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.