The Freedom Broker

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 February 2017 20:45

The Freedom Broker in Mexico - turns out for a book, it's a pretty heavy drinker

Thea Paris is not the girl next door.

At first glance she could be – she doesn’t like to fly and is diabetic – normal stuff. But that’s where normal ends and Thea takes over. She’s a kidnap and ransom specialist who is more at home with an M4 in her hands than a hair dryer. And when the bullets start flying, she knows when to duck and when to squeeze the trigger.

Canadian author K.J. Howe has created a character you will not forget anytime soon. She’s wealthy, beautiful, intelligent and lethal, and in the first book of what is sure to become a series, she’s after the men who have kidnapped Christos Paris, her billionaire father. What is usually a day at the office – chasing down kidnappers with a pistol strapped to her side – gets very personal.

Conflict is everywhere, on every page, and Howe keeps raising the stakes as Thea struggles to understand exactly what is going on. If it was only about ransom, she could have it solved, her father back on his yacht and the two of them sipping lattes by early afternoon. But nothing here is simple.

When he disappeared, Christos was on the verge of signing a massive business deal that would shift the world oil supply into his hands. The Russians, Chinese and Americans are all watching – and some are involved. Global politics seep into the plot, but Howe keeps it grounded by pulling us back into the shady world of kidnap and ransom. Her brother, Nikos, who has a brutal backstory, is poking around the periphery of the story. You know something is there, but you’re just not quite sure what.

The story arc surges ahead, the characters come to life and the intensity in each scene grows. The action is relentless and the consequences of each move Thea makes ratchet up until it’s life and death at every turn. Suffice to say, this is a classic thriller.

So, keeping in mind the no spoiler rule, what’s the moral of the story?

That’s easy – don’t mess with Thea Paris.




Something magic happened today.

A buddy of mine, Greg Godovitz, called me and said he’d be jamming with some friends at a bar in a working-class section of town. He’s immensely talented – used to play in Goddo, a successful 70’s rock band – and the thought of seeing him play in an intimate setting was too good to ignore.

I checked my daytimer. Luck was shining on me – Saturday afternoon was completely open. “Yeah, I’ll be there,” I said.

The name of the hotel is the Shamrock, and their claim to fame is green beer on St. Patty’s day. You can’t get near the place when they’re pouring green beer, but the other 364 days it’s pretty easy to find a place to sit and nurse a drink. The entire main floor of the building is a bar and it’s one of those cool old places that doesn’t rely on conventions to fill rooms so it can turn a profit. It makes its money the old fashioned way – from beer sales.

Read more: Sham-rock


Thoughts on Remembrance Day

Remembrance DayI’m watching the people in the line with my Dad.

We’re at the bank and he’s hunched over his walker, struggling a bit to make it through the line. Nobody notices him. He’s invisible. Just another old man with a poppy on his coat, fumbling through his day.

His back is curved like a bend in a winding path through tall grass. Bits of mottled scalp show through the errant wisps of silver hair and he hasn’t shaved for a couple of days. His golf shirt has a stain. His lips are locked in a perpetual frown and the pain from his prostate cancer reflects in his eyes. He shuffles ahead when it’s his turn and fishes his bank book out of his pocket.

No debit card. Just a bank book.

He’s old school, and as I watch him crack a smile at the young teller, I’m okay with his reluctance to embrace change. He lived in a world that moved so much slower. A world that valued the simpler things because there was nothing else. But it was a world that descended into some of the darkest days our race has ever seen. A time when war settled in and threatened our very existence.

World War II.

My Dad was born in 1922 and that made him twenty years old in 1942. It was an unfortunate time to be that age. He knew there was no escaping the services, so he looked at his options. When he thought of the Army, visions of dying in a muddy trench floated through his mind. The Navy was equally as dismal – torpedoed in the North Atlantic and dumped in the freezing water to drown alongside hundreds of other unfortunates. That left the Air Force.

This wasn’t so bad. He could fly over the battlefields – above the mud, the trenches and the death – over the harsh and unforgiving seas. That appealed to him. He pushed the thought of dropping out the sky engulfed in flames from his mind and enlisted. He has lots of stories from what happened in the ensuing three years, and I want to share four of them with you. I’ll be quick – I know you’re busy.

Read more: Thoughts on Remembrance Day



Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 August 2010 23:33

Les Paul JuniorI’m hijacking my own blog in order to give you a taste of something sweet. Really sweet. If you like rock and roll, rhythm and blues or simply music in general, this is for you.

Last time I was in New York, I was talking to Rich Hanf, a buddy of mine who lives in Hamburg, New Jersey, and he was telling me this crazy story about seeing Bruce Springsteen play on the porch behind a student union building in 1972 or 1973. There were a handful of people watching the show, and after a few songs Rich and his friends took off because they weren’t that into what was happening.

This story rolled off his lips like it was yesterday. I loved it. He captivated me for possibly the most entertaining fifteen minutes of my life. Well….maybe not quite that good……but it was a really fine story.

So I arrived back in Calgary and was sending Bruce a copy of my new book. I wanted to put a paragraph in the accompanying letter about this night he had played this gig behind the building. I couldn’t remember a couple of details so I called Rich. He told me he’d put it in a letter and send it to me.

Voila. This is the letter, unedited and in all its glory. I didn’t change one comma.

I love this thing.

Thanks, Rich.


Read more: Blogjack


Pioneers Still Take Out the Garbage

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 August 2010 20:37

Pioneers still have to take out garbage

The One Child project is rolling out and things are going well.

In case you haven’t seen what’s happening on the Facebook site, One Child is my latest novel and the Enthrill Entertainment team has ramped this thing up to the stratosphere.

It’s being released day by day, for 30 days, starting on July 27th on our website, then as a trade paperback and an e-book on August 25th. The characters have Facebook profiles, the fictitious corporations have websites and there’s even an AM radio station out of New York with the daily news and updates on what’s happening in the book. It’s gaining a lot of traction, and the media is picking up on the buzz.

The Calgary Herald ran a great story the other day, not so much about the book, but mostly about the experience we’re creating. On the first page of Section B, there was a cool headline where they called me a “literary pioneer.” The rest of the article, almost an entire page, was on B5.

Read more: Pioneers Still Take Out the Garbage


Here's the press release for my latest thriller, One Child:

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 July 2010 21:53

Thriller Novel Altering the Way People Read

Thursday July 22, 9:27 am ET

New format threatens existing publishing model as novel reaches out to readers and delivers on a multitude of platforms

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - 07/22/10) - A new media-rich novel that embraces online culture and fictionalizes real events as they happen will be released on July 27th.

One Child displayed on media platforms

Read more: Here's the press release for my latest thriller, One Child:


Inspiration for One Child

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 July 2010 00:34

When I attended the M.U.C.K. Film Festival last October, and saw this footage from a film by Robert Greenwald, titled Rethink Afghanistan, I was moved to write the story.

Take a minute, watch what inspired me and see what feelings it brings up in you.


Read more: Inspiration for One Child


Meeting Bruce

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 July 2010 01:31

Bruce SpringsteenI met Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa the other night. It was a chance meeting in a restaurant in Calgary, while they were in town to watch their daughter compete at an equestrian event at Spruce Meadows.

He and Patti were sitting at the table next to us, but we didn’t bother looking their way. I’ve met enough famous people over the years to know how much they value their privacy. When they got up to leave, Bruce looked over and we made eye contact. He said hello.

It would have been so easy for him to keep walking, but he didn’t. He and Patti stopped at our table and we shook hands and talked about his music and my writing for a few minutes. I can tell you this – both Bruce and Patti are wonderful people. Very kind and warm-hearted. Success sits well on their shoulders.

But this blog isn’t about meeting Bruce and Patti. It’s about how his music shaped my life and my writing.

The story starts about twelve years ago, when I was working on my first adult thriller novel. I’d written two Young Adult books but was bored with that and wanted to try writing for grownups. I was selling real estate at the time and had to sneak in a couple of hours every day on my desktop computer in my home office. My wife didn’t take all that kindly to my writing. I can’t say I blame her. The time I spent laboring over the keyboard was time away from selling houses. My income suffered a bit and that had an effect on our lives. We still managed to eat and go on a vacation every year, so things weren’t too bad.

Except at the keyboard.

I was suffering from something I think every writer who has attempted a novel goes through. The discovery of just how monumental an undertaking it is to write a book. It’s not easy. It takes time and dedication to return to the keyboard day after day for months on end. I was burning out. There were times when I did not think I’d make it to the end of Three Are Missing, which was my first full-length novel. And there were many times when I was sure the project was going to crash and burn. But it didn’t. And I owe the success of getting through that book almost entirely to Bruce Springsteen.

Whenever I felt overwhelmed and couldn’t see the end of the tunnel, I would plug Bruce’s Greatest Hits CD in my computer. I’d close my eyes and listen to a song or two. It didn’t really matter which ones. I like his music and while I have my favorite tracks, any one will do.

So how did Bruce save me from giving up?

Read more: Meeting Bruce


A New York Minute

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 June 2010 23:36

Jeff Buick New York Platinus InvestmentsI love New York.

Wouldn’t want to live there, but I love it for its energy, its sophistication, and about a thousand other reasons. But I only love it for short periods at a time. I admire those who call it home. The constant noise, the crowds and the traffic are insane. I guess that’s part of the attraction.

I was in NY for a week at Book Expo America, checking out what is happening in the publishing industry. BEA is a monster of a show, consuming the entire Javits Center, which is a mean feat. All the big boys were there – Harper Collins, Ingram, Random House, Pengui…tons more.

Read more: A New York Minute


New York Enthrilled at the 2010 BEA

Last Updated on Monday, 07 June 2010 20:53

BEA10 New York CityThe Enthrill team arrived home from attending Book Expo America in New York suffering from a strange mixture of clarity and confusion.

BEA merged with the International Digital Publishing Forum this year, with the hope that the digital and print worlds would be coming together nicely. That there would be a new and concise direction on how the two can coexist.

That didn’t happen.

Read more: New York Enthrilled at the 2010 BEA


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