Friday, December 30, 2011

Opposites Attract?

Blogaholic Designs”=We've all heard the expression "Opposites Attract", and I guess it must be true. Take my wife and me. We could not possibly be more polar opposites in so many areas. In fact, the areas of similarity are virtually miniscule, and yet we just celebrated our twelfth anniversary!

I am a man who likes order; she is perfectly comfortable with a desk that looks like a dumpster was overturned on it. I prefer to read the Sports section first on Sunday, while she goes straight for the comics. She grew up in the era when The Beatles ruled; my childhood and teenage years fell during the disco and then hard rock days. Therein, I believe, lies most of the source of our differences.

You see, my wife is 16 years my senior. She was born during the 50's, me at the very end of the 60's; she still resents the fact that she wasn't old enough to go to Woodstock. I attended a couple of rock concerts, I think.....not sure.....hard to remember. (Just kidding.) She wanted so badly to be a flower child and haunt the Haight; I was perfectly satisfied to attend college in a major party town - Columbus, Ohio.

My wife is definitely a Vietnam-era woman; her brother served there, and when her parents ran a Greyhound Bus station, she often saw the tear-filled goodbyes between soldiers going off to war and their families. My early years were spent in blissful ignorance of war, except for the stories my father's friends told me about WWII.

I am a numbers man. Math came easy to me, and I majored in Finance in college. My wife is a words person (she truly believes numbers are a foreign language and that she should have gotten credit in that area when she was forced to take geometry in high school). She has written poetry and short stories most of her life (her preferred form of writing), and has had a fair number published in online magazines and in print. Though my career is in credit and finance, I have also become a writer, with two self-published novels available in a variety of online stores. Words are not my friends; rather, I feel as though I conquer them every time I write a novel. I am also very grateful for spell-check; spelling is not something I do well.

Our writing styles are very different. I schedule time to write, while she writes when the Muse seizes her. This can mean she has a purse full of notes scribbled on fast-food restaurant napkins, the backs of receipts, and pages torn out of her address book (later she can't remember why all the R's are gone...). I sit down in my recliner, turn on my laptop, and write for one hour. Then I take a break. I edit my books the same way. I have a certain number of pages I commit to edit in one day, and I am not satisfied until I can cross that off my "to-do" list.

In spite of our many differences, my wife and I get along very well. We don't always agree on things: sports, politics, religion, what makes a great dessert, or where we should go on vacation, but we do always agree on one thing: neither of us can imagine ourselves spending the rest of our lives with anyone else!

We're very different, but it works.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Embrace Virtual Launch Party - Embracing Change

Blogaholic Designs”=Embracing Change - My Experiences

Eighteen years ago when I met the woman who is now my wife, I never would have imagined how my life would change. She was 16 years older than me, and we were at two entirely different points in our lives. She had been married and divorced; I was a never-married bachelor. She was working; I was in graduate school. She had a 20-year-old daughter; I had no children. Her daughter has Down syndrome… Though I had an uncle with Down, I didn't know him very well, and had spent very little time around him.

My then-girlfriend and I dated for six years, on and off, before I decided that she was THE ONE. I asked her to marry me, after first clearing it with her daughter, who kept the secret! We married in December of 1999, and the journey began.

Adjusting to married life was challenging, especially since I had been on my own for many years with no one to please or accommodate but myself! My wife and her daughter had lived alone for nearly 20 years. But the most challenging part of this marriage was winning over and learning to adjust to my step-daughter. She was jealous of the time her mom spent with me, and she looked upon me as a rival for her mom's affections. I, on the other hand, had to understand that my relationship with my wife was a 2-for-1 deal! Suddenly I had to consider the wants and needs not only of a wife, but of a daughter as well. It wasn't always easy, and my stepdaughter and I didn't always see eye to eye on things, but as time went on, she became MY daughter and I became HER father in the truest sense of the word.

We still don’t always agree, but what father and daughter do? We are family, we love each other, and I cannot imagine my life now without her. Oh, and her mom and I have learned that the one thing that is essential for parenting any child is to present a united front!

Embrace Launch Party Guest Posts!
Jennifer DeLucy Blog: Writing Embrace - From Idea to Release
Kym's Quips: The Research Behind to Story
Once Upon A *Spark*: Mythology Behind Madison's World
Nicki Elson's Not-So-Deep Thoughts: Bring on the Romance
Jennifer Lane Books Blog: Facing Change

Embrace Launch Party Posts!
Susan Kaye Quinn, Conjuring Tales for Young Minds
Kim Winters, Kat's Eye Journal
Carole, the life of fiction
Mina Burrows, books for paranormal & mystic minds
Joseph Rinaldo, Read Rinaldo
Angela Brown, in a Pursuit of Publishness
Debra Anastasia, Tell me a Story
Colleen Wagner, London Relocation

Embrace, a novel by Cherie Colyer

Madison is familiar enough with change, and she hates everything about it. Change took her long-term boyfriend away from her. It caused one of her friends to suddenly hate her. It’s responsible for the death of a local along with a host of other mysterious happenings. But when Madison meets a hot new guy, she thinks her luck is about to improve.

Madison is instantly drawn to the handsome and intriguing Isaac Addington. She quickly realizes he’s a guy harboring a secret, but she’s willing to risk the unknown to be with him.

Her world really spins out of control, however, when her best friend becomes delusional, seeing things that aren’t there and desperately trying to escape their evil. When the doctors can’t find the answers, Madison seeks her own.

Nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.


Prizes: To celebrate the release of her debut novel, Cherie is giving away an eCopy of EMBRACE and 5-Embrace Hemp Bracelets today. There are three ways to win:

1) Leave a comment here or at any of the Party Posts.

2) Tweet about the Virtual Party or any of the Party Posts with tag #EMBRACEnovels


Nothing could have prepared her for what she’s about to discover. #EMBRACEnovels @CherieColyer #YA avail NOW


Celebrate the launch of EMBRACE by @CherieColyer #EMBRACEnovels #paranormal #YA avail NOW

3) Facebook (tag Cherie Colyer, author) about the Virtual Party.


Celebrate the launch of teen paranormal thriller/romance novel EMBRACE by Cherie Colyer, author and enter for a chance to win Embrace prizes!

Do all three and you will have three times the chances to win! Leave a comment at each stop of the tour for a chance to win the Grand Prize.

If you haven’t already, remember to stop back by Cherie’s blog or click here to fill out the form to ensure your entry is counted.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Self-Publishing Ain't For Sissies!

Blogaholic Designs”=This post appeared originally on DuoLit.

During a period of unemployment in 2004, I did a lot of soul-searching about my career and a lot of reading for pure escapism. It was at this time that I read Nicholas Sparks’ Three Weeks With My Brother, and I tried to absorb the fact that he received a million-dollar advance for this book. After I got over the initial shock of that fact, I remember thinking, “Holy cow! He’s a good writer, but I know I can do this, too.” I’ve been writing since that day in 2004.

When I finished my first novel, my wife and I spent a great deal of time and money printing off complete manuscripts and mailing them to agents and publishers. This went on for months with no result. We struggled with the disappointment we felt from the countless rejection letters.

As this went on (and on and on), I began working on my second novel. I felt it was much better than the first, and I was very hopeful. We finally realized that it wasn’t necessary or practical to mail the entire manuscript to agents and publishers (in fact, most of them don’t want it as the initial contact), and we began querying and sending synopses, chapter outlines, and excerpts. Still no result. A few nibbles, but no bites. Again, much disappointment.

In the meantime, I had taken a job in another state, and we moved. I continued writing novels while working full-time, and my wife took over some of the “marketing” aspect of this endeavor. Nine novels later, we had nothing to show for our efforts with traditional agents and publishers but frustration.

Through some chance or perhaps through diligent research (I don’t remember which.), we discovered the world of self-publishing and Amazon’s self-publishing ebook program. We were so excited to have another venue to explore, and we were sure that if we published the books ourselves, at no cost to us (thank you, Amazon), we would certainly sell books and become rich and famous. How na├»ve we were!

The one thing we have discovered about self-publishing, apart from the fact that getting the books formatted correctly to upload to Amazon’s program is a nightmare, is that ALL the marketing is totally up to the author (and his trusty sidekick/spouse). We were stymied. How does one go about marketing one’s own book? What avenues are out there for this purpose?

Again, through trial and costly error, we discovered that advertising in national newspapers and on BookPage was an exercise in futility. We got NO sales from the several ads we placed in print. Likewise ads placed on Facebook and Google and bookmarks printed and passed out at bookstores and book festivals. By this time, we were beginning to make some contacts online with other authors, and we decided that having a website might be a good idea. It’s amazing how inept we were in trying to create our own “free” website; it really looked like an amateur had done it, and the results, again, were nil, even though we had a store right on the site.

It was not until we hired a web designer who also re-designed the cover of my first published book, A Spy At Home, that we began to see sales. Just a few at first, of course, but by then we had begun to “work” the social media, created a blog, and tried to figure out just who the market for this book was and to send them announcements about the book’s release. We also discovered the value of reviews, we began contacting reviewers both on Amazon and on blog sites, and favorable reviews started coming in. This boosted sales, though they were still modest.

We now have two ebooks for sale on Amazon: A SPY AT HOME and my new release, HAZARDOUS CHOICES.

The benefits from creating a network of contacts (writers, readers, bloggers, reviewers) was so much more than getting good reviews or word-of-mouth advertisement. They supported and encouraged me to pursue this dream of writing and publishing my books.

I am now in my seventh year of writing, revising, editing, marketing, and selling novels. Progress has been slow but steady, and I am proud of the work we’ve done. I will continue to write and market my books, and one day, I know, we really will become rich and famous! That’s the dream, and I know it can come true.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I am proud to feature Niamh Clune's new release, Orange Petals in a Storm. Niamh was born in Dublin in 1952. She was one of eight children. During the 1970's she was a singer/songwriter in London and was, at the same time, deeply involved in London's spiritual development movement. In 2002, she earned a PhD from Surrey University, UK, in "Acquiring Wisdom through the Imagination."

She has been described as a polymath! She is a writer, teacher, spiritual psychologist, award-winning social entrepreneur, environmental campaigner and award-winning writer of songs.

Niamh has lived and worked in Africa for Oxfam, UNICEF and World Food Programme, which she describes as one of the defining moments in her life. She is the author of The Coming of the Feminine Christ. Her latest publication, Orange Petals in a Storm, is the first in the Skyla McFee series.

Orange Petals in a Storm: A spiritual, inspirational story to feed the soul. In Skyla's world, we find shelter from every hazard and outlive the longest night.

A bedraggled and bruised eleven-year-old child races through the rain-drenched streets of East London as though the hounds of hell were after her. She tries to reach the home of her childhood, a home that was hers until her mother’s recent death. What becomes of Skyla McFee once she arrives there? From whom does she run?

This is a story about a wonderful child who endures great suffering at the hands of her stepfather. Though she lives in a harsh reality, she evolves spiritually despite, or perhaps because of the hurt she suffers. The magical way she transcends her unbearable life through her inner world transports us into the hauntingly beautiful world of the imagination. Telling you that Skyla triumphs over her situation is not a spoiler – because as you get to know her, you realise there is no other way. She must triumph because of who she is.

Read what others say about this book:

“…A delicate, luminous, mysterious book. I am not able to decide what the exact genre is - is it magical realism? Fantasy? Literary fiction? All of the above? It's hard to define.”

“After reading the first paragraph, I knew I had picked a winner. The story instantly engages you, the words flowing elegantly and as magically as the story itself…”

“This is deeply soulful writing, pitch perfect for our fractured times.”

“Unputdownable…You will read and re-read.”

“Niamh Clune is, in the Irish tradition, a masterful wordsmith. The story is beautifully written, powerful, moving, original and believable.”

“…A female Pat Conroy. This Irish lassie has been kissed by the faeries in order to come up with such an outstanding work. Mystical writing at its best!”

Thank you, Niamh, for letting me share the good news about your book, Orange Petals in a Storm. The book can be purchased in Kindle or paperback on Amazon at and on Smashwords at Visit Niamh at her website at and her Facebook page at

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Guest Post By Denise Keene on the Top 5 Qualities of Excellent Special Education Teachers

Blogaholic Designs”=Denise Keene has been a special education teacher for 15 years and likes to write articles about various edication-related topics. She also owns the site I am pleased to host her guest post today because my daughter, who has Down syndrome, was fortunate enough to have had a number of outstanding special education and "regular" classroom teachers. Take it away, Denise!

The Top Five Qualities of Special Education Teachers

As with any career, it is best to choose a job that will suit your personality and interests. Special education is a career that requires very specific qualities. Here are the top five:

1. Acceptance and understanding are the most important qualities a special education teacher can possess. You will be interacting with many different students who have many different types of disabilities and disorders. For this reason, you must be very open and accepting to their challenges and individual personalities. One student may be very quiet and yet very stubborn while another may be very loud and yet very diligent. There is a lot of unpredictability in a special education classroom, and a good teacher will learn to accept this and work around it.

2. A good temperament is a necessity when teaching special education. Children with disabilities need a mentor who is direct and firm yet calm and compassionate. It can be very difficult to stay calm when a student with special needs experiences an emotional or physical crisis. It can be even more difficult to stay calm when a student with a disability becomes outwardly defiant, but a good special education teacher knows you must remain kind and composed in order to show the child that you care and are there to help them.

3. Organization is imperative when teaching in a special education classroom. You will be using different teaching methods and tools for each disorder and disability. There may be times when each student will be working on different tasks and subjects; this goes back to the unpredictability of the classroom. A student with autism may refuse to work on a particular task which will require you to veer from your lesson plan and find another task to keep them busy. If you are well-organized and prepared, classroom interruptions like this won’t cause you to skip a beat.

4. The ability to learn and practice new teaching techniques is another key quality for a special education teacher. Research and technology is constantly producing new methods for learning. Staying on top of these new techniques will allow you to give your students the best education available.

5. Positivity is another trait that is needed. Children with special needs are always aware of their teacher’s mood and attitude. If a student feels that you are not positive about his or her ability to learn, their confidence will be affected, and they may be tempted to give up trying. A special education teacher must always remain confident and patient when teaching their students.

There are so many wonderful children out there who deserve special teachers. If you possess these traits, consider a career in special education and begin changing lives for the better today!

I echo Denise's words, and I urge you to consider special education as a career. There may be no more rewarding work than helping students with special needs learn.

Friday, November 4, 2011

First Review for my new Amazon release, HAZARDOUS CHOICES!

Blogaholic Designs”=My first review for HAZARDOUS CHOICES, and it's a great one!

Modern Shakespearean Tragedy, October 31, 2011

By Pandorasecho "echo"

This review is from: HAZARDOUS CHOICES (Kindle Edition)

If you don't like violence, or if you live for happy endings, this is not the book for you. However, It rings of some of the great Shakespearean tragedies in a very modern setting and involved me in caring for characters who were obviously busily living up to the title of the novel. There is a family with a young, down syndrome boy who struggles to communicate but has mastered the social skills of caring and making friends. There are a football team and the coaches involved in learning how to come together after a losing year, contrasted with the street gang trying simply to survive in a world where no choice is anything but hazardous. There is young love, and parental love and teenage rebellion and angst and gang hatred, all interwoven smoothly to keep you hoping for that elusive happy ending for the characters you care about.

If you love an emotional rollercoaster, and college football, if you have ever wanted to see a believable character with down syndrome, if you wonder about the hazard's of gang life, then I strongly recommend Hazardous Choices.

Monday, October 31, 2011

New Four-Star Review for A SPY AT HOME!

Blogaholic Designs”=

A spy story with heart, October 27, 2011

By Stephen England - This review is from: A SPY AT HOME (Kindle Edition)

A Spy at Home is the type of spy thriller you seldom see. If you're looking for your next Jack Bauer fix, you should probably look elsewhere. There are no car chases, no frenzied shootouts.

On second thought, pull up a chair and download the book--you won't regret it. In this, his first foray into the spy genre, Joseph Rinaldo has crafted a tale full of realism and pathos. This is the story of Garrison Stonebrook, a retired field officer from the Central Intelligence Agency. It's the story of his wife and handicapped son.

Rinaldo tells things the way they are, stripping away the glitz and glamour of spy fiction to reveal the heartache of separation, the personal sacrifices undergone by the members of the intelligence community.

It's the type of story that will send you on-line to look up the characters' names, just to see if they might be real.

Heartily recommended.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Is Originality Dead?

Blogaholic Designs”=In Ecclesiastes 1:9, the Bible says: "...and there is no new thing under the sun." I would have to agree. At the risk of offending Christians everywhere, I have to say that this verse was obviously written with future television commercials in mind. All you sons and daughters of the 50's and 60's, remember when you listened with rapture to The Beatles' "When I'm 64" and all you could think of was how weird it would be to see a 64-year-old Beatle? Well, apart from the fact that it has been VERY weird to see at least two of them reach that milestone, it's even weirder to hear that song in the background of an Allstate television commercial.

I'm sure Aretha Franklin did NOT have in mind selling Hondas when she sang with such passion "Rescue Me". And I can't even begin to tell you how aghast I was to hear Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" played over a video game commercial. Seriously, have advertisers completely run out of anything new to say? Surely, the ad people behind M & M's could have written a commercial jingle that is fresh and new instead of using the classic "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes".

Is it just that they're too lazy or unimaginative to write anything new, or is it that they think that people who grew up in the 50's and 60's are America's major target market for products in 2011? I don't know the answer to that, but I'd be interested to hear what YOU think.

While you're pondering this, let me list a few other unoriginal commercials that use 50-year-old songs to hawk their products:

Budweiser - The Beatles - All Together Now
Nissan - Elvis Presley - Devil In Disguise
J C Penney - Theme song from Love Story, the movie (well, it was made in 1970, but the point is still valid)
Hewlett Packard - Melanie - Brand New Key

Can you name any more?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

A SPY AT HOME - Interview with Sylvia Ramsey on Thoughtful Reflections

Blogaholic Designs”=I am so proud to present my author interview about my ebook, A Spy At Home, with Sylvia Ramsey on her blog, Thoughtful Reflections.

Discussing Joe Rinaldo's New eBook, A Spy AT Home

Joe is getting some really great reviews on Amazon, and this book sounds like a great read. If this is the genre you like to read, I am sure you will want to get his book.

Hello, I am Joe Rinaldo, and I have written nine novels, one of which, A Spy At Home, is available on Amazon. By day I work as Credit and Financial Manager for a heating, ventilating, and air conditioning distributor; we sell to the guys that come to your house. When I first started writing, I thought being a numbers guy would make me an oddity as an author. That’s proved to be wrong. The more people I meet in this industry, the more I run across accountants and CFOs. Apparently, creativity infects a variety of people. Of course, I have the same dream as other writers. I hope my book sells a million copies and becomes a smash hit movie. Selling eBooks for ninety-nine cents is not the get-rich-quick scheme I thought it was before being published. It’s been a lot of work.

The genre of my books is very hard to pin down. My wife and I have searched numerous times for standardized publishing industry definitions with no success. As silly as that may sound, especially for a person who wants to deal in words as a career, genres are hard to define. A Spy At Home could be considered contemporary fiction, mainstream (this sounds like a synonym for dull), thriller, suspense (what’s the difference between thriller and suspense? Shouldn’t you be thrilled reading a suspense novel, and shouldn’t you wonder what will happen next in thriller?), drama (any book without intense turmoil probably won’t be worth reading), or adventure (my main character travels to another continent; that’s adventurous, right?). I honestly don’t know where my books fall in the narrow definitions of the publishing world; I do know I have tried to make the characters interesting and multi-faceted, moving through difficulties in their lives.

What are some of your books, stories that have been published?

A Spy At Home has been published as an eBook on Amazon. My staff/ spouse and I are learning what works in marketing an eBook. With all the “noise” on the internet, getting noticed has proved incredibly difficult. Sometimes selling eBooks seems to require contacting each individual using the internet. My advice to writers would be this: if you are thinking about self-publishing an eBook, be ready for a long road.

Give a short description of each.

My one and only eBook available for sale at this point is A Spy At Home.

A retired CIA operative comes to believe he wasted his professional life not only promoting questionable American policies, but missing life with his family. To ease the pain, he diverts millions that the CIA expected him to use funding a coup attempt that would establish a pro-American government in an African country. Seeing the coup would fail, Garrison decides to keep the money for himself. The reader can decide if he's a villain with evil intent, a hero with altruistic motives, or a regular guy sick of working for peanuts in a dangerous environment.

Once he’s back at home, he and his wife look forward to their golden years being luxuriously comfortable and opulently relaxed. Unfortunately, after his wife dies in a tragic accident, he must learn all that she knew about caring for Noah, their mentally retarded son. After a life of planning for contingencies, the former spy must deal with the possibility that he may die before his son. Who will care for the son when the dad spent a life out of the country and now has no one to lean on?

How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?

Naming characters can be tricky. You probably don’t want to name the world’s leading neurobiologist Bubba Joe Skeeter. I don’t like to use names that can be male and female for important characters, e.g. Leslie, Kelly, etc. Others do that, but it’s a pet peeve of mine. I also think it’s a lazy writer that uses a main character that’s a writer. Stephen King did do a great job with this in Misery, but I think a writer whose main character is a writer by day and solves crime at night is pathetic. Back to naming characters, they can convey a lot, but if the name provokes something in the reader’s mind, you’re most likely playing on a stereotype. A main character named Abe is tall and honest. William Clinton speaks with a southern drawl and does well with the ladies. I change the names of my characters A LOT during the writing process; thank heavens for the Find and Replace command. The names of places in a story can do a great deal to change/set the mood of a scene. For instance I’m typing this from a dark room in Linda’s House of Love. Your picture of me changed, probably for the worse, despite the fact that this is a home for abused children and the lights are turned down for the kids to sleep.

How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?

Garrison in A Spy At Home really came to me all at once. Suddenly he was in my head. This may not make me a healthy, well-adjusted member of society, but having people and their voices in my head helps me write novels. Hopefully, that makes sense; I don’t feel like I did anything. In my mind, Garrison is completely separate person from me.

What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any kind?

The US government is the main antagonist in A Spy At Home. Garrison feels it cheated him. Other bad guys play parts here and there, but the government is the looming evil-doer in the background.

What is your favorite thing about your book?

I love the way Garrison interacts with his wife, Louisa. He’s terrible at expressing himself around women, and she patiently puts up with it. You really should read how he proposes! A Spy At Home is serious and intense except where Louisa brings a calming influence.

How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?

I never concern myself with genre. In fact, if my books only fit into one genre, that would be insulting.

Why and when did you begin writing?

This is the entire history of my life as a writer. Freshman year of high school we had to write a short story, and the teacher suggested that those struggling ask one of five people to help them. I was one of the five, and she was right. To my surprise, my story was better than most. Ten years later I started to write a book. I read it to my girlfriend (now my wife) and she pointed out that characters weren’t telling the story. Those handwritten pages promptly went into the trash can. Eight years later while temporarily unemployed, I was reading Nicholas Sparks’ Three Weeks With My Brother (excellent book!). He mentioned that he got a million dollar advance. I said, he writes pretty well, but I can do that. From that point on six years ago I have written and written. Today I have nine completed books that will eventually be published on Amazon.

What is your writing schedule?

I write at night and on the weekends as I have an eight-to-four job. When I was doing most of the writing on the nine books, I worked part-time as an adjunct professor. Teaching really didn’t appeal to me in any way, except it provided time to write.

What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?

I have three books circling in my head. This is part of the business of writing; we had to choose if I keep writing new books or work with an editor to polish the ones already written and get them available for sale on Amazon. We chose to get more books ready for sale. Once these are out for readers, I’ll let the flood gates open and write, write, write.

What kind of advice or tips do you have for someone who wants to write and get published?

In my mind, the Christmas of 2010 changed the publishing world forever. That Christmas saw many eReaders given as gifts. As more and more people come to love the convenience of the eReader, the number of paper books will continue to decrease. Authors like me without a publisher welcome this seismic shift in the retail book market. We can put out our books for sale very cheaply and reach many customers. The problem as I’ve said earlier is distinguishing yourself from the influx of writers doing the same thing you’re doing.

Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?

I was at a writer’s conference, and a woman was telling me about her historical novel. She found the menu for the heads of states dinner that actually happened and she was using it in her novel. While she said this, I kept thinking that has to be the most boring book ever if you are telling the reader what they had to eat. Research can be good and bad. Research can make the book come alive and seem real. It can also come across as if the writer is bragging about all he/she knows. If your reader wanted to read a textbook, she/he would’ve bought one. For writing novels the most important thing is being believable, not scientifically accurate.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I like to go boating, running, volunteering for Special Olympics, and of course, reading. Whatever hobbies a person has can and should influence your writing. An important character needs to have some depth, and hobbies help provide that.

What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?

I have really only had one big one. In May of 2011 we had a goal of selling a certain number of books, and we significantly beat that! Now we hope those that bought the book in May tell their friends about it.

If you want to know about this author, leave a comment to let him know.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Down Syndrome and Public Perception

Blogaholic Designs”=
So many times in my journey as the parent of a child with Down syndrome (now 38 years old),l I have heard people say, "Oh, kids with Down syndrome are so affectionate and loving and want to hug people all the time....." etc. I am here to tell you that classifying all people with Down as "affectionate and loving" is nearly the same thing as saying all blacks love fried chicken and watermelon. It's preposterous.

People with Down syndrome have one thing in common - an extra chromosome on their 21st pair. That's pretty much it. Oh, they have similar features, but as to their personalities and behavior, they are as different as people without special needs are.

My daughter is a wonderful, intelligent, funny, confident adult. She is NOT publicly affectionate, and she really considers her personal space her own. If you met her, she would certainly NOT come up and hug you. As a matter of fact, she has a great deal of respect for other people's personal space as well. I'm not saying she doesn't love some people - she certainly does love her family and friends. But don't expect her to love you automatically just because she has an extra chromosome. It ain't gonna happen. You have to earn her love and respect, just as you would if she didn't have Down. If would not be any more appropriate for you to hug her than it would be for you to hug any stranger upon meeting them, and you certainly shouldn't expect a hug from her any more than you would from any other stranger. After I married her mother in 1999, it took a year for her to feel comfortable enough with me to hug me goodnight!

And so, a word to the wise, as I'm sure any other parent of a child or adult with Down would tell you - they are so much more like "us" than like each other. Don't assume anything about people with Down that you wouldn't assume with "us".

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A SPY AT HOME - Latest 5-Star Amazon Review!

Blogaholic Designs”=Thrilling, Heart Wrenching, Suspense Adventure!, August 21, 2011

By Tom McGee "Tom" (Springfield, IL USA) - See all my reviews

(VINE VOICE) This review is from: A SPY AT HOME (Kindle Edition)

Joseph Rinaldo contacted me not long ago and asked me if I would be willing to read and review his book, A Spy at Home. I received the manuscript and began reading it yesterday.

I had to force myself to put it down last night in favor of sleep; however, I thought about it all night long and jumped up early this morning and finished it before breakfast.

Rinaldo knows how to grab and keep readers interested on a variety of levels. Although he kept me on the edge of my chair rapidly flipping dangerously exciting pages that included agencies like the CIA, FBI, NSA, a District Attorney's Office, as well as cyber hackers, this book is not a typical spy novel. It is also a love story that deals with death, adoption and the heart wrenching affects of Down syndrome and Alzheimer's.

Following a severe reaction to a bites from a swarm of mosquitoes, Garrison, a CIA operative, is treated in a secret CIA hospital by his future wife, Louisa.

Some years after their marriage, they notice a fire in a trailers house near their home occupied by a drug addict mother who died in the fire. Her Down's syndrome baby, Noah Kendrick, survived.

With the help of red tape cutting, Clarita Johnson, from the state adoption agency Garrison and Louisa adopted Noah after he was abondoned by his low-life relatives.

With Garrison away on dangerous CIA missions, Louisa was Noah's primary care taker until Garrison retired from the CIA after 20 years service.

Undetected, Garrison stole and diverted to Swiss Bank Accounts, nearly all of 10 million CIA dollars intended for use by African rebels on a mission to dispose of a dictator not friendly with the United States.

Pressure mounts as Garrison's focus on CIA missions diminshes as he stuggles with his son's dehabilitating condition, fears he or his family will be killed by hit men and worries about what to do with the loot without getting caught.

The story is told by Garrison, to be released following his death.

I recommend this novel to those who enjoy fast moving and thrilling suspense adventures.
I can hardly believe this book costs less than two dollars as a Kindle download!

This was my first exposure to Joseph Rinaldo, but it will not be my last. I look forward to the next episode of this haunting story. Enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

The UP Side of Down Syndrome

Blogaholic Designs”=So, I said on my profile and later in my blog that I would try to educate the reader about all things Down syndrome, and so here I am trying to do so. First of all, Down syndrome is a form of mental retardation that is associated with an extra chromosome on the 21st pair. In other words, instead of two, there are three; thus, Down syndrome is also called Trisomy 21. The degree of mental retardation among this population varies widely, and abilities also vary. Much of what these children and adults accomplish depends on how early intervention and developmental learning is begun.

Though my uncle has Down syndrome, I did not know him very well; when I married my now-wife, she had a daughter with Down who was (at that time) 26 - now 38. Becoming a stepfather to a grown daughter is challenging; becoming a stepfather to an adult daughter with Down syndrome who still lives with her mother was more than challenging. I am very pleased to say that over the past 12 years we have made it work, and she and I are very close and get along about as well as any father and daughter! I've made adjustments in my expectations, and she has worked very hard to get over her jealousy of my spending time with her mom (they were alone without a "dad" in the house for 20 years before I came along).

My daughter is bright, social, determined, and very active. She participates in many Special Olympics events, works as a volunteer for a nonprofit organization, is involved in a Best Buddies program at Vanderbilt University, reads and loves music, and exercises every day. She has no major health problems, though many people with Down syndrome do. We are very fortunate. She works word search puzzles, and she is so good at them that she can finish a whole book of them in no time flat. She is interested in everything, is very self-sufficient, and contributes a great deal to the household.

We are members of the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee (for which all three of us volunteer and participate in fundraisers), and I am a member of a local D.A.D.S. (Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome) group. Being a parent to a child/adult with Down syndrome presents some unique challenges, but I would not change her or our family for the world.

Like most people with a disability, my daughter is more like "typical" (we don't use the word "normal" - who among us could claim to be normal, and in fact, what does normal mean?) people than unlike them, and I just wanted all my blog readers to know how proud I am to be her DAD.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Patriot or Traitor?

Blogaholic Designs”=What if you worked for a corrupt government? What if you were the channel through which millions were funneled to support illegal coups in other countries that would benefit your employer? What if you had the opportunity to "divert" some of that wealth into your own pocket with absolutely no risk to yourself or your family? What if you retired from your job as a spy and came home to discover that because of your long and frequent absences, your wife resented you and your disabled son barely knew you? What if you accidentally killed your wife and then had to learn how to take care of your son as he slowly fell victim to the ravages of Alzheimer's disease?

What would you do? How would you cope? How would you get closer to a son that was slipping away from you? How would you provide for his needs in the event that you died before he did? Who would take care of him if you were gone?

Garrison deals with all these critical issues and more in A SPY AT HOME, my ebook available on Amazon for only $1.99. He works for the CIA, but becomes disenchanted when he discovers just how little his employer provides for the families of agents killed in the line of duty. He is fed up with the corruption and graft, and he decides to get out...taking some of the "dirty" money with him. His family can now live in the lap of luxury...or can they?

What happens next?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Blogging: How Do You Keep It Fresh?

Blogaholic Designs”=As I "work" the internet to promote my ebook, A SPY AT HOME (available on Amazon for only $1.99), I see the hard work other bloggers do to keep up with those who follow them. It's amazing to me. When do they find the time? I have a full-time job and a family, and between that and promoting my ebook, revising the next one I will release - HAZARDOUS CHOICES - and trying to keep up with such things as yard work, etc. around the house, I'm exhausted!

Blogging is interesting. It can either be much like having a conversation with yourself, or it can be like talking to a (admittedly absent) friend. Sometimes the comments I post draw responses - occasionally heated ones - but other times the blog posts just lie there. I am not sure how a blogger draws the interest of blog-readers, and I would be very interested to know how some of the more successful bloggers keep readers tuned in to their blogs day after day.

If you are a successful blogger, please offer me some suggestions for keeping my blog fresh and alive. I'd appreciate it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What Do Books Mean To You?

Blogaholic Designs”=I can't remember a time in my life when reading wasn't important to me. My family are all readers, and it always surprises me when someone tells me that they don't read much. I even know one person who not only has never been to a library, but who admits they have never read a book all the way through. I was so shocked by this, I was speechless (and if you knew me, you'd know how rare this is!).

Reading for information is important, but in my life, reading is most often pure escapism. Traveling to other lands, through other peoples' lives, into other realities is a way to take a mini-vacation from my own challenges. It's easy to get lost in stories and forget about the day-to-day trials and tribulations of real life. As you go deeper and deeper into someone else's universe, suddenly the importance of your broken lawn mower, long hours at work, and too-crowded schedule begins to fade away. At least for a while. Minutes, even hours, can pass free from worry and stress.

So, I challenge you, blog readers, to pick up a book or turn on your ereader. Lose yourself in a book; it can be the best therapy - and it's certainly cheaper than a shrink!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A SPY A HOME - New Review!

Blogaholic Designs”=REINVENTING ME. A New Life. New Experiences.

A SPY AT HOME – Book Review by Chris Nash

Try to put yourself in the position of a retired CIA operative, returning home to his wife and son with Down syndrome (resulting in early-onset Alzheimer's), endeavoring to do his best to look after them and ensure they are provided for. Now, just to make things a little more difficult, imagine our retired spy has managed to embezzle a little under ten million dollars from his employer. Such is the premise of A Spy at Home, the first novel by Joseph Rinaldo, already published as an eBook. Mr. Rinaldo explains how he is uniquely qualified to write this book, raising a daughter with Down syndrome and witnessing the effect of Alzheimer's on a family member, and indeed cryptically states that he'd prefer not to disclose the sources of his espionage-related knowledge. This intriguing combination of plot and story sounded unique and intriguing to me, so I happily accepted the author's offer to write a review.

The juxtaposition of a "tough guy" job with the emotional concerns attached with mental disability made me immediately think of Regarding Henry, penned by writer J. J. Abrams in a dim and distant era long before Lost. It's not a common combination of subjects, and surely presents the author with some difficult challenges. The author deals with these issues very well by writing the book as our retired operative's memoirs, only to be released to be read in the event of his death. In the preface, the narrator tells us that, yes, he is dead; yes, his son was a surprise; and yes, he's the one that killed his own wife. With those revelations out of the way, the book proceeds in whydunnit style, with the narrator telling us about events as and when he remembers them, indeed apologizing for his lack of strict chronology very early in the book. It's a very stark contrast between the strict mental conditioning required for his day job, and the day-to-day stresses and strains of looking after his son, whose welfare becomes more and more of a challenge as their lives go on.

The book does not go in for large amounts of descriptive passages; it is indeed intended as a memoir rather than a flowery novel, which can at times leave a very dry delivery but does, for the most part, definitely give a realistic feel and a feeling that perhaps some of the events reported have their basis in fact, written precisely as our narrator would report them, grappling with his own emotional detachment due to his job. This does result in a couple of areas where things are ambiguous; for example, it is apparent that some time passes through the story as the child Noah grows up, gets a job and goes to work, although I never quite felt sure exactly how old he was. Likewise, exactly when the story takes place seems a little unclear, although it is evidently in a near present due to the computer hackers that form an integral part of the espionage side of the story. That part of the story was also delivered in a gritty way - there was no attempt to picture the spy business as anything glamorous as in the movies, rather a day job whose employees have the same concerns as most of us, such as whether their families are eligible for benefits. The lack of description does make it a little difficult to feel for the characters; we only get to experience their situation. There are a couple of inclusions in the book which I felt did detract from the overall story. There are a few very awkward sex scenes; nothing particularly explicit, but extremely clumsy and they do not add anything to the tale - excluding them would have left the book accessible to a young teen audience which would be just as interested in the novel's parallel subjects. There are a couple of places as well where I feel the author slipped out of character for a moment and managed to let his own political viewpoint slip out, albeit briefly. I can't help feeling it is a line an editor would have removed before going to press. Overall, the writing and copy seemed good with only a couple of minor errors. At the time of writing, the book is available in Kindle format for $1.99 on These days, I feel it's difficult for authors to get the pricing right for novels published digitally; far too many fall into the trap of practically giving their works away and underselling their hard work. For the reader, however, this is surely a bargain.

The book does indeed raise some difficult ethical questions; we find ourselves wondering whether any amount of money would make a difference in this situation, and we are sympathizing very much with a father who, while he may be used to overthrowing foreign regimes and all sorts of covert operations, finds it ever more difficult to look after a son who recognizes him less and less and is constantly worried exactly how he will be cared for once the father passes on. Watching the story unfold as one tragedy follows another, all against the backdrop of possible discovery of the theft of the money and trying to find ways to put the money to work without raising suspicions, one feels the greatest sympathy for the characters, although curiously it is not so much for Noah and his condition, but for his father, for whom no amount of training could prepare him for the trials and tribulations he is to face as a spy, at home. It's a good story whose major strength to me is the realism of the characters dealing with very real lives without expecting the plot to magically resolve itself in the closing chapters. Mr. Rinaldo's own experiences evidently do show through in the writing here.

Joseph Rinaldo currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee. From this most American of cities he writes about the internal turmoil in the CIA, and about pirates on beautiful family-filled lakes. You've probably heard that authors write what they know. Think it's true?

A Spy at Home is available from in eBook format for Kindle and compatible book readers.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Down Syndrome and D.A.D.S.

Blogaholic Designs”=If you are a dad, and your child has Down syndrome, you should check out D.A.D.S. (that is Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome). The national organization's web site is located at D.A.D.S. is a wonderful organization made up of fathers with children who just happen to have Down syndrome. Locally, our group meets once a month to talk about our kids and to support each other and compare notes and generally just to have a connection with other dads who are living our experiences.

Each child or adult with Down is different, even though they share many characteristics. Apart from similarities in appearance, they may be as different as night and day. Some may be shy, some outgoing; some may be verbal, some use sign; some may participate in sports, some are couch potatoes - wow, sounds just like typical kids and adults, huh?

John Goodrich writes a wonderful blog about D.A.D.S., and you can read his comments and link to the national organization at There are other links there as well, and if you visit the site, you are encouraged to participate in an existing chapter or start a chapter where you are. Speaking of a proud dad of a young woman with Down, I can tell you that this organization is well worth checking out!

Get on board, dads! Check out D.A.D.S.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blog Followers Are Good, But Commenters ROCK!

Blogaholic Designs”=I enjoy posting to my blog, though I don't get to it every day like I'd like to or should. And I so much appreciate the people who are now following me; let me encourage you to post comments on my blog postings. I can't know if my posts make any difference to anyone but me if I don't get posts. To those who have already commented, my deepest thanks. To those who are shy about commenting - seriously, I want comments: good, bad, or indifferent. Well, not indifferent - what would be the point of that? :)

I remember when I first started this blog, I intended to cover a variety of topics - not necessary just about the ebooks I am writing and trying to promote (e.g., A SPY AT HOME - available on Amazon - shameless plug). I intended to be interesting, controversial, funny, and informative. I think I've succeeded on most of those fronts; do you agree or disagree?

Please remember to comment. My wife, my daughter, my two cats, and I appreciate any comments you care to make. BLOG ON!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Controversy: ebooks or physical books?

Blogaholic Designs”=Two months ago, I posted a question on the Published Authors Network at LinkedIn. It was, I thought at the time, an innocuous enough question: "Ugly rumors have it that ereaders will soon replace physical books, and that because ereaders will soon have the capacity to 'check out' library books, libraries will go away, too; what think ye?"

Much to my surprise, this simple question kicked off a veritable firestorm of commentary which continues to this day! More to my surprise, the "discussion" of ebooks vs. physical books quickly deteriorated into a rather obnoxious spate of insults and name-calling. This was certainly not my intent. My intent was to spur an intellectually stimulating discussion of the merits and foibles of ereaders. Some commenters were thoughtful and added a layer of information to their own points of view. Others were just arrogant in their responses; they pooh-poohed the responses of others and interjected their own as if they had the very latest information and their answers were set in stone. Somehow, the "discussion" even ended up slopping over into a debate about evolution (I still can't figure out how that happened.), and even though I have posted a commentary here on my own blog on my views of evolution, I was stunned to see how many people have left absolutely no room in their philosophy for doubt or questions.

I know bloggers have strong opinions about things; that's one of the reasons we blog; however, I would like to see more courtesy and less knee-jerk haughtiness. You know who you are. Okay, now, let's all play nice.

By the way, have you never heard the joke: "70% of all statistics are made up on the spot." ?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Getting Books Reviewed - My Experience

Blogaholic Designs”=
I have been writing books for about 6 years now, and I am currently working hard to promote the first ebook I've self-published on Amazon, A SPY AT HOME. In order to do that, I've tried a variety of methods: free ads, paid ads, blog posts, bookmarks, word of mouth, free book giveaways, etc. I truly believe that the best and most effective way to promote a book is through reviews; the question then becomes "How do I get someone to review my book, and who should I ask to do so?"

I started out Google-ing "book reviewers"; had a few of those respond; moved on to bloggers, had more respond; began requesting reviews from Amazon reviewers, had some respond. I think the point is, you have to work hard at it. For every 200 requests for reviews you make, you may get one or two responses. It gets frustrating, but when those reviews start coming in, it is so satisfying and rewarding, and it truly does help you sell your book(s)!

The best part of all is that if the reviewer likes your book, he/she will inevitably tell someone else about it, and between the review and the word-of-mouth, sales will increase.

I am so grateful to all the reviewers who are taking the time to read and review my book, A SPY AT HOME (available on Amazon), and especially to those who thoughtfully suggest improvements I could make in future books. Writing novels is a learning process (with a HUGE learning curve), but it is one that I have really enjoyed.

I would like to know what other writers have done to get the word out there about their books. What has your experience been in seeking reviews? Have you paid for any advertising, and if so, was that a successful way to generate buzz and sales? The community of writers is a great one for sharing, and I am learning so much from them. My thanks to all who take the time to respond.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Evolution vs. Creationism: Can't we have both?

If you believe in God and the Bible, you believe that God created everything, and that He created everything in 7 days. Okay. I'm good with that, and I'm going to explain here and now why this is NOT the antithesis of evolution.

Let's begin with a story: I was driving back from somewhere to my hometown with a good friend's daughter in the car. We'd been talking about a variety of things - she was about 10 at the time and very curious about life. She was distressed because she had learned at school about dinosaurs, but her grandmother had told her that there were no dinosaurs because they weren't mentioned in the Bible.

I thought carefully about her question. I could have easily brushed the question off with a sarcastic rejoinder such as: "Well, they don't mention cars in the Bible, either, but you're riding in one, aren't you?" Because I cared about her and her grandmother, I decided to tell her what I really believe.

I believe in evolution; it is a science, so saying you don't believe in evolution is the equivalent of saying you don't believe in the law of gravity. I also believe that people have the right to believe in God and the Bible and the story of creation. What I told her was that in my opinion the two things, evolution and creation, didn't have to be diametrically opposed to one another (of course, I didn't say 'diametrically opposed' to a 10-year-old, but you get the idea). What if God created all the original animals and mammals - say, dinosaurs and primates - and created those animals to evolve into the animals, primates, and even humans we have around us today?

She was thrilled with this answer (later, I discovered that her grandmother was LESS thrilled), and I think it caused her to really begin to think about the way science and religion can co-exist. My own beliefs are my own, and I will keep them private, but I don't think people have to choose to believe either in God and the Bible or in evolution. I think there's room for them both in our world, if we just let our minds open up a  little and allow for all possibilities.

Her next question was about how God could have created everything in seven days (This was one argument her grandmother used to pooh-pooh evolution, since scientists claim that evolving takes millennia.). This one was much easier. Since there is nothing in the Bible about how long GOD'S day was, why couldn't His day be as short as one second or as long as one millennium? People who believe in the Bible, believe that it is the word of God written down by men. These same people surely understand and believe that men are flawed creatures capable of, even destined to, make mistakes. So logic tells us that in writing down even divinely-inspired words, men could have, and probably did, make mistakes in the transcription of those words. Anyone who has served as a translator knows how tricky it is to get not only the language correct, but the inflection, the slang, the accent, and even the intent. Why, then, would it not have been likely that the men writing down what they claimed was the word of the creator, may have made mistakes in the language they used? Furthermore, since the original Bible was written down, it has been translated hundreds of times into many different languages and versions - would it not also make sense that in these translations, mistakes could (indeed, would) have been made?

My point is, there doesn't have to be a conflict between creationists and evolutionists. The two can co-exist in harmony, as long as they allow a little flexibility into their beliefs.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dogs vs. Cats - Guest Blog by Vivian Rinaldo

We are cat people. I know that conjures up a particular picture in people's minds, and that's okay with me. We have two cats: one enormous (20-lb.) tiger tabby, and one small calico. Friends have told me they don't like cats because cats are "sneaky", and you can't ever tell what they're thinking. Too true. That's one reason I like them so much. Dogs are fairly predictable: they slobber, they lick, they demand to be attended to, and they have a distinct odor (and not just when they're wet, though God knows that makes it worse). They'll pretty much eat anything, generally like everyone, and have to be walked.
Cats are much more independent and discriminating. They don't have an odor (I don't count the litterbox. That's an entirely different issue.), they mostly don't care whether or not you are there, and they take care of their own toileting. They do go a little crazy when they see birds outside the window, but they don't bark. Cats are sneaky. They have to be. They are delicate, and in order to survive, they have had to develop slyness, quietness, and a slinky way of moving that is almost undetectable to their prey. This makes them very successful hunters.

Because cats are so persnickety about the people they love, some people find them stand-off-ish. People, that is your own insecurity speaking! Don't blame that on cats. If cats love you, you should be proud, because they are pretty particular about their humans.

So, cats rule, and dogs drool. Need I say more?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Southern speech

Some people claim that southerners are lazy in their speech, that they aren't smart, that they are people who should be mocked because of the way they talk.

This is wrong. Southerners are NOT lazy, they are just economical. Since the Civil War, people who live in the South have had to be frugal; they have struggled to hold onto or reclaim what they had. Even today, people in the southern states (excluding Florida, perhaps) are among the poorest in the country. As a child, I watched my grandmother cut up old sheets to use as pillow cases and dishtowels. Nothing went to waste around her house. Leftover bacon grease was re-used as oil to cook in or with. She was thrifty and had no patience for those who wasted food or anything else.

Because they've had to be careful with everything, so they have learned to be careful in their speech. I call it "economy of language". For example, why use up three words to describe a group of people when the word "y'all" says the same thing and you save two words!

Southerners have learned to conserve; they conserve resources, and they conserve language. They deserve respect, not ridicule!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Is Larry Flynt a hero or a villain?

My ebook,  A Spy At Home, makes the U S government look bad, and deals with killing and money laundering. Do I owe the freedom to write about these topics under the First Amendment to Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler? What do you think?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Excerpt From A SPY AT HOME, available on Amazon

Note To Reader:

Since you’re reading this, I’m dead. A great many years of my life I worked for the CIA, Central Intelligence Agency, for the federal government of the United States of America. I didn’t say proudly worked, because I wasn’t proudly serving the entire time. Don’t yawn; you haven’t read this one before. The book won’t self-destruct; this isn’t the same reworded spy novel you’ve read a dozen times where the hero does the right thing in the final scene, and everyone good lives happily ever after, and the bad guys go to jail. To be honest with you, I don’t know how much spy stuff will be in this book. The important thing for you to know is that the royalties from this book support Noah, my son. He was a surprise, but not the kind of surprise you’re thinking. You’ll meet him later, and I assure you that you'll like him. Everyone does. We’re complete opposites. He’s innocent, and I’m not.

As for me, you’ll get to know me. I’d really like to hear what you think about me, but I was too chickenshit to release this while I lived. You’ll have to judge me posthumously. Most people tell stories using themselves as the conquering hero. I tried not to do that; in fact, I’m certain you won’t conclude I’m any kind of hero. On the other hand, I hope you don’t end up hating me. My excuse for not presenting this during my lifetime was National Security. You know the term that forgives all government workers for being dishonest and secretive.

In case I forget to say it later, thanks for the money. You paid me a lot of dough over the years for my salary, and one big lump sum, which you’ll hear about in detail. Being a CIA operative means everything I do is covered under the veil of National Security. Don’t worry; nothing you’re going to read will put any American agents in danger. I’ve been out of the game for a long time, and most of the governments I helped create or defeat have no one left alive who can figure out my real identity.

My job enters into this book some, well, a lot, but it’s not really the point. I hope you think I ended up being a good person. My guess would be that most folks will see what I did in my job as acts of evil piled onto one another to build a temple to undermining decency. At the time, I acted for God and country, actually, just country because I don’t believe in God. I was raised Catholic – before you ask, no, I wasn’t molested by a priest. After touring the worst parts of the world, and seeing the worst side of humanity, I decided not to worship anything that had the power to rectify those cruelties and chose not to. Life is less complicated for me when I believe God simply doesn’t exist.

Some of you might recognize part of this story from newspaper accounts in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m the guy who shot his wife; again, not for the reason(s) you think. We’ll cover that in detail, too. You’ll hate me for shooting someone who gave so much to the world and always thought of others. I hate myself for it.

I wrote some of the book and then came back to this note. You should be warned that this tale doesn’t follow some chronology of events. It’s not some impossible to read stream-of-consciousness, but it is out of order.

My death happens at a shootout with a terrorist group from a small Middle Eastern country where I help thwart the terrorist group’s coup against the country’s President, who secretly sympathizes with America’s precarious oil dependency. Just kidding – how in the hell could I possibly know that while I’m writing this? I probably die alone of some common disease in a nursing home with so many beds that all the patients become anonymous. Who cares? (Other than Noah if he survives me)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Writing books is hard!

Don't ever let anyone tell you that writing a book is easy. It's NOT! My first effort came about because I was between jobs. I had always been a voracious reader, and I thought, "Gee, how hard could it be to write a book?" The answer is: not hard to write one, just hard to write a good one.

I began with my first mistake: too much research on the subject of the book, too little creative thinking before I plunged into the "story". The story itself was thin, the protagonist not particularly admirable, and the ending abrupt and incomplete. In other words, my first novel sucked! In my naive perception of how books are published, I began mailing entire manuscripts to agents and publishers. I can't even remember how much postage I wasted doing that before I realized that most of them only want query letters. So then I began writing query letters. The problem is I was writing them as if they were business letters; because I work in finance, these letters were dry and uninteresting, and they didn't have any life of their own. The rejections poured in.

You'd think that this would have deterred me from writing another book, but I had many more stories in me, so I plunged into the next novel headfirst. Again, too much research, but a much better story.

Now I have written nine novels, have one published and available on Amazon as an ebook, and have another one in the editing stages. The ebook, A SPY AT HOME, is selling fairly well, and I am working the social media frantically, trying to get the word out.

So, novice writers, take heed. Even if you believe that your novel is the best work out there, remember there are tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) just like you who believe the same thing. Work hard, promote your book every way you can, and don't lose heart. But remember, you are up against some very stiff competition, and you must persevere!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Let's Talk About Polygamy

Okay. Let's talk about polygamy. Webster defines polygamy as "the practice of having more than one wife (or husband) at one time".

Polygamy is illegal in every state in the U.S. So how can someone be a polygamist and be arrested and prosecuted for that? If it's illegal, you can't have more than one wife at a time, so any other women you "marry" are not your legal wives to begin with. If they aren't your legal wives, how can you be prosecuted for being married to more than one wife? Is it just me, or is this one of those stupid things that makes no sense?

I admit I have become quite addicted to the show Sister Wives, although in truth, because plural marriage is illegal, shouldn't the show be called Sister Wife Plus Three? After all, only the first woman Cody married is his legal wife. So now they are all leaving Utah because they are supposedly in trouble with the law for their "plural marriage". I say that there are no grounds for prosecution because Cody isn't really "married" to any of the three last "wives". Doesn't that make more sense? And to carry on about this, even if they move to Nevada, won't they still be in trouble if the "plural marriage" is what's getting them in trouble in Utah? I don't get it.

So here are the facts: Cody is married to one wife, and he is living in a committed relationship with and has children with three additional wives (well, actually only two, because he has no children yet with Robin). He is legally married to one, living with three others, and a whole bunch of children also live in the household. What law(s) has he broken? He is really only legally married to one wife, so how is he guilty of polygamy?

In my opinion, polygamy does not exist because in every one of the 50 states, you can really only legally be married to one person at a time. So why are they all packing up (in fear) and leaving one state to go to another because they are in "danger" of being prosecuted for plural marriage? I am baffled by this. Anyone care to comment?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Special Olympics - Dare To Win!

My daughter is 37 now and has participated in Special Olympics since she was 8. She has competed in bocce, basketball, bowling, track & field, and powerlifting. Special Olympics has given her the opportunity to not only participate in sports that typical peers participate in, but to compete and to win! It has given her confidence, joy, and pride in her efforts. She will be competing in the Tennessee Special Olympics state competition this weekend in powerlifting. This 5-foot-tall girl can bench press 55 pounds and deadlift over 100 pounds. It is amazing to watch her and to see the total concentration and effort she puts into every event.

Being the parent of a child with special needs is an honor and a privilege. She has taught me many things: among them, patience, persistence, and what true competition means. I am so proud of her, and win or lose, she is always proud of herself.

I hope that each of my blog readers has the opportunity to either watch, volunteer for, or coach athletes in these terrific Games. It will reward you richly. Special Olympics always needs volunteers; contact your local office to offer your energies to an organization that gives these opportunities to people with special needs. You will not regret it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kindle! What a wonderful toy! You can do so many things with it, and it is so much easier to read than a physical book. Predictions are that physical books are going the way of the dinosaurs, and I hope that is true, particularly because I write ebooks and sell them on Amazon.

Amazon has a veritable cornucopia of products to sell, but I think the Kindle is terrific. There are so many other things you can do with it besides read books, but I'll let you investigate that on your own. Happy Kindle-ing!

NFL Lockout?

Are we going to have an NFL season this year? It looks grim. Because I live in Nashville, I follow the Tennessee Titans (who have had a rough time recently), and because they have hired a new coach, and because they are likely to draft some young, fresh players, I hope their season will be better than it was last year. BUT, if the players and the owners cannot come to some kind of an agreement, it doesn't look good. Time is ticking away, ticking away, and it won't be long before the team will have to get serious about preparing for the 2011-12 season.

Let's go, Titans! Get your act together, and start practicing, working out, and getting ready to kick some NFL butt!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Connections everywhere!

It's an amazing time in technology. Not only can you connect to other people on such social media as FaceBook, Twitter, and MySpace, but you can link most any social media connection to any other. It's like being part of a huge extended family. Suddenly, you can let everyone know about changes in your life, successes in your business, and dreams for the future. You can ask for advice, offer opinions, and comment on current events. You can post, tweet, blog, like, share, and link. You can find people you went to elementary school with and comment on the actions of today's "stars". You can re-connect with long-lost friends, locate an old chum, and research a company with whom you are considering doing business. It truly is a whole-earth approach to socializing.

Now, the bad side: you are accessible to virtually everyone in the virtual world. You cannot hide. Every post is out there for the world to see, every comment, every "like", every connection is exposed. Caution should be the watchword of the day. You can post what seems to you an innocent comment on FaceBook and potentially lose a job. You can link to someone who is only interested in stealing your identity and sucking all the funds out of your bank account. And the worst part is that anything you put out there is out there for all time. There are very few opportunities for "do-overs".

Remember, my friends. Be careful "out there". People are watching.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Long Time, No Write!

Been gone too long from these blog pages. Glad to be back, and very proud to announce the release of my second ebook, Pirates and Politics! Here's a brief synopsis:

Becky, a strong woman, feels her husband has drifted away. Wanting more out of life than the emptiness at home, she follows her dream and runs for a seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

While she’s campaigning, pirates raid boats on Kentucky Lake, a major tourist and commerce lifeline in Becky’s district.

The political campaign gets rough, but Becky fights back. Big contributors infuse her campaign with the money needed to counter-attack the incumbent. Now she worries about the favors they’ll call in if she wins.

Back home Becky and her husband must decide how or if their relationship will continue after he finds out about her affair.

The new book is available on my web site at . It can be purchased for $5.99 and downloaded to virtually any electronic device that will read a pdf or digital file.

Hope you enjoy this read as much as I enjoyed the writing!