Friday, September 18, 2015

Somber in September

I'm somber, reflecting on anniversaries. My heart is heavy because so little lies ahead, with so much behind—and because I let down good people who were relying on me.

September 11, 1939 is my birthday. We celebrated quietly. I'm still waiting for son Bob, who has a busy schedule, to take me out for searing-hot, high-calorie vindaloo at Bollywood Bistro. I'm thankful for family and friends who support me and who sent greetings.

September 18, 1947 is the day the United States Air Force became an independent military service branch, long after most countries had an independent air arm.

This is the day for those who fly and fight. I was slated to give a talk at a very important place with some very fine people and was forced to stand them up at the last minute because of a health issue. They were counting on me. I let them down.

I'm not much for flag-waving, rah-rah, pro-veteran stuff but I feel satisfaction at being one of the Americans who went to difficult places and did difficult things. I feel privileged to be an American airman. No other title can compare. Photo shows me preparing for a Rose Bowl reconnaissance mission against the North Korean air force at Osan in April 1960, age twenty.

September 1, 1955 is the approximate date when I submitted a short opinion piece to Air Force magazine—not to be confused with Air Force Times newspaper, where I had a column later. I was age fifteen. My submission became my first paid magazine appearance in the November 1955 issue of Air Force. So I'm having a 60th anniversary of writing about those who fly and fight. No privilege could be greater.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Planes, war, crime: what do you like?

As I mark a birthday, I'm thankful for feedback on my books and magazine articles. You steer me. Several parts of me are joined at this keyboard. Those disparate parts are trying to stray off in different directions, like a satellite breaking up in orbit and raining debris.

Part of me is the pure airplane part. Just airplanes.

My cover story on the B-24 Liberator bomber will be in the January issue of AVIATION HISTORY magazine, which will appear around November 1. I have an article on the B-32 Dominator in a spinoff of FLIGHT JOURNAL about the final battles of World War II. And now, I'm working on the P4M Mercator, that big, complex, Navy plane of the Cold War with which I have a connection (photo).

On June 16, 1959, I listened to North Korean MiG-17 fighters shooting up a Mercator. The crew survived in part due to co-pilot Vincent Anania, the father of a then-eight-year-old future political wife named Elizabeth Edwards. She's here.

The photo of a Mercator seen here is very rare, taken at Port Lyautey, French Morocco, circa. 1952.

Part of me is more generally into the Air Force, the armed forces and the history of Americans at war.

Military history.

Watch for my next book, titled "VALOR ALOFT," which will have a cover designed by the talented and very cool Victor Rook. Find him here.
Part of me wants to write fiction.

My alternate history, "HITLER'S TIME MACHINE," has been well received and is available for Kindle and in print, or directly from me. It's an especially good gift for a Kindle user. Find it here.

I wrote about half of a sequel, "FEGELEIN'S TIME MACHINE," and set it aside. Fegelein is an especially despicable figure in the Third Reich, albeit a much more minor figure than I'm planning to make him. Watch for a return of favorite characters including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Heinrich Himmler, and my series hero, Barbara Stafford.

More about that sniveling toady Fegelein is here.

I wrote about half of a crime novel, "CRIME SCENE FAIRFAX COUNTY." It's set in 1947 and parts of it may grab you, but it needs a lot, lot more work.

So what's it to be next?

Will a reader who enjoys my airplane stuff read a crime novel?
Will a friend who likes my military history stuff read a crime novel? Or an alternate-history, time-travel, Nazi shoot-'em-up?

Or should I just stick to an average of three full-length articles per week about flying machines?

I don't know.

Tell me.