In the past few years it seems like the “local” movement has grown stronger than ever. We’re encouraged to eat local, shop local and support local endeavors in any way we can.
To be honest, I’m not convinced you should buy something just because it was made in your state, or even your hometown. However, being an Ohioan and an author I was very interested to stumble on a “Read Local” campaign.
The idea is simple.
For every “Read Local” T-shirt sold by Outfit Good, a Columbus, OH based T-shirt company, part of the proceeds goes to support Columbus Creative Cooperative, a local resource for writers.
According to their website, Columbus Creative Cooperative holds writers’ workshops, publishes anthologies and hosts other writer oriented events.
What I find interesting is that there is no branding at all on these T-shirts. There’s no self-promotion, no logo and no website. The shirts simply bear the message– “Read Local.”
Check it out for yourself here.
I think that’s what caught my eye about this campaign. While most people use the “Local” idea to sell a product, Columbus Creative Cooperative is trying to use a product to support an idea–“Read Local.”
I still don’t expect someone from Cincinnati to buy one of my books just because I grew up there, but I am grateful for every local reader I have.
What do you think about “Reading Local”?
What would you do if you stumbled onto a plot that jeopardized the future of America? Would you turn it over to the FBI? Would you look the other way and not get involved?
We read books, watch movies and TV shows that feature awe inspiring, sometimes death defying feats of bravery and heroism. It’s fun to imagine living a life of adventure, but if we were faced with these situations in real life, would we have the guts, the brains and the know-how to actually survive?
Maybe that’s why we enjoy tales of intrigue so much. We sit back with a snack, and without breaking a sweat we participate in the defeat of zombies, political plots, hit men and all other bad guys and gals.
The characters in Cincinnatus don’t start out as heroes, but when they uncover a plot that threatens existence as we know it, they choose to try and save America. Although they are fictional characters in a made-up situation, I like to think there are plenty of underdogs out there just waiting to fulfill their potential.
If your day job involves unraveling political plots, solving murders and delving into secret societies, Cincinnatus: The Secret Plot to Save America might not seem that exciting. However, if you’re an average Joe like me who wants to experience adventure alongside other unlikely heroes, click here.
Where do you find inspiration?
It can be hard to come up with a steady stream of ideas. Some days you just don’t feel like writing, or nothing seems interesting enough to write about.
All writers experience slumps at one time or another, but the truth is story ideas are everywhere. Snippets of overheard conversations can inspire characters. With some work and an imagination, weird dreams and passing thoughts can become plots or storylines.
Sometimes it’s as simple as paying attention to what’s going on around you.
The idea for my book Coral Castle originated from a travel brochure and a lot of conspiracy theories. Material for Crosley came from the family history my grandfather and great uncle left behind. Cincinnatus was in part inspired by a real life secret organization called The Society of the Cincinnati. All of these subjects were things I found interesting.
Find the things that interest you and write about them. Chances are someone else will think they are interesting too. Just be sure to write everything down. The best story idea in the world can vanish with one spilled cup of scalding coffee.
The unexplained is intriguing. Curiosity compels us to continue searching for explanations, even when there might not be any.
The mystery surrounding Coral Castle has made it a tourist attraction in Homestead, Florida. Gigantic blocks of coral rock make-up the castle and other stone sculptures outside. The heaviest of these blocks weighs more than the rocks at Stonehenge.
The structures themselves are interesting enough, but the story behind their creation is what really stirs the imagination.
Edward Leedskalnin, a Latvian immigrant, spent his life building the Coral Castle in the early twentieth century.
How did one man raise 57,000 pound blocks of stone from the ground?
If you ask the Internet, Ed had the help of aliens, the supernatural and a multitude of other conspiracy theories. We tend to let our imagination fill in the gaps when we’re faced with situations we can’t immediately explain. The more outlandish explanations I read, the more I wanted to do my own research.
And so, Jack Heffron and I began to investigate this strange place. Our findings became Coral Castle.
I’ve sorted through facts, speculation and tall tales to bring you an objective look at a subject that is often approached imaginatively, but rarely taken seriously. I don’t claim to have solved the mystery behind Edward Leedskalnin’s creations, but Coral Castle at least explores all sides of a very interesting story.
When I wrote Crosley: Two Brothers and a Business Empire that Transformed the Nation, I was writing about a time period I had never experienced. In order to accurately bring my readers the Crosley brothers, I also had to bring them the Depression, The Great War and The Roaring Twenties.
This took a lot of research. I spent hours sorting through other people’s memories in books and articles to better document my own family history. The more I learned about my grandfather and great uncle, the more my readers would learn about the Crosley brothers through my writing.
After writing Crosley, another bout of curiosity led me to research the unexplained Coral Castle. Questions led to more questions, but the mystery surrounding Edward Leedskalnin and his American Stonehenge inspired my book: Coral Castle
Even the fictional events in Cincinnatus: The Secret Plot to Save America are based around a present day patriotic society that operates in secrecy.
Real life can be strange, exciting and just as entertaining as fiction. The stories are already out there. It’s up to you to find them.
I’m giving away three autographed copies of Cincinnatus on Goodreads.
Get into the Goodreads giveaway here. The giveaway closes at the end of this week, so get your hat in the ring soon.
I talk a lot about The Society of the Cincinnati, and this guy named Cincinnatus. So who was this guy?
A couple of weeks ago, I posted some pretty good links to find more information about him. Find those here.
Those links can do a better job than I can, but here’s the short version:
Cincinnatus (full name of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus) was a Roman General in the 5th century B.C.
In his later years, Cincinnatus was living out his time as a farmer, minding his own business. At the time, the Roman empire was expanding and the Roman armies were scattered to the wind. So when the so-called barbarians invaded Rome by surprise, there was no one left to stop them.
The Roman Senate called upon Cincinnatus and gave him full dictatorial control to defeat the invaders. Cincinnatus took control, rallied the army and defeated the invaders. But that’s not the cool part.
After the invaders were defeated, instead of maintaining control as the dictator, Cincinnatus immediately gave the power back to the senate, and returned to his farm.
He did this again almost 20 years later, and, once again, gave the power back as soon as the conflict was resolved.
This became a model for our founding fathers. Good leaders use power wisely, and then give it back to the people. It’s in the nature of humans to hang onto power once they have it, but our founding fathers knew that Cincinnatus set a better model for the way that society and a good government should work.
I have a simple question for you, do you read e-books?
E-book sales have soared in the past two years. Some independent publishers are now reporting that up to 50% of their sales are in e-books.
I can see why. The e-reader technology has gotten a lot cheaper (a simple Kindle is now $69), and Americans are more used to staring at screens for long periods of time than ever before.
For myself, I’m not sure. I know that there will always be certain books that I want to hold in my hands, it’s part of the experience. But for a lot of books that I would pick up as a cheap trade paperback, why not give it a try? You can sometimes save a couple bucks, and the Kindle’s a lot lighter than a stack of books.
Do you read e-books? Why or why not? If not, do you plan to? What would it take to convert you to e-books?
Let me know what you think.
Call me old-fashioned, but when I decided to write Cincinnatus, I tried to write a book about things that I like.
There are appearances from the Crosley brothers (who I obviously have a great affinity for), Cat Cay (one of my favorite golf courses in the world), the PGA (I’ve been an official golf scorer for years), and this crazy guy I learned about named Ed Leedskalnin (Coral Castle).
Growing up in and around Cincinnati, the book is also about something else I find very interesting, The Society of the Cincinnati. They’re a secret organization founded by many of the United States’ founding fathers.
But what is Cincinnatus about? It’s a fast-paced action thriller about a very cool female US Department of Justice attorney who teams up with a washed-up PGA golfer to solve a mystery. The ball of yarn begins unraveling when they find evidence of a conspiracy to fix golf tournaments, which leads them to a secret plot with millions of lives at stake.
David Stern and I set out to write a really fun book, and that’s what we did. It’s an amazing adventure that you won’t be able to put down.
Check it out on Amazon.com now.
It’s no secret that the publishing industry is rapidly changing. With the growth of the digital market, changing printing costs and realities (also thanks to digital technology), and more accessible web tools for self-publishers, things are changing fast.
It doesn’t seem like this kind of change is sustainable in the long-term. This plane has to land sometime, and I think it’ll be soon.
More self-published books are being pushed to market than ever before, some with great production quality and others that are unedited, not properly designed and with virtually no marketing. But readers are learning to sift through self-published books and finding new ways to separate the treasure from the trash.
There are also some interesting new developments. I’ve been following Capital Offense through its release. It was originally released as a web serial before a traditional release to paperback and e-book. (In fact, it’s free on Amazon.com through tomorrow). The publisher gave all of the content away for free on the web before offering it for sale. At face value, that seems backwards, but there could be some insight to it. It’s an attempt to meet readers where they’re reading, which is smart. Time will tell whether it was a brilliant move or a misguided stab in the dark.
Meanwhile, traditional publishers are still pushing out the same stuff, using the same business model and the same outdated ownership models. E-books that cost virtually nothing to reproduce don’t reflect that discount in their pricing. I routinely see traditionally published e-books that cost the same amount or more than their paperback counterparts. Granted, the printing and transportation cost of paper books isn’t that high, but eliminating that step ought to lower the price a bit.
So, I’m interested to know: where do you think the publishing industry is going? What do you look for when you buy books? Do you think self-published books are worth browsing, or do you stick with traditionally published books?