Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Last Snowfall

Last snowfall.

Video Trailer for "The White Dragon" | Charles A. Ray | Video | Red Room

Video Trailer for "The White Dragon" | Charles A. Ray | Video | Red Room

The White Dragon

The White Dragon
Video trailer.

Monday, March 25, 2013

White Tail Deer in the Snow

Review: "Bad Traffick" by D. V. Berkom

USAID Human Trafficking Symposium, Sept. 16, 2...
USAID Human Trafficking Symposium, Sept. 16, 2009 -- Actress and UNICEF Ambassador Lucy Liu spoke out against human trafficking and lauded USAID efforts to increase awareness. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leine Basso is a former government assassin who is being framed by her former boss for  murders she didn’t commit. LAPD detective Santiago Jensen, her lover, is determined to prove her innocence. When Leine is hired by a movie star to be his bodyguard when he suspects someone is trying to kidnap him, she finds herself immersed in the world of human trafficking and facing a greater threat than a frame-up.

This tightly woven, suspenseful novel is full of action, twists, and gritty human emotion that will keep you sitting on the edge of your chair as you root for Leine as she tries to rescue 12-year-old Mara, who has escaped the clutches of the traffickers who plan to sell her to a rich pedophile, and who will stop at nothing – including murder – to achieve their dastardly ends.

Author D.V. Berkom’s Bad Traffick, takes us into a world that might seem hard to fathom for the average person, but a world that is all too real. Tight dialogue and nonstop action marks a novel that establishes new benchmarks for action thrillers. This is a solid five-star novel that you won’t want to miss.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

White Tail Deer foraging

Review: "A Broken Ring" by C.L. Cappetta

A Broken Ring: Part one of the ‘Ride to Liberty’ Trilogy, by C. L. Cappetta, is hard to classify. In part, it seems to be a thriller with psychological overtones, as it traces the tumultuous life of Lydia Castle, from precocious 15-year-old to adulthood, in part, a semi-erotic romance novel with a hint of bloody violence thrown in.

An interesting tale, it has more ups and downs than the Rebel Yell roller coaster at King’s Dominion Park in Virginia. Lydia has a problem with men, starting with Mike Webberly, who is obsessed with her and rapes her before she turns 16, and then vows that he will kill her before he’ll let anyone else have her. From Mike, Lydia moves from man to man, but the reader senses that she’s looking more for ‘herself’ than a relationship with someone else.

It would be easier to follow, perhaps, if there were fewer characters, or maybe that’s what makes it interesting. I know that I found it interesting, despite being utterly confused trying to keep track of the characters that seemed to march in formation across the pages.

I also found it difficult until very near the end to get a read on Lydia herself – and, even then I was left guessing; did she actually make that journey from abuse to empowerment? Maybe she did, and maybe she didn’t. Not a bad read, but I can only give it three stars.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Next Stop Mars - Mars One Project

Image of Mars showing northern Drylands (ochre...
Image of Mars showing northern Drylands (ochre) and southern dry ocean basins (dark). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mars One , a Netherlands-based NGO is dedicated to taking humans to Mars by 2023. More than that, this forward-thinking group actually envisions a human settlement on the Red Planet. Mars One's vision is stupendous, and I, for one, hope to be around to see it turned into reality.

For more information go to; better yet, sign up for their periodic updates, and keep your eyes on the heavens.

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A Must-Read Book for Bloggers Who Want to Be Successful! Book Review of "Blog It!"

If you’re a blogger, one book you simply must read is, Blog It! The author’s guide to building a successful online brand by Molly Greene. Greene is an author, blogger, and blogging coach who knows what she’s talking about and does it in an engaging way.

This is a kind of nuts and bolts recipe book of blogging, covering everything from building a stable of regular readers to how to sell your books on your blog. The reader is taken from the basics; where should you establish a blog, setting up a writing and publishing schedule; to more advanced techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO) and blog design.

Written in a direct, no-nonsense manner, this book will, if you follow Greene’s advice, make you not just a better blogger, but a more successful blogger. There are a lot of books out there on blogging, but this one is without doubt the best.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Supporting Authors One Read At A TIme

Supporting Authors One Read At A TIme

Get the latest Al Pennyback mystery - "Deadly Paradise" - now!

The latest chapter of the Al Pennyback mystery series, Deadly Paradise, has Al, Sandra, and Quincy in Hawaii to attend the wedding of one of Quincy's cousins. A sniper, though, plans to make 'death do them part,' before the couple can take their vows. Get your copy (Kindle or paperback) to see if Al can catch the sniper before he becomes the 'death' of the party. Kindle version Paperback version

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Review: "City of Pillars" by Dominic Peloso

Mitchell Sinclair is an up and coming young lawyer. He has a good house in Marin County, north of San Francisco, a trophy wife, Sarah, and a shiny black 1958 Cadillac Sedan. He’s living what one would describe as ‘the good life,’ until one day, while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on the way to his law firm, a strange toll booth collector tosses an even stranger package into his car.

The package contains a sheaf of documents written in strange languages, and as Sinclair struggles to translate them, his life is turned inside out and upside down. This ‘chance’ happening – or, so it seems at first – sets him on a journey that spans the globe, from San Francisco to Macchu Pichu in Peru; but, even more importantly, a journey into his own tortured consciousness. As he flees the mysterious ‘men in black,’ Sinclair finds himself at times doubting his own sanity – or insanity.

While it is often thought that a thriller needs lots of dialogue in order to be truly effective, Dominic Peloso, in City of Pillars, shows the beauty of narrative. He deftly puts the reader inside Mitchell Sinclair’s head; for, this is his story. It’s difficult to pigeon hole City of Pillars. It’s part thriller, part science fiction; with a lot of philosophy thrown in for good measure. This is the kind of story you won’t want to put down; which you, in fact, can’t put down. Highly recommended reading for that next long flight when the in-flight movies are boring, or for curling up over a long weekend. A definite five-star story that anyone can appreciate.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

The NRA: Shameless!

NRA Headquarters, Fairfax Virginia USA
NRA Headquarters, Fairfax Virginia USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today in New York, negotiations began at the UN on the Arms Trade Treaty, which would require countries to determine whether the weapons they sell might be used to commit serious human rights violations, terrorism or transnational organized crime.

The Obama administration has indicated that it will support the accord, although US support has been lackluster at best in the past. Predictably, the Neanderthals of the National Rifle Association (NRA) have come out against the treaty, fearing that the treaty will be used to regulate civilian weapons. Among the treaty’s most vocal opponents, if the NRA fails in its efforts to sabotage the ongoing negotiations and gut the treaty, one can be sure that it will redouble its efforts to ensure its staunch supporters in the Senate block US ratification.

Whether this is true or not, one has to take a step back and analyze what’s happening here. It’s really simple, when you peel back the layers of this stinky onion. The NRA, and other gun nuts around the world, don’t seem to care if human rights violations, terrorism, and crime are committed using civilian weapons – just don’t even think about limiting their right to have their phallic substitutes handy and in large numbers.  That this treaty is a common sense approach to reducing gun violence around the world, that has the support of many individuals, is lost on these tone-deaf fools who are still mentally inhabiting a world of wild animals and log cabins, and who don’t seem to know the difference between a muzzle loader and a 15-round automatic magazine with steel jacketed slugs.

I wonder if they’ll push for no limits on private ownership of anti-aircraft weapons to protect against those black UN helicopters that’s trying to invade and install a world government behind our backs. 

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Review: "Poisoned Pawn, The Fall of the Altairan Empire, Book III" by Jaleta Clegg

Dace is a merchant ship captain. She has a talent for getting into the most amazing fixes, and this interests the enigmatic Commander Lowell who heads a secretive organization and who wants to recruit her. She also has an unfortunate resemblance to the daughter of the head of a large trading syndicate who is the target of takeover from a ruthless criminal. Lowell assigns Major Clark to infiltrate Dace’s ship as a pilot to keep an eye on her and keep her safe.

Unfortunately, Clark falls for Jasyn, Dace’s partner, and in a moment of inattention allows Dace to be kidnapped. The action, pretty tense from the opening chapter, really goes into high gear as Lowell tries to locate and rescue Dace, and she tries to survive long enough for him to do just that.

A well-written story, although some of the technology is a bit far-fetched, with lots of adventure, romance (tastefully done) and humor. A few ends are still loose as the story closes – for instance, there’s Dace’s love interest left only partially resolved – but, given what we see of her personality as the story unfolds, that’s perhaps to be expected.

Jaleta Clegg’s Poisoned Pawn was a fun read. Unfortunately, even though I was able to get a copy of the Kindle e-Book version for review, I can’t find it on Amazon or LibraryThing, which is really too bad, because this is a book worth reading. I give it four stars.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Review: "A Week With Fiona Wonder" by Kelly Huddleston

In A Week With Fiona Wonder, written by Kelly Huddleston, we find ourselves plunked plumb in the midst of the angst of teen Mercy Swimmer and the week before she gets to spend a week with movie star Fiona Wonder. Now, before you dismiss this as just another teen ‘coming of age’ story, I strongly advise that you read it. Mercy is doing her best – at least at times – to function in a dysfunctional environment, surrounded by dysfunctional people.

Huddleston paints an environment of economic adversity, where no one is exempt from pain. Not Mercy’s mother, an asthmatic who works two jobs as a waitress to support the two of them. We’re never really told where Mercy’s father got off to, and frankly, by the time we’re halfway through Mercy’s week, we no longer care. Mercy’s mom, though, is one of the most tragically flawed, yet sympathetic, figures in the book – aside from Mercy herself. Severely asthmatic, she foregoes buying a rescue inhaler so that she can buy a trinket for Mercy that wins her a chance to spend a week with Fiona Wonder, a movie star about whom we know little other than that she has a big head on screen, but seems to be beset with as many doubts as her adoring fans.

Then, there’s Valerie, Mercy’s overweight, over-indulged best friend. Valerie treats Mercy like an old shoe, yet Mercy keeps coming back for more. Likewise, there’s Nikki, her mom’s friend, who is also something of a narcissistic personality with relationship issues.

One more warning: while this is a book written about a teenager, it’s not really written for younger readers. It deals with very adult issues, in a blunt, uncompromising way – often even profane. It is also definitely not a coming of age novel; more a surviving from sunup to sundown story. You never know from page to page, really, whether you want to cheer Mercy on or slap her silly. However you feel, though, I predict you’ll keep reading to see what happens next.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Get "The White Dragons" Free For Kindle!

Get my newest novel, The White Dragons, a story of international intrigue, betrayal, and suspense free for your Kindle or Kindle application. Available March 10 - 14 only! Available at this link:

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English: Restless Flycatcher (Myiagra inquieta...
English: Restless Flycatcher (Myiagra inquieta), commonly known as the "Scissor Grinder" due to the unique rasping call the bird makes whilst hovering. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know, it’s funny how we use animals often to describe human behavior without thinking about whether or not they’re appropriate or active. For instance, when we say someone’s as ‘silly as a goose,’ have there ever been any studies to demonstrate the intelligence, or lack thereof, of geese? I mean, geese demonstrate behavior, particularly in their mating habits, that we humans could well emulate. Did you know that geese mate for life? I once saw a gander perched beside the mangled corpse of its mate that had been struck by a car near the suburban subway station I commuted to work from; sitting there for days until the maintenance people finally carted the dead bird away. I’ve often wondered if that grief stricken bird didn’t follow the truck to wherever they take the remains of road kill, and sat nearby until it too finally died from starvation.

Having said that, though, there is one characterization that I’ve had occasion to witness in action that is dead accurate in its description. The term ‘birdbrain’ as applied to wildly erratic behavior.

One day, sitting in my garage, where I do most of my painting and sketching because I like to smoke my pipe when I’m engaged in such activity, and my wife doesn’t allow me to smoke inside the house, I observed a small bird engaging in what could only be called ‘bird brained’ behavior.

Now, in order for you to understand all that transpired, I have to set the stage. When I’m working in the garage, I keep the door open about two feet to allow for the smoke from my pipe to be whisked to the outside. That’s to appease my wife who also doesn’t like it if I stand too near her car when I smoke, for fear I’ll leave tobacco odor on her precious conveyance. I tend to leave the door that way throughout the day, and at some point, a small bird must have come in under the door and flown up to the upper level of storage shelves where I keep old boxes of documents, computer parts, and other items. I’d been away from the garage for a few hours, working in my upstairs office on my latest manuscript, and when I hit a patch where I needed to step away from the keyboard to let the narrative brew in my mind for a while, decided to go back to the garage and work on the cover I was doing for another book that I was readying for publication.

My entrance from the kitchen must have startled the roosting bird, for it flew down from the shelf, to about the top of the garage door, and began dashing itself against the glass windows in an effort to get away. Not wanting to see the poor thing hurt itself, I tried shooing it down toward the two-foot gap at the bottom of the door, but, to no avail. That dumb bird had its eyes on those clear squares of glass as avenues of escape, and was not to be persuaded that its inability to pass through them was more than some temporary impediment. This went on for over an hour. I even tried opening the door all the way, but that only frightened it back to the top shelf.

Now and then, it would fly back down, but never lower than about a foot from the bottom of the door, which was now high enough to leave a more than six foot avenue of escape. A large opening that, for some reason, the bird failed to see as the way to go. It just continued to fly down, brush against the door, go back up to the windows – which were now parallel with the ceiling – against which it would bang futilely, and then back to the shelf.

My plans to finish my painting were put on hold as I vainly tried to figure a way to get that damned bird to fly down toward the floor and out of my garage. It didn’t help that in its panic, it had dotted my wife’s black Mercedes with several gray blotches in its flights over it.

That, friends, is a pure definition of bird brain. It’s also an example of Einstein’s definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

Of course, the story does have a happy ending. I decided to leave the garage to the bird – with the door left open – and went back inside to fix lunch. When I went back outside later in the afternoon, the bird had gone. I assume it finally figured out that that large space beneath the door against which it had been battering itself might be softer and finally flown away. My garage was bird free.

I got the painting finished, but not that day. It took me an hour to remove all those gray blotches from my wife’s car. Fortunately, she was out shopping that day in her other car. Her baby was all shiny when she came home, and she never knew what had transpired. I’m no bird brain. I have no intention of ever telling her.

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A Clear View from Foggy Bottom - By William Burr | Foreign Policy

A Clear View from Foggy Bottom - By William Burr | Foreign Policy Sometimes, the striped pants diplomats at State get it right. If only the rest of the government would listen.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

"The White Dragons" a new suspense thriller - Now Available!

My newest novel, a tale of international suspense and intrigue, The White Dragons, is now available in paperback at and will be available for Kindle soon, so stay tuned.

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Are our leaders invested in Personnel Recovery?

I recently did an interview with Defence IQ in London in advance of an upcoming international personnel recovery conference to be held in London. To get to the link to the complete interview, follow this link:

Review: "The Dimension Researcher" by Chris James

In 2068, Lucas Hunter realized his lifelong dream. After years of training, he finally qualifies as a dimension researcher; one of an elite corps of time/dimension travelers who explore the many alternate realities that have diverged from their own, on behalf of the European Government’s Second Internet Café, the world’s most advanced scientific research facility.

Hunter’s dream quickly turns into a nightmare. Some nations, led by the Americans who destroyed the first Internet before he was born, are seeking to shut the Second Internet Café down, and seemingly will stop at nothing in order to achieve that aim. Worse, on his first ‘jump,’ Hunter encounters a mysterious ‘American’ who also seems to be a dimension jumper, but from another dimension, and the stage is set for the worst of all situations, a time paradox and the potential for a trans-dimensional war.

Hunter finds himself fighting not only the ‘aliens’ who seem to be following him from dimension to dimension, but the betrayals of his own superiors at the Second Internet Café, who are playing a game, the rules of which Hunter must understand if he is to survive.

In The Second Internet Café, Part 1: The Dimensional Researcher, author Chris James has described a future ‘reality’ with such astonishing detail, both technological and social, it is vividly authentic, and all too ‘real.’ There’s a tendency, when encountering a new writer with James’ skill, to compare him or her to some luminary of the past. Well, Chris James is no Heinlein, he’s no Asimov; he’s Chris James. The man has a style that is uniquely his, and someday, people will be saying of young writers, ‘they write in the style of Chris James.’

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Review: "Shades of Darkness" by Melynda Price

Guardian Angel. Statue on the Krasnystaw's cem...
Guardian Angel. Statue on the Krasnystaw's cemetery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Melynda Price’s Shades of Darkness, Redemption Series: Book Two, we pick up on the continuing saga of Olivia, a mortal with the ‘sight.’ Olivia has the rare ability to ‘see’ the dark angels, and thus expose them to mankind, and for this, they are determined to destroy her. She has been guarded since birth by Liam, a Ronnin warrior commissioned to be her guardian angel. Liam’s problem, though, is that he has fallen in love with her, thus threatening his very angelic status.

As Olivia, now a fully grown woman, is about to wed, Liam learns of yet another attempt by the Dark Court to kill her, and he again risks the displeasure of his own superiors in order to save her.

A fascinating blend of theology and mysticism, love and betrayal, Price takes us into the minds and hearts of the characters in a deft way. Although some of the prose and dialogue tends toward the stilted, the reader is nonetheless made to care, and care deeply, about the fate of the protagonists.

A surprise ending, though, lifts this tale above the mundane mortal meets angel story. Language and scenes of violence make it a book not for the squeamish.

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