The Spies of 1942

One of the key points of Century City: 1942‘s storyline is the infiltration of the US government by foreign spies. This is a great trope of fiction and gives writers all kinds of tools to play with in their imaginary universes. But in this case the spies were real, and the names I used were not an accident.

In the 1950s there was a lot of very public debate about this very subject with perhaps the most famous example of foreign espionage being the spy couple of Julius and Ethel Rosenburg. They’re famous (infamous is probably a better word) for stealing the secrets of the atomic bomb and giving them to the Soviets. If you’re old enough to remember crawling under a desk at school for a nuclear attack drill then you can thank the Rosenburgs for that.

But before they hit the scene with their spectacular heist of nuclear secrets there were others. Names like Alger Hiss, Lauchlin Currie, and Harry Dexter White became synonymous with foreign spying, but only long after their espionage was over with. Two of them appeared in 1942 so let’s go over what they did.

Alger Hiss was an attorney that worked his way up through several government agencies before ending up at the State Department. There he stood in as assistant to several directors before becoming a director of his own. This is when things get interesting. One of the first things he did as a director in the State Department was standing in as Secretary-General for the organization that would go on to form the United Nations. He personally led the effort to create the charter that would be the foundation and rulebook used by the UN. To say that he was influential in shaping world politics would be an understatement. It was an absolute coup for the Soviets to get him into this position during such a critical time in history.

Hiss would continue acting as a Soviet agent for years without anyone suspecting anything. Even throughout the tumultuous post-war period of the Red Scare. But there was one moment that stuck out and opened the can of worms that would lead to his eventual conviction and imprisonment. In 1948 a former communist spy by the name of Whittaker Chambers took the stand in front of Congress and was questioned by Hiss. In the questioning Hiss asked Chambers if he’d ever sublet a property of Hiss’s to which Chambers answered no. When asked if Chambers ever stayed on the property with his family he said yes. That led to the following memorable exchange:

HISS: Would you tell me how you reconcile your negative answers with this affirmative answer?
CHAMBERS: Very easily, Alger. I was a Communist and you were a Communist.

Talk about walking right into a trap. Hiss was eventually convicted of perjury for saying he was not a communist. Because he was put in prison for perjury and not a direct charge of espionage you get a lot of people today who claim that Hiss was not a spy. Mostly that’s because the more damning evidence from the Venona Project was kept secret for half a century. But we’ll get to that later.

Lauchlin Currie

Currie became a naturalized US citizen in the 1930s and was part of a group at the US Treasury known as the “freshman brain trust” along with others like Harry Dexter White. What they did there was come up with ideas about future monetary systems. He pushed hard for a stronger central bank and eventually got it. That got White a top position as adviser to the Secretary of the Treasury and Currie would move on to become a personal economic adviser to President Roosevelt.

This is where things got interesting. As the President’s close confidant he would travel to China to set up military aid including a meeting with the Communist side of the civil war going on at the time. He also advised the President on taxation and social spending. Later he would be accused of aiding in the fall of China to the Communists. But he would never get the chance to face those accusations. In 1954 he was refused entry into the US while on an advisory trip to Colombia because of his suspected danger to national security. He eventually became a Colombian citizen and would spend the rest of his life there. He too would one day be named in the Venona Project.

It’s still hard to believe that a Soviet asset could get this close to the President and be in a trusted role giving advice that shaped the world. A lot of Roosevelt’s programs are still running today and with 20/20 hindsight look like they could have been put in place to economically hurt the nation in the long term.

So how do we know that these people (and a whole lot of others) were genuine spies and not just people being implicated by political enemies? Should we trust the word of former communists like Whittaker Chambers? That is a valid question and a lot of the reasoning behind the accusations come from something called the Venona Project.

In the 1940s the precursor to today’s NSA began intercepting and decrypting the diplomatic cables of the Soviet Union. In them they found reports and mentions of various agents working on behalf of the Soviet government within the US government. This effort and all the decoded messages became known as the Venona Project and is a large part of what we know about Soviet spying in the 1940s. This combined with testimony from former communists helped to build the case against the named individuals. But the information was kept secret until 1995. At the time there was a worry that the information would find its way back to the Soviets through leaks. So not even the President had direct knowledge. Just reports sent through various channels.

This, in my opinion, was why the whole period of the “Red Scare” was so tumultuous and even to this day has lingering effects. When public officials couldn’t release the source of the evidence it made it look like they had no evidence. Without evidence they looked like they were just attacking political opponents out of spite. But at least now we know why it happened, and hopefully we can prevent it from happening again.

At the same time it makes us wonder if any of the decisions made by American leadership back then was due to the influence of highly placed foreign assets. Like the fall of non-communist China, firebombing civilian populations, the mass incarceration of US citizens in camps with names like Manzanar, Minidoka, Topaz, and Jerome (See? I didn’t just make that part up).

I hope this was enlightening. It certainly was for me and screamed to be included in my novel. I think it worked out well in Century City: 1942 and I hope you did too.

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The Scientists of 1942

No sci-fi story is complete without someone acting in the role of the “smart guy” and the same holds true for Century City: 1942. That role is fulfilled by three men: Nikola Tesla, Leo Szilard, and Percy Spencer. While some of them might have objected to the term in real life, they really do satisfy the role of scientists by pushing the boundaries of known science in 1942.

I think most people have heard of Nikola Tesla. After all there is a car company named after him. But if you didn’t know who he was you probably know his inventions: alternating current (the electricity that is piped to your home), the radio (yes I know about the Guglielmo Marconi claim but Tesla’s was built first), and remote control. This is in addition to patents on all sorts of electrical doodads.

What I found most interesting about Tesla wasn’t his long list of inventions, but how he saw life. As it turns out Tesla wrote an autobiography which gave me a chance to see how he spoke and thought using his own words instead of through the filter of a historian. Unlike the stereotype of super smart people that Hollywood likes to portray Tesla wasn’t some aloof dork with his head in the clouds. He was really relatable. Granted he was a nerd, but a very relatable nerd. Tesla’s wording was a little on the purple prose side of things but he was easily able to fit in with all walks of society (something I saw confirmed in other sources). That really helped me out in writing him into the story because like a lot of people I assumed he was eccentric from the few stories I heard about the guy. But as it turns out they were exaggerated.

One other thing that stood out (and I didn’t see it mentioned anywhere outside his autobiography) was that he would suffer from severe bouts of hallucinations. Or at least that’s what he thought they were in his youth. Over time he figured out it was just how his brain organized his thoughts. His mind would create these vivid shapes that literally appeared in his eyesight like they were in the room with him. And they would detail things he had seen before in life. Tesla learned to control them and use them to build diagrams for his work using this odd quirk of his mind. It was a phenomenon I’ve never heard of before, and had it come from anyone other than Nikola Tesla I would have assumed they were pulling my leg.

Now Percival (aka Percy) Spencer is probably the least well known of the Century City: 1942 scientists. His real life claim to fame was being the inventor of the microwave oven and it has a funny story to go along with it. Spencer was also unusual and that he was pretty much an everyman. Unlike what we think of scientists today, he was completely self taught. No PhD. No fancy Ivy League school. No hobnobbing with celebrities. Just a regular guy working at a big defense contractor. Though like the other scientists here he was a nerdy guy. And to give you an idea of how nerdy he was, Spencer was considered one of the world’s leading experts on radar when radar was still a new thing.

One day while Percy was working on building a magnetron he found himself standing in front of an active radar set. Those rays shooting out of the set melted a candy bar he had tucked away in a pocket. Now, an ordinary guy might think to themselves “Hey, I better put this in the fridge so it’ll turn solid again.” but not Percy Spencer. He saw it as a way to harness the power of the microwave rays being emitted from the radar. Using that knowledge he patented an oven that cooked food using microwaves and called it the “Radarange” because it used radar waves to cook food like a stove top range. The very first “Radarange” was as large as a full-sized refrigerator and cost as much as a new car. It wouldn’t be until decades later that it became affordable to the average family and fit on a counter top. Eventually, Percy would rise up through the ranks becoming one of the board of directors for his company and would go on to receive hundreds of patents.

The last of our scientists might not be a familiar name. Leo Szilard is probably the most influential scientist of the twentieth century that you’ve never heard of. Like a lot of scientists in the Thirties and Forties he immigrated to the US to escape the Nazis. Like me he is also a Hungarian (so I’m probably a little biased here). What Szilard is famous for is patenting the nuclear chain reaction in 1934 then following it up with a patent for the nuclear reactor. He built the first nuclear reactor by hand with Enrico Fermi in 1942 in the basement of the University of Chicago. This reactor was actually a pile of graphite blocks with Uranium reacting in the middle and hence was named “Chicago Pile-1”.

But Leo’s story doesn’t end there. Seeing the potential of nuclear power he foresaw its use as a weapon and knew that the Nazis would be working towards it. The US had to get there first if the world was to be safe. But in order to get the funding for such a project he needed the US government on his side. Unfortunately, he didn’t have nearly the clout he needed to reach the right people. But, he did have a friend that did.

In 1939 Leo and his friend, Albert Einstein, met with President Roosevelt to explain the danger of a German nuclear bomb. Thus was born the Manhattan Project. And the world would never be the same again.

Even after the war he continued being an intellectual heavyweight. After doing physics work that gifted humanity with nuclear power, he moved into biology. What’s amazing about this is that for most people reaching the top of one scientific field is next to impossible. Szilard went on to do this in two. This career change would eventually save his life.

In 1960 he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. For most people a cancer diagnosis means a lot of worry and waiting for other people to figure out if you will live or not. Leo Szilard wasn’t most people though and designed his own radiotherapy treatment. When his doctors told him it would kill him he disagreed and went on with it anyway. Two years later the cancer was gone permanently. That treatment became standard and is still used today.

Looking back at Leo Szilard’s life I’m reminded of a trope I see a lot in fiction. That trope about a super smart scientist building an earth shattering super weapon and how the good guys are in a race to keep it out of the hands of the bad guys. This was a trope I thought was limited to peoples’ imaginations. But after reading about Leo Szilard I realized that it actually has a basis in reality. There really was a guy that smart and important.

And really all of the scientists of 1942 were incredibly brilliant people that really shaped the world through their genius.

The SL-1 Incident: How A Nuclear Reactor Once Jumped Into The Air

In Century City: 1942 there is a scene where a damaged nuclear reactor jumps high into the air. There’s bound to be someone out there that says this is impossible but it actually happened and it’s where I got the idea. Let’s take a look at that incident.

In 1961 the US experienced its deadliest nuclear accident and to this day most people have never even heard of it.

So let’s step back in time to the middle of the Cold War when the military was looking for ways to set up radar site in remote regions like the Arctic Circle to watch for approaching Soviet bombers and missiles hellbent on nuclear armageddon. To set up a site like this needed a way to keep the facility warm and powered with electricity. As it turned out the very technology they were trying to stop from destroying America could provide both in the form of a nuclear reactor.

This was how the Stationary Low-Power Reactor Number One, or SL-1, was born.
The SL-1 was intended to provide 200 kilowatts of electricity and 400 kilowatts of thermal energy for heating for a period of three years between refueling cycles and all of it had to fit in a twenty-foot tall package that could be shipped to remote locations. It was an ambitious set of goals for the time but the engineers pulled it off and set it up in the high desert of Idaho. But there was a flaw in the design that wasn’t apparent to the designers.
To better understand that flaw we need to go over how exactly nuclear reactors of the era worked (they’ve changed significantly since then though). Nuclear elements are unique in that their atoms are unstable and naturally will split into smaller, light atoms in their quest for stability. This process, called fission, fires off neutrons and electrons like tiny bullets. Now if these little projectiles hit another nearby unstable atom then they’ll cause another split which releases even more neutrons and electrons which have the possibility of setting off more reactions in a continuous cycle.

So if you have enough material packed densely into a confined area you can have this chain reaction going constantly and providing you miraculous amounts of power for minimal effort. But like the gas in your car the flow has to be controlled.
With the gas in a modern automobile we know that if we feed it to the engine in small amounts we can go hundreds of miles on a single tank. But if we set off all that gas at once the car will explode. This is pretty much how it works with nuclear power. Small doses let us power a city, burning all the radioactive fuel at once gives us an atomic bomb.
So how do we keep it under control if it reacts on its own? The answer is simple, we insert a barrier that stops all the neutrons and electrons from causing more reactions with neighboring atoms. This barrier can come in the form of control rods made of a neutron absorbing substance like Cadmium. So when the control rod is inserted between clumps of radioactives it will absorb those little bullets and keep the reaction from growing stronger. Kind of like clearing a fire break in a forest to keep a raging from spreading to neighboring trees.
And that’s how the SL-1 reactor was built. There were a series of control rods that could be inserted through the top of the reactor to slow down the reaction. So if it got too hot you could just push some more in and that would cool down the reaction. Or so they thought.
On a cold January morning in 1961 three servicemen entered the remote desert facility where the SL-1 was running on a reduced load. A smaller than normal amount of radioactive Uranium fuel had been loaded into the reactor. This smaller load sat snugly around the middle control rod, but because of the small size it meant that the control rods running along the outside had almost no effect on the fuel since there wasn’t anything out there for them to block. What this meant was that the one control rod in the middle was now the only thing controlling the reaction.
The SL-1 had mechanical arms to move the control rods around, but according to local procedures the central rod had to be disconnected from the mechanical arms and manually moved during maintenance. In other words someone had to crawl on top of the reactor and use their hands to pull that one control rod. But it was only supposed to be pulled out a couple inches.
Unfortunately, the rod came out to nearly its full length. The last and only thing preventing the SL-1 from releasing all its nuclear fury was gone and it went prompt critical. In four milliseconds it went from producing a gentle 200 kW of energy to burning at a hellish 20 Gigawatts. Coolant water inside the reactor was instantly vaporized into steam that hit the top of the reactor with a concussive force known as a water hammer. This water hammer smashed the roof of the core with 10,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, enough that it lifted the entire steel and concrete structure nine feet and one inch into the air. The reactor would have jumped higher if it hadn’t hit an intervening crane.
All three servicemen were killed by physical trauma, though there is no doubt that they would have perished from radiation poisoning had that not been the case. They were all buried in lead lined caskets sealed in concrete.
So what happened? Unfortunately, we won’t know the exact cause of the accident because the only three witnesses died. But a likely cause is that the small fuel load meant only one Cadmium rod was in control of everything and that rod likely got stuck. When the operator put all his strength into loosening it, the rod came out all the way. He would have had less than four milliseconds to push it back in before it was too late. The rest we learned from the follow up investigation.
Since then though, there has never been a nuclear power fatality in the US. The SL-1’s design was deemed dangerous and future reactors built in a way that would prevent a repeat of the accident. So in a way something good came from this tragedy.
The servicemen that died in the SL-1 incident were:
Army Specialist John A. Byrnes
Army Specialist Richard Leroy McKinley
Navy Seabee Construction Electrician First Class Richard C. Legg

The Airmen of 1942

The Airmen of Century City: 1942 weren’t figments of my imagination. They were real people that did some amazing things in our history. Carl Spaatz was the commander of America’s air war over Europe in WW2. Jimmy Doolittle was actually pretty famous before his raid on Tokyo for all sorts of aeronautical feats even before they started making movies about him (in fact there is another one with him in it coming out later this year). Even “Snuffy” Smith did some pretty awesome things earning himself a Congressional Medal of Honor. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a whole lot of research material on Smith outside of his Medal of Honor which is real shame because he sounded like a very colorful character.
But one person I did find a lot on was Robin Olds. In fact he wrote an autobiography about his story.
One thing I’ve learned from reading about various historical figures is that nothing compares to hearing a person’s story as told through their own words. Historians do great work for society by putting together works about our past, but one thing they can’t do is tell us what they were thinking, and in their own way of saying it.

After reading his autobiography, Fighter Pilot: The Memoirs of Legendary Ace Robin Olds, (I have a feeling he didn’t name the book though) I couldn’t resist putting him into my alternate history in 1942. He was such an incredible character and certainly someone who would want to step up and into the fight.

In our history Robin was attending West Point when the attack on Pearl Harbor happened. The Academy accelerated the schedule then and got Olds’s class graduated a year early. Robin found himself in Europe in a fighter squadron just shy of his 22rd birthday. When I was that age I couldn’t imagine being thrust into a situation like that at that tender of an age. But Robin Olds being Robin Olds he thrived on this kind of environment and ended the war with 13 credited kills and the only pilot to become an ace in both the P-38 and the P-51.

Now being an aerial badass in World War Two wasn’t all there was to Robin’s story. In fact the rest of his career was a lot more memorable to me than this early part. Specifically, as a fighter wing commander in the Vietnam War.
Here he would rack up four more kills while strategically avoiding getting a fifth kill. He did this because at the time the US government was pulling back anyone becoming an “ace” (aka five kills) as a result of fears that the pilot might be used as propaganda material if shot down and captured by the enemy. To Robin it was more important to be leading his men than gaining personal victory, so he let his subordinates take the killing shot on enemy planes. It was this older and more mature Robin Olds that I think made the image that people remember.
But this wasn’t the thing that history remembers him for. That title belongs to a mission called Operation Bolo.

 

To understand the point of Bolo you need a little background. Prior to that mission the USAF frequently sent heavy F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bombers to attack North Vietnamese ground targets. These big fighters weren’t the most maneuverable planes in the world and were even worse at dogfighting when loaded down with bombs. This fact was not lost on the Communists and they would scramble their nimble Soviet made MiG-21 fighter planes to absolutely slaughter the Thunderchiefs in swift and deadly aerial melees.

The USAF would counter by sending lighter F-4 Phantoms to escort the Thuds (what the pilots called the Thunderchiefs). Now, the Vietnamese are not stupid people. They quickly figured out that is wisest to avoid the 105s that had Phantom escorts and would only send up their fighters when they didn’t see any escorts on their radar.
This was when one Robin Olds’s pilots came up with an idea. They wanted to trick the Communists into thinking their F-4s were really slow, fat easily shot down F-105s. Like a good commander Robin listened to the plan and when he saw merit in it he backed up his troops in carrying it out. Thus was born Operation Bolo.
On January 2, 1967 a total of 28 F-4C Phantoms took off from Ubon airbase in Thailand and made their way to North Vietnam. They flew in the same formation as typical F-105 flights using the same altitude, ingress routes, radio callsigns, and tanker refueling tracks as their heavier counterparts. To complete the illusion they even carried QRC-160 jamming pods under their wings. To observers on the ground watching radar screens and listening to the radio airwaves it would look like another unescorted flight of fat, heavy targets for Vietnamese MiGs.

And the ruse worked.

MiG-21s scrambled and converged on the American planes. But when they got close enough for visual identification they didn’t find a herd of Thuds waiting to be slaughtered, but lean and nimble F-4 Phantoms hungry for action. Robin and his men tore into the MiGs and at the end of the battle 7 enemy planes had been splashed without a single American loss.

It was a tremendous achievement, not just because the final tally came in our favor, but because the US forces in Vietnam were hampered by a lot of restrictive rules and Robin found a way to overcome them. It would have been quicker and easier to just carpet the airbases that launched the MiGs but this wasn’t allowed by the leadership at the time (kinda like how they never let the US ground forces go on the offensive into North Vietnam throughout the entirety of the war). Despite that Robin nurtured ingenuity and brotherhood in his people and managed to pull off the impossible.
This attitude is probably best represented by one other thing Robin Olds is remembered for: his mustache.

 

Col. Robin Olds

Now that’s a ‘stache!

 

In case you don’t know Air Force dress and appearance standards, let me tell you, this is not a regulation mustache. And Robin wore it until he was told personally by the Air Force’s top general to “Take it off”. Subtle forms of rebellion like this let you know a lot about a person. Stifling government bureaucracy was putting his men’s lives in danger day in and day out in a war that the country’s leadership didn’t seem intent on winning. Robin was the kind of guy that wanted to win and bring his boys all home safe. So it was only natural to him to thumb his nose at those leaders with an outrageous mustache that would make Tom Selleck proud and also pull off an astounding aerial victory despite all the Red Tape.

It exemplifies all the high points in my time in the Air Force. And no I didn’t fly fighter planes. But I did get to work with some amazing people that pulled off some amazing stuff that our equivalents in the civilian world said was impossible. Getting creative with the tools you have at your disposal while also keeping the faith with your brothers is something I totally understand and maybe that’s why the story of Robin Olds resonates so much with me.

I hope it did the same for you too.

What’s coming this week…

While writing Century City: 1942 I had the opportunity to read a lot about the era in which the story takes place. Take a wild guess what year it is.

There were so many wild stories and neat people leaping out of the pages of those history books that demanded to be a part of my novel. But I couldn’t fit them all in. Thankfully, I have a blog. And so those extra stories will be coming here this week. So keep an eye out.

New Book Out Today! Century City: 1942

Have you ever wanted to read a story about a huge battle between zeppelin battleships, World War 2 fighters, and killer Nazi robots? Are you a fan of Century City and looking for the next exciting installment? If you answered yes then you’re in luck.

The fourth book in the Century City series is out today. And like the name implies there will be some World War Two era action exploding onto the scene. You can score yourself a copy here.

 

If you’re new to the Century City then you can leap into the action with the first book Origins (you can find it here). Since I know you’ll love the series I’m making the book free this Thursday and Friday (August 8-9). Like a good crack dealer I’m giving you your first dose free because I know you will be back for more.

Enjoy.

 

3D Image 1942

Announcement: 1942 on Pre-Order

One of the best feelings a writer can enjoy is the combination of relief and sense of accomplishment when wrapping up a new novel. It’s the culmination of all the work that goes into a fairly significant project. I’m happy to announce I’ve reached that point with the fourth book in the Century City series: 1942.

This one was a lot of fun to write. Not only did it involve the characters I created and love to write about, but I found a way to work in some of my favorite from history. Like the name of the book implies it takes place in 1942. However, I really dislike time travel stories because of the inherent structural problems they can cause in a story. So you’re probably wondering why would I have my characters in 1942 if that was the case?

Well, I cheated a little. You see they aren’t actually travelling back to our past. They are going to someone else’s past. At the end of Book 3, Lost City of Gold, we saw the Hellgrau retreat through a portal. But this portal went to a parallel universe’s Earth. Remember in Book 2, OMEGA, that UNITE couldn’t figure out how soldiers that died in World War Two were still alive and attacking them today? Well, they didn’t travel through time from our past.

I don’t want to spoil the story for you, so I’ll leave the rest for you to discover. But it is a big story, larger than any of the others I’ve written so far. In addition, there is a shorter bonus story in the book featuring Chad and Harry called Big Tough Frogman. They figured it was about time Harry got some training in the ways of war. So Chad takes Harry down to Naval Base Coronado to train with his brother SEALs and learn how he too can become a Big Tough Frogman. This story was incredibly fun to write so I think you guys will really enjoy it.

All this will be hitting the virtual shelves on August 5th. You can score yourself a pre-order at the link here and get it the day it’s available.

 

3D Image 1942

Why I chose to self-publish

Every new writer goes through the same starry eyed phase in the beginning where they imagine their first book is discovered by a big name publishing company and explodes into the new sensation. That’s soon followed by the dream of becoming a millionaire and seeing their story brought to life on the big screen by Hollywood making them into a household name.
Unfortunately, that’s all fantasy. But can you really blame a writer for imagining it? I mean fiction writers spend all day imagining success stories.
Usually writers get over that phase and come back down to reality where the top 1-2% are the only ones that can make a living solely off their writing. The rest of us need a day job, retirement check, a working spouse, or Patreon to pay the bills.
Okay then, you’re probably wondering now why I’m bringing this all up when I’m writing about going independent. Surely, it must be harder to do it all on your own. I can see the truth in that, but I also see another bit of wisdom. As an independent I’m not under the thumb of a publisher.
That’s more important to me than any advance they could possibly offer.
Let me use an analogy to explain why. In the Bible (don’t worry you don’t need to know a lot about Christianity to follow along) there are several stories about Jesus gathering up disciples. One of the common themes is that Jesus asks seemingly random people to drop what they are doing and join in on the crusade to spread Christianity to the world. They’re asked to drop everything. Jobs, homes, boats, family, everything. How crazy is that? Can you imagine being in their place when someone asks you to leave everything behind? Most of us couldn’t do it I bet. And though on the surface it sounds crazy, deep down it makes a ton of sense. All those things are leverage that can help you in life, but they can also be used as a tool to coerce you.

A boss can threaten to fire you and take away your livelihood if you don’t comply. The bank can threaten to take away a home or a car, etc. All that can happen with a writer’s work too when it is under a publisher’s control. Most writers don’t think about that when they get a contract thrown at them. All that matters are the thoughts of fame and fortune, but if you’re one of those that don’t think anything bad will happen to you then I want you to do something for me really quick. Go to your favorite search engine and type in “morality clause”. I’ll wait right here until you’re done reading through some of the links.

Done? Great. What did you think? Scary stuff, right? Publishers are actually including a clause in contracts now that let them drop writers if their morals don’t match the publisher’s. That’s it. No questions asked. You’re gone if you don’t say the right stuff.
Now add in editorial control of your work and you’ve essentially become a mouthpiece for their politics. And that thought just burns me to the core. Once you’ve signed over all your work to a publisher you’ve essentially sold your soul to them as well. Because if you don’t say what they want you to say your livelihood gets taken away.
But just like the Disciples there is a way writers can get out from under that influence. Leave it all behind and just write. And that’s what I do. It’s why I write about all the awesome stuff I enjoyed growing up with but has disappeared from modern storytelling.

One more thing. I don’t want to say I’m completely against working with a publisher. It can work out and it does for some (the top 1-2%). Those guys and gals that have their books made into summer blockbusters…they get published no matter what they write about. Both in their books and on their social media. Guess what I’m doing as an independent writer? Writing whatever I want, just like the big kids.

What I’m trying to convey here is to avoid giving all your work to someone else. When you only have one book to offer your only choice is to give a publisher complete power over your entire writing career. That’s how contracts over books you haven’t even written yet get signed. Then they have influence over what you might say in the future.

Build up a solid career on your own first. Then you can approach a publisher with some negotiating power, and with that negotiating power you can say “No morality clause. I control my destiny.” and then join the Big Kids Club.

PS: If you want to see some other reasons why I avoided the traditional publisher route take a look at this article from the Mad Genius Club. That publisher exemplifies the meaning of the word predatory.

Quick Update

It’s been a busy month but a productive one. The next exciting chapter of Century City is written. Now all it needs is some polishing. Stay tuned for a release date. There’s even a cover for it. Check it out:

 

Ebook _1942

 

And if that’s not enough exciting news for you then how about this? The first chapter in the Century City saga, Origins, will be free this coming Sunday through Tuesday. You can download it from Amazon.

Enjoy and have a great weekend.

 

3D Image Origins

 

The Hussar and The Jihad

In the world of Century City the elite counter terrorism force known as Bravo Squadron is the thing that gives jihadis nightmares. They only recruit the best so that they can maintain the status as the world’s number one source of dead scumbags. And they don’t take applications.

You don’t ask to join Bravo Squadron. They ask you.

And there is usually a defining moment in a man’s military career when he does something so extraordinary that it catches the attention of Bravo Squadron and gets him an invite.

The Hussar and The Jihad is the tale of this defining moment in one soldier’s life. The man that would go on to one day be called Stephen was once the bodyguard to his nation’s top ambassador. Then disaster struck, and an army of terrorists descended upon him and his charge.

This is the riveting account of that fateful day when Stephen had to fight against all odds to save one man. And it’s free on Amazon until Friday.

You can score yourself a copy right here.

 

CCHussar_50percent

The cover for The Hussar and The Jihad