J. M. Taylor Author


Missing Sticks
One Stick and a Waco
Snow Sticks
Desert Winds
Writing Adventure
Vietnam 1965-66
The Author


by J. M. Taylor


D-Day, 6 June, 1944 - Normandy - behind Utah Beach. Just after midnight the drop began. Come dawn, 18 C-47s and their paratroopers were missing. What could have the missing troopers accomplished if they had landed safely and engaged the enemy? MISSING STICKS tells one story.

MISSING STICKS WON THE EPIC Award for best Historical Fiction for 2010.

MISSING STICKS also was named the Military Writers Society of America's Book of the Month for June, 2009 and won Honorable Mention in the Florida Writers Association 2009 Royal Palm Literary Awards.

Missing Sticks, 4th edition, is now Available at Amazon in trade paperback and Kindle formats

Click for more about Missing Sticks


ONE STICK AND A WACO is also fiction, a historical novel set in time and place during Operation MARKET GARDEN with the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division, the second  novel in the "STICK" series. Like MISSING STICKS, ONE STICK and a WACO isn't about strategy or glory, just men and women in combat.

Lieutenant Alex Pfister fought in Normandy with the 101st Airborne and has been recruited by the OSS after his successful operation behind German lines in MISSING STICKS to parachute into Holland and recruit a new team, including scattered Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division and Max the German Shepherd.  Together they attempt the rescue of a downed Redtail P-51 pilot, British and American bomber crewmen and an American medevac nurse trapped behind German lines. While the 101st Airborne Division, along with the 82nd and 1st British Airborne fight to hold the road to Arnhem, our band of survivors search for German V-2 mobile launchers and fight to liberate desperate concentration camp survivors while they all fight for their lives.

One Stick and a Waco was awarded a SILVER Medal in the 2016 Military Writers Society of America Awards Historical Fiction category.  

One Stick and a Waco, 4th edition, is available at Amazon in trade paperback and Kindle formats

Click for more about One Stick and a Waco


Snow Sticks picks up our 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles troopers as they are fighting across Holland to "The Island" during Market Garden, to take a little break in France; take time to to enjoy the fruits of France, maybe sneak back to England for a short visit to a war bride.

Since the "STICK" series is based on historic events, we all know what is coming - the German attacks that result in the Battle of the Bulge and especially the fight around Bastogne to stop the German advance back to the Channel.

The strategic events, timeline and terrain are accurate, what is fiction are the people in SNOW STICKS. If you have been to a 101st Airborne Division reunion, you may have heard similar stories, but the characters and events in SNOW STICKS are entirely fictional. This is "only" a novel, full of characters conjured up out of Taylor's imagination, but, yes, inspired by the stories told around the hospitality tables at the 101st Airborne Division Association reunions. Except Taylor had to tone them down. Otherwise they would be too unbelievable.

No Generals strategizing or Cabinet discussions, no arguments between Patton and Montgomery, this is about the grunts, the point of the spear.

Snow Sticks, 4th edition, is now Available at Amazon in trade paperback and Kindle formats


Award-Winning thriller GULF WINDS introduces Uly Grant, a recently returned veteran of the war in Iraq, who is searching for a bit of tranquility among the Florida mangroves and manatees.

Uly is tough, but a roadside bomb on the road to Baghdad killed his best friend and left him with a busted leg and Flash, a retired champion greyhound.

In Gulf Winds Grant has returned to his old home along the banks of the Homosassa River and his life as a fishing guide in the waters in and around the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge on the Florida Gulf coast where, as you might suspect, a woman leads him astray and conspiracies abound as he diddles terrorists bank accounts and siphons off their money.


Gulf Winds won First Place in the Mystery/Thriller (Unpublished) category of the Florida Writers Association 2007 Royal Palm Literary Awards Contest.

Available at Amazon.com in paper and Kindle formats.

Click for more about Flash the retired greyhound, Ozello, Homosassa and Chassahowitzka along the Florida Gulf coast, and the writing of Gulf Winds


Lost Key

Lost Key is a significant revision of the award winning thriller Flash of Emerald, now out-of-print, originally published in 2004 by Hard Shell Word Factory

Lost Key begins with Corporal Harry Parker dropped into Cuba to fight Castro with the ill-fated counter-revolutionaries, then takes a much more experienced and retired Army Colonel Harry Parker from his Washington DIA office to revisit the seamy side of Tampa's Ybor City, drawn into the middle of a  drugs-for-arms transaction.

"...A small event, just a one kiloton blast at ground level on the Mall in front of the Space and Air Museum, would dig a crater two hundred feet in diameter and about sixty feet deep……..Not too bad. Now, put ground zero right here on MacDill and we could eliminate south Tampa, smooth off the contours around the bay. Get  rid of all the big snakes down at the end of the runway...."

Not just guns, this time the stakes are higher - his family is in jeopardy, a nuclear weapon stolen by fanatical terrorists, the beginning of a wild ride across today's South Florida and the Florida Keys where romance with a member of the Conch Republic threatens to sidetrack his mission.

In a previous incarnation as Flash of Emerald, the novel now known as Lost Key won the EPIC Best Thriller Award for 2004

Available at Amazon.com in paper and Kindle formats.

Click for more about MacDill AFB, Ybor City, Cuba and Lost Key

Desert Winds

A significant revision of the out-of-print thriller, Behind the Green Water, originally published in 2004 by Hard Shell Word Factory

Devon sometimes wished he were back in the Carolina swamps puffing his grandpa's pipe instead of tromping the Iraqi deserts and mountains with the French woman. After the first Gulf War but before the full invasion of Iraq, US Army Major Nash Devon is sent into the Northern Iraq Sanctuary Zone on a search for Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. There he discovers a nuclear conspiracy that includes America's allies.

Do you think Saddam really had a nuclear capability before we invaded? Read what might have been in Desert Winds.

A thriller with roots in the first Gulf War, Desert Winds foretells the crisis between nuclear-capable nations of the Middle East and the conflicts that feed the fires of destruction. Desert Winds, although fictional, may help you understand the tensions and terror American and Allied forces failed to keep at bay. This novel was set before the 2003 coalition invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam's regime, but the tragedy of the country and, more importantly, of its peoples, is being played out again in 2014 with the persecution of the Yazidi, Jewish, Christian and Islamic religious minorities and sects. The devastation wrought by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in what was once called the Northern Iraq Sanctuary Zone is heartbreaking around Irble (spelled Arble on many maps), Mosel and the Sinjar mountains as described in the novel. The locations are familiar to many of our service members who served across Iraq, and can be traced on the Iraq maps.

A New Special - The Image of Christ has been added to both the print and eBook editions at no additional charge - the story of the tablet and the mystery of Christ explained.

Desert Winds is available from Amazon.com in paper and Kindle editions.

For more about Iraq, Syria and the conflict between the Gulf Wars, and Desert Winds


INTERVIEW in the Apr-Jun 2018 Sun Eagle Newsletter

"The Florida Gulf Coast Chapter is fortunate to have several authors among its membership. Perhaps the most accomplished in terms of quantity of published works and awards received for his writing is John Taylor. The first of his trilogy on the 101st Airborne Division in Europe is Missing Sticks, which chronicles D-Day. The Editor recently had a conversation with John.

John, what motivated you to write a novel on the 101st’s operations on D-Day?

Listening to the WWII vets tell their stories at the Snowbird Reunions and the realization that they will not always be around inspired me to capture the sense of their accomplishments and their hardships. The stories told over a bottle of beer or a glass of scotch always were humorous, as if they didn’t really want to talk about the tragedies of combat, but preferred to remember the humor in life. I felt I had to capture that feeling.

How did you come up with the title, "Missing Sticks?"

A plane load of paratroopers was called a stick, usually around 17 men crammed with their gear and door bundles in a C-47. When dawn came on the real D-Day, 18 planes and their paratroopers were missing. Some had been seen to explode in midair, some crashed, some were just missing. I wondered what the missing troopers would have done if they had made it safely to the ground. "Missing Sticks" is their fictional story.

What were your major sources of information during your research?

I started with "Rendezvous with Destiny," and am now up to over twenty books on my shelf. In addition, I spent hours on the Internet reading official US Army historical after-action reports which in turn led to web sites dedicated to individuals, units, weapons, on and on… I can even describe how fly a Waco glider or start and pilot a B-17 Flying Fortress.

I can not tolerate inaccurate descriptions of actual historical events, weapons; any of the details in the description of a combat operation in my novels. So "Missing Sticks" may be fiction, but the setting: units, terrain, weather and sequence of operations, are real. I didn’t want any of our vets who fought on that battlefield to find a single inaccuracy.

How did you come up with your characters for your novel?

I start with incidents, then populate with characters that fit the events. I worked hard to create characters as diverse as the men who were there: background, race, education, et al., but try to avoid stereotypes. Many of the novel’s scenes were based on real events (e.g., the actual crash of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment pathfinders) but told from a fictional character’s point of view. I create a backstory for each character (extensive for some) that I can immerse myself in as I write, so the character exhibits consistent behavior that the reader can relate to, with all the personal baggage that every individual hauls around. I originally envisioned eighteen short stories, each about a different character with diverse specialties and from different units, each representing one of the eighteen lost planes. Totally out of my control, the characters began meeting on the battlefield and assembling into effective units, just as the real Screaming Eagles did on D-Day.

Were your characters based on any real-world individuals? Would you care to identify them?

Pat Macri was and continues to be a major influence on the "STICK" Trilogy. Sparks, a radio operator and Lewis, a field wireman and switchboard operator, both came from Pat’s accounts of his actions on D-Day and at Bastogne, not in regard to personalities, but to the events described in the scenes. I used Frank Boffa’s "last rites" story and Vince Speranza’s’ "killing of the cow" tale as the basis for fictional scenes that I hoped would bring as much humor to the novels as the original tellers brought to life. Tom Macintyre even convinced me to include a provost marshal sergeant, a hard-bitten ex-NY beat cop. Each fictional character’s personality and traits are out of whole cloth.

Were any of the combat actions you describe in your novel based on real-world combat actions?

Most, if not every scene, was based on an event I heard or read about, then let my imagination run amuck as I wrote. The details may stretch the truth a bit (or a lot), but many are realistic enough that readers have asked "…did that really happen." The answer in most cases is "…not really, but close enough for hand grenades."

What motivated you to write fiction?

My head is full of stories that I want to share, many inspired by the intriguing and interesting places, cultures, personalities and events I have experienced, from such diverse settings as a kid on a tobacco farm and a dependent teen in Occupied Japan, I have been to many places and experienced unusual situations and cultures, some of it as an Army paratrooper, with tours in Vietnam and Europe, operations in the Middle East and as a system engineer involved with nuclear weapons and command and control systems.

Which author did you model your writing after?

Tom Clancy initially, but influenced by many, from Robert Louis Stevenson to Nevil Shute Norway to W. E. B. Griffin to John D. McDonald to Thomas Perry to Bernard Cornwell to Nevada Barr to many, many other adventure and thriller writers. I love to read them all.

John, thank you not only for your service as a "Brat" and Regular Army Officer, but also as a first-rate story teller … especially of the 101st Airborne Division.



All of Taylor's novels are available at eBook outlets in most eBook formats (Nook, Sony, Koby, etc.). Trade paperback and Kindle versions are available at Amazon.com.


Taylor served with the 101st Airborne Division as a platoon leader and battalion commander. Airborne and air assault qualified, a civilian scuba sports diver and trained as a system engineer, he designed military command and control systems in civilian life before he turned to writing military thrillers. Using his background in nuclear weapons and extensive travel in the Far and Middle East, Europe and across the States, he packs a ton of adventure into an action-filled page-turner. For more than you ever wanted to know about Taylor, click on the photo on the right.

(Photo is not current - taken in the Fall of 1965 while on a scenic tour of Southwest Asia as a member of the Screaming Eagle's 1st Brigade task force. Click HERE for more photos from Vietnam.)

For more on Writing Adventure and favorite adventure authors, click HERE.

New and archive photos 0f the 101st Airborne Association Snowbird reunions can be seen HERE.

 © 2000-2019 J. M. Taylor
Email: J. M. Taylor
HERE to return to Home Page
Excerpts may be used in electronic or print media with credit to J. M. Taylor