Posts tagged ‘books’

Book Review: Stolen Boy By Michael Mehas

Stolen Boy is billed as a work of fiction, however it actually explores a real event, and that event is still unfolding in the Southern California court system. Jessie James Hollywood faces the potential of the trip to lethal injection for his actions. So real is Michael Mehas’ book that he actually was subpoenaed twice as a witness in the trial, and forced to hand over his notes and tapes of interviews he had conducted.

With a background of Los Angeles, Stolen boy is about drugs, booze, fast cars, and young people. With that combination you will immediately think gangs. But gangs are not involved, the individuals are mostly from regular middle class, though, highly dysfunctional families.

Mickey Youngblood and Rick LeBlanc are young people that have set out on money making careers in the drug business, both have carved out lucrative existences, but a deal between them that went wrong has soured their relationship. So much so, that a $2000 outstanding debt, creates a verbal war, that in turn becomes a physical war of property damage, and threats towards families.

Mickey is to say the least a hot head, and when the windows of his house are smashed out in a late night raid, all rules of right and wrong exit through the empty frames. Revenge is a strong emotion and Mickey is hell bent on satisfying his hunger for it.

His first idea is to find Rick LeBlanc and have it out with him. $2000 after all is chump change in the drug world. In a sheer coincidence it is not Rick they see walking down the street, but his 15 year old younger brother Bobby. Once again though, Mickey lets his rage rule his brain, and persuades the kids with him to firstly beat the kid up “as a warning,” however second thoughts enter the sick and twisted mind, and instead they kidnap Bobby.

It is not the classic kidnap tale, in fact it is anything but classic. Bobby for the most part is free to leave at any time, but he prefers to ‘party’ with his captors, drugs and booze abound! Even stranger there is no attempt made to conceal the fact that Bobby is a hostage. In what has to have been the worst kept secret in the sieve that is the LA underbelly, the whole scheme starts to unravel as more and more people become involved.

Once again the demon Mickey makes poor choices, faced with the potential of exposure by Bobby he must now make a very hard decision. Does he believe Bobby when he says that there is no harm done, and that he will not talk to anyone about the kidnapping? Or is a different course of action needed?

This is a very powerful book, and one that deserves a spot on the coveted shelf space of your local bookstore. It has also cost author Michael Mehas a great deal to write this book, being so close to the factual case he finds himself in a ‘no win’ situation. The real Mickey faces the possibility of the death penalty. What Michael knows could spare him, or could seal his fate. In many ways, Michael has become Mickey, he holds the key to life or death. This is not a situation I would want to be in.

This is not your typical novel, even though the main characters are mere teenagers, they cover the entire gamut of today’s society, the good, the bad, and the very, very ugly!

Stolen Boy is available through Amazon, and Michael Mehas also has a very informative web site where you can learn more about this story that merges fact with fiction.

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Book Review: Marketing Your Small Business For Big Profits By David Mason

I have no idea how many books are crammed onto bookshelves all about the subject of marketing, there must be many millions. It is a subject well understood, how do you make someone buy your Widget as opposed to the other guys Widget? Marketing is the answer, but, marketing comes at a price. How much can you afford?

I have a friend who is a retired BBDO exec, and in his mind, marketing that widget should cost the same as the national debt of a small country. Most small businesses can hardly manage to pay the rent and other expenses, never mind a TV spot on The Superbowl.

David Mason has done a very fine job of encapsulating the important aspects of marketing into a very short read. While I am not sure that he has introduced anything new, he has put it on paper that even the most book ‘resistant’ company owner could manage, at a scant 121 pages this should not scare even the skittish book reader.

Of course there is a downside with using such a short format, in a word ‘lists.’ My wife knows me very well, and she always has stuff for me to do. But she also knows that giving me a long ‘To Do’ list makes my eyes glaze over. If the list has less than than 5 items, the chances are good that I will at least attempt a few of them. David Mason prefers longer lists, I believe one was 16 items long! That I found a little of a turn-off, my wife knows better than to try a list that long on me!

On the plus side, he makes very convincing arguments. Arguments that make sense. It is important that every business has a ‘slogan,’ David Mason calls it the USP (Unique Selling Proposition), but slogan or banner is what we are talking about.

How do you attract customers? You have your slogan, but if it only exists on your computer or in your head, who is going to hear the message? Many people have small companies, some sell niche products, some sell niche services, how do you sell your idea? Newspaper Ads might work, but only for the day, a Magazine might work for a month, radio and TV spots last for seconds! How about the internet?

David Mason explores all of the potentials, all of the advertising mediums have their up’s and down’s, cost, effectiveness, even the number of eyeballs that you get your message in front of are important considerations.

The last part of the book I found really helpful, he has included some samples of headlines and opening lines that the small business owner could use in his advertising campaign, and some simple worksheets to assist in customizing the slogans to your own specific needs.

Marketing You Small Business For Big Profits is small enough to be a quick and easy read, but large enough to contain the vital elements important to run an effective advertising program. The author also takes a very down to earth approach in offering advice on implementing the strategies. ‘You don’t have to do them all, just start with one and see what happens.’ In other words you don’t have to do everything, just do something.

Book Review: Alex Webster And The Gods By David Dent

What’s a major deity to do when he finds himself washed up on Mt Olympus? Jupiter, once mighty Roman God has spent two millennia sulking about his defeat at the hands of Yahweh and the loss of the great Roman Empire. Jupiter and his motley assortment of gods have become complacent, even the eternal fountains have mildew on them and are in need of a good clean.

Shedding his robes in favor of an expensive Brooks Bros pin stripe three piece suit and Harvard Business School MBA in hand, the reinvented J. J. Jones is ready to reclaim his throne, the world is ripe for the picking, he rationalizes “…All the old religions are fighting each other, especially the Christians and Muslims. We can come up the middle and be everybody’s second choice.”

He does however realize that the path to glory is not an easy one, the world is a considerably different place in the 21st century than ancient Rome. Also his fellow Gods are going to need a makeover, not only in their appearances but in their attitudes as well, if they are going to fit in.

J. J. realizes that what he needs is a management consultant! Enter Alex Webster. Alex and his sometime girlfriend Victoria take on the daunting task of removing 2000 years of stagnation, of course there are some bumps along the road. Old habits die hard, and it is not long before Carmen Cupido (Cupid) gets the nickname of Dr. Love in a local night club where he has been practicing the art of matchmaking, and coming to the attention of the local police as the likely purveyor of date rape drugs.

J. J’s scheme for ‘world domination’ is to ease into it slowly by becoming the CEO of a global company. To facilitate this he engineers a scheme to merge two companies and become the head. What he doesn’t realize is how much resistance he is going to encounter from a mere mortal. Gerry Shilling CEO of Pharmaglobe has no intentions of stepping aside gently, and sees this merger as a stepping stone for himself!

I found Alex Webster And The Gods to be a thoroughly enjoyable romp. David Dent’s style of writing reminded me a lot of the late Douglas Adams, another master of putting characters in the most unlikely and bizarre situations. The humor is mostly dark and very well executed. Juno for example likens her marriage to Jupiter, to that of Bill and Hillary, and because Jupiter is off chasing every bit of skirt in the universe, “we only have sex every hundred years”.

Every chapter starts with a little quote, some words of wisdom, from Carl Sagen, to Yoda, everyone gets their say, but my personal favorite is from William S. Burroughs “Sometimes paranoia’s just having all the facts”.

If I have a criticism of the book, it is that it is too short. The ending is very cute, and certainly paves the way for a second book, and I’ll bet J.J.’s Brooks Bros suit that David Dent is typing away as you read this. All in all, I give this book very high marks, it is a fabulously crafted concept and one that would transition well into the big screen, or a TV series. The characters are larger than life, the plotlines outrageous, this is what I class as great entertainment.

Although it is officially classified as Science Fiction, it should appeal to everyone that enjoys a light and funny read.

Review by Simon Barrett
http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

Book Review: Alex Webster And The Gods By David Dent

What’s a major deity to do when he finds himself washed up on Mt Olympus? Jupiter, once mighty Roman God has spent two millennia sulking about his defeat at the hands of Yahweh and the loss of the great Roman Empire. Jupiter and his motley assortment of gods have become complacent, even the eternal fountains have mildew on them and are in need of a good clean.

Shedding his robes in favor of an expensive Brooks Bros pin stripe three piece suit and Harvard Business School MBA in hand, the reinvented J. J. Jones is ready to reclaim his throne, the world is ripe for the picking, he rationalizes “…All the old religions are fighting each other, especially the Christians and Muslims. We can come up the middle and be everybody’s second choice.”

He does however realize that the path to glory is not an easy one, the world is a considerably different place in the 21st century than ancient Rome. Also his fellow Gods are going to need a makeover, not only in their appearances but in their attitudes as well, if they are going to fit in.

J. J. realizes that what he needs is a management consultant! Enter Alex Webster. Alex and his sometime girlfriend Victoria take on the daunting task of removing 2000 years of stagnation, of course there are some bumps along the road. Old habits die hard, and it is not long before Carmen Cupido (Cupid) gets the nickname of Dr. Love in a local night club where he has been practicing the art of matchmaking, and coming to the attention of the local police as the likely purveyor of date rape drugs.

J. J’s scheme for ‘world domination’ is to ease into it slowly by becoming the CEO of a global company. To facilitate this he engineers a scheme to merge two companies and become the head. What he doesn’t realize is how much resistance he is going to encounter from a mere mortal. Gerry Shilling CEO of Pharmaglobe has no intentions of stepping aside gently, and sees this merger as a stepping stone for himself!

I found Alex Webster And The Gods to be a thoroughly enjoyable romp. David Dent’s style of writing reminded me a lot of the late Douglas Adams, another master of putting characters in the most unlikely and bizarre situations. The humor is mostly dark and very well executed. Juno for example likens her marriage to Jupiter, to that of Bill and Hillary, and because Jupiter is off chasing every bit of skirt in the universe, “we only have sex every hundred years”.

Every chapter starts with a little quote, some words of wisdom, from Carl Sagen, to Yoda, everyone gets their say, but my personal favorite is from William S. Burroughs “Sometimes paranoia’s just having all the facts”.

If I have a criticism of the book, it is that it is too short. The ending is very cute, and certainly paves the way for a second book, and I’ll bet J.J.’s Brooks Bros suit that David Dent is typing away as you read this. All in all, I give this book very high marks, it is a fabulously crafted concept and one that would transition well into the big screen, or a TV series. The characters are larger than life, the plotlines outrageous, this is what I class as great entertainment.

Although it is officially classified as Science Fiction, it should appeal to everyone that enjoys a light and funny read.

Review by Simon Barrett
http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

5 Tips To Start Selling Your Self-Published Book

You’ve spent hours researching, writing and self-publishing your book. Now, you want to reap the benefits of selling it yourself, but where do you begin?

Here are five simple tips to help you get started.

1. Figure out your market.

“Bookstores are lousy places to sell books,” says self-publishing guru Dan Poynter in USA Weekend . “Find the places where your audience gathers and sell directly to them. If your book is about cats, go to pet stores.”

To start selling your book, take the time to research your target audience. Who will be interested in purchasing your book and sharing it with their friends?

Once you know your target market, look at the places they shop and spend their leisure time. What media venues do they watch, read and listen to on a regular basis?

Create a list of all potential organizations, business and groups. This will give you a good understanding of the online sites and brick-and-mortar locations where you need to focus your marketing efforts.

2. Spread the word.

When you are ready to start selling, don’t be shy. Talk about your book, carry a copy around with you and look for every opportunity to mention it. Also be ready to give copies away to influential people who will build buzz about your business.

If you are a good speaker, try to give presentations to groups catering to your target audience. You can partner with various organizations to promote your appearance and build word-of-mouth. This may include issuing a press release, giving books away during radio or television interviews or getting involved with charitable activities.

“Speaking to local, target audiences is a great way to start building buzz about your products and services,” says Melanie Rembrandt, small business PR expert and owner of Rembrandt Communications, http://www.rembrandtwrites.com. “But in order to build credibility, you need to offer valuable information pertinent to your book’s subject without being sales-oriented. You can always have a book-signing after your presentation to sell your books and meet potential customers.”

Another trick is to leave a copy of your book at your local bookstore or library. If visitors pick up the book and read it, they will ask for a copy of it. Then, the person at the counter may contact you to purchase additional copies.

3. Venture outside your target market.

After you’ve pursued all venues focusing on your specific audience, start marketing your book to other groups outside your target market.

Look for secondary sources that may be interested in purchasing your book as a gift for a friend, co-worker or family member. Perhaps you can partner with a business, charitable organization or hobby-group related to your book-topic?

Think “outside of the box” and try to let as many people know about your book as possible. You can issue a press release, offer special discounts and create newsworthy events to draw attention to your book. And these activities don’t need to cost a lot of money. You just need to think of some ways to stress the unique benefits of your book and take the extra time and effort to plan, coordinate and follow-through with your ideas.

4. Take advantage of business relationships.

If you used an online publisher in developing your book, advertise on their site. If you used a local printer, ask if you can leave a couple copies at their front desk.

Visit all of your local establishments and leave some kind of information about your book. If you are a regular customer, most of these businesses will be happy to help you and the local economy.

And when preparing these “leave-behinds,” think about the benefits for the business and customers. Perhaps you can print up small calendars, checklists, quick tips, bookmarks and other items that advertise your book while offering something of value to potential readers.

You may even be able to partner with various businesses to offer special joint coupons and discounts. Use your imagination, but always keep the benefits for the customer in mind.

5. List your book online.

This may be obvious, but you really need to list your book online to reach the broadest possible market and increase “buzz.” Review your target audience and try to get information about your book posted on all of the pertinent sites they visit.

Also create a simple website. And don’t worry. Today, there are many services that offer cost-effective or free websites to self-published authors. You don’t need to be a technical genius or have a lot of money to take advantage of these services and create an online presence.

However, in your online copy, be sure to stress the unique benefits of your book and provide customer testimonials (for credibility). Also include some information about your background to help you stand apart from others in your genre.

Once your site is up and running, research free, press-release posting sites. Also look for online organizations that may be willing to post reciprocal links to your site to help build search-engine optimization.

These are just a few, simple tips. There are many ways to sell your self-published books. But you can start by focusing on your target audience, work the business relationships you already have and be creative. And soon, you’ll be well on your way to being a top-selling author!