Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

The first part of this blog really got me thinking.
It is so very important to hold our standards high and continue to put out work as good if not better than those before us.
I don’t want to ride on coat tails. I don’t want to jump on the band wagon and try to make a quick buck. My name is worth more than that.
Let’s aspire to something greater than that which lays before us. Will I ever put out a book as good as David Baldacci or Steve Berry? Or Lee Child? Maybe. Maybe not. But if I don’t shoot for it I’ll never know. I want to write great. I want the writing to be so transparent that you never notice I’m there.
I want there to be a deeper message. I love thrillers. I love stories. But there are always deeper questions in life that we must answer and I would love to expose the one’s that keep me up at night.
I want to write about my greatest fears, anxieties, fantasies and dreams. Only then will I have exorcised the writing demons that live within.
Here’s a funny but true story about something that happened to me in my younger days.
I was a lead and rhythm guitarist for a band. Great times. Great friends. My friends and I practiced at one of the few storage warehouses that allowed bands to crank it up at night. We played at a million clubs and bars, displaying our skills and songs we so carefully crafted. We never cared about the other local bands. They weren’t our competition. You know who was? It was Rush. Van Halen. Queensryche and Led Zeppelin. I didn’t want to be like the guy down the street. I wanted to be like the people I listened to on my records, cassette or radio.
So my band mates and I were taking a break from rehearsing and we just sat down to have a beer when one of the other bands down a few bays – we called the storage facility “metal mall” – started playing. No biggie. Just another loud band. But then the guitar player clears the way and starts going off. My jaw dropped. This wasn’t usual. This wasn’t from the local domain. This was real talent. All of us were shocked. How could someone this good sneak into our backyard?
We got up and raced down the way not knowing what to expect. I was nervous thinking that suddenly I would be dropped to the bottom of the pile of local guitar heroes.
We were confused. It was a band we knew. Sort of friends of ours. But they were sitting too. Taking a break. Then we realized they were pulsing out music through a CD player. It was a band called Pantera. I had heard of them, but not heard them directly. “Dimebag” Darrell was a massive guitar player. He was still filling our ears with technique and touch that I didn’t expect from a real heavy metal band.
I was relieved. He wasn’t local. But here was another reminder of how high I must climb. From then on I put more effort into playing and practicing.
A few years back I was in my old stomping grounds and ran across a few acquaintances from the times. They remembered me for being such a solid, emotional guitar player. That made me feel good. After all these years, they remembered what heart and soul I put into my instrument.
Now I want to do the same in writing. Maybe I won’t have the same commercial success as the authors I look up to, but if in ten or more years, someone approaches me and says they enjoyed my book, my writing and that it meant something to them, then it will be all worth it.

In business we use the term “gap analysis” to determine the reality between what is required and what is available. This can apply to many different places in industry, music and science. And writing…
For me, gap analysis happens when I read a favorite author. One whose work is polished and complete. One with the rhythm of words that I dance along to merrily. And then I read my work. For many years when I balanced the two against each other, my words tripped over themselves. There was no rhythm I could dance to. The idea was present, but it just didn’t shine.
Michelangelo said that a sculpture already lived within the stone he worked on, he merely removed the unneeded pieces.
A blank sheet of paper should represent the same thing.
But I persevered. I wrote. I learned. I asked questions. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend amazing conferences like ThrillerFest and ask my favorite author’s what they’ve done to help them ascend to such heights. Then I wrote some more. And more.
Now when I do gap analysis, the gap isn’t nearly as large. In fact, there are places and times when it sings just right. When characters feel like they’re in your living room, or better yet, when you’re with them in the middle of some heart thumping moment.
It’s taken a long time to get there. But I have a standard. I want desperately to add to the collective known as thriller fiction. One that has given me great thoughts and adventure. But I only want to add quality work. So I endeavor to only release something that is at my standard. Something that says to me “this is as good as it gets”. I don’t want to publish crap. In fact, the absolute danger in indie and self-publishing is the tidal wave of crap that gets put out there. It threatens to turn away readers from such a great medium.
I will not add trash to the junkyard. But I will add color to the landscape. I will add something that adds to the power of the genre I love.
Don’t get sucked in to adding trash. Add something that is better than the last good book you’ve read. We will all be better off because of it.

Worried about the NSA? About Big Brother? Our electronic net of convenience makes it easier for devious individuals to spy on us without our knowledge. Take the case of Regin, a recently discovered malware program that does just that. And it’s been around since at least 2008!
In a world where Big Data has been its own economic force in the sense that it drives what we build and supply, imagine if you had your own Big Data collector and no one knew about it. You don’t just have to steal state secrets to know what other countries are doing, but know what consumers are buying. The name of business is to understand where everyone is going and to get there first. With such knowledge you could amass a pretty substantial boost in commerce.
The targets include international players and the most interesting thing about this is that they believe this is state sponsored. It’s ultra-sophisticated and had to have been developed with a nation’s efforts, not just a few individuals.
Who’s behind this? I don’t know but it sure makes for some great fiction fodder. I could think of quite a few ideas you could leverage from this discovery.
“Robert Thompson was accustomed to chasing down bad guys. But the next one on his list was invisible. It would takes clues and good old fashion detective work to hunt down the creator of the Regin spyware program. Usually this was left to the geek crew, but they came up with nothing. So it was his turn and he had no idea this international secret would be so closely guarded by a nation that was willing to kill anyone who tried to find them…”

The true story is below. Check it out:
Regin – state sponsored malware

The rapid world of evolving science and technology has made great fuel for us as mystery and thriller writers. We’ve bridged the gap between what was once considered far reaching science fiction and good thriller fiction. Science and technology can help us produce new bad guys, new bad events and intricate ways to put our heroes and heroines in danger. As well as unique ways to get them out. All it takes is a little digging and some creative thought.

I was watching an episode of Castle the other night (yeah, a little soft on the thriller side of things, but hey, Stana Katic is uh, nice to watch), and they blend in some great little technical gifts that make the week’s premise fun. In this episode, the bad guy was using pictures of house keys to go back and ‘print’ them using a 3-D printer. Ingenious… I loved it. I’m sure criminals have already done this and the idea made its way to the show, but for the average joe, it makes the episode interesting. (At some point we’ll probably all have key fobs and chips like cars do to defend against such a tactic, but for now it is a little scary…)

But the point is, I find this kind of science or technology, and it’s not science fiction – it’s science fact, in a great many shows and movies today. I think it really helps open up the challenges our characters will face in their adventures.
What kind of tech trend can you use as a nefarious device in your book?