A book always starts with an idea. I was at Fort Campbell, home of 5th Special Forces, Task Force 160 (the Nightstalkers) and the 101st Airborne. I was in the post library wandering the racks. Remember libraries? The neat thing was you never knew what you would see on the shelves. All those books, spine out, with only the title to grab you, not even the cover.
I spent a lot of time in nonfiction. Remember the Dewey Decimal system? Do they still use that? I used to know what the major numbers all meant. So I was in the history section and saw a book, spine out: Japan’s Secret War.
I pulled it out and started reading. The basic premise of the book was that the author, after researching previously classified OSS (Office of Strategic Service, predecessors of both the CIA and Special Forces) documents, believes that there was a good possibility that the Japanese had succeeded in their atomic bomb program at the end of World War II and detonated one in Manchuria. He had a lot of details, but no conclusive proof.
As a fiction writer, such an idea is the fodder of story. Because here’s something to consider as a writer and former covert operative: the fact no one really talks about Japan’s atomic bomb program in WWII. They did have one. I knew about the heavy water plant raid in Norway, etc. etc., but had never heard of a Japanese program. So the fact I hadn’t heard of it really piqued my interest. As a former soldier in Special Operations, I knew the best way to cover something up is misinformation and misdirection.
However, I had heard of the two German U-Boats that made the long trip to Japan near the end of World War II bringing all the Reich’s enriched uranium. So what happened to it? And the infamous Unit 731 was something I felt never got enough publicity. People need to understand the horrible things humans are capable of doing to each other. If we forget, it will happen again. Unit 731 at least equals the worst of what the Nazis did.
With that idea as my groundwork, I then “what-iffed”. Since I wanted to write a modern thriller, how could I connect this event over sixty years ago with a threat today?
There was a second bomb. It wasn’t detonated.
So where was it?
More research. I love research. The best part of the writing process for me. What major event was held in San Francisco in 1946?
The first meeting of the United Nations.
Hmm. What if. The second bomb. San Francisco. Golden Gate Bridge. The bomb’s still there. With that refined uranium still on board a Japanese submarine.
I use a lot of facts in novels. In fact, we label my writing: Factual Fiction.
The Germans did send two U-Boats when they surrendered, to Japan with all their processed uranium. The Russians did seem in an awful hurry to get into Manchuria at the end of the world. US Army pilots did see what looked like a mushroom cloud.
And off to the races.
What’s also interesting, is that this book focuses on nuclear weapons and my next book coming out on 30 July, Nightstalkers 2: The Book of Truths, also focuses on nuclear weapons. Strangely, most people don’t realize we’re at more of a threat from them now, than ever before.
Today through Wednesday, the 19th, Black Ops: The Gate is free on Kindle!
We just finished a trailer for one of my favorite books that leads into a six book series: Atlantis. I wrote this because I’ve always been fascinated by myths and legends. As a fiction writer, I always ask “What if?” and then run with it.
So what if Atlantis was real? And what if it was destroyed? Who did that? Why?
And more important, what if that Force was back to threaten our present world?
My friend, Terry Brooks, loved the series, calling it: “Spell-binding! Will keep you on the edge of your seat. Call it techno-thriller, call it science fiction, call it just terrific story-telling.”
Which kind of means it didn’t really fit into a genre. I tried starting a new genre called “techno-myth”, mixing technology and mythology. Sort of X-Files.
The six books were published between 1999 and 2004 in mass-market paperback by Berkley and I’ve since republished them under Cool Gus.
Of particular interest is that a writer in USA Today posed an interesting question leading up to the second season finale of LOST: “If I had fifteen minutes to look at the books on JJ Abrams bookshelf, I could probably predict the next couple of seasons of LOST.”
So let’s compare Lost to my Atlantis books:
- The first episode and premise of LOST features a plane crash in a remote jungle area. The first Atlantis book in the series features a plane crash in a remote jungle area. Both planes lose radio contact before crashing. The crashes are such that no one should have survived, yet most on board do. Both crashes result in the survivors getting only enough information about their location to realize they’re all ‘lost’. When some of the survivors enter the plane’s cockpit, they find the top of it ripped open. As they check it, someone is immediately pulled from the torn cockpit and killed by an unknown force. The sound of something large moving outside is heard and the survivors flee the cockpit. (The motif of something large and unseen moving through the jungle re-occurs in Lost and in the books).
- In the second season finale it’s discovered that the island appears to be part of some strange system of planet-wide powerful electromagnetic anomalies. In the book series the gates are part of a system of planet-wide powerful electromagnetic anomalies.
- Both feature a radio message replaying a cryptic message that in both cases have no apparent power source. The message is thirty years old in the books and sixteen years old in the series.
- A character hearing voices (Locke) in the series is very similar to a character in the series (Dane) who also hears voices.
- The survivors in Lost encounter people who should not be there and were not part of the crash—the Others. The survivors in the book encounter people called the Others, who should not be there and were not part of the crash. Both groups of the Others seem to have a strange agenda, not yet spelled out in Lost, but both battling some other unknown force.
- The survivors on Lost encounter a polar bear on a jungle island. The premise of the books is that there are a series of gates around the world that connect to each other as well as parallel worlds. In all the books there are numerous examples of creatures being where they shouldn’t be.
- Central to the entire first season has been the discovery of a ‘hatch’. In the books, inside the area where the plane crashes (an ‘island’ of strange activity) there is a ‘gate’.
- On the island two bodies are found, referred to as the island’s Adam and Eve: in reality they are Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan. Both characters play a role in the books.
- One of the survivors in the series turns out to be an undercover CIA plant. One of the characters in the book turns out to be a CIA undercover plant.
- Some of the survivors spot the remains of a statue as do some of the survivors in the book. The remains of planes, balloons, ships, etc. have also been found through the show, as in the books.
- In LOST a mysterious black cloud plays a role. In ATLANTIS, the portals in the gates are marked by a black cloud.
- Relics, such as a slaving ship, from different eras are found on the island. Relics from different eras appear inside the gates in the books.
- Electronics have a difficult time working in the series. Electronics don’t function inside the gates in the books.
- People who are dead appear on the island in LOST. People who are dead reappear inside the gates in ATLANTIS.
- There are additional ‘clues’ and similarities as one goes through the books, which translate directly to the initial seasons of LOST and more that will undoubtedly come up as LOST continues on through future seasons.
Rather interesting, don’t you think?
The Green Beret Survival Guide will save your life and the lives of those you love
We are constantly being bombarded by images from both natural and unnatural disasters. They appear on our television screen and we watch the devastation, confusion and chaos with a combination of relief and fear. Relief because it’s not us and fear because even though we bury the emotion deep, telling ourselves that won’t happen to us, we know deep down that catastrophes, accidents and emergencies, whether man made or natural, do not discriminate and can strike anyone, anywhere at anytime.
Are you prepared?
No one is immune to an accident, a disaster, or some type of life-threatening emergency. These events come in numerous ways and at the most unexpected times. You, and someone you love, will undoubtedly face at least one of the topics covered in this book, especially when you look at the long list of specific emergencies and accidents in Chapter Ten.
I’m going to define three types of survival situations/emergencies and will use these definitions throughout this for disasters:
Mild: You experience some discomfort from your normal routine for no more than 48 hours, but it is not life threatening. Example: Your power goes off for a day or two.
Moderate: You experience a large change from your normal routine, either natural or man-made, which is not immediately life threatening but has the potential to become so if not dealt with, and/or it continues. Example: Your power goes off for five days or more. Your car slides off the road in a remote area and you are trapped inside. A powerful hurricane is approaching. A 5.0 or greater earthquake strikes.
Extreme: A catastrophic natural or man-made event that immediately threatens your life, and if it continues, will be a constant threat. Example: A tsunami hits your coastal town. A tornado destroys your home. The apocalypse. Nuclear, biological and chemical warfare. A 7.0 or greater earthquake. The collapse of civilization. An alien invasion. A pandemic with a high transmission and kill rate—ie zombies.
You get the idea.
The Green Beret Survival Guide is structured differently from most survival books in that I’m going to walk you through preparing for, and then dealing with emergencies in the order in which they are most likely to occur. So we’re not getting to zombies until near the end. Sorry.
Also, this book focuses on preparation and immediate action.
This book focuses on what you have to do NOW in order to be ready for the array of possible calamities that could befall you, and then gives a step-by-step guide for surviving the accidents, emergencies and disasters.
This is the next thing that makes The Green Beret Survival Guide different from most other survival manuals where the focus is on how to survive. This book’s first focus is how to prepare to survive and deal with accidents and emergencies. Preparation is half the battle and the easiest to do, yet most people ignore it. In the Green Berets, perhaps the most important thing that made us elite was our planning. We not only thoroughly planned our missions, we also Catastrophe Planned all the possible things we could imagine going wrong.
Every locale has a natural disaster that is a distinct possibility.
Do you have a plan in place and the equipment ready to deal with that possibility?
We also have man-made emergencies, such as terrorist attacks, accidents, or technology failures. Let’s say the electricity goes out. Whether due to a storm, an overload of the grid, or larger, more dangerous and longer-lasting possibilities such as a massive solar flare.
Are you prepared to survive five days without power? Weeks? Months? Forever?
You Catastrophe Plan for 3 reasons:
a) To try to avoid the catastrophe.
b) To have a plan, equipment, training etc. in place in case the catastrophe strikes.
c) To give you peace of mind in day-to-day living so you don’t constantly have to worry about potential disasters because you are prepared for them. This allows you to experience a higher quality of life.
Why listen to me?
If a disaster struck, whom would you want at your side, helping you? A doctor? Lawyer? Policeman? Teacher? While they all have special skills, I submit that the overwhelming choice would be a Special Forces Green Beret. Someone trained in survival, medicine, weapons, tactics, communications, engineering, counter-terrorism, tactical and strategic intelligence and with the capability to be a force multiplier. This last one is key, because another way this book is unique is your goal should be to plan for surviving with a team, not a lonely individual holed up in a bunker deep in the hills. Ultimately, for civilization and law and order to survive, we will need teams. Because, unfortunately, in extreme survival situations it is the ruthless who wield the greatest power because of their willingness to quickly ignore law and order. To defeat them, you will need a well-prepared team.
Most importantly, you want someone who has been hand-picked, survived rigorous training, and has the positive mental outlook to not only survive, but succeed, and knows how to be part of a team.
The Green Beret Survival Guide is a step-by-step guide giving you the tactics and techniques Green Berets use to plan for and train to succeed under the toughest of circumstances. More important than the practical guides, though, is the insight into the mindset of the Green Beret; which is the mindset you will need in a survival scenario.
Okay, I coined “hybrid author” in June 2011 and this January it became all the rage as NY discovered it. Wow, pretty quick. Only 18 months.
Now we have Jedi Mind Tricks. Ah ha! I wrote about Amazon being the Evil Empire back on 2 April here. I labeled Jon Fine as Darth Vader, etc. etc. yada, I had the bisque. I mean really. I know we’re out in the sticks if we’re not in NYC, but self-correcting doesn’t seem to be working for the Big 6, 5, or whatever. Author Solutions as a solution? Come on. We didn’t collude but we’ll pay out as if we did?
I just saw a book deal in Publishers Lunch for 2015. Isn’t the Zombie Apocalypse coming before then? World War Z with Brad Pitt looking cute with an M-203? Don’t get me started on zombies, although I did watch Warm Bodies and it was a pretty brilliant spin on the genre which reminds me every idea has been done but not every story (but there was that Romeo & Juliet moment with the zombie and cute girl). Royalties are still being paid out as they were before the computer was invented. Really?
I digress. I’ve had a lot of thoughts about publishing this past six months, but I’ve been keeping my head down, something my first platoon sergeant (who had most of one leg shot off in combat) taught me: there are two firing positions in combat: the prone and the flying prone (which is when you got shot at and you’re not already prone).
He was quite correct.
He also told me “no one looks up”. What he meant was on patrol no one looks up and sees that sniper in the tree. But I also take it to mean few people look far enough ahead in a volatile and rapidly changing situation.
Frankly, everyone is grappling for answers and frankly, it’s kind of dumb to give them when
- Few are really listening.
- Those people are my competition.
- They’re not paying me for them.
The further we dive into the digital age, the more I realize what a unique entity Jen Talty and I founded with Cool Gus. And how the plan we laid out years ago is playing out as if we actually controlled things. And how our adjustments have fine-tuned that plan. A big example was back in January this year when we had a moment of enlightenment that we were not a ‘publisher’ but rather a partner to our authors where the author is in control and we support them, not vice versa. We’ve always had the mantra that authors create the product (which is story, not a book) and readers consume the product. Everyone in between must add value or else they are an impediment.
The concept of authors in charge is so anathema to traditional publishing that it’s a major issue. Frankly, I get it. A lot of authors are, shall we say it, assholes? They’ve got egos. Sometimes too big. And as I teach: every writer needs therapy because to sit alone and write 100,000 words is not normal. Writers are not in the bell curve and we’re not necessarily on the good side of it. 80% of authors have depression. 92% are angry. I made that last one up.
Which, in reverse, leads me to this: this is a business, not a love fest. I see authors tweeting and blogging how much they “love” their agent, their editor, their publisher. Yeah. And wait until the day your contract isn’t renewed and see how far that love goes, because, bottom line, their love is based on numbers. I see trad authors desperately defending trad publishing (can we say Authors Guild, and BTW, Scott, your books are still for sale on Amazon, huh?). I saw the interviews from BEA declaring the rise of the eBooks is over (yawn, learn math) and everything is just fine damnit, while I saw zero QR codes on those huge banners hanging everywhere.
Which, in reverse, leads me to this: After The Gold Rush. Yeah, Neil Young.
The gold rush is over for the indie authors. Oh yeah, we still got our Bella’s, our Hugh’s, etc. but what I’m seeing is a deluge of titles, a rapid reshuffling of bestseller lists in digital, and a growing sense of desperation and frustration from a lot of authors who were doing pretty damn well just a year ago. Even some of those who are raking in 7 figures annually are fraying around the edges. How many books can they write a year? How long can they keep the pace? Hell, Sylvia Day’s tweets exhaust me, and she’s living them. How many Bookbub ads, .99 specials, frees can one do until it’s all been tried? Then try them again as even more people are trying them?
A fundamental of Cool Gus was something one of my former students at the Maui Writers Conference told me when I saw him in New Orleans. He’s an extremely successful businessman. Head of the Bourbon Street Business Owners Assoc. We met for coffee at a hotel on Bourbon St. then walked across the street to one of his businesses, Ricks Café (you know Rick, Casablanca?), and he unlocked the door (it was early, before business hours for an upscale strip club even in the big NO). We went upstairs to a private room where I could only imagine what happened on that big table there (I doubt even Sylvia Day or EL James could either). And he told me . . .
See. That’s the point. Why give it away? In my Who Dares Wins consulting business I get paid more for one day of my expertise than most Harlequin advances.
The biggest issue is most people are reacting, not acting. A strategic plan, aka as in Write It Forward, is key to succeeding in the digital world. Most of the big publishers are reacting. Frankly, most indie authors are reacting, going to the thing that works now, rather than positioning themselves for what’s going to be working 2 or 3 years down the line.
Which is the last thing I’ll note for authors: if you don’t value yourself, no one else will. No matter how much you ‘love’ your agent, editor, publisher, indie bookstore, the Death Star, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Brad Pitt and his M-203, the person your really need to love is your reader.