Tag Archives: US Airforce

Free Stuff … Review copies of Serpents Underfoot!

Free review copies of Serpents Underfoot are still available!

free

There are a limited number of free review copies of Serpents Underfoot available on BookFunnel for anyone interested. They are in both Kindle and epub formats. The only catch is that, if you take one, I am asking you to please leave an honest review on Amazon.com.

Do you like military action thrillers written with a real sense of pride in all branches of the U.S. military? If so, you will really enjoy Serpents Underfoot.

This military action thriller is already getting great reviews, but I need a few more. Reviews are very important to self-published authors. They are also very import to Sophie, because selling more books means I can keep her in dog biscuits! And, Sophie needs her biscuits!

free

So, feel free to snag a free Kindle or epub copy of Serpents Underfoot! Read it and enjoy it! Then, leave an honest review on Amazon.com … so people can read how much you enjoyed the book. This way, more people will buy the book and I can buy Sophie more biscuits!

Or, check out Adirondack Bear Tales!

free

Eleven delightfully charming tales of real-life encounters with black bears in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York.

This book can now be found in the Raquette Lake Library! It is selling well and has 4 Five Star reviews to date. The Kindle version is only $2.99. You can order a copy by clicking here!

These tales would be great for sitting around the campfire, bedtime tales for children, or just some pleasant light reading when when the mood strikes. The paperback copy makes a great little gift for a reader in your life at only $5.99. Please check it out, and if you enjoy it, leave a review on Amazon.com!

Check out other great posts by clicking here!

Inspiration: The Story Behind Serpents Underfoot.

Why do authors write what they write?

inspiration

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 …

inspiration

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.

Amazing Arial Combat and Chivalry

Read an incredible story of courage, combat and chivalry during World War II that will quicken your pulse, give you a strong sense of American pride, make you chuckle, and then bring a tear to your eye!

Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II

A “beautiful story of a brotherhood between enemies”* emerges from the horrors of World War II in this New York Times and international bestseller. 

combat and Chivalry

December, 1943: A badly damaged American bomber struggles to fly over wartime Germany. At the controls is twenty-one-year-old Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown. Half his crew lay wounded or dead on this, their first mission. Suddenly, a Messerschmitt fighter pulls up on the bomber’s tail. The pilot is German ace Franz Stigler – and he can destroy the young American crew with the squeeze of a trigger…

What happened next would defy imagination and later be called “the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II.”

The U.S. 8th Air Force would later classify what happened between them as “top secret.” It was an act that Franz could never mention for fear of facing a firing squad. It was the encounter that would haunt both Charlie and Franz for forty years until, as old men, they would search the world for each other, a last mission that could change their lives forever.

Simply an amazing read!

It is almost impossible to describe the range of emotional responses reading this story invoked within me. As a patriotic American and the great-grandson of German immigrants to America, this story touched me on many levels. 

This is the story of two men, pilots in their respective country’s air forces, meeting in a chance encounter in the skies over Germany.  This meeting would eventually go down in history as one of the most amazing tales of World War II. 

I stayed on the edge of my seat reading this story. It was very hard to put down even when I needed to. It was like I became Lieutenant Charlie Brown and the fate of  ‘Ye Olde Pub” and the B-17’s crew was in my hands.  I also became the pilot of the ME-109, torn between my humanity and the orders of the Nazis government that I secretly despised. We do not hear the words combat and chivalry used in the same sentence these days.

I became totally engrossed in the characters on both sides! This book made me wince. At times it made me chuckle. In addition, this story tugged at my heart and there were several times it even brought a tear to my eye.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars ( maybe even 6 out of 5!)

If you enjoy military history, this book is an absolutely must read. It is rare that we get to glimpse such an amazing spark of real humanity in the awful chaos that is war. It truly is a story of combat and chivalry!


Check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot!

Happy Veterans Day Giveaway: Thank our veterans!

Kindle give away for Serpents Underfoot!

Happy Veterans Day! In honor of Veterans Day, the Kindle version of Serpents Underfoot will be available from Amazon.com for free on Sunday, November 11th and Monday, November 12th. There are no gimmicks or requirements! However, if you were to enjoy the book and want to give me a review on Amazon, I would not strenuously object.
happy veterans

A few Happy Veterans Day quotes:

I’m trying to raise the awareness of the troops that, when they deploy and go to war, it’s not just them at war – it’s also their family. Their family is having to go through all the hardships and the stresses. ~ Chis Kyle
The U.S. Military is us. There is no truer representation of a country than the people that it sends into the field to fight for it. The people who wear our uniform and carry our rifles into combat are our kids, and our job is to support them, because they’re protecting us. ~ Tom Clancy
The valor and courage of our young women and men in the armed services are a shining example to all of the world, and we owe them and their families our deepest respect. ~ Bill Frist

And, a few Happy Veterans Day cartoons!

happy veterans
Gary Varvel, The Indianopolis Star, garyvarvel.com
happy veterans
Dave Granlund, http://www.davegranlund.com
happy veterans
Dave Granlund, davegranlund.com, politicalcartoons.com

On a more personal note:

We all need to give Veterans Day and our veterans the respect they deserve. Members of my family have served this nation going all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Several of my best friends have been Vietnam Vets. This is not unique and I am sure there are many families like mine. People who love this country and are willing to write that blank check to serve and protect it. When you see a veteran … thank him, shake his hand, or even buy his lunch. He has certainly earned it!

Etchings in Stone, Moving Beyond Belief …

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, also referred to as The Wall, in Washington DC, is a late but wonderful first step in welcoming home Vietnam Veterans. Etchings in Stone is an unbelievably moving play written by Ron Harris about The Wall from a very unique perspective.

Ron Harris, Playwright and Vietnam Veteran

etchings

I met Ron Harris, a North Carolina Vietnam Veteran, at the Raleigh Museum of History during a Vietnam Veteran’s Day event. This event featured the mobile “Wall” exhibit, a Huey (bringing back my own fond memories of my time with the 101st Air Assault Division), and other Vietnam War memorabilia collected and displayed by the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Chu Chi Tunnels and a conversation 

While looking at a great 3-D diorama of the Chu Chi Tunnels of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), a man came up and asked if I had any questions about the diorama. We began to talk about the Chu Chi Tunnels and other dioramas he had built and that were on display.  During the conversation, I disclosed that I had written a novel that begins with the story of my main character’s father fighting in Vietnam, titled Serpents Underfoot

Ron then told me that he’d written a play called Etchings in Stone about The Wall, and  that it was showing every hour in the museum auditorium. I decided I needed to see this play. We talked a bit more before I headed toward the auditorium to see Etching in Stone. I was not entirely prepared for what I was about to experience.

Twenty-one Etchings

The play features about twenty-one segments, or stories, about visitors to The Wall.  Ron took the unique and extremely moving perspective of placing the audience inside The Wall, and giving them the ability to hear what the visitors were saying as well as their unspoken thoughts. The effect was moving beyond belief.  

etchings

Each visitor approaches The Wall looking for a name … a father, a husband, a brother, an uncle, or a fellow soldier, sailor, marine, or airman. You hear their words as well as their thoughts. One emotional soldier thanks a medic for saving his life. Then there’s the widow who misses her husband dearly. And, the father or mother missing their son. We meet a  woman missing her older brother. There’s even a soldier apologizing for accidentally shooting his buddy because his buddy had not given the countersign when challenged upon entering the defensive perimeter. The anguish was very real! It was palpable!

You are all my father …

The last segment blew me completely away. It featured a young Amerasian woman, who I later learned she was played by Ron Harris’s adopted daughter. The young woman approaches The Wall. We learn that she is the daughter of the an American soldier and a Vietnamese woman. The soldier planned to marry her mother, but is killed in action before that could occur. The mother, with little chance of making a life for her daughter, puts the baby up for adoption. The baby is adopted and raised by a wonderful American couple. While the young woman loves her adoptive parents very much, she wants to know who her real father was.

She seeks help from the U.S. military but they have no records of who he father might have been. She contacts other Vietnam Vets, but they are unable to help her either. The young woman then returns to Vietnam and locates an aunt who tells her that her mother died and never talked much about her American fiance. He aunt is very sorry, but she cannot help her.

The young woman finally comes to The Wall to pick a name … a name to be her father.  But, when she sees the number of of names on The Wall, she is completely overwhelmed. How can she choose only one? The woman decides to choose them all … they will all be her father. And that way, in the future, if anyone should ever asks if her father’s name is on The Wall, she can answer truthfully … yes.

Moments of respite …

I do not know if it was intended this way, but between segments of Etchings in Stone there are power point slides that include interesting facts about the Vietnam War and The Wall. There is also music from the era, video, and still photos of the Vietnam War. There are interviews with veterans and songs about The Wall. The play is entertaining, extremely moving, and very educational.

A shift in America’s conscience.

This country always welcomed  its Veterans home with open arms. That is until the Korean War. Korean War veterans came home to simple indifference. However, when Vietnam War ended, that indifference became outright disrespect and even hatred. Far too many Americans spit on these veterans, or called them baby killer and other names.  These men and women only did the job their government had sent them to do. Therefore, in addition to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) some suffered due to the effects of combat, many suffered an additional layer of PTSD caused by this treatment. This treatment of these American veterans was a national disgrace. 

While the Vietnam War certainly affected the men and women who fought it, it also had a profound effect on those who stayed home. The mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, wives and children, girlfriends, friends and strangers were all touched by the war. This play, Etchings in Stone, addresses the issues that affected all these people, veterans, family and friends. It is Ron’s hope that through this play, Vietnam veterans will come to realize that they are not alone in their feelings.

D.C. Gilbert