Tom Collins Author

Getting a New Shoulder

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My social media presence has been close to nothing for several weeks.  Since my fall on May 10th of this year (good ole 2019), I’ve been unusually busy with doctors and physical therapists.  And to be blunt, it hurts like hell to push a mouse or depress keyboard keys. And, my absence from the scene will continue for a while longer.

On August 8th, surgeons are going to give me a new shoulder—the old one having been destroyed in the fall. You can read more about my dive to the pavement by going to my post:
It Happens in a Flash.

I tore all the tendons in the group of muscles commonly known as the rotator cuff except for the smallest one, the teres minor. The rotator cuff is actually a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder in order to keep the humerus (the ball of the humerus) centered while performing shoulder-related tasks such as lifting the arm.  With the rotator cuff gone, the instability causes severe pain and loss of function.

My operation is called a “reverse shoulder replacement.” Because there are no rotator cuff muscles and tendons to keep the head of the humerus in its cup, surgeons change the anatomy of the shoulder reversing the locations of the ball and cup and the deltoid muscles become the main functioning muscle group for the shoulder.

I understand recovery is painful and that it takes three to six months to gain something close to normal range of motion and functionality. However, it is hard to imagine that it is more painful than my current status. Driving is out for six weeks, and I don’t think I’ll be doing much posting.  Wish me luck.

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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.

You Can’t Fix Stupid, but We Often Elect It!

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“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”― Mark Twain

As a retired business employer and author on management I have put to test my views of competence and incompetence through many years of observation and experience. My firsthand experience with people, in particular evaluating an employee on the job, is they fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Competent

  • Conscious incompetent (inexperienced but learning)

  • Unconscious incompetent (incompetent and doesn’t know it)

Combine incompetence with unawareness and you have “stupid!” And, to make matters worse, the “unconscious incompetents” usually think they are the smartest people in the room!  Also, a prestigious degree doesn’t protect one from being an “unconscious incompetent.” Stupid doesn’t mean uneducated and being smart in one area doesn’t keep you from being incompetent in another. You can be young and stupid or old and stupid. You can be new to your position, or heaven forbid, in your existing role for years. As an employer, I wanted to replace the unconscious incompetent as soon as possible. Why, because “You Can’t Fix Stupid”.

I’m not making this up.  I just read an article in the Post-Tribune titled Science Finally Proves You Can’t Fix Stupid. The article reports on the findings of  now retired Cornell University psychologist David Dunning who since 1999 had been researching stupid— “how totally brick-headed people are, and how little any of them realize it.” His findings demonstrate that dumb people can’t tell they are stupid. “The very factors that impose human incompetence also make them incapable of realizing it.”

Dunning wrote in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, ”What's curious is that, in many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge. A whole battery of studies … have confirmed that people who don't know much about a given set of cognitive, technical or social skills tend to grossly overestimate their prowess and performance, whether it's grammar, emotional intelligence, logical reasoning, firearm care and safety, debating or financial knowledge."  

I’m no longer in management but I’m trained as an observer of people and I can spot an “unconscious incompetent” person in a New York minute. You can find a swarm of them in the political arena particularly Congress–several new members stand out to such a degree as to mask the incompetence of all the rest.

As an example, David Rutter, in his Post-Tribune article observed, “The research has profound effects on public policy. When a politician starts a conversation about climate change with, "I'm not scientist, but ...," it usually means they have translated their total ignorance about science into a comforting self-delusion.”

Go figure.

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Read more about Tom Collins’s views on management and leadership in his book The 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.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

I exchanged my pen for a paint brush today to celebrate the one day of the year I too am Irish!

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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.

What's that Green Stuff?

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The family became much smaller last year, 2018, with the passing of my mother and her sister, Aunt May. To this day, we are still dealing with issues like insurance policies, etc. As I was dealing with one of those that involved going through old documents, I ran across a culinary gold mine—my mother’s favorite recipes including her famous “Congealed Green Salad.” This culinary delight made its appearance at every holiday gathering of the family. This was not the first thing a younger member of the family would turn to. They were more likely to turn up their nose at the dish initially. After all, green is not an appealing food color. Even green vegetables are not usually on your “favorite foods list”. Nevertheless, the Congealed Green Salad eventually won over even the most timid. Once you were brave to try a spoonful, you were forever hooked. Here is mother’s recipe in all its well-used glory!

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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.

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.

End to Amazon's Exclusive Rights & Other Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SeriousReading.com

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

 

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

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

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

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

So You Want to Write?

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

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

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

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

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

Good Luck!

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

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

How do you create something out of nothing?

When the Dot-Com industry erupted on the world economy, entrepreneurs like Kevin O’Connor did just that.  And they made a fortune doing it.  What sets O’Connor apart is that he tells us how he did it in his book, “The Map of Innovation.”  His book is about how to generate ideas and select the right one (or ones) to pursue for success and wealth.  He calls his process BPT or Brainstorming Prioritization Technique.

Here is Kevin’s BPT checklist: 

Get the right people in the room.
Define the problem (question or issue) carefully.
Spend up to twenty minutes brainstorming, no discussion.
Explain and talk about the ideas until everyone is clear on what they are.
Combine similar ideas.
Number the ideas.
Divide the total number of ideas by three.  This is the number of votes each person gets.
Only one vote per idea.
Circle the top three to six ideas.
Ignore everything else.

While the above process may sound rather mechanical, it produced fortune building ideas for he people Keven got in the room.  When you put smart people in a room they are going to have great, perhaps even ground breaking, ideas—too many of them in fact.  Perhaps the most important part of Keven’s BPT process is the part about Ignoring everything other than the best three to six ideas.  It that everything else that gets in the way, and keeps most people from succeeding “big”.

He writes something very profound in one of his early chapters; yet, it sounds so elementary:

All businesses, no matter what business you are in, really boil down to answering three questions:
1.Who are your customers?
2 What are their needs?
3. How can you solve those needs most efficiently?

O’Connor’s book is available in print and for the Kindle on Amazon.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 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.

Look for DIVERSION! 
a new Mark Rollins Adventure by author
Tom Collins
coming later in 2017. 

Aunt Enie

Aunt Enie
April 21, 1920 - April 14, 2016

We said goodbye to Earline Rogers, a.k.a. Aunt Enie.  Actually, she wasn’t legally my aunt; she was everybody’s aunt. She passed away several months ago at 97 on April 1 4th, 2016.  On August 22nd at the Woman’s Club of Nashville, we celebrated her life—a life wonderful for everyone who knew her—a life of giving that will continue because she set up a trust to provide college scholarships for generations to come.

Aunt Enie will be remembered by all walks of life in the Nashville and Centerville area including her Juris, Inc. friends.

Aunt Enie was an honorary member of the Juris, Inc. team complete with logo jacket and a Juris business card with the title Official Executive Guest Chef and Expert Biscuit Maker.  For years Aunt Enie and Lee Ann’s Herron’s mother prepared a Christmas time breakfast-lunch for the Juris home office team members—Country Ham, Grits, Eggs and Aunt Enie’s Biscuits—with all the fixings.  If you were one of those Juris team members, you remember those world famous biscuits.  She left behind her recipe so that you can continue that Christmas tradition:

I can’t possibly detail all the credits she accumulated during her life, but let me remind you of just a few. Known for her unfailing smile, everyone she met became a friend. She was widely traveled. As a senior citizen she was a government courier for top secret documents. In her seventies, she went Heli-hiking in mountain terrain. She entertained sick children as a clown. She loved bridge and often played at what he called her second home, the Women’s Club. She was at home anywhere with anyone, but she always retained a little air of country about her. She became a lady of means and a generous one. As one family member said, “Aunt Enie believed in keeping money circulating.” She did and she enjoyed it!

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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.

Surviving a Terrorist

What happened in Orlando is another reminder that all of us are at risk of becoming targets in this war against radical Islam. The odds are low that you, I, or family members will find themselves in the middle of an Orlando type attack.  But it could happen just as you could be a storm or earthquake victim, so you need to be prepared to take action to survive. Action is the key. Those who act in the first seconds are the survivors. Try to be aware of your surroundings. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable, get out. If you see something suspicious tell — call 911 or the authorities.  Enter the FBI as a contact in your phone. You can contact your nearest field office or use the national tip line, 202-324-3000.   It is a good idea to have the fire and local police numbers in your phone as well.

If you are in a public location, know where the exits, restrooms, stairs, and fire extinguishers are located. 

Most people will mentally try to rationalize a threat away—shots are probably just fireworks, screams are just teenagers acting up, etc.  Survivors think threat first. They quickly assess to grasp the situation and they act.  They run, hide, or fight.

Get out of harm’s way if you possibly can. Once out, contact the
authorities and give them as much information as you can. The best way you can help others is too first save yourself. Only if you are alive can you help save other lives by assisting authorities and later helping those hurt or wounded. 

If you cannot run, hide. Make yourself disappear or as small a target as possible. Put a barrier between you and the terrorist. Preferably one that both hides you as well as stops bullets or debris from an explosion—a closed off room, a concrete wall, behind equipment, furniture, etc.

Finally, if you can’t run and you can’t hide—try to find a way to fight back.  If it is a terrorist attack, they intend to kill you. At least fighting back provides some possibility of survival. Be ready for an opportunity – an opening such as a jammed gun, an empty ammunition clip, or a distraction. Recruit others if possible. Get a weapon if you can—a sharp object like a broken stick, glass or knife, a hard object like a beer or coke bottle. But your body may be the best weapon—your full weight and fury thrown at the terrorist with blood curling screams, hands ripping hair, knee slamming private parts, teeth tearing ears away, fingers gouging eyes. Separate the terrorist from his weapon.  Hopefully, others will join you and together you can take the terrorist down. 

Fighting is, however, the last option. Terrorists may be working as a team. Yours may be wearing an explosive vest. Your fight may save others but not you. 

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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.

Immigration—It Is Just The Same Old Thing or Is It?


The Puck cartoon pictured above is over 100 years old. Those already here resented each new arriving wave of immigants until they melted into the United States “pot”.  Initially, new immigrats stuck together, and their increasing numbers seemed to threathened our existing culture.  Over time their children and their children’s children spread out into the general population.  Some of their culture, especially their food, became Americanized and  added to the richness of the US. A lot of their old ways were,however,  left behind as the intelopers themself became Americanized.

However, what we are dealing with today is different. We have a large and growing number of undocumented people who stole their way into our country. And they did it at a time of heightened war time security. That is right, we are at war—at war over drugs and with radical religious elements out to do us harm. These undocumented persons are off the grid. We don’t know who they are or where they are.  And the existence of undocumented millions in our midst has become an intolerable risk.

Building a wall will not remove that risk.  At best, it merely keeps the risk from increasing. To eliminate it, we must either remove the illegal people or document them. It seems to me that documenting the undocumented is the logical course.  And, we don’t need to solve the “hotly contested” citizenship issue to do that. Documenting these immigrates is no more complicated than issuing a driver’s license.

We can provide illegals already here with a renewable work permit along with a Non-U.S. Citizen ID Card provided they meet certain conditions and register before a specified dead- line. Registration has to include securing identifying information including finger prints, photo and personal history. The permit would terminate if  the required conditions are violated -- for example, a subsequent felony conviction. This documentation process provides no path to citizenship; nor does it prevent providing one at some future time.

Those who fail to register or fail the requirments for registration must be taken into custody and deported when they surface, and they will.

There are many who feel that doing the above will simply stimulate a fresh flood of illegal immigration. That is why a majority of US citizens wanted the border problem solved first. Unfortunately, the risk of not knowing who they are and where they are has grown to great to wait. 

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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.

Our Next President

Will the next president be a “problem solver”? I hope not.

Years of interviewing candidates for leadership positions have taught me
one thing: Never hire someone who describes their strength as problem solving. People who spend their time solving problems never seem to run out of problems to solve. Nor has solving a problem ever added value. At best things are just returned to where they should have been to start with.

Problems constantly confront leaders, but the best leaders devote most of their energy to pursuing opportunities. Those leaders don’t ignored problems, but they have come to understand that most problems are the symptoms of neglected opportunities. Pursue the right opportunities and many problems tend to take care of themselves.

What is needed in a President, or any leader, is the talent for doing the right things and building the right team. Great leaders focus on opportunities not problems.

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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.


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.



Communication is a two way street

Lately, I have run into several situations when performance that deviated from the expected was explained away as “I didn’t know.” “I didn’t know” shouldn’t cut it.  That goes for employees, class room students, and even family members. Communication is a two way street.



 If you don’t know, if you aren’t sure, it is your responsibility to ask. While leaders, including teachers and parents, have an obligation to communicate expectations, individuals have an equal obligation to absorb what is communicated and to ask when they don’t understand or when they need new information or guidance in handling a situation. If the answer is “I didn’t know,” then either the leader is failing in his or her responsibility or the individual who “didn’t know” failed in his/her responsibility.  Sometimes, it is both.

Leaders must clearly communicate what is expected -- goals, objectives, ethics, and core beliefs. There are circumstances when detail instructions or policies and procedures are required.  But you can’t create rules for handling every situation and the conditions surrounding it. Even if you could spell out detail instructions for everything, humans are not capable of real time recall of every rule while on the front line. That is when an organization’s core beliefs or a family’s value system must fill in the blanks.

When we talk about individual responsibility, we are confirming the individual’s obligation to learn and understand what is  expected.  Rather than “I didn’t know,” it is his or her job to say, “I need to know from you.”


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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.