Tag: Indieauthors

Montagnard: Chapter Sample #1

Setting the stage …

In this sample, we jump into the past to find young Dish, a Montagnard warrior and ally to the American’s during the Vietnam War, narrowly escaping certain death at the hands of the Viet Cong.

Dish is the adopted brother of Mai, a Vietnamese woman and mother to the main character in this exciting sequel to Serpents Underfoot. He plays a key role in this new tale of kidnap, rescue, redemption, and revenge.


17 September 1967

Dish leaned his back against a tall Dalat pine and struggled to quiet his heavy breathing to listen for sounds of enemy pursuit. The ambush had been perfect. Dish, as point man, had been allowed through the kill zone. Somehow he’d missed it, which meant that whoever laid that ambush was also damn good; because Dish was damn good.

The terrain had not allowed for the typical L-shaped ambush, or the Viet Cong’s favorite, a V-shaped ambush. But the Green Beret A-team he was scouting for was now caught in a deadly cross-fire from both sides of their position. Separated from the team by a dense hail of bullets created by both the ambushers and the Green Berets who were returning fire, Dish tried, unsuccessfully, to circle back and rejoin them. Unfortunately, he ran directly in to a group of a dozen or so VC that were moving up to reinforce the right leg of the ambush. Spotting Dish, the group opened fire, and he could do little more than turn and flee back down the trail. The excited VC, forgetting their mission, took off after him, following in hot pursuit.

Reaching up, he removed his Boonie hat to wipe his sweaty brow with the sleeve of his olive drab jungle fatigue jacket. Listening , he heard nothing.  

There’s no way I lost them, Dish thought. Maybe I outran them? He doubted that was the case and was sure they’d be along. More likely, they were moving cautiously.

Finally, he risked a swallow of water from his canteen, relieving the dryness of his throat. Placing the canteen back in its pouch on his left hip, Dish returned the Boonie hat to his head and crouched down, shifting his grip on the M-16 rifle he carried. He listened for several long minutes. Had he lost them? It still seemed unlikely.

That question was answered a few seconds later when Dish heard a twig snap a short distance to his left. He froze. A hushed admonishment in Vietnamese immediately followed.

Then, his eye caught a movement. Dish held his breath as two black-clad figures stepped out of the brush and into a small clearing just a few yards down the slope from where he now stood, pressed against the Dalat pine. Both VC carried AK-47s and wore bandoliers with extra ammunition hanging sash-style over their shoulders. Each wore the trademark conical straw hats as protection from the sun, which luckily at this moment was directly behind Dish.

He felt a bead sweat run down the back of his neck. More sweat stung his eyes. Dish could do nothing; even the slightest movement might give his position away. To his surprise, the two enemy fighters never even glanced his way. Their attention seemed focused on something downslope. Seconds later, the two continued to carefully work their way down the hill and away from where Dish was willing himself to become part of the tree. Then, like jungle ghosts, they were gone.

Turning, Dish began running along an outcropping of rock that was partially concealed by the Dalat pine against which he’d rested. There was a shout. An AK-47 fired, and a spattering of bullets ricocheted off the rock just behind him. They were right on his tail. Dish spotted an outcropping of rock just ahead and raced toward it. Hearing his pursuers closing in behind him, he ducked behind it.

I hope this isn’t a dead-end!

There was no place to hide. The crack created by the outcropping was narrow and not very deep. Perhaps five feet wide at its opening, in narrowed to maybe eighteen inches where it ended in a rock face.  It was seven or at feet deep at best with a thick growth of leafy scrub brush at the base of the rock face. It was a dead end.

At twenty-three years old, Dish had been fighting the North Vietnamese and their VC allies for seven years and had witnessed much of their evil brutality. He was determined not to be taken alive. Moving quickly to the rear of the crack, he pressed his back into the brush and checked the action of his M-16 rifle. Dish had ten fully loaded 30-round magazines available in his rucksack but doubted he’d get a chance to reload very many times.  When he died, several of them would come with him.

Pressing the magazine release, he quietly slid the partial magazine from the well and replaced it with a full one. Working the charging handle as noiselessly as possible, he moved back as far as he could into the split in the rock. Turning to face the opening, Dish leaned back into the brush, wanting to feel something substantial behind him. Nothing. He shifted back just a bit and pressed back again. Still, there was nothing. Crouching, he worked himself farther back into the scrubby growth and suddenly tumbled over backward.

Getting to his feet, Dish looked back at the crack. He was now standing on the other side. The rock face in front of him was solid, but there was a hole, probably cut by water at its base. Stooping, he peered into the hole and estimated the rock wall to be several feet thick. The scrub brush concealed the hole, and he had luckily fallen right into it. Dish listened but could hear nothing. The VC were cautious in their approach, suspecting they had him trapped and in no rush to get themselves killed. Even a trapped rat will turn on its pursuers, and Dish was no rat, more like a tiger.

Dish quickly took stock of his situation and could see he was in a big bowl cut by falling water. He spotted a rocky wash on his right that led up a steep, almost vertical, bank.

The only way out of here is up, he decided.

He slung the rifle across his back and started climbing up the wash, making as little noise as possible. He’d climbed about a hundred feet or so when the wash suddenly turned out onto a rock ledge. Flattening himself out, Dish lay on the shelf and quieting his ragged breath, listened. He could hear the VC below him, now searching for him, calling out to each other in Vietnamese.

“Fan out! He can’t have just disappeared. Poh! Use your bayonet and check that brush.” There was the sound of a bayonet snapping into place on a rifle barrel and then being thrust repeatedly into the brush.  

“I tell you he isn’t here!”

After a time, the perplexed group of VC moved on, their voices fading as they drew farther away. They’d completely missed the hole into which he’d fallen.


I think my readers will find real improvements in style and substance in this new release, due out next summer … a result of lessons learned while writing my first novel.

I have gotten great feedback in emails and reviews of Serpents Underfoot, and I always take that feedback to heart as I strive to improve my skills in my chosen craft as a writer. I am looking forward to hearing from my readers about this second novel when it is released.

Poll: Montagnard Book Cover

First Cover Design for Montagnard

The sequel to Serpents Underfoot

Here is the first attempt at a cover design for Montagnard, the action-packed sequel to Serpents Underfoot. It was created for me by a freelancer on Fiverr.com

I am working very hard to make this second novel a lot better than my first (which from the reviews … wasn’t that bad).

But I did learn a great deal from my first book, and those lessons learned promise to make this second release just that much better.

That should also include the cover! So, please let me know what you think!

montagnard

Buy This Book – you won’t be disappointed!

It takes work, but success will come!

Wow! Sales of Serpents Underfoot are growing. I knew enough to know that writing and publishing my own books would be hard work, and that any reward would be slow in coming. I mean … I am not exactly Tom Clancy!!

Also, there is a pretty long learning curve. How do I use Twitter or Instagram to market my books? How about Facebook, other book reviewers, book signings, etc.? And then, there is the mystery of Amazon Ads! It has taken time and work, but I am beginning to see the rewards.

I won’t lie. While the income certainly helps, for me the biggest reward and kick is simply knowing that someone read my work and got real enjoyment out of it. That makes being a writer really worth while for me!

More great new reviews for Serpents Underfoot

Newest Amazon Review

books by dc gilbert

Buy this book – you won’t be disappointed

A multi-generational story of perseverance, intelligence and craftiness, you will most likely find yourself rooting for Ajax and saying to yourself about the bad guys, “Uh oh – they shouldn’t have done that. Now I’m waiting for the sequel …”

Sharon Fowler

Thank you, Sharon Fowler, for the awesome 5 STAR REVIEW! Click here to read the entire review on Amazon!

The Prairies Book Review

I also recently received an excellent review from The Prairies Book Review. Tina S. at Prairies Review writes:

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. Action thrillers fans will be rewarded. Readers will wait eagerly for JD and Ajax to come together for another treacherous adventure.

Tina S.

Thank you, Tina, for the awesome review! Click here to read the entire review at The Prairies Book Review!

The sequel is coming!

The sequel to Serpents Underfoot, titled “Montagnard,” should be released at the end of this year or early next year. Serpents Underfoot was my first novel and it is doing amazingly well. But, I also learned a lot writing this first novel, so I promise that Montagnard will be even better!

However, you will want to read Serpents Underfoot before you read Montagnard, so I’d think about getting your copy pretty soon! It is available in Kindle format as well as paperback and hardcover.

Wonderful! Another 5 Stars for Serpents Underfoot!

First, a short preamble!

wonderful

I first became acquainted with Cristina Pugh a few months ago. Cristina’s late husband, Johnny F. Pugh, is the author of Through Smoke-Teared Eyes: The Vietnam War I Fought. Cristina contacted me through Authors.com. She asked if I’d read her late husband’s book and perhaps post a short review of it online.

I did so and a few weeks later, posted my review of her late husband’s book on Amazon.com. This is a wonderful and amazing book. In addition, it is a winner of several awards! I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the infantryman’s experience during the Vietnam War. You can read my review here if you would like to.

Yesterday, I received a wonderful surprise!

Cristina wrote a wonderful Five Star review of Serpents Underfoot on Amazon.com calling it

“An intelligent current-day spy novel with a love story that dates back to the Vietnam War.”

You can read the entire review here. I have included an excerpt:

wonderful


In summary, Serpents Underfoot is a very well-written novel that exhibits Gilbert’s passion for and extensive knowledge of military history, martial arts and spy sagas. It quite effectively blends these themes with terrorist threats from well-financed middle-eastern extremists and current-day foreign government meddling into controlling and financing United States presidential campaigns. Any reader who loves spy novels combined with an exotic love story that goes back decades will certainly enjoy this book. D.C. Gilbert is currently working on a sequel to this, his first work of fiction, and I am looking forward to reading more by this very talented and skilled author.

Cristina Pugh

All I can say, Cristina, is thank you for the wonderful review. I am so glad you enjoyed the book.

To read other interesting posts on a variety of topics on this blog, just click here!

Twitter Marketing for Aspiring Authors

Self-published indie authors are always looking for new ways to market themselves and their books. There are several social media tools available for this purpose. Instagram is one such tool that I covered in an earlier post. Twitter is another.

Can you use Twitter to market your book(s)?

Like with Instagram, the short answer is … yes. You certainly can. However, again like Instagram, you do have to understand a few key things going in to it.

Unlike Instagram, with Twitter, your post can link directly to your book’s page on Amazon.com or any other web page you choose. You will probably still not generate a lot of sales tweeting away on Twitter, but you will generate some. However, like Instagram, Twitter is a valuable tool for establishing yourself as an author and networking with other indie authors, publishers, or editors … sharing ideas, experiences, and writing tips as well as promoting your book in those same circles.

While Instagram is more visual, Twitter is about crafting a clever message in 280 characters. You can include images (and I usually do) but the real trick here is to try to get the reader to click the link in the tweet. Below are a few sample Tweets I created and sent out into the Twit-O-Sphere!

Note the hashtags …

twitter

Again, it is about putting your name and your work in front of a growing audience in a way that builds your brand recognition and establishes you as an author to be remembered. And, like I stated earlier, you may actually even sell a few books.

twitter

Other aspects to consider on Twitter

  • Hashtags – Use hashtags before relevant keywords in your tweet to categorize tweets and help them show up in Twitter searches. Clicking or tapping on a hash-tagged word in any tweet displays other Tweets that include that hashtagHashtags can be included anywhere in a Tweet. Examples: #SerpentsUnderfoot #AdirondackBearTales #writingcommunity #amwriting
  • Tags – You can also tag a specific Twitter handle to ensure that user gets the Tweet in their feed. Examples: @darrencgilbert @AdirondackAlmanac.

    This is very basic. There are some other, trickier aspects to using the @ sign in a Tweet. For more information on using the @ symbol in Tweets, just click this link here!

Twitter also has some strong and welcoming communities for writers and readers. These folks are always willing to share ideas, critiques, etc. There are groups that run little writing contests based on “prompt words” that can help you improve your writing skills … especially since you only have 280 characters!

So, jump in and get started! Join the writing community, try your hand at a few word prompts, and mostly … have fun.

One last thought …

Don’t get caught up in the race for followers. You will have offers to grow your following by the thousands … for a fee of course. Let your following grow naturally. It is far better to have 300 followers that are really interested in you and your work, than to have 3000 followers you paid for and who don’t give a rat’s ass about what you are doing.

For other interesting posts on a variety of topics, click here!

Inspiration: The Story Behind Serpents Underfoot.

Why do authors write what they write?

books by dc gilbert

In discussions with some of my readers, the inspiration behind my military action thriller Serpents Underfoot comes up quite often. When I think about it, there are several factors that inspired me to write this novel.

While inspiration can certainly come from a lot of places, I will discuss what I think inspired me the most in writing this book, as well as what helped to shape how the story unfolds within the book’s pages.

In the battle between good and evil …

One point I would like to make before delving into the things that inspired me to write Serpents Underfoot, is that I believe good and evil are real and exist in this world. There are great many good men and women walking this planet. But, there are some evil men and women walking this planet as well.

What do I mean by “good?”

In my mind, it is important to never confuse a true character trait, such as being a good man or woman, with social skills. Social skills are things like charm, niceness, rapport, well-groomed, or personable. People use these social skills to achieve a result. But, they are tools people can turn on and off.

A character trait is something different. A character trait is deeply ingrained in who we are as a human being. It is part of our core belief system. There is a real difference.

For example, Jeffrey Dahmer could certainly be charming, nice, personable or well-groomed to get what he wanted; namely a new victim. He was not, however, what you would call a good man.

And, this matters because …

Sometimes, good men and women have to do things that are not nice. But they do them to protect the rest of us. They stand between the people they care about and the evil that exists in the world. It is their “code” that allows them to remain “good” while battling to protect the people and values they hold most dear.

My main protagonist in Serpents Underfoot, JD Cordell, is a U.S. Navy SEAL. His father is a U.S. Army Vietnam veteran. His grandfathers were veterans of WWII and Korea. Many of his ancestors fought to protect their country. JD’s mother is the daughter of an honorable and respected Vietnamese village leader butchered by the Viet Cong.

JD is a good man battling evil in the world because that is his job. And because for him, it is also a family tradition.

Inspiration from other authors

My love of reading certainly inspired me. First and foremost, I have always loved to read. I jokingly tell people that I could read before I could walk.

Second, I love books dealing with the struggle between good and evil; books that have a strong protagonist who overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to go on and save the day.

Lastly, I firmly believe in many old-fashioned ideals that we seem to be in danger of losing in our society today. These ideals include things like honesty, integrity, truth, love, courage, honor, loyalty, and family. These are the ideals that define and create true heroes. And, these ideals, or lack there of, shape the actions of several of the characters in my book, Serpents Underfoot.

Inspiration from favorite books

It is because of this dynamic struggle between good and evil, and my respect for the men and women who are willing to put themselves between us and that evil, that I love books like Lone Survivor and American Sniper. Marcus Luttrell and Chris Kyle, whose stories are told in these books, are real people. And, they live by a code, a code based on the ideals mentioned above. That code helps makes them the men they are. And, it allows them to go bravely into the dark places of the world while still remaining “good men” at their core.

And, of course, there are events in my life …

When I was a youngster, I wanted to be Batman when I grew up. Wouldn’t that be the greatest job ever? Imagine my disappointment in finding out I would probably never be rich enough to afford all those cool gadgets or a Bat Mobile! Obviously, I would have to do something else instead. Maybe James Bond?

Military service

Later, I enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the infantry for four years. I served with a mechanized infantry unit in Germany, a straight-leg infantry unit in South Korea, and the 101st Air Assault Division at Ft. Campbell, KY. During my time with the 101st, we deployed to Panama where I graduated from the Jungle Warfare School.

Martial Arts

Over the years, I developed a keen interest in the Martial Arts and studied Isshin-ryu Karate for over 35 years. I never had much interest in tournaments or sport karate, but focused on self-defense and personal combat techniques. I still train today and currently hold a 5th Degree Black Belt.

Additional inspiration …

In my early forties, I graduated from the Advanced Executive Protection Program offered by Executive Security International as a Level I Certified Protection Specialist. It was fantastic training and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The program delved into the psychology of VIP protection, legal issues surrounding VIP protection, security details, courtroom defensible self-defense techniques, and defensive firearms training.

All of these things helped inspire and shape the story that grew into Serpents Underfoot. I suspect that, on some level, there is a little bit of me patrolling through the jungles of Vietnam, snatching a wanted terrorist in the mountains of Afghanistan, or battling terrorist assassins invading my family home in Knoxville, Tennessee.

I need to mention one final source of inspiration. That was my mother. My mother was a strong woman. She was independent, self-reliant, and had an indomitable spirit. She came from true Adirondack pioneer stock and was always ready for a new adventure.

While I did not plan it this way, several of the female characters in Serpents Underfoot evolved into very strong characters. JD’s mother, Mai, and Julie, who works for the CIA, both have a quiet strength that serves them very well in the situations in which they find themselves. Even Fatima, a deadly female Syrian assassin and cold-blooded killer, is a strong woman. But, unfortunately shaped by the environment in which she came of age. Perhaps that is why I get so many good reviews from women readers.

As I look at the America we now live in …

The last twenty or so years have ushered in some amazing changes in our society. Many have been good. However, some have not.

Ideals such as honor, integrity, honesty, family, loyalty, or just doing the right thing even when nobody is looking, often seem to be lacking in our current leadership. Certainly not all. But, with enough regularity that it has become alarming to me. These ideals predate even Christianity, going back to early Greek philosophy. They are the corner stones of western civilization and are essential elements of successful self-government.

Part of the inspiration for my writing this book was to fight back just a little bit by addressing some of these ideas through the events that unfold in a thrilling tale readers don’t want to put down. I wanted to remind people that good and evil do exist.

We all suffer from the condition of being human. Therefore, none of us are perfect. And, that comes out in the story as well. But I believe these values are very important to our identity as Americans and if we lose them, America as we know and love it, will cease to exist.

Edmund Burke once said, ”
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing!

I believe truer words have never been spoken.

Order your copy now!

If you would like to purchase a copy of Serpents Underfoot, click here for paperback or here for the Kindle version. Click here to read more of my blog posts.

What to do when your book cover sucks!

It is not just about the reviews!

Learning to market your book as a self-published author is an interesting and sometimes painful journey. There is so much to learn and so much to do. The book cover, the story itself, the categories and keywords, SEO, social media marketing, Twitter, Instagram. BookBub, etc. … and getting reviews. The list of things to do can quickly become rather extensive.

The reviews I get tell me my story is pretty darn good.

Of course, you always get a few bad reviews. Not everyone will like your book. That is just a fact of life.

However, most of your reviews have been 4 and 5 stars. Some of the reviews have been absolutely outstanding. So why is your book not selling a little better?

Yes. It does take time. When first starting out, you are not exactly Tom Clancy, Lee Child, or Vince Flynn! At least not yet!

You do have to keep plugging away at finding what marketing ideas work for you. There is no way you can do it all. You have to have a plan and then you have to work the plan.

Enter the experts

Through ALLi (Alliance of Independence Authors), I have been exploring and learning about marketing for self-published authors. I have been working with Beth Kallman Werner at Author Connections and now with Jim Kukral at Authors Marketing Club.

The book cover story

book cover

About a week ago, while on the phone with Jim Kukral, we went through my book’s categories and keywords and at Jim’s suggestion, made some smart changes there. I learned about KDP Rocket and if you are a self-published author, I think this tool is indispensable.

We also looked at the book cover. Jim’s comment was that the book cover looked like exactly what it is … a first cover attempt by a newbie self-published author.

I must admit it hurt just a bit. After all, I was kind of proud of the cover. I mean, I designed it myself. Jim then suggested I take a look at other book covers in the same genre; essentially military action thriller.

I did this and his point became painfully obvious. A lesson learned. Jim explained the concept of “cover to market.”  Essentially, this means your cover has to stand out in the market you are competing in. Kind of a “duh” moment actually.

So … back to the cover drawing board we went. And, about a week later, voilà!  I must admit, I love the knew cover. It fits the genre and stands out among the book covers of my competitors. It gives clues to the story line with out being a “spoiler.”

In addition, many people I have shown the book cover to really like it.  A few have not. But when I dug a little deeper, I realized this is not a genre they read very much of. That kind of clicked as well.

The unveiling!

book cover
The new cover

I would be happy to hear your thoughts on this new book cover.

I think there are several good lessons in this post. Self-publishing is an interesting new venue for aspiring authors. It is very cost effective when you are just getting started. But being self-published does not mean that you have to remake the same mistakes as everyone else.

You most certainly can if you want to!

And, we will all make our share of mistakes. However, there are legitimate experts out there who really love helping authors succeed and it does not have to be prohibitively expensive. Talk to a few people who know. Check out the competition. Learn about concepts such as “cover to market.” Check out tools like KDP Rocket. And always remember, it is not a sprint to instant success  … it is a marathon where endurance and training count.