Meet The Immortals — David Bruns

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Most of my reads these days tends to be sci-fi, or perhaps a fantasy book here and there. A few months ago, I had the chance to read a book outside the sci-fi/fantasy genre and it was a great experience. Took me back, in fact to my high school days. I devoured Tom Clancy books (not literally of course) when I was a teen and moved on to Clive Cussler and Vince Flynn as an adult. David Bruns (along with JR Olson) put together a top-notch military thriller called Weapons of Mass Deception that harkens back to the glory days of Clancy with a modern style. I really enjoyed it and hope he continues to pen books in the genre. But it’s also clear David Bruns is an excellent writer and his science fiction also earns him a lot of respect as well.

David Bruns’ story in The Immortality Chronicles is a welcome change of pace and one that I think a lot of people will enjoy. The Immortality Chronicles drops on Friday, Sept. 4 featuring stories by Patricia Gilliam, John Gregory Hancock, Drew Avera, Gareth Foy, D.K. Cassidy, Thomas Robins, E.E. Giorgi, Harlow C. Fallon, David Bruns, Paul B. Kohler, D. Robert Pease, and myself. The anthology is curated by Samuel Peralta and edited by Carol Davis. Until launch day, you can get the collection for just $2.99.

Now…on to Mr. Bruns:

11796327_10153423837640170_1900403244562143189_nWho are you?

I’m David Bruns, recovering corporate executive and full-time author. I think of writing career as my Third Act. In Act One, I was in the US Navy for ten years and served as a commissioned officer on a nuclear-powered submarine. Act Two was two decades was as an executive in high-tech that included seven moves, two years in Asia, and a metric butt-load of airline miles.

Writing is my Act Three. I always knew I’d get to this place in my life–it just took forty-odd years to get here. I write science fiction under my own name and alternate history-military thrillers with a writing partner, JR Olson. JR is a twenty-five year US Navy veteran who spent most of his career in naval intelligence. We write and blog together under the name The Two Navy Guys.

Since my leap into writing, I’ve released a sci-fi series called The Dream Guild Chronicles, and a bunch of short fiction. The Two Navy Guys published Weapons of Mass Deception, a novel about modern-day nuclear terrorism, in May.

Why are you writing for the Immortality Chronicles?

Did you say ImmorTality Chronicles? Oh no, I thought this was the Immorality Chronicles—I need to get my story back from Samuel right now!

Seriously, it’s such an honor to be part of what Samuel is doing with these short fiction anthologies. Ever since I reviewed Telepath Chronicles last year I wanted to be part of it. I even went so far as to write a “reserve” story for AI Chronicles called “I, Caroline,” but all the invited authors came through–which is a good thing.

The fact that the anthology is benefiting a literary cause just makes it sweeter for me. I’ve always been a huge reader and I think every kid needs books in their life.

David author pic - cropped-minWhat did you write for The Immortality Chronicles?

My story, “Legacy,” is about a brilliant inventor named Edward Stemm who loses a leg in the Iraq War. When he gets home, he is dissatisfied with the available prosthetics and forms a company called Stemm Bionics. As time goes on—and Edward gets older—he replaces most of his own body with bionics. When the story opens, Edward is being sued by his great-granddaughter and CEO of Stemm Bionics to force him out of his own company.

In “Legacy,” Edward pursues the goal of life extension to the exclusion of all else—including living. At the end of story he makes a final choice about how he wants to live. The underlying theme of the story is that our entire culture is built on the transience of human life. Much of what we do in our lives—raise children, win awards, build inheritances—is with an eye toward how we will be remembered when we’re gone.

Did I mention I was an English major as well as a naval officer? I could go on about this stuff all day…

How can we find out more about you and your writing?

The best way is to visit my website at www.davidbruns.com. You can browse all my work and even download the David Bruns Starter Library for free.

What’s next for you?

I have a short story in the upcoming Cyborg Chronicles and another in Tails of the Apocalypse, edited by Chris Pourteau. My writing partner and I have started writing the sequel to Weapons of Mass Deception. Last month, my first-ever submarine story, called Voyage of the Orca, was published as the first episode of a serial novel in the anthology, Experiments & Enchantments. Episode Two is calling. I like to work on more than one thing at a time.

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Book Review Round-up

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Whoa. Been a while since I’ve updated my blog. Going to do better at that in the coming weeks, but for now…how about a few reviews of a few novels I’ve read lately. Some great stuff out there right now. Here are four:


weaponsmass_cvr_lrgWhen I was in high school, I starting reading Tom Clancy novels. I don’t remember if I saw Hunt for Red October as a movie first or read the book, but it all happened about the same time. Clancy had a knack for showing the military side of the U.S., the intelligence behind it all, the home life of the operatives, and yet give the audience a glimpse of the enemy at the same time. The formula works and David Bruns and his writing partner on this book, J.R. Olson, make it work to perfection in Weapons of Mass Deception.

Bruns and Olson give us a simple premise — what if the weapons of mass destruction President George W. Bush said Saddam Hussein had actually existed? From the get-go the reader is given a very plausible scenario of what might’ve happened to the nuclear warheads in the early days of the Iraqi invasion and the entire book spirals from there.

Just like Tom Clancy gave us Jack Ryan and Clive Cussler gave us Dirk Pitt, Bruns and Olson gave us Brendon McHugh, a Navy Seal, complete with a well-rounded backstory and friends throughout the U.S. military and intelligence community. It’s the details where the authors really shine as both are former Navy and completely convince you the story you are reading is real and authentic in every way possible. If it wasn’t for the “fiction” tag on the book, I might’ve been convince this was a true story, ala American Sniper.

I thoroughly enjoyed Weapons of Mass Deception. Bruns and Olson are right up there with Clancy, Cussler, and Vince Flynn in terms of a military and terrorism thriller. I think this is a perfect book to start a long-running series with McHugh as a central character. Well done!


LinearShiftCompelte-ebook

I first started reading Linear Shift by Paul Kohler when he first released Part 1 as a serial installment. I loved the premise and was intrigued enough to keep reading to Part 2. I somehow got off track when Parts 3 and 4 were released, but thankfully I was able to catch up and read all four parts together with the omnibus collection of Linear Shift, which makes for an interesting and moving time travel tale.

In the book, we meet Peter Cooper, an architect whose family is falling apart. After his wife’s death, his teenage kids are struggling and Peter isn’t much better. One day Peter is offered a chance to travel to 1942 on a mission to correct a mistake during World War II. The mission would be fairly straight forward if those in charge of the mission were more honest with Peter in the first place.

There is a fair amount of action before Peter and his traveling partner Julie actually travel to the past, but the book really takes off and gets interesting once they are in the past. There are plenty of subplots in 1942 and the world is rife with different agendas between the U.S., the French (even the Vichy), the Nazis, and plenty of issues even on the American side of things. Suffice it to say, Peter and Julie don’t have an easy time in the past, but it seemed that sometimes they made it harder on themselves. I really enjoyed it and don’t even have a huge problem with a time or two that seemed a bit “Ex Machina” to me.

I think Mr. Kohler did a great job on Linear Shift and his growth as a writer is evident throughout the four installments of the story. The first few installments are good, but the fourth part (which ends up being nearly half the overall book) is by far the best. I look forward to seeing what Kohler will do next.


heretic-ebookI’d had The Heretic by Lucas Bale sitting on my bookshelf for a while, but for some reason never started reading it. I don’t know why I ever waited — The Heretic is a fantastic read and the beginnings of something special.

As I read The Heretic, I kept feeling like there was something familiar to the story and when the book ended and I read Bale’s author note where he credited the TV show Firefly with much of the inspiration, I knew the similarities were not just coincidence. Like many other sci-fi fans, I too wished the show would have continued with the adventures of Captain Mal and crew. In a way, Bale fulfills that wish with the story he gives us in The Heretic.

But this is so much deeper than a simple hour-long TV show. Bale has intertwined the Roman Empire in a dystopian post-earth setting with the Firefly homage. The galaxy is under control of an authoritarian regime, using terms straight out of ancient Rome like Consul and Praetor. Only what is approved is taught, leading to conflicts between the government and unauthorized “Preachers.”

Our main character is named Shepherd and seems straight out of the Firefly character book, which is not an unwelcome thing. He and his ship are hired to take a town and their Preacher out of danger, a situation he would naturally like to avoid, but something keeps him around — something that nags him from his past.

I really enjoyed The Heretic and have the next two books ready to go on my Kindle. Mr. Bale is a welcome addition to the sci-fi genre and I look forward to more stories from him.


The-Pearl-Diver-387x580

After reading previous books by S. Elliot Brandis in his Tunnel series, I thought I was prepared for The Pearl Diver. I was wrong. Starting a great new Young Adult series, Brandis does the unexpected, taking the reader in new directions with each step along the way.

In The Pearl Diver, we are quickly introduced to Elsie, a 17 (nearly 18) year old living on the planet Caelum, which is 96 percent water. Based on the descriptions, it seems wonderful, almost like a year-round tropical island in many respects, but Elsie longs for more, just like many young protagonists in stories like this. She wants, desperately, to be The Pearl Diver.

Caelum is one of six (or seven??) planets in the system, but each year administrators from the planet Dunamis, the head planet, organize a contest for a black pearl. The winner, if there is one, is named the Pearl Diver, and is taken to Dunamis where they are honored. The first half of the book is all about Elsie’s journey to the contest and her attempts to be the Pearl Diver, but it’s the back half of the book that really got me.

In Brandis’ previous books I’d read, he was liberal with hurting his characters physically. He literally plunged the knife in and twisted at times. In The Pearl Diver, Brandis has learned to do the same with emotions. The physical challenges and harm is still a factor, but when Elsie learns what life is like after the contest, we find the knife sticking out of our backs as well.

Well done, Mr. Brandis.

I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a larger and much broader plot Brandis has mapped out beyond the contest to find the pearl. I would definitely recommend this to any fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent, or Susan Kaye Quinn’s latest The Legacy Human.

Deus Ex Clive

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A few days ago, my friend and editor Ellen wrote a blog post about the literary technique of Deus Ex Machina – namely that writers shouldn’t do it. I’ll do her the honor of quoting a bit of her blog post here:

Then we come to the God in the Machine. Joe Character is lost in space; out of interstellar shipping lanes, alone and drifting with no power and no hope for the future. Along comes Jane Character out of nowhere just in time to save the day! Please. I can’t even begin to calculate the odds! The average distance between stars in our galaxy is about 4 light years. That makes our nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri, dead average  in terms of distance (4.2 light years, if you’re keeping score) but that’s still 4.2(5.87849981 × 1012) miles.   I can’t even write that out—I lose track of the zeros. How likely is it you’re going to bump into someone?

Fine. Got it. In my writing, I’ve really tried to avoid doing this. I’m sure that if I tried, she would call me on it before I had a chance to hit publish (love ya Ellen!).

But…there is a certain writer that I love who uses a Deus Ex Machina in many of his novels, and I LOVE IT.

Clive Cussler.

I was reorganizing my bookshelf today and discovered I have a bit of a Cussler obsession. I actually didn’t start reading his books until 4-5 years ago, but in that time, I’ve developed a robust collection of Cussler books, both paperback and hardback. Check this out:

...and these are just the paperbacks on this shelf. I have a few others and a handful of hardbacks too.

…and these are just the paperbacks on this shelf. I have a few others and a handful of hardbacks too.

In a lot of Cussler’s Dirk Pitt books (and a few of his other recent series as well), he has actually inserted HIMSELF as a character. And not just any character, but a seemingly quasi-omnipotent savior. Just like Ellen’s previous example of someone being rescued in the middle of space, our oceans are vast and largely unexplored. Every so often, we hear about a guy who was lost at sea for 6 months or so. How was he out there for so long, undiscovered? Just like that plane from Malaysia was never found – the ocean is ridiculously big.

So invariably, Dirk Pitt or one of his other protagonists is facing the end. Cussler has painted himself into a corner and Pitt is seeing the gates of heaven. Suddenly he wakes up on a yacht and a guy named Clive is sipping champagne and talking about just being in the right place at the right time. They talk for a little while and then our protagonist heads on his way. Within a few minutes though, the main characters are already at a loss for the name of their benevolent savior.

I was a little dumbfounded when I first read this in one of his books, but now I come to expect it. There is a bit of a “Fourth Wall” effect to it where the author gives the reader a wink and a nod. We all now it’s coming and the characters seem to get a sense of a world beyond their own as well.

So…Ellen says Don’t Deus Ex Machina.

I agree, unless your name is Clive Cussler. Then, by all means – go right ahead.

 

Reader Requests #3 — Trad-published books, my students, and my writing fears

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Time for another Reader Mailbag! I put out a call for blog ideas on Facebook and got some great ideas. I’ll answer three questions tonight.

#1 – Traditionally published authors who have inspired you to write and/or continue as a reader. You’re full of love for the self-published (a lot of whom are just as good if not better than traditionally published) so who do you love in the traditional published world?

— Carrie Gillette

Great question. Obviously most people grew up on traditionally-published authors. It wasn’t until recent years when independently-published authors could realistically put their book in the hands of the reading public. My biggest influence when I was a teenager was Isaac Asimov. By the time I really got into his work, he’d already passed away, but I can’t deny his Foundation and Robot novels left a huge impression on me. I read about his writing process and how prolific he was and that really started my dream of becoming a writer.

ImageAs for contemporaries, I can’t talk about traditionally-published authors without mentioning Stephen King (although he has also independently-published). If anyone is EVER interested in writing, they should read King’s autobiographical/how-to On Writing. It was probably the first time I realized I actually could be an author. I was already a writer at that point (working in newspaper), but novels was a far cry from high school football articles.

As for authors that I will read no matter what – Lee Child’s Reacher books, Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt and NUMA Files books, Dean Koontz, John Scalzi, J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, to name a few.

I will never give up traditionally-published books completely. There are dozens of traditionally-published authors I will continue to follow and read, and I doubt I will ever give them up. There is a reason why they were published in the first place, after all.


 

#2 – What you’ve learned from your students.

— Christy Winemiller

As many of you know, I’m also a high school history teacher. This semester I am teaching U.S. Government, Economics, Modern World History, and World Geography.

High school kids are a trip sometimes. I love teaching and being a positive influence on students as they are trying to figure themselves and the world out. One day they will amaze you and the next they will confuse you. Science tells us that the teenage brain is not fully formed. That they can’t make the same logical conclusions that adults do. As teachers we often commiserate that we can see the logical and best answer to a problem but sometimes a kid doesn’t do it, even if it stares them right in the face.

But, what also comes along with that aspect of adolescence is passion. The logic isn’t always there. Their emotions often control their decisions instead. As teachers we see disregard for authority, an irrational sense of invincibility, and unreasonable passion over the silliest things.

Sometimes I’ll read a critique of young adult books by some stuffed shirt in New York and the complaint often is that they are not logical and too emotional. But that’s exactly what teenagers are. They ar passion to the nth degree. There was a girl in one of my classes a few weeks ago after Duke lost their first round basketball game. She was forlorn, in spite of the fact she will never go to school there (she admitted herself), we multiple states away from North Carolina, and she has no ties to the school. But she was just shaken by the loss.

That’s what I’ve learned – that as an adult logic comes back into play, but I can’t forget the emotion and passion that life needs sometimes. We can’t forget the wonder and magnificence of life just because we have a mortgage payment due at the end of the month.


 

#3 – Greatest fear when it comes to writing.

— Stefan Bolz

My greatest fear? Wow…I’m not really sure if this is my greatest, but I’ll share some fears I’ve had while going through this writing process.

Last year about this time I was probably 85-90 percent done with my first novel, Dead Sleep. And then I just sat on it. I made excuse after excuse as to why I couldn’t write that day. Days turned into weeks and eventually I hadn’t written for probably a month.

I was scared to finish. I couldn’t bring myself to let these characters go. Even thinking about it now, I still have a tear that is working its way to my eye. There was a finality to it that I wasn’t ready for. In fact it was earlier question-asker Christy Winemiller who assured me, telling me I would see them again the sequel. Once school ended for the year, I plunged back into the book and finally finished. On one level, it wasn’t hard, but on another, it was some of the most difficult writing I’ve ever done.

And part of it was the characters, but another part was simply finishing the book. There are more than a few projects that I’ve started and not completed in my life. It can be easier that way. You can’t fail if you don’t finish. What if you finish and people hate it? I think I have pretty decent taste and I like my book, but what if the world hates it? What if this book will be your last book?

I suppose there are a lot of fears rolled up into one situation, but there you go.


 

Some serious topics tonight, so I’ll leave you with the creepiest picture of a taco I could find:

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