Ryan Decker, Harlow Mackenzie and the gang are back in what will likely be the last Decker novel for a while. Knowing that this might be the last Decker book, I took the plot and action to the next level. Explosive doesn’t begin to describe what unfolds. In fact, when I began the first full edit with Kevin Smith, my developmental editor, I started off by saying…”I have a few more action scenes in mind, but I’m not sure if we should add them. Readers won’t get a break after the first few chapters.” His answer (paraphrased)…”Are you kidding? The more the merrier.” SO, reader be warned. This one doesn’t give you much rest.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what a few major review sources had to say about SKYSTORM.
“Explosive action, a breakneck pace, and zippy dialogue.”— Kirkus Reviews.
“Readers seeking a well-constructed action thriller need look no further.” — Publisher’s Weekly
“If you enjoy action thrillers that have both strong male and female characters, then this may be the series for you.” — Mystery and Suspense Magazine.
GRAB A COPY BY CLICKING ON YOUR LINK BELOW (You’ll find ebook, audio and paper through each link).
Unmasking a treasonous American conspiracy is a dangerous move in a heart-pounding thriller about greed, power, revenge, and murder.
After covert investigators Ryan Decker and Harlow Mackenzie demolished APEX, a billion-dollar criminal enterprise, a tenuous truce between the two factions suggested the battle was over. But not for Decker’s director, Senator Margaret Steele. She’s uncovered an even deadlier operation—code name Skystorm.
SKYSTORM violates every international arms-trafficking law imaginable. And for the senator, exposing the plot may be a gamble too far. APEX has caught wind of the investigation, and they’ve gone on the offensive. Steele’s warning to Decker and Harlow: we’re all in a no-holds-barred fight for our lives.
With APEX’s scorched-earth tactics now unmistakable, Decker and Harlow pull the trigger on their worst-case-scenario plan and move to turn the tables on their ruthless adversary. With a shadowy mercenary team, Decker and Harlow embark for a war—one that Skystorm’s influential DC backers have no intention of losing. To safeguard their treasonous secret, they aim to bury it, along with Decker and everyone he loves.
“There’s a reason they call it Murder Mountain, and Ryan Decker is on the verge of figuring it out—the hard way.”
I’ll keep this short and sweet. THE MOUNTAIN IS NOW AVAILABLE IN KINDLE OR HARDCOPY. Audiobook hits the shelves on July 28th.
Publishers Weekly had this to say about The Mountain.“Exciting action scenes help propel this tale of murderous greed and corruption toward a satisfying conclusion. Readers will look forward to Decker and company’s next adventure.”
Without you—the reader—my wife would make me get a real job. SO…THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR WHAT I KNOW WILL BE AN INCREDIBLE BOOK LAUNCH!
The Wall Street Journal bestselling series continues with THE MOUNTAIN.
Investigating a missing persons case on Murder Mountain means looking for trouble in a propulsive thriller by the author of The Raid.
When someone disappears on Northern California’s lawless Murder Mountain, it isn’t news. The vast terrain for illegal marijuana harvests is also a notorious black hole for outsiders. But when that someone is the family friend of the persuasive and righteous Senator Steele, finding him becomes covert investigator Ryan Decker’s mission.
For Decker, the risks of infiltrating a multibillion-dollar outlaw industry are greater than he could possibly understand. Especially when that industry has flourished into the profitable backbone of a secretive and influential DC-based think tank. And protecting its untraceable revenue in the Emerald Triangle is a band of ruthless white nationalists.
What begins as a seemingly straightforward favor soon pulls Decker and his partner, Harlow Mackenzie, into a high-stakes conspiracy linked to the most cold-blooded puppet masters and power brokers in the country. The harder Decker and Harlow work to expose the insidious faction, the harder it’ll be to make it out of Murder Mountain alive.
This topic often comes up in conversation, and I often lead with “I don’t read nearly as much as I did before I started writing.” While that may be true, after doing a little back-tracking into 2019, I came up with a fairly healthy list of books that I somehow found the time to read.
I’d like to share that list with you, to include a few words about the titles or series. I’ll also link these titles to Amazon if you want to dig deeper. No affiliate income is derived from these links. I probably missed a few books…as I created the list, I thought of more.
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter – Heart wrenching, based on the true story about one Polish-Jewish family’s epic struggle to survive the World War II. Compelling from star to finish.
YES…I need to expand this section in 2020!
Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay – Modern day, sublime version of The Exorcist…and so much more. The end will blow you away.
Book 2 in the Ryan Decker series is now available internationally at Amazon (see links below book cover) in ebook, paper and audiobook formats.
A Border Patrol murder exposes a high-level conspiracy in USA Today bestselling author Steven Konkoly’s explosive thriller.
After exposing and dismantling a deep-state conspiracy that nearly destroyed his life, Ryan Decker finds his covert skills have put him on the radar of influential Senator Steele. Now Steele needs his help. Two patrol agents were killed in a bizarre explosion near the US-Mexico border—and the evidence doesn’t line up with the official story.
Enlisted by Steele to run an undercover, off-the-books investigation, Decker and his partner, Harlow, head to the border town of Tecate. But when they’re caught in an ambush, Decker realizes they’ve stumbled onto something far more dangerous than any of them understood.
The cover-up is rooted deep in the Department of Defense itself. Fearful for their own lives and unable to trust anyone outside their small circle of skilled associates, Decker and Harlow set in motion a risky plan to stop a criminal conspiracy.
US AND INTERNATIONAL LINKS BELOW! Available at AMAZON in ebook, hard copy, hard cover and audiobook form.
WOW! It has been over a year since I last posted here. Crazy that more than a year has passed since the last Steven Konkoly book. I promise I won’t make you wait that long again. That said, I think you’ll find the long wait to have been well worth it.
THE RESCUE has arrived, featuring Ryan Decker, Harlow Mackenzie and a cast of memorable characters that early readers have thoroughly enjoyed. Don’t take my word for it! Over 600 reviews with a 4.6 out of 5 average speak for THE RESCUE.
US AND INTERNATIONAL LINKS BELOW! Available at AMAZON in ebook, hard copy, hard cover and audiobook form.
SOMETHING MERCILESS WATCHES OVER THE OUTBREAK–GUIDING ITS COURSE.
Having narrowly survived the KILL BOX, HOT ZONE’s hardened survivors and their KILL BOX allies separate to pursue different objectives–outside of the Indianapolis quarantine zone.
For David Olson, that means bringing his son south, to the safe haven of his parents’ home–far away from the infected cities. Eric Larsen takes him up on the offer to rest and heal at the house, before departing on the long journey to find his family in Colorado.
For Rich and his secretive black ops team, that means transporting Dr. Chang and Dr. Hale to a secure facility out east, where they will join the nation’s few surviving bioweapons researchers–with the hopes of pinpointing the source of the virus and possibly developing a vaccine.
Neither group will get very far, before the true face of the evil controlling the Zulu Virus arrives–tempting them with irresistible opportunities.
DANGEROUS OPPORTUNITIES, WITH THE POTENTIAL TO SWEEP THEM RIGHT INTO A LETHAL FIRESTORM
A LETHAL BIOWEAPON HAS BEEN RELEASED ACROSS AMERICA.
With their daring escape plan thwarted at the last possible moment, HOT ZONE’s motley band of survivors faces a worst-case scenario. Forced to take refuge near the epicenter of the bioweapons outbreak, deep inside in a city gone mad, THEIR TIME IS RUNNING OUT.
Unable to slow or adequately contain the infected population, the government has triggered KILL BOX, a desperate and merciless contingency protocol.
HOT ZONE’s survivors have less than twenty-four hours to escape the KILL BOX.
The Zulu Virus Chronicles places you at ground zero during a chillingly realistic, insidious “event.” This is a story about regular people from different walks of life coming together to survive an unthinkable disaster.
I know. The blog post title sounds like some kind of movie nobody should watch, or an audiobook nobody should listen to! I figured the worse the title, the more curious you’d be. Morbidly curious.
HOT ZONE just hit the audiobook shelves at Audible and iTunes, so instead of a post with a single title, I thought I’d create a post listing all of my audiobook titles. A one stop reference for those of you with long commutes, long walks to take, long breaks at work OR those of you who simply don’t like to “READ.” I know who you are!
CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW FOR EACH STORE
I’ll start with HOT ZONE and break it down by series after that. Happy Listening!
Not words you’d typically want to hear under any other circumstances.
HOT ZONE, the first book in THE ZULU VIRUS CHRONICLES, is now available in Kindle or hard copy on Amazon. The audiobook version will follow in August. HOT ZONE is also enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program.
Lee: Having just finished HOT ZONE, I’ll start out by saying “I see what you did there.”
Steve: Is that a good or bad thing?
Lee: It’s a very good thing. For those of you wondering, there’s a subtle tie-in to one of your previous series, I won’t give it away, but let’s just say that it’s brilliant, hiding just below the surface. Obviously, you did this on purpose. Can you expand on that?
Steve: Guilty as charged. When I set out to write another series in the post-apocalyptic/dystopian/disaster genre, I wanted to take it in a different direction than most of the books recently written in the genre. I didn’t have to look very far. I had been sitting on a devastating scenario since 2012, when I wrote REDUX: A Black Flagged thriller. I had already created the perfect bioweapon, and put it in the hands of some very nefarious people. They just never got to use it thanks to some skilled and enterprising American operatives. The ZULU VIRUS CHRONICLES imagines what might have happened if that virus had been released.
Lee: So this isn’t a Black Flagged book.
Steve: Right. Fans of those books will find a few Easter Eggs, but this is an entirely new story that every thriller reader will enjoy. There’s no homework required to read the ZVC books.
Lee: That’s good to hear. Nobody likes homework. You obviously enjoy unleashing viruses on the world—that sounded kind of odd, didn’t it?
Steve: It did, but let’s go with it.
Lee: I’ll rephrase it. This isn’t the first time you’ve fictionally unleashed a virus on an unsuspecting world. Your first novel, The Jakarta Pandemic, imagined what it might take for an everyday family to survive a lethal pandemic and the ensuing societal collapse. In HOT ZONE, I strongly sensed a return to that type of storytelling.
Steve: I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear that. I really wanted to return to my roots with the ZULU VIRUS CHRONICLES, and tell the kind of story that launched my career. The Jakarta Pandemic was an intimate, if not claustrophobic, look at a pandemic’s impact on “normal people.” It focused less on the disease itself and more on the unpredictability of the human factor.
Lee: That’s what made it so fascinating in my opinion. It bucked all previous trends, focusing on regular citizens instead of the usual “CDC scientist running around the world saving the day.” Your characters barely left their neighborhood, and the neighborhood nearly killed them.
Steve: I take a similar approach in HOT ZONE, but the characters won’t have the luxury of lingering in one place for very long. Readers will get a taste of several different walks of life, as the disaster unfolds around this diverse group of characters. By the time the outbreak is in full swing, the characters will be doing what they do best in my books. Trying to survive. Moving frequently will be one of the keys to survival in this series.
Lee: You certainly don’t make it easy on your characters in this one. I can attest to that. I do have to call you out on one thing. There’s a hint of conspiracy in HOT ZONE, and a scientist who looks like he might be in a position to “save the day.” He definitely falls into the regular character category for now, but I see some potential. Am I wrong?
Steve: I can neither confirm nor deny the expansion of his role in future books, but I do like to take characters out of their comfort zones, so we’ll see. As for hints of conspiracy in HOT ZONE—don’t forget that we’re talking about a suspected, widespread bioweapons release on U.S. soil. A conspiracy lurks. I just haven’t decided how much of it will come into play within the series. Right now, it’s in the background, where it might reach out from time to time to hinder or even help the characters—the true focus of the story.
Lee: HOT ZONE is a frighteningly realistic look at a bioweapons attack from several angles on the ground. You obviously put a ton of research and thought into this scenario. So…why bioweapons?
Steve: Because bioweapons scare the $#@% out of me! Seriously. I wrote The Jakarta Pandemic partly because I’ve always been obsessed with viruses and biological warfare. I blame Stephen King’s The Stand, which I read as a teenager. People forget that Captain Trips, the virus in The Stand, originated in a fictional U.S. bioweapons lab. The beginning of that book was brilliant, and stuck with me for years. Still does. I’m rambling. After The Jakarta Pandemic, I didn’t stray far from viruses. No wonder. Right?
Lee: I see where you’re coming from, now.
Steve: I don’t like to be predictable. That’s a bad thing for an author.
Lee: You’re hardly predictable, especially with HOT ZONE. I guarantee readers won’t see where this book is headed. Last question. You claimed to have “created” the perfect bioweapon. What did you mean by that, fictionally of course.
Steve: I appreciate the disclaimer. I don’t need any more black vans on the block. Bioweapons in general are horrifying by nature, designed not only to kill and maim, but to inflict fear. A slow killer that requires the maximum amount of resources to handle. There’s no easy solution when dealing with an effective bioweapons attack. Unlike bullets or bombs, a properly designed bioweapon can cripple everyone, but leave them alive—needing extensive on site care and support. The impact of a bioweapon can’t be underestimated or overstated. It’s more like the “perfect weapon.” And in the grand scheme of terrorist weapons, they can be relatively inexpensive, flying under the radar in hidden laboratories around the world, or right here in the U.S.
Lee: Thanks for scaring the $#@! out of me, Steve.
WITH LESS THAN TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE PROJECTED RELEASE IN LATE JUNE…I figured it was time to give give you more than just a few teasers about HOT ZONE, book one in The Zulu Virus Chronicles.
Before I go crazy here, I want to highlight an opportunity to be an integral part of the The Zulu Virus Chronicles launch. I plan to provide advanced reader copies (ARCs) of HOT ZONE (and all future books in this series) to a sizable group of readers. I can’t include everyone in this, but for those of you that would be willing to read a free copy of the books ahead of the launch, and possibly share your opinion of the book with the pubic, I will consider you a candidate. I will also form a members only group on Facebook, where we can “hang out,” and I can pass news, launch material and get your opinion on aspects of the story. You don’t have to be on Facebook to be part of this group. If you’re interested in doing this, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org OR message me directly at my author page on Facebook by CLICKING HERE.
NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF. What exactly can you expect from The Zulu Virus Chronicles?
Fans of my Black Flagged books will be somewhat familiar with the Zulu Virus, which has been featured in that series. The Zulu Virus Chronicles, however, takes place in a world mostly separate from the Black Flagged series. An alternate reality, so to speak. Black Flagged readers will catch a few “Easter eggs,” but The Zulu Virus Chronicles is a post-apocalyptic thriller saga, with a strong hint of political/government conspiracy. The setting is current day, in a Midwest city—Indianapolis. Much of the action takes place within a thirty minute drive of my house. I’ve driven the routes. Walked the streets. Shopped in the same stores. Visited the locations. I kind of feel bad inflicting this disaster on my new hometown, but it’s what I do. Scarborough, Maine was never the same after The Jakarta Pandemic. I just hope my new neighbors don’t think I’m crazy…too.
With that said, here’s the cover and blurb for HOT ZONE, BOOK ONE. After the blurb, you’ll find several sample chapters, which will introduce you to all of the main characters, and hopefully scare the $#@! out of you. Keep in mind. The weaponized virus you’ll meet in these chapters was not my idea. Minds far more disturbed thought of this first. I just hope they never successfully create and deploy it.
“By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.”
-William Shakespeare’s Macbeth-
SOMETHING INSIDIOUS HAS EMERGED—RIGHT IN THE HEARTLAND OF OUR NATION.
Dr. Lauren Hale, a hospital resident, is nearly killed by a raving mad emergency room patient, in a senseless, unprovoked attack.
Officer David Olson, veteran cop and former Marine, returns from a father-son camping trip to discover that his ex-wife has vanished under bizarre circumstances, and his police department is on the verge of collapse.
Jack and Emma Harper, a young upwardly mobile couple, find their cozy, city neighborhood rapidly descending into madness.
Dr. Eugene Chang, a research scientist for major pharmaceutical company, makes a shocking discovery that might explain the rapidly spreading wave of illness and violence gripping the city.
Eric Larsen, leader of a top-secret, rapid-response unit, circles high above Indianapolis, in an unmarked military transport. Mission still unknown, his team waits to parachute into the night.
WITHIN FORTY-EIGHT HOURS, ALL OF THEIR WORLDS WILL COLLIDE, driving them to join forces to survive the living nightmare that has been unleashed on their city—AND THE NATION.
WELCOME TO THE HOT ZONE!
SAMPLE CHAPTERS BELOW. Keep in mind, these have not been professionally edited. This is a raw, sneak peek into HOT ZONE.
THE DEALS AND NEW RELEASES KEEP ON COMING! I’ll keep this short, in bullet format, because my wife informed me that I have a tendency to ramble…and she’s the boss.
1.) Both novels in my Fractured State series (near future covert operations and conspiracy thriller) have been discounted by my publisher to $1.99. They aren’t free, but at $1.99 each, you’re looking at a 75% discount for the series. Click the images below to grab a copy from the U.S. Amazon store. Sorry, but the deal is not available outside of the U.S.
2.) Long time good friend and fellow author, Lee West, just released Resist and Evade, sequel to the smash hit, Survive and Escape. Lee’s Blue Lives Apocalypse Series focuses on the police response during a widespread EMP event; a unique twist in an overworked genre. At my recommendation, Lee keeps the series at a very affordable $2.99 each. Trust me. These books are a steal at the price. Check out this series if you’re looking for something new in the post-apocalyptic genre. CLICK ON THE IMAGES for the U.S. Amazon Store.
3.) Bestselling author and good friend, Nicholas Sansbury Smith, has taken the post-apocalyptic genre by storm with his TRACKERS series. Nick rocked the military post-apocalyptic thriller world with his EXTINCTION CYCLE series, bringing that same expertise to the TRACKERS books. THE HUNTED, book 2 in the series hits the shelves (ebook and paper) on May 4. THE STORM, book 3, comes in October 2017. This is a very reasonably priced, rock-solid series of books. The first book is $2.99, a complete steal for this USA Today Bestselling author. CLICK ON THE IMAGES for the U.S. Amazon Store. You can also follow Nick through his newsletter by CLICKING HERE.
4.) Later this week, I’m going to reveal the full premise of my upcoming series, THE ZULU VIRUS CHRONICLES, to include a few initial chapters. I’m beyond excited about this series—the first book will be available in June 2017.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED READERSHIP AND SUPPORT!
***Post-apocalyptic fans will find some VERY exciting news at the end of this post (new series), so keep reading. Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the Black Flagged series***
I’ve led readers on a wild ride through the Black Flagged series, most of that ride centered around a particularly nasty, weaponized virus created by Dr. Anatoly Reznikov, a devilishly unhinged, former employee of the Russian Federation’s State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology (VECTOR Institute).
—REDUX (Book 2) followed Dr. Reznikov to Monchegorsk, Russia, where he infected a city of 60,000 inhabitants with the ZULU Virus—in a twisted revenge plot against the Russian government. Readers saw first hand what can happen to a populated area hit with the virus.
—APEX (Book 3) brought the ZULU Virus to the United States, where it was snatched from the hands of Al Qaeda, by a sophisticated domestic terrorist group that had orchestrated the creation and delivery of the virus from the very start.
—VEKTOR (Book 4) extinguished the bioweapons threat created by Dr. Reznikov, along with the illegal bioweapons research program at the Vector Institute—ALMOST.
—OMEGA (Book 5) brings Dr. Reznikov and his designer viruses back into the spotlight, amidst political turmoil in the United States and a blossoming conspiracy.
—VORTEX (Book 6)—TO BE RELEASED IN 2017 OR EARLY 2018—will marry Dr. Reznikov’s lethal creations to the ultimate conspiracy against the United States.
Excited yet! I am. The conspiracy introduced in REDUX (Book 2) will come full circle in VORTEX (Book 6), which I promise will be unlike anything you’ve read before. I know, that’s a tall order.
Why should post-apocalyptic readers and fans be excited by all of this?
Think The Jakarta Pandemic meets The Perseid Collapse, with a hint of conspiracy. Still not convinced?
CLICK HERE (PDF) to read a few of the hard core post-apocalyptic chapters from Black Flagged Redux to get a taste of what’s to come. This series will not be directly linked to the current Black Flagged books. It is a standalone, post-apocalyptic series based on a worst-case scenario release of the ZULU Virus in the United States.
WHAT IS THE ZULU VIRUS? Check out the description of the virus taken directly from the Black Flagged novels.
“A weaponized form of herpes simplex encephalitis, genetically modified to aggressively attack the brain’s temporal lobe. Left untreated, herpes simplex encephalitis has a high fatality rate. Near seventy percent. Treated aggressively, we can reduce this to thirty percent.”
“If the Zulu virus is released into a public water source, containment of the disease itself will not be our biggest challenge. Physical containment of the impacted community and the management of information will be your biggest priority. Weaponized encephalitis is the ultimate biological weapon.”
“Herpes simplex encephalitis does more than produce casualties…In those treated aggressively, less than three percent regain normal brain function. This can vary from very mild to severe impairment, depending upon several factors. Early treatment with high dose, intravenous acyclovir is the only modifiable factor scientists have identified.”
“If released in a municipal water supply, unknown to the population, it has the potential to affect nearly everyone. Take a small town of twenty thousand people. Even if we discovered the attack immediately after the virus circulated through the drinking water and treated everyone in the town with acyclovir, 95% of them will suffer neurological impairment at varying levels. 19,000 citizens. Neurological impairment will range from full homicidal rage and hyper-aggressive behavior to minor seizures. Brain damage in almost every case.”
Media Report regarding situation in Monchegorsk, Russian Federation taken from Black Flagged Apex—IMAGINE THE SAME REPORT COMING OUT OF INDIANAPOLIS.
“Confirmed news from the area is scarce, but persistent rumors of a deadly epidemic continue to surface. So far, nobody has been able to confirm the shocking and unbelievable footage sent anonymously to Reuters, suggesting that the Russian military is systematically destroying the city and killing its inhabitants. Russian officials have made no comment. One thing is for certain, the Russian government has taken extraordinary measures to seal off the area surrounding Monchegorsk. What is truly frightening is the fact that the world hasn’t seen an emergency government response on this scale from the Russian government since Chernobyl.”
MORE NEWS ABOUT THIS SERIES TO COME! Enjoy this cover reveal.
THANK YOU for very patiently waiting for this book. I released Black Flagged VEKTOR (Book 4) in the summer of 2013, after deciding to take a short break from the series. I’d written four books back-to-back in two years and was starting to see the Black Flagged characters in my sleep. That short break turned into a long detour. Six books and several novellas, in two different series, to be exact. I really appreciate your loyalty and patience. I think you’ll find OMEGA worth the wait.
I had a lot of time to ponder the fifth book, which I thought would be the last novel in the core series. I’m very pleased to let you know that there will be a sixth book. Halfway through OMEGA, I realized that the finale I had in mind for this story was worth a full novel, so you can expect book six within the next year or so. I don’t want to give too much away, but the scope of the conspiracy unveiled in OMEGA is vast and devastating, unlike anything you may have read before.
On that note, I need to make a statement that I’ve never included in my books before OMEGA:
All characters and corporations or establishments appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Why the disclaimer? You’ll soon find out. Here’s a little background and a hint. In 2012, I created a fictitious political movement for Black Flagged APEX, called True America. Some similarities in core beliefs between the Tea Party movement and True America existed, but my intention, as stated in APEX, was to create a third, viable party vying for political power. I had plans for True America later in the series. Fast-forward to the spring of 2016, when I finished the first third of OMEGA, in which True America shocks the establishment and wins the 2008 (series time) presidential election. You can probably see where this is headed.
“Truth is stranger than fiction, but because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t” — Mark Twain.
Black Flagged OMEGA takes place in 2009, roughly two years after the events of Black Flagged VEKTOR.
OMEGA: A BLACK FLAGGED THRILLER (Book 5) redefines the characters, organizations and all of the relationships readers have come to known in the Black Flagged series. At the same time, OMEGA introduces a blistering conspiracy perpetrated at the highest levels of power.
VORTEX: A BLACK FLAGGED THRILLER (Book 6—COMING IN 2018) will unleash a disturbingly familiar, but entirely reimagined conspiracy to the American people.
“A joint U.S.- Russian Special Forces raid against a hidden laboratory yields an alarming discovery. Anatoly Reznikov, the deranged bioweapons scientist stolen from U.S. custody a few years earlier, vanished minutes before the attack—taking his deadly work with him.
In the United States, Beltway power brokers grapple withTrue America’s surprise presidential win, finding the new administration to be anything but easy to work with. Karl Berg, demoted within the CIA due to the sudden shift in agency leadership, seeks to stay out of trouble, and retire quietly—a task he finds impossible when news of Reznikov’s near-capture unofficially reaches his desk.
Oblivious to the growing threats domestic and abroad, Daniel and Jessica Petrovich finalize their plan to abandon the “Black Flag” business for good, only to have it delayed by close-hitting news. A last minute trip to the United States drags them closer to an unfolding plot in the heart of Washington D.C.
A plot connected to everyone and everything the Petrovich’s have touched. A diabolical conspiracy none of them saw coming—AND ONLY ONE GROUP CAN STOP!”
For those of you who’ve read FRACTURED STATE, you’ve probably guessed that the key conflict of the series revolves around WATER. While the public faces of the One Nation Coalition (anti-secessionists) and the California Liberation Movement (secessionists) fight over the fate of California and the disposition of its natural and man-made resources in Fractured State, a game changing plot has been set in motion that will be exposed in ROGUE STATE. A plot that could potentially undermine the billions of dollars invested by One Nation Coalition supporters to ensure the future of the profits in the Golden State.
Nathan Fisher’s family, along with David Quinn find themselves at the very heart of a second conspiracy aimed at virtually guaranteeing California’s secession from the United States. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll leave you with a few clues.
1.) The image below shows a recent picture of Lake Mead, on the reservoir side of the Hoover Dam. The light colored rock represents the water level several years ago. The drop over the last decade has been drastic, unlike anything seen since the dam’s construction. The continuing drought has dropped the water level of Lake Mead to critical levels. In the 2035 world of Fractured State, the level would be at least four to five times lower, at the point where water trickles downriver. At that level, no water can be pumped to Las Vegas, or diverted to Arizona. The electrical power plant run by the flowing water has been decommissioned. California receives little to no water from a source that had once provided most of Southern California’s water supply.
2.) In 2035, the only peaceful way to restore the Colorado River flow would be to either convince multi-billionaire agriculture barons in the Great Plains to stop illegally diverting water, the only way for them to currently water their crops, OR, to convince the U.S. government to stop the illegal redirection of water from the Colorado River. Southwestern states have pursued both options for nearly two decades, but nothing has changed.
3.) Another option exists. Rivers flow naturally, unless they’re obstructed. You can probably guess the rest.
If you’re interested in digging deeper into the politics,history and controversies surrounding the Colorado River Basin and other major fresh water sources, you can explore this links:
With the launch of ROGUE STATE (Book 2 in the Fractured State Series) a few days away, I wanted to give readers and fans a look behind the curtains of the upcoming release. I thought I’d go with a TOP TEN list, because it’s early and I don’t have to come up with clever seaways between paragraphs. I have a 10 hour writing day ahead of me, so bear with this streamlined process. What this really means is that 1.) I haven’t had enough coffee yet. AND 2.) I’m getting a little lazier, truth be told.
HERE’S WHAT READERS CAN EXPECT ON JANUARY 10th!
1.) Adaptive Camouflage: Sometimes called “active camouflage,” this fledgling technology today will be fully developed and available to the military and highest bidder in the 2035 world created for Rogue State. You can imagine the tactical benefits of rendering a vehicle or operative invisible to the naked eye or infrared detection. Check out a few links describing today’s efforts to harness this technology. The image to the right is from the movie Predator, I couldn’t resist…the ultimate in adaptive camouflage.
2.) Rifle mounted, goggle integrated cameras: This isn’t exactly something new, but it isn’t routinely fielded today. I got the idea from playing Call of Duty and did some research. Like anything that might provide the modern day field operative or soldier an advantage, companies are putting consider time and money into development. Consider the benefit of being able to stick your rifle around a corner, see a target and shoot it.
3.) Facial Recognition Software is widely, publicly and openly used by law enforcement and government agencies in 2035. A few states have declared it unconstitutional and prohibit the use of FRS technology. This isn’t new either, but as far as we know, proactive, wide scale use by the government hasn’t been implemented yet—OR HAS IT? Here’s a quick paragraph from Rogue State describing the problem.
“Federal law enforcement agencies devoted significant funding to co-opting municipal and state FRS feeds, posing a significant detection risk. The Department of Homeland Security maintained a massive persons-of-interest FRS database, reportedly tracking the real-time movements of nearly a million people.”
4.) Most of Texas, the American Southwest and the western half of the lower breadbasket states have become the New Dust Bowl, an area ravaged by drought severe weather patterns. Massive dust storms and firestorms have driven most of the population, in the worst hit areas (Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas) away permanently.
5.) Taking advantage of the population resettlement, drug cartels from Mexico have seized control of most of Arizona and New Mexico. The U.S.-Mexico border no longer exists as a barrier in those areas, and fierce battles rage between well equipped cartel soldiers and National Guard units in key border cities along the Texas border. It’s fair to say that the State Department has issued a travel advisory to Americans thinking about vacationing in Mexico. Much of Rogue State takes place a few miles south of the border or in these lawless U.S. areas.
6.) Social Media Network monitoring provides real time crime and terrorist information for law enforcement agencies and our government. Once again, this isn’t something I imagined. It’s happening today—I just took it to a new level in Rogue State.
7.) Mercenaries used by corporations to achieve their “goals.” You already got a good taste of this in Fractured State. CERBERUS is essentially a high-end mercenary outfit retained by corporations to safeguard their financial interests—or create new ones. In Rogue State, you’ll meet a slightly less refined group of mercenaries, comprised of former Russian Special Forces (GRU) operators. They specialize in murder and mayhem, which will unfold spectacularly and gruesomely.
8.) New Characters: Sounds kind of boring, but trust me, you’ll like some of the new faces that appear in Rogue State. David Quinn’s father, Stuart Quinn plays a key role, along with David’s brother in-law, Blake. The Russian mercenary commander, Chukov, won’t fail to make an impression. He’s a piece of work, and was a pleasure to write. Nissie Keane, a hacker employed by CERBERUS will play an important role in Rogue State and future books (spoiler). Finally, readers will get to know Jose (Nathan and company’s mysterious savior from book one) very well, along with some of his most trusted California Liberation Movement operatives.
9.) Fracking: And not the kind from the rebooted Battlestar Galactica show. I won’t say much about this, because it would be a big spoiler for the rest of the series. Let’s just say that CERBERUS isn’t looking for oil in the California desert.
10.) A Bigger Plot Unfolds: I’ll talk more about this in the fifth Behind The Scenes article, but it will become clear to Nathan Fisher and David Quinn that the California Liberation Movement is far more than what it seems to the public. They’ll face a tough decision when confronted with the full scope of Jose’s plan.
If you’re read this in the other post, go ahead and skip this paragraph. Instead of the traditional “end of the year review” about what I’ve accomplished as a writer, I wanted to highlight something different this year. What I accomplished as a reader. 2016 was without a doubt my best year as an author from every angle, but it was also one of the best years I can remember as a reader.
2016 introduced me to new writers and firmly solidified my commitment to some of my previous favorites. Below you’ll find my 2016 THRILLER reading list, in no particular order. This is not an all encompassing list by any means. I’ll probably add to the list as the days go forward. It’s also worth mentioning that you should strongly consider checking out the backlists and earlier in series books for ALL of these authors.
Instead of the traditional “end of the year review” aboutwhat I’ve accomplishedas a writer, I wanted to highlight something different this year. What I accomplished as a reader. 2016 was without a doubt my best year as an author from every angle, but it was also one of the best years I can remember as a reader.
2016 brought some exciting new names to the POST APOCALYPTIC and DYSTOPIAN genres, in addition to plenty of releases from the “tried and true” PA authors of the past several years. Below you’ll find my 2016 reading list, in no particular order. Some of the books are first in a new series. Some are a 5th or 6th in a series. Each author is worth checking out in full! Many have written multiple series. I hope you get as much entertainment out of these as I did.
UPDATE 12/14/16: The THRILLER THIRTEEN boxset raised close to $4,000 for the International Justice Mission. A HUGE THANK YOU to the thousands of readers that supported this cause, and grabbed a great compilation of stories. On top of that, the boxset hit the USA Today Bestseller List! See below:
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE HERE! Each boxset on sale for 99 CENTS! The best part? One of my stories is included in each set! Already read my books? No worries. You’ll find novels and novellas by some of the top authors out there.
UPDATE 12/11/16: THIS BOXSET IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE FOR THE LIMITED TIME OFFER OF 99 CENTS.
THRILLER THIRTEEN features novellas and short stories by bestselling authors in thriller, mystery and crime. All proceeds go to the International Justice Mission, an organization dedicated to fighting human slavery and trafficking around the globe.You’ll find ORIGINS: A Black Flagged Short Story in this boxset, which takes readers back to Daniel Petrovich’s early years as a Black Flagged operative. It’s a gritty, brutal look at Daniel’s undercover mission to infiltrate a Serbian paramilitary group during Slobodan Milosevic’s reign of terror in Yugoslavia.
KILLS, CHILLS AND THRILLS features a “first in a series novel” from seven bestselling authors that spawned fan-fiction Kindle Worlds. Proceeds will go to Read Aloud America, an organization dedicated to promoting family literacy in the United States. I have contributed The Perseid Collapse to the boxset; a book that has spawned 35 fan-fiction stories set in that post-apocalyptic world. The fan-fiction worlds created by seven authors featured in the boxset have inspired more than 200 stories set in those worlds.
The long awaited fifth book in the Black Flagged series is now available for PREORDER. Ebook version only for the preorder. Hardcopy and audiobook versions will be available closer to the FEBRUARY 20, 2017 release date.
BOOK FIVE has been renamed OMEGA (Reprisals and Vortex are gone), to symbolize the events and circumstances that will unfold in the story. Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet, and Alpha is the first. It is no coincidence that the series starts with Alpha and ends with Omega. Beginning and end. And that doesn’t mean the series ends with OMEGA. It means things as series readers know it will change significantly…you’ll see what I mean. GRAB A COPY OF OMEGA TODAY!
OMEGA: A Black Flagged Thriller (Book 5)
“A joint U.S.- Russian Special Forces raid against a hidden laboratory yields an alarming discovery. Anatoly Reznikov, the deranged bioweapons scientist stolen from U.S. custody a few years earlier, vanished minutes before the attack—taking his deadly work with him.
In the United States, Beltway power brokers grapple with True America’s surprise presidential win, finding the new administration to be anything but easy to work with. Karl Berg, demoted within the CIA due to the sudden shift in agency leadership, seeks to stay out of trouble, and retire quietly—a task he finds impossible when news of Reznikov’s near-capture unofficially reaches his desk.
Oblivious to the growing threats domestic and abroad, Daniel and Jessica Petrovich finalize their plan to abandon the “Black Flag” business for good. An unforeseen, last minute personal trip to the United States drags them into an unfolding plot, based in the rotten heart of Washington D.C.
A plot connected to everyone and everything the Petrovich’s have touched. A diabolical conspiracy nobody saw coming—AND ONLY ONE GROUP CAN STOP.”
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!
Building the greater world surroundingTHE 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.
If 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.
Color 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.
Smart 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.”
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.
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 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.
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.
For 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.
I’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.
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.”
If you follow me on Facebook, or occasionally check for my latest release on Amazon, you’ve probably noticed that my books look different from time to time. If you stalk my books (I don’t mind that at all!), you might wonder if I’m addicted to changing book covers.
Since publishing The Jakarta Pandemic over five years ago, I’ve changed the covers for every book published at least twice. The older the book, the more change they’ve seen. While it is absolutely true that I LOVE NEW BOOK COVERS, I can assure you a lot more thought goes into the changes than satisfying a potentially expensive addiction. Instead of a didactic explanation of the general process, I’ll walk you through the thought process for the books that have seen the most change. The Black Flagged books have undergone the most dramatic changes over the years. When I first published Black Flagged, I hadn’t decided if the characters and plot would continue in a series. Frankly, I had no idea if the books would sell! With that in mind, Jeroen ten Berge created a standalone cover, which remains my favorite to this day. There’s something about this cover that draws me back, over and over again.
Despite my love affair with the original cover, we decided to change it when I committed to a three book series. Jeroen suggested a uniquely branded look across the books, resulting in the covers that adorned the series for the longest stretch of time to date. The continuity of the covers, forming a flag, is a brilliant touch. Unfortunately, I hadn’t anticipated the forth book (Black Flagged Vektor), so we couldn’t fit it into this particular cover stretch.
Instead, Jeroen created a new look for Book 4. It has the same feel, but draws VEKTOR out with an eerie green color. These covers represented the series nearly 2 years.
The next set of changes resulted from a simple need to shake up the series. It was time. Repackaging the books breathed a new life into the series, as new readers discovered a series they may have passed up before. The books took on a new life with a more technothriller oriented look
Flash forward a year! I learned some interesting lessons participating in a few Amazon sponsored advertisement programs. Amazon does not like to mass advertise books with guns on the covers, so why cut myself out of that opportunity? We changed things up a bit. The new covers also coincided with a purposeful rebranding of the series to shift the title of the first book from Black Flagged to Black Flagged Alpha, and we added some iconic genre related images.
UPDATE: DEALS ON ALL BOOKS ENDED DEC 24th. Sorry you missed out this time around!
FREE BOOKS, MASSIVELY DISCOUNTED BOOKS! I’m EITHER in the holiday spirit, OR, I’ve lost my mind. My wife nodded gently at the latter—she knows me best. 😉
HERE’S THE BOTTOM LINE. All of my Black Flagged books are on sale or free for a limited time. Keep reading to learn more.
For the next few days, you can grab the Black Flagged Box Set (Books 2-4) for $0.99. That’s a 95% off buying all three separately and 90% off the regular price of the Box Set ($9.99)! FOLLOW THIS LINK to the deal on AMAZON.
TIS THE SEASON TO GIVE LOW PRICED BOOKS AS GIFTS! This is the first time I’ve offered the Box Set at a discount, and I’ve decided to go full crazy on the price for the holidays. AND WHY NOT SPREAD THE CHEER? You can gift a copy of the bundle and/or Black Flagged Alpha to a friend or family member that enjoys books by Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Robert Ludlum, Clive Cussler or Lee Child. The best part? They won’t know you got it on sale! See example below to find the button to GIFT a copy. All you need is your friend or family member’s email address and you’re a few clicks away!
As always, thank you for your continued readership and support. It means the world to me.
Have a wonderful holiday season!
P.S. The Perseid Collapse will be on sale for $0.99 of FRIDAY!
Murray McDonald has been a long time writer and friend, eventually introducing me to “good scotch” made in a distillery (Glengoyne) just north of the Scottish highland line. This alone was worthy of his inclusion in my Friends Hall of Fame (I just made up that organization). Beyond picking out fantastic scotch, his true talent lies in his writing. He can spin a masterful, international thriller, which is why I was ecstatic to learn that he would write a novella for The Perseid Collapse Series Kindle World.
His novella, Rockland, set in Maine, will shed light on the complex, nebulous Chinese conspiracy leading up to the “event” in The Perseid Collapse—exposing the brutal, human side of Operation Red Dragon. With Murray’s track record of delivering unexpected twists and turns, this is guaranteed to entertain. Look for this soon after the launch!
I recently launched two novellas in Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines Kindle World, completing my planned Genesis Series prequel.
Last Betrayal and Sanctuary are available on Amazon for $1.99 each. Combined, the three novellas span 250 pages, chronicling Adam Hassler’s introduction to the Wayward Pines landscape, along with many other familiar characters. The major backdrop to my series is the construction of the fence…I won’t say anymore. If you haven’t heard of the Wayward Pines series, and you’re a fan of suspense or thrillers with a horror twist…this is your series. Watch the trailer for the upcoming Fox mini-series, but be careful. You might become hooked!
If you decide to give it a try, start with Blake Crouch’s Pines. At the very least read his first book before my series. The twist near the end of his book is epic, and would be spoiled by my novellas. Trust me on this.
Probably none of you. I know I wouldn’t. How about one hour? Sounds better to me.
Last week I spent four combined hours on live internet radio and podcasts, talking about the upcoming post-apocalyptic collapse, survival, prepping, the Ebola threat, myself (occasionally), my books and the menstrual threat lurking around every corner (you can thank Prepper Chicks for that). Lots of great information, hearty laughs and serious confessions broken into four, one hour segments. There’s something for everyone—I promise.
Rational Survivor Podcast. Finally, Randy Powers and I spent more than an hour talking with Kyle, the Rational Survivor, about our upcoming collaboration, Practical Prepping: No Apocalypse Required, and many, many prepping topics. Lots of information in this one.
on 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.
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!
UPDATE 7/30: Jeroen ten Berge has graciously stepped in and designed a most fitting cover for PRACTICAL PREPPING. Once again, I’m simply blown away by his work. Thank you, Jeroen!
PRACTICAL PREPPING: NO APOCALYPSE REQUIRED, is a light-hearted, instructional look at the basic steps ANYONE can take to prepare for a disaster. From a foreign invasion to the zombie apocalypse—just kidding. We included No Apocalypse Required in the title for a good reason. This isn’t a book about ditching the suburbs for a heavily defended, self-sufficient compound in rural Minnesota. We explore real-life concepts and solutions to REAL-LIFE problems.
Disclaimer: This is not a “HOW TO” manual for every scenario. Sure, you’ll find a few lists, and a number of highlighted suggestions, but the bulk of our book focuses on practicalreadiness steps you can take or tactical concepts you can embrace, without interrupting your life or breaking the bank. Randy and I offer a layered, foundational approach that can be tailored to YOUR circumstances and motivation level.Let’s face it, few people want to spend an inordinate amount of time, effort and money preparing for something that may not happen. ME INCLUDED. We’ll discuss what you can do to prepare for what will likely happen. I think you’ll be surprised by how little time, effort and hard-earned cash you’ll need to put into PRACTICAL PREPPING.
You’re probably curious how we’ll pull this off. Will it be a didactic lecture, broken into boring chapters? NO. We decided specifically to avoid that format. Randy and I have identified roughly 20 topics worth addressing, from obvious stuff like FOOD, WATER, and FIRST AID to harder topics like HOMESTEADING, COMMUNICATIONS and POWER. Each chapter will contain an excerpt from one of my books that relates to the topic, followed by two essays (one written by each of us). Randy and I share the same philosophy, but we may have a different approach. That’s what will be unique about PRACTICAL PREPPING…if I’m boring, you can switch to Randy’s essay and learn from a real expert!
Who is Randy? Randall S. Powers of Practical Tactical, a personal readiness consulting business based out of Georgia. Randy has been a consultant to The Perseid Collapse series from the start, reviewing my prepper/survival based concepts and keeping me somewhat in line with reality. I considered starting most of my essays with “Whatever Randy just said.”
With that said, I’ll leave you with a sample chapter from the book. Keep in mind that his is un-edited. The typo police have not paid this manuscript a visit. Chapter 4 contains a few great examples of the foundational elements applied throughout the book. ENJOY!
Published nearly three years ago, Black Flagged’s cover has morphed to reflect the ever changing Technothriller market. Check out the evolution of Black Flagged’s cover, followed by Jeroen ten Berge’s latest design concept. I’m beyond thrilled to share these.
Getting close to the end now. With a launch date set for July 20th, I thought it was time to reveal what I’ve been slaving over for three-month, in between boat work, garden prep, yard prep, spring school festivities, dance recitals, book revisions…a little sleep here and there. Poor me, right? Not really. Take a look at Jeroen ten Berge’s knock out design for the third, and possibly the last installment to The Perseid Collapse series. I haven’t decided if this is the last Fletcher adventure. Truly, that’s up to you—the reader. I will return to the Black Flagged books next, no matter what you say. I promised, and I keep my promises. A teaser blurb follows the cover, so keep scrolling. I’m extremely excited about this story.
“In the aftermath of the brutal attack on his family compound, Alex Fletcher embraces his rapidly expanding role within the New England Regional Recovery Zone (RRZ). Fueled by a limitless drive to protect his family and a rekindled sense of duty, he enlists the reluctant aid of a local militia commander—to help ease the public’s fears of a federal government takeover and maintain civil order within the Security Area (SA).
As Captain Fletcher digs deeper into the government’s plans, he starts to question the federal government’s intentions—and capability to stabilize the situation in New England. With the region’s major port facilities destroyed and the nation’s electrical grid crippled, Alex can’t envision how the government can supply the camps throughout the winter. He predicts a human cataclysm, with several hundred thousand desperate refugees marching north—into Maine.
At the same time, Alex learns that Eli Russell has started to rebuild his militia. Obsessed with finding and eliminating the psychopath that attacked his family, Alex scours the back roads to find him before he can destabilize the tenuous security situation in southern Maine—unaware that Eli’s plans are far more personal.
With the world swiftly unraveling around him, Alex will face his most difficult decisions ever…”
I’m going to come clean right now and tell everyone that I went into this interview thinking Tim Knox was “just some guy” putting together author interviews. To say I didn’t invest in a little due diligence is an understatement. I’ve been so busy lately, I devoted all of my prep time to outlining talking points for the interview and securing a pair of headphones (with mic) that didn’t make me sound like I was talking from outer space. I travelled really far to find them too…my son’s room (I knew he wasn’t talking to himself while playing games online).
With the bulk of my “spare” time exhausted, I really had no idea “who” I was talking to when I donned the headphones. Well, Tim Knox is not “just some guy.” Holy %$#! I’m glad I took this seriously! Tim is a widely respected talk radio host, author, entrepreneur, motivational speaker…the list goes on. Check out his official website. The man gets around. He’s been there and done that…twice. Not only that, he’s a great guy, or maybe the southern accent disarmed me.
Needless to say, the interview was fantastic. Take a listen or read the transcript here. With a focus on entrepreneurship, Tim convinced me to give up my million dollar secret…unfortunately, that secret involved non-stop writing for several more years. I was looking for a quicker method.
This is a fantastic interview (not because of me) by James Moushon of HBS Author’s Spotlight. He clearly put a lot of time and effort into his questions, and I enjoyed taking the time to delve deeper into my own process. Take a look.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author:
First things first. Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called Event Horizon. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Yes! I just wrapped up Event Horizon, the second book in The Perseid Collapse Series. It’s available now for preorder on Amazon, and will be released on March 20, 2014. The Perseid Collapse Series is a gritty, post-apocalyptic story set in New England that chronicles the collapse of society from an “event.” The “event” is a devastating combination of a natural phenomenon with a sinister, manmade attack. The first several chapters of the novel focus on the big picture conspiracy and mechanics behind the “event,” but the reader is quickly put in regular shoes, to experience the disaster on a personal level.
You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Did you use forums, newsletters and methods like that?
My Twitter following can be a little deceptive. While I do engage with readers on Twitter, most of the impact there comes from retweets by other authors or followers interested in my genres of writing (Post-apocalyptic and political/espionage thrillers).
It’s an easy way for readers to reach out to me, without a ton of expectation. 140 characters makes for short conversation. Twitter also draws people to my blog. I keep a Twitter feed rolling with book reviews (for other authors’ books) and articles that I have posted to my blog. I see these retweeted quite often. The bulk of my regular social media presence comes from Facebook, both my personal page and thriller-writing page. It’s probably the best place to catch what I’m doing, besides my blog.
All of my news filters through Facebook. Blog posts, new release updates, exclusive content releases, contests, genre related news pieces. Beyond that, I do keep a mailing list, which I regularly (2x per month) update with new release information, exclusive content (sneak peek chapters), and upcoming book deals. I converse regularly via email with many readers on this list.
Finally, I’ll talk about finding a niche and expanding it— on my blog at http://wp.me/p1knlr-8h. Sorry to do that to everyone, but I can’t possible do justice to this important topic without sending this interview’s word count through the stratosphere.
Do you do book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? If so, when and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
I have to admit that this is one part of the writer’s world in which I am conspicuously absent. Prior to quitting my day job in September of 2013, my time was divided between day job, family and writing, which left little time for anything else. The prospect of giving up weekend time or evenings to sign books didn’t appeal to me.
I have started to do radio interviews, which typically occur later at night and do not interfere with home life. Last week I spent an hour talking to a radio host and listeners in Fairbanks, Alaska. Reaching out and expanding my public exposure is one of my 2014 goals.
You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?
Jeroen ten Berge is a gifted artist. I truly wish I could say that I had a direct hand in creating these amazing covers, but I don’t. I send Jeroen an early draft, sometimes just half of the book, and he starts to conceptualize the cover. He’s a big post-apocalyptic fan, so we talked back and forth quite a bit about the story, but I never dictate what I want to see. I leave that to him, and the results are incredible.
I know I just hit you with book 2 in The Perseid Collapse Series, but I have one more offering that should interest some of you. First Contact. Let me explain.
Blake Crouch, a talented author I’ve admired for years, asked me to write a novella based on his runaway hit series, Wayward Pines. If you haven’t heard of Blake Crouch or Wayward Pines, you’re in for a treat. Part apocalyptic and horror—all thriller, Crouch’s thought provoking series is unforgettable. I can’t recommend the series highly enough.
First Contact is a prequel to his series, and unfortunately contains some spoilers that would ruin the unbelievable, mind-bending twist that unfolds in Crouch’s books. Even the Amazon description of my book might undermine the twist. Seriously, the ending to book one in Crouch’s series is THAT GOOD!
If this sounds like your “cup of tea,” I hope you check out the series and give my novella a try. Coincidentally (for real), both of the books in his Wayward Pines series are on sale for $2 each at Amazon. Links below:
This is a great opportunity to discover a series that has created an incredible amount of buzz in the book writing world and Hollywood. The Wayward Pines series was picked up by the FOX television network to be a miniseries staring Matt Dillon and Juliette Lewis. Executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, the series has been filmed and will likely air this fall.
Readers of The Perseid Collapse series know that I teamed up with Randy Powers from Tactical Practical to put a professional eye on the survival/homesteading/prepper aspects of the novel. The Perseid books take these themes to the next level, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t too far into left field with my ideas and theories. I reference a Handbook created by Randy in the acknowledgments of The Perseid Collapse, which contains an incredible amount of valuable, distilled information. I thought I would share one of his blog posts, which explains the BOLT Kits used by Alex Fletcher and his family. Randy has a unique take on the heavily popularized “Bug out Bag.” Enjoy!
You’ve probably heard of a Bug Out Bag (BOB) or a Get Out Of Dodge (GOOD) bag that can be used as a grab and go kit in case you have to leave an area during an emergency situation. At Practical Tactical, we urge our clients to build what we call a B.O.L.T. (Basic Operations for a Limited Time) Kit. This mobile kit based on the basic tenets of preparedness: shelter, water, food, fire, comms/defense and psychological…and is geared towards executing your plan that was developed based on the threats in your area and your individual circumstances and will allow you to maintain your Basic Operations for a Limited Time as you BOLT to your next location that will hopefully be your safe haven from the immediate threat.
Now, what makes our B.O.L.T. Kit any different from every other Bug Out or GOOD Bag out there? A focused philosophy, that’s what. Often when people talk about emergency bags (regardless of what you call them) the idea starts out the same…put together a bag of essential items like food and water in case you have to leave in a hurry because of an emergency that will help you survive the event…simple, right? But from there, things tend to spin out and become ever more nebulous. Inevitably you end with Jack the Survivor strapping a pack to his back that contains everything from his favorite comic books to ammo for his Barrett 50 cal. which by the way, he has lovingly cradled in his arms as he treks into the wilderness to live off the land for the duration of the apocalypse, and if you don’t do that too you’re doomed to fail miserably and die immediately or be swallowed up by the very mindless hordes you were trying to escape in the first place.
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.
My book reviews have shrunk over the past six months, mainly due to the time constraints of full-time writing. You’d think I’d have more time, but that hasn’t been the case. Size matters in Texas, but don’t judge the quality of Tom’s book by the length of my review. Allegianceis awesome, and I’ll let you in on a little secret—I’m reading an advanced copy of Allegiance Burned (Book Two). INCREDIBLE. Abrahams has put together a winning series, with memorable characters and serpentine plots.
“There’s a lot to like about Tom Abrahams’ recent release—beyond “Beer, Redheads, And Politics.” Sizzling storyline, snappy dialogue and fiercely intelligent twists are just a few of the elements that lift Allegiance out of the vast political thriller muck and establish Abrahams as one of my favorite authors.
Allegiance pits underdog, Jackson Quick, against a powerful cartel of Texas politicians, oil barons and multinational interest groups, in a brutal, high-octane cat and mouse game played out across the southwest United States. Abrahams quickly turns Quick’s comfortable, Texas lifestyle upside down, tossing him into the middle of a complicated conspiracy with the potential to bring the Oil Industry to its knees. Paired involuntarily with one of Abrahams’ most brilliantly notorious characters, Sir Spencer, Quick reluctantly embarks on a deadly mission to uncover the truth about his boss, the Governor of Texas.
Nothing is what it seems in this story, each situation and scenario shifting with a mercurial precision that will leave the reader stunned. The result is nothing short of a wickedly intelligent, breathtaking thriller.”
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 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.
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 fly : This 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 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.
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.
The cover design for EVENT HORIZON is insanely amazing. Jeroen ten Berge went beyond the call of duty on this one…it doesn’t hurt that he has read every word of these books and has a deep understanding of The Perseid Collapse world. His vision of Boston’s post-apocalyptic landscape is evocative to say the least. Thank you, Jeroen!
I’ve seen bits and pieces of his creative process before, but nothing like this. He’s taken an iconic image of Boston and transformed it into the hell Alex Fletcher must face in EVENT HORIZON. Truly epic!
Since I’ve passed the halfway point, I want to celebrate by releasing the Prologue for EVENT HORIZON: Book Two in The Perseid Collapse Series.
4,700 words (16-20 pages) chronicling Ryan Fletcher’s experience at Zero Hour on the morning of the EVENT. In this extended chapter, you’ll experience the terror from a different perspective, at a location much closer to the point of impact. What Ryan Fletcher experiences is by far the most apocalyptic scene in the series.
Below is a teaser. To receive the full passage on January 19th, sign up for my MAILING LIST. In addition to exclusive content, you’ll receive news of future discounts/promotions, along with new release updates. SIGN UP NOW!
If you’re already signed up, check your email for the full chapter! Thank you for reading.
EVENT HORIZON Teaser:
EVENT 00:00 Hours
Ryan Fletcher squinted at his alien surroundings, agonizingly aware that he had been robbed of sleep. Unnaturally brilliant light penetrated the flimsy, translucent curtains, exposing the beige cinderblock walls and sparse furniture to his blurry vision. The glaring view of his dorm room faded quickly, replaced by a soft flickering light. He raised his head a few inches off the pillow to view the digital alarm clock resting on his desk. A dark object stared back. Wonderful. Heavy hands came together on his chest to manipulate the tiny buttons on his digital watch. A blue-green light bathed his face. 4:59. Brutal.
He closed his eyes and let his head sink into the familiar, worn-out pillow brought from home, and started to drift off—when the steel bedframe under his thin mattress started to rattle against the wooden dresser behind his head. Angry thoughts of the “T” waking him every morning of his freshmen year yanked him out of the murky depths of sleep. This is bullshit! He sat up, fully awake and pissed off at his room assignment. Nobody had mentioned the fact that the train would make a stop inside his room. The vibration intensified, accompanied by a deafening roar.
“No way I’m dealing with this for an entire year,” he mumbled.
The bed heaved upward, tossing him face down onto the carpeted floor. He lay prone for a few seconds, stunned by the sudden mayhem unleashed on his room. Another massive jolt rocked the building. He needed to get out of here.
Ryan grabbed the bedframe and tried to stand, but the room pitched violently, dropping him to his hands and knees. This is good enough. He crawled in the darkness toward the door, tumbling sideways into the wooden dresser beyond his bed as the building swayed. Ryan scurried into the small vestibule next to the door, moments before both of the room’s heavy, wooden dressers crashed to the floor. He leaned his back into the vestibule’s cold cinderblock walls and pressed his bare feet against the other.
Adding and releasing pressure on his legs to stay in place, Ryan moved with the building, hoping the walls didn’t collapse. Not that it would matter at that point. The building was nearly fifty years old, and if the interior walls started to fail, rescue teams would be lucky to find any of them alive. He dug his feet into the wall in front of him and closed his eyes. He was on autopilot, too disoriented and terrified to put any effort into anything beyond his immediate survival. He knew that he should be sitting under the doorframe, but he couldn’t convince his body to give up the stable position he had established between the two walls.
Moments later, the shaking abated, and the thunderous rumble yielded to distant car alarms and screaming. Ryan stood on wobbly legs and braced himself against the walls with both hands, taking deep breaths to fight the nausea. A strong campfire smell drew his attention to the flimsy curtains flapping gently through the jagged remains of the window. A wave of dizziness struck, buckling his knees. The window could wait.
Bright yellow and orange light danced against the room’s dark interior, pushing his curiosity. He had to see what happened outside of the building. Testing his legs, he edged out of the vestibule and stopped in front of the fallen dressers. Glancing up at broken windows, a flash-flood of rational, analytical thoughts overloaded him. First things first.
He tilted the top dresser upward, letting all of the empty drawers fall to the floor as he heaved it against the opposite wall. His dresser was next, but he took care to keep the drawers pushed firmly shut. Ryan dug through the dresser and quickly replaced his athletic shorts with jeans. Thick wool socks covered his feet, followed by a pair of well-travelled, dark brown hiking boots. He saw no sense in cutting his feet on broken glass before he left his room. He stepped over to the window and brushed aside the flimsy curtains. Flames engulfed western Boston, extending as far as he could see from his sixth story window.
That was 700 words…get the rest on January 19th by signing up HERE
This isn’t the first time Randy has challenged me to dissect one of my novels. Our early 2013 discussion of The Jakarta Pandemic is one of the most thorough, well-constructed interviews I’ve had the pleasure of giving. Mr. Powers puts time and thought into meaningful questions, which deeply explore the themes buried in my work. Even if I didn’t have themes, I’d have to make them up to satisfy Randy’s incredibly rich line of questioning 🙂
The Fletchers are back in The Perseid Collapse and, I’ve got to say, we’ve missed them. Six years after the the Jakarta pandemic ravaged the life they had known Alex and Kate are pushing ahead into the new reality and are even sending their son Ryan off to college. How about you take it from there and tell us a little bit about the Fletchers and sort of set the stage for what’s going on in The Perseid Collapse?
The Fletchers are trying as much as they can to maintain a normal life. They live in the same home as they did in the first book. I struggled with whether they should stay in that house, whether there was too much bad juju in that neighborhood, a lot went down. They learned that bugging in like they did in The Jakarta Pandemic, although Maine is not as populated as some areas, in a relatively crowded neighborhood in a suburb was not a good idea then and it won’t be a good idea next time because the next time it’s going to be worse. Even if it’s the same or a lesser disaster, it’s going to end up being worse because the memories are fresh. The Fletchers made some money, or retained more money than everyone else, when everything was more or less wiped out after the Jakarta pandemic. So that’s kind of where the novel starts. Their son is on to college, they’re out on their sailboat, which is part of that normal life. They’re not afraid to go out, but they’re cautious. They have preparations. They have BOLT kits. They don’t live like most Americans, but they maintain the appearance that they do.
The Perseid Collapse opens up in China (something I certainly was not expecting) and once again it seems the Red Dragon is impacting the Fletchers world. Can you offer us a little insight into your motivation here?
I think it reflects more of my techno-thriller background that I’ve developed over the last four books in the Black Flagged series. I wanted to give readers a little more. Often times reading other books where you see an America that has been impacted by an EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse), there was never an explanation for what happened or even a hint of it….For me, I like to know a little more. So, I set up this international conspiracy based on the Chinese to get them back on the international scene and level things.
One of the things I noticed very early in the book is even though they’re the same people, no one that survived the Jakarta Pandemic escaped without being changed in some way. I noticed it in Kate first, but as the story moved along I saw the same thing in each of core characters and especially in Alex. Everyone seems to have a bit more edge to them and felt a bit grittier. Not in a bad way, but in a real way, and it seems like our group of survivors are more comfortable with themselves and with each other in their reality following the pandemic. Was this intentional and do you want to walk us through your thought process on how each member of the Durham Road group has come through their last six years?
In the first book of the Perseid, everyone has changed. They’ve retained a lot of their characteristics and their core values, but I think realism has really settled in. I thought it was most obvious in Alex, but I agree with you…and a number of other readers have said that they really liked seeing Kate and learning more about her and her mindset. Like you said, early on she establishes herself…not necessarily forcefully…but you know she’s a force to be reckoned with. She was always like that in the beginning. She was always the one that recommended doing the early shooting. She was kind of the more hard core proponent of violence in the first book. Now that’s kind of transferred over to Alex, but you can definitely see that shift.
This story gets downhill in a hurry and just picks up speed from there. A pandemic virus shook things up for the Fletchers last time around, so what is the disaster catalyst that kicks things off in The Perseid Collapse?
READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW HERE! Sorry to do that to you, but head on over to Randy’s site. He doesn’t bite and you won’t find yourself on a government watch list…like you will reading my stuff!
R.E. McDermott nailed it with Deadly Coast. Ripped from the headlines, his second installment in the Dugan series is a serious contender. If you act fast, you can grab both books in his series for .99 on Amazon. I know this is a limited time offer. Deadly Coast on Amazon.
“Equally as captivating as Deadly Straits, R.E. McDermott’s second novel delivers everything I had come to expect from this subject matter expert, master storyteller. Once again, McDermott’s inside knowledge of the maritime industry and its complex relationship to worldwide piracy lays the foundation for an international terrorism thriller like nothing I’ve experienced. How can McDermott bring an original extremist terrorism story into a market crowded with the same? Trust me. He nails it, with a finely researched, briskly paced, entirely satisfying thriller. From the opening chapters, McDermott had me hooked. As a former naval officer who served on naval vessels in the region described by McDermott, I can attest to the realism and authenticity of the setting and action…though I suspect the author could teach me a thing or three about maritime operations.
I eagerly await his third novel, which I know for a fact is in the works.”
What can I say that hasn’t been said. Murray McDonald delivers another WINNER. He’s upped his game, if that’s possible.
“If you’re a Murray McDonald fan, you know what to expect from his thrillers. Solid character building, blistering action, expansive plot and ONE HELL OF A TWIST. With Traitor, McDonald not only delivers the goods, he blasts his previous efforts out of the water. This is a story, ripped from the headlines and catapulted right into the readers lap. McDonald turns the geo-political terrorism genre inside out, delivering a vicious punch to the worn out genre, in a deeply original and dare I say controversial thriller.”
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.
I have decided to release “unedited” chapters of The Perseid Collapse periodically until the novel’s release in December. A fair number of you have waited VERY patiently for me to return to the apocalyptic genre, so I thought I would give you something to hold you over until the launch. I anticipate posting roughly one chapter per week through November, which should bring you about a third of the way through Alex Fletcher’s latest survival journey.
Yes, the Fletchers are back, just as the United States has effectively settled into a comfortable, but tenuous post Jakarta Pandemic routine. A new era of isolationism has emerged, with the economy stabilized and the population better prepared for disaster. On the surface, its business as usual in the United States, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find that one thing has remained the same. Trust in the government is at an all time low. The collective memory of twenty-six million deaths (nearly one in every ten citizens) during the Jakarta Pandemic runs like a shallow current, waiting to break through the thin facade of prosperity and confidence. The Perseid Collapse takes place in 2019, six years after The Jakarta Pandemic. It starts with a “Mass Event” that instantly shatters the fragile barrier…and unleashes a torrent of fear, panic and mistrust.
Of course, the Fletchers will be caught up in the middle of it…and they’ll no longer have the option of secluding themselves in the comfort and safety of their “prepper” paradise. I’m taking all of that away from them in The Perseid Collapse…from the very start. If you enjoyed The Jakarta Pandemic, or my Black Flagged novels, I guarantee this one will grab you from the beginning. Part technothriller, all apocalyptic…The Perseid Collapse is the best of both worlds.
You can find and download the chapters from my blog, either at the top right corner of my blog or on The Perseid Collapse page accessible at the very top of my blog. The chapters are available in Word or PDF form. You can save these on your computer and upload them to your Kindle. If you don’t know how to do that, let me know…it sure beats reading on a computer screen.
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.
I 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.
Your 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.
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 Collapse. From individual checkpoint battles to massive high tech combat engagement; political assassination attempts to complex coup d’état’s; macro level political maneuvering to psychotic leaders…all culminating in a twist that you will not see coming. The battle lines are drawn in Resistance…then redrawn when you least expect it. Resistance is as much a political/military/apocalyptic novel as it is a cautionary conspiracy gem.
From a purely mechanical point of view, Stephenson has upped his game. The writing is smooth and the descriptions are vivid. He moves back and forth from big picture to point of view action flawlessly. The author has clearly taken his writing to the next level.”
Fans of Russell Blake have a lot to celebrate with this novel. The prolific writer has been relatively quiet lately, for good reason. His latest thriller sizzles with intensity and combines the best of Blake’s worlds in one, “must read” novel. This one will leave you questioning everything. Grab a copy HERE.
“This is Russell Blake at his best. A perfect blending of Ludlum-esque international conspiracy, “The Firm” like intrigue and Crichton-level biomedical detail. Nobody can take a conspiracy theory and spin it into a convincing, high stakes “cat and mouse” game like Blake. If you think Upon a Pale Horse is just “another medical thriller,” you couldn’t be more sorely mistaken.
Blake’s ambitious, finely executed story pits a resourceful attorney, Jeffrey Rutherford, against a ruthless cabal, in a race against time to stop a jaw-dropping plot to unleash the apocalypse and cleanse the world. The background conspiracy fueling Blake’s plot is exquisitely (and frighteningly) weaved, leaving the reader with a well-founded sense of urgency and dread. Tightly staged across two continents, Rutherford’s plight will keep you affixed to the screen, as David takes on Goliath in an unforgettable end game.
The intrigue, deception, and twists alone are well worth the price of admission, along with a blistering plot; but as an author well versed in bioweapons, virology and pandemic research, I have to give Blake credit for doing his homework. His pandemic information is accurate, accessible and damn scary…his scenario will leave you sleepless, wondering what lurks around the next corner. Trust me, if Blake’s instincts are correct, you don’t want to know.”
I’ll come clean on this one. Through the wonders of Facebook and the internet, I consider the reviewer and her husband friends…HOWEVER, I was biting my nails waiting for “Headshot Heather” to read and review Black Flagged. “Headshot” does not refer to photography (she’s a zombie genre fan…one shot, one kill) and I knew going in that she was a big fan of Jack Bauer and the series “24.” Big shoes to fill, or at least stand in. All of this produced a little “anxiety.” Headshot Heather is a straight shooter (bad pun…I know), so this could have gone sideways on me very quickly. Nothing risked, nothing gained. I’m breathing a little easier now.
Do you have a Kindle? Do you like ebook deals? Rhetorical questions? Sort of. If you like ebook deals, you should check out Free Kindle Books and Tips. The host is a Top Ten Reviewer on Amazon and offers a daily selection of…you guessed it, links to Free (or discounted) Kindle Books and Tips (to help you optimize your Kindle experience). If you head over there soon, you can sign up to win a Kindle Paperwhite (they are pretty sweet…I don’t have one, yet). Kindlewhite Giveaway.
You never know when you might find the first book in a really popular series discounted to .99
I’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
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 process at least
The rest is fluid and can change at a whim. A random thought while driving (I have more windshield time than I care to admit), a tech article on the internet, YouTube gun video (I watch far too many of those), a ten minute Call of Duty game play with Matthew (son), a sudden discussion about a character with my wife…all of these can change the course of my novel within the flash of a synapse. I’m always thinking about the story, and the story is always changing, slightly…sometimes drastically. This is the neural process, and I can’t really explain it. What I can explain is how I tee up the writing and keep myself on track throughout the three to four months it takes me to strike the words.
I start out with a “talk through.” Basically, I vomit a VERY rough synopsis of the story and expand it over the course of three to five days. If you read it, you’d probably feel like puking. It barely counts as English, but it works. I take this four to five page document and try to identify potential scenes from the scribble.
For the Perseid Collapse, I identified 44 scenes, which translates into a minimum of 44 chapters. I created a yellow sticky for each scene, and added them to my board.
The board takes on a life of its own over time, with stickies moving back and forth, up and down…or into the trash. New stickies arrive weekly. The topmost stickies are labeled to represent individual or group entities in the story. I place scenes involving these entities under the appropriate heading, in chronological order. Books in the Black Flagged series required some creative space arrangement on the board. The Perseid Collapse is a welcome break from multiple organizations and diffuse subplots. Compare the two. Vektor is shown in the first picture.
The last piece of the puzzle was recommended by a fellow Maine writer and the host of my local writing group, Bryan Wiggins. He thought Aeon Timeline would help me keep track of the complex timing involved in the Black Flagged novels…wow has that program saved my ass on multiple occasions. I finished Black Flagged Vektor without it, which was a big mistake. My inner voice told me to take the time and input every scene in Aeon Timeline. I resisted, but quickly relented and spent an entire day inputing the scenes. Without going into detail, let’s just say that I found a few critical timeline errors that my readers would not have missed. For Perseid, I will input the scenes as they are written. The story takes place over a 72 hour period, which doesn’t give me a lot of wiggle room in terms of timeline.
A lot happens to the Fletchers in those three days.
Did I mention the research? I’ll save the details for another post.
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.”
Murray McDonald has been a long time writer and friend, eventually introducing me to “good scotch” made in a distillery (Glengoyne) just north of the Scottish highland line. This alone was worthy of his inclusion in my Friends Hall of Fame (I just made up that organization).
Beyond picking out fantastic scotch, his true talent lies in his writing. He can spin a masterful, international thriller. I’ve been waiting a long time for his latest novel, America’s Trust. If you’re a fan of this genre, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re a fan of scotch, let me know, and I’ll pass the word to him for another recommendation. Sipping scotch and reading political thrillers is hard to beat.
Below is my review of America’s Trust…not influenced by the scotch:
Murray McDonald delivers an epic political technothriller with America’s Trust, combining the best elements of his previous novels, in an explosive, action packed ride that never eases up. Incorporating themes ripped from today’s headlines, and foretelling of a believable near future, Murray presents his finest work to date. This well-crafted, cautionary tale will leave you breathless; pondering the extent to which McDonald’s wildly realistic scenario could become reality.
The story begins with a flashback. President King’s Inauguration Day is a melancholy event. The United States is in a steep economic decline, deep in debt with little hope of recovery. Upon returning to the Oval Office after a private ceremony, he is informed of a meeting that had been scheduled by President William Howard Taft, over one hundred years ago. He is promptly met by a representative of “America’s Trust,” who proceeds to pass instructions that will irrevocably alter the course of American history.
Two years later, CIA analyst Tom Butler makes a startling discovery. The “Trust” may not be what it seems. Powerful forces converge to silence him, setting in motion the wheels of McDonald’s unstoppable story. Spanning the globe, America’s Trust presents twists after twist, propelling the reader to the shocking revelation. What is the Trust? The truth is brilliant…one of the most frightening scenarios imaginable.
Murray McDonald’s America’s Trust is a must read for fans of Tom Clancy, Brad Thor or the late Vince Flynn. A perfect blend of techno/military/political thriller.
Black Flagged Vektor is finally in the hands of my editor and several beta readers, leaving me in that awkward phase, where I find myself waking up at 4:30 in the morning and watching You Tube videos for 30 minutes, followed by Facebook for another 30…then finally on to something related to writing…sort of. Blog updates. Book reviews. Tardy emails. The list more or less confirms that I’m lost without a book in the works. I still have some work left to prepare Vektor for a mid to late June launch, but it’s not the kind of intense industry that surrounds spinning a story.
Once the story board comes down, I stare out of the window a lot, turning to my computer sporadically. I gave myself one important thing to accomplish this week, among dozens of smaller tasks. Vektor’s synopsis or book blurb. This is often harder to write than a full chapter of the story itself. How do you condense the book into a summary that draws readers into the book, without giving away plot twists? You spend three days of wringing your hands over it, constantly coming back to change a word, shorten a sentence or trash the whole thing.
I started this on Monday and have been $@#!ing around with it ever since. I think this is nearly the last iteration. Let me know what you think.
Black Flagged Vektor:
“With the recent bioterrorism threat to the United States neutralized, and Dr. Anatoly Reznikov in custody, CIA Deputy Director Karl Berg proposes a permanent solution to prevent future bioweapons attacks against the West.
A covert raid by General Sanderson’s Black Flag unit against Vektor Labs, deep inside Russia…to destroy a program that should have ended with the Cold War.
The U.S isn’t the only country looking to tie up loose ends. The sudden abduction of a CIA officer in Stockholm exposes the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service’s (SVR) ruthless campaign to discover the truth behind the massacre of an elite Spetsnaz team sent to silence Reznikov.
When the SVR investigation takes a turn that could threaten the mission against Vektor, Berg goes “off the books” like never before. Through an intricate web of unsavory alliances, deviously orchestrated political maneuvers and shockingly brutal black-ops action, Karl Berg will set in motion an unstoppable chain of events with the potential to ignite a new Cold War.
Black Flagged Vektor continues the series’ tradition of gritty, unapologetic storytelling, plunging readers even deeper into the murky, shark infested waters navigated by covert operators and their puppet masters.”
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 sets Helion apart from other “heroes” is his sense of humor and believable skill set. He’s handy with a weapon and not afraid of a little hand to hand combat, but he doesn’t excel in these areas like a Jason Bourne character. He’s a more rationale, analytical hero, often relying on his ability to make a quick, well-timed decision to throw off his enemies. Queeny cleverly injects this often-understated trait at critical times throughout the story, propelling the reader past some harrowing situations.
I particularly enjoyed watching the story’s progression through the eyes of antagonists. Queeny puts together an unholy alliance of twisted fiends, all hell bent on unleashing the power of the Atlas Fracture on an unsuspecting world for varying reasons. Money, revenge, scientific accolades…all combine to form a well-functioning evil coalition on the brink of imploding. Subplots and conspiracies abound within the coalition, adding to the suspense and intrigue…and the fun.
Without a doubt, Queeny did some solid research for this novel. He provided clear explanations of the scientific principles involved, without ever getting bogged down. I felt the same about his functional descriptions of the equipment and procedures employed by the different groups. I finished the novel thoroughly entertained, with an expanded knowledge of Antarctic operations.
The Atlas Fracture comes in shorter than most books in the genre, but while immersed in the story, I honestly didn’t notice the length. This is without a doubt, a complete story, with full background scenes and no plot holes on the way to the finish line. Queeny has effectively trimmed the fat and produced a rock solid adventure technothriller. I plan to read his first Helion Perry book, The Shiva Compression shortly.”
If you’re a fan of political/technothrillers, you’ll enjoy Veil of Civility. This plot is literally ripped from recent headlines…frightening that Graham made the Chechen connection to terrorism in this book long before the Boston Bombing.
“Ian Graham delivers a slick, well-executed thriller with Veil of Civility. The novel’s plot flows extremely well, with no gaps, and just enough back story to explain the motivations of a fascinating cast of characters. There’s a lot to like about this novel, and I found myself constantly stealing time to continue reading.
Declan McIver, former IRA commando turned legitimate business owner in the United States, finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy ripped from today’s headlines. An invitation from an old friend catapults McIver into a cat and mouse chase on par with Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series. His adversaries are relentless, employing technologies and ruthlessness that will leave you breathless. Spanning two continents, the chase is brilliant and worth the price of admission alone. Graham doesn’t let McIver off easy. Not in the least. The author paints a painstakingly realistic picture of how difficult it would be to go “off the grid” with the wrong people looking for you. He kept me in suspense throughout novel, never giving me the sense that McIver could rest, or that I could rest…I had to keep reading!
Declan McIver and his nebulous former IRA unit, Black Shuck, is exquisitely crafted from what appears to be exhaustive research on Graham’s part. Linked to a top-secret (and existing) Russian spetsnaz unit, Black Shuck is a devastatingly scary and utterly enthralling concept. Graham’s research is a strong point, and as a reader, I highly appreciated the way he weaved this research into the story. Though purely fiction, he integrates aspects of history into a speculative array of back story that is so convincing, that I found myself hopelessly immersed. Graham spends considerable time delving into Declan McIver’s background, giving the reader a well-redacted history of Ireland’s turbulent recent history. I’m hoping that Graham plans to bring McIver back for future novels. He is by far one of the most interesting and crisply drawn thriller characters I’ve read in a long time.
Veil of Civility succeeds on many levels. As a political thriller, it far exceeds expectations. Behind the gut wrenching at of terrorism at the story’s core, there is a sinister plot afoot, embroiling senior politicians and law enforcement agents. With unexpected plot twists lurking everywhere, these behind the scenes manipulators nudge (in many cases push) the plot forward toward its unthinkable conclusion. This is a conspiracy of the highest order, set in motion to satisfy a powerful agenda.
Ian Graham succeeds brilliantly with his first full-length novel. He’s captured the essence the political thriller genre, topping off his effort with enough technothriller aspects to satisfy the most demanding genre readers. I look forward to Graham’s future endeavors and plan to read his collection of short stories, Patriots and Tyrants, which features characters from Veil of Civility.”
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 it tore them apart. The Chinese won’t make that same mistake. Think more subtle, then think massive scale.
What are they really doing? Stealing military secrets is part of it, but the persistent, widespread cyber-attacks indicate something deeper.
I have been thinking more about this lately, because the concepts of Cyber and Asymmetrical Warfare will be featured prominently in the sequel to The Jakarta Pandemic, setting the stage for a complete shut down of the United States. I just hope the Chinese don’t shut us down before I launch the novel.
Take a look at this article, which does a great job explaining what has been capturing U.S. officials’ attention: Asymmetric Warfare article
The drone controversyreached a boiling point this week, as Senator Rand Paul filibustered the Senate for nearly 13 hours over the White House’s reluctance to assure the American citizenry “that drones will not be used against American citizens on U.S. soil.”
I won’t get into all of the specifics and relive the drama here, but after a few emotional days of listening to both sides argue over this, I decided to weigh in a little on Facebook. I can’t help myself sometimes. At one point, I stated that I couldn’t foresee the need for any administration to use drones to kill ANYONE on U.S. soil. After all, we have law enforcement agencies that can hopefully contain and defuse most crises. I started to get riled up by the partisanship, really buying into my own assumption that many of these politicians were grandstanding…and many of them were. I kept finding myself asking if these people really believed that drones could be used to hit a Starbucks? OR Take out Jane Fonda? I heard both of these mentioned by Rand, in addition to a dozen other scenarios that spiraled into the stratosphere of ridiculous. So I thought.
A combination of thoughts and FB posts jarred me out of this reverie. A good libertarian friend reminded me that “from order comes chaos,” and that “if the capability is there, eventually it will be used.” We all know that the use of technology or available resources expands, never contracts. So, if the government starts using drones for routine surveillance of suspected terrorists, where could this go? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask the question, though I can’t imagine Hellfire missiles hitting Starbucks. If a terrorist is ordering a triple shot, caramel latte, and we have the kind of pinpoint intelligence that puts him in that Starbucks, I’m sure the feds can arrange for a few agents to arrive on scene, instead of an 18 pound high explosive warhead.
But what about a terrorist compound in the middle of say, West Virginia? A hidden, inaccessible compound so heavily fortified that conventional law enforcement methods would certainly result in fatalities on par with the Waco, Texas raid? What if that terrorist group posed an immediate threat to the population? Would a drone strike be acceptable then? What if the terrorists were U.S. citizens? All interesting questions for sure. Sounds like a crazy scenario, right?
This is where the hypocrisy thing comes into play. The scenario described above occurs in my latest novel, Black Flagged Apex, written well before the most recent controversy reared its ugly head. When and if you read the novel, you’ll be shocked by the methods used to deal with the terrorist compound. My imagination went well beyond drones, and if I can think of this stuff, I’m sure some much brighter individuals in a government sponsored think tank can do the same. Drones are probably the least of our problems. So while I criticized the Starbuck’s drone scenario, there are hundreds of other scenarios apparently more farfetched, and I created one of them. Hypocrisy exposed.
I did some research into the Insurrection Act, and the powers it grants to the Executive Branch. I suggest you do the same, because the use of drones, special forces, and artillery that I put forward in my novel is not exactly off the table in a time of domestic crisis. Define domestic crisis? The Insurrection Act uses terms like militia, insurrection, domestic violence and conspiracy in a manner that makes the 2nd Amendment look crystal clear. Maybe my Libertarian friends have the right idea. The more transparency the better.
It has taken a SNOW DAY for me to finally catch up on a number of administrative tasks that have lingered since early January, one of the most important being the wrap up of the Donation Campaign surrounding the launch of Black Flagged Apex. Combined with an extremely successful promotion of the entire Black Flagged series, the launch exceeded all expectations. As a result, I have decided to double the donation amount achieved by previous book launches.
I just submitted a $1500donation to The Wounded Warrior Project, which will be matched by my employer, yielding $3000. Everyone of you have contributed to the success of my books, and in turn, to the money donated to our nation’s heroes. CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU!
A special thank you goes out to Greg, Murray and Nancy for their generous individual contributions to the campaign. Your commitment to our veterans is inspiring to say the least!
Now, I need to turn my day’s efforts into preparing for a possible power failure. Weather officials have predicted up to 60mph winds, 24-30 inches of snow, and temperatures in the teens. FUN TIMES AHEAD!
Black Flagged Apex is live, the Charity Campaign is decided, I kept my job, and the first Black Flagged reached #1 in the Free Kindle Store…and “I didn’t even have to use my AK.”
I felt that an Ice Cube reference was in order. Here’s why. I waited around the phone yesterday to find out if December 21st would be my first day as a full time writer. I decided to time the launch of my new book with this phone call, in case I received the thumbs down. Regardless of what happened, I’d have good news. Fortunately, my company decided to keep me in place. Not all of my colleagues had a good day, which made my news bittersweet to say the least.
Before I share the details of Black Flagged Apex, I need to acknowledge two people who made it possible to launch this book before Christmas. Felicia A. Sullivan and Stef Mcdaid. Felicia has been my editor from the start and very generously agreed to meet my Christmas deadline for a 170K word novel. A few days ago, she probably wondered if I had hidden the total word count from her. I know she worked her @#! off on this one and the result is simply awesome. Thank you, Felicia! Stef provided an equally quick turnaround with the formatting, taking my messy document and turning it into a polished, sharp looking ebook. If you’re a writer looking for editing and/or formatting services, please get in touch with me. I will put you in good hands.
Alright, here are the details and links for Black Flagged Apex:
1. Black Flagged Apex is available as a Kindle ebook. The hard copy version is on it’s way. You can grab the ebook here: Black Flagged Apex
2. The Donation Campaign was decided by all of you. Proceeds will go to the Wounded Warrior Project. You can see the update and details here: Apex Donation Campaign
THANK YOU for patiently waiting! Black Flagged Apex is considerably longer than the first two books in the series, which is why it took longer to publish. I think you’ll find it to be well worth the wait. Black Flagged Vektor won’t take as long…I’m already 20K words into that one (and it will not be 170K words). ENJOY the new book and if you would, please leave a review on Amazon when you finish reading it!
The Donation Campaign is bringing out the best in everyone, and I feel better about NOT counting book sale numbers to determine the final amount. A good friend and reader has generously kicked off the campaign…ONCE AGAIN…with a $100 donation. Thank you, Greg. That immediately brings the total to $2100 (with match). I have commitments from others, which I haven’t counted, but suspect will bring the total to $2200. The Black Flagged Series has contributed nearly $5000 to wounded veterans so far…I expect this to increase over the holidays.
Thank you to everyone for a great start!
Based on your votes, I will once again donate to the Wounded Warrior Project, an undeniably worthy cause. I’m taking a different approach to the donations this time. Instead of counting books and stressing myself out, I am starting at the $850 mark, which has been “our” contribution for each campaign over the past two book launches. At the end of January, I will decide whether to increase it. I very likely will. Any individual donations outside of book sales will be added to the $850 mark. Keep in mind that the total amount raised is matched by my employer.
Once again, I will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the initial sales of Black Flagged Apex to charity, but this time, I will take reader input regarding the charity. I have pre-selected three charities and included a poll to collect your votes. The combined total donated from my last two book launches was $3500, and all of this was sent to organizations that support wounded veterans (Disabled American Veterans-DAV and Wounded Warrior Project-WWP). Here are the choices. You can click on the links to see each charity’s homepage. Vote Below!
2. Donate to Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) – In my first Black Flagged book, a police officer is rather brutally killed (unintentionally) by the main character. I took some heat from readers about that scene, which really drove home the gut reaction people have (even in fiction) to the death of a police officer.
3. Donate to Kids in Distressed Situations (KIDS) – Specifically the Hurricane Sandy relief effort. With the holidays around the corner, this charity looks after the needs of young children and teens affected by the storm, some of whom lost everything. If this charity is selected, I will make an early donation in time for the Christmas.
I have uploaded four chapters of Black Flagged Apex, in addition to a sneak peek into the fourth installment of the Black Flagged series, Black Flagged VEKTOR. Apex will be available in early to mid December. VEKTOR’s release date is unknown, since I may write another post-apocalyptic book after Apex’s release. Enjoy!