Buy Unleashing Colter's Hell, Lost Cause, and Need To Know three of Amazon's top selling national park thrillers today!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

My 2014 Reading List

Here's my 2014 reading list. It's a mix of fiction and non-fiction, history, science, and thrillers.  The list is more than 8000 pages. It's the most pages I've read in a single year since college. Many of the books were for fun, but most were research for my next novel.

My favorite was Dark Invasion, a history of German covert operations in the United States during World War I.  This book got me wondering about other foreign covert operations in the United States.  Hmm.  Might be a thriller in there somewhere.

Atomic Accidents was the most scary in its detailing of the countless nuclear accidents and potential disasters. Many were kept secret for decades and several resulted in numerous deaths.

The most fun was Inferno, Dan Brown's latest Robert Langdon thriller. 

What was your favorite book this past year?  Looking for a good couple reads in 2015? Make sure to check out my National Park thrillers.

  • Inferno
  • Dance with Dragons
  • Counter Strike
  • Physics for Future Presidents
  • Locked On
  • Death Ride Hitler vs. Stalin
  • American Creation
  • The Columbus Affair
  • The Burning Shore
  • Operation Paperclip
  • Gettysburg: the Last Invasion
  • Dark Invasion
  • American Panic
  • Atomic Accidents
  • The Watchers
  • Legacy of Ashes
  • Shadow Factory

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

15,000 Hits!

The Park Thrillers blog just reached 15,000 hits!

Thanks everyone for visiting the site!

If you are still looking for a holiday gift for that park lover who enjoys thrillers, check out my novels here.

Thanks again!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

TEDx TALK: Why Protect National Parks?

Sean Smith at the Spokane TEDx Conference 2014
On October 13, 2014 I had the honor of speaking at the Spokane TEDx conference.  I shared the stage with inspirational speakers from all over the region.  I focused on answering the question "Why Protect National Parks?" During this time of turmoil and uncertainty, are they relevant?  Can we afford them? Passing on an unimpaired national park system is a huge challenge, some may say its impossible. However,  future generations will judge us on the effort we make. 

The speech video can be found here.

After watching it I'd ask you to do three things.

First,  please "Like" the presentation!  A like button is found near the bottom of the video. As I understand it,  likes are part of the Ted rating system and an important part of how they make decisions on who to highlight.

Next, please share this video on your social media sites.  Sharing it will push up views, which I believe is another indicator TED uses when highlighting speeches.

Third, please check out my national park thrillers here.  They make great holiday gifts!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Park Thrillers Make Great Gifts!

The Holidays are just around the corner and if you are looking for a gift for that park lover who enjoys political thrillers, we have just the novels for you.

Unleashing Colter's Hell is the best selling debut thriller from award winning author Sean Smith. Set in Yellowstone National Park, the story is a fast-paced adventure with Park Ranger Grayson Cole at its center. The sweeping story spans the globe from North Korea to the Wyoming wilderness. It's hair raising action and twists and turns will leave you on the edge of your seat guessing up until the end.

Lost Cause is the critically acclaimed follow up to Unleashing Colter's Hell.  Reader's Favorites gives it five stars and calls it exciting. The novel starts in 1862 at the height of the Civil War. It moves to modern times in a chase for a war relic believed to hold the power to start the second Civil War.  Once again, Ranger Cole is at the center of the action, trying to stop a terrorist group hell bent on tearing the nation apart.

Both Unleashing Colter's Hell and Lost Cause are available from Amazon. Kindle downloads are still only $0.99, while holiday prices for paperback versions of the thrillers range from $9 to $13. Check Amazon for actual prices.

To get your copies of these best selling novels, please click here.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Must National Parks modernize to remain relevant?

Michael Gray
National parks are all over the news these days. From stories about a “Creepy” graffiti bandit to efforts by some states to seize our national heritage, national parks are at the top of the national discussion. At the heart of many of these stories is a question, one that has perplexed the Park Service from before its inception, how can the park system remain relevant in our modern world? Some even go so far as to question the conservation ethic which serves as the Park Service’s guiding management principle, claiming it should be buried.

Everyone seems to have an idea on how to make the parks relevant. Suggestions range from giving the parks to the states, providing new or expanded access for recreational activities like mountain biking or providing new amenities like high speed internet and cell phone services.

Putting aside the fact that national parks like Glacier and Rocky Mountain continue to break visitation records, pundits bemoan the fact that the current park system is a throwback to an ancient time.  If national parks are to remain relevant especially to millennials and minorities the park system must get with the times.

But is this the case? Are we standing on a historic precipice? Must we so dramatically change the park system to save it, that it would be hardly recognizable to visitors even a decade ago?

Anyone who would answer yes to these questions obviously doesn’t know the Park Service’s history and how it is that we are the beneficiary of a system that is the envy of the world.

Nearly every generation of park defenders is challenged by a misguided segment of the population saying the parks must modernize or risk becoming irrelevant. The parks are too difficult to access, the park service places to many restrictions on visitors, they are too antiquated or out of date they charge.  They need to be run more like a business, offering a resort like broad spectrum of activities and amenities.

However, the park system was created in part as a counter to modernization or as some put it the cheapening of nature.

In the early years of the country, the nation’s best known natural wonder was Niagara Falls. People came from all over the world to see the mighty cataract. Quick thinking entrepreneurs saw dollars signs in those visitors. They bought up many of best viewing spots and walled them off, with a baseball like outfield fence.  Visitors were charged a pretty penny to see the falls through precut viewing holes. Yet, this would only capture so much money and wouldn’t guarantee repeat visits, so these entrepreneurs continually sought ways to capture the public’s attention, to keep the falls “modern.” Promoters brought in high wire acts and traveling circuses to squeeze the crowds of their hard earned money.  Unfortunately, Niagara Falls became little more than a cheap backdrop for the ever sensational and questionable sideshows.

It was against this backdrop that the national park system got its start. Early proponents of the parks realized that private viewing platforms, circus acts, and high wire stunts cheapened Niagara Falls, but even worse the “modernization” cheapened visitor’s experience, rendering a trip to the falls as no different than an experience that could be had at a circus or carnival.  The founders of the national parks knew what made Yellowstone and Yosemite special, they can provide experiences and create memories to be found nowhere else in the world. The park system’s founders deliberately wanted to prevent the cheapening of the country’s scenic wonders; by protecting our most iconic landscapes while providing reasonable access for all. Unlike Europe where public lands were often playgrounds for the rich and powerful, America’s public domain would be open to everyone. As such, the park system and park service were established to preserve and protect our nation’s best natural, cultural and historic wonders for the benefit of both current and future generations.

Parks don’t need Wi-Fi, parks don’t need high speed internet, parks don’t need five-star accommodations and parks don’t need state management. These so-called solutions are actually the quickest path toward rendering the parks irrelevant, merely another side show. Instead the public must demand that park managers focus on what makes national parks’ unique and protect that.

The only reason we have the opportunity to debate the relevance of national parks today is because our ancestors put aside their short term wants by protecting our most treasured places.  We owe them a great debt for this gift. We cannot pay them back for this gift. Rather we can merely pass it forward unimpaired. If we curb our desire to modernize the national parks, future generations will thank us as well.

Sean Smith is a former Yellowstone Ranger, and an award winning conservationist, TEDx speaker, and author. He writes national park thrillers from his home in the shadow of Mount Rainier National Park. To learn more about his conservation work and novels, please visit or follow him on twitter: @parkthrillers

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Five Stars! Lost Cause: A Grayson Cole Thriller, is exciting and fast-paced.

for Readers' Favorite has reviewed Lost Cause and gives it Five Stars, calling it an "exciting and fast-paced" thriller.  Read the entire review here.  Lost Cause is the follow up to Unleashing Colter's Hell, an Amazon Top 100 Terrorism Thriller. Get your copy of Lost Cause and Unleashing Colter's Hell here:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Former Park Ranger Releases Lost Cause, his second National Park Thriller

Press Release

November 7, 2014

Contact: Sean Smith


Former Park Ranger Releases Thriller Lost Cause

Thriller set in civil war battlefields about a possible second Civil War


November 7, 2014: On the eve of the 150th anniversary of the reelection of Abraham Lincoln, Former Park Ranger Sean Smith has published his second thriller. Lost Cause is the follow up to Unleashing Colter’s Hell, an Amazon Top 100 Terrorism Thriller.

Lost Cause is a “page-turning” race to recover a relic supposedly owned by famed Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  Legend has it; whoever possesses the relic has the power to start America’s second Civil War. The Confederate League unleashes a campaign of terror and murder to recover the prize.  Park Ranger Grayson Cole races across America from Civil War battlefield to the Halls of Washington D.C. in a desperate attempt to stop the coming war.

Sean uses his ranger experience, civil war research, and his unbridled imagination to weave a compelling, plausible, and intelligent story. Lost Cause’s attention to historical detail, its nail biting action, and unpredictable plot twists will leave the reader guessing until the story’s climax.

The book is published by Create Space and available on Amazon.  Print copies can be ordered for around $12.00, Kindle downloads for $0.99.

Pick up your copy at

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Lost Cause: Nominated for Reader's Favorite Award!

: Lost Cause nominated for the 2015  Book Awards! More on the nomination to come soon. In the meantime, get your copy here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Related Item: LOST CAUSE

I like the related items placement Amazon is giving Lost Cause! 

Get your copy here:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What would you take?

Hello fans:

I'm looking for your advice.  I'm about to head out for a two week backcountry adventure. I'll be without electricity for most of this trip, with no iPad or Kindle. I'm looking for good political thrillers to take on the trip.

Obviously I'm looking for a thriller with a good story.  Yet as important as a good story is a novel with a relatable, intelligent hero, a scheming villain, and harrowing situations. Finally, the politics underlying the story and the drama must be plausible.

Any  suggestions?


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Unleashing Colter's Hell and Lost Cause Book Signing

Thanks to everyone who came out for my book signing at Aunties Bookstore in Spokane on October 10th.  Here is the video from that fun night. A big thank you to Aunties staff for having me and organizing such a great event.
To purchase your own copies of Lost Cause and Unleashing Colter's Hell please click here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Looking for a thriller?

Look what Amazon first recommends! Get your copy of Lost Cause at

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


The park thrillers Facebook page hit 100 likes! Thanks fans for spreading the word.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

What makes a good thriller hero?

James Bond, by Johan Oomen
I've read countless thrillers. Some good, some not so good. What draws me to these novels is a
number of things, but a good hero is at the top of the list. In my experience, there are a number of qualities a hero must have in order for the reader to relate to the protagonist. I've identified five attributes that any good hero must have.

When I write my thrillers, I've made a conscience effort to include the following attributes in my hero Grayson Cole.

First and foremost, a hero must be smart. He studies law enforcement and public safety, but a good hero is well rounded. He should know science and history. But how to order at a five star restaurant, as well as, a greasy spoon doesn't hurt. Knowing poetry and art are helpful as well, especially for wooing women. Think the world's most interesting man.

More often than not, its the hero's intelligence, his ability to out think the villain which will save his and the country's bacon.  However, our hero is smart enough to know he doesn't know everything and isn't afraid to learn always learn more.

Along with intelligence, every so often a hero may have to fight his way out of a situation. Sometimes a strong right cross, a well placed kick, or jab to the mid section is called for. A good hero knows when to use his head and his fist.  Yet, that strength isn't always brute force, it always includes a deep understanding of his feelings and emotions which serve as a well of inner strength.

Every good hero has got to be good looking.  As its said about Bond, every man wants to be him. Every woman wants to be with him. Yet, besides sex appeal good looks make the hero more approachable and often directly contrast with the villain.

However those good looks don't go to our hero's head. Rather, the hero knows that his looks are not his most important attribute and like the others can be lost or taken away. He appreciates his strengths, but is aware of his weaknesses as well.  As Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu wrote our hero knows himself, and as such he need not fear the result of a hundred battles.

Perhaps the most important attribute of a hero is a sense of purpose. A true hero most have a meaning, a reason behind his life. It's this purpose that serves as his moral compass and guides his actions especially in situations where most see the right decision as ambiguous.  Knowing what's right and doing it despite the fact that it may be difficult is what truly makes are protagonist a hero.

What do you think makes a good hero?

Pick up a copy of Unleashing Colter's Hell and see Grayson Cole put these attributes into action.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Compelling Read!

"Unleashing Colter's Hell is a page turner that is difficult to put down. The historical information and context is fascinating. I highly recommend this novel." That's the latest review from an Amazon reader of Unleashing Colter's Hell. 

Get your copy here.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Spokane TEDx Speakers Announced!

I'm honored and humbled to have been selected as a speaker for the 2014 Spokane TEDx conference.

Here is a brief write up for my speech.  I hope you can make it.

Why protect national parks?
The answer to this question may not be as simple as it appears.  America's park system is made up of more than 400 sites and protects some of America's most sacred ideas, hopes and places.  In 2016 our national parks will celebrate its 100th birthday, yet despite this milestone its future couldn't be more in doubt.  Threats like climate change, political unrest, funding uncertainty, and inappropriate recreation threaten to destroy the very places and values we've defended for nearly a century.
Passing on an unimpaired national park system is a huge challenge, some may say its impossible. However,  future generations will judge us on the effort we make. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Contest: Want to be a character in the next Grayson Cole thriller?

Ever wanted to be a character in a thriller?  Here's your chance. The Lost Cause manuscript, the follow up thriller to Unleashing Colter's Hell, is nearly complete. I'm in need of a limited number of proof readers to give the draft one final look over.

Those willing to review the novel for spelling, grammar, and plot holes will receive:
  1. written acknowledgement in the final version of Lost Cause;
  2. a signed copy of the thriller;
  3. and entry into a contest to be a character in Need to Know, the next Grayson Cole thriller.

All edits must be made using track changes in Microsoft word and are due September 28th, 2014.

If interested in entering the contest, please shoot me an email at

Odds of winning depend on the number of entries.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Book Signing October 10th

Aunties Bookstore Spokane
Hey Spokane! Just lined up a book signing at Aunties! I'll be talking about and signing copies of Unleashing Colter's Hell and my new thriller Lost Cause! Join me October 10th at 7pm!

402 W Main Ave, Spokane, WA 99201

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Unleashing Colter's Hell: The word is spreading

World recognition of Unleashing Colter's Hell is spreading.  Here is a list of countries discovering the fast-paced, action in the top selling Park Ranger thriller.

United States
United Kingdom
Czech Republic
New Zealand

Why not find out what the rest of the world is learning?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Is America vulnerable to environmental warfare?

Teton Dam Failure, Wyoming ~
Slate magazine is running a story on the potential threat environmental warfare poses to infrastructure like dams and power plants.  The story highlights the battle over the Mosul dam in Northern Iraq and the damage it could do to thousands of people downstream if it were to fail or be destroyed.

The author highlights a few dramatic and horrifying acts of environmental warfare. Paul Mutter in his article Dam Warfare, calls Iraq's hydro infrastructure the country's soft underbelly. Water as a weapon has the potential to do great damage in Iraq, given the country's reliance on the Tigress and Euphrates. Mutter expands on the historic record showing that nearly every major modern conflict has targeted or considered dams as targets.  Using water as soldiers is the mindset driving these actions. 

What Mutter and Slate's Keating don't do is consider America's vulnerability to environmental warfare.  Unfortunately, our exposure is huge.  America has an extensive hydro power system that includes upwards of 75,000 dams.  These run the gamut from small several acre facilities to world class facilities like Hoover and Grand Coulee Dams. 

Security and maintenance at these facilities also varies. Some are very well maintained and extremely well secure.  Others like Washington's Wanapum Dam are teetering on failure. Like Iraq, this hydro power infrastructure is also America's soft underbelly.

Environmental Warfare, or the modification and destruction of the environment as a weapon of war, is the central focus of Unleashing Colter's Hell.  The story centers on a plot to ignite an atomic bomb in Yellowstone  and trigger an eruption of the park's super volcano. A Yellowstone eruption would bury much of the eastern two thirds of America in tens of feet of ash. The eruption would destroy much of America's transportation, agriculture, water, power, and housing infrastructure. It would also likely cast the entire world into a new ice age. The devastation would kill millions and likely deal America a blow from which it could not recover.

Seems far fetched? Not so to defense experts and military officials. For example, the British Defense ministry predicts by 2045 that environmental warfare will become a major threat.

America's agriculture, forests, water supplies are also vulnerable to these types of unconventional attacks and much will have to be done to harden and fortify these assets.  But in the end, all our efforts can't stop every committed terrorist. 

We will have to be vigilant.

What are your thoughts? Is America vulnerable to environmental warfare?

Friday, August 1, 2014

The source of my inspiration keeps me up at night

George Hodan
I’m often asked where I get the inspiration for my novels.  The quick answer is it often comes from worries that keep me up at night. I’ve found plumbing the depths of ones deepest fears is a rich environment within which to find themes and setting for my thrillers.

The more irrational and unlikely the fear, the better story it makes.
Humanity likes to think it’s in control of its destiny.  We tell ourselves we are smart and capable enough to handle any crisis.  And why shouldn’t we believe this?  We’ve dodged every threat so far be it the plague or nuclear war.
But this is a false sense of optimism, for there are threats to humanity that no amount of human ingenuity can prevent.  Things like extinction events. 

In my first novel, Unleashing Colter's Hell the plot hangs on one such natural disaster that if it humanity may not survive.  The story is set in Yellowstone national park, where I had the honor of working as a park ranger.  Most visitors to the park know about its geysers and bears.  But few appreciate the fact that Yellowstone is the world’s largest super volcano. If it were to erupt as it has in the recent past the northwest corner of Wyoming would be unlivable for centuries. The Eastern half the United States would be buried under tens of feet of ash, and the world’s temperature would drop to levels not seen in tens of thousands of year. Much of the world’s agriculture, transportation, and water supplies would be destroyed, millions if not billions of people would die.

Scientists tell us it’s not a matter of if Yellowstone will erupt but when.  Even more terrifying, if Yellowstone were to begin waking up today, there is nothing we can do to stop it.
That’s the backdrop for Unleashing Colter’s Hell, where a mad man has acquired an atomic bomb, with the plan to detonate it in Yellowstone, triggering a cataclysmic eruption. Park Ranger Grayson Cole is all that stands between the world and Armageddon.

World destruction isn’t the central fear of my second novel, Lost Cause. No, this time it’s revolution, or more precisely the start of a second Civil War which serves as the organizing fear. America has enjoyed more than 150 years of domestic peace since the Civil War. People have come to expect that civil war is impossible in modern society and the American ideals of democracy and freedom will continue forever.  But are we justified in this assumption? Lost Cause, presents a story, where some don’t except that end of the civil war. It’s merely half time, is their motto. Seems far-fetched?  Not really, for there are organizations and politicians that exposes the dismantling of America.  It appears our politics is more divided than ever. Fertile grounds for civil war.

My third novel focuses on invasion. Not invasion from a foreign army, rather invasion that’s more alien in nature. I didn’t say these fears have to be rationale; they just have to evoke a deep emotional response. Look for Need to Know in 2016.

So what keeps you up at night?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

We have seen the thriller’s enemy and its technology?

Nico van der Merwe
Has modern technology killed the spy thriller?  That’s the question put forth by Charles Cumming in his recent piece in the Guardian. Mr. Cumming presents a good case that modern technology makes the classic spy thriller all but impossible today.  Cell phones and tablets make it far easier to track and warn people than just a few decades ago.  Meanwhile, the internet allows background check of potential spies with a few clicks of the mouse.  As Mr. Cumming’s writes any spy better have “his online banking and telephone records look authentic, that his Facebook page and Twitter feeds are up to date; and that colleagues from earlier periods in his phantom career can remember him when they are contacted out of the blue by [agents] who tracked them down via Linkedin.” Otherwise, he’s dead.

What is a good writer to do given technology’s game changing nature?

While my novels wouldn’t fall within the international spy genre, there are aspects of my thrillers that overlap with these stories.  Here’s what I have done to deal with the rapidly changing technology universe.

First, I’ve put my characters in places where technology doesn’t work. In my first novel, Unleashing Colter’s Hell, the story takes place in Yellowstone National Park. While Yellowstone’s cell coverage is “improving” there are many places in the park which are and will remain cell dead spots.  This lack of technology access levels the playing field for both hero and scoundrel. Minimizing any advantage either may have. In addition, while technology can be strength and used for evil, Unleashing Colter’s Hell reveals that relying too much on technology can be an Achilles heel.

Mr. Cumming rightly points out that historic spy thrillers relied heavily on the undercover spy to move the plot. Agents like James Bond easily moved in and out of countries, changing personas like he changed tuxedos.  This ease of movement, allows the hero to always be one step ahead of the bad guys. But today, it would be nearly impossible for Bond or his adversaries for that matter; to do this given anyone with a laptop and Wi-Fi access can check out a backstory. This fact may mark the end of the “secret” agent, who flies in on a moment’s notice, infiltrates the enemy organization through deception and witty banter. He flies out undetected once he finds his prize often with the girl in tow. More and more, this type of operation goes to special forces’ units like the Delta force and Seal teams, who rely more on speed and firepower to retrieve the prize.

Yet, secret identities are still an important plot device. But unlike the past, they must be built and maintained over a much longer time period. In Unleashing Colter’s Hell and my new novel Lost Cause, the villains have crafted their alter egos over decades rather than a few days.  They have spent years building a public profile that can easily pass all but the most intensive background check. 

This long-term covert operation is far more chilling, than the “fly-in” undercover operation, because it assumes several things. First, extensive planning to launch the operation was carried out by the spy. Extensive planning requires thought and calculation, as well as, resources and organization that the spy of old may not have had. More planning, gives the villain a greater possibility for success.  Long-time frames also allow authors to invent crimes with greater pay offs, far reaching ramifications, and unprecedented mayhem. Yet, even more sinister is the fact that an indefinite undercover operation requires the villain to develop deep conviction, patients, and discipline in order to achieve his/her goal. These facts make for great story devices upon which to hang the plot. The villain is truly committed to the cause.

But technology isn’t all bad. My characters often use technology in ways to push the drama along. For example, the thriller Lost Cause centers on a relic that once belonged to Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The relic is believed to be the source of the General’s power and would give the finder the power to launch the next Civil War. A domestic terrorist group races across America unleashing terror and murder in a desperate hunt to find the item. Park Ranger Grayson Cole is ordered to stop them. Both villain and hero alike use phones, computers, and online search engines to uncover information that leads them to their ultimate goal.  This information retrieval would have taken weeks, if not months to discover even just a few decades ago. Obviously, nearly instantaneous access to the world’s collective knowledge can have extreme benefits to the thriller story teller.

So, does modern technology kill the thriller? It doesn’t have to.  Rather, like the opening of the 1970’s TV show the Six Million Dollar Man, technology gives authors the ability to write thrillers that a better, faster, stronger.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Where should Grayson Cole go next?

Mount Rainier National Park
Lost Cause, the second Grayson Cole thriller, is just weeks away from publication! The novel is a page turning story about a search for a relic that once belonged to Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Legend has it the relic was the source of General Lee’s power. Park Ranger Grayson Cole is in a bloody race to stop the Confederate League which is hell bent on acquiring the relic and using its power to start the second Civil War.

The thriller is set in numerous national park sites including well-known sites like Gettysburg and Antietam.  But it also visits lesser known sites like Fort Monroe, Wilson’s Creek, and Fort Pickens.

Lost Cause is the follow up to the bestselling thriller Unleashing Colter's Hell.  That story was set in Yellowstone national park and it about a terrorist attempt to detonate an atomic bomb in Yellowstone, igniting the world’s largest super volcano.

I love national parks because they protect some of America’s most iconic, historic, and beautiful places. The parks contain plenty of exotic and familiar places within which to set dramatic, nail-biting thrillers.

I’ve already begun writing Need to Know the next Grayson Cole thriller which is set in Mount Rainier national park. Mount Rainier is one of the oldest and best known national parks in the world.  But few people realize that while Roswell is believed to be the site of the first UFO sighting, it was actually Mount Rainier National Park in 1947. Presto, I have the theme and location for the next story.

That got me wondering about other park historical tidbits or coincidences that might make great stories, great settings for the next thriller.

So dear reader, where should Grayson go next? Please leave your selection and brief explanation why in the comment section.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Should taxpayers fund confederate memorials?

July 14, 2014: The state of Georgia is considering a request that it fund the construction of confederate war memorials.  Opposition to the idea is based upon the fact that Georgia's secession ordinance of 1861 makes clear Georgia left the Union to preserve slavery.  Supporters of the use of taxpayer funds for the memorials say not so, besides Georgia left the Union to preserve states' rights and southern pride.

So, despite the objections of confederate apologists, the historic record makes clear the confederacy's primary motivation for leaving the Union was to preserve slavery.

But even if the south seceded to preserve states' rights, so what? The fact is confederates pulled 11 states out of the Union and took up arms against the United States' constitutionally empowered government. 

So, either way the confederates' actions were treason and should not be memorialized with taxpayer funded monuments.


Lost Cause, the next Grayson Cole thriller rips off the hood of the modern secession movement and reveals the terrifying implications of their belief that the Civil War isn't over.  Look for it this fall.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Help Pick a cover for Lost Cause!

May 25, 2014: Help us pick the cover for Lost Cause, the new Grayson Cole thriller. Please fill out our short survey and let us know your choice!
Look for Lost Cause on Amazon and other bookstores this Fall. In the mean time, pick up Unleashing Colter's Hell, the exciting prequel to Lost Cause. 
Follow me on twitter: @parkthrillers
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Lost Cause Coming this Fall!

May 25, 2014: The first draft of Lost Cause the new Grayson Cole thriller is complete.  It's expected to be out this Fall.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Great Earth Day Reads

April 18, 2014: Earth Day is nearly here. And in honor of the day that celebrates our home planet, I thought I'd list some of my favorite conservation and environmental books.  Here's my list:

1. Encounters with an Archdruid
This is the story of David Brower and the book that set me on my career toward conservation.

2. Crossing the Next Meridian
A great primer on the major federal agencies responsible for managing our public lands, as well as, some of the issues and challenges facing the public servants who steward our natural wonders.

3. Mountains without Handrails
Essay on the importance of having places that remain wild and "risky."

4. The Lorax
Story that lays out the importance of conservation, recycling, and thinking of the next generation.

5. Guns, Germs, and Steel
Essay on the sometimes little things like geography that can make a society thrive or wither.

6. Theodore Rex
Biography of Teddy Roosevelt which lays out some of the political forces that shaped his conservation legacy.

7. The Magic of Reality
Book by Richard Dawkins on the "magic" that can be found by using the scientific principle when searching for truth.

8. A Sand County Almanac
Classic Aldo Leopold book on the development of a relationship with the land which could be the most important relationship for our long term survival.

9. The Cat in the Hat comes Back
Not normally thought of as a conservation book, but a telling story about the importance of not polluting and the difficulty in cleaning environmental spills.

10.  Unleashing Colter's Hell
Thriller about the potential catastrophic impact of a Yellowstone eruption. 

What's on your list of great Earth Day reads?

Monday, February 17, 2014

My Favorite Presidents

February 17, 2014: In the White House cabinet room, it's tradition for the president to pick portraits of his/her presidential heroes.  Four paintings are selected and they normally represent the values, leadership style, and outlook the new president hopes to emulate.

It's likely, I will never get to be president but if I were elected commander-in-chief here are the four portraits I'd select.

Thomas Jefferson:  More than any other president, Thomas Jefferson articulated the values and ideas for which the country hopes to achieve.  When he penned the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson likely couldn't imagine how those words have come to embodied all peoples, all races, all genders, and sexual preferences. But it does not matter, for we are unlikely to imagine how far the value "created equal" will be extended in the future.  The point is that we do our part today to move the debate forward.
Theodore Roosevelt: Like Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt was always looking to the future.  How would the decisions we make today, affect those to follow?  Roosevelt set foreign and domestic policy that still impacts our lives today. However, its his views on conservation that have the most impact upon modern America.  Roosevelt lived at a time when the frontier was closing.  The belief that more resources could always be found over the next hill was coming to an end.  America, like every other country, would have to live within its means, use its limited resources more efficiency and effectively, and finally put some aside for future generations.  Under Roosevelt's leadership the national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges were created laying the foundation for a system of public lands and waters that are the envy of the world.

Harry Truman:  President Truman is the consummate every man. Even as commander in chief, Truman insisted on going on walks off the White House grounds, paying his own bills, and taking his own mail to the post office.  Truman understood the power of the White House and what it meant to be president, but never let that power go to his head.  He knew that while he occupied the oval office, he was president. As soon as his term was over, he would return to private life.  This understanding helped to keep Truman grounded and focused on what was important. 

William Clinton: It might seem strange to have Bill Clinton on this list.  Only the second president to ever be impeached. However, what set Clinton apart from other chief executives is that he both understood and enjoyed the game of politics.  Clinton excelled at knowing what his friends and enemies wanted. He then would do everything in his political power to grant or deny their desire. Clinton bucked conventional wisdom, and avoided compromise as much as possible.  Rather, he focused on moving his agenda forward, by nearly any means necessary.  He wasn't always successful, but he definitely won more battles than he lost.

Who are your favorite presidents?

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Keys to the Northern Civil War Victory

February 9, 2014: The upcoming 205th birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, as well as, the 150th anniversary of the Civil War has got many thinking about the war. In particular, much thought has gone into what were the keys to the Northern victory. Popular opinion is the North's victory was inevitable. The Union had more men and materials and simply ground the confederacy down. The South, so this line of thought goes, could not hope to win against such odds.

In researching plot points for my upcoming novel Lost Cause, a thriller set in Civil War battlefields and locations, I read dozens of books, watched hundreds of videos, and attended countless speeches on the Civil War's battlefields, combatants, politics, and economy. This research reveals the Union victory was not predetermined. Nor did the South enter the war believing they were fighting a Lost Cause. Rather, the North won the war due to a combination of better diplomacy, leadership, resource management, innovative battle tactics, and political debate. 

What are your thoughts on the Northern keys to victory?

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

What Civil War books have you read?

January 5, 2014: Lost Cause is the exciting follow up to Unleashing Colter's Hell, the Amazon top 100 terrorism thriller. Lost Cause begins during the Civil War and is a nail-biting chase to find a relic supposedly owned by Robert E. Lee.  Legend has it the relic's finder will have the power to start the second civil war.  Members of the Confederate League are hot on the trail of the relic. They seek it's power to right the wrongs of the civil war.  National Park ranger Grayson Cole, along with fellow ranger and best friend Alex Reeves, and Sarah Thompson Gettyburg artifact curator, are ordered to find the relic before it falls into the wrong hands.
I've read countless text books, novels and articles about the civil war in order to bring realism to the thriller.  Here is a short list of recently read books:
  1. Battle Cry Freedom
  2. US Grant
  3. Cause and Comrades
  4. Nothing But Victory
  5. Grant
  6. Team of Rivals
  7. Killer Angels
  8. Confederates in the Attic
  9. How the South Could have won the war
  10. Why the North Won the war 
I'm always looking for new civil war materials, especially ones with a unique perspective on the war between the states.  What book(s) would you recommend to add to the list?