Kindle Daily Deal


“In wartime, truth is so precious she must be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”  Winston Churchill.

Who polices the world of covert operations?  That was the idea from which this book sprung forth.

The Cellar:  Bodyguard of Lies is the Daily Deal today on Kindle.  It’s the first book in the Cellar series (Lost Girls is book 2) and then the Cellar series merges with the 2nd book of my Nightstalker series, The Book of Truths.

When Bodyguard of Lies first came out there was a lot of Hollywood interest in it, with one director believing it should be the next Mission Impossible movie.  Alas, those of you who know Hollywood, know its amazing anything gets made.

My grand plan, 25 years in the making, of merging various series is coming to fruition.  Hannah & Neeley from the Cellar are with Scout and Moms and the rest of the Nightstalkers.  And early next year, the Nightstalker run into the Time Patrol which is dealing with the concepts from my Atlantis series and meet Amelia Earhart, Dane and the concepts of parallel worlds and time travel and a Big Bad that’s trying to screw with our time line.

Well, it sounds good to say that was the grand plan; actually it’s something I became aware of about a year or so ago.  It occurred to me that since all these books came out of my warped mind, there had to be common links.  And there are.  I blogged about my four pillars of story back in January and these books all touch on those:

Write what you know (yep, done a lot of time travel).  Actually the military angle is there.

Write what you want to know:  myths and legends!  I have valkyries and kraken and more in Atlantis and now in Nightstalkers.  Oh my.

Write what interests you:  History.  Bodyguard of Lies is based on history.

Write what is your passion:  The power of the mind is key.  In Bodyguard, the mental manipulations, in essence almost gaslighting, that various characters employ are central to the plot.

So today, for only $1.99, the Kindle Daily Deal is Bodyguard of Lies!

The Greatest Maritime Disaster in US History

“If we arrive safe at Cairo it would be the greatest trip ever made on the western waters, as there were more people on board than were ever carried on one boat on the Mississippi River!” William J. Gambrel, first clerk & part owner of the steamship Sultana.

sultanaThe sinking of the Sultana was the greatest maritime disaster in United States history, yet most people have never heard of it. Even at the time of its occurrence the headline was buried because John Wilkes Booth had been killed the day before the ship went down. In fact, the entire month of April was full of headlines: On the 9th of April 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. On the 14th, President Lincoln was assassinated.

The Facts: On 27 April 1865, three of four boilers on board the Sultana exploded, killing approximately 1,800. This was a greater loss of life than the Titanic. Most of those killed were Union soldiers, who were former prisoners of war returning home.

This occurred on the Mississippi River, roughly eight miles north of Memphis in the middle of the night.

The Timeline:

21 April 1965: Sultana departs New Orleans.

24 April 1865: Sultana arrives at Vicksburg; boiler is ‘repaired’. The boat is overloaded, mostly with former Union POWs.

26 April 1865: Sultana docks at Memphis.

27 April 1865: Sultana explodes.

DEFINITION: Cascade Event: An event prior to a catastrophe that contributes to the actual catastrophe, but by itself, is not catastrophic.

CASCADE THREE: The boat was grossly overloaded.

With a legal capacity of 376, it is estimated there were roughly 2,400 people on board the Sultana.

While part of the reason was the intense desire for the former POWs to make it back home, the fault lies with the greed of both the ship owners and the Army Quartermaster in charge. We’ve already seen how the ship captain’s rush to make it to Vicksburg prevented him from adequately repairing the boiler. The system was that for each enlisted man he carried he would receive $5 and for every officer $10. And, the captain made an under the table deal with the quartermaster to kick back $1.15 for each soldier carried, an unfortunately rather common practice on the river.

Such was the nature of this scheme that another steamboat already docked at Vicksburg, Lady Gay, received not a single passenger from the Army even though it was larger than the Sultana and leaving before her. Lady Gay left Vicksburg without a single former POW on board.

Even when another steamboat arrived, the Quartermaster, Reuben Hatch, refused to divvy up the prisoners, insisting they all go on the Sultana.

The overcrowding had a direct impact on the explosion of the boilers because it made the boat top-heavy. As it went up the river, every time it took a turn in the Mississippi, the boat would tip. The four boilers were all interconnected and with each tip, water would run out of the high side boilers and into the low side. It’s believed that the water level got so low, that the high side would get almost completely drained.

When the water rushed back in to the hot boiler, the one with the patch finally blew, setting off two other boilers.

SDJH II coverLESSON: The lure of ‘easy’ money and a kickback scheme set the stage for disaster. Regulations, concern for safety, common sense all disappeared as the ship’s captain and the quartermaster jammed every person they could aboard the Sultana, viewing each soul as cash.

The quartermaster clearly violated Army regulations in his greed.

Available at all platforms via this landing page.

Publication Day: Shit Doesn’t Happen II: The Gift of Failure

SDJH II coverBook Two in the Shit Doesn’t Just Happen: The Gift of Failure Series is published today

Available at all platforms via this landing page.

“My God, Thiokol. When do you want me to launch? Next April?” Senior NASA official on a conference call to the manufacturer of the solid boosters, when they recommended on the morning of the launch that it be postponed.

“It’s dark here to write, but I’ll try by touch. It seems like there are no chances, 10%-20%. Let’s hope that at least someone will read this. Hello to everyone. There is no need to despair.” Captain Lieutenant Dmitri Kolesnikov, commander 7th Compartment (turbine room) Russian submarine Kursk.

“If we arrive safe at Cairo it would be the greatest trip ever made on the western waters, as there were more people on board than were ever carried on one boat on the Mississippi River!” William J, Gambrel, first clerk & part owner of the steamship Sultana.

“Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it would not be enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. To make victory certain, we would have to march into Washington and dictate the terms of peace in the White House. I wonder if our politicians (who speak so lightly of a Japanese-American war) have confidence as to the final outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.” Admiral Yamamoto, Commander Japanese Navy. (Note that this quote was used extensively for propaganda purposed by the United States by leaving out the last sentence)

Mulholland & The St. Francis Dam
During the Los Angeles Coroner’s Inquest, William Mulholland said, “this inquest is a very painful for me to have to attend but it is the occasion of that is painful. The only ones I envy about this whole thing are the ones who are dead.” In later testimony, after responding to a question, he added, “Whether it is good or bad, don’t blame anyone else, you just fasten it on me. If there was an error in human judgment, I was the human, I won’t try to fasten it on anyone else.” William Mulholland, chief engineer, Water Department Los Angeles

“I am not prepared to be a tsar. I never wanted to become one. I know nothing of the business of ruling.” Nicholas II, last Czar of Russia.

“It was repugnant. Through the eyes of our civilized society it was a disgusting decision. My dignity was on the floor having to grab a piece of my dead friend and eat it in order to survive. ‘But then I thought of my mother and wanted to do my best to get back to see her. I swallowed a piece and it was a huge step – after which nothing happened.” Dr. Robert Canessa


The Content Flood & Authors Whining Part Deux

IMG_0819Some thought my last post at Digital Book World was aimed at Authors United, but it wasn’t. I mentioned them as simply the clearest example of a misguided business focus by authors. We all can be a bit, shall we say, unfocused. Some find me a bit bleary-eyed at times. But that’s Cool Gus waking me up too early in the morning.  Or is it Becca– she always seems to be on top.

It’s easy to blame Amazon for declining sales. While for Hachette authors, they have a legitimate hatchet to grind (couldn’t resist), it’s not the complete story. Also, they are focusing on an outlet, when they signed a contract with the distributor, which refuses to sign a contract with the outlet. Their real gripe is with the organization they are contractually obligated to.

Be that as it may be, and it is; we also have some indie authors who act like we all should link arms around the campfire and sing Kumbaya. That we all should help each other and that competition, ‘well, no, that’s not really an issue’. In fact, when I bring it up, I’m chastised like some mercenary from the now defunct Blackwater, resurrected as Academi (seriously, folks). But I was never a mercenary and served in Spec Ops out of deep sense of comradery with my fellow soldiers. I do these blog posts (and I’ve done a lot of them) sharing my thoughts and projections for fellow authors. Take ‘em or leave ‘em, but I submit if you look in the archives of this blog, I’ve got a lot more good stuff here in terms of craft and business for authors than 99% of others around ye old campfire. Let’s go back to my mention of ‘hybrid author’ in 2011? You know, when everyone was talking about it. Not. Now you can’t swing a dead duck without reading or hearing ‘hybrid’ mentioned.

I’ve got a new term: Diffusion.  It’s how our content is being diffused in the flood of total content.

But we can blame Amazon for declining sales since it opened the floodgates; just not in the way Authors United believes. Because I submit many of those non-Hachette authors who signed the letter are also losing sales. Yes, they believe Jeff Bezos and Russ Grandinetti sit in the dark playing with their algorithm blocks, occasionally throwing one at Jon Fine, and are screwing authors.


It’s the content flood and diffusion. And sorry, Jon Fine, tsunami sounds cool, but I’m telling ya’ it’s Biblical, dude.

Let’s look at some indicators that have been very telling.

Harlequin’s revenue has gone down every single quarter for over three years now. Every quarter. I’ve watched that. I used to think HQ was the perfect business model for the new digital world with readers willing to buy specific lines of books regardless of author. However, HQ is a direct casualty, let’s call it a center of mass shot with a sucking chest wound, of the indie author movement. So many of their successful authors jumped ship quickly for higher royalties, it’s taken its toll.

The reason? Romance authors are by far the most business savvy of any genre (don’t even get me started on SFWA which apparently just learned women can write good books). Because RWA chapters do stand around the campfire and chat. Every month. Not like men chat. But like women chat. You know. That. They even ask directions. In the business. And they share. That’s not to say they wouldn’t pound a stiletto high heel into your brain if you crossed them, but they’ll smile when they do it. Their customer base, 56% of fiction, is so broad, the content surge is only beginning to lap at their high heels.  But com’n, some of ya are feeling it.  Eh?

And Harlequin was sold. I blogged about this when I talked about The #1 Thing Authors Need to Consider Ref Amazon-Hachette (28 May 2014). This caught me some flack from some trad authors who felt I’d overstepped my bounds. But if you don’t own your rights, you can be traded, down-sized, out-sourced, and disappeared.  Diffused into nothingness.

BOL(new_3a)Elloras Cave is on the ropes. The pioneer in digital. How can that be? They claim some vague Amazon campaign against them. Yeah, Bezos and Grandnetti decided to screw them because . . .? These guys are working on getting drones flying over China.  Of course, looking deeper, after reading The Everything Store, there is the issue about some types of erotica being submerged due to content and cover because of concerns about the wide range of customers on Amazon. After all, we can’t have a gun on the cover of one of our books and pay for advertising on Amazon (gun removed from cover on right).  Soooo . . .

I mentioned Cool Gus’ revenue is up 22% this year over last. There are several reasons why, but one is we did something counter-intuitive. By the end of this year we will be working with half the number of authors we started the year with (and that wasn’t many to start with). Our partings have been amiable, but we’re really honing our business model, which is to provide top service to a handful of authors.

There’s going against a prevalent business model, which I’ve seen agents and publishers pursue over the years: throw a lot of authors and books out there and make a little off each.

That model, as evidenced by the crash and burn of a number of companies, is not a forward looking one.

And another reason we’re ‘down-sizing’ while ‘up-earning’ (oh yeah, trademarking that along with diffusion) is we believe going forward that a couple of top authors, looking at the reality of their royalty statements, crunching the numbers on digital percentage, will realize they need to change their business model (it’s even a radical concept for many trad authors to understand they need their own business model and not be handcuffed to a publisher or, gasp, their agent!). But the concept of going from a model they’re comfortable with and has served them well for a long time, into the unknown frenzy of the indie world, has them understandably hesitant. The learning curve is incredibly steep. That’s where Cool Gus is focused. It takes Jen and I about an hour to walk an author through what exactly we provide and why it’s needed in a world where cover design, editing, formatting and upload can be outsourced on a one time fee basis. As if that were enough to be successful.

We’ve always believed an eBook is organic. Very much unlike print (which actually is getting more organic with POD, which is the future, and I have no doubt Jeff Bezos and Russ Grandnetti have sat in the dark and come up with a very specific plan for that– one reason Jen visited Createspace HQ last year, but I digress). Thus it requires an organic publisher able to adapt and change and operate swiftly.  Swiftness is revenue in the digital world. And slow is one of the chief adjectives for large organizations.  We also believe an author’s career is organic and needs to be adaptive to rapidly changing opportunities, not locked into long term contracts and archaic business models.  At the same time, we think an author has to focus on long term revenue, not the quick money up front.

Beretee KnifeThe reality is the Flood is going to get deeper and deeper and deeper and our content will suffer more and more diffusion. Many who are doing well now, won’t be doing so well in the future, both indie and trad and hybrid and Martian. That’s not being mean, it’s being realistic. The first step of change is to rip away denial. That’s the only way to not only survive but thrive.

My last two books released this month (on the 9th and next week on the 30th; another lesson learned, back to back releases) are titled Shit Doesn’t Just Happen (I and II): The Gift of Failure. I’ve mentioned it before on this blog, and again in those books, that Special Forces are Masters of Chaos. Combat is chaos. Disasters are chaos. And publishing is getting increasingly chaotic.

Let’s master it.


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