Daily Archives: July 17, 2015

Book Tour – Vows To The Fallen by Larry Laswell

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About The Book

Vows To The Fallen

Title: Vows to the Fallen
Author: Larry Laswell
Publisher: Marshell Publishing
Publication Date: August 14, 2015
Format: Paperback – 277 pages / eBook  / PDF
ISBN: 978-0986385322
Genre: Historical Fiction / Military / Sea Story

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Publication Date: August 14, 2015
Pre-Order The Book: July 1, 2015
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Book Description

Vows to the Fallen
An Officer’s Journey Through Guilt and Grief
Another techno-thriller from the author of The Marathon Watch
 

August 9, 1942, 01:42 hours
USS Green on patrol off Red Beach, Guadalcanal
Bridge Officer: Lieutenant Patrick O’Toole

Lieutenant O’Toole’s goal is simple: someday he wants to become an admiral. But in a few moments, his life will change . . . forever. Yesterday, the marines stormed the beaches of Guadalcanal. Today, the Japanese Navy will strike back. The sudden and horrific carnage scars O’Toole for life and throws him into the abyss of survivor’s guilt and posttraumatic stress.

The Pacific War does not wait for O’Toole to heal. Duty calls, each new assignment brings more responsibility, and the roll call of the fallen grows. At the Battle of Mujatto Gulf, O’Toole faces a superior battle-hardened Japanese fleet and discovers the strength within him to climb from the abyss and find his true life’s mission. To the fallen, he vows never to abandon that mission no matter how high the cost.

Book Excerpt

Chapter 1
August 8, 1942, 2346 Hours
USS Green; 45 nautical miles northwest of Red Beach, Guadalcanal

Lieutenant Patrick O’Toole considered himself a career naval officer, and someday he hoped to be promoted to admiral. At Annapolis, his teachers had taught him the horrors of war, but he had never experienced combat. That was about to change and it would change him forever.

The steel ladder rattled as he clambered to the wheelhouse deck to assume the midwatch. On the wheelhouse deck, the port fifty-caliber gunner slouched with his back to the sea and chatted with the lookout on the flying bridge one level above. The helmsman faced the starboard bridge wing and had but one hand on the wheel. Dim red lights above the chart table and the polished brass compass binnacle added little illumination to the wheelhouse, and the men, gray smudges in the dark, seemed unconcerned. O’Toole’s concern bordered on anger, but he remained silent.

Find out what’s going on then fix it.

A man on the flying bridge lit a cigarette. This was way out of bounds. “Snuff your butt. The enemy can see that for miles,” O’Toole said, hoping his voice had a bark to it.

O’Toole had seen this before. Captain Levitte ran a relaxed ship, but this wasn’t peacetime. They were at war in enemy waters. O’Toole read the message dispatches, the captain’s night orders, and the chart. None of it good news, especially the report of a Japanese battlegroup headed south.

He located Lieutenant Karl, the officer of the deck on the port bridge wing. Karl’s life jacket vest was open, revealing a sweat-soaked khaki shirt, and sweat beaded on his brow.

Karl slouched on the bridge railing as O’Toole approached “What’s your status?” O’Toole asked.

Karl rubbed his day-old stubble. “At Condition III. Fire in all four boilers. Superheat lit, and the plant is cross-connected. Starboard steering motor, port steering engine” Karl droned as he went through the standard litany of the watch change. “On course zero-seven-zero at ten knots. Straight line patrol between points Able and Baker on the chart as per the captain. You have about ten minutes before you turn around and head back to point Baker. Received a report of Japanese ships headed south five hours ago. Told the captain, and he said Intel couldn’t tell the difference between a cruiser and a sampan. Besides, nothing will happen before dawn. Aircraft overhead, told the captain, he says they’re from our carriers. That, and the captain said to cut the crew some slack; they’re tired. I just ordered the cooks to make a fresh batch of coffee; you’re gonna need it. That’s about it.”

“Why aren’t we zigzagging?”

“Captain’s orders. Straight line patrol between points Able and Baker is what he wanted.”

“With an enemy force headed south we should be at Condition II at least.”

“I don’t know about that, but the captain wants to give the crew some rest.”

“Do we have star shells loaded or at the ready?”

“No.”

“Which gun mounts are manned?”

“Mounts 51 and 55.”

“Only two?”

“Yes, and before you ask, one-third of the anti-aircraft batteries are manned, and I told those gun crews they could sleep at their stations.”

“Are the crews in Mounts 51 and 55 asleep?”

“Probably.”

Out of professional courtesy, O’Toole didn’t challenge Karl, even though he would have been justified in refusing to relieve Karl of the watch until Karl corrected the battle readiness of the ship.

O’Toole saluted Lieutenant Karl and said, “I relieve you, sir.”

Karl nodded. “This is Mister Karl, Mister O’Toole has the deck and the conn,” Karl said to the bridge crew.

“This is Mister O’Toole, I have the deck and the conn,” O’Toole replied.

Karl handed O’Toole his life jacket, helmet, and gun belt and walked to the small chart table in the forward port section of the wheelhouse to complete his log entries. O’Toole brushed back his flaming red hair and put on the helmet, life jacket, and gun making sure all straps were cinched tight.

“Boats, over here,” O’Toole said to the boatswain mate of the watch as he headed to the starboard bridge wing. It was a lazy night: clear sky, high overhead clouds, calm sea, a slight breeze, and the ship plodding forward at ten knots. A night like this could dull the senses of the best of men. He couldn’t let that happen.

“Boats, square your watch away. We are in enemy waters, and there are reports of a column of Jap cruisers headed our way. I want everyone on their toes.”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

“Messenger, over here,” O’Toole said, beckoning the watch messenger.

“Go below and wake up the chiefs and tell them there are enemy ships in the area. I want them to make sure their watches are alert and ready. Tell the gunnery chief I want him on the bridge.”

“Yes, sir,” the messenger said and headed for the ladder.

A few minutes later, the gunnery chief appeared barefooted and in a white T-shirt. “Yes, sir, you wanted to see me?”

“Jap ships are headed our way. Check your gun crews; I want them alert with their eyes to the sea. Bring six star shells to the ready with one round in the mount. If we come under fire, I want Mount 51 to fire three star shells in a 180-degree spread without orders from the bridge.”

“What’s up, sir?”

“Not sure, chief, except we are in dangerous waters and the crew is asleep.”

“Will do, sir. Should I stay with the gun crews?”

“Wouldn’t be a bad idea, chief. Do what you think is best, but be aware things might get worse at dawn.”

“Yes, sir.” The chief trotted to the ladder and disappeared.

Lieutenant Karl finished his log entries and left the bridge. O’Toole stood next to the quartermaster at the chart table in the forward port section of the wheelhouse. He retrieved the sighting report. Five Japanese cruisers and four destroyers headed south at thirty knots. O’Toole plotted the ten-hour-old sighting location on the chart and walked the dividers across the chart to estimate the current location of Japanese forces. They would have passed the Green an hour ago and would now be on top of the northern defense line around Red Beach.

The receding drone of an aircraft off the port bow caught his ear. They were too far from the Japanese airbase at Rabaul for them to have planes this far south at night. It didn’t make sense: he didn’t think the carrier aircraft could operate at night, but spotter planes from a cruiser could.

Nothing had happened. Maybe the Japanese column had slowed or diverted. Naval doctrine taught officers to avoid night attacks since it complicated the battle, and everyone knew you couldn’t shoot at an enemy hiding in the darkness. Still, everything added up to a night counterattack against the Guadalcanal invasion force.

“Get the captain up here on the double. I’ll be on the flying bridge,” O’Toole said the watch messenger.

He felt better on the flying bridge where he had an unobstructed view of the sea and sky. He swept the horizon with his binoculars: nothing but a black night.

The crew was exhausted from the invasion of Guadalcanal the prior morning. The shirtless bodies of a hundred sleeping men escaping the oppressive heat and humidity of their berthing spaces lay on the dark main deck. Not regular navy, O’Toole thought, but he couldn’t object because the crew needed the sleep.

“What’s up, Pat?” Captain Levitte asked as soon as his head popped above the flying bridge deck level.

“I think we have trouble, Captain. The Japanese column sighted in the intelligence report should be on top of the northern defense line right about now. We should be at general quarters or at least Condition II and be zigzagging. There could be subs in the area.”

Levitte rubbed the back of his neck, then put his hands in his pockets, and walked in a tight circle with his eyes on the deck. “Look, the Japs aren’t that smart, and you should know not even the Japs are dumb enough to attack at night. Nothing will happen until the sun comes up. In the meantime, cut the crew some slack; they’re tired and need their sleep.”

“I’m sorry, Captain, but that doesn’t make sense. The sighting said the Japs were at thirty knots. They wouldn’t do that and then slow down to wait for the sun to come up.”

“No matter what happens we’ll kick their ass,” Levitte began. “We kicked their ass in the Coral Sea and Midway. Now we’re kicking their ass off Guadalcanal. The marines ran the Jap garrison into the jungle before lunch. They can’t stand up to us no matter what, so there’s no reason to get worked up about it.”

“To be safe, let me take the ship to Condition II and zigzag. It won’t hurt anything.”

“No, lieutenant. My night orders said to cut the crew some slack, and there is no need to waste fuel zigzagging. You read my night orders, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Follow them, and let me get some sleep.”

The shirtless lookout stiffened. “Sir, light flashes, port beam.”

Both men turned. Staccato bursts of light above the southern horizon illuminated the sky.

Another voice called out, “Flares off the port beam.”

The night erupted. White-golden flashes close to port blinded O’Toole. Captain Levitte’s chest exploded into a mist of blood. Shells exploded against the mast, and men dove to the deck.

On his stomach, O’Toole fought his life jacket as he rolled to the starboard edge of the deck. Crawling under the railing, he let himself over the side. He was about to let himself drop the last three feet when a jolt catapulted him to the deck below. His head hit the deck, and despite his cinched helmet, the blow stunned him to the precipice of unconsciousness. O’Toole fought to bring himself back to the present as he wobbled to a crouched position.

Concussions from explosions aft the wheelhouse punched at his chest and abdomen. He had to go through the wheelhouse to the port side to see the enemy ship. In the wheelhouse, only the quartermaster was up, crouching in the corner by the chart table. Sparks and flashes of incoming fire covered the aft bulkhead and enveloped the wheelhouse in smoke, shrapnel, and debris. Broken, screaming bodies littered the deck.

He fought his way through the wheelhouse across shattered glass that slid like ice across the blood-drenched deck. The Green’s guns hadn’t returned fire.

He turned to find the phone talker. A flash memory of the phone talker’s body falling next to the captain made him stop. The phone talker was dead along with most of the bridge crew. He was alone; he had no bridge crew, and there was no one left to command. To anyone who could hear, he yelled, “Tell the gun crews to return fire.”

On the port bridge wing, he peered over the railing. A thousand yards away, two searchlights blinded him, and a torrent of tracer fire arched toward the Green. Muzzle flashes from the enemy ship’s heavy guns ripped at the darkness, and spasmodic explosions on the Green followed each flash.

On his stomach looking aft, he tried to understand the hell erupting around him. Black smoke spewed from golden fires, and smoke boiled across the fantail near the depth charge racks. Antiaircraft rounds raked the Green’s main deck, tearing men apart; the lucky ones leapt overboard.

In the forward boiler room, the port bulkhead ruptured three feet below the waterline in a flash of light, wrenching the keel. Shrapnel pierced the two Babcock & Wilcox boilers, which exploded upward, shredding the main deck overhead. A half-second later, a second explosion severed the keel, and a third tore the shattered hull of the Green in two.

Sheets of water vaulted into the air, and the explosions pushed the Green hard to starboard and lifted it upward in a death spasm.

Torpedoes. The word lingered in O’Toole’s mind until he understood, then it vanished. He pulled himself to his feet. Ruptured boilers roared beneath clouds of steam.

The Green hinged aft the deckhouse. The stern rose and began its slide beneath the surface. When the cool seawater reached the aft boilers they blew a ten-foot mound of white water to the surface. The mound collapsed into a steam haze low above the water. As the first wisps of steam dissipated, they dragged O’Toole from his stupor.

The gunfire stopped. The searchlights were gone. Screams, moans, and the sound of rushing water welled up to fill the silence. He strained his eyes for an enemy invisible in the night. They had vanished. The battle was over.

There was no time for thinking or words; the conclusions flashed through his mind fully formed.

When the armed depth charges on the sinking fantail detonated, anyone in the water would suffer intestinal hemorrhaging and a slow, excruciating death.

To the men below he yelled, “Stay with the ship! Don’t go in the water; depth charges! Get everyone in the water back aboard!”

O’Toole took inventory. The forward part of the ship, though sinking, seemed stable. The wheelhouse was a confusing mass of shadows cut against golden fires, and the smell of blood and noxious nitrate gasses filled his head.

He entered the wheelhouse and stumbled. His knee landed on something soft. He looked down at the chest of a headless body. O’Toole’s stomach wrenched.

A figure appeared. “Sir, we took three torpedoes. No water pressure to fight the fires, no power, and we are flooding forward.”

One by one the sinking depth charges designed to sink submarines began to detonate, sending tremors from each concussive blow through the ship. When the explosions stopped, O’Toole took a deep breath, and the acid-laced air burned his lungs. “Get below. Pass the word to abandon ship.”

O’Toole turned his attention to the main deck, and released the one remaining life raft stored just below the bridge railing. Not waiting for orders, shirtless survivors leapt overboard. It seemed to take hours, but soon the decks were empty and the survivors were off the ship. With nothing left to do, he wondered if radio managed to send a message. He doubted it. He turned to the quartermaster and said, “Let’s go.”

The quartermaster collected the ship’s logs and joined O’Toole.

As he prepared to jump the last ten feet into the ocean, the quartermaster yelled, “Stop! Your helmet, sir.”

O’Toole had forgotten he was wearing it. Going overboard with a cinched helmet would break your neck. He tore it off, and they jumped together.

There was no past and no future, only the immediate need to survive. O’Toole swam from the sinking bow section, demanding his muscles move faster before her sinking hulk sucked him under. His muscles grew tired from the frenzied effort until a voice yelled, “She’s going down.”

He stopped and turned to what remained of the Green. Out of breath, he bobbed in the one-foot swells and coughed to clear the salt water from his lungs. The Green’s prow swung skyward while the hulk of the remaining bow section backed into the depths. The sea extinguished the fires as she slid under.

She died a silent death. After the tip of the bow disappeared, his eyes lost focus and he stared at the empty sea for several seconds, unable to grasp the meaning of this moment.

He linked up with a small group of survivors, and they linked up with other groups. They located two floater nets, lashed them together, and placed the injured in them. They found several of the watertight powder canisters used to protect the five-inch brass powder casings while in the magazines. The crew used empty canisters to stow stable dry food and water with the floater nets. He ordered several men to attract scattered survivors by yelling into the night.

At first, groups of four would swim toward them. Now an occasional lone survivor would show up. O’Toole gathered the surviving officers and chief petty officers. The group of seven rolled with the lazy sea, clutching the floater net to stay together. Three wore life jackets; the other four relied on the floater net.

“Someone said there is another group with a floater net south of us.” Pointing to Ensigns Carter and Fitch, O’Toole said, “Swim to the south floater net, if there is one, take a count, and tell them to swim their way to us and lash-in. While you’re at it, round up volunteers to scavenge for debris we can use. The men should also collect all the powder canisters and bring them here.”

Turning to Chief Brandon, he said, “Make sure the injured are wearing life jackets, and get those with serious wounds in the floater nets.” Brandon swam off.

To Ensigns Parker and Adbury, he said, “You two make the rounds and get a head count of the healthy, injured, and critically wounded. After you report back, take charge of the injured. Collect the morphine ampules from the crew.” O’Toole reached into his trouser pocket and handed over two morphine ampules. “Bring the wounded together, especially those with bleeding wounds. Get them in the floater nets and get the bleeding stopped; the sharks will show up soon enough.”

To Chief Zies, O’Toole said, “Chief, make the rounds, talk to everyone, and make sure their heads are on straight. Find anyone who might lose it and buddy them up with someone. We don’t want panic or men going nuts.”

Chief Zies swam off, and O’Toole reached underwater to remove his shoes. He tied the laces together and draped them over his neck.

Chief Zies made his rounds and returned to O’Toole’s position.

“You get a head count yet?” O’Toole asked.

“My count is fifty-seven, including you.”

“Just fifty-seven?”

“Lieutenant, the aft two-thirds of the ship sank like a rock. From the time the Japs attacked to the time the stern sank wasn’t more than a minute. I’m surprised we have this many left.”

O’Toole’s chest went hollow, and his mind went blank. Visions of shattered bodies and blood-soaked decks, the sound of dying men flashed through his mind. His gut radiated the hollowness of failure.

The dark corners of his mind whispered, “You’ll never be the same.”

“Three-fourths of the crew is missing,” O’Toole said.

“There has to be more out there,” Zies said.

“Yeah, there has to more out there,” O’Toole said.

As the deck officer, he was responsible for the safety of the ship and crew.

He had scanned the horizon, and he had jacked up the lookouts and the bridge crew. It hadn’t been enough. Either way it was his responsibility. It takes three minutes to get a torpedo firing solution, and one zigzag might have destroyed their firing solution and saved the ship. He hadn’t seen his options; the wall had blocked him again. His grandfather’s words stabbed at him.

You’re not adequate.

It was the story of his life; he always fell short of adequacy. There was always one more thing he might have done, but he could never see it until it was too late. The wall was always there to stop him and hide the solution. His wall had damned him to failure again. The wall was always there blocking his way a single step short of success.

Ensign Parker swam over to him. “Got the head count. Fifty-seven men. Twenty-one wounded. Six critical. That includes the south floater net we got lashed-in.”

“We’ll wait till dawn to find the others,” Zies said. “What the heck happened, sir?”

“Wish I knew,” O’Toole began. “A column of Jap ships were headed to Guadalcanal to counterattack. I suspect they left a destroyer behind to ambush us once the fight off Guadalcanal started.”

“That means they spotted us, but how did that happen without us seeing them?” Zies asked.

“That part is easy. We weren’t looking, but I still can’t figure out how we missed them once we did start looking. I should have zigzagged despite the captain’s orders.”

Zies looked at O’Toole for a long minute. “You’re not blaming yourself for this, are you?”

O’Toole didn’t answer.

“Are you?”

The question tore at O’Toole, but he had to look forward, and swore the wall would not stop him. “For now, we’re not losing any more men, Chief. Keep the men together. They’ll start looking for survivors tomorrow; they’ll find us.” O’Toole said.

Voices shouted. Zies turned. A searchlight from an approaching ship probed the surrounding sea. When it reached the far end of the floater nets, gunfire erupted. Spikes of water shot up around the Green’s survivors.

Both O’Toole and Zies screamed, “Everyone down!”

O’Toole shed his life jacket, took a deep breath, and dove. He figured five feet would be enough. He pivoted his feet beneath him and tried to maintain his depth. When the burning in his lungs became unbearable, he kicked hard to reach the surface. When his head cleared the water, he sucked in a chest of air, preparing to dive again, but the gunfire stopped.

The searchlight now centered itself on his small group, and a Japanese heavy cruiser loomed over them. With his hand, he blocked the searchlight so he could see the bridge. He studied the bridge and a man with a patch over his left eye. By his position on the bridge wing, his carriage, and the separation between him and the other officers, O’Toole guessed he was the captain.

They locked eyes. Neither man flinched. After several seconds, the Japanese captain walked away. The cruiser picked up speed and disappeared into the night.

Zies asked O’Toole, “What was going on between you and the guy with the eye patch?”

“I wanted the bastard to know we weren’t defeated,” O’Toole began. “The Japs won this battle not with equipment but with smarter officers and sharper training. How they pulled it off was brilliant: at night, torpedoes first, guns second, no star shells. They mauled us with their guns, but knew that wouldn’t sink us. Once the Jap ship saw the torpedoes hit, there was no need to continue a gun battle and endanger their ship; they knew they had sunk us, so they vanished into the night.”

O’Toole shook his head; he would have to figure out what happened later; he put it out of his mind.

“Okay, Chief, have the men with life jackets chain up. Make sure they lash in each chain to a floater net. As you make the rounds, make sure everyone is secure for the night. By God, we’re not losing any more men.”

“Aye, sir.” Zies swam away, yelling, “Everyone chain up and lash in!”

Men formed spiral chains. One man would loop his arm through the hole below the high collar of the next man’s life jacket, burying the arm to the shoulder. The chains provided security, extra buoyancy, and a way to sleep without drifting away.

About The Author

 

Larry Laswell

Larry Laswell served in the US Navy for eight years. In navy parlance, he was a mustang, someone who rose from the enlisted ranks to receive an officer’s commission. While enlisted, he was assigned to the USS John Marshall SSBN-611 (Gold Crew). After earning his commission, he served as main engines officer aboard the USS Intrepid CV-11. His last assignment was as a submarine warfare officer aboard the USS William M. Wood DD-715 while she was home ported in Elefsis, Greece.

In addition to writing, Larry, a retired CEO fills his spare time with woodworking and furniture design. He continues to work on The Marathon Watch series, an upcoming science fiction series titled The Ethosians, and an anthology of over eighty humorous sea stories titled A Ship-load of Sea Stories & 1 Fairy Tale.

 
You can visit Larry Laswell’s website at www.larrylaswell.com
Connect with Larry Laswell:
Author Blog:  larrylaswell.com/blog

Poetry Contest

Win a dinner for two, a night on the town, or whatever you want to do with $250!

Enter Larry Laswell’s Vows to the Fallen Poetry Contest!

Pre-release sales of Vows to the Fallen will begin on July 1, 2015 for release on August 14th. One of the characters in the book has a habit of reciting excerpts from classic poems. If you are the first to correctly name all of the poems you win! $150 for second place and $100 for third place.

Here are the rules:

1. Order Vows to the Fallen in Amazon’s Kindle store.
2. At midnight (EST) download Vows to the Fallen and read it to find the poetry excerpts.
3. Leave a review on Amazon (How you rate the book has no bearing on your eligibility to win.)
4. Go to http://larrylaswell.com and click on “Contest.” In the form tell Larry under what name you left the review, and then list the poems by name and author. (Watch your spelling – it must be exact!)
5. The first correct entrant who left a review wins a dinner for two, a night on the town, or whatever they want to do with $250!
6. If Larry cannot identify the entrant’s review they will be disqualified (don’t use an anonymous name!)
7. If Larry receives more than one entry at the same time stamp, Larry will hold a drawing to determine the winners.
8. Any organization, or individual who received an advance review copy, their employees or family are ineligible.
9. Larry is the contest judge, and his judgment is final.
10. Larry is not responsible for delivery delays in the Amazon Kindle system.
11. Larry will post the winners on his website at 8AM EST on September 1, 2015.

Pre-order Vows to the Fallen today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Larry, thanks for being here today. Tell us a little about yourself.
My working life is an eclectic collection of jobs. I’ve been an assembly line worker, a forklift operator, a theatrical technical director, a computer programmer, and a business executive. In between all that I enlisted in the navy, and eight years later I left the navy as an officer.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Huh? What’s the difference between inspiration and obsession? Inspiration seems a bit highfalutin’ to me. I’m just a normal person with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

There is always something I’m obsessed about, but what that is depends on what is going on. I design furniture and do woodworking. Once I get a design project started, it owns me until it is done. I am self-employed as a consultant for some really great clients. If something is going on with them, I can’t wait to get up and help them solve their problems.

None of that is to say I don’t get obsessed with my books. I write for a while every day no matter what. Sometimes I have to force myself to “get into” a book, but once I get there, I can’t put it away—I have to write it.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
Tough question because there are so many great choices, but I think it would be Nelson Mandela. He was a game-changer and someone who left his mark on history. His impact was the product of his intellect, worldview, and philosophy. If I could spend a day with him, I would ask him to talk to me about anything that came to his mind. I would sit quietly and absorb every word.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
Vows to the Fallen is a prequel to my previous novel The Marathon Watch. In The Marathon Watch, I introduced a crusty, irascible, navy captain named Patrick “Terror” O’Toole. O’Toole symbolized the best of naval tradition: duty, honor, and country. O’Toole’s feared college professor character was a tough taskmaster devoted to making his charges think.

My readers made O’Toole their favorite, and I felt compelled to write a book about how O’Toole became the leader he is. Vows to the Fallen is O’Toole’s story. As readers will find out, his character and life’s mission were forged in the horrific South Pacific battles of World War II.

Tell us your writing process.
At the macro level, I will mentally play with a book idea for a year or more. I call this the composting period. During that period I may write notes or characters and dramatic scenes to get a feel for the book. When I am ready to start writing, I create an outline grid for each character and subplot. From there I will create a scene-by-scene outline that can run ten thousand to fifteen thousand words. This process may take two to three months, but I’m not working on it full time.

When I’m happy with the outline, the writing process begins. My writing process is either chaos bordering on order, or order on the verge of chaos. There are many do-overs because of the organic growth of the story. For example, I am working right now on my next novel and have drafted the first two chapters. I have redrafted them multiple times trying to find the tone, or style of writing, appropriate for the story. I will keep at this until the style sings to me.

Next I will write the middle chapter and the last chapter. With those done, I pick up my outline and start serious writing. This is where everything gets chaotic. The story grows and morphs organically. This requires revisiting the outline and everything else I’ve written. Sometimes, I feel that I have to write two hundred thousand words to achieve the final ninety-thousand-word manuscript.

I have a love-hate relationship with writing. I write novels about people; my books are not just action and suspense. Writing about complex characters is difficult, and I hate the grinding work it takes to do it right. But I love writing because the word crafting required to develop nuance, emotion, and foreboding is so fascinating. When I’m done, I feel that I have accomplished something worthwhile, and one reader review is all the payment I need.

What tips can you give other authors who are looking to get the word out about their book?
Buy a rabbit’s foot. There are thousands of great novels with four- and five-star reviews waiting to be found. As of yet, no one has found the magic formula that can guarantee a well-written novel will take off. I have personally spoken with several successful authors, and they all say it begins with luck. If there is a trick to it, it’s being persistent and having a social platform ready to go when the fates bless you with good luck. It will happen sooner or later.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
When people ask me how I got into writing, I suggest that they should be asking how writing got into me. I think I inherited the itch from my mother, who was also a writer. The Star Trek maxim should have been “A life-form has to do what a life-form is.” That’s the way it is with me—I have to write because that’s who I am. I’m happiest when I’m writing.

Unfortunately, career aspirations kept getting in my way, and I never took the time to write. In about 1990 I wrote my first short story. It was so bad that the garbageman threw it back when I put it in the trash. I started studying the writing craft and writing for my own enjoyment. About three years ago my friends really got in my face and told me to publish. The rest is history.

Tell us about your main character.
In Vows to the Fallen, O’Toole, the crusty navy captain from The Marathon Watch, starts out as a mere lieutenant. O’Toole is an unorthodox, independent thinker and tactical savant. His childhood at the feet of an impossible-to-please grandfather broke down his self-confidence. His self-doubt compounds the emotional trauma he feels when he has to make life-or-death decisions for his men. He has to find a way to deal with his emotions positively.

What are you working on next?
The third book in the Marathon series is in the composting stage, and I expect it will go to outline in the next few months. I am currently working on my next series, The Oracle, a science fiction thriller series. This series will be fun with cliff-hangers and plot twists mixed with a bit of mysticism.

As with all of my books, there will be a serious message in The Oracle series along with significant character growth. I can’t bring myself to write a purely plot-driven book. I want to ask my readers questions that they can ignore or ponder as they choose.

Now that I’ve said that, there is an exception. I have published a collection of satirical essays on navy life titled A Ship-load of Sea Stories & 1 Fairy Tale in installments of eight to ten essays. That collection is just for fun, seriously.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
Duh! I don’t know. Let me text my wife.

She says, and I quote, “You have a deep, complex, analytical mind like a steel trap that doesn’t snap shut until you have the big picture. Because of that, you’re a great problem solver and designer and totally incapable of writing a simple book. Other than that, you are a klutz and a hazard to household navigation.”

Who are your favorite authors?
I have been heavily influenced by John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Tom Clancy, and Douglas Adams. I have also enjoyed James Michener, Orson Scott Card, and Ayn Rand.

Currently, I am going through a phase of grazing through the current crop of independent authors, such as Michael Grumley, Joshua Dalzelle, Matthew Mather, Veronica Roth, Jennifer Wells, and A. G. Riddle. I take some risks in reading new authors, but for the most part I am pleased far more often than I am disappointed.

My wife and I belong to Kindle Unlimited and between us, we finish over ten books a month, so I spend a great deal of time reading.

What do you like to do with your free time?
Free time? What’s that?

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
I expect to publish the first installment in The Oracle series early next year and follow that with the third book in the Marathon series. Just to spice things up, I publish a volume of A Ship-load of Sea Stories & 1 Fairy Tale about every six months. Ultimately, I want to get my writing better organized so I am releasing three new novels a year.

Any final thoughts?
I would like to give one of your readers a night on the town or whatever he or she would like to do with $250–$300. I am running a contest associated with the launch of Vows to the Fallen on August 14. In Vows to the Fallen, one character has a habit of spouting off classic poetry at all the wrong times. The first reader to identify all of the poetry quotes wins. It’s a tough contest, and if no one gets them all correct, I will award the prize to the earliest and best response. Contest details are in all of my current Kindle books and on my web site, and Vows to the Fallen is available for prerelease purchase at a discounted price.

Also, between now and August 14, all of my books will be available free on Kindle from time to time, so keep watching, download, learn about the contest, and enjoy.

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Book Tour – Profit in Plain Sight by Anne C. Graham

Profit in Plain Sight banner

Title:  Profit In Plain Sight
Author: Anne C. Graham
Publisher:  Morgan James
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
Pages: 289
Format: eBook / Hardcover / Paperback / PDF
ISBN: 978-1-63047-293-1 
Genre: Business

Buy The Book:

Amazon:
Barnes & Noble:

Add to your Goodreads shelf.

Book Description

  1. 84% of business owners and CEOs surveyed score a C, D or F on the Return on People Benchmark – they can’t even give every employee a decent raise, let alone hire, invest in facilities, equipment or technology, or expand into new markets!
  2. 40% companies whoincrease their revenues in a given year will actually decrease their profits… and there’s a better way to increase both.
  3. 96% of companies will put their greater goals on hold this year with one simple phrase: We don’t have the budget for that.

Imagine if leaders were able to break free of their profit constraints, stop being victims of exchange rates and oil prices, and be in control of earning all the profit they need to fund the growth they want.

Savvy entrepreneurs would never start a new business without a Business Plan.  Experienced executives would never try to lead their business without a Strategic Plan.  But almost every manager confesses that they don’t have a Profit Plan beyond their P&L, and that means that profit becomes the leftovers between disappointing revenues and higher-than-expected costs.

Profit in Plain Sight offers the Profit Plan that’s missing, with a step-by-step roadmap that enables these busy leaders to grasp the big picture, and to implement solutions in less time per week than they are spending on email per day.

Unlike many  business books, Profit in Plain Sight gives readers access to the “hows”, not just the “shoulds”, with downloadable training resources and action plans  at the end of every chapter, plus regular opportunities for the reader to reflect on how their thinking is changing and growing.

This book finally helps leaders who are passionate about their business have all the profit they need to fund the growth they want, with tough questions to start changing the conversations in everyday management meetings, with practical, actionable techniques that are quite different from conventional cost-cutting approaches or the all-too-dangerous “increase revenues at all costs” techniques.  Instead, Profit In Plain Sight offers take-it-to-the-bank results.

Prepare to Transform Your Most Persistent Market Challenges into Profit, Passion, and Growth … with The Proven Leadership Path that Delivers Results 

  • How much easier would igniting profit, passion, and growth be if everyone in your business embraced change and became part of it?
  • What would be possible if transforming your business felt more like play than like work?
  • How quickly could you turn good intentions into tangible results if you simply could take small steps that require less time than you are devoting to e-mail in a given day?

IBM is a legendary company, not only because of its enduring success for over 100 years in the fast-changing world of technology, but because it leads its category by a factor of four in terms of

profitability and continues to transform itself to generate growth opportunities. Customers are incredibly loyal, the company has a stellar reputation for quality, and, as the holder of more patents than any other high-technology company, its strengths in innovation are readily apparent. It seems that IBM has found ways to conquer some stubborn challenges, doesn’t it?

But it didn’t start that way. IBM’s roots go back to the 1880s and at one time its products consisted of employee time-keeping systems, weigh scales, automatic meat slicers, coffee grinders, and punched card equipment. Hardly the glamorous “Creating a Smarter Planet” organization we know today.

IBM’s secrets to success came from an unlikely resource who was named President in 1915: Thomas J. Watson, the second in command at National Cash Register. With just a few practical tenets, Watson laid down the enduring foundation for IBM’s success — a focus on the customer and on customer service, a sales culture that built trust and respect, and an environment that instilled pride and loyalty into every worker. The result? Profit, passion, and growth, with integrity. In the 1990s, IBM had to reinvent itself or risk becoming irrelevant in the marketplace, which it did by reemphasizing its customer focus and creating clarity in its positioning.

In the 2000s, it had to reinvent itself again as the competitive landscape shifted once more, which it did by emphasizing its role in providing integrated solutions, not merely products.

This is not a book about IBM. But as subsequent legendary leaders have proven, those enduring, practical tenets can serve every business well.

How Many of these Stubborn Market Challenges Are Grinding You Down?

Each year a variety of organizations publish lists of the Top 10 CEO Challenges based on polling business owners and leaders. And inevitably, five stubborn market-related issues keep coming up again and again on these lists, although the order may shift from year to year:

  1. Earning Customer Loyalty and Retention
  2. Generating Sustained and Steady Top-Line Growth
  3. Ensuring Bottom-Line Growth in Profit
  4. Building a Corporate Reputation for Quality Products and Services
  5. Stimulating Innovation and Creativity and Enabling Entrepreneurship

About The Author

Anne C. Graham

Anne C. Graham is on a mission to help 5 million business leaders and their teams double their profit per employee – or more in less than one year, in less time than they’re spending on email.  Drawing on over 25 years of deep profit and growth expertise from her “in the trenches” and executive experiences with Fortune 500 companies and smaller firms, she closes the all-too-frequent gap between the good intentions vs. year-end results.  The solution is the roadmap she wishes she’d had – a Profit Plan that transforms “we don’t have the budget for that!” into a “YES!” to funding every greater dream and goal for their business as they create prosperity for their company, their employees, their customers, and their communities.

As a best-selling author, international speaker, and accelerator, Anne inspires thousands of business leaders each year to Profit… On Purpose by moving past conventional thinking to discover Profit In Plain Sight.  Audiences and clients love Anne’s fun and interactive approach based on value to the customer, NOT accounting, and her ability to create profound AHA! Moments so that participants leave with a new perspective of their possibilities plus practical actions they can implement for immediate impact.  Anne is the Managing Director of the Legendary Value Institute, a popular faculty member in an award-winning MBA program, and a passionate boater on west coast of British Columbia.

You can visit Anne’s website at www.ProfitInPlainSight.com 

Contact Anne at:

 

Blog: http://annecgraham.com/read-the-blog/

Facebook – Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AnneCGrahamAuthorProfitInPlainSight?fref=ts

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AnneCGraham

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnneCGraham 

Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/annecgraham

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6475264.Anne_C_Graham 

Author Interview

Anne, thanks for being my guest today. Tell us a little about yourself.
Very few people would ever guess this about me by meeting me or seeing me speak, but I’m actually a shy, quiet bookwork introvert! I was born and raised in Montreal Canada and nothing made me happier than to have my nose in a book all day. However, when I started my career I realized I needed to develop an “outer extrovert”. These days everyone considers me quite social… but I still need my quiet time. I fell in love with beautiful Vancouver on a business trip and that’s where I make my home today, with a beautiful ocean view and easy access to the ski hills in the winter.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My ipad alarm is set to What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong and that’s part of what gets me up in the morning. I’m a glass-more-than-half-full person who loves life, and I’m on a mission to transform the lives of 5 million business people so that they never again have to say “we don’t have the budget for that!” because the scarcity mentality so prevalent in business today simply isn’t fun. And since most of us spend a third of our waking hours working, we need to put the joy back into business. With a mission that big and that important to helping the economy thrive, I’m inspired to go and make a difference each day as an author sharing my work, as an international speaker, and as a mentor and consultant to business leaders who truly have a passion for their business.

If you could hang out with one famous person for one day, who would it be and why?
I’d hang out with author Jim Collins. His book Good to Great had a profound impact on me at one stage of my career, and inspired me to set “Great” as my goal for every business I work with. His work also influences my writing, because while I was inspired by Good to Great, I really struggled to implement many of the ideas in the company I was working with at the time, and many business leaders I’ve spoken with confessed the same challenge. So I made sure that I built a lot of “how to’s” into my writing so that readers never have to scratch their heads in confusion or reinvent the wheel.

What’s the story behind your latest book?
There are actually 2 big turning points in my life that birthed the book. The first was early in my career, when I had to look a lot of great employees in the eye and tell them they no longer had a job despite the fact that the division I was running was profitable. We were all working for the world’s 2nd largest computer company when in less than 5 years it downsized 120,000 people worldwide and vanished into the arms of a competitor none of us had ever taken seriously. The company focused on revenue because they were trying to become a billion dollar company (a lot of money in those days!), and lost money on just about every transaction. Big and profitable are often two different things, and we STILL see that type of dysfunction today with over 17% of the Fortune 500 losing money each year! I made a vow to take responsibility for my own paycheck, and to sharing what I knew about profitability with others so that no employee ever has to go through a downsizing again. I accomplished many successful turnarounds after that, and really distilled the success factors for sustainable profitability, which I share in the book.

The second story triggered the book – I was working on a big turnaround that I consider this the biggest failure in my life. We never really got things turned around, and when I took a two year sabbatical to sort out why so many of my turnarounds had been successful and what had been different in the failure. It boiled down to just one thing – I hadn’t gotten out from behind my desk and connected with my customers at an executive level to let their needs and wants determine my agenda. Instead, I stayed mired in internal issues, and I see that amongst other well-intentioned business leaders all the time. Here’s the hard truth – only customers create cash flow, and we simply didn’t know what they wanted and needed. Building a foundation based on customer focus is a core message that runs throughout the book.

Tell us your writing process.
(Laugh!) I’m not sure I can describe what I did on this book as a process – I made every mistake in the book (no pun intended) and I had to go through numerous rewrites before I had something I was really proud to share. I do a lot of my writing on the back deck of my boat in a quiet bay off the coast of Vancouver. I first created a structured for each chapter with Tough Love questions, Myths, Solutions, and Action Plans. However as I was filling in the blanks, I tried to include far too many of the “how to’s” I mentioned above – and oh my goodness, I was putting myself to sleep with the first few editions! So I pulled a lot of that material out and created extra downloads in the book for those who want to go deeper, and substituted colorful and entertaining stories from my own experiences and those of my clients, to create AHA! Moments that readers can really relate to, identify in their own business, and model for success. I was fortunate to work with a great editor who helped pare things down. So I guess my process was really Plan, Write, Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite! I get great feedback that it’s a fun and entertaining read that packs a punch, and that was my objective.

What tips can you give other authors who are looking to get the word out about their book?
Start early and engage others in being part of the process. These days the buzzword in the publishing industry is “platform” and that means “how many people can you reach and influence?” When I started writing the book in 2011, social media was still pretty fringe, and I ignored it. Since then, it’s become mainstream and I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful virtual assistant who’s helping me catch up. I speak to thousands of business leaders each year at conferences and events, and I engaged them in helping me title test the book extensively, giving me a ready-made audience of readers who were really interested in getting their hands on my book and helping to make it successful. However, I lost the opportunity to reach an even wider audience by blogging about the book and sharing early chapters to invite feedback – I’ll do that for my next book. I put together a very comprehensive marketing plan including PR, radio interviews, launch partners, and a Virtual Tour by bloggers such as yourself who love to share new books. I’m very fortunate to be a member of the Evolutionary Business Council, a by-invitation-only group of thought leaders who support each other to make our difference in the world, and over 70 people have been sharing the news of my book launch with their audiences. Building your platform of influence early, engaging the help of others to spread the word, and using traditional marketing approaches are all critical pieces of the puzzle.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Back in my teenage bookworm years I used to dream about writing books, but I must admit in those days my plan was along the lines of writing Harlequin Romances! In 2000, I set a goal to reach and impact 5 million business leaders, and at that point I realized that the only way to do that was to write a business best seller. However, I had just started my consulting practice, and although I scribbled a lot of notes and ideas, the book really didn’t start to declare itself until my sabbatical in 2005 when I put post-it notes all over my wall to distill what had worked and what hadn’t. I wrote over a dozen eBooks between 2005-2007. Profit in Plain Sight started demanding to be written as we slid into recession in 2008-2010 when I saw all the pain of corporate downsizings happen again.

What are you working on next?
I’m ramping up my speaking calendar for the Fall, developing a 12-session teleseminar series entitled Profit and Growth Academy, and creating an online program entitled ProfitU to support leaders who want coaching and mentoring support to implement every aspect of Profit in Plain Sight.

Do you have any special/extraordinary talents?
Most people seem to be pretty wowed that I’m a very competent solo-handing skipper on my 36’ boat. People often come running down the docks when they realize I’m bringing the boat in on my own… but most of the time that changes to surprise and admiration, unless it’s a very windy day in which case I’m grateful for anyone who helps take a line. I’ve been on the water all my life – along with my transformational Mission, it’s my passion.

Who are your favorite authors?
On the non-fiction side, I love the work of Dan Ariely and Chip and Dan Heath. From a fiction aspect, I’m a huge fan of David Baldacci’s and Wilbur Smith’s. I love Baldacci’s characters, and I enjoy Smith’s command of language and vocabulary, along with his wonderfully colorful stories based of the history of Africa- I can almost imagine I’m there.

What do you like to do with your free time?
(Laugh!) for the past 4 years while I’ve been writing and marketing the book whilst running my consulting practice, free time has been rather rare. However, I love spending time on my boat with a great book, sitting on a beautiful tropical beach with a thick trashy novel, or enjoying the architecture of the cities I’m privileged to visit on my speaking tours.

Tell us about your plans for upcoming books.
There was SUCH a big learning curve to writing the first book that I’m pleased to say there will be at least 3 more. In addition to Profit in Plain Sight there will be Growth in Plain Sight, Innovation in Plain Sight, and one more that I haven’t quite found a sexy “in Sight” title for yet to complete the series. I’m also going to convert my dozen eBooks from PDF format to Amazon-friendly ebook formats to make them visible to a wider audience of readers.

Where can people find you on the web?
Anne@AnneCGraham.com
www.AnneCGraham.com
www.ProfitInPlainSight.com – join the virtual party July 14th – over $475 of free bonuses with book purchase!
https://www.facebook.com/AnneCGraham
https://twitter.com/AnneCGraham
https://www.linkedin.com/in/annecgraham

Any final thoughts?
Thank you so much for helping to share the word so that no business leader of any size company ever has to settle for “we don’t have the budget for that” again! Abundance IS possible for every business, in less time per week than most people spend on email per day.

Fun book trailer here:

Book Release – Gristle & Bone by Duncan Ralston

gristlebonerelease

About the Book

gristle-bone-by-duncan-ralstonTitle: Gristle & Bone

Author: Duncan Ralston

Genre: Horror, Short Story Collection

Short and novella-length dark fiction from the twisted imagination of Duncan Ralston.

BABY TEETH

After doctors tell her she can’t be pregnant, Candace learns that not every child is a gift.

BEWARE OF DOG

Disgraced soldier Dean Vogel returns to his hometown and confronts the bullies, and a horrifying event, from his past.

VIRAL

A reporter uncovers what really happened to the latest internet sensation, a troubled girl who disappeared on camera.

ARTIFACT (#37)

Gonzo pornographers learn a brutal lesson following a tragedy they inadvertently caused when life imitated “art.”

//END USER

Anti-social conspiracy theorist Mason Adler’s life is turned upside-down when he begins receiving eerily personal and prophetic spam that could be heralding the Apocalypse.

FAT OF THE LAND

A couple discovers the secret of a tourist town’s prosperity may lie in its sinfully delicious cuisine.

SCAVENGERS

When successful restaurant owners Jim and Leanne Taymor confess to a grisly series of small town murders, their neighbor learns the gruesome truth that led them to kill. In Knee High, Nebraska, someone–or something–has been stalking household pets in the dead of night… but would they rather be hunting us?

Author Bio

Duncan Ralston was born in Toronto, and spent his teens in a small town. As a “grown-up,” Duncan lives with his girlfriend and their dog in Toronto, where he writes about the things that frighten and disturb him. In addition to his twisted short stories found in GRISTLE & BONE and THE BLACK ROOM MANUSCRIPTS, his debut novel, SALVAGE, will haunt various booksellers in the fall, 2015.

Links

Website: http://duncanralston.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/userbits

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gristleandbone

Cover Reveal – Unwanted Girl by M.K. Schiller

Unwanted Girl Book Banner

Title: Unwanted Girl
Author: M.K. Schiller
Publisher: Lyrical Shine

When a man loves a woman

Recovering addict Nick Dorsey finds solace in his regimented life. That is until he meets Shyla Metha.  Something about the shy Indian beauty who delivers take-out to his Greenwich Village loft inspires the reclusive writer. And when Shyla reveals her desire to write a book of her own, he agrees to help her. The tale of a young Indian girl growing up against a landscape of brutal choices isn’t Nick’s usual territory, but something about the story, and the beautiful storyteller, draws him in deep.

Shyla is drawn to Nick, but she never imagines falling for him. Like Nick, Shyla hails from a village, too…a rural village in India. They have nothing in common, yet he makes her feel alive for the first time in her life. She is not ready for their journey to end, but the plans she’s made cannot be broken…not even by him. Can they find a way to rewrite the next chapter?

PRE-ORDER INFORMATION

Unwanted Girl is available for pre-order at:
Amazon
Kobo
B&N
GooglePlay

Add to your Goodreads shelf.

About The Author

I am a hopeless romantic in a hopelessly pragmatic world. I have a full time life and two busy teenagers, but in the dark of night, I sit by the warm glow of my computer monitor, reading or writing, usually with some tasty Italian…the food that is!

I started imagining stories in my head at a very young age. In fact, I got so good at it that friends asked me to create plots featuring them as the heroine and the object of their affection as the hero. You’ve heard of fan fiction… this was friend fiction.

I hope you enjoy my stories and always find The Happily Ever After in every endeavor.

Visit MK’s website

Connect with MK on Facebook and Twitter

 

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