Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Next Matt Rommel Adventure: Beyond the Law

A couple of years ago, I asked someone what they thought would drive a seventy-five year old retired Non-Commissioned Officer to commit murder.  I had asked a few people.  Most of them had no answer.  This particular person thought about it and said this, "It would have to be for the highest reason."

So what is "the highest reason"?

First, let's look at what's going on in the lives of our little group from Brand Loyalty.

Carolyn has PTSD. You might think that would make her less confrontational. You'd be wrong.

Second grader, Ashley is shifting the balance of power on the school playground and she has a seventy year old retired gunnery sergeant to help her do it.

Vince Garcia has made detective. 

His boss wants Matt Rommel in jail.

Enter Michael Patrick Gilhooly, Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant, Retired.

Gilhooley has his "highest reason".  He wants Justice in a world that no longer cares about Justice, not for the wealthy, not for the powerful.  To fulfill the last great issue in his life, Michael Patrick Gilhooly needs Matt Rommel.

Matt Rommel still wants the peace and contemplation that a life at the museum was supposed to provide.

But, the head of the largest mercenary army in America has found the one thing guaranteed to drive Rommel rampaging over the edge.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Gold to Silver Ratio

The Gold to Silver Ratio

36 year gold silver ratio

This ratio reflects how many ounces of Silver are required to purchase one ounce of Gold at any given time. 

As prices for these comodities change, the ratio changes.

As a point of reference, the ratio was lowest in 1980 when the Hunt brothers were trying to corner the silver market, driving the price of silver abnormally high.  Such a low ratio is anomalous.

While the ratio, by itself, has little predictive power, at least two conditions are common.

1) In a recession, the Silver to Gold ratio is often high.

2) When the price of Silver is low, the ratio is high.  A high ratio is one factor to look for when the price of Silver is about to rebound.

Ideally, one can trade silver for gold as momentum dictates, accumulating wealth upon the turns.

ps: trade in actual gold and silver!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Carolyn Kast - Single Mother, Outcast, Damsel in Distress

Carolyn Kast - Single Mother, Outcast, Damsel in Distress

I learned something when I created Carolyn Kast.  The big lesson was that women have next to no sympathy for single mothers.

Families headed by a single mother experience a 42 percent decrease in income (old statistic).
Child support and alimony used to be a societal joke.  Deadbeat dads roamed America like great herds of bison, unmolested by the local District Attornies.

Once a woman is on her own, I suppose other women regard her as a potential threat.  If that's not true, then I can conjure only one other explanation.  Women regard broken marriages like some people regard disease, it's the victim's fault.

Carolyn Kast takes all of her lumps and then comes back to rebuild her life and rebuild a safe home for her daughter.  She also has to learn to fight to stay alive.

She is the counterpoint to Matt Rommel.  Matt Rommel has to learn to become a peaceful member of society.  Carolyn Kast has to learn to struggle, to fight back.

When you look at Carolyn Kast, don't look for the woman who runs from her persuers, twists her ankle and falls down.  Look for a person who desperately wants to stay alive.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Matt Rommel and the Palace of the Legion of Honor

Matt Rommel and the Palace of the Legion of Honor

I wrote Brand Loyalty not only as a mystery, but as a study of two groups that no one in America cares about very much, military veterans and single mothers.  We'll talk about single mothers and the damsel in distress in another post.  This one is about my military veteran.

Matt Rommel is an attempt to dispel or at least challenge some of the stupid conclusions I have heard about the American military veteran, i.e.  they're not too smart, they are violent, they like war.  That last one is, for me, a real corker (American vernacular for a big fat lie that only a stupid person would believe).

My father spent a career in the military, as did my uncle.  Both my grandfathers served in the First World War.  Some of those men saw combat, got a first hand look at dead young men.  None of them were violent.  My uncle Ted, who was at Normandy beach and the Battle of the Bulge, was also a fifth degree Judo black belt and one of the two strongest men I ever met.  Still in all, a gentle soul.

They had seen violence.  They could engage in it.  They were not violent men.  After their respective wars, none of them had trouble with the law or their neighbors.

I served for five years and never heard a shot fired in anger and I am just fine with that.

Not too smart:  Military people absorb a lot of training and staying alive in a hostile environment involves luck, training, awareness, and adaptability.  Those veterans who were able to use the GI Bill became doctors, lawyers, and founded and ran many successful business enterprises.  Among those who were admitted to West Point (but did not finish), Edgar Allen Poe and James McNeill Whistler.

Love War:  God, on the face of it, this canard is beyond stupid.  Military personel fight the wars that come along.  Far and away, their preferance is peace.  On the other hand, to paraphrase Daniel V. Gallery, if a war comes along, they don't want to leave the work to someone less able.  Who are your war hawks?  Typically draft dodgers.  It's a shame they get elected to public office.

So what happens to the veteran when the time for service has passed?  Often, they seek peace both within themselves and in their surroundings.

Which brings us to the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, a fine arts museum built after the First World War.  In the old days, people of all walks of life in America served in time of war.  WWI was an industrial war and the savagery and carnage shook everyone.  The wealthy lost children in that war just as the poor did.  This museum began as a monument to them and a reminder of the things they fought and died to protect.  This is why Matt Rommel chooses to spend his days there.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Looking Back at My First Novel - Brand Loyalty

Getting down to the short strokes.  In a few more months, the next Matt Rommel adventure, and my second novel, Beyond the Law, will be released.  Right now, we're wrapping up the final edit.  After that, there's the cover art and then off to the printer.

Like I said, this is my second novel.  You would think that I must have learned a lot.  I don't know.  But, now is as good a time as any to look back at the process of selling the first book.

I started by looking for an agent.  We went to the Literary Marketplace, a giant book with hundreds if not thousands of publishers and agents.

From this, we culled the top 80 agencies and sent out query letters.  Some nibbles.  Mailed a few chapters.  No bites.  We tried this a few times because it's fun to spend hundreds of dollars on postage and wait for weeks.  The highlight of the experience for me was one terriffic rejection letter.  Mind you, I received many dozens, but this one was special.  This one agency sent me a rejection letter that recapped the entire novel in as thrilling a manner as you can imagine.  After all that, I couldn't believe they didn't want to represent it.  I think it must have been done by an intern who was trying to prove themselves to the agency.

After that, back to the Big Book to look at publishers.  I sent a query to every house that would accept unagented submissions.  I started with the big houses, then the medium houses and then everyone else.  I actually got a bite and, after a few months and a brutal round of edits, Brand Loyalty was released.  It meant a lot to me that someone was prepared to put their time, talent and money into my story.

Even so, promotion-wise, with small houses you are pretty much on your own.  A small publisher may have the connections to create links to 50 or more internet sites, but that's not what drives sales.

I was lucky.  I work for a company with a few thousand employees.  Those co-workers drove a lot of my sales.  Some bought the novel out of kindness, some out of curiosity, some because they expected it to be terrible and scorn-worthy.  Turn's out, for a lot of reasons, Brand Loyalty is a good mystery novel.  That created a tiny fan base that has been waiting for me to get it together and release another story.

Those are the people I work for.  Those are the people I worry about.  Those are the people for whom I dangle participles.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Carlos Danger – hero or pervert? – picking character names

I don’t believe in rules, although writing is chock a block with them.

There should be rules in the naming of fictional characters.  There aren’t.

A good character name supports your story.  If you’re writing a farce, a farcical name – Doctor Strangelove.

 For a tale of action and adventure,  Jungle Jim (a ‘50’s TV character).

 I once named a major character in order to set up a dreadful pun 300 pages later.

For his spy novel, Ian Fleming wanted the most ordinary colorless name he could find.  He discovered a book on birds by a man named James Bond.  Mind you, Fleming was also looking for a good Anglo-Saxon name.  It is a British spy novel after all.

Choose a name that will support your work and make the task easier and more effective.  (My opinion)

There are character names that I think are crap, Kinsey Milhone for instance.  I have never met anyone named Kinsey.  I have dogs, so I always think of Milk Bone, a dog treat.  This is the lead character in a highly successful series, but I can’t read it, all I see is Milk Bone.  Say the name aloud.  Is it clumsy or hard to pronounce?
Another crap character name unless the work is a spoof: Carlos Danger.  Actually, Carlos Danger is a nom de pecker for an American politician.  He likes to take pictures of his genitals and e-mail them to women.  Apparently, he likes doing this more than he likes being a politician.  Anyway, don’t choose Carlos Danger as a character for your next novel.  Whom you choose to elect is your business.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Your Mullah is Fatwa!

So how can writers use the NSA to boost readership and sales?

ALLAH I'm sayin is if there's a copy of Brand Loyalty that's BIN LADEN around the house, maybe you should pick it up and read it. You may be saying "JI - I - HAD one but I can't find it". I don't want to DRONE on about this but, if you don't have a copy and Life has become a PRESSURE COOKER, maybe you should INFILTRATE the internet and SURREPTITIOUSLY buy one. Remember, your Mullah is FATWA!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Without you, I don't exist

Thank you to the people who have posted reviews of my first novel, "Brand Loyalty".  There are many things that a writer wants, most of them foolish and or self indulgent.  But, without readers, we don't exist.

So, if you read Brand Loyalty, thank you for creating me, making me real.

If, after that kindness, you chose to leave a review on Amazon or elsewhere, thank you doubly for your kindness.  Even if, at some point in the future, my work should be savaged, that doesn't mean the reviewer isn't a wonderful person.  It means that they are wrong, but that's OK.

So what's the point?

Cindi Silva.  Cindi Silva is the point.  A while back, Cindi was kind enough to review Brand Loyalty.  I'm certain I thanked her.  Today, I wish I had thanked her more effusively.

Cindi has a couple of volumes of poetry entitled "Cancer Poetry" 1 and 2.

Cindi helped a lot of people before she left us.  We miss her but we are grateful that we got to know her at all.