The Drone Wars vs. Hot Beans!

Screen shot 2014-11-10 at 5.48.33 PM

Okay, so I am going to try to make this not some old guy rant about, ‘In My Day…” but since The Eighth Day has achieved #1 bestseller status, many more people have been reading it and resonating with the Bronx, New York side of the story. Which elicits E-mails from fans of both the book and the Bronx. “Belly Flopping” a street game being central to the character development of FBI Special Agent, Joey Palumbo, has started a stream of E-mail consciousness that lead to HOT BEANS!

For those of you NOT blessed to have grown up on the gritty streets of the Bronx, I will endeavor to explain this particularly unique “childhood” game.

Start with a Garrison Belt, which is a serious looking strap of leather that’s around two inches wide with a mean-ass metal buckle on the end. Just like in Hide and Go Seek, one person is designated as “It.” The rest of the kids hide at “home base” around the corner. Now the guy that’s “it” hides the belt anywhere on the street. When he’s got the belt where is sure no one will find, he yell’s, “REEEEEAAADDYYY!”

Everyone comes around the corner to find the belt. The one who finds it, gets to yell, “HOT BEANS” and then gets to whip the crap out of everyone who is caught between the home base (around the corner) and him. At this point it would help to remember we are talking a heavy thick belt with a heavy buckle that can draw blood.

Believe me you don’t know what terror, fear, trepidation, caution, strategy and courage is until you play this game. Why? Because unlike other games, where the only skin in the game is playing for a win, bragging rights or the most points, in Hot Beans, your skin is actually at risk in this game.

Today, kids hardly go out into the street anymore. Their games are on a computer. The optimists and sociologists say it’s a good thing, that they are developing skills for our techno-future.

However, I wonder about those men and women who operate the drones and other High Tech, Stand Off, Remote controlled weaponry that we are embracing as national policy. I am referring to those who joystick their way through a war, one that’s been made impersonal and game-like on LCD screens. A process that transforms the deadliest endeavor of mankind to be remarkably like, Call Of Duty or Battlefield 3.

What happens if somebody pulls the plug on their console, will they, who have been raised in this kind of Sanitized War, be able to become warriors? The bigger question is, are Americans, who never played HOT BEANS and have no skin in the game but a vote once a year, citizens who in general have become war weary, will they have the grit to turn to our war fighting soldiers who have tested their mettle? Combat ready troops who are the ultimate weapon, and last resort, in defending a nation’s way of life and thus all we hold dear? Or will our techno-war complacent population cower at “home base” when some big, ugly brute from a foreign land wields an actual big belt with malicious intent?

P.S. Millions of people play war-based video games. All of these games are sold with graphics depicting “Shit Wired Tight” soldiers who are shown as stoic, deadly and dressed to kill. These are homage’s to the true warrior. Yet, millions of players, who assume these roles, never show up to a Veteran’s Day parade or write their congressperson to take better care of the actual “prototypes” of these fake computer icon warriors, when they return from the real life battle.

Those images and the exploiting of heroism has amassed many billions of dollars in box office for games and almost equal amount for movies. Unlike these computer generated figures, our soldiers have actually faced danger, unspeakable horror and have risked everything. Yet, far too many are homeless.

Here’s a thought for all you gamers out there, donate 1% to 10% of your highest war game score to Veterans Matter or text VETS to 41444.

IMG_4842.JPG

Continue reading

Upon Further Review…

IMG_4842.JPG
Along with the corner bookstore, many of the benchmarks of the book business have bitten the digital dust. Hundreds of thousands of books now flood the virtual shelves of the big and small on-line retailers. Marketing experts call this “fragmentation” while most authors call it “frustration.” It seems nowadays this evolution in book selling has made the REVIEW, the gold standard in determining how much buzz, support, exposure and sales potential a book receives.

“If you like your thrillers realistic enough to make your spine tingle, and well-written enough to keep you turning pages, you must pick up THE DEVIL’S QUOTA.  Tom Avitabile is at the top of his game.  Read this book.” – Linda Fairstein, New York Times bestselling author of TERMINAL CITY and DEATH ANGEL

But how does an author garner reviews, and good ones at that? The simple answer is write a great book. The nuanced answer: start the snowball effect, the more reviews, the more people read the book, the more they post reviews and it goes on like that until you have an avalanche of reviews.

“The go-to guy for pure thriller reading pleasure, Tom Avitabile delivers with every word.” – John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author of THE KEEPER and THE OPHELIA CUT

It’s also great when your big –time multi million selling, NY Times bestselling authors who huge fan bases, take the time to read your book and then serve up glowing quotes. That’s just gotta help. But in the new democracy of the Internet, average readers hold an awesome power also. Their reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBook, Good Reads and other sites are critical in informing the large retailers where to put marketing “soft dollars” to push a book over the top.

“This gritty and interesting novel swooped me up early in it’s pages and hung on tight to me until the very last words.” – Five Stars – Good Reads by Booklover Catlady

Me personally, I would never push my reviews in your face, but it is a dire necessity today to garner as many 5-Star reviews as you can. Why? The algorithm (No, not the Al Gore Rhythm, which if you’ve watched him dance is decidedly not in evidence) but those little robotic calculators that today make decisions large and small in everything from your refrigerator, to automated factories to how Amazon decides a book is worthy of “Push”

“This is the kind of book you want to snuggle up with for a quick and quiet thrill.” – The View From the Phlipside

So the new reality is this: an author could get tens of thousands of dollars worth of boost marketing from on-line book sellers if the Al Gore Rhythm machine inside their servers counts a certain number of glowing reviews. Now this isn’t money in the author’s pocket, it’s in soft dollars or what you would have to pay them to push a book like this to their customers. Let’s just say for that kind of advertising they’d charge you four arms and six legs. But old Al Gore the Rhythm King, he’s going to bestow that windfall on a purely digital, cold, unemotional basis – namely reviews!

“Tom Avitabile’s plots are page-turning and gripping. Good read for all fans of crime/thriller fiction!” – Crystal Book Reviews

Therefore in conclusion, you may not be able to judge a book by it’s cover but, Al-A-Gore-ically, they can, and do, judge a book by it’s reviews…

“Reading a novel is like being in a car and taking a journey. The narrator is driving. And whether he drives fast and cruises the curves or whether he’s pedestrian and pokes through the plot – he’s in control.
Tom Avitabile is a cocky chauffeur and The Eighth Day is one hell of a ride.”
-Anonymous via Amazon

Here’s some links in case if by now you haven’t gotten the clue, that I would love a good review from you.

Continue reading

The Nook Daily Find

The Eighth Day is featured on the Barnes & Noble Nook Daily Find Blog today. Get it now for $1.99 and read the first book of the “thrillogy.”

20140502-161049.jpg

The Eighth Day
Tom Avitabile

NOOK Book (eBook)
Before Tom Avitabile’s action packed thrillogy comes to a conclusion on June 17 with The God Particle, go back to the beginning in this first novel, where a series of random murders and attacks turn out to not be so random after all. America is under attack–and doesn’t know it, until William “Wild Bill” Hiccock and his newly formed ragtag team step in to find and take down the bad guys.

The Thrill-ogy Of It All!

Untitled.jpgGood things come in threes: Three Dog Night, the Musketeers and Coins in Fountains. Three legs, as on a tripod, always find an even plane. So like coffee beans in the after dinner aperitif Sambuca, you always want three. Therefore, after I wrote my first book, The Eighth Day, of course the last thing I ever thought of was three.

Then The Hammer of God hit me – hard. The stars my second book created swirling around my head formed more than just one book’s worth of storyline. So I decided that two books were needed to flesh out the arc of the characters and the fulfillment of their goals.

If you are following along with your calculators or spreadsheets, then =Sum(1+2) yields 3. And thus my “Thrill-ogy” was born. “Three” + “Thriller” compacted neatly into a freshly minted term: thrillogy.

The third leg of my story tripod lands on solid ground June 17th with the publishing of The God Particle by The Story Plant. It encapsulates the maturity and development in my character’s lives plus the evolving threat matrix that continues to drum up scarier and scarier techno-nightmares.

From an author’s perspective, but not maybe a marketer’s, being able to move the lens around to investigate other characters and let them take it for a while is very attractive. The marketer would have it always be the same as my first. “Don’t change a winning formula” would be their advice.  Well, I “dood” it anyway.

In The God Particle, Brooke Burrell, my female FBI agent who had significant supporting roles in both previous books, takes the brunt of the action as she faces death and, worse, the question of what to do with the rest of her life, While the world hangs in the balance.

These were fun to write, and I hope my readers have fun reading all three. So don’t believe that old saw about, three’s a crowd; cram your bookshelf or Nook with my thrillogy and have three times the fun. Sorry, that got a little slogan-y.

Well, it’s off to an Italian dinner and dessert. I think tonight, instead of a Tartufo, I’ll have a Tar-three-fo.

 

Brain function ‘boosted for days after reading a novel’

200066596-001

That was the headline above the by line by Tomas Jivanda in an article in The Independent last week.

He reported on a research study out of Emory University.  The essence of it is summarized in this sentence from the piece.

“Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading, scientists have said.”

Here’s a new scientific postulate: Is the lingering effect enhanced and extended to say 10 or 20 days of mental optimization if the subject of said gripping novel is the brain itself?

Well, the world of my first, hopefully ‘gripping’ novel, was about the human brain itself.  It’s deep layers and the mapping of it. Therefore, if the average run of the mill novel with ‘great grip’ can increase your noodle powers for 5 days then certainly getting a grip on my first book, The Eighth Day, could prove to be mental Viagra.

As you know, a fancy-schmancy University like Emory has all kinds of funding for research projects, but here at The Avitabile Institute for Advanced Mental Studies, we’re asking for volunteers to read The Eighth Day and chart your increased mental activity in an effort to prove the above postulate. Just go to AmazonB&N, and iTunes and order the book. Then just let The Eighth day do its voodoo that it do so well.

Please post your results on AmazonB&N, and iTunes here. Your findings will be tabulated along with those of thousands of other participants and the results printed in the Journal of the American Mind in their March 2014 issue.

So be prepared for the increased and sustained mental proficiency and ecstasy this experiment may yield, but first a few words from the lawyer:

“The Avitabile Institute for Advanced Mental Studies, is not legally responsible for any costs incurred or psychological or medical side effects including but not limited to; euphoria, suspense, thrills, terror, tender moments, laugh out loud knee-slapping hijinks or any other symptoms associated in reading the author’s work. Participants will not be compensated for their contributions. They will however enjoy the gratitude of the author for their procurement of the work piece of the study, The Eighth Day.  The Hammer of God is also acceptable as a substitute.”

The “D” Word: Paula Deen’s rise to Number 1 on her way down!

Authors take note. Paula Deen has become a very controversial figure.  In the popular media she is toast, very well buttered toast.  Sponsors, networks and I am sure, even many of her hanger-on friends, have dropped her like radioactive slag.

But! She shot up to NUMBER ONE on Amazon!!  You know, Amazon- with 130-million-billion active titles of which I was once #95,651 (#343 now and trending upwards according to my psychic.  Although, I don’t think my psychic has my publisher’s phone number?).  

But no matter, the fact is that while a transgression from over 25 years ago has plummeted her standing in our popular culture, AMAZINGLY at the same time, it has rocketed her to NUMBER 1, NUMERO UNO, on Amazon! Now that’s a deal with the devil any author would pay double for. 

So all you folks in the media take notice, here’s my big confession…

comin 1962 I called lunch room monitor, Joey Mantone, and I am quoting here: “A big, fat, stupid, Doody Head!”  

And just to add insult to the verbal injury, I know that I stuck my tongue out at him when I said it. 

How’s that? Pretty horrible and despicable right? I mean it’s got to be good for at least a spot in Amazon Top Ten!  I mean, “Doody Head”!  C’mon, these days, in some quarters, that’s referred to as the “D” word.  Or is it the “DH” word…?

Talk about a SNOWden job!

Edward-Snowden1

Even though everyone has their hair on fire over Edward Snowden’s whistle blowing account of snoopy government types reading your E-mails and tracking all your calls, texts and tweets, I remain amazingly calm. Why?

Cause I have already chronicled how much worse it can get!

In the my first book, The Eighth Day, it’s Snowden on steroids.  The plot of the book, that just reached #7 in Amazon’s Movers & Shakers list this week (please hold all applause till the end) drills down deep into a government program that uses your on-line behavior as a way to profile you and manipulate you into doing its bidding.

At this point remember that the name of this blog is “It’s Only Fiction ‘Til It Happens”

With all due respect to Mr. Snowden, the super intrusiveness of government SNOWballs when the biggest computer ever made with the most storage ever (see NSA’s Utah facility) is turned loose to amass everyone’s Meta-Data. This amounts to anyone’s complete life, both on-line and in real life, which can be triangulated by the mass of data on each one of us that’s out there, beyond or alongside the internet. I’m speaking here of the data that already resides in legacy business, government and archival data networks, unreachable by average folks over the internet.  Or, in other words, electronic trails you leave anytime you do anything that brings you into contact with anything that has an on/off switch. From that trail, persons in the government (for good or ill) can get indications of what you do even when you are miles from any device.

Of course in the book this is a bad thing, today a recent poll showed a majority of Americans are “kind of okay” with this violation of the 4th Amendment and our privacy.

Now, sociologists and professors will tell you that this surprising tolerance of government spying on citizens is due to the iconoclastic regard instilled in most of the culture by flash celebrities who receive instant fame. It creates in the average person an underlying subconscious yearning to be famous. Even if it’s only to a government weenie who has activated your web cam on your laptop while you are “FaceBooking” on the toilet. Fame is Fame anyway you can get it. See: Kim Kardashian, et Al.

Anyway, I say baloney to those learned academics who propagate this psychobabble in response to this unthinkable attack on a being secure in your person. I say poppycock to their assertions.  The real reason why everybody is so “Dude, what’s the big deal…” about this is…

They haven’t read The Eighth Day yet!   Cure that here