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.


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)


How Much is Real? How Much is Fiction?

InsiderX cover_Ebook

A question I sometimes get asked about my books is how much of this is true… it seems so real… and so scary… is this really happening?

The short answer. Yes. The long answer. Well, do you have about twenty hours to listen? I can guess your answer. Good for you. I don’t either.

That’s why I prefer to write fiction. Particularly when I have something important to impart; something I can’t say in a quick sound bite. The truth is scary. Sometimes I wonder if I should even publish my books. My books. Sound like a boatload when I say it like that. Well, I’ve got three out there… not a boatload, but the ideas in those three books are pretty scary.

They each showcase frightening ‘what if’ scenarios.

My latest one, INSIDER X, may be the most frightening, because what it reveals about social media and the digital age we live in is spot on. We are being fooled. Manipulated. Toyed with. The Internet is so intrusive in our lives that we don’t even realize what is actually happening to us. How we have been pushed in various directions, nudged in other directions, and tripped ever so subtly that we don’t even realize it until it’s too late.

When I see or read the news nowadays, I frequently cringe. They are the voice boxes that so often parrot what is being done on the Web today. What’s trending on Twitter can become mainstream news. Facebook posts can become viral and have their content occupy the entire news hour. Instagram, YouTube, (you can insert your favorite websites here), are all in unique positions to influence our thoughts for the day. To reprogram us, hack our thoughts.

So often we hear about the power of the Web. We have no idea of its true meaning. We might think we do, but I assure you, we don’t.

That sounds insulting, I know, and I apologize. I don’t mean to insult you. The Web has already done that to you today, and to me. We are being played, folks. Insulted daily. Taken for fools.

I wish I could sound bite INSIDER X for you. Put it in a ten-second video clip that you could quickly see. So you could have your eyes opened. See the truth.

But I can’t. And that’s why what is really happening will continue to happen. Unless we open our eyes and question what we really see.

Have I intrigued you? I hope so. I hope you read INSIDER X. I’m posting this blog entry today (12.8.14) because for the next five days I am giving INSIDER X away for free.

Truth should be free.



When your characters try and call the shots.

Okay, so I have no news to share today. I thought I’d let Marks and Lip take the conn.


Lip: The conn? What is this, Star Trek?

Marks: I wouldn’t antagonize him.

Lip: Why not?

Marks: Germany. France.

Lip: So?

Marks: We’re not being published there.

Lip: So what does that have to do with anything?

Johnny Two-cakes: I think you fail to see how this works.

Lip: Who let you in here?

Marks: He was already here.

Lip: He was? I didn’t see him.

Marks: We need a good PR campaign. Two-cakes?

Johnny Two-cakes: Thank you, Marks. Here it is. (Johnny Two-Cakes sets a sheaf of papers on the table)

Lip: What is this?

Marks: It’s an outline for our next project. Johnny Two-Cakes wrote it.

Lip: You’re going to spoon-feed the big dummy something?

Marks: You did not do that.

Lip: What?! F**k him.

(Johnny Two-cakes double blinks)

Marks: We’re done here.

Lip: What is he going to do—erase us? Get real. He needs us.

James: Hey guys, what’s happening?

Lip: Oh, look who it is—Mr. Fancy Pants.

Marks: What do you say, Kolinsky?

James: Look, I appreciate you guys asking me to come here—

Lip: I did not ask you.

Marks: Ignore him.

James: Ah… sure. (James leans over) Is he okay?

Marks: He’s fine. He’s just constipated.

James: Really? He doesn’t look constipated.

Lip: Do you speak German?

James: Me?

Lip: Who do you think I’m talking to?!

James: (whisper) He’s angry.

Marks: He’s just constipated.

James: I think I’m going to leave.

(Marks glares at Lip)

Johnny Two-cakes: That didn’t go so well.

(Lip flips through the papers on the table)

Lip: James… James… why is he in this book? Wait a second?! This is the title? ‘James and His Friends’!




Sorry guys, inside humor. For those that have read my three books it might make sense. A couple footnotes: THE BACK DOOR MAN (where James Kolinsky was the hero) is being translated into French, and was just released in German. Lip isn’t happy, as he’s getting no love. PROPORTIONATE REPONSE and INSIDER X (both books with Marks and Lip as the heroes) are only available in English. Yes, I know, a travesty.

This doesn’t happen every week.

Okay… first blog post. Lot of pressure here. Not sure what to say.

I’m just going to keep this short.

Three years ago I self-published THE BACK DOOR MAN. This week the German translation was released on Amazon’s German website.

Below is the link:

Have to say it’s pretty cool.  Three years ago the concept that a book I wrote would be translated into other languages was just a dream.