Bonus Fiction Set in the Storyline of Blue Dawn – All That Glitters

The following is a free stand-alone piece of fiction set in the universe of Blue Dawn.  The novelopens with a night of violence where the White House and Capitol are overrun by protesters.  The story picks up five years later as a group of patriots struggle to restore the United States.  You can purchase the book right now on Amazon via this link: Blue Dawn

Below is a story about the night of The Liberation/The Fall – the night of the coup.  This isn’t in the novel, it is an additional bonus piece of fiction. There are some scenes in Blue Dawn set on this pivotal night, and I thought it would be neat to share an additional piece of fiction from those events. It gives you a flavor of book and is a freebee story all on its own.  Enjoy!

All That Glitters

The Night of the Liberation

Washington DC

Camille Dickson was jostled by the crowd of rioters that were packed into the dimly lit streets of the US capital city.  The mass was just like her, wearing black bloc, the black clothing and masks designed to obscure their identities.  Camille had come down from Carnegie Mellon University earlier in the day on a bus that had been charted by the school ANTIFA group, Equity for All. The bus had been loaded with the usual gear, coolers filled with frozen water bottles and bricks for throwing at police, umbrellas for concealment, and clubs (some wrapped in barbed wire) for attacking law enforcement.  She had been surprised at some of the other gear for this riot.  Roman candles, mortars purchased at Phantom Fireworks, gasoline containers and bottles prepped for Molotov cocktails. The stink from the gas containers made the bus ride down I-95 nauseating, but there was something about this trip that felt very different to her.  We are not messing around anymore. We are loading up for war. 

There were a lot of reasons for her to be angry and frustrated.  While the Democrats had won the election, the President-elect mysteriously died. While the autopsy said it was a cerebral aneurism, rumors abounded that he had been deliberately infected with COVID 19 and had died of that.  CNN had an entire series of experts that said that there were many drugs that could have been used to induce an aneurism. The VP-elect was prepared to take his place, but she had been shot by a white nationalist.  To Camille and the other members of her chapter, none of this could be coincidence.  That traitor in the White House…he’s behind this. He must have had something to do with the death of the incoming President.  And that racist asshole that shot the VP…well, everyone knows that the Traitor President is himself a white supremacist. This is all his doing!  All people have to do is follow the bread crumbs. It still amazed her that half of the country turned a blind eye to the events. 

The Traitor had promised free elections, but no one believed him.  He caused this crisis to stay in power.  We are not going through months of campaigning again. He lost, and is manipulating things to stay in power.  The time has come for us to seize what is rightfully ours.  The system is corrupt and needs to be taken down once and for all. Capitalism and the corrupt United States…it all has to be taken down. 

Up until this point the individual ANTIFA teams had not coordinated their efforts.  A relative unknown named Daniel Porter had changed that.  He reached out to the leadership, organized them, got them to work together.  It was a tenuous alliance at best, but so far it was holding. 

As Equity for All’s bus lumbered into Lincoln Park, belching diesel fumes, she realized just how many rioters were in the city.  It was a sea of black clad people.  The air stung of a strange mix of Axe Body Spray, sweat, and a hint of smoked weed. She was used to it, having taken part in the riots in New York earlier in the year.  Camille pulled her black face covering up, not to protect herself from COVID, but to make sure that no camera picked up anything that might identify her.  If my parents knew I was here they’d be furious. A part of that thought made her smile.    

Camille didn’t fear her parent’s wrath.  She loved her parents and at the same time loathed their naïveté.  Her father was the epitome of a capitalist, working at a consulting firm.  He liked to think of himself as a hired gun, a tech expert that was brought in to solve issues companies struggled with.  In Camille’s mind he was part of a larger problem.  He’s making money off of other people’s misery.  Worse yet, her father was a die-hard Republican – a member of the party of tyranny. She saw him as an exploiter in her heart.  When she had told him she was pursuing a degree in Ethics, History and Public Policy, his first reaction had been, “How are you going to make a living with that?” It is always about money with Frank.  He doesn’t understand that it isn’t about income, but satisfaction that matters.

Her mother was worse in her mind, always bragging about volunteering to help the underprivileged through the family church. Her mother was always blind to the reality – that Christian churches were a blight, imposing morals that chaffed with Camille’s beliefs.  The fact that they thought people were underprivileged…people beneath them…only confirmed their arrogance. Yes, her family paid for her schooling, but she had shed the values they held after her first semester at CMU.  When we reshape this country, people like them will have the hardest time adapting. They will have to pay a hefty price for not supporting the cause. A part of her was looking forward to the new era and the struggles her parents would endure. It was justice – social justice.

Where the Emancipation Memorial had once stood there was nothing left but the stumps of the legs of Abraham Lincoln, covered in the letters ‘BLM’ and other graffiti.  Several protesters stood where the legs had been cut off, waving large black flags with three arrows on them. Good!  That statue was an insult. By its very nature it was racist.  Camille felt a little disappointed she had not been there to see it be torn down and destroyed. Despite that sense of having missed out on the destruction, she could not escape a feeling of pride at being there. People put far too much emphasis on Lincoln anyways. From her professors she knew the truth, that privileged white people in the 1860’s had very little to do with freeing blacks; they only had done enough to create the illusion of freedom. I’m ashamed that I am of a race that was part of such crimes.  Of course it was that very thinking, cemented by her instructors, that had driven her to be a freedom fighter in ANTIFA. 

Joshua, the leader of her ANTIFA cell, tossed back his mop of curly hair and used his arms to get his people huddled together.  “When the fireworks start going off near the White House, we are going to move on the US Mint,” he said proudly.  “That’s the target they gave us.  We are to take and hold it.”

“I thought we were hitting the Capitol?” Judy spoke up from behind the black scarf wrapped around her face to hide her identity.    

“No, we drew the Mint,” Joshua yelled back defiantly over the din of the crowd.  “That’s what we got, and we are going to deliver.  We expect that they will have US Mint Police on the roof in night gear.  We are going to set off our fireworks right in their fucking faces – blind them.  We have a battering ram and crowbars to get through the doors.  Several of us are armed.  If they start shooting, we will take the bastards down!”  There was a cheer, barely audible over the chanting and angry voices of the crowd. 

Camille was right – this was not like the other protests.  There was a feeling that it was more organized…coordinated.  She didn’t question who was calling the shots, who had assigned them the Mint. All that mattered was that they had a target. She had been arguing all along they needed more organization. Tonight it all comes crashing down.  I’m going into the belly of the capitalist beast – the Mint.

* * * * *

Captain Diego Sanchez of the US Mint Police could not hide his emotions as he lowered the phone. After long years of service, both in the Army and then in the Mint Police, he had never been able to muster a poker face with bad news. This news was some of the worst he could imagine. 

There had been protests going in the District ever since the election.  The death of the President-elect had stirred a hate that had been already boiling during the pandemic.  The rioters had been getting bolder, more daring, more violent with each passing night. The mayor had made matters worse, pulling back the Washington Metropolitan Police due to ‘security concerns.’  She told the media that the protests were mostly peaceful, which was a blatant lie.  His own car had been hit with rocks and glass bottles on the way in daily. 

Diego Sanchez had been born in the US, right after his mother had come across the border. The hate that the people exhibited to the country ate at him.  He saw America as a land of opportunity, where others saw it as a land of suppression.  It wasn’t that he had never been exposed to racism, he had in his youth. He knew that if you worked hard and were dedicated, you could rise past that.  To Diego, the best revenge in life was being successful, and he had achieved that.  He was in charge of protecting the US Mint in the capital of the United States, and damned proud of it. 

“What is it sir?” asked Sergeant Robertson ominously, rubbing his chin as he stared intently into Sanchez’s dark brown eyes.

“DHS says we are on our own,” he said solemnly. “The protest crowd is larger than ever.  They have to divert everything to Capitol Hill and the White House.”  As he repeated what he had been told a knot started to grow in his stomach. 

“You think they’ll come here?” asked the newest member of the force, Jackson Rodriguez. 

He drew a long breath and surveyed the small team he had to protect the Washington DC Mint.  “In the long history of these United States, no one has ever tried to seize a mint other the robbery in Denver in the 1920’s. It’ll be a cold day in hell if I’m going to let it happen on my watch,” he said, turning to Robertson.  “Dan, call in everybody off-shift.  Tell them to hightail it in here now,” he turned to Lieutenant Fields.  “Debbie, get together a team.  Use those concrete benches out front, form barricades on the entrances.  Leave room for us to assemble before the doors.  Chain and secure the side doors.”  Fields nodded rapidly.  “I want A Squad on the roof, full night vision.  Everyone gets masks, tear gas, and riot gear.”  His people could sense the ratcheting-up of tension. 

“No one might come at all, but DHS thinks we are on a hit list. We are going to get through this,” he said in a low tone.  God I hope so…

* * * * *

Off to the west the sky suddenly filled with fireworks, almost like an accursed Fourth of July display. This was different though.  Mixed in with the commercial fireworks were deep thudding explosions that shook Camille’s chest.  Those are not fireworks – they are using real explosives!  Smoke rolled up out of the area near the White House, illuminated by the streetlights and the roman candles firing skyward.  This is not like any of our other protests, this time we are playing for keeps!

Joshua stood in front of her, cupping his hands like a mini-bullhorn in front of his mouth.  “That’s the signal!  Let’s move!” 

Camille’s heart pounded in her chest. She had never felt so alive, so a part of something important.  Tonight…we make history. 

It should have been a half hour walk to reach the Mint on a normal night, but tonight was anything but normal.  Groups from all over the east coast, each with strange names, The Bangers, Devil’s Wings, the Loose Lefties, roamed the streets, armed and chanting.  Some were openly looting the local businesses, the police were nowhere in sight.  To Camille, it was just stuff. The business owners would file insurance claims and get reimbursed for anything they lost.  They were just capitalists after all, they deserved a little heartache, especially after what they had put the nation through. She could not help but smile as she saw black-bloc clad street warriors coming out of a deli through the smashed window, their arms filled with bags of chips and other foodstuffs.  This is what it is all about, us taking back our country and rebooting it, setting right the wrongs.

The popping of distant guns and the flash of fireworks only heightened the tension of the night.  It took the Equity for All over an hour on the packed streets to reach the US Mint.  The building was dull looking, concrete and brick, looming only a few stories high and filling well over a block of the city.  This was it, the root of all evil.  Some might argue that the Traitor President was the root cause of the nation’s problems, but Camille knew differently.  Money was the real poison in the nation.  The wrong people had it.  The people that deserved it were being held in place by a powerful few.  Tonight that could come to an end. 

When they arrived at the Mint’s headquarters on 9th Street NW, it was clear the protesters had been expected.  The exterior was locked up with barricades in place.  The side doors, large metal ones, had been chained and padlocked.  The main entrance was barricaded with several concrete benches, laid lengthwise and stacked to form a wall in front of the bronze doors that led inside.  Behind the barrier was a handful of US Mint Police, one of DC’s dozen or so police forces.  The USMP officers were wearing body armor, helmets and armed with menacing assault weapons.  As the crowd surged around the entrance, an uneasy moment of standoff formed between the defenders and the sea of black clad youth.   

“This is an unlawful assembly,” a voice boomed from a megaphone behind the barrier.  “You are ordered to disperse immediately.”  To Camille, it was the voice of oppression…the cry of tyranny.  We have every right to be here!  This belongs to us!

The distant popping of gunfire, the rumble of either explosions or fireworks, only seemed to fuel the protesters.  A few bricks and frozen glass bottles flew from the black clothed liberators, raining down on the makeshift barricade, sending shards of glass and bits of stone flying.  It continued for more than a minute, and a part of her wondered if the USMP officers were contemplating standing down.  Joshua ordered the fireworks set off, aimed at the roof, negating any night vision gear they might be using.  The display was spectacular and garnered almost no immediate response from the rooftop. 

Then came the tear gas.  Fired canisters arced in the air, over the first three rows of protesters, raining down in the rear.  Some canisters went deep into their ranks, fired from the rooftops.  Camille put on the goggles that Equity for All had brought for just such a countermeasure.  Her mask didn’t choke out the smell and her eyes still stung, the googles were not perfect but helped.  Snot clogged her nose as she kept her gaze on the prize – the Mint doors looming beyond the barricade. Some of her group picked up the canisters and threw them back, falling short, filling the space between the two groups with a haze of toxic smoke. Another person threw a wet blanket over another canister, preventing the smoke from spreading. The countermeasures seemed to help with her breathing.  Is that the best you’ve got?  We had all summer to learn how to deal with your imperialist tactics.

Another salvo of bricks from the ANTIFA group followed, arcing high and raining down on and behind the barricade.  The wave of blunt objects solicited a staccato of fire from behind the barrier.  Weapons, at least a half dozen, opened up, their crack-pops filling the night, their flashes visible in the cracks of the barrier.  Glancing upward, there were flashes of gunfire from the rooftop as well.  She saw at least three of the protesters in the front row shield wall drop, while others picked up their Plexiglas shields and take their place.  She felt a searing pain in her right thigh and knelt quickly to look at it.  No blood, but it hurt, even through her black jeans.  Fucking rubber bullets.  Camille shook her head.  We are not here to play games tonight. 

Joshua turned from the second row of the protesters.  “Light them up!” he commanded. Camille’s heart raced with those words.   

A new wave of roman candles and commercial mortars went off from the rear, angled down this time, lighting up the front of the US Mint like a compressed Fourth of July display.  The mortars were the worst, they bounced off the barricades and exploded, raining hot sparks on both sides of the emerging conflict.  It caused the defenders to huddle and take cover, so their rain of rubber had come to a temporary halt. Some of the protesters were burned as well, the mortars didn’t distinguish their victims.  

The fireworks were followed immediately with a salvo of Molotov cocktails.  Filled in the rear ranks, they were passed forward, lit and tossed.  Four of them went one right after another.  Two fell short, shattering and sending a plume of orange flames billowing skyward.  One hit the building behind the barrier, sending lapping fire up the side of the building.  Another hit the barrier, right near where two of the concrete benches came together.  That one splashed gasoline into the barricade itself. The flames lapped upward, illuminating the building, adding a new black smoke to the hints of tear gas still lingering.  The light from the fires and the sputtering fireworks made the smoke look ominous, almost like monsters looming in the night.   

* * * * *

Captain Sanchez gritted his teeth inside of the gas mask as the flames roared up the side of the building next to him.  The heat made him flinch and recoil behind the makeshift concrete barrier.  One of his personnel, Ashley Bond, turned towards him and saw her arm was on fire.  He patted it out quickly with his gloved hands, feeling the sting of the melting material on his right wrist. 

His gas mask lenses was starting to fog as a glass bottle shattered above him, raining down bits of sharp shrapnel.  These little shits are not just protesting, this is a siege!  Looking around the cramped space in front of the massive bronzed doors, he realized that their position was at risk. 

I can’t give up. Protecting this building is my responsibility.  He grabbed the transmit button on the mike on the shoulder of his tactical gear.  “This is Ramrod to all units.  Use of live ammo is authorized.”  The words were bitter in his mouth.  He knew that people were going to die with that decision.  Worse yet, the culture of the nation was such that when it happened, his officers would be stained a criminals.  As a Roman candle ball burst on the wall above him and showed him with hot sparks, he purged that thinking and fast.  If they want to dance, I’ll call the tune.  “Repeat, this is Ramrod.  Live ammo is authorized.” 

He lifted his weapon and fired a burst of three rounds into the front ranks of the black-clad mob, aiming at what appeared to be the lead instigator, the one barking out orders to the others…   

* * * * *

The US Mint Police returned fire with deadly accuracy.  The first shots hit Joshua, but these were not rubber bullets.  His head exploded in a spray of crimson gore that splattered the front lines of Equity for All’s force. Others tore into the shield wall, and the cries of those hit filled the air.  Camille’s heart pounded in her ears as a droplet of blood, one of her friends, hit her goggles, blurring the vision momentarily in her left eye.  Several guns fired from her people as well, thwacking and sparking on the barriers.  Several bullets hit the glass portions of the entry doors but only left fractured marks.  Bulletproof glass!

More Molotov Cocktails flew as the black-clad line started to fall back.  One in particular arced high in the air, coming down on the left side of the barricade on the far side, where the defenders were huddled.  Some of the gunfire stopped and she saw the doors behind the barrier open and the US Mint Police dart through the opening and into the interior.  They are retreating!

“Rush them!” she cried out, so loud that her voice was simply lost in the din of other voices roaring and screaming out.  Suddenly she was caught up in the rush towards the now-abandoned barricades.  The taste of the tear gas in her mouth made her want to vomit, but she ignored it.  As they surged forward, her feet fell on Joshua’s body, almost invisible in the night.  She stepped over him, noting that his death could not be in vain.  We are all patriots tonight!

It took several minutes for the crowd to pull down the benches as the gasoline burned away.  The big bronze doors were closed, no doubt sealed.  Another friend of hers, Paula, called out for the battering ram.  The crudely hewn log as brought up and slammed repeatedly into the big pair of doors.  At first it seemed to be a futile effort.  The imposing doors held firm.  As she got closer, she could see blood drops in front of the door and felt a sense of joy.  They killed or wounded nearly a dozen of us, including Joshua. She grabbed onto the battering ram and added her strength to the blows. 

After nearly two dozen hits, the doors started to show signs of weakening.  Crowbars were applied as well, each clawing for any crack or seam that might offer a bit of leverage.  The already marred glass began to crack as the doors bent.  Finally, after another series of strikes, the hinges on the right side door gave way.  With a massive thud, the bronze door fell onto the terrazzo flooring inside, cracking one slab of the polished stone.  Camille half stumbled through the opening, pushed by the people behind her and barely able to keep upright.

The hallway was eerily silent compared to the chaos outside.  Her people pushed through the opening as if they were water rushing through a hole in a dam.  As they clamored into the building, a few shots rang out from down the hall.  A young girl, Dana, went down, knocked back by a bullet.  Camille pivoted and saw her laying on her back, blood oozing out of her arm as she rocked side-to-side in agony, wailing her pain into the echoing halls. There would be time afterwards to help her – all that matters now was securing the Mint.  Several of the rioters opened fire at a target she couldn’t see.  Bullets ricocheted down the hallway and off of the floors in the distance. A glass door at the end of the hallway exploded, spilling thousands of fragments onto the floor.  Camille pressed forward with the rest of the crowd.

* * * * *

Captain Sanchez glanced at his shoulder where a bullet had cut a furrow into his flesh.  His blue shirt was soaked crimson down the sleeve from the wound. He knew from his training in the Army that the shot was not fatal, the blood made it look a lot worse than it was. 

They had fallen back to a place in the central hallway, where he could control access to the main stairs and elevators as well as access to the printing presses.  They had cobbled together a fallback position out of furniture that was already starting to get riddled with bullet holes.  The thick oak tables that were laid on their long sides stopped the smaller caliber bullets, but many others simply snap-cracked through.  They had draped spare Kevlar tactical vests over the wood in some places, which at least stopped some of the shots. 

Glancing over to his right he saw the burly Sergeant Robertson, a stream of blood running from his curly hair down onto his shirt.  Propping himself up, he fired a spray of automatic fire down the hallway.  The terrazzo floor chipped and sparked as the bullets danced into the rioters ranks.  Two fell fast, while others dove for cover. 

“You okay?” Sanchez asked as he did a fast check of his own magazine. His ears had popped as soon as the firing started indoors, despite the plugs he put in.  TV always made firing a gun indoors look easy.  In reality, it was deafening. 

“We don’t have enough ammo,” Robertson replied, reloading and firing a controlled short burst down the hall. 

Sanchez’s mind tried to come up with option. He had deployed the roof team to the rear doors at the other end of the building, and hadn’t heard anything from them.  There was no other fallback position for them, nowhere else for them to go.  This is it – last stand. 

A spray of bullets tore into their defensive position.  Robertson lurched back, falling on the floor in a crimson smear.  His eyes were open, staring up at the florescent lighting above them, but he was gone…Diego could see that.  Damn!

One round hit the table in front of him, throwing a bit of splintered oak into his knee like a knife.  He reeled under it.  Then came a pair of hits on his bulletproof tactical vest.  Each felt like a mule kicking him, throwing him back.  Another shot hit him in his right arm.  For a moment, everything flashed white in his eyes – the pain was so intense. With his free arm he swung the weapon around, switching to full auto, and sprayed the hallway where the shots were coming from. 

Just before he passed out he saw Lieutenant Debbie Fields drop next to him, half of her head gone and her gray matter exposed.  Sanchez wanted to throw up, but the searing pain seemed to sweep him.  A wave of vertigo took him and hit the floor hard.  The last sensation he felt for before passing out was a blunt object hitting his jaw. 

* * * * *

Twenty-eight minutes later…

As she entered the massive print room she was awestruck with its size and scope. The last of the US Mint Police had made a bloody last stand in a hallway.  A lot of good people were dead and wounded before a thrown Molotov cocktail had set the police position ablaze.  Several attempted to surrender, but the students were past that point.  They pounced on the officers who held their hands up, flailing at them madly with clubs. She stepped forward and commanded her comrades to stop, and they did…far too late for one of the officers who lay beaten to death. The image of the blood and gore no longer startled her.  This was war, a war they were winning.   

The last surviving Mint Police officer was dragged in front of her.  He was a Hispanic officer, his arms covered in blood.  His right eye was starting to swell shut. His name badge on his tactical vest was covered with blood but she could make out ‘Sanchez.’  Camille looked at him with hate. Police are racists, all of them.  She saw them for what they were, a part of a brutalizing system to keep free people suppressed.  Worse yet, he should be fighting with us.  He’s a traitor to his own people.  Tyrin, a portly youth who had helped drag the officer out, looked up to her.  “What do we do with him?”

It was in that moment that she realized that somehow she was in charge.  Joshua was dead, so were others.  They were looking to her now.  She never felt so empowered, so free.  She glared down at the officer.  The students holding him on either side lifted him so she could see his face.  Their deaths can’t have been in vain.  “You want to beg for your life I suppose?”

The fear washed from his face, replaced with an icy resolve, almost as if he had gotten his second wind.  Through his bloodied lips, he dared to smile back at her.  “Fuck off,” he said, spitting a little blood at her in the process. The splatter was almost invisible on her black pants.  “You think you’ve accomplished something.  You’re wrong.  All you’ve done is prove you’re just a bunch of murderers.  Your parents should be ashamed you were even born.” It was clear that he knew his fate was sealed.   

Camille didn’t have to speak the order.  One of the students holding the officer drove down the butt of the rifle into the top of his head with a solid crunching-crack.  His body went limp, his eyes closed.  They let his body fall limp on the cold terrazzo floor.  Blood pooled from where his scalp had been torn by the brutal hit.  She eyed the corpse for a minute.  You may be right, my parents will be ashamed…and I don’t give a fuck.  The order of power is changing, and we are leading it.  

* * * * *

Fifteen minutes later Camille stood on a stairway platform high over the main printing room as the lights flickered on everywhere in the vast basement chamber.  People were moving down on the floor, grabbing uncut sheets of racist Andrew Jackson twenty-dollar bills, waving them like flags.  We will have to change the money after tonight – remove the tainted presidents and replace them with more fair and just figures that better represented the true history of the nation.

“Let’s smash it all!” called out Jamie, a lanky black student who held a crowbar in his hands as if it were a sword in the hand of an avenging angel. 

“No!” she commanded from her stairway perch overlooking the print shop floor. “We will need it. No smashing! This is the people’s money. Take what you want, but leave the rest intact.”  Her voice boomed downward and every eye fell on her. She knew then and there that she was in charge, even if just for the time being.   We are going to need this all. Whoever controls the money, controls the people and the nation.  After tonight, everything changes…

The Launch of Blue Dawn

I’m quite pleased that this is finally out there.

Blue Dawn is my first political thriller. There was some sort of weird ‘glitch’ with Amazon and the Kindle pre-orders today with Amazon nuking all of the pre-orders. It is now available on Kindle – for immediate download.  My recommendation is to reorder it if you ordered it and Amazon cancelled your preorder. The paperback is also available right now. 

I’m quite excited about this book for many reasons. First, it is timely – this takes place five years from now in an alternate history. Second, current events drive a great deal of the plot and setting for this story. Third, as a historian, the concept of a second American Civil War is both horrifying and fascinating. Fourth, I have been working on some parts of this novel for over six years and to see it reach a satisfying fruition is exciting. Fifth, this kicks off a setting for future novels to carry the storyline forward. I have mapped out a lot of wonderful stories and characters in this new universe.

The short version summary:  It is fiction with hard ties to the real world…the core of any good political thriller.

I have been wanting to tell this kind of story…the impetus of a new American civil war, for a long time. Initially it was hard to articulate. As a published military historian, I find such conflicts compelling from a storytelling perspective. That does not mean I have a desire for such a war to start. After all, a new conflict would not look at all like the last civil war, where the dividing line was state borders. This will be far messier and more complex.

What plays out is more like the American Revolution in the south, where you have loyalists and colonists fighting each other in their own communities. People often gloss over that part of the America Revolution; when Americans faced off against each other over British control of the colonies. I found it to be a good model/concept for writing about a new civil war. In some cases state lines would factor in, but it could just as easy be a series of neighbor vs. neighbor, or rural vs. urban clashes.  

Also, our culture is different, as is the kindling that would potentially kick off a conflict. The roles of Big Tech, social media, and the mainstream media in corrupting our thinking cannot be overlooked. We saw things this last year happen so fast that people could not wrap their heads around them – which was something I wanted to capture as well in the novel. I knew I couldn’t write this book until I personally had a firm grasp on how things might look, in an alternate-reality setting. Getting that right took time.

In the end, while many people say, “If things went down, I’d pick up my gun and defend this country,” the reality is that things can unfold so quickly that kind of reaction may not be practical.

Last summer, with the pandemic, the rioting and looting that took place, the civil and social unrest, the draconian influence of Big Tech (and the mainstream media,) the overreach of authority by government – the story finally started to come together. The year 2020 was providing me the perfect platform for the story. Forced isolation, thanks to the ‘spicy virus’ (as my nurse/daughter calls it) gave me the time I needed to crack open all of the old ideas I had and pull them into a cohesive set of stories and characters. I had almost three dozen pages of ideas and notes that would ultimately find its way into this book, or others that will follow on in future novels.   

Another big driver for me to write this book was the entire cancel culture and woke movements. It is nothing less than digital mob violence and attempts to impose censorship with threats and intimidation; striking me as anti-American on many levels. One such ‘social justice warrior’ went so far as to threaten my life – before the book was even published! Suffice it to say, I felt highly motivated to ensure this book was published and I found the right publisher to do it with Defiance Press.

I finished the last draft of Blue Dawn just before the 2020 election. Strangely, some of the events that followed were already in the novel, to the point where I contacted my publisher to assure them that the attack on the Capitol was not some publicity stunt on my part. Let’s just say, there are ‘similarities,’ though the context and outcomes are quite different.

Blue Dawn has an ensemble and diverse cast of characters. I didn’t want to tell one story, but provide a lot of different perspectives of the overthrow of America and its recrafting to the progressive state of Newmerica.  While elements of this setting are dystopian, I would say that they are less that and more ‘dark and gritty.’ 

This novel is less about the setting as it is the characters. These characters drive the story…hard and fast. These are some of my favorite characters that I have created in my career, especially two of the core female characters – Charli and Caylee. This is the story of individuals who are thrust into circumstances that are often far beyond their control. All of them must cope with the strains of living in a world that has been forcibly changed, regardless of their feelings.  I think it is akin to what many readers may feel about the inflicted changes being forced on them in the real world right now as well.

This book is NOT for everyone. I will state up-front I’m a proud conservative and this book is a political thriller, so if you are not conservative, it probably isn’t going to be your fare. If you remotely think you might not like it, simply don’t buy it. That system has worked for centuries. I’m willing to bet that at least 47% of the country will find it captivating.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing a lot about the book in my blog, including some additional pieces of short fiction. Feel free to follow my blog if you want to keep up. There will be a book signing or two, and some other events, including next week’s Rally Against Censorship in Houston, Texas In the meantime, here’s a link to the Amazon description and cover…enjoy, and get ready. With this book, I’m giving you a glimpse of our nation from a new and frightening perspective.

Amazon Paperback

Amazon Kindle

My next post will be some free bonus fiction. 

Review of Alter Road by James Mark

Detroit ablaze!

I purchased this novel on an impulse.  It is published by one of my publishers (Defiance Press) and since it was set in Detroit, a city I lived in the suburbs of and know all too well, I thought it might be interesting to read. Besides, I think authors should support their colleagues. 

This is a story about a big corporation shutting down the power to a city and the riots that followed. It’s not that farfetched, especially when you consider Enron’s role in the rolling brownouts in California decades ago. 

The novel has an ensemble cast, something I have become personally fond reading in recent years. It lets authors explore a situation from different character perspectives and James Mark does this masterfully. It is a mix of alternate history and political thriller, with a lot of military action in the later portion of the novel. In other words, there is something here for everyone.

What I particularly enjoyed was how it demonstrated how protests can and do get out of hand. The sections on the Michigan militia group were fascinating to read as well.  The battle for Detroit was not just complex, but fascinating to read. 

Mark has set this up perfectly for a sequel, which I sincerely hope that he is writing. His descriptions of Detroit show that he has first-hand experience with that locale.  For me, it was easy to picture the streets, buildings, and intersections where he had artfully placed his characters. This novel has tales of strife, daring, a dash of terrorism, and a good old fashioned insurrection. 

The twist in the last 3% of the book with the Middle East really caught me off guard.  Well done! A solid five out of five stars.  There’s still some time for some summer reading – so pick this one up.

Blue Dawn – ebook/Kindle Edition – Available for Presale

Preorders are up!

I’m pleased to announce that Blue Dawn, my upcoming political thriller set five years from now, is available for presale in Kindle (ebook) format from Amazon.com.

The Amazon.com link (above)

The book will be available in printed form as well…it is in layout right now.  It all drops for the public on 27 July.

This book is one I have been wanting to write for a while. I finished it just prior to the election last year and was surprised at some of the things I wrote about unfolding in real-life, albeit with some real differences. This is a book that I think many conservative readers are going to want to pick up and read.  Think of this as alternate history with a twist or two you never anticipated.

It takes place five years after the violent overthrow of the US government by progressives and radical extremists.  America is gone.  A quasi-socialist nation named Newmerica sits atop the rubble of the old United States.  The winners call it ‘The Liberation,’ while those impacted by its harsher results refer to it as ‘The Fall.’  Being conservative means you are often shipped off to Social Quarantine camps – under the auspices that it is for your own safety.  Almost every edifice of the old nation has been destroyed, as evidenced on the cover of the book. 

As it turns out, you can destroy monuments…you can’t crush the American spirit. That doesn’t mean people won’t try.

It is the story of a number of people, drawn together, who realize the opportunity to restore what was ripped from them.  Those in power are unwilling to let things go back to the way they were, and are willing to do anything to hold onto the reins of the nation.  The ensemble group of characters each comes at this conflict from a different perspective – giving the reader a wonderful glimpse into the darker elements of the Newmerica society.  

It is a political thriller – with ties to the world we live in right now.  There are James Bond-ish elements to the story, as well as moments designed to tug at your patriotic heartstrings.  I really like the characters of this story, they carry it – individually and collectively. The ties to the real world are chillingly close.  I have always believed that good fiction should spark discussion, and Blue Dawn presents that.   

I will be posting some new fiction set in this universe as well as some interesting blog posts on how this story came to be.  Welcome to Newmerica – where fear trumps freedom and where demonstrating patriotism is a criminal act. 

Coming Soon – Blue Dawn

It began with a virus, it ended with a coup.

Coming in just a few months’ time (27 July 2021) is my first political thriller, Blue Dawn. I’m quite excited about this book for many reasons. First, it is timely – this takes place five years from now in an alternate history. Second, current events drive a great deal of the plot and setting for this story. Third, as a historian, the concept of a second American Civil War is both horrifying and fascinating. Fourth, I have been working on some parts of this novel for over six years and to see it reach a satisfying fruition is exciting. Fifth, this kicks off a setting for future novels to carry the storyline forward. I have mapped out a lot of wonderful stories and characters in this new universe.

The short version:  It is fiction with hard ties to the real world…the core of any good political thriller.

I have been wanting to tell this kind of story, the impetus of a new civil war, for a long time. Initially it was hard to articulate. As a published military historian, I find such conflicts compelling from a storytelling perspective, though I have no desire for such a war to start. After all, a new conflict would not look at all like the last civil war, where the dividing line was state borders. This is more like the American Revolution in the south, where you have loyalists and colonists fighting each other in their own communities. People forget that part of the America Revolution, when Americans faced off against each other, but I found it to be a good anchor concept for writing about a new civil war. Also, our culture is different, as is the kindling that would potentially kick off a conflict. We saw things this last year happen so fast that people could not wrap their heads around them – which was something I wanted to capture as well in the novel. I knew I couldn’t write this book until I personally had a firm grasp on how things might look, in an alternate-reality setting. That took a while to germinate my thinking.  

Last summer, with the pandemic, the rioting and looting that took place, the civil and social unrest, the draconian influence of Big Tech (and the mainstream media,) and the overreach of authority by government – the story finally started to come together. History was providing me the perfect platform for the novel. Forced isolation, thanks to the ‘spicy virus’ (as my nurse/daughter calls it) gave me the time I needed to crack open all of the old ideas I had and pull them into a cohesive set of stories and characters. I had almost three dozen pages of ideas and notes that would ultimately find its way into this book, or others that will follow on in future novels.   

Another big driver for me was the entire cancel culture and woke movements. It is nothing less than digital mob violence and attempts to impose censorship with threats and intimidation; striking me as anti-American on many levels. More on this in later blog posts, but suffice it to say, I felt highly motivated to ensure this book was published and I found the right publisher to do it with Defiance Press.

I finished the last draft of Blue Dawn just before the 2020 election. Strangely, some of the events that followed were already in the novel, to the point where I contacted my publisher to assure them that the attack on the Capitol was not some publicity stunt on my part. Let’s just say, there are ‘similarities,’ though the context and outcomes are quite different.

It has an ensemble and diverse cast of characters. While elements of this setting are dystopian, I would say that they are less that and more ‘dark and gritty.’  This novel is less about the setting as it is the characters. These characters drive the story…hard and fast. These are some of my favorite characters that I have created, especially two of the female characters – Kara and Caylee. This is the story of individuals who are thrust into circumstances that are often beyond their control. All of them must cope with the strains of living in a world that was thrust upon them.  It is akin to what many readers may feel about the inflicted change being forced on them as well. 

This book is NOT for everyone. I will state up-front I’m a proud conservative and this book is a political thriller, so if you are not conservative, it probably isn’t going to be your fare. If you remotely think you might not like it, simply don’t buy it. That system has worked for centuries. I’m willing to bet that at least 47% of the country will find it captivating. If you are terminally woke and are purchasing it to deliberately get offended, I suggest purchasing multiple copies to really get yourself fired up. Multiply your anger, fear and frustration with bulk buying! Cha-ching! 

In the coming months, I’ll be writing a lot about the book in my blog, including some additional pieces of short fiction. Feel free to follow my blog if you want to keep up. There will be a book signing or two, and some other events I’m batting around after the book comes out. In the meantime, here’s a link to the publisher’s description and cover…enjoy, and get ready. With this book, I’m bringing the fight to you.

A Pleasant Surprise – The US Planned Invasion of Canada

 

Scan_20190519

My wife and I went to Barnes and Noble two weeks ago.  I don’t spend a lot of time in bookstores…usually because I am writing books, not looking for them.  I hadn’t been to a B&N in a long time, at least two years. I had to admit I found myself wondering just how long the place would stay open – there were more employees than customers.

I wandered through the genres I write about, just seeing what was on the shelves, when I finally drifted to the magazine rack.  There I spotted “What If… Book of Alternate History.”  I love this genre so I scarfed a copy.  In line with my wife, I opened it and saw there was a section on What if the US had invaded Canada?  Wow.  I wrote about that (twice) in my book NeverWars (Fonthill Media).  War Plan Red covered this much better in the 1930’s, but the earlier plan, for the 1904-1916 version was a fun read.  So I wondered if the author had used any of the same sources as me.

I flipped to that page and was surprised.  I was the author.

Scan_20190519 (2)

I remember writing it for a British history magazine years earlier and it never dawned on me that they would reprint it.  What a weird surprise.

I do recommend the magazine – there are some wonderful articles in it as well as a list of the best alternate history novels.

Review of Wild West Exodus – Miniatures Game

WWX1

For two GenCon’s now I have seen the exquisite displays for this game – so I broke down and played a quick demo and bought a copy of the rules.  I have to approach this review from two perspectives – one is the game – the other is the universe itself.  I don’t know much about Warcradle Studios, but I am impressed with aspects of this game system.

The game is solid as a miniatures tactical game.  My own little playtest at home taught me that if you have more than a dozen or so minis, it can get slow.  Otherwise, the flow is good.  Players use Activation Decks (of cards) to determine initiative which adds a bit of Old West flare to the game.  The Action Card deck uses a system of points (1-5) to activate miniatures.  There is an Adventure deck where a player draws a number of cards based on the size of the scenario and these can be used for Guts and Glory.  Glory improves your accumulation of victory points – where Guts is the other end of the spectrum or provides some unique quirks to the game such as interruption of another action.

From a game perspective, the minis have statistics that are very close to those for a RPG game (which the rules strangely lack).  You have Quick, Mind, Limit, Fight, Aim and Grit.  I won’t bore you with the details, but each factor into play.  I get the feeling that the designers were on the verge of doing a RPG, but opted for a minis game instead.

Fortune factors in as well – measured with poker chips.  You can spend Fortune on things like aiming, re-rolling failures, etc.  You’re limited with these but my own experience at GenCon taught me that these can change the course of a gunfight.  Other things that factor in are artifacts and magic portals…more on that stuff below.

The miniatures range for Wild West Exodus is outstanding and exquisite and one of the key draws for the game.  I picked up a couple of the minis and was impressed with their detail.  The ones I got were hard plastic.

WWE4

WWE3

Overall, the game has solid mechanics and game flow.  The pace is pretty fast once you go over the basics.  The rules are, for the most part, straight-forward and easy to digest.  There’s a lot of diversity about weapons types and impacts that give the game a good flavor of play.  I love how they baked in the lingo of the old West into the rules for flavor.  Hats off to the designers for their writing.

The universe itself as “The Dystopian Age.”  Most alternate history games change one thing, like the South winning the American Civil War, then the universe is the result of things that happen after that.  I was expecting that.  Wild West Exodus does not follow this model.  Instead it changes dozens of things to craft a crossover between steampunk, Wild West historical, magic, and alien technology. More than half of the rules is dedicated to the background.  Some of the writing here is pure genius, where other parts are hard to follow.

What emerges from this background is nothing like the American Wild West – a dizzying blur of faint historical context and a dollop of incredible imagination. In the end, I like playing the game more than I do digging into the universe background on this set of rules. There were parts of the complex background that I did not like, but parts of it are brilliant.  There are no good or bad guys here, every faction has a dark side to it which I like.  There are a lot of factions to choose from.

The game itself is very good, the background is something you and your players will have to pick and choose from as to what you like.  Overall, I give this an eight out of ten, mostly because I have not warmed up to the background of the universe just yet.

Review of Fallout by Harry Turtledove

fallout

I’m going to try and keep this a spoiler-free review of this novel, so it will be relatively short.  In his first novel in this series, Bombs Away, Turtledove laid an intriguing twist…what if we had used nuclear weapons in the Korean War? How could that have played out?

The answer is a world where B-29’s drop bombs fresh from the factory.  This is not Wargames version of global thermonuclear war…it is slow, grinding, ponderous and painful. It is a bomber war.

In book two, Fallout, we see the results of this war lumbering forward.  There is no quick victory here for the characters.  As with all Turtledove novels I’ve read, he’s got multiple story lines and perspectives in play.  The nature of the war shifts in Fallout, bringing rise to the use of nukes on the battlefields.  Several of the story line characters are on those fields of war and experience first-hand the kind of war we only speculated as children.

Both sides start to break out their WWII surplus tanks and weapons to replace losses.  I know some readers found that far-fetched but in reality, up through the 1960’s, the Soviets maintained a large stockpile of T34/85’s from WWII, just for such an eventuality.  I learned that in my research for my own military history book, The Fires of October.

Personally, I would have enjoyed more battle scenes.  There are some story lines I found myself drawn to.  The woman sent off to the gulags is an angle that is proving interesting and is something of a departure for typical Turtledove characters.  I also love the cliffhanger moments with the English woman who owned a bar in Bombs Away.  I came away from the book thinking about how cursed some people are to having bad things happen to them.

The politics of the war and the rise of Joe McCarthy get some reader-time, but don’t seem to add much to the novel.  I wish that had been explored more as a source of tension.  Then again, knowing Turtledove, he could be holding back an “October Surprise” for us fans.

The book does have a big escalation moment near the end – which I won’t spoil.  It was good – damned good.  It could have been more – but it was still pretty awesome.

People love to take shots at Harry Turtledove’s work, as one of the fathers of contemporary alternate history.  Going after his style, his repetition, his character arcs, etc., is almost cliché at this point.  I won’t go there.  People like to take shots at the people at the top of their game – there’s something very American about it.  I won’t.  I’m enjoying the series.

If you liked Bombs Away, you’ll find Fallout as a good solid novel.  Four out of five stars in my opinion.

 

Review of Amerika – Alternate History by Paul Lally

Amerika
Nazi’s, A-Bombs, and General Patton.  What could go wrong?

Spoilers below!  This was a novel that seemed to have a lot of potential but seemed to fail on delivery for me.  It’s a “Nazi’s got the A-bomb” book, with some neat twists.  The Germans attacked on the day after Pearl Harbor, nuking Washington DC and New York.  America goes all neutral on Germany’s ass.  The German’s press the war on, nuking other capital cities around the globe but get bogged down in a war deep in Russia.

The story centers on a pilot of a rundown flying boat living under the heels of Nazi dominated neutrality.  America however is not entirely on the ropes.  General George S. Patton and the Sons of Liberty are planning to send the Nazi’s reeling with a diabolical plan of their own involving using a captured German nuke on our own reactors to prevent the Nazi’s from getting our plutonium – since they have exhausted their own supply.

Hilarity ensues.

Generally I am all over a book with Patton in it.  I’m a sucker for Patton, having read many of his biographies.  Patton’s role in the book proved to be fairly limited however.

I had two issues with the book.  One, it seemed to waste a lot of text on flying airplanes.  It was buried in pointless technical dialogue that didn’t help the story along.

Second, the plot itself was clumsy.  Why bomb our own source of plutonium production?  America is a big place and hiding our stash would have been easier and faster than nuking t.  It just felt forced to me, and a bit unnecessary.  Also, we have Nazi troops landing in Washington and Louisiana, clearly violating our neutrality, but it never even seems to make the press or airwaves in the book.

The one thing I did love about the plot is it’s like watching a 1940’s film akin to Casablanca.  The dialogue is good (when it’s not about flying a plane) and it has that 1940’s spy film feel to it.  The characters come right out of central casting and each has a good arc in the story.  Paul Lally made me like some characters and hate the bad guys.

The writing is solid too. Mr. Lally is clearly talented and his prose are crisp.  He weaves in dialogue from the 1940’s masterfully.  I only wish I had subscribed to his plot more than I did.  I give this book three and a half stars out of five.  It’s fair, if you want to read another Nazi bomb story.

Book Review – Storm Front – Alternate History

Storm Front
Not your typical “Nazi’s win WWII” alternate history – which is refreshing on its own. 

Storm Front (Book I of the Twilight of the Gods) is set in 1985 in a world where Germany was not destroyed as a result of WWII.  I phrased that carefully.  This isn’t your typical alternate history fare, where Germany won the war.  Yes, they defeated Russia and France, but they entered a Cold War era with Britain and the US.  On the whole, that makes for a fascinating set of perspectives of what life would be like in 1985 in the Reich.

Many books in the genre use war as the tapestry to tell the story.  Storm Front doesn’t do that, not directly anyway. There’s a war, in South Africa, a mirror to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, but we are not sucked into it as part of the storytelling – something I was surprised by (in a positive way).  Storm Front takes a higher road, going along the route of Man in a High Castle.

Ultimately this is the story of characters who become unlikely catalysts in a revolution.  The analogy to Poland is interesting but the differences are only on the surface.  Author Christopher Nuttall isn’t afraid to draw connections to real world events but often takes them in his own creative direction.  Some of the characters are intricate in terms of their motivations – which I like.

This was my first taste of his writing and I have to admit, I’m going to dive into the second book when it comes out.  He plays homage to Harry Turtledove in the book, which seemed a little corny while at the same time was perfectly acceptable.  Even as a historian, I struggle with the the German ranks, but his only other choice was to do a Hogan’s Heroes approach to the dialogue and that would have sucked.  Kudos for making the right call Mr. Nuttall.

What was nice was that this first book had a logical ending point – without leaving me hanging without some degree of closure on key plot lines.  At the same time Nuttall has done a great job of setting up the next book in the series.

I give Storm Front 4.5 stars…not your typical fare for alternate history, which gives it some refreshing appeal.