Mystery Monday: A former CIA agent speaks

Goooooood Monday morning to you all! I know, nobody likes Monday mornings, especially when there’s some jackass yelling, “Goooooood Monday morning!” to you. That’s almost as bad as someone telling you, “It looks like someone’s got a case of the Mondays.” You want to smack them with a shovel, the kind with the round point, not that panzy-assed flat head shovel. And why do they make the flat ones so short? Are they promoting child labor with those things, or what?

But, today is not about shovel conspiracies, it’s Mystery Monday, and there’s a lot bigger conspiracies out there. Back in 2010, I set up my Google alerts to include the phrases “currency wars” and “financial crisis.” I did this because my latest book, The Brink, deals with those topics, so I wanted to keep abreast of all current events about said issues so I could tie them into any press releases/blogs about the book.

Over time, many posts came from the “The Economy Collapse” blog.  Now while there’s a lot of the “Buy Gold! It’s soon to be the only currency worth anything!” articles from goldbugs hyping the shiny stuff, there are also interesting articles about the finer, and messier, points that keep the good ol’ international financial system a’running.

Case in point, here’s a youtube video (really an audio because there’s only a static screen shot on display) from a “former CIA agent” about how “war is a racket”, and how “spying doesn’t work.” Now I know this isn’t anything earth-shattering, former government workers are just like private sector workers, many feel they got shafted by their employer and they say bad things about them after they’re gone. But the interesting thing here is that this audio reminds us that there’s a whole lot of mystery that still surrounds the CIA, and agents that serve in the international arena. And while what this guys says isn’t so new, his words could trigger a thought or story arc in our own minds that could flesh out into a good book idea. It’s a reminder that there are possible story ideas all around us, from the newspaper, to blogs, to everyday life. All we’ve got to do is listen.

So, when you’ve got 10 minutes free, please give it a listen for yourself. Maybe have a pen and paper hand or a clear Word doc screen open and write/type some ideas down as you listen and, as always…

thoughts? Comments? To the keyboards!

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Mark Fadden is a freelance writer and award-winning author of Five Days in Dallas and The Brink. Check out his novels at www.markfadden.com

Who or what influences your writing?

As a writer, we write. As a writer in the 21st century, we need to market, blog, track sales figures, and do all the things most entrepreneurs do to keep our dreams alive and our businesses afloat. But, at our core, we are writers. And as writers, our writing reflects our experiences, our education, and our aspirations to tell the most believable stories. For fiction writers, research is the key. We get to make up anything we want to in fiction, but we there are rules to suspending disbelief. That’s where research comes in.

Some writers hate research. I love it. In fact, I’m plugged into many enewsletters, I have several Google alerts set to email me when certain terms come up on the Internet that I’d like to keep my eye on. With respect to my latest thriller, The Brink, my alerts are “currency wars, financial crisis, Bilderberg (the evil group in the book), and Mark Fadden (it’s always a good idea to put a Google Alert on your own name, to head off any bad press or respond to any good press ASAP)

One of the books I researched for The Brink is Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. In it, Perkins describes his adventures in several countries as he worked on behalf of the U.S. government to help manipulate the economies of developing nations for the U.S.’s best interests. It was a fascinating look “behind the curtain” into the real world of international economics and helped me craft my plot for the book.

What about you? Do you like research? What books have influenced your writing? Do you use other books/writers to help you craft your own plots/stories? 

To the keyboards!

QE, Currency Wars and the Barnes and Noble Event Blog

Tonight two topics – one on books and the other on the state of our international financial system (which is the foundation of my latest thriller, The Brink ). Since this blog is about writing and getting your book noticed in the ever-expanding marketing universe, I’ll hit the book topic first.

I had a great weekend with back to back signings in two local Barnes & Noble stores. Since one was a group event where they had several authors appear at the same time and they did their own publicity for it, I did a news release on my second signing at the Lewisville Barnes & Noble (please see yesterday’s blog to read the news release) . One of the tags I used was “Barnes and Noble events” and it got picked up by WordPress’s “Blogs about” service. Our blogs on “Blogs about” won’t stay up there long, it does get some attention, and that’s a good thing.   

 

Now, I’ll show you the money, or what’s happening with the money around the world.

It’s been called “QE” which stands for quantitative easing. Basically, it’s a fancy term that the Federal Reserve and the rest of the world’s reserve banks are using when they print more money. Interest rates are already at rock bottom almost everywhere, so there’s nothing else the bankers can do on that end to pump more money into the international financial system.  So they said, “Hey, wait a second. Let’s just pump more money into the system by making more money and come up with some clever euphamism for it!” Viola, qualitative easing. However, as with anything in politics, some play fair and some don’t. Some countries are printing money, and some aren’t. And this is leading to these “currency wars” or fighting in the international financial system among the players. The ones that aren’t printing money say that the ones that are aren’t playing fair and it affects currency values all over the world. These inflated or deflated currency values affect export and imports, which affect deficits, and everyone is mad at China because they’ve kept the yuan so low for years, and these current wars are just reminding everyone that they should be mad as heck and not take it anymore. Problem is, China is one of the few countries that is actually in the black. And they are making investments all over the world.

I continue to be flabbergasted at the fact that what the bankers are doing across the globe is EXACTLY what the fictional bankers in my latest thriller, The Brink, did to lead up to one very important event that is about to take place when a scrappy, brilliant woman discovers what’s about to happen and decides to do something about it. Her decision leads to her run for her life through Northern Mexico, where she’s discovered by a fugitive cop who decides to help her, thus getting himself sucked into this plot for financial Armageddon.

But there’s one thing here that fiction allows me to do. It allows me to put an evil group behind what’s going on in the international financial system. The Group, as they are called in the book, work behind the scenes to manipulate the system. They are the ones controlling these decisions made by the bankers, which is not to say they are controlling the bankers directly. Rather, they control the system and the bankers have no other options but to do what The Group wants them to do.

But is that what’s going on in the real world? Is there one group that is, for the lack of a better word, gaming the system? In his excellent book, The Big Short, Michael Lewis cast a lens on a few Wall Street outsiders that seemed to read the cards of the financial world better than the rest of the world, and got rich doing so by betting against the market in the run-up to the 2008 financial meltdown. What if the same is going on here again? For a second time? On a much, much bigger, global scale? That’s what The Brink is about. Could what is essentially a small group of people actually control the future of the world economy?

To the keyboards!

Blog pic by Francesco Marino http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=809

Money ball pic by Salvatore Vuono http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=659

 

Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

September 14, 2010

Day 90 of 365

Books sold so far (May and June 2010): 246

In this issue:

  • Marketing Topic – The only constant is change
  • Marketing Topic – International Man of Mystery – the results of Day 1

Marketing Topic – The only constant is change

I completely changed the look of my website, and added a shopping cart that allows people to buy signed books straight from me, since I just got a big shipment of books in. By allowing people to buy straight from me, not only does it give me a larger share of the profit on each book, it allows me to track my sales in real time, which allows me to better manage my advertising campaigns.  

Check it out at www.markfadden.com and let me know what you think.

Marketing Topic – International Man of Mystery – the results of Day 1

Last night I shared my latest ad campaign, aimed squarely at the Asian countries. In my research about the financial crisis, I came across a book called Currency Wars by Song Hongbing. Released in 2007, it sold over 200,000 copies in China and was even bedtime reading selections by some of the highest finance and government officials in China. To quote an article on the book, Currency Wars, “After all, the root of the world’s problems for nearly a century – from the Great Depression to the Asian financial crisis – is Wall Street’s manipulation of the global financial system, he says. China should be prepared to fight ‘bloodless wars’ waged by ‘evil forces’ like the US Federal Reserve aimed at destroying the Chinese economy, Mr. Song’s book concludes.” The book has also had a recent resurgence of popularity. So why all the Chinese attention? Because economic nationalism is at an all-time high in China. Many Chinese think that their country should flex its economic muscles to become the world’s leading superpower.

Anyway, I’m hoping to capitalize on the popularity of this book and I placed the following ad in a Google AdWords campaign:

The results? I got 150 clicks today and maxed out my daily budget. Again, I’m going to start selling signed books straight from the site through a Paypal shopping cart, so we will now hopefully see sales numbers in real time, which can help determine what kind of advertising is working.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

Ahhh, vacation. Alas, it was with the kids, so not a real vacation, merely a “trip.” Anyway, vacation is over. Did you miss me? I hope not too much. I’ll stop yammering because we’ve got two great topics tonight…

September 13, 2010

Day 89 of 365

Books sold so far (May and June 2010): 246

In this issue:

  • Writing topic – Characters, Story and Sly Stallone
  • Marketing Topic – International Man of Mystery

Writing topic – Characters, Story and Sly Stallone

One of the “best of” blogs tonight on WordPress was from Kristen Lamb’s blog entitled, “What Star Trek Can Teach Us About Writing.”

Lamb makes several very interesting points about J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek movie, including that:

  1. Star Trek proved that imperfect characters resonate with audiences.
  2. Star Trek perfected showing, not telling
  3. Star Trek employed parsimony.
  4. Star Trek showed character via relativity
  5. Star Trek relied on character and story

Basically, Lamb reminds us that no matter how much CGI or how many gadgets are in the story, it’s still ABOUT THE STORY, and the characters. We should never forget that.

Lamb also invited comments about other movies that are good examples of keeping the focus on character and story. I wrote the following reply:

I know I’m going to get A LOT of grief for this, but I’m putting it out there anyway. You want a movie(s) that are all about characters and that are concentrate on the story between them? How about the Rocky series? Better yet, except for Stop or my Mom Will Shoot, how about anything done by Sylvester Stallone? Go beyond the muscles and the one-liners of the Rocky movies and even Rambo, and you will find movies that explore the depths of REAL human emotion – love, anger, regret, despair, ambition, and achievement. Rocky is basically a love story, first with Rocky and Adrian and then with Rocky and his family, especially his son (in the last one). Talk about flawed characters…Rocky starts out as a leg breaker for a local loan shark who gets a once in a lifetime chance to use the only skill he has to pick himself up out of his rotten existence to make something better for himself. He is someone we cheer for because, like Kirk in Abrams Star Trek, he is the underdog, a short, slow, southpaw with only his incredible will and heart to keep him going. In the Rambo movies, Stallone shows us a man who is a perfect killing machine. Rambo recognizes this characteristic in himself and, when he tries for any kind of normal existence, he is not allowed to have it because of his fate. Time and again, when the powers that be call on him to come to the rescue, he begrudgingly does it because he realizes that war is his home, killing is what he does. In Cliffhanger, Sly must deal with the pain and regret of dropping his best friend’s girlfriend during a high mountain rescue, which leads to her death. After hiding out in another life for years, he comes back for the woman he loves and decides to help stranded climbers, and ultimately faces his fears and his friend, a tale of regret evolves into one of forgiveness…with a really cool story about thieves among the backdrop of some incredible mountains. A fantastic combination that makes for a heck of a story.

I will go on record as saying that Sly Stallone is one of the greatest storytellers of modern time! Once you really think about many of his movies, you might find yourself agreeing with me.

Comments? Thoughts on my sobriety after reading the above entry? A fellow Stallone fan? To the keyboards!

Marketing Topic – International Man of Mystery

Since things are still heating up on the global financial crisis front lately, with the Bank of Japan warning it’s going to do something big soon to help save the country from deflation, and many other countries trying desperately to keep themselves from going Greek, I’m trying to keep The Brink in the news by creating news releases with a financial, if conspiratorial, angle. In my research about the financial crisis, I came across a book called Currency Wars by Song Hongbing. Released in 2007, it sold over 200,000 copies in China and was even bedtime reading selections by some of the highest finance and government officials in China. To quote an article on the book, Currency Wars, “After all, the root of the world’s problems for nearly a century – from the Great Depression to the Asian financial crisis – is Wall Street’s manipulation of the global financial system, he says. China should be prepared to fight ‘bloodless wars’ waged by ‘evil forces’ like the US Federal Reserve aimed at destroying the Chinese economy, Mr. Song’s book concludes.” The book has also had a recent resurgence of popularity. So why all the Chinese attention? Because economic nationalism is at an all-time high in China. Many Chinese think that their country should flex its economic muscles to become the world’s leading superpower.

So, how does this situation affect little old me? Google. It always comes back to Google. I am targeting a Google AdWords campaign in China with the following ad:

I’m doing the ad for 2 days, with a CPC of $.40 and a $25 daily budget. So we’ll go fishing and see what we get. Since The Brink covers similar topics from Currency Wars, it only makes sense to use that relationship in the marketing effort. People are always looking for books on similar topics, and using other book titles is a great way to do a little marketing piggy-backing.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…