Writing so Hard I had to Sit Down


So I write in the morning before my day job. I drop the wee one off at day care, try not to cry, and head to my office. I leave the light off so it’s just me and the screen for about forty-five minutes. I started my newest novel, untitled, the other day. So far we’ve got a broken down former Army Ranger caught up in an ethnic cleansing where a cabal of demon possessed humans are trying to wipe out all the remaining fae-folk on Earth, or realm as we call it.

Anyway I was writing a scene this morning where my Ranger buddy wakes up to find himself face to face with a cybernetic ‘interrogator.’ It’s kind of a black, scorpion looking thing that’s half underworld beastie and half robot that is used to infiltrate the nervous system of a prisoner and make them docile for simpler information retrieval. This thing is strong, it’s ugly, and it is not the kind of thing you want to meet immediately upon being jolted awake from a drunken stupor. As you can imagine the scene is pretty dynamic with my guy battling this thing as it wraps itself around his arm and tries to get at his brain stem. No spoilers but the scene ends with him bashing the thing against a stone fireplace until he shatters its carapace and takes a bath in yellow goo. He’s exhausted, and gross, and to add to that he’s hungover but still has that feeling you get when you wake up right before you hit the ground in a dream. You know kind of fidgety and weak like you just got done going five rounds with Randy Couture. That was where I had to leave it since it was time to start the job that actually pays me. I shut my computer down and put it away and started my morning ritual. Like most people, my morning ritual starts with coffee. I go through the motions setting up the coffee pot, cleaning out the basket that I forgot to clean yesterday and start organizing myself when I notice my legs feel a little jiggly. My arms also have that kind of tense feel you get at the end of a good heavy bag workout.


Weird, where did that came from? The most strenuous thing I had done so far in the morning was wrestle with my fifteen month old to change his diaper and get his clothes on (the little guy is a fighter in the morning…red head, go figure). It’s a strange feeling but I remember what people say about visualization techniques and dream states. How the body reacts to the events in your brain even if you’re not moving. I was intrigued, I’m still intrigued, so I did a little research.


I found an article in Psychology Today titled, “Seeing is Believing: The Power of Visualization,” by AJ Adams. The article cited a study that compared muscle gain in two groups of weightlifters. One group worked out at the gym, the other conducted mental rehearsal, visualizing themselves lifting rather than physically doing it. Here is a quote from the article:


“A study looking at brain patterns in weightlifters found that the patterns activated when a weightlifter lifted hundreds of pounds were similarly activated when they only imagined lifting. In some cases, research has revealed that mental practices are almost effective as true physical practice, and that doing both is more effective than either alone. For instance, in his study on everyday people, Guang Yue, an exercise psychologist from Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, compared “people who went to the gym with people who carried out virtual workouts in their heads”. He found that a 30% muscle increase in the group who went to the gym. However, the group of participants who conducted mental exercises of the weight training increased muscle strength by almost half as much (13.5%). This average remained for 3 months following the mental training.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/flourish/200912/seeing-is-believing-the-power-visualization


The article also went on to explain that visualization is a common practice among elite athletes, Olympians, and the like.


Interesting. I found a few more references alluding to the effect mental training has on the physical body but that article explained it the best. So, Was I in the zone, so focused that the story in my head was translating to my physical body? That hasn’t happened before that I have noticed. It was an interesting thing that happened this morning. Thought I would share.


What do you think? Writing so hard I had to sit down? Or am I reading into things and I need to hit the gym more since making coffee appears to tire me out?

Don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or at any bookstore. My newest novel, Where Angels Sing is on sale now.


Ungentlemanly Warfare, Yup that’s a Real Term

Quite possibly one of the longest titles in history: “Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks who Plotted Hitler’s Defeat,” was also one of the most fun books I’ve read in the last five or six years. Giles Milton managed to find and capture an aspect of World War II that I had never heard of, and I am a history buff.

In 1940 the Nazi’s were taking over Europe. Winston Churchill had just taken over in Britain and was pretty much the last man standing up to Germany. He recognized Britain was on Germany’s hit list and wanted a plan in place to resist once the Nazi’s invaded Britain.

Hence the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.

“Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare,” details how a secret ministry of sabotage started from scratch and became and industry unto itself. Milton does a great job of capturing the cultural, genuinely British, conflicts that were a constant between the regular military and Section D of the Secret Intelligence Service. The idea of saboteurs and assassins did not sit well with the right kind of English gentlemen. On the flip side Section D argued that dropping a hundred bombs on a target might accomplish the mission. But a group of highly trained and motivated saboteurs could guarantee a surgical strike at a fraction of the cost or the collateral damage bombs dropped from 30,000 feet apt to cause.

The book follows Colin Gubbins, who stood up and made Section D into a powerhouse. Gubbins created a factory for explosives, specifically designed for devious small unit raids. He organized a kill school run by two old British ex-pats tossed aside by the establishment when they came home to fight for Britain. And he inspired a world-wide intelligence network that facilitated acts of sabotage from a vital hydro-facility in Norway to an ancient aqueduct in Greece used to supply Rommel’s tanks in Africa. Not only does Milton take you through each of these adventures but he does it by capturing the wild spectrum of men and women who fought the secret war. Professional adventures, engineers, secretaries, and even a conscientious objector turned operative made Section D what it was. Of note among Section D and its saboteurs, Milton does a particular service to the contributions and the sacrifices women made to ungentlemanly war.

If you are a history buff and want to read about an important but forgotten part of World War II give Giles Milton’s “Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” a serious look.

Here is the back-cover blurb:

“Six gentlemen, one goal: the destruction of Hitler’s war machine

In the spring of 1939, a top-secret organization was founded in London: its purpose was to plot the destruction of Hitler’s war machine through spectacular acts of sabotage.

The guerrilla campaign that followed was every bit as extraordinary as the six men who directed it. One of them, Cecil Clarke, was a maverick engineer who had spent the 1930s inventing futuristic caravans. Now, his talents were put to more devious use: he built the dirty bomb used to assassinate Hitler’s favorite, Reinhard Heydrich. Another, William Fairbairn, was a portly pensioner with an unusual passion: he was the world’s leading expert in silent killing, hired to train the guerrillas being parachuted behind enemy lines. Led by dapper Scotsman Colin Gubbins, these men―along with three others―formed a secret inner circle that, aided by a group of formidable ladies, single-handedly changed the course Second World War: a cohort hand-picked by Winston Churchill, whom he called his Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.

Giles Milton’s Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is a gripping and vivid narrative of adventure and derring-do that is also, perhaps, the last great untold story of the Second World War.”

Don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or any other bookstore. My newest novel Where Angels Sing is on sale now.


Author Spotlight: Alison McMahan

Hey Everybody, Alison McMahan has a short story in R.L. Stine’s new Anthology, Scream and Scream Again! Her contribution is called, “Kamikaze Iguanas.”

About the Book:

A harrowing array of scary stories that all have one thing in common: each either begins or ends with a scream!

R.L. Stine—the godfather of Goosebumps—and some of the most popular authors today bring an unrivaled mastery of all things fearsome, frightening, and fantabulous to this terrifying anthology of all-new scary short stories.

Scream and Scream Again! is full of twists and turns, dark corners, and devilish revenge. Collected in conjunction with the Mystery Writers of America, this set includes works from New York Times bestselling authors telling tales of wicked ice-cream trucks, time-travelling heroes, witches and warlocks, and of course, haunted houses.

List of Authors:

Read it if you dare! With twenty never-before-published scary stories from some of the most popular authors today—including Chris Grabenstein, Wendy Corsi Staub, Heather Graham, Peter Lerangis, R.L. Stine, Bruce Hale, Emmy Laybourne, Steve Hockensmith, Lisa Morton, Ray Daniel, Beth Fantaskey, Phil Mathews, Carter Wilson, Doug Levin, Jeff Soloway, Joseph S. Walker, Alison McMahan, Daniel Palmer, Tonya Hurley, and Stephen Ross—it’s sure to leave readers screaming for more.

Excerpt:

I work my way around the pool fence, slowly, camera-phone at the ready, waiting for an iguana to run out.

A group of kids is huddled around one of the barbecue grills. I’m hoping they’re just trying to keep warm. It’s like, freezing, even though this is South Florida.

“Hey.”

One of the huddlers has seen me. I recognize him, vaguely, from school. He’s one of those guys, the kind that is good looking and knows it. He goes by Spike. So lame.

Where to Buy:

Give it a look. I like a good scare and thought I would share it with you.

As always don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or at any other bookstore. My newest novel Where Angels Sing is on sale now.

So, the Norse won?

The other night I discovered something that Marvel and the creators behind Thor have missed: Thor is living proof of a deity.

I was cooking dinner when my five year old showed up slinging his Mjolnir (Thor’s Hammer). I asked,

“Hey Thor, want to help with dinner?” I got the usual response.

“No I’m just playing, Can I have Thor God of Thunder song?”

There is no greater pride a parent feels than when a child asks for classic rock. I am quick to respond, “Absolutely!”

Thor God of Thunder song is actually Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin. Let me be up front here and declare I have had this song in my workout playlist for a decade or more so I didn’t download it because of a movie. Although when you look at Marvel movie music there is an argument to be made that Led Zeppelin might be the new AC/DC. I would say with confidence that Iron Man would not have been quite as cool if is wasn’t for the judicious use of AC/DC throughout the series of movies. Though I thought Thor Ragnarok was a great movie, the same argument could be made that Ragnarok might not have been Ragnarok without Immigrant Song as the backdrop to Thor beating the crap out of a bunch of demons. Additionally, when was the last time you saw an action flick that didn’t have an AC/DC track somewhere in either the trailer or the film itself, just saying. Robert Plant and the boys might be seeing a boost in their royalties soon.

But I digress.

The point I had when I started this bit of word vomit was that I had an epiphany while cooking dinner and praying Thor’s hammer did not go through the tv. Thor is living proof of deity in the Marvel universe. Now if we allow that the Marvel universe is societally similar to our society then wouldn’t him showing up on the world’s stage fighting aliens in Avengers have been a bit disruptive to society. I mean not only do the big three religions all fight (literally) to convince the rest of us heathens that their dogma is “the way.” But how many other sects and systems are out there that think their own deity, whatever that may be is the only path to salvation? Then all of a sudden here comes a hero out of Norse mythology, Thor, the God of Thunder standing in the middle of New York City swinging a giant hammer.

Picture yourself as some pastor, or Imam, or even the Pope himself sitting around watching Fox News as they interrupt a hoverround commercial to bring breaking news. “Alien Invasion: New York” is the headline and then whichever religious leader seems most entertaining in your head (for me it’s the Pope lounging in his robe lint rollering a massive hat but then again I’m Catholic so that makes sense) He leans forward in his big stuffy chair and sees a God standing with Captain America in the middle of Times Square. He doesn’t see the big alien dragon looking things flying around, he only sees the worlds first proof of deity fist bumping Cap and flying off screen under a swinging hammer. I can only think his first thought is, “Merda!” [“Shit!” in Italian].

World religious leaders around the globe are all realizing at the same time that their collection plates are about to run dry. All accept the Asatro (that’s right there is still a religion that believes in Odin and Thor) and those guys leap up and dance a jig, “I knew it!” they scream.

So then what?

Iron Man nukes the aliens and the dimensional gateway is closed, cool. But what about the 84% of people whose guiding life principles just went up in smoke, or more accurately, a lightning bolt?

Thor, chillin and eating falafel (the after the credits scene in Avengers [Spoiler, sorry]) is going to be a real problem for people. Here they were arguing about the bible and the koran, and the torah only to find that the Scandinavians had it all right. What the…? That effect on society is something overlooked by Marvel et al.

Good news though. In the event Thor was to show up and save the world, Santa might get a second look. As far as I know he was adopted by Christianity as a way of absorbing some of those “heathen” religions on their way to world domination.

Now all of a sudden the powers that be find out that Norse mythology was the one…and they missed it. I can only picture the Westboro Baptists protesting Thor’s hair while a bunch of ISIS guys try to blow up Avenger HQ.

What do you think the Asatro head honcho would do during his first press conference? I like to think he would play it really cool. Shrug his shoulders maybe and say, “Told ya,” drop the mike and walk off stage.

Anyway, that’s all I got for today. But hey Marvel, maybe something to look into.

As always don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or any other bookstore. My newest novel Where Angels Sing is on sale now.


 

Review: The Cobra Event by Richard Preston


Richard Preston’s The Cobra Event was one of those books I had my eye on for a long time but never pulled the trigger on. I would look at it lingering on my book list and wonder if a medical thriller could catch my attention and keep it. From the outside looking in I equated it with like an Outbreak or ER type of story, I thought all the medical stuff would bore me. Man was I wrong.

I didn’t know what was missing from my literary life until I finally dove into The Cobra Event. Richard Preston created a masterpiece with this book. From the opening pages I had one of those books in my hand that make you want to go to bed early so that you had more time to read. It’s been a long time since I read a book like that.

Though it’s a novel the story reads like it could be a case file. The characters depth and scientific backgrounds are believable which shows Preston did his fair share of research in creating them. The details of the labs and equipment needed to effect a bio-terrorism event were expertly explained while not sounding like a technical manual. He even made decontamination process, and small mistakes in the decontamination process sound interesting. And when the intensity ramped up and we drew in on the bad guy the tactics, and tactical mistakes that kept the chase alive were written so real you could feel the danger.

I know the book is a little dated, The Cobra Event was released in 1998 but the old reads are still some of the best. I’m glad I finally took the leap and gave The Cobra Event another chance. It was awesome.

I attached the synopsis below. It’s worth a look.

“The Cobra Event is a petrifying, fictional account of a very real threat: biological terrorism.

Seventeen-year-old Kate Moran wakes one morning to the beginnings of a head cold but shrugs it off and goes to school anyway. By her midmorning art class, Kate’s runny nose gives way to violent seizures and a hideous scene of self-cannibalization. She dies soon after. When a homeless man meets a similarly gruesome — and mystifying — fate, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta sends pathologist Alice Austen to investigate. What she uncovers is the work of a killer, a man who calls himself Archimedes and is intent on spreading his deadly Cobra virus throughout New York City. A silent crisis erupts, with Austen and a secret FBI forensic team rushing to expose the terrorist.

Even more frightening than Preston’s story about the fictitious Cobra virus, however, is the truth that lies beneath it. As the author writes in his introduction, “The nonfiction roots of this book run deep…. My sources include eyewitnesses who have seen a variety of biological-weapons installations in different countries, and people who have developed and tested strategic bioweapons.” In fact, the only reason The Cobra Event was not written as nonfiction is that none of Preston’s sources would go on record.

Woven throughout the novel are sections of straight nonfiction reporting that reveal the terrifying truth about the development of biological weapons and the clandestine operations of Russia and Iraq. Three years of research and more than 100 interviews with high-level sources in the FBI, the U.S. military, and the scientific community went into The Cobra Event. The result is sure to shock you.”

Hope you like it and don’t forget to check out my novels available here and wherever books are sold. Also I will be at Literary Love Savannah, GA the 26-28th signing and sitting on a couple of panels. I look forward to seeing you there.

Out.

Author Spotlight: Ellison Cooper

cgHey everybody I have been out of pocket for a minute but I do have an excuse. I have been editing the monster that is my new fantasy novel (Title Pending). Had no idea what I was getting into. The cultural research alone could have earned me a second master’s degree. BTW, now I know what to call medieval stuff…extremely useful knowledge in 2018.

Anyway, I have a book recommendation for you. “Caged” is Ellison Cooper’s debut thriller.

Here is some info about the book:

“FBI neuroscientist Sayer Altair hunts for evil in the deepest recesses of the human mind. Still reeling from the death of her fiance, she wants nothing more than to focus on her research into the brains of serial killers. But when the Washington D.C. police stumble upon a gruesome murder scene involving a girl who’d been slowly starved to death while held captive in a cage, Sayer is called in to lead the investigation. When the victim is identified as the daughter of a high profile senator, Sayer is thrust into the spotlight.

As public pressure mounts, she discovers that another girl has been taken and is teetering on the brink of death. With evidence unraveling around her, Sayer races to save the second victim but soon realizes that they are hunting a killer with a dangerous obsession…a killer who is closer than she thought.”

Praise for Caged:

“Dark and mesmerizing…channels equal parts KATHY REICHS and THOMAS HARRIS…You will read till the bitter end…then sleep with the lights on!”
Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author

“I started and couldn’t stop.”
—F. Paul Wilson, New York Times bestselling author

CAGED is a gripping thriller debut for fans of Kathy Reichs, Thomas Harris, and Patricia Cornwell.

Ellison’s Bio:

Ellison Cooper has a Ph.D. in anthropology from UCLA, with a background in archaeology, cultural neuroscience, ancient religion, colonialism, and human rights. She has conducted fieldwork in Central , West Africa, Micronesia, and Western Europe. She has worked as a murder investigator in Washington DC, and is a certified K9 Search and Rescue Federal Disaster Worker. She now lives in the Bay Area with her husband and son.

Social Media

web: http://ellisoncooper.com/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EllisonCooperAuthor 

twitter: https://twitter.com/ECooperAuthor

instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ecooperauthor/

goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17392133.Ellison_Cooper

It’s always important to support new authors. Wishing the best of luck to Ellison Cooper! Here’s where to find Caged:

Amazon: http://hyperurl.co/CagedAmazon

IndieBound: http://hyperurl.co/CagedIndieBound

Book-A-Million: http://hyperurl.co/CagedBAM

iBooks: http://hyperurl.co/CagedApple

Don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or any other bookstore. My newest novel Where Angels Sing is on sale now.

What is it With Little Boys and Guns

Tripp woodsI get that I’m an author and should probably stick to author stuff but like the title of the blog reads, this is the world according to me. I can do whatever I want.

This is a gun-ish post but I have a couple of caveats. First, this isn’t a gun control post. There are plenty of idealists out there on both sides of the issue spouting their views (most of which seem fairly ignorant). I am not one of those. I simply had an interesting parenting experience that I thought might make a good post.

If you read my bio you know my background in law enforcement. I carried a gun every day for fifteen years before I hung it up to move into a non-operational role. I’m not a gun nut but I appreciate the tool and respect the necessity of weapons in personal defense. I still carry one most of the time when I’m out and about.

I have also seen what guns can do either intentionally or when misused. When I became a parent, the ‘gun’ issue, became a thing.

So, when my three-year-old, Tripp, came home from daycare one day, folded his chubby little hand up like a gun and said, “boom, boom, I shoot you,” I was taken aback.

I asked, “What are you doing?”

“I shot you,”

“Shot me?”

“With my gun I shot you,”

“What do you know about guns?”

“You shoot people with guns,”

“Who told you about guns?”

He took on a sheepish pout, “Ben,”

Ben is three years old also.

The kid’s three, my plan was to put off the gun stuff until he was six and I could take him to grandpa’s house and teach him how to shoot. He didn’t watch movies or tv where guns were a thing, the most violent media he had access to was the Wild Kratts. How do you explain something like gun safety to a three-year-old?

Maybe I lost my mind. I probably over reacted but I wasn’t going to have my little guy’s first impression of firearms framed by another three-year-old booger eater. I would control this narrative.

The next day Tripp got home from daycare to find his bedroom had been converted into a shooting range. I had five of his stuffed animals lined up on his dresser. His bed was the firing line. When I showed him two little single shot Nerf guns he was psyched. When I told him there were rules we had to learn he was not. We spent the next hour going over the same rules that govern every law enforcement range I have ever trained on:

  1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
  2. Never aim a gun at something you don’t intend to shoot.
  3. Finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.

It took us a little while to get the rules and we both had violations if I’m being honest. But once we had the rules of the range down, shooting our little Nerf guns became a daily thing until the next Car’s movie came out and we were back to racing around on the floor. That was two years ago, we still shoot a couple of times a month, and now the guns are cooler.

Even though he plays by the ‘range rules’ at home I wondered how much of that held when submerged amongst the brain trust of his classmates. In my mind I imagined discipline a myth and that he and his friends at school were running around the playground like it was the street scene in Heat.

Then this weekend we were wandering down the street when a kid, maybe eight-years-old came out of a store sporting one of those toy pirate flintlocks. He stops in front of me, Tripp, and some random woman and pops all of us. It was just a noise maker and I’m pretty sure his aim was off but the act left my now five-year-old absolutely incensed.

“Whoa, No! That’s not how you do it!” he yelled at the older kid. Tripp’s outburst was enough to freeze the kid in his tracks. The older boy cocked his head to the side and looked like a dog trying to figure out how to handle a turtle wandering through the yard. Tripp squared off with him and put his hand out like a gun pointed to the sky, put it right at eye level and flexed his little ‘trigger’ finger, “Finger off the trigger unless you ready to shoot,” he barked.

He looked at me, “Did you see him, he had his finger…” his voice drifted off as the pirate disappeared in the crowd.

“I know bud,”

“He dinit control his weapon!”

“No, he didn’t,” I agreed while fighting the urge to do an end zone dance right there on the street.

“He needs the rules!”

“Yes, he does,” I agreed,

When I gave him a high five he looked at me suspiciously. I let him wonder as we continued our walk down the street.

I don’t know what it is about little boys and guns. I was hoping to keep that aspect of life away from him for as long possible, thanks daycare. My only guess is that guns are part of our human nature. We are a society based on violence, guns have been glorified since the creation of the blunderbuss, before that the sword got all the attention. Humans are predators by design, maybe guns and violence feed some primal part of us.

Not trying to enter the gun debate, and the last person anyone should take parenting advice from is me so this is not a parent strategy session. I just had a fun dad moment I figured might make a good post.

Don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or at any other bookstore. My newest novel Where Angels Sing is on sale now.