Tools for Tuesday – The Big Idea

I was traveling this weekend, driving to Galveston, Texas to help my older brother celebrate his 40th birthday. Like you probably do, whenever I’m on a road trip, I try to find something good to listen to. So, I dropped by our local library before my trip and found a few audiobooks that sounded interesting. One of which was marketing guru Donny Deutsch’s The Big Idea. No dummy when it comes to brand recognition, Deutsch also hosts the popular The Big Idea TV show on CNBC.

On the show, and in the book, Deutsch gives us lessons in life and in marketing, but he also highlights numerous “case studies” – people who had an idea, a dream, and worked hard to make them become reality. Deutsch’s biggest strength is that he never tires of asking the question “so, how’d you do it?” to entrepreneurs, like the woman who came up with Spanx undergarments, or the lawyer making six figures who quit his job to become a Lego designer. Yeah, Legos, the building blocks kids play with.

I highly recommend The Big Idea, both the show and the book ,as a tool for writers to tap into their “authorpreneurial” side. Perhaps even better than the great information that we as authorpreneurs can take away from reading and watching The Big Idea, is Deutsch’s point that he comes back to over and over and over again….Do what you love and the money will follow. I know that I gave up a career of something that I hated doing 10 hours a day for a smaller paycheck and the chance to do something I love, which is writing. What about you? What will you sacrifice, or what have you sacrificed, for your writing career?   

A little housekeeping note – I will be on vacation starting tomorrow and won’t be back at the keyboard until next Tuesday, July 5th. My best wishes for a safe and happy 4th of July!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

Mystery Monday – Why is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a thriller?

I know I’m gonna get flack for this one, but here goes: Can someone explain to me why The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is considered a suspense thriller? I picked up the book at the behest of my mother, who had different reading tastes than I do. She liked The Kite Runner, she went nuts for The Help, and she couldn’t wait to sit for long periods engrossed in a Jonathan Franzen book. So when she told me that I must read TGWTDT, I was a little hesitant. But then she told me it was a thriller, something that was, “just my speed,” and I fell for it. I mean, what good boy doesn’t listen to his mother?

So I bought a copy and began reading. I feel asleep four times reading it in the first 50 pages, something I have never done with James Patterson and Dan Brown. I called my mother to offer my snide opinion that this was no thriller. It was all exposition – and long passages of exposition at that. In fact, there was very LITTLE ACTION, not a car chase or an explosion to speak of. “Just get passed the first 100 pages and it’ll pick up,” she said. I’m currently on page 198 and I’m still waiting for it to pick up.

I’ve read the reviews on Amazon and there are hundreds of people who feel the same way I do. “Why is this book an international bestseller?” sums up the opinions of the folks that gave it 1 and 2 stars. Of course, there are even more hundreds of people who reviewed it and have loved it. 

I just don’t get it. As a thriller writer, and a thriller reader, the golden rule is: hook the reader on the first page. These days, it seems you gotta hook people on the first sentence, or they’re lost on their smartphone or on to the next book down the line. So how is an international bestselling thriller able to carry on for several pages, let alone a hundred or more, without anything big happening?

Am I missing something? Is a thriller more about the undercurrents and nuances than the action and the cliffhangers? Or does the ending of TGWTDT really make up for all the pages that describe how cold and lonely the protagonist is in the Swedish countryside? Or are the novels more interesting because of the intriguing backstory about author Steig Larsson? Or is Lisbeth Salander just such a badass character that we’d all follow her doing anything? Even her laundry?

Your thoughts, opinions, declarations, and insight on this one would be most helpful. To the keyboards!   

And BTW, to honor my mother’s memory, I’m going to finish all three books in the Millennium trilogy, even if I fall asleep a hundred times during each one… 

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

Thirsty Thursday – Enjoy Ray Nagin’s new self-pubbed book with a Hurricane

So the former mayor of New Orleans Ray Nagin was on Jon Stewart this week promoting his new book, Katrina’s Secrets: Storms after the Storm. The book details the “paranoia” that Nagin felt during much of his time immediately after Katrina, which was due, in large part, to his own mouth (There’s even a Ray Nagin coloring book on amazon.com which lampoons Nagin’s greatest hits such as:  “this city will be chocolate at the end of the day, I’m a vagina friendly mayor, and [violent crime] keeps the New Orleans brand out there.”)

But while the errors that surround Katrina and the media that surrounds Nagin continues to mystify, what is perhaps the biggest mystery is that Nagin self-published this book through Amazon.com’s CreateSpace. Now, when asked by Jon Stewart, Nagin talked about not wanting to give up control, and how the editors he talked to were trying to skew his stories. But, could it be the almighty dollar that is the conspiracy behind his decision? After all by using  CreateSpace, he will keep between $6 and $10 of the $17.99 cover price. That’s a heck of a lot better than the typical $2 and $3.60 he would get with a traditional publisher.

Chalk up yet another author who is analyzing the economics, exploiting the technology and making the decision to go the self-published route.

And, should you decide to get Mr. Nagin’s book on this Thirsty Thursday, maybe put on a little Coltrane or, if you’re in the mood for something faster, a little NOLA band called Cowboy Mouth in the background and enjoy a Hurricane. Need a quick DIY recipe? Here ya go!:

Pour all but the juices, in order listed, into a hurricane glass three-quarters filled with ice. Fill with equal parts of grapefruit and pineapple juice, and serve.

Read more: Hurricane drink recipes http://www.drinksmixer.com/cat/3226/#ixzz1Q8VnwsbJ

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

App Wednesday – Simplify Your Writing Life with Dropbox

 

We’ve all been there. You get to a local coffee shop, just far enough away from the house so the wife and kids or anyone else that may know you and hijack your time won’t stop in for a visit. The smell of freshly made coffee permeates the air and jump-starts your tired brain. “Feels like we’re gonna knock out 10 new pages in a couple of hours, Marky Mark,” your brain tells you. You get a cappuccino in an extra large white cup, and smile at the christmas tree design the barista made with the froth. Your smile widens ’cause it’s June and the sight of that slowly evaporating tree makes you think warm thoughts of cooler temperatures. Yes, dear friend, you are ready to write.

You sit, whip out your laptop, fire that bad boy up and jack in the jump drive…only to discover that when you thought you saved your updated rough draft on it, you didn’t. It inadvertently got saved in your shared photos folder next to the cute pic of the kids in their Transformers costumes from last Halloween. And that folder is deep in the bowels of your desktop computer, which is switched off at home.

No worries. If you had Dropbox, you could just visit their website and retrieve your rough draft. You could also look at the notes you took on your iPhone and saved to your Dropbox folder on said phone or be inspired by the photos you took while you were out and about. Dropbox automatically syncs up all of your computers and your smartphone with the information you input into one of them. And all for free. Pretty neat huh?

But, sadly, you don’t have Dropbox. You have to gather your stuff, go back home and try to save your rough draft yet again to your jump drive. But that’s when you get sidetracked by your son who needs your help building a Lego fortress, your wife just needs to go out to do a quick errand that lasts two hours, and of course, the lawn hasn’t been mowed in two weeks. Kiss another free afternoon of writing goodbye!

Or will you?     

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

Tools for Tuesday – Inside the Mortuary Affairs Unit

Today’s post is once again thanks to NPR.  On their outstanding Fresh Air program, host Terry Gross interviewed Jess Goodell, the author ofShade it Black: Death and After in Iraq. Her memoir about her time as part of the Marine Corps’ Mortuary Affairs unit in Iraq, Goodell tells of her responsibilities to “sort through the pockets and belongings of troops lost in combat. She found all sorts of things — crumpled up napkins, pictures, spoons, letters, even sonograms of their soon to be born children.”

Goodell also said that one of the most difficult parts of the job was, “diagramming the body outlines of the deceased. On the body diagram, she would document identifying marks such as scars, tattoos and birthmarks. If a body part was missing or not found, Goodell was instructed to shade that part of the diagram black.”

 “I don’t think I ever stopped smelling death when I was in Iraq,” Goodell said. “Part of the reason that the smell seemed to linger was … being a Marine in Iraq at that time, laundry services only occurred every couple of weeks, so even if we were careful and very clean in the bunker, the smell just seemed to cling to us. It seemed to cling to our uniforms. And at least for me, once I smelled that smell of death, I just couldn’t stop smelling it.”

There are many jobs that, because of the confidential or clandestine nature of it, we can’t wrap our arms around. This job is one of those. Having said that, listening to Goodell talk to Terry Gross about her experiences in Iraq, I could only imagine the horrors a person that volunteers for this duty must carry around everyday. How would it affect them? As a mother? A daughter? A friend? How would these experiences of such intense scenes of death and destruction jade her very existence?

Although I don’t have an easy or quick answer to that question, a character based upon Goodell would be an excellent choice to include in a novel. We saw a similar character in The Hurt Locker. I loved the scene when Jeremy Renner’s character was back home from Iraq and, after serving as a bomb tech in the most tense situations, couldn’t handle being in an aisle of cereal with the endless rows of choices. I, for one, would love to peek behind the curtains on these kinds of people’s lives to see what makes them tick.  

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

Mystery Monday – The Mirage Man

 

Often, the best mysteries aren’t found in the pages of a thriller novel, but in real life. I was listening to the Diane Rehm Show this morning on NPR and her guest was David Willman, who wrote The Mirage Man: Bruce Ivins, the Anthrax Attacks, and America’s Rush to War. In the book, Willman, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, reveals the truth behind the hunt for the anthrax killer in the days that followed the September 11th attacks. If you remember, letters were sent to media and political figures in New York, Florida, and Washington D.C. that ultimately killed five people and infected seventeen others.

During a severely botched investigation where the lust for a scapegoat superseded the need for the truth, a scientist specializing in biowarfare preparedness, Steven Hatfill, had his life ripped apart by media stakeouts and op-ed-page witch hunts. The case also becomes one of the rallying points that helped launch the Iraq War. In the end, a trail of scientific and circumstantial evidence leads investigators to a scientist names Bruce Ivins, who, ironically, helped the FBI to learn the science behind the attacks. The Mirage Man shows how Ivins that was actually responsible for the attacks and how he was able to hide a sinister secret life from his friends and family for years.

If you pick it up, we’d all love to hear your review of what promises to be one heck of a gripping mystery!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com

Conspiracy Friday – Reviews of the 2011 Bilderberg Meeting

 

Photo from The Baltimore Sun June 10, 2011 edition

Man, oh man! I’m actually giddy about this post. The Bilderberg Group, the super secret group of politicians, royalty, international bankers and business leaders who allegedly run the world, met just last weekend in Switzerland to decide the fate of the human race. In short, we’re screwed. Just kidding. But the Bilderberg Group, with its penchant for secrecy, does open itself up to much speculation and conspiracy theories. Much has been written about them over the years. I even used them as the basis of “The Group” in my latest thriller, The Brink.

Actually, the Bilderberg Group, which has come a long way since they were started in 1954, is an organization of said world leaders. They do meet in secretive locations on an annual basis to conduct meetings that are not privy to the outside media. But thanks to the dogged pursuit of the truth surrounding their intentions by investigative journalists like Daniel Estulin and Alex Jones, the Bilderbergs have had to change the way they do business. They now even have a website that lists their membership and the activities at their annual meetings since their inception. Ahh, progress.

So, what do you think about the Bilderberg Group? Is it just a meeting of world leaders where they rely on utmost privacy to provide a forum where they can say what they feel without the public’s probing eye? Or are they readying themselves for world domination? To the keyboards! And have a fantastic weekend!   

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and author whose latest, award-winning suspense thriller, The Brink, is now available as an eBook for Amazon.com Kindle and Barnes & Noble nook for only $2.99!

The Brink is a hell of a read.” – Bestselling author Sandra Brown

“Mark Fadden is a masterful storyteller.” – Writer’s Digest

“Mark Fadden is the next Dan Brown.” – Triple C Ranch Book Club, Southlake, Texas

Check out The Brink and Mark’s other books at http://www.markfadden.com