Crossing Savage still only $1.99—but time is running out!

Crossing Savage cover angle viewBest-selling action-political thriller Crossing Savage is currently only $1.99 for the Kindle format. But you must purchase from Amazon before the end of October.

I have a benefit book signing scheduled for December 6 in Sisters, Oregon, with the proceeds benefiting the Central Oregon Youth Orchestra (COYO). I’ll post more details as the date draws near. COYO is raising money to help defray the cost of sending their members to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York next June. Admission to COYO is by audition, and is open to all youth in Central Oregon. It is a fine group of young men and women, all pursuing a passion for musical excellence.

If you are interested in supporting COYO but can’t attend the signing, just write to me and I’ll be happy to send a book to you and credit the sale to the benefit event.

Posted in News, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Cover reveal—Relentless Savage

RS cover web resI am excited to share the cover design for Relentless Savage, the sequel to the best-seller Crossing Savage. A lot of hard work and talent from the folks at Light Messages Publishing went into this cover, and I absolutely love it! The symbolism is excellent (what suggestions do you see in the cover?). I’ve also posted an image of the back cover so you can read the short blurb and, hopefully, peak your interest. Relentless Savage is scheduled for release in March 2015. As the date approaches I’ll keep you posted.RS back cover web res

Posted in News, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cover selection for Relentless Savage

Book 2 Cover AWith the release date for Relentless Savage (Peter Savage book #2, the sequel to Crossing Savage) fast approaching, Light Messages Publishing is working hard on the cover design. As any reader (and author) knows, the cover design is a very important element of the final product. I’ve been known to walk down the book-store aisle scanning covers and titles until one makes me stop. Then I’ll pick up the book and read the blurb, and more often than not, I buy the book. There is a definite–almost intangible–connection between the title and the cover that tells you what the plot is about. As a huge fan of action thrillers, I’ve become adept at seeing that connection.Book 2 Cover C

But designing a book cover that accomplishes these goals is a difficult task, and one that I have just about zero skill at completing. Fortunately I work with talented professionals who know exactly how to design a compelling book cover. One with subtle, but unmistakable, teasers that hint at key plot elements. A design that has an appealing color pallete, and is eye-catching.

The samples here are the first three cover drafts. None of these really worked for a variety of reasons. If you look carefully at these cover designs you will see that certain visual elements are common, hinting at the story, but still none was quite right. After lengthy conversations with my publisher, a fourth design has been put Book 2 Cover Bforward. I’m not showing this one–not yet. However, I will say that it is stunning! I was completely wowed, and absolutely love what the graphic artist came up with. The design is still being refined, and when it is in final stage I’ll share it here. Stay tuned!

If you haven’t read Crossing Savage, it is on sale through Amazon for $1.99 throughout October.

Posted in Book fun facts, News, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Crossing Savage — $1.99 throughout October!

Crossing Savage cover angle viewI’m pleased to announce that Crossing Savage has been selected for a special promotion by Amazon throughout October. The Kindle version is being offer for only $1.99, but you must buy before the end of October. This is a discount of more than $5 from the regular price. Stock up for Christmas gifts, Thanksgiving gifts, Hanuka gifts, just-because gifts. Hey, it’s the season of giving, right? oil rigs 1

I’m excited to share with you news that Peter Savage and Commander James Nicolaou will be appearing soon in book #2; Relentless Savage. My publisher is currently working on the cover design, and I’ll share that soon. At this time, Relentless Savage is scheduled for release in February or early March.

Oh, yes, I’ll have some advance review copies soon, so if you’d like to be provide a pre-release review please let me know. Just contact me through Goodreads or the Contact Us page of this site.

Cheers!

Posted in News, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Approaching winter plays into Putin’s hand–Interview with Commander James Nicolaou

Gas pipelines across UkraineLast month I had the good fortune to interview Commander James Nicolaou (Strategic Global Intervention Team) concerning the violence in Eastern Ukraine. That interview prompted a large number of responses, including some who claim the aggression by pro-Russian militias in the region is a result of US corporate conspiracies. Hard to imagine how that works, yet the people vocalizing these positions remain adamant.

So, I have asked Commander Nicolaou to review the situation, especially in light of the recent cease fire agreement.

Question: Thank you Commander. What do you say to those who argue that the conflict in Eastern Ukraine is a fabrication of US Corporations to gain wealth from warfare?

Commander Nicolaou: These accusations are expected; they have become a mainstay of modern public dialog, perhaps because the more outlandish the charge the more likely the individual making it will gain a few minutes of notoriety in the morning newspaper. These charges have been made about every conflict the US has engaged in for the past 40 years. The truth is, every situation is a little different, a bit unique. As I stated last time, the conflict over the Crimean Peninsula and now Eastern Ukraine is the result of an ultra-nationalist Russian government under the leadership of Vladimir Putin.

Question: With the ceasefire apparently holding, more or less, does this mean the fighting is over?

Commander Nicolaou: The halt in fighting is temporary. Europe and the US have levied a collection of sanctions on Russian and many of Putin’s inner circle of advisors. In addition, the Ukrainian armed forces have fought well, probably to the surprise of the pro-Russian militia leaders. But our analysts believe the worst is yet to come.Cold no natural gas

Question: What makes you say that? Why do you believe the conflict will heat up again rather than following a political solution?

Commander Nicolaou: Simple. Winter is approaching. Europe receives 38% of its natural gas from Russia, most of that gas flows through pipelines stretching across Ukraine. As cold weather settles in, expect Putin to turn off the gas. Then he will press his offensive again, and when he does we expect he will not bother to offer any weak lies that Russian troops are not engaged. We expect he will openly commit Russian forces to achieve a quick victory and occupation, followed by annexation based on local popular vote, as he did with Crimea.

Question: So you are saying that Putin will use energy as a weapon, by withholding supply to homes, schools, and factories across Europe. You seem confident with this prediction.

Commander Nicolaou: Yes, my analysts at SGIT, supported by the DIA, CIA, and NSA all agree. Today Russian announced that it was cutting exports by up to 60%, and we’ve seen this before, many times. Not only Russian gas exports to Europe, but you may recall that in the 1970’s, OPEC drastically cut oil exports to the US to protest US support for Israel. Energy supply is, and will remain, a weapon. That is why energy independence remains an important goal—not only for the US but for all nations.

Question: Thank you Commander for sharing this perspective.

Commander Nicolaou: Certainly, thank you.

Posted in Energy, Guest blogs, News | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Influential books and recommended reading

odyssey and iliadAlthough I have always loved to read, there are a few novels that are indelibly etched into my brain as exciting, thrilling, and thoroughly entertaining. Listed here are seven books that have had a profound impact on me as a reader and as a writer. I’ve listed them in chronological order as to the date when I first read each book.

Homer: The Iliad and Odyssey—Ever since I was old enough to read, I’ve enjoyed Greek and Norse mythology. The stories move and are packed with action and adventure, heroic deeds, and tragedy. By far my favorite is Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, relating the tales of Ulysses and other great heroes as they carry out the siege of Troy and then struggle to return home, having pissed-off the gods. A two volume hard-bound copy has a prominent location in my library.

rtt-usfirst-pbClive Cussler: Raise the Titanic—Anyone who has read my interview by Chris Graham knows that Clive Cussler was the first modern author who hooked me on the action-thriller genre. Raise the Titanic was the book, and I first read it in about 1980. Since that introduction to Dirk Pitt, I’ve read all his adventures, and I still enjoy Pitt’s wit and resourcefulness.

alpha deceptionJon Land: The Alpha Deception—Jon Land created a fascinating character named Blaine McCracken. Along with his trusty sidekick—Johnny Wareagle—McCracken led thrilling adventures against some really despicable antagonists. Darker than the Dirk Pitt series, but equally exciting, these novels added high-tech mystery to gun-blazing action.

Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park—A master at his craft, Crichton blended science fact with science fiction better than any other author. And Jurassic Park is the best example of a seamless merging of fact and fiction. The use of amphibian DNA to fill the gaps in the aged dinosaur DNA is simply brilliant, and forced me to research the science of DNA jurassic parkand cloning to understand what was real and what was speculation. With a fast pace and loads of cliffhangers, this is a must-read for any thriller fan.

Matthew Reilly: Ice Station—I was lured into Ice Station by the back-cover blurb, and quickly became a huge fan of Reilly. Ice Station is the first of the Scarecrow series, and marked a new sub-genre of action-thrillers for me—I call this the ultra-action thriller. This book is the prototypical example of the phrase “can’t put down.”

Matthew Reilly: Scarecrow—Once I became a fan of our ice stationleatherneck warrior, code name Scarecrow, I kept reading the series as fast as the books were released. Scarecrow makes my list of influential books in part due to the intense plot and non-stop action characteristic of the author, and in part due to the non-conventional way Reilly handles some of the main characters. I won’t say too much (no spoilers), but suffice it to say this is one damned good book and full of surprises.

scarecrowJames Rollins: Map of Bones—Another great franchise is the Sigma Force, with characters and stories from the imagination of James Rollins (pen name). Map of Bones is not the first Sigma Force novel, but it was the one that hooked me. To this day, Rollins’ writing of the Sigma Force novels has had more influence on my writing than any other single author.map of bones

Posted in Book fun facts, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An interview with Commander James Nicolaou on the Ukraine-Russian conflict

With tension in Ukraine still very high, I am fortunate today to share this interview with Commander James Nicolaou, Strategic Global Intervention Team (SGIT).

Russian armored carriersQuestion: Thank you Commander for taking time from your busy schedule for this interview. What can you share with us about the full extent of Russian military involvement in Eastern Ukraine?

Commander Nicolaou: Well, to begin, let me point out the obvious—there is much information that I cannot share due to national security interests. However, as the international press has reported, a Russian military convoy numbering about two dozen armored vehicles—mostly armored personnel carriers—crossed the border and entered Ukraine sovereign territory two days ago. This is not new, and the Russian military has repeatedly violated the eastern border. For example, you may recall press photos of Russian surface-to-air missile launchers retreating back to Russian in the day following the downing of the Malaysian airliner. NATO has confirmed many of these illegal incursions into Ukraine. Following the most recent invasion of an armored Russian convoy, Ukrainian artillery shelled the convoy, destroying many of the vehicles and forcing the convoy to retreat.

Question: Do you believe that an invasion of Ukraine is imminent?Troops on border

Commander Nicolaou: That’s a difficult question to answer for the simple reason that we are dealing with the psychology of President Vladimir Putin. He is without doubt insecure, and he has a strong nationalist ideology. This is bolstered by a very high domestic approval rating topping 85%. Putin and many in his government covet the former Soviet Bloc countries of Eastern Europe. The sanctions imposed by European countries and the US have done little to put pressure on Putin or erode his support within Russia. Now consider that he has placed 20,000 troops on the border, plus he has sent smaller military units and equipment across the border regularly since the Crimea was unlawfully annexed by Russia, and I’d suggest there is only one conclusion that makes sense.

Question: Do you think that the Russian aid convoy is legitimate? That Russia genuinely wants to help achieve a peaceful resolution?

Commander Nicolaou: Look, the so-called aid convoy of about 200 trucks is manned by young men, all of fighting age. These young men have been photographed by international members of the press all wearing the same clothing, khaki shorts. The trucks are not fully loaded, which begs the question, why have so many partly filled tricks? And why do we not see a normal cross section of men and women of varying age if these are aid workers rather than soldiers? If President Putin truly wants to see a return of peace to the region, all he has to do is remove Russian military support and the rebels initiative will collapse. That he has not done so signals his intentions; take control of Eastern Ukraine—as he did the Crimean Peninsula—under false pretense of preventing harm to ethnic Russians.

Question: If the convoy is not to distribute humanitarian aid, why go to the trouble? What is the purpose of the convoy?

Commander Nicolaou: That’s a good question and one that the intelligence community has considered carefully. My own analysts at SGIT have put forward three reasons. Normally, I would not be allowed to go to this level of detail in a public briefing, but the military brass has made the decision that this is one case where secrecy is not helpful. Reason one—Russian is cultivating a public image of the peacemaker. Although this image does not sell to the general public in the US, it is appealing in many other countries, especially those that do not care much for the US. Reason two—intelligence. Driving a large convoy into Eastern Ukraine is a good cover for on-the-ground intelligence that would be extremely useful to the invasion force. And reason three—smuggling arms and ammunition into Ukraine for the benefit of the pro-Russian militia.

Question: Do you expect NATO to engage in any significant way if Russia does invade?

Commander Nicolaou: I really can’t speculate on what military response might be forthcoming from NATO. But I will remind you that Ukraine is not a member of NATO, thus there is no treaty obligation on the part of Europe and the US to offer military support.

Question: It sounds like this would be an ideal mission for Special Forces. Any expectation that SGIT will be on the ground in Eastern Ukraine.

Commander Nicolaou: Again, I can’t answer that.

Question: I understand. Thank you Commander, for sharing your insight.

Commander Nicolaou: Certainly. Thank you.

Posted in Interviews, News | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Author reading from Crossing Savage

Planning to be in Bend, Oregon on Sunday August 10? I’ll be reading a passage from Crossing Savage at the Know Your Local Authors event, sponsored by the Deschutes County Library System.

Celebrate local writers at the Downtown Bend Public Library at Second Sunday on August 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public and will feature 13 of Central Oregon’s finest local authors. Books will be available for sale before and after the event.

Hope to see you there!

Posted in News, Writing | Leave a comment

It’s time to take a stance, or admit we don’t give a damn.

RUSSIA-US-POLITICS-DIPLOMACY-JUSTICE-MAGNITSKYIn the days since Malaysian Airline Flight 17 was shot down over Eastern Ukraine, we have witnessed Western Governments express moral outrage, and families of those murdered publicly convey their grief. We have stood by while the pro-Russian militia—acting like drunken thugs—delayed international inspection teams, delayed removal of the bodies, and apparently looted any personal belongings of value.

What we have not seen is a public expression of outrage from Russia or, more correctly, from Vladimir Putin (since his will is Russian foreign policy). We have not heard Putin demand that the pro-Russian militia cease using surface to air missiles of the type used to down MH17. In fact, only days later the militia used surface to air missiles to shoot down two Ukrainian military aircraft, and they had previously shot down a Ukrainian transport plane.

Putin has publicly stated that Russia has the right to directly and indirectly defend ethnic Russians living in other sovereign countries, whether or not they are in fact Russian citizens. No doubt this sells well to the homeland, but it cannot be taken seriously. Think about it. If this position justified military intervention, the world would dissolve into total anarchy overnight.

The tragedy of MH17 goes beyond the 298 murdered civilians—it includes the lack of Western Governments to hold Putin and Russia accountable. The cover story in the August 4, 2014 issue of Time Magazine (Cold War II, by Simon Shuster) says it well in reporting President Obama’s July 21 statement that the least Putin could do is exert his influence on the militia to cooperate with the investigation: “The least Putin could do was the most Obama could ask for.” And European leaders have done no better. Following the MH17 tragedy France announced that would proceed with selling a warship to Russia, and Italy has lead the resistance to further sanctions against Russia.

The message to Putin from both the US and Europe is “Please don’t do that again.” For a nationalistic leader like Putin, who enjoys an 86% approval rating at home, why should he care what Europe and the US want? Indeed, Putin has made it clear that his goal is a greater Russia (read this to mean territory and influence).

Having already annexed the Crimean Peninsula, formerly a portion of Ukraine, President Putin is poised to invade Eastern Ukraine, probably on the pretense of protecting ethnic Russians who are citizens of Ukraine. Putin has made it absolutely clear that he is not concerned that it was the pro-Russian militia he has trained and armed that murdered 298 civilians.

I grieve with the families of the victims, and I find the rhetoric of moral outrage and condemnation coming from the European leaders phony. Europe does not want to upset trade with Russia (including energy imports from Russia). So Putin may annex and invade sovereign nations on the thinnest of pretense, and provide weapons and training that allows his proxy militia to shoot down a civilian airplane, all with impunity.

It is time for Europe’s leaders to put up or shut up. If they do not want to take a stance against Russian aggression, then they need to say so and stop with the cheap stage acts. On the other hand, if they want to make it clear that this aggression will not be tolerated, the course is simple. With UN backing send ground troops with all necessary support into Ukraine to destroy the surface to air missiles and secure the border with Russia. Anything less is telling Putin he is free to continue this lawless path to a greater Russia.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The tragedy of MH17—What should we do? What can we do?

MH17 militiamanMany reviewers of Crossing Savage point to the similarities between the fictional plot and the conflict in Ukraine. I was discussing this question two days ago during an interview for KWCC (Wenatchee, WA)—three hours later I heard the news that flight MH17 had been downed over Eastern Ukraine. It is all but certain that the civilian airliner with 298 passengers was shot down by an advanced Russian radar-guided missile. What is less certain is whether the pro-Russian militia acted alone or if their deed was enabled by direct actions from the Russian military.Russian AA battery

Until now, the heavy fighting has been confined to the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Vladimir Putin argues that Russian is justified to defend ethnic Russians residing in Ukraine, using direct and indirect means. Putin has taken the extraordinary steps of annexing the Crimean Peninsula; Eastern Ukraine is likely next. With Europe receiving more than a third of its natural gas from Russia, the EU has little real leverage to stop Russian aggression. And the US has no appetite to enter a new conflict in Europe as we are winding down our wars in the Middle East.

Putin has read the tealeaves with skill. Nevertheless, there are significant actions the US and the EU should pursue.MH17 personal effects

  1. Europe should offer military support, especially ground troops, to Ukraine to bring an end to the militias and destroy their surface to air missiles. The UN must support this goal and means. Once done, the border crossings with Russia need to be secured and monitored by the UN to halt unchecked (and undocumented) transfer of weapons and soldiers.
  2. The US must accelerate export of LNG and, if necessary, oil to Europe in order to free Europe from dependence on Russian energy resources. This will require intense political support from both parties, but it is necessary.
  3. Washington needs to adopt a long-term energy plan (as in decades long) that speaks to the national interests of the US. How does this happen with the least productive Congress in decades? That responsibility falls on our shoulders, the voters. Until we hold our elected representatives responsible for conducting the business of the Nation, in the best interest of the Nation, nothing will change for the better.

MH17 memorialIt remains to be seen if European leaders have the resolve to stand up to Putin and the atrocities committed by the pro-Russian militias acting as proxy armies of the Russian Federation. If they do it will be painful, but the murdered crew and passengers on MH17 were mostly citizens of European countries.

The broader danger is the US has no functional, sustainable long-term energy policy. This leaves the US and our allies vulnerable to aggression as is evident in the Middle East and Ukraine. The solution is at hand—the technical knowledge and capability exists. The buck stops with us, the voters. If we do not insist our representatives conduct business in the interest of the US as a whole (not isolated regions and corporate special interests) then nothing will change.

Posted in Energy, News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment