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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lost Cause, Second Grayson Cole Adventure

With the release of Unleashing Colter's Hell expected soon, I've begun turning to the next Grayson Cole adventure: Lost Cause.

Lost Cause is about a civil war artifact, once owned by confederate general Robert E. Lee. Legend has it the artifact contains mystical energy, granting the holder unstoppable power.

The story spans several American battlefields including Antietam and Gettysburg, and places park ranger Grayson Cole in a race to recover the artifact before it falls into powerful hands bent on launching a second civil war.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Prologue: Unleashing Colter's Hell

Below is the prologue to my new novel, Unleashing Colter's Hell. Let me know what you think in the comment section.

Stayed tuned for more updates on the novel expected for release soon.



Pyongyang North Korea, Supreme Leader’s office: April, 25, Morning

General Chun Yong Huh was nervous. Chun headed of
the Grand Army’s Space Defense Division. In five minutes he was to Kim Jung Un, North Korea’s supreme leader, a report on the malfunction of the country’s first orbital rocket test, a
malfunction that had been reported widely and ridiculed around the world. People disappeared in North Korea for far less offenses. Hell, the country’s soccer goalie had been shot for his embarrassing lackluster performance in the recent World Cup. The rocket destruction had been a public failure and Chun did not expect to see the next day.

The general sat outside the leader’s office, sweating profusely. He wore his dress
uniform covered with medals and ribbons, several of which the supreme leader’s
father had personally pinned to his chest. A stern-faced, muscle-bound Army secretary with a haircut as clipped as his demeanor occupied the desk next to the office’s entrance. The secretary’s look betrayed no hint of any emotion, his square jaw and features could have been cut for stone. He appeared to be doing nothing more than looking forward. The secretary’s phone buzzed. Without taking his gaze off Chun, he picked up the receiver and put it to his ear. “Right away,” he grunted. Placing it back on the cradle, “You may go in.”

Chun entered the supreme leader’s office. He had been in this room several times before. It was cavernous. North Korea’s publicly revered but not feared new leader, Kim
Jung Un, looked diminutive and yet the spitting image of the Kim Il Sung, Un’s paternal grandfather. At the far end of the room behind an intricately carved antique desk. Chun
had fought alongside Sung, the founder of North Korea’s Stalinist philosophy,
during the Korean War. After Sung’s death in 1994, Chun’s allegiance immediately transferred to his son, Kim Jun Il. It was passing once again, now to Un. Chun had met Un once while the future North Korean leader had studied abroad in Switzerland. He’d been a fun loving, fit young man at that time. No longer. He’d turned into an overweight, round faced,
thirty something, carbon copy of his grandfather. Too many five star dinners and late night
partying, Chun guessed. This new supreme leader was obviously soft, Chun imagined.
Chun summed up the Un was likely over his head as well. In his early thirties, the new
leader of the communist North had no experience leading a nation. He had been selected to lead by default. Il his father had been forced to anoint Un his successor when his eldest son shamed himself and worse North Korea by trying to sneak into Tokyo Disneyland on a fake passport. Il’s next oldest son was rumored to be gay. Il’s prejudice couldn’t allow him to turn the
reins of power to a son who slept with men. It would leave the new leader to open to blackmail. That left Un to take over. Kim Jung Il made the decision to make Un his successor on the assumption he’d have plenty of time to groom him for leadership. But that plan went out the
window, when Kim Jung Il unexpectedly died in 2012 thrusting Un into the role
of supreme leader. He had to learn on the job and it showed. Un’s first
several steps in office had been awful. He placed a moratorium on the country’s nuclear and suspended their long range missile program. Un wasn’t old enough to realize that these were the only things keeping the American hordes at bay. Compounded the insult, begged the
west for food aid, all but admitting the country was incapable of taking care of its people. Kim Jun Sung is rolling in his grave, Chun knew shaking his head.

Un’s office was a mix of four cultures Russian, Chinese, Korean and surprisingly American. Large red hammer and sickle Soviet flags hung from flag poles in a far corner of the
room. Pictures of Kim Jung Il and Sung, with former Soviet leaders such as Khrushchev and Brezhnev hung there as well. Reminders of North Korea’s communist beginnings, Chun thought. He was glad to see those hadn’t been removed. At least
not yet. Chinese paintings, tokens of friendship from the Chinese
Ambassador also adorned the walls. North Korean folk art including ancient pottery stood on bases in strategic spots throughout the room. Chun was certain
they had been stolen from their rightful owners, but here in North Korea anything
the supreme leader did was legal. Yet, most surprising was the American influence on the room. A brand-new computer and oversized monitors on top of the leader’s desk. Things
were changing in North Korea. Chuns expected this. However, he hadn’t expected the western movie pictures. Images of modern Hollywood movie stars dotted the wall and intermixed with portraits of Un with other world leaders. A large poster of Mickey Mouse, signed by Walt Disney himself held a special flood lit section of the wall. Posters of Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman also hung prominently on the walls. A strange collection, contrast of a room, Chun
surmised that it accurately reflected the psyche of its main occupant.

The immense room made the country’s new leader look small, more childlike.

Chun heard his shoes clicking on the marble floor and echoing along the oak walls as he walked the length of the office. The only other sound was the faint ticking of a clock. Several large flat screen televisions displaying capitalist propaganda broadcasts covered one wall, but
there was no sound, just the flickering glow of what passed for news in the West.

Chun approached Kim Jung Un, bowed and placed a thick bound report on the desk. He stepped back and straightened. For what seemed liked several minutes Kim Jung UN studied the report. Purposefully, he slowly leafed through the report’s hundreds of pages, knowing the slower he
reviewed this report, the more the man in front of him would squirm. Un had learned the technique of patience, contemplation, and quiet from his father. Never let your friends or opponents know your true emotions, your true intentions, his father had drilled into him. Un often wondered if that meant him as well. Did he ever truly know his
father’s true feelings or intentions? He didn’t know.

Countless charts, figures, images, and text were crammed into the document, its
significance summed up in a single paragraph.

The March launch of the nation’s TiaFoo Dong rocket
had not made earth orbit. The rocket’s primary stage fuel system had failed roughly 73 seconds into the launch, destroying the entire missile, including the it’s weather satellite payload.
Debris had rained from the sky off Korea’s coast over a 30 square -mile section
of the northern Pacific Ocean.

Looking up from the report, Un could read the question on the mind of his Army officer.
“No general, this won’t be seen as a violation of our agreement with the Americans.” Un said with no contextual explanation. Unknown to Chun, Un agreed to these terms to buy time, to forestall the revolution of his starving people. However, Un had never agreed to stop North
Korea’s orbital rocket program, nor given up a single bomb in his current stock of nuclear weapons. North Korea gave up nothing, staved off revolt, and captured significant international good will. It was a beautiful misdirection. How many times had North Korea pulled this before? More importantly, how many times would the Americans count on the good faith of North Korean government? Un put these questions aside and returned his attention to Chun.
A slight smile crept across the supreme leader’s face. Unknown to Chun who trembled
delivering the report, North Korea’s leader Kim Jung Un recognized that the world would consider the dramatic explosion of their rocket as a failure of the Korean system and its engineering capabilities. CNN and Fox News had already jumped to conclusions in hour-long special reports on the launch failure, and had made assertions that this was North Korea’s most advanced military technology. Little did they know.

Under his father’s leadership, North Korea had spent untold treasure and lives to achieve the goal of space flight. The former leader was convinced space flight; intercontinental
rocket launches would defend North Korea forever. But this was untrue. Until the United States was no more, destroyed, North Korea’s future would always be under threat.
Yes, the Western world would be quick to judge, assuming North Korea’s goal was to launch a rocket into space.

It was not. Like his father, Un never ceased to be amazed by his enemies’ gullibility and
failure to look beneath the surface appearance of Korea’s actions, which seldom reflected reality.

Even the western perception of North Korea’s past and present leaders was incorrect.
Western conventional wisdom had been Kim Jung IL was mad, ruthless, and
most of all strong and ruthless. He would do anything to insure the continuation of the North Korean system. Un knew otherwise. His father had inherited his grandfather’s
country. Yet, like many who inherit a fortune or company, Il had no grand dream for its future, past picking a successor.

The western perception of the new supreme leader was quite different. Un the western
talking heads spouted was ill-prepared, inexperienced, and weak. He was not ready to lead a nuclear power. His youth made him pliable and vulnerable to army
manipulation. A figure head leader, where a military coup was likely. Un had
read the stories in the New York Times and other western media outlets. He was even privy to secret CIA psych reports.

They were wrong. His father was believed strong but was truly weak. Un was different from his father. He did not want to be a caretaker leader, living off the accomplishments of his celebrated grandfather. He would finish his grandfather’s legacy. Il had failed to bring a
socialist revolution through the destruction of the hated United States. Un had recently begun to doubt that his father ever truly wanted this outcome. Un was perceived weak, but he knew he was truly strong. Unlike his father, Un would bring down the hated enemy. He had a plan and America’s ignorance of how the world truly worked, its arrogance in assuming all shared
the same values were their Achilles heals. Un knew this. Un, unlike his father, had the strength to exploit these weakness and take down America.

Kim Jung Un swiveled in his chair, turning his back to his rocket scientist. The leader looked out floor-to-ceiling windows, strategically placed to look down on the people’s parade ground below. A new day is coming. North Korea’s enemies will soon feel her wrath.

He turned to face the rocket scientist, pressing a button on his phone. His army secretary answered. Kim Jung Un ordered a tea and returned his attention to the report. Most of the wreckage from the massive rocket had been recovered by the United States’ Navy. He was impressed. The rocket shattered into millions of pieces which had rained down on the North
Pacific and scattered for miles. U.S. destroyers and other surface ships raced to the crash zone seemingly before the missile debris hit the water. Through his spy network, he knew this wreckage was flown to a secret military base in Nevada for dissection and analysis.

Un chuckled quietly. The Americans and their allies would learn nothing. In fact, they would likely conclude the Korean missile program was 15 years behind its actual status. . Another goal had been achieved.

Sweat dripped from Chun’s forehead as Un turned page after page. Throughout the crash zone, dozens of vessels plowed the waters, some so close the crews could practically jump from one deck to another. Western media reported several fishing boats and private craft had pulled
debris from the sea’s surface and had dispatched divers to recover the fragments below. The American’s moved quickly to recover any parts.

Chun thought he heard the supreme leader say something. Perfect? Did North Korea’s
Supreme Leader just say perfect?

In any recovery effort however, some pieces of the puzzle are always missing. . This was no different. A small fishing vessel, which seemed not worth noting, had been strategically positioned to recover an important piece of wreckage, a part of the rocket’s actual payload big enough to achieve North Korea’s ultimate goal and small enough to fit within the
average suitcase.

Chun saw the leader turn to the last page. If he had been presenting this report to Un’s
father, he would be trembling. He’d feared giving Kim Jung Il bad news. This report was bad news, its analysis: the rocket launch acknowledged as a “complete failure.” In the past, Chun had been hit by Kim Jung Il for far less minor offenses. . No blow came from North Korea’s dear leader this time. Oddly, Chun never thought he’d miss Kim
Jung Il’s leadership. The constant terror used to keep order was hard to live with. But he did miss the order and in a sense the terror. For while Il ruled through fear, he did bring order and purpose to North Korea. Chun felt this purpose was slipping away.

Instead, he heard Kim Jung Un laugh. “Complete failure” had been chosen as a ruse should the report fall into enemy hands. It was code confirming the program had achieved its primary goal: deception.

The supreme leader stared hard at Chun, saying nothing for several moments.

Tick, tick, tick. The clock seemed to get louder.

“Even a bee sting in the right place can take down a bear,” Un said.

“Excuse me?” Chun replied, confused.

“Never mind,” Un said . “You are excused.”

Chun audibly sighed. Spinning on his heels, he turned toward the door, believing he had escaped. A wave of relief spread thru his body. The boy leader was truly weak, Chun thought. His fellow generals were right, Un’s rule wouldn’t last. Un’s father never would
have let such a public failure go unpunished. It occurred to Chun, perhaps the military could use
Un, and perhaps he could bend Un to the military’s will. But to what end? Yes, bringing South Korea to heal was a goal. She must be punished for her defiance of its northern masters. But after that? Korea was a peninsula, boxed in by the sea on three sides and China to the north. Where and how could it extend its empire? If Korea was to truly achieve its world potential,
it would have to expand. Japan perhaps? Korean’s had not forgotten about the humiliation, rape, and destruction the Japanese inflicted upon his people during World War II. Chun hated Japan, perhaps more than he hated the United States. Yes, Japan too would have to pay.
After that? Maybe the idiot Chinese and Russians would be put under the boot of Korea’s million man army. These two supposed super powers slighted the Korean’s, treated the country like an illegitimate child. They too should be made to suffer. That’s plenty, Chun thought. Achieving Korean reunification and Japanese subjugation would take generations. But perhaps
Chun, would be the one to begin the process. Yes. He Chun Yung Hun would usher in Korea’s
rightful place in the world. Kim Jung IL was dead. Kim Jung Un was a joke. Chun could see that now.

Chun walked briskly toward the exit. He had plans to make. The double doors at the far end of the office swung open before Chun reached them. Two armed guards blocked his progress, grabbing the missile defense chief before he knew what was happening Chun was not to see the dawn he would be shot within the hour.

“One must keep up appearances,” Un thought to himself, as his chief defense officer was lead out the door to his fate.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Yellowstone a popular place for visitors and a thriller

The National Park Service recently announced that Yellowstone national park saw nearly 1 million visitors in July. That's roughly equivalent to last year's attendance figures and up from 2009.

Overall national park attendance has approached all time records these past two years, despite one of the worst economies in nearly 70 years. The strong visitation is indicative of the value Americans place upon their system.

Unleashing Colter's Hell, the new novel by former park ranger Sean Smith is set in Yellowstone National Park. The story sweeps the park from the historic headquarters at Mammoth hot springs to the remote back country of Shoshone Lake. Anyone who has visited the park and even those who haven't will recognize some of the park's more iconic settings.

I chose Yellowstone for the location of my first novel, because many Americans have a strong connection to this part of the world. It makes a powerful backdrop for the a political thriller like Unleashing Colter's Hell.

Look for it soon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Yellowstone's Breathing Volcano

A geophysicist was recently recognized for his work on the Yellowstone super volcano. Robert Smith of the university of Utah discovered changing levels of Yellowstone lake was due to the upwelling of molten rock. This upwelling could signal a pending eruption.

At the heart of Unleashing Colter's Hell the new novel by Sean Smith, is unusual volcanic activity including changing lake levels and increased geyser activity. Any eruption by the Yellowstone volcano could spell the destruction of the world's civilization, and one man is trying to make that happen.

Look for the book soon.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Unleashing Colter's Hell: Book Covers Take 2

In a previous post, draft book covers for Unleashing Colter's Hell were provided for feedback. In this post are two more covers. Like the first, these covers hint at the novel's intrigue and action.

The first cover is in the style of a movie poster, with symbols and images portraying major story elements.

The second leaves more to the imagination with a simple park service arrowhead covering a nuclear radiation symbol and 50 caliber sniper rifle ammunition.

Of the four draft covers, which one most catches the eye? What elements of these covers should be kept? Changed? Please leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section. Thanks to all those who have already sent their ideas.