The World of Spies and Traffickers: A review of John Reinhard Dizon’s “WOLF MAN” and “TIARA”



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I have just finished reading two gripping crime thrillers by  John Reinhard Dizon,  WOLFMAN and TIARA.  Having read the two of them in quick succession, I really feel that I have begun to come to grips with the ‘war-spy-crime-thriller’ genre and the character of an author whose background as a musician, pro-wrestler and writer must be a “front” for a past career as a spy, soldier of fortune or undercover police operative – though we’ll never know this for sure. Everything he writes testifies to an intimate knowledge of Uzis, AK-47s, rocket grenades and the dirty sides of the  two of the most vicious and enduring conflicts in recent history: the relatively brief but genocidal war in the Balkans and the decades-long murderous struggle in Northern Ireland.

WOLFMAN is a short novel or novella set in both the Accursed Mountains along the Albanian border in Kosova and in the seamy streets of New York controlled by drug-dealers and traffickers in human body parts. The blighted hero is photojournalist Steve Lurgan who escapes death in Kosova only to find it return to haunt him as only a living death can.  He desperately tries to believe that he can find love, leaving behind him a trail of carnage as he battles the dregs of criminal life while avoiding police scrutiny and trying to save the woman he loves at a distance from a gradual descent into her own personal hell.  Lurgan’s character is well-drawn and believable despite the transformations he undergoes.  The description of little-known criminal sidelines carried on during  the war in Kosova and echoed in the streets of New York are frightening and intensely realistic. This is a fast moving, spirited, leanly written and action-packed short novel that deserves the epithet of being “a real page turner” that keeps you in suspense until the very end.  It is highly recommended.

In TIARA, Dizon takes on the impossibly bitter and uncompromising conflict in Northern Ireland at the time of the Stormont peace talks. This is another fast-moving, action-packed crime-thriller centring around the abduction of an imaginary member of the British Royal Family.  The anti-hero, main male protagonist, Berlin Mansfield, is an enigmatic soldier of fortune who becomes embroiled in the kidnapping as a result of his fascination with the kidnapped Princess of Edinburgh. The necessarily invented names and titles of some of the characters nonetheless resonate with aspects of real-life members of British and European Royalty and their privileged lives are juxtaposed against the unrivalled realism of one of the worst civil conflicts in the twentieth century. In a work such as this the old adage that fiction necesssarily involves the temporary suspension of disbelief comes to mind. But the level of detailed knowledge of the political and criminal activities of gangsters, clandestine law enforcement operatives and international terrorists and mercenaries in an around the Northern ireland conflict makes a vivid background to a story of political intrique,  cruelty, impossible love and thunderous gun battles. Rizon seems completely at home in this world and the few proofreading lapses can be forgiven as despite twists and turns, the plot moves quickly and fluidly towards its inevitable conclusion.   Though it may raise some eyebrows in Britain and Northern Ireland, TIARA is a very enjoyable read and certainly recommended.

Want to Give E_books as a Christmas Present?

santamerrygreenFDPWith Christmas almost upon us, I started to think about how I can give an e_book as a present (more specifically one of my own eg BEGINNINGS: Where A Life Begins). Of course it does help to know whether the intended recipient of your book has a Kindle (which reads .mobi formatted book files) … or … an iPad, Kobo, Nook or Sony e_Reader (which all usually use .ePub formatted book files)

Now of course you can go to Amazon and buy a Gift Certificate for any Amazon product including for e_books. Or there are specific Gift Cards available (see below).  But it’s a it impersonal and not like giving a book itself. So what do you do? It can be a little complicated, but …

First you have to download the book from whichever on-line retailer you choose. And there are many including new “start ups” such as LelivroBeta. Hopefully you’ll know if your gift recipient has a Kindle (download the .mobi file) or some other type of e_Reader (download the .ePub file).

Second, send off the downloaded file to your recipient by email as an attachment.  It seems that iPads and iPhones are the easiest to send e_books to as when the recipients open the emails, they get asked whether they want to open the attachment in “iBook’s” or as a “.pdf file”.  It’s better in iBooks so hopefully they have it on their Ipad or Iphone.

With the Kindle, you do much the same except you can’t send the .mobi book file direct to the person’s Kindle email address (that is, Xxx.XXXXX@Kindle.com) unless your own email address is listed on their Kindle account as authorized to send personal documents to their Kindle. That won’t usually be the case. ……  But the Kindle owner’s own email address (the one that Amazon uses to send emails to them) probably will be and the Kindle owner can either download it to their own computer and “sync” the Kindle to it OR forward the file themselves to their own Kindle.  Much the same can be done with .ePub files sent to Kobo .. and though I don’t know for certain, probably also with Sony’s and Nooks. So probably your email with the book attachment should include the instruction to “download the attached file and sync the e_Reader to the computer or email direct to the e_reader” .  Yes, it’s not as easy as with the iPad etc.

This system should work and if anyone finds it doesn’t or has a better system or more information on Nooks and Sonys E_readers …  PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!!!

Revising and Editing: something to avoid

I’ve done many months of revising and editing – and they are not exactly the same – of my latest historical novel BEGINNINGS: Where A Life Begins! This is perhaps crazy but I thought I’d just make what seems to me to be one important point…  Revising and editing can create NEW errors and typo’s!  This I think I did … and that was a mistake!  Sometimes I think that half  … or certainly a substantial amount … of the time spent on revising and editing has been to correct additional little errors that have been caused by changing a word in the editing/revising process. For example, I might notice that I should have used a plural verb eg “have” rather than “has” because in fact there were two subjects …. but in the subsequent sentence, I had not changed the singular “it” to the plural “they” and modified the verb that follows.  537026_10151863541959885_645410101_n

How stupid and careless you might say.  But when you are in the process of doing it, it’s so easy not to see these “errors” because they weren’t errors to begin with; they were only errors after you made your slight revisions.  And there are many times and different circumstances when this can occur. Worse, you might have done your revising and editing and not notice that you’ve created new errors until you think you’ve finished!  Then, there’s a last-minute rush to re-edit just before you upload to Amazon or Smashwords or whatever…..

So what is the solution? Treat a revision as a “rewrite”. In revising/editing, take the same amount of time and care as …. or even more time and care than … you took in writing originally.  This would be particularly the case for those doing WiMoDoDoDooDoo or whatever they call it and racing to write as many words as possible in the shortest possible time.   And this brings me back to a point I raised in a  previous blog ….. More time … no! a lot of time … needs to be spent in revising and editing than in writing itself AND a lot of care needs to be taken.

Now if you can write fluid, clear, incisive and scintillating prose on your first attempt …. and you have my eternal admiration if you can … then you can ignore everything I’m saying.  Otherwise ….

An Update on Self-Publishing: the Untold Story

Very late one night, just a couple of days ago, I spat out a little post entitled “Self Publishing: the Untold Story“, on the various tiny, but frustrating issues that can arise when uploading our little masterpieces to the big distributor/retailer actors in the field like Amazon, IBooks and Smashwords.  I didn’t even mention Barnes & Noble who I can’t deal directly with as I’m not a US resident with a US Bank account even though I’ve jumped through the hoops of getting a US tax identity and number (and sending W-8BEN forms to all and sundry).

Where I’d left off, I’d managed to satisfy Smashwords Autovetter after making a few changes to font size etc and repairing the first set of likely ePubCheck errors to do with the Table of Contents with the help of Smashwords suggestion – underlining the very good reasons to follow Smashwords free Style Guide AND to the letter – but was waiting for approval from Smashwords to get BEGINNINGS: Where A Life Begins (Tales of Survival and Revenge) into its Premium Catalog list and this required passing the ePubCheck without any errors coming up.

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No clear information is given on what the errors in your ePub file are but at least they send you in the right direction.   First you go to an ePubCheck Validation website at http://validator.idpf.org/  and at least it lists the errors that it found. Some people get hundreds, but I had just the one but all of these errors are not described in any language that ordinary human being might understand… just a long string of letters, numbers and symbols, but you know how many errors you have and smashwords does give some more help on what some of them might mean … and so it was for my one and it turned out to be that one of the images (maps) I’d used was  in a corrupted file and I had some instructions on how to fix it.  Finally it worked!

But I thought: “This cannot be over yet!” It wasn’t as days passed and I had a reply there were some issues to do with on-screen changes to fonts not matching standard styles .. I persevered and this morning received “premium status approval” to the acclamation of a zen bhuddist priest (the sound of one hand clapping).

Wonderful! But I have a couple of days until the “release date” and continue to search for typo’s etc… and I found a couple.  So I have to get premium catalog approval YET AGAIN. Thankfully a very helpful Smashwords staffmember said he would “fast track” any new version I submitted! Hallelujah!  There is a God!

Of course, I’m not the only one who’s gone thru this: but it is do-able!