Mark Rollins adventure mysteries

Audio Editions of Mark Rollins Adventures

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I just received word that the audio edition of my latest Mark Rollins adventure, Diversion, is now available. You can find both Diversion and The Claret Murders on Audible. The audio versions are also available on Amazon, iTunes and other online retailers of audio books.  Nothing makes the miles go faster than than llistening to a book while driving.

That long business trip or vacaton drive will be over in no time if you take advantage of audio books like Diversion or The Claret Murders

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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. 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.

Welfare for the Birds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

The Addiction Process

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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.

 

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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.

Interview For Williamson County Arts


Reporter Michael Ackley covers the City of Franklin for Homepage Media Group. Michael interviewed me several weeks ago, and that interview was published in the November 23th edition of the Arts sections of the Franklin Home Page. For the complete interview go to http://franklinhomepage.com/section/willco-arts.

One of the questions Michael asked me was "How much of what you write in your mystery novels is taken from your own life?"

The main character is Mark Rollins. There is only a one letter difference between Rollins and Collins. The difference between my avenging hero and myself is much greater than that one letter. However, there are similarities. We both know about technology and guns.  We both know about law firms, running a business, and leadership.  I like great wines and the best restaurants. So does Rollins. We both live in the Music City area.  Actually, we reside in  Williamson County, Tennessee which is close to Brentwood and Franklin and  part of the greater Nashville Tennessee area—Music City USA.

By giving the my main character my skill set and placing him in the same place on this earth, it is much easier for me to visualize and write about his reaction to the fictional events I create for him. As an author you have to start somewhere, and by starting with the things I know, I was able to get up and running as an author faster. When you don't start writing for publication until age sixty-six getting there faster is pretty important.


In the interview, Michael mentioned that I recently made the first novel in the Mark Rollins adventure mysteries available as a free download.  If you would like a free download of Mark Rollins New Career go to http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/470351.


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



Don’t Count on Your Gut!

Most of the time, experienced and seasoned leaders are served well by their gut. That “gut feeling” doesn’t come out of nowhere. It comes from experience—their own and those of others who shared theirs. From those experiences, we develop biases (core beliefs) about what does and does not work. It is those core beliefs that drive our gut reaction to events and circumstances enabling us to make most decisions quickly without research, consultation, or analysis.

However, the excellent leader also knows there is a time when their gut is not up to the job. They don’t “bet the farm” casually. Material or bet-the-farm issues are often those that bring into question the very validity of your core beliefs given new conditions and circumstances. Yielding to your gut when you should be adjusting to new conditions on the ground leads to adverse results. When I look back over my 55 years of business experience, I can point to numerous competitors that no longer exist because their leaders followed their gut when the game board was in transition.

To be an effective leader, it is important to recognize when to follow your gut and when to take an analytical approach seeking advice from those with special know-how and experience. When the stakes are big, don’t count on your gut!

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Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. 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. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.

Blue Ocean

Blue Ocean

Creative excellent managers don’t accept the prevailing rules.  They don’t settle for coloring inside the lines.  They look for ways to reinvent how the “wants and needs” of customers and prospects can be satisfied.  They look for opportunities to increase benefits that have so far gone unsatisfied.  They look for ways to reinvent how products and services are delivered.  Today there are successful businesses that no one could even imagine a few years ago.  Peter Drucker would say they created utility where there was none.  Thomas Edison did that when he created the electric light, the phonograph, and moving pictures.
 
W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne gave this strategy a name.  They call it the Blue Ocean Strategy (BOS).  They call traditional businesses Red Ocean businesses.  In the Red Ocean, traditionally, businesses compete with other businesses for the same customers to fill the same need.  They compete in the same ways.  It is a game of one-upmanship—for one business to gain market share, another has to lose.  The Red Ocean is one where businesses ebb and flow in terms of competitive victories and losses.  In the Red Ocean no business will consistently succeed.  Leadership styles are transient.  Successful strategies do not continue in perpetuity.  Applauded leadership methods fail with changing circumstances.  The Red Ocean is a place where victories are only marginal improvements.
 
Under the creative excellent leader, a corporate team looks for opportunities to stop playing the Red Ocean game with all the other wannabes.  They create a new market, a Blue Ocean, where they are the only player.  It is the notion of reinventing the business, but kicked up a notch.  For example, it isn’t a matter of just reinventing how existing products or services are provided to existing consumers.  Instead, it is a matter of reinventing how the needs and wants of those customers are satisfied and inventing ways that those who currently don’t take advantage of a particular product or service can get the benefits.  With the Blue Ocean Strategy you reinvent the market, not just the business enterprise pursuing that market.  You break out of the box where everyone competes for the same business.
 
A pure Blue Ocean is an entirely new industry, created by bringing in neglected potential customer segments through offering them compelling buyer utility not currently offered anywhere.  Making the breakthrough to a pure Blue Ocean is not something every group—no matter how creative and how exceptional—will achieve.  But the constant effort to turn the water Blue is a mark of the excellent manager.  Imagine, for example, the impact on the hotel/motel business of breaking away from the fixed check-in and checkout time.  Why is that standard? Why can’t hotels operate like rental car companies—check in any time and check out anytime.  The fixed check-in and checkout time is an example of practices that become industry standard practices that do not serve the customer. Practices that reduce the customer's benefits should be the enemy of the excellent manager.

PayPal, Stamps.com, and Bazaar Voice are notable examples of Blue Ocean companies and so was Southwest Air who eventually changed how airlines compete.  So were FedEx and Starbucks.  Amazon is changing how people shop and read books.  A creative telecom carrier in Africa is creating a Blue Ocean by launching products that allow money to be transferred between mobile users across all mobile telephone networks.  Africa is a country where mobile devices, solar power, and wireless communication are transformative; and telecom carriers are in a position to bring brick-and-mortar-type services to the masses.
 
Kim and Mauborgne are the authors of the book Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant.  It was the product of years of research by the authors and collaboration with fellow faculty and students at INSEAD.  The French graduate business school and research institute, INSEAD, is considered one of the world’s best.  It is particularly known for its influential alumni—a global network of business intellect and power.
 
Gabor George Burt, a graduate of INSEAD, is one of the apostles of BOS.  His blog, http://blueoceanstrategy.typepad.com is a valuable supplement to the original work of Kim and Mauborgne.

In my Novel Mark Rollins’ New Career and the Women’s Health Club the main character, Rollins, reinvents the fitness center into a unique Blue Ocean business.  The WHC, as members call it, also serves as the “Bat Cave” for this modern day avenger and has continued to play that role for three more Mark Rollins adventures:

Hawthorne Effect

One tool for minimizing the downward spike of the Change Curve involves capitalizing on the Hawthorne Effect.  Management scientists found that increased attention alone improves performance even if only temporarily.  Daily and hourly progress reports, increased MBWA/CBWA (management by wandering around/communication by wandering around), setting initial low goals to reinforce accomplishments, awards and recognition to celebrate milestone goals, achieving goals, ceremonies to kick off change—putting change on center stage with drama and pizzazz provides a countering upward force.  The Hawthorne Effect will flatten the downward spike of the Change Curve.  A word of warning is appropriate, however: increased attention alone is not enough.  Studies indicate that productivity often drops when the increased attention is withdrawn.  Taking advantage of the Hawthorne Effect is an important tool, but is only one of the tools for managing change.

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You can find novels by Tom Collins, including his latest mystery, The Claret Muders, on Amazon.com.

Ceremonialism


We all like to be recognized for our contributions and achievements.  Effective change management looks for opportunities to provide an upward push against the downward spike of the Change Curve with awards and recognition tied to the KASH formula.  Examples include:
  • Certificates for completing training courses designed to deliver “new knowledge”
  • Lapel pins recognizing milestone achievements
  • T-shirts, hats, and/or jackets with goal-oriented messages reinforcing the purpose of the change
  • Cash awards for individual or team accomplishments
Nothing encourages success more than success.  Many a weight loss regime has been given an important boost by an early, quick weight loss.  Setting initial goals that are quickly achievable, and then recognizing their accomplishment through ceremony and awards, reassures those going through a change that “it is working.”
 
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Mysteries by Tom Collins include Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer, and the newest, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to http://store.markrollinsadventures.com. Ebook editions are available on Amazon.com for the Kindle, on Barnes & Noble for the Nook, and in Apple iTunes' iBookstore for the iPad.  Paperback editions are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores.