1106Design posted a nice little article about yours truly on their Indie-publishing news, education, and resources blog. 1106Design created the newest cover for my first book, Serpents Underfoot. And I think it was a fantastic cover. Check out the article.
D.C. Gilbert’s Author Story
D.C. Gilbert is an Army veteran and the successful author of the high-octane JD Cordell action-adventure series. After his dreams of becoming an Army Ranger were crushed by the Army’s discovery of his speech impediment, Gilbert served in the infantry. When his enlistment period was up, he decided to leave the military, and that’s when JD Cordell was born.
The adventures Gilbert imagined he might have had if allowed into Special Ops became JD’s adventures. Gilbert’s thirty-eight years of martial arts training and four years of military experience served as the bedrock upon which he built his series, and his extensive research only furthered the realism of his novels. D.C. Gilbert is just one shining example of how author experience and research can pay dividends when it comes to the success of a novel. But there’s much more to Gilbert’s success than that…
Taylor wiped the sweat from his forehead with a towel, then glanced across the make-shift ring at his opponent. The man was huge, definitely not Filipino.
Must be Samoan, Taylor thought. He’d seen a few Samoans during his time in the special forces and respected them. Solid operators.
Taylor stood just a bit under six feet in his socks and weighed in at a solid one-hundred-and-ninety-five pounds. His opponent was about four inches taller and a good bit heavier. He could also hit. The big man had trained, probably Muay Thai. While the Samoan’s technique was a bit sloppy, he moved like a Thai boxer; and his elbows and knees were wicked. It had been a punishing knee to Taylor’s ribs that had prompted the end of the first round.
These unsanctioned fights typically went for three rounds. However, there was no timer or bell, nor were there anything you could really call rules. If a fighter got injured, the center referee would pause the fight long enough to ensure the fighter could continue. That pause effectively ended the round. While a few fights Taylor had fought in had gone two rounds, he’d yet to see one make it to three. They were too brutal for that. Tonight was Taylor’s twelfth such fight.
A few weeks back, broke and badly in need of a drink, he’d stumbled into a bar that happened to be playing host to a local “fight night.” After watching the first two amateurs go at it, Taylor, unimpressed, started to leave. But then he saw the winner handed five thousand Philippine pesos, roughly the equivalent of one hundred and fifty dollars, so when the promoter called for two more volunteers, Taylor made his way out onto the dance floor.
The fight was short despite, or maybe because of, Taylor’s dire need for a drink. His training saw to that. Collecting his winnings, he’d headed straight to the bar and, after a few shots, felt steady enough to venture down the street to the liquor store where he picked up a bottle of his self-prescribed medication. From there, he’d stumbled back to his apartment.
Since that night, Taylor had participated in eleven more human cockfights. He’d lost the next two simply because he was too drunk even to stand, never mind defend himself. However, the instinct for self-preservation combined with the need for cash and Taylor modified his drinking habits enough to fit his fight schedule. Then he began to win, quickly becoming a favorite with several locals who started betting on him instead of the local Filipino fighters. As his winnings grew bigger, those betting on him began to win a great deal of money. His fans were happy. However, some of the local gangs began to take notice. They also had their favorite fighters, and they were not very pleased about constantly losing to this American drunkard.
This fighter, tonight, was the toughest Taylor had faced so far. Although they were pretty matched size-wise, this man was tough as nails and knew how to fight. That last knee to his ribs had hurt.
Lucky I don’t have a few broken ribs, Taylor thought.
He took a swallow from the beer he’d left sitting on a stack of crates when called up for his fight. The venue for tonight’s fight was an old warehouse along the Pasig River in the Tondo district of Manila. Tondo is the largest district in Manila in terms of area and population; it was also the district with the highest crime rate in the Philippines. Taylor figured there had to be at least one murder per week. Fortunately, most of these killings were drug-related and did not involve foreigners or tourists. However, he also knew some extremely dangerous men and women lived there.
While not precisely Madison Square Garden, someone had set up the rundown warehouse with chairs and tables circling a marked-off fight ring. A make-shift bar sat along one side of the building and seemed well-stocked.
A pungent combination of cigar, cigarette, and marihuana smoke filled the air, and the alcohol flowed freely. A sizable crowd of people had shown up for tonight’s event. Taylor had begun to notice that the clientele attending his fights had improved as he continued to win. More affluent spectators were now in the crowd; some appeared to be successful business people, and a few Taylor recognized as leaders of some of the more prominent local gangs. He saw fewer and fewer of the societal dregs who’d frequented his earlier fights in local dives. The fact that more women were now in attendance did not escape Taylor’s eye either. They were typically attractive women, often on the arms of well-dressed men. But then there were also a few women who seemed to be on their own. Two had caught his eye, especially since both had been present at his last two fights. They looked to be twin sisters, and both were stunningly beautiful.
The referee called. Wiping his forehead again and taking one last slug from his beer, Taylor made his way back into the center of the ring.
Time to end this before I screw around and get hurt.
The Samoan, confident he’d hurt Taylor badly with that last blow to the ribs, came on strong, pressing his advantage. First, he fired a hard cutting kick at Taylor’s right leg, which Taylor narrowly avoided; he immediately followed with a left jab, then a hard right elbow strike toward the temple. Taylor slipped the jab and raised his left forearm to deflect the elbow. It was what the Samoan fighter was waiting for, and he launched a brutal shin kick at Taylor’s bruised ribs.
Taylor shifted slightly to his right as his left arm dropped suddenly, hooking around his opponent’s kicking leg and trapping it against his left side. Ignoring the screaming pain from his badly bruised ribs, Taylor shifted back to the left and slightly forward, taking his opponent off balance. Grabbing the fighter’s windpipe in a vise-like grip, his right leg swept the Samoan’ ‘s left leg out from under him, driving his opponent to the floor. The big man hit hard. Taylor followed him down while maintaining control of his opponent’s right leg. He dropped his right knee into the man’s groin, and a loud groan escaped from the Samoan’s clenched teeth. Pressing the man’s leg toward his chest with his left shoulder, Taylor reached down with his left and grabbed a handful of hair. Jerking the man’s head around, he slammed his fist into the right side of the man’s massive jaw, which must have been chiseled from granite because it did not shatter. However, the Samoan still collapsed back onto the floor. He was out cold; the fight over.
Taylor released his grip on his opponent’s hair and stood up. Then, swaying just a bit, he paused, looking down at the unmoving form. Abruptly, Taylor turned and walked over to the stack of crates to finish his beer.
Okay, time to collect my money and get the hell out of here.
Sensing a presence behind him, he turned. A woman stood there looking up at him. It was one of the twins he’d spotted earlier. She was even more breathtaking up close. The woman smiled.
“That was a great fight. You are an excellent fighter.” She paused, her eyes boldly roving over his six-foot frame. “I have made good money from your last two fights.”
Taylor nodded. “Glad to hear that, ma’am. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to get cleaned up and collect my winnings. It was nice talking to you, ma’am.” He turned to walk away.
Taylor paused and looked back.
“There is a shower here at the warehouse you can use if you like. And, I can make sure your money is safe until you are ready to leave.”
Taylor frowned, then chuckled. “Why would I do that,” he paused, “… trust you to keep my money safe?”
“I like you, and let’s just say I want to … uh … buy you a drink. After that, who knows.” She smiled again, then shrugged, leaving the possibilities hanging.
Taylor’s mind began to consider those possibilities.
I could use a drink, he thought.
And this lady was damn pretty, even if she did only come up to his chest. “You don’t think the owner of the warehouse would object to me using the shower?”
Again, the woman smiled. “I can guarantee it. I, well, technically, my sister and I own the warehouse. So, Taylor? What do you say? Can I call you Taylor? Or, would you prefer I call you something else?”
“Sure, Taylor will do. And what should I call you?”
“My name is Blessica, Blessica Baguinda.”
Taylor knew the name. Everyone in the Tondo district, and probably throughout the entire city of Manila, knew the name. Blessica and her sister, Mahalia, ran the Dalawang Mga Ate Na Mafia, or Two Sister’s Mafia.
Blessica saw the look on his face. “I see you have heard of me.”
Taylor nodded. “I have. You and your sister are, uh,” he paused, “shall we say, well-known in some circles.”
“Does it matter?”
Taylor thought about that, then shook his head. After all, he was not exactly a model citizen himself. “I guess not.”
Blessica smiled widely. “Great. Let me show you to the shower.”
This journey began some time ago, when a reader of Montagnard who absolutely loved the story, had one criticism to make.
If I had one criticism (and I hate to criticize) it would be the cover. And please don’t take this the wrong way but I wouldn’t buy this book at the bookstore because of the cover. Which is a shame because I would have bypassed a great read!
The reason I bought your book is because I follow your blog and I like to support bloggers.
Honestly, based on the cover I expected to tolerate the book, but… I LOVED it (I have already recommended it to two of my friends).
While I can see how there is a hint of what the book is about by the cover it just doesn’t quite convey properly. To me the cover says ‘political non-fiction’ — it doesn’t say ‘intriguing, captivating, intense action, feel good awesomeness’ which is exactly what your book is.
This reader’s comment led to a discussion with my editor and a plan to redo the covers of both Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard before the release of the third book, Reciprocity.
The new cover for Serpents Underfoot was completed and I was very pleased with its new cover. You can click here to view that cover on Amazon.com.
Then it became time to work on the new cover for Montagnard. My editor said the covers should identify the books as being written by me and also that they are part of a series. This is part of establishing your “brand.”
When I got the proof for the new cover of Montagnard, I was a bit nervous. It seemed like a tall order, and I had selected the images to use to create the cover. What if I had chosen bad images, or a bad color scheme? Finally, I opened the file.
All I could say was, “Wow!” I could not believe it. My cover designer, Angie, had done an absolutely brilliant job. She was waiting for my “suggested edits.” My response was … don’t change a thing!
I shared the cover proof with several readers I know, family members, friends, etc. The reaction was the same everywhere! I heard two things repeatedly.
I absolutely love it!
That cover is “BAD ASS!”
One reader commented, “Finally, a cover that does justice to the story inside.”
So, without further ado … here is the new cover for Montagnard!
The new cover is up for the Kindle version, and will soon be ready for the paperback and hardcover versions. Check out the kindle version here!
Check out all my books on my Amazon Author’s Page …
As my old pal, Yosemite Sam, would say, “Great Horny Toads!”
Not only did Serpents Underfoot get a great review from Literary Titan, it also earned the Gold Book Award for May 2021! How about that! I was not expecting that and I am honored by the award.
And also, a bit humbled. It sets the bar even higher for the third book in this series, titled Reciprocity. But, I am hard at work, making sure that each book I publish is just a little bit better than the previous book. I am not sure I will always achieve that goal, but I can promise my readers that I will always try.
I received a copy of this novel from the author in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence and mature language. The story picks up a short time after the first novel “Serpents Underfoot” ends.
The primary character continues to be Former SEAL JD Cordell. After many years of service, Cordell retires taking his K9 Ajax with him. On his last active duty mission, Cordell rescues the very pretty young Doctor Ellen Chang. She was being held by terrorists in Niger. After his retirement, he finds she has come back to the States and has settled hear him. Romance is in full swing between the two.
Shortly after the death of her husband, Mai Cordell makes a trip back to Vietnam. She is trying to find her adopted brother, the Montagnard called Dish. Dish is a rebel wanted by the communist government. When a drug lord hears about her search, he kidnaps her and uses her for bait to draw out Dish.
Cordell heads to Vietnam as soon as he hears about his mother. While the US government can’t take direct action, they do assist Cordell. Two of his former SEAL Team members ‘volunteer’ to go with him. Will he be in time to save his mother and the uncle he has never met?
I thoroughly enjoyed the 8.5 hours I spent reading this 309-page thriller. I had enjoyed Mr. Gilbert’s prior novel in the series and this one was just as good! I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.
I have read a lot of Mr. Purvis’ reviews and other posts over the last few years, so this review means a lot to me because I know Mr. Purvis does give very fair reviews and calls things as he sees them. Therefore, I would just like to say thank you, John, for this review, and I am so glad you enjoyed the book.
And if you haven’t visited his blog, you should. Mr. Purvis covers a lot of interesting topics.
You can purchase a copy of Montagnard or any of my other books by clicking the button below.
Serpents Underfoot is live on Amazon with its new cover.
Serpents Underfoot is out with its awesome new cover! 1106 Design did a great job, and they were a pleasure to work with. If you are ever in the market for a book cover, check them out. They will shortly be redoing the cover for Montagnard as well.
Resonant characters propel this consistently gripping terrorist tale. All of the characters are well developed, producing genuine shock when certain individuals die. The author writes in an unadorned prose that keeps the plot moving at a steady beat … the finale is … exhilarating.
Serpents Underfoot is the first book in the JD Cordell action thriller series! Full of Navy Seal action, the book will enthrall fans of action thrillers … The book has it all—authentic detail, breathless action, vividly drawn settings, and an exhilarating plot.
The Prairies Book Review
Check out all my books on my Amazon Author’s Page.
There are several to choose from, all with great reviews.
I am hard at work on the third installment in the JD Cordell Action series, called Reciprocity, which will take on human trafficking. And in this story, some of the action occurs in the Philippine Islands. While still in the development stages, JD Cordell will travel to the Philippines, where he and a few associates will mete out some well-deserved justice to a gangland cartel trafficking girls between Asia, Mexico, and the US. But enough of that, I don’t want to give too much away.
My new Filipino fan base …
The interesting thing is that I just received a 5-Star review for Montagnard from a writer, blogger, and editor, based, you guessed it … in the Philippines. I think that is pretty cool!
Herzie Santos, a.k.a. SheySaints, has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and has worked for Coca Cola Bottlers, Goldprint Publishing House, AXA Financial, and Sutherland Global Services. Her professional experiences in several different work industries have provided her with a great deal of expertise, including professional writing skills. She has written and published poems, short stories, book and movie reviews, essays, and several articles. She’s also a content writer, book reviewer, proofreader, and fiction writer.
Here are a few comments from her review …
I miss stories like this. It gives me this unexplainable nostalgic feeling. I rarely read anything like this anymore and I’m glad I stumbled upon this great book.
It was a well-written action-packed thriller … I highly recommend this book to readers who love heroic military and dog stories.
It makes me smile! I may not yet be a renowned author, but I am definitely international. Montagnard has been read and/or reviewed in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, India, and now … the Philippines!
Click the button below to order your copy of this award-wing action-thriller.
“You feel as if you are one of the action-thriller characters …”
Authors love 5-Star reviews, and I am no exception. Montagnard recently received a very nice 5-star review from a lady named Vicki Goforth. Thank you, Vickie, for taking the time to leave a thoughtful review. I am so glad you enjoyed the book!
Timely Information With Explosive Action
I also received a very thoughtful 4-star review from another author named Schuyler T Wallace. While all reviews matter, getting a 4 or 5-star review from a fellow author means a great deal to me. It is like being accepted or validated by your professional peers.
Here are a few of Schuyler’s comments that stuck out to me.
I really liked this book. D.C. Gilbert is a talented writer with a lot to say, and he says it well.
It’s not a new plot but done in Gilbert’s refreshing manner that’s heavy on local detail, essential to the story.
The author uses appropriate dialogue that is timely and closely mirrors the life and times he is writing about.
Schuyler T Wallace, Author of Tin Lizard Tales
Also from this author …
Check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here, and be sure to check out all my books on my Amazon Author’s Page! They do get great reviews!
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I have had a long-held interest in the martial arts. One Christmas, I received a book called Best Karate, written by Mas Oyama, when I was 13 or 14 years old. I spent hours in my bedroom trying to learn from the book.
When I began attending the Charles H McCann Technical School in North Adams, Massachusetts, I was invited by a friend to a Uechi-ryu Karate (a very traditional Okinawan system) class in nearby Adams and started attending. But once I discovered cars and girls, that pretty much ended that … as well as my interest in scouting.
When I was stationed in Korea (12/81 to 12/82), I studied Tae Kwon Do with the battalion instructor. He was excellent. I earned a red belt, which, in that system, was the equivalent of a brown belt in the ranking system used by many styles. When I got back to the U.S., I started competing in tournaments and did okay. However, I discovered these Isshin-ryu guys who had a wicked reverse punch. They would slide up your extended kicking leg and nail you with it. I decided I needed to see what they were doing and so sought out an Isshin-ryu dojo.
Years later, I was running my own dojo and hosting tournaments. But I was very disappointed in the way things were evolving. I was never that wild about sport karate. I just did that to keep students. I saw limited techniques being used in sport karate; it was more like a game of tag. The rules seemed to violate the karate “maxims” I was trying to adhere to.
For example, in Okinawan Karate, all kicks are targeted below the waist. Step into the ring, and now all kicks must be above the waist. That seemed odd!
And kata, especially with the advent of musical kata, quickly devolved into breakdancing with some kicks thrown in.
Note: Let me just say that full-contact karate and MMA fighters of today are great athletes and some damn tough individuals. They are very good at what they do and deserve respect. It is just not “karate” as I had come to understand it.
The problem was that I do read a great deal, and I had read a lot of history about Okinawa, the birthplace of Karate, and the early pioneers of Tang Hand, which later become known as Empty Hand … or Karate. I was simply not seeing the Karate I’d read so much about. Either the stories were all lies, or there was nobody around who could do that stuff anymore. I was actually ready to throw in the towel. Then I met Sensei Sherman Harrill.
Sensei Harrill was from a cross-roads in the cornfields called Carson, Iowa (near Council Bluffs). He was an ex-Marine who trained with the Isshin-ryu system’s founder, Tatsuo Shimabuku, while stationed in Okinawa in the late 50s. And he was the real deal.
Everything I had ever seen paled when stacked up against what he did. No matter who you were, how big, how strong, or what you knew … he would effortlessly show you the error of your ways. Organizations, rank, who you knew did not matter. It was what you could demonstrate on the mat that counted.
So, I started over. I traveled all around the country to seminars for years to train with this guy. It was a humbling and memorable moment when I asked him how I could become his student. He laughed and replied. “well, most folks just ask.” So, I asked. And he replied, “Darren, I have seen the changes you are making in your Karate and how you train … so welcome aboard.”
That was the beginning of the journey of a lifetime.
The origins of JD’s Nguyen-ryu
Nguyen-ryu is an indigenous martial art found in Vietnam. Mai’s father, Ang, was a village elder, and in the book Serpents Underfoot, a well-respected practitioner of this art. Ang taught this art to both his daughter, Mai, and the son of his old Montagnard friend, Dish. Dish and Mai both taught the art to Curtis Cordell, Mai’s American husband, and JD’s father.
Curtis tried to teach Nguyen-ryu to his son, but that old father-son thing interfered. Eventually, Curtis took his son to a dojo run by a friend of his. That Sensei taught a very traditional version of Isshin-ryu. JD did learn a great deal of Nguyen-ryu from his mother, which blended well with the Isshin-ryu.
It has been my experience that most “real” martial arts have more in common than differences. That is because when you get past all the marketing hype, it is body mechanics that determine what works … and the human body only moves powerfully so many ways.
My exposure to Nguyen-ryu
Enter Charlie Taylor, a good friend, a Vietnam veteran, and a damn good martial artist. He just showed up at my dojo one day and started helping out.
Charlie had served several tours in Vietnam as a medic on Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols in the region of Vietnam my books focus on. He was a quiet guy, but when the mood struck, he had some fantastic stories to tell about his experiences in Vietnam. I am sure he embellished them a bit to make them more fun to listen too, but there was something in the stories and his eyes when he told them that led you to understand that there was an element of truth to each one.
Charlie was also a highly-skilled martial artist, and there was nothing “superfluous” in what he did. I remember spending time training what was essentially a “silent sentry removal” technique with him and being shocked and a bit disturbed at the ease with which it worked. I still remember asking him, rhetorically,
“And, you’ve used this before.”
He just looked at me kind of funny and replied, “On a few occasions.”
While he knew a few of the kata, Charlie didn’t practice Isshin -ryu. In fact, many of our workouts consisted of me teaching him more Isshin-ryu kata. He practiced what he called Nguyen-ryu. Charlie claimed he’d learned it from his grandfather, who’d married a Vietnamese girl while stationed in Japan after WWII. This girl’s father was a skilled practitioner of the style, and after a suitable period of denials, consented to teach it to his daughter’s round-eyed husband.
I know it sounds like a movie plot. And maybe it is. I can neither prove nor disprove Charlie’s claims. However, I can definitely vouch for his abilities. Charlie could be damn scary when he was “in the zone,” much like my former instructor, Sensei Harrill. Those who have trained with Sensei Harrill will understand what I am referring to. We called it “shark eyes.”
Charlie did have an honorary 5th-degree black belt in Isshin-ryu Karate signed by Harold Long. However, he always claimed it was not worth the paper it was written on. It seems Charlie had impressed Harold Long with his abilities while training for a period at Long’s school in Knoxville, Tennessee, but, as mentioned earlier, had only learned a few of the kata. He held no official rank in Nguyen-ryu, so he always wore a white belt.
I will say that the kid’s classes loved it when Charlie regaled them with stories of his early training days. He always referred to them as “Papaw Days.”
Unfortunately, Charlie passed away a few years ago from a combination of medical conditions, several of which I am sure originated with his tours of duty in Vietnam. Some of the threads in Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard are based on past discussions with Charlie. And I think Charlie may be resurrected from the dead for a character in the next book in the series titled Reciprocity. I think he would like that.
Martial Arts scenes in the two books …
I have seen a large man knocked unconscious with a punch to the shoulder. I do not know too many people who could do that. Sensei Harrill certainly could. And, his “fence post punch” was something to behold. You did not want to get hit with it.
On more than one occasion, MMA fighters or cage fighters from the casinos in Council Bluff would make their way to his dojo after hearing about this karate guy who had a reputation for being a badass. Every one of them left with a new appreciation for karate … well, at least Sherman Harrill’s version.
The technique JD uses to take out the drug smuggler on the trail from Laos into Vietnam is simply one of my variations on Charlie Taylor’s sentry removal technique.
Putting it all together
I like to think my stories are written to entertain, but there is so much more to them, at least for me. They are ways to remember, record, and share the people I have known, places I have been, things I have seen, and the stories I have heard, as well as the possibilities those things can combine to create.
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