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.
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.
From the public files of, “It’s Only Fiction `til It Happens…”
The master of intelligent suspense, author Linda Fairstein, was recently on the radio discussing her new book, Death Angel, when she related a story to the show’s host that in her first draft she had created a character that was a New York political type who had gotten mired in a Sexting scandal. Her agent pushed for and succeeded in getting her to remove the character from the manuscript because it was, and I am paraphrasing, “too unbelievable” or some such expression of, ‘far fetched’… it should be noted that Linda Fairstein was chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office in Manhattan for more than two decades as well as a brilliant author!
Welcome Anthony Putz:
In case you haven’t heard, here in New York, we got a guy from Brooklyn running for Mayor, Anthony Wiener. He’s a freak of the highest order. His ego knows no limits, matrimonial or legal. He practices a form of “electioneering” that takes all the wrong lessons from our political past and combines them into one very ugly new paradigm. He’s a object lesson of why sometimes technology in the wrong hands, his hands pointing back at himself, doesn’t deliver on the promised utopia it might otherwise had achieved. Continue reading
Have you read the papers, heard the news, know what is happening?
If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, then you’ll know why I feel like I just missed The last copter out of Hanoi, The last train from Gunhill, The last song I’ll ever write for you, The last chance to save and save like never before!
Both Science and Religion had BIG NEWS this week. The God Particle was found within hours of a new Pope being found. Here are two news stories, one each from traditionally opposing forces existing in the same moment of time. Science had maybe a tad more edge on the angle because, although the new Pope is a huge story, and an issue that has impact on 1 billion or so Catholics around the world, the Church has had 226 Popes throughout history. But there is only once, so far this mankind, that Science has found the God Particle.
Now many people find God, but not so much with the science crowd. So their acknowledgement (at least casually) of anything ‘God’ connected to science is, in and of itself, a first. And… we are not just talking of some token attribution; we are talking the center of science here, the key to everything, the point of origin for all existence, the glue that holds all of creation together. Imagine that which is no longer an elusive bit of theory, but the first, smallest piece of reality, has been hailed as a Particle of God.
Well, actually, any real physicist will deny they found the God Particle, they will however, cop to the more secular moniker, “Higgs-Boson.” But nobody swears to Higgs-Boson, prays to Higgs-Boson in foxholes or screams that name during sex, so…
If you are still reading this, and not bored out of your skull, let me tell you what was NOT discovered this week.
The God Particle. No that’s not a typo I am referring to my book, entitled, The God Particle. It has science and religion going at it pretty good. It has Popes vs. Scientists vs. Politicians, all swinging for the seats. It has drama treachery, love, geeks and kidnapping and murder. (hmmm a ‘Geek Tragedy’??? Better save that one.)
It also has missed the bus, missed the perfect storm of events, the once in a lifetime (of a universe) convergence of a new Pope and the discovery of the ‘Particle’ his boss created 6-billion years ago in the first instance of existence.
How great would it have been if somewhere in New Hollywood York City, some gruff, fire and brimstone emitting head of a house, a salt and peppered icon in Publishing, Movies or Television, were to do a spit take of his Soy Mocha latte Machiato, with a shot of wheat grass, all over the New York Times piece reporting on the discovery of the God Particle. Yelling clear down the hallway, reverberating off every cubicle wall plastered with pictures of kids and company softball picnics,
“Somebody get me that manuscript that was here the other day, the God thing! The God Principle??? The God Particible??? Damn, just somebody get me that, right now! Found out who wrote it and get him in here 5 minutes ago.”
Of course, if Justin Bieber, or Lindsay Lohan had found the God Particle, the story would live for 100 news-cycles. But alas, since the Eureka moment of all time (literally of all – Time) was brought to us by Technosapiens, not Thespians, it will quickly recede, like the background radiation noise of the Big Bang, to somewhere far out beyond the galaxy of news. In two weeks, the TMG list of things people really care about will have the item ‘God something or other’ down around 126,234th on their list. And my book, The God Particle, will not be the beneficiary of any lift from the news.
Unless of course they find a way to make the God Particle enhance your sex life, make you feel younger, re-grow hair and make aches and pains, and that annoying belly fat, disappear. Then maybe I’ll get another shot.
Doctor Janice Tyler-Hiccock to the President of the United States, James Mitchell:
“No, Sir, but I am talking about the total remapping of the human brain to a level and specificity that, yesterday, I would have told you was two to three centuries away. … The creator of this program has the ultimate blueprint and can go anywhere and do anything inside the human brain.”
“That’s a frightening prospect, Doctor.”
From the New York Times Feb. 17, 2013, the current President of the United States.
“Obama Seeking to Boost Study of Human Brain”
Once again, “It’s only Fiction ‘til it Happens” is confirmed. In my first book, The Eighth Day, the mapping of the human mind presented a very frightening series of consequences. This recent Presidential initiative, the “Brain Activity Map” project, a national effort, like the Race to the Moon, will only bring more energy to the quest.
Of course, the novelist in me, back when I first ‘made this up’ and now that it’s being seriously considered needs to ask, “What of the unintended consequences?”
In Eighth Day, the first test of the Mapping and subsequent mind control it lead to, was the subliminal slanting of a Presidential Election! Hmm? Nah!
Even if the “Brain Activity Map” project is totally benign in its intent, can we be sure the human minds that attain that knowledge will be equally benign? How much data will be shared with other governments and factions around the world who might like a shorter distance between indoctrination and devotion. And don’t get me started with Madison Avenue.
Those who have read Eighth Day might be quick to point out, “Oh Tom, you’re just reaching here. In your book it was a machine. Here, in real life, it’s just a study!” To those who point that out I say, “Yes, you’re right.”
Or… maybe not. Especially when you read later on in the Times Article,
‘The Obama initiative is markedly different from a recently announced European project that will invest 1 billion euros in a Swiss-led effort to build a silicon-based “brain.” The project seeks to construct a supercomputer simulation using the best research about the inner workings of the brain.’
Okay, now, even I’m scared… and I “wrote the book!”
The circumstances in my book, The Hammer of God, that mirror both the deadly Benghazi attacks and the Algerian Natural Gas facility raid and hostage siege were the subject of my blog, ‘Marginal Notes On Benghazi.’ In that piece, I floated an abandoned plot line from the marginal notes I made as I was writing and developing the core action of my novel. In this alternate version, the American Ambassador to Egypt is kidnapped, held in a petroleum facility in the desert and used as a bargaining chip to release a terrorist mastermind in U.S. custody.
Current events seem like a reshuffling of those pieces around a game board. But the result is the same. Yesterday, the terrorists holding the hostages announced they were willing to trade the American prisoners for the Blind Sheikh. Now for those who don’t know, the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman was convicted in the First World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Although in the book, the “Mastermind” that the bad guys want released is not the Blind Sheik, but Sheik Alzir El Benhan, the architect of a Bio Terror Attack, in the terror game he holds the same point value.
Another marginal note I did not reveal in the blog was “Why not kill him?” That was a thread of “fiction” where one of my special Ops guys who captures, El Benhan considers putting a bullet in his head and thus ends the cycle of attacks, kidnaps, ransom and repeat, that he knows will ensue if American Justice is carried out and this mastermind killer is allowed 3 squares and a cot for the rest of his natural born days. His fear is, the Sheik, while enjoying constitutionally guaranteed protections as our prisoner, would become the rationale and prize that spurs further kidnapping and death in attempts to get him released. The soldier’s math; kill one guilty guy now, save many, maybe even thousands, of innocents later. Of course as a writer, I quickly nixed that idea, because it would kill my book. If my ‘Sheik’ died the whole story would die with him.
So my question is, why is the blind Sheikh still alive? Whose story is the Government of the United States trying to keep going? Who is deciding that letting one high value terrorist live is worth the retaliation and death that his followers and fanatics in the future will bring.
If that sounds harsh, consider this, the Sheikh was captured tried and sentenced in the mid 90s. Recently, the new President of Egypt was not more than a few minutes in office before he promised his electorate, the 80 million people of Egypt, that he would free the Blind Sheikh from American prison. By the way, the same guy the current hostage takers want to trade American lives for.
For those keeping score. The American reporter, and first ‘YouTube’ execution victim, Daniel Pearl is still dead from brutal decapitation. The Ambassador and 3 other Americans slaughtered in Benghazi also remain dead. (No one has been charged or even accused in the Benghazi Attacks and no one has lost their jobs in the U.S. government either!) Monica Smith and her unborn child (7-months) and 5 other New Yorkers are still dead from the First Attack on the World Trade Center.
I believe the Blind Sheikh will have U.S. taxpayer funded, breakfast and lunch and diner today and probably be allowed to listen to TV and hear the reports from Algiers.
As of this posting it has been reported that all the hostages in Algeria are dead. Our prayers and sympathies go out to their families.
I haven’t been able to write about my father’s passing until now, as it’s been such a gut-wrenching personal loss for me and for his beloved homeland. But I felt on this Veterans Day weekend it was important to honor my dad, as his sheer survival exemplifies what it truly means to be an American and reveals the unwavering determination the human spirit has to prevail in the most dire of circumstances.
As the embassy dignitaries solemnly approached me to officially present my father’s medal, my eyes immediately filled with tears. They caringly placed one of his country’s highest honors, a beautiful gold Maltese Cross enameled in white, into the palm of my shaking hand. It was a profound and overwhelming moment that was — literally — decades in the making.
I slowly walked over to my father’s oak casket and gently placed the medal onto the flag that draped his coffin and likewise commemorated his courage, my hand lingering a moment as if to touch his heart one last time. The color guard raised their sabers in a dramatic salute as a sign of respect for the historic moment: My father had finally earned the recognition he deserved for the heroism he had exemplified almost seventy years earlier when he had nearly died fighting for the freedom of his country.
The long journey to this moment had begun when my father had desperately crawled through the dark and corpse-filled sewers of Warsaw, and had continued in a brutal Nazi POW camp, where my father, Ryszard Kossobudzki, sold the suit off his back for a loaf of bread.
At just thirteen years of age, he saw the German planes invade and decimate his country in September of 1939. Life changed forever in Poland, but my father’s steadfast patriotism did not. Although he was offered a chance to sneak out across the border after the fighting began, he did not leave. Instead, he voluntarily chose to stay and fight in the Warsaw Uprising of World War II, knowing the heavy odds were that he would die for his country. More than eighty percent of his citizen unit, virtually unarmed soldiers, did.
Young Kossobudzki was known by his comrades only by a code name which, when translated, meant “Mountain Lion.” He had chosen that name to remind himself that he had to run fast and sneak by the Nazis. And, like a cat, he had many lives, narrowly cheating death over and over. He was shot at, torn up by grenade shrapnel, and chased by a dive bomber which obliterated the building he ran to. But eventually he was seriously injured by a mortar shell that killed his comrade who was standing just a few feet away. When he left Warsaw in October 1944, the once vibrant city was smoldering rubble, by some estimates, a staggering eighty-five percent destroyed.
The young freedom fighter was held at gunpoint by the Nazis as they threw his near lifeless and bloodstained body onto a boxcar headed toward a German POW camp. As every bump of the steam locomotive made him wince in pain, all that mattered to this stalwart resistance warrior was to make sure he and his buddies made it through the next hour or day. Amazingly, it was around this time that he was nominated by his Commander for the esteemed Fighter’s Cross, the equivalent of the American Silver Star (something I discovered just a few years ago while researching and writing Quiet Hero, the bestselling book about my father). Ultimately, a daring escape from the POW camp led him to the safety of U.S. troops, who met my father — now weighing a mere ninety pounds on his six foot frame — with cheers and hugs on a small German riverbed. It was young American GIs who saved my father and told him he was finally free.
My dad faced his final battle in life with the same courage, grace, and dignity that he had displayed as a teen. When he shared with me recently that he had cancer, my heart broke. Hearing the fear and pain in my voice, he said to me, “Don’t worry — in the Uprising, five German units couldn’t get me, I’ll fight this with everything I have, too.” And he did.
He had choked up when I told him the Polish Consulate had learned, through documents that were hidden during the war, that he had been nominated in 1944 for the prestigious Fighter’s Cross. He humbly said all he cared about at the time was “not to have a wooden cross,” meaning killed in battle. Like so many veterans, he didn’t seek awards or accolades, he only cared about protecting his country and survival. Despite his incredible humility, I privately began diligently working on getting him the acknowledgements he greatly deserved. I felt it would not only recognize my father, but all of the unsung heroes of WWII.
Knowing time was of the essence, I remained determined and made a trip to Poland to press forward on this important process for my dad. Appropriately, on Memorial Day weekend this year, a Polish embassy official and the Defense Attaché came to my father’s hospital bed in the ICU unit and formally presented him with a beautiful gold medal from the Defense Minister. As they pinned that medal and the Fighter’s Cross on my father’s hospital gown, even the critical care nurses and doctors who bore witness to emotional leavenings on a daily basis, were misty-eyed. To the sound of their applause, my father also officially became an officer, promoted from Corporal to Second Lieutenant. The uniformed general gave him a hearty salute. I was so thankful my dad was alive to see those great honors.
The road to my father’s past and back was an emotional journey for both my father and me after years of painful separation, but I was grateful that we shared the beautiful ending of his remarkable life. As one friend told me, “You made his last years, his best.” I think given what my father endured as a teenager thrust into WWII, the least I could do as a daughter was to make sure he was appreciated for his tremendous record of service and ultimately honored. I believe it is the least we can do for all of our veterans and their selfless contributions,
As my father took his last breaths, I promised him I would always remind people of the extraordinary sacrifice of his fearless young Polish comrades and the brave U.S. troops who saved him and — I believe — saved the world in WWII, and continue to do that time and time again. I also told him how much I loved him and would miss him.
As my father quietly slipped away, he was not only surrounded by accolades from America and his homeland, but by those who loved him dearly, holding his hand as the heroic Lieutenant Kossobudzki completed his last mission.