Change of Plans

So, I’ve been working on setting up Fury in the Gulf, and have run into a couple of snags.  Part of the entire plan to begin with was to utilize Amazon Marketing Services extensively, and Facebook ads to a lesser extent, to spread the readership wider.  However, I seem to have run afoul of both entities’ ad guidelines in the process.

While the messages I’ve gotten have been extremely vague and non-commital, it appears that the title Brannigan’s Bastards isn’t passing one of their filters for “vulgar and/or profane language.”  Considering that it’s the series’ title, this presents a problem.

Now, I’ve got two possible courses of action here.  I can either say, “Screw it, drive on,” and try to continue the current, mostly word of mouth model, keeping everything as-is.  Or, I can attempt to re-brand the entire series, so that it gets past the filters and can actually get to readers who might not have heard of my stuff before.

Now, trying to think of a different title was a problem.  Part of the initial inspiration for Brannigan’s Bastards as a series title was the old Marine Black Sheep Squadron, which the pilots initially wanted to call “Boyington’s Bastards.”  There was also an old, WWII pulp adventure series entitled “The Rat Bastards.”  (Apparently, that would not be allowed today.)  “Misfits” would be a fitting replacement for “Bastards,” but “Brannigan’s Misfits” just doesn’t have the same punch.  “Mitchell’s Misfits” might work, but it would mean completely renaming the lead character.

However, I had an idea.  Brannigan’s Blackhearts could still work, being close in sound, similar in meaning and punch, and wouldn’t require a great deal of tweaking in the files already set.  And, it’s something of a callback to an old 1st Recon Bn callsign from ’03-’04.

I’d like to hear your thoughts, readers.  How does Brannigan’s Blackhearts sound?


“Fury in the Gulf” Is Coming

We have a cover, and a release date.  Brannigan’s Bastards #1 – Fury in the Gulf, will be out November 15.


Iranian Fanatics, American Hostages…And The Clock Is Ticking!

The tiny island kingdom of Khadarkh, strategically placed in the Persian Gulf, has swung back and forth between the Saudi and Iranian orbits for years. But when a mysterious force seizes control of the island, executes the tiny Khadarkhi Army, and takes any Americans they can find hostage, it appears that Khadarkh will be an Iranian puppet for the foreseeable future.
The politicians are afraid of risking the hostages. And as the Western powers dither, some people start to look for another solution. They find that solution in John Brannigan.
Brannigan already has a rep for pulling off the impossible, through a combination of audacity, ruthlessness, and ferocious loyalty to his men. His military service is over, but now he will pick up a rifle again, putting together a squad of mercenaries to land on Khadarkh and rescue the hostages, in a hail of bullets and swift, sharp violence.
Brannigan’s Bastards are about to strike.

Kevin Granzow, the guy who did the new Kill Yuan cover, is doing the Brannigan’s Bastards covers.  As this series owes a bit to the old-school action adventure paperbacks of Gold Eagle and Pinnacle in the ’70s and ’80s, we’re going with a slightly similar style.

The Colonel Has A Plan Part 3

They hadn’t gone far when Lewis was tugging on Brannigan’s sleeve.  “Sir, we just got a message from Team Two,” he yelled in the Colonel’s ear.  “They are mission complete, but are pinned down under fire, and cut off from the beach.”

Brannigan glanced forward, where the wounded Lance Corporal Clark was lying on the deck.  Time was short, but he had a responsibility to those boys down on the ground, too.  He started working his way forward, stepping over and past knees, boots, M27s, and two LSATs, carefully moving around Clark’s supine form, until he got to the cockpit.

“We need to divert to Shilka Position Two,” he shouted to the pilot.  “Some of my boys are in trouble, and need some support.”

“This ain’t a gunship, sir, and we’ve got a casualty aboard,” the copilot protested.

“Don’t try to bullshit me, son,” Brannigan replied.  “We’ve got a minigun and a 240 mounted for a reason, and it’s more than that team on the ground has.  Take us in.”  He stayed where he was, but motioned for Lewis to hand him the handset, cursing the multiple tac frequencies that went along with combined arms warfare.  The recon teams were on one channel, the Battalion Combat Team was on another, and the birds were on a third.  And that was after he’d ranted and raved to simplify matters as much as possible.

Lewis handed him the handset and he flipped his right-hand Peltor headpiece out of the way, pressing the black plastic to his ear.  “Tiburon Two, this is Kodiak Six,” he called.

The answering radio call came after a moment’s delay.  He could hear the rattle of gunfire in the background.  “Kodiak Six, Tiburon Two,” Staff Sergeant Holmes replied.

“We are inbound to your position with air support, Tiburon Two,” Brannigan said.  “ETA two mikes.  Give me a sitrep and a position.  We’re going to lay waste, and I don’t want you boys getting burned down by accident.” Continue reading “The Colonel Has A Plan Part 3”

The Colonel Has A Plan Part 2

“Sir?  We just got a message from Team One.  ‘Macallan.’”  Corporal Jamie Lewis stopped and listened.  It had to be rough, trying to hear the radio over the noise of the Osprey’s idling props.  “Wait,” he said.  “There’s Team Three.  ‘Buffalo Trace.’”

Brannigan resisted the urge to grin.  Leave it to Marines to make all of their brevity codes the names of either alcohol, sports teams, or porn stars.  “Any word from Team Two?”

“No, sir,” Lewis replied, the handset pressed against his ear.  “Still nothing.”

Brannigan nodded, and thought for a moment.  Staff Sergeant Holmes would do the job if he could.  But the enemy was also undoubtedly alerted now, with two of the Shilkas having gone up in smoke.  “Screw it,” he decided.  He reached forward, tapped the pilot on the shoulder, and gave him a thumbs-up.  Then he keyed his own radio, which was on the Battalion Tac channel.

“All Kodiak units, this is Kodiak Six,” he called.  “Crazy Horse.  I say again, Crazy Horse.”  The odds of anyone listening in on a SINCGARS channel, out in the middle of the Red Sea, were minimal, but Brannigan hadn’t gotten to where he was by being sloppy.  He’d use the brevity codes as they’d planned.  They used less time, anyway.  In planning, he’d set codes for each contingency; “Crazy Horse” meant that the two outer AA sites had been neutralized, and the center one was either still active or unknown.  The pilots knew the course to fly in that case.

Seconds later, the Osprey pilot was pulling up and away from the Boxer, the LHA’s lights dwindling behind and below them in the early morning darkness on the sea.  The rotors took a moment to transition from vertical to forward flight, and then they were howling across the water, heading toward the dark line of the coast ahead. Continue reading “The Colonel Has A Plan Part 2”

The Colonel Has A Plan Part 1

Staff Sergeant Elias Martinez had just checked the quick release affixed to the bow of the partially-deflated Zodiac for the third time when something made him look up.

There was a towering figure standing at the base of the CH-53’s ramp.  Martinez instinctively straightened, then yelled for the rest of his team.  There might be plenty of big Marines aboard the USS Boxer, but there was no mistaking the silhouette of the MEU Commander.  Colonel John Brannigan cut an altogether different figure.  There was something about the way he carried himself that set him apart and made him immediately recognizable.

What was surprising was the fact that the Colonel, with the squat form of Sergeant Major Santelli beside him, was in full kit.  Helmet, NVGs, plate carrier, mags, radio, blowout kit, rifle, the works.  He looked like he was ready to climb right on the bird and insert alongside Martinez’ Force Recon Team.  Which was unheard of, and something that Martinez suddenly found he more than vaguely dreaded.  No team leader wants an officer looking over his shoulder on an op, let alone the Colonel.

“Bring it in a minute, gents!” Brannigan boomed, managing to make himself heard over the racket of the Boxer’s flight deck.  The team clambered over the soft-ducked Zodiac and the rest of their gear until they were gathered in a tight semi-circle around Brannigan and Santelli.  They were a group of dark specters in the dimness of the flight deck, yards away from the superstructure’s lights, already kitted up and cammie-painted for the upcoming op.

“I wanted to meet up with all of the teams before you stepped off,” Brannigan shouted.  “You boys are going to be the envy of the entire Marine Corps, you know that?  You’ll be the only infantry Marines in the Fleet with an armored vehicle kill to your names, probably for years to come!”  He reached out and shook each man’s hand.  “I just wanted to stress one more time that we’re all counting on you.  Yeah, me included.  My ass is going to be on the lead bird going into the target village, so if you gunfighters don’t take those Shilkas out, I’ll be one of the first ones getting burned down.  So go get your kill on!  Good hunting, gents!”  He shook Martinez’ hand last, looking the Staff NCO in the eye as he did so, nodded once, and then turned and motioned to Santelli, jogging toward the next ’53 aft, where Team Two should be loaded up and ready to go.

“Let’s go!” Martinez yelled.  “Wheels up in,” he checked his watch, “three minutes!”

As the team clambered back on the helo, Sergeant Frank Able, Martinez’ Assistant Team Leader, leaned in to shout in his ear.  “Did you see the Colonel’s rifle?”

“Yeah,” Martinez replied.  Brannigan had been carrying an ancient, battered M4, with a lot of the bluing worn off.  It stood out in a unit that had already mostly transitioned to the newer M27s.  “That’s the way the Old Man rolls.  The word going around the Lance Corporal Underground says that he threatened to throw any officer overboard if he caught them with an M27 before all of the shooters had ‘em.”

“Damn,” was all that Able said, before he scrambled up and over to get into the CH-53.  He did a quick head count, then gave Martinez the thumbs up.  Martinez passed the same signal to the crew chief, and a moment later the big helo was surging up off the deck and into the East African night. Continue reading “The Colonel Has A Plan Part 1”