Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stephen Phillips: Highlights of 2010

2010 was a busy year for me as an author. In case you missed it in earlier posts, here is a summary with links to some of my favorite interactions with fans, friends, and the EOD community.

January: Book signing at Wounded EOD Warrior Polar Bear Plunge

April: Book signing at Global EOD Conference

 June: Inaugural cover of Dispatches

 August: Interview on Blogtalk Radio Show, Elemental Musings

September: Published "A Remembrance of 9/11" in Small Wars Journal

October: Interview on Midrats, Episode 40

              Panel member at Navy Memorial for "Navy EOD, Then and Now."

November: Proximity released on Nook and Kindle

Hopefully, Proximity will soon be available as an iBook and on other eBook platforms such as the Sony eReader.

I am thankful for such a productive year. I hope that all my readers are similarly blessed in 2011.


- Steve

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Intelligence Book Review: Balancing Three Personas in "Son of Hamas."

It is important to understand the Arab-Israeli conflict, for it is at the literal and figurative center of religious and political strife today.  Son of Hamas give the reader a ground view of this conflict from 1987 to 2007 through the eyes of its author, Mosab Hassan Yousef. His perspective is a unique one, for not only is Yousef the first born son of one of founders of Hamas, he became an intelligence asset of the Shin Bet - Israel’s internal security service.  Balancing these two whether patrolling the streets of Ramallah or incarcerated in the Israeli prison system was daunting and dangerous. Keeping up his two personas became even more complicated when Yousef was introduced to, and eventually converted to Christianity.

Son of Hamas is an important book for those who are interested in intelligence, particularly human intelligence, and an imperative for any studying international relations or security issues. A well written account with Ron Brackin, it is a quick read and will provide invaluable anecdotes of the human condition that can be referred to again and again.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How to Publish an eBook in Four Easy Steps

Proximity is now available as an eBook for the Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook platforms. It is self published in both formats.

There are four simple steps to self publish an eBook.

1. Obtain an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) through Bowker via the their website myIdentifiers. Details on pricing, etc. are contained there. A separate ISBN is needed for each eBook format, so I recommend buying a block of 10 if you plan to publish more than one book or any single book in more that one format.

2. Format your book for the eBook platforms it will be distributed on/through. The two most common formats are ePub, which is used by iBooks (Apple), the Barnes and Noble Nook, the Kobo, and others. DTP is used by the Amazon Kindle.

   a. You can format from MS Word and other common formats using tools available online. I was unable to find any that produced a product that met my expectations for quality.

   b. There are many companies that will format a manuscript in MS Word or other file types into ePub/DTP. I used and thus recommend eBook Architects.

3. Establish an account with the online distributor. To date I've used Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks. they can be found at:

   a. Amazon Digital Text Platform.

   b. Apple iTunes Connect. (Requires a Mac computer to download iTunes producer software).

   c. Barnes and Noble PubIt!

4. Follow the steps in each to upload and distribute your files. Make sure you note the following:

    a. Read the directions and agreement in each carefully.

    b. Ensure that you have all the necessary rights to publish the work.

    Good luck!

Proximity Now Available for Nook Platforms

Proximity is now available for Nook platforms.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Proximity Now Available for Kindle Platforms

Proximity: A Novel of the Navy's Elite Bomb Squad is now available for Kindle platforms. Visit the Kindle Store on Amazon.com.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dedication for the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bronze Relief

There are several bronze reliefs at the Navy Memorial commemorating various aspects of naval service. The EOD plaque was added on April 18, 2000. For this event the Reverend M. Cary Kauffman gave the invocation. It was:

"Divine Spirit -

In a world that contains turmoil and chaos, conflict and evil, the world and especially its children are bless that some men and women are and have been willing to risk their lives to make the world safer.

We are blessed by their example of courage and talent and commitment.

We are blessed by their believe that they can out-think the enemy and outwit the surprises that nature can provide.

We are blessed by their kindness and generosity.

We are even blseed by their sometimes outrageous sense of humor; for without it, they probably could not do what they do.

We are blesses by those who train and support these women and men through their long arduous and continual training.

We are blessed by those who lead them, helping to keep them motivated, trained, and in good order.

Divine Spirit, we are also blessed by those who have come before them, who then, as now, often had to dispose of dangerous explosives - as much through intuition and luck, as through skill, knowledge, and teamwork - and who then tired to understand and pass on the skills and knowledge that produced that intuition and luck.

We are blessed by the staff, the alumni and the families and the friends who rpovide the support and environment in which these men and women can do their jobs,

and - we are blessed by the talents of the sculptor and those who produced the sculpture and the efforts of those who enabled this event to happen today.

May we who are here and those who see this memorial be touched by the example of these men and women and inspired to live out lives more fully and more committed to bettering this world.

Amen, Shalom, Salaam...May it be so."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Navy EOD, Then and Now on Video

On October 13, 2010 I was honored to join the panel "Navy EOD, Then and Now" at the Navy Memorial. It was filmed by EFXTV. The event was is available for viewing in 8 parts on Navy TV.

Navy EOD: A Blast Through The Years

Jerome Mapp wrote a nice piece about the Navy Memorial's event "Navy EOD, Then and Now," for which I served as a panelist. Jerome shares his own experience of working with EOD Technicians. The article can be found in its entirety here: "Navy EOD: A Blast Through The Years."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Navy Frogmen on Navy TV

Check out this old UDT recruiting film, on NavyTV.

From the website, "Made in 1957, this Navy recruiting film showcases the precursors to today's Navy SEALs, the UDTs or Underwater Demolition Teams. UDTs conducted beach reconnaissance, cable and net cutting and explosive destruction of underwater obstacles."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stephen Phillips on Midrats Episode 40 to celebrate the Navy's Birthday on October 10th.

U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Relief from the Navy Memorial, Washington, DC.

On October 10th I'll join hosts CDR Salamander and EagleOne on their Navy Birthday episode of Midrats. Commander Kirk Lippold, the commanding officer of USS Cole (DDG-67) when she was attacked in Aden, Yemen on 12 October 2000, will be their first guest at 5:00pm. I'll follow at about 5:30pm.

I look forward to talking with these famous naval bloggers about Navy EOD!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Navy EOD, Then and Now

On the Navy's birthday, October 13, Stephen Phillips will join the panel at the Navy Memorial Event, Navy EOD Then and Now.

From the Navy Memorial website:

"The Hurt Locker gave the public an intimate look at the Army's bomb disposal experts, but few know that the Navy has a long history of defusing mines at sea and bombs ashore for the fleet and Marines.

Join the Navy Memorial and Jones International University® as we host a panel of Navy EOD veterans past and present sharing the stories and challenges faced by today's Navy EOD professionals, as well as the legacy and lessons of their predecessors, Navy frogmen and UDTs."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Remembrance of 9/11

Americans will never forget 9/11. One U.S. Navy EOD Technician’s account of the events at Ground Zero is presented to solemnly recall what happened on that day.

Thanks to Jim Prewitt for trusting me with this story and Small Wars Journal for giving me the space to tell it.

A Remembrance of 9/11

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Review: A soldier-poet's memoir of Bosnia - King of Tuzla by Arnold Jansen op de Haar

            Peacekeeping and stability operations present the solider with challenges that are in the moment tactical, but return later on an emotional front. Arnold Jansen op de Haar describes this viscerally in his debut novel, King of Tuzla. The “King” is Captain Tijmen Klein Gildekamp, commanding officer of a company of Dutch Grenadiers deployed to Bosnia in the Muslim dominated city of Tuzla, specifically to secure the international airport so that humanitarian aid can flow into the region.
            Tijmen wrestles with his assignment, and thus his identity as an elite Dutch “red beret,” as he faces the visceral ordeal of ethnic war. Jansen op de Haar includes the Bosnian Muslim point of view through a number of characters which strengthens the reader’s understanding of Tijmen’s experience. This is supported by an interesting literary device, as the second half of King of Tuzla, which covers the hardest part of Tijmen’s deployment, is relayed a year later as one of Tijmen’s comrades reviews the officer’s diary. It is as if what Tijmen has seen is so horrible, it cannot even be shared directly with the reader.
            Though written as prose, the author’s talent as a poet can be felt in many lines. Translated into English, his style seems initially ethereal, but then it suddenly grabs you, pushing one right into the armored vehicle, or next to sandbags in the mud. Thus, King of Tuzla tells the story of service in the Balkans vividly, as only a soldier who served there can relay. King of Tuzla is a must for the library of any military enthusiast or historian.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

MWSA on Elemental Musings

Thanks to Bev Walton-Porter and my fellow Military Writers Society of America authors for a great show on Elemental Musings. If you missed it, you can listen via this link.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Navy EOD on TV

Navy EOD Techs will be highlighted on television this September, and next spring.

First, Navy EOD will be on the Discovery Channels show, "Surviving the Cut." Details from the channel's website reads:

"Navy EOD Final Certification
Premieres: Wednesday, 9/15 at 10PM e/p

Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians or EOD are the only explosives and bomb specialists qualified for special operations. Before a Navy EOD team can go to war with Special Forces, they must go through one final test. Like the job itself, it's all-or-nothing training: A five-day, non-stop series of high stress missions. Make the wrong move, allow fatigue or distraction to take over and the entire team will fail. The team that survives the cut stays together as a certified special ops team."

More episodes are highlighted on the webpage episode guide.

Second, James Hibbard reported on "The Hollywood Reporter" that Navy EOD will be the subject of a reality show on G4 this spring. From his article:

"The show's producers...secured a special agreement with the U.S. Navy to follow an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit. The show will cover the unit's training sessions in the States and its deployment for several months in Afghanistan."

[U.S. Navy photo by Journalist Seaman Joe Ebalo]

Friday, August 20, 2010

CBS Highlights USMC EOD/ Engineers

A story about USMC EOD Techs on CBS News that needed to be told. I will pray for the fallen. [4:09]

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Intelligence Book Review - Presidents' Secret Wars by John Prados

In the current era of asymmetric warfare, accurate and timely intelligence is of increasing significance. Likewise, the nation’s leaders often employ non-kinetic methods or irregular forces to achieve national security objectives. John Prados introduces this world in Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations from World War II through the Persian Gulf.

The view Prados provides spans from the strategic, such as making plans and policy in the Oval Office, to the tactical, such as describing special operations forces’ action in the U.S. invasion of Grenada. The book covers the subject thoroughly, providing insight and details into many U.S. covert operations. It highlights how each presidential administration employs intelligence and particularly the relationship between the president and the director of central intelligence. Also notable are Prados’ descriptions of the Bay of Pigs invasion and operations in Laos in the chapter entitled, “The High Plateau.”

This book should be in the hand of any student who is delving into the world of covert operations for the first time and on the shelf of anyone who studies intelligence as an enduring reference.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My First Watch

I endured blood curdling tirades before. My father employed his booming voice when disciplining me as a child. Plebe Year at the Naval Academy was fraught with loud public humiliation, often deserved, at the hands of my upperclass. Somehow, the first watch onboard Harlan County was worse than anything I experienced before.

It seemed that I could do nothing right. The captain made sure that everyone on watch knew that my orders to the helm were too hesitant, that I did not employ the correct format when reporting CPA’s, and that my calculations were grossly off. He shot questions at me about the wind, navigational rules of the road, and capabilities of the equipment on the bridge.

I do not recall that a single foul word emanated from the captain, but I felt cut to the bone. I looked to the OOD for assistance, even a glance of solidarity, and got none. Master Chief Operations Specialist Hejnal, the CIC watch officer, was on and off the bridge. One moment he emerged from combat, apparently to compare notes with me on some aspect of the watch. But once I came under fire, he seemed to disappear. I think I caught the boatswain’s mate of the watch actually smirking; he seemed to enjoy my discomfort and embarrassment.

To exacerbate the whole situation, I was seasick. The seas off VACAPES are often rough in winter months. It was not enough that the swells bobbed the unladen, flat-bottomed ship in a manner contrary to my ears and stomach. The derrick arms on the forecastle rose and fell with the waves, magnifying to my eyes their movement against the horizon.

My projections were loud and violent. Apparently kicking the junior officer while he’s down is acceptable in the ancient annals of naval leadership because as I puked, the captain needed my immediate attention. The captain would then bellow more derision at my weakness across the bridge. After each episode, my shipmate’s faces displayed scorn, not sympathy.

As the watch finished, I’m sure my shoulders slumped. I was certain after four hours of dressing down and emptying my stomach that I was a complete failure as a naval officer. The months ahead onboard the ‘Darlin Harlan suddenly seemed infinite. Before I was able to shrink away to some hidden corner to lament my fate in private, Master Chief Hejnal called to me.

"Mr. Phillips,” he said from the port bridge wing.

“Yes, Master Chief.”

“Come here, sir.”

I stepped out to the bridge wing and followed the Master Chief a few feet aft, out of earshot of the lookout and the relieving bridge team. I anticipated the Master Chief was now to get his pound of flesh. For a second I mustered my last ounce of dignity and steeled myself for some reminder of how I fouled up the previous watch or perhaps drew unwanted attention toward the Master Chief.

It turns out I completely misread his purpose. Placing a hand on my shoulder and smiling slightly, Hejnal said, “Sir, I want you to remember something and carry it with you the rest of your naval career.”

“What’s that, Master Chief?”

“You’ve got more ass, than he’s got teeth.”

Thursday, July 29, 2010

U.S Navy Diving and EOD Recruiting pages on facebook

There are several U.S. Navy Recruiting pages on facebook now. I'm partial to the Navy Diver and Navy EOD pages. Check them out whether you're a vet or a wanna-be!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Dispatches" - The Official Magazine of the Military Writer's Society of America

The Military Writer's Society of America grew their newsletter into a full-fledged literary magazine. Yours truly made the cover of the inaugural edition by recommending the title "Dispatches."

Dispatches is available through MagCloud, a firm that publishes print-on-demand magazines.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

'Indie' Press

Article in WSJ on 'Vanity' publishing, especially through ebook formats. I like
to think of it as "Indie" publishing since I've not paid for production
of a single book. BTW, look for "Proximity" in ebook format soon thanks
to eBook Architects.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

EOD on 60 Minutes this Sunday

I pass on the following from Jim O'Neil, Executive Director of the EOD Memorial:

Hope all is well with everyone as we slide into the Memorial Day Weekend.

FYSA, CBS News will be airing a special 2 hour Memorial Day "60 Minutes" program that will include some footage of this year's EOD Memorial. As I understand, the primary story is about TF Paladin and the C-IED effort in Afghanistan. There will be footage on some of our EOD warriors as well as the Bagram roadside tribute that used to happen when a U.S Warrior was lost and was being transported to the plane to be flown home. As most of you know, that parctice was stopped last year after a rocket was fired into Bagram during a procession and killed two soldiers. Bastards. This part of the 60 Minutes program is currently scheduled for the first segment at 8:00 PM EST.

As we enjoy this long weekend with our family and friends, please remember to take a moment to reflect upon, and appropriately acknowledge, the sacrifice of those who have gallantly and selflessly stood in harms way to protect our precious and blessed country. It is the least we could do.

Take care friends and warriors.

Jim O'Neil
Executive Director
EOD Memorial Foundation
813-389-0351 cell

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

EOD Book Review: The Day We Lost the H-Bomb by Barbara Moran

During much of the Cold War, the United States Strategic Air Command (SAC) constantly maintained nuclear laden bombers near Soviet airspace as a form of deterrence. On January 17, 1966, one of SAC’s B-52s rendezvoused with a KC-135 tanker over Palomares, Spain to conduct a final mid-air refueling before returning home. An accident occurred during the refueling and both aircraft collided. In the debris that rained down on the Mediterranean coast were chunks of burning aircraft, chuffing jet fuel, parachuting aircrew, and four nuclear bombs.

Barbara Moran describes this accident vividly in The Day We Lost the H-Bomb. She then delves into the exhaustive efforts recover the weapons and rid the town of any deadly radiation. Fortunately, the first three bombs were discovered in Palomares within days. Based on the accounts of Spanish fishermen who witnesses the accident, it was determined that the fourth bomb plunged into the Med, miles offshore.

Much of Moran’s book follows the efforts of Navy Divers, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technicians, and mini-subs like Alvin and Aluminaut, to find and recover the fourth bomb. Her account includes intimate details of many of the key players that she obtained through exhaustive research and interviews. Navy veterans especially will be able to identify with men like Admiral Guest, the Task Force Commander; Commander Red Moody, the EOD Officer in Charge; and Mac McCamis, the irascible Alvin pilot.

Moran’s writing flows very comfortably, drawing the reader into the story and then keeping them engaged with both politics and recovery operations. This books is a must read for those interested in Cold War history, diving, salvage, EOD, and mini-sub operations.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Interview on Elemental Musings

On 27 August (7-8 Mtn) I will join host Bev Walton-Porter on Elemental Musings with MWSA President and author of In the Shadow of Suribachi, Joyce Faulkner to discuss Proximity and the MWSA Conference coming up in September.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Navy Book Review: "In Harm's Way"

One of the iconic stories of World War II, is that of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis after delivering the first atomic bomb, “Little Boy” to Tinian. Doug Stanton tells this story in great detail through his book In Harm’s Way. Those who served in the U.S. Navy will recognize their own shipmates in Seamen First Class Ed Brown, Private McCoy, Captain McVay, and the rest of the crew while sympathizing with their sailing at short notice, on an unknown mission, while still in need of repair.

Stanton introduces the crew, and quickly moves past their important mission. He then tells the tale of brief combat, damage control, and finally survival at sea. Stanton’s writing makes the whole account very real. The reader is drawn into the water with men struggling merely to stay afloat, and is forced to flinch as he describes the infamous shark attacks. Additionally, one senses the loss as men who consumed seawater and go insane often drowning themselves while chasing apparitions.

Those who survive are rescued by the heroics of their fellow sailors, especially a seaplane crew who land on the water, turning their craft into a lifeboat for all they can find until the fleet is able to arrive and return them all to safety.

The story’s end is frustrating as it appears that Captain McVay is chosen as the culprit in order to save the careers of others. The captain of the Indianapolis becomes the only U.S. Navy commanding officer who is court martialed for losing his ship to enemy action.

Stanton’s book is an important read to understand the unforgiving nature of service at sea.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

EOD Book Signing at Global EOD Conference

I'll be at the Global EOD Conference in Ft Walton Beach, FL at the EOD Memorial booth on 27-28 April to sign copies of "Proximity." Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

EOD Book Review: "Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown."

Jonathan Cody drew on his experience as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician to write a fun piece of fiction in “Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown.” The whole narrative follows Staff Sergeant John “Jack” Breuer, an EOD Tech who demonstrates that he is part MacGyver and part Rambo as he endures combat, captivity, and eventual escape and evasion. Cody accurately captures the banter between fellow soldiers, the visceral challenges of following the Code of Conduct while a prisoner of war, and most importantly, the unique skills of bomb disposal. As a fellow EOD Tech, I recommend this book.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Proximity recognized by a second award!

The American Author's Association recognized Proximity with a 2009 Silver Quill. Thanks AAA!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thanks to WEODWF Polar Bear Plunge Participants!

Thanks to all those who came and participated in the Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation Polar Bear Plunge! All hands braved a cold and ripping current for a great cause. Thanks to the firefighters who kept everyone safe. Thanks to Det Dahlgren for thier static display. Hooya to "The Adams Family" for winning the costume co...ntest and to all the "Supermids" dressed only in speedos and "Blue-buddy" capes. Support WEODWF!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Book Signing at Wounded EOD Warrior Polar Bear Plunge!

Stephen will be at the 3rd Annual Wounded EOD Warrior Polar Bear Plunge in Fredericksburg, VA. on 27 Feburary 2010 to sell and sign copies of "Proximity." The event begins at 9:00am. Visit http://www.woundedeodwarrior.org/ for more details. Come out and support this great organization and their important cause.

Proceeds from the sale of "Proximity" support the EOD Memorial Foundation; http://eodmemorial.org/.