Saturday, March 28, 2009

My writers studio

On another blog I frequent, The Killzone, John Miller posted a wonderful article that included a picture of his writing studio. It was a wonderful looking place. A one room little cabin in his backyard in the Louisianna woods. So comfortable and conducive to creativity. I began to wish that I had such a place.

I don't though. Therefore I do my writing where ever I and my laptop tend to be. Preferably in my comfy wingback recliner next to the fire place in my living room. Twice a week its on a hard metal chair at the swimming pool while my son practices or on the floor of the Tae Kwon Do Dojang surrounded by the sound of shouts and fleshy whacks as my other son kicks his way to his 2nd degree Black Belt. Sometimes its in my truck at lunch time if I don't go to the gym. Frequently its in my bed from 10-midnight as my wife breathes in soft slumber beside me.
My days are surrounded by natural sites. Denali is framed in my office window, unless three hundred miles of clouds billow over it. The Chugach mountain range is in my truck window in the parking lot where I work. My house, even thought we are in the suburbs, is surrounded by trees and flanked by the same Chugach mountains to the east. In the summer I might ride my bike down the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail to a secluded bench that overlooks Cook Inlet and watch the mountains beyond my part of the Pacific change colours as the tide rolls in, with the occasional pod of belugas cresting and sliding back beneath to their world.
Someday, when I have enough books to justify the cost I hope to build just such a studio as John has. Mine will be a log cabin in the mountains with a panoramic view of the Ocean and surrounded by thick trunked spruce trees pointing heavenward. Until then the place I have is well enough.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Winter is Slip Sliding Away..and so is the volcano

And thus it goes. Thaw time is upon us, of sorts. It is actually snowing outside and according to the weather service we will see a "light ashfall" as well from the erupting Mt. Redoubt.

Ah the joys of Arctic life.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Writer Interview: JA Konrath aka Jack Kilborn

Today I am happy to have touring Crime writer Joe Konrath aka Horror novelist Jack Kilborn.
Joe is doing a huge and apparently successful blog tour of the web appearing on as many as half a dozen blogs a day to tout his new horror novel "Afraid" written under the pseudonym Jack Kilborn. As I understand this is neither a novel for the faint of heart nor the child at heart...unless that child is "Chucky".

Joe also hosts a really informative blog and forum titled "The Newbies Guide to Publishing". Go check it out, I really recommend it. And join some of the contests at his forum, you'll learn a lot in the process.

How long have you been a published writer?
Since 2003. My first novel was published in 2004.

How many books did it take before one got picked up by an agent/publisher?Whiskey Sour, my first sold book, was the tenth one I'd written. A few of my early, unsold books are available for free on my website,

Have you ever sung an opera or performed a ballet?
Karaoke is the closest I come, but I win karaoke all the time.

What got you into the whole writing thing in general?
I love to tell stories.

Do you have plans to write other genres in the future?
Yeah. I'll be doing a sci-fi series soon.

If so, what pseudonym would you use those genres?
We'll see. But the initials will be JK.

Where do you hail from and what is your favorite part of the country?
From Chicago. I like it, except for winter, which lasts from October until May.I've been to most of the states in the union, and they all have their pluses and minuses. Eventually, I want to live on a lake, someplace where it doesn't get too cold.

I once saw the three Tenors (Pavarotti, Domingo, and Carreras) sing together on stage. They were joined by pop singer Michael Bolton. Would you consider yourself an opera singer in the class of Pavarotti, or more like Michael Bolton....or Michael Jackson maybe...or whatever?
I'm more like Tom Waits, before anyone knew who he was.

Ever been to Alaska?
Not yet. Still haven't made it to Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, and North Dakaota.

Wanna come up?
It's on my list of things to do before I turn forty. I turn forty next year.

Once it was so cold in my hometown that I went to pee in the outhouse and the urine froze before it hit the ground. Instead of going tinkle, I went clinkle. It's not really that cold too often. But you might wanna take a summer tour if you come up here.
Summer may be the way to go. I don't think I'd like pissicles.

Let's say your book Afraid is so scary that you frighten the mayor of your hometown and the governor of your state so badly that they banish you for all eternity. Which state would you want to set up your new identity in?
Florida. They don't ban anything in Florida.

Let's say then, that President Obama and the director of the FBI both agree that you are too scary an author to reside in the US, what country would you choose to live in then?
Australia. It's warm, and I don't have to learn a new language.

If you did ever sing an opera would you rather it include a fat lady with butterfly glasses or someone with a horned helmet?
If the one wearing the horned helmet is Elmer Fudd, I'll go with opera.

Your Jack Daniels books are all named after alcoholic drinks. What is your personal favorite cocktail?
Small batch bourbon, on ice. I like Blanton's a lot, but there are other good spirits.

Favorite Wine?
Pinot Noir. No real label preference. I don't drink wine very often.

Favorite Beer?
Sam Adams Utopias. It's a bargain at $250 a bottle.

Black French Roast Coffee or Latte?
Black. Why cut the caffeine with dairy?

When writing your very scary novel Afraid, did you envision yourself as the killers or the killees?
I pictured them in my head, but didn't imagine I was them. That sounds like too much work.

If detective Jack Daniels was in your new book Afraid, what would happen to her?
She'd have a rough time, but emerge victories, like she does in all of her books.

You have a pretty strong web presence and your forum has a lot of greathelpful ideas for new writers. I myself have read a large part of yourNewbies Guide to Publishing and found it quite informative. Why do you do that?
If we can't pass along what we've learned, what's the point in learning it?

You hold a lot of cool little writing contests. What has been the mostinteresting writing competition you have done?
I like the contests that require a story written using a limited amount of words. They really make every word count.

What was the weirdest?
The poetry contest. It ended weeks ago, and I'm still trying to pick a winner.

If you did dance in a ballet what colour would your tights be?
Pink. I'm man enough to wear pink tights.

If the life was ebbing out of your mortal body and you only had the strength to say twenty words or less what would your last advice to your literary disciples be?
Don't sell the movie rights for less than a mil.

After those twenty words, what would your last sentence to the world be?
Before you bury me, make sure I'm not just joking.

Well, there you have it folks, straight from the horses mouth, actually the novelists mouth, and he looks nothing like a horse or any other kind of four legged creature. For that matter I don't even know if horses are mentioned in his books in any major form, so you might as well get that image out of your mind now. I don't even know why you brought it up.

At any rate, be sure to check out Joe's books and his very informative blog and forum at and pick up a copy of his new really scary, hide under the covers and don't let your limbs hang beyond the edge of the bed novel "Afraid" due out March 31st.
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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Liam Cleary: from Karl's Last Flight

DOB: 1974
Place of birth: Antrim, Northern Ireland
Physical Characteristics
Height: 5’8”Weight: 245 lbs
Hair: Brown, short. Combed over.
Eyes: Brown
Skin: Caucasian
Other: Very large body, like a power lifter, not a body builder. Neck size 20 inch, chest 60 inch, waist 36 inch, biceps 21 inch. Bench Press over 450 lbs, deadlift 860 lbs.
Education:Classically training singer from the age of four. Cambridge University, dual degrees in History and Economics.
Military Service:Major of the British Royal Marines. Served with 43 Commando and Special Boat Service from 1995 until 2007.
Professional Career:Major Cleary served for twelve years in the special forces branches of the United Kingdom’s Royal Marine Commandos. In 2007 he was tasked to MI-6 to be inserted into Iran as a covert operative under the cover of a French cloth merchant. He stayed in country for more than two years observing Iranian politics and military movements first hand. In addition to English he is fluent in Irish Gaelic, Farsi, French. He can also passably communicate in Arabic, Urdu, Pashtun and the dialects of the Assyrians and Kurds.
Other Characteristics:Liam is calm and relatively quiet much of the time. He is a devoted family man with a wife and two young children back home in Plymouth England. Many have questioned how an Irishman ends up being a member of one of the UK’s most elite military units and a covert operative for the Queens government. Liam explained that he chose this career after both factions of the Troubles in his native Northern Ireland committed actions that were directly responsible for the deaths of both of his parents. Liam decided that rather than following his grandmothers wish to become a classical singer he would a proactive position at stopping terrorism and factious violence first hand.
Current:In Karl’s Last Flight he is working undercover in Iran trying to disrupt the Iranian Nuclear program.
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Friday, March 20, 2009


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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Doing the Research

Once for a play I was doing I wanted to find out what it was like to be in an artillery barrage...without getting blown up that is.

I had been in simulated combat and spent endless hours on the rifle range and assault course in the Marines and the Alaska Defense Force. But it was not the same, not what I was looking for.
We had a fireworks show coming to town so I went to it and stood directly under it with my back against the wall of a building so the shock waves would hit my body full on. Out of that experience I got almost all I needed. Ringing ears, upset stomach, headache, singed sinus from the cordite (gun powder). I also went around after that and smelled several kinds of dirt both at the surface and beneath the surface, since a bombardment tends to put the dirt on the wrong side of the person. Add to that the smell of blood, vomit and feces and the sound of screaming men and we have an artillery barrage.

Later folks said the play, and short story, seemed too real they thought I was there but couldn't figure out how a then 35 year old Alaskan described World War 1 so accurately. Of course, I could barely hear their ears are still ringing.

That show later became the short story "1917". The audio version is Episode 3 of my collection "In The Shadows". You can listen to the free download on my site,
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Peopletalk, interview at a great BBC style podcast

I've always wanted to be on one of those BBC World Service shows. They always sounded so cool Well, I just completed an interview with a show that sounds just like BBC and has nearly as much reach.

Let me introduce to you Nigel Killick and his wonderful podcast station PeopleTalk.

This guy has an incredibly well produced show and was quite a fun person to chat with as well. Jump over to his website and check out my interview as well as many other wonderful talks and topics.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Basil's Shorts Featured on

The Plumber, one of my short stories from the collection In The Shadows was featured last week on Seth Harwood's website.

Right up there with Michael Connelly and Jonathan Santlofer.

Now that feels special.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

An old timer's view of the recession

My Grandfather had an interesting perspective on the depression of the 30's that applies today I think.

Joe Balch (you can google him) had grown up in North Dakota in the twenties and thirties and experienced the depression and an outbreak of Tuberculosis at the same time. His thought was that those who try hard will suffer just as much as those who don't. Rich or poor, classy neighborhood or urban projects didn't really matter.

Everyone gets kicked just as hard. The difference is not whether or not you get kicked, its how you respond and what you do to improve your situation.

In his case back then, he started on his way to Alaska, but ended up in a coal mine in Wyoming, then in the Marines for WW2. In the end he got to Alaska, but not until '46.

If you'd seen him its unlikely you'd think he had much money at all. But after homesteading a huge tract of land for nearly 60 years he was a millionaire by the time he died at 84. How did he do it?

Simple hard work. He farmed. He was an inventor. He never took loans...for anything. If he couldn't pay cash, he lived without. He looked like a plain old Joe living in the Arctic outback, but none of the depressions, recessions, or bear markets ever really hurt him. Even when he did lose a ton of money in the late 70's recession (a few hundred thousand from one of his inventions vanished in a bad investment) he just tightened his belt and kept on trucking.

I think we all stand to learn something from guys like him. Don't let the depression depress you, just think of it as a challenge and find a way to surmount it. That's what Grampa did.
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Monday, March 2, 2009

Kharzai Ghiassi: from Karl's Last Flight

DOB: 1975
Place of birth: Indianna
Physical Characteristics
: 5’8”
Weight: 170
Hair: Black, with thick tight curls, almost an afro but thick shiny strands, also thick black beard and lots of chest/back hair
Eyes: Dark Brown
Skin: Dark tan (olive)
Other: Has incredibly white smile that he flashes constantly and a manic sparkle in his eyes.
Indianna State University: Major in Dramatic Arts, Minor in Political Science
Military Service:N/A
Professional Career:
CIA since immediately after college, Operations branch, field operative, frequently put in for psych evals due to odd behaviors and violent tendencies. Worked off and on as deep cover operative planted inside Al Qaeda allied terrorist group Son’s of the Sword. He is fluent in several languages including Farsi, French, Italian, Spanish, Urdu, Pashtun, Russian, and Hebrew.
Other Characteristics:
Kharzai has a very hyper active personality but is also very self-controlled. He has the ability to maintain several personas simultaneously and has a nearly photographic memory. While his outward appearance and demeanor are typically humorous and witty, he has very violent thread within him and has left a path deep with blood behind him. Someday, this may come back to haunt him.
In Karl’s Last Flight he is working undercover in Iran trying to disrupt the Iranian Nuclear program
In Faithful Warrior he is planted with Son’s of the Sword and travels back to the US where he discovers a terrorist bomb plot on American soil.
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Karl Alexander: from Karl’s Last Flight

DOB: March 2nd, 1960
Place of birth: Dayton, Ohio
Physical Characteristics:
: 6’0”
Weight: 190 lbs.
Hair: Grey, was dark blond, wears as a high&tight flat-top
Eyes: Brown
Skin: medium
Dayton High School
Ohio State University: Physics and Engineering
Military Service: USMC Officer, 1982-1990, Pilot of Harriers, F15’s
Professional Career:
NASA Astronaut 1990-1997, Shuttle Program
Strata-Corp Space Flight – 1997-2008
Current Status: Pilots commercial 2-hour space flight excursions for extremely wealthy patrons twice a month
Marital History: Never Married, had a few girlfriends but never anything serious
Special Personality or other Characteristics:Karl is a very stable calm person. He is also an adrenaline junky, hence the career choices of fighter pilot and astronaut. He most enjoys the sensation of extreme speeds and high G-force flight. Karl had one ground combat experience as a young man, and didn’t particularly care for that kind of adrenaline rush. He is near retirement age, but doesn’t have any plans for what to do yet, although the idea of living a quiet existence in Fiji has recently started to appeal to him.
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Character Profiles from Basil's Books

Over the next few weeks I am going to be posting the personal profiles of several of the characters of my books. Check them out and leave a comment. Ask questions if you like. Get to know them personally.
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