The Hollywood Boys: An Interview with Alex Cord, John D. Fie. Jr and Cliff Roberts: Three Bestselling Authors – One Interview – One Night

It’s a rare day when you can Hollywood actor Alex Cord, Hollywood writer Cliff Roberts and Western super-seller John D. Fie. Jr in the same room for a chat. This is their latest interview together and it’s a good one… do you need more proof? Well let’s roll down and see what these giants have to say.

John D. Fie, Jr.

One of the most successful Western authors of his generation. His hits include the multi-million selling “Blood on the Plains,” “Luke Pressor: U.S. Marshal,” and “Incident at Benson’s Creek.”

Cliff Roberts

A multimillion book selling powerhouse who has turned out hit, after hit, after hit. His latest is called “Draw!” His other million sellers include “Reprisal: The Eagle Rises,” “Reprisal: The Gauntlet,” “Connor Slate: Bounty Hunter,” “Ambushed” and many others.

Alex Cord

The legendary actor and star of TV’s “Airwolf,” who has scored award-winning hit novels like “A Feather in the Rain.” His latest novel is called “High Moon at Hacienda del Diablo.” “A Feather in the Rain” is currently being considered as a movie.

Welcome to this interview Alex, John and Cliff. How are you all today?

Alex: Feeling pretty good—thank you for having me.

John: Great to be with you.

Cliff: Greetings!

Cliff, let me start with you. You seem eager to start. Are you ever surprised by how many Western readers there are in the world?

Yes, I was surprised at the number of people who currently read Westerns. At first, I thought it was one of the niche genres and that Westerns had pretty much faded into history. I was wrong.

The Western readers are great, friendly and loyal to a fault. I greatly appreciate their patronage. Thank you for reading my work, and I’ll endeavor to make each new book better than the one before.

John, I think this is a good question for you. With your novels constant favorites, perhaps you can explain to us why Westerns are still so popular?

As surprised as people are at the success of Westerns, I’m really not. I’ve always enjoyed the West, and I know many others have, too. I think there’s a lot of hype when it comes to romance, erotica and horror—but the Western fan base is just as busy buying the books they want.

I guess you can identify with that, Alex. As someone who has been writing and making Western movies—let me ask you this one: Do you prefer writing (and acting) the heroes or the villain characters?

I prefer to write about human beings and discover who and what they are. There are elements of heroes and villains in all of us. Shakespeare wrote entire plays about one element of humanity. Evil: Richard III; jealousy: Othello; heroism: Henry V. I like to delve into the depths of an individual and see what I can find.
Interesting—but it’s the title that sometimes draws the reader in before they’ve even discovered the writer. John—let me ask you this: How did you come up with the title of your “Blood on the Plains” novel?

Well, I was looking at a photo of the Kansas Plains and thought about how it must have been back then, with the first wagon trains crossing the plains and facing a vast nothingness in all directions. Then, the thought of Indian attacks and the blood that must have been spilled making that crossing. As I looked over more photos, the story was forming in my mind. I then came up with the title Blood on the Plains.

Did you have a different experience with “Luke Pressor: U.S. Marshal?”

Luke Pressor, U.S. Marshal is a story in itself. I was asked to publish a short story by Outlaws Publishing. I looked through the short stories I had written over the years, and I just couldn’t make up my mind. Then I thought, why not combine a story or two?

From the outset, it became a challenge. Luke Pressor became the hero of the story. This is how it became Luke Pressor, U.S. Marshal.

It’s interesting how things develop. Cliff—let me ask you this: Do you think part of the appeal of Westerns comes from the fact that they mirror the American way of life?

I think Westerns are the basis of the American way of life. The good guy is always honest, sometimes to a fault; and he believes in fair play, family and doing an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. In the Westerns, good triumphs over evil without exception.

And Alex—which Westerns do you think have really affected your life?

Red River, Lonesome Dove, Monte Walsh, The Westerner, Stagecoach, My Darlin’ Clementine, The Wild Bunch, One-Eyed Jacks. I list them not in order of preference. They are all fine films that I have seen more than once, some more than three or four or five times. Any of John Ford’s films. John Wayne, Ben Johnson, the great Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Slim Pickens, Marlon Brando, Karl Malden. These are the finest of the fine.

John—I suppose part of the appeal of the Western comes from the covers chosen by authors and publishers to illustrate the book. What has your experience been like with covers?

Blood on the Plains, at first, had a very bland looking cover. I had a contract with a different publisher at the time. The book wasn’t moving. Outlaws Publishing took a look at the book and the cover. It wasn’t until I signed with Outlaws Publishing that the book was pulled from the market. The book was re-designed, and I immediately saw the difference. The book, with the new cover design, just jumped at you. I knew right then I had made a good decision going with Outlaws. They specialize in the Western genre. Luke Pressor, U.S. Marshal also had two different book covers. Several covers were designed, and we put our heads together and again came up with a colorful book cover with eye appeal.

I think you have some of the best covers around, John. Cliff—you signed a contract with Outlaws Publishing after being both traditionally published and self-published. Do you think a larger publisher is important? Is it a step towards success to garner a large publisher’s interest?

I think it is important to have a good publisher, no matter in which genre you write. I’ve had several publishers who failed big time at actually helping me or being part of my team for success. The larger, well established publishers seem to be out for the almighty dollar and that alone. Your success as a writer doesn’t matter to them, other than they get more money. If you’re asking who I’d consider publishing my Western novels, I’d say use Outlaws Publishing. That’s who I use. They will treat you right, and they really want you to be a success and place their success secondary to yours. Outlaws has several divisions, so they can help you publish in almost any genre. If you’re looking for a publisher, send your manuscript to Outlaws and see if they can help you. Oh, yeah, they don’t charge you to up front to publish your book and are extremely fair on royalty splits.

John—what do you do differently to other authors when writing a Western?

I like to use small, quick one-liners in my stories to add a little comedy. Also to have a few characters who are somehow different from the others.

I think that’s an important part of being human, John. It’s a shame more writers can’t attempt to inject human characteristics into their books. Alex, let me ask you a similar question. What real life inspiration do you draw from people you know when writing your books?

My life is filled with experiences with all kinds of people. A rich bank from which to draw truth. Most of my characters are either based on people I know or have elements of them. I have made a practice of acquiring characters throughout my life and studying them. A creative artist, writer, actor, painter, dancer, musician, must be intensely curious, perceptive and interested.

Cliff would you agree with Alex? And would you go back to the West if you could?

I would agree with Alex. And no, I don’t think so. Whereas part of the Old West seems romantic and peaceful, it was a very dangerous place. Knowing me as I do, I’d probably end up having to learn to be a gunfighter and fast because I don’t take injustice well. I’d be out there trying to stop the lawlessness and probably get shot dead. Maybe I’d even become a historical figure if I did. The quickest lawman to get killed.

John—what would your one piece of advice be for a young author?

For new writers, make sure you get an editor. You can’t edit the book enough. When you’re ready to publish, look around and choose wisely, then stand by for the reviews.

I think that’s great advice. Alex, did you learn anything from writing your latest Western?

I did. That writing is fun, challenging and bloody hard work. Many people say they would like to write a book, and I believe that everyone has a book in them. Getting it out from within and onto blank pages is another matter. It requires huge belief and relentless commitment.

What a learning process. Cliff, what do you think is the key to success?

Good writing, good promotion and making sure you surround yourself with those who will help you, rather than hinder you. A good publisher, publicist, and editor will make you as an author. A poor publisher, publicist, or editor will break you. I need say no more. Invest in yourself, your product and hire a good publicist.

And John—what does it feel like to be one of the top authors in the business?

It feels pretty good. It’s good to know that somebody is enjoying your story.

Check out the latest books from these three great authors.

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Montague Reveals An Exclusive Snippet of His New Bonner Book

wayne montague“MAN O’ERBOARD!” Some of the crew along with Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Bonner gather on the starboard side, straining to get a better look. Mr. Jenkins pulls out his spyglass trying to locate the survivor, finding him he points in that direction offering his spy glass to Mr. Bonner. The Captain is busy watching the debris with his own. Sure enough there is someone. He’s hanging on to a piece of wreckage with one hand. Getting closer they see he is also holding on to another survivor, trying to keep his head above the waves.

“DROP THE BOAT! GET THOSE MEN OUTTA THERE, NOW! MOVE IT! MOVE IT! shouts Captain Bonner.

Mr. Jenkins verbally whips some of the stouter men to the task, barking and bellowing with even more sailor’s salt given the emergency, prompting an even quicker response than usual. The selected sailors and Poppy along with them, already cold and wet brace themselves as the boat is prepared for launch and lowered into the still ragged sea. It’s a task in itself just negotiating the wet and slippery ropes down the side and getting to the bobbing pitching dingy. With unerring aim, one by one, each man drops from the rope into the boat, each spotting the next. Poppy the last man, presses off the ship’s hull and leaps from the rope’s end to his intended target, landing and rolling into his fellow crewmen with a muffled thud. The other four grab him, lest he too becomes one of the floating survivors.

Mr. Bonner keeps a watchful eye on his men from atop the quarter deck as they fight and battle the wind and five to ten foot seas. Mr. Jenkins keeping a keen eye on them as well barks orders guiding them as they bob in and out of sight in the rolling sea on the way to their quarry. Holding the rudder of the little boat Poppy steers them as best he can while the four crewmen row hard forcing them closer to the flotsam and their objective. Even with the wind at their stern and their best efforts it still takes the five hardy sailors the better part of twenty minutes to get close enough to see them through the passing fog and pitching waves. Closing in they see the poor man clinging tightly to the debris, Poppy calls out to him.

“HANG ON THERE MATE WE BE ALMOST THERE!” he yells, spotting them as they top a wave then losing sight of them behind another.

“PLEASE… HURRY, DON’T… M MUCH… L-LON-GER…” cries the man, spitting and sputtering in broken english between the mouthfuls of sea water he’s forced to swallow as the waves wash over him and his fellow survivor.

You can pick up the first W.M. Montague novel today from Amazon. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to sail with Mr Bonner, and his motley crew. Get your copy here.

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Mike Trahan: A New Interview Takes Off

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This interview is with veteran pilot Mike Trahan. Mike has flown in wars, commercially and has flown for pleasure. His series “The Gift” has been a constant bestseller since it’s release, and the third book in the series was published a few weeks ago.

This interview was written just a few days ago.

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1. Why did you call your series “The Gift?”

The title “The Gift” came from a poem I wrote about my first flight in an airplane. One of the stanzas reads:

Until that moment my life was aimless,
With no real goals in sight.
The Lord gave me a GIFT that day,
His GIFT was the love of flight.

I was very fortunate to know, at a very young age, what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and that was to be a pilot. Getting that early start was the best thing I cold have done, and I think having a dream like that to strive for was a

Gift from God. In the last stanza of the poem, “The Gift” I wrote:

My only wish for my children,
As I watch them learn and grow.
Is that He will give them a dream someday,
And they’ll have their chance to know!

2. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

I am trying to reach out to young people, who are interested in flying, to show them it can be done if you want it badly enough. And I am also writing for us old pilots who want to go back and reminisce about what it was like when we learned to fly.

3. How did you decide what to write about when it came to your life?

I felt that major turning points were important, and I included a lot of setbacks and disappointments too, so the reader could see how those things turned out later on. Most setbacks and disappointments led to something much better. Again, I was hoping the setbacks in their lives would not discourage the young readers.

4. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

I provided the photographs and my Publicist, Nick Wale, designed the covers. It was a happy coincidence to note, when we finished the covers, that in each book

I was seen next to an airplane and a progression became apparent.

In “The Beginning” I was standing by a little Cessna with one foot on the wheel and one on the ground. In “The Air Force Years” I was standing halfway up the boarding ladder on an AC-47 Gunship. The third cover, for “The Delta Years”, shows me standing at the top of the boarding ladder on a Boeing 737, in my Captain uniform. So, symbolically, each picture depicted my climb up the aviation ladder from the beginning to the pinnacle.

5. What was your favourite flying experience, and why?

It would be hard to pick one experience out of thousands of them. If I had to pick just one, I would say it was my first solo flight in a little Aeronca Champion airplane. It was on my sixteenth birthday, which was the minimum age to fly solo, and it represented the achievement of a goal I had had since I was old enough to realize what an airplane was. It was also the beginning of a long and wonderful flying career for me.

6. How about your least favourite flying experience?

I would say any flight where my passengers felt uncomfortable because of a rough ride, or thunderstorms around us, or any other problem like that. I always felt their apprehension and I did my best to reassure them that I was taking the safest course possible and that they would be okay.

7. If you could have experienced one thing within the flying world that you didn’t experience—what would it have been?

There are a couple, but I would like to have checked out in a seaplane, and a helicopter. I never did that but I wish I had.

8. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

I think some of the unexpected adventures, such as flying into Saigon the night the famous Tet Offensive started, or running into a high school friend in Tokyo, Japan one day, were interesting and fun. I landed in Selma, Alabama on the day of that great civil rights march, and I flew some National Guard troops to Chicago during the Democrat Convention, to quell the riots that were going on.

It seemed I had a lot of brushes with events that became historically significant.

I call those my “Forest Gump” moments, because in that movie he was always having brushes with history.

9. Do you read memoirs for pleasure?

Yes, I have enjoyed reading the memoirs of other pilots I have known or known about. Each story is similar and also unique.

10. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

The best way to contact me is via email at MTrahan33@gmail.com

11. What can we expect from you in the future?

Well, I just finished the third, and last book in my Autobiographical Series “The Gift”, so that completes that effort. I am considering a children’s book next, and probably a few short stories. I’m not ready to tackle another book right now. I am excited about this though – We are producing my books in the Audio Format, and I hope to reach another audience that way. I am enthused about that.

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Fiore Strikes Back: An Interview with Author F.F. Fiore

frank fioreF.F Fiore is a writer who has sold over 30,000 copies of his books. He lives in Arizona, and writes daily. His new book “Murran” takes on the gangs of the 1980’s.

This interview was done exclusively with Frank for his latest blog tour. Enjoy!

 

 

 

What is the title and genre of your book?

It’s called MURRAN. Murran is the story of a young African-American boy named Trey coming of age in the 1980s, and his rite of passage to adulthood. Trey is a member of a ‘crew’ in Brooklyn and is enticed into helping a violent street gang. He is eventually framed for murder and flees with his high school teacher to the teacher’s Maasai village in Kenya. Trey goes through the Maasai warrior’s rite of passage, becomes a young shaman, and returns to America to confront and defeat the gang leader that framed him.

Frank, who did you write this book for?

It’s a general audience story but is very worthwhile for young teens to read the book. Besides that I wanted to show that Black America had a true unique culture that was abandoned in the mid 20th century for what they claim is an African-American culture today. Black Americans had a unique Black culture. It was called the Black Renaissance and it took place in the early part of the 20th century. A Renaissance steeped in values and culture unique to Blacks. MURRAN proposes that the Maasai cultural values of children and family first and the success of their culture living amidst the dangers of the African bush should be copied by Black Americans today to create a successful community.

“Murran” is an interesting title– how did you come up with it?

MURRAN means ‘warrior’ in Maasai. Trey, the young teen in the book, joins a teen gang called the ‘Warriors’. But when he goes to Africa and lives with the Maasai, he sees the Maasai warriors and learns what a true warrior is.

Where did you get that great cover from? Can you tell us about the cover art?

I wanted to show the two different sides of a warrior. The street warrior – gang member – on one side and the Maasai warrior on the other. It was designed under the direction of myself.

Which of the characters in “Murran” speaks to you?

There are several characters I like but the best one that speaks to me is the Maasai shaman – ol Sanke. He plays the role of the wise old man. His role in the story is the same as Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars or Don Juan in Carlos Castaneda’s books.

And the character you hate is…

That would be the District Sheriff in Kenya. He is crook and used his office to shield himself from any ramifications of his actions. He eventually goes too far.

Almost all writers want to change something about the books they’ve released. We are giving you that opportunity. What are you going to change?

Nothing. It is a perfect story. It’s the most perfect one I have ever written. When you read it you’ll agree.

Is there something you learned while writing “Murran” that you’d like to share with us?

Trey was astonished to learn that Pi burned hot coals into her thighs. When asked why, he was told they served the same purpose as tattoos on girls do in the US. Another is the fact that of all the big cats, the lion is the only one that was a spur on the end of its tail. No one knows whey wand what purpose it serves. But ol Sanki knows why and tells the story to Trey how the lion got its spur.

Of all the ethnic cultures you could have used, why did you select the black culture?

The story of MURRAN led me there. To make my main character an African-American. But it also gave me a vehicle to pursue an alienation theme. If any ethnic group in our country has been alienated the most, it’s the Africa-Americans because of the manner that they arrived to America. When asked what tribe are you from of an African-American – there is no answer. But almost every other ethnic and European culture in our society can point to a ‘tribe’ they came from. MURRAN gives me the opportunity to provide a way for the threatened culture of the Maasai tribe – a proud and brave culture with a strong rite of passage for their youth – to be introduced and hopefully embraced by today’s African-Americans who seem to want to live a true African culture.

As a white male, did you think it might be thought of as strange writing a story about a culture you are not a part of and can only empathize?

Let’s take an old saying about writing that goes: Write what you know. I disagree with that. You write what you CAN know. I put a ton of research into my stories – then – I find a story polisher who has experience in the subject matter and have them check my research and add dimensions to the story. As for Africa and the Maasai, it’s research but also my personal experience of traveling to Africa several times.

How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Go to my author website at http://www.frankfiore.com

The two latest Frank Fiore novels are below, and are available from Amazon. You can buy your copies by clicking on the links below…

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Five Things to Check Before Publishing Your Book

So, you’ve been through the painstaking process of writing, editing, and proof reading your book. Maybe you’ve even gone so far as to have had it beta read. The question is: Is it print ready? In our experience, most books aren’t. In the rush to get their book published, many authors overlook the nitty gritty details of what used to be called simply “typesetting.” Those details can make all the difference between a frustrating publication process, and one that goes swimmingly well, producing a top quality product.

Did you use a template when you wrote the book? You’d be surprised at how many authors don’t. If you’re one of them, apply a book template now! It will save you a lot of money in ebook conversion and typesetting costs.

Do you have two versions of your manuscript? You should! One for your ebook, with your “web-links” intact, and another for print where the weblinks are replaced by more traditional notes and bibliographic references. Is there anything that says “amateur” like a print book filled with blue underlined text, or an ebook with dead footnotes?

Do you have two versions of your graphics? You should! In fact, you might need three! Ebooks use “web standard” graphics. That means they use the RGB color space and exactly 72ppi. Printers require a much higher ppi rate. 300 is pretty much considered the minimum. If you’re offset printing, you will also need to color separate the print book graphics for the printer. (POD printers don’t usually require this.) If the interior of the book is black and white, but the graphics are in color in the ebook, you’ll need to convert all your graphics over to 300ppi black and white images. Not all images convert to two colors gracefully.

Keep that in mind when selecting graphics. It will save a lot of hair pulling later.
Do you have two book covers? If you’re doing a physical print as well as an ebook, you’ll need both. The same rules apply to covers as graphics, and any decent cover designer will know this and supply you with the ebook cover at no extra cost. (I mean, really! It is just a front cover cut reduced to RGB at 72 ppi.)

Do you know what kind of ebook you need? While inside the Amazon ecosystem, things aren’t changing all that much – Kindle is just “mobipocket,” a very limited, 20 year old technology. Outside of Amazon, things are on the move. The epub 3.0 standard opened up the ebook world considerably. If your book is a picture book or an academic book, you may need this functionality to present your book properly (at the expense of losing readers who use older technology). A simple novel, on the other hand, is far more forgiving in its presentation requirements. Graphic novels have their own e-publishing standards (though epub 3.0 now does graphic novels very well, also). It’s still the wild west out there in ebook land. A bit of study, or the opinion of an expert, is advised for complex projects.

Today’s readers aren’t really all that different from readers five hundred years ago: They want to immerse themselves in their reading experience. They want to “dive into” the book. That means presenting them with a familiar, comfortable reading experience. In the old days, that meant every book needed to comply with a long list of familiar typesetting customs and traditions that guaranteed a familiar look and feel. Today, that comfort comes from an alchemical stew made up only in part by your content. The other part is provided by the reading device and its software. Even the best software can’t make a badly formatted ebook look great; but it can turn a good presentation into a great one.

This article was written by Michael Matson of “Metaphor Publications.” You can contact Michael via their official website.

The Name is Montague: The Book is Mr. Bonner

wayne montague

This interview is with author and artist W.M Montague. W.M is currently working on the blockbuster sequel to his cracking first book “Mr. Bonner And the Amazing Adventures of POSEIDON’S CHARGE.”

You can find his first book here.

 

So, why did you want to do this interview?

Wait, you wanted to interview me, remember? (laughs)

And what did you think of that?

I was kind of stunned.

Why?

After all, I’m not yet a published author. I didn’t think I was even in the same league as your previous guests.

But you are a writer?

That’s what I’ve been told! (laughs)

Why writing? Why do you enjoy writing, Wayne?

To be honest, it wasn’t something I had ever pictured myself doing, but my mind will not let me rest unless I have a creative outlet. Writing is cheaper to do than artwork, and I have always had a very vivid imagination.

What have you spent your life doing?

A song comes to mind: Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life.” It pretty much sums it up. I have been blessed in my life. God has allowed me to taste a smorgasbord of life. I suppose it’s easier to say what I haven’t done—astronaut for one; zoologist another.

And now a writer? Will zoologist be next?

I kinda doubt that, though I do love animals to better answer your previous question, though. I worked in the hospitality industry, construction sales, and entertainment, mostly.

With such an interesting past, Wayne, why fiction? Why not a biography about your life?

Funny you should mention that. It has been suggested (numerous times) that I do exactly that. However, I never really thought my life would be that interesting to folks. As far as to why? Blame it on Earl Stanley Gardner, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and other great writers in history. I want to take the reader on an adventure different from their own.

So you are an adventurer? You crave new, exciting situations?

I have, at least, been thrust into them!

What has been your most exciting adventure in life?

Waking up each morning realizing I have another chance “not to screw it up?” Seriously, I would say when I was performing and acting! Think about it, to get paid to pretend?

How far did you get with your acting?

I was never anything more than a bit player in films, but the fun, the comradeship, the chance to do something most people have not had the chance to do…

He’s a good guy- so who else did you work with?

Well, let’s see. My first experience was with Karen Black, Cameron Mitchell, and Robert Bristol. Then there was Albert Finney, John Pollito, Marsha Gay-Harden, Mike Starr, Nick Cage, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt to name a few, and not forgetting the Cohen brothers—I worked on their film for 5 months. Getting back to one of your previous questions, I also like most of Stephen King’s works.

Why King? What does he have that draws you in?

He seems to have the ability to weave a tale from the most mundane subjects or objects. Though I feel a lot of his stories don’t get the proper treatment in film. He’s a freaky dude, and I like freaks.

Do you write like King?

How do you mean?

His style?

Yep, although I don’t really think I’m nearly as good as him. But as far as my style, I want the reader to see in their mind’s eye what is going on, the environment the characters are in, feel what the characters feel, almost smell and taste the “meat” of the story.

How meaty are your stories?

Let’s just say, hopefully when you read it, you’ll feel like you’ve just finished a huge feast.

What is it about? You have me intrigued!

Good question. It’s about two life-long friends and their adventures into the unknown.

What happens to them?

Ahhh, nice try! No, I’m not skipping to the chapter where the butler did it.

How would you describe the writing process?

I think I’ve created a “FRANKENBOOK” monster. It has been, like so many other authors say, a flood, then a log jam, a flood, then a log jam, etc.

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1966: Republic of South Vietnam.

A basic principal of aviation, which cannot be ignored, even in war: The vacuum created by the camber of an airplane wing is generated by the air rushing across it. This vacuum can be measured in pounds. When the pounds of the airplane and its cargo exceed the pounds of generated vacuum, the airplane will not fly—it crashes.
Fifteen miles east of Kon Tum airfield, a raging battle was in progress with North Vietnamese regulars. It was not going well. We received an emergency call for airlift and headed to the small Kon Tum field to move unspecified fighting equipment to Pleiku.

As I surveyed the situation, an army staff sergeant approached. He looked tired and stressed and gave a half-hearted salute that looked more like a wave. What barely passed as a uniform was dirty and wet with sweat.

I asked if we could be of assistance in moving his equipment. He pointed to a three-axle truck, the kind with the high chuck wagon canvas top. Fastened to the hitch on the truck was a 105-mm Howitzer cannon on wheels. He had been ordered to get it all to Pleiku as soon as possible.

When I inquired about the weight, the sergeant said the truck was 20,000 pounds and the gun another 15,000 pounds. Taking into account runway length, elevation and temperature, I made some calculations and told him we could take the Howitzer or the truck but not both. With a look more of desperation than disappointment, he insisted both had to go, the battle depended on it. I recalculated, using all the fudge factor that I dared. There was no way—I could only take off with a maximum cargo of 25,000 lbs. I told him again, either the truck or the gun but not both. As he turned to discuss the problem with another sergeant, I got the impression he didn’t believe me. I guess he thought, hey man, they don’t call this airplane the C-130 Hercules for nothing. But he didn’t comment.

With obvious reluctance, they decided to take the truck without the gun.

As the truck drove up our back ramp, I became uneasy. The truck seemed to require high power settings, even in the lowest gear, and as it proceeded into the cargo hold, the airplane settled ominously lower. I got a sick feeling: something was wrong.

I walked up the ramp to the truck and moved the canvas. Stacked five feet high were wooden boxes. “Sergeant, what is this?”
Sheepishly, “That’s the gun ammunition, sir.”
“How much does it weigh?”
“Sir, I don’t know exactly but about 20,000 pounds. When you said you could take the truck, I figured you could take what was in it.”
“Were you going to accompany your truck to Pleiku?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Sergeant, nobody would have made it to Pleiku. You, along with the rest of us, would have died in flames at the end of the Kom Tum runway. It would have been a spectacular ball of fire fed by JP-4 fuel and 20,000 pounds of 105-mm Howitzer ammunition.”

Don Massenzio: The Writing Master of Noir

Don Massenzio must surely be on the must-read lists of thriller and noir readers. He has been in the book business for some time now and his new book “Frank Incensed” has just been released so get a copy.

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Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a short tagline:

Let Me Be Frank: A Frank Rozzani Detective Story – A tragedy changes the life of one of Frank’s closest friends.

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Anywhere from young adults to seniors. It is an engaging mystery without a preponderance of violence, sex or profanity.

How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

It is based on the first name of the main character.

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?

I have a cover artist in Pakistan that I use quite frequently. He is very good at devising an image based on a synopsis of the book.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

I would say Clifford Jones or “Jonesy.” He is a bit of a smartass and the ultimate sidekick with great skills.

How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?

There is no one character, but the collective scum that Frank and Jonesy must deal with to solve their case would be my least favorite.

If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?

Really, nothing comes to mind.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

It was reviewed by an ex-New Orleans police officer who felt that the scenes in New Orleans were quite accurate.

What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?

Some Elmore Leonard and John D. MacDonald books.

Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I am a musician, and I write and arrange music.

How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

Through my website: http://www.donmassenzio.com

What can we expect from you in the future?

Another book in the Frank Rozzani series as well as a book of short stories and a non-fiction book that will consist of tips for self-published writers.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Reviews are always helpful along with spreading the word to friends and family.

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Keep at it. Write every day. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t be put off by the stigma of self-publishing, but be sure to hire a competent editor and use beta readers.

And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:

“Jonesy, he’s got her!”

Clifford “Jonesy” Jones had just finished surfing and was getting ready to head back to his surf shop when he received the frantic call from Frank.

“Who got whom? What are you talking about?”
“He killed Sarah and now he’s got Nancy. I’ve got to go after him.”
“Frank. Calm down, what the hell are you talking about.”
“No time. I’ve got to go after him.”
“I’ll be right there.”

Jonesy threw his long board into the back of his Ford F-150 and sped to Frank’s trailer. When he pulled in, Frank was throwing duffel bags into the trunk of his car.

“What’s going on Frank? Where are you headed?”

Frank was intent upon loading his car and, at first; it seemed that he might not answer Jonesy. Finally, he stopped and looked up.

“This is bad. Really bad. This guy is ruthless. He tortured Sarah. I can’t let it happen to Nancy.”
“Frank. You’re saying it’s the same guy that killed your wife? How did he know you were here? How did he know about Nancy? Where are you chasing him to?”
“I just can’t deal with this right now. I just can’t…I’ve gotta go.”

Frank got into the car and started it up. Jonesy dropped his keys and as he picked them up, Frank put the car in gear and spewed a cloud of dirt and sand as he sped out of the driveway and headed north on A1A.

Gun Barrel Vision – An Aviation Story From Pilot Steve Taylor

steve taylorWith six months of training in the T-37 jet, I had successfully completed basic, cross country navigation, aerobatics and formation flying. It was time to report for my final instrument check. This would be my last check before graduating from the T-37 to the larger T-33 jet trainer. The T-33 was the trainer version of the first Air Force jet fighter, the F-80 Shooting Star. I was so close to becoming a real jet jock I could taste it. But I wasn’t there yet.

After a short briefing, I walked to the flight line with the instructor who was designated as my flight examiner for the final instrument check. I did the walk-around inspection and strapped in, rapidly going through the now familiar preflight procedures. We all wore the standard flight helmet with oxygen mask and hose. Because the T-37 was unpressurized, it was necessary to breathe with an oxygen mask at higher altitudes. We used an acronym to remember all the steps for the oxygen check – PD McCRIPE: pressure, diaphragm, mask, connection – CONNECTION. I was momentarily distracted as my instructor repeated the altimeter setting he had just heard over the radio. Unaware that I had skipped the most important step of actually connecting the oxygen hose to the regulator, completion of the other items on the oxygen checklist were for naught.

After we took the runway, the examiner reached into his bag and took out the blinders used for instrument flying. These fit onto my helmet so I could see only the instruments directly in front of my eyes. That effectively killed any chance of looking outside the jet to determine the situation.

We climbed to 21,000 feet and went through various instrument maneuvers. Hypoxia onset at this altitude is an insidious condition. I had been through the altitude chamber and watched my fellow pilots go through very rapid hypoxia at 35,000 feet and had done so myself. At that altitude, the time of useful consciousness is about 15 seconds without oxygen. But at 21,000 feet the onset happens slowly. Not only is there no discomfort, gradual deprivation of oxygen results in euphoria.

At first I was alert and doing well. But after about 20 minutes, I started to get sloppy. Finally, my instructor looked at me and said, “Taylor, what’s the matter with you? You’re off your altitude. You’re off your heading and you’re all over the sky.”

I looked over at him, and though he couldn’t see it through my mask, I was grinning. “Uh – I’ll get it – just a minute.” I actually thought I was doing great.

“Taylor, something’s wrong with you. Check your oxygen.”

I slowly looked at my oxygen regulator. The regulator should have blinked every time I took a breath, but I was too far gone to see anything wrong. I turned and gave him a blank look.

“Check your hose connection,” he shouted, “NOW!”

I found the loose hose connection, but by now I was so daffy, instead of hooking it to the regulator, I tried to stick the end of the hose in my mouth, but it kept hitting the mask.

At that point I passed out. My next memory was coming to and going into convulsions. Even though conscious, I could not control the shaking and jerking of my body and, for a short while, I couldn’t talk. Though scary, this is a temporary part of the recovery process. But under the stress of the situation, my poor instructor forgot that detail and thought I was dying. We were in a steep dive toward the airport, and I heard the call to the tower.

“Mayday – mayday – mayday, I have an incapacitated student. I need an ambulance. I say again, I have an incapacitated student. I need an ambulance.”

By the time we were on approach, I had recovered and tried to convince the flight examiner that I was all right, but he obviously had doubts. I could see an ambulance and fire truck off to one side of the runway. As we taxied onto the apron, three medics ran from the ambulance with a stretcher. I tried again to convince my instructor I was fine.

“This is precautionary,” the instructor said. “Just do what they say. I will shut down the left engine and leave the right one running. Keep your helmet on so the noise doesn’t damage your ears.”

The medics, of course, had no idea what condition I was in, so they tried to grab me and put me on the stretcher. I resisted and walked to the ambulance with a medic on either side holding my arms. I was allowed to sit in the ambulance with one medic next me and one across from me still convinced in my mind that I was okay. But as each medic asked me a question, I found myself having to turn my head and look straight at him in order to see him. I suddenly realized I had no peripheral vision whatsoever. And then it hit me. Oxygen starvation could cause vision impairment. I saw my life flash in front of me, realizing it would mean the end of my flying career. In a panic, I shouted, “I’ve got gun barrel vision! I can’t see!I’ve got gun barrel vision!”

One of the medics calmly reached up and removed my instrument blinders and said, “Lieutenant, does this help?”
“Uh … yes,” I sheepishly replied.

Read more funny aviation stories from Steve Taylor in his new book “Wheels Up: Sky Jinks in the Jet Age” available from Amazon

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An Interview I’ve Been Waiting For: Artist & Author Judy Mastrangelo

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judyThis interview is with a very talented author and artist called Judy Mastrangelo. I read an interview her on another blog some time ago and I enjoyed her work. I asked her PR for an interview and here it is… I really like the way her work blends in and I believe Children (and grown-ups) around the world will love the new book.

Is it important for an artist to be creative, or can you be an artist without creativity?

I think it’s very important for an artist to be creative. I really don’t know how an artist can help but be creative, since it is the very substance and nature of art.

Where do artists find their audience?

Audiences can be found online of course, through social media such as Facebook, etc. Various types of agents, such as Licensing and Public Relations agents, can help an artist enlarge their audiences. And of course, you can develop an audience in your local community, through schools, art galleries, etc.

What would your biggest piece of advice be for a young artist?

Find a genre of art that you really love, and then work very hard to develop your talent to be able to create that type of work. It does take a lot of effort to do so, but if you really love it, you will experience tremendous joy in your artistic journey.

I, myself, am always learning and developing my artwork. I feel that my painting is always in need of improvement. I always find inspiration from the great artists of the past. By looking at the work of these amazing masters, I am constantly awed by their masterpieces and am encouraged to then develop my own talent.

I’d also suggest that you endeavor to become friends with those in the artistic community of the type of art you enjoy. Some of these people might be newcomers to that field, too; and you can share stories of your trials and tribulations. And you also might be lucky enough to communicate with successful artists in that genre, whose work you greatly admire. Some-times these well-known artists might have some time to be in communication with their fans and to give them encouragement and advice.

How many different kinds of projects have you worked on?

I’ve worked on many kinds of art projects, such as books, and creating wallpaper art, etc. I must say that it’s been mostly very enjoyable and rewarding.

Where is your favourite place to work?

I mostly like to paint in the comfort of my own home, but I have had fun creating in many varied environments.

Have you ever painted something you didn’t like?

Yes. And it didn’t turn out very well. I’ll talk more about that experience later. It’s a funny story.

Does creativity begin to become stifled if you are working as an artist—rather than just being an artist?

If you mean working as an “Artist for Hire,” it all depends. Many of my paintings that I’ve done in the past as commissions turned out very well.

I don’t do commissioned work anymore, though. I prefer to “just be an artist” and to paint what my inspiration beckons me to create at the moment.

Why did you want to start working on books?

I do enjoy stories, and illustrated books have always been a great love of mine ever since I was young. Therefore, it was very natural to me to want to create art books with text and illustrations in them.

Where does your love of fairies come from?

The World of Fairies is an innate love of mine, since I’m an imaginative person. I’ve never really “seen” a Fairy, but I feel their “presence” within flowers, and other forms of nature. It’s a very fascinating “realm” to me, and this world gives me great pleasure to depict through my art.

Do you enjoy reading fantasy novels such as “Lord of the Rings”?

Yes, of course I do appreciate reading novels such as this. But I must admit that I also very much enjoy seeing the wonderful fantasy films which have been made of these endearing stories.

It’s truly a delight for me, as a graphic artist, to actually see great fantasy literature in all its glory and color, depicted on the screen. When you read a story, you picture the characters in your own mind; but to see the fantastic way that they have been created in film, plus watching them portrayed by actors whom you know and love, is a wonderful experience! And of course, I have no problem with the amazing modern digital special effects which are used in these films. I’m not a purist there.

Do you enjoy teaching art?

Yes, I do enjoy teaching art. I love to impart my experiences in the development of my craft to others of all ages. It’s wonderful for me to see people with artistic talents. It is very satisfying to know that I might have a hand in encouraging people to develop a love for art and for creating their own craft.

I’ve worked for several years on writing a book about this so that I can share my artistic philosophy and experiences with others. At last, this book recently has been published as an eBook on Kindle: “PAINTING FAIRIES AND OTHER FANTASIES,” and I hope that people will enjoy it and benefit by it: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TA4ZYRG

In the book is included a link where you can download free printable pages of my Painting Tutorials. These pages will be added to often, so that you can always download new ones when I post them from time to time. In this way, I can teach art to a worldwide audience. It is very gratifying.

Is there anything you haven’t painted already that you would love to paint?

I have so many things that I would enjoying painting, which I haven’t yet done. It would take me many lifetimes to be able to do so. I have quite a few “visions” that I see in my mind, all calling me to be put on canvas. These are my own fantasies, and I look forward to bringing them into being for others to enjoy.

You can catch Judy’s latest book “What Do Bunnies Do All Day?” here

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