Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Review: Task Force Intrepid: The Gold of Katanga

Katanga Resources is an African mining company with operations in some of the nastier parts of the Congo. When two of their mining operations are attacked and overrun by gangs of murderous thugs carrying AKs and machetes, someone in a suit picks up a phone and calls in the cavalry.

In this case, the cavalry is Task Force Intrepid.

A team of international badasses led by Willem Kruger, who was born in South Africa but spent much of his life battling across the face of Africa as a member of several elite fighting units. I remember when I was a youngster during the 80's, hearing about the Selous Scouts and the Rhodesian SAS, but at the time, I didn't know much about them. Now, thanks to the much greater body of knowledge we all have access to, more of us are learning about these elite bush fighters and the many dirty wars they engaged in. Many military minds feel that the Scouts and the Rhodesian SAS perfected some of the best light infantry training and battle techniques around.

Back to the book. Kruger and several of his "private security consultant" buddies kit up and fly over to the DRC, or Democratic Republic of the Congo. They learn that both of Katanga's mines are occupied by Rebel scum, and what's more, a number of missionaries have been taken hostage, with a two million dollar price tag on their heads.  TF Intrepid is asked to chopper in and take out the bad guys guarding the mining camps, with extreme prejudice.

I don't want to give away spoilers, so I'll stop relaying the plot at this point. What follows in the book is a lot of high-quality action and adventure, as Kruger and his men begin to kick serious butt. The weapons and tactics are laid out for the reader in an easily digestible fashion, and you can see that the author, Dan Tharp, has really done his homework. You can feel the heat and the sand underneath your boots, you can see the AK-toting scumbags get blown to pieces by .50 caliber sniper fire, and you can feel the R4 assault rifle buck and roar in your hands as you turn rapist filth into buzzard meat. Although the book isn't one big shootout, Tharp does an excellent job of keeping the story moving and not letting the reader bog down in political details or get bored waiting around for the next gunfight.

All in all, if this book had been published 30 years ago, with "Able Team" or "Phoenix Force" above the words "The Gold of Katanga", and instead of Willem Kruger you had Carl Lyons or Yakov Katzenelenbogen leading their respective kill teams, you wouldn't much be able to tell the difference. I hope Dan Tharp understands that, coming from me, that is pretty high praise, since stories like this were the bread and butter of my childhood, and I still enjoy reading them, decades later.

Dan has another TFI book out, Highway to Hell, and I hope to read and review it soon.

Linda Pendleton's Ebooks Website

Linda Pendleton, wife of the late Don Pendleton (the original Mack Bolan / Executioner author) and an accomplished author in her own right, has started a new website showcasing authors  who've begun self-publishing or are now self-pubbing backlisted books.


Linda was kind enough to add Killer Instincts to Page Two.

If you have a moment, check it out. Linda has published some of Don's non-Executioner novels as ebooks, and she has a number of her own titles listed as well.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Holy Crap! KILLER INSTINCTS Paperback on Sale for $7.65!

It appears that Barnes and Noble is having a sale on Killer Instincts, and that sale price has driven down the Amazon.com price as well.

So, if you were interested in picking up a copy of the novel, but didn't want to pay the $11,99 for the trade paperback, now's your chance to get it dirt cheap!

Awesome New Review for NANOK!

I really wish Amazon had a feature for authors that allowed you to be alerted when a new review was posted of your works, because this one's a few days old. However, I just have to share with you the following review for NANOK and the Tower of Sorrows:
One more sip of Michael Moorcock's too-absinthe-for-its-own-good Elric threatens to make you ill? Mix one part Marvel's old B&W Savage Sword of Conan with one part trash-talking Schwarzenegger action flick, add a splash of Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydian and two splashes Sergio Aragones' Groo, shake violently to the consistency of frothy blood, and the resulting refreshing cocktail is Nanok and the Tower of Sorrows. Will there be a chaser Mr. Badelaire? 
Mr. Molesworth, there will indeed be a followup to NatToS. I know the broad-brushstrokes version of the plot, I just don't know when it will be written. Once I get COMMANDO: Operation Arrowhead out the door, I want to write a sequel to Rivalry, then perhaps the Nanok sequel, before I work on the next novel.

Also of note, over on the right hand column, Nanok is available in a multi-format bundle (PDF, AZW3, EPUB, and MOBI) for $1 via Gumroad.com, and electronic media web-store. Gumroad offers a really great high-speed, low-drag portal for selling digital content. Check 'em out.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Awesome Fan Film: PUNISHER '82

This was posted to the Facebook group "Men's Adventure Paperbacks of the 70's and 80's". Awesome short Punisher fan film with a host of classic Marvel bad guys battling it out against our favorite vigilante gunslinger. Check it out:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

R.I.P. Author Jerry Ahern

The following Facebook announcement appeared yesterday afternoon on the "Men's Adventure Paperbacks of the 70's and 80's" FB Group:
FROM THE FAMILY: We just wanted to let all of Jerry's friends know that their kind thoughts and wishes over the last few months have been greatly appreciated. Jerry wrote about how to survive most of life's disasters, but, unfortunately he was unable to survive cancer. He put up a very strong fight, as we all knew he would, but on Tuesday morning he was overpowered by the disease and passed away. Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers and please always remember Jerry as the wonderful Husband, Father, Grandfather, and friend that he was.
I read a bunch of Ahern's THE SURVIVALIST books a number of years ago, and I still consider it the seminal "post-apocalyptic pulp" series. Ahern was an expert in firearms, personal defense, and survival techniques, and his knowledge came through in his prose, adding a very strong flavor of authenticity. I also read his THE DEFENDER series and while the subject matter is pretty politically charged, they were also great pulpy men's adventure books, also well-written and entertaining.

I  had the chance to exchange a few messages with Jerry via Facebook and he was always polite and welcoming. The social networking technologies of the 21st century have given readers such as myself unprecedented access to our favorite authors, and it is always heartwarming when an author is willing to accept and return correspondence from fans.

Jerry Ahern will be sorely missed by his peers in the writing community and the fans who have enjoyed his works for decades.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

On Writing #1: Your Basic Tools

Since I've actually gotten some traction on writing and releasing my own works, I thought I'd write a few articles on my writing processes from the past, present, and future. I know some of you who read PMP have considered or are yourselves independently publishing, so I hope this provides some helpful information.

For today, I want to focus on the basic tools you need to self-publish: Computer, Word Processing, File Backup, etc..

The Computer

I'm fortunate enough to work in a job (academic information technology management) where I have ready access to fast, reliable, modern computers. I have a very nice setup at work, with all the software I need, and I have a couple of work laptops, a work-purchased iPad, and my own home computer. At home I have a fairly beefy laptop which I've hooked up to a nice big swivel-mounted monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Lots of people prefer laptops as their home computer these days (and the numbers I've seen show that in the consumer market, laptops have been outselling desktops for years) but if you're going to sit at it for hours at a stretch, writing and editing and formatting and photoshopping, I strongly suggest you invest in a desktop system of some sort. The keyboard will allow for less stressful typing, and a larger monitor will help with doing layouts and cover designs. You can get a relatively inexpensive home PC for a few hundred dollars.

If you have the money for it, a lightweight, very portable laptop makes a good companion to the desktop. You can take the laptop with you to Starbucks or to a co-working space, or when you travel or otherwise need to get out of the house to do writing. If you're crafty with your purchases, you can probably get both a decent PC and small low-powered laptop together for $1,000-1,500.

In addition to this, I suggest you get an ebook reader. Kindles are dirt cheap, starting around $80, all the way up to the much more expensive tablets like the iPad. You're going to want a tablet or ebook reader because there's a great difference between seeing your ebook laid out on a pc in the Kindle Previewer, and seeing it in an actual ebook reader. Also, there's the "reader edit pass", which I'll talk about later. The Kindle Fire is $199, and there's a Google tablet coming out that's at a similar price point. Believe me, it is well worth the investment to at least get a basic Kindle.

Some of you may ask, Mac or PC? I am in a position where I am bi-lingual when it comes to the two platforms because of my professional obligations. Personally, I have been more of a PC user, but I think both platforms have merit. You'll want to make sure, if you go with a Mac, that the ebook converter you want to use is supported. Calibre ebook manager comes in PC, Mac, and Linux flavors, so a Mac should be no hindrance. However, you will pay a significant cost difference. The desktop/laptop/tablet combo I suggest will probably run you close to $3,000.

Writing Software

The most important thing for me is that the software doesn't get in the way. Programs that require a lot of fussing with, that do a lot of auto-formatting and auto-correcting by default, kinda annoy me. Fiction doesn't require bizarre tabbing, formatting, bulleted lists, and so forth, so the simpler, the better. Personally, I do all my draft writing and most of my editing in Google Docs. This is for a number of reasons:
  1. I can access the documents anywhere, including off of a tablet or even my cell phone. This means I never need to worry about transferring around a single file to multiple computers.
  2. The document is backed up for me automatically, auto-saved constantly, and has version control built in, so I can revert changes easily.
  3. I can share the document with other Google Docs users or even non-users, and give varying levels of permissions. My primary editor / consultant does all his work by making comments in Google Docs, and you can even work on a document together in real time.
  4. Although it isn't as full-featured as Microsoft Word, Google Docs is simple and I can "hide" all the toolbars etc. to make it a simple white page that I type on, eliminating distractions and maximizing screen size.
There is nothing wrong with using good old fashioned MS Word, or heck, even Wordpad if you really want to keep it simple. You want to make sure that your platform can save in a generic file format like .doc, .rtf, .pdf, and .html, so that you can convert or share the file easily.  Just make sure you are saving in a generic file format by default, so that if something ever happens to your computer, that file can be used in a different program on a different computer.

Backup Solution

Which brings me to the single most important piece of software you can have: your backup solution. I cannot tell you how many clients I have dealt with over the years who've lost papers, projects, e-mails, files, heck - even whole books - because they just assumed nothing would ever happen to their computer. However, that is stupid. Laptops can be banged around, dropped, stolen, spilt on, or just plain die of old age or parts failure. Destops can fail too, just a little less often. Disaster can strike and you can have a fire, or a flood, or a nasty power surge. You can even get a virus on your computer (more on this in a second), or suffer file corruption, or just plain accidentally delete your file (I've seen this happen more than you think).

Because of all these, YOU NEED TO BACK UP YOUR WORK. I cannot stress this enough. And not just to a USB key; you need what I call "off-site backup". Save your work to a location different from where your computer lives. This is one of the reasons I like Google Docs - it backs up my data automatically. There are also cloud storage solutions like Microsoft Skydrive, Dropbox, Amazon Cloud Drive, and many others. Although they all have their pros and cons, the most important thing is to simply have one, and use it consistently and constantly. I do my actual writing and editing in Google Docs, but I format my manuscripts and ebook files, and do all my PDFs and cover images, on my laptop, and I save all those files to a Dropbox account. Dropbox is free, it is easy to use, it is web-accessible, has mobile apps, and can hold a lot of content. The other solutions out there are all equally as good in their own way, but I can't speak for any of the others, as Dropbox is the only one I use. Please, please, please get one of these solutions, and use it regularly.


Finally, you're going to want to take care of your computer and your software. Get a good anti-virus program, and make sure it runs regularly. I know people who run anti-virus and several anti-malware programs at once, and I don't recommend it; this will slow down your system and frustrate you as something (or multiple somethings) will constantly be running scans, file indexing, and so forth. Pick a good solution and do some research into how to configure it properly, and make sure it is updated.

In addition to this, make sure your computer has regular software updates. Update your browser, Flash, Java, and your computer's own system files, as well as updating any other programs, such as Office or Acrobat. A lot of security vulnerabilities can be exploited through these programs, and many virus or malware attacks take place because of improper or insufficient patching and updating of system software. Getting a nasty virus can take your computer out of commission for days or even weeks, so treat this seriously.

All right, that's it for now. Next up, we'll talk about your other software needs; ebook publishing, graphic design, and so forth.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

I'll keep this relatively short. While I'm not a huge fan of comic book movies in general and the DC movies in particular, I thought Christopher Nolan's Batman reboot was fairly well done. A more "realistic", less cartoonish view of the character compared to the movies of the late 80's and 90's.

However, I didn't think TDKR was all that hot. I found it overly long, really slow and all too often, the overall effect was one of stentorian music with not all that much going on. That Christopher Nolan signature foghorn-esque BWWWWWWAAAAAAAMMMMMPPPPP was sounded a hundred times throughout the movie's two and three-quarter hours, and after about the third time, I was tired of it.

I'm not going to give this movie a blow-by-blow, but I just felt the idea was fundamentally flawed. We're given a detailed explanation of how battered and damaged Bruce Wayne's body is, and then by the end of the movie, after he's been beaten near to the point of death and spends MONTHS in some vile underground hell-pit, he's suddenly back in the peak of his physical conditioning.  I also find the hand-to-hand combat in all of the Nolan Batman movies abysmal, and this movie especially so.

Furthermore the entire plot device for the last half of the movie was really tiresome and wholly unbelievable, even by comic book standards. I understand this is "comic book reality", but you can't both make a "realistic, gritty comic book movie" and create a narrative that seems utterly unrealistic. Not to give much away, but essentially the city of twelve million people is suddenly cut off from the rest of the outside world for about five or six months.  There are apparently "shipments of food and supplies", but whatever. I'd imagine 90% of the population of the city would be dead due to starvation, violence, or general suffering by the time the bomb threat is a reality.

Oh yeah, the bomb threat. I will try hard to not spoil the ending, but let's just say a four-megaton nuclear weapon leaves...quite a footprint. Using this awesome website, you can see that a 4MT bomb will, at the very least, shatter windows up to around 30 miles away. Something to consider...

Anyhow, while people will no doubt be flocking to this movie for weeks to come, I just wasn't that enthralled.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July 19th and 20th, Rat Bastards 13-16 FREE on Amazon!

Another announcement from Premier Publishing:

The Last 4 Rat Bastards Books (#13-16) are free today & tomorrow!

The Rat Bastards #13: Tough Guys Die Hard http://amzn.to/MblOQW
The world is their war zone!
The war’s never over for the battle-toughened Rat Bastards. From one jungle hell to another, they strike raw terror and drive razor-sharp bayonets into the heart of their enemies. Always in the thick of the fight, they hit hard and die harder. And when a new band of misfits joins their ranks, you can hear the panic buttons getting pushed all the way to Tokyo. The Rat Bastards. Turning losers into hell-bent heroes.

The Rat Bastards #14: Suicide River http://amzn.to/O0JYjI
The Japs are staging a surprise attack.
But a bigger, bloodier surprise is waiting for them! Whoever controls New Guinea can turn the tide of the war. That’s why the Japs are mounting a bold sneak attack designed to wipe out the Americans. But the Rat Bastards know when and where the enemy plans to strike. Can they quit thrill-hunting and fighting each other long enough to become the killer combat until the Yanks need to survive?

The Rat Bastards #15: Satan's Cage http://amzn.to/NBE2N8
Only the winners survive!
To the victor go no spoils in the bloody battle for New Guinea. This is the Rat Bastards’ kind of war. They don’t fight for glory, but for survival. Reluctant heroes and outlaw soldiers, they hate the steaming, Jap-filled jungles, but they wouldn’t trade places with anybody. So for a high kill ratio, the Army calls on the experts. The Rat Bastards. Making history is what comes naturally to them.

The Rat Bastards #16: Go Down Fighting http://amzn.to/SKgIPr
Kamikaze Kill Sweep!
The Rat Bastards face the deadliest battle of all as the war draws to an explosive end. The Japanese launch a final, desperate attack – a blood-hungry suicide mission. And the Rat Bastards finally meet their match. Kicking, clawing, shooting, stabbing - whatever it takes to kill the battle-crazed enemy – The Rat Bastards will do it. The tougher the opposition, the harder the Rat Bastards fight back. And the deadliest group of killers in the world – with one exception…

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Guns of KILLER INSTINCTS Part 4: The Mooks and Gunsels

In the last of our four-part series on the guns that appear in my novel KILLER INSTINCTS, we look at the weapons carried by all the faceless goons, thugs, mooks, punks, and other assorted scum who find themselves at the wrong end of William's arsenal (see Part 1).

AK-47 7.62x39mm Assault Rifle
First up is the ubiquitous AK-47. The slavers on the Liberian freighter in the beginning of the novel all carry these, and one shows up in the hands of a sentry during the desert gunfight. The "AK" is such a common weapon in Men's Adventure fiction that I knew it had to make more than one appearance in the novel.

Steyr MPi 81 9mm Submachine Gun
This Steyr SMG is found in the hands of a better class of Liberian slaver, the guy only referred to as "Steyr-man" by William. Much like the Uzi, this is going to be the sort of weapon you'll find in the hands of various police forces, armies, mercenaries and criminals all over the world.

Remington 870 Wingmaster 12-Gauge Pump-Action Shotgun
In a couple of instances, pump-action 12-gauge shotguns make their appearances, usually while blasting away at our protagonists. In at least once instance they are referred to as "long-barreled", so a representative shotgun would be this Remington Wingmaster. While normally meant for duck-hunting, you could easily see some hillbilly put it to use for a more sinister purpose.

Colt M-4 5.56mm Assault Rifle
During the desert battle one of the bad guys burns off a mag from an assault rifle at William and Richard. Being the badass that he is, Richard guesses the make and model of the weapon just from its report.

Smith & Wesson Model 4506 .45ACP Automatic
Several bad guys throughout the book carry ".45 caliber automatics". I imagined for most of them that, rather than carrying a M1911-framed auto, it was something more akin to this S&W pistol. The large-frame .45 Smiths were popular back in the 90's, so having the book set in 2001, running across a couple of these makes sense.

Ingram MAC-10 .45ACP Submachine Gun
William gets fired upon out in the desert by someone using an "Ingram machine pistol". As it is such an iconic 80's action movie weapon, the "Big Mac Attack" MAC-10 needed to make at least a cameo appearance.

Smith & Wesson Model 627 .357 Magnum
Although never used in the desert gunfight, a .357 magnum revolver is recovered by William and Richard from a pickup truck.

Savage Arms Axis .30-06 Bolt Action Rifle

Like the .357 Magnum, William and Richard find a .30-06 bolt-action rifle with a scope after the desert gunfight. I wanted their opponents to have a combination of illegal para-military weapons and more common civilian hunting or defense weapons to represent their rural-criminal nature.

Olympic Arms 9mm Carbine
During the final gunfight, one of the Paggiano's gunmen uses a "nine-millimeter carbine". This OA 9mm would be a likely candidate.


Colt Detective Special .38 Special Revolver
One of the Paggiano's servants pulls a snubnose revolver on William near the end of the book. I figured it to be a more vintage pistol, like this Detective Special.

Remington 870 12-Gauge Pump-Action Shotgun
A couple of the Paggiano's guards have cut-down pump shotguns like this Remington. The photo here shows one fitted with what looks like a revolver's pistol-grip.

And, that's just about it. I may have missed something, but I didn't bother to give the make and modelof every weapon used in the book (only most of them). I'm a big fan of The Internet Move FirearmsDatabase (check it out - it's awesome), and I decided that, if KILLER INSTINCTS was a movie, Iwanted to create my equivalent of its IMFDb page here at Post Modern Pulp. I hope I did it justice.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Guns of KILLER INSTINCTS Part 3: The Paggiano Crime Family

For this segment of the series, I've decided to look at the Paggiano crime family (and one of their named henchmen). I'll save the guns used by their nameless gunsels and other firearms that crop up in the book for Part 4.

SIG Sauer P228 9mm Automatic
An assassin hired by the Paggiano family, Julian is a sleek, stylish, and sophisticated operator, and I wanted to give him a cool-looking handgun to go with his image. While I'm not that big a fan of the SIG series of pistols myself, they are a well regarded family of firearms, and the SIG P228 is a well-made, compact 9mm automatic that's a good counterpoint to something like the Glock 19.

John Paggiano
AKS-74U 5.45x39mm Assault Rifle
 John appears in the final climactic battle of the novel with a "short-barreled AK-style assault rifle". In my mind, the weapon he carried was an AKS-74U. Basically a shortened AK-74 assault rifle with a folding stock, this would be a brutal close-quarters firefight weapon, definitely out-classing an Uzi firing subsonic ammunition.

Mary Paggiano
SIG Sauer P232 .380 Automatic
On the other hand, John's wife, Mary, has a much more subdued weapon - the SIG P232 automatic. Again, a very sleek, well made weapon that would work fine as a carry pistol for a woman who has small hands and isn't able to handle a more powerful recoil. 

Adam Paggiano
Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum Revolver
I don't think it was intended for Adam, John and Mary's teenaged son, to wind up with this Ruger GP100 hand-cannon. However, he gets his hands on one during the final battle. I've fired a Ruger Speed Six in .38, but not this larger handgun. I've always admired the Ruger revolver line, especially the Security Six and Super Redhawk, and I think they often go ignored by people who lean towards Smith & Wesson or Colt. 

Dominic Paggiano
Star S Series .380 Automatic
An old man in his 70's, who probably hasn't had to shoot anyone in a few decades since he's been the head of the family, Dominic has this vintage Star S .380 ACP in his bedstand more for sentimental value. Still, regardless of his age (or the gun's age), Dominic doesn't have any reservations about using it...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Today and Friday: Rat Bastards #9-12 FREE!

Just got this announcement from Premier Publishing:

FREE Thursday 7/12 & Friday 7/13 - Len Levinson's (writing as John Mackie) infamous Rat Bastards series of WWII Pacific Theater war books 9-12 for Kindle. The titles speak for themselves. More coming soon…

The Rat Bastards #9: Do or Die http://amzn.to/PNaPTH
Death is in their blood!
The enemy wants them dead. Their own side wants them to shape up. They’re the Rat Bastards. They steal. Lie. Kill. And they never respect the rules. The stuntman. The Indian. The gangster. The bum. The most awesomely effective fighting team in the history of man-to-man mayhem. And now they’re all that stands between the Japs and their plan to retake the bloody Pacific island of Bougainville.

The Rat Bastards #10: Kill Crazy http://amzn.to/MiR9C6
The joy of killing.
The enemy’s plotting against them – while they’re tearing at each other’s throats! Malaria could lay them on their backs. Jungle fever threatens to strip their sanity. An army of death marches through bloody war zones looking to tear their guts out. But over the roar of grenades and the swish of Samurai swords you can always hear the spine-curdling battle cry of the guys who kill their way to victory…

The Rat Bastards #11: Nightmare Alley http://amzn.to/NHEUyz
War brings them to life!
Send them out on leave and they’re a ragged band of losers who will tear any town apart. Bring them back and they’re the most effective bloodletting machine the Japanese have ever had to face. The Rat Bastards. The Mps can’t bust them because the Army needs them to win the war. This time they’re faced with their bloodiest challenge ever, as the brass sends them on a trop to the closest thing to hell on earth…The Pacific war zone known as Nightmare Alley.

The Rat Bastards #12: Go For Broke http://amzn.to/Nm4lDN
The twisted trail of blood!
Slicing and stabbing hand-to-hand for the bloody booty of war. Ramming a hijacked truck through the hell of enemy lines. Escaping over water made choppy by hot Japanese bullets. Defending a cave full of frightened American nurses from a brutal onslaught of killers. The Rat Bastards fight on, turning New Guinea into an island of savage slaughter. They’ll take on their own top brass, ten roll flat the whole Jap army. For them, war isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.

The Guns of KILLER INSTINCTS Part 2: Secondary Characters

Continuing this four-part series on the guns used throughout my vigilante revenge thriller, KILLER INSTINCTS, we take a look at the guns carried by the rest of the "good guys" (hahaha) throughout the novel. As mentioned in Part 1, I'm going to try and avoid spoilers as much as possible, so if I am rather vague here and there, it is to protect your reading pleasure.

Glock Model 21 .45 Automatic
William first meets the multimillionaire when he's standing on his yacht's deck "wearing a bulletproof vest, with a .45 Glock in one hand and a life preserver in the other, just in case".

Since Steiger lives aboard a 160-foot yacht, I wanted a pistol that fired a powerful cartridge capable of going through light cover, with no concern for concealability.

Heckler & Koch Model 91 7.62mm Rifle w/ Scope

In Steiger's arms locker aboard the yacht, he also has a H&K 91 7.62mm rifle with a scope. Again, for defending a yacht, this is a pretty good rifle, considering its firepower and range.

Mossberg Model 500 Stainless Steel 12-Gauge Shotgun

Last but not least, Steiger also keeps a stainless steel Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun in his arms locker. A model kitted like this, with adjustable stock and pistol grip, would be idea for room-clearing duties aboard a small ship like Steiger's Benetti yacht.

M249 SAW 5.56mm Light Machine Gun
James is a young mercenary and former US Army Airborne Ranger. He carries an M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon). Given the tight quarters the assault element is fighting aboard the Liberian freighter, this variant with folding bipod and stock would seem ideal.

Galil ACE 5.56mm Assault Rifle
A former SAS soldier until wounded by a roadside bomb, Tommy carries a Galil assault rifle. While not standard British issue, the Galil is a well-made and battle-proven weapon and would be found all over the world. This particular Galil ACE model is a newer design, but its collapsible stock would be handy for shipboard operations.

Benelli M4 12-Gauge Semi-Automatic Shotgun
Kenneth is a former SWAT officer from an unnamed US city, who gets a thrill from breaching rooms and kicking butt. He carries a Benelli semi-automatic 12-gauge shotgun, probably something like this Benelli M4 with adjustable stock.
Colt Python .357 Magnum Revolver with Six-Inch Barrel

 In addition to his Benelli, Kenneth carries a .357 magnum revolver, a Colt Python, in a thigh holster. William thinks the combination of shotgun and magnum revolver makes Kenneth look like "an 80's action movie hero". I'll point out that Carl "Ironman" Lyons from the Able Team books carries a 4-inch barrel Python as his "backup" handgun...

Colt Delta Elite 10mm Automatic
The Delta Elite 10mm automatic is a powerful pistol built by Colt on the frame of their classic M1911 .45 auto. The full-powered 10mm cartridges turn this into a magnum-level handgun, but with an 8-round magazine capacity and all the speed and reaction time of a "cocked and locked" automatic. Richard carries this as his personal firearm throughout most of the novel, and it shows that he is a shooter with very particular tastes in terms of what he wants from a combat handgun.

Heckler & Koch MK 23 SOCOM .45 Automatic
The Heckler & Koch MK 23 SOCOM .45 automatic was created for special forces units as an "offensive handgun". For most military forces, a sidearm is considered purely a defensive weapon for officers, drivers, and other personnel who need protection but not the bulk of a full sized weapon. The MK 23, on the other hand, was designed to be a weapon for eliminating sentries, guard dogs, and other "offensive" shooting situations. The pistol shown here has a suppressor and a laser sight. Most likely, the laser is tuned so that it can only be seen while wearing low-light goggles. Richard carries this gun when he's "operational", as opposed to everyday carry.

Springfield Armory Longslide .45 Automatic
This longslide .45 automatic is similar to the sort of pistol Richard keeps in his desert "cache" away from his cabin. The longer barrel and better sights would make engaging at long distances easier.

Remington 770 Sporter ,308 Bolt Action Rifle
Along with the pistol, Richard also kept a scoped bolt-action rifle in the cache. He felt that with the two weapons, plus the limited supplies and ammunition stored there, he could engage any threat that prevented him from returning to his cabin while on one of his morning or evening runs in the desert. The rifle shown here is a Remington 770 Sporter in .308 Winchester.

AR-15 Heavy Barrel with Scope
While training with his DeLisle Carbine, William is led into the desert for several days by Richard, who carries with him an AR-15 with long-range scope. This gun figures heavily in a scene where Richard tests William on how far his new "outlook" on life has taken his sense of morality.

Colt Government Model .45 Automatic
Having developed a familiarity with "old slab-sides" while in the Army, Jamie is most comfortable with an M1911-styled pistol. I always imagined Jamie's gun had some subtle modifications, which is why I picked the Colt Government Model, depicted here with Novak combat sights and an aftermarket trigger, hammer, and grip safety. as well as slide groves cut down by the muzzle. I've actually handled and fired a Colt Government Model and found it to be a very fine pistol. For Jamie, showing that he sticks to a more traditional gun, but with some slight modifications, helps represent his special forces background.

Tokarev T-33 7.62x25mm Automatic
 Near the end of the novel, William finds a cache hidden by Jamie. In it, among other things, Jamie kept this Tokarev T-33. Although primitive by today's standards, during Vietnam it was a typical NVA or VC officer's sidearm. It can be reasonably presumed that Jamie "acquired" it while fighting in Southeast Asia and tucked it away as a keepsake, kept separate from his other guns as it would be, no doubt, illegal contraband taken home from the war.

Smith & Wesson Model 10 .38 Special Revolve
Jamie teaches William how to shoot a handgun for the first time using a very basic, 60's vintage Smith & Wesson Model 10. This is about as fundamental as a pistol can get, but at the same time, countless police officers around the country carried one of these for decades. In the hands of someone who knew what they were doing, even the modest Model 10 could be a deadly handgun.

It is noted by William that Jamie's specimen had some "grooves" cut into the grip near the back-strap, and Richard seems to indicate that he knew just what revolver this was when it is later mentioned to him. I've decided that's a story for another day, and another novel...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Guns of KILLER INSTINCTS Part 1: William's Arsenal

So if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know I'm something of a gun guy. Although I live in one of the most gun-unfriendly states in the U.S. right now (Massachusetts), I'm from Maine and born in Alaska, two states packed chock-full of guns. I've been shooting since I was about five years old, and firearms of all shapes, sizes, and types fascinate me.

Because of this, it should come as no surprise that my novel KILLER INSTINCTS is loaded with a bunch of gun-related goodness.  I've never actually calculated out a complete body count, but "several dozen" is pretty close. And when you've got a lot of bodies being perforated by bullets, you've got a lot of guns helping those bullets get where they need to go. So, I thought it would be a nice exercise to provide some photos and commentary about the various guns that appear in the novel.

First up, I'm going to walk through the guns used by William, the main character. I'm going to try and avoid spoilers, so if I seem vague, it's so I don't ruin anything for future readers.

Uzi 9mm Submachine Gun with Sionics Suppressor
For starters, the Uzi 9mm SMG. This is William's main weapon from the first chapter all the way to the climactic final battle. Although more than half a century old, the Uzi is a rugged, simple, dependable weapon that can be found all over the world, used by dozens of military and law enforcement entities. Although eclipsed these days by more sophisticated systems like the H&K MP-5, for many years the Uzi was the submachine gun. As KILLER INSTINCTS is, in part, an homage to men's adventure fiction and 80's action movies, I felt that giving the main character the gun that epitomized that era of action entertainment was very fitting. I've never handled or fired an Uzi, but there is a gun range in New Hampshire that has automatic weapons you can use on their range, so I hope to rectify that some day.

Ruger MK II .22 Automatic with Integral Suppressor
Next up we have the suppressed Ruger .22 automatic. William uses one of these in the opening pages of the book to kill someone with a triple-tap to the base of the skull. What a charmer, right? This weapon is very similar to the old Hi-Standard .22 automatic with suppressor made famous by the OSS in World War Two, and later used by the SOG teams in Vietnam for killing dogs and sentries. What it'll lack in stopping power, it'll make up for in incredibly quiet operation. While I've never fired a suppressed Ruger, my father owned a Ruger MK II for many years, and it was a very handy, easy-shooting pistol, perfect as a "plinking" pistol, target shooting, or other light duties.

Glock Model 19 9mm Automatic
Later on in the novel, William's primary pistol becomes the Glock 19 9mm automatic. I've fired a Glock 19 several times, and its compact size, light weight, and overall ease of operation, combined with the magazine capacity and performance of the 9mm round, made it an excellent choice for a beginner's "combat pistol".

When I write about guns and the people who carry them, I try to make sure the personality of the weapon matches the personality of the user. When we meet William in the beginning of the novel, he's a veteran mercenary who has killed more men than he cares to think about. Because of this, I wanted him to have a somewhat exotic, specialized weapon like the Ruger. On the other hand, when we see William as a complete newbie to using guns, a simple, easy to operate pistol like the Glock fitted his personality much better.

Beretta Model 84 .32 ACP Automatic
The Beretta 84 Cheetah .32 automatic is somewhat more specialized than the Glock, but the .32 ACP cartridge and the weapon's small, compact size make it easy to handle and shoot. Fitted with a suppressor, this would give a shooter a more powerful cartridge than the Ruger and slightly higher magazine capacity (12 vs. 10), but with a somewhat louder report. As Richard tells William, the Beretta is a blend between firepower and silence. I've never used the Model 84 myself, although I've fired a Beretta 92 Compact. For a number of years, the 92 C was the carry pistol of the Maine State Police force, and I knew (and had the opportunity to shoot with) several Maine State Troopers.

Smith & Wesson Model 36 "Chief's Special" .38 Revolver
The last handgun William uses in the novel is the S&W Model 36, a snubnose .38 Special revolver he carries as a backup pistol. Although it has limited range and only a five shot capacity, as Richard puts it to William, "If you can't punch the ticket on some knuckle-dragging goombah with five shots after I'm done with you, I'll eat my cowboy boots."

I've never fired a snub .38 myself, although I've fired a similarly-framed Smith & Wesson .32 revolver. While the grip might be small, the gun sits easily in the hand, and you can see why they were (and still are) so popular as carry pistols. 

DeLisle Commando Carbine .45 ACP with Integral Suppressor
The DeLisle .45 carbine is a weapon I found while doing research for another project involving weapons from World War Two. A highly specialized, but surprisingly simple idea to create a bolt-action carbine chambering the effective (and at the time, subsonic) .45 ACP pistol cartridge, then giving the weapon a large and extremely efficient suppressor. While still using pistol ammunition, this would make for a very quiet, very accurate weapon capable of making kills far beyond the range at which anyone would hear the weapon's suppressed report. Although supposedly only 139 of these weapons were ever made, I have seen that modern gunsmiths have re-created the weapon using modern methods and materials. Richard picks this for William's "urban sniping operations" because it is accurate, quiet, and simple to use. William's version has a folding stock, a bipod, and a low-light scope for night shooting.

Cut-Down Remington Model 1100 12-Gauge Shotgun
Finally, the last weapon William uses in the novel is a chopped down Remington 1100 semi-automatic 12-gauge shotgun. As pointed out to him by Richard, this is a highly specialized weapon, best for emptying very quickly into an enclosed space, such as an automobile. Loaded with double-ought buckshot, the 1100 fired fast will put more individual shots downrange than a submachine gun in the same amount of time.  I've never fired a semi-automatic 12-gauge before, but I've handled a number of pump-guns. Firing a cut-down 1100 would be quite the experience (assuming I used one with a legal barrel length, of course).

So, that's that for part one. As you can see, some very cool guns, and I hope to have more for you in parts two and three!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Movie Review: Prometheus

Because this movie is mostly out of theaters, and because I found it a loathsome piece of trash, there are going to be a few spoilers, so just be forewarned. I assure you that at the end of the day, you'll thank me for saving you ten bucks and several hours of your life.

First off, go and read this review: 5 Lessons About Terrible Storycraft You Can Learn from “Prometheus” (2012). The author pretty much hits on every point I found frustrating with this film, so rather than write my own soapbox rant, please read his.

I agree on every level the points the author brings up.

What I hated most about this movie was its complete unwillingness to portray scientists as anything other than moronic children, stumbling through the dark while kicking over rocks to see if any bugs crawl out. Supposedly professional scientists stick their fingers in alien goop just because it’s there, they revivify severed alien heads, they poke and prod and remove their helmets just because “the air is okay”...the violations of what would be standard operating procedures put in place to protect their lives are too numerous to count.

Furthermore, and almost as annoying, this was supposed to be a trillion-dollar excursion across the known galaxy, to make one of mankind's most important scientific discoveries, but apparently the crew was picked up at random like some press-ganged British merchant vessel circa 1790. When the characters awake from their hyper-sleep, you realize most of them don’t even know who the rest of the crew is, or why they’re along for the ride. The two archaeologists have to give a five minute brief (which is so obviously for the audience, another thing that annoys me) in order to tell all these people why they just took a two-year long nap in space. Yeah, space travel is clearly more common in this movie, but c’mon, no one was even told why they are here?

Like I said, I agree with all the reviewers points, but the one I agree with most is the stupidity of making characters who are supposed to be brilliant, top-tier experts in their respective fields, into drooling, slack-jawed morons who do stupid things because that’s the only way Bad Stuff can apparently happen. I understand that this was supposed to be the film that ties up all the questions posed by one of the most famous sci-fi horror movie franchises, but the fact that it was approached with all the skill of crafting a B-grade summer camp slasher movie disgusts me to no end.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Book Review: The Rogue Gentleman Series by Brian Drake

Author and blogger Brian Drake has published a trio of short, action-packed adventure stories under the series title The Rogue Gentleman. Right now there are currently three, with a fourth story on the way that'll probably be sold as part of a four-story omnibus. I'll quote the Amazon description for the first book below:
Steve Dane, The Rogue Gentleman, an international adventurer who rights wrongs wherever he finds them, fails to prevent a young woman’s abduction. But that does not stop him from finding her.

Officially hired by the girl’s father, Dane battles gunman and evades police as he discovers the decades-old vendetta behind the kidnapping; he soon learns that the grudge is just the beginning and peels back the layers of a more fiendish plan that goes beyond a desire for vengeance.

Assisted by his lover, the luscious Nina Talikova, Steve Dane dives head first, the only way he knows how, into a conspiracy of terror the likes of which the world has never seen, orchestrated by a powerful and mysterious woman known only as “The Duchess”.

When Dane finds The Duchess he will sacrifice anything, including his life, to destroy her.
Drake does an excellent job crafting fun, exciting plots, populating the stories with a rogue's gallery of ne'er do wells and scoundrels, and providing us with a lot of battles and banter. Some of the more entertaining dialogue is between Steve and Nina, who duel with flirty quips throughout the stories. Sometimes they quibble and quarrel like an old married couple, but when the bullets start to fly, they are immediately all business.

Short serialized fiction such as The Rogue Gentleman is just what the Kindle is made for, and in a length that is completely achievable by part time independent authors such as Mr. Drake and people like myself. You can sit down and read one of the RG titles in an hour or so, perfect commuter reading of lazy summer beach reading if you like.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Rat Bastards Books 5 Through 8 FREE Today!

I just received this announcement from Premier Publishing:

FREE Friday - Len Levinson's (writing as John Mackie) infamous Rat Bastards series of WWII Pacific Theater war books 5-8 for Kindle. The titles speak for themselves. More coming soon…

Rat Bastards #5: Down and Dirty http://amzn.to/Lwi2kW
Rat Bastards #6 Green Hell http://amzn.to/KSzyyh
Rat Bastards #7 Too Mean to Die http://amzn.to/KSzzlU
Rat Bastards #8 Hot Lead and Cold Steel http://amzn.to/LR2bvF
 I just went online and picked up all four of these, as well as Rat Bastards #4, and I "liked" each of them as well.

Get out there and get yourself some Bastardly goodness!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

James Reasoner Reviews KILLER INSTINCTS!

A few weeks ago, as my novel was coming out on Amazon, I asked several authors if they would find the time to read my book, and if they found it worthy, give it a few kind words. Well, veteran author James Reasoner did more than that. Far, far more!

To quote a few passages from James' incredibly kind review:
"...I figured there was a good chance I'd enjoy his first novel KILLER INSTINCTS.  What I didn't really expect was that it would turn out to be one of the best books I've read so far this year."
"What makes KILLER INSTINCTS work so well is some fine writing that goes deeper into the characterization than is sometimes found in action/adventure fiction."

"...Badelaire never lets things turn into a lecture. Even when William and Richard are discussing the philosophy of violence, the dialogue is crisp, fast-moving, and often funny despite the grim circumstances."

"The action scenes are also top-notch, well written and easy to follow. More than anything, the character of William carries this book. He's no superhero, and he's complex enough that the reader can't help but root for him."

"If you're looking for a well-written, involving thriller, you should definitely check this one out."   
 I have to say, James' review has me grinning from ear to ear like a complete idiot. Thank you James, and for everyone else, take a moment to wander over to Rough Edges, James' blog, and take a look around. He's got some great articles and reviews, and many of his books are available on Amazon for the Kindle at very reasonable prices.