Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Global US Troop Deployment Inevitable

Troops in training at Fort Drum

I've been saying for some time now that the seeds of a major war are being sewn in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Korea. While I'm not convinced the Russians wish for a major conflict, North Korea, ISIS, and the Iranians might as well hold up flags that say, "Bring it on, Bro!" 

As for the Middle East situation, it's looking more and more like a nuclear deal is not happening. At least a deal that makes sense in terms of denying the Iranians a bomb. My guess is they either already possess a nuke or are fast on their way regardless. ISIS is spreading like a cancer and active recruitment for the radical Islamist terrorist group has now reached all points west. While Christians are beheaded by the dozens, Israel can't stand by idly for long while as their assured destruction is birthed inside a deep not so secret "secret" underground bunker facility in Fordo.

Meanwhile, you'll recall the Russians I mentioned who don't want war? Well, they've just made a deal to sell the Iranians missiles to go with the nukes they apparently don't have or ummm, don't want. And don't forget our Naval Fleet tracking an Iranian convoy off the coast of Yemen. In the words of the State Department, we just want to protect the flow of commerce. Huh? The joint is on fire. What commerce? Welcome to the new world order where a US that leads from behind or not at all, invites a world that crumbles into chaos and quite possibly, WWIII.

As if to confirm my suspicions, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Bannister, Commander of the 10th Mountain Division in  Watertown, NY,  said this week that a major deployment is being planning for 13 months from now, and the destinations will not only include Afghanistan and Iraq, "where division soldiers have been a fixture since 9/11," but also Europe and possibly South Korea.

Get the full story you won't read on the major news networks (or MSNBC) by clicking HERE.

To quote the General, "This (deployment) is part of our assurance to our allies. You can't just pull out; you have to assure them."

The 13 month time-line makes sense since the Obama administration, in its attempt to secure a Nobel Peace Prize for its appeasement to Iran, wants nothing to do with what is shaping up to be a well planned murder of global proportions. He would prefer to kick the can to the next president whoever he or she may be.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Do you Plot it or Wing it?

Indy, making it up as he goes...

Do you plot, plan, outline? Or, do you just go where your characters lead you? Why?...

...Seems like a straightforward set of questions, doesn’t it. But in truth, the answer’s not so simple. On more than one occasion, I’ve overheard established authors referring to their novels as “their babies.” That said, if I were to use the baby analogy to answer the question of are you a Plotter or a By-the-seat-of-your-pants author, I might say, Like my three kids, two of them were planned out ahead of time, from conception, to gestation, to setting up the nursery, to birth, to diaper service, to weekly babysitting, and everything else required of the first full year of a little baby’s life. It took a lot of thought, time and effort, but in the end, planning things out made for a smooth and happy experience.  

The second child required a bit less planning, but still, we made sure to plan ahead to a degree where we were confident that all would turn out smoothly. But by the time we got to the last kid, well, we weren’t even sure we could get pregnant, so we just sort of winged it. When we found out we were pregnant we just sort of went with the flow, allowing things to happen naturally. After all, we’d been through it twice before and realized that sometimes over-planning can take the fun and spontaneity out of the process. After all, life is a process of discovery if nothing else. So should writing a novel.

Okay, perhaps I’m pushing the baby metaphor to the breaking point here, but by now I’m sure my motive is obvious. When I was younger and just out of writing school in the late 1990s, I didn’t have the confidence or to be perfectly frank, the skills required to write a novel by the seat of my pants. Even if my characters were strong, their voices already speaking to me, I needed to plan out every plot point, from inciting incident to first conflict, to conflict resolution, to the epilogue. Not only did creating a clear plan help me construct and flesh out my novel, it also allowed me to go on the next morning without being stuck. 

As time went on however, and I became more comfortable with the novel process, I found that I was able to write a full length, 60K word piece of work by outlining only a few chapters at a time. I found that by planning anything beyond that would take away from my protagonist’s ability to make it up as he or she went along. Because life is a lot like that isn’t it? Often times, we find ourselves adapting to unforeseen circumstances regardless of how much we attempt to stay in control. You know, someone sideswipes your new car at the intersection, or you find that your wife’s been cheating on you…Life isn’t perfectly scripted by any sense of the word. This new method of semi-outlining allowed the novel to develop organically as opposed to one that’s built by connecting the dots. 

These days, after writing 17 novels, all of which are in print, I have enough confidence to sit down at my laptop with just a shred of an idea and in turn, build a novel out of it. That’s not to say I don’t spent time jotting down notes, or little bits of story outline, or even a page-length character synopsis or two. But what I don’t require anymore is a detailed outline. In fact, I purposely avoid it. With experience comes confidence. With confidence comes the freedom to allow your story…your baby…to take itself where it will.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Declaring Digital Independence: Advice for Writers

Marketing guru and writer Seth Godin is a master when it comes to offering straight forward advice on how to be creative and at the same time, avoid distraction. It dawned on me recently that I have been spending way too much time looking at emails (which these days are overstuffed with SPAM), Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest of it.

When it comes to my Dumbphone, texts have been killing me. WhatsAp is fun (and free) especially when I'm overseas, but just hearing the short vibrating buzz that accompanies an incoming message while I'm writing makes me go ballistic. I'm guessing Mr. Godin feels the same way which is why he's offered up five quick and easy steps in reducing the digital virus in your life:

  1. Turn off mail and social media alerts on your phone.
  2. Don't read the comments. Not on your posts or on the posts of other people. Not the reviews and not the trolls.
  3. De-escalate the anger in every email exchange.
  4. Put your phone in the glove compartment while driving.
  5. Spend the most creative hour of your day creating, not responding.
To add to this, turn off your social media while you're writing. In fact, perhaps check it in the morning, and then check in again in the evening. Use the rest of the time for creativity. Think about it, in the old days, you didn't check your snailmail box at the end of the driveway fifteen times a day. If you had, the neighbors would have chalked you up as either schizo or suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. At the very least, you'd be taking meds for ADD.

I particularly like Godin's suggestion No. 2. Don't read the reviews and don't pay attention to the trolls. Good advice for fiction writers like me who make a living off of their words. Many of the said "trolls" are wannabe writers who find it impossible to make a living without cheating or engaging in social media assassination.  

But wait, not being close to your phone and/or email and texts makes you anxious?
Remember, if there's an emergency, someone will get in touch with you one way or another. But do you really need to view a text about what color sweater someone is wearing today? Or what song is playing on the radio? Is it worth interrupting your work for absolute nonsense?

Enjoy your social media gadgetry and your digital Dumphone. Just don't let it take control of your life.

 _ _ _

"Most people wouldn’t think that pyromania and parenting would go together, but hey, every family is different. For me to lose myself in a thriller, I need characters (fire starters or not) I can care deeply about—action scenes alone won’t do it. Everything Burns took me on a psychological roller-coaster ride through action and emotion that I can’t forget."--Kjersti Egerdahl, T&M Editor

EVERYTHING BURNS ... the Amazon Number 1 Bestselling Psychological Suspense Thriller.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Why Obama May Face Indictment Over the Bergdhal Scandal

 3/28/15 VOX UPDATE:

Retired General (Speaking to MSNBC) Has Harsh One-Word Description For Obama’s Press Conference With Bergdahl’s Parents

Click HERE for more.

3/27/15 VOX UPDATE: FOX NEWS reports,

House panel asks White House for documents related to Bergdahl swap

Click HERE for the full story.

Political Photo Op: Bob Bergdhal and the President in the Rose Garden

Last year Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was released from his Taliban-associated Haqqani terrorist captors in Afghanistan in a trade for five top Taliban terrorists who were being held inside the Guantanamo Detection Center in Cuba. While the White House hailed the trade as a victory for the US in their never ending campaign for leaving no solider behind, others, like Bergdhal’s own brothers in arms, immediately recognized the trade as a dangerous political maneuver, even going as far as to point out that the captured soldier wasn’t captured at all, but voluntarily walked away, or deserted, his post. But this didn’t stop President Barack Obama from presiding as a Master of Ceremonies at a White House Rose Garden gathering in which the released soldier’s father spontaneously began quoting from the Koran. “Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim,” announced a heavily bearded Bob Bergdhal, which when interpreted means, “In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Compassionate.”
Here are five reasons why releasing Bowe Bergdhal in exchange for the Taliban 5 was so dangerous, and why Barack Obama may himself face criminal indictment for it.

--The Taliban terrorists who were released to Qatar, will eventually get back into the terrorist racket and once more, become a lethal enemy of the US. Three of the so-called Taliban Five have already made contact with other Jihadists, or so CNN reported on January 29 of this year. 
--Releasing a suspected deserter such as Bergdhal was a slap in the face to other US soldiers who not only fought bravely on the field of battle, but who also lost their lives in the search for Bowe Bergdhal.
--Traditionally, the US has never negotiated with terrorists in fear of setting a precedent that would make every soldier and/or citizen stationed or traveling abroad a terrorist target. Since Obama’s negotiations with the Taliban, the dangers of innocent westerners being captured, held for ransom, and/or killed by terrorists abroad has increased dramatically.
--America is now seen as weak. Once considered the strongest and most steadfast of the world super powers, America has become considerably weaker in the eyes of the world, including Russia, since the Bergdhal exchange. This shift in America's global standing has not happened by accident, but is a strategic maneuver on the part of the President who appears to loathe the US to such an extent, that he is forging an alliance with Iran, the enemy, while breaking bonds with Israel and NATO. Clearly, the President has an agenda, and it is not a pretty one for Americans.

--The President of the United States’ first priority is the security of its people. President Obama was not acting on behalf of the American people and their security when he initiated the exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdhal. Bergdahl was not sick or near death as Obama and his minions had originally asserted. He had not acted honorably on the field of battle. He was not courageous. He was a deserter and soldiers died trying to locate him. Obama was acting on behalf of his own political agenda when he traded with the enemy for agenda that includes the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, which ironically, has now become a political pipe dream given the Middle East's and North Africa's current swift and rapid deteriorating political situation. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Last Writer on Earth...

Papa writing in London during WWII

In his book about winning the creative battle, The War of Art, author Steven Pressfield asks, "If you were the last person on earth, would you still write?" So, what of it? If you suddenly found yourself all alone on this big black and blue planet, would you still spend your days putting words on a page?

If you are already issuing an emphatic Yes to this question, you are a true artist. If you are saying yes, but deep down inside, you know you wouldn't write so much as a comma, you're not a true artist. You're into the glory of it all, writing for the sake of fortune and fame, which of course, you feel entitled to.

Why did you start writing in the first place? Was it to fulfill some sort of inner desire? A need to craft words and sentences into something that seems truer on the page than it if happened in real life? Do you respect your art and talent, and do you respect the art and talent of others? How much time do you devote to your craft? How much "life" do you sacrifice in order to be a better writer regardless of your age? Do you give it your all without thinking about fame or financial reward or popularity? Would you write even if you were the last living person on the earth?

Perhaps your ambitions as a writer are purely selfish. Maybe you're like the kid who desperately
wants to be a part of the popular gang and is willing to do anything to grab a spot on the inside. Does working day in and day out without recognition just plain piss you off? Maybe you wish to jump start your success by hiring another writer to pen your words for you. Maybe your the vindictive type who leaves 1-star reviews for books that are propelled to the top of the Amazon lists in the hope that this will discourage readers from purchasing. Perhaps you think that regardless of the billions of souls occupying planet earth, you are the only writer. It's your books that count. Everyone else's are just taking up space and/or, stealing your glory.

I'm the first to admit, that when I saw old pictures of writers like Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, carousing with friends, fishing, traveling to exotic locals, being adored by fans, I knew I wanted to be a writer. But I was young and foolish. It wasn't until I faced the absolute truth about the agonizing hard work that goes into being a successful writer, that I realized for all the fun Hemingway seemed to be having, he was putting in a whole lot of labor and sacrifice to get there.

Authors need to be thick-skinned to be sure. Good reviews and bad reviews are all well and good so long as they bring attention to the work. But do they matter in the long run? What matters in the end is that you can look at yourself in the mirror and admit without a doubt that if you had to do it all over again, you would write the same exact novel, word for word. You would not change a thing. You wrote it because you had to. Because it was a means to its own end, not a means for glory or fame or money. These things are nice, but they are only tangential and secondary in importance.

We write because we have a gift. Why we possess that gift is a great mystery. The writing centers us and soothes us and satisfies us like nothing else can. It makes us who we are. No God, or food, or sexual act can compete with the desire to write as well as one can, and then to wake up the next day and do it even better than the day before. Even if we were the last person on earth, we would write with all the negative capability we could muster.



Sunday, March 15, 2015

Hollywood Noir

A break in the filming for dinner at El Coyote
I'm not the first writer who's turned to film as another creative outlet. Countless word scribes like Norman Mailer, Sam Fuller, and Sam Shepard, have utilized the motion picture camera as an extension of their typewriters. Much of my work has been considered for film by companies like Dreamworks, George Clooney, and a bunch of others that I can't remember right now on a Sunday morning, my first steaming cup of coffee set out beside the laptop. Nothing has ever been produced, but that doesn't mean it won't be. It also doesn't mean I can't dabble in the medium on my own.

This past February, indie film maker Edward Alves asked me to write, direct, produce and star in (if you wanna call it that) a short noir piece that I could use as a promotional author trailer. It took us a few days to actually shoot the film down on Sunset Boulevard and at the close by Avalon Hotel, and many more days and nights in the production room, but here's what we came up with.

I think the film captures perfectly how I was living while writing Everything Burns...the paranoid, tense, living-on-the-edge quality of the life that flashes by day in and day out when you are writing all alone in a room with nothing but your story, and the invented people who occupy it.

Everything does indeed burn. So too does this trailer...



Friday, February 27, 2015

Writer's Brutal Slaying a Warning to the World

Those who support Barack Obama's political goal of striking up a nuclear deal with Islamist Terrorist sponsor Iran...Those who actually believe the Orwellian double-speak of SOS Kerry when he tells Congress that we have never been safer despite ISIS...Those who believe that the Christian/Judeo/Western world doesn't face an imminent existential threat from the very Islamist terrorists who President Obama refuses to identify either for reasons of complacency, appeasement, and/or genuine sympathy, might want to take a good hard look at Bangladeshi-American writer Avijit Roy, 42, of Georgia, USA.

Just yesterday, Avijit, a self-proclaimed Free-Thinker, and his wife were leaving the Bangladesh Book Fair when they were viciously attacked by a horde of machete-wielding Islamist Fundamentalists who do not like what his books and her blogs have to say about the realities of Hard-Core Islam. In the end, Roy was butchered to death mercilessly while his wife was hospitalized with severe stab wounds and one amputated finger.

So much for global Freedom of Speech.

These two writers were brave and steadfast in their beliefs. They were also trying to do something our weak President doesn't have the stomach for. That is, warn us that evil exists in our world, and it comes in the form of Extreme Fundamentalist Islam.

For the full story click here.