Tuesday, September 14, 2021

"FATAL POSE" sample chapter!

With the release of my new novel, FATAL POSE, take a sneak peek at its entire first chapter!

                              CHAPTER 1

With a face like a homecoming queen, she had a body that must have been some one hundred and seventy pounds of lean muscle. At about five feet and six inches tall, her physique was flawlessly proportioned. She had a disarming smile, wore her hair in a well-styled pageboy, and sported a low-cut flowery summer dress. The wide neckline of her dress was snug atop the dense pectorals and reaching toward a pair of wide, hulking deltoids. The tight fit at the top, though, allowed for the dress to slacken at the waistline. There, her torso tapered from her hard-pumped lat muscles, creating the precision V look of her upper body . 

“Perfect,” Laura Preston whispered as the flash bulbs strobed around their model. 

They were snapping the final pictures for Muscle Quest magazine’s “Bodybuilding R&R” segment for next month’s issue. Laura was about to worry the shoot would run too late again. She had made a point of staying all the way until the end, but now she absolutely had to get going. Her mind was on the drive up to Big Bear Lake more than anything else. Well, the drive, the Smith and Wesson automatic handgun in her desk upstairs, and the meeting with Brad Holt. 

“All right, and that’s a wrap,” Dave Sachs, the photographer, called and glanced at Laura. 

She nodded her approval. 

“We’ll have the proofs for you by tomorrow,” Dave told Laura. “My word on that.” 

“I know,” Laura said.
“I’m sorry we had to reshoot.”
“At least we’ll make the deadline. That’s what matters.”
“Hey, Laura,” called Christy Gilmore, the model with the spectacular 
physique. “think it’s a good thing we had to do a second shoot, you know.” “How’s that?” Laura asked.

“I got a full circuit in since last time. Chest, legs, back, everything. This morning it was biceps and triceps.”

She quickly raised her right arm and contracted her bicep. The fresh pump in the gym had the athlete’s muscles gorged with blood, looking as if the hypertrophied hunks of muscle were straining to explode right through her skin. 

Back when she used to compete, Laura was merely a shadow of the enormous musculature on Christy Gilmore. 

Christy flashed one of the winning smiles that helped propel her to victory three times in a row over the past year and a half. Winning the Ms. California Invitational, the National Physique Association’s All-National pro-qualifiers and the Muscle Extravaganza women’s championship had earned her the photo spread in the next issue of Muscle Quest. 

The “Bodybuilding R&R” column was the human-interest section of each issue. It profiled what normal lives the physique competitors really lived outside the gym. Fighting the ongoing battle to mainstream the sport, Laura had conceived of the column three years ago. The R&R feature alternated between male and female athletes from month to month, and Laura knew most of the attention had to go into the women’s version. In the twenty-first century, she still had to fight wars to get the female athletes the respect they deserved. Someone like Christy Gilmore making it to the pro ranks was a godsend, Laura realized. Not only did Christy have an otherworldly physique, but her dimpled, girl-next- door smile might just generate a renewed interest in the floundering women’s division of the World Body Building Federation. Or maybe one day, Christy could start making movies and get herself elected governor of California. 

That’s when Laura felt something like a spear of pure, solid ice ramming into the middle of her chest again. The blast of adrenaline flooding her body felt as if someone was deliberately tearing into her soul. 

Because they were, Laura knew and fought to keep a convincing smile on her face as she said goodbye to Christy. Laura knew how precisely, how deliberately, her life and her career were targeted for complete destruction. 

Brad Holt. 

No, it was more than her career, Laura knew. Brad Holt would not be satisfied with that. He wanted to step on, to defile everything she believed in, everything she stood for in the WBBF organization, everything she wanted this sport to represent. 

Except she would not give him that chance. 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

The Spike Lee controversy and the end of the conspiracy theorist hero

I was recently interviewed for this article for the French film-magazine, Telerama, about Spike Lee’s new documentary miniseries about New York and the strange, needless controversy surrounding it. As the article details, Lee appears to be a conspiracist who inserted a 30-minute-long segment about the claims of the so-called 9/11 “truth movement” into the final episode of his upcoming HBO documentary, “NYC Epicenters 9/11-2021 ½.” 

Lee’s film focuses on New York City and how it has fared over the last two decades, from the 9/11 attacks until the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, since the miniseries foregrounds New York culture over that twenty-year period rather than dealing specifically with 9/11, the insertion of what critics have called a virtual endorsement of one of the most repellent 9/11 conspiracy theorists seems peculiar.


The segment which Lee has since removed, reportedly leaving the final installment of the documentary series only 90-minutes-long whereas the other episodes each clock in at two hours, essentially gives the microphone to Richard Gage, the founder of “Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.” Among 9/11 conspiracy theorists, Gage’s claims about the attack are particularly offensive and deranged. Aside from the standard, debunked canards of the 9/11 conspiracy mythology – that jet fuel couldn’t have melted steel, that the collapse of the towers was a controlled demolition, and that the collapse of Tower 7 is some kind of a “smoking gun” proving a conspiracy – Gage has argued that the towers were actually hit by drones camouflaged by holograms. He has repeatedly endorsed the claims that the Israeli government was behind the attacks, appearing on numerous podcasts and conspiracy-friendly outlets that also believe the Holocaust was a hoax and that all the world’s miseries are caused by all-powerful, all-controlling Jewish cabals. Recently Gage has also jumped on the COVID-conspiracy bandwagon, arguing that the pandemic was a government-engineered false flag operation, that vaccines will kill people, and it is all but a part of a grand New World Order plan to exterminate large swaths of the human population. Then, for good measure, Gage has also blamed Bill Gates for this massive conspiracy.


To be sure, the examination of the cultural impact of these tragedies on New York City is an excellent idea for a documentary. Why Lee would choose to mar that work by giving the floor to an opportunistic charlatan like Gage is somewhat odd. And I say “somewhat” odd because Lee had often made comments to the effect that he, too, believes in the main tenets of 9/11 conspiracism. He had recited those now debunked theories about jet fuel and steel and controlled demolitions. At one point, sounding spectacularly ignorant, Lee had also said that he hoped there would be a full-scale Congressional investigation into the causes of the collapse of the World Trade towers on 9/11.  Except there has been such an investigation. In fact, it had been carried out between 2002 and 204 by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, commonly referred to as the 9/11 Commission. So since Lee appears to be a full-fledged fellow traveler of the Richard Gage and Alex Jones conspiracy crowd, it makes sense that he would want to propagate their theories in his documentary. Now my impression of Spike Lee, from what I have read about him in the entertainment news media, is that he is not a stupid man (an assessment I am reconsidering now in light of this controversy) I am stunned that it wouldn’t occur to him how offensive the majority of Americans find Gage and his ilk. There is a reason none of Lee's colleagues in Hollywood have given 9/11 the Oliver Stone “JFK” treatment; because they understand how the 9/11 truthers are a bunch of bottom-feeding ghouls, a collection of grave-robbers attempting to capitalize on the deaths of thousands of Americans. Giving Richard Gage a platform in a documentary like this is akin to someone making a documentary about the Moon landing and giving the flat Earth theorists and the moon-landing-hoax crowd equal time to argue their beliefs. The fact that Lee does not realize this is stunning.


But what happens now that Lee had wised up and removed Gage’s segment? Because Lee was foolish enough to put Gage in the documentary to begin with, he has merely been made a martyr for the conspiracy cause. Richard Gage is a now an idealistic “truth seeker” who is being silenced by The Man for getting too close to the dangerous truth. Just like Alex Jones, Gage might be able to appeal to an even bigger legion of those who are delusional and pathologically alienated from the real world. Gage’s acolytes are those who can’t live in the real world and would rather make up their fantasy version of it, a version in which they are smarter, more astute, more vigilant to the hidden truth than all the “sheeple” around them. 


The unpleasant irony in this is that the bookend of Lee’s documentary about New York is the COVID pandemic, a plague that has killed so many more people than it should have and a plague that appears to be intensifying once more because of the madness of conspiratorial thinking. The COVID deniers, the anti-vaxxers, the conspiracy theorists ranting about Bill Gates depopulating the world and putting microchips into vaccines and altering the human DNA are driven by the same fantasies fueling the 9/11 derangement. And, yes, I do loath to call the 9/11 conspiracy theorists “truthers.” They are lying parasites who feed off the blood of three thousand and some innocent Americans. The COVID vaccine conspiracy theorists, in turn, are the kinds of people we had seen stand trial for encouraging the mentally unstable to commit suicide.


Although, as the article concludes and as I have been writing for years, this entire Spike Lee controversy appears to be bringing a change to the entertainment industry. The conspiracy theorist hero might soon disappear from popular culture. Films, TV shows, and books – just as I had done in my books like CONFIRMATION: INVESTIGATIONS OF THE UNEXPLAINED, and THE CEDAR VALLEY COVENANT – might soon show them to be the villains they really are.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Win another FREE book!


Like I had written a couple of posts before, I'm running two book giveaways on Goodreads as a lead-up to the release of my new novel, FATAL POSE, coming out on September 14.

Only until August 31, you can win a copy of THE CEDAR VALLEY COVENANT, a science fiction thriller that ask how the best and the brightest in the quiet small town of Cedar Valley, Illinois, could collude to hide evidence of a world-threatening evil. 

So go to Goodreads.com and check out this story of people would rather see their world burn than try and work with those they disagree with.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Talking about "The Last Picture Show" on the Cineversary Podcast

One of the best films of the early 1970s, in my opinion, is Peter Bogdanovich’s “The Last Picture Show.” So check out my recent guest appearance on Erik J. Martin’s Cineversary Podcast where we dissect the “New Hollywood” auteur’s film about coming of age in a crumbling, fading Texas town in the early 50s. With the film holding a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, there is, indeed, a great deal to examine about this complex, nuanced, often blunt, and controversial (for its time) film. 


So listen to the podcast – and do scroll through Erik’s list of episodes for other excellent episodes about films that have stood the test of times and still remain relevant – for all things “The Last Picture Show.”

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Talking about the art of science fiction

I was recently included in this article where I got to join four other science fiction writers and discuss the art and relevance of the genre. We talk about what got us interested in science fiction, the kinds of sci fi we like to watch and read, and why this genre is more relevant now than ever. 

As I discuss, we love sci fi and the genre is sure to keep growing in popularity in books, movies, and TV, because we seem to be living in a world that resembles a science fiction story more and more each day. The government’s UFO revelations, anyone? 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Win a FREE book this July!

Do you want a FREE book? The one that predicted last year's metal monolith mystery? The book Kirkus Reviews calls "A captivating examination of humanity's fear of the unknown, with hints of sci fi and fantasy"? The one that convinced conspiracy theorists that I’m a real-life James Bond villain plotting to brainwash the world on behalf on the New World Order? With the release of my new novel, FATAL POSE, just a little over two months away, this July and August you can win a signed edition of my first two novels! Until July 31, you can get a copy of "Confirmation: Investigations of the Unexplained," the book that rubbed so many conspiracy theorists the wrong way. Get it for free only on Goodreads.com. As Paul Levinson, author of “The Plot to Save Socrates” wrote, this book is “a media-savvy, X-Files-like, fast paced story that’s just dying to be made into a Netflix or Amazon series.”


Sign up for a chance to win right here:


Sunday, June 27, 2021

My Guest Spot on the Common Cents Finance Podcast

I was recently interviewed by a couple of excellent Saint Peter's University business students for their Common Cents Finance podcast and we discussed an eclectic mix of topics that included branding, public relations, crisis communication, publicity and brand management, not to mention our discussion of conspiracy theories. And we even lay the smackdown on John Cena for embarrassing himself with that groveling apology to China.

Check out the episode right here.

And do make sure and listen to all of their other episodes as well because the show's knowledgeable discussion of business issues can give a lot of big-name, professional business-broadcasters a run for their money.

Especially in our discussion of off the wall conspiracists like Alex Jones, State of the Nation, and the rest of their ilk, we discuss why the people behind these odious websites and social media need to argue that EVERY SINGLE major world event is really a part of a conspiracy. While these people might be unscrupulous and obviously lacking any sort of a moral compass, they are shrewd practitioners of personal-branding strategies and tactics. If your brand is that of the biggest conspiracy theorists in the world, you have no choice but spin alternate narratives to the consensus reality and information from mainstream sources to keep your fans happy. Why just imagine if State of the Nation did NOT blame some major news story on the Deep State, the Illuminati, or the New World Order! What would their fans do? Most likely star migrating to other purveyors of nonsensical fabrications and fake news.