Hey folks. DA here. I wanted to take a minute and talk to you all about some of the gear I plan to use in my books. Whenever possible, I try to use “real-world” gear for the characters. This includes weapons, equipment, blades, and medical gear. I love finding awesome gear and feel it gives the books more of an authentic feel when the readers know that they too could have that same item if they want one.
I’m constantly searching for new and awesome gear to use. I talk to former and current military, contractors, industry insiders, and experts in their fields. I made some great contacts over the last several years. It’s helped to shape not only the way I write but the way I see the action unfold in my head. Hearing stories of things they’ve experienced, things I experienced personally during my law enforcement career, and things that have occurred during conflicts abroad has fundamentally shifted the way I write. I want to make the combat and the characters involved as realistic as possible. From their reactions to the techniques used to the equipment they carry.
During this research, I came across Skallywag Tactical. They have some truly amazing gear and cool swag, but it was their blades that really got my attention. When I use the word “badass” I want you to fully understand what I mean by that. You should check them out for yourself.
I could break my budget on their blades page. My wife definitely wouldn’t be happy with me. My personal favorites are the Gunner’s Mate and the Skallywag Boarding Ax. Expect to see at least a few characters carrying those in the next installment of the Wild Hunt series and possibly others. I know I’d love to add both of those to my personal kit. Of course, there are others I want as well, but those are my favorites. I want the Chef Knife/Santoku Knife set because I’m a cook and those would be awesome to have. I want the Skallywag Razor to be part of my EDC kit. That’s just a few. To be honest, if money would permit, I’d have at least one of every blade they make.
They also offer training courses for those of you looking to learn more personal defense techniques. How to defend against an attacker with a knife is a great skill to have. It might just save your life or the life of someone you love. Check out their courses to find one that’s right for you. I’m sure you’ll be more than satisfied. They have some amazing classes and they know their stuff. In an increasingly uncertain world, learning how to defend yourself should be a priority for all of us.
Check out their swag page too. I want to get one of their coffee mugs because as all of you know, I’m a serious coffee guy. I take my coffee very seriously. Besides, that mug would look good when I do interviews and podcasts. I’d have to make sure the logo was facing the camera. You know, represent the brand, so to speak. As with the blades, I can see myself buying everything on the swag page.
Overall, they have some fantastic gear and blades. The quality is top-notch, as well. People that have used their gear have had nothing but good things to say about it. So, whether you’re an operator or just someone wanting to put together a kit for a total SHTF situation, I highly recommend looking at Skallywag Tactical.
Hey folks. DA here. I wanted to take a minute and talk to you all about some of the gear I use in my books. Whenever possible, I try to use “real-world” gear for the characters. This includes weapons, equipment, blades, and medical gear.
When I was writing the Ragnarok Rising Saga, I began researching combat medical kits and that led me to Kerry “Pocket Doc” Davis and Dark Angel Medical. He was a combat medic who’d served his country with both honor and distinction. Even better, he was a combat medic who founded his own company, specializing in high-end medical kits for First Responders, Military, and Civilian use. When I began reading about the kits, I knew I was in the right place.
I reached out to Kerry, this would have been late in 2012, right after the first Ragnarok Rising book came out. I asked some direct questions about treating wounds, survivability of certain wounds and injuries, and recovery time. I also asked about battlefield techniques used to treat these wounds. Kerry was more than happy to help by sharing his time, energy, and expertise. I can honestly say, the books would have been very different without him. That’s why you see characters carrying those kits in my other books. Apex Predator, Lakeview Man, and Code Name: Wild Hunt. Characters in those books will carry nothing else.
When Kerry found out I was in law enforcement, he sent me a medical kit, known as a DARK kit, or Direct Action Response Kit. He wanted me to have a kit that could save my life or the lives of anyone around me. I carried that kit through the rest of my career in law enforcement. Hell, I still carry it.
Dark Angel Medical is an amazing company. Not only do they have these incredible life-saving kits, but they also will teach you to use them. In these uncertain times, learning basic first-aid or even how to treat a traumatic wound could save a life. It might even save your own life.
Kerry and the amazing folks at Dark Angel Medical have dedicated their lives to saving people. They have kits to fit any need or role. From trauma kits to IFAK packs to vehicle first-aid kits, they’ve got you covered. I don’t leave the house without one. I keep one in my vehicle all the time. When I was on duty as a cop, I had one either on my belt or in my pack at all times. The life you save might very well be your own.
You might find yourself walking your dog and see someone fall and hit their head. You could be driving home and either find yourself involved in or witnessing a bad accident. You could even find yourself in a situation in your own home with a fall or a nasty cut. My point is, you never know when you need a kit right now and 911 is still several minutes away. If you live in a rural area, 911 might be a long time coming. Get a kit and learn to use it. It could be a loved one whose life you save.
Go to www.DarkAngelMedical.com and find the kit that’s right for you. Let’s face it, we all have times when we need more than just a band-aid and some ointment. These kits are for the best of us in the worst of times. We’ve all been there. A medical kit is kind of like a parachute. It’s better to have one and not need it than need it and not have it. Because if you need it and don’t have it, you might never need it again.
Simplicity Under Stress. That’s their motto. When seconds count, keep it simple and save a life. These are the best kits available. Right now, you can use Coupon Code FALL20 to get 20% off your order.
Go on over to Dark Angel Medical and tell them DA sent you.
Check out new cover for my latest release, Apex Predator: Hunter’s Moon!
Recovering from the ordeal in Arkansas, the Hotamétaneo’o take some much needed time off to heal and to bury their dead. Returning to their ancestral lands, they say goodbye to the fallen and find new allies in the battle against the Oolonga-Doglalla. But their reprieve will prove to be short-lived.
Disappearances near the small town of Eminence, Missouri draw them back to the Ozarks to hunt the shadowy Dogmen. To make matters worse, they have been asked for help by a mysterious werewolf who claims her entire pack has been taken captive by the Dogmen.
Betrayal and death haunt their every move as they seek to solve the mystery behind the abductions, stop the killings and prevent the Dogmen from breaking their age-old curse. Each step closer only deepens the mystery and Will finds himself close to being swallowed by the darkness within him. A darkness that only deepens when he learns the truth about the powerful Alphas of the pack.
The final battle can only end in blood and death. Can the Hotamétaneo’o triumph or will they fall and join the ranks of the Oolonga-Doglalla?
The battle of their lives is upon them, beneath the Hunter’s Moon.
Hey folks. DA here and I wanted to apologize for it taking me a few days to get another blog post up. I’ve been dealing with some personal issues and haven’t really had time to write. It’s a long story so I won’t bore you with the details. I’m back and I’ll try to be more consistent in posting.
To that end, I have been thinking a lot about my blog posts. I have found that although the writing tips and advice get a few likes, it has been the bits of fiction that have garnered the most comments and attention. So, I was thinking that instead of doing a typical blog and having my writing as the background to that, I wanted to change that up and make the writing the focus. I’ll still do the occasional post about writing tips and advice, but they won’t be the focus. Instead, I plan to do less frequent posts that are bits of writing supporting my books, bits of fiction that I just wanted to share and things of that nature. Hell, I might even toss in some of my poetry. Who knows?
The thing is, I wanted to reevaluate the blog and how I’ve been doing it. I’ve tried hard to keep up a steady supply of content that consisted of advice and things that I’ve observed in the writing community. It has taken me away from the part that I really do love the most… the writing. The actual writing of stories, not just blog posts. So, I’m going to focus my energy on writing stories, books, poems, and tales and less on blog post du jour.
I plan on doing as many as the mood strikes, but it will likely be about once a week. This gives me time to concentrate on the writing of books as a primary source of my fiction while still sharing short stories and little snippets of scenes here on the blog. I think this will really give me not only the time to make the entries pack more of a punch, but still leave me the time to keep turning out books and short stories which are my bread and butter.
I will be adding blog entries (flash fiction) for the Panther story, the Beast of Lake of the Ozarks and in support of most of my books. I will be adding short stories of behind the scenes glances for Code Name: Wild Hunt, Apex Predator, The Lakeview Man, The Ragnarok Rising Saga and The Infinite Black Series. Watch for them to come in the not so distant future.
Again, I’m going to try to keep it to about one per week. I can do a short story a week without unduly taxing my writing schedule on my books. Sequels don’t write themselves, unfortunately. My current work in progress is the third in the Apex Predator Series with the second book of Code Name: Wild Hunt coming right on its heels. I’ve got a full dance card and have enough projects going to keep me busy for quite some time.
I might toss in a bit of fantasy to give you a glimpse of a project I’ve had in the words for a long time, just haven’t ever finished. I’ve never wanted to pigeon-hole myself into one genre. I want to be known as a writer, not a zombie writer, not a horror writer or any other genre writer. I have so many different tastes in what I read, why would I want to limit what I can write?
So, with that in mind, I officially re-launch the blog. Don’t worry, there’s no fanfare and no website changes will be made… I’m just going for broke with the new concept. The others won’t be taken down and will still be available for you to read. This doesn’t mean I won’t be writing publishing and/or writing tips. I still plan to do that, just less often.
Thank you all for taking this journey with me. Writing is about this journey we’re on. We take it through the words that are written and shared with the audience. You see my words and take the journey I started, yet I still get to experience the journey through your eyes when you tell me about what you saw along the way. Writer and reader share the journey, both equally important. After all, if there wasn’t a reader, there would be no need for the writer. Thank you for taking this journey with me.
Not every word you write has to be for publication or for public consumption. You can write personal journals, diaries, blogs and even fiction/non-fiction, which was never intended to be written for anyone but you. I’ve done it, myself. Sometimes, the best way to work through things is just to put the thoughts into words so you can see them and address them in your own way. They were never meant to serve any purpose but allowing you to release something that was pent up inside of you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, either. If it helps you work through things, then so much the better. Writing is deeply personal, as well as a way to share thoughts. Sometimes, those thoughts are only for yourself.
Writing is as unique as we are, allowing us to say things we might never have said out loud, or to articulate thoughts that otherwise might not have found substance. Ask a dozen writers and you’ll get a dozen different theories about how the process works. All I can tell you is what works for me, and that might not work for you or for anyone else. What I can tell you with absolute certainty is that no one can tell you how your writing should be except you.
Harlan Ellison has his “ten rules of writing” and there are others out there as well. So many authors, some of them quite famous, who have a definitive guide to how writing should be done. I might not have had the level of success of Ellison, but that doesn’t mean I have to listen to him. Say what you will about the advice, I will never deny the talent of the man. He’s an incredible writer. However, Ellison isn’t me and I’m not Harlan Ellison. I couldn’t be him, if I tried. The thing is, I’m not trying to be. I’d fail, if it did. I am only trying to be me. Nothing more, nothing less. I will write how I write and I make no apologies for that.
While there are certain rules of language that we should all follow. For example grammar and syntax. Those are the most basic building blocks of the language. However, having said that, your goal is not to be an English professor. It’s to write. If your writing is understandable and you know how to use spellcheck and an editor, then your writing is as valid as anyone else’s. All writing should stand on the merit of the story and nothing more. Everything else is just someone’s agenda. Tales should be judged by the content of the tale, not by the teller. It’s the same with songs. There are plenty of songs that I thoroughly enjoy despite the fact that I don’t care much for the artist. I can enjoy the song without being a fan of the singer. It works the same with writing.
People are different. We’re all unique. We all have our own opinions, dreams, goals and personalities. I can honestly say that on a personal level, I’m not exactly everyone’s cup of tea. I can be brash and a bit headstrong, but I get the job done. People either like me or not and I don’t go out of my way to influence it either way. I am who I am. My writing comes from who I am, equal parts experience and education. Experience in the real world and with all the hundreds of books that I’ve read in my lifetime. Education that comes from both a classroom and from my life. If you’re not continually learning something, then you’re not growing. I am who I am. I make no pretenses or excuses. As the old saying goes, what you see is what you get. I suppose that’s why my characters tend to have either military or law enforcement backgrounds. That’s what I understand and where my experiences come from. I cover the ground I stand on.
I tell you all of this as an example. Your writing is who you are. The sum of your experiences and personality. Don’t let anyone tell you who you should be nor should you let them tell you what your writing should be. Find the path that fits you and stay on it. You can’t be Harlan Ellison, so don’t try. So, if you can’t be Harlan Ellison, then why should his “ten rules of writing” be the guiding force behind your writing? If you read anything in those rules that you want to apply to your writing, then go for it. However, don’t let those rules dictate everything you do. Just as you can’t be Harlan Ellison, he can’t be you. Only you can do that. Be true to yourself and your creative style.
We can all keep working to improve our writing through continuous practice and study. We should always strive to be better than we were yesterday. That doesn’t mean that you still can’t be yourself. What that means is you try to be a better version of you, each day. It’s not fair to measure your writing or your success on anyone else’s. You are unique and your journey will be as unique as you are. No two authors have ever achieved anything in exactly the same fashion. Keep writing and keep showing your craft to your readers. After all, it’s the readers that we write for. Even if the intended reader is just yourself. You write for the intended audience.
Now, I have had my share of good and bad reviews. I evaluate each review for what it is. I know full-well that I can’t make everyone happy. Some people will never be happy. What I ask myself is if there is any truth to the review or was it just someone saying that they didn’t like/approve of something. If they point out a legitimate problem, I can fix that. If it’s something they just didn’t like, then I’m sorry that you didn’t like it…but I’m not changing it. When you start editing/changing your writing to fit the approval of small groups or individuals, you lose the integrity of your writing. You sacrifice your voice. You no longer write what makes you happy. That’s a tragedy, because too many people are doing just that today. Be true to yourself and your writing. The readers who enjoy your writing will thank you for it. When you give up your own voice, you risk losing the readers who did enjoy your writing. Stick to your vision and your audience will appreciate it.
So, remember that your writing is supposed to be unique, just like you. It’s part of you and only you can decide the path it takes. No one’s rules for writing should influence you more than as a learning exercise. You read the “rules” and decide what works for you and what doesn’t. We all share our writing with our audiences and those readers want unique stories. They will love you for you, not for who you’re trying to be. Tell your stories and always work to be a better you than you were yesterday. Don’t try to be me or Harlan Ellison or anyone else. By you, but be the best you that you can be. Tell your stories the way you want to tell them. Don’t be influenced by anyone who claims they know the “best way” to do anything. Find your path and walk it with pride.
As writers, we face harsh challenges each and every day. More so than anyone may truly realize. Writing isn’t just a matter of sitting down at a keyboard and belting out a bestseller. There’s so much more to writing than just putting words into print. Turning your thoughts into cohesive structured chapters that will both engage and entertain your target audience. There’s so much more to it than that. Let me point out just some of the challenges writers struggle with.
Finding Time to Write:
This is a big one. Unless you’ve already achieved a certain measure of financial independence, you have to have a “day job” until your writing pays the bills for you. You have to keep food on the table and a roof over your head, especially if you have a family. I faced working more than one job, working long hours, overtime, extended shifts and extended periods with no days off. That was just for starters. As a corrections officer and police officer, you don’t exactly make a lot of money. I took extra shifts, long hours, second (and even third) jobs and scrimped just to get by. That generally left me with little or no time for spending with my kids, much less putting words down in print. I love my wife and sons, so I worked more than was probably healthy in pursuit of giving them a better life than I had. Writing was just a dream and it had to take a back seat. Hell, for years, it took no seat at all. I simply didn’t have time. The big drawback to working all of those hours and jobs was the time it took away from my family. I missed a lot of things that I will regret until I die. There are so many things I could have, should have, done better. I did my best in bad circumstances, but wish I had done better. My writing only became a serious consideration once my boys were well into their teens and I found ways to write when they were either asleep or I should have been. But, I did manage to publish my first novel then. It took more time than I ever thought it would, but it happened. Then I did it again. The second book was a bit easier.
Challenge number two, I suppose. Fighting through lack of sleep, struggling with things I needed to get finished on top of my normal job, getting enough done that I could slip over to the computer for a little while then discovering that I either didn’t have the energy to write or I just couldn’t find the words to type. My motivation was mostly gone for a very long time. Hell, I still struggle with it. Especially when you write books and then have to struggle with sales and marketing. I wanted to be a writer, not a publicist. I struggle with that, trying to get my books in front of my audience and into the hands of the people who would read my work. When you fight against that, sometimes it can kill what motivation you have to write. You ask yourself, why should I bother? What good is it really doing? I struggle with that, almost constantly. I have seventeen books in print but I still wonder what I’m doing. Am I doing what’s best for my family? I tell myself that once I hit the tipping point where my writing generates a large following, then it will all be worth it. Keeping my spirits high and my motivation levels up is a struggle, until then. I know it can happen. I see it all the time. Writers making good. All that takes is that one lucky break or the right person seeing your writing, then BANG. It happens, almost like magic. Getting there is the harder part. I tell myself that it can and will happen. It’s just a matter of time and of timing. Until then, I keep writing and keep dreaming the dream. I will find my motivation.
Yes, we deal with that too. Not just our own lack of motivation, but negativity from other people. No matter what you do or write, someone won’t like it. You can’t write something that everyone will love. It just won’t happen. Even JK Rowling who has had HUGE success as a writer, still has people who don’t like her writing for whatever reason. It’s just the reality of writing. Everyone has different tastes and you can’t make everyone happy. However, pissing everyone off is a piece of cake. In this day and age, it seems like people aren’t content to just ignore things they don’t like. They go out of their way to destroy them. If they don’t like it, no one else can either. That’s a horrible way to look at things. We’re all different and we all like different things. It would be a really boring world if we were all the exact same. It’s our differences that make this world interesting. Finding new experiences, new stories and new things to entertain us is the hallmark of life, itself. We all crave the new and unexpected, especially in writing. No one wants to read the same old thing, over and over. They want interesting new characters, new settings, new plots and new adventures. That’s what our job is, as a writer. To provide those new stories and adventures for our readers to enjoy. That’s why we should all be excited about different perspectives and styles in writing. Diversity comes in many forms, not just in the writer. Different styles of writing, types of stories and ways of painting those mental images is what keeps the writing fresh and vital. It’s the stories the readers are interested in, not just the writer.
All of the other non-writing challenges:
This is a catch-all category. It covers all of those things that writers have to do that aren’t actually writing new stories. The editing, the layouts, the marketing, the promotion work, the submissions of manuscripts to publishers and editors… and that’s just a start. I wish I was kidding, but I’m not. Once you reach the point where you’re trying to publish your work or already have, there are a million things that you have to do just to try and get your writing noticed. Most publishers require you to do all of your own promotional work, unless you’ve got a large enough following that they can justify spending money on advertisement. For most of us, that’s just not the way of things. We have to do all of our own promotions, marketing, publicity and press work. I don’t know about the rest of the writing community, but I never figured on that when I first set out to be a writer. I never knew it would be so much work and time spent just trying to get your name and work in front of an audience. To build and cultivate that audience into a following and then transition that into consistent sales. It’s a nigh insurmountable task, comparable to one of the great labors of Hercules, himself. What I wouldn’t give to hit that mark, where my only real worry as getting the next manuscript to the editor and then on to the next one. I dream of that day. I pray for that day. One day… maybe… hopefully.
While this certainly isn’t an all-inclusive list, it does paint a picture of the struggles that writers face. It’s not just a matter of saying “hey, I’m gonna sit down and write a bestseller.” I wish it was that easy and simple. Then again, nothing worth having ever is. Working hard to build something, anything, is the struggle that we all face. We work hard to reach our goals, our hopes and our dreams. It takes hard work and determination to get there. It won’t be easy. I wouldn’t expect it to be any other way. Nothing in my entire life has ever been easy, why would this be different? I will keep trying, keep writing and keep working so long as there’s breath left in my body. I’ll just put on another pot of coffee, select some good music and get back to work.
Writing has been a difficult journey, but it’s still one worth taking. I’m happy that so many of you have chosen to take it with me. So many of you have written to me or left reviews or sent messages via social media, encouraging me to keep writing. That’s the plan. I will keep putting one foot in front of the other and see where this journey takes us. Thank you for taking it with me.
I just wanted to take a few minutes and let you all know that my new series, Code Name: Wild Hunt has officially been released in paperback and kindle on Amazon. Book one is called “Odin’s Call.” You can find it by following the link below or from the Code Name: Wild Hunt page on this website.
When the US Air Force loses contact with an experimental drone carrying a classified weapon system over a remote section of the Ouachita Mountain Range of eastern Oklahoma, a team of elite Pararescue personnel are sent in to recover the asset. After the entire team and the helicopter sent to extract them vanish without a trace, it is discovered that a highly-aggressive, hairy, bipedal hominid is responsible for the attack. Code Name: Wild Hunt is called in to handle the paranormal threat.
The Wild Hunt is a covert group of Special Forces operatives that are recruited from all branches of the US military for highly specialized and classified missions pertaining to paranormal threats to humanity. With the increasing frequency of attacks, the Wild Hunt is split across four zones of the United States, with four teams operating in each zone. Teams are named after Hunting Deities with each zone representing a different pantheon. Due to the volatile nature of the missions and potential for panic in the general populace, the Special Operations Group known as the Wild Hunt does not formally exist in any government or military records.
Dispatching Team Odin, they soon discover that it wasn’t just one creature. They find themselves caught in the middle of a conflict between two clans of Bigfoot-like creatures embroiled in a territorial dispute. Creatures that they quickly learn are far more intelligent than originally anticipated. To make matters worse, they find themselves trapped by one of the worst snowstorms on record.
Can Team Odin locate any survivors of the original Pararescue team, as well as secure the missing drone? Or will they, too, fall prey to the same creatures?
Hopefully, this will be the first book in a long series of novels.
What follows is an untitled piece of fiction I wrote a while back. I wasn’t really planning on taking it anywhere. It was more or less an exercise, just to keep the creativity flowing when I was stuck while working on another project. Sometimes, I’ll write something like this just to keep me writing and thinking when I can’t think of what to do next on a project. This is still in a rough format. It hasn’t been edited at all, so bear with me if there are a few mistakes.
This was based loosely off the Weapon X concept in Marvel Comics. For those of you who don’t know, Weapon X is the program that created Wolverine, Deadpool and Sabertooth.
This was just a bit of fun writing. I’d love to hear what you all think. Who knows, maybe it might lead to more, if I thought it might find an audience. So, with that intention, I present to you an untitled piece of fiction from my archives that I have. Let me know what you all think.
I awoke in semi-darkness. The bare metal walls of the room were illuminated only by the soft glow given off from the electrical barrier that passed as a door. The room, scarcely more than a closet really, was a bare ten by ten feet square. The cot was bolted securely to the wall and floor. Even the mattress, such as it was, was attached to the steel frame.
The facilities consisted of a steel basin with only one tap for water and a stainless steel commode. There were no moving pieces to remove. A sensor built into the wall turned on the cold water when you placed your hands under the spout and the toilet flushed automatically when you moved away from it. There was nothing at all with which to use as a weapon or a tool.
I lay there, only barely conscious, but my mind was acutely aware of my environment. I could sense every detail, no matter how slight. For example, I didn’t need to open my eyes to sense the movement of the guards who patrolled outside the restraint field with Swiss precision, every ten minutes.
As my mind eased towards full consciousness, the pain set in. It was intense, and seemed like every square inch of my body had been bruised, every bone broken. There was no release from the pain, either. No matter how I tried, the pain was a constant. Moving only intensified it, so I opted to lay still and hope for the best.
I could feel every breath I took as an intense misery. Every blink of my eyes was agony. The light seemed to pierce straight into my brain, so I kept them closed. The air was cool, almost cold. I could feel that I wasn’t allowed even the barest of clothing. Not even so much as boxer shorts. But, I could feel the cool metal of a necklace. I couldn’t worry about that, now, however. I didn’t want to risk opening my eyes. Outside the cell, I sensed movement. One of the guards had stopped to look into my cell. But, I refused to move to look at him.
“Not so tough now, are you, Panther?” he asked, snidely.
I made no move to answer him. I didn’t even want to stir. My memory was returning to me, slowly. The voice belonged to a guard named Brickhauser. He was a sadistic bastard who seemed to get his kicks from beating prisoners. I remembered kicking him in the face to keep him from beating another prisoner when she was down. That had resulted in several of the guards beating me until I passed out, and perhaps even after that from the feel of it.
When I didn’t reply, Bricks (as the other guards called him) grew bolder.
“I know you can hear me, freak,” he growled, “Answer me or I swear that we’ll beat you to death next time.”
“Go screw yourself,” I managed to croak.
Infuriated, he started to deactivate the cell, but a call from another guard stopped him.
“Hey, Bricks! Leave him be, for now. They want him deployable in the morning.”
“Looks like you got lucky, this time, Panther,” he sneered.
“Yeah, my lucky day,” I rasped.
With that, he left me to the silence that followed. I lay there and tried to sleep, but I knew it was in vain. The pain was too intense to allow any such luxury. I’d just have to endure.
What seemed like an eternity later, I heard another voice at the cell door…a calmer voice. The voice was that of a woman, Dr. Patterson I recalled. She was one of the project scientists who ran the place.
“Oh, my God, Panther,” she gasped. “What did they do to you?”
I made no move to answer her; actually, I made no move at all. I heard the energy field shut down and foot steps approaching me.
“Get him onto the gurney and down to the lab,” she ordered.
Two sets of hands lifted me and placed me onto the rough linen of the gurney. I almost blacked out from the pain. Next thing I knew, I was moving. Moments later, I was moved again onto a cold table and secured down with heavy straps.
“Panther, I’m going to deactivate your power inhibiter now. If you behave, I’ll leave it off long enough for you to heal, understand?” asked Dr. Patterson.
I managed a weak nod. A split second later, I felt my powers kick in. It was like a flood of intense pleasure. The pain was gone, instantly and I smiled, despite myself. I opened my eyes. The doctor stood looking down and me, smiling.
“Feeling better?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I replied. “Thanks.”
“That was a stupid thing you did, Panther, attacking a guard like that.”
“He didn’t leave me much choice. They had Cheetah down and were beating her to death. If I hadn’t intervened, they’d have killed her. And all she did was stumble in line.”
“The guards have been a touch… well, overzealous in disciplining the subjects lately. I’ll have to have a word with Colonel Keller about the guards’ behavior, but until then, try not to aggravate them, ok?
“All right, doc,” I replied.
“Now lay still. I have to give you a full exam. You’ve got a deployment tomorrow and we want to be sure you’re fit for duty.”
I lay there and closed my eyes to bare slits, and watched every move she made. The ruse paid off. She began to do the exam and turned the computer monitor where she could see it. First thing she checked was the status of the power inhibitor and tracer that they had implanted inside my body. For security reasons, we were not allowed to know where they implanted the chips to prevent us from removing them.
I remained as calm as possible as she began to run the system check. Patiently, I watched as she concentrated the scan on the chip and quickly memorized the location. Cleverly, it was hidden behind my right knee where it would be difficult to get at. I had previously wondered if it might have been on my back, but considering the muscle structure, I would have noticed it. I continued to feign sleep until she had finished the exam.
“All finished, Panther,” she said in a friendly tone.
“Hmm…” I mumbled. “Sorry, doc. I must have dozed off.”
“No problems, here,” she said. “You are approved for tomorrow’s deployment.”
“Where am I going, this time?”
“You know we aren’t allowed to answer questions like that before you are briefed, but I guess it couldn’t hurt. You’re heading for an assignment in Russia. That’s all I can tell you. You’ll find out more in the briefing, later today.”
“Thanks, doc,” I said.
“No problem. Just try not to aggravate the guards quite so much and you’ll get along much better.”
I nodded and they reactivated the inhibitor. Instantly, I felt weak and nauseated. I knew the feeling would pass, but I still hated it. Then the guards came to take me to my cell. It was a quiet walk and I passed the holding cells of six more “volunteers” for the newest generation of the program. All of them naked, negated and in bare cells.
As we reached the door to my cell, Brickhauser approached me. Menacingly, he looked me right in the eye and smiled.
“Want to go another round, freak?” he sneered.
I stared back into his eyes, not bothering to hide my hatred, but I refused to give the prick the satisfaction of answering. It only seemed to make him madder.
“Yeah, you’d love to take a shot at me, wouldn’t you freak?”
I still refused to answer. I knew that nothing I could say would matter to him in the slightest. He would still do whatever he was going to do. Bricks was nothing more than a normal human in light powered armor and wouldn’t stand a chance in hell against me with my powers active and he knew it. I guess it made him feel like a man to push us around. Knowing we were tougher than him but couldn’t do anything about it.
As he raised his shock-rod above his head to strike me, I stood my ground. I refused to even give him the satisfaction of flinching. I wasn’t afraid of the prick and he knew it. But, just as he was getting ready to strike a voice boomed from down the hall.
“Officer Brickhauser! You will NOT strike that prisoner and that’s an order.”
It was Doc Patterson. She came storming down the hall and stood between Bricks and me. Defiantly, she stared at him. For just a moment, I thought he might strike her, but then he slowly lowered the shock-rod.
“What did this man do in order for you to strike him?” she demanded.
“He was being insubordinate,” he replied. “I was just going to remind him of his place in the order of things around here.”
“His ‘place’, Sergeant Brickhauser, is more valuable than yours. We can replace a security guard. Panther is the best of this generation and therefore extremely valuable to this program. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied through clenched teeth.
“Furthermore, if I hear any more about you brutalizing the subjects while they are negated I’ll have you transferred to the Antarctica Facility so fast that it will make your head spin. Now put this man in his containment cell and leave him alone. He has to be in top shape for tomorrow’s deployment. If we have to scrub a mission because you got carried away, I can guarantee that the director himself will have your head.”
With that, they removed my restraints and shoved me into the cell. Once the cell was reactivated, the guards turned and walked away. Doctor Patterson watched them go, then turned and left without another word.
Returning to my bare bunk, I lay down and began concentrating on what I had learned of the negator/tracer. I could remove it, but without my regeneration, I would bleed a lot. The timing had to be perfect. I could extend my claws, remove the unit and let my powers kick in. Then all I had to do was try to clean up the blood.
The problem was, that the guards walked by the front of my cell every ten minutes and I wasn’t sure how long it would take to cut it out by feel, since I couldn’t see the back of my leg all that well. If it took too long, I could pass out from the lack of blood and get caught. But, I had to try.
I waited for the guards to pass by twice more to get my mental clock synchronized with their movements. As soon as the second guard had passed, I pulled my right leg up as high as I could. I began counting in my head down from 600, knowing I had 600 seconds until the next guard passed.
Setting my jaw against the pain, I extended one claw. The blood began to flow instantly down my hand where the claw came through. Ignoring that, I made a deep incision into my leg, behind the knee. Using the other hand, I began probing for the chip. At 505, I found it. I had been bleeding badly for over a minute and was beginning to get lightheaded.
As steadily as I could, I pushed the tip of the claw under the edge of the chip and twisted. My head was beginning to swim from the pain and loss of blood. My vision was getting blurry. The claw slipped and sliced open my free hand, to the bone. I gritted my teeth in pain, but felt the chip fall into my hand.
Tossing it onto the bed, I felt my powers kick back in. I closed my eyes and waited for the regeneration to take care of the wounds and clear my head. As my count reached 120, I knew I was running out of time. In the distance, I could hear the footsteps of the guard as he approached. He was right on time. At 35 seconds, my head was clear and the wounds were gone. Quickly, I placed my legs over the bloody areas and hoped that it hid it well enough. Then I composed myself back on the bed, exactly as I had been before.
I couldn’t help but smile. My powers were back. The guard stopped walking in front of my cell and I heard Brickhauser’s voice.
“What are you smiling at, freak?” he snarled.
Setting up, I looked at him.
“You,” I taunted. “I didn’t know they could teach chimps to wear armor.”
“Watch your mouth, freak. Your doctor friend ain’t around to protect you, now.”
“You’re not man enough to come in here without ten other guards. I know your type. All talk.”
“Screw you, freak.”
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you, Bricks. I hear you and Snider like to go into the guard’s locker room after hours for a little quickie. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear you wanted to give it to a prisoner.”
“I ought to bust your face for that, freak,” he snarled, “But I got orders to leave you be. You’re lucky that I do, or you and I would find out how long you can take a beating and survive.”
“Yeah, that’s a great excuse. All they got to do is reactivate my powers and I’ll heal. They don’t care what you chicken-shit guards do to us, so long as you don’t kill us.”
That seemed to make him think. I could see the smile on his face and he realized I was right.
“You haven’t got the balls to take me one on one, Bricks. You’re just a big coward who likes to hit people when they are down as long as you have plenty of back-up.”
“I don’t need back-up to shut you up, freak,” he snarled as he turned off the cell and walked in, raising the shock-rod.
Swinging it like a baseball bat, he swung for my head, but I was already moving. I dove aside and he hit nothing but air. The power of his swing left him off balance, for a second and I capitalized. Stepping inside his reach, I gave him a quick strike to the throat. Unable to yell for help, he dropped to his knees as the shock-rod fell from his hands. I snatched up the negator chip and held it before is face.
“Know what this is?” I taunted.
“Oh no!” he mouthed, terror filling his eyes.
“Oh, yes!” I hissed, smiling into his face.
In one quick move, I turned his head around backwards with a quick crunching sound and lowered him silently to the floor. In seconds, I stripped him of his armor and slapped it on. Laying him on the bunk, facing the wall, I hoped that no one would look too closely. I put on Brickhauser’s hat and walked outside into the hallway. Using his keycard, I reactivated the cell and turned to leave. Down the hall another guard looked down and looked questioningly at me.
I gave him the thumbs up and he went back to his magazine. I walked down the hall to the guards’ station and in my best impression of Brickhauser’s voice, I mumbled, “Cover for me willya. I gotta go take a shit.”
“No prob, Bricks,” he replied. “Just be back before the next shift check.”
I walked off down the corridor and found the stairs. Going up one flight, I followed the scent of Brickhauser’s aftershave and opened the door. Down the hall, I saw the guard’s locker room. Quickly, I covered the distance and tracked the scent to locker 268. Using a claw to jimmy the door open, I scanned the insides. Bricks had a set of civilian clothes inside, but the jeans were too small for me. But the t-shirt fit and so did the workout pants and jacket.
I grabbed his wallet and keys and headed for the door. Keeping his hat on and my head down, I cleared two checkpoints without as much as a nod with his id attached to my jacket. On the ground level, I headed for the door. The front desk guard handed me the clipboard to sign out and went back to the sports section. I quickly scribbled a name and walked out the door.
All I had to do was find his car. Removing his keys from my pocket, I pushed the alarm button and heard the desired “chirp chirp” from a red newer model Chevy Camaro. Moving quickly to the car, but not too quickly, I thumbed the unlock button and got inside. The engine rumbled immediately to life. Brickhauser was an asshole, but he took good care of his car.
Careful to drive the designated speed limit to the gate, the guard motioned me on as he raised the gate and I was out. Turning right, I accelerated down the highway and kept a close eye on the rear view mirror. There was no sign of a tail, yet, but that wouldn’t last. They would find Bricks’ body soon and the alarm would sound. Then the chase would be on. I had to cover as much distance as possible.
I also had to keep the use of my active powers to a minimum, because once I was discovered missing, they would be able to track me by them. My best chance was distance.
For those of you who might not be familiar with my writing, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk to you about the Ragnarok Rising Saga. It’s evolved a few times since originally written, but the story has stayed true to its origins. I wanted to tell an epic story, much like the way Tolkien told a much larger story that was shown in just one book. It’s only once you’ve read the entire series that you realize the story was far larger in scope than presented in any one of the books. An experience greater than the sum of its parts. I hope I succeeded.
The story follows Wylie Grant and Chrissy “Spec-4” Wilder from the early days of the zombie apocalypse and follows them as the story continues to grow and evolve. There are more forces at work than just the return of the dead. Forces that will shape the fate of humanity on a much larger scale than originally thought.
What was originally a five-book series evolved into ten when I signed with a new publisher. The original manuscripts were close to 150k words each. When I signed with J. Ellington Ashton Press, their publishing model was built on approximately 75k words in a manuscript. The books had to be changed to fit their publishing model. Thus, the change to a ten-book series. A fresh edit and a few linking scenes were added to effect the change, but the overarching story remained true to the original telling. The Ragnarok Rising Saga continued to grow.
This is a massive tale; full of heroes and battles, struggles and triumphs, growth and change, and above all else, striving for something bigger than one’s self. Something worth sacrificing for and risking everything for. The promise of a better world for those you leave behind. It’s a Saga, in every sense of the word.
This is a unique approach to not only zombie fiction, but post-apocalyptic fiction in general. It blends elements of Norse Mythology with modern zombie fiction, bringing about a new sub-genre in the process. It’s very different from any other zombie series out there. It’s a journey for all of the characters, each fulfilling a destiny that played a key role in the completion of the story, much like each of the Gods played in the final battle of Ragnarok. Each of the characters represents aspects of Ragnarok and adds their own pages to the saga.
If you haven’t read the Ragnarok Rising Saga, I hope that you will take the chance and experience it for yourself. Take the journey with me and see for yourself.
From Book 1: The dead are rising.
Reports of rioting and mob violence begin to appear in the news as more and more major cities go silent. The CDC and FEMA are powerless to stop the spread of the deadly “Reaper Virus.” Rumors fly about the nature of the “rioters”, claiming that the dead have risen to prey on the living. In the Midwest City of Springfield Missouri, all Law Enforcement Officers are called to report for duty.
Corrections Officer Wylie Grant is sent into the field only to discover for himself that they are facing the living dead. Wylie and National Guard Corporal Chrissy “Spec-4” Wilder must fight their way back to the Nathanael County Jail where the few remaining officers are attempting to regroup. Soon, they find themselves leading the rescue efforts as more and more positions are overrun by the dead.
When you publish your book or written project, you will get reviews on Amazon or whatever platform you’re using. Those reviews will be used by the platform’s algorithm to determine how much promotion the work will receive. For example, when you reach certain levels of reviews on Amazon, they will begin including you in their bulk emails and you will appear in more searches and recommendations. It’s just how it works. So, yes, as an author, we really do need those reviews. They help us on so many levels.
The aforementioned algorithm is just one way in which this happens. Reviews are direct feedback from your readers and from those you can gauge what you’re doing well, what you need to work on and what things your readers liked/disliked. You can glean a lot of information out of a simple two word review. The words “good job”, while sounding simplistic can tell you far more than merely good job. Let’s take a look at that, shall we?
First and foremost, it means that you did a good enough job that the reader felt it necessary to leave you a review, at all. Most readers won’t, despite our hope that they will. Remember, more reviews means more promotion from your platform. For them to take the time to leave you a review, good or bad, says that your work affected them enough to want to say something to you. That, in and of itself, is a victory. Now let’s break down that review.
Let’s say “John Smith” left you that “Good Job” review. Ok, he took the time to leave that. You did a good job. Also, what ranking did he give it? Five star? Three? Good job and a five star review speaks volumes that you have truly done well. Good job, while not telling you exactly what they liked, tells you that they enjoyed it. That was the goal, right? We want the readers to enjoy the books. If they leave a review, then so much the better.
Take that same “good job” with a three star. Hmm…not so good. That means they didn’t hate it. That’s not great, but it’s not horrible. It means you did some things right and maybe some not so well. That’s info you can work with. You can evaluate and see what you think you did well and what you didn’t. After all, we’re all our own worst critics. I know I am. No one is more critical of my work than I am.
I think I’ve made my point with the rating system. You want five star good jobs, not three star or less. Honestly, less than three isn’t really any kind of good job at all. That’s into not so good territory. Even those reviews can help to improve the writing, if we take the time to truly evaluate what we did and how we can improve it.
Now the hard part. Bad reviews. Trust me, you can write like Harlan Ellison and still get bad reviews. There will always be some people who won’t like it, no matter what you do. You have to accept that fact and move on. I loved the books by Tom Clancy but my wife hates him. It’s just a fact of writing. Some will and some won’t like it. Remember that so you don’t take the negative reviews quite so personally.
Bad reviews, if looked at honestly, can sometimes give you things you can fix about your writing. Too much of this, not enough of that. Look at what they’re saying and reflect on what you wrote. Are they right, even a little? If so, you can fix it on the next project or on later editions of the same project. Learning to find the honest criticisms, even among the negative ones, is how we grow as a writer.
Now there is another type of bad review, and it’s unfortunate that we have to deal with it. There are people, sometimes other authors, who seem to delight in leaving negative reviews on other author’s works just to bring their ratings down. It’s insane, but it happens. They will leave a nasty one star review just to bring your rating down. Sometimes, what they say in the review may be more directed at the author than the book. I’ve seen it happen and I’ve known authors who were bullied into pulling their works from Amazon and quitting. That should NEVER happen. It’s ridiculous. Those can and do happen for no reason other than someone decided to be petty. There isn’t much you can do besides report it as harassment, but please don’t let them force you away from your dream of being a writer. No one has the right to say who should and shouldn’t publish a book or their writing.
The best thing you can do on reviews like that or comments on your social media is not to feed the trolls. Some people thrive on the causing conflict and drama. Block them and move on. It’s the best thing you can do for your own peace of mind. Don’t engage them and block them. Then you move on. Keep writing and ignore them. If they post negative reviews, you can report them to Amazon as harassment and they will investigate it. It might take them a while, but they do get results.
Reviews, yes even the bad ones, can teach us something. We learn as much from the good as we do from the bad. Bad reviews don’t have to mean bad things, if you take it as a learning experience and build from it. We’re all working to improve our writing and the overall experience of the reader. We want them to enjoy our work so they tell their friends about it and then want to read the next book. That’s the best thing we can hope for. The enjoyment of the readers. That’s why we write.
There was a time in my life when I wanted to see my name on the New York Times Bestsellers list or the Amazon Bestsellers list or any other bestseller list. I thought that meant I’d made it as a writer. That would be the benchmark for success. Well, I’ve changed my mind about that. If I make it, great…if not, then ok. To me, the true benchmark of the writing will be the enjoyment of the reader. When I have a reader send me a message on Facebook or Twitter, email me, or leave a review; that is direct feedback from my readers. Hearing how much they enjoyed my work is the best measure of success. After all, I wrote the books so that they would entertain people. If I’m doing that, then I’ve succeeded. Anything else, is just a bonus.
So, read those reviews and take a moment of honest reflection. What can you learn from the review? How can you improve your writing for the next project? What can you take away from this? Those are the questions that we need to be asking ourselves. After all, we owe it to our readers to be as loyal to them as they are to us. Even if you never meet the reader, there is a bond there that will always be there. You poured your heart and soul into your writing and they experienced it and shared your vision. That’s a relationship worth having. I love to talk to people who have read my books and hear how they saw what I wrote. Sometimes it’s very different from what I envisioned, but that’s the really cool part. Seeing my story through their eyes. We’re all different and it’s those differences that make like interesting.
Never stop writing and never stop trying to be better. Give your absolute best in every word, sentence and paragraph. Push your creativity and ability as far as it can go and see where the ride takes you. Listen to the reviews and learn what you can to keep pushing forward. I think you’ll find that while you may not always like what the review has to say, you can take something away from it that will help make you a better writer. Never stop writing and never give up your dreams. It’s a crazy world we live in. Our dreams are all that keep the darkness at bay. Reach for those dreams, folks.
Cryptid Profile: Dogman Before we get too involved with this, I make no claims whatsoever of being an expert on the subject of cryptids. This blog entry will cover things I’ve read, been told, or have found through other means. I make no pretense of “knowing more” than anyone or possessing “special knowledge.” I merely […]
Gear Profile: Skallywag Tactical Hey folks. DA here. I wanted to take a minute and talk to you all about some of the gear I plan to use in my books. Whenever possible, I try to use “real-world” gear for the characters. This includes weapons, equipment, blades, and medical gear. I love finding awesome gear […]
Gear Profile: Dark Angel Medical Hey folks. DA here. I wanted to take a minute and talk to you all about some of the gear I use in my books. Whenever possible, I try to use “real-world” gear for the characters. This includes weapons, equipment, blades, and medical gear. When I was writing the Ragnarok […]
Author’s Bio: D.A. Roberts
D.A. Roberts is an author of fiction, primarily in the horror/dystopian and science fiction genres. Born in Lebanon, Missouri, he now lives in Springfield, Missouri with his wife and sons. When not writing, D.A. serves his community in Law Enforcement. He has been in law enforcement for nearly two decades, serving as a Corrections Officer, Deputy Sheriff, Hospital Security Team Supervisor, and most recently Patrolman with the Walnut Grove Police Department.
Best known for his “Ragnarok Rising Saga,” he blends the zombie genre with elements of Norse Mythology. The series has been called “a thinking man’s apocalyptic world.” This is a unique approach that creates a new sub-genre in Apocalyptic Fiction. Debuting in July of 2012, the series has been featured on radio shows on three continents.
He is also known in science fiction for “The Infinite Black Series.” This series is based on the hit video game from Spellbook Studio. Approached by Spellbook Studio to create the history of their universe, D.A.’s series explores the rich tapestry that is The Infinite Black. Download and play the game for free at www.Spellbook.com.
His two most recent releases are Cold Hunger which he co-wrote with Author Catt Dahman and Apex Predator: Wolf Moon. Wolf Moon is a tale which explores Native American lore and creatures known as the Dogman. Both available now from J. Ellington Ashton Press.
In November of 2018, D.A. took on the challenging role of C.E.O. of J. Ellington Ashton Press. In March of 2020, D.A. was elected first president of the Horror Author’s Guild.
Find more about his work at: