What’s on your reading list this summer?

“Lucky High” is the snarky nickname given to it by students. They’re constantly told how lucky they are to attend such an incredible school. They’re all academically or athletically gifted, with big dreams, and a desire to be the best of the best.

Elle is “average” here, by her own admission, but has oversized ambitions and is committed to the program. What she uncovers about this school will change everything.

Lucky High is a lie.

There is no life for these students after high school.

(LUCKY HIGH is part of the REALITY RECODED series, but requires no knowledge of that cannon to be enjoyed. It is a stand-alone novel and riveting story of good vs. evil. For fans of thrillers and science fiction.)


Just a coincidence?

I WAS SHOWING Kaprekar’s constant to some friends during a dinner party.  Had a napkin.  Pen.  Did that cool number thing that Kaprekar’s routine does.  For those not familiar with Kaprekar’s constant, it is a math thing.

I wouldn’t consider myself a math guy, but have to say that math, or more specifically ‘numbers’, fascinate me.  The links between numbers and the real world can be pretty cool.

Numbers are everywhere, even when you’re not looking for them.  But I do look sometimes.  Take calendar dates.  March 14th for one.  3.14.  π

Kind of a big number in the math world.  Did you know that 3.14 also happens to be the birthday of Albert Einstein?  Pretty cool coincidence, huh?  He’s kind of a big deal in the math world, as well.  Which brings to mind another guy: Stephen Hawking.  Brilliant theoretical physicist.  Author of Brief History of Time, among other bestselling works.  He died recently.  Just over a year ago.  Happened to be on March 14th.  Yeah.  That date.  π

Now that’s a crazy coincidence.  Two luminary brilliant math guys linked to that date.

Linked.  Numbers can do that.  When we’re born we are all linked to our birth date.  It’s our number.  A number we tend to remember.

Hawking was born on January 8th, 1942.  Which coincidentally was the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death.  Galileo, as in the dude who has been called the father of everything associated with math.

Father of observational astronomy.  Father of modern physics.  Father of the scientific method.  Father of modern science.  Yeah that guy.  Was a polymath, which essentially means “knows everything”.  ‘Math’ is in that word, by the way, if you didn’t notice that.

Math.  Numbers.  Coincidences.

Three major, as in big time major, brilliant math men all linked by numbers.  π being one of them.  Cue the creepy music.

Keep that music going.  Take 6174.   That number is Kaprekar’s constant.  Also plays a small bit part in my book Reality Recoded.  It’s a number that happens to be a very cool number.

Want to see?  I’ll show you.

We’ll take any four-digit number, where at least one number is different—can’t use 0000, for instance, but we can use 0001—and then put them in ascending order and minus them by the descending order.  Whatever number we get, we’ll repeat the procedure.  It’s called Kaprekar’s routine.  That routine will yield 6174 in eight iterations or less.

Never fails.

So what number should we use? To keep this all linked, let’s use the first four digits of pi.

That would be 3141.


(As mentioned… ascending order.  That would be 4311.  And descending order.  That would be 1134.  Subtract.  Repeat.  All shown below.)

4311 – 1134 = 3177

7731 – 1377 = 6354

6543 – 3456 = 3087

8730 – 0378 = 8352

8532 – 2358 = 6174

Not bad, huh?  Try it with any number.  I tell you what you’ll get.  6174 every time.

Mind blown?

That’s numbers for you.  Tip of the iceberg.  Somewhere below is the code.  The code to it all.





The big idea

With each book I’ve written it was always important to have that clear and center before I put the first words on paper.  For me it’s like an ignition button.  The thing that gets me started.

So what do I mean by a big idea?  I’ll give an example.  For THE BACK DOOR MAN, my big idea happened during the 2-week gas crisis in Georgia.  A big storm hit the Gulf and had a ripple effect where refineries were affected, deliveries were put on pause, and suddenly gas stations were running out of gas in the entire Southeast.  It was a minor blip in the scope of things, but it was crazy for those two weeks.  There was a run on every gas station.  Once people heard that gas supplies were getting low everybody suddenly had to go top off their tanks.  Lines piled up at gas stations.  People became crazy.  My wife, while waiting in line in her car for a pump to get open, saw two people almost come to blows because one of them thought the other cut in line.  It didn’t take much.  Just eighteen hours into the gas shortage and this one guy was willing to kill this other guy because he thought the man cut in front of him.  I saw similar craziness.  Horns blaring.  People on edge wondering if they were going to be able to get gas before the tanks went dry.  And dry they went everywhere.  Every gas station, including the one at Costco near me, went dry by the end of the day.  The next day there were cars lined up at Costco at 8:00 a.m. just hoping that a gas delivery was going to happen.  Four hours later some of those same cars were still there waiting.

It was that second day into the Great Gas Crisis, as coworkers of mine were wondering if they should join the car line at the Costco across the street, when I got my big idea.  Not gas, though.  My big idea was this: What if credit cards suddenly stopped working everywhere?  I don’t know about you, but for me I’d be in trouble.  I never carry cash in my wallet.  Even when I do, it usually isn’t much.  Definitely not enough to pay for a tank of gas or groceries.  I figured I wouldn’t be the only one either.  We live in a digital age.  We expect those credit cards to work.  What if they didn’t, though, just for a day?  I could only imagine the panic that would ensue.

Once I had that big idea the juices started flowing.  A story developed, took shape, and before I knew it I was writing as fast as I could.

The Spy Inside

We purchase products that change and make our lives easier.  Not all technology is our friend.  This article touches briefly on some of the dangers of thinking that latest gadget is just a router, just a camera, or just a phone.



The Monster that Facebook Helped Create

Reading this article in Bloomberg Businessweek (I’ve included the link below) reminded me of that movie, Boiler Room, that starred Vin Diesel, Ben Affleck, Giovanni Ribisi, and Nia Long, among others.  In that movie–which if you haven’t seen, is worth putting on your rainy day list as one of those movies to see someday–a group of twenty-somethings manufacture an easy path to riches.  All that’s needed is a competitive drive to succeed and a complete and utter lack of morals.  That movie came out in 2000, but on a miniature scale could easily have summed up the Wall Street subprime mortgage crisis that happened years later, which gave us the Great Recession.  Bad actors (I’m talking in real life; not the cast of Boiler Room, which were great), given the right tools, can wreck all sorts of unbelievable havoc that impact the rest of us.

The last year we’ve seen what bad actors in Russia have done on Facebook.  The articles about how they used Facebook to try and influence our election and stir discord in our country have been too numerous to count.  This article in Bloomberg shines a light on some of the other bad actors using Facebook.  Like for the characters in Boiler Room, the objective is money.  The causalities of their money-making schemes are nameless.  Not shown.  Those nameless ones are the suckers.  Us.

This article is worth reading.  I found it amazing that Facebook reps, with all that’s going on in the news, presented at a convention in mid-2017 to a room full of attendees all eager to run ad scams.  Those attendees were just like the new recruits in Boiler Room.  Young and eager and ready to lay waste to humanity.

(Bloomberg Businessweek article link below)



A thriller for these times

Two weeks ago a Russian journalist, Alexander Anichkin, wrote this article about my book INSIDER X (link for article below).  The article is written in Russian and I used Google Chrome’s “translator button” to read the article (link for Google’s free Chrome Web browser, also below). 

Initially, Mr. Anichkin reached out to me on Twitter and asked if he could write an article about my book on his blog, Tetradki.  The news about Robert Mueller’s recent Russian indictments had made him think about my book.  A book which I wrote over four years ago.

I’m not surprised that folks are seeing parallels with my book and the current news making the headlines.  I am surprised, however, to have a Russian journalist one of those folks.  It just goes to show you how words do have power.  They can reach across oceans.

In the last few months, INSIDER X has proven to be a very prescient story.  At the time I wrote it, I suspected that much of what I was writing about was really happening.  Nevertheless it was fiction… a suspense thriller meant to showcase a frightening ‘what if’ scenario.  A scenario that has become very real as Russia’s interference with our 2016 election has become widely known.

Scary stuff.  Particularly since I suspect what we see in the news is just the tip of the iceberg.

(link below to Mr. Anichkin’s article about INSIDER X)



(link below to Google’s free Chrome Web browser)


Breaking the Third Wall

(Reluctantly I’ve agreed to an “interview” with Marks and Lip, the two heroes in my books PROPORTIONATE RESPONSE and INSIDER X.  Johnny Two-cakes, also in those books, has a cameo.)

Lip: You comfortable?

Me: mmmfff!

Lip: Here let me get that.  Better?

Me: Thank you.  Are these supposed to be this tight?

Marks: Told you.  Should have used duct tape.

Lip: He’s fine.  They’re not blue yet.  (Looks at me) I suppose you wonder why we asked you to meet with us?

Me:  Yeah, it crossed my mind.

Lip: We’re kind of bummed.

Marks: Very bummed.

Me: Is this about REALITY RECODED?

Lip (looks at Marks): Told you he was smart.

Marks: Did you read it?

Lip: No.

Marks: But you’re sure we’re not in it?

Lip: Very sure.  If it had us in it, it would be a bestseller.  You see it on any bestseller list?

Me: Guys, I haven’t forgotten about you.

Lip: Kind of looks like it.

Me: Really.  I haven’t.  I’m thinking maybe next book.  Or the one after that.

Lip: What?!  We can’t wait that long.  What are we supposed to do?

Me: I don’t know.  Hang around?

Marks: I’ve taken up knitting.

Lip: He has.

Me: You’re kidding?

Lip: Yeah, it’s bad.  Can’t you do something?

Me: Maybe I can toss you a bone?

Marks: I like bones.

Lip: He does.  He likes bones.  Cave man thing.

Me: Okay.  Let me think about this.  Do you guys like to coach?

Lip: Coach?

Me: Yeah, I could use some assistant coaches.

Marks: What sport are we talking here?

Lip: Hold on!  How does that help us?

Me: You guys wanted a bone.

(Johnny Two-cakes enters the rooms.  Sees me.  Double blinks.)

Lip: Relax.  He’s fine.

Marks: We’ve been giving him cookies.

Booming voice from the ceiling: READ AND GO FORTH AND TELL ALL WHAT YOU’VE READ.

Lip: Nice try, Buschi.

Me: That wasn’t me.

Marks: What happens when we click it?

Lip: Don’t!

(Click below)