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Archive for December, 2009

The Polar Treasure (Doc Savage #4)

This is the fourth story originally published by polartreasureStreet and Smith.

Lester Dent portrays a perplexed Doc Savage, unlike the other novels. Doc is several times surprised by events, which happens rarely.

In this novel, Victor Vail, a blind violin maestro, is saved from kidnapping by Doc (who incidentally wrote the piece Vail had just been performing). Years ago, Vail had been aboard an ocean liner that had been marooned in the Arctic Ice, losing his wife and daughter. Vail believes a man named Ben O’Gard, a member of the crew, saved him from Keelhaul de Rosa,  who apparently killed the rest of the passengers, looking for gold and diamonds on board.

Doc discovers that a map was tattooed on blind Victor Vail’s back, which shows where the marooned ocean liner is, containing the treasure. Doc and the team go after the treasure, intent on beating Keelhaul to it. They enlist an arctic submarine, whose captain is eventually revealed to be Ben O’Gard (who, as a big man, has some good fights with Renny and Monk). O’Gard is also after the treasure, and as they get to the ocean liner, a fight ensues between Keelhaul (who has enlisted Eskimos to help), O’Gard and Doc and team. Surprisingly, Victor Vail’s wife and daughter are alive, being helped by the Eskimos, and Victor (who I had pegged wrongly at the beginning as the probably bad guy) shows up, sight renewed by Doc’s operation, to be reunited and to assist Doc and the gang win the day and get the loot.

My sortable table of Doc Savage books is here.

  • Written by: Lester Dent
  • Villain: Ben O’Gard and Keelhaul de Rosa
  • Doc Gadget: explosive liquids, hidden in false wisdom teeth, that ignite when mixed together; Monk had some nice ice melting chemicals in this story as well;
  • Doc Feat: fought and killed a polar bear barehanded; performed an operation to restore Victor Vails sight;
  • Exotic locale: the Arctic ice caps
  • By the numbers: originally published June, 1933;  Bantam #4 published April 1965; Philip Jose Farmer dated June 1932

Mandela + Rugby = Invictus

Though lighter on the Rugby (disappointing for this former and now occasional rugby player) than on the subject of Mandela, Invictus is an invictusentertaining movie covering Nelson Mandela’s backing and support of the 1995 South Africa Springboks rugby team, and their efforts in that years Rugby World Cup (the third most watched event in world sports, for my uneducated American friends). Up to that point, the blacks hated the Springboks as a symbol of white supremacy, and Mandela threw his weight behind the team as a symbol of unification.

Invictus (see the poem at the end of this post) is directed by Clint Eastwood (which is reason enough to go see it), and stars Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. Morgan Freeman plays Mandela, and his performance ranks right behind The Shawshank Redemption (IMHO) in a long line of excellent work. Damon plays Francois Pineaar, captain of the South African Rugby team. (more…)

eBooks for Troops – Operation eBook Drop

Smashwords is a very well done eBook site, but (no offense to its creator  Mark Coker), the only reason I joined was to support Ed Patterson’s excellent program, Operation eBook Drop. I highly recommend it for all of my fellow authors and hope that my friends and family that are deployed (Vince, Ian, Chris, you guys listening?) will take advantage of the system Mr. Patterson has set up.

Operation eBook Drop is a simple and straightforward process to get electronic books to deployed Armed Services troops through Smashwords. Mr. Patterson has set up a clearing house of sorts, where troops or their families sends him email addresses, and he then forwards those to authors who have told him they would like to participate. These authors have uploaded their works to Smashwords, and used Smashwords coupon capability to create a coupon for the troops to use to download the books for free.

Smashwords is the perfect platform for this, as its “Meatgrinder” is able to convert uploaded books into several different formats, allowing the troops flexibility in how they read the books. Smashwords coupon capability allows the troops to download books that have a price tag associated with them on the Smashwords site for free. Smashwords has also signed some excellent distribution deals recently, making certain ebooks available through Shortcovers, Amazon and B&N.

The only downside I have found with Smashwords is that in order to get converted to the multiple different formats of ebooks the layout possibilities of the book you upload are minimal.

So far about 20% of the troops I’ve notified have downloaded a copy of Dusk Before the Dawn from Smashwords. (Software by the Kilo, my latest, is not in eBook format yet). I hope it has made their downtime more enjoyable.

To learn more about Operation eBook Drop (and for info on how troops or authors can participate), read the article on the Smashwords blog, or see their Facebook Fan page.

Italy’s Sorrow: A Year of War 1944-1945 by James Holland

Most histories of World War II focus on North Africa, then the Sicily
and Italy invasions by the Allies. But after the fall of Rome a few days before D-Day, they focus on the Normandy invasions and the push through France to Germany. There was a lot of Italy left, and the Allies forces there held down several German armies, keeping them away from the Russian and D-Day fronts.

James Holland’s 539 page history of the war in Italy from 1944-1945, Italy’s Sorrow: A Year of War 1944-1945, documents not only the Allies and German armies and their battles, but the struggles of the Italian citizens, partisans, remaining fascist government and reforming Italian armies.

Italy at the time faced civil war, two Armies (first the retreating Germans, then the advancing Allies) consuming all the food and resources leaving little for the citizens, a fragmented leadership with mixed messages, and the pure devastation of war (where it sometimes seems only Rome and Florence were spared). It is truly amazing the country has survived.

This in-depth history is presented in four sections: (more…)

My new novel, Software by the Kilo

In the summer of 2005, I was about to venture into my third
small start-up company, wrapping up the last items with my previous employer. As luck would have it, my previous employer had offices in Europe, in Milan, Munich and London. We were lucky enough to wrap in a non-business trip to Greece, including the island of Paxos around my visiting the European customers and offices.

I was hiking around that island one day, being pursued by thoughts of start-up company financing, when I came across a large villa, facing out across the Adriatic Sea towards Italy. Wouldn’t it be great, I mused, if there were a nice angel investor in that villa who would like to invest in this next venture?

What if he were an Italian drug smuggler?

That was the genesis for my new novel, Software by the Kilo.

But it wasn’t until last November, several years after that first trip, that the novel was finished, with a World War II back story that tied the original start-up plus Italian drug smuggler story line together.

It is no coincidence that the book is released on December 2, the anniversary of “Little Pearl Harbor”, the bombing of Bari, Italy in 1943, which ends up as a pivotal setting in the novel.

Of course I had to add in that one of the Italian henchmen loves Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns, and that led to the body count game…

I never thought it would be more than three years between novels; obviously Stephen King I’m not, in more ways than just output. But I’ve enjoyed thoroughly the writing process, getting the pieces of the story to fall into place, bouncing ideas off of friends and fellow writers. The voices in my head never shut up, so my therapy to keep what little sanity I have left is to keep putting them down on paper.

The book is available at your local independent book stores like The Twig in San Antonio (now in the Pearl Brewery!), Books Inc. in California, BookPeople in Austin, Murder by the Book in Houston, Katy Budget Books in Katy Texas (if they don’t have it, stomp your feet and ask them to order it, please), at Amazon (.com and overseas), Barnes and Noble, and other outlets.

If you have any questions or feedback before, during or after, please let me know. More info on the novel is here.

Dusk Before the Dawn

Dusk Before the Dawn

Software By the Kilo

Software by the Kilo
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