Ungentlemanly Warfare, Yup that’s a Real Term

Quite possibly one of the longest titles in history: “Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks who Plotted Hitler’s Defeat,” was also one of the most fun books I’ve read in the last five or six years. Giles Milton managed to find and capture an aspect of World War II that I had never heard of, and I am a history buff.

In 1940 the Nazi’s were taking over Europe. Winston Churchill had just taken over in Britain and was pretty much the last man standing up to Germany. He recognized Britain was on Germany’s hit list and wanted a plan in place to resist once the Nazi’s invaded Britain.

Hence the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.

“Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare,” details how a secret ministry of sabotage started from scratch and became and industry unto itself. Milton does a great job of capturing the cultural, genuinely British, conflicts that were a constant between the regular military and Section D of the Secret Intelligence Service. The idea of saboteurs and assassins did not sit well with the right kind of English gentlemen. On the flip side Section D argued that dropping a hundred bombs on a target might accomplish the mission. But a group of highly trained and motivated saboteurs could guarantee a surgical strike at a fraction of the cost or the collateral damage bombs dropped from 30,000 feet apt to cause.

The book follows Colin Gubbins, who stood up and made Section D into a powerhouse. Gubbins created a factory for explosives, specifically designed for devious small unit raids. He organized a kill school run by two old British ex-pats tossed aside by the establishment when they came home to fight for Britain. And he inspired a world-wide intelligence network that facilitated acts of sabotage from a vital hydro-facility in Norway to an ancient aqueduct in Greece used to supply Rommel’s tanks in Africa. Not only does Milton take you through each of these adventures but he does it by capturing the wild spectrum of men and women who fought the secret war. Professional adventures, engineers, secretaries, and even a conscientious objector turned operative made Section D what it was. Of note among Section D and its saboteurs, Milton does a particular service to the contributions and the sacrifices women made to ungentlemanly war.

If you are a history buff and want to read about an important but forgotten part of World War II give Giles Milton’s “Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” a serious look.

Here is the back-cover blurb:

“Six gentlemen, one goal: the destruction of Hitler’s war machine

In the spring of 1939, a top-secret organization was founded in London: its purpose was to plot the destruction of Hitler’s war machine through spectacular acts of sabotage.

The guerrilla campaign that followed was every bit as extraordinary as the six men who directed it. One of them, Cecil Clarke, was a maverick engineer who had spent the 1930s inventing futuristic caravans. Now, his talents were put to more devious use: he built the dirty bomb used to assassinate Hitler’s favorite, Reinhard Heydrich. Another, William Fairbairn, was a portly pensioner with an unusual passion: he was the world’s leading expert in silent killing, hired to train the guerrillas being parachuted behind enemy lines. Led by dapper Scotsman Colin Gubbins, these men―along with three others―formed a secret inner circle that, aided by a group of formidable ladies, single-handedly changed the course Second World War: a cohort hand-picked by Winston Churchill, whom he called his Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.

Giles Milton’s Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is a gripping and vivid narrative of adventure and derring-do that is also, perhaps, the last great untold story of the Second World War.”

Don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or any other bookstore. My newest novel Where Angels Sing is on sale now.


Author Spotlight: Alison McMahan

Hey Everybody, Alison McMahan has a short story in R.L. Stine’s new Anthology, Scream and Scream Again! Her contribution is called, “Kamikaze Iguanas.”

About the Book:

A harrowing array of scary stories that all have one thing in common: each either begins or ends with a scream!

R.L. Stine—the godfather of Goosebumps—and some of the most popular authors today bring an unrivaled mastery of all things fearsome, frightening, and fantabulous to this terrifying anthology of all-new scary short stories.

Scream and Scream Again! is full of twists and turns, dark corners, and devilish revenge. Collected in conjunction with the Mystery Writers of America, this set includes works from New York Times bestselling authors telling tales of wicked ice-cream trucks, time-travelling heroes, witches and warlocks, and of course, haunted houses.

List of Authors:

Read it if you dare! With twenty never-before-published scary stories from some of the most popular authors today—including Chris Grabenstein, Wendy Corsi Staub, Heather Graham, Peter Lerangis, R.L. Stine, Bruce Hale, Emmy Laybourne, Steve Hockensmith, Lisa Morton, Ray Daniel, Beth Fantaskey, Phil Mathews, Carter Wilson, Doug Levin, Jeff Soloway, Joseph S. Walker, Alison McMahan, Daniel Palmer, Tonya Hurley, and Stephen Ross—it’s sure to leave readers screaming for more.

Excerpt:

I work my way around the pool fence, slowly, camera-phone at the ready, waiting for an iguana to run out.

A group of kids is huddled around one of the barbecue grills. I’m hoping they’re just trying to keep warm. It’s like, freezing, even though this is South Florida.

“Hey.”

One of the huddlers has seen me. I recognize him, vaguely, from school. He’s one of those guys, the kind that is good looking and knows it. He goes by Spike. So lame.

Where to Buy:

Give it a look. I like a good scare and thought I would share it with you.

As always don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or at any other bookstore. My newest novel Where Angels Sing is on sale now.

So, the Norse won?

The other night I discovered something that Marvel and the creators behind Thor have missed: Thor is living proof of a deity.

I was cooking dinner when my five year old showed up slinging his Mjolnir (Thor’s Hammer). I asked,

“Hey Thor, want to help with dinner?” I got the usual response.

“No I’m just playing, Can I have Thor God of Thunder song?”

There is no greater pride a parent feels than when a child asks for classic rock. I am quick to respond, “Absolutely!”

Thor God of Thunder song is actually Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin. Let me be up front here and declare I have had this song in my workout playlist for a decade or more so I didn’t download it because of a movie. Although when you look at Marvel movie music there is an argument to be made that Led Zeppelin might be the new AC/DC. I would say with confidence that Iron Man would not have been quite as cool if is wasn’t for the judicious use of AC/DC throughout the series of movies. Though I thought Thor Ragnarok was a great movie, the same argument could be made that Ragnarok might not have been Ragnarok without Immigrant Song as the backdrop to Thor beating the crap out of a bunch of demons. Additionally, when was the last time you saw an action flick that didn’t have an AC/DC track somewhere in either the trailer or the film itself, just saying. Robert Plant and the boys might be seeing a boost in their royalties soon.

But I digress.

The point I had when I started this bit of word vomit was that I had an epiphany while cooking dinner and praying Thor’s hammer did not go through the tv. Thor is living proof of deity in the Marvel universe. Now if we allow that the Marvel universe is societally similar to our society then wouldn’t him showing up on the world’s stage fighting aliens in Avengers have been a bit disruptive to society. I mean not only do the big three religions all fight (literally) to convince the rest of us heathens that their dogma is “the way.” But how many other sects and systems are out there that think their own deity, whatever that may be is the only path to salvation? Then all of a sudden here comes a hero out of Norse mythology, Thor, the God of Thunder standing in the middle of New York City swinging a giant hammer.

Picture yourself as some pastor, or Imam, or even the Pope himself sitting around watching Fox News as they interrupt a hoverround commercial to bring breaking news. “Alien Invasion: New York” is the headline and then whichever religious leader seems most entertaining in your head (for me it’s the Pope lounging in his robe lint rollering a massive hat but then again I’m Catholic so that makes sense) He leans forward in his big stuffy chair and sees a God standing with Captain America in the middle of Times Square. He doesn’t see the big alien dragon looking things flying around, he only sees the worlds first proof of deity fist bumping Cap and flying off screen under a swinging hammer. I can only think his first thought is, “Merda!” [“Shit!” in Italian].

World religious leaders around the globe are all realizing at the same time that their collection plates are about to run dry. All accept the Asatro (that’s right there is still a religion that believes in Odin and Thor) and those guys leap up and dance a jig, “I knew it!” they scream.

So then what?

Iron Man nukes the aliens and the dimensional gateway is closed, cool. But what about the 84% of people whose guiding life principles just went up in smoke, or more accurately, a lightning bolt?

Thor, chillin and eating falafel (the after the credits scene in Avengers [Spoiler, sorry]) is going to be a real problem for people. Here they were arguing about the bible and the koran, and the torah only to find that the Scandinavians had it all right. What the…? That effect on society is something overlooked by Marvel et al.

Good news though. In the event Thor was to show up and save the world, Santa might get a second look. As far as I know he was adopted by Christianity as a way of absorbing some of those “heathen” religions on their way to world domination.

Now all of a sudden the powers that be find out that Norse mythology was the one…and they missed it. I can only picture the Westboro Baptists protesting Thor’s hair while a bunch of ISIS guys try to blow up Avenger HQ.

What do you think the Asatro head honcho would do during his first press conference? I like to think he would play it really cool. Shrug his shoulders maybe and say, “Told ya,” drop the mike and walk off stage.

Anyway, that’s all I got for today. But hey Marvel, maybe something to look into.

As always don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or any other bookstore. My newest novel Where Angels Sing is on sale now.


 

What is it With Little Boys and Guns

Tripp woodsI get that I’m an author and should probably stick to author stuff but like the title of the blog reads, this is the world according to me. I can do whatever I want.

This is a gun-ish post but I have a couple of caveats. First, this isn’t a gun control post. There are plenty of idealists out there on both sides of the issue spouting their views (most of which seem fairly ignorant). I am not one of those. I simply had an interesting parenting experience that I thought might make a good post.

If you read my bio you know my background in law enforcement. I carried a gun every day for fifteen years before I hung it up to move into a non-operational role. I’m not a gun nut but I appreciate the tool and respect the necessity of weapons in personal defense. I still carry one most of the time when I’m out and about.

I have also seen what guns can do either intentionally or when misused. When I became a parent, the ‘gun’ issue, became a thing.

So, when my three-year-old, Tripp, came home from daycare one day, folded his chubby little hand up like a gun and said, “boom, boom, I shoot you,” I was taken aback.

I asked, “What are you doing?”

“I shot you,”

“Shot me?”

“With my gun I shot you,”

“What do you know about guns?”

“You shoot people with guns,”

“Who told you about guns?”

He took on a sheepish pout, “Ben,”

Ben is three years old also.

The kid’s three, my plan was to put off the gun stuff until he was six and I could take him to grandpa’s house and teach him how to shoot. He didn’t watch movies or tv where guns were a thing, the most violent media he had access to was the Wild Kratts. How do you explain something like gun safety to a three-year-old?

Maybe I lost my mind. I probably over reacted but I wasn’t going to have my little guy’s first impression of firearms framed by another three-year-old booger eater. I would control this narrative.

The next day Tripp got home from daycare to find his bedroom had been converted into a shooting range. I had five of his stuffed animals lined up on his dresser. His bed was the firing line. When I showed him two little single shot Nerf guns he was psyched. When I told him there were rules we had to learn he was not. We spent the next hour going over the same rules that govern every law enforcement range I have ever trained on:

  1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
  2. Never aim a gun at something you don’t intend to shoot.
  3. Finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.

It took us a little while to get the rules and we both had violations if I’m being honest. But once we had the rules of the range down, shooting our little Nerf guns became a daily thing until the next Car’s movie came out and we were back to racing around on the floor. That was two years ago, we still shoot a couple of times a month, and now the guns are cooler.

Even though he plays by the ‘range rules’ at home I wondered how much of that held when submerged amongst the brain trust of his classmates. In my mind I imagined discipline a myth and that he and his friends at school were running around the playground like it was the street scene in Heat.

Then this weekend we were wandering down the street when a kid, maybe eight-years-old came out of a store sporting one of those toy pirate flintlocks. He stops in front of me, Tripp, and some random woman and pops all of us. It was just a noise maker and I’m pretty sure his aim was off but the act left my now five-year-old absolutely incensed.

“Whoa, No! That’s not how you do it!” he yelled at the older kid. Tripp’s outburst was enough to freeze the kid in his tracks. The older boy cocked his head to the side and looked like a dog trying to figure out how to handle a turtle wandering through the yard. Tripp squared off with him and put his hand out like a gun pointed to the sky, put it right at eye level and flexed his little ‘trigger’ finger, “Finger off the trigger unless you ready to shoot,” he barked.

He looked at me, “Did you see him, he had his finger…” his voice drifted off as the pirate disappeared in the crowd.

“I know bud,”

“He dinit control his weapon!”

“No, he didn’t,” I agreed while fighting the urge to do an end zone dance right there on the street.

“He needs the rules!”

“Yes, he does,” I agreed,

When I gave him a high five he looked at me suspiciously. I let him wonder as we continued our walk down the street.

I don’t know what it is about little boys and guns. I was hoping to keep that aspect of life away from him for as long possible, thanks daycare. My only guess is that guns are part of our human nature. We are a society based on violence, guns have been glorified since the creation of the blunderbuss, before that the sword got all the attention. Humans are predators by design, maybe guns and violence feed some primal part of us.

Not trying to enter the gun debate, and the last person anyone should take parenting advice from is me so this is not a parent strategy session. I just had a fun dad moment I figured might make a good post.

Don’t forget to check out my work on Amazon or at any other bookstore. My newest novel Where Angels Sing is on sale now.


Cynthia Kuhn -The Art of Vanishing

I wanted to take a minute to post about the newest release from one of the authors I follow. Cynthia Kuhn’s “The Art of Vanishing,” came out in February 2017, if you are building your summer reading list this might not be a bad place to start. See below.

Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean Academic Mystery Series, which includes The Semester of Our Discontent, an Agatha Award recipient (Best First Novel), and The Art of Vanishing, a Lefty Award nominee (Best Humorous Mystery). The third in the series, The Spirit in Question, will be out in fall 2018. She is professor of English at Metropolitan State University of Denver and current president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado. For more information, please visit cynthiakuhn.net.

Synopsis:

When Professor Lila Maclean is sent to interview celebrated author and notorious cad Damon Von Tussel, he disappears before her very eyes. The English department is thrown into chaos by the news, as Damon is supposed to headline Stonedale University’s upcoming Arts Week.

The chancellor makes it clear that he expects Lila to locate the writer and set events back on track immediately. But someone appears to have a different plan: strange warnings are received, valuable items go missing, and a series of dangerous incidents threaten the lives of Stonedale’s guests. After her beloved mother, who happens to be Damon’s ex, rushes onto campus and into harm’s way, Lila has even more reason to bring the culprit to light before anything—or anyone—else vanishes.

Excerpt from The Art of Vanishing (Henery Press, 2017):

“Damon strode through the crowd, cutting a clean swath right down the middle as people moved out of his way, and entered a room at the end of the corridor. He slammed the door. A handful of people followed, as if pulled along in his wake, and someone banged on the door until a roar emerged, telling them to leave him alone. Tally Bendel squeezed her way to the front and turned around to face the people standing there.

“Let’s give Mr. Von Tussel a break, shall we? I’ll see if he can talk to you later, but for now, please give him some space. Help yourself to a coffee on your way out.” She gestured toward the area on the right.  “It’s by the far wall.”

Slowly, the others did as she asked. She knocked on the door again, identifying herself. The door cracked open slightly. She spoke through the opening in a low voice. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, but after a minute, the door slammed again, and Tally left.

This was my chance. I moved quickly down the corridor until I was in front of the door. I cupped my hand and listened for a second, but I couldn’t hear anything. I knocked gently. There was no answer. I twisted the door handle, but it was locked. There was nothing else to do but return to the niche and try again later.

One by one, Damon’s agent spoke to some lingerers in the main area, and they left. When it was down to Tally and Mr. Bow Tie, they returned to the room where the author had sequestered himself. She called out to him. There was no answer.

The man called out as well, with the same result.

“Can’t you just unlock it?” Tally asked him, placing her hand on his forearm.

He removed a large set of keys from his pocket and sorted through them. “Are you sure?” he asked, looking nervous. Maybe his jitteriness wasn’t natural but had been born from earlier encounters with Damon.

She nodded firmly. “He needs me.”

He slid a key into the lock and turned the handle. Tally flew into the room, emerging a moment later with a confused expression. She said something I couldn’t hear, then they both hurried inside.

I moved to the doorway and peered around the two of them. The room was empty.

Damon Von Tussel had vanished.”

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The Line Between Fiction and Science Fiction

 

colonizing-another-planet-1024x575

I’m a thriller writer currently trying my hand at the fantasy genre. I don’t know if writing in another universe was the germ that lead me to this question, or if it was one of the many news articles I’ve read lately but I’m wondering; where is the line between fiction and science fiction today?

I imagine thirty years ago writer’s might have been asking the same. For me I remember watching the Tom Selleck movie Runaway, still one of my favorites. In the movie Tom Selleck is a detective in a bureau dedicated to robot crime. He spent the entire movie chasing Gene Simmons (that’s right, Gene Simmons from Kiss was the bad guy) and an army of acid spitting robots around Los Angeles. I remember as a kid thinking robots all over the place would be awesome. At the time, however the reality of the thing seemed pretty far-fetched. Today I have a robot that sweeps my floors chasing dog hair twice a day.

The definition of Science Fiction from Dictionary.com reads: A form of fiction that draws imaginatively from scientific knowledge and speculation in its plot, setting, theme, etc. Science and speculation…got it. So back in the day watching Runaway I was watching a technology based speculation. But what about today? In the last week I’ve read articles about scientists who created beating heart tissue using a spinach leaf. One of Elon Musk’s sponsored companies helped a quadriplegic use his arms to feed himself by implanting dozens of electro-sensors in his head. And Blue Origin released its design for their space tourism capsule. What was clearly the realm of science fiction thirty years ago, is now the mundane. Speaking of which, who does the trooper ticket when a headless Uber causes a wreck?

So now that we are the Jetson’s lets speculate. It’s estimated that consumer technology lags behind the ‘black’ project world by fifty years or so. If we can create a human heart from vegetables and send fat cats into outer space for a photo op, what are we really capable of? Once I finish my wandering through fantasy land one of my characters from Spoilers, and its sister novel, Where Angels Sing is getting his own series. He’s taking on an elitist cabal bent on re-constructing the world in their own image. The bad guys will be using high technology. As I block out my books I have to ask, how high is too high? Where is that line between Sci-fi and reality. I want to keep the new series as a thriller, not sci-fi. Even as I write this I still have no idea.

“We now have the technology to take E.T home,” Ben Rich, the Second Director of Lockheed Skunkworks is reported to have said that in a lecture once. Not sure how true it is but it is a pretty cool quote to think about.

Okay musing over, back to swords, horses, and horns of ale.

References:
http://www.livescience.com/58445-spin…
https://www.thesun.co.uk/living/32013…
http://www.seattletimes.com/business/…
http://www.blueblurrylines.com/2014/1…

Don’t forget to check out my new book Where Angels Sing.

Where Angels Sing Cover

Human Trafficking

Any good story has to have an underlying bedrock of truth.

Brothers Keeper

In my novel Brother’s Keeper I follow undercover ICE Agent Charlie Bowman as he infiltrates a human trafficking ring. In the book women from the far east are kidnapped off the street and transported in cargo containers to the Port of Charleston then distributed throughout a criminal network. It’s all fiction, but any good story has to have an underlying bedrock of truth.

In the novel I have the victims taken in a foreign land and shipped like animals to the U.S. but I came across this story the other day and thought it bore further study.

Picture1

This is a case where my alumni at the FBI used undercovers to catch a guy outside of Atlanta who tried to hire a couple of thugs to murder one woman and kidnap another.  According to the article the subject was planning on kidnapping his target to pimp her out as a human slave. This story hits pretty close to home. When you see a movie or read a book like Brother’s Keeper where human trafficking is part of the story it makes sense that the actual victims are from somewhere else. Sure they end up in the US and a bunch of other places around the world where they are exploited in a variety of ways but to think of an american girl kidnapped and made a slave here doesn’t compute. Not here right? This case can really give one pause.

I tend to believe that over the career I’ve had and some of the cases I have worked that I am pretty hard to surprise. When I was researching Brother’s Keeper some of the stats I came across related to human trafficking were staggering. The brutality and the tactics used to force another human into modern day slavery are pretty bad too but the shear scope of the problem is what really got my attention. When I began writing Brother’s Keeper human smuggling was just a means of making my bad guys as awful as possible. When I was trying to get the reality of human smuggling right I really learned something though. I’m not going to bury you with stats but it is worth mentioning that today human trafficking is a 32 billion dollar business. There are over 4.5 million people forced into sexual exploitation in our country every year, and 300,000 of those are under eighteen and bought and sold on the commercial sex market.

I’m not big on preaching but the practice of human trafficking is something that the average person doesn’t see, and doesn’t think about, so it doesn’t exist in their world. Sadly you probably run into modern human slaves a lot more often than you think. before I close here are some things to look for that may be indicators of a possible human trafficking scenario: (Courtesy of the www.polarisproject.org)

  • Is not free to leave or come and go as he/she wishes
  • Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of his/her work
  • High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations (e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc.)
  • Has few or no personal possessions
  • Is not in control of his/her own money, no financial records, or bank account
  • Is not in control of his/her own identification documents (ID or passport)
  • Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
  • Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city he/she is in
  • Loss of sense of time
  • Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story

References:

http://m.waff.com/story/36575966/decatur-police-fbi-arrest-man-in-alleged-human-trafficking-plot

http://arkofhopeforchildren.org/child-trafficking/child-trafficking-statistics

https://polarisproject.org/recognize-signs