Showing posts with label Author. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Author. Show all posts

Friday, December 15, 2017

Goodbye to the Old, Hello to the New (Final Post)

I think it is only fitting that as 2017 draws to a close that we are shaking things up here.

When I first started blogging, a decade ago, I could never have imagined that I would be sitting here today releasing my ninth book. Even as I write this it still feels so unreal; as if I am writing about someone else. Yet, in a mere few hours, the third Alex Taylor novel, Brooklyn Bounce, will launch.

In addition, as we go forward into 2018, my presence on the world-wide-web will have an entirely new look. Today I am proud to announce that I have a new, dedicated website that will keep you up-to-date on all the latest information:

This new website will allow you to connect with me through a variety of social media platforms, such as Facebook & Twitter, as well as signing up for a monthly newsletter which will keep you in the know regarding new releases and other information.

I will also continue to BLOG, but the website will act as the new platform for these posts.

There is also a new market place on the site which will allow you to purchase SIGNED EDITIONS of my books. We are also working on several other items that will debut later in 2018, so I really encourage you to sign-up for the NEWSLETTER.

I am very excited for the new direction that we are heading and I certainly hope that you will join me in this journey - AGN

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Book Update: December 2017

It is amazing how the days seems to pass by so quickly at this time of the year. In the blink of an eye the dog days of summer are gone and replaced by the chill in the air of fall, but that doesn't mean things have slowed down on the writing front. I am happy to announce that work has nearly been completed on my latest book: Brooklyn Bounce, and it is my intention, and the good Lord willing, to have it available in time for Christmas.

I had originally intended to release the book last month, but there were some real world issues that needed to be taken care of and these prevented timely editing, along with a chapter re-write. Now that is has been completed, it is over to my lovely editor for the final review and then publication. 

While this final edit is being done I am working on the cover artwork. This is an interesting aspect of the process that I am sure most folks don’t even think about, but the reality is that there is a fine line when you are creating artwork. Most readers don’t consider the time and effort that goes into designing a cover. Large format artwork, which looks good on the shelves at the local book store, must also be capable of being shrunk down to a thumbnail sized format for an e-mail version on Amazon.  This is more of a balancing act than you might believe. There is nothing more frustrating than coming up with a nice print version cover graphic only to see the title or author name disappear when it shrunk to e-book scale. Once you figure out that dilemma, then you need to come up with a graphic that will entice the potential reader, offering a clue as to what is to come, but at the same time you don’t want to give too much away.

Most of the time I can come up with an idea of what I want, but sometimes, this being one of them, I was stymied for a bit.  In this example, the title, Brooklyn Bounce, refers to an action, not a particular place. This being an Alex Taylor novel, all the traditional images, which are associated with Brooklyn, had no actual bearing on the book’s content. In the end, I think that I have come up with a cover concept that covers things nicely; that is to say it is both visually appealing while still keeping things a surprise.

So please stay tuned, as I’m working out the final details and hope to have it done for a cover reveal sometime this week. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Barnes & Noble Book Signing (Springfield, Illinois)

Barnes & Noble Book Signing (Springfield, Illinois)

Hey folks, I'm going to be appearing at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Springfield, Illinois on Saturday, September 9th, 2017 from 1:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

I will be signing copies of my first two books: Perfect Pawn and Queen's Gambit. If you are going to be in the area, why not stop by. Also, if you know of any avid readers, especially in the mystery genre, please share this post with them.

Thanks for your support and looking forward to meeting with all of you.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Perfect Pawn – Signed Edition Giveaway

To celebrate the updated release of my debut novel, Perfect Pawn, I am announcing a giveaway for an autographed copy.

To qualify, all you need to do is leave a review for any of my books at Amazon or Barnes and Noble between August 18th and September 5th.  

To enter, simply go to this Facebook page and locate the ‘Giveaway’ post. Then add the name of the book you reviewed along with a screenshot of the review, in the comment section or you can copy and paste the text of your review. If you leave multiple reviews, on different books, you will have multiple chances to win.

On September 6th, I will be drawing a name at random and will post the winner here on Facebook.

NOTE: This giveaway applies to addresses in the United States only. You can still enter if you live outside the U.S. but will need to have a U.S. address to mail the book to.

Want to stay up to date on all the latest news? Then don't forget to follow me on FACEBOOK and TWITTER

Today I Learned I was a Fascist.

Maybe only the 'Secret Police' are okay....
There is a sign currently being circulated by Antifa that depicts the Thin Blue Line as being a symbol of white supremacy. I think that little fact will come as a really big surprise to my brothers and sisters back in the NYPD and law enforcement in general. While I am no longer active in law enforcement, my novels tend to be very pro-cop, so I wonder if that makes me a Fascist Emeritus?

I’m not of course, but facts are a tad bit subjective these days. In fact, a lot of things seem to be very subjective and to be honest with you it is more than a little bit frightening. It seems as if we are hurtling headlong into George Orwell's 1984 and we are too busy fighting with one another to even notice it.

Case in point: Charlottesville, Virginia

Now, to be perfectly honest, prior to August 13th, I had no idea where this city was located, but I do now and for all the wrong reasons. Charlottesville is a city in Virginia. It is home to the University of Virginia, whose core campus was designed by Thomas Jefferson. On the outskirts, Jefferson’s mountain-top plantation, Monticello, includes a mansion and rebuilt slave quarters. It is also the gateway to Shenandoah National Park, along a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In other words it is probably a really nice place to visit, unless of course you happen to be the type of person whose travel bag contains batons, shields, face masks, or other similar items.

The origins of the post you are reading originated in a reply to a friend’s Facebook post, but have morphed beyond that, as I contemplated all that has unfolded recently.

Robert E. Lee Memorial in Charlottesville, Va
At the heart of the Charlottesville incident is the statue of General Robert E. Lee, which has been on display in the park since 1924.  What is unusual about this situation is that the statue is actually one of four in Charlottesville commissioned by philanthropist Paul Goodloe McIntire. The other statues being: George Rogers Clarke, General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson and Meriwether Lewis, William Clark & Sacagawea. In fact, the statues sit in parks that were purchased by McIntire and then donated to the city, one of which is named Washington Park, after Booker T. Washington. All four statues are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

What occurred in Charlottesville was certainly abhorrent, but we also need to be intellectually honest when we look at it. Whatever your feelings, the ‘Unite the Right’ protest was legal. The organizers had secured the proper permits and had every right to be there. Now, that does not mean I agree with them, but I can accept that they had a legitimate right to assemble and protest what they believed, which was simply the city of Charlottesville’s decision to remove the Lee statue, as well as the Jackson statue, and dispose of it as they chose. That’s a serious point here. Several groups, including descendants of the original donor, questioned the city’s authority to dispose of the donated statues. In May, a court injunction was secured, barring the removal for six months, pending a legal decision.

Now some have tried to paint this as a clash between the right and left, but that seems lazy to me, because at its heart the issue, in this case the Civil War, is extremely complex. Whether you agree with President Trump or not, he was actually right. He said that there were really bad people there, as well as some good people, on both sides. The simple truth was that not everyone there protesting was a white supremacist; nor where they a member of Antifa. Some were just ordinary folks who were either for or against removing a statue. They didn’t come with batons, shields or facemasks, like the radical folks on both sides did; they just came to lend their voice and then things got out of hand, quickly.

As someone who spent over two decades in law enforcement, I have been on the front lines of some of these clashes. They are never pretty, but often they are very predictable. Both sides showed up intent on doing to each other exactly what happened and the good people, those who had an honest reason for being there, get lumped in to their respective sides. Tragically, many were injured as a result and three people, one protester and two state troopers, died.

Was it worth it? Obviously the answer is a resounding NO.

There should be no place in our society for racism or bigotry, but sadly that will never change.

Throughout the history of humanity it has always existed and I fear that it always will. I know there are folks who honestly believe that we can all peacefully co-exist, yet they are unable to point to any example of this ever happening. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for it, but let us also be honest in our assessment of the situation. The truth of the matter is that people of every color can be racist.

It's not shocking to me that this is such a hot button topic, but it seems that we are inching ever closer to opening Pandora's Box. In terms of statues, my personal belief is that they shouldn't be removed. They are memorials. Now some folks will say that these statues represent oppression to some, and I can understand that, but my question to them is when does it all end?

Do we create a blue-ribbon commission on statues and designate the position of Federal Statue Monitor? What statues should be up for consideration? Only confederate statues? What about statues of Jesus or Mahatma Gandhi? Should military personnel or even former U.S. Presidents be considered for the chopping block? What about statues honoring Native Americans? How about Martin Luther King, Jr. and, dare I even say it, what about Walt Disney?

Think this is me being ridiculous? Well, I can actually provide you with examples of all of the above being deemed offensive by some and calls for their removal.

What about the ‘questionable’ statues in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol? Speaking of the Capitol, should we rename the Russell Office building? He was pro segregation. When will the West Virginia Capitol be asked to remove their statue of Senator Robert Byrd; who held the title of Exalted Cyclops in his local KKK chapter. I recently heard someone defend him, saying that he had apologized. Robert E. Lee called slavery a ‘moral and political evil,’ but no one seems to be cutting him any slack.

What about street names? Highways? How about military installations?

For a moment let us be intellectually honest here and admit that somewhere, someone will be offended by something.

The (former) Durham, NC Civil War Memorial
Coming on the heels of the Charlottesville clash, a statue was torn down in Durham, North Carolina, by a bunch of insufferable little pricks and prickettes. That might sound harsh to some of you, but I have zero fucks to give for anyone who defaces a war memorial. The statue was not of Jefferson Davis, or Robert E. Lee, or any other notable figure of the Civil War. It was a common soldier and the inscription simply read: In Memory of the Boys Who Wore the Gray.

This was a memorial to those who fought and died. There was no justification in destroying that.

What’s next, should we advocate for desecrating graveyards?

Before you pop up and say that’ll never happen, guess what, it’s already been done.

Some have argued that there should be no statues that recognize bad regimes, such as Nazi Germany, but I can attest to the fact that there are WWII war memorials in Germany and they shouldn't be removed either. We can have an honest discussion as to memorials which honor heroes of the south such as General Lee, and where they should be placed, but where does it end?

Who gets to determine which group’s opinion trumps the others?

Welcome to Washington, Comrade Vlad, care
for a decadent cup of Starbuck's Coffee?
Honestly, we are quickly approaching Orwellian territory here with our revisionist history.

We have folks losing their minds over a statue honoring a general, who was not only revered in the south, but also highly respected in the north, yet we have a statue in Washington State for Communist revolutionary leader, Vladimir Lenin.

Let that sink in for a moment.

What about the bust of Lenin in L.A., or how about the depiction of Lenin on top of the Red Square apartment building in NYC?

Lenin's Russian Revolution resulted in the deaths of millions of people. Okay, so you say that on the grand scale of bad things Lenin wasn’t that horrible. What about Josef Stalin? Because we also have a statue of him in the United States. It’s in that hot bed of political correctness known as Virginia.

Will Antifa be marching the ninety miles to Bedford, Va. to demand that it also be torn down? Seeing as how they lean decidedly toward the ‘social’ end of the spectrum I think not.

When the Stalin statue was put up veterans were offended and called for its removal, but no one cared for their opinion. I guess they aren’t the right class of offended people.

The truth is that slavery was wrong and reprehensible, but let us also acknowledge the fact that it was also legal then. I’m not justifying it, but I am making a point.

Lately I have heard talk equating General Lee with being a terrorist. If we look at things through that type of revisionist lens, then so were the Founding Fathers. I’m pretty sure we can find a few folks in England who might be offended by their statues, but then again the English would probably offend the Native American’s who could easily claim that they were terrorists as well. That would be all well and good, but what about when folks from Asia say they are offended by Indian statues because it was really their ancestors who came to North America first?

The point is how far back in history do we go with all of this? Who becomes the arbiter of what is to be deemed offensive?

Benedict Arnold, where have I heard that name before ?
I have been hearing the argument played out that these statues should be removed because the men they honor were traitors. My problem with this statement is that I find it intellectually dishonest and we still have memorials to traitors in this country. 

Politicians and pundits are trying to shrink something as immensely complex as the totality of the Civil War into a simple sound bite. Right vs. Wrong; Good vs. Evil.

Here's a newsflash: Robert E. Lee was not a traitor.

Want to know why? Because the southern states had formally seceded from the Union.

For the record I am not a confederate war apologist, I simply acknowledge the fact that there was a myriad of issues, political as well as societal, that ultimately led to secession and the ensuing war. We have had 150 years to argue the legalities and intricacies of what happened, but at the time it was all virgin political territory. It was argued in the south that each state had the right to secede at any time because the Constitution was a compact, or agreement, among the states. These states even resigned their representative seats in Congress.

The first state, South Carolina, had seceded in December 1980. Six others states, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas, soon followed suit. Eventually, eleven states, nearly 1/3 of the Union, would secede.

At the time, President James Buchanan believed that there was no constitutional authority for a state to secede, yet he could find no constitutional authority for him to act to prevent it, thus creating a political quandary. As a result, his administration allowed for military commanders to surrender control of forts in the affected states.

In President Lincoln’s March 1861 inaugural speech he claimed that the secession was improper. He believed that state’s rights were subservient because the term ‘In order to form a more Perfect Union,’ contained in the preamble to the Constitution, amounted to a binding contract. Yet, in reading his inaugural speech, which I highly recommend you do, he seemed to accede a great many things to the south. It begs the question, if he wasn’t directly legitimizing the divide was he indirectly acknowledging that the states had a right to act on their own discretion, outside the law of the nation?

When President Lincoln took office he he instructed the last remaining commanders in the affected areas, including at Fort Sumter, to hold until fired upon. It created the necessary environment that would lead to the ensuing Civil War.

When Ft. Sumter was fired upon, Lincoln used it as a call to arms. He directed all the states to send troops which would be used to recapture the fort and other federal properties. This action prompted four others states, including Virginia, where Lee was from, to side with the other southern states and secede. Interestingly enough, Virginia had repeatedly rejected calls for secession, but also refused to take up arms against their neighbor states. Lee, who at the time was a decorated colonel in the United States Army and had been offered a senior command position in the Union Army, resigned his commission. While he was personally against secession he felt that he had a moral obligation to defend his home state.

Whichever way contemporary pundits want to paint him, the truth is that Robert E. Lee was a very complex man who was highly regarded on both sides. One interesting fact is that throughout the Civil War he wore only the rank of colonel, the last rank he held in the United States Army. When asked why he didn’t wear a general’s rank he was quoted as saying: "I do not care for display. The rank of Colonel is about as high as I ought ever have gotten."  In fact, the only time he wore his prescribed rank, General in Chief of the Confederate Army, was the day he surrendered to General U.S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House.

Now, had those southern states tried to forcibly take over the U.S. government the allegation of treason might have some basis in truth, but this did not occur. While Confederate President Jefferson Davis was charged with it, he was subsequently released with no action taken. The reason why? The government attorneys agreed that if the case went to trial it would likely be lost because there was simply no evidence of treason. In fact, many at that time believed that if the case against Davis went forward that the constitutionality of secession might be affirmed. 

Interestingly enough, it was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Salmon Chase, who gave Davis' legal team an argument for dropping the treason charge. Chase questioned if a person could be prosecuted for treason against the U.S. if he were not a U.S. citizen. The answer to which was no. Then Chase asked if there was a reference to the concept of a U.S. citizen in the Constitution. Again, there was not. A person could only be a citizen of his state. Therefore, by proving that the U.S. had no citizens, Davis could not be tried for treason. The issue was rendered moot when then President Andrew Johnson issued a pardon to all those involved.

Should we now retroactively charge and convict people for past non-crimes?

Secession is currently being considered in California.  Should we go in and lock up those behind this idea?

Guess what folks, in five years, when all the statues are gone there will still be racism and hate in the United States, just like there is in every country in the world. Want to know why? Because you can't legislate morality!

Yep, pretty sure this one has to go !!
So when the statues are all gone, what will be next? Books? Art? Music? Buildings?

Trust me, once you start, there will always be more things to be corrected. When we have corrected the physical record, will we then begin to question the latent 'truth' of others hearts? Who will survive the test?

Who becomes the arbiter of what is to be deemed offensive? Will this be a rigid system of assessment or will it be a sliding scale, acquiescing to the societal whims of the day?

Think that's crazy thinking? I hope you're right. Then again, when I was growing up, I never thought we would be debating the 'political correctness' of sports teams either. Be careful for what you wish for, because it has been my experience that these things are like a pendulum. It might seem wonderful when it swings to your side, but the view is a lot more frightening when it careens back the other way. Like Pandora's Box, once opened it can never be closed.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Who Did You Have in Mind When You Wrote That Character For Your Book ?

As an author, it’s a question I get asked a lot regarding the characters in my books and I am always hesitant to answer, even though I think it is a really good question. 

The primary reason is that as readers we all create mental images in our head of the characters in books and sometimes they don’t translate well to real life. It’s something I wrestled with when the movie version of Frank Herbert's seminal work, DUNE, came out. None, and I mean NONE, of the characters fit the image that was in my head, as I read the books.

Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I mean the casting of Jürgen Prochnow as Duke Leto Atreides was genius, and I could even get behind Francesa Annis as Lady Jessica,  but Kyle MacLachlen as Paul Atreides…………. Seriously?

Paul was 15 in the book!! Whoever came up with that casting decision should be shot! Twice!!

And don’t even get me started on Baron Harkonnen and Feyd-Rabban!! But, I digress.

There is even a school of thought among some authors that says don’t write a description of your characters, but rather let the reader fill in their own vision.  That would work fine until Hollywood get's over their love affair with remakes and make my books into a movie or TV series (Hint, Hint Hollywood). Then people would be freaking out that the characters looked nothing like they imagined. So I opted to describe the main players and in doing so I came up with some current actors who I thought fit the roles.

So if you are not interested in knowing who I had in mind, X this page out now………..

Seriously, leave now,………

Okay, that was your last chance.

For those of you who remained, here is my vision on who I believe best fits the description of the characters.

James Maguire:
The closest person to fit the bill of Maguire is Henry Cavill.  I’ve seen him in a bunch of roles, from The Count of Monte Cristo to Superman, and I think he could truly pull it off.   He also has that devilish smile which seems to resonate with just about any woman.

Cavill has the look and physicality of Maguire, which is important given Maguire’s military service as a Navy SEAL, and, while he is a bit younger, I think he can pull off the age group as well.

Melody Anderson:

What’s not to love about Tricia Helfer for this role? Honestly, she brings everything to the table. I first saw her in the role of Six on Battlestar Galactica. She has the acting chops and is stunningly beautiful.  It was also import to find someone who could play that strong, athletic woman, and at 5’10” she easily fits Melody’s height. 

The fact that she can also portray someone as tough as nails is important as well, given the fact that this might be important going forward in the role. Was that a hint? Plus she gets extra credit for liking cats.

Keith Banning:

Probably the EASIEST one for me to envision playing this role was Matthew McConaughey. There are just some roles written for a person and I have to admit that Keith Banning is his (so feel free to give me a call, Matt). 

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed McConaughey in a number of roles, but his portrayal as Detective Rust Cohle, in the original True Detective series, reinforced my choice. He has that rare acting ability to go back and forth fluidly within a character, something that is extremely important for the character of Banning.

Plus there is an inherent darkness in the role that I think makes him a natural.

Alex Taylor:

Probably the HARDEST one for me and yet, when it was all said and done, the most natural choice. Katee Sackhoff, another Battlestar Galactica alumni, was born for this role. Her portrayal as Lt. Kara Thrace was like a casting call audition for Alex Taylor, the highly troubled, yet incredibly talented professional.  To the rest of the world it seems as if Alex doesn’t wrestle with her demons, as much as she opens a bottle of whiskey and parties with them, but behind closed doors it is a battle-royale. It’s a role that I think Katee pulled off so well in BG. Alex might not be the most professional cop around, but she does know how to get the job done.  Plus, Katee does that chip-on-her-shoulder attitude better than anyone I know and she also has the cop experience from doing Longmire.

Ironically, both Sackhoff and Helfer are friends off screen, which I think would provide an interesting element, especially when it comes to a little competition.

Genevieve Gordon:

Writing Gen, I envisioned someone who was an anti-Melody, both in looks and attitude. Ashley Greene, of Twilight fame, was the perfect fit. There was something smart-ass about her that seemed right at home with the character of Gen. The auburn hair and smaller stature also provided the perfect contrast between the two women. 

She’s the perfect actress to play the other-half to the successful financial duo. I also think that she would be quite capable of delivering Gen’s barbs with the right level of humor and sarcasm.

So there you have it. The folks I think would do the best at bringing the characters in the books to life on the big screen or even a television show.

Feel free to let me know what you think of my choices or who you’d like to know the actor I envisioned for any other characters in the series.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Attention Hollywood: Enough with the Remakes

I like being entertained, it's probably one of the reasons I enjoy being an author. There is something very rewarding about being able to craft new worlds in your books for a reader to immerse themselves in.

For the time it takes to watch a movie, catch a television show or read a book, you are able to suspend belief and transport yourself far away from the trials and tribulations of the real world. That being said, you really do need to have a new world to go, but for some odd reason, Hollywood has apparently run out of new ideas. 

Now, I will be the first to admit that I loved Ronald Moore's re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series. Having grown up watching the original TV show I was not at all upset when they brought it back with a more mature theme. They kept true to the original premise, but managed to add a darkness and complexity that I don't think would have worked nearly as well back in the 70's. 

But, it seems that this is one of the true exceptions these days.

Hollywood seems hell bent and determined to remake everything and I just don't understand why. There is an abundance of new material out there to draw ideas from. Take my books as a prime example. Yes, I know it's a shameless plug, but that doesn't make it untrue.

One book reviewer opined that James Maguire was the new Jack Reacher. I'll confess that I think Maguire is a helluva lot more bad-ass, but I'm biased. And, as good as Maguire is, he also has a very complimentary cast of fellow characters, including a number of strong female ones, that provide something for everyone.

My motivation in writing riveting story-lines stems from the fact that I grew up as a voracious reader. I whiled away the hours journeying to far away places, traveling side by side with some amazing heroes and heroines. It didn't matter if it was Paul Artreides (Dune), Jack Ryan (Patriot Games) or Han Solo (Star Wars). The one thing these characters had was the ability to suspend my belief, but in a very plausible way. It is one of the things I strive for in my books. 

I write characters that the reader gets invested in, whether they are the protagonist or the antagonist. The biggest reward for me is when a reader says: "You know, I hated so-and-so, but I read that chapter and couldn't help but feel bad for them." There is no greater reward, and no greater curse, then when you finish a book and the next thing you are getting are emails from your readers asking when they next book is coming out. 

Today, Hollywood has simply gotten lazy. Rather than take the time to invest in new stories, they seem determined to prove that they can capture lightening once again. Often with dismal results. 

Case in Point: CHiPs (The Movie)

To put it mildly this was a debacle. First, it was a slap in the face to the original series. Say what you will, but CHiPs was a positive television show that cast law enforcement in a good light. The movie, not so much. The $25 million dollar production managed to bring in an amazing  $25.5 million dollar box office haul. That's right, for their effort they eeked out half a million in profit and garnered a dismal 16% rating on Rotten Tomatoes

Sadly, this level of movie buffoonery seems to be all the rage these days.

Whether they are remaking Carrie, Planet of the Apes, Starsky & Hutch, The Magnificent Seven, Rollerball, The Bad News Bears, Arthur, Baywatch, The Goodbye Girl, Total Recall, Conan, Ghostbusters (shudder), or even the 27th incarnation of SPIDERMAN, the bottom line is more often than not they fall flat on their face.  I mean really, what's next in the queue? Dirty Harriett?

To a certain extent I can understand the appeal. You have a vehicle that had a following and you figure you can re-capture that for a new generation. Unfortunately, very few take the approach of Ron Moore and up their cinematic game. I think it is also one of the reasons why Netflix and Amazon Studios are enjoying such success.

There comes a point when you have hit rock-bottom and begin to re-evaluate things. Unfortunately, Hollywood seems intent to keep digging or, at the very least, beating the proverbial dead horse.

So if you folks in Tinseltown have reached the end of your rope, and want to secure a lucrative book franchise, have your people contact my people and we'll do lunch. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

What Happened to Civility in America?

I’m a professional liar; I make things up for a living. In other words I’m an author, it’s what I do. In my books I twist tales of lies, deceit and schemes. For the most part the reader understands that, although I try to hold a few things back until the end. For the most part though, they know who the bad guys and gals are and they understand the underlying truth of their nefarious machinations.

Reality it seems is a bit different.

I woke up this morning and the world is coming unglued because of a tweet by President Trump directed at MSNBC Host Mika Brzezinski and her husband, Joe Scarborough.

I will be the first one to say that I wish that the President refrained from tweeting some of the more inflammatory stuff that he does, but that’s his decision not mine. What I find amusing is the meltdown that usually ensues.

I hate to break the bad news to you, but you need to wake up and smell the coffee, because civility is dead in America folks.

Much to the dismay of the folks on the left, it didn’t die on January 20th, 2017, nor did it die on June 16th, 2015.

No, the truth is that civility died long before that. It’s just that everybody was too busy to notice it.

Civility died when politicians realized that they could openly castigate their opponents and perpetuate false talking points for their political gain.

Civility died when news pundits realized that they could say anything they wanted, including baseless lies, while hiding behind the mantra of Freedom of the Press.

Civility died when we opened up our homes to the folly of reality television; where the most extreme and reprehensible behavior became our entertainment.

No, contrary to what many will tell you, civility didn’t die when we elected Donald Trump; we just exposed the dirty little secret that we had been hiding for decades.

The latest exchange shows that in all its ugly glory, but I am truly having a hard time being upset by it and here is the reason why: Because it’s fake outrage.

You see, for year’s politicians and pundits plied their salacious trade with Immunity.  In other words they fundamentally knew that something wasn’t true, or was a well scripted interpretation, but no one was going to call them on it. Tales were told for political gain and ratings glory. There was a status quo and it was generally adhered to.  

Then along came Donald Trump who walked into the room with a smile and flipped the damn table like some crazy chick on a reality TV show.

For the new viewers, who had just tuned in, it was an extraordinary example of a bully, someone who was completely unhinged and out of control.

Oh, the inhumanity of it all!

But for other viewers, who’d been watching for a while, it was simply the last straw that broke the camel’s back.  You see we had all watched the little subplots throughout the years; the goings-on behind the scenes. So by the time the table had been flipped, we all knew it was a long time coming. You see, the truth is that the last person to act out wasn’t the bully, but the victim who had simply grown tired of being pushed around; which takes us back to today.

Whether you like it or not, the President is hitting back and maybe it is about time. You see, I don’t ascribe to the belief that Donald Trump is a bully and that civility died with his election. I believe that it just exposed the incivility of the real bullies.  

I have little empathy for the folks in politics and the media. They’ve been acting the part of the bully for years and finally someone hit back. Now they realize that they are not as tough as they believed they were and have gone off crying to mommy and daddy. It’s like Kathy Griffin posing with a bloody mock-up of the President’s head. She knew exactly what she was doing and it was to further her celebrity. So when the backlash hit, her tears, and claims of being a victim, were not only hypocritical they were also hilarious.  

There is something magical about watching a bully get what they deserve.

I can't compete with this level of awesomeness !!
You see, she claims to be a comic, but there was nothing comedic in what she did. It was purely for political shock, designed to give her ‘D-List’ career (her words, not mine) a bump, so she deserves to get called out on it.  She only compounded her screw-up when she stood in front of a mic and claimed that ‘Trump broke me.’  

It would be like me, putting down my keyboard and grabbing my axe, then jumping on stage to steal the show from Zoltan Bathory of Five Finger Death Punch. I would wholly deserve the ridicule that would ensue.

Then again, in the immortal words of P.T. Barnum, “There is no such thing as bad publicity” and I could think of worse things than being mentioned in the same sentence as Zo, but I digress.

Again, don’t get me wrong, I wish that the President didn’t tweet some of the things he does, but I am not going to fault him without first ID’ing who the instigator was.  Many in the media, and those up on Capitol Hill, are castigating the President, but just like Mika Brzezinski, they don’t have a leg to stand on.

Consider this for a moment. Earlier this month the MSNBC host went on a verbal tirade. During which she referred to the President as a “Narcissist”, “Mentally Ill’, “Not Well”, “Ignorant”, “Stupid”, “says he can grab women anywhere” and further insinuated that he might have homosexual tendencies. Yet now I am supposed to have empathy for her? Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

From day one Donald Trump said “I’m a counter puncher. You hit me, I’ll hit back.” Now everyone seems shocked because that’s what he is doing?

It’s time to pull up your big girl pants, Mika, and take the lumps you deserve. If you want to criticize him for his policies, have at it. If you want to investigate anything, go for it, but if you think you can make it personal and not get any blowback, you are extremely naïve.

Here’s a news flash folks:  If you want civility you need to learn to act civil first.

How about talking about facts, instead of going on personal attacks?

To be fair, this is not a left or right thing. In fact, it is a truly bi-partisan issue.  I didn’t agree with President Obama on a great many things, but I could give you articulate reasons for my positions. I didn’t yell or scream to get those points across and I certainly didn’t resort to name calling. Yet, that seems to be the norm these days.

I don’t like what we have become in this country and I fear where we are going. When political discourse devolves into nothing more than baseless rhetoric, screaming matches and finally violence, we have lost our way.

I have always wanted to believe that this truly is not who we are as Americans, but maybe I’m the one who is naive. Perhaps what we are seeing now is the shedding of the facade. Perhaps we are just now showing our true colors.

As a wordsmith, I create stories in my mind, than I commit them to paper, to entertain the reader. All authors strive to create a plausible story-line, even when the plot might seem to be wildly exaggerated. I’m watching what is happening in this country and I find myself being profoundly sad and yet jealous at the way this is all unfolding.

I would be proud to spin this tale and yet this is not fiction.  We are not readers, we are witnesses. Instead of watching the sordid goings-on of fictional characters, we are watching other humans destroy this country for their political gain and media ratings.  If we wait for them to change, this will end up being a tragedy on the scale of a Shakespearean play.

It has to start with us. We have to learn how to be civil again with one another. We might not agree on the issues, but we have to treat each other with respect. Only then can we claim to have the moral high ground to demand the same from our elected officials and journalists.

I just pray it is not too late.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The shots heard round the United States

I awoke this morning to the news that Louisiana Representative Steven Scalise had been shot, along with two officers from his United States Capitol Police security detail and two other persons, while attending practice for an upcoming Congressional charity baseball game. 

I would like to say that I am shocked, but I am not. In fact, I am honestly surprised that it has taken as long as it has to happen. I actually broached on this topic in my first book: Perfect Pawn.

While the shooter is ultimately responsible for his actions this morning, I lay the blame directly at the feet of both the politicians and media for creating the environment that led up to this attack.  An examination of the shooter’s social media account highlights all of the inflammatory talking points which most of us have become immune to. I say most because obviously some folks, like the shooter, take the hyperbole to heart and it is exactly why I say that the politicians and media both bear complicity in this heinous act. To be fair, I draw no distinction along either party line or news outlet, as this has been building for decades.

Maybe I take these issues more seriously than most because I spent five years doing dignitary protection in New York City.  I worked closely with members of the Secret Service, State Department DSS and the aforementioned Capitol Police dealing with potential threats to protectees. You learn early on in that business that it doesn’t take much to push some folks over the line. Many times it is a personalized affront; where they feel that the subject of their hatred has wronged them in some way. However, the alarming trend that I am seeing now is that people are being told, by both the media and politicians, that they have been wronged.

We have always been a politically divided country. In fact, I previously wrote about this topic regarding the problem with political parties and one excerpt in this post was written five years ago, almost to the day. It explains how they are dividing us for their gain.

While it is true that there has always been politically motivated incivility in this country, the direction we have been heading, over the last two decades, has sadly been all too clear for some of us. The vilification, and outright demonization, of individuals, for political gain or ratings, has created the world we live in today. What is changing is the level of inflammatory rhetoric that is being used.

Over the past few months we have seen some folks in the entertainment world blasting the President. Mock assassinations, beheadings, as well as a host of verbal tirades that are meant solely to dehumanize him. Because once you have dehumanized a person you can do anything you want to him with impunity. If you need a case study in this type of behavior look no further than Nazi Germany and their treatment of the Jews.

Now, I will be the first one to say that no politician should be protected from the people’s disagreement. We have a right to air our opposition to anything we might disagree with. I am a gun owner and fully support the 2nd Amendment. I also served in law enforcement for over two decades so I do have a significant understanding about crime and safety in America. But I also understand that, while there are around 55 million gun owners in America, there are around 325 million people in the United States and many of them do not. What is within our control is how we discuss the issue. If you simply choose to yell at me with nothing more than regurgitated talking points in all likelihood I will just walk away. That doesn’t mean you have won anything, it just means that I value my time and breath.

Spend longer than five minutes on any social media platform or the comment section of any online news organization and you will see just how ‘uncivil’ we have become to one another: Libtard, Teabagger, Left-Wing Loon, Right-Wing Nut Job, and these are the nice things, most is simply unfit to print.  What is truly sad to me is that we simply cannot have a difference of opinion. Once someone says they don’t believe in something they are immediately labeled and castigated.

So what is the purpose of all this vitriol? Well, at the end of the day it basically comes down to two things: Power & Paychecks.

The media sows the seed of discontent because it drives ratings. They want viewers or readers and you attract them with bold rhetoric or headlines. It doesn’t have to be true, or even address the real issues; it just has to be salacious. Ratings and readerships equal bigger paychecks for those involved. Politicians want power, so they appeal to their base. They vilify the other side as being hardliners, when they are in the minority, so that you will re-elect them. If you re-elect enough of them they get the power, but they still vilify the other side as being obstructionists. They count on you being too confused to see that each is only one side of the same political coin. Why? Because they really don’t have the desire to fix anything nor to address the real problems we are facing.

As I sit here writing this I wonder to myself if this is even worth it? Will anyone stop and actually listen?

The problem is that no one really wants to think they have been duped. We want to think we are smarter than that, but we are like the parents who refuse to believe that their child was really at fault for something, even when the cops bring them home. We make excuses for the bad behavior as we seek to blame someone else like the teachers, cops or the amorphous system, whatever that might be. Because God forbid we should admit that a) we didn’t raise them right or b) that they truly are personally responsible for their bad behavior.

So should we be surprised when the media and politicians wring their hands and feign shock when something like this happens. Neither group will take responsibility, even though they have been fanning these flames for some time now. No, now the blame game begins and first up is: Guns!!

Almost immediately the anti-gun folks, like Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, seized the moment and began re-directing the narrative by attacking guns. As if the gun, and not the shooter, was responsible.

Never one to lose a political opportunity, McAuliffe twice said "we lose 93 million Americans a day to gun violence." Not exactly sure where he resides, but the United States would be devoid of life within a business week with those numbers.  I think the number is actually 93, but even that is political math. If you're interested, read this post on Stat's & Gun Control.

McAuliffe then went on to say "there are too many guns on the street," but then added that the issue shouldn't be raised today, after he himself had raised the issue today.

Hypocrisy…………Shocking, I know.

Now my news feed is filled with politicians saying: ‘An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us’ and ‘I pray we can resolve our differences’……. That’s so refreshing and wholly disingenuous. What’s spurring on this sentiment is that it hit too close to home and they realize that if someone on the left target someone on the right that those roles could easily be reversed next time and that is downright terrifying to them. Prior to today it was all rhetoric, today it is reality. Welcome to the world you have created.

My fear is that we have crossed a line that we cannot undo. It’s like opening Pandora’s Box and then lamenting how we should have left it closed. Too late.

The first shot in anger is always the toughest, the second and third become much easier. I pray that won’t happen, but the odds are not good. What needs to be done is for the folks to step back and apologize for the daily doses of enmity that they have been dishing out. They need to apologize to the American people that they have been fanning the flames for their own gain, not for the people, but that would take personal responsibility and I don’t think they are mature enough for that.

I pray that this was a one-time event, but in my heart I truly believe this was just the opening salvo.

Kudo's to the men and women of law enforcement who prevented this from being a massacre, by doing what they do everyday: putting themselves in harm's way and protecting the innocent. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Perfect Pawn - Free (Memorial Day Week)

Just in time to kick off your Summer Reading, I am re-releasing an updated version of my debut novel, Perfect Pawn.

From May 30th through June 3rd, 2017, you can add the e-Book version to your summer 2017 reading list for free.

Perfect Pawn tells the story of James Maguire a former Navy SEAL and a retired NYPD Detective who is faced with investigating the disappearance of an ex-girlfriend who went missing from a one-car accident.

The one thing you find as an author is that with each passing year and each new novel, you become a better writer. With this in mind, we went back and did a re-edit / update. While the story line is not affected, there are some additional 'conversations' between characters that enhance the book, as well as removing some of the inter-chapter 'head' hopping that took place. All in all I think this new edition will greatly appeal to the reader.

For this edition I also updated the cover artwork to make it readily identifiable.

If hope that you enjoy the book and I would be grateful if you would be so kind as to leave feedback when you are done.

You can check out all my books by clicking here: Other Books by Andrew G. Nelson

Thank you so much and happy reading !!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Uncommon Valor II - Challenge Coins of the NYPD Emergency Service Unit

Back in the summer of 2015, just as I was getting ready to publish: Uncommon Valor - Insignia of the NYPD Emergency Service Unit, the collecting world erupted with a new area: Challenge Coins. At the time I questioned whether I should be the book on hold and include this field, but the more I researched, the more I realized that I would need a lot more time.

I had already invested five years into the cloth insignia history, so I decided to publish that book and then devote the necessary time to properly investigating the coin phenomena. To give you an idea of just how quickly coin fever has gripped the hobby, consider that my first book documented nearly a century of ESU insignia history and comprised roughly 130 pages. This follow-up is nearly the same page count, but only goes back to the late 1990's, when the first ESU coin came out.

Like the first book, this has been a labor of love. At times it felt like I was investigating some deep, dark mystery and at other times banging my head against the desk seemed like a completely acceptable option. In the end it didn't take five years, but it did take almost two.

As much as I love writing these books on ESU, I realize that I much rather write fiction. It is much simpler to create stories in your head, as opposed to conducting research. In the field of non-fiction you only get one chance at being right.

Fortunately, the hard work has paid off and now I add another new book to the catalog. If you are interested in the NYPD ESU or challenge coins, I believe you will thoroughly enjoy this book. It contains over 100 photographs and offers collectors a glimpse at some of the rarest challenge coins produced by the various Trucks and Specialty Units, many of which have never been seen before.

I want to extend my sincere thanks to those members of ESU who afforded me the opportunity to ask innumerable questions and who provided photos of their coins. You are truly the Finest of the Finest.

It is amazing to me, as I submit the file for printing, that this will be my ninth book. It seems like only yesterday that I was holding Perfect Pawn in my hands for the first time. Now it is time to put my non-fiction endeavors to bed for awhile, as I take back up the further adventures of James and Alex.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Knight Fall (James Maguire Series - Book 4)

Now that the hoopla of the 2016 Presidential Election is finally over, I am pleased to announce that my latest novel: Knight Fall, has been released as an e-book on the Kindle platform.

This is the 4th book in the James Maguire series and the 6th book in chronological order. To see the book progression, please click here.

Thank you for your continued support. I hope that you enjoy this and all my other books.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Donald Trump Uses Bad Words

Special Snowflake Trigger Alert - Bad Words Ahead

“Extra, Extra – Read All About It”

That’s the traditional call of the paper seller announcing breaking news. Back in the day it was usually a serious news story, like war or a major criminal incident, today it heralds the latest salacious bullshit that is being peddled to you by an ever growing partisan media. 

Really, It Sounds As Stupid As It Looks.......
Case in point, the latest ‘safe-space triggering’ comments by Donald Trump.

Many of you know about my deep-rooted loathing for coincidence.  So it should come as no shock that that this little nugget fell from the skies almost at the exact same time that WikiLeaks dumped another treasure trove of documents pertaining to Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Mind you, this release comes on the heels of the Guccifer 2.0 dump earlier in the week.

Can you guess which the main stream media sought to capitalize on?

Yes, apparently ‘grabbing pussy’ is much more news worthy than the Democratic nominees admission, behind closed doors, that her campaign is basically a lie. Well, at least as it pertains to the little people she is trying to court.

Wake up people.

Is what Trump said crude? Yes.

Was it inappropriate? Probably.

Is it earth-shattering? No.

Is it limited to men? Hell No!

Anyone who is talking about how ‘upset’ they are about what Donald Trump said eleven years ago is either a liar, a social justice warrior or a practicing Puritan.  For them I have nothing, but for the rest of the adult world: Grow Up.

Here’s a news flash, real people talk that way. Hell, I talk that way and so do you.

Have we forgotten that this was a private conversation? Have you never said things in a private conversation that were, how shall we say: risqué? If someone ever played a highlight reel of all the crude things I have ever said, stock in popcorn would jump 515% as folks gathered around the TV screen to watch.

And if you think it’s just men that speak this way, I have some news for you. Go to a male strip club one night. You’ll hear ‘church women’ say things that would make a Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer blush.

And where was the media’s moral indignation when Hillary said "Come on Bill, put your dick up! You can't fuck her here!"

I’m sorry, but this whole ‘I’m offended’ shit is a joke and is wearing really thin.  You know what I am really offended by? This whole wussification of America bullshit.

Donald Trump said something I don’t like…….’ Really, special snowflake, did anything offend you in Fifty Shades of Grey? Because that happy little BDSM romp, written by a woman mind you, sold like over eighty million copies, prompted a sequel along with a movie, and I’m pretty sure there was a lot more going on than ‘pussy grabbing.’

SHAMELESSS PLUG: As an author, I’d like to point out that my books also contain a bit of ‘adult reading’ as well……. You know, if you’re not so easily offended.

We also have to come to terms with an amazing double standard in this country. I have often lamented that the concepts of hypocrisy and irony are lost on the left. The same folks who slam Trump for saying mean things to women are the same ones championed Hillary for standing by her man when he went through the vast Right Wing conspiracy to undermine his presidency. The fact that he actual did the things he was accused of and that she mocked and ridiculed the victims is apparently inconsequential.

Damn It, Stop Objectifying Me !!!
Nor is the fact that many of her biggest supporters, you know, folks Miley Cyrus, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and Kanye engage in behavior that glorifies what Donald Trump spoke about. I’m sorry, but I have a problem with being lectured on the issues facing this great Nation by a guy who started out his life by selling drugs on the streets of Brooklyn.  I would also like to point out the hypocrisy of being lectured on the objectification of women by a singer who engages in simulated sex acts during her show. Oh Hannah Montana, how far thou have fallen.

That’s the hypocrisy.

The truth is that the media is doing everything they can to shift your attention away from all the negative information surrounding who THEY have decided must win.

When you look at the facts, Hillary Clinton’s actions speak much louder than Donald Trump’s words ever could.

We have real issues facing this country, a lot of which Hillary Clinton has been involved in, yet no one is focusing on them and I have to wonder why. At the last debate, questions were raised about Donald Trump’s taxes and a comment he purportedly made about Miss Universe back in 1996, but not one question about illegal immigration, terrorism, or about the fire storm that is raging throughout the Middle East.

Seriously? This is allegedly what is passing for journalism in the twenty-first century?

Unfortunately, many of those issues could legitimately be laid at Mrs. Clinton’s door, so I can understand why no one wanted to go there.

The funny thing is that nothing Trump did on his taxes was any different then what the majority of tax payers do every year. The problem was the sum of the loss. HRC even used it to question how smart Trump was, having lost nearly a billion dollars. What she didn’t tell you was that the Clinton’s did the same thing on their taxes with a nearly three-quarters of a million dollar loss. She also doesn’t want to talk about the fact that her State Department still has six billion unaccounted for.

That’s the irony.

The latest release of documents is being slammed, not for their content, but because those vile Russians are allegedly behind it all. Think about that for a moment. Not what HRC and her closest aides have done, but what those bad hackers have done.

This sums it up best: ZERO accountability / ZERO responsibility – Focus the blame on someone else.
America is still struggling.

We are still facing desperate financial times and we have illegal immigrants, along with terrorists, streaming across our southern border. What does HRC have to say about that? Well, according to a speech she gave to a Brazilian bank in 2013, this is how she feels:

"My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere…. We have to resist, protectionism, other kinds of barriers to market access.”

The truth is that HRC does not care about you. You do not have the kind of money that she wants so you are only going to get lip service. It’s not about America’s bottom line, but hers.

Here’s the truth about her campaign slogan: Stronger Together. She only needs you to elect her so that she can continue the relationships she has built with Wall Street and the wealthy.  

But now, even the Republican sharks are circling the waters because of Donald Trump’s words……

What they don’t want you to know is that they, politicians on both sides of the aisle, have been collectively grabbing America’s pussy for decades and taking what they want. This fact seems to have become lost to us and I have to believe that is by design.

At the end of the day, Trump represents a threat to the political status quo and that scares the hell out of them. Like the democrats, they are part of the problem; the other side of the same coin if you will. I couldn’t care less if they pull their support for Donald Trump, but I hope that they understand I will be pulling my support for them. Just like Hillary Clinton they have only needed me when they want something, but they have to be threatened to do the right thing when it doesn’t benefit them.

November 8th will be historic. It will be a referendum on our political system. It will either be a vote to maintain the political status quo, which has brought us to this place we are in, or a vote to shake things up.

I know where my vote is going.