Give Me Twenty-Six Lead Soldiers

“Give me twenty-six lead soldiers and I will conquer the world.”


I started writing eight years ago, because I had a story to tell that combined my love of politics, current events, and sports. The Jade Harrington series has been that story. Sometimes I think about how my writing life might be easier, if I focused on less controversial and complex topics. Over the holidays, a friend and constant supporter of my work gave me the quote, “Give me twenty-six lead soldiers and I will conquer the world.” Whether it was said by Johannes Gutenberg, Benjamin Franklin, Karl Marx, or all the above, they understood the power of the twenty-six letters of the alphabet, the written word, and the printing press. Words can impact relationships, save lives, change minds, and, yes, conquer the world.

 Sometimes being a writer can be discouraging. So when a reader sent me a Facebook message: “You are scary amazing” (which I took as a good thing) and another wrote me a letter to “keep writing,” like these affirmations, this quote came right on time.

 If something you read moves you or resonates with you, contact the author. You never know…you might be the impetus to help him or her keep writing.

 As this year of dramatic change comes to an end, and as I look forward to a busy 2019—releasing The Divide, completing a standalone book, and beginning the fourth book in the Jade series, I want to thank everyone who bought my books, recommended them to friends, left a review, touted them on social media, and joined my newsletter. It means more to me than you will ever know.

 And, to my friend who gave me the quote, on this New Year’s Eve, I stand in gratitude.

 Happy New Year!

Waiting II

About eight months ago, while my political thriller, Don’t Speak, was being formatted, I wrote a blog entitled Waiting, in which I described how much a writer waits between stages of the writing process. But this time, I’m looking forward to it. I finished the second draft of the second book in the Jade Harrington series. The manuscript is now with my editor.

There’s always this trepidation when someone else reads my work for the first time. Is it good? Does it suck? Will he “get” it? Is the current political landscape becoming crazier than fiction? How will I ever keep up?

In the meantime, what will I do? I have some ideas. All the things that I’ve ignored while I was writing:

·       Organize my home office

·       Pay bills

·       Read

·       Practice synchronized swimming for the 2020 Olympics (kidding)

·       Learn how to cook (kidding)

·       Work out (not kidding)

·       Yoga / meditation

·       Get ready for football season (Go Raiders!)

·       Watch EPL (Go Chelsea!) and La Liga (Hala Madrid!)

·       Spend time with my family and friends who have missed me (you did miss me, right?)

·       Relax (what’s that?)

·       Did I say read?

And, maybe, brainstorm book #3.

Until next time…

Hillary Clinton, Whitney Fairchild, and the “Woman Card”

Many readers have asked me whether the character, Senator Whitney Fairchild, in Don’t Speak is based on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In my novel, Whitney, a beautiful, charismatic Democrat from Missouri, is running for president of the United States in a hotly contested Democratic primary against a good ol’ boy senator from Nebraska.

In real life, presidential candidate Donald Trump recently accused Sec. Clinton of playing the “woman card,” meaning either her path to president is easier because she is a woman or her womanhood is her only qualification for the job or the only reason a woman would vote for her is because of her gender or she only cares about “women’s issues” or some combination thereof. Whatever he meant, his statement was offensive, not only to Sec. Clinton, but to all women.

Any woman knows there are few things in life that are easier because you are a woman. More women than men graduate from college, but only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. A woman in some cases must work twice as hard as a man to be recognized (and sometimes paid less) for the same work. Women in the workplace put up with stereotypical comments that are seen as positive traits in men, i.e., a woman is a “bitch,” a man is “demanding.”

Clinton’s accomplishments as an attorney, First Lady, senator, and Secretary of State, making her one of—if not the—most accomplished women ever in the history of US politics—speak for themselves. The only position she attained because she was a woman was First Lady, and even then she reshaped the role forever by her efforts to reform health care and creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which now provides health care to eight million children. In addition, to helping children, she helped first responders impacted by 9/11, negotiated a cease fire in the Middle East, and orchestrated the killing of Osama Bin Laden. These are not your grandmother’s women’s issues.

As for women only voting for women, women make up 51% of the population and more of them vote than men, but still only 20% of US senators are women. As an aside, during a recent snowstorm, every female senator—Republican and Democrat—showed up for work. None of the men did.

Maybe Donald Trump needs a “woman card” to “get stuff done.”

Whitney Fairchild is based on extensive research I conducted for the novel, studying the lives and works of many great Democratic female senators. Not only Hillary Clinton of New York, but also Barbara Boxer of California, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, and Dianne Feinstein of California.

Although Hillary Clinton is poised to shatter the ultimate glass ceiling—and become the first woman president of the United States of America—Whitney Fairchild is her own person, with her own personality, history, and life and work experiences.

But don’t be mistaken…Whitney aims to break some glass of her own.

DON'T SPEAK - The Journey

I started this journey back in October 2010. At dinner one evening, my wife, Audi, said, “You’ve read your entire life and always have a book in your hand. Sometimes two. You have a passion for reading. You should write a book.” I looked at her in surprise and in my best Michael Jackson voice responded, “I’m a reader not a writer.” [In “The Girl is Mine,” Michael sang “I’m a lover not a fighter.”]

That night, I dreamed the original plot for Don’t Speak. When I woke up the next morning, I researched online how to write a novel. I wrote for school and work, but rarely wrote for pleasure. The Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson resonated with the analytical side of me. I recorded my dream on paper and began outlining my novel. Over the next year, I woke up at four a.m. every day and wrote for two hours before work. And I am not a morning person. At all. But I found my passion. Writing awakened the creative side of me. I realized I had a story to tell.

It’s been a long road. I learned a lot on this incredible journey, about writing and myself. Writing is not a linear endeavor, but more like a stock market graph; there can be amazing highs and gut-wrenching lows. I met many people in person and online who supported, motivated, and cheered me on, and let me know I was not alone.

I put the manuscript on hold for months at a time as life got in the way. There have been major revisions. But the main characters—Jade, Whitney, Cole, and the killer—were born in my dream that night long ago and have taken on a life of their own. And now Don’t Speak allows me to share them with you.

I hope you enjoy reading my novel as much as I enjoyed writing it.