Happy Veterans Day

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veterans_day

 

Hello Space Cadets, I wanted to take a moment to write a hard post.  Anyone who has read my posts knows that I proudly served my country in the US Army.  I enlisted into the US Army Reserves as an 88K (Watercraft Operator) in a riverine squadron when I was 17 years old.  I was in a unit that was supposed to provide direct support to infantry units so I was sent to Fort Benning, GA for Infantry OSUT and given infantry as a secondary MOS.  Then I was off to my watery school of Navy lite training. 

 

For those of you who don’t know, the Navy boatswain’s mates have a playful animosity with their enginemen.  We call our boatswains mates “watercraft operators” and have the same competition with our 88L’s.  Sure, we call them Watercraft Engineers, but it’s all the same flavor with a different name.  Add to that, the typical Army-Navy rivalry…and you have a Thanksgiving with enough playful stones to throw to sink a skiff!!  Imagine my Dad’s horror when I told him I would honor his twenty years of Naval service as an Engineman (EN1) by joining the Army…as a boatswain’s mate.

 

The joke was on me, however, because when I started college and transferred to the local unit.  When I reported in, I was told that unit I was assigned to had shut down in the early 80’s.  Someone forgot to tell the Army.  Because the Army needed drivers, I was laterally transferred into an 88M (Large Wheeled Vehicle Operator) and sent to a second AIT.  I did okay, though I never could learn to back up the M915.  That is your basic 18-wheeler, if it wasn’t painted green and riddled with Army jargon on its bumper.  While trying to, I accidently knocked over a row of porta-potties.  I had listened to my ground guide, so it technically wasn’t my fault.  Sadly, the sergeant major covered in blue goo from the potty he was in when it tipped wasn’t so quick to forget.  The next day was our shooting while driving drill, a useful skill in Iraq.  I passed, highest grade in the battalion.  As a reward for my skills with my rifle, I was transferred into the infantry. They were kind enough to award me the 88M designator as a going away present; for the promotion points.

 

When I got back to in processing for my new assignment, they asked us who wanted light vs heavy infantry. Lightbulb moment, I didn’t want to carry as much!  Light infantry it was!  Jokes on me, they carry MORE since they don’t have the heavy support of armored vehicles.  I spent the rest of my career bent over at the waist with a full rucksack, loving the suck.  No regrets.  Even after getting hurt in Iraq and medically discharged as unfit for continued service.  I’d gladly do it all over again, though maybe I would duck when the IED goes off?  Nah, shit was getting real and I had a mission to accomplish.

 

I mentioned this, so you would understand where I’m coming from when I say what’s next.

 

To my brothers and sisters who held the line with me, I salute you. Today, as you receive the honors you so rightly deserve from a grateful nation and eat free food at [insert location], please take a moment to remember our brethren who weren’t so fortunate. They died that we might live, giving up their tomorrows for our todays.  I know it isn’t technically Memorial Day, but were it not for their sacrifice they’d be celebrating Veterans Day with us.  Maybe instead of us.

 

To the husbands and wives of our warriors, I apologize. In my Facebook post, I forgot to mention you. I honor you too, because those who stand and wait at home also serve. For honoring your warrior, keeping the hearth burning, I salute you. For holding him/her when the demons haunt their sleep afterwards, I honor you. For raising the next generation while we were away, I thank you. And for being something worth defending for the men/women who have the privilege of serving on the tip of the spear, I love you. Thank you.

 

And most importantly, to Randall.  Wherever you are in the afterlife that awaits, Thank You. Your sacrifice wasn’t for nothing, two beautiful boys grace this world because of the life you saved.  When they’re old enough to understand, I will tell them about you.  You’ll become immortal, through the love all who lived because of what you so bravely did.  Many others who were there with me would tell similar tales of blessing that couldn’t have existed without you.  You are still one of us, and you are still loved.

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

Image result for muskets

JR

—> As usual, the two images I used today can be found under Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

Shenanigans and Updates

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Hello Space Cadets, how is everyone doing?  I’m well, so is my grandmother!  Thank you, truly, to everyone who sent their happy thoughts into the ethos for my Grandma Handley, it meant a lot.  As a quick update, I should (fingers crossed) have the new look for my website up within the week.  Once it is up, I will let everyone know what is going on with that.  We should seamlessly merge it into this page, since I bought the domain and a premium account from WordPress.  If it doesn’t work as planned, I will direct everyone where to go… but I hope it isn’t necessary.

Here is a quick look at where I want my blog to go.  While I work on getting my professional looking blog and a few articles in every category cued up, I will continue on as I have been.  I have to coordinating with the authors I hope to interview, prepare the questions I want to ask and generally be prepared so I don’t look like a boot recruit.  If any of you have any general questions for the warrior authors or the family series, post them in the comments!

  1. Marine Monday’s: A series of world building from the Human Legion Universe, to include my own Sleeping Legion.
  2. World Building Wednesdays: A series of posts on my writing process, not necessarily the right or best way, just my way.  Dang, now I want some Burger King!
  3. Family Fridays Interview Series: A series of interviews with other writers, editors, agents and anyone else involved in the wild world of books.  The focus will be on how we manage our passion for the written word and our duties to our kinfolk.
  4. Warrior Writer Weekend Interview Series: A series of interviews with veterans who write, edit or have any other role within the wild world of books.  I will try to publish these on Saturday, but the guarantee is that it will post on a weekend!  I want to highlight their service, reflect upon how it has influenced or affected their works and get all fanboy over their stuff!  There could be overlap, as many veterans who write also have families, but the focus here will be their service and writing.
  5. Funny Fill Ins: Basically, I’ll keep the witty and humorous bent that I’ve had so far.  If it doesn’t fit into another category I will post it on a Tuesday, Thursday or on an open weekend day.  I will also post any reblogs on these days as well.

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

Image result for musketsJR

–> As usual, all images are found under Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

When Novellas Grow Up

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When Novellas grow up to become Novels

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Hello my fellow Space Cadets!  I thought I would write a quick post about my first novel, The Sleeping Legion: The Legion Awakes, and how I got here.  I didn’t start out trying to write novels, in fact, my contract was specifically for novellas that hit the adventure quick, fast, and in a hurry.

However, as I wrote the ideas just sort of grew organically until my novella grew up into a novel.  As I worked on the final scenes for part two I couldn’t help but hear the song “It is the book the never ends, it just goes on and on my friend… Some fool started writing it not know what it was, and he’ll continue writing it forever just because it was the book that never ends…”  You’re sing along aren’t you?

Knowing I couldn’t put it off any longer, I went to my boss with my hat clutched in hand.  I told Tim C. Taylor about my problem of not knowing what, and how, to cut things to the appropriate length.  He read through my rough draft, likely expecting to talk a novice off the metaphorical edge, then sent me a short email that started with the sentence, “JR, we need to talk.

For clarification, I’m a married man and those words often spell my doom.  As you can imagine, I was justifiably nervous.  I heard Tim, in his proper British accent, saying those five words like a judge condemning a man to his demise.  We meshed schedules, synced up our time zone disparities, and planned our Skype session.

On the day of the Skype session, his face was serious as he looked at me through our shared monitor.  After a moment, he said “JR, you aren’t writing the novellas we talked about in our contract–”

Tim didn’t get to finish as I verbally prostrated myself at his feet, telling him I could do better.  I wasn’t sure if I was laying it on thick enough, I needed him to know I was sincere.  I heaped on some more until I couldn’t be heard over the sound of his laughter.  I took a breath and looked at the cruel man who was likely going to burn my dreams.  I imagined him holding a match and burning the manuscript before my eyes.

Then, to my surprise, Tim said, “JR, these are novels.  Keep writing, but we need a new contract.”

And there I was, suddenly a novelist.  I guess in the end, it’s not the destination you chart but the adventures had along the way.

Until next time, stay frosty and remember to keep your powder dry.

Image result for muskets

 

JR

–> As usual, all images are found under Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

HAPPY UPDATE!

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First, I have to tell you I’ll likely go MIA for a week or two as I address some family issues.  My grandmother, who inspired this pen name, isn’t doing well so I’m driving north like a good grandson should.  Fret not, I will try to write some good posts… however, I’ll be less active on others blogs.  I’ll miss the great posts, so don’t get abducted by aliens while I’m away.  Coming back to your great posts will keep me motivated not to fall asleep while driving.  And never fear, my house will be protected!

 

Secondly, Team Handley will be updating our site soon for a more polished look.  We already own the domain name, so now it is all about figuring out the technical bits.  Worst case scenario, we bring in ‘the professionals’ to get it right but we hope to do it ourselves.

 

Finally, the happy note that I led with.  For those of you who’re friends with me on Facebook will know, my paperback proof of book one came in on Wednesday!!  I’m super excited, and you should be too!!!  Until next time, be safe out there and remember… if you can’t be good, be good at it.

 

–> The artwork from today is original content created by Corey at the Quintessential Editor.

Post Project Blues

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When I decided I wanted to be a writer I expected it might be emotionally taxing.  I was harnessing my war trauma and channeling it into military science fiction novels, hoping I could excise my demons while writing solid fiction.  I mean, hey, I spent 4 years in Navy JROTC, another 4 years at a state military college and 8 ½ years enlisted in the infantry.  Why not work with what I know, write militaria?  Of course, there would be risks, pitfalls, as it forced me to confront my demons.  What I didn’t expect, something they didn’t tell me about, was what happened AFTER I finish any given project.  Even if I was just a normal writer, I would expect to get frustrated when I got stuck.  I would expect to be happy when I finish a project, but I would NEVER expect I would be SAD!  Since I finished my second novel and the short story, I have been making busy work while I waited on my editors to get back with me.  In that time, without my world to visit every day, I got a bit blue.  I didn’t realize just how much I’d come to count on my fictional friends to help me cope.  Maybe I should mention all of this to my shrink, rather than my blog family, but shrinks have the tendency to give pills and white “I love me” jackets (aka straight jacket)!  What are your thoughts, dear readers?  Do you get down when you are in the situation of between projects?

 

JR Handley

 

PS:  Be kind, my editing staff have all taken for the hills….. it’s just me, my kbar and these lovely MREs.

Let it be written…

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Just a quick post, because my fingers hurt and my head is set to explode, my first novel is officially written!!!  After many fireworks and screams of joy, I get to begin the long and arduous editing and revising process.  This is all new territory, so come, walk with me as we learn together!

Sleeping Legion B1

This is only a provisional cover, it needs to be edited to reflect that my novella grew up into a novel!  The final version will follow when it’s ready!!