The Job You Love!


Full disclosure – I enjoy working. What’s more, for as far back as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed every job I’ve had. And the more I read, the more I realize how lucky I’ve been.

A recent New York Times article spoke to me – and I think you too will find it meaningful. The title, “The Incalculable Value of Finding a Job You Love,” deconstructs this subject in a way that makes sense to me. Here is part of what Frank Hunter shares with the rest of us:

“Social scientists have been trying to identify the conditions most likely to promote satisfying human lives. Their findings give some important clues about choosing a career: Money matters, but not always in the ways you may think.”

“It’s not just that more money doesn’t provide a straightforward increase in happiness. Social science research also underscores the importance of focusing carefully on the many ways in which jobs differ along dimensions other than pay. As economists have long known, jobs that offer more attractive working conditions — greater autonomy, for example, or better opportunities for learning, or enhanced workplace safety — also tend to pay less.”

When most people leave work each evening, they feel better if they have made the world better in some way, or at least haven’t made it worse.”

How’s that working for you?

You can read the full article here


The Writer in the Family

Writing Techniques

Most writers have families, and these close relations embrace their lifestyle. Or do they. Well-known author Roger Rosenblatt suggests that most authors get treated like weirdoes in their own homes – and that they have only themselves to blame. Here is part of what he said in his humorous article:

So there I stood at the front of my granddaughter Jessica’s fourth-grade classroom, still as a glazed dog, while Jessie introduced me to her classmates, to whom I was about to speak. “This is my grandfather, Boppo,” she said, invoking my grandpaternal nickname. “He lives in the basement and does nothing.”

Her description, if terse, was not inaccurate. My wife and I do live on the lower level of our son-in-law’s house with him and our three grandchildren. And, as far as anyone in the family can see, I do nothing, or next to it. This is the lot of the writer. You will hear someone referred to as “the writer in the family” — usually a quiet child who dresses strangely and shows inclinations to do nothing in the future. But when a supposedly grown-up writer is a member of the family, who knows what to make of him? A friend of my son-in-law’s asked me the other day, “You still writing?” — as if the profession were a new sport I’d picked up, like curling, or a disease I was trying to get rid of. Alexander Pope: “This long disease, my life.”

Writers cannot fairly object to being seen in this way. Since, in the nothing we do — the “nothing that is not there and the nothing that is” (Wallace Stevens) — we do not live in the real world, or wish to, it is fruitless and dishonest to protest that we do. When family members introduce us to one of their friends, it is always with bewilderment camouflaged by hyperbole. “This is so-and-so,” they will say, too heartily. “He’s a great and esteemed writer.” To which their friend will reply, “Would I have read anything you’ve written?” To which I reply, “How should I know?”

At home, they will treat us like domesticated, dangerous animals, pet pandas or snow leopards, patting and feeding us, while eyeing our teeth. Or they will make touching attempts to associate us with comprehensible pursuits, such as commerce. When he was 3, my 5-year-old grandson, James, proposed that the two of us go into business together. “We will write things and we will sell things,” he said, thereby yoking two enterprises that are rarely yoked.

Read the entire article here.

The Caliphate

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The Islamic State wants to establish a caliphate. It’s that simple. That’s why we picked ISIS – or ISIL as the United States refers to this threat, as the focus of our newest Op-Center book. ISIL poses such a multi-faceted threat that it is sometimes difficult to get our arms around the scope of this scourge.

As part of our extensive research for the book, we uncovered a wealth of great material, and some thoughtful pieces bubbled right to the top. We wanted to share some of those with you.

One of the best-of-the-best was a short piece in National Defense University’s Defense Horizons. The title, “A Time to Tweet, as Well as a Time to Kill: ISIS’s Projection of Power in Iraq and Syria,” all-but says it all. But here’s more:

ISIS and its caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, have learned lessons from past insurgents and leaders. In the implementation of its campaign, the group has used strategic tools to project military, economic, political, and informational power to the local, regional, and global community. From exploiting the sectarian divide to gain support, to manipulating political and social media to inflate its appearance of strength, to recruiting disaffected Sunnis and Muslim youth of the world through social media, ISIS has proved to be a new class of insurgency.

ISIS, however, has projected the most power and shown the most innovation with technology and media. It demonstrates a masterful understanding of effective propaganda and social media use, producing a multidimensional global campaign across multiple platforms. ISIS has used these platforms to exhibit intimidation, networking, recruitment, justice, and justification. It continues to spread its anti-Western, pro-jihadi messages to vulnerable populations using viral videos made to look like video games. Yet its skill is best displayed on Twitter where it has garnered tens of thousands of followers across dozens of accounts, eliciting feedback from average supporters.

Read more of this outstanding report here.

If you want to see how life imitates art, read more about our New York Times best-selling Tom Clancy’s Op-Center series and our just-released Scorched Earth here.

Missile Defense!


It’s easy to look back from the perspective of 2016, with scores of Aegis cruisers and destroyers populating the U.S. Navy’s fleet – and with Aegis ships now serving as the Navy’s primary surface combatant – and think that the journey toward building an Aegis fleet was simple or straightforward. It was not. A full description of that journey is vastly beyond the scope of this post. But for those readers wanting more, the 2009 Naval Engineer’s Journal, “The Story of Aegis: Special Edition” contains a rich and detailed description of the Aegis program – how it came into being, where it is today, and where it is going in the future.

As Adm. John Harvey, former Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, explained, what made the original Aegis program so successful was “a single-minded dedication to the pursuit of technical excellence.” That commitment to excellence permeated the Aegis community even before the first ship of the class, the cruiser Ticonderoga (CG 47), was commissioned in January 1983. It likewise remains embedded in Aegis today.

The heart of Aegis – and the U.S. Navy’s fleet air defense capabilities – is the Aegis Weapons System. Consisting of the AN/SPY-1 phased-array radar, the Mk 99 fire-control system, the Weapon Control System, the Command and Decision suite, and Standard missiles, Aegis can simultaneously detect and track hundreds of threats and friendly/neutral aircraft and engage multiple targets simultaneously. When combined with the MK 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS), the AN/SQQ-89 underwater combat system, command-and-control, and self-defense weapons and systems, the weapons system acts as the central component of the broader Aegis Combat System.

Read more about the United States journey to provide world-class missile defense in my series of articles on missile defense on the Defense Media Network’s website here

Follow Your Bliss?


We all want to be happy. And if you watched any of the news coverage of last month’s college graduations you heard a number of prominent people encouraging graduates to follow their bliss. Really? Is this good advice for people who are stepping into adulthood and into the real world? I read a great article in the New York Times where Jennifer Kahn says NO!

Here is part of what she said in her article, “The Happiness Code:”

Most self-help appeals to us because it promises real change without much real effort, a sort of fad diet for the psyche. (‘‘The Four-Hour Workweek,’’ ‘‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.’’) By the magical-thinking standards of the industry, then, the Center for Applied Rationality (CFAR) focus on science and on tiresome levels of practice can seem almost radical. It has also generated a rare level of interest among data-driven tech people and entrepreneurs who see personal development as just another optimization problem, if a uniquely central one.

Yet, while CFAR’s methods are unusual, its aspirational promise — that a better version of ourselves is within reach — is distinctly familiar. The center may emphasize the benefits that will come to those who master the techniques of rational thought, like improved motivation and a more organized inbox, but it also suggests that the real reward will be far greater, enabling users to be more intellectually dynamic and nimble. Or as Smith put it, ‘‘We’re trying to invent parkour for the mind.’’

Read more of this killer-good article here

Can You Write Like Tolstoy?

Writing Techniques

Most writers read for pleasure – but also to be inspired by great writers and adopt the good things they do and make it part of their writing process.

Few would argue that Tolstoy was one of those iconic writers who inspires all of us. Indeed, who wouldn’t want to: “Write Like Tolstoy.”

In his Wall Street Journal review of Richard Cohen’s book, “How to Write Like Tolstoy,” Stefan Beck takes on  an age-old question: Can good writing be taught. I found his analysis intriguing. Here is part of what he said:

One is bound to feel duped if, having bought a book called “How to Write Like Tolstoy,” one encounters within the first six pages the question “Can one, in fact, teach people to write?” This dodge is a common rhetorical gambit of people being paid to teach people to write—the implication being, “Don’t expect a miracle.” Richard Cohen, an author, professor and veteran editor of such luminaries as Kingsley Amis and John le Carré, cites Kurt Vonnegut as having been skeptical of writing instruction. Vonnegut, on the faculty of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, “held that one could not make writers, and likened himself to a golf pro who could, at best, take a few shots off someone’s game.” So one can teach people to write—just not like Count Lev.

Notwithstanding its title, which is clearly tongue-in-cheek, Mr. Cohen’s book has admirably modest aims. It seeks to provide sound advice to aspiring writers and to illuminate the ways in which the finest novelists have addressed fiction’s creative and technical challenges. It begins with “Grab, Invite, Beguile: Beginnings,” ends with “The Sense of an Ending,” and, in between, discourses upon character, point of view, dialogue, plot and rhythm. There are also, less predictably, chapters on plagiarism and the difficulties and rewards of writing about sex. All of this amounts to something more substantial than a mere handbook. It is a paean to the creative process.

Read more of this article here

Life Imitates Art

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One of my best friends, Bill Bleich, is a fabulously-successful screenwriter. And he is generous with his advice. He once told me:

You can boil down the plot of anything – a Greek Tragedy, a novel, a movie, you name it – into this: “What do these guys want, why do they want it, and what’s keeping them from getting it?” If you think about just about anything you’ve read or watched, I’m confident you’ll likely reach the same conclusion about that story.

When we came up with the high-concept for Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Scorched Earth, we were firm in our decision that we’d focus intently on the Islamic State – also known as ISIS or ISIL.

The book was just released (August 2) as a trade paperback and if you read it – and we hope you will – you’ll see the sharp focus on the Islamic State.

Still, for many who feel whipsawed reading news reports or what the Islamic State is doing, it’s tough to understand what ISIL is doing and why they’re doing it. As we researched the subject we came across a wealth of material – some of it useful, some not so much. One of the great resources we uncovered was a March 2015 article in The Atlantic. Here is part of what it said:

The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.

If you want to better understand “What do these guys want, why do they want it, and what’s keeping them from getting it?”   Read more of this outstanding report here.

If you want to see how life imitates art, read more about our New York Times best-selling Tom Clancy’s Op-Center series and our just-released Scorched Earth here.

What Does the Future Hold?


If you watched any of the news coverage of the Republican or Democratic Conventions, you likely heard any number of pundits holding forth on a number of issues.

One of the favorite subject some pundits take on is the future. There are some that hit and some that miss. Suffice it to say there’s a cottage industry of “punditry” on the subject.

For most of us in the business, these pundits are, at best, a secondary source. The real pros go to the National Intelligence Council – the NIC. It harnesses the collective wisdom of the Nation’s sixteen intelligence agencies to deep dive into what our future world will look like – as well as the impact this future world will have on those of us living in the United States.

This collective wisdom is captured in their report, Global Trends 2030. In a sentence, there is no more comprehensive analysis of future trends available anywhere, at any price. It’s not an overstatement to say this 160-page document represents the definitive look at the future.

Among the major projections in GT2030: China’s economy is set to overtake that of the United States in the 2020s, but China will not challenge the United States’ pre-eminence or the international order; Asia will become more powerful than both North America and Europe combined (based on GDP, population, military spending, and technological investment); the United States will achieve energy independence with shale gas; and wider access to disruptive technologies – including precision-strike capabilities, cyber instruments, and bioterror weaponry – could increase the risk of large-scale violence and disruption.

And there is much more in this report!

Read the entire article here on the Defense Media Network website and consider what our world may look like in the future.

Scorched Earth – iTunes’ Summer’s Biggest Books


iTunes featured Scorched Earth as one of this “Summer’s Biggest Books”, in the Mysteries and Thrillers category. Get your copy today!


Scorched Earth is Now Available!

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The third book of the rebooted Tom Clancy series was released today. Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Scorched Earth garnered great early reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and other venues and is an Amazon Summer Reading pick. It’s well-positioned to join the first two books of the new series, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes and Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire on the New York Times, USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly best-seller lists.

Here is a sneak preview that will give you an idea of the motivating force for om Clancy’s Op-Center: Scorched Earth: It took President Obama only eight months to elevate ISIS from “a J.V. team,” to an organization that the United States was committed to, “degrade, and ultimately destroy.” And since the normal instruments of national power the United States can bring to bear cannot begin to degrade—let alone destroy—ISIS, this president, as well as future presidents, will have only one card to play. The president will need to call on the National Crisis Management Center, more commonly known as Op-Center, to protect American lives and freedoms.