Most people have careers. Most people have a single, consistent personality. Not writers. Writers have a ton of folks battling inside them for attention: “Write about ME!” And most writers have had a few tasks at their jobs other than writing, but its writing they adore.
If this is true for writers as compared with non-writers, then it’s even more true for intelligence operatives, assets and case officers. Our job is mostly to write reports: Who knows what, why we should be interested, what we intend to do about them and what we found out.
If you’re a writer, this sounds familiar. If you read fiction, then imagine this scenario: You discover something fascinating about a person you’ve been interested in, and the first thing you ask yourself is, “Is what just learned true? Is it dangerous to me for my handlers to know what I know?” Inevitably, what you report will be a mildly enhanced version of the truth, for two reasons. First, because of time constraints and choice of words, inaccuracy is inevitable. And second, because, there are things the attention you gain from the morsel of knowledge you have might earn you, including a promotion or a pay raise. So, what you report isn’t exactly what you know. But if you enhance the truth too much, it will be seen as obvious fiction. So, be very careful about what you write.
If you decide to report it up the food chain, and if it turns out to be valuable enough for your superiors to report on, they’ll ask themselves the same questions before sending it on. And, their motivations will closely mirror your own. The truth of the original fact becomes more dilute as it travels up toward a decision maker.
Therefore, all spies lie. It’s the nature of the beast, since it’s the nature of humanity.
Intelligence services not only try to collect important information, they also disseminate false information, since this may distract or otherwise push an enemy into acting in a way that makes them behave in a predictable way.
One of the talents that attracted me to the espionage service I worked with was my writing ability. But since I wrote non-fiction (reports), I was trained to lie, trained to pass a lie detector test, and, in effect, became a fiction writer.
When my cover inevitably was blown, I became a consultant and worked in Silicon Valley for many years. I read JohnPerkins’ book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, and realized that I had a better story than he did. But when I attempted to craft a memoir about my covert activities, I was contacted by my former handler and told all I could write was fiction. And, that’s what I’ve done.
My literary agent had a tough time selling me to the large publishers. I was told that competing against Barry Eisler, Daniel Silva, James Rollins, or Steve Berry would cost too much in publicity, and they weren’t in a mood to risk that, given the state of publishing today. And my film agent, Brandy Rivers, told me, she needed a published book before she could sell it as a film. I was faced with the choice so many writers have: Self-publish, or go home.
Self-publishing my book has been an emotional roller-coaster ride. I’ve read and researched to find a team and discover the correct order of operations needed to produce a professionally formatted book (done by BookNook.biz) with a spectacular cover (designed by Jeroen Ten Berge, who designs covers for Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath, among many others), copyedited by an excellent editor (Karl Yambert). I hired an effective publicist (Brandi Andres). I determined that I needed to do the following tasks in this exact order:
Set up Accounts at:
• Lightning Source
• Nook Press
• Create Space
• Kindle Direct Publishing
Buy ISBN Numbers from Bowkers (in groups of ten)
Run the team and then send your manuscript to a formatter ($500). When the formatter has finished with the PDF (CreateSpace and LightningSource), the mobi (KDP) and the epubs (seerate ones for Smashwords and Nook Press), you are ready for the last step…
Correct sequence for uploading your manuscript:
• Lightning Source
• Nook Press
• Create Space
• Kindle Direct Publishing
After manuscripts have been accepted and are available, create authors pages at Goodreads and Amazon
Soft Release – Publish book without fanfare and send copies to reviewers. Get at least 50 reviews.
Hard Release – Post news releases on your web site, on Twitter and Facebook, and on Linked in. Post a Giveaway on Goodreads. Pray and work your social media accounts.
If you violate this sequence, you may be forced to wait days or even weeks before you can go back and perform a step you were prohibited from performing by one of the websites of the distributors.
It has cost me about $3,000 per book to do it this way, but the results speak for themselves. Publicity is running me about $1,000 per month, but it’s split over three books, so there will be bleed-through, and I’m hoping for a lot of that.
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For a long time now, I’ve concentrated almost every waking hour on writing and editing my own work, critiquing the works of others, and researching my next thriller. I’ve had little time for the hobbies I’d still like someday to occasionally engage in: travel (all my travel now is related to researching thriller locations or speaking at writers conferences and workshops), music (I play blues guitar and sing, and I’ve been on the Board of Directors of the now-defunct Monterey Bay Blues Festival), and cooking (mostly Asian food).
I still read a lot, Silva, Eisler, Rollins, and Berry for the most part.
And, I’m one of the worst golfers alive.
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I’m publishing three books this year as summer beach reads, and I will publish three more next summer, then one more every year. All my books are available at Amazon in both ebook (for $3.99) and print format (for $14.99). I’ve had a giveaway at Goodreads for Bloodridge, and will do so for DeathByte and Swiftshadow as they become available.
Bloodridge, Book 1 in the Spies Lie series:
The night Jon Sommers finds out Lisa Gabriel, his fiancé, died in a terrorist bomb attack, he is visited by Mossad spymaster Yigdal Ben-Levy, who tells him that she was not a fellow graduate student but a Mossad spy, sent to bring him to Israel. The spymaster also tells him that the death of his parents was no accident, and persuades Sommers to seek justice for Lisa’s killer.
But, things are not that simple. Jon soon finds himself at the center of a global conspiracy based on lies. Worse, he finds himself hunted by those he was supposed to help, and to survive, he will have to use talents he never knew he had.
At stake are the lives of millions.
DeathByte, Book 2 in the Spies Lie series (available by July 12)
When someone breaks into William Wing’s Hong Kong apartment and steals the hard drives from his computer, it sets several intelligence services searching for the plans to a new device that could change the course of world politics forever.
Wing’s worst fears, that he might become hunted for what they think he knows, is the least of the issues at hand for his friend, Jon Sommers. Sommers will have to leave his deep cover assignment to help his friend, and he’ll need a team. The Mossad wants what Wing lost, and so do the Americans, the Chinese and the Brits. It’s going to be a free-for-all.
Swiftshadow, Book 3 in the Spies Lie series (available by August 2)
When Cassandra Sashakovich, a bright but arrogant economist and consultant, is in Riyadh completing a financial forecasting assignment, her cover is blown by a mole from her intelligence agency. A covert agent whose call sign is “Swiftshadow,” she barely survives an encounter with a hit man and escapes to Washington, where she is fired by her agency for becoming a liability.
Hunted by terrorists who fear she may have hacked details of their pending operation, Cassie must identify the mole and neutralize the terrorists to recover her life. She finds help in the arms of another rogue agent, Lee Ainsley, and learns how to deal with life on the run from a homeless teen, Ann Silbee.
From Riyadh to the halls of power in Washington, from New York’s homeless to Hong Kong’s center of technology, from the remnants of Silicon Valley to Al Qaeda’s Afghanistan, Cassie desperately races against the clock to expose plots by both her own government and the terrorists; an operation that could result in the deaths of millions of Americans. Cassie must come to terms with her own nature, find and use skills she never knew she had
But even if she survives, will the experience change her into someone worse than those who want her dead? And if she survives is there some way for her to emerge more mature and self-reliant, no longer a naive tool of her country?
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I’ve been a presenter at writers conferences, including the San Francisco Writers Conference, Pike’s Peak Writers Conference, and the Muse Online Writers Conference. I’ve also presented at workshops including the ActFourWriters.com Workshop. I’ve taught thriller fiction at the Salinas Public Library under a federal grant. I write a column with Brandi Andres at the Huffington Post. I’ve been published for non-fiction under my real name over a dozen times on topics that include computer hacking and computer fraud, econometric forecasting, treasury management, and other finance topics. I was on the faculty of the Stern Graduate School of Business at NYU for over a decade.
I can be found at: