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That Fantastic Agile Transformation Experience

Scott M. Graffius Author Interview

Scott M. Graffius Author Interview

Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions tackles project management in an approachable way that I found to be highly enlightening. How has your experience in project management helped you write this book?

I am thankful for all of the disruptors, innovators, and visionaries who contributed to the colorful heritage of agile and Scrum. In particular, I thank Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. Scrum was modeled after their groundbreaking paper, “The New New Product Development Game,” published in the Harvard Business Review in 1986. My book was informed by their article and 115 additional sources—listed in the bibliography—along with my first-hand experience launching Scrum in organizations.

I’m the Founder and CEO of Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions, an Inc. Verified Business, which helps our clients achieve their business needs through world-class project leadership. I had the privilege to work with a client in a division of a global entertainment business on their successful journey for improved responsiveness to changing business needs, faster delivery speed, higher satisfaction, and continuous improvement—which made them even more competitive and fueled their growth. That fantastic agile transformation experience and result was the inspiration for my book. I thank that client.

I also helped diverse organizations achieve their business needs through project management related services prior to Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions. I’m a former vice president of a provider of diverse consumer products and services over the Internet including social networking and internet access. Before that, I worked in organizations with businesses ranging from advanced technology products and services to business services, retail, e-commerce, manufacturing, and entertainment. I have experience with consumer, business, reseller, government, and international customer markets, as well as international experience spanning 20 countries.

In addition to hands-on experience, a deep understanding of project management (project, program, portfolio, and PMO management—inclusive of agile, traditional, and hybrid frameworks), engagements with professional associations, involvement with global standards, knowledge of leading practices, and professional credentials also shaped what and how information was presented in the book. Some examples follow. I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a focus in Human Factors. I hold six certifications: Certified Scrum Professional (CSP), Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Project Management Professional (PMP), IT Service Management Foundation (ITIL), and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (LSSGB). And I’m proud to be a member of the Scrum Alliance, Project Management Institute (PMI), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), IEEE Computer Society, IEEE Consumer Electronics Society, IEEE Broadcast Technology Society, IEEE Internet of Things Community, and the IEEE Consultants Network.

I owe a tremendous debt to the technical editors: Chris Hare and Colin Giffen. Each offered insights that greatly improved Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions. I thank them for helping to make this book more clear, consistent, and valuable.

Agile Scrum is often used in technology projects, but do you think Agile Scrum can have a wider application?

Shifting customer needs are common in today’s marketplace. Businesses must be adaptive and responsive to change while delivering an exceptional customer experience to be competitive. Traditional development and delivery frameworks are often ineffective. In contrast, Scrum is a value-driven agile approach which incorporates adjustments based on regular and repeated customer and stakeholder feedback. And Scrum’s built-in rapid response to change leads to substantial benefits such as fast time-to-market, higher satisfaction, and continuous improvement—which supports innovation and drives competitive advantage.

Agile and Scrum were once the sole domain of software development. However, the benefits and results have not gone unnoticed by others. Practices are being adopted by additional departments and industries. The State of Scrum Report: 2017 Edition revealed that 21% of Scrum projects are run by departments outside of Technology such as Marketing, Finance, and Sales. And a New York Timesarticle in 2016—”The New Workplace is Agile, and Nonstop. Can You Keep Up?”—noted agile’s use in diverse industries. Examples ranged from a museum in Sydney, Australia, to an automobile dealership in Maine. Agile/Scrum is being used broadly.

What is one common misconception you find people have about the Agile Scrum methodology?

There are different frameworks supporting the development and delivery of products and services, and most methodologies fall into one of two broad categories: traditional or agile. Traditional practices (sometimes called waterfall) engage sequential development, while agile involves iterative and incremental deliverables. Organizations are increasingly embracing Scrum—the most popular agile framework—to manage projects, and best meet their business needs of rapid response to change, fast delivery speed, and more.

There’s a widely-held view that agile is new. But agile was used decades before it became well-known. A few examples follow. Software was developed in half-day iterations in 1958 for Project Mercury, the United States’ first human spaceflight program. Harlan Mills of IBM promoted in 1968 that “software development should be done incrementally, in stages with continuous user participation and replanning.” In 1980, Tom Gilb introduced the Evolutionary Delivery Model, an incremental alternative to traditional development.

While agile (which includes Scrum) is not new, many innovators and visionaries have advanced principles and practices over time. For those who would like to learn more, there’s a one-minute video—”Agile Has a Long and Colorful Heritage”—at https://vimeo.com/259429846.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have two works in the pipeline. Currently, however, there is no detail on content or publication dates for future books.

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Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions by [Graffius, Scott M.]Deliver Products in Short Cycles with Rapid Adaptation to Change, Fast Time-to-Market, and Continuous Improvement―Which Supports Innovation and Drives Competitive Advantage

Shifting customer needs are common in today’s marketplace. Businesses must be adaptive and responsive to change while delivering an exceptional customer experience to be competitive. 

There are a variety of frameworks supporting the development of products and services, and most methodologies fall into one of two broad categories: traditional or agile. Traditional practices such as waterfall engage sequential development, while agile involves iterative and incremental deliverables. Organizations are increasingly embracing agile to manage projects, and best meet their business needs of rapid response to change, fast delivery speed, and more.

Agile Scrum is for those interested or involved in innovation, project management, product development, software development or technology management. It’s for those who have not yet used Scrum. It’s also for people already using Scrum, in roles such as Product Owners, Scrum Masters, Development Team members (business analysts, solution and system architects, designers, developers, testers, etc.), customers, end users, agile coaches, executives, managers, and other stakeholders. For those already using Scrum, this guide can serve as a reference on practices for consideration and potential adaptation. 

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A Modern Romeo & Juliet

R Tran Author Interview

R Tran Author Interview

Neutral Space is set in the year 3006 in a galaxy where intergalactic races have intermingled with humans. How did you set about creating the world in this novel?

I love Star Wars and Star Trek. I grew up watching them. As I got older other sci-fi films like Total Recall (the original) and The Fifth Element became personal favorites. When I started writing Neutral Space I envisioned pieces of these different worlds from sci-fi flicks. I wanted something that felt familiar and inviting but still plausible in 3006.

Alliances are broken which causes a war between Kelsairans and humans. I felt the Kelsairans were well developed and thought out. What was your inspiration for this race and how did it change while writing?

The Kelsairan society is based on the Spartans. While they don’t have a whole population of slaves supporting their militaristic lifestyle they are forced to send one child to serve the army. Originally, I intended the Kelsairans to be much more hostile and harder to understand, something closer to true Spartans or even Klingons. As the story evolved and Kheda’s character took shape she had too many human characteristics to do so. She couldn’t veer so far from her people. Her love for a human wouldn’t have been convincing. Government lies of horrible heartless aliens was a more plausible reason for human’s to hate them than for Kelsairans to actually be so horrible.

I felt that there were parallels to today’s society regarding war and political agendas. Were there any events that influenced you while writing?

This story wasn’t meant to be an action adventure, or a military book. It was intended to be a modern Romeo & Juliet. A futuristic war between two alien races seemed like a great way to update it. Somehow during the writing process it took on a life of its own and morphed into the book it is today. When I decided I wanted them to have a happy ending Jackson and Kheda needed a way to end the war that was manageable for two soldiers. Solving a government conspiracy seemed like the only plausible answer at the time. I don’t know if I was influenced by actual events or a general mistrust of large government. What I can say is this story was actually written in 2006-2007 and later revised and edited for publishing. At the time we were in the middle of the Iraq war, Afghanistan War, and it had been five years since September 11. There was a lot going on in the world and it probably influenced the original choice to create a war between two races to begin with.

Will this be the first book in a series? If so, where do you see the story going in the next book?

This was not the first book in a series. I doubt I will ever write another sci-fi novel again. I honestly feel like a fraud. I love watching the genre and even reading some of the less technical novels, more along the line of space operas. When it comes to writing it though, I don’t feel like I do the genre justice. It’s why I hesitated publishing Neutral Space in the first place. For the most part I think I got lucky with Neutral Space. I tried something new and it worked. I won’t tempt fate again.

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Neutral Space by [Tran, Rebecca]Lieutenant Jackson Peterson thought he knew who the enemy was. A bitter war with the Kelsairans made it abundantly clear. When Jackson saves a Kelsairan woman from a wrecked ship, the line is suddenly blurred. The enemy isn’t what the government said they were and he can no longer blindly follow orders. A shocking discovery leads Jackson down a sinister path of intrigue that could change the fate of two races. But, both the Kelsairan and the Human governments will kill him to keep their secrets. Jackson will risk everything to stop them. Will it be enough? Or will he die in the process?

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Intense Chemistry Between Them

Shari Nichols Author Interview

Shari Nichols Author Interview

Karly is a medium hired to get rid of a ghost haunting an Inn but is caught between her job, the sexy innkeeper, and her painful past. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

The hero, Thayne Harper, heir to one of the largest hotel chains in the country comes from a world of wealth and privilege. His inn is a reflection of his upbringing. Karly, on the other hand, has had to work and struggle her whole life. When she has no choice but to move into the inn to banish the ghost, she becomes   a fish out of water, which leaves her feeling vulnerable and brings up past insecurities and doubts. I think everyone can relate to being in such an uncomfortable position on some level. From there, I try to add in as much conflict as possible by using the ‘what if’ factor. What if someone that didn’t believe in ghosts found himself living in a haunted inn? What if there was this intense chemistry pulsing between him and the medium he was forced to hire to banish said ghost? The more ‘what if’s’ I add to the mix, the more dimensions it lends to the characters. The goal is torture them through this journey before they reach that HEA. Hopefully, it’s what makes readers turn the pages long into the night.

The relationship between Karly and Thayne is visceral and sultry. How did you develop their relationship and what themes did you want to capture?

I do a lot or prewriting beforehand but the relationship really took shape as I wrote the story. The physical attraction between the two polar opposites was undeniable and so fun to write! Granted, it was not love at first sight, but it was incredible lust at first sight, which I do believe in, the kind of chemistry with another person that literally knocks you on your ass. In terms of a theme, I wanted to really drive home the concept of letting go of the past before you can move forward. Both characters are holding onto past wounds that prevent them from ever fully committing to another person. Only when both have worked through their issues are they able to finally come together and open themselves up to love.

This is a fantastic romance novel, but I also enjoyed the paranormal-horror aspect that really increased the tension. Where did the idea for the ghost come from and how did it change as you wrote? 

The idea for the ghost is actually based on two separate ghost stories combined into one. A friend once told me about a custom home that was built by his step father as a present to his mother. He had pieces flown in from a very old estate in England. Apparently, some of those pieces came with a ghost that floated through the walls of the house and left cold spots in his room. The Logan inn in New Hope, which is featured in the first chapter of HAUNTED has been known to have a resident ghost that resides in room number six I incorporated certain nuisances and interesting details about that ghost into the story. The ghost changed as I wrote mainly due to the fact that I had to create a believable backstory for her, so the reader understands what caused her to become this way. Yes, she’s a villain, but she was also a victim in her time as well. I actually wrote a short story from the ghost’s point of view to make sure her motivations were warranted. When you truly understand what she’s been through you can then empathize with her story. I had to add layers to make her a three dimensional character. I’ve been asked by many readers to know more about her and where she came from. Who knows, maybe I’ll create a novella for the ghost of Emily and you will really get to see her story.

What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m working on a three book series at the moment. It’s a contemporary revolving around three best friends, all who are navigating high-powered careers and love in the Big Apple. I cannot say at this point, but you will be the first to know! Thank you Literary Titan so much for having me!

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Haunted by [Nichols, Shari]

When medium Karly Matthews agrees to move into a haunted inn, she’s not sure what’s more dangerous, the ghost or the sexy innkeeper she tries to resist. She can’t deny the intense rush of desire she feels every time he’s near. When she agrees to embark on a no-strings-attached relationship, she finds herself thrust into a world of mind-blowing pleasures. Now she must face the aching truths of her past.

Hotel heir Thayne Harper has a laser-like focus on success that doesn’t include the help of his family. He’s always been the black sheep, living in the shadow of his dead brother. His dreams are put to the test when a supernatural entity threatens to ruin everything. The one bright spot is the woman who intrigues his mind and heats his blood. If only he can convince her that, despite his bad-boy ways, he can change for the good. Her love becomes his only salvation. Passion burns white-hot as a dark threat looms. The ghost doesn’t want them to be together and sets her sights on Thayne, luring him to a place that goes beyond death. Will Karly be able to save him before it’s too late?

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Future World Rocks!

Terry Tumbler Author Interview

Terry Tumbler Author Interview

Future World Rocks! is an eclectic science fiction novel involving Nazi research of UFO’s, time travel, and secret underground beings. What was the inspiration for this fantastical detective fantasy?

Actual reports on Die Glocke or the ‘bell’ as are found in UFO and 2nd World War archives. Similar research revealed the Janos race of aliens, and Richard E. Byrd’s USA expeditions to the South Pole. Plus, Google maps of a metal cover to an entrance at one of the magnetic poles, led to reports showing the possible existence of a hollow earth.

Time travel comes with a host of problems, how do you handle time travel in your novel to keep it as believable as possible?

What host of problems? Professor Hawkins claims you can only travel forward in time, not backwards, or you could end up killing a direct ancestor and therefore no longer existing. I think that is bunkum! If you cease to exist when you already do, I would say that reversal of existence is totally impracticable and unfounded. If you go forward in time, the assumption is that no one yet exists, which negates the findings of those who predict an apocalypse, like the sinking of the Titanic. If you find no future, how can you move into it? If there is a future, what happens if someone else kills the time traveler from the past? Confused? Don’t be. The science behind time travel is explained by research into alien technology and I’m happy that what I’ve read is valid, if you find out where to look. Sorry, but I’m not providing the shortcuts!

The story occurs against a backdrop of Rock n’ Roll music, because of course “future World rocks to its core!” What motivated you to include this element in your story and was it difficult to accomplish?

Yes, very time consuming. But the clues are given in the song titles and extracts, which invariably can be found quickly by googling them, as provided. The reason I did it was the misused expression, ‘Space Opera’. How can you call something a ‘Space Opera’ that has no music in it?

What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have a title and storyline already established, which will focus on the plight of existing characters. Ready in about seven months, once my esophagus starts functioning correctly.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website | Blogspot

FUTURE WORLD ROCKS!: Going Back To Our Roots (Carousels of Life) by [Tumbler, Terry]This story contains interwoven strands that are brought together as events unfold.

The first focuses on the aftermath of Nazi research into UFO based systems. Primarily it concerns a flying time travel craft called the ‘Bell’ and its disappearance after those early days when the U.S.A. took over its research.

The second occurs in the future, when alien refugees seek asylum with us on our planet. They come from a planet destroyed by one of its own moons and have wandered the stars, looking for a place to stay.

Soon they are introducing us to other beings, secretly living under the surface of the planet and mining the moon. Naturally, whodunit problems arise for our crime detection agents to resolve.

All this occurs to a backdrop of Rock n’ Roll music, as Future World rocks to its core!

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Top 100 Book Review Blogs For Book Readers and Authors

The Literary Titan has been recognized by Feedspot as one of the top 100 book review blogs for book readers and authors. Visit their website to see “the Best Book Review blogs from thousands of top Book Review blogs in their index using search and social metrics.” Thank you for this great honor.

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My Extreme Alter Ego

R. Tran Author Interview

R. Tran Author Interview

The Rashade tells the tale of Mara, a strong willed woman whose life mission revolves around avenging the death of her father. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

My dad died due to medical mal-practice when I was 16. I was depressed and unwilling to talk about it. So I began to write. The initial thought was simple what if my character could get revenge. Then I began asking questions. Who was she? Who killed her father? Why? The more questions I asked and answered the more the story developed.

Not everybody in the story is who they seem and I enjoyed the progression of each character. What was your favorite character to write for?

My favorite character to write in this set of books is Mara. I created Mara to do everything couldn’t, she’s my extreme alter ego. I loved putting her in impossible situations and getting her back out again. Then there is her complicated personality. I think any time the character is a complex combination it is always more interesting and more fun to write.

The Rashade is a set in medieval fantasy type world that is very detailed. What were some sources that served as inspiration for the world you created?

Some of my favorite movies growing up were The Conan movies and Red Sonja. It wasn’t a surprise that when Xena came out I watched the series every week for years. Then in high school a friend introduced me to Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series. A short while later I found Dave Duncan’s Seventh Sword series in a used book store. The Rashade‘ seems to be a conglomeration of all those things.

The Rashade is the first book in the Chronicles of the Coranydas series and delivers an adventure filled with magical characters and valiant warriors. Where will book two in the series take the story?

There will be a few new characters and you’ll meet other magical races. Mara has a few roadblocks left in her path, one them being her mother. But I couldn’t let Laran get away with murder. There is going to be a war of blades and magic. Only the strongest will survive.

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The Rashade' (Chronicles of the Coranydas Book 1) by [Tran, R.]After her father was murdered before her eyes, Mara Coranyda traded a life of privilege, for one devoted to vengeance. Shortly into her quest to find the mage that murdered him, Mara discovered it wouldn’t be an easy task to accomplish. Not only would she have to find the magical artifacts to destroy him, but she would also have to raise an army to stop his conquest of her homelands.

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Fantastical Battles

Yolanda Ramos Author Interview

Yolanda Ramos Author Interview

The Seventh Sentinel takes readers on an incredible modern day journey where the purpose of angels is still alive and well as they commune between man and God. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this entertaining story?

I’ve always been intensely fascinated by angels. According to the Bible and other ancient manuscripts angels are powerful, highly intelligent beings commanded by God to serve man. Being an avid reader, I grabbed up any books featuring angels but they were always portrayed as the bad guys and demons as the good guys, which rattled me. So I decided to write a novel where the opposite is true and based on as many historical facts as I could find about them. I wanted to show angels interacting with humans in a good way, in the age old fight between good and evil with epic fantastical battles, great tragedies and moments of joy.

Cristiano is raised in an orphanage and has no apparent past. I felt that his character was well developed. What was the ideals that drove character development in this story?

Cristiano was brought up in a loving, but strict environment where religion is important but not in a shove it down your throat way, and until his world is turned upside down, he’s had it fairly easy. When matters take a turn for the worse, he has to make that simple choice between good and evil, and the sacrifices that go with each path. Cristiano’s ideals can be summed up in one sentence. Meet the expectations placed on his young shoulders by God and the people who love and look up to him for leadership, with courage and humility. And to never give up, no matter what. (Okay, that’s two sentences).

I felt that the world the characters live in is very intricate yet subtly built. What was your approach to world building in The Seventh Sentinel?

I researched how many levels of Heavens there are from a variety of sources. Some say there are nine, some say five and some seven. Who really knows? I settled on seven because it fit the title of my book. Seven archangels, seven sentinels, seven continents and seven Heavens. Most of the descriptions of the Heavens are inspired from the Bible and The Book of Enoch. Then I had to figure out a way for my hero to fight in the spirit realm, and every hero has to have a weakness or several weaknesses, right? That’s where transmutation came in, which left Cristiano’s body open for attack in the physical realm, and hence the need for paladins.

Everything and everyone has a history, known or unknown and I love stories that include orders like the Templars, St Johns, The Golden Fleece and many others. There are so many stories with the Templars, so I went instead with the once famous Order of Calatrava, in Spain, which turns out, had links with the Knights Templars, and threw in the ancient Celts for added mystery.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m working on the third book in the series (no title yet) and hope to have it out by the end of the year. Due to serious illness last year I’m way behind schedule and trying hard to catch up. I’ve just finished my short story, titled the Igigi Chronicles, which is going through a round of beta reading as we speak. This tale is a spin-off from False Gods, the second book in the Sentinel Series, featuring the Eljo and all manner of mythical beings set in ancient Sumer and modern times.

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The Seventh Sentinel (The Sentinel, #1)

“Moments before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the seven Archangels remove powerful, ancient artefacts from the Jewish temple. These are given into the safekeeping of seven men. Throughout the ages, these men and their descendants become known as the Seven Sentinels.

In medieval times, the Seven Sentinels formed various military Orders as a cover for their activities. Today, of the Seven Sentinels, two are dead and two have turned rogue, which means only three remain to carry out their roles.

A war rages between Heaven and Earth. It is up to the newly empowered Seventh Sentinel to stop the rogues and Fallen Ones, from using these artefacts to gain control of the souls of mankind. Can the Seventh Sentinel endure?”

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God Made It Clear

Rebecca Duvall Author Interview

Rebecca Duvall Author Interview

In His Way tells the story of your second marriage to a Deputy Sheriff and being a mother of three; a volunteeraholic and a workaholic living together. What made you want to write about your life and put it out there for the world?

To be completely honest, I’m not a writer. I’m a numbers kinda gal. Back in the days when I worked for a paycheck, I did Bookkeeping or Accounting.

As my husband was dealing with his health issues, God made it clear I was to share with others, through a book, how I was getting through it. I was to write about my transition of no faith in anything, to faith in God Almighty, which brought hope, forgiveness and love into my world.

In His Way is a beautifully written memoir. I felt you left nothing out. Why was it important for you to give a faithful retelling of your life?

It was important for me to be all in when writing this book because ultimately, I desire the reader to feel connected to the story. I believe many people, if not everyone, can relate to something I have shared, because they too have gone through it. It’s important for the reader to feel the pain, relief, distress or joy as I experienced it for that connection to be made.

What was one of the hardest moments of your life to write about?

The hardest part of the book to write about was the relationship with my mom. It took many rewrites and a lot of tears to openly admit how this relationship affected who I am today.

What do you hope readers take away from In His Way?

I hope each reader would know they are never alone in any situation. God is right there beside them, waiting to be invited into their circumstance, to offer His comfort. Also, there is always many who have walked the same road they are on and willing to bring them help and encouragement, but they must first let their pain or difficulty be known.

Are you working on another book? If so, when will that be published?

No, I’m not currently working on another book. I do however, have a blog, inhisway.net, that I write on occasionally.

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In His Way by [Duvall, Rebecca]Throughout much of my married life, I lived under the illusion that I had it all together – it was everyone else that needed fixing. Several years into my second marriage my husband, a Deputy Sheriff, became a workaholic and was never home. Meanwhile, I became a volunteeraholic, too busy to face the fact that we had become two strangers under one roof, raising three kids.

God revealed Himself to me through the different women I volunteered with. As my heart slowly opened to God’s presence, my marriage came crashing down around me. As I cried out for God’s help, I discovered my husband’s affair. I found myself surrounded by faithful people who gave me the strength to face the problems in my marriage and the tools needed to begin fixing it.

Over the next four years, my husband’s health deteriorated and he was forced to retire. Through this God continually showed me I was In His Way and then, when He knew He had my attention, He would proceed to show me how to do things In His Way. In the end, what God told me to do, saved my husband’s life, and our marriage. What was broken is now fixed by the grace and love of God.

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