Review – Unfair Advantage

Richard Skinner

First, the “minimal spoilers” review — then I’ll have a few more comments, both related and unrelated.


Unfair Advantage coverGeorge McIntyre has a problem.

He caught a nanotechnological disease that turned him into a ten-foot-tall monster. He has scales, fur, horns, big teeth, claws, a face like a pony and a barbed tail. He got an upgrade in strength, speed and intelligence that is so profound it is terrifying him. But that’s not his problem.

He’s been shot, stabbed, blown up and thrown in jail. But that’s not his problem.

He’s created an intelligent robot assistant. But while she is proving to be a lot more than he bargained for, she is not his problem.

There is an alien machine that is trying to turn every human alive into a mindless, remote controlled zombie. That’s his problem.


I have been cudgeling my brain on just how to categorize this novel. For quite a while, now, ever since I bought it for the main purpose of encouraging a fellow “newbie” writer. I still haven’t succeeded; so, I am going to have to just place it into the category of “Immensely Satisfying and Fun.” (Amazon, are you listening? This SO should be a category!)

The author has placed it as Action and Adventure Romance — which it certainly is. But that is an extremely wide river in which to float. For instance, “harem” adventures find their way into that category — but, despite a multitude of absolutely gorgeous, deadly dangerous, and highly oversexed female characters (did I just say “multitude”? More like a reinforced regiment…) — you will not find the obligatory dozen explicit sex scenes in this book. Romantic, but not “Romance” as the genre is defined.

Mil-SF? Well, science fiction, and the descriptions of weapons both existing and hypothesized, as well as the combat scenes, are well-nigh perfect. Battle tactics, however, are, uhm, HIGHLY unconventional.

I’d be tempted to put it into the same place as some of the John Ringo and Travis Taylor books — what I call the “good ol’ boy with advanced technology” group. Except that the protagonist is a Canadian, living in the highly cosmopolitan city of Toronto — and not once does he utter the phrase “hold my Labatt.”

First Contact, definitely. Okay, a much used and abused plot element — but so deftly done and simply explained that you simply say “of course,” and move on with the fun.

Sigh… All I can say in the long run is to buy this book. Click the “Follow” button for the author; there are undoubtedly great things coming (I do know that the second book of the series is nearing completion as I write). Take a few hours out of your day to laugh a lot, cry a little, and enjoy a highly pleasurable read.


STOP HERE — if you haven’t read the book. If you haven’t read the book, get thee hence, hand your silver over to the Amazon, and read it! I’m a patient guy, I can wait… What follows is the somewhat more “technical” review, which does have a few semi-spoilers.


Before I dive in, let’s get a couple of things straight. When a writer reads someone else’s work, unless they are one of the lucky few that can switch off that part of their brain at will, they are simultaneously analyzing the text flowing beneath their eyes. We can’t help it — like any other professional, we are constantly looking for help with our own efforts. What doesn’t work here, and how do I avoid it? What is a beautiful, shiny piece of prose, or scene, or entire chapter, and how do I make mine look so good?

It’s an uncomfortable feeling — and sometimes a dangerous one. We can lose sight of the forest for the trees, people. We have to cultivate an ability to step back and look at the work as a whole — that is what makes a good (or bad) piece of work, not a few blemishes or a few shining passages. The whole work is what matters in the end — and, as you can see from the “mass market” review, “Edward” (aka “Phantom” to many of us) did an excellent job, in my very honest opinion. This being made clear, now I’m going to enter the forest and examine some of the trees more closely.

The main thing is that there is no problem whatsoever with the writing! Oh, the few (very few) typos; only really visible to my rather anal sensibilities. The plot is kept plausible for the most part; the implausibilities are only where they are necessary to get the story going — and to keep it fun — which is the objective. As noted, the military and combat scenes are spot on. No unmodified Glocks with a safety. No relativistic rail cannons that somehow avoid devastating a vast area around them when fired. The hand-to-hand martial arts are real, and the characters performing them are actually capable of doing so. The sex scenes (such as they are) occur in “reasonable” circumstances — i.e., unlike all too many “harem” books that I have read, not in places and/or times such that the protagonists should have been dead several times over. Emotional passages that work for the characters, none of whom can be called “cardboard.”

My critical thoughts? The blasted thing is way too hard to find! The typical Amazon book consumer is very unlikely to come across it while browsing for their next read. The algorithms are against it in two very important ways. The writer “Edward Thomas”? The top is a rather obscure poet. Page after page after page that is NOT this book. The title “Unfair Advantage”? A miscellany of NOT this book — spy thrillers, MMA novels, marketing “secrets” books. Again, page after page… In fact, I could not page far enough to even find this book. (Advanced Search, for some reason, does work. Although that might have been because I already have it in my Kindle library, and was logged in at the time.) Unless the book is mentioned in someplace other than Amazon, and a direct link is provided, the visibility is atrocious. (Yes, that is a direct link above. However, if you are willing to do a tad more work, head here: I don’t have an Amazon Associate account, but Sarah does, and spreading the wealth is a good thing.) The first problem, the pen name, cannot be fixed now — and I am doubtful, after another look at Amazon, that the second will be with the title of “Angels, Incorporated.”

A somewhat smaller obstacle to discovery is that the book is marked for the “16-18” age range. I would have marked it as “16+” myself. (Actually, “12+,” as that is about when Male Hormones tried to dance with Ultimate Nerd for me, resulting in the inevitable emotional train wreck, as happened to poor Jimmy — but that would undoubtedly attract Mrs. Karen Grundy to savage it.) I read this while simultaneously trying to stare down my sixth decade (which wasn’t intimidated in the least) and still enjoyed it immensely. (My optometrist says my eyes are a decade younger, but I’m quite positive that the brain is well over 18. I remember that year, much as I would like not to…)

I am taking this as a lesson, and others should, too — before releasing a book, put the Amazon search functions through the metaphorical wringer. Proper choice of category and keywords is also important, but even the best of books will not do well when it is not visible to as many discovery channels as you can possibly think of (and influence).


Unrelated stuff. I am trying to get back on the horse of writing. Despite two days in a row, that doesn’t mean much for this blog; I am still likely to stay in the running for “least well maintained blog on the interwebs.” But I will be pushing to write something every day, and that something will, on unpredictable occasion, appear here. I have a rather lengthy list of things that I want to write about, including at least one extremely long series concerning this latest installment in what the Prophet Bob (PBUH) so aptly named “The Crazy Years.” If traffic indicates, and work with at least a chance of paying off permits, I still plan to rework it around September (poor thing looks like a homeless shack out in the desert right now…). When/if that does happen, it will also go “paid,” as in I’ll pay WordPress to stop annoying your ad blocker. We’ll see, stay tuned…

I Can See Clearly Now

Richard Skinner
Fireworks and Lightning

Literally. I do so love it when I can properly use a word that has taken such enormous and undeserved abuse!

You see, in early June (the 11th, to be exact), the frames for my glasses finally disintegrated beyond repair; no amount of inventive language or copious applications of Superglue and/or duct tape could revive them. Thanks to my own parsimony, that prescription was at least twelve years old, and thus no longer valid. New eye exam required. (The “backup” glasses were an even older prescription — although the frames were just barely wearable.)

So, off to the cheap* mall place for an exam, and a new pair of spectacles. Two new pairs, actually, as I needed one for “computer distance” and one for everything beyond that (I’ve had bifocals for years, but finally realized that they were actually causing a fair proportion of my chronic neck pain as I wobbled my head up and down.) Off to the mall, that is, on the last day of June. Everything has been backed up, including optometrists. I count myself fortunate that the idiot in the State Capitol did not shut the malls down again just the day before; apparently he didn’t make quite such a mess in his pants this time around.

Which is a rather long-winded lead-up to what I’m actually blogging about today. As I was walking out of the mall to my car, an old song — one from my childhood in 1972 — began playing in my head.** “I Can See Clearly Now”, by Johnny Nash, a joyful reggae number about overcoming obstacles and seeing clearly now that the rain is gone. As usual, my mind wandered off to find “meaning” in the lyrics.

Well, I thought, the rain has been falling heavily on our Republic for some months now. Still is, as a matter of fact — the clouds are still very dark, no blue skies visible anywhere we seem to look, no rainbows appearing. The year started with a gaggle of politicians LARPing on the stage of Impeachment Theater. Then the “We’re all going to die!” pandemic. Then “peaceful” riots, looting, and burning. Add in media bias, political corruption, a terrible economic downturn…

Every so often, I watch a podcast (TimcastIRL), with three young people — okay, the eldest is 34, but that is still just barely out of the whippersnapper range for me. Lately, it has been nearly all doom and gloom. The Republic is done for; only a bleak tyranny lies in our future; the Grand Experiment that is our nation is over and done with.

Pardon me, but BULLSHIT!

One advantage of having lived to my age, plus a study of history (especially United States history, far more than is ever seen in even graduate schools these days) is that I have seen this before. Many times. Both long before I was born, and during my own lifetime.

There have been attempts to subvert the dream, ones which started even as our Constitution was being drafted. There were those that seriously advocated replacing King George III with King George I.

There have been horrible and immoral Supreme Court decisions handed down (very few of which have ever been corrected by that elite bunch of would-be oligarchs — note that Dred Scott was not reversed — it became moot only when the Constitution was changed under them).

Abraham Lincoln did assume the powers of a dictator — one can argue that his actions were necessary, but never that they were Constitutional, as applied to the “insurrectionists.”

Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt; only the worst offenders in the quest for absolute dominance over the body politic. Barack Obama was a piker compared to those two.

In my own lifetime, for God’s sake…

The year 1967 was the original “Summer of Love.” The hippies descended upon San Francisco to create their “collective utopia” — one based upon the “equality” of Marx and his vile successors. Yep, violent crimes skyrocketed in that neighborhood; rapes, theft, violent assault, massive drug abuse.

That year was also the year of the “Long, Hot Summer.” When urban centers across the country erupted in violent “protests,” with the usual attendant looting, burning, and more general criminality. Incidentally, fomented by agitators — both black and white — just like today. Except that they were Black Panthers and white college dropouts that were “anti-war.” The latter were about as organized as Antifa — which allows the “historians” of the period to pooh-pooh their existence, just as the apologists do today.

But we have a pandemic, too! Well, yes. The year 1967 didn’t see the quick “one-two” punch that we are reeling from right now — that other punch was delayed until the next year, when the Hong Kong flu struck. Which, incidentally, definitely killed one million people, perhaps as many as four million. The death toll from CoViD-19, hyper-inflated as it is, has “only” reached slightly less than 425,000 — and new deaths are rapidly dropping. (These are global figures.) There were some riots in 1968, but less widespread, even though they actually had some better justification in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Economic troubles? Were you around when another power hungry politician (yes, a Republican again, as though that ever made a difference — see above) took a page from FDR and decided that he could “freeze” prices and wages (twice — they were removed briefly and then reimposed five months later when the real world reared its ugly head once more). Jimmy Carter was responsible for most of the “malaise” that ensued, but Nixon laid the foundations for his later idiocy.

Okay, historical rant over. The TLDR is that we’ve seen this before. For some reason, the Republic, battered and bleeding, came back. It seems that Mother Liberty smiles upon us, even when we are at our stupidest. We’ll come back yet again. When? No idea, quite honestly, but those blue skies will reappear, and we’ll assess the damage, figure out where our roof went off to (as my poor neighbor did a couple of summers ago; big chunk of it sailed right over my house and landed in the back yard — perfectly between the picnic patio and our above-ground pool), and start to rebuild. We still have the foundations, and they are sound. There will be weeds to trim back down, leaks to plug once again, and application of chainsaws and hammers.

In the meantime, rib eyes were on a “gonga sale” again this week, so, on this Fourth Day of July, in the Year of Our Lord 2020, I shall once again follow the ritual of Man, Meat, and Fire and make my smoking offerings to the Goddess Libertas. Following which, the Marine Son shall treat family and guests to a display of colored fire in the sky, in remembrance of the defenders of Fort McHenry at another time in our history when the future looked bleak.

As a “blog friend” of mine (Sarah Hoyt) says constantly — “Be not afraid.”


* I suppose a $450 total bill is “cheap” these days, but I’m at the age where I grumble more and more about “In my day…”. Ah, well.

** Thinking on it, I believe that the mind track that ran was the cover version of the song by Jimmy Cliff; the one used in the (VERY fictionalized) 1993 Disney movie “Cool Runnings.” I do prefer that version, after listening to both of them again just today.


Image credits:

“Blue and Red Brocade Fireworks at Night” – photograph by Laziii Codar, downloaded from Used under Creative Commons CC0 license.

“Lightning Jolt During Night Time” – photographer unknown, downloaded from Used under Creative Commons CC0 license.

As usual, the rather hasty composite image created from these two is entirely my responsibility, not that of the photographers.

Joy to the World

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour…”

A Saviour to “…bring peace to His people on Earth.”

I did have here a rather long discourse on my journey to what I call “the real meaning of Christmas.” Perhaps another time; it is getting rather late to knock it into some semblance of sense. In brief: We are humans. We have always been humans. Humans are cantankerous, disputatious, and, above all, stubborn. It has only been some two millennia since the memo was delivered – hardly the blink of an eternal eye. The world is a better place than it was when I was born – and far, far better than the times in which the story of the Christ child is set.

I leave you with another video. A not so very wise man once said a very wise thing about “a thousand points of light.” Those words have been spindled, folded, and mutilated over the years, as such words always are – but there is truth in them. There are far more than a thousand points of light out there, each of them kindled by another; sometimes a bare dim spark, sometimes blazing like a supernova. Be one of those points; shine as brightly as you can manage. There will always be more darkness, but we can make it less forbidding by remembering the lesson of “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour…”

Merry Christmas!

The Giving of Thanks

Giving thanks at the feast*** It has become a tradition in my family that, on the two days of the year when we sit down to a specially prepared feast, that I make a short speech about the holiday. I don’t know that it is a hallowed tradition – certainly not when I consider the “shut up and let us eat” looks I get – but it has continued for a few years now. Oh, and this post was drafted nearly a week ago, and was supposed to be edited over the weekend; however, I don’t seem to be any faster at preparing for the feast than the Puritans were. They were also preoccupied for at least a week. Sigh… – RS ***

This is the day in the United States of America* when we give thanks.

But… Thanks for what? And to who? These are the two questions to which I think many have misplaced the answers – or never received them in the first place.

So – answers. Or at least my answers. Yours may be different, or you may have additional reasons for giving thanks on this day. Absolutely nothing wrong about that, if such is the case.

First off, this is a day of giving thanks for the sheer abundance that surrounds us. Here we sit in a warm house, at a table with enough food on it to satisfy the hunger of every person here (even that of the Marine Corporal – or so I hope). The Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock were celebrating the very same thing, and it had a special resonance with them, after that first terrible winter spent on a cold and damp ship, with insufficient food, watching as a full half of them died without ever setting foot on the soil of their new home. We have an abundance that they would have been incapable of imagining, but we give thanks for the very same reason.

The second reason for giving of our thanks – well, this one, to me, is the more important one.

We give of our thanks to those who made this abundance possible. Thanks to our ancestors, wherever they came from, and whenever they came. Their work molded this country into the cornucopia that it is – a cornucopia that exists nowhere else on this planet. Thanks to the people already living in the lands where a ragtag band of Puritans fetched up, the Wampanoag who welcomed that rather odd tribe, giving freely of their hard-won knowledge of how to survive and prosper in their new home.

We give of our thanks who continue to make this abundance possible; those who farm our food, mine our resources, make the goods that we (almost literally) have pouring out of our ears, ensure that those goods reach us**, and keep us safe on this day and every day.

Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU!

Finally, and this may not apply to all of my readers today, but the celebrants of the “First Thanksgiving” had another one to thank. You may not believe in a Creator, or not the same Creator as those Puritans (actually, I don’t either) – but we should remember that the days of feasting were also dedicated to giving thanks to that being. It is not a wrong idea for us to do the same. So, we give thanks to the ultimate Creator of what we have been given in the past, what we are given on this day, and what we shall receive in the future.

* Our Canadian friends up north also have a Thanksgiving Day – which has already passed. Being the sober and rational people they are, and seeing not much to be thankful for when various body parts are in the process of freezing off, theirs is on the first Monday in October. So a very belated Happy Thanksgiving to any Canadian readers out there.

** This applies especially to two of the people at my table this day – may they survive and retain their sanity tomorrow, on Black Friday!

*** You may have noticed some anachronisms in the photograph that I used here (kindly supplied by by Timothy Borkert on Pixabay. My first reaction was “What? Pilgrim and Wampanoag children eating off of cafeteria trays with stainless steel cutlery?” I thought again – and decided that it was appropriate; the giving of thanks is for all times.

Here’s to…

Mug of beer

Here’s to… the men and women who, in bases all over the nation, stand ready   to repel the desolation of war. Training, always training, for what they would rather not do – but see as their duty to be ready to do. Here’s to the active military personnel – Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.



Beer mug

Here’s to… the men and women who leave their homes all over the nation for so many days out of the year, training to back up their compatriots in active service and join them when called. Here’s to the reservists – again, Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.



Mug of beer

Here’s to… the men and women who patrol our borders and our shores – an impossible and dangerous job, but one that needs to be done, and one that they do to the best of their ability. Here’s to the people of the Border Patrol and Coast Guard.



Beer mug

Here’s to… the men and women who are overseas, far from their family, their friends, and anything like a “normal” life. You are the teachers to those who would take our freedom that it is really not a good idea to try. Most of them never learn, but you keep on repeating the harsh lesson. Here’s to every one of those who are on the sharp end of the stick this day.


Poppy field at sunsetHere’s to… the men and women who have seen the full and horrible desolation of war, defending our nation wherever it was threatened – who have lost some piece of themselves, whether body, or soul, or both – or their very lives. For you, I will also raise a beer this Veteran’s Day, but it will be watered with my tears.

For all of you – a heartfelt “Thank you” is not enough – but it is all that I have, other than my prayers. You are in my thoughts on all days of the year, but especially so on this day.

(Images courtesy of Pixabay. Beer image by Alexander Lesnitsky, and poppy field by Enrique Lopez-Garre.)


Richard Skinner

Eighteen years ago today. Actually just about eighteen years ago to the minute, as I sit down to write this.

I had flipped on the television to see what the weather was going to be like; we sometimes have our summer rains well into September.

Standing there. Standing there. Flames roaring out of the side of a skyscraper. Hearing voices on the television, but not comprehending them. Then a plane comes into the frame and rams straight into the other

That finally shocks me out of that disbelieving space, the this cannot be real, must be the wrong channel, this is a movie space.

Walk out the front door. I’m the only one home, getting ready for work, but I don’t remember to lock it behind me. Get in the car; drive around the corner and up the street, meeting the wife as she is walking back from
taking the two youngest to school.

Slam the brakes on, roll down the window. Scream out of it for her to GET IN! THE BASTARDS JUST ATTACKED US!


Okay, my story is not much different than the stories of anyone in this country (and some others) that are old enough to remember that day, that terrible day. But, of all of those stories, the stories that differ in a
million details, there is one absolutely common thread for Americans, wherever they were, whatever they were doing. THE BASTARDS JUST ATTACKED US!

Not “just attacked New York.” Not “just attacked those rich elitists in their cushy offices.” Attacked US. Attacked OUR kinfolk, OUR brothers, OUR sisters, OUR children — OUR shared nation.

This is what should be remembered most, now, after the horror, the grief, the hot rage has passed for the majority of us. (Not for all; there are still families grieving their lost ones, there are still families watching
their beloveds die from the aftermath.) WE were attacked. ALL of us were attacked.

There are serious divisions in our country today. There have always been serious divisions in our country. But when we are challenged by disaster, whether it is by the evil of those who hate us, or the uncaring of
nature, those differences, for most of us, are burned away by the flames, washed away by the floods.

Myself, I’m a “flyover.” A “deplorable.” A “Trumpkin” (although I didn’t vote for him in the primaries). But I am an American. I remember that the “coasties,” the “snowflakes,” the “woke” — the vast majority of you
are Americans. The walkers in New York that ran away from the boiling wall of concrete, glass, and smoke as the towers came down — and then, pulling their chic shirts over their mouth and nose, ran back into
the settling mess to help those who didn’t run quite so fast, or had too far to go. The boat captains on the East River that cast off and ferried hundreds of people to safety, without regard to any “rules” that got in the
way of doing as much as they possibly could. The firefighters and cops — good union members all — who ran into the buildings, up the stairways, to get the people out — and died with them when time ran out.

You are my kinfolk. Whether you like to admit it or not, I am your kinfolk. Kinfolk don’t have to especially like each other. We can have different ideas about… just about everything. But we are there for each
other when the carp hits the fan.

I implore you, my kinfolk — whether I like you or not, whether you like me or not — remember that day. That terrible day. That glorious day. Never forget. Never allow those who would split our kin into warring
tribes to succeed.

A Post – Tomorrow

Richard Skinner

This is not the post you are looking for…

Okay, there was supposed to be a blog post today, for Independence Day. Since I seem to get going only on holidays…

That post will be tomorrow (probably). The main reason is that I decided it is more appropriate for the day after the celebration of our nation’s independence. This is a joyous day, not one for a lecture, which is what the post in question is. The other fiddly reasons (excuses) I may or may not detail tomorrow…

In the meantime, a picture shall have to fill in. I am already running late in preparing the altar for its offerings on this most high holy day. (For the unenlightened, non-followers of the USAian sect, that means I need to get outside, light the charcoal in the grill, then come back in to cut steaks and throw them in a quick marinade.) Also in the meantime, pop over to read Sarah Hoyt’s post for today, which will put you ahead of me (yes, that kind of day).


Picture from Contributed by member “10219,” Creative Commons CC0 license.

Regular Visitors Released

Richard Skinner

Update — Regular Visitors is now in the Unlimited Library. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how to enroll in KDP Select before a title is actually published; all of the selections to “promote and advertise” are disabled until then. Sigh…

Three publications now. Regular Visitors (A Tale By The Road) is now (or soon will be) available on Amazon.

This one was two days past my target date, although I had thought I would make it until I got down into the weeds. The cover finally hit the “grudging satisfaction” point very late on Friday night, so I signed off to get some sleep. (The cover was a nightmare, of which saga I may write at a later time.)

Big mistake… When I opened up the manuscript, it was the first draft; notes scattered all through it for absolutely must do content edits. Urk. The afterword was pretty much done except for copy editing, but no blurb, no title page, not ready to start converting.

So content edits were yesterday, copy editing everything was today, and then compiling the Kindle book. On to the release post.

Oh! Wait, I almost forgot something. That dedication, which really doesn’t belong with a short story — but which I did anyway. I meant to provide at least a brief explanation for that…

“Ladmo” was a character on the then independent Phoenix (KPHO) station’s weekday afternoon schedule. Everyone had a local kid’s show then — but, to me, “The Wallace and Ladmo” show was special. I never watched the lady with her puppets. The neighborhood of another show was, frankly, booring…. Every so often, not very often, the Captain would catch my attention. Every weekday at 3:30 PM, though, without fail (unless the family was out of town, or the UHF repeater on the mountain to the west failed), my rear end was firmly planted on the floor in front of the television set.

“Just a kids show” — but it was different from the rest. Never talked down, never sanctimonious, never really tried to “teach a lesson.” Entertainment for children. If you want to understand more, follow the link to the fan site (yes, a fan site, decades after the show went off the air) at

On Christmas Eve, Ladmo would always have a little piece, a simple little piece, where he told the story of The Little Drummer Boy. That little piece (YouTube here) was my official signal that it was really Christmas. (Um, yes, that meant a very short time that I was encouraged to be “good.” My mother took what she could get.)


This is the second Tale — agreeing with Orvan’s advice to call the initial one, the introduction, the “zeroth.” It is not really “in sequence,” though; the next one was supposed to be one called “Fugitive.” It has been an extremely long dry spell, however. For many excuses and a few reasons — about which I will probably not write (at least not here). I did want to get out my “Christmas” story this year, though, which I failed to do last year at this time.

As will be the norm for these, it is rather odd — or perhaps Odd — or even ODD! Did The Road see the Virgin Mary as she journeyed to and entered Bethlehem to give birth to the Messiah? If so, what was its perspective on the whole thing? Does it maybe see other things, things that we do not — but could if we opened our eyes a bit more? My mind does wander in strange directions. I try to blame The Muse, but she is shaking her head at me, denying any responsibility whatsoever for these.

Anyway, the cover, which is of course also a link. I’m off to tangle with WordPress to get this published.

Regular Visitors

Even for The Road, there will be an end. Perhaps not, though — as an experience that cannot be explained by cold rationality, but only remembered and contemplated, may indicate that there is something more. Something more for Man and maybe something more for The Road that is his creation.

The Road has been trod by countless many feet, but there was one man, and one woman great with child, that it cannot help but remember every year.

A somewhat different take on the Story of Christmas. Enjoy…

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Richard Skinner

Thanksgiving Dinner Table

I seem to have developed a habit of posting only on holidays — and not even all of those. Sigh…

More about my writing plans later, but first:

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Dear Lord, on this day of giving thanks, as this family sits once again at this table, we pray that our reflections on the year meet your approval, and receive your blessing.

Lord, we are thankful for a country and a people that provide such a bountiful harvest, day in and day out. Their toils in your fields have given us this table on this day. (We incidentally thank you for reminding the cook to not put sticks in the stuffing!)

Lord, we are thankful for the men and women that defend our country and our people, day in and day out. We are thankful that two of these defenders are here with our family today. We pray you to sustain those who are not able to join their loved ones on this day, and that you will see fit to return them to their homes safely, or take them to your loving bosom if such is not to be.

Lord, we are thankful for your gracious nurturing hand over this family this past year, as you have ensured that we have received all that we need, if not all that we want. We pray that you continue to do so, until each of us is called to rejoin you.



Writing plans… only the best laid ones, of course.

I am kicking myself every day (except today, as I am the cook this year) to get a cover done for Regular Visitors, which is a new Tale By The Road. The story was actually written last year, but I failed to get a cover done in time for this Christmas Tale to be published then. I’ll be getting back to work on that one tomorrow (Friday), although I fear that most of the day will be taken up by playing with the Apophysis fractal generation package, which Cedar Sanderson turned me on to. Fascinating and apparently very powerful package — which will mean a steep learning curve for this fumbling non-artist. December 1st is the goal here.

After that, it is back to work on the long-suffering first novel, working title Talons of Vengeance. I spent the last week or so reviewing what I do have done, and “picking up sticks” on the background, which was rather scattered about. If I can keep up the momentum from the last couple of weeks, that novel should be coming out early next year (I am hoping for January — but if the body and computer crash like they simultaneously did last year… This is why I keep a wood bookshelf right next to my desk, by the way!) There should at least be a snippet next month (the first chapter, actually).

NOTEanyone who wishes to volunteer as a beta reader will be much appreciated!

That’s about it for news from here. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


P.S. No, that is not my Thanksgiving table. I’m writing this the night before, but I am going to post it first thing in the morning — right after my own bird gets into the oven. Tonight is the apple pies and other miscellaneous prep work. The image at the top is a photograph by Gabriel Garcia Marengo, which he kindly made available for free on (a new image site that I am slowly exploring).


P.P.S. If you follow me on social media, you undoubtedly know that I am an agnostic. So? I think it is highly unlikely that prayer can hurt anyone — and for all that I know, it may help.


P.P.P.S. Getting ridiculous, but I think this is the last one. If you are new to commenting on my blog, please be patient if your comment takes quite a while to show up. I must approve each new commenter here — and will be busy until this afternoon (and most likely semi-comatose afterwards; I never seem to learn…).