Behind the Scenes of the Fractured State Series: Part Three—THE FULL SERIES MAP

THE SOUTHWEST UNITED STATES HAS RADICALLY CHANGED BY 2035 THE FRACTURED STATE series sweeps you through this vast, twisted landscape with reluctant hero, Nathan Fisher, as he fights against all odds to keep his family alive. Click on the map to enlarge and explore. ORDER Fractured State today! Also, check out Behind the Scenes PART ONE , PART TWO, PART FOUR and PART FIVE. READ MORE

Behind the Scenes of THE FRACTURED STATE SERIES: PART 2

Building the greater world surrounding THE FRACTURED STATE SERIES was a serious blast, but inventing the details of a near-future world was the proverbial “icing on the cake.” This is the kind of stuff I live for as a writer, and Fractured State was a fertile playground for these details. That said, it wasn’t easy. Set 20 years in the future, I found myself walking a thin line between advancing technology far enough to create a “wow factor” and keeping it familiar enough to the reader. The last thing I wanted to do was create a new vocabulary for readers. Here’s a fantastic example of that struggle, with a slightly disappointing ending. What do you call a cell phone/smart phone 20 years from now? The answer isn’t simple, or is it? I got a crazy idea during the developmental edit, based on a suggestion from my developmental editor (I blame David!), to replace every instance of smartphone with the term LINK. We’d discussed the technology upgrades evident in the manuscript and agreed that the device served as more of a communications link, but we couldn’t call it a COMLINK. That term had been coined by the Star Wars franchise years ago, and it didn’t sound right, anyway. But what about LINK? That’s simple, catchy…hey, READ MORE

Behind the Scenes of THE FRACTURED STATE SERIES: PART ONE

With the release of FRACTURED STATE less than a month away, I thought I’d give readers and fans a look behind the scenes at the creation of the near future, dystopian world supporting the story. As most of you know, I spend a considerable amount of time envisioning and creating the worlds behind my fiction. The process is time consuming, and if left unchecked, can take on a life of its own. I know this from experience. When I started to create the world for my first novel, The Jakarta Pandemic, I reached a point, long into the early stages of development, where I asked myself: “When are you going to actually start writing the story?” I didn’t have an answer, which in itself was my answer. It was time to quit researching the world, describing characters on notepads, creating maps, developing timelines—AND TIME TO GET DOWN TO BUSINESS. I had spent months world building, when I could and should have been writing. With that lesson SORT OF learned—a few times, I’ve developed a rough world-building process that gets me started and keeps me on the right track. 1.) Creating a world to support a series requires me to create a ALTERNATE READ MORE

I don’t often cry…

but when I do, it’s usually because I just completed the plot board for one of my novels and realized—I have a long way to go! Each Post-It represents a chapter. I typically add Post-Its as I go. Now I’m really crying. Point of Crisis: Book Three in The Perseid Collapse Series promises to be a game changer. READ MORE

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

Links for writers…

If you’re an independent author, you rely on the sage advice and research of “other” independent authors, especially the ones that have made the “full time” shift to writing—or have been writing for years. I learn an invaluable amount from these authors, often collaborating to validate new publishing theories, grade the effectiveness of promotions or trade marketing ideas. Everyone’s experience is unique in it’s way, but we all share the same goal. To make a living writing the best books possible. Some of us are new to the game, others have been around a long time. Everyone offers something, which is why I want to pass along the best sources of “indie” publishing information and guidance. This is by no means an exhaustive list. It represents the most prolific amount of well-formed opinions and advice that I can fit into my schedule. Truly, this represents the tip of the iceberg, and any additions are welcome. In my opinion, if you dig into what these four authors have written about their experiences, you’ll come out ahead of the pack, with your nose pointed in the right direction. Leading the most recent charge to arm authors with the knowledge to make solid READ MORE

The Process…

Six Books Later. Never before has the process crystalized so clearly, as it has for my sixth book, The Perseid Collapse. The long overdue sequel to The Jakarta Pandemic has percolated in my head for nearly six months (while writing Vektor), which certainly helped smooth the transition, but I credit “the process” for swiftly delivering me to the starting line…the point where I can start writing. For me, the less time I spend in between novels, the better. I find myself lost without a manuscript-in-progress. Putting words into a story eases that feeling. I often joke around about the”organic” mental process for creating the complex plots in my novels. “Neural Flow” is a term I used recently to some amusement. The Black Flagged series is extremely complicated and deeply nuanced, or so I have been told, and I wish I could keep it all straight in my head. “A Beautiful Mind” I am not. Instead, I rely on a process that appears rigid, but is inherently flexible. Let’s face it, any system based on the placement of yellow stickies on poster board isn’t exactly chiseled in stone. Still, I’ve followed the same process for three novels, which implies a level of rigidity…for the READ MORE

Finding a little inspiration…

to start a new novel. You’d think that starting novel number six wouldn’t be a big deal. It’s always a big deal, and frankly, I find myself more than a little nervous as I type the title on the page, make sure it’s centered and STARE at the screen for an indeterminable amount of time. The first words are always the most difficult for me, compounded by the fact that those words commit me to a minimum of three straight months of writing. I wrote the first 420 words to The Perseid Collapse this morning, sitting at a desk in a hotel room. Not exactly where I would choose to start such an important undertaking, but my day job requires these things, and I write everyday no matter where I find myself…even a lonely hotel room. No, it wasn’t someplace fancy or scenic. As a matter of fact, it was within sight of both a mall and the Maine Turnpike. But it was in Bangor, less than eight minutes (as measured by my iPhone’s mapping software) from my favorite author’s house.   I’ve been to Bangor several times over the past few months for work, but I’ve purposely avoided West READ MORE

Where I write…

Most of the time. I realized I should explain each of my “offices” a little better. I posted this on Facebook, and one of my friends thought the tall glass was a beer. He missed the 4:30 in the morning part from an earlier post…not that I have a blanket prohibition against beer at 4:30 AM. Here it is. My version of “zero dark thirty,” except it’s no longer dark when I enter. The sun peeks above the horizon far too early in Maine. “People, friends and family always ask the same question when they find out that I’m a writer, in addition to having a day job. When do you write? 4:30AM, pretty much every day of the year. 5:30 on weekends. It has simply become a habit. There are variations in that schedule, depending on where I am (vacation, overnight trip, visiting family). The picture shows how I start each day, with one notable exception. I’m in between books, so my desk is way neater than usual. For those that are curious. The beverages include, fresh juice (from a juicer…carrot, celery, apple, spinach, ginger, cucumber) and an espresso.” 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