An obsolete patrol boat is all that stands between the world and nuclear annihilation!
Welcome to the October 27th stop on the blog tour for the Cutter Kauai Sea Adventures series by Edward Hochsmann with Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, reviews, author guest posts, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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Author Guest Post
I am sure that if you take a random sample of a dozen authors, you will get a dozen distinctive views on how to create characters. Some will formulate a story and then build characters to fit it; others already have the characters in hand and construct a story to fit their immutable characteristics.
I used an iterative process: I had a rough idea for a story, then conjured characters based on people I have known to carry it out. I then refined the story to fit these characters and created new ones to fill in the story’s blanks. A few of these characters ended up being interesting in their own right, so I tweaked the story again to bring out the best in them.
The characters of Sam Powell, Emilia Hopkins, Haley Reardon, and Joe Williams are all based on people I have known or served alongside in my time on active duty and, after retirement, as a civilian employee of the Coast Guard. It is important to note that the roles they play in the novels are entirely different from those they did in real life. For instance, none of them were enlisted or served on a patrol boat, and one (Emilia’s inspiration) never served in the military. The point here is that as long as you are true to the person’s essence, there is no reason not to be flexible in how they are employed in the story.
As it happens, the two characters serving as the Commanding Officer of Kauai are the closest to their real-life counterparts:
The man who provided the basis for Sam Powell was a classmate at the Coast Guard Academy and one of my closest friends. He had a fearsome intellect—almost a 4.0 GPA, which was really something at USCGA. He was highly competent at whatever he set out to do, first as a ship driver, then a lawyer. He was also the finest man I ever knew, not just in terms of someone you could turn to in a crisis, but one who could perceive you were in need and would step up to help. I had to add a flaw to Sam (his temper) to make him more believable as a character.
Haley Reardon’s inspiration was also a Coast Guard Academy classmate. She was another very smart, trustworthy, modest, all-around good person, and came to mind when the subject of “model officer” was raised among us. She was one that you just knew would go all the way in the Service, and, in fact, she made it to admiral before she retired. Haley’s was another case where I had to add a flaw, her cockiness, to make her character more relatable—her inspirational source would never have made a wiseass comment in front of an admiral!
Ben Wyporek and Victoria Carpenter do not have real-life counterparts. However, Ben’s personal history before Kauai was similar to mine: born/raised in Northern Illinois, his father is an airline captain, struggled at the Coast Guard Academy and first unit USCGC Dependable.
Ben’s purpose in the stories evolves over the series. In Dagger Quest, he provided a point of view for the principal conflict between Sam and Simmons and as the “everyman” character confronting elements of espionage and international crisis he had not trained for or expected.
In Caribbean Counterstrike, he is the clear protagonist of the story, coming to terms with both the deadly mission Kauai has been assigned and his burgeoning affection for Victoria. Their courtship is definitely out of the ordinary due to his job and her neurodiverse condition. But they are the only two people in the world who could make that work.
He cedes the lead somewhat to Haley in Bravely and Faithfully, becoming the voice of experience as she copes with the boat’s deadliest mission in her first days in command. However, the story follows Ben’s completion of his journey into adulthood—a commitment to Victoria, separation from his best friend with Sam’s transfer, and coping with the death of one of his close teammates.
Victoria was created almost as an afterthought for Dagger Quest. The space-time-line of the story did not permit a romance subplot, so she just sort of appeared as a quirky member of Simmons’s backup team. She was created as a caricature, which lasted until my first contact with an editor (THAT’S your leading lady, numbskull!).
I decided to keep her as a neurodiverse character because I felt both she and Ben needed a challenge to work through in the stories other than the military separation trope. The rub was balancing these conditions so that Ben and Victoria could fall hard for each other. Fortunately, I came across a book called The Kissing Quotient, which provided some excellent insights into writing a neurodiverse character possessing warmth and dignity (A great book, but probably not suitable for the kids!). Victoria ended up being a favorite of mine (and the readers) because she and Ben are fine-tuned to bring out the very best in each other.
Peter Simmons is another “from scratch” character. He is my “fun” character, sort of a wise-cracking rogue with a formidable knowledge of languages and classical literature—an academic version of James Bond into whom I pour my cynical sense of humor. He provides the triggers for the dangerous missions Ben and Co. end up on and many of the laugh-out-loud moments of the stories. Peter is actually a pretty dark character, possessed by an almost single-minded quest for violent revenge against the criminal organization that murdered his fiancée (Victoria’s elder sister). His affection for Victoria, and eventually, Ben, brings him back a bit from the dark side. I also set him up with Haley at the very end of Bravely and Faithfully, which should provide exciting fodder in the next installment.
About the Series
Cutter Kauai Sea Adventures Book One
by Edward M. Hochsmann
Published 7 June 2022
Haldago Bay Studio
Page Count: 348
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
An aging Coast Guard patrol boat is all that stands between the world and nuclear annihilation!
The world is on the brink of war, with NATO mobilizing to counter a Russian threat to Poland and Lithuania and leaders openly discussing war options. In the midst of the crisis, a Russian bomber collides with a U.S. fighter off Florida causing the accidental launch of a nuclear-tipped hypersonic missile.
A Coast Guard cutter on a routine patrol finds a drug-laden sailboat smashed and adrift north of the Florida Keys. The boat’s damage is from a near miss by the Russian missile which has not harmlessly flown deep into the Gulf of Mexico as initially thought, but crashed somewhere in the Keys.
The Coast Guard crew is in a race against a vicious and powerful international crime syndicate to find and recover the Russian nuke before its discovery can trigger a nuclear war.
Exploring the friendship and teamwork of a typical ship’s crew, in the face of unexpected and hazardous challenges, Dagger Quest provides a fast-paced, taut story – excellent fare for both sea adventure and military thriller fans.
The 252s launch a chemical attack on Ben and Simmons on Resolution Key:
Ben had already spent one magazine and slammed another into the carbine, resuming fire. His pistol was also charged and ready. Suddenly, there was a pause in the firing, and all the targets were out of sight. Ben glanced left along the barrier and froze in shock. Bill was sprawled out face up behind Simmons, eyes open and blood leaking from a hole in his forehead.
“Eyes front!” Simmons whispered urgently.
Ben whirled back to peer at the SUVs and whispered, “What are they doing?”
“Retasking,” Simmons said, pulling a small package out of one of his pockets. “They’ll try to take us now for interrogation.”
“What do we do?”
“Don’t get taken.”
“No, I mean, whatever you have to do, DO NOT get taken by these guys.” He looked Ben in the eyes. “Nothing would be worse, believe me.”
Some activity behind his SUV attracted Ben’s attention. There was a “whump” sound, and a grapefruit-sized object sailed overhead their position.
“FACE DOWN!” Simmons shouted.
Ben turned and buried his face in the sand when a loud “pop” sounded overhead, followed by a “whir” and a stabbing pain in the back of his right leg. A severe muscle cramp-like pain spread over his body within seconds, and he could not move. He tried to shout in terror, but all he heard was, “Ahhhhhh!” He felt another prick in his neck, and the pain subsided, although he still could not seem to get his muscles to work.
“It was a micro-flechette with a tetrodotoxin derivative. I’ve given you the antidote, but it’ll be about thirty seconds before it’s fully effective,” Simmons whispered as he pulled the now empty syrette out of Ben’s neck. “Fight it! They’ll be rushing us in a few seconds—you need to be shooting.”
Cutter Kauai Sea Adventures Book Two
by Edward M. Hochsmann
Published 21 June 2022
Haldago Bay Studio
Page Count: 332
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Mission: Five days to destroy the enemy in the Caribbean before a catastrophic weapon is unleashed—but all he can think about is the woman he left behind…
The deadliest nerve gas ever made has fallen into the hands of a murderous Caribbean drug cult. The criminal 252 Syndicate has the gas in a secret lab on an oil rig servicing ship, but the ship has been taken for ransom by the Salinas Cartel in a violent drug war. The U.S. can’t use airstrikes and calls on Coast Guard Officer Ben Wyporek to lead his crew through a risky covert raid on the Salinas cult’s fortified island base. He accepts the assignment, but remembers a previous lethal encounter with the 252s and struggles to say goodbye to the love of his life, Victoria Carpenter.
Ben and his crew aboard the stealth-equipped Cutter Kauai must sneak into the harbor and tow the ship away. But if Kauai is detected and defeated, death by gas or at the hands of vicious adversaries will follow. Now, every decision Ben makes will determine the fate of his entire crew—and the chances of reuniting with Victoria.
This second book of the series builds on the friendships and teamwork of Kauai’s crew, this time in the face of several challenging missions and one potentially lethal encounter. It is a worthy sequel to Dagger Quest that sea adventure and military thriller fans will enjoy.
An amusing incident occurs during a test and evaluation session at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center:
They had repeated the cycle enough times to get a reasonably rich dataset when something went awry. A defect in one canister’s fins created a “wobble” in flight that caused it to fall behind its companions. When the dispersing charge fired, it was just forward of the speeding RHIB and doused it and its occupants with two-and-a-half gallons of bright blue paint. Lee closed the throttle slowly to bring the boat to a smooth stop, took off her paint-coated sunglasses, and said, “Everybody OK? Give me a thumbs up!”
After getting a thumbs-up from both passengers, Lee shook off her hands, put them on her hips, and glared at DeChamps.
“I think some of our projectiles might need adjustment,” the engineer said, squinting up at Lee while holding his paint-fouled glasses.
“Ya think?” Lee replied.
“Kauai-One, Kauai, report!” her radio barked.
“Kauai, Kauai-One, direct hit by blue paint, no damage or casualties,” Lee replied.
“Kauai-One, Kauai, roger, cancel operation and return to ship.”
“Kauai, Kauai-One, WILCO, out.” Lee took a deep breath and turned to Connally. “Sean, carefully help Mr. DeChamps with his glasses.” She swished her sunglasses clean in the water beside the RHIB, then sat back down at the helm. Once Connally had helped DeChamps with his glasses and both were seated again, Lee opened the throttle and headed back to the patrol boat. I’ll bet the cameras got an awesome shot of this. I’m SO looking forward to seeing it again, and again, and AGAIN!
While operating the boat crane, Jenkins left the RHIB at the deck rail after the crew climbed out so the paint could be hosed off before returning to its cradle. The XO met them there with an armful of sodas—he knew they would be dried out after a couple of hours in the sun. He was always doing thoughtful things like this, unlike any other officer Lee had ever served with, and it was the thing she liked most about him.
“So, Petty Officer Lee,” he said with a perfectly straight face as he handed her a can of Coke. “I think we need to get you some vacation time. You’re looking mighty blue.”
Ha, ha, ha! So, it starts already! Lee paused after taking the Coke and replied, “Thanks, sir. You know, XO, you’re wasting your talents here on the bounding main. You should run a comedy podcast!”
Bravely and Faithfully
Cutter Kauai Sea Adventures Book Three
by Edward M. Hochsmann
Published 2 August 2022
Haldago Bay Studio
Page Count: 412
A New Captain’s First Patrol Turns into a Fight for Their Lives
Young Coast Guard Lieutenant Haley Reardon has not even gotten her feet on the ground on her new patrol boat command when she finds herself and her crew supporting a dangerous covert mission. They must insert and retrieve a Defense Intelligence Agency operations team trying to seize a transnational criminal syndicate boss from a small Caribbean island controlled by a front company of the Chinese government and protected by a superior military force.
A honeymoon period would be lovely, but, as always, the world gets a vote.
Can Haley avoid leaving the DIA team to their fate, when attempting to rescue them could destroy her crew and boat and lead to war?
This third installment of the series conveys the humor, friendships, and teamwork of Kauai’s crew from the previous books, with a new series of exciting actions from search and rescue to combat. The crew and their new skipper must come together for the toughest mission they have ever faced.
Kauai has arrived and is retrieving the twenty-two human trafficking victims from the sinking freighter Miho Dujam:
On her second return to the foredeck, Haley noticed Ben was no longer herding the remaining women in line. In fact, he was nowhere to be seen, and she wondered if he had returned on board while she was shuttling survivors to the messdeck. After her third run, she remained on the foredeck and watched as the last survivor came aboard. Drake and Bondurant then cast off Kauai’s mooring lines before jumping across. As the two vessels drifted apart, Haley went directly to Drake and asked, “Chief, where’s the XO?”
“He’s inside looking for evidence, ma’am,” Drake replied.
“He told us to cast off and return on board after the last survivor crossed over. He’s taking the RHIB back.” He and Bondurant shared a worried look.
“How much longer will that ship last?”
“Ma’am, I’m surprised she’s still upright.”
Haley hated stepping in, but things seemed to be getting out of hand. “Chief, call the RHIB!”
“Kauai-One, COB, is the XO with you?”
“Negative,” Lee’s voice replied.
Drake lifted his radio again, but before he could speak, a series of loud bangs erupted from the Miho Dujam, and she quickly rolled to the left. He keyed the radio and shouted, “Kauai, COB, XO is still on board!”
The ship continued to roll with a cacophony of bangs and crashes and, within twenty seconds, had completely capsized with only her hull bottom visible. Haley, Drake, and Bondurant were transfixed in shock until the 1MC jolted them into motion.
“Man Overboard Port Side, repeat Man Overboard Port Side! This is no drill!”
About the Author
Edward Hochsmann is the pen name of a retired U. S. Coast Guard search and rescue and law enforcement professional. The veteran mariner, aviator, college professor, and defense analyst has added “author” to his list of experiences. Ed likes reading, police procedurals, contemporary music on the road, and classical music in the office. After a career traveling from Australia in the west to Italy and Germany in the east, Ed has settled into a quiet life in the Florida Panhandle to focus on writing (and not shoveling snow!)
Ed has two novels published right now (plus one launching in August 2022) in the Cutter Kauai Sea Adventures series about a Coast Guard patrol boat assigned to “special” missions. Dagger Quest takes place in the Florida Keys and involves an aging Coast Guard patrol boat dragooned into a search for a lost Russian nuclear weapon in a time of international crisis. The second, Caribbean Counterstrike, features the same patrol boat and crew, now with equipment and training upgrades, sent to recover a deadly nerve gas from a murderous Caribbean drug cartel. Bravely and Faithfully has Kauai, under a new captain supporting a covert raid on a Caribbean island held by the Chinese.
Ed’s second series, C6S: Patrol Force deals with a combined defense establishment and constabulary for a galactic economic empire called the Confederation of the Six Systems (C6S). Ed has published two novellas and a novel-length collection late last year.
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