New Cover for Crossing Savage!

New CSI am very excited to share the new cover design for Crossing Savage. My publisher wanted to update the original cover to be representative of the Peter Savage series. The image hints at the major plot themes of energy and scientific discovery, as well as sinister forces lurking in the shadows.  I hope you like this design as much as I do!

With book #3 (Deadly Savage) in the series moving into production, I have reviewed a draft of the cover. It is fantastic–again visually conveying key elements of the story. More to come as the design is finalized. You can look forward to a cover reveal before too long.


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Never Forget

014Yesterday marked the 14th anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center. For Americans, it was an emotional day as we remembered the many thousands who died that day, and the hundreds of first responders who have since suffered–both physical ailments and emotional distress. Personally, I had a difficult time settling my mind, but I kept coming back to one thought over and over–never forget.

On that September day 14 years ago, I was in London attending a conference. I recall very clearly… it was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and a colleague from Austria rushed up to me and announced that the Twin Towers in New York had been destroyed. My initial reaction was that it was a sick joke, but his face told me otherwise. Unable to concentrate on business, I left the conference center and walked across the street to a pub.

A TV was playing CNN. That’s when I first saw the video of the two planes slamming into the towers, and then the inevitable collapse. Somehow the bartender knew I was American, and placed a pint in front of me, no charge.

With the airspace closed, I was unable to fly home, and have never felt so removed from my family and helpless. The next day, the entire city of London stopped at 11 AM for a moment of silence. It was eerie, and the memory still chokes me up. I was exiting a subway station at that moment, and I am not exaggerating to say that everyone just stopped, stood still, and bowed their heads.

Three days later I was able to catch a flight, and en route to Heathrow Airport my taxi driver tried to strike up a conversation. He could see it was hard for me to talk about the attack. I can still hear his words echoing as if just spoken–”We’ll be there with America, shoulder to shoulder.”

For me these memories are vivid and painful. And of one thing I am absolutely certain, I will never forget.

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Firearms 101 for authors (and readers)

Revolver firingI’ve been a recreational target shooter and hunter for 4 decades; shooting and reloading for pistol, rifle, and shotgun. I’ve even built and shot a wide range of primitive guns from flintlock pistols to Kentucky long rifles to Hawken-style percussion rifles (all muzzle-loading blackpowder weapons). My reading pleasure centers around thrillers, especially action-thrillers. But if the author really blows it when it comes to firearms facts and reality, it’s a big put-off for me.

Probably the most common error writers make (including screen writers) is to refer to a magazine as a clip. The photo to the right clip v magazineillustrates the difference. Magazines are a big improvement over the clip, which leaves the ammunition exposed and is slower to reload than is the self-contained magazine. Clips fell out of favor following WWII, and pretty much all modern semiautomatic firearms (and some bolt action rifles and shotguns) use magazines.

Another pet peeve I have is ignorance of terminal ballistics–that is, what the bullet does after leaving the gun barrel. Contrary to Hollywood depictions, and some writer’s whimsy, bullets are rarely stopped by the human body. Even common handgun cartridges fire bullets of sufficient mass, at sufficient velocity, that they will pass cleanly through an adult torso and still be lethal. So that image of the good guy holding a bad guy in front of him as a shield is pure bunk. DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!

Russian with AK74Then there is the magazine that never runs out. Typically, a pistol magazine will hold from 7 to 17 rounds, and up to 30 rounds for a rifle magazine. You’d be surprised at how fast those rounds go when you are shooting, especially if you consider a stressful situation (i.e., your life is in danger) and you are shooting two or three shots at each adversary. If the rifle or submachine gun is fully automatic, it will chew through ammunition at a staggering rate–600 rounds/minute for an Uzi, up to 900 rounds/minute for an MP5, and 650 rounds/minute for an AK74. At these rates of fire that 30 round magazine is empty in 2 to 3 seconds. Yes, changing a magazine does not take long if you know what you’re doing, but it does mean a break in the action, and one has a finite number of spare magazines.

If you are an author, follow these tips to keep it real and your readers will thank you.

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Introducing the Trunk Monkey

trunk monkeyRoad rage, car jackings, auto theft… no doubt that violence on the road is on the rise. This is the best deterrent I’ve come across. And it is certainly an accessory Peter Savage would want if he was driving a sedan. But, sadly, there is no trunk on an H3 Hummer truck.

The trunk monkey is a must have accessory, and one I will insist on having in my next car. Not to mention that it offers a safe deterrent to underage, overactive hormones–something EVERY father fears.

So I hope you enjoy this short collection of four videos (not three as the title suggests). Cheers!

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Sightseeing in Manhattan: Modern Thrillers

021Any fan of science/action thrillers has surely read CONTEST (by Matthew Reilly) and RELIC (by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child). Both of these stories largely take place in Manhattan: CONTEST at the Public Library and RELIC at the Museum of Natural History. I loved both of these novels, and in no small way these plots and writing styles have influenced my writing (also science/action thrillers). So, on a recent trip to NYC, I spent a day visiting these buildings, making a tangible connection to the stories that these monuments are the locus of.

The Public Library (above) is an imposing stone building situated adjacent to Bryant Park. Both facts are consistent with the plot of CONTEST. For some reason, Reilly incorporated an attached parking structure into the story, and there is no such thing in reality. Another disappointing discrepancy is that the gazebo, which figures prominently in the climax of CONTEST, is absent from Bryant Park. A pity. However, the interior of the Library is massive and covers multiple floors, and there is a basement with row upon row of stacks housing innumerable volumes (important to the plot). Unfortunately, the basement is not open to the public. I found it easy to imagine running for my life down the wide hallways and getting turned around the many meeting and reading rooms. The grand scale of the building is every bit in line with Reilly’s description.027

I had just finished reading RELIC for the third time the day before visiting the Museum of Natural History (yes, the very same as featured in the “Night at the Museum” movies). The museum is across the street from Central Park—an important fact to the sequel, RELIQUARY—and close to the Hudson River. However, I found it impossible, on the hot June day of my visit, to imagine even a torrential rain causing extensive flooding of this huge stone structure as described in the novel. From the exterior, the building is imposing and covers a city block. Inside, there are multiple floors of exhibits that seem to go on endlessly. Unlike the novel, I did not find a large central room just off the main entrance where the opening gala was held the night the beast went on its rampage. And there was no Hall of Primates, although I can forgive that as exhibits are most likely changed over time. The basement was off limits, and that’s a shame since it is in the lowest levels of the building that much of the mayhem occurs in RELIC.

Although Preston and Child set the story at the New York Museum of Natural History, for some odd reason the movie (also bearing the title “Relic”) was set in Chicago. Another problem I have with the movie is that the Pendergast character, who is featured in several subsequent novels, is completely absent. Unfortunate, since he adds so much to the story—he strikes me as a delightfully entertaining individual that I’d love to meet and converse with at a cocktail party. Although the movie was successful, if you have seen the film but not read the book, I’d encourage you to download it onto your e-reader find a used paperback version—you’ll find it more entertaining than the movie.

Speaking of books to movies, if you’d like to be part of the team that brings CROSSING SAVAGE one step closer to film, please make a donation to the crowdfunding site.

My goal is to raise enough money to hire a talented screenwriter to convert this award-winning and best-selling science/action thriller into a screenplay. With screenplay in hand, the marketing effort can be launched in earnest. I need a lot of help with this, and I hope you’ll consider a contribution of any amount (there are some cool rewards too!). Thank you and cheers!

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Commander Nicolaou and team test new ordinance for DARPA

sniperThe Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) frequently works with Commander Nicolaou and the men and women of SGIT to test new hardware. Recently released unclassified video shows the results of experiments with a steerable .50 cal bullet (code named EXACTO), designed to increase the probability of a first-shot hit.

Since the SGIT operators all carry security clearances and are expert bullet in flightwith a wide range of weapons, including the Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle and extremely long-range precision shooting, this elite group was selected by the DARPA project manager to carry out the field exercise (video). Based on the video, the steerable bullet appears to be a success. You can expect special forces such as SGIT to be the first to use this new projectile in future missions.

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Never forget–always honor

fallen soldiers 1It’s Memorial Day weekend, beginning of summer and barbeque season. If you live in my neck of the woods, it means a better-than-even chance of rain. Despite the picnic-like atmosphere of this festive holiday weekend, we should not lose sight of the meaning of Memorial Day.

I come from a family of veterans who have served our country Fallen soldiers 4proudly. My grandfather was a Naval Captain during WWII; my father an Army medic at the Battle of the Bulge; my oldest brother served in the Navy and was deployed to Vietnam at the height of hostilities; my nephew, an Army sergeant, has completed four combat tours, two in Afghanistan and two in Iraq; and my aunt was an Army WAC in WWII.

Fallen soldiers 3My family members made it home; but there are far too many others who didn’t. We are continually reminded that we live in a time of global unrest as our young men and women fight in faraway lands. Their blood has spilled freely on parched dirt while tears of loved ones flow unchecked at home.

So, with a lump in my throat, I have found myself listening to many musicians who have paid tribute to our fallen veterans through song. Below is my play list; my top five picks for the most moving tributes on this Memorial Day. Just be sure to have a box of tissues within reach as your watch and listen to these music videos.

I Drive Your Truck; Lee BriceFallen soldiers 5

Just a Dream; Carrie Underwood

If You’re Reading This; Tim McGraw

For You; Keith Urban

Some Gave All; Billy Ray Cyrus

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Praise for Relentless Savage

Lisa Weidknecht, blogger at Planet Weidknecht, posted a wonderful DNAreview of Relentless Savage, suggesting it “could easily be turned into a blockbuster movie.” Truth is, when I am writing I see the scenes in my mind, looking at the interplay of characters and events from many different angles. My thinking definitely is based in images; visual thinking.

Col Ming 1Readers have made similar suggestions about Crossing Savage as well. So, I have started to research hiring a screenwriter to write the screenplay for Crossing Savage. This is not a project I would tackle personally as I have no experience in writing screenplays. Hiring a writer is not cheap, but the solution may be in crowdfunding. I’m research the process now, and will have more on this shortly.

However, if you are a fan of Peter Savage novels, I’d love to hear your thoughts on who would be a good choice to play Peter Savage in the movie. I have several ideas, but would like to hear your suggestions. Same for Commander James Nicolaou–due to his Greek heritage, I’m stumped on who would fit the description.

I’m waiting to hear from you…  Cheers!

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Giveaway 2 copies of Relentless Savage

DNAHead on over to Sweeps 4 Bloggers where you can read their review of Relentless Savage and enter to win one of two copies. The contest closes on May 2.

The reviewer, Valerie Mitchell, writes “The first book, Crossing Savage, had a story that centered on energy independence. In the second book [Relentless Savage] the theme is biological terrorism. The books feel very real – as if things could almost happen exactly this way.”

Well, the only thing stranger than fiction is reality.

In Relentless Savage, the plot addresses genetic engineering of DNA researcher 1human DNA by a brilliant Chinese scientist named Colonel Ming. Yes, he’s also a lunatic. Today you may have heard the news reports of DNA research conducted by Chinese scientists at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. Their controversial research, published in the online journal Protein & Cell, involved modifying the DNA of human embryos. Although the stated goal was the elimination of a rare blood disorder, there is no limit to where this knowledge might lead.

Yes, Colonel Ming would be delighted.

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Manuscript for Book #3… an update.

Bone low-levelI must say, the past several weeks have been extremely busy. Relentless Savage has been fully released in digital and print formats. So far it is generating a lot of buzz, and iBooks even declared it a “best new mystery and thriller”! Remember, if you’d like to purchase a signed copy of Relentless Savage or Crossing Savage, just contact me through this web site (click on the Contact tab at the top of the page).

A few weeks ago I completed the first draft of Peter Savage Book #3. KGB HQ MinskAlthough I do have a working title, I’m reluctant to share that just yet. After some discussion with my editor and the production staff at Light Messages, and we’ve agreed on the title, I’ll let you know. But until then, I’ll just refer to it as Book #3.

Most authors will claim that they hate their first drafts. Maybe this is overly dramatic, maybe not. Generally, I feel disappointed as I am constructing the first draft as it never feels to me (while writing) that the draft manuscript will live up to reader’s expectations. Perhaps this is because the process of writing the first draft spans many months. In truth, I put at least a year into research, concept invention and refinement, and finally writing, before I have a draft. And yes, the first draft is rough.

It doesn’t really take shape, in my opinion, until the second pass. I’ll wait a few weeks after completing the draft before re-reading and Russian mobile missile launchercrafting the coarse, unrefined collection of pages into a manuscript that I fell good about. Imagine painting a large scene, and working very close to the canvass, seeing the minute detail of each brush stroke, yet not appreciating how those streaks of color and texture fit into the overall painting until you step back. That is how it is for me as I write these stories. Not until I read the first draft can I fully feel how the various pieces fit together. Consequently, this is a very exciting–perhaps the most enjoyable–time in the journey of writing a novel.

Without giving away too much about the plot of Book #3, I thought it Minsk Independence Squarewould be fun to share a few clues about where the story unfolds, and key plot elements. Each of the images attached to this blog relate directly to major aspects of the plot. Share with me your guesses–feel free to ask questions. I promise I’ll answer truthfully, but perhaps vague and obtuse depending on the question (LOL).

The manuscript will be off to my editor before the end of April (I have to have deadlines, otherwise stuff just doesn’t get done). Light Messages is aiming for a late November release. There’s a lot to do between now and then, but I’m optimistic we can meet the schedule. More to come. Cheers!

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