Wednesday, June 30, 2010

THAT went fast...

A month ago I wrote that blog updates would be a bit sporadic due to my kids arrival.

I'm now two days away from the end of my summer month with them.

Oh, I'll see them in August for a long weekend. Same in October. And they'll be up for a week at Thanksgiving.

But I'll miss them, nonetheless.

A little video montage of our visit can be found by clicking HERE.

We will now return you to your regularly scheduled 'Unpublished Writer's Blog...'

Monday, June 28, 2010

NYC Trip....Bust and Bonus

So I never did get to the publishing houses like I wanted to. Best laid plans and all that.

Friday would have been the only day I could've gone. Tina, the kids and I left Boston about ten in the morning. Should have been able to spend a few hours in the city, then out to the Island for my brother's 50th birthday.

"Should have," being the operative phrase.

Let's just say the suck-i-ness that is I95 is legendary. And in order to have REALLY arrived in Manhattan at 3:30 PM Friday, I would've had to have left Beantown at 6 AM.


So that was the 'bust' part of the trip.

The 'bonus' part was the time with family.

We spent Saturday at Old Westbury Gardens...a place that my entire family has enjoyed for decades--and one that I, my dad and my brother were very happy to share with both Tina and the kids. Sunday was a birthday brunch for my brother then a return trip to Red Sox Nation.

Good times...and did I mention my brother was a graduate student in English? And that I left a copy of "The Prodigal's Foole" in NY?

I also left him the complete digital set of National Geographic Magazine, which he collects, spanning from 1888-2006 for his birthday.

I mean it's not ALWAYS about me, right?

Friday, June 25, 2010

50th Post and a Field Trip

Last post until early next week.

In celebration of my 50th post, a few items of interest.

This weekend is my brother's 50th birthday....although you'd never know he was at that advanced age...he's in great shape from all the ballroom dancing he and his wife do.

Going to visit a few publishing houses this weekend as well. Should be interesting.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Short Stories and time to write

I mentioned yesterday that I'm polishing up a few short stories to send out.

Once I submit, I'll publish them here as well. Just because you guys have been great at giving feedback, making comments etc.

The first story I posted on here in it's 'first draft' phase. The 'Were Roaches' piece. It was for an agent who tweeted (Twittered? Twitted?) something funny that spawned the 7000 word tale. I went back a week ago and reread it. The work was crude, but still made me laugh. So revisions ensued.

The second piece is a 'what if' involves a fictional mishap in an Apollo-era mission.
Kind of an alternate universe thing. I'll give you a little teaser:

"Al Bean looked at the 'Intrepid' and watched with a detached, morbid fascination as the spacecraft slowly leaned left, then toppled over..."

And that's just how it starts.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Writing? I'm a MARKETING guy!

So the results are in.

Portrait One received 2 votes
Portrait Two received 7 votes
Portrait Three received 38 votes
Portrait Four received a goose egg.

So the winner is:

Ick. Who IS that guy?

So I'll be using the picture above in my marketing materials. The good news is that now I can finish the cards as well:



My website currently redirects to my blog for now. I'm still looking for the right web-guru to help create the site. I haven't been happy with any site designs I've done myself. It's a "limited knowledge on my part" issue.

So if there are any kick-ass web developers out there, feel free to contact me. I will, of course, need to see samples of your work.

In the mean time, I have actually been doing a little writing. Two short stories I've been playing with, with one ready for submission to 'Analog' or 'Asimov' magazine. Will keep you posted on those as well.

ReaderCon in sixteen days!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I hate pictures. Of me.

So, okay. The need for a 'Professional Portrait' is just a part of the whole trying to get published thing.

I just HATE pictures of myself. I'd rather put up a picture of my kids--For Example:

Or a picture of my Partner:

But I need pictures of me. I guess. So I'll let you, dear reader help me choose which of the following suck less then the others:

Shot Number One?

Shot Number Two?

Shot Number Three?

Shot Number Four?

Let me know which one via comments or via e-mail (

In the meantime, I'm going to the gym.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's all about the story.

You can have GREAT characters.

You can have a KILLER scene.

You can have GORGEOUS scenery.

But it's NOTHING without a story. And yes, I'm looking at YOU George Lucas and that abysmal movie called "The Phantom Menace."

Why do I bring this up?

Well, for Father's Day, my children took me to see "Toy Story 3."

I can't tell you how many times I saw both "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2." My kids grew up with them....and loved to watched them over and over again.

And I'll tell you a little secret. So did I.

"Toy Story 2" followed a long line of what I call the 'Golden Sequels:'

"The Empire Strikes Back," is one. "Godfather 2" is another.

But see, both the Star Wars and Godfather franchises fell down with #3.

"The Return of the Jedi" was a teddy-bear nightmare. And Sophia Coppola single-handedly ruined the Godfather series forever.

And don't get me freakin' started on the Star Wars prequels.

So it was with some trepidation that I went into the theatre for "Toy Story 3."

My children are older now (fourteen and ten respectively). But they were really excited so I held my misgivings in check. After all, Pixer is an unbelievably 10-0 on wonderful stories.

Hell, "The Incredibles" is still one of my all time favorite flicks.

The lights went down, and the story began. Andy, it seems is a couple days away from heading off to college and he has to decide what to do with his old toys. Take them with him? Store them in the attic? Throw them away?

I won't give any more away...but I will tell you that the story was wonderful.

As for my misgivings?

Well, my guess is very shortly you'll hear that Pixar is 11-0.

Andy, age seventeen, has a decision to make.

Friday, June 18, 2010

50 Page review--Update

Heard from the agent last night who is doing that first 50 page review I won as a part of the 'Do the Right Thing for Nashville' auction a while back. She's graciously agreed to let me send the revised version with the tighter first chapter.

So that's a bit of good news.

The e-mail I received from her was actually quite sweet. If these are the sort of professionals I'll be dealing with during my 'race to publication' journey, I'm going to really enjoy this ride.

Spent a lot of time last night reading other writer's blogs. A lot of really talented people are out there...and I enjoyed what I read thoroughly. Some Young Adult stories, fantasy stories just a good night surfing and absorbing.

A few examples:

Today is an 'off' day--I'm taking the kids to an amusement park for a few hours this morning and to the Red Sox game tonight. A good weekend is planned, with professional photos tomorrow, tennis and hopefully a 'Toy Story 3' viewing.

Not sure how much writing I'll do, but I'm sure stories will be on my mind while I play with the kids. There is nothing like hanging around with my children to get the creative process kicked into high gear!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New version of Chapter One is posted.

A big shout out and thanks to Emmett Spain (BTW, he's offering up a free copy of his book to a random reader who signs up for his blog found HERE), Kate, Tina and a few others who have made some suggestions on refining Chapter One.

Take a look....ReaderCON is approaching!

Link is off to the right. Feedback is always welcome!

UPDATE Early 6/16: Cheers Felix! I must of read that passage a dozen times and missed it!

Organizational Bliss

I've come down from panic mode.

Falling back on my 'making a list will make it all better' mantra this morning over 16 ounces of caffeinated goodness, I can now breathe again.

Still tweaking Chapter's all in the 'hook' now and it gets a little better with every pass. I'll post it when it's ready. I imagine a fist-pump will be the telltale sign that I'm ready.

This weekend will be the new professional portraits. We'll see how they turn out, although I love the current picture I use of Tina and me. I've booked an entire session so hopefully I'll get new kid shots as well. Both Brendan and Riona LOVE the camera.

One point of interest today:

A friend of mine (Sean) is related to James Morrow (The famous Sci-fi writer)...and I just found out Jim'll be a guest at ReaderCON. I sat with Jim at Sean's wedding a few years ago and we got on pretty well. I'm hoping to get time with him at the convention.

So many things to do and so little time. But the 'Holy List of Antioch' will see me through!

Wait. That's the 'Holy Hand-grenade of Antioch,' isn't it. Bad analogy!

Off to work and to drop the kids at summer camp. Live hard today everyone!

Monday, June 14, 2010

When did life become a 'Bugs Bunny' cartoon...?

"Sorry, Mac. Me luck's run out, and I gotta have a good luck charm - and you're it!" -Steve Brody from the Episode 'Bowery Bugs'

I did some more editing this weekend....well, it was technically Monday morning around 2AM.

I'll look it over later today to see if it's actually any good. My goal is to get Chapter One of Book One blazing-hot by the end of this week. ReaderCON is only 23 days away!

So why the Bugs Bunny quote (besides the fact that Bugs Bunny cartoons are AWESOME and kick Sponge Bob's ARSE)?

There are so many things I need to get done before ReaderCON, that all I hear in my head is that 'Factory Song' from the old Bugs Bunny Cartoons.

You know the's called 'Powerhouse' by Ray Scott...C'mon! You KNOW you know it!

Still not sure? Listen to a sample HERE.

Anyway...edits on Chapter One, a new website to get going, business cards, a new professional portrait, loads of marketing stuff. And of course my kids and partner who take precedence over everything.

"Wabbit Season!!!"

Should have the next round of edits up tonight.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sometimes, the right answer is the simplest one.

Those of you who are steady readers know I have my kids this month--so writing and updates will be a bit sporadic as I fit a years worth of parenting in a few short weeks.

A few days ago I took my son for a flight lesson as a belated birthday gift. You can read about that here.

Trying to be a 'fair father,' I wanted to come up with something similar for my daughter (for her birthday).

As a ten year old girl, things just go in and out of fashion with her like a day of New England weather. In other words, random and rapid changes are the norm. 'Hannah Montana is SO yesterday dad!' she exclaimed recently as she pulled Miley Cyrus' face from her pink guitar.

So what to do?

I was racking my brain for a new activity. Something for her to try that she might enjoy.

Whale-watching tour? Nah.
Day at the Science Museum? Nah. No interest.

That's when my partner, Tina said 'How about a beginner's horse-riding lesson?'

I remember looking at T as if she'd just said 'The sky is blue.'

Simple, yet perfect.

I recently scraped a lot of book two because I'd gone way over the top with plot points. I reverted back to one driving factor and Book Two became simpler. And better.

Applying the KISS method ('Keep It Simple Stupid') is such a good writing tool, that it works in real life too.

A Pony ride for my little girl. How perfect.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fatherhood, Writing, and 'Sucking it Up'

Sometimes you have to do things you just don't like.

Editing repeatedly, for example. I hate it because I'm under this delusion I should get it right the first time.

Small planes, is another example. I hate them. But my son loves them and I promised to take him for his first flying lesson when he turned fourteen. My Ex actually made the suggestion and it was a really good one.

So a colleague of mine at work is married to a pilot. His name is Richard, but everyone calls him 'Bo' (queue the horn of the 'General Lee.')

Bo is fantastic. Seasoned pilot, stunt trained and was absolutely wonderful to my son for his first lesson. All I had to do was buy fuel and lunch for everyone.

And sit in the back of this tiny plane.

So we meet up with Bo at Fitchburg Municipal Airport. It's the type of place where you look to see if anyone is on the runway or approaching to land. Then just go.

Kind of like Boston traffic.

Anyway, we look both ways and we take off. It was a 30 minute flight to western Mass. The plane is off the ground for maybe a minute, and Bo says :"'Kay, Brendan. You have the controls."

My son--in seventh heaven--begins to fly a plane. I was never so proud and totally terrified at the same time.

I mentioned Bo was stunt trained, right?

After directing Brendan to climb toward clouds as if they were WWII Bombers that needed attacking (BTW Brendan is a natural pilot), we start talking about the NASA plane that flies in parabolas to train Astronauts.

Just for the record, the nickname of that NASA plane is 'The Vomit Comet'

Bo takes over from Brendan and proceeds to show us what a flight in 'The Vomit Comet' would be like.

To my credit, I waiting to get sick until we'd landed and I got to the bathroom. Good thing I had a toothbrush with me.

We had lunch (I had water) then proceeded to fly back to Fitchburg. On the way, Riona and Brendan begged Bo to "Do the Vomit Comet again!"

We're all home now. My son had--in his words--the best day of his life. Thanks really were great!

I only smell a little bit like throw-up.

I call it a win. Sometimes you just have to suck it up. Which means more editing this evening.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Juggling Act - Part Two

You read about it all the time.

"A single parent-- working six jobs while raising nine kids and going to school for a masters in Chemistry found time to write their first smash-hit novel..."

Ok. It's a bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean.

I got up at 4:30 this morning to try and get a little writing in before the kids wake. Well, I think I got in about 40 minutes before 'life' started.

The cats needed to be fed, the dog needed to be walked, my partner (who was up before me) was running around making coffee and getting ready for work. I setup for the kids breakfast, answered a few work e-mails, setup my 'Good Reads' account and finished the first phase of registering my own domain ( just redirects to this blog at the moment....but my new e-mail '' works to my iPhone etc...).

Suddenly, it's 7:30 and the kids are about to stir. With a week off from work, I've packed it with things to do with my children. We'll be off to the park in a bit.

So to all you multi-tasking 'writer/parent/rocket scientist' types out there: Respect.

I need to learn to juggle better. Perhaps my friend Chris can help...he's been juggling for years...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Update from the road

I hate airports.

Planning on doing more edits on the flight to Harrisburg to get my children for thier summer holiday with dad has turned into a logistical nightmare.

Cancelled and delayed flights...running around trying to find someone to help me (US Air...bite me, ok?).

I guess as long as the kids get back to Boston with me tonight I can call it a win.

Have I mentioned how much I hate airports?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Logan-freakin' airport

Sunday, June 6, 2010

New version of Chapter One

Off to the right is a link to download a .PDF file of what I hope is a 'New and Improved' version of the 'Prodigal's Foole - Chapter One.'

I've take and incorporated a lot of the comments received (a big THANK YOU to those of you who read and sent me notes--you know who you are) and hope this adds a little more dimension to the initial chapter.

I'm prepping for ReaderCON in July, so please feel free to comment more. I'm always open for feedback.

Pay special attention to the opening...I'm hoping the 'hook' is better and might generate a little more excitement.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Writing Dialog

I was going through the first chapter of 'The Prodigal's Foole' this morning and I took some time to read the dialog out loud.

It was a suggestion from one of my readers (I'm looking At you Emmett! :-) ) to try this as he felt a few of the lines were a little awkward.

Picture the scene. A massive electrical storm came through at 3 AM here in Boston. Sleep was no longer an option, so I decided to work for a while. Darkness only broken by the soft glow of my MAC. Occasional flashes of lightning, cats prowling around my feet.

Me, basically talking to myself.

It was like the start of one of those wonderfully bad SyFy made for TV horror flicks (A round of applause for 'Lake Placid 2,' 'Ogre' and 'Mega Piranha').

Now I'd read about checking dialog by reading it aloud before, but--in my head--the dialog sounded fine. Through multiple edits.

But, Emmett is published and I'm not. So I took his advice and read it out loud in the dead of night and most of the dialog was fine.


A few lines were a little awkward.

Damn. I hate it when I know what to do and ignore it.

Manuscript in hand, I'll be going back through all 500 pages. Out loud. Hopefully the neighbors don't notice.

Otherwise I might end up like John Schneider in 'Ogre.'

Friday, June 4, 2010

Inspirations and Holiday

My partner comes home from her business trip tonight and I fly to Pennsylvania to pickup my children on Monday.

All the people I love more then life itself under one roof. I can't believe how excited I am!

In their own ways, Tina, Brendan and Riona inspire my creative process. Nothing would get done without the support of my beautiful partner. My children have added to the creative flow in their own ways (see 'Thoughts on Fatherhood' parts ONE and TWO)

The Blog will be sporadic for the next few weeks. I have a lot of 'being a dad' to do and need to focus on rewrites and prepping for ReaderCON in July. Busy days ahead.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The 'Elevator Conversation'

A long time ago, I was working for a large generic pharma company and I learned a very good lesson.

If you get the ear of an Executive, you have 45 seconds to make your point. After that, you sound like the teacher in the old Charlie Brown cartoons to said 'muckity-muck.'

An example, if you will.

"To resolve the e-mail issue and avoid future failures, I need 45k and four days."

Straight to the point. The Exec who wears suits more expensive then my car doesn't care that:

1) The license for the spam-scanning software doesn't cover the new version which needs a LINUX system to run...
2) His son (Who was my boss) caused the problem by surfing porn all day...
3) We've added too many e-mail clusters into the environment and the software can not handle the load...

Etc., etc...

I spent last night reading
Emmett Spain's book (Finished it. Awesome.). I also spent it pacing around reviewing what I sent to the agent that earned me my rejection e-mail.

Something I'd mastered out of necessity in the business world, I failed to execute on in the query letter.

Here is a portion of what I sent:

[SIC] What if magic existed in the world, but the knowledge of such power had been hidden by organized religion for millennia? What would happen then, if globalization and the communication age threaten exposure of the most coveted of secrets to the masses?

The Prodigal’s Foole is the first in a planned series of books, seen from the point of view of Symon Bryson, the greatest wizard of our age. Raised in secret by the Catholic Church to use his God-given power to fight great evil, he has spent the last ten years of his life hiding from his destiny. When a cryptic telegram arrives pleading for his help, Symon returns to old friends and a familiar landscape to solve a mystery and face decade-old terrors with deeper consequences than he ever could have imagined.

"Wah, wa-wah wah waaaaaaaah, Charlie brown."

I mean it's ok....but if you get a couple HUNDRED of these every day, It's not the stand-out kind of verbiage.

So not only do I need to re-write the first 'hook 'em' paragraph, I need to apply a little of my business acumen to my queries.

After all, storytelling is a passion. Book publishing is a business.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Got my first rejection today...

No matter how much you brace yourself for it, the first rejection always hurts a little.

I received an e-mail about an hour ago thanking me for my submission, but the agent passed on the work.

Well, these guys receive hundreds of queries everyday....I certainly didn't expect to get picked up right away.

So, the plan is the same. I'll take the feedback I've been given, compile that with the first fifty page critique I'm expecting from a second agent, and review the work objectively. I'll make changes I feel enhance the story.

ReaderCON is coming up in a month so, I hope to be ready to peddle my wares then.

In the meantime, the writing continues.

I wonder....should I start a 'Rejection' folder to help document this journey? And if any agents out there are reading this and wish to chat, I'm all ears!

More later.

UPDATE: 02JUNE- Slept on it last night, sent out thank you letters this morning. I'm going to spend the next month leading up to ReaderCON working on polishing up book one and incorporating some of the advice I've received. So book two will go on hold for now. It's all good, and I'm more determined then ever to get my stories out there.

Some of you pointed out that this wasn't my 'first rejection.' Fair point-have plenty from the 90's. I guess what I meant to say was: "This was my first novel rejection."

The Write Stuff...with apologies to John Glenn

Less then a week now until the Summer invasion of my kids. The excitement around here is almost palatable!

Spent a lot of time this supposedly "relaxing" weekend doing some writing and a lot of construction. There is something to be said for building things with your own two hands.

Ok...ok. My own two hands, a power saw, air compressor, series of nail guns, drill and other assorted power tools. But you get my point.

So I have a lot of prep work for my kids, construction projects and writing...I think I'm my own worse enemy sometimes.

The writing this weekend was all over the place. Fine-tuning my first book based on feedback from professionals (although I haven't yet heard from the agent who is reviewing the first fifty my final changes will wait until then), and I spent some time on book two.

I also had an idea for a short story I started to tinker with.

So I thought I'd give you a little more to read today, so here is an EARLY draft of the prologue to book two 'The Young Practitioner'




North Africa, November, 1942 - 45km west of Tunis

The M4 Sherman tank ground to a halt with a sick sputter from its Continental R975 C1 engine.

“C’mon baby!” begged Captain Ronald “Deuce” Toolit as he caressed the turret of the metal beast from his lookout position atop the war machine.

The sputtering continued for another thirty seconds or so, then stopped with a metallic grinding. The beast was dead. Again.

“FUBAR!” drawled a southern voice below the captain from the belly of the beast.

“J.T., It’s the second time that damn engine has died in the last hour. Can you fix it or not, sergeant?”

“Ain’t been a machine I couldn’t fix, Deuce. You have yourself a genuine Kansas farm boy here! We kin fix anythin’ that runs!” replied the happy-go-lucky Sergeant, Jonathan “J.T.” Tompkins. Captain Toolit rolled his eyes. Would he ever get used to the eternal optimism of this boy?

It was over a hundred degrees already and it was only eight o’clock in the morning. The tank had been a part of a larger American First Armored Division racing Eastbound to join Montgomery and the British for a push toward Tunis. The five-man crew had been told to leave their tank when the engine faltered due to the desert sand, but the crew stubbornly refused to give up their home.

Now they were on their own, at least an hour behind the rest of the convoy.

“Damn it,” muttered Toolit, as he wiped the sweat that poured into his eyes. The General was gonna have his ass and he new it.

He opened his canteen and took a long swig. The water was hot, but at least it was wet. After Pearl Harbor, he’d known the country was going to be at war. He wanted a shot at the Japanese for what they did in Hawaii. Instead he’d been shipped to North Africa and been put in command of a metal hotbox in the middle of the desert.

“Damn it all to Hell,” He said.

He sighed and climbed out of his command seat lifting his binoculars to his eyes. He took a quick look around. Nothing but a series of dunes in front of them.

“Alright boys,” he called back into the tank. “Might as well get out of there while the sergeant works his miracle to get us running again.”

The Captain climbed the rest of the way out and jumped to the ground. A loud scrambling was heard as the two drivers and gunner tried to climb over themselves to reach the hatch first.

Corporal David Bernstein was first. The Jew from Brooklyn hopped out with ease and practically had his Lucky Strike lit before he reached the ground. Privates Marvin Duncan from Massachusetts and Frank Wilson from California were next. All boys around the age of eighteen.

“J.T., you better get us movin’ again or we’re gonna thump ya,” said the black man from Massachusetts.

“Yeah!” said Wilson, pounding his fist on the outside of the tank. The man was so big, Toolit thought, he might’ve left a dent in the armor.

“Which one of you rubes has the radio?” asked the Captain. The three men all looked at each other in a mild panic.

“Duncan, go get it will you? Jesus H. Christ, boy!”

Toolit didn’t like having Negros under his command, but he was under orders so he dealt with it. By making Private Duncan do all the dirty work.

“Yessir!” said the Private and hopped back into the Sherman without another word.

“Cap’t, can we have him dig a latrine for us when he get’s back?” asked Wilson. “K-ration’s doin’ things to my gut you wouldn’t believe.”

Before he could answer, a sharp pain came from his chest. Both Wilson and Bernstein were staring at him wide-eyed.

Toolit tried to say ‘what are you two assholes lookin’ at?’ but all that came out was a gurgling sound.

The last thing the Captain saw was a large red stain on his chest. He was dead before he hit the ground.

“Snipers!” screamed Bernstein in his thick Brooklyn accent. “Take cover behind…”

A red spray flew from the man’s head and a bloody, still lit cigarette bounced off Wilson’s shoulder.

“Holy Shit!” He said diving to his right just as a ricochet sounded behind him.

Crawling on the ground, he made his way to the back of the tank. Dirt kicked up around him as sniper fire tracked his movements.

“You okay Cap’t?” called Duncan from inside the tank.

“Cap’s dead and so’s the Jew!” Wilson screamed back.

“Where the SOB’s shootin’ from?” Duncan called back.

“Hundred yards, behind that dune off to the right I think!”

Another shot kicked up sand near Wilson’s boot. He drew his legs in close.

“Do something!” He shouted.

The big tank shuttered as the turret spun in the direction Wilson had thought the shots had come from.

The were a couple of clicking sounds, then nothing.

“Damn you Duncan...!” began Wilson.

The 75mm canon roared and a second or two later there was a muffled explosion. Wilson put his hands over his ears and closed his eyes.

* * *

Twenty minutes later, Duncan and J.T. emerged from their steal foxhole. They found Wilson shaking and lying in the fetal position at the back of the tank. The man had pissed himself.

There hadn’t been any further shots as far as they were concerned. Duncan had put a couple more shells into the various dunes just in case.

While J.T. checked on Wilson, Duncan went over to the two bodies lying next to the tank. Captain Toolit and Corporal Bernstein were both very dead.

“J.T.,” said Duncan. “I’ll get on the radio and get us some help. See if you can get Wilson back into the tank, ‘kay?”

Duncan could tell that the good ol’ Southern Boy didn’t like taking orders from him, but technically, as gunner, he outranked him.

After a fleeting look of annoyance, J.T. nodded and said, “You got it Marv.”

The black man radioed in his position and situation and was told to sit tight. Someone would come for them. Eventually.

J.T. was tending to a shell-shocked Wilson inside the Sherman. Duncan had found his dead Captain’s binoculars and after wiping off a bit of the late commander’s blood, scoped out the sand dunes ahead.

He took it as a good sign that he was still breathing. Maybe he’d hit the Huns he thought hopefully.

As he scanned the dunes, his eyes picked up something unusual near where he’d shot the first shell. It looked like metal of some sort imbedded in the dune.

“Hey J.T.,” He called out. “I’m gonna go scout up ahead for a spell. Take care of Wilson and keep your head down, will ya?”

“You too Marv. Put your helmet on!” the Southerner called back.

Despite the heat and with a glance at what was left of Bernstein’s head, Duncan slapped on his helmet.

Cautiously and using whatever cover he could find, it took all of twenty minutes for the soldier to make it to the blast crater.

The dune itself was about twenty feet long and five feet high. When he got closer he saw that it was about five feet deep as well.

Scattered behind the crater--when he’d finally got enough nerve up to look over the top--he saw what was left of two dead men. It wasn’t until he found half of a German helmet with the stylized eagle on it that he’d confirmed who’d been killed.

“Serves you guys right,” he spat. “Damn Krauts.”

He took out the glasses again and swept the area. There was nothing else to see.

With a sigh of relief, he started to make his way back to the Sherman, when he caught sight of the metal piece that had brought him out here in the first place.

Sticking out of the dune was a heavy plate of lead. It was roughly two feet square and shown blast damage where the 75mm shell had dislodged it.

“What the Hell is that?” he mumbled to himself. The sweat was pouring off him like a river and he’d left his canteen back with the remaining members of his crew.

The impact crater seemed deeper then he’d thought. He stumbled through the sand toward the gaping hole.

The shell had torn a gash in what looked like a large lead box running the length of the sand dune. Curiosity overriding dehydration, Duncan poked his head into the box.

He recoiled in shock.

Half running, half stumbling through the sand, he made his way back to the tank.

J.T. who’d hand enough of the stench inside the Sherman, had poked his head out of the turret hatch. He watched as Duncan made a beeline toward him.

“What is it Marv? More Nazi’s?” he yelled.

Duncan clamored onto the tank, completely out of breath.

“Here, hold on a minute,” said J.T. He reached down into the tank and brought out a canteen.

Duncan gulped down the contents.

“Jesus Marv, you could almost pass for a white man,” J.T. said nervously. “What’s wrong with you?”

“ shot killed the snipers,” Duncan stuttered. “But it blew a hole in this big metal box.”

“Yeah, so?”

“There’s a body in it,” said Duncan, still breathing heavy.

“It’s war, Marv,” said J.T. as he pointed to the late Captain still lying where he fell.

“No, you don’t understand,” Duncan said. “It looks like a man, but can’t be. It’d be a man about twenty feet tall!”

“Heat’s got to you boy,” said J.T. shaking his head.

“Come see for yourself,” Duncan said, panic now being replaced with annoyance at his crewmember’s disbelief.

“What, and get shot? No thanks,” said J.T.

“I got them Huns with the first shot. Come see for yourself, or are ya chicken?” said Duncan.

The jibe worked. Without another word, J.T. jumped down from the turret and he marched purposely toward the dune. Duncan hurried to catch up.

“It’s gotta be fake!” J.T. exclaimed a few minutes later.

“It’s not. It’s some sort of monster,” Duncan said. “And it must a been buried here a long time.”

“How the Hell do you know that?” J.T. said dubiously.

“Look at them bandages,” Duncan replied. “It’s like one of them Egyptian mummies I’ve seen in the movies.”

“What is it doing out here all by itself?” J.T. asked.

“It’s not, J.T.” said Duncan quietly, pointing. “Look.”

J.T. stood and looked where Marv had indicated. There were hundreds of mounds exactly the same size and shape of the giant’s tomb.