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

Review of Richard Stephenson’s RESISTANCE

Richard Stephenson’s follow up to Collapse will be available Monday, July 15th. If you like epic post-apocalyptic thrillers, Stephenson delivers. Fast paced, dystopian fun…let’s hope his vision of the future never comes to pass. “Fans of Collapse will not be disappointed with Stephenson’s second installment to the New America series. Fast forward eighteen months after the Collapse of 2027, and Howard Beck, president of the Pacific States of America, is plotting to defeat the Unified American Empire and restore unity to a nation torn apart by the nefarious deeds of the Great Empire of Iran…and some particularly opportunistic buzzards in D.C. The author spells it all out in macro detail, then starts to dig in where his strength truly lies…with street level action, bringing along the exceptionally developed cast from Collapse and introducing the reader to new characters. I was particularly happy to see Benjamin Black return with a major role in Resistance. He’s come a long way from the charismatic leader and Walmart destroyer we last saw in Collapse. Black is by far my favorite expanded character, along with a nefarious mystery saboteur/assassin that I couldn’t get enough of.   Stephenson treats the reader to just about everything in READ MORE

Review of Tim Queeney’s The Atlas Fracture

The Atlas Fracture is a solid entry in the Thriller/Adventure genre, the second in Queeney’s Perry Helion series. I’ll confess that I haven’t read the first…I jumped ahead in order, however, Queeney provides more than enough backstory to keep the reader in the game. “Tim Queeny’s The Atlas Fracture is a refreshingly sharp adventure technothriller. Set mostly in austere Antarctic environs, the story’s plot, characters and action brought excitement and ceaseless amazement to the barren landscape. Queeny reignites the action genre with a strong blend of character development, technical detail and chain reaction adventure, pitting his protagonist Perry Helion against a diabolical group of terrorists in a nearly nonstop march to the book’s finish line. Perry Helion, Tim Queeny’s protagonist from The Shiva Compression, is a hardened agent working for the Department of Defense’s enigmatic DARPA group, which is tasked with investigating new technologies and scientific discoveries for their possible military potential. When satellite imagery discovers that a scientific expedition to the Antarctic may have been wiped out, Helion is sent to investigate. It was no secret that the expedition had been drilling deep into the ice, in an effort to discover biological samples trapped miles below the surface. What READ MORE

Book Review of Blake Crouch’s PINES

This has been a blockbuster summer for Blake Crouch. Two incredible books released for the summer. I can’t thank him enough. This one will be released to the public on August 2oth. Make sure to reserve your copy now! Reserve a copy PINES brought Blake Crouch’s writing to a new level in my view. The story combines several elements that I enjoy in a story. Fast-paced, horrifying, and suspenseful, Crouch’s story featuring a relentless protagonist thrust into a seemingly hopeless situation against over-whelming odds. I had a hard time classifying this book, since PINES blends several genres seamlessly, spending much of its time planted firmly in suspense horror. Still, mystery and thriller elements abound, along with a genre I will not mention, in fear of spoiling the book’s unprecedented reveal. You don’t want to miss this one. PINES introduces the reader to Ethan Burke, a Secret Service agent who regains consciousness on a riverbank just beyond the outskirts of the idyllic town, Wayward Pines, Idaho. With little memory of why he is in the town, he starts to explore his surroundings, slowly adding pieces of this puzzle to a scrambled mosaic of fragmented explanations and inexplicable coincidences. Mystery turns to READ MORE

Review of Blake and Jordan Crouch’s EERIE

EERIE is a collaborative novel written by Blake Crouch and his brother Jordan. I refer to the author collectively as Crouch in this review. I’ve read many of Blake’s works…my favorite by far is RUN, which I reviewed here earlier. See Review for RUN. From what I can tell, crafting exceptional stories runs in the Crouch family DNA.  EERIE kept me riveted to the page until the very end. I honestly haven’t been this “chilled” or “goose bumped” by a novel since rereading Stephen King’s SALEM’S LOT after moving to Maine. I finished EERIE in a twenty-four hour period, constantly sneaking fifteen minutes here and there to get to the next scene. I won’t retell the story in detail, though it is important to pay attention from the beginning. I love stories like this…where I often search back through the book to reread a scene for clues and hints. At one point in the book, I guarantee you will reread the first chapter. This may sound like a spoiler, but the book is so engrossing that you won’t think about it until the time has come. When it does, you’ll have that “Sixth Sense” moment, when everything falls into place. READ MORE

Review of Hugh Howey’s WOOL

When I started to write a review for Hugh Howey’s sensational bestseller WOOL, I found myself with writer’s block. I never get writer’s block. So much has been said about the WOOL series that I struggled to find something new to say…maybe it’s not possible at this point. Hugh Howey is an inspiration to Indie writers like myself, as he continues to slug it out in the trenches, despite the wild success of this series. If you enjoy dystopian science fiction or apocalyptic stories, you can’t pass this one up. Destined to be a classic? I think so.  What more can be said about Hugh Howey’s WOOL, right? I suspect readers have just barely scratched the surface. WOOL is a delightfully wicked post-apocalyptic story, packed with an even flowing, inexhaustible supply of cleverly crafted allegorical and symbolic devices. From the Silo itself to the division of classes, Howey develops an irresistible world with a jarring number of eye opening parallels to our own pre-apocalyptic existence. Beyond this lies an engaging dystopian science fiction story, filled with intrigue, deception and hope. The deeper you dig into the series, the better it gets, though I have to admit that the first book READ MORE

Review of Richard Stephenson’s COLLAPSE

I’m a sucker for Apocalyptic Fiction, if you couldn’t already tell, so when Richard Stephenson offered me the opportunity to read an advanced copy of COLLAPSE, I couldn’t resist. Richard Stephenson’s debut novel held me in its grip from start to finish. Based in the not so distant future, the background for Collapse is a frightening projection ripped from current headlines. In the context of today’s Western financial crisis and Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Stephenson’s dystopian setting does not come across as a far-fetched fictional ploy, but rather one of several worst case scenarios developed by Beltway think-tanks. The year is 2027. The war with the new Empire of Iran is not going well. America’s heartland resembles a scene from Mad Max, with the newly formed Unified National Guard barely keeping control on the streets. The unemployment rate is no longer a relevant measure of the economy, because the employed are in the minority. America is still a super power, but that distinction is fading rapidly. This is the backdrop for a fast paced, character driven story that explores the best and worst of humanity. The reader will be introduced to a host of characters, all with a role to play READ MORE

Review of Joseph Souza’s THE REAWAKENING

For those of you who still don’t believe I have eclectic tastes in literature, here is more proof. I like zombie stories. I especially like zombie stories with a twist, or in this case, re-imagined. Joseph Souza still brings us the undead, but the premise behind their existence is a unique, intelligent addition to a tiring genre. I’ll probably get slammed for saying that…some of the hardcore zombiephiles never get tired of zombies. My own editor is one of them. Check out my review of THE REAWAKENING. “I always start my zombie novel reviews with a disclaimer. I selectively dabble in the genre, reading stories suggested by my editor, Felicia A. Sullivan, who has read every book in the genre (and has had a hand in editing a vast majority of them). I’ll admit from the start that I’m not a major fan of the mindless gore fest, and Felicia passes on recommendations with that consideration in mind. It was with great pleasure that I could return the favor and send something in her direction. I have read Joseph Souza’s works in the past and know him from the local Maine writing scene. His detective fiction and crime stories have READ MORE

Review of Russell Blake’s Revenge of the Assassin

As a loyal reader and fellow author, Russell provided me with an advanced copy of his newest release, Revenge of the Assassin. How do I repay his trust? By taking forever to finally get around to a review. I did have a vacation to Scandinavia to enjoy…that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Check out my review of Blake’s follow up to the smash sensation, King of Swords. It goes without saying that I continue to be impressed by Russell Blake’s offerings. I know you will too. “Russell Blake continues the blistering, “no holds barred” saga of El Rey in his smashing sequel to King of Swords. Demonstrating his unmatched versatility as a writer, he once again shifts gears and delivers a gritty, unapologetic look at the dark side of the Mexican drug war and its most feared instrument, El Rey. As a reader familiar with Blake’s works, I anticipated nothing less than an engaging thrill ride for this follow up to King of Swords. Blake clearly delivers more. Rarely has a sequel exceeded my expectations like Revenge of the Assassin. As I clicked past the last page on my Kindle, I said to myself…”@#!% if he didn’t do READ MORE

Interview by Book Reviewer and Blogger Extraordinaire…”Cookie’s Mom” (aka Sue)

As I warm to the concept of being interviewed, I find myself opening up and revealing more of the secrets behind my writing. Not really. I’m warming up to the process, but still wish I had some cool dark secret that kept me pounding away on the keyboard at 4:30 in the morning…something to explain the headaches and the voices…JUST KIDDING! With each interview, I’m forced to give more thought to the process of writing and the factors influencing the stories…so I uncover some pretty interesting connections that might have gone undiscovered otherwise. Take a look at my latest interview at Cookie’s Book Club…and check out her giveaway contest. I can’t think of a better Christmas present…for you or someone else, than a set of my books, signed for me by my son. I’m too busy now to sign books. ANOTHER BAD JOKE. Seriously, you can win a signed set of my books at her Book Club Blog. Cookie’s Book Club Interview with Steven Konkoly and Review of The Jakarta Pandemic READ MORE