Win-a-Book Wednesday: Operator, by David Vinjamuri

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To win an e-copy of David Vinjamuri’s Operator, write your most creative reason you’d like to read it. Leave it in the Comments section.

About the book

When Michael Herne’s high school girlfriend Melissa commits suicide, he makes the fateful decision to return home for her funeral. Michael hasn’t stepped foot in his Catskills hometown for more than a dozen years since he left it and a college football scholarship behind to join the Army. 

Michael quickly learns that his hometown has changed as he is pulled into the web of mystery and corruption surrounding Melissa’s death. He will soon confront the abusive ex-boyfriend, a town sheriff with mixed motives and the ruthless Russian gang at the heart of it all. 

Michael will be forced to choose between two paths – that of the desk-working, college-educated intelligence analyst he has become or the Tier I Army Operator he once was. Only one of these identities will survive as Michael is relentlessly hunted by a series of ruthless men. 

This meticulously researched, seamlessly plotted thriller is the first in a new series by David Vinjamuri.

Operator is available on

About the author

Casual Headshot dvAfter a brief stint as an intelligence analyst, David spent nearly 20 years working with corporate brands.

He writes for Forbes, teaches at New York University and loves reading and the outdoors.

Visit David Vinjamuri’s BestSelling Reads Author page.

 

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Focus Friday: Binder, by David Vinjamuri

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Binder cover It’s not easy to follow someone unnoticed on deserted country roads, so I spotted the big Dodge Ram pickup with the blacked-out extended cab behind me four miles before he made his move. The pickup was idling on the side of the road less than a mile from the Reclaim camp, and it pulled onto the pavement spraying gravel from its rear tires. It stayed a quarter of a mile back as I wound through the ridges and hollers of rural West Virginia, even when I varied my speed.

I was still several miles outside of Hamlin when the big Ram started to reel me in. I was relieved. Getting tailed was the first piece of luck I’d had since arriving in West Virginia. While I knew where Heather had gone, something was missing. Some of the stories I’d been told didn’t hang together. Nobody had lied to my face, but I had the sense I was getting a very incomplete picture of events at the camp and the mine. The pickup tailing me told me my instincts were correct.

The Dodge was saving me some trouble by making a move. West Virginia doesn’t require front license plates and the big pickup didn’t have one. I needed to get a peek at the back end of the truck to identify the owner. Overtaking me wasn’t what the Ram’s driver had in mind, though. He pulled out as if he was going to pass and then, just as he nosed beyond the edge of my rear bumper, the pickup’s driver attempted a PIT maneuver. If you’ve ever watched one of those high-speed chases that happen with disconcerting regularity in southern California, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The police cruiser turns into one of the rear wheels of the fugitive’s car, nudging it off-axis; the car spins, maybe stalls and the chase is over.

The secret of the PIT maneuver is that it’s not a disabling move. All it does is put you into a spin. There are better techniques to disable a car but the police won’t use them because they don’t want anyone getting hurt. I learned to drive—really learned to drive—on a decommissioned runway in North Carolina. Safety wasn’t the biggest concern in that particular course.

So when the big Dodge moved in to PIT me, I made a quick decision. I had a split second in which I could have pulled away from him. There was no way the Ram could have kept up with my GTO if I started running. But I saw an opportunity and followed my instincts. With a glance ahead to ensure that there was no oncoming traffic, I gritted my teeth, kept my line and tried not to think about the inevitable body damage to my midnight-black GTO. As the Dodge plowed into my left rear quarter panel and the GTO started to spin in a counterclockwise circle, I gradually turned the front wheels into the spin. As the nose of my car swapped ends with the tail, the Ram passed me on the left. I gained control of the GTO just as it finished a full 360-degree spin and, like the Red Baron completing an Immelmann turn, I found myself behind the big pickup in full control of my vehicle. Then it was my turn.

About the book

When a colonel’s daughter goes missing, ex-Army operator Michael Herne travels to West Virginia to find her. Instead, Herne finds cults, communes and supremacists as he unravels the deadly conspiracy behind the girl’s disappearance . Meticulously researched and seamlessly plotted, BINDER is the scorching sequel to the bestselling thriller, Operator.

” Once more, Vinjamuri has gone all out in writing an impeccably researched thriller packed with both accurate details and exciting action sequences, all of it easy to imagine as a movie. A solid combination of tightly written scenes and Herne’s near-superhuman military skills makes this a book that’s hard to stop reading” – Kirkus Indie
“A fast-paced, energetic sequel” —Indie Reader
 “A terrific, fast-paced read.  It’s not just technically accurate but really gets into the mindset of the Tier 1 operator.”

—Master Sergeant Rodney Cox,  Instructor, SWCS (U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, NC)

Find Binder on Amazon.

About the author

Casual Headshot dvAfter a brief stint as an intelligence analyst, David spent nearly 20 years working with corporate brands.

He writes for Forbes, teaches at New York University and loves reading and the outdoors.

Visit his

And follow him on Twitter @dvinjamuri.

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Win-a-Book Wednesday: Binder, by David Vinjamuri

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You can win a paperback copy of Binder, the scorching second book in David Vinjamuri’s Michael Herne series.

Operatro_6x9_BW_280

 All you have to do is to answer:

Which branch of the military did Michael Herne serve in?

About the book

When a colonel’s daughter goes missing, ex-Army operator Michael Herne travels to West Virginia to find her. Instead, Herne finds cults, communes and supremacists as he unravels the deadly conspiracy behind the girl’s disappearance .

Meticulously researched and seamlessly plotted, Binder is the scorching sequel to the bestselling thriller, Operator.

Binder is available on

Visit David Vinjamuri’s BestSelling Reads Author page

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Friday Focus: Binder, by David Vinjamuri

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Operatro_6x9_BW_280

Four men were waiting for me in the parking lot of my motel. They sat in an old Jeep Cherokee with a bad paint job and a rusted out panel on the driver’s side. I spotted them from half a block away as I approached the motel in my GTO. I drove past them without looking, so I could plausibly feign surprise when they jumped me, and parked in the middle of the lot rather than directly in front of my room door.

I popped open the glove box and pulled out a small metal rod. Then I stepped out of the GTO and marched straight toward the door to the motel room next to mine, showing my back to the men emerging from the Cherokee. My eyes darted toward the picture window of the room I was approaching. The blinds were closed and the window reflected enough light from a street lamppost to make it a full-sized mirror. The four men moved awkwardly, more like nervous schoolboys than professionals. I saw chains wrapped around a fist, a baseball bat and a heavy length of pipe. Then the fourth man—the biggest, fittest looking one of them—slid an enormous Bowie knife from a sheath and tossed the sheath back into the Cherokee. Without hesitating, he started trotting toward me well ahead of the other three men, moving as silently as he could manage.

It was a blitz attack of the kind that a serial killer might use to abduct a teenage girl. It might even have worked on a soccer mom or a jet-lagged tourist, but I wasn’t either of those. I didn’t turn as the man crossed the parking lot, pretending instead to fumble with keys as I stood in front of my neighbor’s door. I got a clearer look at my attacker from his reflection as he drew closer. He was an inch or two taller than me, with straight, spiky brown hair and a short, uneven beard. His nose was too large for his face and it looked like he’d grown the beard to compensate. He was wearing thick, black-framed glasses that might have been manufactured in the 1950s.

As he got within three strides of me, the bearded man pulled back his knife arm like a rattlesnake preparing to strike. I think he planned to skewer me to the door with that Bowie knife. He sprinted the last two steps to give himself some momentum.

I waited until the last possible moment, until he was leaning forward and fully committed. Then I spun right, moving out of the path of the knife. I hit the middle of his forearm, blocking the blade away from me and toward the door. Then I tripped him. He went flying into the door, and the knife buried itself in the cheap wood. Before he could stop himself, I drove my forearm and shoulder into his back. He hit the motel room door flat on and I heard the hinges break and the frame splinter an instant before the door gave way. He fell with it, landing flat on his face in the middle of the motel room. There was a high-pitched scream and an angry baritone voice from within. I turned to deal with the other three men.

I flicked open the 16” Leverloc extendable baton I’d been gripping as I stepped forward and juked left toward the fastest of the three men. He was thin and chalk white, but he jabbed at me like a flyweight boxer; I could see that he was setting me up for a roundhouse with his other, chain-wrapped fist. I ducked back from the jab. Then as his ironclad punch powered forward, I brought up the knife-edge of my hand in a circular motion and bobbed to the side. The blow whispered past my ear. I grabbed his extended arm at the wrist with my blocking hand and pulled him off balance. Then I brought the baton in my other hand down hard on the side of his elbow.

As I felt the joint wrench, I turned again, wrapping my arm around the back of his neck as he staggered forward. I spun him around full circle like a matador with a bull, just in time to meet the tip of the baseball bat a bald man was swinging hard at me. It smacked the thin guy solidly on the top of his skull and I heard a crunch of bone as his skull fractured. He dropped flat to the ground when I released him.

I leapt forward before the bald man could take another swing with the bat. I swept my forearm straight up, catching him under the chin and pulled him backwards off his feet. I wrapped my arm around his neck, pressing hard on his carotid arteries. With my free hand, I raised the Leverloc to parry a blow from the last man standing, who wore an Army surplus jacket and a brown hunter’s cap with the earflaps pulled down. He swung again hard with the pipe, bringing it down like a hammer.

David VinjamuriBinder is David Vinjamuri’s second novel in the Michael Hernes series, which begins with Operator.

After a brief stint as an intelligence analyst, David Vinjamuri spent nearly 20 years working with corporate brands.

He writes for Forbes, teaches at New York University and loves reading and the outdoors.

Visit his:

Follow him on Twitter @dvinjamuri

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Friday Focus: Operator by David Vinjamuri

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Angry voices spill from the darkness as I gently pull the door to the funeral home closed.

David Vinjamuri

David Vinjamuri

From a distance, individual words are indecipherable, but the tone is unmistakable. A man and a woman stand twenty yards away on damp asphalt, centered in the pale circle of yellow light cast by a street lamp. The woman is barely over five feet tall, slender and pale with glossy, straight brown hair. She wears a black dress cut just below the knees and flat shoes. She is talking with her hands, jabbing her finger at the man’s chest to punctuate her words. The man towers over her by at least a foot and a half. He has blond hair and the clean-scrubbed look of a commuter, an office-worker. His jaw is chiseled and he looks like the kind of guy whose photo a teenage girl would cut out of a magazine. Except for his eyes, which are clear blue but not kind. The man is leaning into the argument, trying to intimidate the women with his size, but the woman clearly has him off-balance. There’s steam rising from his head as if he’s been running. He tries to interrupt the woman and fails, and I see his eyes narrow to slits. Then something the woman says makes him swear and take a step toward her. She does not step back. The look on the blond man’s face freezes me in mid-step. My feet are carrying me in a different direction, toward my car. I want nothing more than to return to my motel room, put a hot towel over my head and let this awful day evaporate in the steam. But the conversation between these two strangers has crossed a line. I can feel it snap; the fragile filament of social contract between them is gone. I hesitate, and it saddens me. Time was I’d have stepped forward without a second thought. But as I look at the tall blond man looming over the short woman, I see him rocking on his heels, see his right hand clenching into a fist. I sigh and redirect my steps.

As I draw closer, the angry tones resolve into words. The man says, “I’ll be damned if I let some little bitch talk to me like that…” Self-narration in the middle of an argument is not a good sign. A few yards closer and I can see that his face is the same shade as a cherry-flavored popsicle. He may not have thrown a punch yet, but his fists are clenching and unclenching rhythmically. He is large and fit, but he has lost emotional control and he’s leaning forward onto his right foot, which puts him physically off-balance. His hands are callused at the knuckles, but not the way they get when you fight barehanded. His face is unmarked, and his nose has never been broken. He is right handed and not carrying a gun. If he has a knife, it’s not someplace he can reach it quickly. I relax marginally. Whoever this man is, he’s not a professional.

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Spring-Cleaning Your Manuscript, by David Vinjamuri

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 Operatro_6x9_BW_280Whether traditionally published or indie, most serious authors work with an editor. Some authors have four kinds of readers pouring over a manuscript before it reaches paying customers: beta-readers, a developmental editor, copy editors and a proofreader.

With all of this help it might seem like the author’s job is primarily conceptual and architectural: to build the outline of a solid story and develop interesting characters while maintaining pace.  Yet, not everyone feels this way.  There are writers who spend their time conjuring brilliant new metaphors and elegant new ways of expressing timeless emotions.  But others focus on storytelling – how to cleanly and compactly answer the single compelling question: what happened next?

There is one potential trap to this second kind of writing that may not be disarmed even with the help of multiple editors and readers: stale language.  Most editors will cull the most overused and annoying phrases from your writing.  According to The Telegraph, Oxford University Researchers count these as the ten most overused phrases (in the UK):

1 – At the end of the day

2 – Fairly unique

3 – I personally

4 – At this moment in time

5 – With all due respect

6 – Absolutely

7 – It’s a nightmare

8 – Shouldn’t of

9 – 24/7

10 – It’s not rocket science

These phrases, along with gems like “as it turns out” or “couldn’t believe his luck,” will not survive competent editing.  Many other tired expressions will, though, unless you spring-clean them out of your writing.  These phrases are overused but not tired enough to earn an editorial rebuke.   A simple process can help identify and purge them.

Keep a running list of phrases that repeat, feel old or annoy you when you are reading the writing of others in your genre.   Then search your manuscript for the same phrases.  Start with the word “nodded.”   When too many characters nod, the reader falls asleep.

I write in the thriller category, so here are a few phrases on my own list:

  1. Like a hammer
  2. Wildly
  3. Almost imperceptibly
  4. Off-guard
  5. Clumsily

Adverbs rank high on my list.   Whatever your genre, though, you were a reader before you became a writer.  Rely on your instincts as a reader to uncover phrases that are stale or overused.  Focus hard on combinations that are mundane enough to slip past your editor.

I spent most of my career in brand management, and advertising copywriters fascinate me.  Advertising is a sparse terrain – most television commercials have fewer than two hundred spoken words.  Copywriters are also constrained by language – they can’t use the inventive prose that a great literary writer might.  They have to use simple words.  You might think that these constraints would make copywriters less creative, but the effect is the opposite.  Here’s an example from Gymit:

ad

 

 

 

 

For spring-cleaning, then, my advice is simple: one complete manuscript edit focused on the single goal of removing stale language from your writing.   This rewrite will also help your editor focus on structural issues and other important areas where you may need more help.

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Casual Headshot dvDavid Vinjamuri published his first detective story in a junior high school literary magazine at age twelve and has been writing ever since. After a brief stint as an intelligence analyst, David worked as a consumer marketer for Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola and other large companies. He writes the “Brand Truth” column for Forbes online and teaches at New York University.

 

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