April 19th, 2019

As I sit here writing this, I cannot help but reflect on the significance of this day.

In Christianity, today marks Good Friday, the day that Jesus Christ went to the cross to pay for our collective sins. In doing the research for my book, Where Was God?, I delved deeper into this horrific event. It is truly a very humbling experience when you realize just how much pain and suffering was endured for us. As much as I thought I knew the story, I came away with not only a deeper appreciation of what Christ did for us, but also a deeper understanding of the history behind it.  I think this is something that most people do not truly understand. Sometimes I feel that we treat Him as a mystical figure, instead of a historical one.

Sadly, most do not understand that there is history to the story of Christ. Among New Testament scholars, there is little doubt that Jesus Christ lived. While the most detailed story of Jesus’ life is contained in the four Gospels, they are not our only source. First-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus referenced Jesus twice in his twenty volume history of the Jewish people. Additionally, Tacitus, the first-century Roman senator and historian, referred to Him in his history of Rome.  There are other anecdotal references to Jesus from a wide variety of non-biased sources. Even beyond Christianity, members of the Jewish and Muslim faiths also acknowledge the existence of Jesus.

If you are interested in learning more, I would highly recommend taking a look at, Where Was God?

Today also marks two very significant events in American History.

On April 19th, 1775, British troops, who had been sent to seize colonial weapons, fired the first shots of the American Revolutionary War, when they confronted about eighty militia members at Lexington, Massachusetts.  Eight militiamen were killed in the initial confrontation at Lexington, but upon arriving in Concord the English were met with a much larger force of around four hundred. These two battles would set the stage for the war that would ultimately secure American independence.

On April 19th, 1995, America was shaken to its core by the terror attack at the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This attack left nearly seven hundred injured and one hundred and sixty-eight dead, including four members of the United States Secret Service. At the time I was a member of the NYPD’s Intelligence Division and was sitting inside a USSS Suburban, on a protection detail, when the call came over the radio about the attack. There are no words to describe the feelings you get, as you are processing the fact that your country is under attack, and wondering if you are next. It was an unfortunate experience I would face again on September 11th.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." – George Santayana (Vol. I, Reason in Common Sense)

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Bragging Rights

The other day I received an email from fellow author, John B. Jamison, (That’s his book: Disruption on the middle shelf) who snapped this photo over at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Springfield, Illinois. So I thought I would share it with all of you.

There is a tremendous amount of pride I feel when I see my books on a shelf. It brings me back to my younger days, when I would regularly visit local book shops in and around Richmond Hill, N.Y. to find the latest novels that would whisk me away to new worlds. Now I get to stand back and appreciate the fact that I am the story teller and my books are the literary vehicles that someone else will use to visit new worlds. It’s an awesome feeling, but very humbling at the same time.

My word of advice: Chase your passions – Create your legacy !!

If you happen to be in the Springfield, Illinois area, you can always stop by and pick up a copy. I took the liberty to sign a few bookies during my last visit.

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Challenges for Writers: Social Media

Social Media – It seems as if we are glued to it; both night and day.

Many authors, both legacy published and indie, immediately take to the social media scene and use it as a platform that consists of posts which amount to nothing more than: Buy Me, Buy Me, Buy Me.

Seriously - I’ve been on Twitter and Facebook now for well over a half dozen years and it has all blurred into the same thing. Now, I will be the first one to admit that I have previously used these platforms in the same way. Hey, we all make mistakes, but I can tell you, based on my experiences, these are really bad vehicles for promoting your book.

The problem is you are trying to read the tea-leaves and hype your book to a completely random audience. For example, even if you have an amazingly diverse number of followers, the reader who might be interested in your book has to be at their computer at the very same moment you post. What do you think those odds are?  There are over two hundred million Facebook users and nearly seventy million Twitter users in the United States alone. Something tells me you’re going to experience some type of scheduling conflict as you try to connect.

And it’s not just a matter of connecting; you also have to find them when they are in the mood and we all know how hard that can be……

The truth is, more likely than not, they are there looking for cute animal pics, inspirational quotes or to find out what they need to be offended by today. In fact, looking at sales trends on my books, I can’t recall any instance where anything appeared to be social media driven. Even when offering free or discounted deals, I didn’t observe any major uptick that coincided with social media posting.

That being said, do I think you should forego social media as a whole? No, not at all, you should make it part of your platform, but make it a well-rounded part. Don’t just use it for YOUR books, throw in the occasional cute animal photo and remember to promote your fellow authors as well. No one really likes that person who only pats themselves on the back and this is a bigger problem than you might think. If you have 5k posts on Twitter and 4.9k consist of ‘buy my book,’ you are going to want to re-think things. That strategy might work, if your James Patterson, but the average indie author is probably going to turn-off a lot more potential readers than they entice.

My social media platform consists of my website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. I also made sure to utilize the author pages available to me at Amazon, GoodReads and BookBub

Both Amazon and GoodReads are especially useful if you have a website / blog because you can also link those pages to show your most recent posts. Another nice feature of Twitter is that you can also ‘pin’ a post to the top of your page. I have a link to my books and this allows those who want to tweet me the opportunity to share it, without having to search through a ton of unrelated posts. I use this method when re-tweeting my fellow authors and let me tell you it is a blessing. If I have to scroll through dozens of tweets without finding one of your books, I simply give up. If you don’t care, I don’t care.

While I am on the topic of Twitter, let me provide some advice here. If you are an author, please, please, please: Reconsider whether you want to tweet that inflammatory political comment. Too often, many do not exercise caution or even good judgment when it comes to this topic. Mind you, I am not talking about re-tweeting things that are intellectually critical about a politician or a potential issue, but the ones that are downright mean-spirited. The reason for this is that there is a very strong possibility you will most likely alienate a potential reader.

I screen every new follower, to see what they post, when I am thinking about following them back. Often I see completely discredited commentary or inflammatory rhetoric. Not only am I not going to follow you, but I am certainly not going to buy your books. That’s not to say that I demand everyone to be like me, or to refrain completely from discussing issues, but I draw the line when it comes to crudely bashing someone simply because you disagree with them.  We need to return the word civil back to civil discourse. The literary world is tough enough that you don’t need to chase away any potential readers. 

Up next: Publicity - Fake it, Till You Make it.

This isn’t intended to be a complete list, but some suggestions as to what has and hasn’t worked for me.

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Where Was God ? - Amazon Bestseller

As an author, I cannot begin to tell you just how incredible the feeling is when your book reaches that best seller status. No, it isn’t the NY Times of the USA Today list, but it is a start and I want to share my pride with you.

This week, my non-fiction book: Where Was God?: An NYPD first responder’s search for answers following the terror attack of September 11th, 2001, hit the Amazon best seller list, reaching the #22 spot. It’s moved a few slots over the last few days, but I’m still proud that this book is reaching an audience that might find comfort in my findings.

This journey started with God and I owe any and all success to him.

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Interview: INFOWIND News - 9/11 VCF & Congressional Malfeasance

Had the chance to sit down with Joe Charter over at INFOWIND News to discuss the problems the heroes and victims of the September 11th terror attacks are facing.

Sadly, Congress has failed to provide adequate funding for the Victims Compensation Fund, so the compensation so many were depending on has been slashed by 50% for old claims and 70% for new claims. Many are unable to work, due to severe illness from the toxins ingested at Ground Zero, and are in jeopardy of losing their homes.

The Government lied to us when they said the air was safe, and then they lied again when they said they would #NeverForget.

It’s time to #Renew911VCF

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