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An Author’s Attitude of 10 Gratitudes

In this time of turmoil, I find it’s important to step back and reflect on the good things. Especially, since I’m wrapping up the second book in my new series, Shit Doesn’t Just Happen. Eating Mexican take-out while writing about the Donner Party seems the epitome, well, of something. And not just because many people in that party starved to death, but also because they technically died in Mexico, a fact not many people remember; along with all the murders. But more on that in the first book when it comes out on 9 September.

So here be 10 author gratitudes:

  1. Readers
  2. I write for a living. Been doing it for a long time.
  3. The Internet completely changed the publishing playing field. Too many people focus on Amazon, but the reality is, it started with the Internet. It gave authors distribution.
  4. That I was able to get the rights back to all my books, except those I co-authored. The subtitle of the book coming out on 9 September is “The Gift of Failure” and in a bizarre way, my ‘failures’ in traditional publishing have become my successes in indie publishing. Same books, just a different attitude.
  5. That everyone I’ve worked with in publishing, traditional, non-traditional, alien, has loved books.
  6. That I get to use my imagination to make a living. I’m going to Dragon Con for a day at the end of this month and I find it amusing because I’m not really considered part of the science fiction community even though I’ve had three #1 selling scifi series on Kindle.
  7. That I’ve learned from some of my mistakes. I’m not considered part of the scifi community because I didn’t make myself part of it. I’ve learned it’s my choice how to direct my career and not to blame others. I’ve learned to do more networking and get out there and meet more people. It’s a people business.
  8. ShitDoesntJustHappen_TNThat I’ve learned to back off from all the turmoil going on in publishing and focus on the key things: write good books. Run a good business.
  9. That we’ve got a great group of authors at Cool Gus. The key when we work with an author is that they “get it”. Hard to explain, unless you get it. But they understand the new publishing paradigm, both the positive and the negative.
  10. My wife, the story streamer. I’ve learned to listen to her.

On another note, I need a couple of beta readers for book one, coming out on 9 September (just a few, so first come, first read). I’d need the manuscript back in a week, so the timeline is tight, but the book is around 35,000 words. If you’re interested, email me at  The first book covers: Titanic; the Kegworth Plane Crash; Custer and the Little Big Horn; the Donner Party; New London Schoolhouse Explosion; the Housing Bubble and Apollo 13.  The goal of this new, nonfiction series, is summed up in The Gift of Failure.  To describe each catastrophe and the 6 Cascade Events that caused the Final Event, and then the lessons we can learn from each to prevent future disasters.  Green Berets are consider ‘Masters of Chaos’ and I’m applying our expertise to try and make the chaos a bit less.


Kindle Unlimited, Amazon-Hachette, and “Fairness”

I am so outraged! Yes. And you know what? No one gives a damn.

ShitDoesntJustHappen_TNActually, I’m not outraged. I’m kind of sick of outrage.  I think you can get an idea of part of my philosophy from one of the covers of a trifecta of similar books I’ve written coming out in September.

Somehow, this notion of ‘fair’ has crept into publishing. Which is really funny because it’s never been fair, and isn’t going to become fair.

Plus ‘fair’ means different things. For a bestselling trad author who gets 7 or 8 figure advances, fair is they made it and doggone, they want everything to stay the same. Because it works pretty well for them. Completely understandable.

Big name authors have agents that negotiate better terms for them than the average authors gets. Better royalty rates, kickers, marketing built into the contracts, etc. As I was told by my publicist at Random House: we put our marketing money behind our bestsellers. Yet these authors wrap themselves in the Emperor’s cloak of ‘we represent literature’ and ‘freedom of speech’. Seriously, dudes? A little honesty will be nice as you cash your checks.

Now we have Kindle Unlimited and how writers are being divided into classes? Duh. Always been. Simple answer if one doesn’t like Unlimited. Pull books from Select. Just as the authors putting an ad in the NY Times should focus their energies on something they might actually be able to do: get their publishers to pull their books from Amazon. Does anyone else find it strange that they’re ‘fighting’ Amazon while still working with Amazon? That’s called collusion. Amazon’s a corporation that doesn’t owe them squat. There is no right to have Amazon grant a pre-order button (ask indies who have fought this battle for years) or even stock your book. The contract these trad authors signed was with their publisher not Amazon. Focus on the real deal you signed.

And top indie authors are getting a different deal regarding Unlimited, pre-order buttons and other perks. Hmm. Class system? Or the reality that sales have clout? We’re seeing the indie world go the way of the trad world, where the better sellers get better deals, more merchandizing, etc. Fair? I served in Special Operations.  I don’t know what fair is.  I live in the real world.

Bottom line– this is capitalism, not a democracy where everyone gets treated the same (and if anyone can find a real democracy anywhere in the world, send me a note). We get treated according to our success and also by the business decisions we make. My not being happy with something isn’t going to change the reality of it. However, it does factor into the decisions I make.

Watch out NY, Cool Gus is heading your way!

This week is Thrillerfest. The conference kicked off yesterday with the Master CraftFest, which is a one-day intensive workshop focused on the craft of writing. Then Wednesday and Thursday is CraftFest, which is more craft and its good to see this conference focus so intently on the craft of writing. The most important part of an authors marketing plan is a good solid cleanly crafted story. We tend to focus so much on the business, especially when things like the Hachette/Amazon negotiation seems to be the center of attention. The business part is important, but you don’t have the business part until you put your butt in the chair and write a damn good book.

There is also PitchFest. I actually attended the very first Pitchfest and pitched to a lot of agents. Bob was there too, but this was about a six months before we put our business into action. I remember Bob strolling in and out of the room, observing. He had given the keynote on how to pitch and made himself available to authors to work pitches. I have mixed feelings about PitchFest, but it is a great networking experience and you do meet a wide variety of agents and other authors. But it’s exhausting, so anyone reading this and attending Pitchfest my suggestion to you is drink water and take small breaks and don’t stress. The most important thing isn’t so much pitching your story, but making a business contact. We also recommend not spending your entire time at the conference focused on these pitches, practicing the pitches, making last minute adjustments to your pitch. Do it before you go to the conference, and then don’t think about it until its time. I know, that’s hard, but really, from someone who did the whole pitch thing for YEARS, its better that way.

ThrillerFest is then Friday and Saturday and filled with panels and workshops and lectures all ranging from writing topics to business topics to panels given from experts in various fields that might interest writers. Bob and I always recommend when picking which panel to attend base it on who the presenter is and not the topic.

East IndiaThis will be the first summer Bob and I are not attending either RWA or Thrillerfest. Well, okay, that’s not entirely true. I WILL be at Thrillerfest on Friday, lurking in the lobby, but I’m not actually attending the conference. I’m heading into the city and will be meeting with someone from Amazon and also meet with our author, Amy Shojai and then having dinner with some really cool authors Friday night. But for a few hours, I’ll be hanging in the lobby checking out all the happenings, talking writing and publishing so please, come on over and say hello, cuz you know, its all about networking.

Oh, and before I forget, today is release day for East India by Colin Falconer! Very excited about this book. One of Colin’s best works yet!

Nothing but good times!

A 25 Year Series Arc: The Green Berets re-launched (discounted & free)

patch-500x500Write what you know is a maxim often preached to writers. When I began writing over 25 years ago, I followed it, writing novels based on my continuing experience as a soldier, particularly as a Special Forces soldier. Thus, I believe on key to my Green Beret series is insight into a mindset less than 1% of American have experienced (much less than that if you consider just Special Operations).

I started my first novel in 1988. It ended up being the second book in my Green Beret series: Dragon Sim-13. I wrote the most recent book in the Green Beret series: Chasing the Lost in 2013 and am writing the ninth book in the series now, Chasing the Son. We’re re-launching the updated entire series discounted or free on Nook (.99), iBooks, Kobo, and Google (Free) this week to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the introduction of my main character in the series, Dave Riley. Much like me, Riley has been through a lot of over the year.  Here are all the links to the books on all platforms on one page including audiobook excerpts.

What a long strange trip it’s been.

Dave went from an NCO to a Warrant Officer to a private contractor to retired and living on Dafuskie Island. Along the way, he lost a love, fought many battles, and met Horace Chase to launch a new part of his life in the Low Country.

HelicoptersThat first book back in 1988 was initially titled Payback. It was set in Russia, not China. Of course, the Cold War ending put the end to that. I had to rewrite it and thus Eyes of the Hammer became the first book published.

I went into Special Forces when it wasn’t sheik. When my Infantry Battalion executive officer flat out told me I was destroying my ‘career’ by applying to the Special Forces Qualification Course. I pinned on the crossed arrows of the newly minted Special Forces branch at Ft. Benning while attending the Infantry Officer Advanced Course. That didn’t go over well there.

I was part of the committee at Ft. Bragg that completely revamped the Q-Course to update it. That helped design the new Special Forces branch. That wrote manuals focused on fighting Low Intensity Conflict, as it was called then, that led into the War On Terror. And, once off active duty and in the reserves, was constantly called to active duty for various tours of duty in various places around the globe, usually not tourist attractions.

I incorporated all this experience into my books. While I took a bit of turn toward science fiction in Synbat (which foreshadowed my career as a scifi writer with 3 #1 bestselling series), I stayed true to Dave Riley. He disappeared for a while after Z (terrible title!), but then I wrote Chasing the Ghost about another ex Spec-Ops guy, set in Boulder, Colorado, where I lived for a time. And I realized Riley and Chase has to meet and they did in Chasing the Lost, which I consider one of my best books. And that book flows naturally into the next book which will be out later this year. I love my cast of misfits and veterans in the low country; sort of my version of Deadwood. A lawless place where there’s a lot of violence in the shadows.

Sneak PeakSo this week, we’re celebrating Riley’s return to these platforms and the partnership of Riley & Chase.

Nothing but good times ahead.

With lots of shooting.

And, if you haven’t yet, download my free Sneak Peeks which has excerpts from all the Green Beret books (and many authors).



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