Operation Southern Thunder (Your chance for a FREE story)

Do you like stories about covert missions in far away places? Do you like Top Gun style dogfighting action? Do you like FREE stuff?

If you answered Yes to all of the above then today you hit the jackpot. I’ve got a new story out for you guys and it’s all yours for the low, low price of FREE. Here is the intro to give you an idea about what sort of action we’re talking about here.

The year is 2014 and the world is burning. Civil wars, terrorism, and high seas piracy are the new norm. The Islamic State has erupted into a new superpower that calls itself the Caliphate. Meanwhile the United States has withdrawn from the world stage and watches from the sidelines as the world burns.

No one knows how the Caliphate became so powerful.

No one knows how they will be stopped.

And one tiny light shines in the darkness. An elite group of American Airmen flies a covert mission denied by their own government in the skies over South America…

Writing this story was a ton of fun for me. Not only do I like the characters involved (you’ll recognize a couple names if you’ve read OMEGA from the Century City series) but it hit on a lot of what’s going on in the world today. Or at least the parts that the big news outlets like to ignore.

I also got to find out a lot about the A-29 Super Tucano while doing research for this story. It’s featured on the cover art below. While it might not be a super sexy air superiority fighter like the F-22, it actually fit in perfectly for what I needed in this story.

I hope you guys like it. All you need to get it for FREE is sign up on the mailing list to the right. Just click the SOUTHERN THUNDER picture and you’ll be taken to the sign up form. Emails will be limited so you guys won’t be spammed and you can unsubscribe at any time through a link in the email.

So what are you waiting for? Get your copy of Southern Thunder!

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The Real World And The World We Pretend To Live In

There are concentration camps for religious minorities in China right now. Open air slave markets in Libya where you can buy laborers for $400 a head. And the US just withdrew from the war in Yemen.

These all sound like plot points from one of my novels, but they all actually happened in the last few months. If you haven’t heard of any of this then don’t fret, you did nothing wrong. This is just the world we live in today.
When you turn on the TV and watch the 24-hour news cycle you’ll see stories about children smiling at native Americans and a President that had two scoops of ice cream when everyone else had one (source). That’s what the big networks have deemed as the things you need to know. So its really no surprise that people don’t know about any of the other stuff I mentioned.

When you finally hear about what’s truly happening and how different it is than the reported narrative you get this specific feeling, it’s halfway between betrayal and the light bulb going on over your head. Afterwards you never look at the news the same way again. Welcome to my world.

When I started working at NSA I was hit with this daily. It was like being Neo in the Matrix movies, waking up to a world that is totally different than what you had been programmed to believe. Only I never actually learned kung-fu. But I did get to see and be a part of a terrific team of people that were fighting against the dark things lurking in the shadows.

That’s what really inspired me to write Slipstream Alpha. In Slipstream Alpha we follow Adam as he wakes up one day a changed person. He’s taller, stronger, and faster just like the superheroes of the comics he grew up with. Only this world isn’t one of superheroes and costumed villains twirling their mustaches. There are dark and terrible things out there in the night. And evil people that want to bring them to our world.

Adam is going to have to use his newfound abilities to stop them, because if he doesn’t they’ll summon the ultimate evil to Earth and bring about the Apocalypse.

In Adam’s world there are things out there people would rather leave hidden away from the light of day. It’s simply easier to pretend they don’t exist than face that reality that someone will have to deal with it. In a way its a lot like the world we live in. But just like in the world of Slipstream Alpha there are good people willing to do battle with evil, even if no one will ever hear about it.
Sound interesting? Then you can check it out here.

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SITREP: Venezuela

This past week you may have caught some interesting pieces of news flowing out of Venezuela. Military units were starting a mutiny against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (source). Russian PMCs were reported to be guarding Maduro (source). England blocks the withdrawal of $1.2 billion in gold from a stash of $8 billion that the government had hidden away in Britain (source).

By themselves these articles may not seem like much, but together they paint a picture of a nation torn apart and a head of government scrambling to get out before he’s executed by the people he’d been oppressing for years. The country is falling apart and has been for decades. People have been suffering under a corrupt and brutal regime, but it looks that may all be over soon.

Venezuela sits atop the world’s largest proven oil reserves. They should be even wealthier than Saudia Arabia, yet one of the biggest problems in Venezuela is the widespread shortage of food and the malnutrition that accompanies it. Most of the population lost weight under this collective lack of food causing an average weight loss of 19 or more pounds per year. The people jokingly call this the “Maduro Diet”.

So how did they get there?

To get a good picture of how this happened we need to go back in time to the previous regime, the Presidency of Hugo Chavez. During Chavez’s reign the thought was to use Venezuela’s vast oil reserves to pay for everything the people needed. To that end the government took over the oil industry and began importing goods for the people from overseas. This coupled with the promise of vast social programs paid for by the oil made Chavez temporarily very popular with the people. That popularity wouldn’t last.

Chavez’s plan had a couple flaws in it. First, it fell into the same trap that’s plagued civilization for as long as its been around. A government with total control of the economy only works when it is 100 percent staffed with saints. Get just one sinner on board and the corruption train will depart the station for catastrophe-ville. The second flaw was this plan depended on oil revenue staying high. Once the price of oil dropped off the chart so did all those nice things Chavez promised to his citizens.

This was what got the snowball rolling. Further missteps by the government just made it roll faster and get a whole lot bigger.

A lot of those imports were food items. So as this collapse in oil prices and government promises unfolded, the shelves in supermarkets started to look a little bare. But there was still food for most people. This would change shortly as Venezuelan farmers began to feel the pinch of a shrinking economy and government corruption.

In the US, when a farmer wants to buy a new tractor from John Deere its no problem to pay for it in the local currency because the factory takes US Dollars without question. That’s because the US Dollar is one of the most steady currencies in the world and you don’t need to worry that the Dollars you took in today from a customer won’t buy you as much tomorrow when you try to spend it. This isn’t the case with Venezuelan Bolivars which at the time (and today) have an uncertain future. Other than the certainty that it will be worth far less in the future.

So when that Venezuelan farmer contacts John Deere about buying a new tractor to help with the increased demand for food, John Deere asks for payment in US Dollars. No problem, right? Our farmer can just go to the bank and exchange his Bolivars for Dollars. The only problem was that this was what everyone in the country was doing. The Chavez government didn’t like that all their valuable and stable Dollars were fleeing to foreign nations. So Chavez created a new government bureaucracy to control “capital flight” and limit the amount of valuables leaving their shores.

What this meant to our farmer was the bank would tell him they could only exchange Bolivars for Dollars up to a government mandated limit, which of course wasn’t enough for his new tractor. Funnily enough, if you were in good with the administration you had a much higher limit. Remember that part about needing to have 100 percent saints running things? This is what happens when that number is less than 100 percent.

So what can our farmer do now that he can’t buy the things he needs to keep up with demand? He can raise prices of course. Supply and demand. Economics 101 stuff right there. Unfortunately, this is what everyone else in the country was doing too. When everyone raises prices you get inflation.

To give you an idea of how bad this inflation is here are the numbers for January 2017 and March of 2018. In 2017 the monthly minimum wage was equivalent to $31.17 USD, but by March of 2018 the minimum wage would only get you $6.13 (source). In about one year it shrunk to just one sixth of its former buying power. Try feeding a family on that.

People simply couldn’t afford our farmer’s new higher rates. So, again, the government stepped in and set caps on the prices our farmer could charge. From the shopper’s perspective this is a good thing because now they can afford to feed their families again. However, now our farmer can no longer make money from traditional methods. As has happened countless times in the past when this situation has cropped up, a black market formed. But this leaves our farmer with a dilemma. He can go bankrupt by obeying the law, or he can pay his bills but risk going to jail.

What a lot of farmers ended up doing was get out of the agriculture business altogether. After all, Chavez had implemented a generous social welfare system that they could live off of funded by all that oil the country owns. The only problem was oil prices remained low and revenue from it couldn’t keep up with all of Chavez’s financial promises. The snowball only got bigger.

In 2013 Hugo Chavez, after battling cancer for two years, died leaving a country in chaos. His Vice President, Nicolas Maduro, claimed that Chavez’s death was an assassination by the CIA caused by infecting him with a cancer forming virus. Then Maduro assumed leadership.

For the people of the country, like our farmer, things didn’t change for the better under Maduro. In fact they got much worse.

With foreign sellers unwilling to take unstable Bolivars and a regime unwilling to part with its valuable Dollars, the black market for food only got bigger and blacker. People were smuggling in food across the border and selling it at outrageous prices. Ports sat empty. Murder skyrocketed to the highest rate in the world as desperate people turned to violence.

Again, the regime stepped in and put the military in control of food distribution.

But remember what I said about needing 100 percent saints? Yet again, this number was well below 100. One import business reported having to charge the government double the going rate on corn contracts. Half of that money was needed for bribing the military at the port.

This was an uncharacteristically wise move for Maduro because it did two things. First, it brought the black market under his control. Second, it kept the military disinclined to rebel while they were making loads of money under the table by shaking down merchants. Maduro may not be the brightest guy when it comes to policy for taking care of his citizens, but he performs at Einstein levels when it comes to preserving his own hide.

However brilliant that move was at preventing a military coup it still left the regular guy hanging out to dry and losing 19+ pounds per year. You can only do that for so long before people hit a wall, and it looks like this particular train is about to smash right into that wall.

Now you might be wondering why our farmer doesn’t just rally all of the others that are upset like him and just vote Maduro out of office. While technically that is possible what happens in Venezuela is every time the public rallies in support of an opposition candidate then armed groups of “grass roots” protesters arrive to break them up. These gangs are known as “Colectivos” and are totally not government backed paramiltary troops that have guns even after private ownership of firearms was outlawed. They are simply concerned citizens making sure only the right people get into office. So our farmer and his friends might have some problems if they decide they want to run a platform against Maduro.

In May of 2018 Venezuela held elections which Maduro won by a landslide. “Won” for certain definitions of the word. A lot of nations, the US included, chose not recognize the validity of this election. So did the National Assembly of Venezuela. They voided the election and appointed the head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as acting President. Nicolas Maduro wasn’t inclined to abide by the will of the National Assembly though and refused to hand over power.

Venezuela now has two men claiming leadership of the country. The board is now set and the world is watching. Things could get ugly really quick in Caracas. Let’s hope they don’t.

Now I hope you fine folks out on the Internet have a better grasp of the situation in Venezuela as it stands today. It’s my hope that those suffering in Venezuela can climb their way out of the hole created by their corrupt government. It truly is a horrible situation they’re stuck in.

I personally have found their story fascinating and a tremendous life lesson for the rest of the world. It is the reason that Venezuela and all its current problems ended up as the backdrop for my book LOST CITY OF GOLD (link). A place where the food supply is a more powerful weapon than anything a soldier could carry is a place where shadowy figures can easily disappear from the world. No one cares about the strange people on the mountain top doing research on bio weapons when the entire village is starving. Only the next meal is important.

A lot of what I pulled into LOST CITY OF GOLD was straight from the research I did for this article. The only made up part is about the mad scientists creating genetically engineered monsters to conquer the world with.

Or is it?

What the #MAGAKIDS controversy can teach us and how I couldn’t have asked for it to happen at a better time

By now I’m sure everyone has heard about the high school kids that had a confrontation in front of the Lincoln Memorial this weekend. What makes this incident stand out for me isn’t the political aspect. We have outrage stories regularly presented to us in the mainstream media. That’s old news.

What was different this time is how quickly the real story behind it all came to light. Everyone got to see how dramatically different the ground truth was from the narrative presented. The world got to see something that usually only a select few ever get to experience: that moment when you realize the big news outlets can get stuff spectacularly wrong.

Folks, this isn’t something new unfortunately. This is pretty much how it has always been. It’s just that now the mainstream gets to see it in action. But it wasn’t the first time for me.

Several years ago I was fortunate enough to land a job at NSA. That was when I was first introduced to one of life’s cold, hard truths: The world as presented on the 24-hour news cycle is a separate and parallel reality to what really happens.

But on the flip side of that coin I got to see that there were terrific people keeping a lid on evil all over the globe. Though none of that will ever make it into the 24-hour news cycle. This is what inspired me to write Slipstream Alpha.

Slipstream Alpha is about a world where unspeakable horrors from other realities are trying to break into our’s with the help of sinister people from our own world. The only thing standing in their way are the elite soldiers fighting them from the shadows. And the unlikely appearance of a young man who finds himself with unexplained powers one day.

Most people will never hear of their heroics. But that’s okay. As long as they can keep a lid on the terrible things trying to claw their way onto our planet then no one will ever have to learn the ugly truth of what really goes on in the shadows.

If this sounds like something you want to read you can pre-order the book on Amazon.

And I hope we all learned a valuable lesson this week about letting hype and headlines control our world view.

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The Hussar and the Jihad – Now Available

 

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When you’re a bodyguard protecting an ambassador from a world of terrorists that want him dead, every minute in public is an interesting.

That was Stephen’s life before he joined Bravo Squadron. When the forces of the Caliphate descended on an international summit to kill all the diplomats attending, his life took a wild turn.

Every soldier that is honored with an invite to Bravo Squadron has a special moment in their life that defines them. At that moment they either rise to meet that challenge or get swept under by it. THE HUSSAR AND THE JIHAD is the riveting account of that moment for Stephen when he had to keep his diplomat alive against all odds.

Unlike the other books of the CENTURY CITY series this is a novella length story. It’s a great introduction to the world of CENTURY CITY and as a bonus also has the first story from CENTURY CITY: ORIGINS. At only 99 cents its also a great value.

That’s a ton of heroics, evil getting slapped down, and explosions for only pennies. And you can get it on Amazon.

 

Trivia: The design of the cover not only follows the theme of the other CENTURY CITY covers, but its a match for the flag of Stephen’s home country, Hungary.

Writing Update: What’s coming from me in 2019

Happy New Year, folks.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Years holiday. Mine was pleasant. I was able to spend that time with my family which I’m grateful for, because that’s not always possible. You folks in the military know what I mean.

This past year was great. Like a lot of authors I looked forward to the day I finished my first book and got it published. Not only did I do that but I got two more published, all in the same year. 2018 was a good year for me.

There’s a lot of stuff coming from me in 2019. Here’s what I got lined up:

  • Book 4 of the Century City series. This one is going to be called 1942. As you probably guessed it takes place in the past. Though its not a period piece or a time travel story. It makes sense when you read it though. And it gave me a chance to have some World War Two heroes join with the Century City cast to fight the Conclave.
  • Slipstream Alpha. This is the first book in a new series I’m writing. Imagine waking up one day and having Superman’s body and a set of superpowers. What would you do? That’s what happened to Adam. But this isn’t the bright sunny world of Metropolis and there aren’t any capes or costumes. There’s a secret in the world kept quiet by the US government and Adam just stumbled into it. He’s also their only hope in stopping it from consuming the world.
  • Book 1 of the Centurion series. This is another new series I’m putting together. 2000 years before there was a Century City, the shining light of the world was a different city: Rome. Just like its future counterpart there are powerful forces that want to destroy this city. Corrupt barbarian kings and powerful beings masquerading as gods all want a piece of Rome. And the only ones standing in their way are men like Decimus Valerius and the legions of Rome. Can they save their country before it falls to the darkness?

I’m also just about done with a novella taking place in the Century City universe named The Hussar and the Jihad. If you remember Major Isadora making a brief mention of how Stephen was recruited into Bravo Squadron, this is the story behind that. And it is badass. Keep an eye out here for how you can score yourself a copy of it.

And that’s my plan for 2019. If I get ahead of schedule (big if) then I might be able to fit in some more. I certainly have plenty of ideas. All I need is to get them written down and out to you good folks.

Take care, friends.

 

 

Century City: Lost City of Gold is now available on Amazon!

This is the third installment of the Century City series and I had a really great time writing it. The whole cast is back in action. The Century City crew finds themselves hot on the trail of clues that leads them to an ancient secret. A lost city built using hyper advanced Black Door technology that’s thousands of years old. Meanwhile the high seas smuggling trade kicks into high gear. Can the forces of good prevail? Find out in the latest addition to the Century City series which can be found HERE.

 

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Century City: Origins now available on Amazon!

My eBook “Century City: Origins” is now available on Amazon. Dive into this tale of pirates, terrorists, and billionaire secret societies trying to take over the world. All in an alternate history world where the USA is stepping out of world politics. It’s a thrilling ride and you can find it HERE.

 

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Writing Update

Hey folks,

 

It’s been a busy year for me, but I wanted to share an update. Century City: Origins has been edited and I’ve gotten some great feedback from my beta readers on it. The ebook has been submitted to Amazon. Now it just needs to wind its way through their review process.

Going the indie route with my book has been a serious learning process for me. Now I understand why a lot of writers insist on traditional publishing. With a trad publisher you get a professional editor, proofreader, someone with a clue to format your book correctly, someone who knows the ins-and-outs of distribution and retail, and an artist to make your book cover. Guess who does all that when you’re an indie writer?

You guessed it. The writer. And that writer may not be the best at all that stuff.

Before I started off on this adventure into writing my own book I used to think of being a writer as just a second job (or in my case a third since I’m already working two). Now I see that as an indie writer its more like six extra jobs. But that’s okay, these are challenges and when I overcome them I will be better for it.

Now, I’m not posting this to garner sympathy for all the hassle I went through to get Century City: Origins out to you guys. You see, I haven’t been goofing off this past year waiting on the perfect moment to release my one novel. I’ve been busy writing more.

Century City: Origins is going live this month (I’ll post specifics and a link once Amazon gets back to me). But that’s not all. Century City: Origins has a sequel, Century City: OMEGA. That too shall be going live later this month.

But it doesn’t end there. Part three of the series, Century City: Lost City of Gold, will be following on their heels with a December release date. So if you like the series you will have three books to read in the coming weeks.

Looking ahead, the fourth book in the series Century City: 1942 is on track for a 2019 release. While its been a quiet year since my last update, things will be picking up soon. These stories are incredibly fun to write and I plan on continuing to write them for the forseeable future.