New Year, New Project—and You Can Help

manuscriptI’m finally back at work on my own project. It’s been a while! Now that Christmas is over and we’re in the lee of the Holidaze, I’ve blocked out time to outline Force Majeure (FM),  the sequel to my debut thriller Force No One (FNO). FNO is available in paper, pixels, hardcover, and audio pretty much everywhere, by the way. 😉

Stories evolve even before they are written, and this one has too. When I first conceived it, I thought it would generally have to do with Xavier Cloud, Poppy Benedict, and the STORM CELL anti-terror team working to subvert another domestic terror attack, possibly by North Koreans. As it developed, though, it looks like domestic terrorists will be the bad guys du jour.

Unlike a few other thriller novelists, I make a definite effort to refrain from injecting my characters with my own political beliefs: This is primarily because, personally, I’m an independent thinker, and so I have no ax to grind. And I dislike reading an author’s thinly disguised rants in their novels. I’m not against rants per se if they represent a character’s viewpoint, but most times they only present a writer’s own biases and they don’t advance the story.

I’m seeing, however, that FM is evolving into a preamble for the third book in the trilogy, which I think will address a prospective 2nd American Civil War. Just try to keep politics out of that. There have been “Civil War II” (CW2) books before, but they usually don’t get into the potential realities of what that might look like. This hasn’t stopped speculation on the prospect of CW2 in the media—even by current military generals.

Let’s say a CW2 is precipitated by TEXIT—the idea that Texas exits from the United States. Notwithstanding all other considerations, let’s just give TEXIT a chance for argument’s sake. Texas has numerous large military installations with weapons, ammunition, combat aircraft, and so on. Realizing a solo exit is doomed to failure from the outset, I’m allowing that TEXIT planning would have to include allied states also in favor of succession, and those alliances would be made before the roadblocks go up on state highways. Good to go, right?

A10No. Even if giving the idea credence by Army- and Air National Guard (NG) assets (NG are nominally “commanded” by a state’s governor), many of those state military units would cling to their Constitutional oaths and fail to go along with succession. Okay, the rebel command authority reporting to the governor puts those people in internment camps. Problem solved?

Nuh uh.

Governors have no authority over active-duty military assets in their states, only NG assets, which, truthfully, are usually just as robust and potentially deadly to adversaries. So in Texas, the governor only controls his own forces. These are comparatively small next to the might of active duty units, which I promise you, with few exceptions, will follow orders from the National Command Authority—meaning the President of the United States—to retake Texas and any others and restore the Union.

Texas has long borders with other states. There is no practical expectation that NG forces could defend those largely barren lands. CW2 would be violent and bloody for rebels and Unionists alike (and not necessarily short, as anxious politicians hew and haw on both sides), but the victor clearly can only be the USA.

The premise of FM, then, is to establish the social and political (even economic) reasons why a CW2 might occur. FM will have secret militia units execute terroristic attacks on Union infrastructure, deflecting the blame to foreign players. As paranoia and unrest percolate through the nation, the governor of Texas, and the Army NG general he commands, will prepare behind the scenes for the succession to come.

This outline is still evolving, so what do you think this book should include? Leave a comment below or let me know your thoughts at


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