Supporting your local bookstore is good for your community, good for readers, good for writers, and good for our culture. Every community is enriched when locally owned and operated book shops thrive, providing a safe haven for readers of all ages. They provide something that mega-internet-based stores can not. A place to mingle, chat, and share stories. A place to support those who make a living ensuring we have quality reading material. A place where authors can be seen and heard, and can pass along their stories. A place where authors can inspire the next generation of writers. Each of these is critical to the expansion of our culture.

Book Carnival in Orange, California, is an inspiring example of such a place. It specializes in mystery and romantic suspense, and has shelves full of thrillers, horror, and other suspenseful tales. Need a rare book? They’ve got those. Need it signed? They’ve got those. Want to come hear authors speak and ask them about the craft and business of writing? Book Carnival provides that opportunity several times a month, with both famous, established best-selling authors, to opportunities for those breaking into the business.

I recently had the privilege of appearing at Book Carnival. I shared the stage with Lance Charnes, a talented local author who has been a member of Pure Fiction league, a critique group we both attend. Lance read from his thriller, DOHA 12, and then I interviewed him. Once the audience had asked him a bevy of questions, I read from The Zeus Payload, and then Lance interviewed me. Finally, the audience asked me a variety of questions, and we had a great conversation. It was a grand experience, and I’m confident everyone went away a winner.

In an age where local bookstores are becoming rarer, I encourage you to get engaged with those in your neighborhood. Even if you can’t get there personally, you can order books just as easily as going to any online store. If you’re in Southern California, Book Carnival is a place worth visiting. If you’re not, you can order from the store’s owner, Anne, and keep the business up and running.

As Anne states on her website – “If you appreciate walking in here, speaking to people who have a passion for and deep belief in the value of books, who are widely read and devoted to matching you with a book we think you’ll love (not necessarily the book that’s on the best seller list)– if this service is something you value, then for goodness sake, buy that book from us!”

It’s good for everyone. You can find her here:

Book Signing at Book Carnival - Feb. 13, 2016

Book Signing at Book Carnival – Feb. 13, 2016

February 15th, 2016

Posted In: The Zeus Payload

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Cyber attacks have become mainstream news. A day doesn’t go by when some sort of cyber attack is reported. Hacking company and government databases has become commonplace. Movies and television focus on it.

Can the technology featured in The Zeus Payload be far away? Or could it be here now?

If you aren’t familiar with the technology, a cyber attack can come from a few different sources. The two hardest to defend against are a computer virus, which infiltrates a computer and can then steal information (or take other harmful action), and a computer worm, which infiltrates a network and all the computers on it. If a worm also has a payload (attacking software) is acts as a cyber weapon. This is the technology used in the attacks on the Iranian Nuclear Centrifuge. It is also the basis for The Zeus Payload, the techno-thriller that takes cyber weapons to the next level. In The Zeus Payload, the creator of the worms that struck Iran designs a newer model, one that can avoid detection. Forever.

Imagine the power that would bring. Imagine being able to launch an attack, and never being caught. Imagine changing computer records – real estate, stocks, communications, and being untraceable.

Sound far fetched? Maybe. But a decade ago much of today’s technology sounded like science fiction. Technology changes at an ever-increasing pace. It’s not so much that technology changes exponentially, but the rate of change changes exponentially.

Of course, technologists are not only trying to figure out how to infiltrate their enemies without being caught, but also trying to defend against such attacks. The race is on. Who will win?

If you find the subject interesting, The Zeus Payload gives a glimpse of the technology without bogging down with too many details. If you haven’t already, check out the reviews or give it a try.

December 10th, 2015

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Writers Conferences can open up new opportunities for writers. They can help you improve your craft. They can help you network and create new contacts in the business. They can give you opportunities to receive feedback on your writing.

In my experience, the two best writers conferences for thriller writers are ThrillerFest and Killer Nashville. They each provide a full slate of opportunities for thriller writers, although the conferences are unique in how they approach it.

ThrillerFest is held annually in New York City in July. It runs four days, and the full conference will run you over $1000. Plus the costs of hotels and meals in NYC. Run by the International Thriller Writers ITW) organization, it is broken down into three main sessions – CraftFest, AgentFest, and ThrillerFest.

CraftFest is a day and a half of lectures on the craft of writing. Top thriller writers are available to teach on a wide variety of subjects within the thriller genre. The lecture last about an hour, and are top shelf in quality.

AgentFest is like speed-dating with agents. Fifty agents gather in four conference rooms, and attendees move from one agent to the next (the authors pick which agent to stand in line for) and make a short pitch. Agents may ask to hear more, and sometimes will ask to see more. This goes on for a few hours.

ThrillerFest lasts two days, and is made up of panels and interviews with authors, agents, publishers, and other people in the business.

ThrillerFest is a great conference. It is much larger than Killer Nashville in terms of attendance, and has access to more literary agents. It is also much more expensive.

Killer Nashville is an amazing experience, run by Clay Stafford a his team of fabulous people. It caps attendance at around 300 people, and it handles agent pitches differently. At Killer Nashville, you can gain access to agents and publishers via Roundtables, where a dozen writers will each read two pages of their work to two professionals (agents or publishers). There are many sessions, and every attendee is guaranteed a slot. This year, I read in three different sessions, so I met with multiple agents and publishers.

The conference has lectures on the craft and business of writing, and panels. Authors are often invited to be part of a panel. The vibe is casual and chance meetings with professionals are common at many of the social actives available. They also have two bookstores – a Barnes and Noble, and a Killer Nashville bookstore for those who have books not available at B&N. They have book signings for authors who speak at lectures and panels.

I recommend both conferences. I try to alternate between each. I’ve been to other great conferences (The La Jolla Writers Conference is always a winner), but these two are the best for those writing in the thriller genre.

December 10th, 2015

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