Las Vegas: He Did It Because He Could

People are scrambling to answer the question “Why?”

I think it’s pretty irrelevant. In fact, I hope no reason is uncovered. Then we have to face a harsh truth that can’t be passed off on a terrorist movement, an ideology, racism, religion, political, crazy, etc etc etc.

He shot people because he could. He had the guns. He had the ammunition. He had the modifications to the guns to fire a lot of rounds.

I’ve been wrong on one thing. People have been saying automatic weapons need to be banned and they mostly are. I’ve always dismissed firing on auto—my training and experience is that it was a waste of bullets. Placed, effective semi-auto is much more dangerous. It just never occurred to me that someone would be placing plunging fire from the 32nd floor of a building into a packed crowd of thousands. I’m a fiction writer. I wrote about crashing planes into buildings before 9-11. But this? Nope. Here’s the scary thing—now it’s out there. It will happened again. Concert. Sports event. It will.

He didn’t have weapons capable of automatic fire as of the latest report. Instead he had something called a “bump-stock”. I’d first seen this a few weeks ago. It works like this: the shooter keeps his finger on the trigger, but otherwise keeps that hand free of the grip. The non firing hand braces the gun in the firing position. The gun fires, recoils back on the stock, which resets the trigger as a new round is loaded. The bump stock pushes the gun back to the firing position. Since the trigger finger is held stationery it thus ‘automatically’ pulls the trigger. I thought: That’s kind of dumb. What would you ever want that for as it makes automatic fire even more inaccurate? Got my answer.

You don’t have to be accurate in this instance.

So, while not technically automatic, it’s automatic. When I heard the firing, it  sounded weird to me. I’ve heard a lot of firing of all kinds of weapons. I knew it wasn’t an AR on auto. Almost AK, but not right either. Also, the time between firing made me think it was multiple shooters. One shooter with multiple weapons works too.

I remember a few years ago a range instructor was killed in Nevada by a young girl. Her parents took her to the range so she could fire guns. Including an Uzi on full auto. The instructor wasn’t 100% focused, she pulled the trigger, the gun recoiled. He’s dead. That’s how it happens. A momentary lapse. Happens every day. Every day. Guns do not forgive. Guns also don’t fire by themselves.

But people can’t shot someone without a gun.

I’m seeing all the argument in social media about suppressors, automatic, “if he didn’t use a gun he’d use a truck” etc etc etc etc. I don’t care.

He used a gun. Multiple guns. He used a modification on the guns to fire a lot of bullets from weapons which have been designed for combat; not sport shooting or hunting. That’s not opinions or open to discussion. Those are facts. I know guns. I know the history of guns. I know weapons from all over the world. They were the tools of my previous occupation. I have a lot of respect for those who use guns in their occupations or for hunting. I worked with some of the best shooters in the world. Who did it every day.

When Sandy Hook happened I was devastated. I know what it feels like as a parent to lose a child. And to lose it that way would have been even worse. It is an exclusive club you do not want to be a part of. Despite that, I always believed, and still believe, the crime scene photos of Sandy Hook should have been splashed on the front page of every paper, presented on the cable news nonstop. Yes– horrible. But not many Americans have seen what 5.56 does to the human body. To a child’s body.

More parents have lost children this week, not just in Las Vegas but all over the country. They’ve lost spouses, parents, brothers, sisters, friends, lovers—people.

It comes down to a simple fact we have to digest and let it become part of our true reality.

He did it because he could.

Survival Monday: The Key to Life

We’ve already covered how much water you need, etc. but let’s discuss it a bit more. After oxygen, it’s the #1 thing you need! We can only last about three days without water. I just got the package on the left– each packet is stamped good for five years, but they last longer. They don’t seem like much, but trust me, when thirsty they are literal life savers.

Do you know how to use the sun to purify water? It’s actually a rather easy technique and can be a life saver. More info on water below. Bottom line, right now go and get two cases of bottled water per person in your household. This is the #1 priority after any disaster or emergency and 80% of us live in a county that’s been hit by a weather related disaster since 2007. I’ve listed the three priority things you need to get costing less than $50 total on another slideshare, here.

The Job Most People Desire?

According to Yougov, it’s author. 60% of those surveyed picked Author as the #1 job they’d like. That’s much higher than movie star (31%). So Cool Gus says pssshww Brad Pitt. Opps, that’s actually Sassy Becca.

Unfortunately, a survey of 1,007 indie authors indicated the average earnings were $10,000, a number greatly skewed by a handful earning over 100k. 75% reported earnings of less than $500 a year. So if one can live off $500 a year . . .

When I started out writing I was living in a one-room, unheated apartment above a garage. I also was in the Army Reserves and since Special Forces was in high demand, I’d constantly get calls to go to interesting places (not) and meet interesting people (not). So that supplemented things.

Today my 72nd book (I think), Hallows Eve (Time Patrol) is published. My first came out in 1991 (it’s free—Eyes of the Hammer [Green Berets].

I’ve written thrillers, science fiction, suspense, historical fiction, survival manuals, a leadership book, writing books, and might be the only male author on the Romance Writers of America Honor Roll, with three romances, one of which made the top 100 of the decade 2000-2010.

Don’t do that if you want a successful career as a writer. But, I’ve had a career as a writer for over 25 years. So much for writing advice.

So, yay, pub day and I’m already into Area 51: Resurrection, the 10th book in my all-time bestselling series, picking up where I left off with Area 51: The Truth, because you know, there’s always more truth. And that’s the reason I’ve been able to make a living writing. Because I write.

Now that’s true writing advice.

Nothing but good times ahead!


Between Books– a Type A Writer’s Dilemma

More appropriately, it’s a dilemma for someone who tests out with a J as the last letter for the Meyers-Briggs. Judgmental, better known as someone who is more attuned to the result than the P, the process.

I normally spend minimal time between books. Uusually researching the next book before the prior book is finished, so I can dive right into the writing, once the current book is into the production cycle.

Hallows Eve has been done for a while and is ready for a 1 October pub date. Pre-orders on kindle and print book are live, and just waiting on final approval of the audio.

I’ve known for a while that I was going to revisit my Area 51 series. I picked a title, even have a tentative cover.

But I’m not writing it yet. For weeks now I’ve been re-reading the series, researching, but most importantly, I’ve been thinking. I know, surprising for those who know me.

It makes me irritable and not nice to be around. Even Cool Gus isn’t thrilled with me when I’m like this. I hit this sometimes when I’m in the midst of writing a book. When I know something isn’t right and I have to hit pause until I sort it out. And you can’t make it happen. It has to come. That doesn’t mean I’m not working. Plenty of other things to do to be an author, like run a business.

And I’m researching, making notes, re-reading books. I’m getting things out of my head (what’s in there is dark and dangerous and not real). Putting it down in some format makes it real. So it’s time for the Excel Spreadsheet and the Mindnode (above). I have to see what the pieces and parts are. I’m a big picture guy. Terrible with details. Just ask my wife. “Bob, go get X from the bedroom.” I come back without X. She’s learned to say: “Bob, go get X from the dresser in the main room, second drawer from top on the right, on the left side. Underneath the t-shirts. It’s red. It looks like a pair of shorts, because it is a pair of shorts. Got it?”

And I come back without the shorts. Seriously, she wants to hide something from me in the fridge, it’s easy. Just put it behind something. Just a little while ago she pulled out some apples and said “Here are the apples you bought. They’re going in this drawer to stay fresh, but I know you’ll never look in this drawer.”

I think I’ll go get an apple right now.

Anyway. Between books is tough. Not pushing ahead with the writing is hard. But I want to do it better. Put out a better book every time I write. So I’m focusing on some aspects here that I usually rush through. Just had a great breakthrough while lying down for my mind-floating. I set my timer on my iPhone for 20 minutes and lie down, usually with Cool Gus lying his head on my feet. And I just let my mind float.

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

And I remembered the very first Area 51 book. And had one of those Ah ha! moments. That book came out 20 years ago under a pen name. The flying saucer on the cover? Not in the book. But I’ve gotten plenty of letters from kids over the years telling me that’s why they got the book. So maybe the cover designer was smarter than me. Not that it’s that hard.

Nothing but good times ahead.

And I will be writing soon!




PBS’ Vietnam. A Must Watch.

Lynn Novick and Ken Burns have collaborated to produce a documentary that is a must see for every American.

It covers the war from all sides and does justice to both the military and political aspects. There are so many quotes from those interviewed that are striking, it’s clear why it took ten years to complete.

To watch it requires opening up my mind and my heart to the experiences. I’ve watched their Civil War series numerous times, but Vietnam raises the issue of “Too soon?”

No. It’s perfect timing. Our country was torn apart by that war and our country is torn apart now.

We’ve gone from looking down on combat veterans to the ubiquitous “thank you for your service” without understanding the journey and the hypocrisy between a draft army and an all volunteer army.

As a former North Vietnamese soldier says early on (I’ve only watched the first three episodes and it keeps me awake, thinking): “It has been 40 years. . . . In war, no one wins or loses. There is only destruction. Only those who have never fought like to argue about who won and who lost.”

Listening to President Johnson’s own words on tape is staggering. To understand the duplicity of a government that knew as early as 64-65 that the war wasn’t winnable, yet didn’t have the courage to make a decision in line with that knowledge is sobering and makes you think hard of what we’ve done since 9-11.

This is a series of personal stories and national stories. We need to hear them and take them to heart.

A Brief History of Computers and Cyber Warfare

This is from research I’ve done for Hallows Eve which is only two weeks out from publication. It’s certainly not a complete history, but it’s interesting. The part about Ronald Reagan and the movie War Games was something I didn’t know.


Click HERE to go to the slideshow





Writer Wednesday: Writers Block and Rewriting

Writers block? Mostly it’s being lazy. Everything about making a living as a writer is great fun except for one thing: bleeding onto the page.

We can find any excuse in the world to stop writing. And there are plenty of other things that can distract us from writing. When is writers block real? And how do you break through?

And rewriting? Some love it. Some hate it. We all have to do it.

I’ve put together a bundle just for writers, discounting my four main writing books. It’s available HERE.