Terrorist in America? Bad Form, old boy.

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 10.50.54 AMIn my 5th novel and 3rd bestseller, Give Us This Day, my hero, Brooke Burrell is trying to stop a impending and devastating ISIS attack on New York City, but she is halted in her chase of the bad guys in order to appear in Federal Court to answer charges of illegal government profiling of suspected terrorist. Now, as an author when you go there in a novel, you best know of from what you write. That means research.

Here’s why you should never research. Nightmares! Because real life is much scarier than my book could ever be. In fact, since 2014 the government admits to have captured or killed 113 people implicated in terrorist plots in the United States. HUH? Did you read about this? Was this the lead story on the day I was on vacation? Nearly 6 times the number of terrorist who perpetrated 9-11 were caught or killed since 2014!

Some of them, had travel histories and social media postings that all but said, “Hey, stupid American, look over here, I am going to destroy you, your family and your country.”

Yet in spite of the most expansive immigration and border control systems and budgets of all the countries in the world, at least 113 potential mass murderers waltzed through the system on the way to their dance of death.

Just like Brook Burrell faces in my book, the federal government’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies are caught between our sacred constitution, with it’s civilian protections, and the threat poised by those who intentionally defeat our screening system.

If I wrote how these 113 did it, how they infiltrated, invaded and successfully evaded our federal government’s defensive apparatus as part of a book, no editor would buy it, no reader would believe it and no one would ever read one of my books again.

But here’s the unbelievably scary reality; these intenders of death and destruction eluded our defenses, not by some novel way of avoiding detection using skillful spy craft, or James Bond styled, electronic evasion; where they passed an electronic device over a scanner, thus jamming it and walking through our national front door.

No, they are here, aiming their sights on you, me and the country we love, because they checked the “No” box on the official questionnaire that is the paper document which is all that stands between your family and death by terrorist attack…QUESTION 38

The congress just approved funding to allow 170,000 migrants from countries – known to have been visited – by most all of the 113 to enter our shores. Of those I am as sure as the government that those of them coming here to kill us will surely be stopped at the border by Federal Form  DS-156U.S. Department of State Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form to the United States of America. Question 38(C): “Do you seek to enter the United States to engage in export control violations, subversive or terrorist activities, or any other unlawful purpose?” Check one: yes/no.

That’s it! Just check the “NO” box and you are good to go! BUT read the fine print at the bottom: A “YES” doesn’t automatically signify ineligibly!!!! What a great country… to bomb. But let not your heart be troubled, the system does work – kind of– as the government recently revealed after one migrant was found to be a terrorist; “(he) swore untruthfully on his formal application when applying to become a naturalized U.S. citizen,” See they eventually found out… (all comfy now?)

Sounds like Fiction? Well, It’s Only Fiction… ‘Till It Happens that untruthful bit of genius, that effective means of evasion which defeated and outsmarted our state department’s “State of the ARK” detection system is exactly the same box the San Bernardino terrorists checked off on their entry form as well as the Boston Bombers, the 9-11 hijackers. Add to that the countless other’s, some American citizens, who have similar suspicious travel records and social postings of the likes of, Edward Archer, who yesterday fired 13 shots a Philadelphia policeman and later admitted to authorities he did it as an act of terror for ISIS.

Folks, if I wrote all this in a book, nobody’d believe it.

Post Script: Amazingly, Officer Jesse Hartnett, survived this latest terrorist attack on American soil.

Post Post Script: Also, notice that this computerized U.S. form specifically calls out Nazi’s (1930’s and 40’s) but not Al-Qaeda, ISIS or any other known terrorist organization of today – a form adapted to be filled out on a computer after 9/11/01!!!

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.

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.

 

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.

My Internal War on Woman… Defending my inner female

In a discussion with a friend, I was relating an aversion I was having about pushing for an answer from a Hollywood Studio that is currently considering my third book, The God Particle, as a potential big budget blockbuster.

Now, truth be told, this whole adventure started much like the nine other phone calls that were going to change my life. In every prior case, I was fearless, I aggressively followed up, I dared to ask uncomfortable questions, to probe the true dynamic in play. With this drummed up courage and “damn the torpedoes” attitude I went full speed ahead, braced and buttressed against the disappointing news that eventually came. But the stinging barbs of “oooo so close” and “We love it but…” bounced off me like bullets off Superman.

But not this time! This time I am filled with apprehension. Dreading the phone, not wanting to tempt fate, or anger the Gods. It is a very uncomfortable place for me to be. But the question is why? Why this time, why this manuscript? (the others were mostly screenplays). At first I thought the answer to be self-evident… Age! As you get older you get… well, soft. You become tired of the bumps and bruises you never noticed before. But that didn’t quite fit. During this same time I have put my butt on the line for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of production and media time, by taking on projects with impossible goals and deadlines. I have relished the challenge. Never shrinking away but embracing the opportunity to perform beyond 100% and prove to myself that I can adapt, innovate and overcome any situation, in life and in business.

So why the timid, little boy, “scaredy-pants” act over this book? Over this tenth “life changing” opportunity? What is different?

Then it hit me. Everything I have done before was in my wheelhouse. Part of my success was always assured by the fact I was only playing on home-fields, at games I had a chance at winning. These were situations where I was in control of all the elements, and confident in the product.

Ahhh but this story is my first, full-fledged jump into the life, psyche and thought patterns of a female! Specifically my FBI agent turned Quarterback Group Operative, Brooke Burrell. At first I thought this was a kind of starter kit into the female mystique, in that I already had a good character base for her developed over two books, where she not only grew into her character, but into her life. And the safety rail for me was, she was in a traditionally male line of work, she had to interface and meld into the workplace mindset. Therefore, if I went too heavy male in her actions or motivations, I felt and hoped the reader would allow it, as her reacting to a male dominated environment. Easy to write a woman in that context! Piece of Cheesecake.

However, then she was always a supporting character. Therefore, I could, by reflection in the other characters, define her. It was my choice to go as deep as I wanted or leave it to the observation of the other characters to fill in the blanks.

Now, Brooke is the main character of my third book with my usual main characters taking a more supportive role. Many times in the story there isn’t anyone around to reflect off of, so I have to go inside her. It’s scary in there! I adhere to the adage, “You are a piece of all the characters you write.” So hello Brooke, welcome to my inner female. Not much organic female development in here within me, so my external observations of females have to be reversed tracked into the woman I am defining, creating motives and histories; impulses and predilections that become the cause that affects her behavior.

When writing about her, I can throw the world at her, and make her deftly respond, win, lose or draw. But going into her being, writing “her,” needs a feminine map with symbols and marks on it that most males are genetically incapable of reading.

So that’s it. That’s the fear. If they decide to make the movie, that would be nice, but if not, nothing changes, no big deal. But the reason for my nail biting apprehension, however, is the fear of them saying, “SHE doesn’t work for us.” Or worse, “you wrote a guy with breasts!”

Well, Brooke is all written now, she’s out there in the big world, I hope I have given her all the attributes of character and flaws of humanity that make her a compelling figure, but like most fathers, I pray that I just made her a good woman.

When you shouldn’t write…

I get a lot of people inside government, the scientific community and law enforcement agencies who “tell” me things off the record. You know, “You didn’t hear this from me but…”

Well, last week I got a tip on something, I’ll call it “Installation X,” a really good piece of reality that would make a beautiful plot point and revelation. For me revelation is as important as a tight story. I use “fiction” in my books to plant a few seeds on things that governments and media soft pedal or aggressively ignore into obliteration.

So I get this information that I could center my entire 4th book on. A juicy, real, almost unbelievable fact that I can fictionalize. Except, last week I got a note that asked I forget what I was told. The reason? Apparently, it’s hotter than even the person who shared it with me thought it was.

Professional dilemma: respect my source or go for it? Well, I decided to not only respect my source but also join into the spirit of our national secrets, which is mainly to keep them secret. So I took a deep breath and moved on. This happened with my first book, when I deduced, based on available technology, a technological process that could protect the President. I “made it up” and wrote it into my story. Then a person who was a protector of POTUS asked me to “not go there.” Fair enough. I broomed it for the sake of Presidential security and my acquaintance, and the folks he works with, lives. Easy decision… then.

Two days ago, I met a guy who tells me almost the whole “Installation X” story! Now this guy is a new source. I could go with his version of the events and situation since he so far has not asked me to forget it. (He may not be as in the loop as my original source.) But that would just be a way around what I said I wouldn’t do to my original source and my own feeling of obligation to the men an women who risk their lives carrying out our nation’s security that has to be done in secret.

So no. I am still not going to go near this thing. I will however scour the Internet, go to the library and see if any of this can be open sourced. Meaning if it’s already out there and thus I won’t be jeopardizing a source or my country. Although I hope it’s not.

And the Winner is…

CONGRATULATIONS

Having never won anything in my life, it’s interesting to be on this side. I
am so glad for Rachel Robertson  and I hope the luck continues… So Rachel if I
were you I’d go buy a lottery ticket!

The MUSE is on the loose- II

Earlier in this blog, I wrote of M.U.S.E. or Metaphysical Universal Story Enlightenment.  Recently the spooky apparition appeared again, while I was doing final research in preparation for the publishing of my third book, The God Particle.  I was (leisurely) looking through a jaunty romp of a dissertation on sonar dynamics as it relates to thermo layers and cavitation anomalies of audio wave propagation in salt water.  Well as you know, when you are that deep into a subject you stumble on other things.

In my research of (here’s another ‘couldn’t put it down read’!) Deep Water Submarine Tactics of the Cold War 1962-1970, I stumbled across a mild reference to the undersea tapping of Soviet military phone lines (see the original M.U.S.E. blog for the amazing story of how I conjured up the name U.S.S. Halibut) but what I didn’t know then, when I wrote that blog, was that there was another Metaphysical shoe about to drop.

When I was writing the sub-plot of the nuclear missile submarine which introduces my main character, Brooke Burrell’s love interest, Captain Mush Morton.  I had already used the Halibut phone tap in the story, but now I needed a super-spook, retired. An individual who was a master spy and designer of some of the biggest and most effective spy missions ever, (like the tap) to tie that plot to Bill Hiccock at the White House.

Reaching into my character name bag, I played with a few names for this super spook. I played with, Marshall (too obvious), Mack (no, I already had a Mack in The Eighth Day). Then I randomly heard on the radio in the background someone mention an old radio personality, Gene Klaven.  I liked Klaven, so bang, my super spook retired, was now Russ Klaven (friends call him Clay) but that was months ago, last week in military history files I found this…
Later, in a brainstorm, Commander John Craven dreamed up the idea of tapping a Russian undersea telephone cable under the Sea of Okhotsk…   The sub, Halibut, was refitted for the mission and a “tap” was designed for the effort.

Okay, Craven – Klaven.  Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Close enough to make the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up and take notice.

Yes the Muse is on the loose again, and I take it as a sign that I am doing something that resonates with the universal intellect.

You may now readjust your writing shockra.

The Jersey Shore and a Million Dollar Pair of Nikes

This Labor Day weekend, spontaneity ruled the day.  Without planning or intending to, I found myself on the Jersey Shore close to New York City on a peninsula called Sandy Hook.  I write a lot about America and defending her.  Admittedly, I look for the more non-traditional methods to fuel my novels.  On this beautiful late summer day, I suddenly found myself looking at two Nike Missiles.  Surface to air, interceptor missiles that fortunately only played an active role in the black and white science fiction movies of the 50’s, as the best defense we had, being vaporized by the flying saucer’s death ray.  (See Earth vs. The Flying Saucers and the like)

As the day unfolded, I was surrounded in cold-war iconology.  To say I was astonished is to minimize the impact this discovery had on me. I never knew that 17 miles away from Midtown Manhattan, was a nuclear missile base. Part of a defensive shield, a blanket of comfort for the Dashing Dan’s of the 60’s (See Madmen) who just wanted to win the American Rat Race and make a better life for their kids.  I was one of those kids, ducking and covering under my school desk, trusting the old guys on TV in Washington D.C. to protect me from the ‘Sireen.’  The siren in my neighborhood was atop P.S. 76 and in that school we practiced air raid drills weekly. The nightmare we lived under was, if it started wailing, we would be bombed into ashes, leaving nothing but shadows on walls and sidewalks. (See Hiroshima) Everyone, flash immolated, except, for some reason, those of us that were hiding under our desks facing away from the glass windows.

The Nike’s are rotting away now, you can see huge chunks of metal eaten away in the launch rails.  Some might take comfort in this; that this missile shield was now a relic, a remnant of a mentally tortured childhood and, to some, a comfort that those days are behind us.

Bullsh*t!  The Nike’s and everything else in the DEW line, defense early warning system, didn’t go away because the threat went away. The new technology of extreme mass destruction, just made them obsolete, the nightmare is still in play.

Today, there are less warheads, not because we did something good, but because the new warheads are 1,000 times more accurate. So they need less weapons to do the exact same job. The numbers are smaller but the mega-tonnage yields are 10,000 times higher.

We have improved our technology to the point where there is no defense. No longer are missiles, like the Nike, needed to shoot down Russian or Chinese long-range strategic bombers because those bombers are obsolete. Multiple re-entry warhead tipped, Inter-continental Ballistic Missiles and similar sea launched rockets are more efficient. Satellite eyes and the men and women in our Silos and Nuclear Subs (Boomers) are the only calculus a would-be attacker has to roll the dice against.

In part of my third book, The God Particle, we go inside the nuclear submarine SSBN-739, the U.S.S. Nebraska, America’s current random chit in the highest stakes game of total nuclear destruction that we still play today – albeit without the air raid drills and nightmares, but even more deadly nonetheless.

Today the Dashing Dan’s clutching their Fedora hat’s have been transformed to telecommuters, the dutiful secretary is now the virtual assistant, the duck and cover drills have gone the way of dodge ball and the Nike’s are rusting in National Parks, but the Madmen still have their fingers on their button, so our nation must remain vigilant.