This journey began some time ago, when a reader of Montagnard who absolutely loved the story, had one criticism to make.
If I had one criticism (and I hate to criticize) it would be the cover. And please don’t take this the wrong way but I wouldn’t buy this book at the bookstore because of the cover. Which is a shame because I would have bypassed a great read!
The reason I bought your book is because I follow your blog and I like to support bloggers.
Honestly, based on the cover I expected to tolerate the book, but… I LOVED it (I have already recommended it to two of my friends).
While I can see how there is a hint of what the book is about by the cover it just doesn’t quite convey properly. To me the cover says ‘political non-fiction’ — it doesn’t say ‘intriguing, captivating, intense action, feel good awesomeness’ which is exactly what your book is.
This reader’s comment led to a discussion with my editor and a plan to redo the covers of both Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard before the release of the third book, Reciprocity.
The new cover for Serpents Underfoot was completed and I was very pleased with its new cover. You can click here to view that cover on Amazon.com.
Then it became time to work on the new cover for Montagnard. My editor said the covers should identify the books as being written by me and also that they are part of a series. This is part of establishing your “brand.”
When I got the proof for the new cover of Montagnard, I was a bit nervous. It seemed like a tall order, and I had selected the images to use to create the cover. What if I had chosen bad images, or a bad color scheme? Finally, I opened the file.
All I could say was, “Wow!” I could not believe it. My cover designer, Angie, had done an absolutely brilliant job. She was waiting for my “suggested edits.” My response was … don’t change a thing!
I shared the cover proof with several readers I know, family members, friends, etc. The reaction was the same everywhere! I heard two things repeatedly.
I absolutely love it!
That cover is “BAD ASS!”
One reader commented, “Finally, a cover that does justice to the story inside.”
So, without further ado … here is the new cover for Montagnard!
The new cover is up for the Kindle version, and will soon be ready for the paperback and hardcover versions. Check out the kindle version here!
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So, what does a rusty Ford tractor have to do with karate?
Well, nothing really. But then again, everything. Hey, that’s kind of like a Zen riddle isn’t it?
Several years ago, say late 90s, at one of our post seminar workouts, Sensei Harrill was working with me and a couple of my senior students on Sanchin Kata.
Now first let me say there are several versions of this kata and while they have commonalities, they are not the same. A version of Sanchin can be found in several Chinese and Okinawan styles including Fujian White Crane, Five Ancestors, Uechi-Ryu, Goju-Ryu, and Isshin-ryu. There are certainly others as well. Tam Hon taught a style that was called “Saam Jin” which is Cantonese for “Sanchin.”
At its essence, Sanchin is taught to help the practitioner understand body mechanics and condition their body, while learning to deliver properly focused techniques from a stable platform.
It is also, unfortunately, a kata about which a prodigious amount of “bullshit” has been has been propagated. But that is not the subject of this post.
Isshin-ryu Karate’s Sanchin
The Isshin-ryu version of this kata is really quite difficult in its simplicity. It consists of only five steps (three forward and two backward) and there is a great deal of repetition. But, like an onion, there are many layers to this kata and as your understanding grows, and the more layers you peel away, the more you realize there is to learn. It gives a new level of understanding to the idea, the more I learn the more I realize how little I know.
I had been working with Sensei Harrill for sometime now, and had made a lot of changes in how I trained, and this included Sanchin. I now practiced Sanchin most often with the vertical fist (which I liked because it fit our basics). I still, on occasion, will practice with the corkscrew punch as I had originally been taught, and sometime I will mix it up. At that time, I was trying to get a handle what the kata taught as far as body mechanics, as well as the many different breathing patterns found in the kata (none of which, by they way, resembled a gasping pressure cooker about to blow its top).
However, there was one movement in the kata that always gave me a fit. I practiced and practiced, trying different ways of executing the movement, and nothing seemed to work for me. I had once seen Sensei easily demonstrate the use of that movement at a seminar on a pretty big guy, but I was not even getting close. And of course, as I demonstrated my Sanchin Kata while Sensei watched, that was readily apparent to him.
You’re not doing that properly …
I probably felt like that was the “understatement” of the year. I was painfully aware of that fact. especially seeing what he had done with that very same movement.
I am sure that I replied with something to the effect of, “I know, Sensei. I just can’t seem to get it right.”
And I remember him saying something like, “You don’t have the right focus.”
The hook …
So, how did I change my focus? By listening to what my Sensei told me!
He said to imagine a rusty old red Ford tractor that’s been sitting in the field for awhile. Now you’ve got to crank it up and plow that field. You finally get the tractor started, climb up into that seat. and reach for that big old shift lever with your right hand. Then you squeeze and give the lever a strong tug. And what happens? It doesn’t budge. It’s pretty much rusted into place. What do you do?
I thought about it a second … stand up and give it a real yank, I was thinking.
Then he added … but, you have to keep your butt in the seat.
Now that’s an altogether different proposition.
Which muscles would come into play and when? In what order would you use them? How would that feel internally? Think about it.
And over time, that earlier “movement” that had previously been using the muscles of my arm changed. It began to originate at my core. It employed the rotation of my hips, my abdominal muscles. the lats, the shoulders, and finally … the arm. The pull became a properly-focused, mechanically sound whole-body movement. And after working on it awhile, when I tried it in the dojo, people began to move.
And that is what an old rusty red Ford tractor has to do with my Isshin-ryu Karate.
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There are several to choose from, all with great reviews.
I received a copy of this novel from the author in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence and mature language. The story picks up a short time after the first novel “Serpents Underfoot” ends.
The primary character continues to be Former SEAL JD Cordell. After many years of service, Cordell retires taking his K9 Ajax with him. On his last active duty mission, Cordell rescues the very pretty young Doctor Ellen Chang. She was being held by terrorists in Niger. After his retirement, he finds she has come back to the States and has settled hear him. Romance is in full swing between the two.
Shortly after the death of her husband, Mai Cordell makes a trip back to Vietnam. She is trying to find her adopted brother, the Montagnard called Dish. Dish is a rebel wanted by the communist government. When a drug lord hears about her search, he kidnaps her and uses her for bait to draw out Dish.
Cordell heads to Vietnam as soon as he hears about his mother. While the US government can’t take direct action, they do assist Cordell. Two of his former SEAL Team members ‘volunteer’ to go with him. Will he be in time to save his mother and the uncle he has never met?
I thoroughly enjoyed the 8.5 hours I spent reading this 309-page thriller. I had enjoyed Mr. Gilbert’s prior novel in the series and this one was just as good! I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.
I have read a lot of Mr. Purvis’ reviews and other posts over the last few years, so this review means a lot to me because I know Mr. Purvis does give very fair reviews and calls things as he sees them. Therefore, I would just like to say thank you, John, for this review, and I am so glad you enjoyed the book.
And if you haven’t visited his blog, you should. Mr. Purvis covers a lot of interesting topics.
You can purchase a copy of Montagnard or any of my other books by clicking the button below.
Serpents Underfoot is live on Amazon with its new cover.
Serpents Underfoot is out with its awesome new cover! 1106 Design did a great job, and they were a pleasure to work with. If you are ever in the market for a book cover, check them out. They will shortly be redoing the cover for Montagnard as well.
Resonant characters propel this consistently gripping terrorist tale. All of the characters are well developed, producing genuine shock when certain individuals die. The author writes in an unadorned prose that keeps the plot moving at a steady beat … the finale is … exhilarating.
Serpents Underfoot is the first book in the JD Cordell action thriller series! Full of Navy Seal action, the book will enthrall fans of action thrillers … The book has it all—authentic detail, breathless action, vividly drawn settings, and an exhilarating plot.
The Prairies Book Review
Check out all my books on my Amazon Author’s Page.
There are several to choose from, all with great reviews.
One thought behind Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard …
Over the past years, it became “fashionable” to bash US service members serving worldwide while making saints out of the other side. Nowhere was this more apparent than during the war in Vietnam, when we had Hanoi Jane posing for pictures with North Vietnamese artillery units and passing a POW’s hopeful message home on to the commander of the Hanoi Hilton prison, a place where so many American servicemen (including John McCain) were imprisoned and tortured. That was a national disgrace!
And it is not always intentional. The Vietnam War film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, in my opinion, tried to give a truthful picture of the Vietnam War. However, we can rarely escape inserting our own views into what we create. While most who viewed this film praised it for its neutrality and fairness, and accurate portrayal of the war, many Vietnam Veterans I have spoken with, are still left with a bad taste in their mouths when watching this film because, at least in their view, it still portrays the American servicemen in a somewhat undeserved negative light.
Yes. Bad things happen in war. We all (well, at least those who bother to learn a little history) remember the My Lai Massacre. Unfortunately, war can bring out the worst in people as well as the best. But I would venture to say that at least 95 percent of American servicemembers serve their county honorably. That fact seems to get lost.
It was my intention, starting with Serpents Underfoot and continued in Montagnard, to write stories that would portray American servicemembers in a positive light because that is what the vast majority of them deserve. Being an old veteran myself, it still upsets me to hear some schmuck bad-mouth the very same people who fought for that schmuck’s right to bad-mouth them. And, far more often than not, the bad-mouthing is undeserved. Anyway, that was my goal. Readers will notice, I included all branches of service in Serpents Underfoot and several of them in Montagnard. There are even references to the British SAS, SBS, and the Israeli Defense Force. These are those who fight to preserve freedom around the globe.
I am happy when readers pick up on this …
And several of them have. There are comments in reviews like …
This story gives insight into the bravery of men like these who risk their lives to save others. (Montagnard)
You will find an astounding emotional impact as you walk beside men like JD and his K9 partner, Ajax, risking their lives to protect other people. (Montagnard)
A good job of describing the real Vietnam war and the inhuman crimes committed, not by US servicemembers but by the Vietcong and North Vietnam army. (Serpents Underfoot)
That is why a review like this one from DeeDee means so much to me!
Great story; very well written. Loved all the characters. This book, like your last one, had me from the beginning. JD is amazing and is an Isshin-ryu expert to boot. This book has it all. It makes you proud to be an American, has believable love stories and great action throughout. Loved it.
Feel free to check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here, and please, check out my books on my Amazon Author’s Page! They do get great reviews!
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I am hard at work on the third installment in the JD Cordell Action series, called Reciprocity, which will take on human trafficking. And in this story, some of the action occurs in the Philippine Islands. While still in the development stages, JD Cordell will travel to the Philippines, where he and a few associates will mete out some well-deserved justice to a gangland cartel trafficking girls between Asia, Mexico, and the US. But enough of that, I don’t want to give too much away.
My new Filipino fan base …
The interesting thing is that I just received a 5-Star review for Montagnard from a writer, blogger, and editor, based, you guessed it … in the Philippines. I think that is pretty cool!
Herzie Santos, a.k.a. SheySaints, has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and has worked for Coca Cola Bottlers, Goldprint Publishing House, AXA Financial, and Sutherland Global Services. Her professional experiences in several different work industries have provided her with a great deal of expertise, including professional writing skills. She has written and published poems, short stories, book and movie reviews, essays, and several articles. She’s also a content writer, book reviewer, proofreader, and fiction writer.
Here are a few comments from her review …
I miss stories like this. It gives me this unexplainable nostalgic feeling. I rarely read anything like this anymore and I’m glad I stumbled upon this great book.
It was a well-written action-packed thriller … I highly recommend this book to readers who love heroic military and dog stories.
It makes me smile! I may not yet be a renowned author, but I am definitely international. Montagnard has been read and/or reviewed in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, India, and now … the Philippines!
Click the button below to order your copy of this award-wing action-thriller.
“You feel as if you are one of the action-thriller characters …”
Authors love 5-Star reviews, and I am no exception. Montagnard recently received a very nice 5-star review from a lady named Vicki Goforth. Thank you, Vickie, for taking the time to leave a thoughtful review. I am so glad you enjoyed the book!
Timely Information With Explosive Action
I also received a very thoughtful 4-star review from another author named Schuyler T Wallace. While all reviews matter, getting a 4 or 5-star review from a fellow author means a great deal to me. It is like being accepted or validated by your professional peers.
Here are a few of Schuyler’s comments that stuck out to me.
I really liked this book. D.C. Gilbert is a talented writer with a lot to say, and he says it well.
It’s not a new plot but done in Gilbert’s refreshing manner that’s heavy on local detail, essential to the story.
The author uses appropriate dialogue that is timely and closely mirrors the life and times he is writing about.
Schuyler T Wallace, Author of Tin Lizard Tales
Also from this author …
Check out some of my other blog posts by clicking here, and be sure to check out all my books on my Amazon Author’s Page! They do get great reviews!
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According to Ret. U.S.M.C. MSgt. Arcenio J Advincula, the Flesheater is the ultimate combat fighting knife, a masterful blend of design and craftsmanship that is a cut above, straight, and to the point. Jim Hammond, a world-class custom knifemaker, worked with AJ Advincula to develop this unique bladed weapon.
I first encountered the Flesheater after attending an Isshin-ryu Karate Seminar given by Sensei Advincula in Raleigh, NC, a few years ago. I have attended several seminars given by Sensei Advincula over the years, and like Sensei Sherman Harrill, he is the real deal.
At the seminar, I met Richard Rosenthal. an Isshin-ryu Karate practitioner like myself, who also trained in Sensei Advincula’s Mano Y Lago Escrima. I began attending Sensei Rosenthal’s escrima classes and thoroughly enjoyed its practicality and compatibility with Isshin-ryu Karate.
The origins of the Flesheater
The Flesheater originated when Master Chief Petty Officer Don Griffiths, who spearheaded the design development research for the SEALTAC™ Series with USN Special Warfare (SEAL) personnel in 1981, asked his martial arts instructor, “What would you look for in a fighting knife, not a combat knife, but a pure fighting knife?”
During a later visit to the shop where the first two prototypes were being developed, Don accidentally experiencing the edge of the first prototype. Griffiths proclaimed, “That knife’s a real flesh-eater!” The name stuck.
The Flesheater design is based primarily upon Largo-Mano Escrima and Isshin-Ryu Karate. Advincula is a first-generation student of the founder of Isshin-Ryu Karate, Tatsuo Shimabuku. He began studying escrima and knife fighting in 1946 at age 8 with two Filipino Scouts and close combat instructors, Pete Rado and Tony Navarro.
The Flesheater’s role in Montagnard.
In Montagnard, Carlos Vivas, a US Navy SEAL and teammate of the main character, JD Cordell, is a skilled practitioner of escrima. In the fictional story, Vivas’ father served with AJ Advincula in the US Marines as a drill instructor and trained in Mano Y Lago Escrima. Carlos, who left Puerto Rico to enlist in the US Navy, carries on the tradition.
As the friendship between Carlos and JD grows, Carlos presents JD with a Jim Hammond-made Flesheater at JD’s retirement party. The knife appears throughout the story and plays a key role in the climatic ending.
For more information about the Flesheater’s design, characteristics, and versatility, click the link or image above to visit Jim Hammond’s website.
My Flesheater – a reliable and valuable companion!
I have to admit, I did have a new custom leather sheath made. I ordered my Flesheater from Columbia River Knife and Tool and found the thermoplastic sheath they included quite impractical for my purposes.
Also, CRKT no longer carries these knives. You have to order them directly from Jim Hammond now. I suspect it is because there are designed specifically for combat and are probably not something the typical outdoor person might carry. It is also not very practical for cleaning your fingernails.
Be sure to check out my books by clicking here! They do get great reviews!
I have had a long-held interest in the martial arts. One Christmas, I received a book called Best Karate, written by Mas Oyama, when I was 13 or 14 years old. I spent hours in my bedroom trying to learn from the book.
When I began attending the Charles H McCann Technical School in North Adams, Massachusetts, I was invited by a friend to a Uechi-ryu Karate (a very traditional Okinawan system) class in nearby Adams and started attending. But once I discovered cars and girls, that pretty much ended that … as well as my interest in scouting.
When I was stationed in Korea (12/81 to 12/82), I studied Tae Kwon Do with the battalion instructor. He was excellent. I earned a red belt, which, in that system, was the equivalent of a brown belt in the ranking system used by many styles. When I got back to the U.S., I started competing in tournaments and did okay. However, I discovered these Isshin-ryu guys who had a wicked reverse punch. They would slide up your extended kicking leg and nail you with it. I decided I needed to see what they were doing and so sought out an Isshin-ryu dojo.
Years later, I was running my own dojo and hosting tournaments. But I was very disappointed in the way things were evolving. I was never that wild about sport karate. I just did that to keep students. I saw limited techniques being used in sport karate; it was more like a game of tag. The rules seemed to violate the karate “maxims” I was trying to adhere to.
For example, in Okinawan Karate, all kicks are targeted below the waist. Step into the ring, and now all kicks must be above the waist. That seemed odd!
And kata, especially with the advent of musical kata, quickly devolved into breakdancing with some kicks thrown in.
Note: Let me just say that full-contact karate and MMA fighters of today are great athletes and some damn tough individuals. They are very good at what they do and deserve respect. It is just not “karate” as I had come to understand it.
The problem was that I do read a great deal, and I had read a lot of history about Okinawa, the birthplace of Karate, and the early pioneers of Tang Hand, which later become known as Empty Hand … or Karate. I was simply not seeing the Karate I’d read so much about. Either the stories were all lies, or there was nobody around who could do that stuff anymore. I was actually ready to throw in the towel. Then I met Sensei Sherman Harrill.
Sensei Harrill was from a cross-roads in the cornfields called Carson, Iowa (near Council Bluffs). He was an ex-Marine who trained with the Isshin-ryu system’s founder, Tatsuo Shimabuku, while stationed in Okinawa in the late 50s. And he was the real deal.
Everything I had ever seen paled when stacked up against what he did. No matter who you were, how big, how strong, or what you knew … he would effortlessly show you the error of your ways. Organizations, rank, who you knew did not matter. It was what you could demonstrate on the mat that counted.
So, I started over. I traveled all around the country to seminars for years to train with this guy. It was a humbling and memorable moment when I asked him how I could become his student. He laughed and replied. “well, most folks just ask.” So, I asked. And he replied, “Darren, I have seen the changes you are making in your Karate and how you train … so welcome aboard.”
That was the beginning of the journey of a lifetime.
The origins of JD’s Nguyen-ryu
Nguyen-ryu is an indigenous martial art found in Vietnam. Mai’s father, Ang, was a village elder, and in the book Serpents Underfoot, a well-respected practitioner of this art. Ang taught this art to both his daughter, Mai, and the son of his old Montagnard friend, Dish. Dish and Mai both taught the art to Curtis Cordell, Mai’s American husband, and JD’s father.
Curtis tried to teach Nguyen-ryu to his son, but that old father-son thing interfered. Eventually, Curtis took his son to a dojo run by a friend of his. That Sensei taught a very traditional version of Isshin-ryu. JD did learn a great deal of Nguyen-ryu from his mother, which blended well with the Isshin-ryu.
It has been my experience that most “real” martial arts have more in common than differences. That is because when you get past all the marketing hype, it is body mechanics that determine what works … and the human body only moves powerfully so many ways.
My exposure to Nguyen-ryu
Enter Charlie Taylor, a good friend, a Vietnam veteran, and a damn good martial artist. He just showed up at my dojo one day and started helping out.
Charlie had served several tours in Vietnam as a medic on Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols in the region of Vietnam my books focus on. He was a quiet guy, but when the mood struck, he had some fantastic stories to tell about his experiences in Vietnam. I am sure he embellished them a bit to make them more fun to listen too, but there was something in the stories and his eyes when he told them that led you to understand that there was an element of truth to each one.
Charlie was also a highly-skilled martial artist, and there was nothing “superfluous” in what he did. I remember spending time training what was essentially a “silent sentry removal” technique with him and being shocked and a bit disturbed at the ease with which it worked. I still remember asking him, rhetorically,
“And, you’ve used this before.”
He just looked at me kind of funny and replied, “On a few occasions.”
While he knew a few of the kata, Charlie didn’t practice Isshin -ryu. In fact, many of our workouts consisted of me teaching him more Isshin-ryu kata. He practiced what he called Nguyen-ryu. Charlie claimed he’d learned it from his grandfather, who’d married a Vietnamese girl while stationed in Japan after WWII. This girl’s father was a skilled practitioner of the style, and after a suitable period of denials, consented to teach it to his daughter’s round-eyed husband.
I know it sounds like a movie plot. And maybe it is. I can neither prove nor disprove Charlie’s claims. However, I can definitely vouch for his abilities. Charlie could be damn scary when he was “in the zone,” much like my former instructor, Sensei Harrill. Those who have trained with Sensei Harrill will understand what I am referring to. We called it “shark eyes.”
Charlie did have an honorary 5th-degree black belt in Isshin-ryu Karate signed by Harold Long. However, he always claimed it was not worth the paper it was written on. It seems Charlie had impressed Harold Long with his abilities while training for a period at Long’s school in Knoxville, Tennessee, but, as mentioned earlier, had only learned a few of the kata. He held no official rank in Nguyen-ryu, so he always wore a white belt.
I will say that the kid’s classes loved it when Charlie regaled them with stories of his early training days. He always referred to them as “Papaw Days.”
Unfortunately, Charlie passed away a few years ago from a combination of medical conditions, several of which I am sure originated with his tours of duty in Vietnam. Some of the threads in Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard are based on past discussions with Charlie. And I think Charlie may be resurrected from the dead for a character in the next book in the series titled Reciprocity. I think he would like that.
Martial Arts scenes in the two books …
I have seen a large man knocked unconscious with a punch to the shoulder. I do not know too many people who could do that. Sensei Harrill certainly could. And, his “fence post punch” was something to behold. You did not want to get hit with it.
On more than one occasion, MMA fighters or cage fighters from the casinos in Council Bluff would make their way to his dojo after hearing about this karate guy who had a reputation for being a badass. Every one of them left with a new appreciation for karate … well, at least Sherman Harrill’s version.
The technique JD uses to take out the drug smuggler on the trail from Laos into Vietnam is simply one of my variations on Charlie Taylor’s sentry removal technique.
Putting it all together
I like to think my stories are written to entertain, but there is so much more to them, at least for me. They are ways to remember, record, and share the people I have known, places I have been, things I have seen, and the stories I have heard, as well as the possibilities those things can combine to create.
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I have often wondered about the value, for authors, of Kindle Unlimited.
Clearly it is great for readers!
I mean, having access to read almost everything in the Kindle store for one monthly subscription fee, if you are an avid reader, is a great deal.
Does Kindle Unlimited truly benefit authors?
The response from authors I have heard or read is pretty much split down the middle. About half of the writers love it, saying KU is the source for much of their revenue. The other half claims it is too limiting, and they prefer to have access to other eBook distribution channels.
And I still am undecided because it does lock your ebook into Amazon for your 90-day period of KU enrollment, which renews automatically. However, at the end of any 90 days, you can opt-out. I have not opted-out yet because I haven’t really explored other venues to sell the ebook through.
However, I have discovered that Kindle Unlimited (KU) has allowed me to reach readers in countries I never expected. And, that is pretty darn cool!
I was going over my KDP reports, and I noticed the KU readers from the UK, Australia, and India have read Montagnard. The UK, I expected. I have friends there, and after all, we are two countries separated by a common language. Even Australia was not a huge surprise, I mean, they speak English too .. well, sort of! 🙂
I was surprised and delighted to see people in India were reading Montagnard. That really made my day. I certainly hope they enjoyed it, and I appreciate it very much! I haven’t yet gotten any reviews from India that I am aware of, but perhaps that will come over time.
However, I did recently receive a review from a Goodreads reader who had this to say!
Needless to say, this lady’s review made my day!
If you enjoyed this post, I hope you will take a few minutes and check out some of the other posts on my blog by clickinghere!
And by all means, if you enjoy a thrilling, fast-paced, award-winning action & adventure thriller, check out my newest novel, Montagnard. As you can see, it is getting rave reviews!