Author Tom Collins

Quell Miracle

I don’t sing the praises of many products. Most don’t serve their intended purpose, or they could be better built, easier to use, etc. But I can’t say enough good things about the Quell—especially Quell 2.0.

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I have been dealing with chronic pain with since 2004. Most doctors have indicated that they believe my pain is misdirected pain from the back. In addition to structural problems, I probably have some nerve damage resulting from operations, chemotherapy, and radiation.

It is hard to describe continuous pain. One pain will mask another. Whatever is hurting most at the time becomes one’s focus. Recently the worst pain has been in my legs when seated which makes an evening of TV watching a horror show even if it’s on the Hallmark channel. Physical therapy didn’t stop the pain. Medicine was little help. I was almost ready to give the go ahead for surgery to fuse whatever they could fuse in the back just to give me some relief.  I couldn’t spend the rest of my life standing or lying flat, the only positions that stop the constant pain.

Then I saw a commercial for the Quell device.  I paid the full $299 dollars to Amazon.  When it arrived, I charged it up and strapped it to my leg. The pain stopped! I can wear the devise on either leg because it does not matter which leg the quell is on. 

It could be a coincidence. It might not work for everyone. But for me it is a Miracle! I’m not taking any chances. I’m not taking it off!

Quell is promoted as “wearable pain relief technology.” Go to www.quellrelief.com to find out how Quell's neurotechnology blocks chronic pain. The Quell system is FDA cleared for use during the day while active, or at night while sleeping. What's more, it's easy to use.

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 For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. Audio versions of The Claret Murders and  Diversion are available from iTunes, Audibles and Amazon. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. 
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Five Best Books on Leadership and Management

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Sure, I write fiction, mysteries, but of all the books I have written I am most proud of the one non-fiction work, The Language of Excellence. The book codifies the leadership and management concepts that I used to succeed in business. Gary Slaughter, author and nationally recognized management expert, places The Language of Excellence as one of the five best books on leadership and management. This is what he recently wrote:

“Over the past fifty years, I’ve devoured dozens of leadership and management books. In fact, I’ve also taught hundreds of leadership and management workshops to Fortune 500 corporate executives.

In my judgement, The Language of Excellence by Tom Collins is among the best five books I have ever read on this subject. The other four include these classics:

The Motivation to Work by Fredrick Herzberg
The Practice of Management by Peter Drucker
On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis
The Transformational Leader by Noel Tichy

Moreover, The Language of Excellence replaced One Minute Manager on my ‘best five’ list. OMM, written in 1982 by Ken Blanchard and Spenser Johnson, has sold over 13 million copies and been translated into 37 different languages. Despite OMM’s popularity, The Language of Excellence is far more informative and easy to apply.”

Most of my life has been spent in business. As a corporate executive I made and loss money for other people, before going solo. By the time I was running my own company, I had learned what worked and what didn’t work. My lessons were learned on the firing line and by reading and listening to the experts. I am a great fan of contemporary business authors like Jim Collins, Tom Peters, and Nancy Austin. But it was their predecessors, including Peter Drucker, who were at the cutting edge of modern business management methods and leadership concepts. If you are just starting in business, or if you are a seasoned business leader constantly searching for the answers, their works as well as The Language  of Excellence needs to be on your bookshelf. Better yet, they need to on your desk, and in the case of The Language of Excellence, it needs to be in the hands of those you depend on to help you succeed in business and life.

All five of the best books on the subject are available on Amazon and other online bookstores.

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The Language of Excellence is available in hardcover, paperback, and digital formats. Volume purchases for corporate training and gifting as well as signed copies are available on the author’s official website, www.authortomcollins.com. From now until December 25th enter the code GIFT at checkout for free shipping and a 20% discount. To buy now click on SHOP NOW.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. Audio versions of The Claret Murders and  Diversion are available from iTunes, Audibles and Amazon. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. 
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Succeeding for the Long Haul

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The young Nashville based management team of Lonely Planet has been studying my book, The Language of Excellence. The picture was taken on September 5, 2018 when I met with them to discuss the book and answer questions. At the point in the discussion pictured, I was explaining that anyone can be accidentally successful. You can have your Andy Warhol 15 minutes of fame. But you cannot accidentally succeed for the long haul. Long term success is not achieved by accident. Tom Peters and Nancy Austin in their book A Passion for Excellence say it this way:

“…there are only two ways to create and sustain superior performance over the long haul. First, take exceptional care of your customers (for chicken, jet engines, education, health care, or baseball, etc.) via superior service and superior quality. Second, constantly innovate. That’s it.” “There are no alternatives…”

It seems simple:
      Customer Care
      And Constant Innovation
Yet for most companies it appears too difficult. History is littered with the bones of short lived enterprises.

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The Lonely Planet team studied The Language of Excellence to learn management and leadership concepts required for long term success. Including concepts like the model for Excellence: 

I told the team that it was not enough for them to study the book. “To lead you must become a teacher. When all members of an organization understand the implications of important management and leadership concepts, magic happens within that enterprise.”

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To read what business leaders are saying about The Language of Excellence go to http://www.tomcollinsauthor.com/reviews-the-language-of-excellence. For more about The Language of Excellence at a discounted price for bulk purchases go to http://www.tomcollinsauthor.com/language-of-excellence/. For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. Audio versions of The Claret Murders and Diversion are available from iTunes, Audibles and Amazon. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com.

Published by I-65 North, Inc.

I-65 NORTH

Commenting on my recent post about my book The Language of Excellence, Marshall Martin said that even years later his business vocabulary still includes "ceremonialism, majoring in minors, indispensable man and I-65 North" among other phrases. 

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Those who haven't read The Language of Excellence are probably wondering what I-65 North has got to do with it. I use “I-65 North” as a metaphor about business. It is also the name of my publishing company. 

Business is a journey; one that involves constant change and where success is determined through the eyes of those who judge us. The role of a leader is to get people moving in the same direction toward a common destination with a clear understanding of the rules of the road for getting there. I-65 North conveys the idea of a journey with everyone traveling in the same direction—north. North is analogous to the idea of upward progress (the pursuit of excellence).

While the destination of the business journey is set and communicated by an organization’s leader, individuals are not robots. If you are on the team, it is because the organization believes in you as an achiever, but many things shape how each member of the team performs in pursuit of the destination. There is not one performance style that has a monopoly on success. The analogy of the interstate conveys this flexibility. Individuals determine their own rate of speed on the journey north, provided they do not go so slow as to impede others or so fast as to recklessly endanger others. As an individual within the organization, however, you cannot go south, east, or west. You as an individual are in control. It is your vehicle, but the leader sets the direction and destination.

Business is a journey. The role of the leader is to get everyone traveling in the same direction.

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For more about The Language of Excellence at a discounted price for bulk purchases go to http://www.tomcollinsauthor.com/language-of-excellence/. For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. Audio versions of The Claret Murders and  Diversion are available from iTunes, Audibles and Amazon. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Knee Replacement Recovery

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At this point, I can honestly say my new knee is great. The problem is all the old stuff that connects to the new knee. 

Recovery from knee replacement is harder than I expected. Progress is not linear. There is no straight line to “better.”

After a few weeks of rehab and continuous improvement, I started to have terrible pain when my patella, or kneecap, stopped tracking correctly. It seems the muscles on the lateral side of my leg were overpowering those on the medial side pulling the patella to the left where it had no place to go. That took several weeks of therapy with an Electronic Muscle Stimulator to get under control. Things were on the mend again and then I developed iliopsoas bursitis. Iliopsoas bursitis is an inflammatory response in the bursa located under the iliopsoas muscles (hip flexor muscles). The iliopsoas muscle is a group of two muscles located toward the front of the inner hip. The result is pain and a lot of it when lifting the foot or leg—so much so that range of motion becomes extremely limited.  Forget stairs—you just can’t do it!

Right now, I’m giving therapy a rest. That seems to be the treatment—if it hurts don’t do it!

I saw the surgeon a week ago to hear something they don’t tell you until after the surgery. “It takes about year to fully recover.”  Whatever happened to “We'll have you up and walking in no time.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. Audio versions of The Claret Murders and  Diversion are available from iTunes, Audibles and Amazon. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com. 
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

 

Have you missed me?

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Believe me, when I say I would rather have been anywhere other than where I was.   I was in the hospital—double pneumonia.

It all started innocently enough.  It is spring time in Tennessee, so my primary doctor concluded that I had a touch of a cold along with a heavy dose of allergy. Then he packed his bag and left for a medical conference in Brazil!  Things only got worse from there. Intense coughing and difficulty breathing.

I had opted for a concierge doctor in hopes that such an arrangement meant improved access and medical attention.  With my concierge doc off in Brazil, I called his office and told the assistant I was coming in anyway, and that I needed one of the other doctors in the group to see me.  I do have to say they shuffled schedules as needed.  The backup doctor got to me without much of a wait—took blood samples and a chess x-ray. Since I had difficulty breathing and some leg swelling, the substitute doctor apparently decided my problem was heart related. He concluded the coughing was due to excess fluids. The first step was to reduce the fluids to stop the coughing, and then they would arrange for a heart workup. The doctor prescribed some “water pills” to reduce fluids and sent me home.

The uncontrollable coughing continued, and I was no longer able to sleep.  After two days, I called the doctor and reported that I was still having trouble breathing and could not stop coughing.  Their answer was go to emergency room.  I did, and the emergency room staff was top touch.  They did a CT scan shortly after I arrived and determined I had double pneumonia. Finally, with the correct diagnoses I started getting the treatment I required.

Am I over it now?  No, I’m out of the hospital but weak and still short of breath.  I think it is going to take quite a while before I’m anywhere close to well!

Of course, I will certainly follow up with the heart specialist. I suppose it is possible that some heart problem may have contributed to the onset of pneumonia.  I hope that isn’t the case. My ticker seems to be ticking away just as it always has.

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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 Cutting Room Floor

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People talk about the cutting room floor in relation to movies. But do you ever stop to think that there is a cutting room floor for books. Not all the draft content for a novel makes into the final manuscript. There are many reasons. For example, an editor decides that a particular piece doesn’t move the story forward. Sometimes, political correctness comes into play as in an editor saying “you can’t put that in there, it will turn readers off.” Sometimes, a draft just gets rewritten and the initial content is forgotten. Then there are bloopers. Yep, they happen in the written word as well as the movies.

I’m thinking of adding a “Cutting Room Floor” to the website tomcollinsauthor.com. Here is an example a content falling victim to political correctness. In an initial draft of Chapter 22 of The Claret Murders, Rollins relates his experience driving into D.C. and uses the opportunity to explain the amnesty role the District planned in the Civil War period. A roll that continues to shape the behavior and demographic of the area today:

The Claret Murders Chapter 22—Washington (on the Cutting Room Floor)

Rather than drive to the commandant’s suburban offices in Virginia, I had reserved a table at the Capitol Hill Club. The commandant and his sidekick spook had agreed to join me there for lunch. If we needed more privacy for the negotiations, the Club has a number of small meeting rooms we could adjourn to.

The Capitol Hill Club is in the shadow of the Capitol. That part of D.C. is pristine with its white marble and stone buildings that constitute our seat of government. Unfortunately, the areas of D.C. that we had to drive through to get there were a stark contrast—decaying townhouses occupied predominantly by blacks. I have to confess that more than once when the car stopped for a red light, I uncomfortably felt the stares of big young black men. The majority of D.C.’s black population is sustained by welfare. There are government jobs for some of them, especially among the black female population, but I am always struck by the absence of blacks in other jobs in the city. I’m in the District frequently, and I seldom see blacks, especially male blacks, among the wait staff. 

In spite of the city’s liberal slant, there is still discrimination—more than I experience elsewhere.  It is an unpleasant surprise. You get the feeling that from an economic standpoint there is nothing for the majority of blacks living in the city. The question is why they remain there. And, there is an answer. They are generational holdovers from the amnesty role the District played during the years leading up to the Civil War. Apparently, after the war, no one went home!

Let me know if you would like to see more from the cutting room floor. You can email me at tom.collins@i65n.com.

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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.

 

 

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.

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.

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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 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.

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.

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.

Competitive Cyclists take to the Virtual Road.

It was raining on Christmas Eve in Franklin, Tennessee. My son (50- year-old son) is a committed competitive cyclist and recovering from a detached retina. You would think it is a good time to put another log on the fire and just enjoy the season.  But noooooo!

I’m reminded of the motivation difference between a hen and a pig. The hen is motivated and involved producing her egg on cue without complaint. But the pig—now providing you with the bacon to go with that egg requires real commitment. A true cyclist is a commitment, and rain, sleet, snow, or injury is not going to keep them off the road.

Just to prove it, unable to ride in the inclement weather and with one bad eye—son, Stephen, and his pal, Dave, have gone virtual.  They are in my garage in Franklin running a real race against real people but in a virtual world.  Believe me the grunts, the sweat, and the pain are all real.

Not only are the people they are racing real, they are racing in real time – they are really there on the bike run, yet they could be doing so from locations in France, Germany, Austin, Napa Valley, Austria, England, etc. Technology has collected them and deposited them in a competitive race in a virtual world where each is out to outdo the other or conspiring with a partner to beat the other by forming friendly teams. Some of the places they race are fictitious, but others are places they have raced before and know well including familiar routes of the Tour de France.

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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’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.

Published by I-65 North, Inc.

2016 Christmas Wine—Tasting or Science? Maybe Both!

Christmas isn’t over, but we decided to open our Christmas bottles early. We actually opened two bottles. The first was a 1982 Chateau Cheval Blanc, a widely hailed great vintage from the Saint-Emilion 1st Grand Cru Classe house of the white horse. This bottle has been in my loving care since its release. There can be no issue of cellar abuse. I had wanted to save this great vintage for a very special occasion, but I could no longer ignore reports of its seeming decline. It was open it now or never experience it’s greatness. Alas, I was a bit too late. The 1982 was a wonderful drinkable wine that went superbly well with the fat rich rare prime New York strip streaks. But Cheval Blanc needed the food! It lacked the stand alone character that would make you just want to enjoy the wine—maybe with a little cheese or pâté.  Its fruits had faded when opened but rebounded after about an hour in the decanter; nevertheless, the 1982 bottle could have been any really good drinkable wine, maybe even a pinot or ,of course it’s true colors, a merlot.  “If you have them, smoke them.” There no reason to keep this any longer. It is not going to get any better.




The next bottle was an antique—a fifty year old Chateau Lafite Rothschild that had lived a questionable cellar life, at least from its outward appearance. Now this was interesting.  There is no question than the wine is well past its prime, but it still had a character all its own.  Unlike the 1982 that you just wanted to enjoy with the steak. You kept wanting to go back to the Lafite for another sip—another taste. What is the wine telling me now?  Some time old wine is more like a science experiment and maybe the Lafite was near that edge.  When first opened, you questioned its drinkability. Then things started to happen—but it was not the fruit, color, or nose of a young wine.  It was dried flowers. It was the taste of and nose of autumn.  Where the 1982 needed the food, the 1966 added something else to it but didn’t really need the food. It wasn’t part of the menu; the wine stood alone.  It was not a wine to drink—it was a wine to sip. The ‘66 Lafite was a wine to be taken in small doses with amble resting time between those taste. You wanted to observe its evolution once freed from its fifty-year imprisonment.
***
It is the next day and as you would expect there is nothing left of the 1982 Cheval Blanc, but there is still a little of the Lafite in the carafe, and I just repeated the experiment—another sip. The color was and still is very light-darker than a Rose but bourbon like. The point being that it’s color  has faded with age.  The taste is old but no tannins; it is leather and dried flowers—a walk in the woods.  But you know I still want another sip.  As for the 1982, I have done that and checked it off the list. However, I would love to try another ‘66 Lafite, just to see if that other bottle, maybe treated with better care, is any different. I’ll remember the ’66, and that is the difference character makes. It is unique. It is memorable. Where the 1982 gave you all its answers; left you with no questions. The ‘66 just may still be hiding something that another bottle might answer. 

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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’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.

Published by I-65 North, Inc.



An Antique Wine for Christmas 2016

Soon we’ll celebrate another Christmas. And as our new tradition continues, we will enjoy another antique wine during the holidays. One I will tell you about when the season is over and that last drinkable sip has been drained leaving behind a little residue from the bottle’s years of resting in its cellar.

If you recall, it was an antique 1947 vintage of Chateau Cheval Blanc that was a central character in my book The Claret Murders. The ‘47 Cheval Blanc is considered by many to be the greatest wine every made.  I did have the great fortune of tasting a small share of this extraordinary wine at a tasting dinner several years ago.

In the animated hit Ratatouille, feared critic Anton Ego visits Gusteau's, the restaurant in which the movie is set, and orders a bottle of 1947 Château Cheval Blanc to go with his meal. The wine critic, Mike Steinberger, noted that the film which is full of delicious insider moments for foodies did so as wink to the wine lovers. He explained,
 “That's because the '47 Cheval is probably the most celebrated wine of the 20th century. It is the wine every grape nut wants to experience before he dies.”


Today, seventy years later, a single surviving bottle of the 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc purchased, rather than retrieved from one’s cellar, can cost as much or more than $12,000.

Last year’s antique treasure got close but miss this greatest of all wine by just one year. We celebrated that Christmas with a 1948 Cheval Blanc.

Our 1948 bottle was very much alive—wonderful, but no longer a characteristic Claret. It smelled of plums and raisins with the taste of an exceptionally smooth port. We paired the wine with cheese and rich fat hamburgers that brought back the richness of the wine and showed its nobility as a great Claret from the house of the white horse.

What makes the experience of an antique wine so exceptional is the realization that you are one of the last people on earth to have the opportunity to taste the wine—through the experience you time travel back in to its birth. It is the product of soil, weather, and the light hand of the wine maker at that precise place and time in history. Like a snowflake—it is unique and can never be repeated.



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



EMPLOYERS – WAIT, WAIT DON'T DO IT!

Qualifying for a Tennessee carry permit requires mandatory training and being tested on the firing range. In spite of the sustainable personal investment in time and expense, many Tennesseans have gone through the process becoming responsible gun owners. One of the things they learn during training is that firing a deadly weapon exposes them to civil and criminal prosecution regardless of the reason for doing so. The only justification for aiming a weapon at another human is that you believe you or someone else is at risk of being killed or suffering grave bodily harm. Their judgment as to that circumstance will be questioned. They will surely have to defend their decision in court. Responsible gun owners have a lot to lose and thus take their responsibility seriously. Based on experience, we have much to fear from criminals with guns and almost nothing to fear from the licensed individual. In fact, those licensed for conceal carry provide an additional level of security—security that could one day save your life or the life of someone close to you.

In spite of the potential benefit the licensed individual provides, fear of guns in anyone’s hand has led some businesses to adopt a no guns on the premises policy. However, a company’s right to bar guns has limits as Steve Collins humorously explains below:

“Hey, Harlan, I heard Louise has got a shiny Colt Detective 38 Special locked up in her trunk.  She's always pushing the rules.  There are no guns allowed on company property.  I've had it with Louise.  This is it.  I'm firing her."
Wait, wait don't do it.  In 2014 Tennessee passed Tennessee Code Annotated 39 17 1313, commonly referred to as the "guns in trunks law."
Since Louise has a proper Tennessee carry permit and since her Colt Detective 38 Special is locked up in her trunk, she is protected by the law.  The law allows Louise to transport and store her gun in her vehicle.  That law applies to the company parking lot.   All Louise has to do is be on the property legally, be parked legally, and her have her gun and ammunition 'kept from ordinary observation'.  A gun locked in the trunk is 'kept from ordinary observation'.
Also if Harlan does fire Louise she can bring a lawsuit against the company charging that her statutory right to have her gun locked in her trunk has been violated and she can in turn seek and receive damages from the employer including her attorney fees and litigation costs and she can get an injunction prohibiting her employer from violating that law and taking an adverse employment action against her.  These remedies for Louise are provided for in Tennessee Code Annotated 50-1-312. The result is that an employer of any size is now prohibited from discharging or taking an adverse employment action against its employee in Tennessee 'solely' for being in compliance with 'guns in trunks'.
Be aware and wait, wait don't do it.  Tennessee Code Annotated 50-1-312. Became effective July 1, 2015.

For more WAIT, WAIT DON'T DO IT advice to employers check other Steve Collins post at http"//spicefirm.com/news.html.

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

Time Off to Vote—It is a Right!

With the election of our next President only days away, employees and employers need to start thinking about voting plans.  Imagine the following conversation between employee and employer:
“I need to take off to go vote today."
“Wait a minute Joe, you do that on your own time.”
“I’ve got to vote!”
“Well, if you leave work, no need to come back."
Steve Collins with the Knoxville law firm Spicer Rudstrom, PLLC says, “EMPLOYERS – WAIT, WAIT DON'T DO IT!” Tennessee Code Annotated 2-1-106 provides that the employee on the day of an election must be given "a reasonable period of time, not to exceed three (3) hours, necessary to vote during the time the polls are open in the county where the person is a resident.” The law also provides, however, that Joe has to make application for the time off at least before 12:00 noon on the day before the election. Further, the law provides that if the employee's work begins three or more hours after the polls have opened or ends three or more hours before the polls close in the county where the employee is a resident, then the employee is not entitled to the time off. The employee “may not be subjected to any penalty or reduction in pay for such absence.”




"Termination of an employee for a protected right, protected by a statute or regulation, can give rise to a retaliatory discharge lawsuit.  If Joe makes an application before lunchtime the day before the election and if Joe's work does not start three or more hours after the polls in his county open or his work does not end three or more hours before the polls close in his county, you better let him off to go vote."

"In the case of Hodges v. S.C. Toof & Co., 833 S.W.2d 896 (Tenn. 1992) a Tennessee jury returned a verdict of $575,000 for a plaintiff found to have been wrongfully discharged  for engaging in a protected activity (jury duty).  So, wait, wait don't do it!"

For more "Wait, wait don't do it!" advice from Steve Collins go to http"//spicefirm.com/news.html


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