Friday, December 20, 2013

Matt Rommel - Battery Richmond P. Davis

Many of the locations in the Matt Rommel adventures are in San Francisco and Beyond the Law is no exception.  On the cover, we see one of the entrances / breezeways to the long abandoned Battery Richmond P. Davis.

Built in the 1930's in anticipation of the Second World War, Battery Davis was an artillery battery built to protect San Francisco from enemy naval forces.  Two sixteen inch guns were mounted at each end of the battery.  Sightings were taken by posts near each gun and relayed to a control center which provided targeting data for the guns.

Today, Battery Davis is part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area.  During the day, it is the premier hang gliding site for the city and a leash-free dog park.  At sundown, the tone of the park changes as the day dwellers go home and adolescent gangs move in to squat and drink over campfires.

As Matt Rommel discovers, there are worse things than a few drunken hoodlums.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Matt Rommel - A Free Sample, A Free Read, A Pleasant way to Pass the Time

Wherever you are on the planet, if you have access to a computer and, you can read a rather large sample of Matt Rommel's latest adventure, Beyond the Law.  Being a sample, it's free, of course.  I've looked at it, and, while I may be biased, I think it looks nifty and is a good representation of both the quality of writing and the story itself.  If you're from some exotic land (Canada, Indiana, Joplin), leave a note and let me know how you liked the free sample.

If you are an Amazon Premium customer, you can even borrow the book for free.  The whole book is availble for no charge.

And of course, if you want to own your own copy, Beyond the Law is yours for a modest fee.  Use a Kindle application and download the novel.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Now Available on Kindle - Matt Rommel returns in Beyond the Law

Matt Rommel returns in Beyond the Law.  Retired from the marine corps and the California department of corrections, Matt Rommel still wants the peace and contemplation that a life as a museum docent was supposed to provide.  But there are complications:

Rommel has a mysterious house guest, an old pensioner from Rommel’s past, an old pensioner who knows Rommel’s secrets and has come to extract a terrible favor.

Carolyn has post-traumatic stress disorder.  Her seven-year-old daughter, Aubrey, is shifting the balance of power on the school ground and she has a seventy-year-old retired master gunnery sergeant to help her do it.

Rommel’s godson, Vince Garcia has made detective, and his boss wants Matt Rommel in Jail.

And finally, the head of the largest mercenary army in America has found the one thing guaranteed to drive Rommel rampaging over the edge.

We uploaded the novel yesterday afternoon. Between then and now, I must have checked Amazon dozens of times, waiting for its release.

The paperback version will be out in a couple of weeks. Thanks to everyone for sticking with me through this process.

Friday, November 15, 2013

So, what's a galley?

So, what's a galley?

Well, if you're chained to the oar in a Roman ship, you're in a galley.
Not coincidentally, if you are chained to the kitchen in a boat or a ship, you are also in a galley.

A sheet with camera ready art and copy to be approved for publication in a magazine is a galley.

And, what I am working through, the final - final draft before e-publication, yes, that's a galley too.  I love the way my manuscript looks, the way the pages lay out.  I love the story, of course, but I really love the look of the thing as a work of art.  This is my final chance to capture little flaws before publication as a Kindle e-book.  We are right there on the precipice.  It's happening.

I will have to do this again for the paperback version.  The pages lay differently.  For instance, chapters only begin on the right hand page.  That changes the pagination slightly.

Push, push, push, push.  It's all going to happen and soon.

Beyond the Law - Look for it. 

ps: Not the old Charlie Sheen movie, the new Matt Rommel adventure.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Matt Rommel returns in "Beyond the Law"

Even after the last draft is written, there are endless details to be resolved before a book can launch. 

This time, though.  This time, all the stars are aligned and a new Matt Rommel adventure, Beyond the Law, will be available this month (November),

Sunday, we have a photo shoot for the cover (what you see above is a draft).  After that, input to Kindle, a LAST review of the galley and out to the public, first in Kindle and, shortly after, in paper back.

For those kind souls who have stuck with us, thank you.  This is the last of the promises.  This month, from me to you.

We will also be re-releasing Brand Loyalty in paperback.  This is more for those who are new to Matt, and Carolyn and Aubrey, and Chesty the one-eyed, food aggressive survivor of the dog fighting ring.

Again, I want to thank those to whom I have promised and promised. 

Beyond the Law is the story of Black Horizon, one of America's mercenary armies.  Such firms earned billions in Iraq and Afghanistan, free to kill with impunity, answerable to no one. 

When Hurricane Katrina laid waste to Louisiana and Mississippi, many of these same firms were brought in to employ the same tactics in the United States, leaving septuagenarian, and retired chief master gunnery sergeant Patrick Michael Gilhooley no legal recourse for the atrocities that have destroyed his life.

Beyond the Law is a work of fiction.  Any similarity between the organizations or persons in this novel and any actual organizations or persons, living or dead, is a complete and utter coincidence.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Industrial Relations and Sun Tzu

"Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

"To begin by bluster, but afterwards to take fright at the enemy's numbers, shows a supreme lack of intelligence."

"There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare." Sun Tzu

Back to the trolley car company and it's management's efforts to break the unions.  Since January, management has enrolled local television and newspapers to characterize the union workers as lazy, coddled, and overpaid.  Television stations and newspapers are corporations.  Corporations like low wages and hate unions because unions negotiate for pay and benefits for their workers.  This was a natural alliance for the trolley company and the media.

Management's strategy was to provoke a strike and then use public anger and local politicians to break the unions.

 Management blustered its way into a confrontation with workers.  This hostility and public uncertainty has dragged on for over 10 months.  Reference Sun Tzu's prolonged war quote.

There was a brief strike followed by a 60 day cooling off period, during which management did nothing, save for additional slander.  They now have a protracted battle and the four day strike has reinforced in the minds of the public that the union would strike again, if necessary.

By turning the encounter into a prolonged engagement, they now find themselves also in opposition to state and local elected officials, state and federal mediators, and ultimately, the four million people who life in the bay area.

Remenber the media?  Well sometimes an enemy can be useful.  Newspapers and television have no interest in news.  They sell advertising.  Creating anxiety inducing stories is part of the way they get people to read the paper or watch the news and then watch the advertising.  Each night has become a deadline to a possible strike.  The papers and television use the headlines to keep the populace on edge.

By declining to provide management with the strike they wanted, but keeping the potential for a strike viable, the unions  have been able to put the hysteria encouraging press to use. By staying at the table, they have exposed local politicians and appointed mediators to the arrogance and pointless hostility of management.

 The corrosive effect of public exposure is beginning to have a powerful effect.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Great. What do I do with this bloody tomahawk?

An unexpected result of the recent "shutdown" of the federal government, Fort Funston and Battery Richmond P. Davis are closed to the public.

The next Matt Rommel adventure, "Beyond the Law", is coming out this month. I like to use locations or objects from the stories in the cover art.

Carolyn Kast got into Battery Richmond P. Davis.
The mob of mercenary thugs got into Battery Richmond P. Davis.
Matt Rommel got into Battery Richmond P. Davis.

The rest of us will have to wait.


If you are losing paid work days, your experience is worse.
If you cannot get the assistance you need to feed yourself and your family, your experience is worse.

If you are a veteran and Uncle Sugar has bolted the door, your expereince is worse.
(Then again, if your are a veteran of the US armed forces, getting screwed is not a surprise, is it?)

So, I and my M-48 tomahawk will wait for our photo op.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Thoughts on Industrial Relations - Arrogance makes Stupidity redundant

Besides writing, I work for a trolley car company.  True, they are much bigger and faster than the average trolley car, and they run on one thousand volts, but it's still just a public service and nothing to justify anything but a pragmatic attitude toward the work.

We recently had a strike and are headed toward another. During the week, we carry about 400,000 people a day.  When the system shuts down again, those people will have to use the roads and traffic will snarl.

The way I see it, management had a big win during the last contract when labor accepted 4 years without a raise.  Now, management wants another win and labor wants a raise.

Naturally, management took the case to the press and beat the drum.  Workers are stupid.  Workers are lazy.  Workers are overpaid.  No one in the press asks, "If this is true, why haven't you managed the situation?  If they are lazy and stupid, why can you not manage the situation?"

Here is my point; these jobs come with pensions.  These pensions have not yet been corrupted as has happened in so many industries.

The average worker retirement age is 62.  The average years of service for these retirees, I don't remember, but it must be more than 20.

So, during the upcoming strike, how many mechanics, electronic technicians, train operators and station agents will just choose to retire?

Nobody knows.  Yep, management is hot for a strike, but hasn't considered the possiblility that enough workers may retire, amid the name-calling and turmoil that, post-stirke, it will be difficult if not impossible to return to normal service.  You can't fix stupid.

And with Arrogance, you don't even need actual Stupidity.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Next Matt Rommel Adventure: Beyond the Law

A couple of years ago, I asked someone what they thought would drive a seventy-five year old retired Non-Commissioned Officer to commit murder.  I had asked a few people.  Most of them had no answer.  This particular person thought about it and said this, "It would have to be for the highest reason."

So what is "the highest reason"?

First, let's look at what's going on in the lives of our little group from Brand Loyalty.

Carolyn has PTSD. You might think that would make her less confrontational. You'd be wrong.

Second grader, Ashley is shifting the balance of power on the school playground and she has a seventy year old retired gunnery sergeant to help her do it.

Vince Garcia has made detective. 

His boss wants Matt Rommel in jail.

Enter Michael Patrick Gilhooly, Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant, Retired.

Gilhooley has his "highest reason".  He wants Justice in a world that no longer cares about Justice, not for the wealthy, not for the powerful.  To fulfill the last great issue in his life, Michael Patrick Gilhooly needs Matt Rommel.

Matt Rommel still wants the peace and contemplation that a life at the museum was supposed to provide.

But, the head of the largest mercenary army in America has found the one thing guaranteed to drive Rommel rampaging over the edge.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Gold to Silver Ratio

The Gold to Silver Ratio

36 year gold silver ratio

This ratio reflects how many ounces of Silver are required to purchase one ounce of Gold at any given time. 

As prices for these comodities change, the ratio changes.

As a point of reference, the ratio was lowest in 1980 when the Hunt brothers were trying to corner the silver market, driving the price of silver abnormally high.  Such a low ratio is anomalous.

While the ratio, by itself, has little predictive power, at least two conditions are common.

1) In a recession, the Silver to Gold ratio is often high.

2) When the price of Silver is low, the ratio is high.  A high ratio is one factor to look for when the price of Silver is about to rebound.

Ideally, one can trade silver for gold as momentum dictates, accumulating wealth upon the turns.

ps: trade in actual gold and silver!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Carolyn Kast - Single Mother, Outcast, Damsel in Distress

Carolyn Kast - Single Mother, Outcast, Damsel in Distress

I learned something when I created Carolyn Kast.  The big lesson was that women have next to no sympathy for single mothers.

Families headed by a single mother experience a 42 percent decrease in income (old statistic).
Child support and alimony used to be a societal joke.  Deadbeat dads roamed America like great herds of bison, unmolested by the local District Attornies.

Once a woman is on her own, I suppose other women regard her as a potential threat.  If that's not true, then I can conjure only one other explanation.  Women regard broken marriages like some people regard disease, it's the victim's fault.

Carolyn Kast takes all of her lumps and then comes back to rebuild her life and rebuild a safe home for her daughter.  She also has to learn to fight to stay alive.

She is the counterpoint to Matt Rommel.  Matt Rommel has to learn to become a peaceful member of society.  Carolyn Kast has to learn to struggle, to fight back.

When you look at Carolyn Kast, don't look for the woman who runs from her persuers, twists her ankle and falls down.  Look for a person who desperately wants to stay alive.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Matt Rommel and the Palace of the Legion of Honor

Matt Rommel and the Palace of the Legion of Honor

I wrote Brand Loyalty not only as a mystery, but as a study of two groups that no one in America cares about very much, military veterans and single mothers.  We'll talk about single mothers and the damsel in distress in another post.  This one is about my military veteran.

Matt Rommel is an attempt to dispel or at least challenge some of the stupid conclusions I have heard about the American military veteran, i.e.  they're not too smart, they are violent, they like war.  That last one is, for me, a real corker (American vernacular for a big fat lie that only a stupid person would believe).

My father spent a career in the military, as did my uncle.  Both my grandfathers served in the First World War.  Some of those men saw combat, got a first hand look at dead young men.  None of them were violent.  My uncle Ted, who was at Normandy beach and the Battle of the Bulge, was also a fifth degree Judo black belt and one of the two strongest men I ever met.  Still in all, a gentle soul.

They had seen violence.  They could engage in it.  They were not violent men.  After their respective wars, none of them had trouble with the law or their neighbors.

I served for five years and never heard a shot fired in anger and I am just fine with that.

Not too smart:  Military people absorb a lot of training and staying alive in a hostile environment involves luck, training, awareness, and adaptability.  Those veterans who were able to use the GI Bill became doctors, lawyers, and founded and ran many successful business enterprises.  Among those who were admitted to West Point (but did not finish), Edgar Allen Poe and James McNeill Whistler.

Love War:  God, on the face of it, this canard is beyond stupid.  Military personel fight the wars that come along.  Far and away, their preferance is peace.  On the other hand, to paraphrase Daniel V. Gallery, if a war comes along, they don't want to leave the work to someone less able.  Who are your war hawks?  Typically draft dodgers.  It's a shame they get elected to public office.

So what happens to the veteran when the time for service has passed?  Often, they seek peace both within themselves and in their surroundings.

Which brings us to the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, a fine arts museum built after the First World War.  In the old days, people of all walks of life in America served in time of war.  WWI was an industrial war and the savagery and carnage shook everyone.  The wealthy lost children in that war just as the poor did.  This museum began as a monument to them and a reminder of the things they fought and died to protect.  This is why Matt Rommel chooses to spend his days there.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Looking Back at My First Novel - Brand Loyalty

Getting down to the short strokes.  In a few more months, the next Matt Rommel adventure, and my second novel, Beyond the Law, will be released.  Right now, we're wrapping up the final edit.  After that, there's the cover art and then off to the printer.

Like I said, this is my second novel.  You would think that I must have learned a lot.  I don't know.  But, now is as good a time as any to look back at the process of selling the first book.

I started by looking for an agent.  We went to the Literary Marketplace, a giant book with hundreds if not thousands of publishers and agents.

From this, we culled the top 80 agencies and sent out query letters.  Some nibbles.  Mailed a few chapters.  No bites.  We tried this a few times because it's fun to spend hundreds of dollars on postage and wait for weeks.  The highlight of the experience for me was one terriffic rejection letter.  Mind you, I received many dozens, but this one was special.  This one agency sent me a rejection letter that recapped the entire novel in as thrilling a manner as you can imagine.  After all that, I couldn't believe they didn't want to represent it.  I think it must have been done by an intern who was trying to prove themselves to the agency.

After that, back to the Big Book to look at publishers.  I sent a query to every house that would accept unagented submissions.  I started with the big houses, then the medium houses and then everyone else.  I actually got a bite and, after a few months and a brutal round of edits, Brand Loyalty was released.  It meant a lot to me that someone was prepared to put their time, talent and money into my story.

Even so, promotion-wise, with small houses you are pretty much on your own.  A small publisher may have the connections to create links to 50 or more internet sites, but that's not what drives sales.

I was lucky.  I work for a company with a few thousand employees.  Those co-workers drove a lot of my sales.  Some bought the novel out of kindness, some out of curiosity, some because they expected it to be terrible and scorn-worthy.  Turn's out, for a lot of reasons, Brand Loyalty is a good mystery novel.  That created a tiny fan base that has been waiting for me to get it together and release another story.

Those are the people I work for.  Those are the people I worry about.  Those are the people for whom I dangle participles.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Carlos Danger – hero or pervert? – picking character names

I don’t believe in rules, although writing is chock a block with them.

There should be rules in the naming of fictional characters.  There aren’t.

A good character name supports your story.  If you’re writing a farce, a farcical name – Doctor Strangelove.

 For a tale of action and adventure,  Jungle Jim (a ‘50’s TV character).

 I once named a major character in order to set up a dreadful pun 300 pages later.

For his spy novel, Ian Fleming wanted the most ordinary colorless name he could find.  He discovered a book on birds by a man named James Bond.  Mind you, Fleming was also looking for a good Anglo-Saxon name.  It is a British spy novel after all.

Choose a name that will support your work and make the task easier and more effective.  (My opinion)

There are character names that I think are crap, Kinsey Milhone for instance.  I have never met anyone named Kinsey.  I have dogs, so I always think of Milk Bone, a dog treat.  This is the lead character in a highly successful series, but I can’t read it, all I see is Milk Bone.  Say the name aloud.  Is it clumsy or hard to pronounce?
Another crap character name unless the work is a spoof: Carlos Danger.  Actually, Carlos Danger is a nom de pecker for an American politician.  He likes to take pictures of his genitals and e-mail them to women.  Apparently, he likes doing this more than he likes being a politician.  Anyway, don’t choose Carlos Danger as a character for your next novel.  Whom you choose to elect is your business.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Your Mullah is Fatwa!

So how can writers use the NSA to boost readership and sales?

ALLAH I'm sayin is if there's a copy of Brand Loyalty that's BIN LADEN around the house, maybe you should pick it up and read it. You may be saying "JI - I - HAD one but I can't find it". I don't want to DRONE on about this but, if you don't have a copy and Life has become a PRESSURE COOKER, maybe you should INFILTRATE the internet and SURREPTITIOUSLY buy one. Remember, your Mullah is FATWA!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Without you, I don't exist

Thank you to the people who have posted reviews of my first novel, "Brand Loyalty".  There are many things that a writer wants, most of them foolish and or self indulgent.  But, without readers, we don't exist.

So, if you read Brand Loyalty, thank you for creating me, making me real.

If, after that kindness, you chose to leave a review on Amazon or elsewhere, thank you doubly for your kindness.  Even if, at some point in the future, my work should be savaged, that doesn't mean the reviewer isn't a wonderful person.  It means that they are wrong, but that's OK.

So what's the point?

Cindi Silva.  Cindi Silva is the point.  A while back, Cindi was kind enough to review Brand Loyalty.  I'm certain I thanked her.  Today, I wish I had thanked her more effusively.

Cindi has a couple of volumes of poetry entitled "Cancer Poetry" 1 and 2.

Cindi helped a lot of people before she left us.  We miss her but we are grateful that we got to know her at all.