Tag Archives: Marine Corps

IT’S FINALLY HERE!

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After more than a year since my last novel sized release…

I finally have something to prove that I haven’t been on a 14 month sabbatical from writing! 

FRACTURED STATE is now available for purchase as an ebook, audiobook or hardcopy.

FOLLOW THIS LINK TO GRAB A COPY AT AMAZON.COM (U.S)

FOLLOW THIS UNIVERSAL LINK if you’re outside the U.S.

I know you’re going to love Fractured State, and the rest of the books to come. The series promises to be incredible. I just delivered the second book to my publisher, Thomas and Mercer, and they’re busy tearing it apart—in a good way.

Check out Thomas and Mercer’s series description for a taste of the entire series. This paragraph absolutely captures the essence of what I set out to accomplish…almost like mind reading!

“Steven Konkoly’s Fractured State series charts a nightmarish near-future vision of America, ravaged by environmental devastation and teetering on the brink of political collapse. When average family man Nathan Fisher unwittingly learns of a terrifying conspiracy at the highest levels of power, he and his family must run for their lives, pursued by ruthless killers and aided by a resourceful Marine with a mysterious agenda of his own. Unrelenting suspense; rich, relatable characters; and a vividly imagined, all-too-believable future world of high technology and low-down violence: welcome to Fractured State.”

Thank you for checking out the series. Don’t forget to check out some of my earlier “behind the scenes” of Fractured State posts!

BEHIND THE SCENES of Fractured State

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

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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.

PREORDER Fractured State today!

Also, check out Behind the Scenes PART ONE and PART TWO

Fractured State Map3

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Behind the Scenes of THE FRACTURED STATE SERIES: PART 2

Fractured State coverBuilding 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, 20 years from now, people might be looking back at Fractured State and saying, Steven Konkoly used the term first, now everyone calls their phone a LINK. Communications companies will be paying me billions to license the term…it sounded fantastic, until it didn’t. Actually, it was my editor at Thomas and Mercer that essentially said something to the effect of, “I don’t know. It’s cool and all, but forcing readers to use the word LINK instead of phone throughout the story might get a little annoying.” Too kitschy, so I dropped LINK and went back to phone or satphone. Lesson learned. The device had more bells and whistles, but it essentially did the same thing it does today…let’s you talk to people. Why complicate matters?

But one creative disappointment can’t ruin the creative process for me. NOT EVEN CLOSE. That was ONE device out of hundreds used in the novel, and I had a ton of fun with the rest. Too much fun, probably.

mq-9-reaper_001-ts600If you’ve read any of my books, you probably can guess that I like weapons. From knives to attack helicopters, I don’t shy away from the details, and I like my characters to make the best use of the weaponry available to them. Fractured State gave me the unique opportunity to take systems currently in development, and imagine them in widespread use 20 years from now. Every firearm is more compact and versatile, ammunition is far more lethal, heavy duty weapons systems normally employed by armies are now available to mercenary groups, and the effectiveness of personal protective equipment has increased to counter this new lethality. Take a look at the following links, along with a brief explanation of how I chose to employ that technology in Fractured State.

Guided sniper munitions – Used by assassins in a coordinated attack against a politician at his reinforced mansion. The effect is rather gruesome, as you can imagine.

ge5mcdjxhbxj9sfxla38Color night vision technology – I call it synthetic daylight…heard it here first! This actually presented a bit of a challenge, since describing what the characters see through these goggles is no different than what they’d see in the daylight. At times, my developmental editor couldn’t remember if it was night or day. To remedy this, I added some additional features to the goggle’s display, which measured light intensity and could tell the wearer how dark it was outside.

Liquid gel body armor – This has so much promise for the future in my opinion. Form fitting and reactive, liquid gel body armor can potentially stop any type of munition, evenly spreading the brunt force of the impact to reduce internal injuries commonly seen with solid plate armor.

Dragonskin armor – Recently rejected by the U.S. Army, I see a future for this type of armor. Lighter, shape conforming and effective against armor piercing ammunition…I could see this as standard issue.

Rifle launched missiles – I don’t actually use these in the books, but damn if this isn’t cool.

xm25Smart grenade launchers – I take this one step further, and apply the same range finding automation to an automatic grenade launcher system. The effects are spectacularly devastating…and messy of course.

Hand launched surveillance drones – Nothing new about the Raven, except the newer versions can fly longer and transmit more data. Putting two of these in the air, one of the teams in the book finds a “needle in a haystack.”

See through wall radar and imaging devices – Can you imagine looking at a 3-Dimensional schematic of a building and seeing a live image of everyone inside? It’s not really possible today, but in 2035…

Bullet resistant glass (nothing new, but this video is COOL) – I find some creative uses for glass like this in the series…in ways you might not expect.

Missile firing drones – Over U.S. airspace? You bet, especially when operated by Cerberus International…and to make matters worse, the drones are mostly undetectable.

Active or adaptive camouflage – Can you turn a vehicle invisible? With enough money and 20 years of research and development. Why not?

Converting seawater to energy – This method is energy intensive, but when co-located with a nuclear power plant?

Desalination plants – Reality today, and critical to survival in a drought parched future.

This is a very short list of some of the types of technology upgrades found in Fractured State, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything is slightly reimagined in this series, from sinks that recycle water for rinsing to mandatory  GPS tracking systems installed on every vehicle to measure fuel efficiency and restrict movement. Life has changed…it’s up to the reader to decide if the change is for better or worse.

PREORDER FRACTURED STATE

READ BEHIND THE SCENES PART ONE: BUILDING THE WORLD

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Behind the Scenes of THE FRACTURED STATE SERIES: PART ONE

Fractured State coverWith 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.

IMG_13421.) Creating a world to support a series requires me to create a ALTERNATE HISTORY, or in the case of Fractured State, a FUTURE set 20 years from today. Either way, I start out with a TIMELINE OF EVENTS. This is outside of the story plot. For the Fractured State series, I started in 2016 and envisioned the world, national, state and personal-level events that would land the reader on page one. As you can see, this sheet has endured coffee and beer stains, many on-the-fly changes and an accidental “throw away” since I created it in early 2015. It rarely leaves my side while I’m writing.

2.) For the kind of deep background and expansive geographical reach involved in writing a series like Fractured State, I find the use of MAPS to be invaluable. I create them throughout the entire process, starting with big picture world building maps down to individual scene orientation maps. Every complex, action oriented scene likely originated with a sketch.

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First map created

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Map of California’s present and future energy sites

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Motel scene in Rogue State (Book 2)…little spoiler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.) Whether based in the past, present or future, I also create lists and descriptions of the organizations involved in the story. Past and present is easy…a few clicks on Google and you have a nice organizational chart of the CIA. Future requires a little more work. In Fractured State, I envisioned San Diego County as an entity that effectively absorbed every municipality throughout the current county, providing town administration, resource management, leadership and police functions for the entire geography. San Diego County Police Department (SDCPD) officers patrol the streets of Chula Vista, CA, south of San Diego, just he same as the streets of Carlsbad, CA—40 miles away.

In Fractured State, Nathan Fisher, the story’s main character, works as a water reclamation engineer at the San Diego Water Reclamation Authority, an entity that does not exist today. Since water reclamation is a critical part of Californian’s lives in my story, I gave it an organization separate, but subordinate to the existing Water Authority. Of course, in the resource stressed world of Fractured State, both authorities serve under the San Diego County Resource Authority. Yeah, I have fun with this stuff. Sorry to put you to sleep!

4.) Throughout the creation of the TIMELINE, MAPS and boring ORGANIZATIONS, I’m constantly researching topics related to the big picture to generate new ideas, validate previously envisioned plot points or expand the story.

lake meadFor Fractured State, I spent a lot of time studying WATER sources in California, the rest of the southwest and the Great Plains. While the events in my story are purely fictional, the historic, ongoing drought in California and the U.S. Southwest is REAL. Frighteningly real. California’s current drought started me on the path to writing this series. The more I researched, the more I knew I had the background for an incredible story. What if the drought continued for another 20 years like many climatologists agree is possible? AND what if the effects of the drought were intensified by corrupt group of greedy industrialists and enforced by a ruthless mercenary army on their payroll? Secession? Mayhem? All of the above.

Check out some of the original bookmarked links that I used to get a feel for the drought issues facing California and the nation. It’s scary stuff. All of it. I just listed them as LINK. Click on any or all to give yourself a fright.

LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK.

PREORDER FRACTURED STATE TODAY!

READ BEHIND THE SCENES PART TWO

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Introducing FRACTURED STATE

Fractured State coverI’m so excited to get this book into your hands, I barely know where to start. Seriously, I’ve been staring at the same few sentences for the past ten minutes. I’ll make this easy on both of us, and start with an emotionally charged statement.

Fans of my previous novels will absolutely love this book! I know that’s a bold claim, but I really believe it. Fractured State brings the best of the Black Flagged and Perseid Collapse books to life in a fast paced, stylish thriller series. At its very core, Fractured State is a story about an innocent family—inadvertently dragged into the middle of a lethal struggle to determine California’s fate.

I’m going to vastly over simplify the story here, but picture Alex Fletcher and his family ruthlessly pursued through a near future, dystopian southern California, by a Black Flagged-like group with unlimited resources and an unquenchable thirst for murder. Unlike Alex, the new main character, Nathan Fisher, doesn’t have the hard skills required to keep his family alive against professional killers. He’s crafty—the son of a retired Marine Sergeant Major—but he’s in way over his head in Fractured State. Nathan gets help from an unlikely source—a Marine officer thrust into the situation by chance. Together, they fight to stay one step ahead of the shadowy group’s relentless efforts to silence the Fishers. You’re going to love these characters just as much as the story.

PREORDER FRACTURED STATE NOW! (That’s just a suggestion)

For those of you thinking — “Wow, Steve couldn’t describe one of his books to save his own life!” Here is the official description for Fractured State.

“In 2035, the southwestern United States is ravaged by drought, reeling from an environmental catastrophe that has left the landscape a chaotic, depleted ruin. California, still viably inhabitable due to its oppressive social controls, marshals state-of-the-art surveillance technology and totalitarian policies to preserve its fragile hold on rapidly dwindling resources and an increasingly unsettled population.

After a prominent California congresswoman is assassinated for her support of the state’s secession from the United States, Nathan Fisher—accidental witness to a clandestine military-style operation—is drawn into an unraveling conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of power and threatens the lives of Fisher and his family.

Hunted by ruthless killers seeking to ensure his silence, suspected by the authorities, and aided only by a loyal Marine officer with a mysterious agenda, Fisher and his loved ones must somehow stay a step ahead of their relentless pursuers, navigating a ruined world in a desperate search for sanctuary.”

PREORDER TODAY!

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Point of Crisis Arrives

1114 Steve Konkoly ebook POINT OF CRISIS_4_Lon thousands of Kindles across North America and the UK! Yes, I did have nearly 50 pre-orders from eager readers across the pond. Paper versions will ship today and the audiobook should be available in late August or early September.

If you haven’t purchased a copy, may I direct your attention to this link? Purchase Point of Crisis

Don’t forget to join my mailing list. I just uploaded an exclusive Black Flagged short story, available for download to members of the mailing list. Other perks include exclusive sneak peeks at upcoming work and exclusive discounts. Sign up here!

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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 lineReading 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.

Research Bookmarks for The Perseid Collapse

Research Bookmarks for The Perseid Collapse

Been there. Done thatMany of my readers are convinced that I’m 1.)  a D.C. insider 2.) a former covert operative 3.) still involved in intelligence agency operations and 4.) have travelled extensively across every continent. There may be some truth to this. I’m not here to dispel rumors or burst anyone’s version of Steven Konkoly. What I will admit, is that I’ve never led an “off the books” Black Ops team on a raid against a Russian bioweapons facility or secretly crossed the Finnish border to investigate rumors of a virus outbreak in the Kola Peninsula.

How do I manage to capture the essence of these operations? My background gives me an advantage. I know the lingo (there’s still a ton I don’t know) and how to navigate online research. I know where to look for articles and how to tell if it’s authentic. Reading everything and anything (books, online articles, subscription sites) helps immensely. I wasn’t on the raid to capture Osama Bin Laden, but I know I could write a fictional OBL raid scene right now, and most readers would believe I had exclusive access to one of the DEVGRU operators on the mission.

How did someone like Tom Clancy get his descriptions, operational details and military jargon so close to reality? In the beginning, he must have fought for exclusive access to some incredible sources. There’s no other explanation. When he became famous, Clancy was granted nearly unfettered access to the military and D.C.  Keep in mind, Tom Clancy  worked in the insurance industry for nearly 15 years before his first novel, The Hunt for Red October, was released. Clancy never served in the military, but he managed to create the impression, from the very start, that he was an insider.

Research Bookmarks for Event Horizon

Research Bookmarks for Event Horizon

Prepping the battle field For me, initial research is critical to achieving momentum. I research on the fly, but I prefer to have the “framework research” already established. Once I finish with my version of plotting, as described in THE PROCESS, I sit back and figure out “framework” topics that need research. If a Marine Infantry Battalion plays a significant role in the story (like in The Perseid Collapse series), I need to know everything there is to know (without going crazy) about the current and future structures for a Marine Infantry Battalion. The Perseid Collapse series takes place in 2019, so I was particularly interested in papers published out of Quantico or the Navy War College about future structure and equipment concepts. This is one example of  dozens of framework research.

Don’t get bogged down here. You have to start writing at some point, and if you’re like me, I feel lost when I’m not in a story. This doesn’t require weeks of prep work. I identify the framework research and do enough to get me started on the novel. I typically like to write 20K words without breaking for heavy research.

Research on the flyThis is the land of Black Holes. Vast seas of time vanish from my day when I’m not disciplined about research on the fly. Sometimes it’s necessary to gain a solid understanding of an important concept, but there’s a difference between researching for the sake of educating yourself and researching to enhance your novel. Trust me, the line is extremely blurry. I still haven’t mastered it. Most of the time, you’ll only know it AFTER the fact. Like getting pick-pocketed. You’ll feel guilty and probably take a break—treat yourself to a snack, because…you’ve gone down a rabbit hole looking for a rabbit, and ended up finding Wonderland. I know I’ve seriously mismanaged my time, when I go on YouTube to watch a clip of a suppressed .50 Caliber sniper rifle for a scene in a book, and emerge from YouTube land 40 minutes later after watching the .50 Cal sniper scene from the movie Smoking Aces. It’s crazy if you haven’t seen it.  Careful, it’s violent and full of bad language. I just watched it again—I never learn.

Google Maps street level view of bridge in Event Horizon

Google Maps street level view of bridge in Event Horizon

Google is my travel agent:  I’ve never been to Novosibirsk, Russia, or Moscow, but I have it on pretty solid authority from a Russian author that most readers would never figure that out through my writing. Damn, I just spilled a secret. Oh well, while I’m at it—I’ve never been to Kazakstan or Argentina. My Russian author friend was surprised that I had never travelled to either Russian location. He knew I hadn’t lived there for any length of time, but the descriptions of the locations, the general feel and the “little things” passed muster.

I like the “little things.” Details about the culture, restaurants, beers, food, street conditions, traffic, graffiti, weather, money, trends—stuff you can find by reading traveller articles, restaurant reviews, hotel reviews, city reviews and tourism board sponsored sites. I spend time on this stuff, and in most cases, if I put a specific description of a location, hotel, street corner, park or restaurant in my novel, it’s real. I change the names (sometimes) for obvious reasons, but here’s a little hint. I rarely make us street names, and I often visualize scenes using Google Maps. If a gunfight occurs in front of 22 Bondegatan in Stockholm, disrupting a cafe with a red and white checkered awning, you’ll very likely find this to be a real place. Okay, I sort of pulled a fast one on you here. I’ve been to Stockholm—but I wrote the scenes from that book and submitted the manuscript to my editor before our Iceland Air flight left Boston.

Militia stronghold in Event Horizon-Eli Russell's place.

Militia stronghold in Event Horizon-Eli Russell’s place.

Here is an excerpt from a recent review. The reviewer is Gustavo Rossi from Buenos Aires. “…The political context is well managed too, and the references to Argentina (books 2 and 3 have long parts there) are surprisingly correct for an american writer…” I’ve never been there in person, but I’ve logged dozens of hours on the internet in “virtual Argentina.” Lesson learned? You don’t have to write on James Michener’s level to connect with a locale. 

Secret Contacts : I graduated from Annapolis with over 1,000 top notch men and women (somehow I got mixed in this crew), many of whom are still on active duty or in the active reserves. They’ve commanded warships, led SEAL platoons and Marine infantry companies in combat, served in the Pentagon, rotated on and off Unified Combatant Command staff (PACOM, CENTCOM, EURCOM, etc). During my eight years on active duty, I’ve met 100’s of other officer, enlisted and civilian contractors. It’s a vast network of professionals that doesn’t divulge secrets or pass information to celebrities. I’ll leave it at that.

The Bottom Line: For my style of writing and genre, detailed research is well worth the time. I’m always feeling the crunch to make progress on a novel, but not at the expense of the reader experience. The trick is deciding which details are essential to the story, and which are gratuitous displays of knowledge gained during a Black Hole trip through the Web. I’m still honing this process. 

 

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Chapter Three Sample now available

I just posted Chapter Three here on my blog. I plan to release one chapter every Friday (or Thursday if I’m out-of-town), but I won’t add a new post like this every week…no need to clog your email boxes with notifications. I do have some exciting news about The Perseid Collapse, which I will release by next Friday, along with at least two chapters. Sorry to leave you with a cliff hanger, but I still have some details to work out and a plot board to modify. Trust me when I say, that the news is good for reader and author alike.

If you haven’t signed up for my New Release Updates List, I highly encourage it. It’ll give you a leg up on New Release information…and some of the giveaway prizes that will be linked to The Perseid Collapse Trilogy’s release. Did I say Trilogy? Click here to sign up.

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Veterans Donation Campaign Update

Given today’s tragic significance to our nation’s military, most specifically our selfless Special Operations community, I have decided to announce the results of the donation campaign surrounding the launch of my latest book, Black Flagged Vektor. Fictional, yet accurate renditions of service members, (particularly our Special Ops heroes) figure prominently in my novels, so I thought it only appropriate to split my target donation amount between two groups that best represent our nation’s finest.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.15.27 AMI have donated $1000 to the Wounded Warriors Project and $1000 to the Navy SEAL Foundation (my military roots begin with the Naval Special Warfare community). Both of these amounts will be matched, bringing the total to $4000. This brings the total amount given to these (and other) worthy Veteran’s organizations to $11,000 over the past two years.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.20.43 AMYour support of my books has made this possible, so please accept my sincerest and most enthusiastic THANK YOU! Spread the word, and lets continue to support dedicated, heroic men and women that TAKE THE FIGHT TO THE ENEMY.

Historical Background: Two years ago, on August 6th, 31 Special Operations service members were killed when their transport helicopter brought down by enemy fire. They were on their way to reinforce a unit of Army Rangers engaged in a brutal firefight nearby. Six years earlier, in late June, 19 Special Operations personnel were killed during Operation Red Wings, when a Quick Reaction Force helicopter was shot down during the rescue attempt of an overwhelmed SEAL patrol, killing all on board. Three of the four SEALs in the patrol were also killed that day.

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Black Flagged Vektor live at Amazon

 

Black Flagged VektorI’m very excited to announce that Black Flagged Vektor is now available as an ebook at Amazon. The hardcopy version should be available by the end of the weekend (always takes me a little longer to put that together…sorry Greg).

DONATION CAMPAIGN NEWS!

As always, I will donate a significant portion of the initial proceeds to veteran’s charities.

For Black Flagged Vektor’s launch, I have decided to split the donation between The Wounded Warrior Project and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Both organizations serve the unmet needs of veterans and their families, bringing the concept of “no man or woman left behind” to the often overlooked battle these families face even after they return from combat.

WE have raised $7000 for organizations like these over the course of the last three book launches. My goal is to donate $2000 and have that doubled by my company’s matching gifts program, raising the total to $11,000.

You can help the cause by spreading the word…and dare I say it…plunk down $4.97 for 420 pages of pure covert operations/political/espionage enjoyment!  Purchase Black Flagged Vektor Today

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