Last month, my new book, THE WALL STREET MURDER CLUB, made it onto the Amazon TOP TEN list in Crime Thrillers. This month, my YA novel, KISS ME, I'M DEAD, made it to # 1 in Teen & Young Adult Horror on Amazon's Top 100 Free Kindle list and stayed there for 5 days during a special Halloween promotion!
I moved over 2,000 books in just a few days thanks to my wonderful fans. So, THANK YOU! You're the best.
Meantime, my new thriller, THE WALL STREET MURDER CLUB, continues to sell well. Check it out @ Amazon.
Click here for your copy of The Wall Street Murder Club.
In the meantime, I have finished my new novel, 404, and hope to be able to tell you some good news soon about a publisher and pub date.
Here’s what the experts are saying:
"Team up with FBI code-breaker Jonatan Carlsen as he tries to stop a mysterious hacker, recently discovered penetrating government defense systems. Now, the cyber villain has set his sights on Carlsen and his family. As a former Special Agent, I found this novel not only plausible, but riveting and truly alarming. If you care about our nation's cyber-security, you MUST read this book."
Former Special Agent Ron Jaco, FBI
"After reading 404, you'll never look at your tablet or notebook computer quite the same ever again!"
Todd "Turbo" Watson
Social Media Communications, Influence, and Outreach Director for IBM’s $20 Billion software business
"Strap yourself in . . . you’re in for a Mach 2 ride with Jonatan Carlsen! As someone who has worked national security issues for decades, this story is all too scary and all too real! You’ll love it!"
Colonel Jim (Chip) Marchio, US Air Force, Ret.
"A HAYSTACK OF DATA IS NOT INSIGHT"
The intelligence community has a history of overreaching in the name of national security. In the mid-1970s, it came to light that, since the 1940s, the NSA had been collecting international telegraphic traffic from companies, in the process obtaining millions of Americans’ telegrams that were unrelated to foreign targets. From 1940 to 1973, the CIA and the FBI engaged in covert mail-opening programs that violated laws prohibiting the interception or opening of mail. The agencies also conducted warrantless "surreptitious entries," breaking into targets’ offices and homes to photocopy or steal business records and personal documents. The Army Security Agency intercepted domestic radio communications. And the Army’s CONUS program placed more than 100,000 people under surveillance, including lawmakers and civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King.
After an extensive investigation of the agencies’ actions, Congress passed the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to limit sweeping collection of intelligence and create rigorous oversight. But thirty-five years later, the NSA is using this law and its subsequent amendments as legal grounds to run even more invasive programs than those that gave rise to the statute.
In April, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ordered Verizon to provide information on calls made by each subscriber over a three-month period. The PRISM program, disclosed by the Guardian and Washington Post, allows the NSA and the FBI to obtain online data including e-mails, photographs, documents and connection logs. The government defends the legality of these programs, saying they comply with FISA and its amendments. Technically, it may be right, but only because FISA has ceased to provide a meaningful constraint. Under the traditional FISA, if the government wants to conduct electronic surveillance, it must make a classified application to a special secret court, identifying or describing the target. It must demonstrate probable cause that the target is a foreign power or an agent thereof, and that the facilities to be monitored will be used by the target.
In 2008, Congress added Section 702 to the statute, allowing the government to use electronic surveillance to collect foreign intelligence on non-US persons it reasonably believes are abroad, without a court order for each target; a US citizen may not intentionally be targeted. But, as most Net traffic runs through US-based networks, the process of gathering data about non-US persons necessitates the capture of data about US citizens — there is no way around it unless the Net is broken up into geo-based digital fiefdoms, as some have predicted is likely to happen as a result of the fallout surrounding the NSA’s surveillance programs.
To the extent that the FISC sanctioned PRISM, it may be consistent with the law. But it is disingenuous to suggest that millions of Americans’ e-mails, photographs and documents are "incidental" to an investigation targeting foreigners overseas.
The telephony metadata program raises similar concerns. FISA did not originally envision the government accessing records. Following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Congress allowed applications for obtaining records from certain kinds of businesses, and in 2001, lawmakers expanded FISA even further to give the government access to any business or personal records.
Under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the government no longer has to prove that the target is a foreign power. It need only state that the records are sought as part of an investigation to protect against terrorism or clandestine intelligence. That’s it! This means that FISA can now be used to gather records concerning individuals who are neither the target of any investigation nor an agent of a foreign power. Entire databases — such as telephony metadata — can be obtained, as long as an authorized investigation exists.
It’s important to note that Congress didn’t pass Section 215 to allow for the wholesale collection of information. As Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), who helped draft the statute, wrote in the Guardian: "Congress intended to allow the intelligence communities to access targeted information for specific investigations. How can every call that every American makes or receives be relevant to a specific investigation?"
As a constitutional matter, the Supreme Court has long held that, where an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy, search and seizure may occur only once the government has obtained a warrant, supported by probable cause and issued by a judge. The warrant must specify the places to be searched and items to be seized.
More than three decades later, digitization and the explosion of social networks have changed the calculus. In the ordinary course of life, third parties obtain massive amounts of information about us that, when analyzed, have much deeper implications for our privacy than ever before.
As for Section 702 of FISA, the Supreme Court has held that the Fourth Amendment does not protect foreigners from searches conducted abroad. But it has never recognized a foreign intelligence exception to the warrant requirement when foreign-targeted searches result in the collection of vast stores of citizens’ communications.
Americans reasonably expect that their movements, communications and decisions will not be recorded and analyzed by the government. A majority of the Supreme Court seems to agree. Last year, the court considered a case involving 28-day GPS surveillance. Justice Samuel Alito suggested that in most criminal investigations, long-term monitoring "impinges on expectations of privacy." Justice Sonia Sotomayor recognized that following a person’s movements "reflects a wealth of detail about her familial, political, professional, religious, and sexual associations."
The FISC is supposed to operate as a check. But it is a secret court, notorious for its low rate of denial. From 1979 to 2002, it did not reject a single application. Over the past five years, out of nearly 8,600 applications, only two have been denied. In fact, as I’ve noted before, the chances of your being struck by lightning in your lifetime are greater than the chances of the FISC turning down a request for surveillance!
Congress has an opportunity to create more effective checks on executive power. It could withdraw Sections 215 and 702 and introduce new measures to regulate intelligence collection and analysis. Indeed, new legislation proposed by Senators Wyden and Udall ensures that mass surveillance under the PRISM program will no longer occur. Contrast this with legislation sponsored by Senator Feinstein, head of the Senate’s Intelligence Committee, which actually codifies this behavior into law.
Now, we have learned from more Snowden revelations that the NSA has allegedly hacked into both Google’s and Yahoo’s cloud networks. Not satisfied with the data they’re getting "legally" under the FISC-approved PRISM program, the agency went overseas (most probably the UK) and placed "listening" devices on the networks. What is most insidious about this is that such behaviors fall outside the scrutiny (such as it is) provided by the FISC. Instead, these operations are conducted under the much broader Executive Order 12333, which defines the basic powers and responsibilities of the intelligence agencies.
James Madison put it best: "In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."
Much has changed since the time James Madison uttered these words. First, there were no "recordings" when the Bill of Rights was written, except by means of eye, ear, pen and paper. The concept of "blindly" recording everything was never conceived humanly possible. NSA is on the way to doing this for all digital data. Massive storage facilities — such as the Bluffdale, Utah, data center featured in my new book, 404 — are being constructed, and bulk streams of data are being intercepted and recorded. Second, there were no "eyes" or "ears" other than human when the Bill of Rights was written. Today, robotic eyes and ears continually scan for "keywords", phrases and/or names that seem suspicious. Third, when the Bill of Rights was written, a warrant could only violate the privacy of the individual at specified places and at a single point in time. Technology today can retreive our electronic past from the NSA's "haystack" regardless of when that data was captured, or when the warrant was issued or served.
As my years in database marketing have taught me, a haystack of data is not insight, and "intelligence" is not wisdom. In fact, infoglut can often result in the obfuscation of insight. The NSA would do better investing in the next generation of data mining tools, and on developing robust new algorithms for search, rather than focusing so inordinantly on data collection.
Consider this: US intelligence agencies were told by Russia’s FSB (formerly the KGB) that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston bombers, had been radicalized. A member of his own congregation at his mosque in Cambridge called authorities saying he had been radicalized and was advocating violence. We now know the authorities had access to his every email, every text, every phone call, every tweet, every Facebook post, every Google search, every credit card charge, and who knows what else. Despite all this, the authorities completely failed to catch him as he slowly and publicly researched how to build a bomb, and bought bomb materials.
Data, especially data swept up under dubious legal authority, is not a panacea. We must move away from the 21st century attitude that technology alone is the answer. As the President himself seems to be finally learning, just because we can do something technologically doesn't mean that we should.
Here, for your viewing pleasure, are some pics from my recent trip to Washington DC where I was protesting NSA domestic mass surveillance with more than a thousand other dissenters at the Stop Watching Us (stopwatching.us) rally.
At the beginning, at Union Station
Walking to the Reflecting Pool
NSA whistleblower Tom Drake (one of my heros) speaking at the Reflecting Pool
There were lots of masks . . . naturally!
Whistleblower legal defender, Jesselyn Radack, reading a note from Edward Snowden to those who came out to protest
There were some great banners and posters at the rally
Now, that's a mask!
Some took the opportunity to push other issues
The rally was attended by people of all ages
Yours truly at the Reflecting Pool
If you want to read the first book in this series of thrillers—since 404 has yet to come out—check out The Wave. [NOTE: The protagonist's name has been changed from John Decker (in The Wave) to Jonatan Carlsen (in the sequel, 404), as an homage to my Danish heritage. I've made a few other changes in 404, mostly to characters' names, but Carlsen/Decker is fundamentally the same guy. At some point, when I have the time, I will re-release The Wave with the corrected protagonist's name and some additional changes; i.e. I need to cut some sections, and simplify others, once again based on reader responses . . . so thank you! Look for this sometime later this year.]
Here's an excerpt from the Kirkus review.
"Sandom’s strength lies in the verve of his story, with writing that has both muscle, in its pacing and violence, and a measure of brains as it goes about knitting Islamic calligraphy into the action, as well as making skirmishes into cryptography, vulcan stimulation and the higher physics of radiation and isotope decay without force-feeding the dense material to the reader . . . After a rather stately start, punctuated by little flurries of menace and barbarism from the stock bad guys, and a critical massing of feints and distractions, the story races from improbable to crazywild, all in good fun, with Sandom always one step ahead."
REDUCED FROM $7.99 TO ONLY $2.99!
When Cryptanalyst John Decker of the FBI is assigned to the Joint Terrorist Task Force in New York, he has no idea he is about to be thrust into a deadly plot of eco-terrorism masterminded by El Aqrab, a diabolical killer recently arrested in Tel Aviv whose calling card is to wrap his victims up with incendiary devices designed to produce flames in the shape of Koranic verses. Some call it aesthetic destruction.
Following the theft of 8 kilos of Highly Enriched Uranium, an ultimatum is issued to the West: Release El Aqrab or a nuclear bomb will be detonated. But, at the last moment, El Aqrab escapes . . . and the authorities never get the bomb.
While Homeland Security is convinced it's headed for New York, only Agent Decker—assisted by brilliant and beautiful oceanographer Emily Swenson—believes the bomb’s true destination is La Palma, in the Canary Island chain.
Now, Decker and Swenson have less than six hours to prove their theory, defuse the bomb, and prevent a mega-tsunami from annihilating the Eastern Seaboard.
The Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma is currently in a dormant stage, but will almost certainly erupt again. The western half of the volcano has an approximate volume of 500 cubic kilometres, and an estimated mass of 1,500,000,000,000 (that's 1.5 Trillion!) metric tons. If it were to catastrophically slide into the ocean, it would generate a wave with an initial height of about 1,000 metres at the island (3,300 ft or 300+ stories high, if it were a building; i.e. 3 Empire State Buildings tall), and a likely height of around 50 metres (164 ft, or around 16 stories high) at the Caribbean and the Eastern North American seaboard when it runs ashore eight or more hours later. For context, if you are a piano lover, the arriving wave will be about the height of the Steinway building in NYC.
The 16-story Steinway Building in New York City is the same height as the mega-tsunami wave will be when it hits the East Coast of the US.
Tens of millions of lives will be lost as the cities and towns of Boston, New York, Baltimore, Washington DC, Miami, Havana, and countless others along the Atlantic coast in North, Central and South America, plus Africa and Europe, are destroyed, wiped out in seconds.
As Emily Swenson says about the inevitability of the fall of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma, “I’m afraid you don’t understand, Agent Decker. It’s not about likelihood. It’s a certainty. The only variable is time.”
At some point in the future, the island will come apart and a mega-tsunami will stream across the Atlantic at the speed of a jet plane, obliterating the entire Easter Seaboard of the United States, killing more than forty million people, thirteen percent of the U.S. population. And hundreds of millions will be injured, one out of every three Americans. It will cause trillions of dollars in damage. The entire U.S. economy will be disrupted for years, if not permanently crippled.
This is not speculation. This is a fact.
The last Cumbre Vieja eruption occurred in 1971. The next? Who knows. Click below to see what it might look like.
For an excerpt from The Wave, click here.
To purchase your copy of The Wave, click here.
Click here to check out my Pinterest board. [WARNING: Some of the images on this board may be disturbing to younger readers.]
If you're looking for something uplifting to read on your Kindle, Nook, iPad, smartphone or laptop, check out this short story, After the Great Muskie Hunt, dedicated to my father, Zane, who always found time to take me fishing, and whose memory it honors. Please take a moment to download and read it. It's only around 15 manuscript pages, and it's only 99¢ at Amazon.
We live the lives of locusts, gone in a summer's day. I miss you, Dad!
"After the Great Muskie Hunt"
When his father loses his job, a young painter from New York offers to take him fishing for muskie—a barracuda-like freshwater fish—at Big Eagle Lake, in Ontario, Canada.
"Haunting and beautiful."
[Click here to check out my Pinterest board for After the Great Muskie Hunt.]
KISS ME, I'M DEAD
BEFORE THERE WAS 9/11 . . . THERE WAS 6/15
On June 15, 1904, over one thousand German immigrants on a Lutheran Church outing died when the General Slocum steamship caught fire and sank in the East River. It was the greatest disaster and loss of life in New York City history . . . until 9/11.
But was it a tragic accident or willful murder?
When her Jewish boyfriend Dustin is accused of the crime, an amateur teen detective, Mallory Meer, risks everything to solve the mystery behind the tragedy. Was Dustin guilty? Or, was someone else responsible for the fire that killed over a thousand men, women and children—including Mallory's own baby sister?
Only Mallory can understand what this crime truly means because she's not only one of the victims . . . she's one of the dead.
In this extraordinary, award-winning paranormal romance and Gothic horror tale, Mallory uses all the powers of this world and the next in order to save her beloved and punish those responsible for the tragedy. Set against a backdrop that includes adolescent sexuality, corruption and pervasive anti-Semitism, Sandom presents the details of the disaster without flinching, and explores both the pain and self-serving motivations of all concerned.
At once a ghost story, a courtroom drama, an examination of immigrant life, and a tale of love, redemption and revenge, Kiss Me, I'm Dead is a tightly wound novel that will keep haunting you long after you've closed the book.
Mallory Meer is like any other teenage girl. She likes to have fun. She thinks her sister is ridiculous. Her parents drive her crazy. She's got a terrible crush on Dustin and follows him everywhere.
Mallory even has a summer job—figuring out the truth about the fire on the General Slocum steamship, the disaster that killed her sister. Mallory is determined to get to the bottom of it, to find out who's guilty, and to finally bring them to justice.
Sometimes Mallory gets angry, very angry, and strange things happen when Mallory gets angry.
Yes, Mallory is like any other teenage girl . . . except Mallory is dead.
Twilight meets Grimm
Carrie meets Sherlock Holmes
Ranked one of the Top Ten Children's Books of the year by the Washington Post, Kiss me, I'm Dead was named a Notable Book for Teens by the Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, a Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Teen's Top Ten, and nominated for a Cybils literary award.
The Washington Post said, "(J.G. Sandom) writes with a precision and delicacy unusual for YA fiction," and called the book, "A subtle gem." In its starred review, School Library Journal said, "Kiss Me, I’m Dead tells a remarkable story in a remarkable way." Horn Book Magazine called the work, "A decidedly unconventional ghost story . . . (and) a tightly wound novel." Kirkus Reviews termed it, "A remarkable account." Romantic Times said, "Kiss Me, I’m Dead is a book you shouldn't pass up." Midwest Book Review termed it, "a wonderfully different kind of ghost story." And Bookslut.com said, "Kiss Me, I’m Dead scores on several levels, most notably as a drama that blows apart all preconceived notions of how history can be retold."
Originally released in hardcover by Penguin/Dutton, KISS ME, I’M DEAD was recently released in softcover and Kindle formats by Cornucopia Press, and—as noted above—immediately rose to #1 on Amazon's Best Sellers in Teen & Young Adult Horror eBooks list, and to #4 on the Teen and YA Paranormal list.
Click here to purchase your copy of Kiss me, I'm Dead!
Click here to check out my Pinterest board for Kiss me, I'm Dead.
CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE BODY SNATCHER
The beggar children of London are vanishing. They're disappearing . . . right off the streets.
Some say it's got something to do with the business of body snatching, grave robbers digging up corpses and selling them to doctors for medical research.
Some say it's far worse.
Now, racing against time, only Victor—a poor immigrant boy recently ship-wrecked and sold into the bondage of beggary—can uncover the identity of the ghoulish murderer at the heart of London’s furtive trade in human trafficking.
They killed his best friend.
They kidnapped the girl that he loves.
Now, there's only one thing worse than their finding him . . . and that's him finding them first.
Oliver Twist meets Breaking Bad
Previously named a Junior Library Guild selection, Publishers Weekly called Confessions of a Teenage Body Snatcher, “A haunting tour of London's underclass during the 1830s . . . Teens will likely be both captivated by Victor's harrowing story as well as his ability to prevail in the face of harsh injustices." VOYA said, "Teen readers will thoroughly enjoy the hair-raising suspense in this historical thriller." Kirkus Reviews called Confessions of a Teenage Body Snatcher perfect for, “audiences that relish historical fiction." KLIATT said, "Like M.T. Anderson's The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, this look at sinister events in history makes the era come alive and lingers in the memory." And School Library Journal said, “Part historical fiction and part adventure story, the novel brings excitement to Victorian England . . . Readers will be on the edge of their seats.”
Click here to purchase your copy of Confessions of a Teenage Body Snatcher.
Click here for the Pinterest board.
And if that isn't enough, BOTH titles are also available in Two Teen Terrors—A Cornucopia Press Collection FOR JUST $4.99!
Click here to purchase your copy of Two Teen Terrors!
STILL LOOKING FOR THAT PERFECT TITLE?
Meanwhile, The God Machine continues to reach new theo-thriller fanatics. . . especially as an eBook.
Caroline Thompson (author of Edward Scissorhands) said, "Move over, Dan Brown . . . All hail J.G. Sandom . . . (The God Machine) is a thrilling and breathless, rapturously-written and mind-blowing read. It’ll keep you up all night, turning pages as fast as your little fingers can manage." BookPage said, "Sandom has a knack for combining legendary gospels, ancient secrets, star-crossed lovers and Masonic puzzles to create a simmering stew of conspiracy, intrigue and danger that keeps the plot pot boiling until the very end." And the Historical Novels Review said, "History galore, violence, and intrigue fill the pages of this tightly plotted, twisting and turning adventure story . . . Those who love numbers, physics, and a truly unpredictable, suspenseful mystery will relish the facts and ponderings replete in this well-written, mysterious spin-off of The Da Vinci Code. The God Machine is a very impressive historical thriller!"
The Church insisted it didn't exist.
They said it was just a Masonic legend.
A two thousand year old secret.
The coded journal of Benjamin Franklin. A hidden map. A legendary gospel. These are the first pieces to an ancient puzzle so powerful it could destroy the very foundation of Christianity.Once before, Joseph Koster unearthed one of the Church's most deeply buried secrets . . . and it almost cost him his life. But some treasures are too hard to resist. And as Koster puts the pieces of Franklin's puzzle together, he discovers something even more startling . . . and infinitely more deadly.Now, along with beautiful Indian high-tech mogul Savita Sajan, Koster must race to decode Franklin's journal before it falls into the hands of those who would do anything, kill anyone to suppress it. But in a world of secret societies, ancient conspiracies and Masonic puzzles, locating the prize is one thing . . . staying alive, another.For as Koster and Sajan are about the learn, the same key that unlocks the doorway to Heaven . . . could open the portals of Hell.
For an excerpt from The God Machine, click here.
To purchase your copy of The God Machine, click here.
Click here to check out my Pinterest board for The God Machine.
The novel has just come out in Spanish from LA FACTORÍA DE IDEAS.
Next spring, look for it in Turkish too! Thank you, my Facebook friends in Turkey!