The Hero I Took to VOTE

beauford-at-the-booth

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…

beauford-t-anderson-medal-of-honor

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.

Not Growing Up…Just Getting Older

The Mick

When I was 10, the New York Yankees were the “best-est” thing ever in the whole world. The world at that time was the entire Bronx. Yogi Berra (8), Joe Pepitone (25), Roger Maris (9) and Mickey Mantle (7) were the bubble gum cards that got you respect and honor in any schoolyard. The Yankees were so cool, that the candy at Ida’s Sweet Shop on Burke Avenue was named after them. Baby Ruth bars and the M&M boys. And Yogi sold Yoo-hoo Chocolate drink on TV. To be fair, Gil Hodges from the Brooklyn Dodgers, also sold Maypo on TV. But Maypo was a hot, maple flavored oatmeal cereal, not peanuts and nougat wrapped in chocolate. The Yankees were, as was candy, the biggest thing to that point in my decade long life.

I remember that on long hot summer days, you licked the salty sweat that dribbled down your face from your lips as the sun bounced off the concrete of the schoolyard’s ball field and blasted you from below and above. Squinting, you watched Joey Mangione wind up to pitch a black electrical tape wrapped, “clincher” softball at you. At that second you fantasized that you would step into the bucket, explode your rear hip and extend perfectly through the swing, connecting on the fat part of the bat and send that ball right over the 12-foot chain link fence into the traffic on Bronxwood Avenue – just like Mantle or Maris! Extra points if you hit Mr. Deputo’s old salmon and dingy white, colored Studebaker that never moved from the spot outside his house.

In all that time, the thought of actually meeting Roger Maris or Mickey Mantle was the same fat chance as going to the moon. We’d hang out on River Avenue at 161st street outside the Stadium after the game. And sure, maybe we’d catch a glimpse of Tresh, Richardson, Boyer, Whitey Ford even Mantle, but they were out of there like a shot. Piling onto the team bus or beyond reach on the other side of a blue, police stanchion line. A couple of dorky lawyer’s kid’s from the suburbs usually got up front to get an autograph or shake a hand. But not us, we was nobody’s kids. We was just Bronx guys.

Now I am considerably older than I was back in the 60’s and hero worship has gone the way of the Studebaker – free agented and drug tested out of existence. But we did eventually go to the moon. And so did I, last week, in fact.

Now that I am an author, my heroes have changed. The new “Yankees” in my life are the literary team that plays at the top of the New York Times standings. Guys and gals who can hit the long ball out 20 to 30 million books. Men and women who keep their percentages up by coming to bat and connecting… connecting with their fans. At Thrillerfest, the International Thriller Writer’s convention that I attended last week, I met the Mickey Mantles and Roger Maris’ of the game I play in now.

My hero worship, adjusted for age and decorum, returned. The same awe and esteem by which I held The Mick and the rest of the pinstripe company was back and at full gush. So that’s how me, a kid from the Bronx, wound up just shooting the breeze for twenty minutes with Nelson DeMille, a kid from Queens. We didn’t talk baseball much, but I did get his autograph… on his latest book, Radiant Angel.

Here’s the thing. In my life, as a Director – Writer – Producer – Author, I have met and worked with some of the biggest stars, names, celebrities and musicians ever and never asked for a picture… but here’s me and Nelson from Jamaica.

Tom and Nelson Cropped

The Scary, Scary World Inside the Female

 

 

No wait, why don’t I just pull a pin on a grenade and wait 5 seconds…it will be the same as trying to survive this blog or any discussion that dares to invade the inner sanctum or reasoning process of half the human raceby the male half.


I am in the finishing phase of my 5th novel, Give Us This Day, and for some unknown reason, I risked my life and limb to stubbornly, not only write a book with a female leading character and hero (heroine!) but to have the audacity to go inside her, to delve into her psyche and foolishly think I could come out with my cognitive skills and self-image intact!


Note to all male authors: When delving into the working of the female mind, always, always, always assume that you are wrong. Then just ask any female and you’ll quickly confirm just how wrong you are.  But then ask another female and see how wrong the first woman was! — No, no, no, not that Female #2 agrees with you, noooo, you are not even on the same page as her, the terrifying reality is that she doesn’t agree with Female #1!

Okay, so back to me. I recently was enlightened to the fact that having a male character ask a female character for permission to call her by her first name, i.e. “May I call you, Brooke?” Is actually worse than chauvinisticThis critique hit me like I was T-Boned in my new Corvette just as I was pulling out of the dealer’s lot. I quote from the response of a woman whom I sought out not only for her brilliance but also because she is, like my protagonist, Brooke Burrell-Morton, a powerful person of achievement and position, who was kind enough to read and comment my manuscript, …


It’s huge power play and condescending for a man to address a woman who is an equal or better by her first name.   It’s like him asking her to get coffee for him.  She’s [Brooke is] a sharp cookie and should be offended or at least think he’s a sexist a**hole by his asking. 


I had two simultaneous thoughts when I read that… First, thank God for her and her sharing that critical piece of social decorum of which I was totally unaware, ill-informed and insensitiveAs, apparently, were a few other female early readers who missed it. (See Female#2) 


My second thought was…I am never going to talk to a woman ever again, God knows how many faux pas I commit per minute in just even the most innocent and casual chat with someone of the opposite sexYikes, I don’t want to ever be a sexist a**hole, EVER! Much less announce and confirm that fact in unretractable, New Times Roman set 12 on 12 in 435 pages that will live-on somewhere or on some shelf or digital file till the sun flickers out. 


Now, on second thought, where’s that hand grenade?

 

The Accidental Author – Episode Two

In the window above is the next installment of The Accidental Author, some real heartfelt confessions in this one plus an homage to one of the finest authors living today. If you missed episode one, click here.

My Virtual Tour’s Final Stop

Have you spotted the last stop of my Virtual Tour?  I wrapped up the summer by sitting down with Omnimystery and discussing the conclusion to the “Wild” Bill Hiccock Thrillogy.

A Conversation with Thriller Writer Tom Avitabile

photo-tom-avitabile-2014-tn

We are delighted to welcome back novelist Tom Avitabile to Omnimystery News, courtesy of The Story Plant, which is coordinating his current book tour. We encourage you to visit all of the participating host sites; you can find his schedule here.Last month we featured an excerpt from Tom’s third thriller to feature presidential science advisor William “Wild Bill” Hiccock,The God Particle (The Story Plant; June 2014 trade paperback and ebook formats). Today we’re sitting down with him to talk a little more about the book and the series.
Click here for the full Q&A

image-author-interview-175px

The God Particle On SALE NOW!

Image

God-Particle-Ad2Buy The God Particle now till June 24 and get the e-book versions of the first two books in the series – the #1 bestseller THE EIGHTH DAY and THE HAMMER OF GOD – FREE

Click here for details –> http://thestoryplant.com/marketing/book-giveaway.php?gid=9.

 

Getting Buzz

I was recently on The Business Buzz with host Jeff Sherman and Marty Keena to discuss aspects of writing a novel including character and plot.

 

Authors of the Round Table

Recently, I was invited to participate in the ITW Thriller Round Table, which (as I dust my shoulders off) is quite an honor. The topic on everyone’s mind: “How do you separate the author from your characters?” Here’s my two cents which is worth a million dollars.

20140522-102400-37440104.jpg

The Nook Daily Find

The Eighth Day is featured on the Barnes & Noble Nook Daily Find Blog today. Get it now for $1.99 and read the first book of the “thrillogy.”

20140502-161049.jpg

The Eighth Day
Tom Avitabile

NOOK Book (eBook)
Before Tom Avitabile’s action packed thrillogy comes to a conclusion on June 17 with The God Particle, go back to the beginning in this first novel, where a series of random murders and attacks turn out to not be so random after all. America is under attack–and doesn’t know it, until William “Wild Bill” Hiccock and his newly formed ragtag team step in to find and take down the bad guys.

Hold Page 1 Clancy Died!

Avitabile - Tom ClancyThe King is dead!

For myself and millions of others, Tom Clancy, was the King of the techno-thriller. I was brought into reading fiction by his excellent work. I have first editions of every one of his Jack Ryan series. But what I really got from Mr. Clancy was a reverence and respect for those who risk their tomorrows for our safety today.  Before The Hunt for Red October, Clear and Present Danger, The Sum of All Fears and the others, military heroes were mostly one-dimensional war-fighters. Clancy opened them up, made them regular people with a skill set to be respected and he gave them souls. Without overtly writing it out, he revealed the warrior’s code, he brought a level of admiration, professionalism and honor that filled in the outlines sketched by the likes of John Wayne et al.

Clancy also appealed to me because he was a master at explaining the technical on the way to laying the foundation for a heart-racing story.  Also because he was just an insurance salesmen fooling around with his kid’s video game and synthesized one of the greatest Naval techno-thrillers of all time.

His prescient detailing of a jumbo jet passenger plane being used as a guided missile years before 9/11 was the kernel at the heart of this very blog, “It’s Only Fiction `til It Happens!”

I have homages to TC throughout my work. Just short of plagiarism, my Dick Bridgestone, super-operative, who is a fierce warrior and expert spy, is kinfolk of John Terrence Kelly or as we know him, Clancy’s John Clark.

In fact, in my first book, I had my lead character, Bill Hiccock actually consult a best selling author on some “What-if” scenarios as he tried to figure out what the bad guys were up to.  With Clancy in mind, I set the meeting on a palatial mid-atlantic estate on the Chesapeake, replete with military artifacts and statues and hardware on the grounds.  I had him negotiating his “rate” as getting to fire off the 16-inch guns on the U.S.S. Iowa, his fall back position was if he could shoot off one cruise missile. Speaking as a “novelist” he gave my Professor Hiccock the novel idea which became the inciting element to his quest. My “Clancy” couched his idea in the phrase, “If I were writing the book I’d….”

Tom Clancy has achieved what many of us write for, immortality. Although he is gone, his work will never leave us.

God rest your soul, Tom Clancy.

Here’s the excerpt from The Eighth Day where I had Hiccock meet with Frank “Clancy” Harris:

CHAPTER 12 PEN AND SWORD

The exclamation “Pull!” was followed shortly by an ear-piercing shotgun blast which shattered a clay pigeon. The pieces fell serenely into the Chesapeake Bay. The skeeter, in shooting goggles, ear protectors, duck hunter’s hat, and red flannel jacket, was bestselling author Frank Harris. When he was 45, he started fooling around with some military-styled video games, and a year later wrote his first thriller, which became a huge hit.

At the age of 55, the former bank manager was a multi-million-dollar word machine churning out high-tech spy and political novels. Although Harris never served in the military, when his publisher dressed him up in pseudo military casual attire for the picture on his dust jackets, he looked every bit the part of a retired flag officer. He had handsome features, and the peaked cap covering his balding head made him appear years younger.

He was firing from the jetty that extended into the bay from his 25-acre waterfront estate. Hiccock, standing next to him, recoiled from the kickback as the next blast emptied out of the double-barrel shotgun in his hands.

“This is about the terrorists isn’t it?” Harris asked as he removed his ear protectors and walked over to the gun table.

Hiccock smiled. How could he have expected this guy not to figure it out? “Let’s make believe you didn’t ask that and I didn’t nod, okay?”

“Just like in one of my books. What’s the Washington braintrust think?”

“They’re looking for the ghost of cold wars past. They are so inside that box, a light goes on when you open the door. That’s why I’m here.”

“Generals always lose the start of the next war because they fight it like the last war. After a few licks, they’ll catch on.” Harris wiped down the shotgun and placed it on the table.

“Something tells me the clock may run out before we get off the last shot.”

“Well, I think I know what you’re looking for, but it’s going to cost you.”

Hiccock surveyed the vast accumulated wealth of Harris’ surroundings. A quarter of a mile behind him, knights in armor, forever mounted on stuffed horses, stood on motionless display behind the 20-foot glass windows of Harris’ armaments room. A Sherman Tank was propped up like a statue with a landscaped circular garden surrounding it amidst original Remmington sculptures with a few Robert E. Lee pieces thrown in for good measure. It was Harris’ private homage to man’s largest and longest-running endeavor: war.

“Forgive me, but what else could you possibly need or want?”

“The U.S.S. Iowa.”

“The what?”

“I want one magazine battery, three cycles, nine rounds,” Harris said matter-of-factly as he reset his “ear muffs” and heaved a shotgun into the ready position. “Pull!” he called to his houseboy, butler, or whoever was launching the clay pigeons, 50 yards downrange from them. The clay pigeon disappeared in a smear of powder. “I get to squeeze ‘em off!”

“Let me get this straight, Mr. Harris. You want the United States battleship Iowa for target practice?”

“Each shell weighs 2,700 pounds, is 16 inches around and can hit a target 20 miles away. Ever hear one of those babies go off as it belches out flame and smoke? What a sight! What a sound!” He gently wiped down his prize shotgun. He picked up a smaller weapon.

“How about a million dollars, a plane, and enough fuel to make it to a sympathetic country?”

“Okay, one cruise missile?”

“I can’t believe I am negotiating weapons of mass destruction with you!”

“That’s what you need to afford the best-selling author who has everything.”

“Deal. I hope.”

“Trance-inducing visual graphics,” Harris said plainly.

Hiccock again smiled. “That’s certainly outside the box. You mean brainwashing by computer?”

“If it was my novel and I was writing it, I would have the bad guys lulling regular people in with hypnotic graphics, the kind only a computer can make. Clicking the mouse would make the graphics swirl and perform. When their mouse click responses start to lag or match a predetermined rhythm, then I‘d know they were going under and ready to accept input. All that would be left to do is implant the commands. Maybe by telephone.”

“That is brilliant. I’ll order a check of the phone company logs.”

“Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have told you. It would have made a great book. Well it’s yours now. Time to feed more fish.”

“Feed more fish?”

Harris picked up one of the target pigeons. “I have them specially made from freeze-dried compressed fish food. Mixed with a little egg, they harden like clay. The minute they hit the water they re-hydrate into fish food.” He brandished an Uzi sub- machine gun. “Watch this.” He smiled at Hiccock. “Pull!” he barked.

With the sound of a zipper, the gun spit out 30 rounds per second. The plate was not exactly shattered as much as separated in mid-air, continuing in the rough shape of a plate until gravity pulled the falling pieces apart. “Neat huh?” he asked with the excitement of a schoolboy.

•••

Avitabile
Tom Avitabile
http://tomavitabile.com/
tom@spadvertising.com