The Waiting Game

On Tuesday, June 17th my third novel, The God Particle goes on sale at all the usual places. Currently, I am pacing in the virtual waiting room awaiting the delivery of this little package to the world. Many things go through your mind at a time like this. Questions like; Will it ever go to college? Will people like it? Will it be healthy? Will it someday have offspring of it’s own?

College: Will it be embraced by the all important 18-25 demo and be catapulted to “must read” status by students who find resonance between what they are learning about the world and the themes, issues and concerns contained between the covers?

Likability: That elusive quality. Sure, I gained 106,000 words during the gestation of this thriller, but will people like the way it came out? 

Healthy Retail: Can this creation achieve a strong showing in sales? Will the marketing, promotion, reviews and buzz encourage readers to buy and suggest this new arrival to their friends, associates and groups.

Offspring: The God Particle itself is the child of two previous Bill Hiccock books coming together. Will this new take, focusing on Brook Burrell, the FBI agent turned secret operative for the Science Advisor to the U.S. President attract the right kind of soul mates that will produce a next generation of books?

These are the questions the parent of any book ponders as he or she waits for the signal that the labor has ended and now their “baby” has to go out into the world and make it on it’s own.  I can only hope I imbued it with all the smarts, compassion, wit, thrills and drama to succeed out in the world and make me proud. 

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.

 

imageA BLESSED EVENT…

Weighing in at 375 pages, 108,000 words and, thanks to double sided printing, 3 lbs. I named it The God Particle. And it is kind of a kick for me to be at this final touch point with my third novel. My family planning is now complete with the addition of this third installment in my Bill Hiccock “Thrillogy.” Allow me to reflect on how I arrived at this blessed moment, (Hey, it’s an author’s blog, what did you expect?).

Ahhh, that cute, little first draft, a year and a half of gestation, then its out, smelling like toner powder. Now standing on the spindly unsteady legs of plot lines and character arcs. You marvel at it and know it has more growing to do and you dream about the possibilities.

Oh, oh… someone needs changing! So you unwrap it, the 2nd draft! Flesh out characters, fatten plots, bring in a subplot, make new connections, Hey, I didn’t know I already set up the way these two might meet! I must be a genius.

Not so much. I left out a major hunk of story in the second act! But that’s what why they invented the second pass.

I send it to my word pediatrician, Sue Rasmussen. She makes my perfect bundle of joy even more ‘perfecter’, by pointing out made up words like that one.

I take it on its first vacation, to the beach. We spend seven glorious days in the sand and surf of Puerto Rico. At wheels down of Jet Blue Flight 504 arriving JFK from SJU, I finish the last story edit on the last page. (I love it when the timing works out so well) and shake all the sand out of the book before closing it.

There’s a mid-wife at Kinko’s, Gary. He prints up 10 bound copies with slick little covers with art work in the general direction of the final cover.

Then it’s off to be held by 6 friends and/or strangers to get honest comments.  Most come back good, my cousin George Cannistraro, a talented author in his own right, as always catches a plot point I missed and from that usually the book jumps to 50% better.

Then a deep breath as I click send to let (Grandpa) publisher, Lou Aronica at the Story Plant, give it a read.

Tick tock, tick tock… Ding.

A return email! He likes it! He sees the same beauty in it that I do. Only he takes exception to the very end. The edit I did of the very last words in the book that I made at wheels down. Chauvinistic and demeaning were words he didn’t use, but were apt. So I reworked it made it better (as everything he compels me to rework gets) Now it’s good and I am a caring sensitive male once more. Good. He’s going to publish it, Yaaaaaaaaay!

I Go back to editing book four, “The Devil’s Quota.”  While writing book five, “Give Us This Day.”

Ding! Mail’s in. The edited manuscript is sent back to me. Three years after the first draft was nothing more than a blank screen radiating my chromosomes.

Lots of edits, comments and Tsk, Tsk, Tsk’s.  But also an opportunity for one more polish, one more fine tuning, one last chance to bend, shape, smooth out or hone to a fine point the plot, sub plots, characters, locations, interactions, set ups and payoffs. Oh and I get to detangle the dreaded Head Hopping POV shifts (Ugh, I hate those)

Back it goes into the maw of the Publishers system. Through the editorial intestines, purified by the editor’s liver… wait… okay, really bad analogy… Through the editorial process and then suddenly, one blessed day, Ding! The “pages” arrive. This is how my book will look when it’s ‘all growed up’! In fact, it will look like this forever. The font choice, the leading, the kerning, the style elements.  But along with it comes the big admonishment: Not For Editing!  Meaning hands off anything story or content (I had my chance) but identify in red pen only the errant period, wandering comma, perplexed parentheses, and the ever popular spell check replacement that could ‘rune’ your day!

openbook

So here it sits. All ready for it’s coming out date on June 17th 2014.

Beautiful isn’t it (Doesn’t every author believe their new book is beautiful?)

Ahhh, the joys of author-hood. 

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
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Don’t Forget to Wash Your Hands

“It looks like it’s shaping up to be a bad flu season, but only time will tell.”

– Dr. Thomas Frieden, National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Tom Avitabile  |  The Hammer of GodIn The Hammer of God, the inciting incident of the book is a flu vaccine shortage which is caused by nefarious forces overseas, resulting in half the number of vaccinations necessary to guard the public.

That is step one of a two-step biological attack; take away the first line of defense – which would be the flu vaccine. Then the second part of the attack was to unleash a really nasty airborne bug on the public. So the bad guys weren’t contaminating the flu vaccine to be their vehicle to do harm. They contaminated the supply to take it off the market.

This created a situation, in my book, where during the onset of the attack, people had symptoms that mimicked the flu – and no one suspects anything is awry. The airborne bug’s dormant stage lasts five to six days, taking the world by surprise when the infected take an extreme turn for the worse and people start to die.

It seems like we should be very cognizant of foreign suppliers producing this and other vaccines because their production and distribution lines might be interrupted more easily.

Of course, this being a book about my hero, he thwarts the attack. The mastermind is arrested and becomes a bargaining chip in the escalated terror plot to follow. But the groundwork is there in the story; this is a weak pressure point in the threat matrix aimed at this country.

I am confident in the safeguards that had somebody tried to manipulate or add something nasty to the flu vaccine, it would set off alarm bells and triggers. The far greater insidious plot device is simply to render us unprotected and willing to accept high numbers of infections as the new normal – when in fact it’s anything but. It is the start of an attack.

Remember: wash your hand often.

Blogscript

ABC has decided to cancel my absolute, all-time favorite show: The Last Resort.

When you read The God Particle you’ll see one of my main characters is the USS Tom Avitabile | The God ParticleNebraska – a trillion dollar missile boat (luckily on our side). That’s why I am so distraught over the cancelling of this series, whose main star is the USS Colorado, the sister ship of the Nebraska.

Besides I looove the dialogue…to the point where I say “Damn, I wish I would have written that!”

Please take a moment and email ABC. Tell them to keep the Last Resort afloat.

Tom Avitabile’s “It’s Only Fiction..’til It Happens” T-shirt Giveaway

Authors and other writers alway seem to hold a definitive key to the future. Remember how Jules Vern wrote about space, air, and underwater travels well before it became possible. Well, Tom Avitabile’s work with the House committee on Science Space and Technology allowed him to see ideas emerge as fact. His “Wild Bill” Hiccock thrillogy will take your breathe away as Bill Hiccock embarks on a gripping fear-filled, all-too-realistic thrill ride where science and homeland security are tested beyond consideration.

From Nov. 19-Dec. 23 you can enter below to win one of ten of Tom Avitabile’s famous slogan T-shirts, “It’s Only Fiction… ’til It Happens.” Win this eye catching T-shirt in midnight black, navy, burgundy, and heather grey! CLICK below to enter.

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I Love A Parade

This is a very important election for New Yorkers. They will be deciding who will tie up their traffic for the next four years.
– Barack Obama

Recently during Superstorm Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg respectfully requested that the President come nowhere near New York City. That’s because a presidential visit has an inordinate impact on the infrastructure and connectivity of the City on the best of days. During a storm, it would have been positively lethal. The mayor was 100% right.

Tom Avitabile, The Hammer of GodAs Mayor Bloomberg alluded, to live in New York is to curse the President. Especially when you’re in traffic. Even more especially when you’re watching the meter in your cab go past the $20 mark because a cop three blocks away has cordoned off your street in order for the president to get from one hotel to another. And you sit back and you think: Why are we doing this?

As written elsewhere in this blog, my first exposure to anything presidential was in 1968 when Lyndon Johnson flew over my head in the blue and white Air Force One 707 (Tail number 26000). Just seeing the plane created a sense of awe and wonderment, and since those early days I’ve been hooked by all things presidential.

That doesn’t stop me from thinking critically, though. Is this visit worth spending millions of dollars in security? Is it worth tying up all this traffic? Why put up with this terrible impact on the City of New York’s ability to generate wealth for an entire day? And why are streets blocked off for hours even after he’s passed? No one has ever explained that one to me.

And then I begin to wonder if he is even in that limo. Wouldn’t it make more sense to drive Continue reading

2 NetGalley reviews of Hammer of God

Definitely a Page Turner of Major Proportions!

Bill Hiccock is a man of science that works for the President of the United States. He created a network of scientists that bounce information off each other anonymously over the Internet, gleaning answers through virtual brainstorming. Information from his group starts him down the road to intercept a group of terrorists that have links to the neighborhood of his youth and childhood friends. The Islamic Jihadists put together a plot filled with twists to prevent detection, leading Hiccock and his team across the world.

The book is filled with military and scientific terminology giving the information a tensely realistic feeling. The plot races from action to action, leaving the reader breathless. The author paints such realistic pictures that the reader rides on the belief that the descriptions of Washington, defense, and the battle against terror are entirely accurate. Best thriller I have read in a long time. I missed the first in this series, but I will definitely go find it ASAP. I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys tense, military, political thrillers.

Richard Rachey added:

This was one of the best books I have every read. It was one of those books that you do not want to put down. It was very well written, exciting, realistic and believable. The characters were very well setup and their lives and feeling brought out. It was very easy to put yourself in their places as the story progressed. The plot was great, the the author should receive KUDO’s for a great novel. I would love to read the rest of his books in the series.

Crystal Book Reviews: Hammer of God

On April 22, 2012, Crystal Book Reviews posted a blog review of my book Hammer of God. Here’s an excerpt, with a link to the whole review:

The Hammer of God is a tightly plotted, fear-filled and all-too-realistic thriller that is finely written, in fact the best this reviewer has read in a long time. It should be a best seller and will make the reader anxiously awaiting the third and final novel in this thriller trilogy!

Read the full review…

Hammer hits the stores THIS WEEK!

On Tuesday, April 10, 2012, Hammer of God was released. SEE 2 VIDEOS BELOW: Hammer’s exciting Book Trailer, plus hear the author read an excerpt as the words scroll across your screen. Then, grab your copy today:

BUY TODAY: Amazon.com bn.com