Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Author Interview

I wanted to thank Bekah from @mthrhood_moment for the interview. Check it out! And then hashtagclick over to my website and hashtagbuy a copy hashtag

With the drop of a judge's gavel, Walt Walker has officially lost everything. The one-time police officer is now without his badge and gun and the moral certainty of right and wrong that had kept him grounded. He has also lost his wife and his two kids to her new boyfriend. Even his sister has turned against him, and it's all because of his ex-best friend, who also happens to be his brother-in-law. Now Walt, sans gun, gets his badges from an Army Navy store and spends his days in South Florida, working for a boutique insurance firm as their investigator. He spends his nights in dive bars, trying to forget the mess he has made of his life. 
Meanwhile, retired hitman Ronald Jacobs is living in the shadows as a respectable gentlemen farmer, far from the reach and pull of his past life. 
With Walt whiling away the hours as an insurance investigator and Ronald living the simple life on a farm, what could possibly go wrong?
Turns out, plenty. 
In the action-packed thriller, On the Devil's Side of Heaven, author Roger Peppercorn has woven an entertaining tale of a chance encounter that reunites estranged brothers-in-law and sets them on a collision course of violence and retribution. Hunted by contract killers, the law and corporate bag men, they are pursued across the barren adobes and sweeping vistas of the Mesa Valley in Western Colorado.

I had a chance to interview the author to learn more.

What was the inspiration for this book?
Several years ago, my wife and I packed up the kids and went to my parents for Thanksgiving. While we were there I ran into a childhood friend whom I hadn't seen in years. He invited us up to his place which is in a fairly remote area outside of Loma CO. Now when I say remote it's very remote. His driveway is a dirt road that's not marked nor is it on any map and GPS units think you're driving in across the adobes.

He and his wife built a very comfortable home. But other than electricity the county provides they are off the grid. You can't see his neighbors. But the sweeping views are breathtaking. I thought then that if you wanted to get away this is the kind of place you would go.

So from that point it took me almost two years to fully flesh out a story and then ten months to write it. 

I like the idea of characters who are deeply flawed and start off from a place of struggle. What I find fascinating are the little decisions we make in the moment that at the time are meaningless, but down the road you discover are the catalyst for why you are where you are. Plus, when you toss in lifelong relationships that are complex and not easily divested I find those are the ingredients of a good story.

The three main characters, Walt, Ronald and Jessica are the base of all of that. Walt and Jessica are siblings and Jessica is married to Ronald a life long friend to both. What I think makes On The Devil's Side of Heaven different from other books of the same genre is you get to see them at a very human level. The make the right decisions for the wrong reasons and the wrong decisions for the right reasons. The relationships are very complex and intertwined. Walt is a broken ex-cop with addiction issues. Ronald is a semi retired hired gun thug and Jessica is the glue that binds them together.

Both of them start off where you would expect them to be on the moral compass, but as the story progresses, you watch them walk towards the center and eventually cross their own moral divide.

How did you come up with the title? 
On The Devil's Side of Heaven is a title that was a long time in the making but eventually came about because of a line from the book. There is a scene in an early chapter where you see Walt in a bar. He just came from divorce court and where the last vestige of his life has been taken. As he is sitting there drowning his sorrows in "bourbon two fingers and make it neat and don't bother asking if I need more. Just assume the answer is yes", he gets a call from Jessica. This is the first time you see the relationship and begin to understand the dynamic between the three. You also get a hint there is a lot of water under the bridge, but in the end she is his sister.

When he hangs up the phone there is a bumper sticker on the bar that says. "Cast not others onto the devil's side of heaven, lest you be cast in with them"

Now that line is one of those things that comes about because I'm in the car for hours in the middle of nowhere and all I'm doing is working through a few different scenes and dialogue. This is how I do a lot of my writing. 

My day job requires me to spend a lot of time behind the wheel and on airplanes. My mind then tends to wander into the story which is where I watch the story play out. 

That line came from a drive from Albuquerque to Denver. And when it landed I pulled over and wrote it down. You see that line play out throughout the book and actually helped drive the story.

There is a new line I'm working on for the follow up book which is titled The Sometimes Long Road Home. Which I am writing now.

What types of readers will enjoy this book?
On The Devil's Side of Heaven is listed as a crime thriller on Amazon and this is one of those things I had to clearly define to Wallace Publishing when they picked me up. So officially it's mostly men 18-55 who enjoy action thrillers. But the book is really more character driven with the crime piece almost as an extension of the story.

There are shootouts, fist fights, and cop stuff, but it's not a procedural and the violence is not gratuitous. 

The dialogue is authentic to who these people are. I'm also not trying to teach you anything nor preach. It's an action packed, funny, fast paced thriller. Anyone who likes a guilty pleasure read or just wants to escape into this made up world I've created.

The biggest compliment I get fairly often is how fast the reader gets sucked into the story and just can't put it down. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Ike Brought the USA Together

Ten year old Tommy and his little sister Amy bolted out the back door of the old farm house each of them holding paper cups their mother had given them. “Slow down Tommy you’re going to break it!” Amy screamed at her brother. The “it” she was referring to was the hundred foot piece of string their mother had used to connect the two cups together. Tommy slowed up a bit, allowing his sister to catch up. When they reached the old oak tree near the barn they both stopped.
“You stay here and I’ll go stand by the barn.” Tommy said.
Amy gave her brother a look of irritation, but didn’t argue. She didn’t like her brother always telling her what to do. But the tree didn’t smell like manure whereas the barn did. Tommy walked toward the barn the last few feet, he turned around and walked backwards, watching the string raise and then begin to tighten. Satisfied, he had gone far enough, he stopped putting the cup to his lips and spoke.
Amy screamed “It works I heard you.”
The sound of approaching vehicles off in the distance caused both of them to turn around. Tommy and Amy both stared at the sight before them. They watched an Army convoy of large trucks led by a single jeep with four men rumble past the small family farm. In the passenger seat sat a tall man in dressed in dress Army fatigues with a hat only officers wore. He looked over and smiled and waved.
Drying her hands on a small dish towel Sarah their mother pushed opened the screen door and watched the machines rumble past. Shading her eyes, she too noted the tall man in the passenger seat with the wry smile. Sarah raised her hand and waved back. 
Sarah, Tommy and Amy watched until the last truck had past not realizing the swirling dust and exhaust fumes had enveloped them in a once in a lifetime historical event.

Summer 1919 Washington, DC
Lt. Col Dwight D Eisenhower pulled the heavy red curtain aside and took note of the very young men and women milling about the trucks and jeeps parked out front of the sprawling Pentagon campus. Some wore uniforms, others did not. He noticed the ease and somewhat sanguine movements they seemed to have with each other. Most did not have the hardened stares of the boys he had watched turn into men through the baptism of war he had served with in Europe. He stepped back, letting the curtain fall into place the room going dark.
Walking with purpose into a gentle breeze he barely heard the slap of his patent leather dress shoes as they struck the pavement. The smell of exhaust fumes mingled with the earthy smells of late spring tickled his nostrils. Off to his left two truck companies totaling eighty-one jeeps, wagons and trucks idled at the curb. His train commanders, Lt Col Charles W. McClure and Capt. Bernard H. McMahon stood next to civilian pilot guide Henry C. Ostermann. Pausing for just a moment he took it all in. His men started to take notice their posture straitening until they were rigid “Attention on deck!” someone shouted. Ike walked the last few steps to his jeep a wry smile touching the corner of his lips.
This motor truck convoy in 1919 was a first of its kind "Truck Train” of the US Army Motor Transport Corps. Traveling across what is now known as Interstate 80. By the time they reached San Francisco they had driven over 3,000 mi.  Suffered 230 road incidents which included adjustments, getting unstuck, breakdowns, and accidents. The convoy broke and repaired 88 wooden bridges (14 in Wyoming), and most roads were unpaved from Illinois through Nevada which accounted. A pilot scout was sent daily ahead of the convoy marking the road so as to avoid further delays. 
Ike understood service like few did before, during and after he was President. He knew the greatest product or service walked on two feet and was the key to getting things accomplished. The Highway act named after him would spur a nation out of the doldrums of war and spawn a growth of infrastructure and service oriented businesses like never before. Roads, bridges and tunnels would lead the United States into the forefront of innovation of service. Because where there was blacktop highways there were be small towns transformed into cities with the burgeoning advancements in modern education, medical services and full service gas stations. All of these features and more paving the way for need of a water, electric and phone companies. Each time a village stepped out of its shadow and allowed it to grow into its next evolution the cycle would begin again until forty years later the United States was connected around the globe through the age of digital electronics.
This time is like no other in that we are at the precipice of realizing our humanity in the service of others. I say this because it is easy to lose sight of what is in front of us. At a time when the older workers of this nation struggle to hold onto what they have worked their whole lives for it is time now, to look past the fear of obscurity and irrelevance. To embrace what it was Ike instilled on a nation from his summer on the Backroads of America and again after the Great War.  

It is easy to forget that the greatest expenditure we have today are fees paid to those who have hands that are not idle. From your mechanic to your doctor. Internet provider, cable TV, and telephone. The plumber and electrician. Roofers and ditch diggers. Pilots and train engineers, Uber drivers and taxis. All of them provided by an army of hardworking and diverse men and women that are the product they are selling. Services oriented companies’ greatest expense and most valued assets are its people. The box, widget, Wi-Fi and social platforms are the tools they produce and support.
Services' manufacturing is the next unexplored frontier we have yet to fully discover its potential. In an age when the heavens are explored further and further by futuristic robots and cars are being designed to drive themselves or the phone in your hand is created to answer your every question and perform every task there are people who are pioneering cottage industries of services that offset the lost jobs of yesterday.
Never has there been a time when we as a people are more in touch with worlds that oceans away. Everyday people from around the globe are drawn and connected together by a system of invisible spectrums of light. Fear not of the unknown. Eagerly and enthusiastically chase your dreams and goals because tomorrow is not promised to anyone.
Today we are a nation and a world of dreamers filled with hope and optimism. We stand on the shoulders of great men and women who brought us here. Now is the time to look to the future of unpromised fields of tomorrow. Let us not forget that FDR brought us through the great depression and WWII. Truman transformed a nation of war into a nation of builders and Eisenhower pulled us together with bridges and roads. Those times were done so by people whose services were in high demand.
This century will be remembered for the people and businesses orientated on providing services to our communications infrastructure. Take this opportunity to grow into a tomorrow not realized.

Old dogs do learn new tricks.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Mother's Day

We have four kids. Each one, an individual and as different as the stars. Providing us with a daily dose of refreshed objectivity as it pertains to their rearing. Their eyes serving as a reflecting pool into the past and a peek of what the future holds. Their movements and actions, reminding us of the culpability we as parents played in their raising.

As a father we live in awe at the wonderment and the unpredictability of the womb and the subtlety of the changes taking forth before us. Ours is to be a source of comfort and strength as her body morphs and tortures her insides. Powerless to relieve her pain and discomfort us as fathers ricochet around like pinballs in an arcade. But this is not about us, it’s about them.

From the dawn of time women have borne the full brunt of the cruelty Mother Nature lays on them during the summer months as their bellies swell giving no respite. During the winter they find nominal relief from the heat produced from the belly. At night a mother tosses and turns seeking comfort in a bed that mere weeks ago was friendlier to nocturnal pursuits.

A mother’s love has the power of a freight train and the unbreakable gravitational pull of earth. Traits that provide solace and comfort to her family. They are the center of their universe that all others orbit.

The mother of my kids reminds me of the power of God and random nature with which he strikes.

I remember the time she announced to me how fortunate she was her belly hadn’t gotten as big as a woman she knew carrying twins at the same time. “At least I’m not four feet around.” I nodded my eyes moving off of her and into the coffee cup in front of me. Speaking my thoughts would not have been good. At the height of her pregnancy with our twins, she could take a full size dinner plate and lay it on top of her outstretched belly while she ate.
Her eyes bore into me with laser like precision. “I’m not that big!” I nodded, keeping my eyes downcast a smile touching the corner of my eyes.

Taking two steps she reached into a bowl on the bakers rack, took out the measuring tape and stepped over to me. 

“Measure me.”

I shook my head. “You're fine.”


Standing up I placed the tape around her until the ends overlapped each other. I tried to stifle the giggle I felt coming on.

“What does it say?”

“Well your right your not four feet around.”

“What does it say???”

“Forty seven and a half.”

“But not forty eight right?”

The giggle, I was trying to stifle turning into a full fledged laugh.

“Jerk. Give it to me because I don’t believe you.”

I thought she might cry when she did it herself.

With each birth her strength bolstered my own and over the years as our kids have grown I see in them the grace and love she has instilled in them through patience and nurturing.

Mothers are in our world what the sun is to the earth. Sonya my wife is no exception. Though my work takes me away this year I am no less comforted by her existence in my life. Without her I would not be the father I am today.

So on this day, love them, hold them, thank them and know without the metal of a mother's love we would all be lost to the incongruities of the universe.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Red Ball Express

Do you know what the invasion of Normandy, the Red Ball Express, any successful business venture all have in common?

The ability to mobilize assets effectively, seamless communications and a fully realized supply chain.

Shortly after D-Day the Allied forces held a 36 hour marathon meeting to figure out the logistics of moving the business of war from the ocean to the front lines. When they emerged, Major General John C.H Lee painted bright red circles on 5 ton trucks, giving birth to what would become a famed truck convoy staffed primarily by African American soldiers. Marshaling their grit and moxy they determined how to get it done without the benefit of modern technology. Armed with little more than a compass and a map, the men of the Red Ball Express set out to do the impossible.

By the end of November 1944, approximately 300,000 tons of supplies were delivered to troops on the front lines. At its height they moved over 12,000 tons of cargo a day. Giving birth to the first visible supply chain.

A well-structured, regulated and proven process driven infrastructure will produce positive results. Moving products produced independently or obtained through an external infrastructure to where they are needed without interruption or delay defines success and failure.

A lot has changed since 1944 but the objective of supply chain has not. It is a service oriented venture companies provide to customers because… well, logistics are difficult on a good day and a nightmare when it’s not.

Commitment to working smarter, faster and better each time a transaction is made, enables the ability to receive an order, kit it, package, palletize it and ship it to its final destination. On time and without interruption.

Using well-crafted processes and software for tracking and inventory allows for forecasting for things like raw materials and space needed for warehousing. Weather models anticipate shipping delays so your customers avoid unnecessary delays to their customers.

Predictive analytics anticipate the changing conditions on the front lines and encourages a continuous innovation. Information supply chains need to adapt to an ever-evolving business environment. But without innovators like the men of the Red Ball Express and their attention to detail, innovation and planning for the modern supply chains would not have had the kick start to be where we are today.

Because industry is ever changing, and boardroom wars are won and lost by the leveraging of innovations.