Steve Weddle

Apr 032014
 
So here's what I asked:

What tips do you have for disposing of a body? A dead one, preferably. 

http://degeorgiskara.blogspot.com
I mean, if it weren't dead, step one would be "kill person." So let's just go with disposing of a dead body. I think dismembering it is key, as is speeding up the decomposition. If you're trying to protect yourself from detection/prosecution, you either want to remove anything that could be a "clue" or plant clues that would lead elsewhere. 

I'm thinking you'd want to disassemble the jaw, making sure to crack all the teeth in order to prevent identification. 

You'd want to peel off the skin of fingertips, too. What else? Is burning the body a rookie move?

Acid? Not too popular. Sinking the body? Yes and no. Mushrooms?

Here. Check for yourself. I've made the post public:

How to get rid of a dead body

Popular suggestion: Reading DEAD PIG COLLECTOR from Warren Ellis.

Of course, wood chippers and soylent green are favorites, too. 

I'm still considering lye vs acid, too.

And if you're going to transport the body, put down some tarp. Do it!

THE AJ HAYES MEMORIAL WRITING CONTEST

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Mar 202014
 

THE AJ HAYES MEMORIAL WRITING CONTEST
To honor the memory of the recent loss of writer AJ Hayes, we announce the first AJ Hayes Memorial Writing Contest.
AJ was a no-nonsense crime writer who flourished in the field of short stories and flash fiction. His goal was to get to the essence of a story without wasting a word. His dedication to the writing community and his stalwart support of other writers is what inspires a contest in his name. AJ would have loved the idea of people writing with him in mind and probably would have been first in line to submit a story.
The rules are this: 
– Flash fiction (under 1000 words)
– Crime fiction, mystery, noir, suspense are all accepted
– AJ loved to write poetry, so that’s good too
A panel of writers and agents will read the stories and award prizes. 1st place $100, 2nd place $50, 3rd place $25.
Winning stories will be published at Do Same Damage and Thrillers, Killers N Chillers and the winning story will appear in print in the next Needle magazine.
One more rule – as many of you may or may not know, AJ was a pen name for Bill Hayes. So your story must feature a character named Bill. Doesn’t have to be the main character, doesn’t even have to appear on screen in the story. But Bill has to be a presence in the tale, just as he was a presence in so many of our lives, whether we met the man in person or not.
The deadline is June 1. Send your completed story in Word format, along with a bio and a memory of AJ if you have one (not a requirement) to ericbeetner@gmail.com.
So get to writing, and when the stories are out, tell someone to read them like AJ would have. Go be tireless promoters for our genre and be good to each other. Let AJ Hayes be an inspiration on the page and off.
———
To fund the prizes we are seeking donations. Any amount will do. Payments can be made via the donation button below.  Anything we receive over the $200 will be donated to Bill’s family.
Donate Button with Credit Cards

News Ketchup

 Steve Weddle  Comments Off
Mar 062014
 
By Steve Weddle

First off, let's catch up with some things, shall we?

Dana King, friend of the blog, has been running a swell series of Q&As with authors. Check it out over at his site: OBAT.

I'm finishing up FEDERALES, a novella by Chris Irvin. I think you'll like it, as it's about a Mexican federal agent, drugs, and politics. Hop on Twitter and tweet:
"Check out #FEDERALES by @chrislirvin #DSD" something along those lines. I'll look for the DSD or Federales hashtags and give out a couple copies of the book by the end of the week. Also, check out Chris's site HouseLeague Fiction for more about the book.

Meanwhile, our own Holly West has her MISTRESS OF FORTUNE book doing well. I read this one a while back and will be posting reviews soon. Let me tell you, this is one surprising book. I wasn't entirely sure I'd enjoy what looked like "palace intrigue" and all, but I trust Holly. Turns out, this book is pretty damn amazing. The history and mystery meld so well that, a few days after I'd finished, I felt as if I were remembering a movie instead of a book. So, if you haven't checked it out, now is a good time to do so. And if you have, now is a good time to leave a review somewhere.

Also, I'm teaching a 4-week short story fundamentals class at LitReactor starting next week.

Steve Weddle is the author of the novel-in-stories Country Hardball—called "downright dazzling" by the New York Times—and editor of the award-winning short fiction magazine Needle: A Magazine of Noir. And in four weeks, he'll teach you how to write compelling, original short fiction (with skills applicable to longer works of fiction, too).
This class will give the opportunity to hone your skills, using your voice and vision as you craft vibrant, original fiction ready for publication.
Through weekly readings, lectures and assignments, this class will delve into character, dialogue, setting, and plot and will provide you with a range of techniques as you continue to craft your own stories.

Sign up here.

So, last week I visited Centenary College of Louisiana, where I had been an undergrad twenty-something years ago. They'd chosen to use COUNTRY HARDBALL in their English classes this year, and I had the opportunity to chat with students in classes from the freshman level to the 300-level about the book.

Some of the students had questions about particular scenes, while some wanted to discuss more theme-oriented topics. I found out, for example, that while Flannery O'Connor and Steve Wedde both rely on southern churches in their books, O'Connor is more interested in religion, while Weddle is more concerned with congregations.
Photo by David Havird

In two days, I spoke with seven classes, one book club, one radio station, one newspaper, and gave a reading at a convocation. It was, you know, kinda awesome. And what it taught me, or what it showed me up close, is that while different individuals read books differently, different groups of people have different expectations. College freshman read a different version of COUNTRY HARDBALL than do people in a book group. Context is key, isn't it? I've read books for book groups and books for college classes. You think about different questions to ask, different topics. I was talking last night about the book and said that I try to write for a reader who is smarter than I am. I don't like to explain things too much, to hand over the meaning of a scene. I writer for readers who read closely, who will a passage more than once if they don't quite get it. I write for people who might read the book more than once, and I want to make sure that the book is layered enough for them every single time.

And, it turns out, I write for college classes, for book groups, for the woman in the cafeteria who only knew me as author and not as former student. I write for all of them, and they all read the book a little differently. All I can do is make sure whatever I write has enough in it for each of them. Because, you know, I am kinda concerned about all the congregations.


Jan 162014
 
Guest post by Jim Winter

A few years back, I read an interesting theory about The Great Gatsby that suggested Jay Gatsby might have been black trying to “pass” in the more racially rigid 1920’s. It was an interesting theory, but I wish I’d read the novel before the article as it changed my perceptions of the story. Then again, there also was nothing in the book suggesting Gatsby resembled Robert Redford, so my perceptions were already altered by Hollywood. 

However, that idea played into a story I wrote for Spinetingler a few years later. “Profiled” told the tale of an undercover cop born in Tehran. In the post-9/11 era, if Gatsby were black, he would not have had to pass himself off as white. If anything, he would get called out for fostering the same prejudice that would have made his charade more acceptable in the twenties. It’s easier to call people out on racial bias, and these days, gays are finding it much easier to be open about themselves. But are there some groups that, no matter what, are going to draw suspicioin? In “Profiled,” Eddie Soroya tackles this very issue.

When we meet him, he’s sitting on a commuter train in a Midwest city posing as a homeless man while watching for trouble in our terror-panicked world. When a woman calls him a “raghead,” Soroya swears at her in Spanish. In a city with a large Mexican population, the perceived insult would warrant a harsher response. As he rides from the city’s lakefront to the airport, watching a suspicious duffle bag, we find out he is actually from the Middle East, that speaking Spanish becomes a defense that not even a badge can give him. People – black, white, Hispanic – are paranoid since those planes crashed in 2001. Unfortunately, that means people are automatically suspicious of entire groups.

When dealing with people’s biases, you have to walk a thin line. Despite what some of the more hysterical pundits on 24-hour news like to tell us, we aren’t quite in 1930’s Germany. But you hear the slurs, the misconceptions, and the outright hatred that seems to have found a new outlet.

In a way, though, Soroya is between a rock and a hard place. We also live in a nation wary of illegal immigration, so posing as a Mexican to keep people from flagging the nearest TSA worker or FBI agent is a double-edged sword. Without a badge, he’s still likely to get pulled over. He faces a different kind of harassment from what he would get if he were open about his Iranian origins. Granted, it’s easier to fight by simply sliding into his normal accent, a Rust Belt twang I myself have not been able to get rid of after 22 years, but it’s still more than most people have to deal with in this day and age.

It goes back to a conversation I once had (and was part of the impetus for “Profiled”). A friend and I were discussing, of all things, the bias against obesity. At one point, I said, “You know, most of the bullshit you have to deal with everyday stares back at you from the mirror in the morning.” And it’s true. Race, gender, weight, age, physical imperfections, and even disabilities all come back at us when we look in the mirror. Things like sexual preference, religion (or lack thereof), and politics (a stupid bias since that one causes most wars) are all internal aspects of who we are. We can hide those. We can act straight or gay. We can keep our religion and politics to ourselves. But the things that define us physically to other people are there in the mirror, which means they’re out there for all the world to see. Being a straight white male is, as John Scalzi puts it, playing life on the lowest difficulty setting. That’s not to say life is easy for anyone. We still have to deal with our personalities, and we still need to have a strong sense of self. We also need to be aware that, over time, it’s how we react to the world around us that ultimately determines how we get by in the world.  The question “Profiled” asks, and leaves hanging, is whether Eddie Soroya made the right choice about it.

---

Born near Cleveland in 1966, Jim Winter had a vivid imagination – maybe too vivid for his own good – that he spun into a career as a writer. He is the author of Northcoast Shakedown, a tale of sex, lies, and insurance fraud – and Road Rules, an absurd heist story involving a stolen holy relic. Jim now lives in Cincinnati with his wife Nita and stepson AJ. To keep the lights on, he is a web developer and network administrator by day. Visit him at http://www.jamesrwinter.net , like Jim Winter Fiction on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter @authorjimwinter.

Pick up some Jim Winter right here.
Jan 092014
 
By Steve Weddle

Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame voting is more of a joke each year. Maybe things will get better, but something has to change.

I'm not interested right now in arguing whether Jack Morris should be in, alongside Maddux and Glavine.

But what's going on is a mockery, which is often something I'm in favor of. Not this time.

You have reporters with Hall of Fame votes handing their ballots over to sports blogs. You have other voters turning in blank ballots to protest something something Steroid Era. You have voters who won't vote for Biggio because he played at the same Canseco was taking needles to the buttocks.

People have lost their damn minds.

Voting is a joke and the reward itself, being named to the Hall of Fame, is being pooped all over.

Which brings us to the week in crime fiction.

The Bookernet (as @bookriot calls the book folks who blog/tweet book conflicts on the internet) was on fire earlier this week and last as authors began receiving solicitations for nominations which went something like this: "Hey, I wrote a book called INSPECTOR DOLT SAVES THE DAY. It's eligible for a Stout Award. Can you click HERE and nominate it? kthxbye."

As someone who has done thoughtless, dopey things myself, lemme just say: Dude. Bad form.

Over the past few years, the Bookernet has talked about how book awards seem to be less about the most talented works winning, more about the most marketed book winning.

Of course, these are the same people who were super-duper rioty after a year went by with no one worthy of the fiction Pulitzer.

Look. I get it. You want your book to be noticed. It's a tough market. Being able to put a sticker on the paperback re-issue of your book would be hella sweet. But what are you doing to the process? She with the most email addresses wins? That's what you want to win for?

So I'd like to propose that each of the big awards for crime fiction immediately add some new awards. In addition to Best Novel and Best Debut and Coolest Reader and those, perhaps the committees for these awards can institute awards Most Solicitous or Most Soliciting? Best Marketing Campaign. Most Egregious Etiquette Breach. Most Self-Deprecating Grovel for Attention. Greatest Twitter #Humblebrag. Most RTs of Positive Review. Most Clever Way To Rile Up One's Own Fans To Offset A Two-Star Review. And so on.

Once we can get this done, then we get the baseball writers to select one of their own for Biggest Jerk. They don't even have to be very good writers to win.

After all, many writers seem to care much more about winning a writing award than they care about the writing.
Dec 222013
 
Guest Post by Clayton Lindemuth

Paint the Picture, Not the Conclusion

Imagine you’re the commander and your platoon is under attack. You learn a private observed an enemy formation a short while before the mortars started falling. You’ll probably want to know several things, but the most urgent will be how many enemy did the private see, what equipment did they have, and what were they doing? Was it enemy, or the enemy that is attacking us?
To arrive at a clear understanding, you’ll want both the details the private remembers and the conclusions he drew. You’ll want the information delivered concisely. You may not agree with his conclusions, but they are integral to his report because they include information that contributed to his understanding. For example, the private might not know the hand signals given by the point man, but his interpretation that they were about to attack is relevant. You may not accept his deductions—as commander, your understanding of context might point you to a different belief. However, you will still value his insights because they tell you how he understood what he saw. As the commander, you want all of the information, and you’ll sort out its relevance.
Storytellers have different goals, however, and consuming a novel is a lot different than demanding a private report on a sighting of the enemy.
Is your reader like the commander?

First, lets consider the commander’s objectives. What does he want? To more fully understand his environment so he can take action that improves the odds of defeating the enemy. The commander is looking for survival and victory. Given these motivations, how likely is the following dialogue?
Mortars are falling. The ground shakes. You—as commander—and the private are hunkered in a hole. You say, “Sergeant Storm said you observed activity outside the perimeter a short while ago. What did you see, private?”
“Men.”
“How many?”
“Roughly fourteen.”
“What sort of men?”
“They appeared to be wearing camouflage.”
“Like ours or like the enemy’s?”
“Like our enemy wears.”
“What equipment did they have?”
“They had rifles, I think.”
“Did you see any other equipment?”
“Yes.”
“Well, dammit?”
“There appeared to be two men with giant tubes on their backs, and two others with sizable heavy obelisks.”
“You mean, like mortar crews?”
“Yes, exactly.”
“What were they doing?”
“They were walking slowly, slightly bent forward.”
“Where?”
“They were spread out over that hillside.”
“What direction were they moving?”
“Toward us.”
Can you hear the commander growing frustrated? In fact, can you imagine a scene like that playing out at all? It’s difficult to conceive of a private responding this way unless he is the token low-IQ guy in every Hollywood war movie. Given average intelligence, and that mortars are falling and bullets zipping, he’s more likely to say, “I saw an enemy patrol, fourteen men with rifles—maybe more—including two mortar teams. They were on the hill over there, and looked like they were preparing for an assault.”
Herein lies the difference between communicating as authors versus communicating in real life. Our goal is not to communicate. It is to create the desire to understand.
The storyteller has different objectives

The storyteller wants her readers to feel compelled to turn pages.
In real life and in fiction, we provide information to others so they can arrive at conclusions. The manner we provide the information affects the other person’s ability to draw a conclusion, thus is of prime importance to a storyteller. If the author fails her  primary objective of creating reader engagement, no other objective may be satisfied.
In real life we want answers. In fiction, we demand puzzles.
Although the private would not have spoken in the drawn-out manner of the dialogue above, it was nearly effective as fictional dialogue because it allows the reader to assemble information into a context and then guess about the relevance of the context. As authors, the more opportunities we create for our readers to draw their own conclusions, the more engaged they become.
Although the private never in the dialogue says the words patrol or attack, you—as a reader—had no problem making that leap, and as you assembled the information into a context, part of your engagement was based on creating and testing possible explanations that account for the facts, and eliminating the flawed ones.
We deliver information differently in story than real life.

As an example, imagine decades have passed. You’re sitting beside your grandfather, and unlike most who saw war, your grandfather is a storyteller. Instead of being his commander, you’re now his grandchild.
“So I was shaving out of my canteen cup with a broken piece of mirror, when my eye caught movement on the hill, way off.”
“What did you see, Grandpa?”
“Well it was the derntootinest thing. There were a bunch of them, walking slow, like this, kind of bent forward, had their rifles like this… spread out… all across the hill…”
“Who were they, Grandpa?”
“Well, they had on enemy uniforms…”
Obviously, Grandpa’s telling a story. The manner is piecemeal, not too unlike the dialogue with his commander from above, except that in the context of storytelling it makes sense to deliver facts slowly, allowing tension to build, and providing time for the audience to test hypotheses. Because the danger is long past, the goal is not to survive, but to keep the kids on the edge of their seats so they can feel the power of a story, and learn from it as if they were there. Grandpa gives enough information to provoke a question that furthers understanding, and judges the effectiveness of the story not by whether he is concise and clear, but by whether the kids remain deeply engaged.
Be like Grandpa.
To keep readers engaged, let them draw their own conclusions.
Clarity in fiction doesn’t come from telling readers what to think. It comes from drawing pictures so clear their conclusions eventually become inescapable. From this, a simple rule: Don’t avoid creating a clear picture by explaining the relevance of an obscure one. Meaning, if you collapse relevant action into a summary or a conclusion drawn by your protagonist, there’s a big chance you’re missing an opportunity to draw your reader into the story.
Instead, explore the text. Is there something you could show the reader to help her arrive at the conclusion on her own? What’s more powerful?
“She looked upset.”
or
“She threw the steak knife at me.”
What are your thoughts? Let’s unpack it more in the comments area.

--

Clayton Lindemuth’s debut novel Cold Quiet Country earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly and inclusion on the Indie Next List. His short story Simple was included in Needle, and his follow up novels Nothing Save the Bones Inside Her and My Brother’s Destroyer, both released in December of 2013, follow the same “thrilling, visceral, and unsparing” rural noir tradition, and are now available on Amazon. Follow Clayton on twitter @claylindemuth.


Dec 192013
 
By Steve Weddle

Alex Segura's SILENT CITY will be sticking with me for a long time. In a way I was reminded a little of our own Dave White’s Jackson Donne, with an edgy Scudder twist, but Pete Fernandez is his own character.

The story opens as his life is falling apart, and things just get better from there. For the reader, at least. Pete doesn’t always fare so well. As a newspaper guy, I can tell you that the insider description of the newspaper was pretty spot on. You get the feel of the workplace and of the bar scene in Miami and the neighborhoods and the people.

From the music he enjoys to his slacker wardrobe, Pete is the kind of guy you can see right there, the sort of character you end up rooting for. Pixies. Talking Heads. What's not to like?

The trio of Pete, Emily, and Mike also works well. These people feel like old friends, the way they play off each other. Segura really puts you there, in the middle of the lives, their day-to-day existence. As Pete's life starts falling apart pieces at a time, you get to this points where you're hoping he won't take that next drink, won't do that next stupid thing.

And then his falling momentum begins to sync up with the plot's momentum, so that you're hurled forward in a story that gets more and more developed with each page.

The is a thrilling read that picks up speed with each page. This book was a fantastic debut in the mystery genre, and I’m ecstatic that Pete Fernandez has his own series.

Looking forward to more from Segura.

Check this out for more Silent City news from Alex Segura.
Sep 262013
 
By Steve Weddle

Recently, Brad Listi had Tom Perrotta on the Other People podcast. Perrotta talked about writing novels, as well as his new Nine Inches collection. Perrotta, best known for Election and The Abstinence Teacher, said that writing the middles of his novels is the best part of it.

Short stories, he said, just get going when you have to shut them down.

The first part of novels are essentially laying out the ground-work, setting up characters and plot.

The ending is when the author has to tie it all up into a neat -- or not so -- bow. Or tie it off, I suppose. But, you know, certainly with the tie, Ty.  

I've written four books (one publishable) and I'm starting another.

I dig the research part of writing -- the part where you're reading and taking notes and learning so much. Billy Sunday? OK, let's read about him for a few days. Tenant farming in the 1930s? Why not search the internet for bookstores with old out-of-print books I have to have. Great.

And the first few thousand words, where you're just letting the characters talk and you're doing that scene-setting, that's good stuff. And maybe the ending, if you had one in mind, is a great spot to bring it all together.

But that spot that's 10-30% into the book, words 10k-30k if it's a 100k-word book, that's a rough spot, at least for me. And the 80-90% spot. I hate that spot, too.

The middle, as Perrotta said, is a good spot. Your characters are doing the stuff you want them to do, but they don't have to have everything line up perfectly, as they do in the last part. So often, if a character does a thing in the 80-90% part of your manuscript, that action has to mean something. It has to move forward and look behind. It's connective tissue with a purpose. You know, the connecting.

The first part is the setting-up. The middle part is the action, the story. The doing. And then the ending is, well, the ending. The End. Hooray.

The parts between, that's the hard slogging. That isn't the stained glass window or the beautiful oak door. That's the mortar, that's the part you have to get just right, so that everything settles in perfectly.

Maybe some writers hate starting books, but I can't believe that. Why would you keep writing? Why sit down to the desk in the first place? And everyone loves to finish writing, at least in that moment. Before a few days pass and you remember all the stuff you should have put in the book. The research you forgot about. How you'd meant to include a section about tenant farming, but forgot all about it once the sheriff shot that woman. Time to go back in and add a scene, I guess. Probably, of course, around page 40.
Sep 192013
 
By Steve Weddle

And speaking of time shifting, my chat with Alec Cizak airs today at KMSU at 10:30 am Central Time.

Why is it Eastern and Central and Pacific? Does anyone say Eastern and Western? Atlantic and Pacific? And what's what Mountain Time Zone? It's like that woman in the corporate meeting who has three things to tell you -- "First, I'd like to start with" and then launches into "and B, we need to" and ends with "and finally."

"The history of time in the United States began in 1883."

So one of the weird things being an "Author" and not a writer, aside from never again having to pay for books, alcohol, or housing, is knowing things you can't share.

http://heyauthor.tumblr.com/image/25641914783
When you sell your book rights to the French or the Venetians or the Czechs, you've got a lag time of when you can make that announcement. Your agent will call or email and tell you about it. You'll up it or down it. Then the deal will get nailed down. But you can't say anything until X happens -- papers get signed, proposals accepted, clauses struck, etc. So you're sitting on news you can't announce.

As a reader, I never noticed the lag or, to be honest, really gave two poops about it. But as an author, well, you want to post it up there for folks. You want to let people share the news with you. "Hey, people who are traveling with me on this journey, look at this cool building over there." Only, you're the only one who can see it right now. In a few weeks, you'll be allowed to point it out. "Pleased to announce we've sold Aleutian rights to CYBORG LESBIAN VAMPIRE ASSASSINS."

Or you'll get a nice review you can't share until the magazine is printed in a few weeks. Or you just talked to Marc Edwards at Dark Tiddlings Studios about a movie adaptation of your book to appear, possibly maybe, on the Ovation channel in 2016. Or a thousand other things.

As an author, you get excited and you want to share it with your friends and neighbors (Twitter, GeoCities, LiveJournal, Facebook), but you can't. Instead, you make vague references that might lead people to think you're either phony or a butthead. Or both.

It's weird.

And then you go out on book tours to talk about your "new" book that is out, a book you started writing seven years ago and finished two years back. And people ask you questions about characters you've forgotten. Or plot points.

Because you're writing the third book in the series and only the first one is out. And, in your mind, that waiter the interviewer is asking about died six months ago. Which, um, you know, you probably shouldn't mention.

Add to it that you're probably writing about a universe that doesn't exist in real time -- either it's an alternate now or it's 1863 Nebraska -- WHEN THEY DIDN'T EVEN HAVE STANDARD TIME.

But, you know, we already have Eastern and Pacific and Mountain time zones. Just add in Author Time.

Because the train for "Standard Time" has left the station. Or, you know, it's about to leave five minutes ago.

Blade of Dishonor

 Guest Blog  Comments Off
Sep 122013
 
By Thomas Pluck
Guest Post

I like action movies. Or I used to. A lot of the newer ones don't have the feel of the "classics," which for me began with First Blood. Based on the novel by David Morrell, it tells the tale of a Vietnam Vet trying to get home when a sheriff inadvertently starts a war with him. It is a character-driven novel, as most action tales are. What defines us better than our actions? It's difficult to be an unreliable narrator when you have little internal monologue. You can mask the motives for your actions, but as Andrew Vachss says, "behavior is the truth."

Look at Parker, the hardboiled favorite. From paragraph one, he's moving, like a shark. Someone offers him a ride, and Parker tells him to go to hell. On the way to a meet, someone blocks his way, Parker chops his throat and kills him. We know him from what he does; his job defines him.

Action defines character.
Thomas Pluck

That doesn't mean that without action you don't have character, but there is no reason to eschew action if you enjoy character-driven novels. And that was my mantra when writing BLADE OF DISHONOR, an action thriller hatched from an idea created with David Cranmer of Beat to a Pulp.

An MMA fighter. A treasured sword. And a ninja clan that had to have it. That is what we began with. What I ended up with was a young fighter named Reeves whose temper ended his career and sent him to war. When he comes home, he finds the last of his family, his grandfather, barely hanging on in a town devastated by the recession, and his old enemy in charge of things.

Grandpa Butch is a World War II vet who runs a pawn shop and Army surplus store. Reeves grew up in that iron playground, but there was one toy he couldn't touch: a Japanese sword that Butch brought home from the war, and would never talk about.

I did some research about Japanese swords after World War 2. Everyone knows a vet who has one, usually an officer's sword. But the most treasured Japanese blade of all, the Honjo Masamune, went missing in 1945. It was forged by Japan's most revered swordsmith, Masamune, and was passed down by the Tokugawa clan to the reigning shogun. But after the fires went out in Tokyo, a soldier took it home. And it has never been seen since.

That was a story I couldn't resist. I began the story in Minnesota, because I know the area and the people, and adventures need space to roam around in. A little more reading and I learned that the Devil's Brigade, the 1st Special Service Force, trained not far from there. They are the Nazi hunter commandos that Tarantino based Inglorious Basterds on, and their real stories have never been told. They would sent scouts into camps of SS soldiers on the Vosges line and slit the throats of every tenth man. And leave a sticker on his helmet that read "Das Dicke Ende Kommt Noch!" … the worst is yet to come.

If I'd made that up, it would be dismissed as hyperbole. And you're damn right the Devils are in the book. To me, a good thriller doesn't just make your heart race, you learn something. Hidden parts of history, or disturbing actions by terrorists or governments. Or in this book's case, all three. Did you know about Unit 731? You will.

You need big characters to make through big events. So I wrote big. Butch Sloane, the wheelchair-bound WW2 vet, based on my great-uncles who fought in the war. 'Rage Cage' Reeves, a hot-headed smartmouth based on all the MMA fighters I've sparred and slugged it out with at the gym. Tara, the hot-rodding ambulance driver, based on a number of fiery women in my life. And Miyamoto, the last samurai of a secretive brotherhood, fighting his sworn enemy: the yakuza assassins of the Black Dragon society, which pulp fanatics might recognize from novels set in the '30s, when Japan invaded China.

So when I say this book is about an MMA fighter caught in a battle between ninja and samurai over a stolen Japanese sword… I mean it's a character-driven novel.


Omnibus for Kindle UK
Trade Paperback: Createspace
Available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at your local bookstore through IndieBound soon!

Or try Part 1 for 99 cents FREE TODAY:

Part 1: The War Comes Home (US)

Part 1: The War Comes Home (UK)

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