Tag Archives: The President’s Gold

Kindle Sales for The President’s Gold – Novel

Just wanted to follow up on my last blog. For those of you who were so kind as to purchase my novel The President’s Gold, thank you, so much. For the record, due to the herculean effort of my PR firm, they drove the kindle sales to “Number 1” for the day in one category, “Number 2” in another category and TOP TEN in a third category. I couldn’t have done it without you, the readers and PR firm.

I have one more request. If you have read it, would you be so kind as to post a review on the Amazon webpage for the novel. It would be greatly appreciated. If we can get those badly needed reviews, Amazon treats novels and books with a higher regard and they will appear in searches, not previously seen. It makes sense, if readers are posting positive reviews then they assume more readers will likely enjoy reading my historical novels, which of course I agree.

Needless to say it will also help drive sales, other’s will get to experience, the “history unlike anything you have been taught in school. The real history of the world”.

Also, if you liked The President’s Gold, I suggest purchasing Gold of the Spirits, it is the prequel to The President’s Gold. I am starting a special deal new week on Gold of the Spirits for $0.99 kindle version.

And for those of you waiting to see what happened to Frank Young and Rosalita Laurel, I am making excellent progress on writing the final in that series, Tarnished Gold. Again, here is the first chapter.

 

Special Sale of The President’s Gold & Preview new novel in the Gold Series

For those of you who enjoyed reading The President’s Gold, I wish to advise you that I have started writing the sequel, Tarnished Gold. For those of you who have not had the pleasure, the first two novels of the Gold Series, as well as the final one, are all historically accurate, based on my detailed research, beginning after the Japanese buried the gold in the Philippines and covering the roles of Yamashita, the Yakuza, the CIA, Marcos, and Santa Romana’s recovery of the gold. All these novels, including Tarnished Gold, which picks up two months after the end of The President’s Gold, are historical thrillers. In the Gold Series, as well as all my other novels, I drop several characters into the historically accurate timeline to give the reader an up-close-and-personal feel for the story as it plays out. The President's Gold

My research into the buried gold in the Philippines led me to two expert appearances in television documentaries related to recovered gold. In those interviews, I relate roles of both individuals in the Philippines and leaders in the United States.

While I am currently deep in writing the journal of a Vietnamese family that escaped Vietnam, the main characters in the Gold Series, Frank and Rosalita, have been pestering me to finish their story. That comment will only make sense to you if you are a writer. Characters get in your head and the talk to you. (No, adult beverages and schizophrenia have nothing to do with it. Most likely?)

Tarnished Gold has been outlined and partially written for several years. Besides finishing the Frank and Rosalita story, it also finishes the story of the two rosaries. If you’ve been reading the Gold Series you know who currently possesses each rosary and what larger story they tell. The rosary portion is part of the true story of the Gold Series.

When I finished my outline and drafted the story, I realized that I needed to develop one of my characters, Tao, who had several cameos in The President’s Gold, as I was planning a bigger role for him in Tarnished Gold. Since he was Vietnamese, I decided to write a novel on Vietnam, called Pawns, which led to another series of novels. I wanted those who follow my novels to understand who he is and know about his past that drives him. Unfortunately, it took me away from a timely finish of the Gold Series, but now it’s time.

So yes, to answer the question on some of your minds, I am writing two manuscripts at the same time, while the bulk of my time is devoted to the Vietnamese family escape, which should be finished in about a month. Lately, I have been known to sneak over and do a little writing on Tarnished Gold. As a matter of fact, in the next couple of days, I will be posting a finished version of the first chapter of that book.

If the Gold Series intrigues you and you have not read it, I am going to run a special starting on July 10th on The President’s Gold for those of you looking for something to read while enjoying your Summer vacation. I promise you this novel is full of fireworks.

Below is the hyperlink to Tarnished Gold Chapter One – WHICH IS FREE

Tarnished Gold Chapter One

Story Immersion: When the Heart Becomes Involved

by Don Kesterson

I’ve never been to the Philippines. For many years, I researched the country, their government, the lay of the land and the culture. I immersed myself in studies of the Filipino way of life, of popular music, clothing styles and food choices. I read about their country’s devout religious faith and was impressed. I even searched for recipes of Filipino dishes I could make at home, so I could cook and eat as a native Filipina might. As best as I could from a distance of over eight thousand miles away, I enjoyed the Philippines.

You can understand, then, why my heart sank when I read of the devastation caused there by Typhoon Haiyan. Tacloban wasn’t my hometown, though the tiny island of Leyte was the subject of some of my research. Yet just as an author doesn’t have to live in an area to write about it, anyone with the tiniest grain of compassion in their heart doesn’t have to experience first-hand storm destruction to feel empathy and sympathy for those who have lost homes, jobs and loved ones in such a disaster.

The death toll sits near two thousand. It is expected to top ten thousand. Over two hundred thousand are now homeless. Over 200,000! I can’t wrap my mind around a figure like that.

I think of what I have learned about Leyte when researching the area for my novel. I picture the tropical foliage surrounded by blue water. I visualize the bustling city with high-rises, busy freeways, packed sidewalks. I imagine shoppers strolling the malls and mega-stores and mom-and-pop convenience marts.

I can’t imagine it gone.

The United Nations is sending $25M in aid. The US Government is sending $20M more. We are told it won’t arrive fast enough to save many of the lives of those in immediate need of medicine, clean water and food. And we are told that when it does arrive, it won’t be nearly enough.

The Philippines isn’t my home. My home is—and I pray always will be—on American soil. But for those who call Tacloban, Leyte and the Philippines home, I am touched by your pain.

Would you like to help those affected by this catastrophic disaster? Doctors Without Borders and The International Committee of the Red Cross are accepting contributions by check, credit card or PayPal, earmarked for Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts. Just as you don’t have to live in an area to write about it, you don’t have to be hurt to feel the need to ease the suffering of another. Please do what you can to help someone in need today.

How Much Romance is Too Much Romance?

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 Photo by Graur Codrin

Walking the Tightrope in a Political Thriller

 

When I first started writing my novel The President’s Gold, I had a strong idea of what I wanted to cover in the story: the theft of Chinese war loot by the Japanese (referred to as Yamashita’s gold), and how Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos acquired it and kept it hidden—with US President Truman’s help. I wanted to aid in exposing the role the American government played in the scandal and the fraudulent dealings on which our world banking system is built.

What I didn’t want to do is write a romance novel. And yet, in many ways, I did just that.

Some of the best feedback I have received about my novel comes not only about the exposé of what is arguably the greatest state secret of our lifetime, but about the romantic relationship between my protagonist Franklin Young and his adversary-turned-lover Rosalita Laurel. Women, in particular, love this thread in the story, though I’ve had more than one man confess to having the hots for spicy Rosalita and her sometimes-wicked ways.

But how much romance is too much romance between fictional characters in a story that thrives not on only on action, but also on historic political events? The line is a fine one, indeed.

The Romance Writers of America (RWA) state that two basic elements are involved in a romance: a central love story and an emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending. The President’s Gold did not have a love story as its central element, nor did it have an optimistic ending for the couple, though Frank and Rosalita’s story certainly does not end with this novel. However, the subplot of the story, which deals with how a man can find love and maintain his ethical beliefs and personal morals while spying on and being manipulated by his government, certainly underscores the risks one will take for true, romantic—perhaps unconditional—love.

Major motion picture movies, from the classic Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart to the more recent Mr. and Mrs. Smith starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, have proven the marketability of romance in politics. But is a romantic thread necessary, or even feasible, in a modern-day political thriller? Only if you want to capture a larger share of the market. In 2012, the romance genre raked in nearly $1.5 billion dollars in sales, according to Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2013. What’s not to love about that?

What do you think, readers? Do lovers of historical fiction and political fiction enjoy a scoop of romance atop their thriller? If you’re a romance reader, do you appreciate the suspense and thrill of action—even actual history—that buoys a romantic thread and keeps it moving at a fast pace? Share your opinions here, and let’s examine the tightrope that carries us from the ledge of a thriller to one of romance.

Bruce Willis, 3000 Pairs of Boogie Shoes and Presidential Discotheques

I have to admit . . . I was a more than a little surprised to learn that David Byrne (former front man for the Talking Heads) has a new musical about Imelda Marcos and her disco dancing days. The musical is called “Here Lies Love” (reviewed here) and features actress Ruthie Ann Miles portraying the First Lady of the Philippines shaking her groove thang.

Of course, surprise is one of those emotions that comes often to me as I’m researching scenes for historically accurate writing, which is what led to Imelda’s disco scene in my fictional novel The President’s Gold. For example, I was surprised to learn, while researching the layout of the Marcoses’ Malacanang Presidential Palace, that Imelda had a discotheque built atop the palace.

Sure, I knew about her shoe fetish—who hasn’t heard that she owned over 3,000 pairs of designer shoes? But a custom-built disco hall in which to wear your boogie shoes? I mean, can you imagine what we’d say if Michelle Obama spent taxpayer dollars on a mirrored disco ball and private performances by top rock bands, as Imelda did during her tenure as First Lady of the Philippines?

Too bad Imelda no longer hosts private disco parties, because maybe, just maybe, she could invite Bruce Willis and his friends to entertain her with a Boy Dance Party, as seen this past weekend on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

Research—and the surprising results to which it often leads writers—is one of the best parts of writing historically accurate scenes. What have you discovered recently when researching facts for your own stories? And while we’re at it, what do you think about a Presidential Palace with a private discotheque? Isn’t it amazing what stolen war gold can buy! 

 

–Don Kesterson

The Flawed Hero or a True Evil Villain?

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Image courtesy of bandrat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Can a good guy in a story really be 100% good? Would we love him as much if he were? Each of us has faults and flaws, and in a powerful work of fiction, it’s important that we have characters in whom we see reflected a tiny bit of ourselves—the good and the bad.

Recent popular series such as Showtime’s Dexter, AMC’s The Walking Dead and AMC’s Breaking Bad star protagonists (good guys) who did terribly bad things—murder-and-cooking-crystal-meth-kind-of-bad things. Yet these stories are hugely popular. If you’ve ever taken a fiction-writing class, you’ve likely been told to give every good guy in your story a flaw, and give every bad guy a redeeming quality. It makes them more human, more relatable to the rest of us.

In my recently published political thriller, The President’s Gold (Book One in the forthcoming Gold novel series), I worked to make each of my main characters walk this tightrope between good and evil, and I believe I succeeded—with one exception. General Fabian Ver, who was actually once a living person and the vicious henchman of the Philippine’s President Ferdinand Marcos, is depicted in the novel as I believe he really was in life; as pure evil. No matter how far and wide I looked for wonderful things this man did for humanity, my research revealed only more and more heinous, brutal acts. He tortured, he maimed and he killed, all in the name of finding hidden war loot stolen from the Japanese. I should also tell you that his methods of torture were the kinds that make Jason Vorhees of the Friday the 13th horror franchise seem like a mischievous kid in a Pittsburgh Penguins mask. In other words, Ver was the epitome of wickedness. Hence, I depicted him as such.

Readers and writers, what do you think? Do you favor antiheroes in a story, or do you prefer knights in shining armor who can do no wrong? And do you believe an antagonist—the baddest of the bad—should be portrayed with redeeming qualities? What was your impression of General Fabian Ver in The President’s Gold? Please leave me a note below. I look forward to reading your thoughts!

–Don Kesterson