Curiosity Discovered Life On Mars, But …

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Some secrets are better left secret.

Hope you check out my latest collection of cartoons in Scenes of Strangeness.

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Curiosity Finds Life On Mars

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If this was what you found, would you want people to know?

You can see my latest collection at Scenes of Strangeness.

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Have You Ever Wondered How Political Marketing Works?

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Lest you think that politics is all about principled debate and right against wrong, think again.  Did you know that political parties market their candidates just like toothpaste?

I never thought much about how political parties and campaigns were like beverage salesmen or auto manufacturers unlike I met an amazing young man (at least from the perspective of my age) courtesy of my daughter.  Let me introduce you to Neil Bendle:

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Neil is an assistant professor of marketing at the Richard Ivey School of Business, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada. He has a PhD from  the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, an MBA at the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia and ancient history studies in England at Liverpool and Nottingham universities. He is also a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. His academic areas of interest are decision making, competitors,  and the dynamics of competition.

He brings a unique perspective to political marketing having served as the finance director of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom during part of Tony Blair’s administration.

I first took note of how Neil weaves decision making and marketing into the political process during the run up to the 2008 presidential election.  During the primaries, we would discuss the various candidates and their strengths and weaknesses.   Neil suggested that I should pay particular attention to how certain candidates behaved as their candidacy ebbed and flowed.

For example, if a candidate is perceived to be the front runner, his/her campaign strategy will be to attack the other party rather than opposing candidates in the primary.  Candidates who are not in front will attack the perceived front runner or other candidates whom they think are ahead of them in the polls rather than the other party.  Their postures flip as the polls indicated their relative status.  I am, however, simplifying a far more nuanced analysis.

As I watched that campaign season and subsequent ones unfold, Neil’s theories proved to be dead-on.  What Neil was doing was applying his theories of decision making and competitor analysis to the political process.  The candidate as dog food.

Earlier this year, Neil approached me with an idea.  He wanted to put together a fun booklet that discussed serious marketing concepts.  He envisioned a short book that looked at marketing economics and decision making from the perspective of toddlers.  He asked me to illustrate the book and the product is:

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Neil also regularly writes about other aspects of marketing on his blog: Marketing Thought.  You should check it out.

His latest blog post is about “Surviving Paranoia.

Final note, Neil is also the father of two of the greatest granddaughters that any cartoonist could ever want.

It is Eerie

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As you may know, I am currently working on the sequel to my very realistic science fiction thriller, Falling Star, which has received many nice reviews and has been downloaded by almost 30,000 readers.  In this sequel, I explore what would happen if a biological computer comprised of alien DNA were introduced into a human brain.

Now, it appears that this technology is not so farfetched as neurosurgeons are exploring the use of micro electrodes that can take over part of your brain.

The following is an excerpt from StarHome Bound, my latest W.I.P

CHAPTER

Newport News, Virginia, CSAC Headquarters —

“Did they find the lab technician?”

“Yes sir,” replied Joe Mannington.  He had just entered Bob McHugh’s office.  “He died of the gunshot wounds; they found him behind the oil tanks on the docks.  The fifteen shots he took finally exsanguinated him.  The docs tell me that the amazing thing is that he even lived for the brief period that he did.”

“‘Why?”

“As you know, he was contaminated with some Alowfin that he was mixing with DSMO for injection into laboratory rats.  The doctors say that the spread of the alien tumors was practically explosive in his brain.  Apparently these things, whatever they are, took over the lab tech’s brain reaching into every portion of his nervous system within minutes of contamination.”

“Any explanation?”

“They theorize that the tumors set up a separate sentient being?”

“What?”

“Sentient as in a functioning and thinking human being.”

“Are you suggesting that the lab technician was possessed?”

“No, Sir.  Not in the classic literary sense.  What the doctors are telling me is that the control of the lab tech’s body was done remotely by parties unknown.”

“That’s not funny, Joe.”

“I didn’t think you would think so Admiral.  The doctors think that the alien nodules grew and took over the tech’s body.  They further think that the neural network of foreign tissue is a biological computer capable of receiving and transmitting signals.”

“So he became a remotely controlled robot.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Joe, Mike Liu and his young assistant have been tracing the supplier of Alowfin.  They think that it is being produced sub rosa by a South African firm called, iEnzani.  The two leaders of the company are white South Africans who share a dubious distinction under the old Apartheid government as chemists devoted to furthering that oppressive regime.  One of them had the nickname of “Dr. Doom” because his experiments with psycho-altering drugs.”

“Doesn’t sound like terribly nice people.”

“That is an understatement.  Anyhow, Mike thinks that they may be making Alowfin in a factory in Swaziland under the aegis of electronic goods.”

“We should take that factory out.”

“Not so fast, Joe.  We need to find out if iEnzani is acting on its own or if it has any help.  Mike mentioned the possibility of an alien connection.”

“The Sentinels?” questioned Joe referring to the name that CSAC personnel often used for the suspected aliens manning the mysterious black objects at the bottom of the ocean.

“Possibly, unless there are others and that would be too scary.  By the way, Mike mentioned an encounter with a stranger with the palest blue eyes that he had ever seen.”

“Like the guy that I thought was Carlton Messinger in London?”

“Yeah, what is it with these pale blue eyes?”

“Now that you mentioned it the autopsy report on the lab tech said that his eyes were pale blue.”

“So?”

“His security card and his driver’s license state that they are brown.”

McHugh just stared at Mannington.

*****

I hope that you will consider getting a copy of Falling Star.

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It Is Happening Again

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I decided to self-publish my very realistic scinece fiction thriller, Falling Star, in August 2010 because a critical element of my story was being played out on evening news.

Falling Star was written in 1991 and for twenty years literary agents and publishers thought that my story about large groups of Russian agents living for decades in the United States, marrying unsuspecting Americans, raising children, buying homes, and holding down mundane jobs was too fantastic to believe, even in fiction.  Of course, this all changed in June 2010 when Russian agents in deep, deep cover were found to be doing exactly that in large numbers.

I even had one spy who posed as a gorgeous financial consultant.

Subsequent to that “real life copies fiction” event, other elements of Falling Star have started appearing in prime time news, like the mysterious object buried deep in the Baltic Sea.

Now it seems that my work in progress, the sequel to Falling Star is going to experience the same thing.

Prime time new is reporting the murder of a man on a crowded street in mid-town Manhattan during the busy Christmas Holiday season.  In the ensuing confusion following the mid-day hit, the assailant calmly got into a waiting car and was quickly driven away.

Consider the following excerpt from ,y work in progress:

*****

            “He was killed by a hit and run jogger.”

            “What the?!”

            “That’s not really funny, you know,” said the third man at the small table in the clanky coffee shop.

            “Yeah, but damn it you just can’t get morose.  As far as we can tell, Johnson was waiting for a cab at 21st and Pennsylvania when a man in a jogging suit bumped into him.  After the two collided, witnesses saw the jogger run off and Colonel Johnson fall to the ground in a heap.  He lapsed into a coma and never recovered.”

            “What happened to the jogger?”

            “In the confusion, he got away.”

            “That’s outrageous.  Didn’t anyone give chase?”

            “No, happened too quickly.  Everyone there rushed to help Johnson.”

            “Did he say anything?

            “Nope, never regained consciousness.”

            “Was there an autopsy?”

            “Yes.”

“And?”

            “The toxicology report revealed a large amount of curare mixed with a neurotoxin of unknown chemistry in his tissue samples.”

            “Were there any physical signs?”

            “Nothing except for a puncture wound, like a large hypodermic needle, with skin discoloration around it.  You know, like a botched up injection.”

            “Sounds like the Bulgarian attack on one of its exiled diplomats in London in the Sixties,” commented Mike Liu, who was sitting at the table in the coffee shop of the plush hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, on the fringe of Georgetown.

            “Yeah, that’s right,” replied Tom Jamieson, shifting ever so subtlety as he casually glanced about the small coffee shop.

I guess that I had better get this sequel to Falling Star finished before more of it becomes real.

FURTHER NOTE:

As noted above, this form of attack was used successfully on Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in London in 1978.  He was going to work, when he felt a sting and turned to see a person with an umbrella walking away.  Markov continued to his BBC office where he observed a reddish pimple on the back of his thigh.  When he returned home that evening, he fell ill and was taken to the hospital where he died three days later.  The poison used was ricin.

My good friend and fellow author/cartoonist, Robin Reed called me on this point, but I contend that the Markov incident is different than my book wherein a person is attacked on a busy street and collapses on the spot with his attacker getting away in the subsequent confusion.  My friends like to keep me honest.  🙂

Do Not Buy This Book

Do not buy this book as a Holiday present if either you or the intended recipient still persist in the belief that one tiny elf can circumnavigate the entire globe distributing gifts to almost two billion children in the span of one evening using only carbon-based organisms for propulsion.

This investigative cartoon book lays bare the dark underbelly of Santa Inc.  See for yourself how this megabillion-dollar enterprise became wracked by greed, intrigue, pathos, and lassitude.

Just why is he so jolly all the time?

One of the major unanswered mysteries is exactly where Santa Inc. gets its funding.  The purchase of all this commercial merchandise is not reindeer feed, you know.  As we know reindeer feed, itself, can be very expensive especially with the Midwestern drought that has affected so much of the United States.

As we found out almost four decades ago: Follow the Money!

Just take a look at the sordid details on this supposed cartoon book HERE.

Don’t buy it, unless you are compelled to offer it up as a Holiday gift to some unsuspecting soul.  Perhaps, a person for whom you wish to completely destroy the meaning of Christmas.

Besides, if you have a Kindle or a Kindle APP, you can get the cartoons from this book along with over one hundred and forty other similarly warped cartoons for only $3.99, HERE.

Just be careful that you do not fall into this web of darkness or you may find your web browser acting as if it were a sentient being as it scrolls over to buy Grumpy Santa gifts HERE.

You have been warned.

If, on the other hand, you are willing to wait patiently for free cartoons on my website, I will be posting them from time to time, but it might take a little bit longer as you wait to see them posted and I am not getting any younger.

A Milestone

My revitalized website has just logged 5,000 visitors.  I’m pretty happy that I have been able to do this since focusing my web activities on this site.

They say that old dogs can’t learn new tricks.  In this case, my daughter who is pretty smart when it comes to internet marketing told me to stop wasting my time on the multiple sites that I was using and focus on one.

Hopefully with the passage of time I can make this site an effective destination for not only my books, but books of my many friends in the independent author world. Thank you all for stopping by.

Now if I can only figure out how to get visitors to visit my bookstore and my gift store.  😉

 

 

Notice To Fans Of “There Is Strangeness In The Universe” Cartoons

In preparation for an advertising campaign to market my cartoon collection, Scenes of Strangeness, I have put sales of the two earlier series. There is Strangeness in the Universe and Happy Holidaze and Other Tragedies of Life, on the back burner.  I am doing this so that no one will get confused and purchase the two earlier collections which are included in my 250+ cartoon collection: Scenes of Strangeness.  To date over 6,800 readers have downloaded Scenes of Strangeness.

I hope that fans of my cartoons will consider adding Scenes of Strangeness to their Kindle collection.  Don’t forget, if you do not have a Kindle, you can download a Kindle App for your computer, iPad, Tablet, laptop, or even cellphone here.

Scenes of Strangeness

After a highly …

successful run during which over 25,000 copies were downloaded, my partners, Gordon Ryan, Michael Wallace and I have decided to shelve our three volume thriller box, A Triple Thriller Threat, for the foreseeable future as we explore other activities.

This set explored the world of thrillers from entirely different, but equally exciting, webs of intrigue, deceit, murder, and mayhem.  Michael started off with a thriller set in the arcane world of antiquities and the schemes that brazen collectors wove to possess what was not rightfully theirs.  Gordon followed with a modern tale of political intrigue written as if it just might be happening at this very minute.  My story brought up the end of the set with a very realistic science fiction thriller that left the reader wondering if the story might actually be true.

In Michael Wallace’s State of Siege, Tess Burgess, an expert in medieval warfare, is building siege engines in France, while running a sting operation against collectors of stolen artifacts.  Obsessed with the collapse of civilization, Tess’ ex-fiancée Peter’s latest grandiose scheme is a simulated war, like a giant paintball match for billionaire survivalists, but with crossbows and catapults. He asks Tess if she is good enough to defend an actual castle against medieval siege engines. One of the world’s most notorious artifact collectors will be on hand with his own ideas.  With these participants, will the play war turn into the real thing?

Gordon Ryan’s State of Rebellion is a fast-paced political thriller that could have easily been lifted out of today’s news.  California is on the brink of secession, and those who oppose this drastic political maneuver are turning up dead.  Federal Agent Nicole Bentley is sent to discover what she can about the movement and meets up with Assemblyman and National Guard officer Daniel Rawlings, whose commitment to his country runs deep in his blood.  Resisting their mutual attraction, they uncover a plot devised by greedy men bent on taking power at any cost.  Nicole and Dan find themselves literally in the crossfire between secessionists and those who want to preserve the union.

In Falling Star, I take you on a journey from the abyss to the beautiful deserts of the American Southwest as his hero Mike Liu attempts to crack the secrets of huge mysterious objects buried deep in the ocean.  Unfortunately someone wants him dead and he must fight for his life.  On top of all this, Mike learns that a revered friend has died.  Will the death of Mike’s friend mean that the secrets of the enigmatic structures will remain forever buried in the silt and muck of the ocean deep?

If you missed the chance to get a copy of A Triple Thriller Threat, never fear as the individual volumes are still available through Amazon:

State of Rebellion (A Pug Connor Novel)

State of Siege

Falling Star (The Watchers)