Martyrs Scene Details

People have asked how I decide to cast action scenes, or where the detail ideas come from. I’ll illustrate my process with two scenes from my upcoming Martyrs novel.

In Martyrs, terrorists are shooting random people across the country with deer rifles. The first shooting occurs in Roseville, California. How did I pick Roseville? I simply followed the terrorists’ decision tree. They had selected the top forty metropolitan areas in the United States, then would randomly pick from those forty at random time intervals. I made a random city-selection program and let her rip. Sacramento metropolitan area came up the winner for the first attack. Roseville came up because a site selected itself, it had to offer cover for the sniper, with an easy escape route. Using Google maps, I found the following location.

It creates a perfect setup for the terrorist. They park in the Home Depot lot, take their rifle across the field at night, shoot someone in the WinCo foods parking lot then reverse tracks in a clean getaway. This particular scenario, I actually got to visit in person to see how well the actual situation would have worked.

In the daytime, the WinCo food parking lot is visible across the field. At night the field would be very dark. Across the field, our terrorist could easily remain unseen until he found the right victim.

Needless to say, the reality of the location was very gratifying from a story perspective. Now as it happens, I have relatives who live in Roseville. They might not be pleased by the site picked, and, who knows, they may even have shopped here once or twice.

The second shooting was set for the Atlanta, GA metropolitan area. In that case, I selected a location in Stone Mountain GA for the action.

In this case, the shooter is targeting a private school, parking in the back of a Walmart, walking down a fireroad through the woods, then inserting himself in woods next to the ball field or play area.

A closeup of the end location, the play structures on the left, the baseball diamond on the right. In the story, the sniper takes the left option, then escapes through the woods back to the Walmart.

Throughout the novel, I used Google maps a lot, along with wikipedia entries for locations. It helped underscore and test whether some of the things I imagined happening were really possible. One sad conclusion was that too much of it was in fact very possible.

Changing gears, last chance to climb aboard the beta version train. I’ve got it ready and will be sending it to those who contact me. This is your last active opportunity to nip this whole story line in the bud, people!

Martyrs al-Sabra Plot

It’s probably about time to be unveiling the overall plot for “Martyrs al-Sabra”. The book is a fairly lengthy thriller (the first manuscript came in at 260K words). My editor carved off large chunks with her chainsaw, but it is still pretty long.

Set after the Presidential Election in 2020, when a woman is first elected President, a new group of terrorists are targeting America and it isn’t business-as-usual.

Farid Monsour al-Haj is a Palestinian orphan who was adopted and raised by one of America’s elite families from the age of five. Growing up in Northern Virginia, he attends the finest schools and is a success in all he attempts. Throughout it all, he is encouraged to maintain his cultural identify by the Royces, his adoptive parents. Farid is increasingly torn between the demands of his Palestinian heritage and those who welcomed him into the mainstream of America. He works as a television news reporter/commentator, helping explain the daily news from a Muslim point of view.

His childhood friend, Justin Simons, is an FBI Special Agent assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

When the new group of terrorists announces themselves to the world, led by the shadowy figure known only as “The Hammer of Islam”, they take the name of a massacre of Palestinian schoolchildren in Gaza City, the Martyrs al-Sabra. When the terrorists make good on their attack threats, the country is torn apart.

Can a lifetime of friendship protect against divided loyalties?

Beta readers will be seeing it hopefully no later than October 31, 2018.

Finished BoP Review!

Today, I finished reading, and rating, the last of 921 short stories submitted for the Bubble Off Plumb anthology. More than 2.5 million words of short story delight. I will post statistics on story ratings separately on the Feral Cat Publishers website within the next few days.

Tomorrow starts the negotiation of contracts with selected authors, as well as the horrible duty of sending rejection notices to everyone else. In fairness, the anthology concept generated a much larger response than we ever anticipated. We’ve learned many lessons on what to do next time.

On other fronts, the Martyrs edits are back in hand, which means a beta version will be completed shortly for reading. I have a core group already interested, but there is always room for a few more. Send me a note in the contact form if you would want to volunteer as a beta reader. I’ll reciprocate by sending you an autographed print copy with my thanks, once it is final. I’ll prepare a synopsis of the thriller’s plot in the next few days.