Archives For Books & Writing

It’s a Gold Medal for That Deadly Space! Heartfelt thanks to the Military Writers Society of America for their selection of my Civil War novel for their Gold Medal award. I am grateful to MWSA for their selection of my book for this prestigious award. You might notice a second Gold Medal in the picture. The first was awarded in 2011 for my historical novel Shall Never See So Much. I’m deeply honored to be a two-time recipient. I might add that Michael Phelps, with his 23 Olympic Gold Medals, has little to worry about.



That Deadly Space, my new historical novel concerning the Civil War, is now available in paperback and Kindle with this Amazon link.

Below is a brief description of That Deadly Space:

The Civil War has begun in earnest. Conor Rafferty joins the Confederate army as a young infantry officer against the wishes of his father who, in his Irish anger, is adamantly opposed to a war with the North. Conor soon finds himself in many of the war’s most consequential battles, leading from the front and risking all inside that deadly space. He serves with distinction in General Robert E. Lee’s celebrated Army of Northern Virginia as it seeks the crowning victory that will end the war and stop the carnage. Along the way, Conor becomes a protégé of fellow Georgian John B. Gordon who eventually rises to command a Confederate army corps. At the conclusion of each chapter, the narrative transitions to the now aged Conor who answers the probing questions of his grandson Aaron, himself a captain in the U.S. Army and scheduled for duty in Europe during World War I. The grandfather and grandson thus spend a week together—a week of sharing, learning, and bonding. That Deadly Space is a compelling tale that portrays the drama, heroism, romance, and tragedy of the Civil War.

For the Civil War aficionados among you, you may recognize the Don Troiani cover. I was delighted to be able to use it with this novel.

For those of you who are intent upon purchasing That Deadly Space, I say thank you. And for those who have supported me in the past with my other novels, a heartfelt thank you, as well. As always, book reviews posted on Amazon are always appreciated by authors, this one included.

Good reading!




I’ve been contemplating a new book idea. In my most recent novel Dare Not Blink, the protagonist Dave Paige is a young business executive who by and large behaves ethically and honorably, even when he’s faced with a nasty power struggle within his own firm. Paige isn’t perfect by any means, but he does understand that there is a relationship between integrity and trustworthiness, and he attaches great worth to that relationship. His colleagues can count on Paige to do the right thing, even when others around him are playing by looser, more accommodating rules, if indeed they play by any rules at all.

So, for my new book I’m considering a sequel to Dare Not Blink and having my guy Dave Paige run for public office. Wouldn’t it be a refreshing change to have someone elected to high office who tells the unvarnished truth and is thereby trusted by the American public for doing so? Even if it’s fiction?

Considering what we currently have in our elected officials, values like integrity and trustworthiness are largely fictitious anyway. So why not have my already larger-than-life fictional character come to the rescue of an entire nation which now places precious little of its abiding trust in government. Who knows? The new book might even become a blockbuster bestseller.

So, instead of Paige’s Laws of Business we could now have Paige’s Tenets of Good Governance (or some such). Here might be a few of his entries:

  • I will not lead from the rear. As a matter of practical fact, it can’t be done anyway.
  • Liars will be summarily terminated from my administration. My own lying will be an impeachable offense. Throughout government, I will smoke out those of low integrity and boot them to the curb.
  • I will not make vague threats about “consequences” and then do nothing.
  • I will direct and then ensure that the politicization of any federal agency resulting in the unwarranted harassment of any American citizen will result in the immediate transfer of the agency head (and any accomplices) to the Bureau of Prisons to await trail and the booking of a room therein.
  • I am a businessman and as such I will create jobs and get Americans back to work again.
  • I will balance the federal budget and keep it balanced throughout my term.
  • I will represent all Americans.
  • I will remind the world of what President John F. Kennedy said, “On the presidential coat of arms, the American eagle holds in his right talon the olive branch, while in his left he holds a bundle of arrows. We intend to give equal attention to both.”
  • I will give equal attention to both.

Man, I do love fiction.


Has creative writing sparked an interest in you that you can no longer ignore? Are you attracted to the art of transforming an idea into a vibrant, coherent, imaginative stream of well-chosen words? Do you have the motivation to grow and to learn, the drive to push yourself to improve each day, and the mettle to take a shot at success when the risk of rejection might be lurking on the other side? If you can answer Yes to the foregoing, then the challenge and rewards of creative writing await you.

The below suggestions might be worthwhile as you begin charting your course:

• Capture your ideas. Keep a notepad handy to write down your observations. Worthwhile ideas can present themselves at any given moment. You may find that fresh material comes to you in the dead of night, or early morning, or perhaps as you’re driving or riding as a passenger. Inspiration can’t always be predicted or manipulated, so stay ready.

• Paint pictures with words. Instead of writing about a character involved in a motorcycle accident, describe the smell of the slick, wet pavement, the length and violence of the skid, the panic of the character as he/she realizes that control has been lost and some degree of unpleasantness now awaits. Don’t just tell, show. There’s a potential reader on the other end of your creation, so provide enough sustenance to keep that reader involved and turning the pages.

• Unleash your imagination. Your characters can become whomever or whatever you so desire. The scenes are yours to devise, the plot yours to construct. The story develops from an idea into a short story or novel based upon the power of your own imagination. You can make your main character larger than life, strong and determined, heroic yet flawed. It’s your choice. And don’t be afraid to take risks. Since it’s your story, your creation, tell it like you want it.

• Write every day. Writing is an acquired skill, and thus should be diligently practiced. The skill development, discipline, and dedication necessary to become an effective writer require continuous practice. It’s not always easy, but your writing should improve over time if you write, write, and keep writing.

Learn from others. Your writing style should be your own. But you can learn from reading the works of other writers. Read an array of material, from poetry to novels to blogs to journals of opinion. It’s okay to borrow from others, but you’ll need to develop a comfort with your own voice and words.

• Have fun. Make your characters come alive. Discover the unanticipated twists and turns that the writing process often takes once you have begun. And by all means enjoy yourself. It will reflect in your writing.

So, find your voice. Learn and practice your craft. Read, write, and write some more. You’ll be pleased when you find the high satisfaction that creative writing offers.

Good luck and good writing!

Paige's Laws cover imageIn my latest novel Dare Not Blink, main character Dave Paige keeps a handwritten journal for recording his periodic musings on business situations and business people. Paige is of the energetic, results-driven sort, so he’s usually racing headlong toward some tangible objective. His life seems centered around solving one problem and then quickly moving on to the next. Occasionally, however, the insightful Paige is given to bouts of thoughtfulness and contemplation while in the quiet, after-hours solitude of his office, or in that trancelike state one can easily slip into in the cabin of a commercial airliner.

Thus, when he feels so inclined, he reaches for his Paige’s Laws of Business to chronicle his observations, lessons learned, and unwavering leadership and ethical principles.

Some of my early readers of Dare Not Blink commented on how much these pithy notations from Paige had added to the novel. My publisher, Navigator Books, also saw the potential to excerpt Paige’s Laws into an eBook format. In all honesty, my main purpose in creating the scenes where Paige recorded his thoughts was simply to develop Dave Paige as a character. It must have worked because now it seems Paige is offering something in return. For me, Paige’s Laws of Business is a way to introduce myself and to extend the awareness of my latest novel to prospective readers, as well as offering a gift of thanks to my existing readers; for you, it’s a free eBook that I hope you can find value in reading and sharing with others.

Simply click on the book’s image nearby and then follow the link to download your own free eBook. I’d enjoy hearing from you about this or any of my other books, so feel free to drop me a line on this website.

And if you do find value in Paige’s Laws of Business, thank Dave Paige.

I certainly did.


Dare Not Shrink

March 12, 2013

My main character in Dare Not Blink, Dave Paige, by chance meets Paula Markham, a consultant who is also a trained psychologist. At Paige’s request, Paula provides him with the brief assessment shown below only an hour after meeting him. Question: Do you know anyone like Paige? A colleague or former boss? A friend? Yourself? Disclaimer: These are fictional characters. I am not a doctor nor have I ever played a doctor in film, on television, or on the stage.

“Okay, Dave. Like it or not, here’s my take: You’re an insatiable overachiever, the consummate Type A. You’re restless and tireless and clearly ambitious. You’re fair and even-handed, and you’ve built a reputation as a person of integrity. You place value on great results, but you also appreciate great effort, especially the ‘above and beyond’ kind, and you sure as hell don’t abide sloppiness or laziness. Everything you’ve ever gotten in your life—everything— has been a result of your own hard work. You walk into a room and the energy level invariably increases, never decreases. It’s in the way you carry yourself, the manner in which you speak, the eye contact you make, and the distinct impression you give off as a careful, attentive listener, which is far less common in executives like yourself than you might think. You don’t strike me as being afraid of confrontation—to the contrary, I get a certain vibe that you may actually enjoy it, need it, at times, perhaps even often. You don’t like who you don’t like, and you see no reason why they shouldn’t have the benefit of knowing it.

“You’re also conflicted about your failed marriage, since failure is neither a concept nor a result you have much familiarity with. You’re conflicted about being at a point in your career where the seeds of antagonism you’ve planted and allowed to grow in other corporate carnivores may now suddenly flower and reach out for you like a Venus Flytrap, and you don’t quite know what to do about it, which frustrates you greatly. You’re conflicted about remaining with a firm you love, which has been stable and nurturing and comfortable, but now which is none of that, and in fact perhaps even the polar opposite. You feel a sense of loss, not just about your chairman and mentor, but about the mental image you’ve had of the firm for all these years, almost as if it, too, is about to be laid to rest.”

Paula turned her head slightly, trying to gauge Paige’s reaction. “Is this making any sense?”

Paige nodded slowly, seemingly transfixed. It was as if he were sitting on a beach at the water’s edge, only vaguely aware of his surroundings, the rhythmic crashing of the waves, the cool sudsy water washing over his skin, the sand giving way beneath him as the water recedes and giving off the momentary sensation of falling into a hole. “Please continue,” he said softly.

A Book Launch Experience

December 10, 2012

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to launch the new book you’ve spent weeks and months writing? And then spent weeks and months attempting to find a publishing home for it?

If you answered Yes to the first question above, let me see if I can explain what it’s like. But first, let me note what it isn’t like:

  • It’s not like childbirth. How, you ask, do I know? Well, nobody’s dressed in scrubs and there is no beeping fetal monitor and there are no medicinal or distinctive other odors. And nobody is shouting, “Push!”
  • It’s not like winning the lottery. A lottery ticket has a far better probability of paying off than does a new book becoming a blockbuster bestseller.  
  • It’s not like launching the D-Day invasion. There aren’t as many moving pieces to a book launch, the noise levels are far lower, and the spectre of violent death is generally remote .

So, then, what is it like? Well . . .

  • It’s tense. Will readers like it? Will they talk about it? Will they buy it?
  • It’s busy. Are all of my sites updated, to include website, social media, blogs, etc.?
  • It’s sobering. Will I be able to handle it if it does poorly? Or if it does spectacularly?
  • It’s exciting. My author name is out there now, potentially all over the world. Good, bad or indifferent.
  • It’s fun. It’s great fun. It’s the payoff for a lot of hard, sometimes lonely work.  

There you have it. But don’t take my word for it. Write and launch your own book and see for yourself.

And you’ll find that it doesn’t lend itself to easy description. It’s an experience unlike any other. You’re bringing something new and unique into the world, with your artistic DNA all over it. You’ve labored long and hard, and the moment finally arrives. It’s not an end, but a beginning. You might even shed a few tears with family and friends.

Welcome to the world, you beautiful, gorgeous Dare Not Blink.

(Oops. Does that sound a bit like childbirth?)

    This is the front cover of my soon-to-be-released novel Dare Not Blink

    Dare Not Blink – Chapter One

    September 27, 2012

    This is a sneak peek at Chapter One of my new novel “Dare Not Blink” which is currently scheduled for a November release.

    The office door was closed, hinting that something was stirring, something big and essential and not widely known—something only for those privileged few who were deemed worthy to hear in advance.

    “The Old Man’s got cancer, and it’s spreading out of control.”

    Jeff Wylie, president of Atlanta-based Elerbee Engineering, a consulting engineering firm, took an ominously deep breath and exhaled slowly. His two closest associates, anxious and close-mouthed, sat across the big desk from him.

    It was April, 2002.

    Wylie cleared his throat and took a sip from a plastic water bottle. He looked over each of the two men carefully, deliberately, knowing full well that his own demeanor was likewise being closely scrutinized. He quickly glanced at his open laptop, then at some scribbled notes on a legal pad atop his desk before finally removing his glasses and straightening in his thick leather chair.

    “I can’t be much more specific than that, except to add that it apparently started in his lungs.”

    His two associates were dumbstruck. The firm’s vigorous, indomitable, sixty-six-year-old founder and chairman, Langdon Elerbee—the Elerbee in Elerbee Engineering—had been such a forceful presence for such a long time that the very prospect of his sudden, permanent departure seemed highly implausible. It defied all that was customary and natural, akin to a Federal Reserve proposition to drop the U.S. dollar and adopt the Norwegian kroner as the new monetary standard of value.
    “It doesn’t look good, gentlemen. The time line’s in days and hours, that’s how quickly the disease is overtaking him.”

    “My God!” gasped Jim Ogden, a senior executive and Wylie protégé. “How did you find out?”

    Wylie shrugged. “I’ve known for several weeks that something wasn’t right. He’d had some problems, underwent a series of tests, and then his mood changed, almost as if he’d suddenly lost interest in an entire lifetime of work. His coughing was nearly constant, and with his shortness of breath, his arriving late and leaving early, I knew something was up. His wife called last night to tell me he had been hospitalized, that things were serious and that, well, the doctors were now advising things were moving toward a bad outcome.”

    Don Burroughs, another corporate officer, could only shake his head in disbelief.

    Wylie took another sip of water, then fidgeted with a cell phone on his desk. Ogden leaned forward, alternately glancing at his boss and his feet.

    Burroughs shook his head again, his face a bright crimson, his shoulders sagging heavily, his mouth forcing a self-conscious half-grin. “What the hell happens now?” he asked in a voice unintentionally louder than usual.

    Wylie turned and stared out a window to the side. “I think it would be an understatement to say we’re in for some challenging days ahead.”

    Ogden sighed loudly. “No kidding. Who else in the firm knows?”

    “Nobody, although Grace Elerbee did ask me to contact Dave Paige and Larry Collier to make sure they understood the severity of the situation.”

    “Have you done that?”


    “Are you going to?”

    Wylie turned and glared at Ogden before sharply replying, “No.”

    Ogden and Burroughs were suddenly bewildered and unnerved, as much by Wylie’s tone and body language as by the news itself.

    Wylie reached up and opened the top button of his starched white shirt, loosening his red-striped tie—an uncharacteristic move that hardly slipped the notice of his two hyper-attentive colleagues.

    “I should tell you both that I’ve been planning for and anticipating this very opportunity, which incidentally I’ve shared with no one else, not even my wife,” Wylie added. “Langdon Elerbee had a plan for the continuance of this firm after his eventual retirement, of course, but now his departure seems likely to occur before his final imprint can be put into place. And I should also tell you that my plan differs considerably from Langdon’s, especially with regard to the people that he and I see as vital to this firm. He has his preferences, and I certainly have mine.”

    “But the Board’s already approved Langdon’s plan to name Dave Paige as Executive Vice President,” countered Burroughs after a weighty silence.

    Wylie’s expression hardened. “I’m well aware of that, thank you. Do you not remember that I sit on that same Board?”

    Burroughs swallowed and looked away.

    Ogden leaned closer to Wylie’s desk. “What the hell’s going on here, Jeff?”

    “What’s going on here is simply that a rare moment of opportunity has arrived, and I don’t intend to squander it. Langdon will soon enough pass from the scene, leaving an obvious void at the very top of the firm. I will be elevated to Chairman and C.E.O. by a Board of Directors that I will now lead. I will then proceed to put into place an organizational structure of my own design, and with people of my own choosing.”

    Wylie hesitated a moment before adding, “Let me say once more: I do not intend to let this opportunity pass, gentlemen.”

    Wylie then sat back and watched. He carefully studied the faces of Ogden and Burroughs as his words were absorbed and comprehended. His two associates were experienced veterans of the intrigue and stealth warfare so common to corporate America, especially at a headquarters level. Wylie’s own arrival two years prior had brought with it a sort of ruthless, zero-sum, internecine style that the traditionally conservative Elerbee Engineering had yet to fully emulate or widely embrace. The gentlemanly, consummately professional approach of Langdon Elerbee still remained the behavioral model throughout the vast majority of the company. Wylie understood all too well that his detached and secretive management style was distasteful to most of the old Elerbee hands, but he also knew that many of the firm’s top executives could be easily browbeaten with a string of smoking-hot expletives or a strategically arranged display of temper.

    Wylie also knew that only one top manager, Dave Paige, could not be so easily cowed. But he would deal with Dave Paige in his new plan, in his own way, and on his own terms.

    The reckoning for Paige would come on day one, page one, paragraph one. It was all in the plan. Things would come roaring at Paige like a runaway locomotive, at once so swift and powerful and unexpectedly that an instant replay would be needed to reconstruct exactly what had transpired. Jeff Wylie could not, would not tolerate the presence of Dave Paige in Wylie’s new order of things. Again, it was all in the plan. And for all practical purposes, it was the plan.

    That rarest of moments will soon arrive, Wylie now knew, filling his head with a dizzying array of rich possibilities, accelerating his pulse like an astronaut’s on the launching pad, triggering his predatory impulses like a tiger stalking its prey. The day would soon be his to win or lose.

    And he had every intention of winning.

    Wylie suddenly rose, and as he did so he buttoned his collar and straightened the knot of his tie. Ogden and Burroughs also stood, not knowing what else to do.

    “Enough of the preliminaries, gentlemen,” Wylie said, his hands now resting upon his hips, his words coming faster than usual. “Like myself, you are about to hear a knock on the door. If you are bold enough to answer, you will find yourself face-to-face with a magnificent and unequalled opportunity of a sort that, if you are indeed fortunate, will come along only once or twice over an entire career. If you choose to ignore that knock, you will most likely lose your one and only chance to make some serious noise in this company. And I mean serious noise, gents, with all the influence and prestige and remuneration that the term signifies. The decision is yours alone, but the rules are such that you will be required to make it in the next three minutes.”

    Wylie stopped and stared at his two associates, sensing the shared tension in the deathly silent room, shifting his icy gaze from one man to the other, feeling his own heart rate quickening inside his chest.

    “Are you gentlemen hearing me loud and clear?”

    Both nodded their understanding, each then cutting a quick glance at the other.

    “Good, because you two are the only people in this firm—hell, on the planet earth!—that I’ve revealed my intentions to. I am going to take control of this organization and drive it to places it never dreamed it could go. There will be new service offerings, new acquisitions, new markets, and unprecedented levels of revenue and profit. I am going to do what I came here to do and overturn the institutional reluctance to take risks and stir up the industry. I am going to reinvent this firm, to change its culture, to put it on a fast track. And I’m going to need a team around me who sees what I see, feels what I feel, wants what I want. And you two are the very first members of that prospective team that I’m approaching. But you must keep silent about this conversation, as I have thus far, for to do otherwise will result in all manner of unpleasantness crashing down upon you. There are those on this executive team who absolutely do not need to hear about this. This has the potential—no, the certainty—that a lot of feelings will be hurt and a lot of careers altered before all is said and done. Be that as it may. I’ll do what needs to be done, you can be sure of that. But I will be the only one to make the decisions as to who needs to hear and who doesn’t. Am I making myself crystal clear?”

    “Yes,” they both said in unison.

    Wylie then glanced at his watch. “Time is up. I need to know here and now. And then, either way, I will need your silence until I instruct you otherwise. And if you’re thinking that I’m asking you first because I value you and want you with me, well, you’ve guessed correctly. That is why I’ve called you here. That is why you’re hearing this.”

    Wylie then smiled slightly, sliding his hands into his trouser pockets.

    “Gentlemen, your moment has arrived. You’ve heard the knock. Now you must answer.”

    Wylie nodded, his slight smile still attached, his eyebrows arched.

    “So, are you with me?”