My friend, fellow novelist Nicholas Sansbury Smith, asked me to write a novella for his Extinction Cycle Kindle World, which launches today. After much guilt tripping from Amazon and playing on my renowned good nature, I agreed, because that’s just the kind of guy I am.
I set it in 1972, during the Vietnam war, when Hal’s called in by a friend to investigate a string of murders in Pattaya, Thailand. Someone’s been butchering American servicemen from the nearby air base, and Hal’s chartered with getting to the bottom of it.
It’s fun, quick read, and I’m delighted with how it turned out. Fans of The Day After Never will enjoy it, and I hope fans of Nicholas’ bestselling series like the direction I took it as well. The Extinction Cycle novels revolve around a nightmare agent, VX-99, which the military developed to create the ultimate warrior. When it went badly awry, that’s where things get interesting.
Anyhow, that’s what’s up for October. November sees the new JET – Forsaken release, and I’ll be working hard on my 2017 novels, the first of which is a new series that features a female investigative journalist who gets in way over her head in a conspiracy that stretches from Mexico to the White House. That’s about all I have for it so far, but I’m sure it will gel as I outline it.
The Day After Never – Retribution is now live on Amazon! In the fourth installment in the series, Lucas must travel into the mouth of hell to keep a promise to the woman he’s fallen for, while the world collapses around him.
This is the final book in the original story arc. Depending on how it’s received, I may do another trilogy that takes Lucas into yet more disastrous predicaments, where he has to risk everything to defeat an enemy that’s determined to rule the emerging world.
But for now, this is the end of the series, and I hope everyone who’s enjoyed the first three has a hell of a time with Retribution. There are worse ways to pass a few hours of one’s time. If you think it sucks, try tequila. Tequila fixes everything.
Or so I hear.
In a post on Hugh Howey’s FB page, in answer to a suggestion we list the top three things we would want the U.S. government to do if we ran the country, I offered the following as my necessary changes that would result in a complete turnaround to the U.S.’ sinking prospects and fortunes.
Let’s preface this with the observation that the country is currently borrowing about a trillion more per year than it takes in, and has done so to the tune of $20 trillion – a sum so vast it can never be paid back unless the value of the currency drops to nothing from printing it. The U.S. has gone, since it abandoned the gold standard, from the largest creditor in history, to the largest debtor, in a matter of a couple of generations.
With that fact in place, here are my suggestions, two of which involve how to climb out of the debt hole and fund necessary infrastructure repairs and investments in the nation’s future, and one in how to ensure that future isn’t populated by mouth-breathing morons.
I’ll start with where the money would come from to fund things, and finish with how to ensure lasting prosperity versus moving deck chairs around on the Titanic:
1) Close all military bases in foreign countries, end all wars of aggression, slash the military budget by 90% so it’s more in line with what every other nation on the planet spends for defense (as opposed to waging war), and limit our military to defending the geographical U.S., not acting as the aggressive, warmongering police force for the rest of the world. That would simultaneously free up a massive amount of money, and reduce terrorism by at least that 90%, as most won’t give up their lives to attack a state that isn’t murdering its demographic.
2) Free college to all citizens if they can pass an aptitude test. Why? Because it’s an investment in our future, and an educated citizenry is one that can make more informed decisions and build a better future.
3) End the Federal Reserve. Why? A privately owned bank that creates money from thin air and charges the nation to use it via usury is the single largest drain of prosperity ever conceived, and ensures that wealth isn’t evenly divided, but rather, becomes unevenly concentrated in a few hands – hands that do nothing but create money from thin air while everyone else must labor to get it. Also, the inflation effect of unsound money ensures that the masses lose buying power of their savings and so are always behind, and that those who labor for pay are constantly losing, as the scrip they’re paid in loses value. It’s servitude, and the basis of most of the nation’s inequality and problems. Solve that, and you don’t need to rejigger the tax system, which is simply trying to use confiscation to right a social ill whose basis lies in the form of currency used, and the lack of prosperity it inherently creates. Unsound money always favors those who issue it at the expense of the rest, and enables society’s parasites to corrupt every institution with the currency they print from thin air.
Do those three things, and the prosperity of the nation would skyrocket within less than a generation.
To my last point, most don’t realize how currency is now created in the U.S., or that it’s in violation of the Constitution. The Constitution establishes only two forms of lawful money: silver and gold coin. The framers were more than conversant with fiat, paper currency issued by private banks – they’d seen it drain the prosperity from England, and when imposed on the colonies by the King’s insistence they use Bank of England notes instead of colonial scrip, drain the prosperity from the land of plenty. They wanted none of it, for good reason.
In 1913, the Federal Reserve act was passed, which created both the Fed, and the IRS. Why the latter? Because if you’re going to create money from thin air, you need a mechanism to suck it back out of the market so you don’t create runaway price inflation from all the new money chasing the same goods and services, and the IRS was that mechanism. Of course, an unapportioned tax on labor was unconstitutional, which it was then and is now, but the IRS got around that when it lost in court prior to WW2, by establishing a voluntary 4% tax during WW2, and the citizenry became so used to this voluntary tax, most kept on sending in their 1040 and check even after the war ended. That monster morphed since into an authoritarian bully that demands you pay a tax you aren’t liable for, at gunpoint, and refuses to furnish any proof there’s a law requiring you to pay it – there isn’t – preferring to point to court decisions that back it in legalese that’s impossible to decipher for the average person, as opposed to a law.
That tangent aside, most don’t understand how U.S. currency is created, so I’ll explain it in abridged form. For every dollar on deposit in a bank, the bank is allowed to create $9 from thin air when it makes loans. You get a mortgage, for which you’re going to pay the bank 2-3 times what you borrowed over the 30 year term, and it did nothing to get that currency but tap a few keys. That’s it. Poof, new currency, which it collects the interest on for 30 years and did zero to earn, and for which it will confiscate your house if you fail to make the payments. If that seems like it’s fraud that stacks everything in favor of the currency creators, you’re correct, but the Congress sold you down the river, and made fraud the national monetary system in 1913, when it delegated the right to issue the nation’s currency to the Fed (which the Constitution doesn’t allow, incidentally – nowhere in it does it grant the Congress the ability to delegate its duties, and currency creation is the job of the Treasury), giving this privately owned cartel of private banks control over the nation’s currency. The nation’s prosperity was a foregone conclusion from there.
So end that scam, and suddenly you have a tremendous amount of wealth retained in the country instead of paid to a privately owned collection agency (the IRS, owned by the IMF) for the Fed.
As to terminating the perpetual war machine that is the military industrial complex Eisenhower warned about in his final presidential address, that’s a simple one. Stop fighting wars for oil, heroin, and to destabilize nations that don’t want to go along with your empire building, dismantle the war department, and focus on defending yourself against direct attacks. That’s it. Defending the country, not waging endless wars using “defending our interests” or “freeing the people” or “bringing democracy” as the excuse to allow war profiteers from looting the treasury year after year. None of the wars fought since I was born are to defend anything but the privilege of elite corporate interests, and the children of the poor die to do it. It’s unjust, wasteful, and extremely expensive, and we need to stop this insanity before it kills us all.
With the additional prosperity those two steps would create, you could fund free education, effectively end poverty within a generation due to the massive boom that would ensue, and enrich everyone except the very small clique at the top that currently amasses all the wealth while creating nothing of value.
Or continue as we are, and watch the wealth continue to concentrate at the very top, leaving the nation, and the world, living on a planet it no longer owns, slaving just to make ends meet, working for masters for whom you are nothing more than ants, pawns in a game you don’t even understand, whose lives matter not in the slightest.
So far my new one, The Goddess Legacy, is getting stellar reviews, for which I’m heartened, because I honestly believe it’s a great book. I know I’m not supposed to say that, but it’s how I feel. Anyone, especially any authors, who want a textbook example of pacing, twists, reversals, action, and plotting, and especially how outlining can add to story complexity rather than dampen creativity, are encouraged to read it. If I only wrote one book as a sample of my approach, this would be the one.
On other matters, I’m halfway through JET – Forsaken, and it’s turning out well. This will be the eleventh, or thirteenth, JET tome in the series, depending on how you count them, and I’m happy so say that the character and premise haven’t grown stale. I think fans of the series will enjoy it, and am looking forward to its release in November.
After that, I write a novella for a friend’s Kindle World, and that’s it for this year. Then I have to sit down and figure out what to release next year, because if I’m going to have a release in January or so, I have to write it in October so the editor and proofreader can work their magic. So perhaps a month off, and then whatever that is begins, keeping me out of trouble for the foreseeable future.
I’m toying with a trilogy in the DAN world, and probably another JET, another Ramsey’s, and a BLACK. If no trilogy, I have two ideas for stand-alones, one that might get me killed so I am reluctant to write, the other of which is an interesting premise, and would be the start of a new series featuring an investigative journalist in the southwest. That one’s percolating and seems likely to happen. I’m also still toying with my WATER trilogy idea, but I kind of want to co-author that one for more breadth in the world and story than I currently have.
So that’s what I’m up to. If you haven’t picked up Goddess, you could do worse. It’s a hell of a yarn, and one I’m proud of. Now off to conjure up more JET excitement. Idle hands being the devil’s…you know.
The newest novel in the Drake Ramsey series, The Goddess Legacy, is now live, and if you’ve never read any of my work this would be the book I’d recommend. It represents the apex of my approach to pacing, plot, and story development, and there isn’t a wasted scene in the nearly 100K words.
It’s rare as an author when you feel you got it completely right. I would have to say the first novel in my post-apocalyptic series, The Day After Never, feels that way, but it’s a relatively short work at 75K words, and was setting the stage for the development of characters that would have to carry multiple books, so there were some practical constraints in terms of how fast it could move. The Goddess Legacy takes established characters that are fully formed, and plunges them headlong into mayhem that escalates at every turn, so it can barrel along with joyful abandon with the reader along for the ride.
To say it’s a fun read is an understatement, in my opinion. I’m rather proud of this one. It moves like a runaway train, and just keeps accelerating through to the denouement. Almost every chapter has a twist, a turn, a reversal, or an unexpected surprise, and many have all of those and then some.
That’s the pitch. If you enjoy books in the tradition of Clive Cussler, James Rollins, and Dan Brown, and movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark, you should be in heaven with The Goddess Legacy. Best of all, even though it’s the third book in the series it’s written so it can be read as a standalone, so you can pick it up even if you’ve never read the first two, just as you could enjoy Da Vinci even if you hadn’t read Angels and Demons, or Raise the Titanic if you hadn’t read Clive’s earlier books.
Try it. If you don’t like it, refund it. That’s a zero risk proposition. My hope is it gets widely read. I haven’t been this excited by a release in a long time, and this one really feels like it’s hit all the right notes. Hope you think so, too.
Guess we’ll know soon enough.
I’m penning the latest installment in the JET series, titled JET – Forsaken, and wanted to share the cover, as well as the news that it’s available for pre-order at Amazon. I’ll have it up at iTunes and B&N shortly, so wherever fine, or not so fine, ebooks are sold.
Here’s the cover. I don’t want to give too much about the story away, except to say asses will be kicked, and the fecal material will smite fans.
The third in The Day After Never series, titled Covenant, is now live, and available at Amazon.
This is the climactic third installment in what I originally conceptualized as a trilogy, but which took on a life of its own, and will require four volumes to complete the plot arc (I came up with a secondary plot element that moved to center stage and required another 75K words to explore).
This four book series represents the entire arc of the original story and characters. There’s another background plot I might explore in a further three book arc, but it’s really a different story, with a distinctly different beginning, middle, and end point. Remains to be seen whether I follow that one, or just leave this the four books, and move on to something else. Guess we’ll see how I feel next year.
I’m super excited at how well the three books turned out, and am working on the fourth as we speak, and it’s coming along nicely. I suspect this will turn out to be one of my enduring series, like JET, where it doesn’t get old, and keeps attracting through word of mouth new readers every week. I certainly hope so.
That’s the big news. I’m only releasing book 4, titled Retribution, the third in the Ramsey‘s series, The Goddess Legacy (which is an amazing adventure novel, believe me), and a JET around November, and that’s it for the year, other than a novella for a friend of mine’s Kindle World in the fall. Next year I will slow further and likely only release a JET, a Ramsey’s, and possibly the three book arc of the next leg of The Day After Never, assuming I’m still fired up about it. Then again, I swore I’d only put out five books this year, and it turned into my usual seven or eight, so what’s the point of even guessing anymore? Nobody believes me, so it’s just hot air at this point.
For a limited time, the first three books in my bestselling JET series are bundled at a special price of $3.99.I do this because I love our country, Mom, apple pie, puppies, Grandma, Jesus, and the flag.
Also, because summer is beach read time, and what better way to while away the hours than following the harrowing exploits of a female Bond/Bourne kicking ass and taking names?
Most have already read the JET series, but in the event you’ve been living in a cave for the last few years or are so cheap that paying the paltry few dollars that is the full price of each novel is simply too much, this is your big chance to live like a Kardashian! Go, go, go! It doesn’t get any better than this. Really. I mean, I’m sure it does, but not from me.
It’s specially priced on all platforms, not just Amazon, BTW, so if you hate their guts and want to see them dead in the gutter covered with trash and feces, you can find it on iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords, too.
The important thing is that you act before I come to my senses (code for sober up).
Best be quick about it.
Five years ago, I pressed publish on my first self-pubbed novel, Fatal Exchange.
That went by fast.
And now, as I’m preparing to write the fourth in The Day After Never series, the final installment in that arc, I realize I’m closing in on 50 novels in 60 months.
That’s shocking, even to me.
Then again, go big or go home, right? You’re only on the planet for a blink, so if you’re going to pursue a passion, might as well go all in.
On the release schedule for 2016 are The Goddess Legacy, which is a book I’m particularly proud of, and is probably my best novel of its kind to date, The Day After Never 4, and a JET. I may sneak in another one if I get bored, but you never know – I’m supposed to be slowing my pace.
That’s gone well so far.
Thanks to one and all for continuing to support my scribbling – it means a lot to me to be able to do this for a living. Actually, in this economy, it means a lot to be able to do anything for a living, but don’t get me started.
The business has changed to the point it’s hardly recognizable, but one consistent trend is that it’s getting harder to gain visibility with each passing quarter. I expect that to continue.
Having said that, nobody owes anyone a living, and if you want to write books for your dinner, it will be tough, as it has been throughout history. But every year there will be breakthroughs, surprises, and hits out of left field, and every year underserved niches will see authors coming in and delivering product voracious readers want.
Meanwhile, I will continue to write books I would enjoy reading, and thank providence things have worked out so far.
Maybe it’s the second 50 novels that will do the trick!
The third in the bestselling Ramsey’s adventure series, titled The Goddess Legacy, has gone up on all platforms for pre-order, to release August 19th, 2016.
This is a particularly good one, in my opinion. It represents the fine-tuning of the plotting approach I laid out in “How to write a page-turner” and moves like a runaway freight train. I’m quite proud of how it turned out, and believe my readers will love everything about it. It’s chock full of twists and turns, reversals and surprises, and ups the ante considerably on my storytelling.
Here’s a cover reveal, followed by the first chapter.
And here’s the first chapter – enjoy with my compliments:
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Old Delhi, India
A pall of exhaust hung over India’s capital city, a hazy cloud that lingered in the still night air like a toxic mist. Everett Carson, lightheaded from the third celebratory cocktail he’d downed against his better judgment only minutes before, walked unsteadily down what passed for a sidewalk, dodging piles of refuse. The restaurant’s festive lights receded in the gloom behind him, and as he made his way down the dark street he realized that it was later than he’d thought, his meeting having taken considerably longer than planned. Still, it had been worth it, and now that the question of financing was answered, he was tantalizingly close to his objective.
The area was deserted; the daytime crowds had vanished as the sun sank into the horizon, leaving the street eerily silent. His footsteps sounded unsteady to his ear, and he picked up his pace, wary of inviting unwanted attention in a district that could get ugly at a moment’s notice.
Two men in dark robes stepped from a doorway halfway down the narrow block, and Carson’s stomach tightened. He told himself that he was too close to the main boulevard for there to be any danger, but his breath caught in his throat when he got a better look at the approaching figures, their onyx eyes glinting in the faint light from a passing car and their body language radiating menace. Adrenaline flooded his senses at the urgent determination in their stride, and he realized belatedly that he was anything but safe on the empty sidewalk.
Carson made a snap decision and darted between two cars. A loud honk blared from his right as he stepped into the street and narrowly dodged the front fender of a sedan barreling down on him. He cursed and skirted an overloaded truck lumbering along in the opposite direction, laborers on the running boards gripping the roof rack for support, and then continued across once the vehicle passed.
He hopped across a wide puddle and almost slipped when he landed hard, wrenching his ankle. He winced but kept moving, and when he reached the far curb, glanced over his shoulder.
The men were nowhere to be seen.
Carson shook his head to clear it and exhaled as he gingerly stepped onto the uneven concrete rise. A stream of noxious fluid, the surge the last of the runoff from a late afternoon cloudburst, burbled in the gutter around a clot of trash. A figure stepped into his path from the gloom and Carson stiffened. The man’s hand was outstretched, blocking Carson’s way.
“A few rupees, mister?” a sandpaper voice pleaded in heavily accented English.
Carson’s nose wrinkled at the stench drifting from the beggar, a rancid combination of filth, sour sweat, and decay. The vagrant eyed him hopefully through milky eyes, his jaundiced skin the texture of old leather, his trembling arm little more than bones and sinew. Carson pushed past, leaving the beggar leaning on a makeshift crutch fashioned from a broom handle, the soiled bandages that enveloped his stump of a left leg dotted with flies.
Carson’s pulse thudded in his ears as he willed himself calm, chastising himself for allowing his imagination to get the better of him. The main avenue was only two more blocks, and he’d be there in no time. He could easily do this.
Running footfalls thudded in his wake as he turned the corner, and his relief dissolved into fear – the city had a deserved reputation as treacherous for the unwary. He looked around for a taxi, but there were no cars on this street, and he swore under his breath at his carelessness. He’d dropped his guard for only a moment, but that had been enough in a town that offered no quarter. His pale complexion announced him as easy prey, a visitor in a country where he didn’t belong, and now his pursuers were closing in, no doubt planning to mug him.
Carson hurried along the narrow strip of sidewalk toward the far intersection. The long block seeming to stretch endlessly before him, leaving him to navigate around muddy gaps in the concrete where the pavement had washed away. He dared a look behind him but didn’t see anything other than iron barred windows and shadowy doorways, and he slowed as he quelled the panic he’d succumbed to.
What was wrong with him?
It wasn’t like he was helpless – he’d spent his life in the military, where he’d seen enough combat to fuel decades of sleepless nights with the phantoms of his squad mates and those he’d gunned down. Even now he cut an imposing figure for a man of his years, his silver hair cropped close to his skull, his shoulders square, frown lines scoring a seasoned face beneath hard cobalt eyes. Any thieves foolhardy enough to tackle him would be in for an unpleasant surprise, he assured himself, although the coil of anxiety in his gut twisted tighter as he strode past crumbling, graffiti-marred façades.
Carson swerved abruptly, narrowly avoiding a pile of cow dung in his path, a regular consequence of the sacred beasts that roamed unfettered even in the cosmopolitan areas. He skirted the lump and stopped in his tracks when another figure appeared from the shadows ahead of him, moving with a cautious precision that he instantly recognized as professional.
He looked around for anything he could use as a weapon, but saw nothing. Carson quickly calculated the distance to the next street and his odds of dodging the newcomer, but dismissed it. Soles pounding on the street behind him decided his course, and he ran to a dark opening between two buildings – a pedestrian walkway between deteriorating tenements. He sprinted down the muddy track, and then skidded to a stop when he came face-to-face with a massive head, its baleful eyes staring at him with bovine indifference.
Carson glared at the cow in the faint light and edged past it, ignoring the pink dust that rubbed on his clothes from where its hide had been festively colored by the faithful. He was just past the enormous beast when he heard his pursuers trail him into the passage. He slapped the cow’s haunch to goad it into charging them and sprinted as fast as he could for the far end, not waiting to see the effect of his effort.
At the next street he spotted a taxi creeping his way and flagged it down, hoping he didn’t look so frantic he would scare the driver off. The car slowed to a stop, and he was reaching for the rear door handle when the pair emerged from the passageway behind him. The driver blanched at the sight and stomped on the gas, leaving Carson standing alone, fully exposed.
He tore toward the glowing doorway of a curry restaurant, where a dim yellow sign over the storefront promised the best food in all India, and edged by a startled hostess in a golden sari before shouldering his way through the packed dining room, past the cash register in the rear, and through a pair of scarred double doors.
A half dozen cooks labored over pots of steaming gruel beside two dishwashers in a corner scrubbing wooden bowls. Across from them, a wiry man chopped vegetables on a length of plywood with an oversized blade, his expression blank, head bobbing slightly with the music from a boom box on a shelf over the prep area. All looked up at Carson in surprise as he burst into the cramped cooking area and made for the rear door. A cry of protest went up from the two closest women, one of whom shook a stew-slathered ladle at him. Ignoring the commotion, he ran to the exit, hoping his pursuers had decided their easy target was now too visible to attack.
He gagged at the stench rising from the garbage cans in the hot storage area, and swung the shabby wooden door wide. Outside he skirted a dumpster and shuddered at the sight of rats scurrying away down glistening pavement. His eyes adjusted to the darkness, and he inched along the brick wall, straining his ears for any hint of pursuit.
Satisfied that he was in the clear, he strode toward the street at the end of the access-way, his footsteps the only sound other than the distant hum of traffic and the constant percussive horn toots echoing off the high walls. As he neared the alley mouth, he gasped when a figure draped in the robes of a tantric priest stepped from the darkness to block his way. Carson recoiled at the man’s filthy, matted beard and hair, and then locked on his face – a demonic vision smeared with gray ash, his mangled mouth stretched into a permanent sneer by mottled scar tissue, revealing blackened teeth filed to sharp points. The man’s eyes bored into Carson, and then a hoarse rasp issued from his ruined lips and he leaned forward. His breath stank like an open grave. Moonlight glinted off the curved blade of a knife in his hand, and he hissed at Carson like a cobra as he feinted low and lunged.
Carson tensed, prepared to parry the thrust, and then abruptly jerked backward as razor-sharp wire looped over his head in a flash and bit into his larynx. His last breath gurgled from his ruined throat as powerful arms pulled the wire through sinew, tissue, and bone with a single heave. Carson’s body twitched spasmodically and collapsed in a heap, blood pulsing from his stub of neck. His head slammed against the pavement and bounced into the alley before settling five feet from his torso, where his sightless eyes stared in surprise at the unlikely spectacle of his headless corpse spasming in a crimson pool.
The robed man nodded once to his companion, who removed a cheap plastic raincoat that had shielded his garments from the shower of blood, and pocketed the garrote. The assassin rolled the slick covering into a neat bundle while the robed man knelt and quickly went through Carson’s pockets. Finding nothing but a wallet and a room key, he straightened and shook his head.
The pair soundlessly vanished into the gloom, leaving Carson’s remains to the rats making their way from the dumpster, the prospect of an easy meal having overpowered the animals’ natural caution. The restaurant’s service door opened with a creak and an outraged cook with a meat cleaver stepped outside, but his anger turned to panic at the grisly spectacle of ravenous vermin overwhelming the body near the alley mouth.