by the conversations that night, and hope to have it ready to submit to a market or two in the near future.

** EDIT **WordPress is being screwy with the link I posted.  Copy and past the below into your browser and it’ll bring up the MP3 of the show:

World Fantasy 2011

Last weekend saw the yearly World Fantasy Convention, this year in sunny San Diego, for four days of panels, readings, parties, and all of the other associated activities.

As has been the case for prior years, I only attended a few readings, mostly those of fellow Altered Fluid members, and only one panel.  The panel attendance was somewhat mandatory, as I was one of its five members, the others being Shelly Rae Clift, Dennis McKiernan, Heather Tomlinson, and Harry Turtledove.  The panel topic was “The Realities of Sailing”, as they pertain to fiction.  We discussed what details writers get right and wrong, and how much detail an author should go into; life on a ship in regards to available space on board; how weather impacts everything on the sea; and the uses of ships throughout history and in speculative fiction. I was the panel’s sole modern Navy veteran, and I was glad to have a unique perspective to add to the other member’s input.  Overall the panel was well attended and I had several people approach me afterwards to say that it was most helpful, which was extremely gratifying.

The rest of the weekend was spent at a few readings, and then the great parties thrown by the Australian contingent, SFWA, TOR Publishing, N. K. Jemisin’s cool book release party (really, how often do you get served mixed-drinks in sippy cups?), and several others that I can’t recall right now.

World Fantasy has always been a great place to meet new people and to catch up with old friends, and this one was no exception.  The fantastic weather and outdoor settings that we usually don’t get to enjoy added to the experience, and overall it was one of the better conventions I’ve attended.  I look forward to the next convention in Toronto next year.

Photo by Paul Berger.  L to R: Me, Dennis McKiernan, Heather Tomlinson, Harry Turtledove. Shelly Rae Clift is just out of frame to the left.


Just a little housekeeping today as I added a link to my recent publication of “Before the Wind” to the Writing page.  I added a PDF copy of my short story “In the Great City” as well.  “In the Great City” was published in the first edition of Sybil’s Garage; what a long way the magazine has come since then.

All changes made to the Writing page.