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!

Financially speaking, we’re all up sh*t creek.

In his excellent #1 best seller, which is being turned into a TV show, Justin Halpern tells us about the sh*t his dad says. Well, the following may not be sh*t an economist says, but Professor Jekabs Bikis or Dallas Baptist University gave a presentation yesterday that let all of us that attended know that we’re up sh*t creek without a paddle if we don’t do something to fix our exploding debt and deficit problems.  And it’s because of two words: unfunded liabilities. 

Here’s a video on unfunded liabilities from the Cato Institute:

This Heritage Foundation graph, which was a part of Bikis’s presentation, shows the percentage of our national debt in relation to national GDP. As you can see, WWII was time in our history when we had the largest debt, but you can also see that it was paid down fairly quickly. By 2035, at current levels of spending and taxation, debt will skyrocket to 180% of GDP. If that’s not bad enough, let’s talk about the interest rate on that debt. Interest rate payments at that time will consume half of our federal budget. Basically, we will have enough money to pay for defense and interest payment. Bye-Bye Department of Education, social security, Medicare, any federal transportation programs (including construction and maintenance of infrastructure) and many, many other programs that we have grown accustomed to in America. For more frightening information that will scare the sh*t out of you, just visit the Heritage Foundation’s Budget Chart Book. You may enact your own Code Brown alert after reading it, because you may just…well, I won’t say it, but it fits with the certain four letter word that’s the theme of the day.

Why am I talking about this on a “how to market books” blog? A couple reasons. One, I think this topic needs to be the NUMBER ONE topic of the national conversation. Two, I had this situation in mind when I wrote my latest thriller, The Brink. It uses a conspiracy-fueled plot to explain the current financial crisis, as well as predicts what could happen next if nothing is done about it. When I first started writing it, it was my hope that while people are entertained by the action and suspense in the novel, they will also take away the underlying message from the real-world financial numbers in the book and realize that we’re in deep you know what. In Bikis’s presentation, he mentioned the problem isn’t necessarily a financial one, it’s a moral one. Since most of these liabilities extend from entitlement programs, like Medicare and Social Security, what should we, as US citizens do to change our behaivor toward helping our fellow Americans? Should we cut Medicare to the bone? Cancel Social Security? If so, would you want to see your dying mother denied hospital care because she couldn’t pay her bills? These are tough questions that will make us question our sense of morals as both a country and as individuals. No wonder no one has wanted to tackle these issues, right?

If you’re a writer, you have the natural ability to communicate. What are your thoughts on spreading the message about our enormous debt problem? Shouldn’t we all be sounding the alarms as loud as we can? How would your morals affect asking the tough questions about unfunded liabilities?

To the keyboards!  

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow… 

Dispatches from the literary trenches

September 21, 2010

Tonight’s Topic – Writing News Releases out the Wazoo

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you’ll notice that I’ve been pumping up the number of news releases that I’ve been sending out lately. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Almost on a daily basis, more information comes out from credible sources including Ron Paul, Boston University Economics Professor Laurence Kotlikoff, and the Congressional Budget Office that the United States is in a severe financial crisis, and the main cause of this crisis is the country’s debt load, which is the foundation of the financial conspiracy in The Brink.
  2. I went back and re-read David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR last week and was reminded that, for authors anyway, there is simply no better bang-for-the-buck promotional piece than the news release.
  3. My schedule of signings and appearances has ramped up lately, so I’ve got more news to release. If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, please visit http://markfadden.com/appearancesandpress.html for a schedule of upcoming events.

Remember fellow writers, you can write your own news releases (you’re writers after all, right?) and you can post them in blogs, on websites, on your Facebook, Twitter, Shelfari, and Good Reads pages. You can also email them to the local newspapers to see if they’ll give you some ink. In the case of doing a signing or an appearance in a local store or local library, those are great stories, and exactly the kind most community papers are looking for. If you’ve written a professional news release and included a high-quality pic (or several for them to choose from) then you’ve saved the reporter a couple hours work, something that is always appreciated in a business where deadlines are cast in stone.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

 

Here’s what readers are saying about Mark’s latest thriller The Brink:

“I finally had a chance to sit down and read The Brink–all the way through in a day and a half. The story is gripping, even frightening, and you capture the suspense in the rhythm of your prose. In places I was reading so fast I felt like I was in the chase! I’ll put it on the shelf next to my signed copy of Lonesome Dove, in the gallery of great contemporary writers!” – Bob H., Amarillo, TX

“He’s the next Dan Brown.” – Arlene D., Southlake, TX

 Truly a pager turner for me. I could not put the book down. Every time I thought I had figured something out, the next twist came up. If you like conspiracy theories, you’ll love this one.” – Sharon L, Houston, TX

Want to start reading The Brink right now? Download the eBook version from amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/The-Brink-ebook/dp/B003OYIEPC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284567122&sr=8-2 or bn.com at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Brink/Mark-Fadden/e/9781450210492/?itm=1&USRI=mark+fadden.

Order a signed copy of The Brink as a keepsake for yourself or as the ultimate unique gift at http://markfadden.com/buyabook.html

 

Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

August 23, 2010

Day 70 of 365

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

In this issue:

  • Writing topic – Could I have a side of pommes frittes with my bildungsroman?
  • Marketing Topic – Google AdWords – the only constant is change

Writing topic – Could I have a side of pommes frittes with my bildungsroman?

I was actually going to talk about the topic, “Should novelists try to educate through their work?” But after going back through old posts, I realized we already covered that one. But as I was researching one of the greatest ‘teaching novels,’ To Kill a Mockingbird, I came across a fascinating word: bildungsroman. The official definition of bildungsroman in Wikipedia is, “is a genre of the novel which focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood.” We Americans refer to it as the ‘coming of age’ story. Now, the YA genre is filled with novels dripping with bildungsroman: the aforementioned To Kill a Mockingbird, Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island, the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson novels, and Great Expectations, just to name a few. But, does that mean that it must only occur in YA novels? I never found the German word for adult novels where the characters also “come of age” during the story, but as I thought about it, I’ve always connected with those characters that mature psychologically and morally during the story. What about you? Are the flawed heroes your favorite? What are the books that contain their stories?    

Marketing Topic – Google AdWords, the only constant is change

Last week, I started doing ads on Google AdWords. As I mentioned in a previous post, while Facebook allows you to include a pic with your ad, Facebook doesn’t track which keywords are working for you, and which aren’t. Facebook only allows you to send your ad out to one group of people, say ones that listed, “reading” as a hobby. With Google, you can get really specific. For example, my ad last week was:

The keywords I listed, in order from most to least clicked were: “double-dip recession” 7 clicks; “financial crisis” 4 clicks; “award winning thriller” 2 clicks; “best political thrillers” 0 clicks; and “US bankrupt” 0 clicks. My daily budget is $10, and I have a maximum bid of $1 per click.

I’m changing up the ad and the groups of people that will see it.

Here’s the new ad:

The Bilderberg Group, which is the secret society referred to in the novel, has been in the news lately. Both Rush Limbaugh and Fidel Castro are talking about them. Anyway, I’ve changed the keywords associated with this new ad to “Bilderberg”; “Bilderberg Group”; “New World Order”;  and I’ve kept “financial crisis”; “award winning thriller”; and “best political thrillers.” I’ll have some new numbers for this ad in tomorrow’s post.

Until then, I’ve got to go play tooth fairy tonight. Anyone got a good idea about the going rate for the 2nd tooth?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…  

 

The next economic crash subject of local author’s latest thriller

The Borders book store in Mesquite, Texas was the latest stop on local author Mark Fadden’s book tour. Fadden’s new novel, The Brink, uses the current financial crisis as the foundation of a lightening-fast thriller in which a fugitive Texas Ranger helps a woman running for her life, only to get sucked into a global financial conspiracy.

Although Fadden keeps a tight lip on the intricacies of the plot, he does shed light on the frightening, real-world numbers he uses in the story. “Over the many months I spent researching the international financial system, I discovered that it is a very fragile organism. Many experts predict that the next economic bubble waiting to burst is the federal government debt bubble. The US is $14 trillion in debt. We have a $1.5 trillion deficit. We need to borrow $2 billion each and every day from foreign countries like Japan and China just to keep the federal government running. For a writer, the basic question we ask ourselves is “What if?” So I asked, ‘What if China and Japan stopped their investments? The story just grew from there.”    

Borders Sales Manager Steve Schmidt was impressed with the turnout for the signing. “The event was a big success. Mr. Fadden was very engaging with our customers and talked with people the entire time he was here. It seemed people were very interested in the book’s timely topic.”

The Brink is Fadden’s third novel and is a continuation of his first novel, Five Days in Dallas. Published in 2003, Five Days in Dallas received critical acclaim and Fadden himself was even called a “masterful storyteller” by a Writer’s Digest reviewer. Fadden, who now lives in Colleyville, then began working on the follow-up in 2006, which eventually became The Brink.

The first 22 pages of The Brink can be read at markfadden.com.  Fadden has also created a blog about writing novels and book marketing using social media entitled “The Nightstand Diaries,” which can be read at markfadden.wordpress.com.