Monday, May 31, 2010

An Investigative Reporter as the Suspect of a Murder Investigation?

Riley Spartz, an investigative reporter for Channel 3 of Minneapolis television, is in a great deal of trouble. Not only is she being overcome by the challenge of new competition within the newsroom, but also she finds herself in the predicament of being part of a homicide investigation--she is the suspect...
With both her professional reputation and personal freedom at stake, Riley must look into the case of Sam Pierce, a gossip writer with a toxic personality and a reputation for sensationalizing topics that are hardly newsworthy, because she needs to figure out who is responsible for his murder. Sure, Sam was despised by many people, but murder is murder and all the more serious when you are the prime suspect. Maybe throwing that drink on the "star of gossip" in a public bar was not such a great idea. As far as the police investigation goes, Riley is in the spotlight as a result of her recent altercation with Sam, so she focuses her efforts on uncovering the facts behind the crime and unraveling its mystery before it is too late. And clues to the case are coming from enigmatic sources: complicated gun records, floral arrangements, Facebook...
...Riley Spartz is in a dangerous position, and it seems to be getting worse. What will it take to figure out who finally followed through with the act of silencing Sam?
Julie Kramer is the author of Silencing Sam, a murder-mystery thriller with a journalistic slant and comedic undertones. Kramer is no stranger to the territory of investigative reporting: she led the nationally award-winning investigative unit for WCCO-TV in Minneapolis. Currently, she serves as a freelance network news producer for CBS and NBC.
She is also the highly praised author of Stalking Susan, her award--winning debut thriller. Drawing from her personal experience, she crafts the story of Riley Spartz, a reporter caught in an overwhelming struggle for everything--her job, her freedom, and her life. The novel is an engaging and suspenseful thriller from start to finish, though well-balanced with dashes of "deadpan humor" that seem well-placed and effectively utilized.
Fans of her previous work will no doubt appreciate the release of Silencing Sam, and for anyone who enjoys murder mystery and thriller-style fiction, Kramer's newest novel will be a welcome addition to your collection.

The Power to Prevail in a Tumultuous World

Sikander is the story of a Pakistani youth raised in a comfortable upper-middle class family in the region of Peshawar. He loves America from a distance and dreams of one day visiting the country. But Sikander's dream is disrupted as reality settles into his realm: Sikander inadvertently reveals a family secret, and he is drawn into a heated family conflict, which results in his hasty retreat from home. Shortly thereafter, a group of mujahideen fighters offer Sikander the opportunity to join their ranks and combat Soviet forces in an effort to liberate the nation of Afghanistan from Soviet oppression. Sikander agrees, and so begins his incredible journey of self-discovery through the conflict of war, the tragedy of loss, and the confusion of our tumultuous and chaotic world. After war-time experience that leaves him wiser and more worthy of respect, he returns to his family and settles back in his native land. Though Sikander expects a reprieve from conflict, the events of 9/11 leave him once again in uncertain and foreign territory. Now Sikander's dream of visiting America is becoming a nightmare. And the story is only just beginning for Sikander...
The novel Sikander by M. Salahuddin Khan is a well-crafted, eloquent work and Khan's introduction to the realm of novel-writing. It details the life and struggles of Sikander and, as a whole, represents a bildungsroman-style approach to a story that is relevant for our own time of religion-based and regional conflicts. Khan's first novel is woven with the details and intricacies that make life thrilling, overwhelming, strangely satisfying. and altogether terrifying. Sikander is, simply put, a thorough and remarkably well-written book.
Of course, Khan has a great passion for the written word, as is evidenced by the text of the book, and which is also demonstrated by his previous experience with the field of writing: he has served as the publisher for the "highly-regarded" Islamica magazine, and he is held in high esteem by his peers at the online writing community as a writer whose work is always worthy of reading.
A book of this sort can be recommended to anyone in our current age, given its potency and present relevance, but fans of coming-of-age novels, stories that involve the culture and character of the Middle East and Pakistan (specifically), or exciting, yet well-grounded works of biographical fiction will genuinely appreciate everything that Khan has to offer in Sikander.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Writing In a Top Secret Environment

I wrote the first half of WRAITH while still working in an office within the Stealth Bomber community known as “Q” (no kidding). Our clearances were so high that I can’t even tell you what they were called; in fact, I couldn’t even tell most B-2 pilots what they were called. When discussing this unique platform with other writers, I often get looks of envy. “How easy it must be,” they say, “to write about covert ops when you’re actually working in the covert world.” If only that were true.

The truth is that I look with envy upon other writers who don’t have government agents looking over their shoulder to second guess whatever they write. A normal author can make up whatever he wants about covert ops or military technology. I don’t have that luxury. Everything that I write in those arenas must be submitted to an office called Program Security for review. The governing regulations are actually pretty general, but out of tradition, this office is looking for three things: Intentional Disclosures, Unintentional Disclosures, and Inadvertent Disclosures. I love my country and the military I served in, and I would never intentionally disclose classified information, so we can skip the first one. The other two are a big concern, though, so let’s look at them one by one.

Program Security gets to determine if something I say goes too far, if it reveals too much about the areas I worked in. We’ll call this an Unintentional Disclosure, or UD, for short. If I’m careful, a face value UD is unlikely, but even if an individual statement is completely unclassified, it still can lead to a UD. Under a concept called OpSec, Program Security looks for multiple statements that are unclassified that may be pieced together to help foreign intelligence operatives reach classified conclusions. If they feel that statements I’ve written will compromise OpSec, they can forbid me to publish those statements, and I have to obey – that’s part of the security agreement I signed when they gave me the clearances in the first place.

Another area of concern is Inadvertent Disclosures; we’ll call this ID for short. My knowledge of the classified programs I participated and the technology that I was privy to may lead me to draw a fictional conclusion or create fictional hardware. As far as I know, an operation or piece of hardware that I create may not exist, but if it does, my creation may get struck from the record. This could have a devastating effect on my plot.

I used to be an OpSec manager, so I’m pretty good at scanning my own work for OpSec issues and preventing UDs. My biggest concern with WRAITH was actually an ID. A big plot driver in WRAITH is a fictional stealth reconnaissance aircraft called Dreamcatcher. In creating Dreamcatcher I used cutting edge, recently declassified technologies, and then invented some of my own. As far as I know, Dreamcatcher has no real top secret counterpart…as far as I know. But most of Dreamcatcher constitutes a natural convergence of existing technologies, and I feared that I might inadvertently “step on someone’s toes” by including it in WRAITH. Fortunately, Program Security made no such determination and Dreamcatcher survived unscathed.

One final headache is the logistical side of it all. How does one write a book that is technically classified until Program Security gives it a nod? Again, the governing regulations are pretty non-specific – trust me, I was looking for all the guidance I could get. What happens when they read my work and determine I’ve accidentally said something top secret? What happens to my computer, to the networks it was connected to? What happens to my poor, unsuspecting reviewers? There’s almost a “We’ll cross that minefield when we get to it” attitude in the regs, but I can tell you from direct observation what happens when someone sends a UD out over regular E-mail. It’s a very expensive nightmare with a lot of confiscated servers, angry people, and ugly consequences for Mr. Fancy Fingers who sent the E-mail in the first place. I don’t need that.

To dodge this potentially literal bullet, I wrote WRAITH on an un-networked laptop with no internet software. On top of that, I coordinated closely with Program Security throughout the process – something that was very easy while I was still living in that world and became more difficult when I separated from the military halfway through the book.

In the final analysis, the security folks were true professionals. WRAITH went through a very long, two-tiered security review and survived with only minor cosmetic changes, and I lived to write another day.

Reviewer James R. Hannibal is an USAF trained Islamic Terrorism expert, former Stealth Bomber pilot, and the author of WRAITH, a covert ops thriller lauded by Clive Cussler and Publishers Weekly. He is also the author of PIRATES The Midnight Passage. Both are available now from your favorite online bookstore. Find out more about James at

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Great Times at BookExpo America

It's Thursday at BEA and I started my morning walking into the room just behind Jon Stewart who was cheering for coffee and free muffins! He was hysterical! And charming!

Being with the press I was seated right up front and got to get close and chat a bit with some of the people at the front table. That included Jon Stewart, Condolezza Rice, John Grisham and Mary Roach. All VERY amazing people!

Jon Stewart opened up the chat and had everyone laughing within seconds. Of course! He talked about his book entitled EARTH (The book) A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race. It's not finished yet, but he figures it will be in Sept. since that's when they plan on selling it in bookstores. LOL

He introduced Condolezza Rice who was lovely and charming and I quickly became a fan of her book. She wrote about her parents who obviously influenced her a great deal.

When she finished Jon came back up and says, "Don't make me love you." which was very funny. You couldn't help but lover her though and her obvious love of her parents.

Then John Grisham took the stage and poked fun at Jon Stewart a little. Who would have thought that John Grisham had a sense of humor? LOL John Grisham talked his work with a group that helps people who have been wrongly accused and imprisoned here in the US. It was so interesting! Later on John was kind enough to stop and chat for a moment with me and , yes, I got an autograph. lol

Mary Roach was the surprise in the mix. Lesser known, but not of lesser talent, Mary Roach writes SUCH interesting stuff and this book is about who to prepare to go to Mars. It's a real look at the crazy stuff about it like, where do you go to the bathroom in zero gravity? Yes, the answers are all real!!!

It was a fantastic time for all and now I have my coveted Jon Stewart story and John Grisham autograph!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

UnSweet Dreams Shawn Wall Book Trailer

Suzanne Foster cant escape her dreams. One mistake costs a devastating price, and nothing can fill the hole left in her heart. When she finds Seth Griffin, a love triangle moves friendship beyond their insatiable passion to star crossed lovers. Can true love prevail, or are they destined for heartacheLearn more about this author here: Learn more about this book here: Romance

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spells Aprilynne Pike Book Trailer

Six months have passed since Laurel saved the gateway to the faerie realm of Avalon. Now she must spend her summer there and hone her skills as a Fall faerie. But Laurel quickly realizes that her human family and friends are still in mortal danger and the gateway to Avalon is more compromised than ever. The stunning sequel to the bestselling novel WINGS! Learn more about the author here: Learn more about the book here: YA

Vampire Forensics Mark Collins Jenkins Book Trailer

Give in to the lure of the vampire. Using modern forensics, archaeology, and anthropology, the new National Geographics book Vampire Forensics probes vampire legend and digs up historical truths embodied in the gruesome tales that have entertained and haunted us for generations.Vampire Forensics Mark Collins Jenkins Book Trailer Find out more about this author here Find out more about this book ** Video produced by Vidlit Science, Folklore, Vampire

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Meeting the Family Donovan Webster Book Trailer

In his new book, award-winning author Donovan Webster embarks on an epic journey to meet his ancestral human family, following the path set by his DNA some 60,000 years ago. Meeting the Family is part genetic science, part travelogue, and totally fascinating. Learn more about this book here: Non-fiction

Friday, May 14, 2010

True Religion Palmer Chinchen Book Trailer

A rising voice in the missional movement, Palmer Chinchen challenges Christians to a new kind of spiritual formation, one focused on pouring out our life for others and radical dependence upon God. Learn more about this author here: Learn more about this book here:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Billionaire’s Curse Richard Newsome Book Trailer

The first book in a thrilling new trilogy concerning murder, mystery, and money. Lots and lots of money. Gerald Wilkins is pretty much your average twelve-year-old, until he inherits twenty billion pounds from his great-aunt Geraldine, who also leaves Gerald a letter asking him to find her murderer. Gerald along with his friends Ruby and Sam attempt to solve the mystery before the killer finds them. Learn more about this author here: Learn more about this book here: YA, juvenile fiction

Monday, May 10, 2010

Priceless Tom Davis Book Trailer

In this thrilling sequel to Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World, a photojournalist on assignment in Russia joins a dangerous campaign to rescue girls from the sex-slave trade. Learn more about this author here: Learn more about this book here:

Reborn To Be Wild Ed Underwood Book Trailer

How do revivals get started, and how do they off trackEd Underwood looks to the Jesus Movement of the sixties and seventies to suggest answers for todays Christians. Learn more about this author here: Learn more about this book here:

True Religion Palmer Chinchen Book Trailer

A rising voice in the missional movement, Palmer Chinchen challenges Christians to a new kind of spiritual formation, one focused on pouring out our life for others and radical dependence upon God. Learn more about this author here: Learn more about this book here: Religion, Christian Life, General

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

100 Must Read Thrillers

Thrillers:  100 Must Reads
Edited by:  David Morrell & Hank Wagner

Who better to judge the best thrillers of all time,
then thriller writers?  This compilation explores the masters of word and language.  Ancient epics like Beowulf are examined in the microcosm of modern thrillers and how these early wordsmiths are stilling teaching writers. 

Littered with wonderful anecdotes from classics like Shelley’s Frankstein, Stoker’s Dracula, and Shakespeare’s Macbeth today’s best writers give insight into the genres sometimes dark, macabre past.  Many early writers, and a few modern ones had their own demon’s that tortured their souls and those demons manifested themselves in the tomes they created. 

A thoughtful voyage into the characters we’ve come to love and hate.   Thrillers have given us bigger-then-life heroes, that faced insurmountable odds with tough resilience, brains, and determination, and so many of these fictional heroes have become icons.  From spies, assassins, and cold war operatives to odd-ball screw-up’s with a penchant for always being in the wrong place at the wrong time thriller readers, and writers will find familiar favorites and new discoveries.

Today’s masters of the thriller genre give their insights, praise their mentors, and share their inspirations.

These are the books that scared us, convinced us humanity was saved or condemned, gave us insight into the dark places of the human mind, cast light on the human condition, and redeemed us, these are thrillers.

Learn More

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Master and the Muses Amanda McIntyre Book Trailer

They are his inspiration. He is their obsession. Icon, rebel, unabashed romanticwith a single look painter Thomas Rodin conveys the ecstasy of his creativity, the pleasures awaiting the woman who can fuel his artistry. Learn more about this author here: Learn more about this book here:

Monday, May 3, 2010

New Short Film Series from Francis Chan

Is the fear that God talks about in the Bible really much more than we want to admit? Or could it be that this fear of God is what will ultimately lead us to the life that we were created to live. Learn more about his author here: Learn more about this book here: Religion, Christian Life, general