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!

Writing and marketing your novel: A glimpse from the trenches

August 26, 2010

Day 73 of 365

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

In this issue:

  • Writing topic – Violence in Children’s Books
  • Marketing Topic – How Google Alerts help you write compelling news releases

Writing topic – Violence in Children’s Books

I follow Nathan Bransford’s Blog. It is a fantastic resource for writers, has won many industry awards, and just has some great, and timely, topics. For example, today’s topic was on violence in children’s books. While he mentioned the Young Adult (YA) hit Mockinjay in his blog, he also invited people to comment about the topic. So I did. Here were my thoughts:

I’ve actually been wondering the same thing. Is there a line, but like anything else where you are making choices for others, who gets to draw it? And where does it stop? For my next novel, I want to combine a murder mystery with a coming of age story, which would be targeted for both the adult and YA market. Is murder too young for YA readers? What about something that, in my eyes, is just as bad, like rape? If so, then the classic To Kill a Mockingbird should be stricken from all the YA school reading lists across the country. Sadly, violence is something many kids experience every day. If these kids read about violence as part of a greater story, a story that digs deep into their inner thoughts, maybe then they can begin to understand the context behind it. More importantly, maybe they can read one of these books and finally understand the horrific sights they see every day or the scary sounds that lull them to sleep every night. It is only when we truly understand something like violence that we can truly escape it. And it is books that help us understand the world around us.”

As writers, it is our duty to push the envelope and to make people think. My approach is very laissez-faire, let writers write what they want. Ultimately, a book is like any other product, if it’s a good product and people want it, then it will do well in the market. If it’s crap, then the market will ignore it. As far as children’s books go, my thoughts about what children should read are the same about my thoughts on what they should be watching, where they should be hanging out, who their friends are, and how they’re doing in school: it’s up to their parents to decide what’s appropriate.

Thoughts? Comments? To the keyboards!

Marketing Topic – How Google Alerts help you write compelling news releases

If you don’t know what Google Alerts are, they are free alerts you set up that will email you anytime the alert word or phrase is mentioned on the Internet. For example, if your name is Tom Jones, and you set up your Google Alert for the phrase, “Tom Jones” and you set it as an email alert every day, you’ll get an alert emailed to you every day with the link where the phrase “Tom Jones” was mentioned.

I did this with my name, “Mark Fadden.” However, as the Internet has been lighting up lately with buzz about the secret society that is in my latest novel, especially since Rush Limbaugh and Fidel Castro recently commented on it, I decided to create an alert for that group, “Bilderberg” and some of the phrases associated with them, like “New World Order” and “One World Government.”

How does this help you sell more books? Like David Meerman Scott stated in his social media bible The New Rules for Marketing and PR, news releases are a great way to promote your book. He also says to create a news release for anything newsworthy about your product or service. Well, what a better way to know what’s newsworthy about your product than if it’s being talked about in the news or blogosphere? Google Alerts to the rescue. And even if you don’t have the scratch to send out news releases on PRWeb everyday, you can put up new news releases that feature the info you culled together from your Google Alerts on your website (like I did on mine), in an email marketing campaign, or send it out to your local news outlets.

BTW, we will be covering getting the attention of local news outlets in one of next week’s blogs. Until then,

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,

Rest easy tonight my friends, but stay hungry tomorrow…