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.

Kindle Edition of Diversion

Diversion is now available for the Kindle for $4.99.  Subscribers to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited can read the new book for free. Under an agreement with Amazon, Amazon has the exclusive right to the digital version of the Mark Rollins Adventure Diversion for a minimum of 90 days.  Once the exclusive period is over, eBook editions of Diversion will be available for Apple’s iBook, the Nook, Smashwords, and others.  Go to http://a.co/4UINAeV  for the kindle edition. 

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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. For the newest adventure novel on Amazon go to Diversion: a Mark Rollins Adventure.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Unsafe at Any Speed

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I’m battered and bruised—the victim of a Briggs and Riley suitcase that is unsafe at any speed!

I was in Austin, Texas last week and when returning on Sunday, I took a tumble between the Hertz car return and Southwest check-in. I survived with a good size bruise over my right eye and a few other bumps and abrasions. But, I trashed my glasses which took the brunt of the force as my head hit the pavement. The scratch marks on the lens give you some idea of the surface I fell on.

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It is all the fault of my new luggage. It is a Briggs and Riley soft side expandable case with four-wheels verses two-wheels.  The case is one of those EU sized carry-on designed to go in the overhead of international airlines.

Carry-on cases for U.S. domestic airlines are a little longer and narrower; whereas, the EU cases are shorter and fatter.  The advantage of the new generation four wheels cases over the earlier two-wheel design is that with four wheels your no longer have to pull the case.  The four-wheel luggage stands on its own. Supposedly, you simple walk along with your hand on the extended handle as the case just glides along beside you. The problem, at least with my Briggs and Riley case is that if you pack wrong it becomes top heavy. Put another piece of luggage on top, as I do with my computer case, and that top-heavy condition is exacerbated.  Encounter any size defect in the surface and the case goes down and you with it.  That is what happened to me in Austin.  

Everyone else with a four-wheel suitcase seems to be doing fine.  Happily walking alongside their glide along luggage.  I’m not going to give up, but I’m going to replace the soft sided unsafe and at speed Briggs and Riley with a hard side case. Maybe that’s difference. It needs more weight down below.

By the way, 60 Minutes devoted a significant portion of last Sunday’s program, October 15, 2017,  to the diversion of pain medication to recreational use and street drugs.  For more on the impact of these drugs, you will want to read my new Mark Rollins adventure mystery, 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. Digital 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.

DIVERSION: A Mark Rollins Adventure

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My new book, Diversion, is the fifth novel in the Mark Rollins Adventure series. It is about the opioid crisis, illegal drugs, murder, a missing girl, Bonnaroo, and a plot to shut down American military drones.

For a signed copy of my new novel or for multiple copies at a discount go to my web site authortomcollins.com or just click on Signed Copies

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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.

DIVERSION is hitting the bookshelves

The print proof was approved and the press is rolling. DIVERSION is the fifth Mark Rollins Adventure. I want my existing readers to have a chance to buy a signed hardcover collector’s edition with free shipping. The retail price for the hardcover edition is $29.00. This is an opportunity to complete your own set of the adventure series.  It is also an opportunity to buy several additional signed copies of the collector’s edition for Christmas or birthday gifts at a substantial savings. If you order multiple copies, all the copies in your order will receive a 25% discount.  Shipping remains free for your entire order.

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DIVERSION is timely, addressing real life issues our society is dealing with today. It is about the opioid crisis, illegal drugs, murder, a missing girl, the Bonnaroo music Festival, and a plot to shut down American military drones.

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.

The bucolic area around Manchester and Tullahoma, Tennessee, has become infested with pill mills selling prescriptions for cash. That 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 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 crisis, illegal drugs, murder, a missing girl, Bonnaroo, and a plot to shut down American military drones.

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The hardcover edition was officially published September 29, 2017.  Unsigned copies are already available on Amazon.  In a few weeks, the Kindle version will also be available.  Currently, the plan is for Amazon to have a ninety-day exclusive for digital editions of the book.  Many readers purchase a hardcover edition for their library collection and a digital copy for the convenience of anytime/anywhere access. 

You can order your signed copies from www.tomcollinsauthor.com or by clicking on ORDER DIVERSION NOW.  When you place a multiple copy order, the undiscounted price initially appears in your cart; however, don’t worry.  When you check out, the 25% discount will be applied automatically. You will have a chance to review your discounted order before finalizing it.  It is not necessary to enter any promotional code.  

Your multiple order discount will be applied automatically at check out.

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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.

Back in the Hospital

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Thanks to the frailty of the human body, I had to cancel a mentoring session with MBA students at Middle Tennessee State University. The students were developing a plan to improve performance of a real-life Tennessee business. I am truly disappointed that I missed that opportunity to work with these students, and of course I feel like I let the University down. .

Second, the trip back to the hospital was another setback in the publishing schedule for Diversion. It seems like the publishing Gods are throwing everything they have at us in any effort to derail the new book. They must be in the pocket of the pill mill money guys.

Of course, the truth is my illnesses and the new book’s release are unrelated, but people are making a lot of money from the diversion of medical opioids to recreational use. My new book paints an ugly picture of life under the influence of opioids. It is a picture that those profiting from the diversion of drugs would prefer you never see.

Back to the hospital. What was I doing there? The doctors really don’t have all the answers. What they know is that the bacterial infection I had when I was fist admitted a few weeks ago came back. The doctors put me in the hospital over a concern that the bacteria could invade the blood stream. For the first two days, I never raised my head. I slept. My strength and energy were completely drained as my body fought off the infection. Eventually I won; the infection lost—at least for now. I just hope it doesn’t come back again for a third try at me.

Fortunately, I was able to hand off the manuscript to the formatters prior to being shuffled off to the hospital. That puts the book on automatic. Now that they are getting close to having a releasable book, let me tell you a little about the story. While it is a work of fiction, the best fiction starts with real life. In this case, the fact is we are in the middle of a drug crisis, and on another front, we are at war with enemies in the Middle East. Diversion is about the opioid crisis, illegal drugs, murder, a missing girl, Bonnaroo, and a plot to shut down American military drones.

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.

The bucolic area around Manchester and Tullahoma, Tennessee, has become infested with pill mills selling prescriptions for cash. That area is home of 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 WHC team of crime fighters right 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 desperate mother. But, the girl wasn’t there! What had seemed simple quickly became dangerously complicated.

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

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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.

Bumpy Publishing Road

Diversion hit another bump in the publishing road.  I follow a process that requires a voice read before turning an otherwise fully edited Mark Rollins adventure manuscript over to the digital and print formatters. One person reads and a second follows along using a second copy of the text. You would be surprised how often what the mind reads differs from the written word.  We will mentally fill in blanks, read the correct word even though the written text is wrong, etc.  The process also discloses unnatural wording or dialog. It has been my experience that the “read aloud” last step in the editing process always results in an improved book.

The Diversion manuscript was ready to go except for the voice read.  The night before the scheduled read through, I was brought to my knees by 104-degree temperature. It started with uncontrollable teeth-chattering shakes. My wife and daughter turned nurses and brought the fever under control, but neither they nor the doctor, who prescribed antibiotics, eliminated the fever entirely. I spent several days and nights in Centennial Hospital in Nashville while doctors tried to find the cause. Finally, the antibiotics won the battle with the bacteria, and I came back to the living—but as a thinner and weaker man.

In the end, what had brought me down was a simple but severe urinary-tract infection with no preceding symptoms (no warnings to alert me that I was headed for a problem).  I’m back home and ready to go to work—that work will go a little slower, however, until I can recover fully.  It was one nasty bacteria that didn’t respond quickly to the antibiotics.

However, there are a couple of good things that came out of the experience. For example, I gained new insights surrounding the issue of torture or aggressive interrogation. We don’t need them, including water boarding. We have the Great American Medical Exam. We have the finest CAT scans, PET Scans, colossal x-ray machines, and ultra sound equipment.  We have the best stress inducers and radiation equipment. And you have not seen anything until you have seen the new machines in our nuclear medicine arsenal. The machines are huge part of the exam, but don’t write off the doctors and their hand tools! They are skilled at painful prodding, poking, and pressing where it hurts the most. Then there are those wonderful stents. Anyone want a J-stent up there….? Well you know. And of course, you’ll need a biopsy or two—a bone marrow biopsy is one of my favorites. We can’t forget a colonoscopy. The preparation is the best part. There are more procedures we could work into a complete exam. Doctors are pretty good at coming up with new ones, but some of the best have been around a long time—for example, ever had a barium enema?

All we need to do is threaten suspected terrorists with a complete and through medical exam and they will tell everything—no water boarding required.

In the hospital and wishing I wasn't

In the hospital and wishing I wasn't

The other good thing was just an experience the day I got sick but before the illness had actually struck without warning. I was shopping and in line to check out, when the person behind me said my name. I turned to see who it was. He introduced himself and explain that they had recognized me from my picture on the back of the book they were reading. That is something that all authors crave. It is real life feedback—someone bought your work and recognized you as an author.

Watch for Diversion to be released later this year. 

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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.

Are Opioids the Problem or a Symptom?

Are doctors over prescribing opioids?  Probably. Non-refillable Percocet or Lortab are prescribed where an aspirin would suffice.  However, no one becomes an addict because a doctor prescribed ten or even twenty Percocet following a dental procedure—not unless they really wanted to become an addict from the get go.

USA Today reported that when you peel back the onion on this “opioid crisis,” adults with mental health disorders are consuming more than half of all painkillers prescribed in the United States.  Researchers at the University of Michigan and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center found that almost 52% of opioid prescriptions are going to people with mental health conditions. If Psychiatrist and other doctors stopped prescribing opioids to those with mental health issues, most of the overdoses and at least half of opioid prescriptions would stop.

Take away the mental health aspect and the remaining “crisis” problem relates to the illegal diversion of pain medications to the streets for recreational purposes.  Among the youth, drugs are cool.  But so were cigarettes and we made those uncool. 

As it sometimes happens, a “so called” crisis may just be the symptom rather than the cause. I am a user—that is, I rely on opioids for pain management. The pain being a by-product gift of cancer survival. My use of opioids is closely monitored by the prescribing doctor and that includes a periodic urine test, face-to-face interviews, and a standard medical check of vitals every month. People like me are not the ones overdosing or using drugs for recreational purposes. We are the same people who take advantage of an array of non-narcotic alternatives for pain management including epidurals, ablation, physical therapy, acupuncture, exercise, chiropractic manipulation, supplements and vitamins, stress-reduction techniques, etc.  In short, we are not problem!

We need to stop drugging those with mental problems, and we need to crack down on illegal diversion including criminals in the medical profession who write prescriptions for cash without a bona fide medical justification.  Unfortunately, now that the “Opioid Crisis is a National Emergency” the government is likely to reduce access to these medications limiting legal production and prescriptions.  Those who really need the opioids for pain management will be the losers. And, the reduction in access will lead to more illegal production, more black-market activity, and more unsafe street drugs.

Having said all the above, there is dark side to opioid use.  Diversion activities put millions of dollars in the pockets of criminals willing to put these powerful drugs in the hands of the mentally ill and those who just want to get high. With big money involved the full array of criminal activity follows.  My new book, tells that dark side story. Diversion, the fifth book in the Mark Rollins adventure series, will be released later this year. It is a shocking reveal of big-city drug problems moving into the country side—sex trafficking, terrorist and murder!  The gripping action takes place in and around the small towns of Manchester and Tullahoma, Tennessee, near Nashville.  Watch for Diversion to be released later this year. 

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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.

The Power of "And" verses "Or" Thinking

I written about “The Genius of the AND” and “The Tyranny of the OR,” previously.  In fact, my last post on the subject still comes up on page one of a Google search.  Nevertheless, their importance in business and life warrant a continuing discussion.

To refresh your memory, In the book Built to Last by Jim Collins and Scott Porras, the authors noted that the common decision process is merely choosing between two or more choices—it is an “either/or” process. For example, shall we minimize cost or maximize quality. It is an approach that “…pushes people to believe things must be either A OR B, but not both.” That dampens the imagination, limiting the possible.

On the other hand, what distinguishes the truly remarkable leader and organization is, in the words of the authors, “The Genius of the AND.” Groundbreaking individuals and organizations have replaced the traditional OR approach to decision making with an AND approach—for example, rather than choose between low cost or high quality, they ask, “Why not both?” “Why not give our customers both the highest quality at the lowest cost?”

An interesting exercise is to consider the “Or verse And” issue as it relates to Peter Drucker’s concept of Management Judo. Peter Drucker identified five weaknesses that the larger competitor is likely to develop.

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  A "not invented here" attitude is likely to make the competitor slow to take advantage of new ideas or lower cost methods. The "Creamer" concentrates too long on the higher profit, upper end of the market, leaving the door open to enter the market through the lower end.  The “Premium Pricier” begins to believe that their size entitles them to over price the services they provide. Failure to stay in touch is likely to result in the company emphasizing its idea of quality or features ("Wrong Quality") leaving the customer’s real wants unsatisfied or the product price too high.  The "Maximizer" keeps adding features to satisfy added market elements, leaving the door open for the Niche Company that will provide a simpler or lower cost product or service that just addresses the needs of a particular market segment. Understanding Drucker’s weaknesses means that you can use your larger competitor’s size against them to your advantage.  Or, looking inward you can reduce the occurrence of these weaknesses within your firm.

In addition, it is useful to look at these five weakness as the byproduct of “OR” decision making and strategic thinking. Contrast the single-track, “Or”, mindset that leads to each weakness to the dual tract, “And”, approach of Steve Jobs at Apple.  Given the choice between robust complexity and simplicity—Steve Jobs insisted on both, complexity and simplicity. Given the choice between utility and beauty, Steve Jobs chose both.

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"Almost 60,000 Overdose Deaths in 2016; Largest Annual Increase in American History"—Department of Justice 

Coming Later This year.

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.

Business Etiquette

Etiquette not only sells, it is an essential building block in the pursue of business excellence.  Only through people who truly care about customers can you achieve excellence in the eyes of those who judge you. 

model for excellence

Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette speaker and trainer and the founder of Lydia Ramsey, Inc. a firm offering keynotes, seminars, and workshops to corporations, professional associations, government agencies, and colleges and universities. She is also the author of Manners That Sell.  As Lydia explains it, “My business etiquette presentations are designed for organizations that want their people to be at ease in any business situation and to represent them well in the marketplace.” She explains that etiquette is not just about introductions and table manners. Manners sell. People want to do business with people they like, and people like nice people. Etiquette is about being nice and, we might even say, kind.

There is that word again, “kind or kindness.” Look up kind or kindness and you will discover that four words are always closely linked—kindness, courtesy, polite, and etiquette. Each is an aspect of the other and they all represent behavior that shows respect for other people. You cannot achieve them without a genuine concern or “care” about others. The best salesperson delivers value; the best conversationalist is a good listener; the best king desires to put subjects at ease.

It is a standard of behavior. You cannot compartmentalize it or limit it to just one category of people. That is why we say that Common Courtesy is a job requirement. Customer care first requires caring about people in general. It is the leader’s job to insist that nothing short of common courtesy is acceptable. Kindness, politeness, and etiquette (putting others at ease) are job requirements of the excellence company.

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.

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Look for “Diversion!”
DOJ: Almost 60,000 overdose Deaths in 2016; 'Largest Annual Increase in American History'
Coming Later This year.

Cover Diversion Small

Family News

After 35 years the Collins and Davis Families are leaving beautiful Deerfield.  Since we can’t take everything with us, we are having a big moving sale!  The event is on Saturday July 29th and Sunday July 30 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm each day.

Many beautiful items: Furniture, Antiques, Art Work, Oriental Rugs, Lamps, Books, Small Appliances, Kitchenware, and more.

For the best opportunity to take home a treasure, come on the first day, July 29th, and come early. We look forward to seeing you.

For more information contact Katherine Collins Davis at kcdavis@i65n.com or
Martha Collins at martha.collins@i65n.com

Get All Five Books FREE!

From now through the end of July, digital editions of all five of my published books are FREE on Smashwords.  The Smashwords digital editions include all four currently published Mark Rollins adventure mysteries listed below, and my book on leadership, The Language of Excellence.

Mark Rollins’ New Career & the Women’s Health Club
Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker
Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer
The Claret Murders
The Language of Excellence

Don’t forget to look for my new Mark Rollins adventure, Diversion.  This new mystery will be available later this year. The problem of opioid/drug abuse in the U. S. is very serious.  I see something in the news about it almost every day.  Nevertheless, there are legitimate needs for opioids to treat chronic pain.  I for one benefit from prescribed opioid pain relievers.  However, there is a dark side and it is called DiversionIt occurs when drugs that are legal when properly prescribed are diverted to the streets and recreational use.  

Diversion—illegal drugs, murder, a missing girl, and a plot to shut down American military drones.  Look for it later this year!

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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.

The Addiction Process

Coming soon--a new Mark Rollins Adventure

Coming soon--a new Mark Rollins Adventure

It is not pleasure that drives the drug addict, but pain. The road that leads to addiction, however, does begin with pleasure. The first few times, the user gets a feeling of euphoria from consuming opiate drugs like heroin, morphine, codeine and Hydrocodone. The desire to repeat that wonderful feeling leads to taking more of the drug. Each time the drugs are taken the desired feeling of euphoria becomes less achievable and is replaced by “the black dog”, (depression, pain, a feeling of un-wellness) when the individual is not under the influence of a sufficient dose of their drug. This is the point of addiction. The point where the individual “just wants to feel good again”.

The addiction process occurs as opiates rewire the brain to shut off the body’s natural production of endorphins. Endorphins are the chemicals produced by the brain that transmit electrical signals within the nervous system to regulate feelings of pain. More endorphins lead to feelings of wellness, warmth, even euphoria and they modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones and enhance our immune response.

The good feeling is the result of opiates flooding the body with endorphins, many times more that the body produces naturally. That excess of endorphins, tricks the brain into shutting down its own endorphin production. When the brain throws that switch to the off position, seeking pleasure through drugs turns instead to avoiding pain. Taking more and more of the drug is the only way to make up for the lost endorphins. Without the drug, the individual suffers.

 # # #
Look for “Diversion!”
Illegal drugs, murder, a missing girl, a plot to shut down American military drones.
  It all points to one place and to the twins.

Coming Later This year.

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.

What Employers Look For

An area university recently ask me for my input regarding their MBA program.  They were trying to answer the question what do employers want when hiring a graduating MBA.

They had already done an excellent job identifying and building into the curriculum the tool box of skills that will be expected of the MBA graduate.  That means every single graduate will have the tools to do the job.

Does he or she have the tools to do the job?  It is first question and easiest question an employer will want to answer before hiring.  Unfortunately, it is the other questions that are harder to answer that will determine success or failure on the job.  Those questions are:

Will he or she do the job?
In this environment?
With these people?

In the end, the individual tool box of skills only qualifies an individual as candidate for the job. It is his or her apparent traits that will get them the job and their traits on the job will determine his or her success in that environment with those people.  Successful people tend to be those whose behavior reflects a commitment to the following qualities (traits):

Integrity
Common Curtesy
Responsibility
Emphasis on Quality
Discipline
Sense of Teamwork

The all women blog, Literally, Darling, has an insightful post: “How to be Human 101: Basic Common Courtesy.”  Go to www.literallydarling.com/blog/2017/07/17/how-to-human-101-basic-common-courtesy/.  Also another blog you might want to check out is the post by Erin Schreiner,  “Five Characteristics of a Good Work Ethic.” Go to http://smallbusiness.chron.com/five-characteristics-good-work-ethic-10382.html.

# # #
Look for “Diversion!”
A new Mark Rollins Adventure Mystery
Coming Later This year.

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.

The Best Advice I Ever Received

money sques.jpg

The best advice I ever received came from my father-in-law. He was a typical southern business owner of his time. He always wore a suite, tie and usually a hat. 

Working in his garden on a hot summer evening, he made a concession. The suit coat was left in the house, but hoe in his hand he still wore a white shirt and tie. I was had just started by career and confessed how difficult it was to live on a budget. Without looking up Mr. Reed said, “Yes, I know. I tried it once and decided the only thing to do was to make more money than I was spending.”

Mr. Reed was the founder of the Tennessee Book Company, which in his mid-sixties he sold to the Ingram Corporation. Ingram went on to build an empire as a software distributor. On another occasion, I recall my father-in-law remarking that he was lucky not to have gone into business for himself before age forty because if he had he likely would have failed. Looking back on my own career, I understand now what he meant by that. When it comes to business, you are a lot smarter at forty.

Best post series-- originally posted 2013

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DIVERSION!
Coming Later This Year
A New Mark Rollins Adventure

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’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

The Addiction Process

percocet.jpg

Later this year, a new Mark Rollins adventure mystery will be available for readers. The new book, Diversion, delves into the world of the addict—including the user who takes otherwise legal drugs, opiates or pain medication, illegally for recreational purposes and the pill mills that write prescriptions for cash. The diversion of these drugs to recreational use has a devastating impact on the user and those who love him or her. So why do they do it, and how does experimentation lead to addiction?

It is not pleasure that drives the drug addict, but pain. The road that leads to addiction, however, does begin with pleasure. The first few times, the user gets a feeling of euphoria from consuming opiate drugs like heroin, morphine, codeine and Hydrocodone. The desire to repeat that wonderful feeling leads to taking more of the drug. With each dose, the drugs become less effective, and when the individual is not under the influence of a sufficient dose of the drug, euphoria is replaced by the “black dog” (depression, pain, and a feeling of unwellness). This is the point of addiction. The point when the individual “just wants to feel good again.”

The addiction process occurs as opiates rewire the brain to shut off the body’s natural production of endorphins. Endorphins are the chemicals produced by the brain that transmit electrical signals within the nervous system to regulate feelings of pain. More endorphins lead to feelings of wellness, warmth, even euphoria, and they modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones, and enhance our immune response.

The good feeling is the result of opiates flooding the body with endorphins, many times more that the body produces naturally. That excess of endorphins, tricks the brain into shutting down its own endorphin production. When the brain throws that switch to the off position, seeking pleasure through drugs turns instead to avoiding pain. Taking more and more of the drug is the only way to make up for the lost endorphins. Without the drug, the individual suffers.

 

# # #

DIVERSION!
Coming Later This Year
A New Mark Rollins Adventure

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’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.