Readers often ask authors where ideas come from for their novels. It’s a good question and one even I’ve asked of my author friends. For me, BLACK SUN was born from old stories about bandits, revolutionaries, and Indian war parties my maternal grandfather used to tell me; curiosity about his life while growing up in the violent devastation and corruption of old Mexico, and last, my interest in history.
Every novel I write begins as an entertaining story for readers, then at some point, I find myself delving deeper into the research because the book has taken life and I’m compelled to learn more. Such was the case with my novel Amazon Moon in which the maltreatment of the indigenous tribes in the Amazon jungle became one of the prime focuses within the book when initially it was to be the setting.
BLACK SUN truly took years to write. I’ve heard other authors say the same of their works and now I understand how that can be. Normally, a year and a half is my standard length of time to write a novel: a half year to kick it around in my head and do research, and a year to pound the keyboard into the wee hours of the night. Yes, there are those wizards of the written word that say they turn out a book in three months, and I’m happy for them if they can—but I’m not one.
So, armed with a few of my grandfather’s old stories swirling in my head, I began to ask my family questions about him. Little was known. He rarely spoke of his early years and everyone accepted his silence. He may have grown angry when no one believed him, or whatever may be the case, but he said almost nothing about his youth and parents. My other problem was that the related people who had tidbits of information were dead, dying, or didn’t want to reveal much. When you dig around in family histories you are treading on fragile ground. Hidden scars might be revealed or old wounds reopened.
I had come to believe that it was almost too late in life to gather anything credible then a saving grace arose when one of my aunts spoke of her genealogical work on the family tree. From her research I was able to glean trivia, birthdays, baptismal dates, birthplaces, residential locations, and official data from government records. Overlaying all of the family information on a historical timeline of Mexico, I matched family
dates and history. My thousand-piece puzzle was gradually coming together. From there I dug into the individual history of small towns, people, battles, government officials, etc., and unfolded more tragedy than I wished to know. Then the story I needed to write revealed itself to me.
Every story has to have a variety of characters, one aspect of writing that can drive an author to the brink of insanity to create. I had no such problems. Research on the key players of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 soon reached a point where I wondered if anyone would find them believable. Take Pancho Villa for example. While some called him a hero, others claimed he was nothing more than a thief and murderer. A crack shot, one moment he might draw his pistol and without remorse, shoot a man. The next, Villa might be emotionally moved and openly weep. A renown womanizer, he cared little for money and never held a desire to be the President of Mexico, always informing others that such a position required an educated man which he was not. The stories, whether true or fabricated, go on and on and are the foundation of many debates over Pancho Villa.
Francisco Madero, who called for the revolution against President Diaz, was a short, frail man with a bird-like voice that grew squeaky and high-pitched when he was angered, and irritating to everyone’s ears. He talked to ‘spirits’ who counseled him on actions to take, and in the end, violently died as almost every major player in the revolution did.
Most people believe the Mexican Revolution was nothing more than Pancho Villa fighting against President Diaz yet there is far more to the story than that. I also found a number of contradictions in the lives of the people which made it difficult to write a true portrayal of the times. The Spanish were hated for their brutal conquest and control of the country, yet after they were run out of the country, the rich, fair-skinned Mexican upper-class treated their own poor countrymen equally bad, looking down on them because of their darker skin. No education was provided and working in the fields was all a peasant was believed capable of. Native Indians were considered the lowest of creatures, expendable slave labor only. At one time a bounty was paid for Indian ears. That was eventually stopped when too many dark ears of peasants were brought in and declared to come from Indians.
Unemployment, government corruption, distrust of government officials, racism, alcoholism, drug addiction, and other social problems were as problematic in old Mexico as currently exist today in America. Chinese immigrants came by the thousands to Mexico and the citizens of Mexico complained they were taking away their jobs, creating a high rate of unemployment. Government corruption was the norm and no one trusted government officials to protect anyone except themselves. The fair-skinned Mexicans looked down upon the darker skinned peasants without true reason. Pulque, a cheap drink, and peyote and marijuana, prevalent hallucinatory plants, gave rise to alcoholism and drug addiction. With no jobs, the only thing left to do was get high or get drunk. Murder, rape and torture were commonplace. Roving bands of bandits were accepted as either thieves or protectors against the government soldiers. Few, if any of the people, were left untouched by the events leading up to the revolution yet the poor kept love alive in their families and persevered in life, holding on to what little happiness they could find.
BLACK SUN is a fictional account of my grandfather in his youth, but the everyday life of the people and the historical events, bandits, politicians, and birth of the revolution are all taken from interviews and countless research papers, diaries, personal journals, and books as I could find. Almost every character was researched so I could have authenticity about their actions, mannerisms, and demise in life.
Of course there will be debates from readers about who was truly good or bad in real life, but such discussions will always exist. At least I know that after reading BLACK SUN, people will have a realistic understanding of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, how it came about, and who were the participants in the civil war.
It’s a shame such a beautiful country as Mexico, rich in resources, culture, and great people, has had such a tragic history up to this very day. Until the government corruption, drug cartels, and high crime rate are brought under control, Mexico will always remain on the verge of another civil war.
I hope you will enjoy BLACK SUN. I look forward to your comments and thoughts on the book.
Glenn Starkey’s Mr. Charon is set in the quiet town of Thornton, Texas, 1962, where best friends Eddie, Andy, Cooper, Caleb and Herschel are trying to find some jobs in the summer. Old Mr. Nesbitt agrees to pay the boys $50 a week for yard work, cleaning, scraping and painting; a hefty pay for the teenagers. However, Nesbitt give them a stern and creepy warning – stay away from the barn.
The friendship between the boys takes me back to some classics such as the coming-of-age film Stand by Me, but with the element of paranormal. It’s easy to relate to them, and I instantly rooted for Eddie, and Andy who has a tough life to deal with at home. Everything goes well for the boys and even the old hermit Nesbitt himself, who becomes friends with his young helpers. Unfortunately, Eddie’s curiosity gets the better of him one day as he sneaks into the barn, despite Nesbitt’s repeated warnings. He finds an Ouija board in a trunk and, from that moment on, everything changes.
Revenge outweighs rationale when Eddie and Andy decide to right the wrongs in their lives and use the Ouija board, giving the demon named Mr. Charon the opportunity to wreak havoc in Thornton. Can the boys save their hometown? The suspense will keep readers on edge. One of the evident appeals of Mr. Charon is Starkey’s descriptive prose. It gives vivid pictures of the surroundings and moves the story flawlessly, which also contributes to the plot’s deft execution. The classic good versus evil theme mixed with love, hate, and redemption makes Mr. Charon a great read.
“Mr. Charon” is available at all major online booksellers in eBook, softcover, and hardcover. For autographed print versions, contact the author.
I was honored with an interview by the wonderful Belinda Witzenhausen, a writer, artist, Creativity Coach, and Editor in her own right. We discussed my latest book MR. CHARON, the inspiration and challenges of it as a Young Adult novel, my average writing day schedule, and wrapped it all up with a brief discussion of my soon to be released historical fiction, BLACK SUN.
As I read the interview, Catching up with Author Glenn Starkey, I wondered if new writers would be encouraged by it, inspired to continue with their individual work, and hope to one day read their own interviews. Years ago I was in such a position. Working on my first novel, filled with hope, anxiety, and stress. Whenever I read an author’s interview and saw the dramatic covers of their multiple novels, I hoped to one day be in such a position.
Granted, I have yet to win the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature or be invited to meet the Queen of England to receive her personal accolades, but I feel good about the progress I’ve made to date. I still become excited when asked for an interview. In a few months I’ll have six novels out (with great covers) in various genres. My readership is constantly increasing, and I’ve won several awards and received excellent book reviews. Along the way I’ve learned from superb writers, received their mentorships and added new friendships. My entire experience, although with its share of disappointments and fatigue, has been a fantastic journey through life that I value.
Yes, selling books and making money is the end product. Writing books is a business. But the underlying goal for me (and the majority of writers) is the sole creation of a novel that carries a reader away into a world of humor, drama, and suspense—something that I wrote which gives readers hours of entertainment. No reward is greater for me than to learn that I deprived someone of sleep because they were caught up in my novel and couldn’t lay it aside. To be told that a passage made a reader laugh or cry is exhilarating… The long, exhaustive hours of writing a novel suddenly become worthwhile.
I hope you will read the interview, as well as check out my various novels. I welcome your feedback, discussions, and especially your reviews. My readers become my friends and you add to the great experience of writing.
“Mr. Charon” is a Young Adult, paranormal thriller that all ages will enjoy…
In the dying town of Thornton, Texas, in the summer of 1962, five teenage boys have their fates forever entwined. Though all friends, their home lives are disturbingly different. Eddie has an abusive father, while Andy is the child of a single mother with debts too high for money alone to pay. They decide to right what they consider wrong in their lives.
A long forgotten Ouija board in a deserted barn becomes their answer. Together, they call upon a spirit but could never have expected the appearance of Mr. Charon, a demon who comes to haunt their small town with the help of his evil pets. Terror is unleashed upon Thornton, and although Eddie and Andy are to blame, their friends agree to help.
Mr. Charon has been released, and somehow, the boys must find a way to send him back to Hell and end the horror that has overtaken their fellow townsfolk. Good and evil collide as they fight not only for their own lives, but also for the souls of the entire community. Too late, the five boys have learned that where demons roam, no one is safe.
“Mr. Charon” will be available in eBook, softcover and hardcover formats. As of today, it’s released as an eBook on KOBO and Apple iBooks, and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in softcover and hardcover formats. The eBook format will be coming as well. In the immediate future, all three formats will be available for order at every major online book seller and bookstore.
Check out the “Mr. Charon” page on this site for excerpts of the novel. And stop by to click the “Like” button on my
FB Author Page. I appreciate you visiting and checking out my books. Feel free to write to me through my Contact page on this site.
This year I was again honored with an invitation to sign my novels at the Texas Gang Investigators Association Annual Conference (TGIA) held in Corpus Christi, Texas. It’s truly an author’s dream to have 853 attendees, plus families, guests, and speakers stop at your table to talk, purchase books for the first time—or return to buy more. This experience makes the long hours of writing worth every minute, especially when someone comes to tell you how much they enjoyed your novels.
Through the years I’ve become friends with many of the men and women at this conference. My respect for all they endure from their work, the public, personal sacrifices they and their families make, as well as their dedication to duty, only continues to grow. Having been an officer, I know it’s a low paid, thankless profession with the media, politicians, and segments of the public anxious to crucify you, and slow to ascertain the truth. But these men and women of TGIA, ranging from patrol officers, investigators, prosecutors, judges, and probation officers, plus a hundred other county, state, and federal criminal justice positions are doing the dirty work few in our society would ever consider. Not only are they protecting us at home, but a majority of these men and women are veterans and served in our military.
While there I met many interesting people, learned of an excellent non-profit organization that helps children, and was further educated about the evils infecting our society. As a veteran (Semper Fi!) and former law enforcement, I believed I’d seen or heard about the worst that man can do to man—yet talking with these folks still remains an eye-opener for me.
The non-profit organization is 10-7 Outdoors, a group of sincere, dedicated law enforcement officers who organize and manage hunting and fishing trips for children of law enforcement personnel who have paid the ultimate sacrifice or have been seriously injured in the line of duty. John Barrett Story, six years old, was taken on his first fishing venture by this organization. His father, Craig Story, was killed on duty as a motorcycle officer for the City of Arlington, Texas. Aside from catching five fish, John was treated like royalty and given much needed love and support. There are other children’s stories as well, but I can’t list them all. Go to the 10-7 Outdoors website and give a donation of any kind to support this fine group of people in their efforts to provide love and encouragement to the children of men and women who gave all for us. Every penny donated to 10-7 Outdoors goes toward helping the children, not to pay some administrator’s high-priced salary, as is often the case in other non-profit organizations.
Every year I’m amazed at the quality of speakers the TGIA conference has for its members. This year was no different. Attendees crammed the room to listen to them, and when a grand ballroom is filled with 853+ people, you know the speaker is top of the line. One such speaker I was privileged to meet was Ann M. Carrizales.
Ann and her beautiful daughter, 11 years old MiKayla Rae, stopped by to discuss my novels. We had a wonderful conversation because Ann, aside from being intelligent and attractive, always wears a smile, has a heartwarming personality, speaks in a positive manner, and makes you feel as if you’ve been friends for years. As we talked, I realized she was the officer I’d seen in the past on Houston and national news channels. While on patrol for the Stafford Police Department, she made a suspicious vehicle traffic stop in the early morning hours of October 26, 2013. Three members of a violent gang with ties to MS-13 were in the car. One of the men shot her twice—once in the face and once in the chest—then sped away. Wounded, she returned fire, gave pursuit, radioed information and followed them through two counties until they bailed out of the car in a Houston residential area and assisting officers could continue the hunt. Only then did she allow herself to be medically treated.
Ann was one of the TGIA speakers who had a packed house when she gave her outstanding motivational talk on “Officer Survival, Staying in the Fight to Win.” Her ‘Never Quit’ mindset is amazing to say the least. To learn more about this outstanding lady and the volume of awards she has received, perform a Google search on Ann M. Carrizales or stop by her website. And in the future, look for the release of her inspirational books on unleashing your never quit, winning warrior mindset. She’s also available as a motivational speaker for corporate and public groups.
At the conference every year I discuss the latest gang trends with the TGIA Board of Directors, speakers, and members. From these talks I always write an article to inform and educate the public about what is happening in their communities—often in their very own neighborhoods. Unfortunately, a majority of people think gang problems are thugs spray-painting graffiti on fences and buildings, and doing petty crimes. This year I asked what the latest trend in gang activity is and the immediate response was ‘Human Trafficking.’
Gangs are a contagious, deadly disease that has spread across international borders and into the United States, infecting prisons, every state and major city, down to Small Town, USA. Yes, even your community whether you believe it or not.
The reasons why people join gangs is a social study within itself that has been debated for years. Libraries are filled with books written on the subject. One misconception John Q. Citizen always has about gangs is that they are composed of basically illiterate, low-intelligence people. Granted, 99% of gang members may not have attended a four-year university like you, your son and daughter, but they’ve earned their PhD’s and graduated from the University of Criminal Life on the streets and in prisons. Their constantly changing methods of operation are what keep law enforcement working overtime to decipher.
In past years they remained fiercely independent of one another, but today, they’ve discovered that temporarily setting aside differences and uniting their efforts in organized manners helps further their criminal pursuits. The unification orders flow from the prisons to the big city gangs, and then acting as an umbrella, the big city gangs expand their activities to include the smaller gangs. Murder, protection rackets, robberies, drugs, human trafficking—the list goes on and becomes mind boggling because there seems to be no end to their enterprises. And as an additional note, Asian gangs are among the toughest for law enforcement to infiltrate and combat due to language, culture, and lack of police resources in this avenue. As in the majority of cases, law enforcement finds themselves reactive rather than proactive because of constant gang evolution.
Human trafficking is nothing new. It’s been around for centuries in one form or another. Let’s say you are a present day gang leader. You want to make money and in the process, want the lowest losses and penalties. Professional hits, robberies, drug running, etc., all have stiff laws and penalties if you are caught. But presently, human trafficking does not. Through trafficking, you can remain fairly safe while those at the lowest levels of the crime (the pimps and slaves) take the risks and suffer the consequences if the police bust through the door.
Human trafficking isn’t only about sex. It involves forced labor as well; indentured servitude, slaves of a sort in that a person, man or woman, can never pay off their debts to their keepers in order to be released. Like the sex slave, the indentured servant is a prisoner, often kept under the harshest conditions and methods so they do not escape. They come from domestic and foreign settings even though the public generally believes they are strictly foreigners. You’ve probably seen these victims of human trafficking and not realized them as such because they will never speak out and live in fear. They are forced to work as maids, in construction, cafes, nail salons, and other businesses where they may blend quietly. (No, not everyone working as maids, in construction, nail salons, etc., are slaves.) At the end of the workday, they are returned to a house or location and locked in, often with dozens of other slaves.
This is the basic foundation of human trafficking for forced labor. It is far wider in range and more in-depth than this brief writing. But human trafficking in the sex trade has become the latest trend for quick monetary gains, extreme profits, and holds the least potential of arrests to upper level gang leaders. In one case I learned of, a prostitute earned enough money within two weeks for her pimp to pay cash for a new Mercedes.
What is needed? First, a woman or child, from juvenile age to adult (age has no limit in this), from America or another country, who is either kidnapped, a runaway, from a dysfunctional setting, abused, mentally confused, or extremely gullible. The second thing needed is the pimp or mouth (this may be man or woman) that convinces the slave through coercion, drugs, or physical force that everything will be fine if they do what is told. The mouth then gets the word out on the streets that fresh products are available, lines up the places of prostitution, meetings, and orders the women to accept the johns (clients). The women are also forced to work in places such as strip clubs, dancing and prostituting themselves.
After the mouth, comes the strong arm; the person that verbally abuses, physically beats, rapes, and enforces the rules with the sex slaves through whatever means necessary to ensure compliance. Whether a child or adult, sex slaves are treated with less importance than cattle. They are cut with knives, burned with cigarettes, mutilated, and branded to depict their owner’s trademarks. They are bought, sold, and traded from one gang to another, one city to another, or one state to another. Trading from city to city keeps fresh product available for clients. There’s always a renewable resource when it comes to the product.
Branding is popular. Owners enjoy tattooing their names or logos on their slaves. This could be a nickname such as “King Daddy” placed across the slave’s chest or a large barcode (yes, like on products you buy at a store) on their necks and arms. The pimp and the strong arm are often one and the same.
So the pimp has his products, the slaves are prostituted, money is flowing—and if the police bust the operation, then it is the slaves that are arrested and charged with minimal offenses such as prostitution. Maybe the pimp gets caught, but the strings are cut at this point and the gang leaders are clear. A fine, maybe some jail time occurs, but nothing compared to drug trafficking charges and their penalties. Say the word “Prostitute” and a woman (or a man too) walking the streets in skimpy clothes comes to mind. In this day and age, social media heavily comes into play. Pimps don’t have to jeopardize their operations by putting slaves out on the streets. They use a variety of common, local websites to advertise their products even though they know law enforcement monitors them once the back-pages are discovered.
It was noon on a weekday in Corpus Christi when I interviewed Miss X (the true name shall remain undisclosed), a member of TGIA. She showed me how easy it was, at that very moment, to locate a prostitute if I were a John. Miss X pulled her cellphone out, typed in the name of a local website, went through its pages, and BAM, there were 22 sex listings offering whatever I desired. Of course a telephone number had to be called to make the appointment, but after reading the somewhat coded listings, there was no doubt as to what was being offered. Miss X could even tell by the ad wording which was gang organized. Once appointments are made, the meeting places could be any hotel, motel, or neighborhood house in the city, and the meeting places change constantly.
This is all one side of the problem, but what happens when the sex slaves are ‘used up’ and can no longer perform for whatever reason? They are dumped on a street or murdered, and the pimp goes in search of more products. The few slaves that manage to escape or are freed through police arrests are then confronted with vast challenges of reestablishing their lives after some of the most horrid mental and physical abuse a person could endure.
I’ve only lightly touched upon the problem of human trafficking. With so much profit involved, there’s still the process of laundering the money. That’s where crooked lawyers and business fronts such as smoke shops and others come into play.
For non-law enforcement readers of this article, I hope you will continue to read and learn more about gang related problems. It’s happening in your communities and often in your very neighborhood. Support your local police departments by talking with them and reporting suspicious activity. The Houston Gang Task Force is a great resource of knowledge. For law enforcement personnel reading this article, if you are not a member of the Texas Gang Investigators Association, (TGIA), then I recommend you become one. Your department may not have the budget for a formal gang unit, but you as an individual can become one for them and start being their subject matter expert. The networking and knowledge available to you in TGIA is priceless. If I were still an officer, I would be a member.
My thanks go to this valuable organization’s membership for all they do each day. My gratitude goes to every board member for making this one of the best law enforcement conferences known, and inviting me to be a part of it. Of course I’ll miss a name, but I wish the best to my friends: Janelle, Paul, Sandra, Patrick, Joey, Rhonda, Rocky, Bear, Ringo, Jabari, Cara, Andy, Robert, John, Ann, and more.
“Year of the Ram” is now released in ebook and available at all major online booksellers! (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBookstore, Gardners, etc.)
Set against the backdrop of a savage war, “Year of the Ram” is an epic novel of a man torn between allegiance to his father, the struggle to save their nation against the onslaught of a massive greed-ridden army, and the discovery of a son he never knew had been born.
A gripping tale of love that reaches beyond the grave; of savage warfare, of domination, treachery, and brutal accomplishments that were written into the history of a nation with the blood of its victims. A tale of one man’s battle to regain the love of his son.
Aside from battling the flu, allergies, and miserable weather like everyone else, I’ve maintained a busy schedule these past seven months. I completed the writing of my YA novel, Mr. Charon, edited the work until I grew cross-eyed, and then fought off anxiety attacks while beta readers reviewed it. Along with my volunteer activities to assist children with their reading skills at an elementary school in my community, I was asked to coach a Second Grade Creative Writing Team for their participation in UIL (University Interscholastic League) competition. And this was all followed with a fantastic literature project in which AP (Advanced Progress) high school seniors reviewed my novel, Mr. Charon, and provided their insights on the young adult book.
Looking back, I realize how valuable those experiences were to me (regardless of the long hours and anxieties.) Mr. Charon is now off to the editor and publisher for their reviews, the second graders bravely stepped forward and took part in the UIL competition, and the AP high school students renewed my faith in the existence of intelligence during the teen years. Their candid reviews were excellent feedback for an author.
While I cannot speak much about my YA novel, Mr. Charon, because it must undergo further trials and await an official public debut, I can say that the book was received exceptionally well by all ‘test’ audiences and I’m eager for its release.
With regard to my reading and mentoring volunteer work and Creative Writing coaching with elementary children, I reaped many rewards. The children’s smiles alone are worth their weight in gold. This is my fifth year of volunteering to work with elementary school children. It affords me the opportunity to be involved with our educational process (to a degree) both as an observer and participant. I’m able to interface with sincerely dedicated and wonderful teachers who struggle within the constraints of low pay, restricted resources, and increasing testing and educational demands on their time. But most of all, I’m hopefully touching at least one child in a way that will spur them on to be far more than they ever dreamed possible in their lives.
As for the AP high school students—well, I was truly impressed. They took the literature project seriously, wrote their reviews with thought, and expressed their opinions with maturity (often far more than I’ve seen in reviews of various authors’ works on social media outlets.) During my recent morning talk with the students and their teacher, I observed the positive connection and educated environment between them, and how such supported their individual growths. That was accomplished through love, dedication, and the professionalism of their teacher.
When I returned to being a novelist after a career in security management, I never realized how many personal rewards I would receive or the doors that would be opened to me because of it. And I purposely left teachers unnamed in this writing for fear of overlooking someone, but I’m confident they will know I’m speaking about them if they read this.
Pay it forward. I’m a strong proponent of volunteering in your community to help others. Everyone has a talent they can share. It’s simply a matter of finding a spot in the world where your skills and kindness can best be applied. At the elementary school where I volunteer, I’m only one of many.
In hindsight, I want to apologize to my own teachers of long ago for the misery I dealt them while a student. I’m sure I was responsible for many of them needing therapy, developing a drinking problem or drug dependence. But, to the one that said I would never accomplish anything in my life—I proved you wrong many times over….
Earlier in the year I submitted Amazon Moon to the Military Writers Society of America for a review. The months passed and when I’d almost forgotten about it, I received a great review.
One of the things about submitting the request for review was that it would also be entered in the 2014 MWSA Conference writing contest to be held later in the year. Time marched on and I forgot about it also being entered in the contest. One day I received notification of Amazon Moon being a Finalist in the Thriller/Mystery category. Of course the conference was still months away, and I knew it was packed to the gills with great authors, so I crossed my fingers and waited.
The waiting proved worthwhile! I was notified that Amazon Moon won the Bronze Medal Award in Thriller/Mystery for the 2014 MWSA Conference. So, after performing my happy dance reserved for such special occasions, I spent the remainder of the day relishing that wonderful feeling authors get when their work has achieved formal recognition. Two days later, separate from the writing contest, I received a surprise review on Amazon from the founder of Military Writers Society of America. Needless to say, I immediately broke into another happy dance that would have put Michael Jackson to shame! Sorry, but I have to post it:
5.0 out of 5 stars Rambo on Steroids!
By W. H. McDonald Jr. “The American Authors Association”
Wow – I do not know how to start – this novel was truly a ride through lots of scary and emotional stuff that was delivered so skillfully by the author Glenn Starkey. Not sure if this is truly a war story or a sic-fi story but the two cross over into great entertainment. This would be one incredible action movie for sure! “Amazon Moon” is deeply layered in emotions and themes of both revenge and redemption. The human elements of his characters are sharply focused but layered as well.
The book is a true epic journey – from childhood, manhood in the war, betrayals, death, destruction, jail, and finally an opportunity for redemption and a new life – but it all comes with a heavy price. The war elements of the book are like Rambo on steroids but when the story switches gears to the jungles of South America it takes on an evil sci-fi world of devils and evil – then this book really begins to rock and roll.There is no one else writing these kinds of stories – this is a 100% an original tale.
If you are a fan of either military or sic-fi genres then it will work for you – it is not a book for the faint of heart looking for a soft leisurely reading experience – this will be an emotional workout for any reader!
H. McDonald Jr.
Founder of The Military Writers Society of America
& The American Authors Association
Every writer knows the importance of his or her work being recognized and appreciated. It is the true pay we receive for all the long, lonely hours spent pounding away at a keyboard in hopes of creating a worthy story to entertain our readers. And once we complete one project, we are already beginning another—with the same doubts and hopes as before.
Saying thank you to all my loyal readers doesn’t seem to be enough, but understand that I am truly appreciative of everyone who reads my novels.
When I asked “Ringo” DeLeon, President of the Texas Gang Investigators Association, why he worked in a gang unit, the 26 year veteran and Sergeant from Corpus Christi P.D. never hesitated with his reply: “I hate bullies.” Short, to the point, yet prolific when given thought.
Say the word “Bully” and generally the first image that comes to mind is of a punk kid at school harassing a quiet, mild mannered kid. Bullies come in all shapes, sizes and sexes. They can be a boy or girl, young or old, man or woman, an individual or a group, from any race, and be rich or poor. Last year several incidents occurred with upper-middle-class high school girls bullying female classmates to the point that they committed suicide. They bullied because it made them feel good. Kids who enjoy bullying others are screwed up. Adults that enjoy bullying others are screwed up. That is the quick Psych 101 course synopsis.
Bullying ranges from schoolyard intimidation to spousal abuse to drug cartels’ murderous acts. Yes, drug cartels are bullies, dangerous bullies, but bullies nonetheless.
So, how does this relate to gangs? Simple. Gangs are just another level of bullies that get off on violence toward others in order to achieve their goals—and they feed off of the fears of everyone they come in contact with. Power and Control: the key essence of gangs.
Do you have gang problems in your neighborhood, community, or city? The answer is ‘yes’, only you may not be aware of the full extent of their presence. If you answered ‘no’ then you either live atop a mountain in a monastery or you keep your head buried in the sand to avoid accepting reality. Some towns and cities have gang presence more than other regions, but the problem is out there and it’s all too real.
There were 850 attendees at the Texas Gang Investigators Association (TGIA) conference held the week of June 23rd in San Antonio, Texas. The men and women came from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Their ranks varied as much as the sizes of their departments. While some attendees were from formal, dedicated gang units, others were from patrol divisions whereby you have to be the “Jack-of-All-Trades and Master of None.”
TGIA provides them with 31 continuing education hours for their state license, up to date training, and the latest intel on the evolution of gangs and cartels. The criminal world of gangs is a constantly changing environment that requires continual modification of law enforcement tactics.
TGIA honored me for the third year in a row by inviting me back to sign and sell my books, and be with my former brotherhood. It was an honor I definitely do not take lightly.
Throughout my two days at the conference I met old friends, made new friends, and happily learned I had loyal readers of my novels anxiously awaiting more. Erik Larson, the author of Lone Star Daybreak and an attendee of the conference, was present and we had a great talk about the world in general. But with each conversation held, I casually asked a question to get a general consensus: “What do you think is the main problem coming from gangs?” The basis of every answer was always related to drugs—drug cartels, drug money, drug deals, drug transport, and drug violence.
Small gangs primarily finance their growth through drug sales and consolidating territorial controls through mutually benefitting agreements with other gangs. As they grow, their operations expand into human trafficking, prostitution, robberies, fraud, home invasions, burglary, auto theft, murder and assassination contracts, alien
smuggling, extortion, and more. They recruit teenage girls through the Internet then force them into prostitution, using them locally, or trading and selling them off to other gangs across the country. Runaways are excellent targets, grabbed off the streets of major cities and most are never seen again.
How can law enforcement compete against the high flow of drug money? Cocaine alone is a $30 billion a year business. Most agencies can barely fund their principal divisions of patrol and detectives, much less specialized units such as gangs. Citizens don’t realize that the majority of law enforcement agencies in America consist of 30-50 personnel at the most, if they are fortunate to have that many. And the temptation of making more money in a few hours than you will make in a year has been the downfall of many a man and woman.
Ever heard of “narcotecture?” Cartel drug kings have so much money that like the super rich oil Arabs who make everything from gold, including their commodes, the Cartel kings have special made mausoleums constructed with imported Italian Marble, gold fixtures, and air-conditioning. Air-conditioning! For a mausoleum! These incredibly ornate tombs started the term “narcotecture.”
America is the largest consumer of drugs. Coke (not to be mistaken with the drinking kind) is a social drug used at every level of our society – government officials, businessmen, the entertainment industry, clergy, and on down to street level punks. Gangs can easily make $30-40k per day selling coke. Profit is turned so fast that it’s ridiculous.
A kilo of coke in Columbia is $2,000. By the time it gets to users in the States, it’s been cut so many times that there is easily a $100,000 profit. Combine drug money with the cash flow from other gang operations (prostitution, fraud, drug transport, and so forth), and the average citizen cannot begin to comprehend the extent of money that gangs have at their disposal.
“Everyone has a price” is the belief of gangs and cartels. Judges have been bought. Lawyers are retained by gangs. Federal agents and law enforcement at state and local levels have been caught selling out to gangs. If people in these prominent positions can be bought, then how can we expect a jobless person with a family, struggling to support them, to turn away from a high dollar offer for only a few hours work?
Unfortunately, there are still people in denial about how serious the gang problem across America is and how relationships between gangs and cartels are so heavily intertwined. America’s war on drugs is only viewed as successful by government officials with little grasps on reality or are trying to keep their jobs. The Secretary of Homeland Security testified before Congress that our borders were completely safe. Talk to the dedicated men and women in law enforcement who daily risk their lives and you’ll learn that fighting the drug war, stemming the flow of drugs, is similar to going to the beach and trying to hold back the waves of the ocean. You hold back part of one wave while the remainder simply flows around you.
All along the US border, ranchers live in daily fear of gang organized drug caravans coming across their land. South Texas Sheriffs have testified to the overwhelming problems their departments face with the increasing violence against families living along the border.
The gang problem only continues to grow. A majority of gangs outside of prison are controlled by gangs within our prisons. Gangs such as MS-13, who pride themselves on merciless revenge and cruel retributions, send enforcers to their upstart gangs throughout the states to teach them how to properly be members. Other words, how to be more vicious.
The times have definitely changed. The codes that criminals such as the old Mafia families lived by are long gone. Now gangs are comprised of younger, more restless thugs who view violence as the ultimate action. The drug cartels murdered 35,000 people in Juarez, Mexico in the last four years. Innocent people were killed and have disappeared. Decapitation became a cartel gang trademark. Stateside gangs wanting to be like the “big-boys,” have followed suit even to the point of making ‘snuff videos’ of their murders.
Do the research yourself if you still believe there isn’t a problem. In Houston, you can go to Stop Houston Gangs.org and view some of the gangs we have. It’s nothing to be proud of, but it’s reality.
Gangs are bullies. They serve no purpose in life except to further destroy our society like a cancer spreading through one’s body. They make whole communities live in fear. They steal, rob, and murder innocent people. They cost taxpayers billions of dollars yearly. And they respect nothing but further violence.
What can be done about gangs? First, understand there is a problem. Support your local law enforcement by reporting suspicious activities in your neighborhoods. Talk to your neighbors and watch out for each other.
Keep your children away from gangs as best possible by talking to your kids, letting them know they are loved and encourage their education in schools. Go to
their schools and talk to administrators about school bullies. The school boards generally flat deny that any problem exists, but when you are persistent, they will act—even if it means you must go to the media about the school board. When your kids think being “gangsta” is cool, let them know what losers “gangstas” really are. And most of all, pay attention to what your kids do on the Internet. Be a parent before being their ‘buddy.’ Don’t let your child commit suicide before you learn a problem existed.
Like “Ringo” DeLeon, I hate bullies too.
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Before I close, I wish to express my gratitude to the men and women of the Texas Gang Investigators Association for the dangerous work they daily perform on behalf of the citizens of our great state, as well as for our magnificent country. Teachers and law enforcement related personnel do not receive adequate payment for the critically important work they do, especially when compared to the frivolous mega-salaries of sports figures today.
Organizing an educational, informative conference such as the Board of T.G.I.A. does each year, is to be commended. The overall planning involved is astounding and the Board’s efforts are displayed in the quality of their conference.
Thank you, Mr. Ringo DeLeon, President of T.G.I.A., Mr. Patrick Natividad, 2nd Vice President of T.G.I.A., and Mr. Paul Zamarripa, Director, Pos.1, South Region, of T.G.I.A., for your friendship, hospitality, and my further education into the world of gangs.
And special thanks go to Mrs. Janelle Zamarippa and Mrs. Natividad for our discussions and the work I observed you tirelessly perform each day for the benefit of T.G.I.A.
AMAZON MOON is be honored as “Notable Book in the category of Page-Turners” in the Half Price Books sponsored 2013 Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best Independently Published Book.
The top five books and “notable books by category,” as determined by the editors of Shelf Unbound, will receive editorial coverage in the December/January 2014 issue of Shelf Unbound.
Shelf Unbound Book Review Magazine, a 2013 Maggie Award finalist for Best Digital-Only Publicationis alsoa recipient of the Alliance of Independent Authors’ Honoring Excellence Award, and reaches more than 125,000 avid readers in the U.S. and in 59 other countries around the globe.
Amazon Moon is Starkey’s fourth published novel and generating worthy acclaim for its story!