eLectile Dysfuntion

*Caution: Effect could last 4 years!

I am a thriller writer, and most thriller writers would agree that presidential elections are usually anything but thrilling. That’s why we do all kinds of things to them to heighten the drama and up the ante.  AS IN my number 1 bestselling book, The Eighth Day, where I have a “HACK” change the results of a presidential election.

“Preposterous,” you say? “Never can happen,” the pundits say?

Well, welcome to the world of me, specifically my tag line, It’s only Fiction ‘Til It Happens!cropped-tomavitabileblogheader1.jpg

Yesterday, the internet was hit with a cyber-attack. Many sites, companies and services went down across America and the globe. “Experts” fear this may be a “test run” for a big assault, possibly timed for the upcoming election.

Thrilling possibilities for a thriller… ‘cept I already, kind-a wrote it.

But! Here’s what I didn’t write: Both sides in this election have had passion in their midst. Passion that attracts the disgruntled, disenfranchised citizen. These long forgotten and long suffering folks, shaking their heads and clucking their tongues at the lack luster choices served up every four years to continue the status quo. These are the side-liners who threw up their hands and threw away their votes, or worse, (and more commonly) those who sat it out and yawned instead of voting in the quadrennial ping-ponging of power between the two parties. It is they who have been attracted to the populists lightning rods of both parties.

Two candidates this year became the poster children of this dormant population of Americans who meet most elections with a shrug, “What’s difference does it make. My life never changes because who’s in Washington!”

This isn’t political science; this isn’t politics at all. This a shot of adrenaline. The plot of this year’s election is something more thrilling that dark forces and evil men with nefarious goals manipulating an election. It’s bigger than that and it’s scarier to the political ruling class. The members of that class, who in the end, win or lose, in or out of power, all keep their position in the game. In fact, unbridled, non-aligned PASSION is their worst nightmare….  Rightly or wrongly placed, it is intense, virginal, grass-rooted, non-professional, damn-the-pundits, full-speed ahead, passion – ON BOTH SIDES!

One side actually nominated their recipient vessel of these political frustrations to run. The other side sent their passion magnet back to the Senate, where he could wield even more power as the Majority Leader, if his party wins the Senate.

If the other passion candidate loses his chance to be president, he will just go back to TV… only this time as an owner of a network that will amass all those passionate people who “lost” from both sides.

Who’d a thunk it – Passion. If you put it in a thriller, it would get rejected by every publishing house in town as “unrealistic.” I mean, after all, insidious plots that have citizens being subliminally programed by their computers to unconsciously pull the lever for a third-party candidate nobody knows, is a lot more believable, more realistic than Passion rearing it’s, non-political, non-scientifically polled, head in a presidential election.

To quote the recent noble prize winner, “The Times they are a changing…”

Stay tuned and remember to vote this November 8th.

Episode 5 of the Accidental Author

Click above for the latest episode of the Accidental Author and hear me discuss the following • Backstory to the Bill Hiccock “Thrillogy” • Passion-the essential element to being a good writer • Perfection – the enemy of good.

Don’t miss an episode!

Episode 1 click here
Episode 2 click here
Episode 3 click here

Episode 4 click here

“Vengeance is mine.” Sayeth the Author.

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​Sometimes characters do the darndest things… Like suddenly they show a side of themselves that I, their Lord and Creator, never imagined, intended or wrote. Such is the case with my dear sweet, Brooke Burrell. Now don’t get me wrong, she’s a tough warrior as well as a good investigator. Over the course of the four novels that I have known her, she was never vengeful or carried ill will. She of course did do some things that got her a raised eyebrow from her superiors. Mostly for on the spot improvising of procedures and methods that they never taught at the FBI academy at Quantico, but this time she shocked even me!

​Normally, I write bad guys who eventually get their just deserts. And “we” never go after them with anything other than purely professional, prosecutorial ends in mind. However, if these evildoer’s choose to turn and fight it out, well so much the better, good-riddens to the no-good. Up until now, with Brooke, it was never personal, just part of the job. But somewhere along the way, in my next book, Give Us This Day, this poor schmuck, Paul, must have gotten on Brooke’s S-list, because she left the story, walked away from her character profile and violated several laws in settling the score with this “walking cancer on humankind.”


The image of me sitting at the keyboard, mouth open in shock at what she just did is maybe not the most flattering picture of me as a confident, able, top of my game author, but it is nonetheless where I found myself… My immediate thought as I reached for the delete key was, did I just lose the Brooke Burrell fan club? My finger hovered over the top right most ‘destruct’ key as I pondered. Did the words and actions on the screen before me amount to a literary death warrant or divine inspiration. In the end, I did what any courageous, confidant and in full command of my craft author would do, I let it stay in the manuscript, so the editor can make the call. Sometimes… I am such a wimp.

Blog note: The next episode of the Accidental Author goes live on Thursday.

The Drone Wars vs. Hot Beans!

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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.

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Upon Further Review…

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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.

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The signpost up ahead… this is the next stop on…

The Writing Process Blog Hop

Welcome to the next stop on The Writing Process Blog Hop.  I’m Tom Avitabile and thanks for ‘hopping’ in.

First off, I’d like to thank the author who handed this off to me, Joe Badal. An extremely gifted writer and someone of whom I once wrote,

[His] writing is as crisp and as tight as a line drive home run. Author Joe Badal hits all the bases from the military, to the political, the tactical, to safe at home – Homeland that is.

Read Joe’s books, but not on a train, bus or other form of public transportation – You WILL miss your stop!

As followers of the blog know, we are asked to answer four questions, well, I have been cramming for weeks to get the answers right, so here goes…

1)  What am I working on?

That seems simple enough  I am working on two things, er… three things. My fifth book “Give Us This Day” (got four on the shelves and one in the laptop). This book marks the emergence of a new sub series – A Brooke Burrell Novel.  My FBI agent turned special operative for the president turned Navy wife turned reluctant operator again, is getting some nice notices and it just seems right to give her a platform of her own.

The second thing I am doing is totally new for me, editing content on my brilliant cousin George Cannistraro’s brilliant second novel, “Constantine’s Dagger.”  It’s an epic story of war, family, courage, royalty and a mother’s unselfish sacrifice to protect her sons – spanning decades. It is an epic book, and the stuff of miniseries.

The third thing is, I am always working on being a better writer. Blasphemous statement alert: I hate writing!

I am the last person on earth to write a composition for school, much less a 120,000-word manuscript.  Geez all those wordsit gives me the willies just thinking about em.

HOWEVER, I love, love, love AUTHORING!

I see “author” as a more comprehensive role: the job manager, the architect, the engineer, the artist, the psychiatrist, the logistics coordinator, the personnel department, the scenarist and the problem solver. The author does all that before the story goes over to the ‘writing department.’  You know, the monkeys who sit in the room (on the other side of my brain) and bang out words in an order and manner detailed and outlined by the author.)

I guess if I didn’t discover authoring, I would have never had the drive, commitment, and stamina to finish even one chapter.

2)   How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The MONKEYS!  They are what make me different.  In fact, I would venture to say that no serious writer of any period, genre, or level of notoriety has ever admitted, much less, handed his work over to a bunch of damn monkeys…

You see, these little banana-eating, key pounding creatures, only know what the Author has outlined for them to write. But those little troublemakers start writing stuff that wasn’t in the big picture. Yes, I have to edit out many scenes where an agent, or the President, asks someone if theyd like to get a banana but on balance these little guys are so divorced from the story that they bring an “on the ground” perspective to the characters.  It’s like my character’s still have to take out the garbage or change their pantyhose that have a run in them, WHILE they are saving the world. Ugh, monkeys… they complicate the lives of my characters and in doing so bring them closer to the reader’s experiential match points. So, in the end, is my work different from other author’s? I wouldn’t begin to say that, but I know this, every person leaves their creative DNA on anything they write. Plagiarism aside, it is almost impossible for any two writers to write the same scene the same way.

3)   Why do I write what I do?

The old adage states: write what you know. Most people take that to mean, a lawyer should write courtroom dramas and a cop should write crime novels and an old, snoopy biddy should write cozy mysteries.

Well, my stock and trade is as a Stage/Film director. BUT! I started out as an electronic engineer; I have worked for the House Committee on Science Space and Technology; I have built computers and designed new systems in movie making. I am also currently a Senior Vice President and Creative Director of a smaller New York advertising firm.

The core through line tying all this stuff together is human perception, reaction, and condition.  As a director of humans, a student of humans, and a human myself, my core competency is in Human characters.  I know the human character. Therefore in “writing what I know”, I write humans. Humans who are: plagued by their choices, intelligence, stupidity, compassion, pathology, genetics, up bringing, and whatever moral code serves them for good or evil. Then I place them in settings that I know, (see above list) and, even more fun, places I don’t know.

If all that is too wordy then skip to this: “I author the books I desperately want to read.”

Okay kids, we’re coming to the last question. In case you all run out of here, I just want to say that’s it’s been a pleasure hosting this next stop on the blog hop. As you are leaving, you might want to check out some of the books on the table in the back.

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And thank you for supporting living authors…

Now the last question…

4)   How does my writing process work?

Pretty well, thank you…Goodnight!  Oh, you want more? Ah, Yes. Well…

I try to write five out of seven days a week mostly. You know, get up an hour early, write through lunch and go to bed an hour later. Don’t watch Homeland or Home Shopping Network. Write instead.

Writing to me is a subset of what I really am. Let me go back and explain, once again, my dirty little secret, I hate writing.  To me writing is a tool, one of many to be used to get to a final product. That product has been designed by the author – me, if you are able to follow this warped way of thinking.

When I am deep in a book, the world and it’s characters that I have created become a dream. A very good dream! When I have to stop writing, it becomes a dream interrupted.  And just like on those nights when you are having one heck of a good dream and you awaken and then try hard to get back to sleep – to re-enter that wonderful dream… Well that’s my process. Only, I always have the last sentence I wrote as a marker of where to pick up that dream already in progress.  I then see life as the distraction that takes me away from this beautiful dream, incredible characters, and a story that keeps me in awe and wonder.

My line is “Writing is a dream interrupted by life.”  The International Thriller Writers, ITW, of which I am a member, said it so much better when they simply said, “Writing is dreaming in ink.”  But you’d expect that conciseness, them being writers and all.

Well, I think I’m done. Thank you for getting this far in my blog.

And now a word about the next stop on the Writing Process Blog Tour, on August 25th.  We have two great authors who are all ready to share their thoughts, practices, fears and joys about the process with you (and I can assure you, no more about monkeys).

 

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ETHAN CROSS

When a fireman or a policeman would visit his school, most of his classmates’ heads would swim with aspirations of growing up and catching bad guys or saving someone from a blazing inferno. When these moments came for Ethan Cross, however, his dreams weren’’t to someday be a cop or put out fires; he just wanted to write about it.

And his dream of telling stories on a grand scale came to fruition with the release of his first book, The Shepherd, which went on to become an International Bestseller published in several countries and languages. Ethan followed this up with more great titles like The Prophet, The Cage, Callsign: Knight, and Blind Justice. His latest book is the third installment of the Shepherd series, Father of Fear, coming from the Story Plant in Summer 2014.

In addition to writing and working in the publishing industry, Ethan has also served as the Chief Technology Officer for a national franchise, recorded albums and opened for national recording artists as lead singer and guitar player in a musical group, and been an active and highly involved member of the International Thriller Writers organization.

Ethan Cross is the pen name of an author who lives and writes in Illinois with his wife, three kids, and two Shih Tzus.

http://www.ethancross.com/category/blog/

AuthorPic1Color-248x300JEREMY BURNS

An avid reader since the age of three, Jeremy Burns was devouring novels by the time other children his age were still learning their ABCs. Blessed (and, at times, cursed) with a decidedly active imagination and an insatiable curiosity for nearly everything, Jeremy made learning and storytelling two of his chief passions. After earning his degree in History from Florida State University, Jeremy accepted a position teaching literature, creative writing, political science, and philosophy at an international school in Dubai. Like the characters in his books, Jeremy is an intrepid explorer whose own adventures have taken him from Mayan ruins in the Yucatan to the pyramids of Egypt, from medieval castles across Europe to the jungles of Bangladesh, and beyond. To date, Jeremy has traveled to more than twenty countries across four continents, seeking adventure, discovery, and ideas for future novels. When not exploring a new corner of the globe, Jeremy lives in Florida, where he is working on his next thrilling novel.

http://www.authorjeremyburns.com

The God Particle On SALE NOW!

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God-Particle-Ad2Buy The God Particle now till June 24 and get the e-book versions of the first two books in the series – the #1 bestseller THE EIGHTH DAY and THE HAMMER OF GOD – FREE

Click here for details –> http://thestoryplant.com/marketing/book-giveaway.php?gid=9.

 

Our Love Affair with Lists… and being number one

unnamedDavid Letterman understood our fascination with ordinal ranking and has made a late night institution out of his Top Ten list. We all grew up listening to songs on the charts, “And now the number one hit across the nation…” Does anybody watch the 239th Nielsen Rated TV show?

We love lists. They help us decide what we consume, buy or desire. From “the number one pain reliever…” to “don’t settle for second best…” lists guide us, inform us and allow us to not think too much because someone else has already vetted, evaluated, opted for, shown propensity for, or simply bought a truckload of X.

So it was with slight apprehension that I accepted the fact that my book, The Eighth Day, had achieved a number one ranking on The Nook One Hundred. When I first got the news there was no fanfare, no drum roll under an announcer barking, “And the number one bestselling book is…” Just a lovely, one line, “fragment” of an e-mail from my publisher, The Story Plant’s, Marketing Department:

#1 bestseller!

Longer accolades and sweet congratulatory notes followed, but that was the moment. I will admit that, having been raised on lists, at that instance I experienced weightlessness. Not quite an out-of-body transcendence, but a lightness of being akin to an endorphin high greeting me after this race to the top.

Then my analytical author’s psyche chimed in. As you know, part of what it is to write is to examine all the possibilities at every beat in the story and choose the best possible words, actions and emotions that will tell your tale the way you want it told. Here is my internal dialogue, which I am sure is the reason why many authors drink to excess: “Is this a victory for me or my publisher? Are readers buying my book, or the company’s placement, merchandising and marketing? Do they know my work or are they truly buying a book by its digitized cover? Was this a result of the publisher’s clout and high-voltage push or an actual desire for the mega-wattage power of my book? Would another piece of meat have benefited from the sizzle that was applied to my steak?”

That “glass is half full” line of plot analysis gave me the worst kind of writer’s block – blocking joy. My dear friends sent along “congrats,” “knew you could do it,” “whoo hooo!” and other forms of textural backslapping which feels great but – and again, here’s that author’s dark cloud – that is a friend’s natural and very sweet form of acknowledgement. BUT they’ve already read the book, or at least bought it, so they were responding to the “list” thing. However, when I started reading e-mails from people who are not so close to me, I discovered the reason why I am able to write this and not be in some drunken stupor at the moment… PEOPLE READ REVIEWS! Those e-mails contained sentiments like; “After I read all the great reviews, I bought the book…” Variations on that theme appeared in most of the other e-mails from the more distant reaches of my address book.

So it’s a split decision. The ranking and all the hoopla surrounding the marketing may have got the attention of folks, but they were sold by the performance of the book as related by “those what read it.”

The moral of my story: even though you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can judge a book by its coverage!

I feel better now. Hey did I mention my book is NUMBER ONE, BABY!!!!

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.”

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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.