Paperback Ready for Release but waiting.

I have my proof copy of Reaping the Whirlwind and its beautiful! E-books make me a lot more money than physical books but there is still something magical about holding a physical novel that you wrote in your hands. So its ready to go and I could order it published literally with a few strokes on the key board, but I’m going to hold off for a while and here’s why. If you go look at the reviews for my last alternate history novel “Rebel Empire” you will notice that most of the initial one star “reviews” written by vitriolic individuals who find my work politically incorrect, or whatever gave there reviews on the paperback NOT on the ebook. They did this because Amazon will allow anyone with an Amazon account to review a paperback book (whether they actually bought it or not) BUT if only the ebook is available then only people who actually buy it are able to review it. I don’t have a problem with people reviewing my books. I respect their right to say they don’t like them. That’s fine. There’s lots of books I don’t like. But I do have a problem with people giving my books one star reviews when its obvious they never read the book to begin with. If you look at the reviews for Rebel Empire and look at the earliest and most vitriolic reviews they don’t have the tag “Verified Purchase” beside them. The basic info on character and plot included in those so called reviews were culled directly from the book description. I know this for a fact because most of those so-called reviews on the paperback were made BEFORE I sold my first paperback. Later, one of those people even took to harassing fans who liked my book by disparaging their positive reviews in the comments. Anyway that’s the reason the paperback is on very temporary hold. I have a book signing scheduled for September so  you can be certain the paperback will be available by then, and by then I’ll have enough genuine positive reviews to outweigh a handful of counterfeit negative ones. To my readers and fans I cannot express my gratitude enough about all the positive support I have received. It seems every novel I publish does better than the previous one and Reaping the Whirlwind is no exception. If I have any fans who don’t have the ability to read the e-book and you just can’t wait a little longer, I’m willing to mail my personal copy of the paperback to the first fan to ask for it (I only have one). To prove you’re a fan tell me your favorite character from any of my books and why and your favorite part of any one of my books and why. Thanks again to everyone for their support. The Last Hurrah will be out in a month or two!

Alternate History Map– North America–1895-1914

North America 1895 to 1914

Here is a map of North America based on my alternate history novels. This shows the boundaries of the various North American Nations during the interim between the end of the Spanish Confederate War and the World War. As many may have guessed the next book in this timeline will deal with a very different World War 1, from the one in our world. I’ll give some more info about it later but for now just know that the first book is provisionally titled Flags and Glory. I have a lot of research and preparation to do. In the meantime the next Starstorm novel should be finished soon, and after that I can hopefully finally have Barbarossa ready for release. Anyhow hope you enjoy the map!

Describing a Historical Setting

Well I’m up late Friday night, literally working on one of the very last scenes of Reaping the Whirlwind, and trying to get the juices flowing. Since its a scene that takes place in New York City circa 1895 I thought I’d write a post about how I “get a vision” for a place I’ve never been before, and that most modern New Yorkers wouldn’t even recognize. All I can say is that the internet is a wonderful thing. I simply typed in New York City Parades 1895 (the scene is a parade) and it brought up these wonderful pictures of a Parade in New York in the year of my story.

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Afterwards I typed in New York City 1895 and found a wealth of other pictures. Now I’ll let those interested in writing alternate history or historical fiction in on a little secret. In my very humble opinion the key to getting the setting right is an art of illusion. You describe enough to make it seem as though you’ve been there and you know what you’re talking about but in reality you are simply building a small framework of good historically accurate description while letting the reader’s imagination fill in the rest. But old photo’s like these are a treasure. Another things that I’ve made extensive use of in my work is Google Maps. One day I’ll do a whole post on that, but suffice it to say it makes it easier to describe battles in places I’ve never been when I can literally get on Google Maps and pull up satellite imagery of the terrain in question. This helped enormously in my description of the Confederate attack on Havana in Rebel Empire and also came in handy in several places in Reaping the Whirlwind. Anyhow, the juices are flowing and I’m getting back to it. I can literally sense the approach of those two magic words, “the end.” Unless you’ve ever written a novel from start to finish you have no idea how satisfying that moment is.

My Introduction to Alternate History

My first and earliest exposure to the realm of alternate history was probably an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation called “Yesterdays Enterprise.” In it an older Starship named Enterprise was thrown through time to the future. As a result an “alternate timeline” was created in which Captain Picards Enterprise was not a peaceful Starship of exploration but a space battleship fighting a desperate war against the Klingon Empire. Shortly thereafter I saw the movie “Fatherland” based on the novel by Robert Harris. When I got a little older I read the novel and enjoyed it more than the movie. Fatherland was my first exposure to “real” alternate history, meaning not an alternate reality in a show like Star Trek but where something in actual history was changed. I was fascinated by world war 2, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union etc and to experience a story where Nazi Germany hadn’t been defeated but was still battling the Russians in the 1960s was fascinating. Picturing Hitler as a white haired old man, in the 1960s, ruling an Empire that spanned a continent seemed surreal. A Cold War, not between the USSR and the USA, but between the USA and  Nazi Germany was equally thought provoking. It provoked my thoughts okay. It had me trying to come up with my own alternate history which at the tender age of thirteen I tried to do. My grandparents used to get “condensed novels” from readers digest. One of them was a short novel about the German Submarine U-20 and the sinking of the Lusitania during World War 1. So I took that as inspiration and came up with a story about a Confederate Submarine that sinks a British ship during an alternate World War 1. My first encounter with someone else’s alternate history of the civil war was a comic book called Captain Confederacy. Captain Confederacy was a superhero almost parallel to Captain America in our timeline. The story took place in a modern setting in a world where the South won the civil war. The backstory was never fully explained and the modern CSA was presented as a racist monstrosity but it was a good story. They published letters from the readers in the back of the comic and they had lots of ideas that I thought were cool, like the Czar living in exile in Alaska. Later I read another alternate history world war 2 novel called 1945 by Newt Gingrich and William Fortschen. Unfortunately it ended on a cliffhanger and the sequel was never written. Finally, when I was in High School I discover Harry Turtledove. He became and is my favorite modern author. I’ve read more of his books than any other. I loved Guns of the South. (Harry if you ever read this continue that timeline please!) I loved How Few Remain and the books that followed it. I don’t really like that the CSA turned into an alternate history version of Nazi Germany, but hey I’m a southerner! Who would like seeing their country portrayed that way? As one of my fans / critics put it in his review “we all have feet of clay” especially when it comes to our own historical heroes and nations. I don’t begrudge him his imagination and I loved the series even though I hated the ending.  I owe a huge debt to Harry Turtledove, just as all the High Fantasy authors of today owe a great debt to Tolkien. I can’t say enough about how much his books have entertained me, awed me, and inspired me since I was a kid. I would dare say he earned Alternate History recognition as the genre that it is today and I’m proud to follow in his footsteps. I’ve expanded to read others over the years. Fox on the Rhine stands out positively in my memory by Douglas Niles and Michael Dobson. I’ve read some others by various authors that I didn’t like, though I’ll not name or besmirch them here. I’ll close with this. Alternate History is a rich genre. Thanks to men like Harris, and Turtledove, and Niles and Dobson and others a trail has been blazed. I look forward to following as best I can.

A quick update on Reaping the Whirlwind. I’m still writing the final scenes and editing but I’m nearly there. I’m a lot  closer than I was last week. When I get near the end of writing a book I pick up steam like a train that’s speeding down hill. No hard and fast date but I’m very confident it will be out this month or next!

Alternate History Money / Bookmark / Progress Report

CS Money Book Mark

When I was a kid in middle school and high school I used to print my own gray Confederate money. I printed it under “the authority of the Provisional Confederate States Government in Exile”. It also included the phrase “redeemable upon the restoration of the Confederacy.” What can I say, I had an active imagination. Anyway in my writing time this morning I needed to shake the juices loose so to speak so I threw together this alternate history banknote. I’m thinking of making some book marks for my next book signing and to give away to friends. Alternate History Confederate money would, in my opinion, make a cool book mark. The portrait is that of Confederate President John Marshall Stone. In real life he was the longest serving governor of Mississippi. In my novels he is the President of the CSA during the Spanish-Confederate War. This note is supposed to be from a later time period. Early twentieth century. I know, it needs lots of work. I’m a writer, not an artist–accept when I have to be– *cough* affordable book covers *cough*. Anyhow wanted to give everyone another update. I’m nearly done drafting the last scenes! 🙂 I’ve done a lot of editing as I’ve gone along but (sigh) there is still a lot left to do. As certain fans and critics have pointed out, there’s always more to do. If you’ve never tried editing four hundred something pages of your own writing you have no idea what your missing. Editing your own work is hard because (speaking for myself) I often see what supposed to be there as opposed to what’s actually there. Anyhow, after that I have to design and format the e-book for Kindle and Nook and the paperback for Createspace. Launch is tentatively scheduled for mid to late May. Stay tuned…

Reaping the Whirlwind Update

RTW Cover Prototype

Well its been a while since I’ve updated my blog. I had hoped to have Reaping the Whirlwind done by this past Christmas and here we are in April. Well its not done yet but don’t worry its getting there. I thank everyone for their patience. Here’s a prototype cover to kind of tide you over. I’m doing my best to make sure that I do as good a job as possible of editing this new work. I’m hesitant to give a hard and fast release date (I’m so bad at meeting deadlines when I set them) but I think Reaping the Whirlwind will be released in the next couple of months. I’m sorry its taking so long. All I can say is that I have a lot of responsibilities outside of my writing (me and my wife are expecting another baby 🙂 !!!) so as usual writing time is at a premium. There is a silver lining however. One of the reasons for the delay is that a few months ago a new story line / subplot “popped” into my head. It was so good I had to work it in. On another front, the third installment of Starstorm shouldn’t be far behind Reaping the Whirlwind. Starstorm 3 is over half finished.  Anyhow, let me know what you think of the cover. Thanks again to all my loyal fans!

PS If anyone likes historical tabletop war gaming, check out my buddy’s new blog at http://aotiop.blogspot.com/.