FREE today in honor of Veterans Day: Duty, Honor, Country: West Point to Mexico

WP_Mexico_TNAvailable on Kindle for free today here

This is book 1 in the Duty, Honor, Country Trilogy.

“A treat for military fiction readers.” Publishers Weekly

They swore oaths, both personal and professional. They were fighting for country, for a way of life and for family. Classmates carried more than rifles and sabers into battle. They had friendships, memories, children and wives. They had innocence lost, promises broken and glory found.

Duty, Honor, Country is history told both epic and personal so we can understand what happened, but more importantly feel the heart-wrenching clash of duty, honor, country and loyalty. And realize that sometimes, the people who changed history, weren’t recorded by it. In the vein of HBO’s Rome miniseries, two fictional characters, Rumble and Cord are standing at many of the major crossroads of our history.

Sumter_ShilohOur story starts in 1840, in Benny Havens tavern, just outside post limits of the United States Military Academy. With William Tecumseh Sherman, Rumble, Cord, and Benny Havens’ daughter coming together in a crucible of honor and loyalty. And on post, in the West Point stables, where Ulysses S. Grant and a classmate are preparing to saddle the Hell-Beast, a horse with which Grant would eventually set an academy record, and both make fateful decisions that will change the course of their lives and history.

We follow these men forward to the eve of the Mexican War, tracing their steps at West Point and ranging to a plantation at Natchez on the Mississippi, Major Lee at Arlington, and Charleson, SC. We travel aboard the USS Somers and the US Navy mutiny that led to the founding of the Naval Academy at Annapolis.

We end with Grant and company in New Orleans, preparing to sale to Mexico and war, and Kit Carson and Fremont at Pilot Peak in Utah during his great expedition west.

“Mayer has established himself as one of today’s better military writers. A
background in the Infantry, West Point and Special Operations gives him credibility and understanding from having been there and done that.” Airpower Journal

Seven Tropes of Science Fiction

walking_dead_510You don’t want to be next to me watching some of these shows and movie. Cool Gus even moves away some times and my wife tells me to shut up. So I’m venting here about some of the tropes of science fiction shows:

  1. Why is everyone wandering around the streets in the post-apocalyptic world? Isn’t anyone working? Patrolling? Farming? In Walking Dead there were, I believe, 72 people in the Governor’s town. In most scenes there were like 100 people wandering about walking from point A to point B for no apparent reason.
  2. Who feeds those fires in the large barrels? Why are there fires in the barrels? Which leads me to . . .
  3. Who lights all those candles? Who replaces them? Why are there so many candles?
  4. No one carries any gear. No backpack with food, a change of clothes, toilet paper (a valuable commodity in the post-apocalyptic world), extra ammunition for when . . .
  5. Everyone fires on full auto and never runs out of ammo even though no one is carrying extra ammo. Revolution really tripped over itself, starting out in the first season with muzzle loaders and then deciding action scenes where it takes half a minute to reload isn’t as much fun as an M-16 on full auto. And then . . .
  6. The bad guys are always, always terrible shots. Unless you’re wearing a red shirt. Good guys can even duck and have a bullet miss. You know the bullet that’s flying at supersonic speed, where it actually hits before you hear the sound of the gun firing in real life.
  7. People heal incredibly fast, especially on Walking Dead. The kid got a through and through to his torso and it kept him down for about half an episode.

SurvivalFinalWe see these and variations of them over and over. The writers know they’re tropes. But sometimes, a writer’s got to do what a writers got to do.

I’ve got more on a list and will blog about it again.

And are you prepared?  99% of what you see in terms of preparedness is wrong.  The Green Beret Survival Guide!

What are some of your favorite tropes?

#Nanowrimo Writing as the only art form that isn’t sensual

I’m still continuing posts for Nanowrimo, focused on craft, since it’s not over yet, is it?

Remember something about the art of writing: It is the only art form that is not sensual.  I’m not saying you can write sensual material, but rather the way the art impacts your senses.  You can see the colors and strokes that make a painting, feel a sculpture, and hear music.  The manner in which each individual piece in those fields impacts on the senses is different.  But every writer uses the same letters on a piece of paper.  You have twenty-six letters that combine to form words, which are the building blocks of your sentences and paragraphs.  Everyone has the same words, and when I write that word and you write it, that word goes into the senses of the reader in the same way.  It’s how we weave them together that impact the conscious and subconscious mind of the reader that makes all the difference in the world.

A book comes alive in the reader’s mind.  You use the sole medium of the printed word to get the story from your mind to the reader’s.  It is the wonder of writing to create something out of nothing.  Every book started with just an idea in someone’s head.  Isn’t that a fantastic concept?

Writers learn by writing.  And before that, by being voracious readers.

In essence, writing is no different from any other profession.  It’s a simple rule, but one that every one wants to ignore:  the more you write, the better you will become.  Practically every author I’ve ever talked to, or listened to, or read about in an interview, says the same thing.  I saw Stephen King on C-Span and he said the most important thing to do to become an author is to write a lot.  That is one of the reasons so many people are participating in this month’s Nanowrimo. One writing professor said you needed to write a million words before expecting to get published.  I’m currently around word five million and still learning so much.

Let’s look at the positive side:  The odds are strongly against getting published.  But simply by taking the time and the effort to learn from these words and participating in Nanowrimo, you are increasing your odds.  By continuing to write beyond your first manuscript, you vastly increase your odds.  Many writers gush over the amount of money John Grisham made for The Firm but they forget that A Time To Kill was published previously to lackluster sales and failed.  What is important to note about that was that Grisham realized he hadn’t done something right and worked hard to change.  Note that Grisham did not sit still and bemoan what his agent/editor/publisher etc. didn’t do to help the novel.  He didn’t complain that the reading public didn’t understand his brilliance.  He worked on the one person he knew he could change:  himself (a tenet of Write It Forward).

From talking with other published writers, I have found it is common that somewhere between manuscript numbers three and six, comes the breakthrough to publication.  How many people are willing to do that much work?  Not many, which is why not many succeed and how you can vastly increases your chances of beating the odds.  Publishers do not want to make a one-time investment in a writer.  When a publisher puts out a book, they are backing that writer’s name and normally want to have more than one book in the pipeline.  Multiple book contracts are very common; with their inherent advantages and disadvantages.  As soon as you type THE END on your first manuscript (and I mean THE END after numerous rewrites), the absolute first thing you must do is begin writing your second.  With self-publishing, I recommend having at least three books before putting much time and effort into marketing.

Publishing has changed drastically and there are new opportunities for writers to get their novels into the hands of their readers. Traditional publishing isn’t the only viable option for the 21st century author. Self-publishing is quickly becoming the new medium for mid-list authors, and new authors. Amanda Hocking self-published her way into a two-million dollar contract with St. Martins Press. Myself, Connie Brockway, Barry Eisler, LJ Sellers and JA Konrath have all either written ourselves out of NY contracts or turned down a NY contract and ventured out on our own and have been successful.

As someone who wants to be in the entertainment business, you have to study those who have succeeded and failed in that business.  Read interviews with people in the arts and entertainment industries and you will find a common theme:  a lot of years of sweat equity put in before the big “break” came.  I’ve read of and heard actors and comedians talk about spending decades working in the trenches before they became famous.  Musicians who sang back-up for years before becoming lead.  Painters who toiled in squalor (and often died) before their work was recognized.

Study the lives of writers.  Read interviews with authors and see what they say.  Go to conferences and talk to them.  Listen to them talk about several things:  how they became authors, how they live, how they feel about writing, how they write.  Many worked very strange jobs before getting published.  Almost all struggled and spent many years of suffering before they succeeded.  I say suffering in terms of financial or career terms, not in terms of the writing itself.  Most writers enjoy writing.

People seem to think that writers are different and, while in some highly publicized cases they are, most published writers have spent many years slugging away before even their first novel was published.

Simple perseverance counts for a lot.  I think many people with talent lack the drive and fall out of the picture and people with maybe not as much talent but more drive take their place.  It’s the difference between having a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.  People with talent often believe they know all they ever need to know, so therefore their mind is fixed.  Those who believe there is always something more to learn, have a growth mindset.

Let’s get back to where I talked about people in other professions doing a work practicum.  Besides writing novels and reading, the other advice I would give would be to attend conferences and workshops.  It is a worthwhile investment of your time and money to go to workshops and conferences.  Not just to learn, but also to network.  Because of that, the first Write It Forward ‘short’ my publishing company released is How To Get The Most Out Of Your Time And Money At A Writer’s Conference.

A college student once interviewed me and she asked me what she could do to become a better writer.  I replied with my usual “Write a lot,” then thought for a second, looking at this nineteen year old woman.  Then I said:  “Live a lot.  Experience life, because that is what you are eventually going to be writing about.”

What things do you suggest writers do in order to help themselves become better writers?

8 Ways to Thrill: 8 Books from 8 Bestselling Thriller Writers. Pay What You Want!

I’m very excited to be part of the StoryBundle 8 Ways to Thrill. As you can see by the image below it’s a great line up and I’m honored to be in the company of such great writers.  It’s at Story Bundle which has all formats and a different way of pricing.

ThrillerBundle-allcovers

Actually, I’m excited to read some of the other authors in this bundle.

If you’re interested in 8 Ways To Thrill, here’s the site!

Also, just a heads up, but exciting stuff coming down the line.  Those on the mailing list are making out like bandits with free book and audio giveaways on the last two newsletters (including a bunch of people getting this bundle for free) and we’re going to keep doing that, so sign up.  We only send it out about once a month and we only sell your email addresses to people who harvest body organs.  Not.

Also, starting in January 2015, I’m going to launch an invitation only Facebook page where I’ll be sharing my works in progress and discuss the process, looking for feedback from readers.  And look for concepts from readers for shorts.  You can sign up for the newsletter here, on the bottom right and in December I’ll be discussing how to get an invite via the newsletter.

Remember: It Doesn’t Just Happen!

Nothing but good times!

Bob Mayer

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