Free Books!

This weekend you can download Her Name Was Abby and Their Names Were Many for precisely $0! Click on the titles to go to their respective Amazon page, you can also read some positively glowing reviews there 😃

Her Name Was Abby may be Book 2 in the “His Name Was Zach” series, but it’s self-contained and you can start there if you wish with only minor spoilers for Book 1 🙂

But if you prefer to start at the beginning, His Name Was Zach is available here for just $1.99, that’s less than a small coffee at Starbucks, and you can get the rest of the series for free!

There’s also Abby: Alone and Zach: Last Light, which are short story prequels. Click on their names to check them out!

20 Years Later

Do you remember where you were? I do. I was standing under a tree at the edge of the parking lot at school, my fourth grade class getting ready to come in from recess on that breezy Tuesday morning. I didn’t even know what ‘hijacking’ meant. How do you hijack a plane?

Eventually I went home, and that’s when I saw the images. Buildings burning, planes exploding, people falling 100 stories to their deaths. That image of the ‘Falling Man’ scarred me. That was the day, the moment, that my life path was decided for me.

I would enlist in the United States Marine Corps and go kill the people responsible for this tragedy. At 10 years old, I had just watched 3,000 of my countrymen be murdered, and it was going to be up to young men like me to punish the murderers.

I often wonder how my life would have gone had the 9/11 terror attacks not happened. I just read an article yesterday that mused what course the country would have taken had the attacks been stopped, and it’s pure speculation at this point. Perhaps I still would have done time in the military, perhaps not. Either way I would not likely have had the life-changing experiences I endured in Afghanistan.

British war correspondent John Cantlie took this picture of me and our Corpsman rushing to aid a casualty during a gunfight with the Taliban.

I’m proud of the man I’ve become after 30 years of living. I only wish it hadn’t required some of the things I saw, things I did. And all of it stems from that fateful Tuesday morning.

This year’s 9/11 remembrance, aside from being a nice, round number like 20 years, is made even more complicated in light of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. This year, remembering 9/11 includes the painful acknowledgment that I lost my war. That the war we waged after these attacks is over and we lost. It’s a real 1-2 to the gut.

If there’s a silver lining to be taken, it’s that I hope we as Americans have finally learned our lesson. We can’t run around trying to shape the world in our image without consequence. We can’t invade a country and impose our way of living at will and expect an easy victory. We’ve spent the last 70 years trying to do this, first to fight the spread of Communism, and then to fight Terrorism, both spooky, intangible enemies that we were never going to ‘defeat’.

Our parents had Korea and Vietnam. We’ve had Iraq and Afghanistan. I pray my children and grandchildren have nothing like these.

Sneak Peek: Solomon’s Fortune

As I mentioned last week, I’m making slow yet steady (and delightful) progress on my current work-in-progress. It’s the sequel to Creed: Mandate of Heaven and it is tentatively titled Creed: Solomon’s Fortune.

Now I’m still shopping the Creed series to agents and publishers, unfortunately. Hopefully they’ll soon take the bait. But since I’m so eager for you to get a taste of this new series (and since I’m particularly proud of this fight scene) I decided to post a snippet for you!

To set the scene, Conner and his two companions have met with a rival treasure hunter in a private bar, both competing for the same objective. Negotiations regarding who should back off so and go home didn’t exactly go well, and now…well, you’ll see!

The door to the bar closed and locked. Aleksei chuckled and said, “Now begins the fun.”

Conner glanced over his shoulder at Aleksie then back at the eight men in front of him. He smiled and spread his arms wide and said, “Fellas, I’m sure we can work something out.”

He thrust his hand back suddenly, jabbing two fingers into Aleksei’s eye. The giant yelped and stumbled backwards, pressing his hands against his face. Conner grabbed a bottle from the bar smashed it over the head of the first man to rush him from the front, then moved to his left to avoid getting pinned against the bar.

As soon as Conner had attacked Aleksei, Frankie and Mei sprang into action. Mei rolled backwards over the bar then made a dash for the pool tables, snatching up one of the cue sticks. Frankie ducked under a haymaker punch and shoved the man into the bar.

Mei used the cue stick like a quarterstaff, bringing sharp, painful blows down on the heads and necks of the three men attacking her. The pool tables also worked to her advantage as she deftly moved around them, careful to never let the men surround her or come at her more than one at a time.

Frankie took his lumps with two men attacking him at once, but he was holding his own and giving as good as he was getting. When one of the men tried to kick him, Frankie knocked his leg aside and shoved the man, pushing his head through the window next to the door.

Conner, the former Recon Ranger, was the best fighter of the three and made defending himself against three assailants simultaneously look easy. He moved around in a circle, never showing his back to the attackers and striking them with debilitating shots to the throat or other weak spots once they charged. The first man out of the fight went down after Conner hit him with a second and a third bottle of alcohol. The next man fell when Conner landed a push kick on his knee, shattering his leg. And the third attacker when Conner kicked him in the groin, then tossed him over his shoulder and onto a table.

“Goon, party of one, your table is now–” Conner said, beginning a taunt. But he was interrupted by Aleksei’s fist hitting him square in the face.

Conner stumbled back into the wall behind him. Dazed by the blow, Conner leaned against the wall and held out one finger. “A moment please, I’ll be right with you,” he said.

Aleksei smirked and pulled off his suit jacket, then undid his bow tie and top shirt button. Conner finally pushed himself up, shook his head, and assumed his fighting stance. “Now don’t think I’m going to take it easy on you, big boy.”

“Perish the thought,” Aleksie replied.

Across the room, Mei had incapacitated one of her attackers, but another one grabbed her cue stick and ripped it away from her, shoving her in the chest at the same time. She hit a pool table, rolled over the top of it, and came up with two billiards balls in her hands. She flung the first one at the man holding her cue stick, striking him full in the face. The second went lower and hit him in the groin. Now there was just one attacker left.

Frankie scooped up a chair by the front door and smashed it over the back of one of his assailants, knocking him to the ground. The other man charged him, but Frankie stepped to the side, caught the man, and used his own momentum to fling him through the window.

Back by the bar, Conner was fighting a losing battle with Aleksei. He got some good hits in on the Russian mercenary, but Aleksei was simply too big and too strong. He hit Conner with a body blow and a vicious uppercut, knocking him back against the bar. Conner, in a daze, fumbled around behind the bar, trying to grab another bottle or glass.

Suddenly Frankie leaped on Aleksei from behind and wrapped his arm around his throat. Aleksei stumbled backwards, grabbing behind him and getting a hold of Frankie’s shirt. He pulled Frankie off his back and threw him to the floor, but before he could attack him Mei broke a cue stick over his head. Conner got back into the fight and punched him hard across the jaw.

Aleksei shouted in pain and anger, and he swung violently at Conner and Mei, both of whom backed up out of his range. Frankie had gotten back up to his feet and hurled two beer bottles at Aleksie’s head. Aleksei grunted, but kept his attention on Mei and Conner. He knew he wasn’t going to win this fight anymore, but wanted to hurt one of them badly.

Mei grabbed another cue stick and thrust it up at Aleksei’s face. He knocked it aside and tried to grab her but she leapt just out of his reach again. Conner again came from his side and punched him, which gave Mei another opportunity to smack him across the head with her pool cue. Frankie came from behind and broke yet another bottle over Aleksei’s head, dropping him to his knees.

“You’ve just made this…so much worse for yourselves,” Aleksei chuckled, and he spat blood from his mouth. “My lady will kill you. All of you.”

“That’s what the last asshole said and we’re still here,” Conner replied.

Mei kicked Aleksei in the head, knocking him to the ground and out of consciousness.

Blog Growth

Happy Friday! I don’t have too much to share this morning, but I just wanted to note a minor achievement in my blog’s history. For the first time in a year, I had two consecutive months of increasing views! It’s not much but I figure the more people stumble across my blog, the more exposure my books will get, and the likelihood of selling a book increases as well.

I’m also getting close to 450 followers, another big milestone!

As far as my writing goes, I just finished a fun fight scene for my work-in-progress. More of a brawl than a fight for life, I really enjoyed writing it and I think I did a pretty good job of ‘moving’ the POV around to each individual’s role in the fight without sowing confusion.

In fact, maybe I’ll post it on Monday as a teaser!

That’s all, folks! Have a great weekend!

Was It Worth It?

Last week, I had the chance to speak with a reporter from the French publication Le Point. We discussed the crisis unfolding in Kabul, and how my experiences in the Marines and in Afghanistan have shaped my opinions about what’s going on currently.

You can check it out here if you like, it’s in French so I’ll post a rough translation at the end of this post.

Anyway, to the second point of today’s post, the first draft of Conner Creed’s next adventure is coming along well! I’ve just introduced the antagonist in Chapter 3, a Russian billionaire named Czarina. A cunning and intelligent woman, she was a rogue treasure hunter herself until her father died and left her his weapons manufacturing empire. Already an arrogant, dangerous woman, she now has a private army and billions of dollars at her disposal.

I haven’t written much about her yet, but her character has been marinating in my imagination for several weeks now and I’m excited to finally introduce her! I think she’ll be a fan-favorite villain in the series.

Now, as promised here’s the rough translation of my interview:

“Anger, bitterness, sadness?” Emotions are jostling at Peter Martuneac these days. Since the fall of Kabul in mid-August, this former corporal cannot help but follow the flood of information and dramatic images from the country where he went on a mission in 2011 and 2013. “I see the fear in the eyes of the children. As a father, it touches me. I am also thinking of all the Afghans there. The part of me that joined the army wants to go back to Afghanistan to help them, he says. I don’t want to see these images, but we can’t ignore them. »

For many veterans of the Afghan war, recent images of the chaotic evacuation of foreigners and their Afghan backers, combined with the Rapid Return to Taliban Affairs, have a demoralizing, even traumatic effect. The US veterans’ agency said it received a 9% surplus of calls on its support hotline on Sunday, August 15, the day it took over Kabul, compared to the same time last year (1,681 against 1,456).

Former Corporal Martuneac also goes around his contacts to “make sure that no one has dark thoughts”. “It’s very difficult for us to see the places where we and our brothers in arms fought for fall into the hands of the Taliban. It’s frustrating and it brings up a lot of emotions,” says the former soldier.

A total of 775,000 U.S. military personnel have been deployed since 2001, 2,443 of them have not returned alive, and thousands more are disabled for life and suffer from psychological scars. Like many, Peter Martuneac had decided to join the army after September 11. “I was a 19-year-old man, I thought I was invincible, I was ready to fight for my country.” From its first mission in Afghanistan, in the southern province of Helmand, a strategic territory for the Taliban because of its opening to Pakistan, the navy had been caught up by the reality of war. Targeted by heavy fire, his unit had been ambushed. “There, we were fighting first and foremost for each other, to survive.”

When he learns that his unit, stationed in the Grishk Valley, will not be replaced, he begins to have doubts: “We had regained control of many Taliban strongholds, but if we were not going to be replaced, why were we there? What was the purpose of this war? I understood that we were not going to meet our objectives in Afghanistan.” Was it worth it? “It’s a huge waste. But I focus on myself. I was just a small 19-year-old corporal in a big machine. I hope that my efforts have helped Afghans. I know some people appreciated what we did for them.”

Book Review: “Her Name Was Abby” by Peter Martuneac — A Ruined Chapel by Moonlight

Fellow blogger and author Berthold Gambrel just finished reading Her Name Was Abby and left a glowing review! Check it out, and give the rest of his site a gander while you’re there. You might find some more books that would interest you, like sci-fi thriller The Directorate!

I ended my review of the previous book in this series with the words, “Martuneac is a promising author. I’ll definitely be reading more of his work.” Zombie apocalypse books aren’t a genre I normally read, but the characters and writing in His Name Was Zach were strong enough to hold my attention and make…

Book Review: “Her Name Was Abby” by Peter Martuneac — A Ruined Chapel by Moonlight

Movie Review: Don’t Breathe

Don’t Breathe is a horror movie that came out 5 years ago and apparently it now has a sequel in theaters. I haven’t seen the sequel and I’m not going to because I hated the first one, for reasons I’ll explain in a moment.

The plot of the first movie revolves around a group of teens who break into houses and rob them. One night, they target the home of a blind man who has $300,000 in cash tucked away, money he was awarded in a settlement when a wealthy woman struck and killed his only daughter while driving drunk.

Anyway, the man at some point realizes there’s intruders in his house and the rest of the movie is a cat-and-mouse chase.

So the concept was intriguing but overall the movie fell apart from plot holes, I thought. For one thing, this old blind dude literally turns into DareDevil as he fights the home invaders, like he’s got super hearing powers.

And okay, I was willing to buy that at first. I’m very easygoing when it comes to suspending belief. But eventually the man starts shooting at the intruders. Several times. Inside a small house.

It goes without saying that guns are extremely loud. Even a suppressed gunshot has a higher decibel count than a jet engine. Firing a gun multiple times in very small space like a basement would absolutely wreck your hearing, and yet the blind dude continues to use his hearing superpowers like normal.

Now here’s a couple spoilers, just a head’s up in case you haven’t seen the first movie and you intend to watch it.

It’s revealed later that the blind man has been holding the woman who killed his daughter hostage in his house for months. Now do you really expect me to believe that a wealthy woman has been missing for months and nobody, not one detective or Private Investigator, has thought, “Hey, didn’t she kill some guy’s daughter recently? Maybe we should check in on him.”

And then there’s the kidnapping itself. How did a blind man kidnap anyone???? How could he possibly have done this???? It makes no sense!

So throughout the movie he’s chasing 3 people around and murders two of them. There’s blood everywhere, shell casings from different guns everywhere, a body that’s clearly been moved, multiple signs of struggle.

The police respond to the house the next morning, and the guy tells them two (not three) people broke into his house and tried to rob him but he shot them both…and they just take his word for it! All these obvious signs of a protracted, drawn out struggle, but the cops just say, “Eh, nothin to see here. We’ll take him at his word, not collect any evidence, sample any of this blood, or run ballistics test on any of these dozens of shells.”

So there you have it, an interesting premise executed really poorly. If you’ve seen the movie and disagree with me, leave a comment below so I can let you know how you’re wrong 😉

His Name Was Zach: New and Improved!

Last month, I made the decision to re-edit and re-release my debut novel His Name Was Zach, two and a half years after its initial release. This weekend I finally finished it and the updated version is now available on Amazon Kindle!

I chose to do this because, as it is with any craft, I got better at writing as time went on. After I’d finished Her Name Was Abby and especially after the series finale Their Names Were Many, I realized that my writing had significantly improved.

This isn’t to say His Name Was Zach was bad. Here my pride interjects to remind you that several people thoroughly enjoyed it and left amazing reviews. But it was definitely rough when compared to its sequels and I finally decided to give it the polishing it deserved.

Nothing major changed. I broke it up into more chapters (from twenty-eight chapter to forty-something), trimmed some fat (128k words to 117k), cleaned up the dialogue, and fixed some minor editing issues (apparently when a character’s dialogue continues unbroken into a new paragraph, you don’t close the first paragraph with “, and I didn’t know that). Basically streamlining the whole thing and making it a more comfortable read.

I did, however, keep a few passages that some found ‘outdated’. I break the fourth wall once and speak directly to the reader, for example, and I also shift the POV into the head of a Northern Cardinal for half a page.

Are they the most modern, accepted writing trends? Not at all! But they are nods to some influencing books from my adolescence and are important parts of my growth as a reader and writer. The scene with the cardinal is inspired by the lone fox in Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, who finds it odd that four hobbits are out and about so late at night and correctly believes something strange is going on. Breaking the fourth wall is an homage to the writing style of A Series of Unfortunate Events.

So if you haven’t read His Name Was Zach yet, there’s never been a better chance! It’s only $1.99 on Kindle and comes highly recommended by reviewers! If you’ve already read it and are merely curious, you can click that Look Inside option on the Amazon page and check out the first couple chapters. I think you’d notice an improvement right away!

I Lost My War

If you’ve paid any attentions to the news this weekend, you saw that the Taliban have overrun Kabul. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is in exile, rumored to be hiding in Uzbekistan. Chaos reigned at the Kabul airport as thousands of Afghans tried to flee the country.

The American war in Afghanistan, my war, is over. We lost.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow. Fighting in a war, actually fighting in it, is such a primal, emotional act. Killing before you can be killed, feeling a terror you’ve never before known, witnessing the deaths of comrades and innocents. It taps into your most savage, uncivilized self and it claims a part of you.

So to endure all this and still lose? To see all your efforts go to waste? To watch as the enemy claims positions you defended with your blood, sweat, and tears? Well…it hurts.

I knew this was coming. I’ve known for years that this was always how it had to end. But that didn’t soften the blow at all. I can’t stop myself from reading the eyewitness accounts of Afghan civilians and looking at the pictures of frightened young children. A part of me belongs to Afghanistan and its people, and this total collapse breaks my heart. They’ve endured so much hardship for forty years now, and it only seems to be getting worse.

Fifty years ago we left Vietnam after years of bloodshed and watched as Americans barely escaped Saigon with their lives. Now we’re watching as the same damn thing is unfolding in Afghanistan.

I’d like to say we’ve learned our lesson by now. That we can’t just roll around the world setting up governments as we please and expecting to win. I’d like to think we’ll finally give up our nation-building strategies of the last century as we realize how futile it is. I’d like to hope that my children will never find themselves in a war far away fighting for a goal that can’t even be concretely stated.

I hope, because that’s all I really have right now. Hope for my children’s future and for Afghanistan’s. If you’d like to do something for them, here’s a charity that helps refugees displaced by war, and they’re about to have thousands coming from Afghanistan.

Movie Review: The 11th Order

To be especially watchful at night and during the times for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near my post and to allow no one to pass without proper authority. – the Marine Corps’ 11th General Order of the Sentry

Yesterday I watched a short film on YouTube right here, it was called The 11th Order. It’s based on a true story of two Marines, LCpl Jordan Haerter and Cpl Jonathan Yale, who died stopping a VBIED (Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device) from entering their base in Iraq.

My short review: This is a ‘must watch’.

My long review: the movie actually started with some unfortunately bad exposition, just poor lines of dialogue. But it’s an independent film, so expert script-writing can’t be expected. And that’s really the only knock I have on the film.

The story is broken up between the two Marines in Iraq and General John Kelly telling their story to a battalion of Marines in dress blues. I haven’t checked, but I’m pretty sure they took the exact transcript of his speech, and it is powerful.

For context, LCpl Haerter was a 19 year old kid on his first deployment to Iraq, and on his first day he is paired with Cpl Yale, a Marine from another unit, to stand watch at their base’s Entry Control Point, the front entrance. When one unit relieves another in a combat zone, the unit that’s leaving spends a day or two pairing up with the new Marines to show them the ropes, give them the rundown of what to expect.

And it was on this day, on one Marine’s first day in Iraq and another Marine’s last day before going home, that a truck stuffed with explosives charged the base. The Iraqi policemen immediately fled for safety. But these two Marines who didn’t even know each other, and with no time to make a plan, both separately chose to stand their ground and fight back.

They stopped the vehicle in it’s tracks, but it detonated anyway, killing both of them. Just them. They saved the lives of 150 Marines and Iraqis.

Perhaps the most powerful moment of the film is when General Kelly recounts the moments before the explosion. He mentions how some of the Iraqi policemen fired a few bullets before fleeing “like the normal, rational men they are”. But that the two Marines never took a single step back, because “Marines are not normal men”.

I highly recommend this one to any and all. I also encourage you to read more about these two young men. Their story is heroic, and they reflected the greatest values that the United States Marine Corps stands for: Honor, Courage, Commitment.

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