Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Onward They Rode.

I originally posted this on Face Book but decided to post it here too. This was my gut response to the Bikers who rode to DC to honor those who had fallen 12 years ago and the ones who died last year.

Onward They Rode.

And the ground trembled
Thunder filled the air,
As on they came.

From the West Coast
They rolled ever onward,
Across desert and mountain.

The Great Plains were alive,
Not with buffalo, but bikes,
Like great herds of old they gathered.

Out of the North they rolled,
Up from the South they came
From every state came the roar.

Citizens, every shape and color
On horses made of Iron
Rolling ever onward.

Bikes carrying Patriots
Bringing the message,

And in the memory
Of those tragic days they cried

Onward they rode
Defying the bureaucrats
Our permit is the Constitution.

Into the Capital they rode
People cheering them on
From the highways they cried out

Let Freedom Ring they thundered
And the ground shook
The air carried the rumble.

America saw her people,
Once more rise up in her name
As onward they rode.

Edd Voss 9/10/2013 revised 9/11/13
If you share this please keep my name with it. That is all I ask.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

When you're going through hell.

There is a song out there by country artist Rodney Atkins titled "If You're Going Through Hell" that contains a great piece of advice for us all. The basic message of the song is, keep moving. Last trip out was a bit of a bear, lots of little annoyances and few larger ones, but by just pushing on a little farther I got through it. Usually that means the next trip will be better, but that is yet to be seen.

I am at home finishing up a week long vacation, that I almost missed, but the company stepped up and got it accomplished. It has been one of those really rejuvenating pauses. I did accomplish a couple of major tasks that needed to be done before winter sets in, but most of all I got to share some time with my oldest granddaughter and her boyfriend and my wife. Part of the fun was introducing this young man to the world of shooting sports.

The point of it all is, that even in the darkest times of my life, and there have been a few, the one thing that got me through them was the constant placing of one foot in front of the other. Everyone I know who is accomplished, and happy in life has learned that same lesson. Another old quote that has sustained me in the dark times reads "Tough Times Never Last, Tough People Do" it is also the title of a book by Robert Schuller, the founder of the Chrystal Cathedral, and a song by Trace Atkins, another country singer. Like the allegory of the Forge we all go through tough times and have to find the will to take, just one more step.

So at o'dark thirty I will drag my butt out of bed and take the early morning flight to start the long, time wise at least, journey back to the truck and go back to doing what makes my living. Along the way I will find the time to finish the book I am working on and possibly start another one.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Everyone has those moments when you are faced with a decision that will change your life. At the time you probably have no idea how much that choice will affect you. In my life there have been many little incidents that caused me to correct things but the one that really had the most overall impact happened in Jump School. I stood facing a Special Forces captain, who was telling me that I wasn't good enough at physical training, and that I should just drop out of the class.

Let me take a moment to explain that yes, I wasn't real good at PT. The instructors were not being mean, they were thinking of my own safety and the safety of those around me. As hard as they were on us it was to make sure that we would be in the best shape possible and better prepared for the rigors of being an Army Paratrooper. So I had a choice to make, should I agree with them and give up, go back to the unit and take up my regular job in the Photo Section? Come on what would it matter? I wasn't going to try for the Special Forces Qualification Course. I was happy being a photographer. The other option was to stick with the class and put myself in the position of going through a lot more PT and very strenuous training. There were a lot of people who knew that I didn't like PT and were sure that I wouldn't make it through. A few people thought otherwise, they believed in me.

Without a lot of time to think it over, I took control of that icy feeling deep down in my gut and told the captain that he would have to throw me out, but I refused to quit. That momentary burst of bravado paid off, not only did I graduate I was acknowledged as the most improved student. Over the years since that choice it has become a touchstone. Something I bring back up when life gets tough, or a project has me stymied. Giving up is not an option until I have tried everything I can think of. Trying something new is not as scary because I know what I am capable of.

Everyone of us has those moments that can define their lives, it is up to us as individuals to decide, give in, or dig down deep and find the courage to try harder.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Past, future and present.

Yesterday is history,
Tomorrow a mystery,
Today is a gift,
That is why it is called the present.

This bit of wisdom has been on my mind lately. Too many times we take something like this and think it is the path we should follow. The problem is that it isn't a path of any kind. It leads to meandering around looking for what seems good at the moment. While that might feel good in the moment it doesn't lay the ground work for the long run. I know people who live for the right now and wonder why they have nothing solid to look forward to beyond the moment.

Yesterday is History.
That is one of those statements that can not be argued, because it is true. That doesn't mean that we should pack it away and just forget about it. Each one of us has our own history, all with triumphs and tragedies. What has happened in the past isn't what is important, for every one who has had to face terrible things in their past there is someone who has had it worse. The important thing is not what happened, rather it is how you choose to deal with it. Will that tragedy give you strength, or will it break you? Only you can make that choice.

Tomorrow a mystery.
True again, no one knows what the future may bring, not even those people on TV who keep telling you that they can see it. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't plan for it. It may be nothing more than socking away some money in the bank for a rainy day. If you live for today only, why would you want to strive for the education to get a job or career?

Today is a gift, that is why it is called the present.
While it may be truly a gift, it will be wasted unless you use it to make things better. Today is what you have that you can do something about now. It may be as small as deciding to walk a little farther, or not spend that money on a coffee, and instead put it in a jar to save. Pick up a book on a subject that really interests you.  Use today as the beginning of the journey ahead.

My version would go something more like this.

Learn from your history,
Plan for the future,
And work your tail off today, so that it can come true.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Wheat and Chaff

I am not sure where this train of thought is coming from. First talking about the crucible and the forge now thinking about the wheat and the chaff. It must be something we all do as we get older. Looking back at my life I can see certain moments when I thought I was in some really bad situations on a personal level. You could say I was lost in the chaff, the part of the wheat plant that is of little use. Then out of seemingly nowhere I would find a kernel of pure whole wheat. The substance that makes the flour which in turn becomes the bread, or pancakes, or cake, or so many other things.

Each one of these little nuggets could have been missed, ignored, or allowed to spoil, it depended on what I chose to do with them. Thankfully I was able to take most of them and turn them into experiences that enriched my life beyond measure. Usually these tidbits would come in the way of a comment made by someone. Not always someone that I thought very highly of. A couple of times they came from people I down right despised, but something made it through.

As far as I know there is no magical instrument that can glean these tiny little pieces of nutrition out for you. That is something you will have to find for yourself. One of the most important lessons that I have learned is to be quiet. Especially when you are being reprimanded or just plain chewed out for something. Then when you can get past the emotion and think about what happened to get you in that situation, you can go over the information. Look at what was said by the person correcting you and be honest with yourself about it. Was the person correct in their assessment? If so what can you take away from the experience to avoid it in the future.

Every time life seems to be beating you down remember it is just the threshing floor, separating the wheat from the chaff. You can get lost in the chaff, or you  can take sometime to find the wheat. The choice is always yours. While you may not control what happens to you, you can control how you react to it.   

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Crucible or Forge?

For years I thought of the Crucible as the formation of something. Instead the crucible is a container that is used to heat substances then hold them until they are ready to be poured into the mold. The Forge on the other hand is where metal is shaped and strengthened. While both are all about shaping the metal, it is the Forge that gives it strength.

What has any of this got to do with anything of importance? As humans we can make a choice as to how we allow life's circumstances affect us. I just recently dealt with one of those occasions. It was the anniversary of my daughter's death. Before we go any farther let me say, "this is not about gaining sympathy, it is what happened." I always feel that when I bring this up everyone wants to tell me how sorry they are and it gets uncomfortable. The only reason I bring it up is because it is what inspired this post and it is useful to explain the difference in the philosophical point I am hoping to make here.

This incident in my life started out as a crucible, the pain of it was almost paralyzing in the beginning as anyone can imagine. The heat of my emotions melted my heart into molten state. I felt strong emotions but they were constantly in turmoil and easily changed by the container they were in. Jobs lost interest, love affairs were constantly coming and going. With every new experience came a new emotional container for those molten feelings. But they never quite took solid form. When they began to cool down, it was time to change the shape of the crucible, by heating everything up and pouring it into a new container.

It was many years after that event that I began to find the mold I wanted those emotions shaped into. I found a career that I have enjoyed and a family that I love. Once my emotions cooled in the mold, they were then put back into the fire and heated up. When everything was glowing as bright as possible they were put on the anvil and beaten into shape, just before they reached the breaking point it was time for the ice. It wasn't the crucible that gave me strength, it was the forge. Before I could become the person I wanted to be, I had be malleable first then tempered in the forge. Remembering the lessons I learned in the Army and in Jump School helped, once I chose to be in the forge I had the choice of letting it make me stronger or letting it break me completely. Neither course is easy to take but the crucible is not meant to make you stronger, it just the beginning, a time to find the mold you want for your life, it is the forge that makes the difference.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Shade series.

I originally wrote the short story Shade for fun. It was a play on the old radio series "The Shadow" from the early years of radio. He was character who could cloud men's minds, so that they couldn't see him. In a day and age where people tend to trust their technical devices more than the senses they were born with, it was more important that my character be able to fool the computers. It also played on one of my favorite novels by Dean Koontz titled Dark Rivers of the Heart. In this book Koontz creates a tech savvy group that lives off the grid. These were some of the inspiration for the Subgridders in my Shade Series. I even took the code phrase that Koontz used in his book as a way of recognizing each other. Of course I gave him due credit for the whole idea. What keeps me writing this series?

Just look around at the news and you will find the answer. We have the media praising an athlete for admitting that he is gay while forgetting the deaths of real heroes in Benghazi and other places. To protect our children from drug addiction, and sexual diseases we teach them about drugs and sex. To protect them from guns we ban the gun, where is the logic in that? Some people are telling us that our children are not ours, but that they belong to the community in general. These are the concepts that Orwell warned us about in his book 1984 which scared everyone in my generation to death. It also helped me design the world in which the series takes place.  More and more our society is looking like Huxley's Brave New World where long term relationships and family life are considered detrimental to society. Our children are given heroes that really aren't heroic at all. Instead of people who make sacrifices for others, we tend to glorify the villains and entertainers. We know the names of everyone who committed a mass shooting, but who can name the policeman of fireman who saved the lives of the survivors?  All of these works of literature have played a part in the creation of the world in which Shade and his companions live.

The world has been turned upside down, good is now bad, logic is irrelevant, common sense is ridiculed, and it is scary to think that this is the world we are leaving our children and grandchildren. The bright side of it all is that there will always be the people who live on the land. They were the ones who got us through all of the hard times in the past and they will be the ones who get us through the hard times of the future. It will be those that remember the lessons of our grandparents who survived the Great Depression, fought WWII that will keep the flames of liberty and freedom alive. It is the hope that readers will take a new look at how we are living today, and where are grandparents lived to find the balance that will keep this dystopian world from becoming real.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Designing a fictional Government?

One of the things I have been working on with the new book is how to describe the differences between the two major groups in the world of Shade. The Ons live in the cities under constant surveillance. Their lives are dictated by a powerful central Government. Sanctioned drugs are given to the people in order to keep them docile and under control. Every move they make is monitored, and they receive only the information that the State wants them to know. Could this happen in America? Is it? Many think that it not only could but is happening slowly as I write this piece. Drones flying over our cities, invasive searches before flying, Bills being passed by people who haven't even read them. It isn't something that would happen overnight, it would take a couple of generations at least to make it happen. Nikita Khrushchev once bang his shoe on the desk in the UN General Assembly and announced that the United States would fall without the Soviets firing a single shot. While the Soviet Union fell apart first it doesn't mean that we are safe from following their lead. If this all controlling Government was to come about could it really control the whole country?

With our history of independence I don't think that they would be able to do more than control the major population centers. We as a people in general have been bred with a streak of hard headed reliance on ourselves and our God. While the cities might have the manufacturing and tech industries, they will need food, water, raw materials like lumber, oil, and various minerals, all of which come from the rural areas. Our DNA has a large dose of rebellion in it. Don't think so? Just ask an Apple user about Microsoft, throw Linux fan into the mix and watch the fireworks. We have people who hack computer systems just to show that they can. It is those people who live separate from the main populations in the Shade books and stories. They have their own government which is based on the ideas put forth by our Founding Fathers. Each group has its own rules that run the daily lives of its members, there is a loose coalition with other communities and even a central council made up of members from each of the smaller groups. The power to affect the daily lives of their population remains at the local level. This group is known as the Subs. They are not totally off the grid but they do operate just under the surface of the grid. It is their defense and a weapon against the Ons.

If the first part of this post were to come true, hopefully there will be a group like the Subs as well.

Friday, March 1, 2013

City vs Country

When our ancestors moved away from the settlements and struck out across the wilderness they had to rely on themselves. Along the way they built cities and communities before once more striking out on their own. Leaving civilization behind they pushed out onto the prairies and mountains. If something broke they either fixed it or did without it. People learned skills that were needed to survive. While there were blacksmiths and wheelwrights many people had to make repairs on their own if they were too far from one of those craftsmen. As the west grew and became more populated settlers were able to get things in town that they had once made themselves. Cities grew and the people who moved into them lost the skills that were vital on a farm or ranch. So did some of the people living close to town.

Even today people who live far from towns or cities can't just get in the car and run to the corner store, so they have to learn some of those lost skills. That is one of the reasons I have a problem with so many of the post apocalypse movies and books. Rural people know how to fix things that are needed for their own survival, they know how to build things and most importantly they know how to grow their own food. The movies and books make it seem like the rural areas will become places where roving gangs will take over by brute force. Funny the farmers, ranchers and other rural types I have met are physically strong and well versed in the use of firearms. Also country folks have a sense of individuality that makes it hard for them to just bow down because someone tells them to. More than once have I helped a neighbor erect a wood shed or other structure made out of things taken right from the land. I doubt seriously that the urban gangs would last very long out in the countryside where they had to forage to survive.

This is why the heroes in my Shade stories live in the rural areas. Without total disarmament keeping the people in those areas docile would be a very difficult task. It would also create problems for the urban areas who would need the food grown by these people. This is the area I am dealing with in the present Shade novel, it is a delicate balance between the two areas. How far can the Government which is an urban dictatorship push the rural areas that live a much freer life? Can the city dwellers force the people from the small towns and agricultural areas to help them find the fugitive who killed a sadistic Government official?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


There has been a lot going on for the last couple of weeks. All of which have created a lot of turmoil. Between the truck breaking down numerous times, my wife dealing with health issues, needing to get to Washington State at least long enough to renew my driver's license, it has been stressful to say the least.

Then I take the time to read some of the news stories floating around and I feel like I am in the world I created for my Shade character. Sheriffs in Washington State are being given the charge to inspect the homes of legal gun owners once a year. Did Olympia pass a law that would violate citizen's rights under the Fourth Amendment? In the same bill the state legislature declared all guns illegal that use a removable magazine. Every handgun other than a revolver uses a removable magazine. So did they just outlaw all non-revolver handguns? Some big city police chiefs are standing up to say that we should deprive citizens of their Second Amendment Rights, while county sheriffs are defending the right to keep and bear arms.  In reacting to news stories about these subjects legislators said that they had not done their due diligence on the bills. What is that about? Are they passing bills without knowing what is in them? If this kind of gut reaction legislating without knowing exactly what is being passed keeps going, how long before we find ourselves in the future my story has depicted? That was in the state where I live.

Then Colorado the state I grew up in has a Representative saying that women aren't smart enough to own a gun, or capable of determining if a man might be intent on raping them. Topping that the University of Colorado Colorado Springs published a list of ideas for preventing rape that was ludicrous. All of these things may seem silly, but they are the stepping stones on the path to the worlds of Orwell's 1984 or the Stallone movie Demolition Man where everyone is dependent on a totalitarian Government. In a way my Shade character was influenced by both of these works.

The more I see these things happening the more fearful I am that the future will look like one of the dystopian worlds depicted in a science fiction novel.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What makes the difference?

As I sit here getting ready to watch the Superbowl there is one question that keeps nagging at my mind. Like many who follow the Special Operations world, I was stunned by the news that Navy SEAL and sniper extra ordinary Chris Kyle was killed. What shocked me even more was to find out that the person who killed him was a young man Kyle was trying to help deal with PTSD. Personally I have always been puzzled by this condition.

How is it that two people can go through the same hellish conditions and come out so different. Chris Kyle served numerous tours in Iraq and by all accounts he was involved in every major battle there. Among his awards and decorations are two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, numerous Purple Hearts and who knows what else, yet by all accounts he was a committed family man who gave much of himself back to the military community. I don't know the man other than his public persona, yet every time I saw him, he came across as the epitome of a humble man. In my own life I have known and served with men who spent years in some of the worst hell holes of their generation. Many of them were straight forward about their experiences while others were haunted by them. Is there some secret ingredient that gives one the strength to overcome almost any trial that is put in their path?

There is no doubt in my mind that PTSD is a very real problem, and that it affects many who have suffered through traumatic experiences of all kinds. What I struggle with is how do we find the key that allows some to deal with the trauma and rise above it, while others are destroyed by it. I don't have any answers, I can only give thanks for examples like Chris Kyle and mourn his loss. I also mourn for the tortured soul who took his life.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Guilty as charged.

My friend Robert Bidinotto also known as the Vigilante Author posted a link on his facebook page to an article titled But I Want Success Now! 
While I really didn't want to read the piece I knew that I should. So I reached down deep and found the courage. It definitely wasn't what I wanted to hear. All I really wanted was someone to tell me how I could become an overnight success next week. What I actually got from reading it was the honest truth. A simple fact that can be summed up in just two simple little words "Keep writing". The author of the piece Boyd Morrison talked about a number of very famous writers who had written numerous works before they actually hit the big time and became the names we know today. It also brought to mind a comment my wife told me about. A friend had mentioned how much my writing had improved since my first book. As I go back and read some of my early work I can see that my work has gotten better with practice. So while I see why Robert posted the article, it doesn't mean that I have to like their advice, but if I want to succeed I really need to follow it. Just as there have been times in my life that I wanted to just quit, it was the times that I refused to that paid off with the biggest rewards. So even though quick rewards would be great, they wouldn't taste as sweet as the ones I have had to work diligently to achieve. While somethings have come easily, the ones I am most proud of, took a lot of hard work and sacrifice. Thanks to Robert, for posting this and for always giving me a nudge in the right direction when I need it.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Well, last week I ran free promotions for "Shade on the Run" and the western novella, "The Last Raid" neither of which generated any sales afterwards. So that is a technique I think I will avoid from here on. If this seems like complaining it isn't. It is however a statement of the facts. This whole marketing thing baffles me. I will keep writing but not sure exactly where I will be taking it. The next Shade novel is started and well on its way. All outward signs tell me that I should be working on a western because those have been my best sellers, but the characters in Shade keep luring me back into the dystopian future. Not sure exactly why that is but, I am following where they lead.

I have some ideas for westerns that I would like to follow up on, but I haven't had the time to do the research needed. While most of my work is fiction, I do want to make sure that it is as close to fact as possible. Authors who fail to do their homework drive me nuts. A note to budding authors, do your own research. Nothing spoils a good read like running across something that just doesn't fit. Even with my science fiction, I ask people who should know, if something is possible. One of the many real characters who lived in the old west that fascinates me is the man they called Hi Jolly. He came to America with a load of camels. They were part of an experiment to see how viable it would be to use them in the Southwest. The Civil War put an end to the project, but not Hi Jolly. He made such a name for himself that when they buried him in the tiny town of Quartzsite Arizona, they built a monument over the grave along with a plaque telling the story of his life. To do the story right though I need a couple of days at least to spend in Quartzsite during the week, so that I can get to city hall and the public library. I am also working on a story about what might have happened to some of the horses the Nez Perce were forced to sell off after Chief Joseph surrendered. Only time will tell, in the mean time I will continue to move forward hoping to figure out the whole marketing issue along the way.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year 2013

It is hard to believe that it has been this long since I posted here. The last two months of 2012 were spent running from Portland OR. to Edmonton Alberta. With Internet connections sketchy in Canada it was hard to keep up with a lot of things. That is all behind me now, at least for a while. Hopefully I will be able to spend more time working on the next Shade book. I thought that I was finished with that character for the moment, but he had other ideas. Since the story takes place in a dystopian future where a large Government is in total control, the present political scene is offering a lot of ideas as to how it all happens.

 I have often said that we would not be destroyed by an outside enemy, rather we would give our freedoms away. I am also looking at a way to explain where the Subs (characters who live below the grid in the Shade stories) came from. If you are not familiar with this storyline please check out the short story Shade that started the whole concept. After that you can check out the follow up novel Shade on the Run which takes the short story to a new level. So far I haven't even figured out a working title for the next one.

As with any large unaccountable government there will be those in the upper echelons who will think that they are free to do as they want without repercussions. The new novel starts with one of those officials finding out differently. Here I hope to be able to show that there will always be those who will cherish the ideas of freedom and liberty that our country was founded on. It may be that someday it will only be found in the remote wilderness areas, but it will always find a way to survive. This will be a little darker than most of my work, but as with all of what I write, I hope that it also offers a ray of hope.