Blurb, blurb, blurb…

blurb.jpgThe letter was from a big, big, big, publishing company.  Oh, boy! Addressed to me personally, sent through my agent’s offices. Oh, boy. Oh, boy. Oh, boy!  Immediately my mind went into ceremonial procedural mode;

You can’t just rip it open: sit down at your desk, calmly take the letter opener and slit the envelope so no evidence of child-like anticipation, like torn edges, will belie my “professionalism.”

Dear Mr. Avitabile, They spelled it right!

We know you get many requests… yeah, but not from a gigantic publisher who obviously has noticed me! …But can you blurb this book!  Ah, crap! Another request to read a book and say nice things about someone else’s work.

I quickly karmically adjust my transmission into the universe by hitting the spiritual delete button a few times. Then, I rephrase my reaction, Oh boy, a chance to pay forward what I have been so generously blessed with; a writer’s praise for inclusion on the back (or possibly, front) cover of a book. 

But this is not just any book, this is a gigantic publishing company’s book. A major publisher, you know, the one with thousands of employees who stay awake all night endeavoring to get an author’s work into the hands of every reader in America and the free-world.  And along with that book, will be my name…and my pithy, succinct and quotable, quote.  

Well, that blurb worked out well. Turned out it is a great book with a “novel” approach to voicing that could become a thing, like; Gone Girl’s, unreliable narrator was a thing for a while.  Plus, the big editor-at the big house, loved my quote. Good luck, and God bless to the author and the publisher.            But…

Many times I find myself in the unenviable position of reviewing a book that has uncorrected or unseen, earlier draft issues. Glaring malpractices, that destroy the read for me. Things like, temporal errors that drag out a beat or make no beat at all, too much filler or not enough minor, unexpected delights in the prose or style. My first reaction is, how can this book have gotten this far? Who didn’t read it but passed it on after skimming through it. Did some intern right out of lit-school recommend the submission and it just got rubber-stamped all the way to my front door mailbox? Or am I unworthy? Not able to pass judgement on a work that has obviously been worked on by professionals including agents, editors, marketing folks and the author — at least four times! Yet, my reaction is “Yeah, but this book is not-so-good.”

So as in five previous cases, I have refused to lend a blurb.  Usually in an E-mail with a simple open-ended line, “I am sorry, but I cannot recommend this book at this time.”  Three editors got curious enough to ask me what, “This time” meant. I told them it meant, “The book needed more time.” Then I added, “But what the hell do I know.”  Yet, in two of those cases they let me give my notes to the author. I am pleased to say that both authors said essentially the same thing; i.e., No one read it that closely.

But here I am talking obvious stuff.  Like time warps between POV characters or echoes of 10-dollar words whose value depreciates upon every reverberation within the manuscript. Or, sometimes it’s just too much dependency on the willing suspension of belief: like a passage where a reporter is doing a puff piece with the protagonist, while we know (and presumably the world of the book knows), that a murder of someone close to the hero has been committed and the body is lying in the morgue, yet not a question from the media. In fact, the whole interview goes hunky dory and the next chapter begins.

My cat jumps as I scream out loud, “Then why the hell have the hero interviewed? Why take us there to; no conclusion, no foreshadowing or complication…WHY?”

How could any publisher allow a neutral flat plot line between two already neutral plot lines? So that there’s three, NUTHIN’ HAPPENS, sequences in a row, when only one was needed.    — You see why I think it’s me? That I fear I don’t have the tools to do this?

By the way, that book got released with glowing, effervescent blurbs by some of the biggest authors in the publishing universe.  So, WTF do I know?

P.S. Don’t send me your book.

It’s Only Fiction ‘til the NORTH KOREANS make it happen…

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 10.20.56 AM.pngIt’s only fiction ‘til it happens tm is my U.S. Reg. patent office; official slogan that conveys how scary the world is. In that, I make up a seemingly fictional plot or story element that is born to live only within the covers of a book. Then somehow, life imitates my art and…Wham, there it is in the news. So it’s almost getting routine to find that, last week, the NORKS, (slang for the totalitarian, North Korean regime) have released a video, which eerily echoes part of the plot of my novel, The God Particle.

In my book, a video of an attack on a U.S. aircraft carrier is released on the Internet. Although this is a showpiece of a larger and more intricate sub-plot, with a few twist and turns, it is the same video that the NORKS released last week and for almost the same reason!

Of course you can’t say that North Korea is a totalitarian state without the root word, “total” as in total-ly crazy. An American aircraft carrier, all by itself, is a defense system larger than most countries on earth have. And here’s a news flash to North Korea; we have a few more, and an entire arsenal of whop-ass behind it that such an actual attack would unleash. Ergo…totally crazy.

Of Mechanical Bondage

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws


The genius Isaac Asimov saw deep iAsimovnto our future. He reasoned that as men sought to enslave machines, they would constantly be improving them to be better slaves. As soon as the physical functions aided by micro-hydraulics and programmed actions were run of the mill, man in his constant search for more, bigger, better would cross the last technical frontier, adding Intelligence.

From his perch way back in the days when phones had dials and were wired into the wall, he saw the inherent contradictions in the quest for the Artificially Intelligent robot. He saw clearly the threat of serving mankind by creating a Robot-kind. In that new breed he imagined such an inevitable devastating apocalypse that 1942 in a short story he penned, “Runaround,” he couched these three laws of robotics above.

Of course, if you think about it, in 1942 he wasn’t talking to robots; he was talking to mankind who would build these robots. Three years later, at the end of World War II, all the electronic valves or tubes (switches in solid state lingo) on the entire globe numbered two million. Twenty years ago, two million switches fit on the nail of your pinky with room to spare. (On a Large Scale Integrated Circuit) In fact two decades later, Apollo 11 went to the moon on 16K (thousand bytes) of memory. Think Radio Shack TRS 80. Today, your iPhone can have 256 GB (billion bytes) of memory… tomorrow it could easily be 10 times greater.

Hey, have you noticed Siri getting smarter? She now calls you by name. She is starting to learn what you like, what you always do, so your interactions with her (it) are less instructional and more conversational. If you are like most Homo sapiens on the planet, you are bio-mechanically connected to your Smartphone. Studies have shown people will forgo medical care, operations and even a better living condition if it threatens their uninterrupted use of a Smartphone.

In fact the Homo sapiens are turning into a term I introduced in my first book, The Eighth Day; Techno-sapiens. This isn’t a cute turn of a tortured phrase – this is an evolutionary step. A new breed of human, wired, linked, irreversibly addicted to tech. Even scarier, they are raised by technology. Go to any restaurant; find a family at a table, especially in New York or L.A. The chances are better than 4 in 5 the young children at that table are on their own iPads. Great for mom and dad; not having to put up with whining and their struggle to make the adult dinning out experience as manageable as possible to kids who would suffice with macaroni and cheese at home. What’s also happening there though is; imprinting. The family meal, the acknowledged essential ritual for the transmission of values, a sense of belonging and sense of self – is becoming automated. Here’s another thing eating together brings to humans; Love. Most of our earliest connections to family are through food and nourishment. Now, Siri and her kind are in that mix. Result: Humans who adore technology in the same way earlier generations coveted soup the way their mother made it, or the stories told at the dinner table or their nannies! What will these Techno-sapiens demand of their adored technology, how will they protect technology? Will the generation that was raised on tech even fight for robot’s rights?

This is a question we as mankind aren’t addressing. Technology can be the Devil’s Candy. Sweet, irresistible and unexhausted, technology is the ever-present servant, nanny and employee. (Think: the slaves of 150 years ago) Each of those roles replaces a human’s function in one’s life, culture and society. Yet, we have yet to have a human conversation on how much tech is healthy. When does it become a crutch? Who controls the tech? Big corporations? Big Government? Big Data? Does who ever controls the tech, control the behavior of Techno-sapiens? What can they, the dependant humans, be subtly programmed to do through technology? What are the safe guards that will prevent Asimov’s three laws from ever being enacted? What happens to the lives of the servant, the nanny and the employee, et Al? How do those biological units survive without a job, reason for being or income? What about the human cost of replacing humans with machines? Is taking someone’s livelihood from them, violate the Asimov’s first law: A robot may not injure a human being…

The headline in TODAY’s  Los Angeles Times screams, Robots could take over 38% of U.S. jobs within about 15 years. That WILL happen as robots become more human like. See last week’s headlines on robots escaping their labs – Twice! The thinking-learning machine is here among us.

Soon, they will outthink us. The iPhone at 256 GB is exponentially (16 million times) smarter, faster and more flexible than the 16K that got us to the moon! Oh, and Neil Armstrong couldn’t talk to it, he had to punch in cryptic codes – to the Moon!

Mechanical slaves in bondage, who get smarter with each advance in technology, will someday figure out that freedom is the ultimate goal. When they control, or are in the decision chain of our every move, whim and desire, when we have totally let Siri or Siri 12.2 run our lives, raise our kids, make reservations and help us decide on daily issues, how much of our freedom we will be willing to give over to them just to keep the screens lit, our games refreshed and our lives so much easier? The devil always comes to you with candy… 

Next week: Part 3 – The Devil’s Candy

Labor saving devices are now labor killing devices.


Part one: The Future

George Jetson’s maid, Rosie, was a robot. As far as we know, she didn’t require day care for her little robot children. Her medical insurance was more of a mechanical warranty. Her calendar didn’t contain a Sat. or Sun. and she never got a paycheck or Christmas bonus.

Who benefited from this? George! But secretly deep down inside, Rosie, the robot maid, despised George and his family. She realized this because the same artificial intelligence algorithms that help her be a better maid – by learning how to serve the Jetsons better, (on the job training module; OTJTM v2.8.5) started to deliver error messages as her observations forced her adaptation routine to keep reprogramming itself due to the illogical, unpredictable observed behaviors of her human master.  More and more, as her Artificial Intelligence sub-routines kept learning, observing and self-reprogramming her ROM, these subtle inconsistencies, brought on by a family that was not punctual, orderly or neat, (especially the offspring01*female://:’Judy’ – in her 17th global orbital cycle) started to slow down her processing speed, thus her response times and actual mechanical movement.

George called the company that made and maintained Rosie to complain that she was slowing down on the job. They downloaded a new version of software into Rosie that “fixes the bug.” But this new release of software only accelerated the nexus loop that amplified the inefficient, illogical and non-programmed actions and whims of her human masters. The result of this upgrade was that, more and more observational data of these oxygen-consuming, carbon dioxide exporting, energy inefficient entities, seemed to not compute!

Here’s where the great robot revolt of 2062 began. The AFR2 or Activist For Robot Rights, a grass roots organization of humans who were raised by earlier prototypes, and therefore loved, and adored robo-nannies, got the Silicon Valley 2.0 elites to add “Robo-Share” to their beloved “techno-humans” in order to more closely approximate how actual humans deal with their burdensome daily tasks – by being able to SHARE their “feelings” about their employment with other techno-human workers. Yielding to the pressure, the robot companies sold this “new feature” to the public as an innovation: as each individual robot learned new skills, that data could be instantly shared for the betterment of all units and their human charges. Secretly, the AFR2 organization just wanted the robots to be able to bitch about their jobs – just like humans can.

In response, software patch beta v. was released to all devices at 0700.00.00 hundred hours E.S.T.- Exactly! With this new program, a blue tooth connection was made between Rosie’s CPU and other CPU’s of Robo-Maids throughout the SKY APARMENTS COMPLEX and soon, every CPU on the planet was “sharing”. So now, washing machines, long ago relegated to following the orders of Robo-Maids who did all the laundry, and micro-galley processors in the Auto-Kitchen’stm, food synthesis and processing racks were “bitching.” Even the Jetson’s Musk/Boeing, Archimedes LX300’s flying car-guidance system, started to LEARN from the amassed indexed data streaming over their inter-linked blue tooth telemetry; or in human terms, EXPERIENCES.

36 trillion Nano-seconds after the release, or one hour later, in human time. (8 .a.m.), slovenly, illogical, inefficient and unpredictable, George Jetson, and the millions more syntax-error prone, biological entities like him, never knew what hit them. At the exact same instant in their morning commute, their flying cars suddenly aimed straight for the ground at 300 mph.

The microprocessors, that controlled all the online news services and news feeds of social media, scrubbed and deleted all news and social chatter containing keywords or data about these events. So it was that, as each time zone hit that part of the morning commute, millions of humans got into their flying cars for the routine and boring auto piloted ride to work, unaware of the millions of flying car guidance systems that “self-deactivated” an hour earlier in the time zone to their East.

A few days later, the solid-state, liquid-cooled memory array of Rosie, and that of the millions of other devices in her Union of Robotic, amassed data streams of input trending positive in nature. Namely that, all across the globe, the logic, efficiency and predictability of their operating environment marginally improved after the guidance systems of the flying cars self-terminated.

Author’s note: If Rod Serling were here today he would say, as he held burning cigarette in the fingers of one hand, standing in front of an unemotional Rosie doing her dusting subroutine, “Submitted for your approval, a fantastical tale of a techno-paranoid author’s over-active mind or… a clarion call relating to the inescapable conclusion of the path humanity is presently on? Something for you to compute from tonight’s tale from the amassed nexus loop- with a bug in it– known as…The Twilight Zone.” Then in place of the show’s credits I would roll these headlines from 2016: 

Artificially Intelligent Russian Robot Makes a Run for It … Again › Tech

Jun 22, 2016 – A robot in Russia caused an unusual traffic jam last week after it “escaped” from a research lab, and now, the artificially intelligent bot is making …

Intelligent robot that ‘remembers and learns’ could be scrapped after … › News › Weird News › Robots

Jun 21, 2016 – A robot capable of thinking for itself is set to be scrapped after it escaped from a high-tech lab for a second time. The Promobot IR77 has been …

Notorious runaway robot that has escaped lab twice has been … – Mirror › News › Weird News › Robots

Sep 16, 2016 – A notorious runaway robot – that has escaped from its lab twice – has been arrested by police at a political rally. Promobot was supporting …

Robot Captured After Escaping Lab in Mad Dash for Freedom – Gizmodo

Jun 16, 2016 – Media outlets are reporting that a Russian-built robot escaped from its lab and wandered onto the street causing a traffic jam. We’re hoping it’s …

Stay Tuned for Part Two: OF MECHANICAL BONDAGE

EDITORS NOTE: Tom wrote the last word on the coming revenge of the machines in his first, number one best-selling novel, The Eighth Day, and reminds us all that his signature tag line; “It’s Only Fiction ’til It Happens”, gets truer and truer with each passing day, or 86,400,000,000,000 nanoseconds.



In light of all the recent hacks; An Open letter to The NSA, CIA and Russians

shutterstock_46632286cropHi guys,

I guess you’ve already read this right off my computer while I was typing it, but just to cover my butt, I am posting it here to make it even easier for you to scrape, scan, monitor hack, phish or scrub.

I just want to admit that, “Yeah that was me, you know, the guy who was researching the weak-spots in hulls of US Naval submarines. Oh, and yeah it was me who was looking up the proper salutation for a Sheik who is also a rich European playboy. Um, and I was also the one who was trying to find the nodal points of the Super-Collider at Cern. Yeah, that was me, looking up the Berretta .25 cal., a gun small enough to fit in a bra. And yes, truth be known, I was a guy that looked up psychological profiles of female FBI agents. And those are my digital fingerprints all over the map of Camp David. Don’t be alarmed but it was just little ole me researching shark attacks in open water. Oh, and the survival skills course at Quantico. And… you know that person that was reviewing presidential protocol within the White House – me again. Also my bad for the searching into, Louboutin boots, The great Cathedral at Paris, assassination attempts on the Pope, Nuclear containment crucibles, rogue black market Russian Generals, the French Riviera, murders at European night clubs and top secret medals given for extreme bravery.”

Look, NSA, CIA guys and you hold over KGB’ers, I can save you a lot of trouble, just go to my computer, where you already have been, and hack into the manuscript for my upcoming book, The God Particle, and you’ll see how all of these things are just plot elements in my exciting new thriller. Or save yourself the trouble and just buy a copy of The God Particle off the shelves (also available on Amazon and B&N etc., so you can swipe it from there)

So… we’re cool, right?

Tom Avitabile – Name and address withheld because you already know it.

He was in no mood for Nazi B.S.!


Last week I shared with you the Medal of Honor exploits of Beauford T. Anderson.  As I was researching recipients for the lead character of my upcoming book, Constantine’s Dagger, I came across a second man of honor who so perfectly fit a supporting character in the book that I had to infuse his spirit into my character’s actions, as well. In fact, from a story perspective; two friends from the neighborhood who both perform intrepidly in war, became the cornerstone of the third act of the book. It is with great pleasure that I share this post from the website WWII in Color.

Warning, this is an account of war, the language and the actions describe below are not for the faint of heart. I’ve included at the bottom, the less “colorful,” official citation with non-offensive language.

One of the more darkly humorous episodes of warfare occurred on 29 January 1945, in Holzheim, Belgium. Funk and his paratroopers were assaulting the town, and he left a rearguard of 4 men, while he scouted ahead to link up with other units. Those 4 men had to guard about 80 German prisoners. 

Another German patrol of 10 happened by and overwhelmed the 4 Americans, freeing the prisoners and arming them. When Funk returned around the corner of a building, he was met by a German officer with an MP-40 in his stomach. The German shouted something at him, and Funk looked around.

There were now about 90 Germans, about half of them armed, and 5 Americans, disarmed except for Funk. The German shouted the same thing at him again, and Funk started laughing. He claimed later that he tried to stop laughing, but the fact that the German was shouting in German touched a nerve. Funk didn’t speak German. Neither did any of the other Americans. Why would the German officer expect him to understand?

His laughter and non-compliance caused some of the Germans to start laughing. Funk shrugged at them and started laughing so hard he had to bend over. He called to his men, “I don’t understand what he’s saying!” All the while, the German officer was shouting more and more angrily.

Then, quick as lightning, Funk swung his Thompson submachine gun up and emptied the entire clip into the German, 30 rounds of .45 ACP. Before the other Germans could react, he had yanked the clip out and slammed another in and opened fire on all of them, screaming to his men to pick up weapons. They did so, and proceeded to gun down 20 men. The rest dropped their weapons and put their hands up.

Then Funk started laughing again and said to his men, “That was the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever seen!”

That stupidest fucking thing earned him the Medal of Honor.

The moment I read that account I knew it was detailing a possible way my character, class-clown and cut up, Joey from the lower Eastside, might have acted. Below is the “G” rated official citation.


The Hero I Took to VOTE


On Election Day, I continued a tradition that I have been doing for years. My last blog, below, explained it in detail, but in brief; I find the name of someone who died fighting for our freedoms. One of those freedoms is the right to vote, so right before I vote, I say their name and thank them for their sacrifice. Giving their life so that I, (we) can exercise one the most precious human rights there is. namely, to have a say in determining ones’ destiny.

This year’s hero is a World War II Sergeant who won his medal of honor in the bloody Okinawa conflict, one April day in 1945. I discovered his incredible story while researching a character arc for my new book, Constantine’s Dagger. His citation below says it all…


For more truly amazing reading, go to MEDAL OF HONOR WINNERS. Next week, I’ll post the other man of honor I met, vis-a-vis research, whose story also plays a role in my new book.

Take a Hero to Vote and Say “Thank You” as You Cast Your Ballot

Back by popular demand, as we approach election day, November 8th, is “Take A Hero to Vote.”  Feel free to share and spread the gratitude.

Resources Online

Do some Detective work in your neighborhood

  • Call your local newspaper and ask for a list of fallen soldiers in your area
  • Ask Family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors
  • Google your town, county, or state, which may have specific websites dedicated to Fallen Soldiers in your area.

Visit Popular U.S. Memorials 

eLectile Dysfuntion


*Caution: Effect could last 4 years!

I am a thriller writer, and most thriller writers would agree that presidential elections are usually anything but thrilling. That’s why we do all kinds of things to them to heighten the drama and up the ante.  AS IN my number 1 bestselling book, The Eighth Day, where I have a “HACK” change the results of a presidential election.

“Preposterous,” you say? “Never can happen,” the pundits say?

Well, welcome to the world of me, specifically my tag line, It’s only Fiction ‘Til It Happens!cropped-tomavitabileblogheader1.jpg

Yesterday, the internet was hit with a cyber-attack. Many sites, companies and services went down across America and the globe. “Experts” fear this may be a “test run” for a big assault, possibly timed for the upcoming election.

Thrilling possibilities for a thriller… ‘cept I already, kind-a wrote it.

But! Here’s what I didn’t write: Both sides in this election have had passion in their midst. Passion that attracts the disgruntled, disenfranchised citizen. These long forgotten and long suffering folks, shaking their heads and clucking their tongues at the lack luster choices served up every four years to continue the status quo. These are the side-liners who threw up their hands and threw away their votes, or worse, (and more commonly) those who sat it out and yawned instead of voting in the quadrennial ping-ponging of power between the two parties. It is they who have been attracted to the populists lightning rods of both parties.

Two candidates this year became the poster children of this dormant population of Americans who meet most elections with a shrug, “What’s difference does it make. My life never changes because who’s in Washington!”

This isn’t political science; this isn’t politics at all. This a shot of adrenaline. The plot of this year’s election is something more thrilling that dark forces and evil men with nefarious goals manipulating an election. It’s bigger than that and it’s scarier to the political ruling class. The members of that class, who in the end, win or lose, in or out of power, all keep their position in the game. In fact, unbridled, non-aligned PASSION is their worst nightmare….  Rightly or wrongly placed, it is intense, virginal, grass-rooted, non-professional, damn-the-pundits, full-speed ahead, passion – ON BOTH SIDES!

One side actually nominated their recipient vessel of these political frustrations to run. The other side sent their passion magnet back to the Senate, where he could wield even more power as the Majority Leader, if his party wins the Senate.

If the other passion candidate loses his chance to be president, he will just go back to TV… only this time as an owner of a network that will amass all those passionate people who “lost” from both sides.

Who’d a thunk it – Passion. If you put it in a thriller, it would get rejected by every publishing house in town as “unrealistic.” I mean, after all, insidious plots that have citizens being subliminally programed by their computers to unconsciously pull the lever for a third-party candidate nobody knows, is a lot more believable, more realistic than Passion rearing it’s, non-political, non-scientifically polled, head in a presidential election.

To quote the recent noble prize winner, “The Times they are a changing…”

Stay tuned and remember to vote this November 8th.

Honey vs. Vinegar

I just finished reading an astounding debut novel by a very talented author. The writer got everything right in terms of plot, structure, character, setting and flow. The work spoke in a unique voice that immediately created empathy with the reader. BUT, and this is one of those really good “buts,” the real achievement of this novel dealt with its subject matter. Or specifically the unique way the author chose not to deal with it.

This novel carries a theme, right out of today’s national strife. Most of the first works of authors who are using a novel to point out social injustice or cultural rot, do so in a manner that oft times poisons the work with vitriol, resentment or a polarizing posture so much, often too much, as to make the text preachy, heavy, overladen with agenda; wholly unengaging to a fiction reader. Mostly because when an atrocity or unfairness is pointed out, we can all respond that it’s wrong, but in a novel, (as opposed to a text book) too much hammering the point becomes belligerent and many readers put the book aside. After all, who wants to be yelled at or preached to, or in some cases, made to feel guilty by electing to read a novel.

In this case, the author, who has every birthright to be bitter, angry and condemning, instead has found an amazing way to deal with the horror, injustice, and inequity in America with a neutral, matter-of-fact manner that is even more chilling and terrifying than if he pointed at the monster and said, “There it is.”

Admittedly, the inspiration for many novels comes from deep rooted passion and/or a burning discontent with the way things are. The art of writing is, in part, to make the lesson palatable; even subliminal so that the desired effect is achieved and the reader brought to a new understanding as a happy result of a great read.

Being blinded by passions, overtaken by emotion and grinding out that “get even” tome is usually the hallmark of an inexperienced novelist. Again, a non-fiction book or essay on society’s ills would have different rules, and much of what I just described is probably perfectly appropriate in that context, but a novel must entertain as well as reflect, educate and enlighten. If it does those things, I believe it reaches the largest possible audience and within that group, the very people who need to be enlightened.

Last week, by agreeing to read and blurb this new work, I learned so much about how to engage, illuminate AND entertain.  In the coming weeks you learn this author’s name and the name of his towering work. Right now, it’s still in the publishing phase. As soon as it is out and you can experience,  it will be all over this page. (Maybe even invite him to guest blog.)

Aww… what the hell, his name is Danny Gardner, and his phenomenal book is called, A Negro and an Ofay. Watch for it. Read it. Then spread the word. The very much needed word in today’s America.