Category Archives: Rusty’s Thoughts

What is Coral Castle?

The unexplained is intriguing. Curiosity compels us to continue searching for explanationsCoral Castle, 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.


Stranger Than Fiction

Crosley BookWhen 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.

Do You Read E-books?

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.

Where is Publishing Going?

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.

Capital OffenseThere 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 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?

Photos of the Cincinnati Library

You have got to check out these photos of the old Cincinnati library, taken around the turn of the 20th centruy.  They are absolutely unbelievable.

Check out the photos here.

It makes me proud to represent a city and a state with such a rich history of supporting literature and education.

Did you know that at one time Cincinnati, Ohio was called the “Paris of America?”  In the 19th and early 20th century, Cincinnati was a cultural icon of the United States.

For reference, when these photos were taken the city of Cincinnati was home to a population of about 300,000, and was the ninth largest city in the United States. By all standards it was a large and growing industrial city.

The population peeked at about a half million in the 1940s, but gradually shrank back down to the 300,000 mark, which makes it the 23rd largest city in the country.

A library of this magnitude for that time period demonstrates the dedication the city Cincinnati had for literature and the finer arts.

It’s a New Year, New Plans

Happy New Year!  All of this talk of New Year’s resolutions has me thinking about my coming year.

I can tell you that I’m working on some very cool projects, and I can’t wait to start discussing and promoting them.  But…it’s not quite time for that yet.

In the meantime, I hope that 2014 is a great year for you and yours.  Keep reading, and thanks for connecting with me.

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick note to wish all of my friends, family and readers a Merry Christmas!

I hope that you enjoy this time of celebration with those closest to you.

Whether you’re traveling or spending a little extra time at home, I hope that you have some great books to keep you company.

Merry Christmas!

Books for the Holidays!

We’re in the swing of Christmas shopping now!  As you shop for those hard-to-buy-for folks, don’t forget about great books.

Books are non-perishable, they’re enriching and it’s a great way to find and establish common interest with your gift recipient.

If you’re in the market for great books, be sure to check out my selection on  Find all three great titles here.

All of my books have 4+ stars, with plenty of reviews to give you an idea of who might like them.  Each of my books is very different from the others, there’s a little something for everyone.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.  Friends, family, good business and successful books.

But right now, I’m especially thankful for my readers.  You’re the ones who made Crosley a New York Times Bestselling book, and you’re the reason that I continue to strive to produce great work every day.

Thanks for reading my work.  Thanks for being a part of these books with me.