Hello & Welcome

Welcome to my Blog! Thanks for stopping by. I'll be posting from time to time my adventures in writing and my trials and tribulations in the publishing world, along with anything relevant in regards to current events, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Intelligence community that appears in the press. Please note that anything I post is not reflective or representative of any official position of the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Air Force; only my views and opinions as a private citizen.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Whom to Thank for a Morning Airshow Near Phoenix

I was forwarded what follows by a Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force, currently on active duty, and I think it makes a point we all would do well to remember. The following is provided verbatim from his e-mail.


Background: Luke Air Force Base

Luke AFB is west of Phoenix and is rapidly being surrounded by civilization that complains about the noise from the base and its planes, forgetting that it was there long before they were. A certain lieutenant colonel at Luke AFB deserves a big pat on the back.
Apparently, an individual who lives somewhere near Luke AFB wrote the local paper complaining about a group of F-16s that disturbed his/her day at the mall. When that individual read the response from a Luke AFB officer, it must have stung quite a bit.

The complaint:

'Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for the morning air show?

Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 a.m., a tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune! Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns early bird special? Any response would be appreciated.

The response:

Regarding 'A wake-up call from Luke's jets' (Letters, Thursday):

On June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m., a perfectly timed four-ship flyby of F-16s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt. Jeremy Fresques. Capt. Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day.

At 9 a.m. on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend. Based on the letter writer's recount of the flyby, and because of the jet noise, I'm sure you didn't hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son's flag on behalf of the President of the United States and all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they have endured.

A four-ship flyby is a display of respect the Air Force pays to those who give their lives in defense of freedom. We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June 15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their ultimate respects.

The letter writer asks, 'Whom do we thank for the morning air show?" The 56th Fighter Wing will make the call for you, and forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques, and thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the most honorable formation of their lives.

Lt. Col. Grant L. Rosensteel, Jr.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Executive Order 12333 Amended

President Bush issued Executive Order 13470 yesterday. This order alters Executive Order 12333, UNITED STATES INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES.

EO 12333 is one of the documents used within the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) to set policy, along with U.S. Law, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights.

It sets out the President's guidance for the management of the community, affirms the roles and responsibilities of various IC elements, and prescribes some specific prohibitions the IC and its employees must respect.

So what was changed? (The changes listed below do not reflect typographical, grammatical, or consistency related changes within the EO.)

Part 1 - "Goals, Directions, Duties, & Responsibilities with Respect to U.S. Intelligence Efforts" was completely re-written. The major effect of the re-write of Part I is to insert the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) into a position of more direct control over the IC. This re-write helps to codify the DNI's authority and will hopefully cut down on any, "Yes you will." "No I won't." situations between the DNI and the heads of the IC elements.

Part 2 - "Conduct of Intelligence Activities" was altered to include:

  • Changing Section 2.2 to include gathering foreign intelligence regarding "the spread of weapons of mass destruction."
  • Changing Section 2.3 to ensure that signals intelligence (SIGINT) is only "disseminated or made available to Intelligence Community elements in accordance with procedures established by the Director in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and approved by the Attorney General."
  • Changing Section 2.3.e to permit the collection, retention, and dissemination of information needed to protect foreign intelligence or counterintelligence activities.
  • Changing Section 2.5 to limit the delegation of the approval of the IC's monitoring of a U.S. Person to that outlined in the FISA of 1978, as amended.
  • Adding a new section, 2.13, which states that, "No covert action may be conducted which is intended to influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies, or media."
Part 3 was altered to include:
  • Affirming the Attorney General's (AG) Role in Approving Procedures Established by IC Element Heads that Implement the Procedures in Section 2 - Any Dispute Between the AG and the IC Element Head will be Resolved by the National Security Council
  • Providing current definitions of Counterintelligence, Covert Action, Electronic Surveillance, Employee, Foreign Intelligence, Intelligence, Intelligence Activities, the members of the IC, National Intelligence & Intelligence Related to National Security, and the National Intelligence Program
The prohibition against assassination remains in place, as well as the ban on human experimentation outside of the guidelines provided by the Department of Health and Human Services where the subject's informed consent has been documented.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Let's Talk Writing & Publishing

I completed my first novel manuscript this past Spring, and I'm currently in search of a literary agent to represent me. I'll say up front that the comments that follow are based on my research into the process, and my limited experiences accumulated to date. Take it for what it's worth, as one fledgling writer's initial slog through the rites of publication.

The novel manuscript is a thriller, 113,000+ words in length (390+ pages) and is grounded in my extensive professional experience in the Air Force coupled with my love of reading and desire to tell an engaging story.

I began writing the book in August of 2007, and once the manuscript was completed, reviewed and re-edited, began searching for an agent to represent me in late June 2008.

I sent my first query letter out on the 16th of June. To date, I've sent out 31 queries from the 16th of June through the 7th of July, and received 16 polite "thank you, no" responses. On the 14th of July, I received my first request for the complete manuscript for review from a reputable and from what my research has discovered, active agent located in New York.

I sent the complete manuscript, along with the package of information requested, back to the interested agent on the 16th of July. As of today, I'm still waiting for the response to my requested submission from the interested agent, and don't seriously expect to hear anything for at least another two to three weeks.

For anyone contemplating the pursuit of a writing career: Patience is required. Once you've completed and polished your manuscript (an exercise in dedication, planning, and hard work in itself), the search for an interested publisher or agent consumes a great deal of time. Time on your part to do your research, find an agent/publisher who works in/represents your chosen literary field, draft a quality proposal or query letter, and then get a positive response. More patience is needed while a busy agent or publisher finally finds the time to review your submission and choose to respond. Remember that you are not the only writer out there attempting to get published.

Bear a few things in mind. While you're in a hurry for their answer, they are busy people. Agents need to attend to their active clients first, before they can find the time to deal with a potential new client's material. Acquisitions editors are dealing with the 10 books they are already seriously considering, the 10 books in the editing process, and the 10 books nearly ready to head to the actual production process. I suggest you put the time to good use by working on your next writing project.

When an editor or agent can find the time, especially after they have asked for your manuscript, they should find time to get back to you. If you've waited a reasonable amount of time (4 - 6 weeks, or the agent or editor's normal response time you've found in your research) contact them via e-mail or letter (do not call) and politely request the status of your submitted material.

I'll post more as this process plays out, and good luck to my fellow writers out there working towards the day when you hold your first book or other published work in hand.