Free Book Day!

BirthdayCandle

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday Scott Philipson*
Happy birthday to you

It’s Scott’s birthday, but you get the presents. Today only, the Kindle edition of The Dragonslayers Volume 1 is available for free at Amazon. Go download it, then go tell your friends!

* Yes, today is the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and yes, that is deliberate. Can’t give away more than that because as River Song says – spoilers

No Longer Free, April 14-18, 2014

No Longer Free

Fighting Back

Also, earlier this week there was a report that Jews in the Ukraine were being given flyers and told to register with the Russian government trying to take over eastern Ukraine. The next day came a report that this was just a rumor, or at the very least a government-doesn’t-know-who’s-doing-this situation.

Regardless, the proper way to deal with such a threat (and I’m a bit surprised that Jews in eastern Europe don’t practice this already) is to produce a pistol and stick it in the face of the one who tells you to register with the government. Either that or the phrase “never again” has a previously unnoticed asterisk after it.

Desire Liberty. Seek Freedom. Make Independence.

The Chief, Chapter 3

(Chapter 1 Chapter 2)

“Hello?” William was getting tired of answering the phone.

“William, oh, thank goodness you’re alive. I saw the news on Fox and saw how it was so close to where you live so I just had to call and see if you were alright and if you heard anything or saw anything or -” For not the first time in his life, William wanted to hang up on his mother. She had a tendency to run on and not give an opportunity to respond to her many questions, which meant he found himself interrupting her quite often.

He had already fielded calls from most of his family and wanted to hang up on her, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. He knew she loved him, and just wanted to make sure he was alright, but the temptation was strong, so he chose the diplomatic way out. “Mom, I have to go. I’m alright, but I saw the whole thing and have to talk to the police. I love you,” and before she could respond he tapped the end call button. Immediately he turned the ringer off and looked over at the police officer taking statements.

Somehow he had found himself on the inside of the police tape, which meant that he was constantly being asked what he was doing, then told to stay where he was. It was as if the police didn’t know who he was or what to do with him until they got to the box on their checklist that said “talk to witnesses and take statements”. He felt like just another cog in the machine, waiting to be turned.

He turned his attention to the crowd, who was pointing at and photographing the outline where the Chief Justice had drawn his last breath. The regular press was there too, snapping away, and one of their photos had made it onto the Drudge Report half an hour earlier. You could see William’s foot in the lower right corner, easily identified by the Converse sneaker.

William’s gaze went back and forth over the crowd, taking it all in. Most were staring in some combination of shock, horror, disbelief, or incredulity. He stopped and watched one man in particular, dressed in a business suit, staring at the outline and the bloodstain. He could be anybody, but it occurred to William that he had been there for some time. He pulled up the photo on Drudge, and sure enough, the man hadn’t moved for at least half an hour. He even wore the same expression on his face as in the photo, shock at the spectacle before him.

He’s connected, William thought. Then he noticed the odd things – his hair was the same color as the Chief Justice, and had the same hairline, halfway back along the dome of the skull. He was about the same build and height. The eyes were deeper set, and the nose was sharper, but at a glance he could be mistaken for the deceased. William noted that his tie and lapels had been dampened, as if he had spilled something on them.

Like tears.

“Okay, bud, I’m Officer Maddox, and this is Special Agent Atkinson of the Secret Service. You saw all this?”

William decided to keep an eye on the man in the suit, just in case the police didn’t get to him. He watched the weeping man as he answered the questions from the two government investigators, keeping him in sight as much as possible.

Character Interview: Olivia Romano, MD

  • Why did you become a doctor, and why did you choose oncology?
    I learned early on that I had a knack for making people feel better. I don’t want to say it was destiny, because I’m not sure I believe in that, but I never really seriously considered any other career field. Oncology because … reasons.
  • What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to face in your professional career?
    There was a colleague, Michael Shensen. He’d spent fifteen years or so in medicine as an oncologist, and was something of a mentor – no, he was my mentor, for a very long time. Dealt with pediatric oncology, which is by far the most emotionally brutal thing you can do in medicine. Anyway, he learned he had liver cancer. Stage IV. Missed all the warning signs because you’re taught as a doctor to not diagnose yourself or your family members, and he missed it. [wipes away a tear] Anyway, he put a bullet in his head the day after he got the diagnosis.
    I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been, to see your teacher end his tutelage so abruptly.
    I won’t lie, it was tough. Definitely the most difficult thing I’ve ever seen.
  • What does a typical day look like to you?
    Start too early, drink too much coffee, paperwork, more paperwork. Rounds with the med school students, more paperwork. Lunch gets squeezed in there somewhere, usually right about the time I’m working on my research. More paperwork, then rounds with the residents. Paperwork, at least one meeting with a patient per day, more usually two or three, then dinner with a side of paperwork, and eventually bed.
  • What do you want for your patients more than anything else (except healing from their cancers)?
    That their family relationships be restored. A lot of times cancer takes an emotional toll on the families and friends that is greater than the emotional toll on the patient. Often the patient resolves him or herself to their fate, but the family most often has more difficulty. Sometimes they turn ugly and vindictive, other times they turn inward and introspective – they appear cold or cruelly detached. They hurt just as much, but often they don’t know how to talk about their pain.
  • How do you relax?
    I like to read, which sounds crazy given all the paperwork I just talked about, but as long as its light and meaningless it helps me get my mind off work. And I’ve recently taken up gardening, so yeah, there’s that.
  • What do you want to do that hasn’t been done yet?
    I want to find the cure to at least one cancer that’s plagued us for a while. That doesn’t sound like much, but since they all operate in similar ways, finding the key to one might turn out to be a skeleton key that unlocks all of them. I figure I should aim for the moon and if I miss, at least I’m headed for the stars.
  • How clear is your desk, and how clear is your signature?
    Neither is clear, not at all. At. All.
  • Any last minute health tips?
    Go for a jog, or at least a walk. Don’t be afraid of salad instead of a burger. Unless its the chicken Caesar from the hospital cafeteria. Be afraid of that one. Very afraid.

Other Things: Library organization

Today is Tax Day, the despised anti-holiday of every American, on which one’s self-indictment of tax liability (an indictment for which an error of omission or commission is punishable by law) must be filed with the government. This indictment is applicable to all Americans, for all income of any type whatsoever earned in any locale and for any amount. I filed my own indictment last night, and who knows – that may be used as evidence against me at some future date in a tax court, where I will be forced to prove my innocence instead of the prosecution being forced to prove my guilt.

But this post isn’t about taxes, or government (mis)spending. It’s about library organization. Seriously. See? It says so right in the title.
Continue reading

Writing Tip: set a goal

You know what keeps me writing sometimes? Setting a goal that I know I can attain. If I know I need to write so many words by such and such time, I know that I have to sit down and force the muse to produce for me. Eventually, the uppity brat gives me an idea that I can run with. Like yesterday morning, for instance.

I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, which is sort of like a choose-your-own-torture NaNoWriMo project. I’ve set a goal of 25,000 words in April. They assign you to a cabin of up to 12 others, and you update word counts and have fun. But for some reason my project, a story of a small desert militia in the days of the dissolution of the Union, has met Resistance in the form of the muse not giving me ideas to work with beyond the first one (a resupply mission to a forward observation post that goes south). As a result, I’m at 7372 words when I should be at 10,833.

So what to do? The answer is easy, I have to get up and write. I have no other option if I am to meet my goal, take care of chores, file taxes, and do my normal day job and all the other things I normally do. I set the coffee pot to automatically turn on at 5:30 when my alarm goes off and I force myself out of bed.

Does it work? Sometimes. Yesterday I woke up at 5:30 and couldn’t find sleep again because an idea was rattling around about a riot that comes along as a result of … something that happens earlier in the story. I managed to crank out 808 words, which beat my previous daily average by several hundred. Of course, this doesn’t meet the necessary 1000-word average I have to meet to get back on track, but I’m closer than I was before and more importantly, I have an idea that I can run with for the next few days.

So if you’re having trouble enslaving your own muse, set a goal and use it to get your mind focused on where you want to be.

No Longer Free, April 7-11, 2014

From the mind-your-own-garden dept.:

Fighting Back:

There’s also a big hullabaloo going on in Nevada over a rancher and where his cattle graze. I’ll have more on that tomorrow.

Desire Liberty. Seek Freedom. Make Independence.

The Chief Chapter 2

(Previously)

Travis H. Newsome and Julia Starnes waited outside the President’s office while the Secret Service briefed the President on the morning’s events. It was not an uneventful wait, just quiet. Lily, the President’s secretary, was managing to keep the mayhem outside the Oval Office anteroom, and thus away from the President. She did, however, bend her own “no media” rule a little this morning, and allow a TV to be turned on so as to keep abreast of the situation – though muted.

Travis was switching his attention between the TV, his smartphone, and the speech notes he was reviewing for the President’s statement later this afternoon. Julia was doing the same, but her statement notes were on her phone instead of printed out. The network was running commercial-free (and to Travis’ mind, coherence-free) commentary on the assassination, bringing in every “expert” they could to contribute whatever they could to the story. So far, he had counted four ex-Special Forces operators (one of which was the obligatory sniper), two former Supreme Court clerks, and a medical examiner from somewhere in flyover country. The local one had been too busy for an interview, apparently.

The door to the Oval opened and the Secret Service detail walked out. Travis and Julia stood and waited for the President to sign some files Lily had for him, then waved for the duo to follow him back into his office.

“Okay, where do we stand with whatever else is going to hell in this town?” The Connecticut Democrat was known for his blunt manner of speaking, but only in private. In public he was still the well-mannered, grandfatherly man that, as of last week’s poll, was sitting four points above his election percentage, a good place to be with a year left before the campaign.

“We’ve come to an agreement with the House and Senate leaders that all legislative business will be postponed until Chief Justice Hatterly is buried,” Travis said. “But we had to let the Senate stay in session instead of adjourning. They don’t want you making a recess appointment.”

“Yeah, sucks that they have to be included in the process. How about the press conference later this afternoon?”

“We’re going over the remarks and will have the edits back to Andrew so you can have first draft within the hour, Mister President,” Julia said. “There are the standard parts about how he was a good man and a great justice, committed to the law, sorely missed.”

“Anything anecdotal? We’ll have to make him sound human, even if his jurisdictional framework was still stuck in the 1850s.”

“I’ve got Robin working on that,” Travis answered. “He’s calling Congressmen and asking for personal stories. I’ll owe him a drink for that assignment.”

“Just make sure it’s something good, you heartless jerk. Making a junior staff member talk to Congressmen might just turn him off from further public service. Anything else?”

“No, Mister President,” they both answered in unison.

“Okay, then put this on your back burners.” He leaned in closer, to make sure they got the sense of where he was going. “We’re not going to politicize the Chief Justice’s death, but we are going to start pushing an agenda about a month after the flags go back up the flagstaff, understand?” They both nodded. “Nothing heavy, nothing overpowering, but I want it known to the Senate Democrats, quietly, that we are not going to let this opportunity pass us by.”

“Are you talking gun control, Mr. President? Because if you are …”

“No, Julia, no specific policies yet. Just let them get a signal from the third-base coach, as it were, that we’re going to advance the White House agenda after a respectful period. We’ll come up with specific policy items in the intervening time, flesh them out, but only internally, understand?” Heads nodded again. “After next week I want you guys splitting your time between vetting potential replacements and drawing up policies that I can run on in a year.” President Richard Enson looked them both in the eye. “Now get to work, I’ve got an appointment across town I can’t miss.” He turned and walked out the side door as they replied in unison, “Yes, Mister President.”

Travis turned to Julia. “Appointment?”

“He’s going over to the Chief Justice’s house to talk with Mrs. Hatterly personally.”

Character Interview: William Cavanaugh

  • How long have you been in law enforcement?
    About ten years or so.
  • Was there anything else you ever wanted to do in life?
    No, not really. I’ve always wanted to be the kind of guy who saves the day, and police work seemed to be the natural fit for that.
  • What’s the worst thing you’ve encountered in that time?
    Definitely the Richard Morell incident. That was a seriously fucked up man, and not in a good way. I got to read the coroner’s reports on the corpses they found in his house, and he was a really bad dude. Wicked. It was …
    Yes?
    Well, when I saw what was in his trunk, I felt my skin crawl, but when I read the reports of what was in his house, I couldn’t finish it. I’ve never had a professional document that I couldn’t finish because I was too creeped out by it. Except for him. He was a living demon, there’s no other words for something like that. He wasn’t human anymore.
  • How do you feel about that arrest? What were you thinking at the moment?
    Well, it wasn’t really an arrest, so to speak. I mean, it was, he was certainly arrested from further action, [chuckle] but … I feel good about it. Really good. Wish I could do something for the families, but you can’t have everything.
  • That’s a case where it was clear, at least from the news reports, that he disobeyed your order to open the trunk. Should the public always obey a policeman? Are there any circumstances where they shouldn’t?
    No, not really. I mean you could come up with some pretty extreme theoreticals, but those never happen in real life. We’re out there looking out for the public good, so when we ask you for something, it isn’t really an ask, you know? There’s a reason we need to know, and it is for your own good. A lot of people try to assert a right to privacy, especially if they’re trying to hide something, but they forget that if I really want to, I’m getting in your trunk, house, whatever. You can’t stop me, and even if you wanted to suppress evidence with some sleazeball lawyer, the judge sides with the law most of the time. Best to just do what I say and get the pain over with.
  • What is your personal firearm?
    Glock 19. I like the way it feels in my hand, and I’m good at putting rounds on target. I’m a big guy, so it conceals easily on me. I’ve also got a deer rifle and an AR-15 that I use for target shooting.
  • What’s a day look like for you, typically?
    There’s a morning briefing around 5 AM or so, then out on traffic patrol for most of the morning. Sometimes it’s court appearances, but I usually break for lunch around 11 or so and get something on the downtown mall, then eat it at the station while I do some paperwork. Then it’s out again in the afternoon, and done by about four, after the reports are filed and the bureaucrats satisfied.
  • What do you want from life?
    Happiness, same as everyone else. An ordered society is a happy one, so if I can do my part to build that order, then good, I’ll feel happy about myself and what I’ve built.

Other Things: Rifles

The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.

Jeff Cooper, The Art Of The Rifle

There are few things that cause tyrants (petty or grand) to worry about their plans for terror, and firearms are one of them. The petty tyrant (a.k.a. the common thief or murderer) is at least smart enough to avoid the targets he knows to be armed. The grand tyrant, on the other hand, is deluded by his own strength into thinking that he can overcome anything and anyone. He thinks that because he rules, he therefore reigns. But he does not reign in the 500 yard circle drawn around a man with a rifle and the will to use it.

“But you can’t fight an airstrike with a rifle!” Really? Ever try to fly a fighter plane with a busted canopy? An airstrike can’t take off if the plane can’t fly.

“You can’t fight a tank with a rifle?” Really? Can a well-placed shot from concealment destroy or disable a tank’s antenna, and in so doing cut it off from the supporting infantry? Can a vision port be targeted and drive the crew beneath the hatches, where they are much less effective against infantry?

“You can’t fight a trained sniper with just a rifle!” Really? Then why do snipers target marksmen and fellow snipers above all other battlefield enemies?

“You can’t take down a government with just a rifle!” Really? Michael Collins completely blinded the eyes of the British intelligence service in Northern Ireland in one day with nothing more than pistols. Imagine what he could have done with weapons that reached further.

Of all the weapons available to a revolutionary, a rebel, an insurgent, or a soldier, the rifle remains the most cost-effective way of delivering firepower against a chosen enemy, provided the correct tactics are used to employ it. There’s no munition on the battlefield cheaper than a rifle cartridge, and the basic elements of marksmanship can be taught in the course of a day. Further skill requires further training, of course, but that’s true of anything.

The rifle also remains the most moral, since it is distinct in its employment. One shot will kill at most one person, all other things being equal. Of course, there are exceptions where one shot takes out six targets because the shot hit the trigger of a bomb; and not every shot kills – as a matter of medical fact, most shots do not kill, unless delivered directly to the brain stem or the heart. But more often than not, one shot has the potential to kill only one person, which makes each trigger pull a deliberate act of the shooter – for either good or evil. A tank gunner can’t control his shell with such precision, nor can a fighter pilot contain collateral damage from his quarter-ton bomb.

Whenever one sees a civil war erupting, be it in fiction or real life, bet on the side with the winning combination: rifles, ammunition, and will.