Fiction Research: Black Hole or Thousand Points of Light?

The answer to this question depends on the genre. I’ll stick to what I know and focus on Technothrillers.  Walking a fine line: Reading reviews for my novels can be confusing. “If you like Clancy, you’ll love—” “Doesn’t overwhelm the reader with technical details.” “Too many equipment descriptions.” “Not Clancy.” All true, depending on the reader. For story details, I strive for the middle ground, with a tendency toward descriptions that would satisfy the pickiest Clancy readers.  On the flip side, Clancy-esque minutiae is NOT for everyone, including myself. I’ll be the first to admit, that I’ve read about three quarters of every Clancy novel. Readers skip passages no matter what you write, that’s reality—my goal is meet readers half way.  This has always been my personal preference as a reader, but as a writer, it’s necessary for survival. With most of my books purchased ($5.99 or below) and read on an e-reader, I can’t afford to lose a reader’s attention for very long. Within seconds, they can switch to something new and forget about me. Been there. Done that: Many of my readers are convinced that I’m 1.)  a D.C. insider 2.) a former covert operative 3.) still involved in intelligence agency READ MORE

My “offices”

Where do you spend most of your time?                 Day Job             Writing Job                 Dream Office (Occasion summer location for now)                 Research (lots of research for Black Flagged) READ MORE

Chinese Cyberwarriors…

are crossing a dangerous line in the realm of Asymmetric Warfare. I have been watching this issue for years with a detached interest. There is truly nothing earth shattering (hint) about the accusation that China continues to systematically prosecute economic espionage operations against the United States or the West. This is not a new theme out of Asia. The Japanese were accused of conducting industrial and corporate espionage in the 80’s and 90’s, which purportedly launched several of their high-tech companies far beyond the reaches of American counterparts. Most American electronics brands never recovered from the supposed theft of billions of dollars in research and development information, leaving Japanese brands to dominate the market. So, what is different about the current Chinese brand of economic espionage? China is a rising superpower and competitor, with much greater aspirations than dominating the world electronics market. Think military, then think beyond. Can China, or any nation ever surpass the United States in terms of military technology, power and the ability to project that power? Not in my lifetime, or my children’s…thankfully. We have cornered the market by spending trillions and developing a robust military-industrial complex. The Soviets tried to compete with us directly and READ MORE

Vacation…I mean research trip to Scandinavia

Alright, I’m probably not going to fool the IRS on this one. Nor will I try. At most, I might dare to write off my own airline ticket. I’ll let my accountant make that call…which is me at the moment. When I started writing Black Flagged Redux, I knew that one of the final scenes would take place in a Scandinavian country. Finland or Sweden seemed most logical, since either country was a convenient travel route out of northwestern Russia, which is also a major setting for the story. Since we were traveling to Stockholm, I decided this would be the location for book’s climax. This would allow me to research the streets of Stockholm first hand. Of course, I finished the novel almost six weeks before my “research trip.” Go figure. Fortunately, everyone took time with their piece of the puzzle…editing, cover art, pre-reader feedback. All effectively blocking the temptation to launch the book before my vacation. I really wanted to head out to Europe with a clean slate so to speak, but I’m so glad my impatient plan didn’t work out. There is nothing quite like walking through a foreign city and seeing the action from one of READ MORE