Navy Seal Mitch Downing is hit by enemy fire in Iran in 2014. But he survives, and realises there was a reason that he lived. Move on six years and he’s discovered how to invisibly access all human knowledge via inSyte, and also look into people’s hearts and minds.
It may sound the perfect piece of technology, but in Syte it has its dark side that Mitch has to fight. It also reveals to him that his lover Kate’s father is an evil man, who talks about family and Christian values but covets money and power. He’ll stop at nothing to get it. He’s already introduced Chesler, a dark evil presence, into the equation. Although he’s the bad guy, he’s interesting and we see into what makes him act the way he does – the personal idea of justice that he has and that motivates him.
It takes a little while to get into the story since the necessary background has to be covered, but once it gets going, like the technology it’s based on, it’s unstoppable. It’s an exciting, unpredictable book. There’s a lot of violence, but it fits into the scheme of the world that’s depicted. It’s a modern but harsh one. The technology described is feasible. We’re all very familiar with computers, social media, smartphones and so on these days, it doesn’t actually seem that big a deal for it to move on to an inSyte sort of level. As Kiser said in an interview:
I was in a business meeting in 1999 and the customer asked me some questions and they weren’t quite important enough for me to fire up my laptop (which took about 5 min in those days) so I said I’d get back to him. It struck me that it would be nice to have access to the info on that laptop unbeknownst to the customer. That would be sort of cool, make me seem pretty smart.
As time went on, I realized that’s really inevitable with the internet. There are glasses you can buy today – so called visual headgear – that let you watch content on your ipod. Maybe while you’re on a plane. Obviously you can also view info on your smart phone. Let’s say voice recognition software improves and the glasses get smaller. Say the glasses become contact lenses. You get the picture. It’s just a matter of time before you can get online anytime, all the time, and you’re doing searches based on a question asked of you. Or just by thinking about something. So you would search the net the way you search your memory. That’s the high concept and from there I developed the conflict to make the book (hopefully) interesting.
If you want an unput-downable read that will make you think (as well as avoid people matching Chesler’s description for the rest of your life!) then I urge you to read this sensibly priced, extremely entertaining and provoking novel.
I’ve just discovered a real gem of an article by the CEO of Goodreads regarding the best way to get your book ‘discovered’.
In a nutshell, here are the best ways to get your book noticed:
Word of mouth works. 79% of Goodreads members report discovering books from friends offline, and 64% find books from their Goodreads friends. And simply finding out that someone is reading a certain book is enough to get another person interested.
Pre-launch buzz. You can’t start too early. Giveaways on Goodreads pre publication are a good way to get early reviews up and start people talking about your book.
Build a tribe by building relationships with your books. An astounding 96% of readers say they’ll read another book by an author they like. There’s the vague remark that ‘very few’ people read books they hear about on Facebook or Twitter, but I suspect that’s a tiny bit partisan! I for one find an awful lot of books through Twitter in particular, so by no means discount that as a way to get known about.
Video chats are an effective way to reach a large audience.
The main ways people discover new books on Goodreads are: search; registration; recommendation engine; friends’ updates; genre browsing; author and series; lists; mobile; giveaways, and other.
Read the full article here. Plenty to think about there. I know I shall be acting on Otis’s advice, and very soon!
After a lot of umming and ahhing, I’ve decided to go with epublishing for Heads Above Water. And more specifically, with Kindle only to start with. I shall try out the Kindle Select program, whereby if you make your book exclusive to Amazon for 90 days, it’s offered free to premium subscribers as part of the lending library and you will get a share of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library fund. Other customers buy it at the price you set, so there’s the possibility of two streams of income. Now, I haven’t done too brilliantly on Kindle up to now, but then I’ve only published a few non-illustrated children’s books and Best of Blog in France directly to it. They’re also available on Smashwords. Best of Blog in France is free on Smashwords, and hence on Barnes and Noble to which Smashwords distributes. I did this on purpose because Amazon supposedly always match the price, or lack of, on B&N, at least for a while. However, despite sending emails telling Amazon about the free version of BoBiF, it was never made free for Kindle and that would have got me a lot of downloads and a lot of publicity.
But I’ll give Select a go and we’ll see what happens. I’m launching the book on 17th April, 37 days from now, and my daughter’s 18th birthday. That’s an auspicious day if ever there was one! I shall be organising a virtual book tour and doing some more promotional activities. I’ll keep you posted.
On August 15th, 1939 an English passenger plane from British Airways crashed in Danish waters between the towns of Nykobing/Falster and Vordingborg. Just two weeks before, Hitler invaded Poland. With the world at the brink of war, the manner in which this incident was investigated left much open to doubt. The jurisdiction battle between the two towns and the newly formed Danish secret police, created an atmosphere of intrigue and distrust.
There were five casualties in the crash :
Cesar Agustin Castillo, a Mexican national and bio-chemical engineer educated in both Germany and the USA, he is working for Standard Oil of New Jersey’s London branch.
Samuel James Simonton, an American, also employed by Standard Oil of New Jersey’s London office with a very strong military background, graduate of West Point.
Erich Bruno Wilhelm Beuss, a German national and corporate lawyer who is travelling with his medals earned in the Frist World War.
Anthony Crommelin Crossley, English MP who is known and outspoken in his antipathy to Hitler and the Munich Pact. He is also the sole defender of the Arab cause in the matter of Palestine in the 1930s.
Alfred Stanley Mardsin Leigh, employee of British Airways LTD.
The sole survivor was the pilot, Clifford Frederick Cecil Wright.
In the winter of 2009-2010 a young executive, Bill, is promoted and transferred to London for a major International firm. He has struggled for the better part of his life with nightmares and phobias, which only seem to worsen in London. As he seeks the help of a therapist, he accepts that his issues may well be related to a ‘past-life trauma’. Maggie, his love interest, helps him in his quest and realizes that she too is part of the events in the past as much as she is in 2009-2010. Maggie and Bill find that, through their love and the courage to submit to past life regressions, they begin to find more questions than answers. They become very curious about events leading up to the Second World War.
Using archives and the information superhighway of the 21st century, Bill and Maggie travel through knowledge and time to uncover the story of the 1939 plane crash. Their quest includes a friendship forged through Skype with a middle-aged woman in Florida obsessed with the truth about her grandfather’s death. This woman has been working for nearly two decades to unfold the mystery that left her family scarred and wondering. Her meticulous search and actual copies of documents in the book help the reader understand that we are indeed dealing with true events.
All historical data is clearly documented and footnoted as many of the files used by the author were rather obscure and not found in any history books. All data from psychics and past life regressions are also very clearly documented.
The Bridge of Deaths is a unique combination of love story and historical mystery. It is based on true events and real people, but uses fictional characters who travel through the world of past life regressions and information from psychics to solve the mystery. It is the culmination of an incredible 18 years of sifting through sources in Denmark, England and the United States. The reader also feels that he or she is sifting through data and forming his or her own conclusions. The journey that takes the reader to well-known and obscure events leading up to the Second World War, both in Europe and America, also transports readers to the possibility of finding themselves in this lifetime by exploring past lives.
M C V Egan is the pen name chosen by Maria Catalina Egan, the author of The Bridge of Deaths. Catalina was born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1959, one of eight children. She spent her childhood in Mexico. From a very young age she became obsessed with the story of how her maternal Grandfather, Cesar Agustin Castillo, died.
When she was 12, she moved with her family to the United States. She was already fluent in Southern English as she had spent one school year in the town of Pineville, Louisiana with her grandparents. There, the only one who had English as a second language in her class, she won the English award.
In the DC suburbs she attended various private Catholic schools and graduated from Winston Churchill HS in Potomac, Maryland in 1977. She attended Montgomery Community College, where she changed majors every semester. She also studied in Lyons, France, at the Catholic University for two years. In 1981, due to an impulsive young marriage to a Viking (the Swedish kind, not the football player kind), Catalina moved to Sweden where she lived for five years and taught at a language school for Swedish, Danish and Finnish businesspeople. She returned to the USA where she has been living ever since. She is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Swedish.
Catalina has worked for various companies and holds an insurance license for the State of Florida. Not her favorite field but involves very nice folks and makes money! She is married and has one son, who, together with their five pound Chihuahua, makes her feel like a fulltime mother. Although she would not call herself an astrologer, she has taken many classes and even taught some astrology. This is one of her many past times when she is not writing or researching.
She celebrated her 52nd birthday on July 2nd 2011 and gave herself the gift of self-publishing The Bridge of Deaths. She never submitted it to anyone prior to this decision and has enjoyed the very positive feedback.
Despite the massive amount of research that the author did before writing this book, it does not become a heavy, overly meticulous historical account of the mysterious events of the fateful day when her grandfather died in the plane crash. Instead, through using the fictional characters and their journey into past lives and psychical realms, it is a fascinating work of fiction-cum-creative-non-fiction – historical-paranormal-romantic-mystery. It is an innovative book that almost defies classification. The historical element is fascinating and the characters are persuasive. Most unusual and enjoyable.
The French government is leading the world in nabbing orphans. No, not parentless children, but literary works that are out of print and whose authors can’t be traced. There are between half and three quarters of a million out of print books in France. About a fifth of these are orphans. A law passed at the end of February means that the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, BnF, can now scan these and make them available for free, whereas other distributors have to charge for them. It’s a five year operation that will be funded by the State, even though times are hard.
But what has shocked people is that as well as orphans, all books that were published in France and out of print before 2001 are to be subject to the same treatment, unless the author, publisher or other rights holder opts out of having the book sucked into the BnF database. And this applies to books by foreign authors too.
This is a huge rights transfer issue. Even the pro-pirating French Pirate Party is horrified by it! And France is already working on how to persuade Europe to allow this set-up to take precedence over the forthcoming European proposal on dealing with orphan works.
It seems heavy handed in the extreme. It will be interesting to see how things work out.
Today I welcome author J. A. Beard to my blog as part of his virtual book tour to promote his new work, a young adult urban fantasy The Emerald City. What happens when a lonely, angry orphaned Kansas teenager arrives at a sinister Seattle boarding school and finds she has to battle against not just the bullies, but supernatural forces as well?
J.A. Beard likes to describe himself as a restless soul married to an equally restless soul. His two children are too young yet to discuss whether or not they are restless souls, but he’s betting on it. He likes to call himself the Pie Master, yet is too cowardly to prove his skills in an actual baking competition. So, really, he’s merely a Potential Pie Master!
While writing is one of his great passions, science is another, and when he’s not writing or worrying about baking, he’s working on the completion of his PhD in microbiology.
I was intrigued by this writer’s description of himself as ‘a restless soul’, since I’m one of those myself. (France is the third country I’ve lived in.) I wanted to know more … and here’s the response. Over to J. A. Beard.
My Restless Soul
My family is scattered across my home country of the United States. The age of the internet, along with international travel, has allowed me to make friends around the world. When your friends and family are all over, will any particular place feel like home? For me the answer is no.
I’m blessed, of course, with an intelligent, lovely wife and my children by my side. Already, though, even in my children’s short life, we’ve moved half-way across the country. Many of the moves that have defined my life thus far have been the result of practical considerations: employment, work, and military service. Despite that, I find after a few years in a place, even if I like it, I want to move. I could settle anywhere, I suppose, without too much complaint, but there’s always something clawing at my soul and pushing me toward somewhere else. Both the commonality of humanity in different places, allowing me potential comfort anywhere, and the differences, providing for new experiences, help keep this desire to explore the world lit inside of me.
I feel the same way about my writing. Any person with even a thimble-full of marketing or publishing experience knows the value of targeting a niche if an author is interested in commercial success. Targeting a niche with a series is even better. Though I write for creative reasons and not commercial reasons, it’s hard not to worry about money on some level. The more one makes from writing after all, the more time they can devote to it. One does have to pay the rent and buy food for the kids in the end, after all
James Patterson successfully built a personal publishing empire because he delivers a known quantity to readers seeking out that known quantity. J.K. Rowling would not be a wealthy woman today if instead of seven Harry Potter books she delivered seven books in completely different genres. Those two are mega-stars of the fiction world, but there are many other authors, both super-stars and more low-key selling authors, who have found success by not wandering too much.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. Most writers produce works in genres they enjoy. I don’t know a huge amount about Patterson’s motivations, but Rowling has spoken at length about how Potter was a labor of love. Indeed, when her first book came out, it was swimming very much against the publishing tide in terms of both content and length for its primary target audience. There was no calculated business plan on her part to turn Potter into some sort of commercial juggernaut. I doubt anyone could have foreseen that one of the most successful authors of our time would be the creator of a story about a British boy wizard. She just wrote a series she loved and, fortunately, it connected with the readers. On the other end of the spectrum, Jonathan Franzen certainly wasn’t going out of his way to make The Corrections something that would scream “best-seller” in a market dominated by commercial mainstream titles. He wrote what he wanted to write. Sure, Oprah helped, but still, he stayed true to himself.
I write because I love it. I write because I must. So many different stories flow through my head. Like my wanderlust, I have a wandering soul when it comes to genre. I’ve always read and enjoyed many different types of stories. My release schedule for this year includes YA urban fantasy, fantasy, and Regency paranormal romance—works that suggest at least some connection in regards to magical elements. Though I’m also researching a non-magical historical fiction thriller and have plans for a totally non-supernatural contemporary cozy mystery series. There are also a few hard YA science fiction books I have in the back of my mind. Is there a true thread that connects adult, young adult, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction?
I do tend to think in series, if only because I doubt most people want to sit down and read a 500,000 word book, but the more I write, the more I find I can’t help myself. I want to continue to explore different genres, just as I want to explore different places to live.
Wanderlust, how both fortunate and unfortunate it can be!
J. A. Beard blogs at riftwatcher.blogspot.com and is on Twitter as @jabeard_rf. You can buy The Emerald City in these places:
A lot of people are writing about the recent move by PayPal to censor books that appear on Smashwords. Someone in their ranks doesn’t like people buying books from Smashwords that feature rape, incest and bestiality. Frankly I’m not sure that many readers are after these books anyway, but that’s not the point. PayPal doesn’t like them and so has told Smashwords to remove all books with this type of content. Smashwords in turn has had to contact all involved authors, agents etc and tell them to remove their books by Feb 27th.
However, plenty of this sorts of books are available on Amazon. Here’s just one example. Because Amazon doesn’t rely on PayPal, it can sell whatever it likes. Is anyone out there going to get all uppity with Amazon? I doubt it. (And incidentally, this particular book is free on Amazon at the moment. Smashwords also has many free erotic ebooks that don’t enter into PayPal’s realm in any case, but it seems they all have to go too.)
This move by PayPal is absolutely appalling. What makes this company a moral guardian? Who are they to dictate to others what they can and can’t read or write? What’s going to come next? An author who writes Christian fiction has asked what will happen if another PayPal employee decides it’s wrong to include religion in books? What if someone else has a phobia about spiders and bans books about them? It’s a dangerous slippery slope. PayPal is completely unjustified in making this censorship call. It’s using bully boy power to impose its own values on other people.
Paranormal romance is fast emerging as a very popular ebook genre. Some people consider it a subgenre of fantasy and others of romance. However, I think it deserves its own separate niche since it blends elements of not just these two previously distinct genres of fantasy and romance but also often science fiction and even horror. It grew up out of gothic fiction. Probably the most common feature is a romance between humans and ghosts, vampires, shapeshifters or other fantastic creatures. Also, psychic powers often come into play.
So you couldn’t wish for a better introduction to this exciting genre than a book by Hope Welsh. I have just read her book Linked, and it’s a brilliant read. It’s about Lana, a feisty young woman with psychic powers and a sad secret, and shapeshifter Cole, a private detective with special powers. There’s a third crucial character, The Evil One, who poses a terrifying threat and has a connection with Lana. The book is very well written. The hero and heroine are persuasive and likeable, and their relationship is neither predictable nor plastic, as can be the case with the romantic thread of a story sometimes. There are interesting twists and turns in the plot. I ended up reading the book in one go, leaving my youngest son dissolving in the bath (it’s OK, he’s 10 and he was quite happy to have an hour-long bath!) and the bedtime hot chocolate unmade. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book as much as I did. And if you do, then please put up a review in all the usual places. Authors need reviews!
Hope kindly agreed to do an interview for me and so I’ll hand over to her now.
1. What inspired you to write Linked?
Linked was written for a contest, but I liked it so well, I decided to publish it instead. It was offered on by the first publisher that read it, but I decided to self-publish on Amazon instead.
2. Which character from the book are you most like – Lana, Cole or The Evil One?
Hmm… I’d have to say I’m most like Laura, Lana’s mother. Certainly not The Evil One! Unlike Lana, I’d love paranormal abilities.
3. Linked has a great cover. Did you design it yourself?
I knew what I wanted – to show the evil and time running out on the lovers – but my daughter did the design. She did an awesome job, didn’t she?
4. Would you like to be a shapeshifter? What animal would you turn into?
Oh, definitely a panther, I think. Sleek and beautiful. Although, I’m rather partial to tigers…
5. Is there a story behind the book? Why did it demand to be written?
It was a dream. Most of my stories start that way. My daughter worked on it with me, though. SHE did all The Evil One. It was written very fast – less than a month. I was obsessed and wrote non-stop for days and days.
6. Please tell us a little about your other books, The Storm Within, Forbidden and Once Bitten.
The Storm Within is a romantic suspense. The heroine is running from a boyfriend that’s framed her for murder. I loved writing it – another of those that kind of just took off with a spark of an idea.
Forbidden & Once Bitten are a little more risqué. They are connecting stories with vampires, but not your traditional vampires. One was a born vampire, and the other was created. I had a blast writing them, though. I can’t wait to get my rights to them back so I can put them up at a more reasonable price – and put up the third story in the series.
7. You’ve created a book review website http://books2lovereviews.blogspot.com. Can you tell us a bit about that please?
As an author, it’s very important to get reviews. As I’ve struggled for my own reviews, I decided to offer a site with honest reviews of books I’ve enjoyed.
8. Does reviewing books help your writing, do you think?
I don’t think reviewing helps my writing – but reading does. I read in many different genres. A good writer has got to be a voracious reader in my opinion. I’m lucky that I’m a very fast reader. I can easily read a book in two hours.
9. Are book reviews important to authors?
Book reviews are imperative for authors. It’s how we know that our work is enjoyed – and how we let others know about our books. They are also helpful in that we can learn; sometimes we just don’t hit the mark and we learn how to improve with future books.
10. Do you have any strange or quirky writing habits?
When I’m on a roll – I write sometimes up to 24 hours non-stop. I’ve been known not to eat or sleep when I’m really in a story. I also tend to let my characters tell me the story. I rarely have an end in mind when I start. I have never plotted a book – I just write and see where it goes.
11. When did you first realise you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?
When I was eight. I wrote a play for school at age eight, and have been hooked ever since. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write.
12. What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?
Read before you write. Learn to promote your work and to take constructive criticism – and for goodness sake, please learn to format and edit! I’d also suggest a writer join either a critique group or a writers’ group. Beta Readers are very important as well.
13. OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are your three favourite foods?
Chocolate, Butter Pecan Ice Cream–and steak. Can I add Diet Coke? Cannot survive without Diet Coke.
14. And finally, what would you not be seen dead wearing?
Leather – or a bikini, LOL. My character in Once Bitten is wearing a leather number I affectionately call her “Sluts R Us” outfit in the book. It’s actually similar to an outfit a friend bought my daughter when she was 18. I was less than enthused – though I must admit she made it look good.
Operation Bald Eagle is an exciting spy thriller from young author Kyle Bell. It follows the actions of CIA agent Ethan Clark and his assistant Martin Frost as they fight to prevent a cyber-attack on the United States. It’s gritty, fast-moving, worryingly plausible and brilliantly written. Well worth a read.
Kyle Bell is a very interesting guy so this has turned into quite a long interview, but I know you’ll find it fascinating. So here we go.
What inspired you to write Operation Bald Eagle?
I have always been a big fan of the spy genre – everything from James Bond movies to video games like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid. More recently I discovered Ian Fleming’s writings out of curiosity for how the movie character differed from the big screen renditions. I’ve drawn inspiration from all of these in order to write Operation Bald Eagle.
Which character from the book are you most like – Clark, Frost, Goldberg or Falcon?
I would like to think that I’m closer to Ethan Clark and Martin Frost than the villains! Ethan is level-headed and reasonable. Readers will find his coolness appealing, as well as the fact that he comes across as human. Frost is young and idealistic. He’s less cautious and prone to mistakes. Really, I’m a blend of both characters, although I could never do their job in a million years.
As for the villains, they’re both decidedly evil in their own way. Goldberg’s infatuation with himself would rival that of Narcissus. His delusions of grandeur and power lead him down a dark path. Falcon is a complete sociopath. I don’t identify with either of them, but they’re fun villains to have in the book
You describe Operation Bald Eagle as going ‘back to the roots of the spy genre’. What are those roots?
Classic spy films and novels are exciting without being completely ridiculous in plot. They were focused on the conflict between protagonist and villain rather than relying on special effects to thrill the audience. So aside from sticking to the basics, Operation Bald Eagle builds a strong dynamic between Ethan and both of the villains.
Operation Bald Eagle has a great cover. Did you design it yourself?
The credit for the cover goes to Angel Cortes. He is a fantastic graphic designer having done most of the covers for my books. His e-mail is [email protected] for those that might need a cover of their own. Highly recommended!
You created and own a video gaming websitehttp://gamefreaks365.com. Is it easy to fit your writing around being an entrepreneur?
Several of my books have been compilations of reviews taken from the Game Freaks 365 website, so it is actually quite easy to fit the two together. Operation Bald Eagle is my first full-length work of fiction. It started as part of National Novel Writing Month in November 2011, but I quickly found that it would be exceedingly difficult to reach 50,000 words – especially since I started five days late. Instead it was finished in two months, which is still not bad. I wanted it to be done when it was done rather than stick to an artificial timeline. Surprisingly, I still found enough time to manage Game Freaks 365 at the height of the holiday period – traditionally the busiest in the industry.
What’s your current favourite video game?
This is a difficult question. I really don’t have a single favorite game of all time, but in the past year I would say that the game that I enjoyed the most was Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Video games have become a new medium to tell stories. Deus Ex is one of the best to do it so far. The game makes you think about difficult moral dilemmas – bioethics in an age of increased human augmentation, the militarization of police forces that confront civilians, and the increased power of mega-corporations that drown out the masses.
Another book you’ve written is The James Bond Movie Guide so I’m guessing you’re a 007 fan. (Me too!) Which is your favourite Bond movie and why?
The first encounter that I had with James Bond was GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64. I’m twenty-three now, but back then I was only about ten. I was obsessed with that game, playing it constantly with friends. My dad rented the movie from Hollywood Video and I fell in love with it immediately. Looking back on it now, it probably wasn’t the best Bond movie (although it would rank high up there). However, it is historically noteworthy since it’s the first Bond movie after the end of the Cold War. It was questionable at the time whether Bond was relevant anymore. Pierce Brosnan proved that he was by introducing the character to a new generation of fans.
You describe Ethan Clark as an anti-Bond hero. Is that a good or bad thing?
James Bond is an amazing character with more complexity than he’s often given credit for, especially the literary version. However, for the longest time – especially in the movies – he comes across as a playboy disinterested in world affairs, fumbling around looking for his next lover. This is not how Ethan Clark operates. He’s a professional out to do his job, a no-nonsense type. I don’t view it as either good or bad. Ethan Clark is a distinct character.
Deep down, would you like to be a Bond baddie?
Of course! Your own private island, lavish meals, beautiful people all around – who wouldn’t want that? Being the cause of a nuclear disaster is another story, though.
Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?
At the moment I’m reading Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. The movie is coming out this summer – I want to enjoy the book first. I recently read Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. I try to mix my book list between novels and non-fiction.
You write a political blog at www.kylebell.com, you’re a political science graduate and you’ve written a book about US immigration policy, The Sanctuary Movement. Are we going to see you in government one day?
Unlikely, but never say never. The United States has lost a lot of the respect that we once had in the world due to a number of foreign policy blunders and a lack of moral leadership. I grew up in the 1990s during a time of peace and prosperity only to see that unravel in the past decade. I saw politics as a route to better the world. The past several years of watching the discord in Washington has led me to reconsider how I could most make a difference. There are too many inauthentic politicians beholden to a small group of wealthy interests.
When did you first realise you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?
If you told me ten years ago that I would release a book in the future – let alone multiple books – I probably would not have believed you. Amusingly, it all dates back to before I could even write a sentence on paper. When I was four or five years old I would dictate stories to my Aunt Mary. Unfortunately none of them are around anymore, but it was the beginning of my interest in writing.
Tell us briefly about Ozzy.
Ozzy started off as a project for college. I was in an English class where we used a number of different techniques to tell stories. One of them was narrative collage where we juxtaposed text with images. The fonts, the alignment of the sentences, and the photographs all have a purpose.
Sadly, I lost a number of family members in recent years. Grandma Rose and Grandpa Wayne passed away within a couple years of each other on my father’s side of the family. Ozzy was written in dedication to both of them. It’s an emotional story that was quite difficult to write.
The two main characters are a black Persian cat by the name of Ozzy and his owner (who he refers to simply as “Master”), an old man trying to overcome the death of his beloved wife. The story is told through the perspective of the cat and the old man. It’s a short and sweet read that I hope more people will get a chance to encounter.
You wrote a book about the 2008 election in the USA: An Election to Remember: Obama, Clinton and the Never Ending Primary of 2008. Will there be one on this year’s elections?
The Republican primary has seen a number of interesting twists and turns. Nearly all of the candidates have at one point led in national polling. There’s no telling where things might end up. Even with all of the tantalizing nuggets from the campaign trail – the meteoric rise and fall of Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann’s craziness, and Herman Cain’s sexual harassment problems, just to name a few – I still don’t plan on writing a book at this point.
The 2008 election was historic in a number of ways. The two most obvious ones: a woman or an African-American man would end up as the Democratic Party’s nominee. President Obama went on to get elected in a country that only roughly fifty years prior was still permitting segregation. It was also the first presidential election since 1952 that neither party had an incumbent president or vice president on the ballot. In other words, it was wide open without an heir apparent. 2008 was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event.
What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?
Pursue your dreams and don’t give up. Undoubtedly it will be frustrating at times, but the end product is what makes it all worth the effort.
OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are your three favourite foods?
Chinese, cheesecake, and pizza
And finally, what would you not be seen dead wearing?
I’m taking part in the Assisting Authors Online virtual book tour for the inspiring, self-help book Fulfill Your Threats by Jonathan Wutawunashe.
Jonathan Wutawunashe is a hugely successful musician, songwriter, and record producer and so is well qualified to write a book about fulfilling your potential and achieving more. However, he uses his own experiences in a very low-key way and there’s no brashness or hype in this common sense book. He gives gentle yet persuasive advice throughout and it is well sitting up and taking notice of it.
The formula is easy to follow. There is discussion of a particular idea or point of view, often illustrated by a story of an incident from his own life or that of someone he knows, and then comes a punchy summary in bold type of what we should learn from this lesson.
There are 14 chapters in the book. In the first the author presents his thesis which is that “success is the outcome of a simple process based on deciding, doing and learning”. It sounds so simple. But is it? Wutawunashe’s view is that failure stems from a lack of common sense. He sets out to threaten us in this book, to “cajole, annoy and shock” us into getting off our butts and acting and achieving. The boxing gloves on the cover are a good reflection of this attitude. While I don’t think the book is as aggressive as this might suggest, it is undeniably forceful.
Chapter 2 looks at how the first step is always the hardest. Sometimes it’s easier to turn and run from a problem or a challenge, but that’s what we have to resist. Instead we should seize the opportunity and tackle the challenge to test our skills. We all have courage. We should use it. We have to adjust our perspective to see something as normal and achievable, not impossible. We must take that first step.
Risk is considered in chapter 3. The author looks at real risks and uses these to give us perspective on the perceived risks we conjure up for ourselves. Like farmers, we need to sow in order to reap. Our fear is usually inappropriate and we need to recognise it as such, overcome it and take the plunge.
In chapter 4 we are told to stop talking and start doing, but the following chapter warns us to make sure we know what we’re going to do before we get too over-confidently enthusiastic. Zeal without knowledge is dangerous. We need to have the necessary information at our fingertips before making important decisions. Personal experience counts for a lot here too.
The sixth chapter, Mortgage your Reputation, deals with keeping going, even when times are tough. Sincere effort and development are rarely noticed or praised, but the odd setback has everyone looking and commenting. We have to learn to ignore it and soldier on. If we believe in ourselves and what we’re doing, then that will keep us on track. Grow a thick skin and learn not to be embarrassed over mistakes. Money management is touched on too. Look at the big picture, we’re advised. We might have to give up a few luxuries in order to invest all our energy and money into what is important to us. We can always downscale in certain areas and that will help us in the long term.
Can You Manage opens with the crucial reminder that when we pay money, we must pay attention. Auto-pilot doesn’t work when we’re building an enterprise. We have to focus and concentrate all the time, and be prepared to organise and interfere in every detail. As well as organising how the business is run, it’s important to organise our time. The next chapter suggests how to structure a successful day. Whilst I don’t entirely agree that all goals should be acheived within the first three hours of daily working, I can appreciate the point that is being made – don’t put things off and tackle the big issues when you’re at your best. Spending time purposefully gives us the impetus and energy to keep working at that tempo all day.
Chapter 9, It’s a Goal, is about building up a good working team. This isn’t relevant to everyone of course, and I imagine a lot of sole traders and lone entrepreneurs will read this book, but there is sound advice there. Hire people for their skills and for no other reason.
Money comes back into play in the next chapter with the theme that money matters, whatever we are trying to do. Be careful with it and don’t waste it. Every penny counts. Don’t leave it lying around too conveniently in case it tempts you to spend more than you should. Bank it and budget carefully.
Chapter 11, Less is More, builds on this book’s premise that we, its readers, are not satisfied with what we’ve accomplished in our lives so far. We want to do more. But we must be patient and do the groundwork first. It may not seem that we’re doing much, but we’ll get the better results in the long run. It’s better to “plod steadily” on than rush over the cliff edge.
The next section of the books teaches us how to overcome a fear of falling or failing. The more we start to achieve, the more we can lose, but that shouldn’t stop us. Fear of failure is often “an indication of a willingness to fail”. Trade can be tricky, we should soldier on and confront things, accept new challenges. Test yourself and feel liberated by it.
Be Known for Something exhorts us to recognise and define what we can give and who we are. This will help us build our brand and our business or success. Look for the niche that only we can fill and find something that only we can say to the world. Be different and stand out.
The final chapter is about not feeling along and not seeing it as weakness to ask for help and advice from our peers. We’re never really alone. Other people are always contributing to what we do, however indirectly. We need our customers too and should treat them honestly and with respect, and welcome competitors since they will spur us on to better things.
The epilogue talks of how we all want to leave graffiti – our mark – behind us and the author hopes this book will show us how. He says the principles hold true whether we’re a grocer or a Sunday school teacher. If he can make us move another inch towards achieving a goal then he feels he has fulfilled his threat. It’s up to us now to fulfil ours.
Fulfill Your Threats is well worth a read if you feel that you’re not achieving quite as much as you should be, whether in your professtional or personal life. You can buy it here.