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Stories Of Experiences

Ted Kissel Author Interview

Betrayal in the Casbah follows a military attaché as he sets out on a rescue mission to save a downed pilot being held by terrorists. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Most of my inspiration in writing the book came from my military background and experiences while serving for almost three decades. Being a fighter pilot experiencing combat, a base commander in NATO, leadership roles at the highest levels at the Pentagon, and the intrigue of being a military attaché in an extremely unstable country in North Africa. But actually, I combined events of my last two years as a military attaché in Algeria in writing the book. The attempt to rescue a downed American pilot was an actual mission and I used much of what happened while attempting to accomplish that mission in the fictionalized story.

What is your background and experience in writing and how did it help you write Betrayal in the Casbah?

I have always loved the written word and periodically would write little stories of experiences in my life, but nothing serious. Most of my previous writing was of a military nature. Briefings, reports, after action documents, evaluations, etc….. The only formal background would be my bachelor’s degree in English and Political Science.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Terrorism in North Africa, Al-Qaeda, the Barbary Coast pirates, and ancient Roman cities in Algeria.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Escape from Algiers, which is the sequel to Betrayal in the Casbah. Hopefully it will answer many questions that persist after reading my first book. I anticipate the sequel being available at the end of this year or early 2023.

Author Links: Website | Instagram

It’s the early 2000’s in the US embassy, Algiers. US military attaché and decorated fighter pilot Colonel Mitch Ross needs a dose of reality and relief from the constraints of the diplomatic life. He catches a break of sorts when he survives a brutal knife attack one evening after attending a diplomatic reception.

Nursed to health by the beautiful and mysterious Abella, Mitch returns to duty and is approached by the CIA with a covert mission: to rescue and bring home a downed American pilot being held by terrorists in Algiers. As he plans and prepares for the mission, Mitch and Abella become confidants and lovers, and Mitch discovers she is more than just a nurse working in a military hospital. Together with longtime friend and French colonel Yves Dureau and Mitch’s assistant, Army Warrant Officer Dave McQueen, Mitch and Abella will risk their lives to bring the American POW to safety.

And Never Looked Back

Marcus F. Fair Author Interview

The Mongoose Crew follows a military veteran that wants to keep his past in the past, but everything he built starts to fall apart when his former crew starts looking for him. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?​

The inspiration behind the “Mongoose Crew” started with my own tour in the United States Army, where I served on active duty, of which a portion of that time was spent in Somalia from August of 1993 through December of that same year. Like the main character, “Mickey Frank,” I was a member of a team of five soldiers who provided mobile security for military personnel throughout our entire tour in country. The words “Mongoose,” was stenciled on our modified gun ship (vehicle), and other soldiers in the area began referring to us as the Mongoose Crew. About a year later, my Army tour was over, and I returned home to begin a new chapter. As the years passed, I started noticing that I had some internal difficulties as I tried to adjust to civilian life. I didn’t know it at that time, but like many other military veterans, I was suffering from trauma due to my experiences in the military, and self-medicating with alcohol to manage my mental health. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I tried to discover healthier ways to manage the emotions, and writing my thoughts on my laptop served as effective therapy for me, and still does. Of course, the story I create in “The Mongoose Crew” is fiction, but the guts of the story came from our deployment to Somalia in 1993, and the memories I have of the four other members of my crew, all of whom were wonderful people when I served with them, and nothing like the sadistic characters portrayed in my novel.

Mickey is a good guy that ended up in the wrong place in Somalia. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

The main character, “Mickey,” is a guy who was very gung-ho throughout his time in the Army, and clearly identified with the gritty and tough-minded American Soldier mentality. He embodied all of the characteristics of a tough soldier, but Mickey also had a conscientious side to him. He was well read with a passion for political issues and social justice, not only in America, but around the world. His buddies joked with him about being an intellectual because Mickey would often challenge his buddies on the politics and business of war, and the motivations of the power elite in our government. Mickey loved America and would be the first to fight for her, but he was not naive when analyzing the history and policies of his own government. Once he’s in Somalia, and is able to witness the level of poverty and the inhumanity happening around him, he comes to the conclusion that the civil war among the Somali clans were about basic human survival and power, survival of the fittest. Mickey saw it as the poor vs. poor, fighting a civil war in one of the poorest nations on earth. Perhaps he was still a bit naive at age 22, but Mickey wondered how the world would be if the power elite around the world, could share a small portion of what they have with the poorest among us. He grew up plenty during his deployment, and when he was primed and groomed by superiors to accept his next promotion, the conscientious Mickey Frank chose to decline the promotion and chose to leave the Army. He loved his time in the Army, but he was ready for the next chapter in his life, and never looked back.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

When focusing on the strong antagonist in the story, “Tommy Cuttler,” I wanted to explore the theme of power and privilege in our society. If you have the political muscle and financial fortune behind you, a person can get away with almost anything, especially when those very influential elite are being provided cover by their wealthy and powerful friends. That theme could not ring truer after analyzing Cuttler and the influential people in his life. A second theme that I was not aware of until already in the midst of the project, was the conviction and trust that all the characters in the story had in one another. Mickey and Jimmy Ortega were always close when serving together on active duty, but the two had to re-establish that trust in one another if they were going to accomplish their mission. They had not spoken or kept in touch since Mickey left the Army many years ago, so you can only imagine the doubt that each man had when teaming up again. How had the other changed over the years? Would each man be committed to the other in their mission? The same applies to all three antagonists in this story. “The Stooges,” as they are often referred, had the clear advantage of remaining inseparable over the many years, but when people can do the evil deeds as they have over a long period, there is no conviction or bond stronger than those three individuals. The three men were really an extension of one another, with the same conviction and purpose, which was to kill.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently working on a single book of short novels, which will be my first volume, and I hope to have it completed this summer. Some stories revolve around social justice themes, so I’m basically writing often, taking breaks on some projects and tackling others with a bit more vigor. I do plan to link my work to the social media platforms that you mentioned, so that’s coming. Thank you again for this opportunity to share my thoughts on my book, as well as my future plans.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Mickey Frank is an ex-solider finally returned home to live a normal and peaceful family life in Northern California. Mickey has cut contact with the four other members of his August 1993 mobile security team in Somalia, The Mongoose Crew, in an attempt to hide the dark secret they have been hiding.

As the years passed, Mickey has grown comfortable in his family life, until he is shaken to the core by the knowledge that members of his past life are searching for him. He believes he knows why the army is after him, but he is not prepared for the even darker secrets three members of his crew hold.

The Mongoose Crew is a deep dive into the complexity of a soldier’s experience in a land thousands of miles away from home and the trauma many veterans experience when they return.

About the Author

Marcus F. Fair is a social worker and has enjoyed a twenty-five-year career in the field as an investigator, along with several other titles over the years. He has been blessed with a wonderful woman and life partner to be by his side for the past twenty years, whom he owes his life.

Fair finds family to be essential in his life and always tries to remember this face through the good times and the bad. In the community, he dedicates himself to aid those who are underprivileged and families in need. In his spare time, he enjoys playing chess, shooting at the gun range, reading a good novel, and anything involving outdoor activities. However, spending time with his family is what he enjoys the most.

13 Months

In 1968, most people will remember that year as the year Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. Or the year Nixon got into the white house. Or Apollo 8 orbiting the moon. However you remember that year, there is always someone else who remembers it differently, how they were impacted by the significant events that transpired. Bruce A. Bastien recalls that year as a year of the war. A war-torn Vietnam where soldiers had to fight in the most brutal conditions; sickly, hot humidity during the day and fighting the cold in the rain at night. All-the-while trying to stay alive. Bastien takes us through the Vietnam War stories through his eyes and that of his friends from Kilo Company 3/5.

13 Months: In the Bush, in Vietnam, in 1968 is incredibly well-written. This introspective book is written in a clear voice and, structurally, built up to the significant events that transpired during Bastien’s time in the war, making it highly educational but also very sad to read. The author includes many pictures and descriptions to go along with the reading allowing readers to put a face to the names they see on the pages, deepening the experience. I believe if the pictures were incorporated into the chapters to coincide with the story, it would’ve been more engaging for the reader, as well as giving them a better understanding of who was who rather than providing them all at the end.

Bastien describes in great detail the functions of American military lingo, rank/command, and weaponry where necessary. For example, on page 21, Bastien gives “a bit of fluff explaining what a 6mm mortar can do.” As a civilian, I would have no clue what this weapon is or what it can do, so I appreciated the details. But, on the other hand, it may seem like a lot of unnecessary description for someone who understands all this. In addition, I feel that the book could have done better with the transition of time in between chapters. In some chapters, there are times when Bastien will jump from day to day or month to month, leaving readers to figure out how much time has passed.

13 Months: In the Bush, in Vietnam, in 1968 is an intriguing and engaging memoir. For readers who enjoy non-fiction, historical biographies, war history, and stories of the USMC, this account will be impactful and enlightening.

Page: 220 | ASIN : B08GJX19LP

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The Universality of Man

G.W. Morgan Author Interview
G.W. Morgan Author Interview

Tribes is the beginning of a riveting space adventure story that tells and deep and vivid story of two empires at war. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

We are not alone in the universe. There are other human tribes, many others, and they all have their own stories.

What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

In order to best contribute to the common good, be creative in one’s own self-interest.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The Universality of Man. The similarities in the development of societies and cultures far outweigh their diversities.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The collection of stories drawn from the stellar web production, ‘The Praetor and the Second Alliance War’, the historical drama depicting the interstellar war that took place 350-400 years ago. Three of the eight titles are currently available on Sol-Earth in print and e-book version.

Available now are:

Shatrujeet! – Vanquisher of Enemies‘, introduces the Valerian Monarchy through a young cavalry officer assigned to hunt down and destroy a band of ruthless trans-stellar slave raiders.

Conquest! – Empire Builders‘, introduces the Sacorsti Alliance, the series antagonist, yet this story is told from their unabashed point of view.

Redemption – A Tale of Trans-Stellar Liberation‘, the story of most controversial battle of the 2nd Alliance War is told in detail to Sol-Earthers and, for the first time, to Commoners as well.

The work-in-progress is ‘Divided Worlds’. In the modern-day Commoners’ popular culture, the global civil war on the world called ‘Bajhan’ was a root cause of the 2nd Alliance War 10 years later. However, new facts emerging from the Sacorsti histories show this was not the case. The Sacorsti aquistion of the Bajhan stellar group was in fact part of their overall strategy to prepare multiple invasion routes into the Nursery Crescent.

Follow-on titles include but are not limited to: Task Force Liberty; Allies; Macksey’s Gambit, Puto’s Gate, Commoners of Draken.

Author Links: Facebook | GoodReads | Amazon

November, 2013. Commoners from Task Force Draken discovered our tribe of fellow humans while in pursuit of their Alliance enemy’s prized research vessel. Their maverick commander received additional orders to explore our region and study our people. Over the next year, the Commoners ended up defending Sol-Earthers against Alliance infiltration and conquest. The question is, now what?

100 Days in Vietnam

100 Days in Vietnam: A Memoir of Love, War, and Survival by [Lt. Col. Joseph F. Tallon, Matthew A. Tallon, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster]

It’s 1972, and Joe Tallon has just been drafted to fight the war in Vietnam. He’s young, ambitious, newly married, and has no idea what awaits him on the other side of the globe. Near the end of the ground war, he gets shot down by an enemy missile but luckily survives. His technical observer Daniel Richards does not. He heals and gets to go back home, but the sacrifice that Richards gave never leaves his mind. 40 years later, he sets out on a journey to bring Richards the recognition he deserves as well as a Purple Heart for his family.  

For a book about war, reading 100 Days in Vietnam feels like a quiet and serene meditation. Even in scenes that depict violence and chaos, Tallon’s writing remains stoic. Not that he ever needed any evidence to prove this, but this writing style assures the reader that this is not some exploitative pulp filled to the brim with torn-up limbs and grenade explosions. This is the real deal. Just like the subject matter, the history of the book’s writing adds a whole world of depth as well. It becomes all the more meaningful when you find out that his co-writer, Matthew Tallon, is a fellow veteran and the son he almost did not get to see grow up. 

I enjoyed this authentic and compelling memoir and felt that the writing eschews action oriented writing in favor of straightforward storytelling that makes the book easy to follow but sometimes monotonous. The grounded retelling of events is broken up with news clippings that help establish the reader in the time period of the book. 

100 Days in Vietnam is a stirring memoir that will stick with you for days. I would recommend this book to readers looking for an authentic and emotionally-resonant military biography that dictates facts and leaves nothing out. This is an intriguing historical novel with an end result that is nothing short of rewarding.

Pages: 330 | ASIN: B091ZM4YVG

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To Tell Their Incredible Story

Author Interview
Ernesto Patino Author Interview

Enough to make the Angels Weep follows a private detective on a murder case that leads him to a 150-year-old conspiracy. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I was inspired to write the story after seeing the movie One Man’s Hero, set in Mexico during the Mexican-American War. It was about the San Patricios, the St. Patrick’s Battalion, composed of U.S Army soldiers of Irish descent who switched sides at the beginning of the War. I had never heard of this story and wondered why it had been omitted in history books that I’d read about the Mexican-American War. In doing research, I found only a handful of books about the St. Patrick’s Battalion. Most were written within the past twenty to twenty five years. As a writer, I knew that I had to write a novel, to tell their incredible story which has made them heroes in Mexico and Ireland.

Your characters are intriguing and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

First of all, I brought back P.I. Joe Coopersmith, a former FBI investigative assistant, who first appeared in a previous novel, Web of Secrets. Other characters, including the young woman who hired Coopersmith to investigate the murder of her grandmother, were ordinary people whose patience and ideals were tested again and again throughout the novel.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

There were two themes, really. The first was the Mexican-American War and the second was the Irish Famine which forced thousands of Irishmen to come to America in search of a better life. Signs on store windows that said WORKERS NEEDED. IRISH NEED NOT APPLY, made it increasingly difficult to find employment, and so many joined the U.S. Army. Of course the new recruits new little about America or its politics with regard to Mexico.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I just completed a new novel, A Cry for Vengeance. It begins with a deathbed confession of a former Nazi who admits to the killing of thousands of Jews and undesirables at Treblinka Concentration Camp during WWII. He and other Nazis had been recruited by American Intelligence shortly after the war. The book will be released within one to two years.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Hired to investigate the murder of an 84-year-old widow, P.I. Joe Coopersmith hits one dead end after another in his search for leads. With few clues and no suspects, he nearly gives up, until he uncovers a connection to a bizarre plot to kill the descendants of Irish soldiers who fought for Mexico during the Mexican-American War. Known as San Patricios, they belonged to the St. Patrick’s Battalion, an elite Mexican unit composed mostly of Irish Immigrants. When a well-preserved diary of an Irish soldier turns up, Coopersmith knows he’s on the right track. He digs deeper into the plot, soon learning the identity of the man behind it and his warped motive for the cold-blooded murder of the elderly widow.

That SOB Deserved That!

Gary Hickman
Gary Hickman Author Interview

The Light Reapers follows an elite team on a mission to rescue a scientist while battling hordes of zombies. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I initially wrote the story during COVID and I was thinking about how the zombies were created. As I thought through different options, the media kept saying CORONA Virus and that stuck with me. For my first book, I wanted to write something that I was familiar with but also wanted to have fun with it. I have always loved zombies since I first saw Dawn of the Dead (the original). Zombies and the military seemed like a good combination. I mean, plenty of people had done it before successfully, so why not me? There are actually quite a few events in the book that were based on real life. The fighting, the tactics used, the interactions between some of the characters all had a significant influence on what I wrote. There are a few of the characters who are based on real people I served with. I obviously removed the enemies and put in the infected, changed the names and locations due to counterintelligence reasons, but most were still based on truth.

This seemed like a fun book to write. What scene in the story did you have the most fun writing?

Chapter 19, the scene with Randy. I didn’t like writing the situation so much, but the end result I had quite a bit of pleasure writing. Something in most books that aggrivates me is the vilan causes all this pain and suffering only to be shot dead to fall off a building. I wanted there to be some moments in the book where people said, “Yeah!”, that SOB deserved that!

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Brotherhood of the soldiers. Acceptance of the others whowere not originally part of the team. Retribution on those who chose to do evil, even though the apocalypse was on them. Just shows some people’s true character. I wanted to show that even though there lies no obligation to people, they stucktogetherand made a life as best they could.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am working on the sequel to The Light Reapers, this one is “The Light Reapers: Fight for a New Beginning”. The book is about 80% complete as far as writing. Then comes the editing. I could have done much better on the editing of the first book, so I am hiring a professional to edit the second book.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Light Reapers are a Special Operations Unit who had served numerous campaigns together. They were an expertly trained and elite group, but could they ever prepare for what was to happen next.
Under a shroud of darkness and maliciousness, a viral weapon was being produced by an alliance of terrorists bent on the destruction of their respective enemies. When double-crossed by an ISIS faction, the viral weapon is stolen and prematurely unleashed on the planet.
Now facing a worldwide epidemic, The Light Reapers are deployed to rescue a scientist who may be able to develop an antidote. If that wasn’t difficult enough, they also must track down the ISIS faction and eliminate them. All while battling hordes of the infected.

Silent Freedom: A Memoir of Service with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in Iraq – Book Trailer

During war, anything can happen. Newly married, Aurea Franklin moved to Hawaii and joined the U.S. Army, following the call of her silent freedom. After moving all around the U.S., she witnessed the attack on the Twin Towers. Soon after, she deployed to Iraq. In this memoir, Aurea details her time spent with the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She discusses life as a soldier—abroad and at home—and the triumphs and difficulties that come with it. Silent Freedom is a story about love and loss, purpose and faith. It will take you to the darkest corners of the war zone in Iraq while demonstrating how faith and hope for a better future can make a difference.

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