Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thomas Block, Guest Blogger

Today, I'd like to welcome Thomas Block as guest blogger. Thomas Block has written a number of aviation-  oriented novels, many which have gone on to acquire best-seller status in numerous countries. His novel writing began with the publication of “Mayday” in 1979. That novel was rewritten with novelist Nelson DeMille in 1998 and remains on DeMille’s extensive backlist. “Mayday” became a CBS Movie of the Week in October, 2005.
Several of the other novels by Block include “Orbit” (a top bestseller in Germany, among other nations), “Airship Nine”, “Forced Landing” (also done as a radio serialization drama in Japan), “Skyfall”, “Open Skies” and his latest novel, “Captain”. Thomas Block is still writing both fiction and non-fiction, and has edited and updated his earlier novels into ebooks in all the major formats and also into handsome full-sized (6″ by 9″ Trade Paperback) printed versions.
Block’s magazine writing began in 1968 and over the next five decades his work has appeared in numerous publications. He worked 20 years at FLYING Magazine as Contributing Editor, and as Contributing Editor to Plane & Pilot Magazine for 11 years. Block became Editor-at-Large for Piper Flyer Magazine and Cessna Flyer Magazine in 2001. During his long career as an aviation writer he has written on a wide array of subjects that range from involvement with government officials to evaluation reports on most everything that flies.
An airline pilot for US Airways for over 36 years before his retirement in April, 2000, Captain Thomas Block has been a pilot since 1959. Since 2002, he has lived on a ranch in Florida with his wife Sharon where they board, compete and train horses.
His latest book is the suspense/thriller novel, Captain.
Visit his website at

I was a professional pilot for a long time (I finally retired a dozen years ago), and a professional writer for almost as long as I flew airplanes.  While my airline flying is behind me, the writing portion of my professional life hasn’t retired in the least; matter of fact, it’s been cranked up a peg or two in the past few years.
I flew for an airline for over 36 years, ending my career crossing the North Atlantic several times a month as I plied my way between the US and various European cities -- just like my characters do in my latest novelCaptain.  My professional writing began a few years after my airline flying, first strictly with magazine work but then on to novels as I began helping my childhood friend Nelson DeMille as he began his own bestselling novelist career. Over the years, I have assisted Nelson DeMille with a good many of his novels in one way or another, and you’ll find that fact in most of his novels on the acknowledgement page - including a very generous mention of my new novel Captain inside DeMille’s newest novel, The Panther, which was released in October, 2012.  Here is an extract from that acknowledgement section of The Panther:

“Many of my novels have benefited from the assistance of my childhood friend Thomas Block, US Airways Captain (retired), columnist and contributing editor to aviation magazines, and co-author with me of Mayday, as well as the author of seven other novels.  Although Tom has retired as an International captain, he has not retired from writing, which does not require good eyesight or quick reflexes, and Tom has recently published his seventh novel, Captain, available on his website:
Many thanks, too, to Tom’s lovely wife, Sharon Block, former flight attendant for Braniff International and US Airways, for her timely and careful reading of the manuscript and her excellent suggestions, as well as her keen eye for typos and bad punctuation.  Sharon’s reading skills have been invaluable to both me and Tom, as our minds tended to wander in high school English class.  What we were thinking about is another story, but we both knew we’d someday have a lady in our lives who knew how to proofread.”

In 1978, with Nelson DeMille’s help and introductions (his breakthrough novel By the Rivers of Babylon had made him into an International bestselling novelist the year before),  I signed a contract to produce my first airplane action/adventure novel Mayday - which went on to also become an international bestseller.  In 1997, Nelson and I took the out-of-print Mayday, revised and updated it together, then republished the novel with both our names as co-authors.  That version became a CBS Movie of the Week in October, 2005, and is still readily available from Nelson DeMille’s extensive backlist.

During the 80’s I wrote five additional novels that had a good run of success throughout the world.  For various logistical reasons I didn’t find myself writing any novels through the 90’s, although I did do even more work with Nelson DeMille through that period and well into the new century.  With all of my old novels long out of print (excepting Mayday), I realized that with the dawning of the new era of publishing for both print and ebook versions, that I could go back to those older novels (the rights to those works had long since reverted to me), extensively revise and update them, and then send them back out to once again see the light of day - now dressed up in their modern-day clothing.  All of these novels were basically airplane-theme action/adventure, although they ran a gamut from hypersonic airlines on through Airships and even a detective story.  You can see all of the details of these novels - which continue to sell nicely and receive good reviews - at our website

But in the back of my mind I had yet another story - a new story that needed to be told in a more classic manner, with emphasis on character and plot, motivation and timing.  As always, it would be an aviation-theme action/adventure - but unlike most of the modern stories I was reading, I refused to pump it up gratuitous violence, sex and endless mayhem.  To me, many modern novels (and especially modern movies!) are hardly more than comic books with storylines that don’t hang together and with endless and brutish snapping from scene to scene as if the creators expected that the audience had an attention span (and a companion attention to detail) that could only be measured in the smallest portions possible.

So I wrote Captain, a story developed in a more classic fashion, with a beginning, middle and (what I wanted to be a very satisfying) ending.  It is a story about what happens to the crew and passengers on a particular flight from Rome, Italy to New York when unthinkable things begin to happen to their airliner.  It is full of characters that readers have repeatedly told me that they loved - and also loved to hate.  It is an action/adventure tale with a backdrop of emotions.  It is a novel that slowly moves from scene to scene - but at a fast pace.  Is that sort of mix possible?  Look at the classic movies Casablanca and Dances With Wolves, or the novel Lonesome Dove.  That’s exactly what I was trying to do with Captain; a number of reviewers and general readers have told me that, to them, Captain is a powerhouse of emotions while it is simultaneously packed with a very high level of action, intrigue and adventure.

When I finished Captain we sent it to several New York publishing houses but their editors initially told me that ‘airplane stories were out’ and ‘this isn’t what readers want these days’.  Since Captain was the story that I wanted to tell and in the manner that I wanted to tell it, we redoubled our efforts and eventually persevered. Captain is now published Internationally in print editions and all ebook formats.

Captain is an exciting adventure story that you can curl up and spend an enticing, intriguing, enjoyable time with; that’s the opinion of so many who have already read Captain, which you can see for yourself in vast array of very positive reviews!  I probably don’t have to tell you that I’m very proud of what Captain has meant to those readers, and I can personally assure you that you’ll be quite satisfied with the time and effort you’ll be spending with the crew, the passengers and the other characters involved in the emotional saga of Trans-Continental Airlines Flight 3.  Welcome aboard.

Thomas Block has created ‘Captain’ – his most ambitious, intricate and action-packed aviation tale yet . It is a chilling and all-too-real story about a routine Trans-Atlantic airline flight that suddenly turns absolutely insane. In the doomed airliner’s cockpit, inside the passenger cabin and on the ground, a complex array of characters have been propelled at jet speed into a sudden and frantic race for survival.
‘Captain’ is about the individual and collective struggles of each of these men and women as they attempt to deal with and ultimately fight against the odds and circumstances that are stacked against them. ‘Captain’is a novel that pits man against man while also pitting man against machine. It is a story about the need for human judgments, hard-learned experiences, gut feelings and unbridled perseverance in an effort to rise up against a world where the strict adherence to written rules, regulations and procedures have been accepted as the norm.
‘Captain’ is about the way real airline pilots think, feel and react, especially after those giant airliners that they’ve strapped themselves to have suddenly turned vicious and unpredictable.

Pump Up Your Book and Thomas Block are teaming up to give you 5 chances to win an Amazon Gift Card!
Description: amazon gift card
Here’s how it works:
Each person will enter this giveaway by following the details below, make sure to read carefully as this one is a little different than some of the others we have done. 
Since we’ve always been interested in what our readers have to say, we thought that you might be, too.  Go to our website at and look at both the ‘Reader Comments’ and the ‘Reader Reviews’ sections (you can locate them at the bottom of the home page, or listed along the sidebar).  Match these review/comments with the same quotation  on the raffle entry form, then simply enter the missing words from the end of each sentence (three, four or five words) from that particular reader’s review/comment.  That’s it!  Now you’re entered in the drawing for the gift certificates from Amazon!
Each Reader can enter the raffle contest one time (only one entry per email address; multiple entries will invalidate all entries from that address).  Also, no individual can win more than one prize.  To be eligible to win a $25 gift certificate, correctly enter any TWO of the six available Reader quotes.  To be eligible to win either a $25 or a $50 gift certificate, correctly enter any FOUR of the six available Reader quotes.  To be eligible to win ANY of the gift certificate prizes to be given away at raffle, enter all six of the available Reader quotes AND register a ‘Like’ at both of our Facebook sites:

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