Too often, authors create one dimensional super-killers in uniform who cold-heartedly carry out his or her duty like a robot. The character perpetuates the myth that the military is filled with people who mindlessly do what they’re told regardless of right or wrong. Orders are orders, in these worlds and service members shouldn’t think for themselves.
I’m convinced authors regurgitate the TV and movie style combatant because the number of people who know and understand real military life is minuscule compared to those who haven’t served. People simply make it up, call it creative license and do whatever they think makes for the best plot.
Often times, these are the books I want to throw across the room.
On the other hand, there are some who go the extra mile, do some research and present accurate portrayals of military members and veterans. They work at getting at the truth of what goes through the mind and soul of people trained to go to battle, why they do it, what their motivation might be, and how what soldiers do impacts them before, during and after their service.
Nicholas Sansbury Smith, while never having served in uniform, masterfully draws three dimensional characters in uniform in all of his books. Many readers are familiar with the soldiers in his bestselling Extinction Cycle series which features Delta Force teams up against a deadly threat and a world in collapse. Through the multiple books in this series, we watch a team of men who had fought side by side for years in hot spots around the world. They weren’t best friends. They didn’t all hang out together, but they knew each other professionally and, like most people who go into danger with weapons in their hands, their connections are visceral and organic. When they lose half their team in one encounter with a kind of threat they’d never seen before, it rips them apart. They drive on, they continue to function and Smith shows us what it takes to continue your mission even though you’re torn up inside.
Learning of his death was hard to believe. Even harder to believe is that it was one year ago today. RIP Prince.
I wrote this short story upon learning the news. I am reposting it here in remembrance of the legend.
Rock Star – A short story
“Two Tom Collins, two rum and cokes, one with lime, one with lemon and a Heineken. Anything else?”
“I’d like a water please.”
“Of course. Water all around.”
The five women would nurse their drinks slowly, mixing in sips of water, marking time until they found likely admirers to buy their next rounds. Marcie had observed the efforts of this group of girlfriends before in their sparkly dresses, platform shoes, big hair and flirtatious ways. While Marcie didn’t exactly approve of their strategy, she had to admit it usually worked for them. Sometimes, the men they lured tipped big to impress, so Marcie didn’t mind the women’s slow consumption. Considering the growing Friday night crowd, her patience would probably pay off.
The shiny silver dance floor reflected the fractured gleam of a large, mirrored ball onto a small group of line dancers, regulars warming up before the club filled with amateurs who would just get in their way. Continue reading
If you read this blog at all, you know I’m a big fan of R. R. Haywood’s Undead series and that I love hanging out in his Living Army Facebook group. It’s a lively place with lots of motley characters who all have a love of the written word either as readers or as writers.
About six months ago, Haywood held a *Write A Chapter* Contest. He provided a prologue and then asked contestants to add 500 words to it. The one who made the best use of those 500 words was the winner.
Guess who won. Go ahead. Guess.
Yep. That was this girl (double thumb point).
If you haven’t found it already, ‘Book Reviews N’ Stuff is a public Facebook group started by R.R. Haywood as an offshoot of his The Living Army closed page. It’s a great place to read honest reviews on a variety of books in a wide range of genres. If you’re an author, it’s also a place where you can go to request reviews. Just be prepared for the reviewers to be honest. They are not about sugar coating and since they aren’t being paid for their efforts, their reading time is precious to them. If they didn’t like your book, they will tell you and anyone following the page, what they really think.
One of the intrepid reviewers, Lyndsey McDermott, had this to say about Rich Restucci’s book, Chaos Theory: The zompoc genre is very easy to do badly and it can be hard for an author to stand out amongst the crowd. The author manages to keep the action going, our interest held and aforementioned gripes aside, [Chaos Theory] was a good read which has the potential to be far better. It ends on a suitable cliffhanger leaving the reader eager for the sequel.
Lyndsey has a lot more to say about the book. You can read the entire review here. After reading Chaos Theory myself, I had a few questions for the author. In his bio, Rich Restucci describes himself as “a practicing chemist and writer. His stories have been published in Dead Worlds 7 and Feast or Famine. He enjoys drinking beer, stocking up on weapons and supplies, and reading/writing anything zombie related. Rich resides with his family in Pembroke, Massachusetts.”
Me: In the acknowledgements of your book, you thank people for encouraging you to publish. Did you write this story without the intention to publish? Has the experience of publishing this series been what you expected?
Rich: This book was written with the intent of publishing each chapter, one at a time, to a website in blog format. The website is zombiefiend.com. I did that for a while and the readers seemed to enjoy it. Several of the readers and many of my online friends told me I should self-publish it, which I researched. I compiled the blog posts and ended up going with Severed Press, who had already published my first novel, Run. Severed was excited to get a second story line from me, and their excitement got me excited. Insofar as my expectations, I really didn’t have any. I was hoping the book would be well received, and it seems to have been. I don’t think of myself as a professional writer, more of a hobbyist, so when the book began to sell, I was very happy. Continue reading
First, a whole bunch of the Lei Crime Kindle World authors got together for a Valentine’s Day Facebook hop. Some lucky person is going to win a $170.00 Amazon gift card. You don’t want to miss this contest.
The sweet part, aside from the fat gift card, is that each Facebook post features a unique Hawaiian recipe –Get it? The sweet part? Since most of the Lei Crime stories take place in Hawaii, the recipes get you closer to the world. I want to try them all. Hawaiian king bread, Kalua pork and cabbage, Hawaiian pineapple Cake… So many yummy and fairly easy ideas to bring to the table.
All you have to do is visit some Facebook pages, leave comments and move onto the next one. Lots of us are playing. You can start on my page (www.facebook.com/mldoyleauthor) and go get familiar with other authors who write in the Lei Crime world. It’s a talented bunch who write mystery, romance, fantasy and much more.
The second big thing is the Association of Writer’s and Writing Programs (AWP) is this weekend. I’m so excited to be going back again this year. I will be on a panel alongside some amazing veteran writers. I went to AWP for the first time last year and the experience had a lasting impact. I wrote about it when I got home and now I can’t wait to see some of the friends I made. Here’s a description of the panel I will be on. It would be great fun to see you there!
|Friday, February 10, 2017|
9:00 am to 10:15 am
Marquis Salon 6, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two
F110. The Middle Americans: How Flyover Country Responds to War. (Randy Brown, M.L. Doyle, Kayla Williams, Matthew Hefti, Angela Ricketts) By various measures, rural Americans are more likely to enlist in the US armed forces. Despite isolation from traditional centers of publishing and military power, voices with Midwestern roots have sprung forth like dragon’s teeth to deliver clear-eyed, plainspoken views of war, service, and sacrifice. The civilians and veterans of this stereotype-busting panel of published writers offer their insights regarding themes, trends, and markets in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
Full disclosure, Susanne Aspley is not just a friend of mine, she’s a sister. I say that because we served in uniform together and aside from blood relationships, wearing the same uniform while enduring service in butt-crack parts of the world can bring a closeness that is not achievable any other way.
Most recently, the butt-crack part of life we’re sharing is that of finding the right words to put on the page. We commiserate together, encourage each other, and now that she has released her latest work, I get to celebrate it with her and share in her excitement. I’m so glad the rest of the world can now read this book.
The first time Susanne handed me her work to read I was nervous. I knew she could write. I’d read plenty of her work as a journalist. I just didn’t know what she would do when it came time to write a novel. As it turned out, Ladyboy and the Volunteer was easily one of the best books I’d read in a while. Susanne won a bunch of accolades for it, deservedly so, and I couldn’t have been happier for her.
Over the last year or more, like any good author, Susanne struggled with her latest book, Granola, MN. I’d get email and text messages from her screaming that she didn’t know what she was doing, that everything was shit. Weeks later she’d be happy that her main characters, Allison and Toby, had worked things out, only to grow frustrated with them again. All the while I looked forward to reading the story because I knew that if Granola was anywhere near as interesting and funny and quirky and brilliant as Ladyboy was, I’d be looking forward to hours of reading enjoyment.
I’m happy to report that Granola, MN, is Aspley at her best. It’s a story of love and healing told with a kind of humor that sometimes sneaks up on you and at other times smacks you in the face. She shows us a world through the eyes of someone who is unapologetic in her naivete which means she moves through life with an artless candor that is amusing and heartbreaking at the same time.
Just when you thought a topic might be something growing a little bit stayed, a little bit worn down, maybe something you thought you understood, Aspley gives us a completely unexpected viewpoint that makes it fresh and absorbing. I admit to reading this in small bits then going back to it like a treat I horded because I didn’t want it to be over. Lord knows, I needed a laugh at the time. If you feel like that at all, you’re going to want to read this.
Here is the blub:
Allison Couch has her hands full dealing with the assorted flakes, fruits and nuts in the small town of Granola. One summer morning, Toby Davenport moves back home. A young, black, Afghanistan War veteran, he has a heart of gold but a guilt-fueled addiction. Together, they take on parades, pit bull rescues, game show auditions, driving lessons, building inspectors, racism and falling in love. Heartbreaking, slapstick, and rambunctious, life never goes as planned. But there’s always hope, in Granola, Mn.
It’s a fantastic book. One I hope you’re going to enjoy as much as I did. Here is my interview with Susanne. Leave a comment and win one of three AUTOGRAPHED trade paperback copies of the book.
But, before we get to the interview, Susanne and I will both be attending The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) in Washington, D.C. from Feb. 8 to 11. Susanne will be a panelist on Thur. Feb. 9, for Citizen-Soldier-Poet: Using Poetry to Bridge the Civil-Military Gap. She will share the panel with Tessa Poppe, Frances, Richey and Eric Chandler with Randy Brown facilitating.
I will be on a panel on Fri. Feb. 10, for The Middle Americans: How Flyover Country Responds to War. I’m looking forward to speaking with Randy Brown leading the discussion, along with Kayla Williams, Mathew Hefti and Angela Rickets.
I’m looking forward to meeting up with the thousands of authors and readers who attend AWP each year.
Now, here’s the interview with Susanne. And don’t forget to leave a comment to enter to win an autographed copy of the book. Continue reading
As the year winds down and I look back on 2016, all I want to do is tell the entire year to go f&*k itself and the horse it rode in on. From the many great losses of artists like Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and a childhood favorite Patty Duke, to Brexit, the floods and other natural disasters, one horrific mass killing after another, wars that never seem to end, Aleppo, and the most divisive, disturbing and dysfunctional US election cycle of modern history, and it’s clear that 2016 sucked monkey butt.
If I search for the positives from the past year, about the only good thing I can lean on is that I was able to find good things to read. I think I may have read close to a hundred books this year, so picking only a couple as favorites is near impossible. Then again, calling something impossible only makes me want to try harder. Continue reading
I had the strangest dream!! In the dream I am, no kidding, at Hillary Clinton’s house. I’m hanging out with the whole family! Bill is there, John Pedesta, even my heart throb Van Jones is there. Huma Abedin is there too and I get the impression everyone is glad she left her crazy husband at home. All kinds of people are crowded in the place. Most of them I don’t know but there are plenty of familiar people I’ve seen on TV. It’s this nice, relaxed, casual weekend party … a barbecue or something.
In the middle of all these people, I’m kneeling on the floor in the living room, helping Chelsea’s kid with some sort of art project. As if I even know Chelsea’s kid or even that I like kids.
Hillary walks up to us and in this dream it’s no big deal that she’s standing there, looking down at me playing with her grandchild. Hillary says, “What are you doing?” Continue reading
Anyone who has served in uniform knows you can’t do it alone. From the moment you put your boots on, you’re taught there is strength in team and that lesson isn’t forgotten when you take the uniform off.
The team concept is especially apparent with veteran writers and the way we help each other. Kayelle Allen is a best-selling American author who pulled together a group of women veterans who write books and used Veteran’s Day as an opportunity to promote their work. Her Romance Lives Forever event will be live from 7 p.m. to 11:30 (or 2330 for the military folks) today, Nov. 11. Readers will have an opportunity to communicate directly with a long list of authors, win some prizes and hopefully, find out about some of the work being produced by women veterans.
Kayelle describes her stories as being about, “unstoppable heroes and heroines including contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.”
Sounds interesting! Read on for the interview. Continue reading
When R. R. Haywood agreed to an interview for my blog, I did one of those crazy dances they say you’re supposed to do as if no one is watching. The cats flew out of the room like cartoon replicas of themselves. I’d scared the crap out of them since dancing is not an everyday thing for me. And there might have been some fist pumping.
The point is, it’s rare to get Haywood to do one of these and I’m gob smacked (an expression I’m using since he is very British which you will see clearly in his responses) that he agreed to comply with my wishes.
So, here’s a guy, who, four years ago, without much writing experience at all, sat down and wrote The Undead Day One. Then he wrote another book and then another one, and on and on. A couple months ago, he released The Undead Day Twenty. Mind you, there are more than twenty books, some days were broken into two parts and there are a couple of not-to-be-missed standalone books in the series, as well as other books that aren’t part of the series, short stories, some mystery … point is, from the time he started four years ago, he’s written a boat load of words. Not only has he written book after book, he’s also built a massive audience in the UK and a growing U.S. audience. That’s because the work is brilliant. It truly is.
Now listen. And this is the important part. The Undead series is in the much maligned, much ignored zombie apocalypse genre, BUT IF YOU DON’T GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE AND TRY A ZOMBIE BOOK ONE OF THESE DAYS, YOU’LL BE MISSING OUT ON SOME AMAZING WRITING!
Yes. That was shouting.
The Undead books are some of the best in the genre, not just because of the charming Britishness of it, but because the characters are amazingly realized and the suspense and tension are sustained throughout. The best part is that these books are hilarious. There are horrible moments. Of course. It’s about brain eating zombies and people die and it can be heartbreakingly sad. But when this group of people get a minute to relax, they will have you laughing out loud.
I made the mistake of starting this series when I was home sick with pneumonia. When you laugh and you have pneumonia, you break into massive, painful coughing fits.
Don’t read The Undead when you have pneumonia.
I’ll stop blathering on now. Here’s the interview… Continue reading
People commented, the contest entered and names drawn. The only thing left is for the winners to claim their prizes.
Congratulations go to Cindy Young-Turner, David Lewis and Kathy Cilley. Each of you have won a hardcover copy of Wolves, the new novel by New York Times bestselling author DJ Molles. If I haven’t heard from you, please message me with your address. Your copy of the book will come directly from Blackstone Publishing.
Congratulations and thanks for entering!
When the world crashes, when everything you know disappears and you’ve lost what is most important to you, what kind of human will you be? That question is dissected and explored in the post-apocalyptic thriller, Wolves by bestselling author D.J. Molles.
I first started corresponding with Molles after I read book five of his The Remaining series. Of course, this was when he was still self-publishing and before his books finally rocketed to the New York Times bestseller status where they are today.
I’d been captivated by the bold way Molles operates within his stories. My initial intention was to post the conversation to this blog and to do what I could to draw attention to his work since he’d managed to change my opinion of the zombie genre in a massive way. The real reason I wanted to interview him was that I needed to find out what was going on in this guy’s head. Continue reading
In the fiction I write there are usually a few bodies left in the wake of my imagination. I sometimes kill people off to immediately launch into the story. Sometimes a death is used as a brief diversion or a means to neatly wrap up a climax. In using death this way, I’m not alone.
Like a game of Clue, authors design wildly different places and methods for our carnage. Beaten and strangled in a desperate fight on an Army base in Bosnia. Buried in cement in the jungles of Honduras. Drowning at sea off the coast of an Hawaiian island. Riddled with bullets in a wild gun battle. Slashed and beaten and covered in purple ogre blood beneath the streets of a city.
We’re a murderous bunch, we writers. We kill off whole societies with a deadly contagion. We track down a victim who perfectly matches a serial killer’s pattern. We choose just the right moment, during laughter and commotion, to end the most likable guy in the happy band of soldiers we’ve conjured up, making him the unlucky one to step on the trigger to the antipersonnel mine skillfully hidden in their path.
Should I be worried that we’re littering the ground with bodies purely for entertainment? Continue reading
Three books I need to talk about. One is mine, one is by a friend and one is by an author I discovered not too long ago and have been working my way through his entire library ever since. I can’t seem to get enough.
I group these three books together because each of them are about topics or situations which some might quickly reject based solely on preconceived notions of the genre.
If I told you Hidden Designs, my latest novella, features a mystery solved by a gay couple in the midst of their love story, would you think reading about a gay love story would make you uncomfortable?
Thing is, I love surprises and maybe reading something you would normally reject could be just what is needed to spark some summer reading fun. If you’re looking for a way to spend some quality time while avoiding the summer heat and you’re not afraid of a little adventure, read on. Continue reading