I Live to Write Another Day

Time to go home again.

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Hopefully the Franklin birds have moved on to find another sucker with a bird feeder and an unlimited budget for bird welfare. I leave behind well feed birds of Sanibel who actually work for their food.

Sanibel Island is known for its shells which were mysteriously missing this year. I understand that the missing shells are the result of result of unintended consequences from the September 2018 big one—Irma. Apparently, Irma cleaned out the crustacean beds lying off Sanibel’s shores. That wasn’t something anyone was expecting. Sounds like something our government might have been in charge of. Congress is the master of unintended consequences.

Had a great time in the Sun except for adding a two-inch gash in the top of my head. Just as I was raising up, getting something out of the card trunk, the truck lid decided to come down. The local doctor put things right, and I live to write another day.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to www.amazon.com/Tom-Collins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the new adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure. Published by I-65 North, Inc.

The birds come back to Sanibel

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I've taking in a little sun and visiting with some old friends.  Apparently they haven't hear about my rumble with the Franklin birds over the empty bird feeder. Here is shot with my friend the Jim the Anhinga. Jim spends a lot of time sunning with wings extended. He quite a swimmer--under water no less. Then there is Harriet the sea gull.  And of course, the Pelicans

 

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to www.amazon.com/Tom-Collins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the new adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

 

 

Welfare for the Birds

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It’s empty again—the darn bird feeder my wife had me put up. I know I am going to get some hate mail about this, but just hear me out. There is a lesson here somewhere, and I just wish our government could find it.

It has been a frigid winter in Nashville. You know—global warming and all that! Anyway, my wife was feeling sorry for the birds.  They must be starving, she said. Well they seemed to be getting along just fine as far as I could determine. I didn’t find any dead birds around the house. To give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they had food insecurity. After all, I understand that 17% of the population in Tennessee suffer from food insecurity. So, I guess it could happen to birds.

I had never heard of food insecurity until last year. Contributions to local soup kitchens and charities that donate food to the poor apparently have been falling off in light of  all the government programs designed to prevent hunger. Those programs include the the father of all food handouts—food stamps. So, the charities came up with the notion of food insecurity. The idea is that even if you aren’t starving, if you worry about food, you have food insecurity and that makes you obese. I’m trying, but to be honest, I still find that hard to swallow.

My wife might have had a second motive for getting me to purchase the bird feeder. She thought that since I spend so much time at my writing desk, it would be good for me to have something nice to watch from my writing desk. So, we installed a squirrel proof feeder on the small tree outside the window of my writing room.  It took the birds half a day to find the feeder. Within I week, I was refilling the feeder every two days. By the second week, I was refilling the seed in the feeder EVERY SINGLE DAY! The more food I put out, the more birds came for the free food. By now my house was beginning to look like a scene in the famous Hitchcock movie The Birds. To take the pressure off the small tree I added a second feed nearby—they emptied it the first day. There is no end—birds, like people, just like free food. Give them free food and what they want next is more free food.

This is now serious. I AM OUT OF BIRD FOOD AND FRIGHTENED—I JUST HOPE I CAN MAKE IT TO SPRING…Please tell my family, I love them.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to www.amazon.com/Tom-Collins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the new adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

End to Amazon's Exclusive Rights & Other Updates

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Until two weeks ago, Amazon had the exclusive right to market the eBook edition of my latest Mark Rollins mystery, Diversion. That exclusive period ended January 21, 2018. The eBook edition is now available for Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and the ePub edition is available from most eBook retailers and online book services including Smashwords. Within days it should become available, like my other five books, in Apple’s iBooks.

Speaking of iBooks, if you are among the many people who use The Language of Excellence as a management guide, download the book on your iPhone for an easy to use and always available reference tool.

Work is also underway for an audio edition of Diversion. I had the opportunity on January 28th, to listen to some of the completed chapters. I was impressed with the clarity and professionalism of the reader’s voice. If you prefer to listen to your books as your drive, you’ll be happy to know that within a few weeks Diversion with join The Claret Murders on Audible. Depending on demand, I may add the other three Mark Rollins mysters to Audible. 

On January 23th, I spoke at the breakfast meeting of the Exchange Club in Brentwood. The topic was my book, Diversion. Of course, that also included discussing the opioid crisis. Diversion is a fictional story, but that doesn’t mean that the opioid problem isn’t real. I was recently interviewed for the website Serious Reading. One of the interview questions was “How realistic are your books?” – and this was my answer. "I particularly like the disclaimer that my lawyers came up with. It has been on the copyright page of every one of my novels.

This is a work of fiction. While some of the names, character, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination and some are real, the events depicted herein are entirely fictitious and should not be considered real or factual.

That is a completely accurate description of my mysteries. They deal with real places, real events, and conditions to tell a fictional story. The Claret Murders uses the real-life Nashville flood as its canvas. Diversion uses the opioid crisis as the backdrop for its story.” 

Diversion is now available in eBook, paperback and hard cover editions soon to be follow by an audio version. ForewordClarion Reviews recently gave the book three stars and wrote,

This dramatic thriller reveals many dark truths about the opioid crisis. Fueled by a murder mystery and a missing girl, Tom Collins's page-turning thriller Diversion explores the opioid crisis and illegal drugs through myriad plotlines.... The book's many antagonists add intrigue and excitement. Lena and Carlos, two drug-dealing crime lords in Florida's pill mill enterprise, are crooked and manipulative, and their scheming creates constant uncertainty as to what will happen next. Tom Lewis and Rocco, two other corrupt adversaries, are sleazy and dishonest, and their role in the story results in astonishing developments." ForewordClarion Reviews

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to www.amazon.com/Tom-Collins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the new adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

From Foreword Clarion Reviews

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“This dramatic thriller reveals many dark truths about the opioid crisis. Fueled by a murder mystery and a missing girl, Tom Collins’s page-turning thriller Diversion explors the opioid crisis and illegal drugs through myriad plotlines…. The book’s many antagonists add intrigue and excitement. Lena and Carlos, two drug-dealing crime lords in Florida’s pill mill enterprise, are crooked and manipulative, and their scheming creates constant uncertainty as to what will happen next. Tom Lewis and Rocco, two other corrupt adversaries, are sleazy and dishonest, and their role in the story results in astonishing developments.” Foreword Clarion Reviews

# # # 

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to www.amazon.com/Tom-Collins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the new adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Snow Day

A few days ago, I posted about the weather on https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTomCollins/

It was cold then, and it is even colder now! This is the view from my front door:

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My friends in the north think Tennessee is in the warm south. I lived in Philadelphia (North Wales area) for two years. I discovered that Philadelphia and Nashville are in the same growing zone. Who would have thunk it?

Nothing to do but stay home and write.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to www.amazon.com/Tom-Collins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the new adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

 

The Long Tail Business Strategy

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I originally posted The Long Tail Business Strategy in 2013. It is even become applicable today. In fact, I just completed a guess post on seriousreading.com explaining how the Long Tail relates to the book business. If you are an author or otherwise involved in the business of books you will want to read the post on seriousreading.com. Regardless,however, of what business or activity you are engaged in, the Long Tail is affecting your life, and it is something you should understand. Here is the 2013 original post in its entirety.

In modern times, enterprises have had business models that have been heavily influenced by the law of Disproportionate Results—the 80/20 rule.  In the world of brick-and-mortar, 80% of results were traditionally derived from only 20% of the activity—sales, inventory, paperwork, jobs, space, etc. Management’s job involved constant diligence to eliminate low yield or nonproductive activities. Unfortunately, that often meant a decline in service and a slow but relentless movement toward sameness. It was as Toffler had predicted a world of unlimited choices—all the same. You can have anything you want as long as it is within the 20% of alternatives that 80% of the population wants.

The 80/20 rule is still important when dealing in tangibles but something important has happened.  No longer does the 80/20 rule dominate.  It is called the Long Tail, and it is the new dog on the block.  In the digital world, the right side, or tail end, of the bell-shaped normal curve goes to infinity without ever reaching zero.  When the cost of maintaining inventory, handling transactions, and distributing products or services drops to near zero, the Long Tail of the bell curve becomes as rewarding as its center—the center that used to account for 80% of all activity.  Today you can have any song, any book, and any video—even though they, long ago, became no longer economically feasible to keep on store shelves.

Today’s excellent businesses look for opportunities to operate in the Long Tail while being mindful of the 80/20 rule in other aspects of their business.  Nor does one's product or service have to be digital to gain some of the benefits of the Long Tail.  The key is to reduce the cost of maintaining inventory, handling transactions, and distributing the product or service.  When these cost are reduced, the Long Tail benefits become realizable.

When it comes to sustaining their financial success, we have seen printer manufacturers shift their emphasis from hardware sales to the profitable revenues produced by selling the ink used by that hardware.  The ink has low inventory and distribution cost when compared to those costs for the hardware.  We see coffee services shift from relying on the profitability of the coffeemakers to the revenues produced by selling the coffee used by the coffeemakers—the coffee having a lower inventory and distribution cost.  Excellence companies look for ways to capitalize on the Long Tail while being considerate of the 80/20 rule.

For more about the Long Tail check out the man who wrote the book--Chris Anderson author of The Long Tail.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to www.amazon.com/Tom-Collins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murdersgo to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the new adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

SeriousReading.com

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The web site seriousreading.com publishes interviews of authors like yours truly, i.e., Interview of author Tom Collins. It also includes an author's blog were participating authors post articles. What makes seriousreading.com different from other book sites? This is how they answer that question:

 

"On Serious Reading, we do one thing: read, review and recommend books for tens of thousands of reading enthusiasts:

  •  We have over 150,000 subscribers, fans and followers.
  • We deliver catalog recommendations to over 5,000 bookstores and libraries.
  • We send thousands of recommendations to readers looking for their next read."

Here is sample from their interview of me: 
Question: "Have you ever written a character based on the real you in some part?"
Answer: "My wife complains that there is too much of me in the character Mark Rollins. Make no mistake, Rollins is a fictional character, but what makes for realistic fiction is a dollop of realism. Rollins is my main actor, and it was natural for me to build him on a framework I knew well. Thus, he lives in the surrounding where I live. He frequents the same restaurants. He likes the same food, drinks the same wine, etc., and that makes it much easier for me to write stories that ring true."

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to www.amazon.com/Tom-Collins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the new adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Williamson County Tennessee considers joining suit against opioid industry

A story in the Tennessean reported that drug and alcohol abuse saps two billion from Tennessee economy annually. Good enough reason to join nearly 200 other counties and cities in a lawsuit against certain pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributions of prescription opioids. Litigators maintain that the output of these sources vastly exceeds the legitimate volume of these medications for their intended medical purpose. The excess is being diverted for non-medical recreational use.

This diversion leads to destructive addictions. Causing ordinary people, even extraordinary people, to engage in unordinary behavior. The kind of behavior feeding the plot of my new adventure mystery, Diversion. The story of this new Mark Rollins Adventure pulls back the curtain on the illegal use of these powerful drugs and their impact on communities like those filing the law suit.

The Diversion story has its beginnings in New England, New Jersey, Southern Florida, and the Middle East, then the pieces converge in small town Middle Tennessee including Williamson County. The main actors in Diversion live in Franklin, Nashville, and Miami. Much of the action take places in Manchester and Tullahoma Tennessee. That area is the home of Bonnaroo Music Festival with some seventy-five thousand attendees and the Arnold Air Force Base which operates the most advanced flight test facilities in the world. Nothing flies, except through Arnold!

You can purchase Diversion on Amazon.com, or for a signed copy go to tomcollinsauthor.com/new-release.

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to amazon.com/author/tomcollins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI; eBook editions are also available through iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the new adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.

Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Mark Rollins And The Rainmaker

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Mark Rollins And The Rainmaker is book #2 in the Mark Rollins adventure series and should be of particular interest to anyone involved in the practice of law or law office management.  Yes, it is fictional mystery. But, it deals with real life law office management issues. As for the story, it's Nashville and someone wants to kill Bunny's much older husband, a prominent attorney, the law firm's public face--its rainmaker.

Mark Rollins, a retired technology entrepreneur, has become the creator/owner of an exclusive fitness center catering to socially elite women of Nashville. In Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, someone is trying to kill the husband of a fitness club member. Her husband is a prominent Nashville attorney--the rainmaker for his law firm. Rollins sets out to unmask the villain before it is too late--a task that proves dangerous, and the danger spreads as the diabolical killer's targets expand. To pick up the killer's trail, Rollins and his colorful MBA sidekick, Mariko Lee, pose as financial consultants hired by the law firm. Mariko discovers that the seeds causing many law firms to self-destruct and that in this case provide a motive for murder can be found in the numbers. As they close in on the villain's identity, Rollins and his team race against the clock to unravel the killer's final desperate plan. 

Mark Rollins And The Rainmaker is available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback and the Kindle. Go to http://a.co/hkeQeGb

 

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to www.amazon.com/Tom-Collins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the new adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Diversion is Now Available in Paperback!

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Diversion, is the fifth installment in my Mark Rollins Adventure series. The gripping plot unfolds against the backdrop of the opioid drug crisis in rural Middle Tennessee—an anesthesiologist dies, a young girl goes missing, and terrorists plot an attack that could kill thousands or shut down American’s military drones.

The drug crisis is fueled by the diversion of pain medications like Percocet and Fentanyl from their intended medial purpose to recreational use. Pill mills selling prescriptions for cash are showing up in the bucolic area around Manchester and Tullahoma, Tennessee, just outside of music city, Nashville. The area is home to the Bonnaroo Music Festival and the propulsion test facilities at the Arnold Air Force Base that are essential to keep military drones flying in the war against terrorism. Both the Bonnaroo fans and the testing facilities are targets the country’s enemies are willing to die for.

A call for help from an old family friend puts Mark Rollins and his team of high-tech crime fighters squarely in the middle of it all.

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to www.amazon.com/Tom-Collins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the new adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

The Claret Murders

Most of my posts of late have promoted my new book Diversion, but I don’t want to overlook the other four books in the Mark Rollins adventure series.  My favorite is The Claret Murders.  It is about Nashville—with a devastating flood, a beautiful lawyer, a deadly secret, and wine to kill for.

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As the story begins, an old man finished a glass of wine--his favorite claret--goes to bed and dies. Now more than fifty years later, a stunningly beautiful Nashville attorney, Ann Sims, prepares to auction off his estate--a derelict old mansion with its forgotten secret. Sims is living with a secret of her own, a secret that could cost her the fortune she is to inherit and end her career. Afraid, for good reason, of the possessive and greedy men in her life, she turns to Mark Rollins for protection.

People are dead--possibly murdered. Rollins must deal with these events during a blinding three-day rainstorm that sends the Cumberland River over its banks and turns Nashville's streams and creeks into raging floodwaters.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to www.amazon.com/Tom-Collins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the new adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: A Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Talk About Tasteless!

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Nothing like exploiting the annual family Christmas photo shoot for crass commercialism. Then again, I need to sell books to pay off my credit card purchases for those Christmas gifts under the tree.

Granted my new mystery adventure, Diversion, is not exactly a Christmas story. To the contrary, it is a fictional account of murder and mayhem fed by drugs; not just any drugs, legal drugs. The kind of drugs prescribed by doctors, pain medications—opioids.

The Diversion story has its beginnings in New England, New Jersey, Southern Florida and the Middle East; then the pieces converge in small town Middle Tennessee. The main actors in Diversion live in Franklin, Nashville and Miami. Much of the action take places in Manchester and Tullahoma Tennessee. That area is the home of Bonnaroo Music Festival with some seventy-five thousand attendees and the Arnold Air Force Base which operates the most advanced flight test facilities in the world. Nothing flies, except through Arnold!

You can purchase Diversion on Amazon.com, or for a signed copy go to my web by clicking here.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to amazon.com/author/tomcollins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the newest adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: A Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Pennsylvania Doctor Charged with Five Opioid Deaths!

A Pennsylvania doctor was indicted on 19 counts, including charges related to the deaths of five patients to whom he had prescribed opioids. For the complete story go to CNN News.

We all need to know more about the opioid crisis. Is it in your neighborhood? Is a family member at risk of overdose? Are you in danger from a someone (known or unknown) who is addicted to powerful opioid drugs? You can learn more by reading my new novel, Diversion. Yes, it is fiction, but it pulls back the curtain on the illegally use of these powerful drugs, and their impact on your community and the people in it.

The Diversion story has its beginnings in New England, New Jersey, Southern Florida and the Middle East; then the pieces converge in small town Middle Tennessee. The main actors in Diversion live in Franklin, Nashville and Miami. Much of the action take places in Manchester and Tullahoma Tennessee. That area is the home of Bonnaroo Music Festival with some seventy-five thousand attendees and the Arnold Air Force Base which operates the most advanced flight test facilities in the world. Nothing flies, except through Arnold!

You can purchase Diversion on Amazon.com, or for a signed copy go to tomcollinsauthor.com/new-release.

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to amazon.com/author/tomcollins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI; eBook editions are also available through iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the new adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

So You Want to Write?

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I believe there’s an advantage to writing later in life—experience. The drawback is that you have less time to build a body of work.

One thing I’ve learned is that each subsequent book will be better than the last. The more you write, the better your writing will be. The question, of course, is why would you want to write at all? Very few people acquire fame as an author or get rich on book royalties. Your  satisfaction has to come from doing what you want to do and—writing for the pleasure of others.

If you decide to write, don’t let anything stop you—especially the barriers created by the agent/publisher/distributor/bookstore business model. Also, finding an agent and then a publisher is a three-to-five-year process assuming that you are successful at all. If you’re older like me, you don’t buy green bananas and you don’t have three to five years to invest— and you don’t have to. The book business is changing. The gatekeeper role of the agent is weakening. You can just go around them and self-publish. The self-publishing road is now well marked. It wasn’t so well marked when I started. If I have any advantage that equipped me to be one of the early trailblazers, it is that I was born with an excessive amount of unwarranted self-confidence.

Let me share with you a true story. In grammar school, I thought my teacher was the stupidest person I knew. She was always writing things on a big black wall. She had maps that rolled down like window shades.She would pull down one of these shades,take a long wooden pointed stick and start talking about islands and continents, when it was clear that no one could see what she was pointing to. As a young boy, I was so self-confident that it never entered my mind that something may be not right with me. Years later a teacher punched a tiny hole in a 3 x 5 index card and had me hold it up to my eye to look through the hole. Marvel upon marvels, I could see a map! The problem had been me all along! Although I have moderated my attitude and gained a modicum of humility over the years— it’s still the same determination not to be held back by difficulties or obstacles that probably accounts for my entering a second career as a mystery author at age sixty-six. 

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As if poor vision wasn’t enough of a setback—dyslexia runs in the Collins family. In my world, any two or three letter word will substitute for any other. I leave out words and reverse letters. I often write one word thinking I am writing another. Also, I’ve never been able to read names. I’ve always skipped over them when reading. When I studied for a test in school I not only had to review the subject material I had to memorize the order of the letters in the words that would be used in the answers. The moral of my story is— don’t let anything stop you. If you want to write  just do it. For me, I’ve always loved suspense and mystery stories so it seemed natural to write about something I had a passion for. Where did these stories come from? They come from my life. For example the idea for my book, The Claret Murders, began on Christmas Eve when my son and I shared an old bottle of Chateau Cheval Blanc. That event melded with the mental image of an old mansion that I had driven by for years started my thinking. I wondered what secrets and mysteries were buried inside. Life is where your stories will come from and they’re just waiting to be told. Look for those stories and get busy. Write. The easy part is publishing your work. The hard part is making sure that your work is worth the reader’s time.

Good Luck!

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to amazon.com/author/tomcollins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the newest adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Writing the Diversion Story

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People often ask me where did I get the idea for my book.  In the case of Diversion, it was more about the "ideas" than any one single event.
I first heard the term "diversion" from a member of the Justice Department's DEA Diversion Control Division speaking at a Killer Nashville conference. I believe it was the 2015 conference. When I walked out of her presentation, I knew Diversion was going to be my next book.

While Diversion started with my conference attendance, it was shaped by events and conditions over the next two years as I wrote the story. During that time, concern over the misuse of powerful opioid pain medication grew to the point that it became a national health crisis.  New England teenagers were stealing storm drains to get money to buy their Percocet. The list of syndromes and mental disorders that are explanations for addiction had gotten longer. The government was paying for our drugs, and doctors became more liberal about prescribing them. There was a growing army of doctors and pharmacists whose loyalty was to the dollar rather than the Hippocratic oath. All of this was occurring in an environment where technology increasingly exposed us--removing privacy as an option. And terrorist plots continued to pop-up, desensitizing us, no matter how terrible, to their ever-present occurrence. That is the world I write about in Diversion.

I'm a cancer survivor, and I deal with chronic pain. Three major surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation saved my life, but they also caused the long-term consequences of living with pain. I've benefited from these powerful opioid drugs like millions of others who do so without abusing them. I have experienced the close attention and supervision of responsible doctors and their medical teams caring for patients who need and benefit from prescribed opioids. Based on my personal experience, the problem is not the drugs.  The real problem is the diversion of them from their intended medical use to recreational purposes.

People with a destructive addiction are searching to fill some void in their lives.  And, as illustrated in Diversion, they are as likely to become addicted to alcohol as they are to opioids. In writing Diversion, I set out to show the corrupting impact of opioid misuse on human behavior.  At the same time, I wanted to make clear that there is a difference between medical dependence and destructive addiction.  I also wanted to show the difference between pill mills doling out prescriptions for cash and responsible doctors and pain management clinics treating patients dealing with chronic pain. While it was important to show the comorbidity between mental disorders and opioid addiction, I wanted to also convey that even the extraordinary can fall victim to these drugs. Finally, I wanted to recognize the national scope of the opioid drug problem, but at the same time emphasize the impact on the community. To draw that connection between national scope and local impact, I open the story in new England, quickly move it to the south, to Florida, and then let the two continental extremes, north and south, meet in “small town” Middle Tennessee.  

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to amazon.com/author/tomcollins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the newest adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Heroes of Vietnam

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Growing older one tends to think back upon the past.  From time to time in the last few years my thoughts wondered back to my school years and to my roommates and close buddies in college.  I lost track of all of them.  Recently, I located my one of my old college roommates and best friend sixty years ago. I discovered that he was a Vietnam hero. There are a couple of books and two documentaries covering the battles his unit, the 4th infantry, fought during the war: Nine Days in May, which I have yet to see, and Honor in the Valley of Tears that I just finished watching.

 I called him a hero, not only because of his on service, but because every one of the guys the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry of the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam were heroes. The battalion was one of the most highly decorated of the Vietnam War. Four members were recognized with Medals of Honor within a sixty-day period.

Because of their action in the Valley of Tears as the men of Company A fought an attacking force that vastly outnumber them, two men were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, seven received the Silver Star, twenty-five received the Bronze Star, and sixty-five received a Purple Heart, and First Sergeant David H. McNerney was awarded the Medal of Honor. In addition, helicopter pilot Donald Rawlinson who repeatedly returned to the company's position despite heavy enemy small-arms fire was recognized with the Distinguished Flying Cross and was adopted as a member of A Company by its troops.

They like many others in Vietnam they paid a terrible price, physically and emotionally.  Of the 108 troops in the Battalion’s A Company, twenty-two men were killed and more than twice that many were wounded. The life of every survivor was changed forever.  Memories of the battle remain fresh in their minds. Tears flow freely when they think of their lost comrades.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to amazon.com/author/tomcollins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the newest adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Need Book Reviews

Come on guys; I need more reviews of my new book Diversion on Amazon or Goodreads.

Check out the news release in the News section of this Blog.  For those that haven't read Diversion yet, it is available for the Kindle or in hardcover on Amazon. The print version is also available from other online sources and you can buy a signed copy on this site,                           

The gripping plot in Diversion unfolds against the backdrop of the opioid drug crisis in rural Middle Tennessee—an anesthesiologist dies, a young girl goes missing, and terrorists plot an attack that could kill thousands or shut down American’s military drones.

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The drug crisis is fueled by the illegal use of pain medications like Percocet and Fentanyl. Until recently, pill mills in Florida were where you went for a prescription. Now those drugs are moving to rural Middle Tennessee.

Pill mills selling prescriptions for cash are showing up in the bucolic area around Manchester and Tullahoma, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville. The area is home to the Bonnaroo Music Festival and the propulsion test facilities at the Arnold Air Force Base that are essential to keep military drones flying in the war against terrorism. Both the Bonnaroo fans and the testing facilities are targets the country’s enemies are willing to die for.

A call for help from an old family friend puts Mark Rollins and his high-tech team of crime fighters squarely in the middle of it all. It was a simple enough request. All Rollins had to do was drive to the jail in Manchester, collect the girl, and take her home to her frantic mother. But, the girl wasn’t there! What had seemed simple quickly became dangerously complicated.

Diversion—the opioid drug crisis, a missing girl, Bonnaroo, and a plot to shut down American military drones.

What the video trailer for more about Diversion. 

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

 

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving to All

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to amazon.com/author/tomcollins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the newest adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Southern Cornbread Dressing and My Secret Gravy recipe

I should have posted this earlier. While a lot of people know the secret to making southern cornbread dressing there is a lot of newbies hosting the Thanksgiving family feast.  This is especially for them.  

The most important item on a southern  dinner table at Thanksgiving is the “Dressing” accompanying the Turkey. Not just any dressing, but good ole Southern cornbread dressing and gravy! Some folks still call this dish “Turkey Stuffing” even though most of us no longer actually cook a stuffed Turkey. The recipe below has been handed down for at least three generations in the Collins family and will keep about twenty people happy at Thanksgiving. For more or less adjust the recipe accordingly.

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  • Prepare two large skillets of cornbread-about 8 cubs. I use Martha White Self-rising Cornmeal Mix. Make in advance, break apart, and let it try dry out for two or three days.
  • Dry out a few slices of white bread, remove the edges, and tear into small pieces—enough for two cups.
  • Crumble the cornbread into a large mixing bowl. Add the pieces of white bread.
  • Sauté 2 large onions (chopped) and an equal amount of celery in butter. When tender, melt an additional stick of butter in the same pan and then mix the onions, celery and the added butter into the cornbread mixture.
  • To the above mixture, add the following and mix thoroughly:
  • 2 tsp. of poultry seasoning
  • Four Chopped boiled eggs
  • Two cups of chicken stock
  • Two raw eggs
  • Dust with pepper and salt

The mixture should moist. If it seems too dry, add more melted butter or stock.Transfer to baking pans or casserole dishes. I use disposable aluminum pans and transfer the finished cornbread dressing to serving dishes when ready to serve. Bread is a great insulator, so it will take longer to bake than you expect to thoroughly heat the dressings to a safe temperature of 160 degrees (200 degrees is even better), and that may take an hour or longer depending on the depth of the mixture in the banking dishes. The mixture should not be deeper than one and a half or 2 inches in each banking dish. Bake at 325 degrees. Do the cooking ahead of time, and reheat to warm your dressing when you are ready to serve. The cooked dressing can be refrigerated and even frozen to serve later.

Now for the Gravy that people rave about. The truth is, my closely guarded secret gravy receipt is nothing more than Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup thinned slightly with chicken stock and to which small handful of Turkey meat bits has been added for a real homemade look.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For Amazon go to amazon.com/author/tomcollins. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. For the newest adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.