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.
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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The Day Momma Made Me Dance is a colorful children’s book depicting the consequences of childrens misbehavior. What was your inspiration for this book?
My inspiration was my very own childhood experience. I myself was a mischevious child and my sister was also so growing up in a home where consequences were learned about through whoopings. I decided to write about it and this book is in no way to excuse about but to simply talk about my story and how I learned right from wrong. Not all people will see this book as acceptable but in many black homes that are my culture, it is accepted.
The story follows a young girl who is constantly up to mischief. What were some themes that were important for you to capture in this story?
The themes that were displayed was the experience of going to school and misbehaving, treating my sibling badly and being disrespectful by not listening to my parent. These themes were important because everyone has had a bad moment in their life either in the home or school as a kid.
The story draws a line between punishment and abuse. What is a common misconception you find people have about this subject?
People find that any form of punishment with an object is abuse. I have to disagree with that opinion because we all have to measure the level of discipline with what object and for how long. I believe that it is ok to whoop your child, talk to them and do time out. However, what happens when all of your interventions fail and the child still continues to misbehave. My book was a simple representation of punishment was in my home and the yes the girl learned her lesson in the end. The girl talked with her mom and stated that she understands the rules of the home and school. I had the same similar experience in my life. So this book was a short story about that time.
What do you hope readers take away from your story?
Readers should take away that punishment is not all bad no matter the form of it. It just depends on the level and frequency of the punishment. This book is not only about punishment but it has a bit of humor in it. The day momma made me dance is simply a metaphor for a butt whipping. The girl understands her faults and is thankful for her punishment because without it she would not understand the rules of home and school.
As a mom, we continuously tell our children the rules of the house. Not only this, we are constantly cleaning and prompting them to do their chores and homework. Until one day, Momma has had enough. Find out what happens when enough is enough in this home.
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Letters to Mary Susan chronicles the life and adventures of a Missouri outlaw that is in prison for manslaughter and is trying to reconnect with his daughter through letters. What was your inspiration behind this story?
The book’s main character, Jim Howard, was one of my father’s boyhood heroes and he’d retained “Jim Howard stories” for over 70 years. I’d promised him, in 2002 to make these stories central to a book with Jim Howard as its main character.
This is a great historical fiction novel that got a lot of the details right. What kind of research did you do for this novel to keep things accurate?
I did a lot of online and library research re: pre-Civil War, Civil War, post-Civil War “outlawry (“guerilla warfare”), Cattle drives, the rise of Montana outlawry and the “Wild Bunch,” Big Muddy outlawry, leading to personal interviews and old newspaper/library reviews regarding homesteading and personal interviews with prison personnel regarding prison characteristics as well as older individuals with recollections of the Prison Chaplain’s, Howard’s lawyer’s and Howard’s daughter’s roles in his release from jail.
What I liked about James’s character was that he held nothing back and didn’t try to cast himself in a good light, just told it like it is. What themes did you want to capture while you were writing his character?
That redemption and a new start is possible for us all.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
A book of poetry that I hope to have ready before the end of this year.
In his historical novel, LETTERS TO MARY SUSAN, Jerry Hammersmith chronicles the life and adventures of a Missouri outlaw, James Marion Howard. The novel is narrated by an aging Jim Howard as he begins to serve a sentence of fifteen years for Manslaughter. His lonely prison cell in the newly built Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert is the impetus to repent and reconnect with his past.
Through Jim’s reflections and letters to his long-estranged daughter, Mary Susan, the novel becomes a chronicle of the life of a Missouri outlaw who fled post Civil War America, leaving behind his wife and family and seeking escape from the law by racing across the western states, robbing stage coaches, trains and banks, until a posse chases him across the 49th parallel and into the newly formed Saskatchewan, Canada. He finds a new life and becomes a citizen of Canada after fulfilling the homestead requirements and establishing a new identity there.
As Howard recalls his outlaw past, Hammersmith leads the reader into the saga of the American Civil War, the tragedy of post war devastation and the flight of an insurgent guerrilla on the run to homestead in the ‘promised land’ of Canada. The surprising identity of that outlaw and his place in the small community of Teddington, Saskatchewan provides a tale of adventure, mystery and passion.
The twists and turns of this amazing story offer a glimpse into the ravages of the Civil War and the aftermath of the brutal and senseless vengeance that stole the lives of many young men. It leads the reader to an understanding of the path of a man’s choices and the hope that redemption is possible for us all.
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In The Guardians of Eastgate 2nd edition you had the chance to go back and rewrite some things that you felt needed to improve. What were the areas you focused on and how did you overcome the challenges?
The areas I focused on the most were dialogue and action – showing versus telling. I also took the opportunity to develop the characters and the seer people a little more. As the author, I already knew my characters, but I thought it would be good to reveal a little more about them to the readers as well.
It didn’t really feel like a challenge, exactly, to write more dialogue and action, and to develop the characters more. I think it was more of getting past an internal block on my part, rather than whether or not I could write that way. Once I started doing it, I really enjoyed fleshing out the story action and characters.
What I needed to do was to slow down and be patient, and to be confident in my story and my characters. What I mean by that is, I needed to allow the characters to live out the story in their own words and actions, instead of wanting to just hand it to the readers from a narrator’s perspective. I think there was a little nagging voice of self-doubt when I was writing the first edition that I needed to get past in order to put my story out there more fully.
Looking at the novel a second time, what were some things that changed for you while writing?
I think I rushed too much with the first edition. I had this idea in my head for over twenty years, and I wanted to get it out there to the world. There was a fear or an urgency where I think I worried that if I didn’t get it out there asap, I wouldn’t follow through and the story would never make it out into the world.
With the second edition, I had to take more time. I had hired a cover artist to do the covers for the rest of the series and I decided to re-do the cover of the first as well, so that the series would be uniform. Then we decided this would be a great time to work on the series and brand logos as well.
At this point in the game, I was also doing a lot of reading on the writing craft itself, such as on self-editing, outlining and structuring novels, and so on. Since the cover art, brand and logos would take a while anyway, and I would be putting out a second edition because of the new cover, I decided this would be a great opportunity to work on some of the elements in the first edition that I wasn’t happy with.
I think the overarching change for me here was that I realized I needed, and wanted, to slow down and enjoy the process. I read a lot and practiced, and I started to become more confident in my work and my capabilities. So, I feel more comfortable in putting more into the stories, which is essentially putting myself out there. I also believe I can better prioritize the story itself over getting it out there quickly. After all, a good, well-written story trumps getting it out there fast.
I understand that you have a third dan black belt in Taekwondo. What made you pursue Taekwondo and do you feel it helped you in writing fight scenes?
I have been a student of martial arts since I was 15 or 16 years old. I started in high school with Kenpo Karate. I’m from a small town in Newfoundland, and there were no other choices in martial arts around to consider at that time. You could say that my sensei had the market cornered in our area. But I really enjoyed it.
When I went to university, I switched to Aikido, mostly because I was a poor student, I lived on campus, and I didn’t have a car. So, I studied the martial art that was available to me on campus. It is a completely different style of martial art than karate or Taekwondo, teaching more about “moving off the line,” which I reference in my books, and using an opponent’s body weight and momentum against him or her. So, I am glad I practiced Aikido for those years because it gave me a different point of view and helped me to understand movement and defense better.
Once I began teaching, moved to a larger city, and had my own vehicle, I suddenly had more options available to me. I found a school that taught Taekwondo, and I really enjoyed it.
At one point, I decided to use my degree to work and travel, and I went to South Korea to teach English. For any who don’t know, Taekwondo is the South Korean national sport, and most young people study it at some point. I found out that a student’s father, who didn’t speak English, was a Taekwondo master with his own school. So, I asked my supervisor, a Korean man who spoke English, to ask if I could join his school, and he agreed.
Considering that the students in that Taekwondo school had one hour of lessons/practice FIVE days a week, and six days a week in every month leading to a test, I was able to progress quickly in the two years I was there. And I continued with it when I returned to Canada. After living in South Korea for two years, I now feel a connection to this particular martial art because I have a better understanding of the historical and cultural significance of it.
I do think it helped me with my fight scenes. I know what is possible and not possible, how to move to attack, defend or counter attack, and so on. Of course, I write fantasy, so my characters can be faster, stronger and more agile than real humans (although, you might be surprised at what some Taekwondo students can do), but I believe my training helps me to keep it fairly realistic.
Of course, I love martial arts, and I love sparring. There is a part in the book when Maelona tells her friends that she loves fighting more than she should, and her trainer used to get mad at her for smiling when she sparred. That was me in my Korean Taekwondo school. My instructor didn’t speak much English, but he spoke enough to tell me, “No smile! Serious!”
I don’t really like people fighting in real life when it’s not for sport, but put it in a sport setting, or in an action movie (I love action movies), and I think it’s pretty exciting. I don’t know that everyone who reads my fantasy novels enjoy that same kind of thing, but I think that having this training enables me to better convey the anticipation, the skills, the subtleties, and the back and forth between opponents in a clear and exciting way.
Have you begun writing book two in the series? When will it be available?
The rough draft of Book 2 is about 85% complete. Progress lately has been slow, with working to get this first book out there, my full-time job and my family.
I am really enjoying the story and I’m looking forward to getting it out there. Most days, I wish I could devote more time to it, but there are other things that take priority at the moment. For example, I am looking into having this book, The Guardians of Eastgate, made into an audiobook. I have had a few readers ask about that prospect, and I think it is a good idea, so I want to try and make that happen.
My original goal was to have Book 2 ready to publish in mid to late spring. Now that I am looking into making an audiobook of Book 1, however, it will likely be published in the summer.
I will be posting updates on my website and social media, so stay tuned!
The magical realm of Sterrenvar is a world filled with fantasy creatures, swords, sorcery, action, adventure, seers, shifters and sorcerers. It is a realm divided by differences, where the inhabitants keep mostly to their own species or race. When a group of seers are warned through visions of an evil, dark sorcerer intent on ruling the realm, seer champion Maelona Sima must set out for Eastgate to defend a magical keystone that can help protect the realm. Along the way, she must gain allies and convince the differing peoples of the realm to stand together as one to save their world from its biggest threat in three-thousand years. This new, expanded and revised Second Edition of the Guardians of Eastgate (Seers Book I) includes an extra 12000+ words worth of added dialogue and extended scenes.
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Cradle Gift follows Maité as she discovers the origins of her gift and the meaning behind her ability to move in and out of dreams. What were some new ideas you wanted to expand on in the second book in the series that you didn’t, or couldn’t, get to in the first book?
Here are a few of the things I wanted to explore with Cradle Gift:
- I’ve always been fascinated with Lucid Dreaming, so to continue expanding my knowledge on that subject was very satisfying. Although I put it to my readers as acradle-giftedability, Lucid Dreaming is something you can develop and perfect through practice… maybe not to the astral projection level Maité achieves, but it’s as close to having wings or gills as we can get.
- I wanted to establish the 200-year gap between Celeste and Maité, and plant the seed of curiosity over what happened with the family during those 2 centuries.
- I wanted to highlight “adaptability” without denying the suffering and struggle it takes a person to achieve it. I agree with Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Maité is strong, intelligent, adaptable and therefore, a survivor.
You were able to craft a world that was equally as beautiful as in book one. What were some lessons learned in book one that helped you write book two?
Book 1 was my first full-length novel and through its production I learned a great deal about the technical aspects of publishing, but more than anything, that is where I began to develop “my voice.” Faery Sight became my go-to document for Cradle Gift because locales had been established there along with coordinates for the Faerie Realm—I was so glad that I kept my drafts, maps, and notes! I took with me a briefcase stuffed with all my papers when I traveled to San Sebastián, Spain. I stayed there for one whole blustery week in March to round up my research.
Maité continues to be a dynamic and intriguing character. I find that authors are sometimes exploring their characters when writing just as much as readers are when reading. Do you find this to be true? What kind of exploration did you do with Maité’s character in this book?
The women and girls in my family are the inspiration behind my stories—the series really is a family affair.
The girl on the cover of Cradle Gift is my niece (my older sister’s first born), some of her character traits and astrological attributes account for a big part of Maité’s personality.
FYI: My younger sister’s first born is on the cover of Faery Sight, and my daughter is on the cover of Nahia.
Nahia is the third book in your Faerie Legacy series. Where can readers expect the story to go in the next installment?
Nahia is a common denominator whose story covers the 200-year gap between books 1 and 2.
I consider this novel is a philosophical-fiction of sorts because it is about Nahia’s journey to know herself, to find her place in the world. She’s willful and stubborn, she’d rather ask for forgiveness (grudgingly) than permission, but when the weight of the realm is thrust upon her, Nahia, accepts the challenge, realizing that the time for her to grow up is at hand.
Her strengths and weaknesses lead her to change the genetic footprint of humanity, and to a bitter sweet victory.
At seventeen, Maité’s mortal world is torn apart with the tragic loss of her parents. Uprooted from the only home she’s ever known and isolated in a foreign country, the young woman struggles to make sense of her new life. But the conflict in the realm of Faerie is about to bleed over into Maité’s reality. She finds herself in the middle of an ancient struggle between Nahia and the Beautiful One as they furiously clash for control over the realm.
Through her Cradle Gift, Maité uncovers the extent of the Faerie Realm’s involvement in her life, and in her quest to come to terms with it, Maité has the help of best friend Emily, and David; a young man whose interest in genetics illuminates possibilities that will change her identity forever.
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Fathering the Fatherless tackles the important issue of fatherlessness and how it affects children and society. Do you feel that fatherlessness will become a bigger issue in the future?
Fathering the Fatherless book was and is to shine a light and to spark interest for the reader to go on there own personal journey of looking.
How has your faith helped you come to terms with fatherlessness?
Far as my faith it has helped me realize there prayers and the word of God The Holy Bible that I came to know Him as Abba Fathering now my book is to get you to ask yourself am I doing my very best and does God love me more than anything else and yes he does.
You use many facts and figures in your book. Was there a statistic that you came across that surprised you?
There was a few statistics I feel under and I was surprised.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
My next book should be out this year from Author House Fathering The Fatherless 2nd Edition more information new chapter on psychological aspects of a fatherless home and more details other chapter.
Fathering The Fatherless deals with Fatherless in the home’s & how affects children in the home & what we can do to change. It’s a short read and aimed to open your eyes and heart, to get you asking and thinking.
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The Separation follows Finn as he struggles to live in a world that separates the sexes and removes children from parents. Did you know where you were going when you started writing or did you let things happen organically?
This novel is actually part of a trilogy. I am currently working on the sequel, “United.” I had this great idea and created three stories based on the characters and storyline. Of course, some of the plot was initially simply outlined and then fleshed out significantly during the actual writing process. I am proud of this book. I think it touches on topics that are universal and of great interest to society today.
This book has a unique resolution to a real overpopulation problem. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this story?
I wanted to address issues that are of great urgency in society today. Without bringing any of my own politics into this interview, I think the novel touches on provocative themes and pressing problems in society today. I won’t reveal all of them because I don’t want to give away the book. I feel this, above all my other work, is a must read. But, overpopulation is a real issue and I think this book addresses the topic head on.
Because the sexes are separated in the story, this makes for some great ‘worlds colliding’ type moments. What was your inspiration behind Finn and Angela’s relationship in the novel?
Their relationship is based on the fact that men and women are going to be different and have viewpoints on the separation (and on life in general) that are not necessarily identical. However, men and women do need each other in many respects. They complete each other in their own complex way. I wanted their relationship to reflect that.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on part two of this trilogy—-“United”–which will be out early in 2019!
In the distant future, there is a separation of the sexes at birth for the good of society. Financial needs, above all else, have led to such drastic measures. The Separation is the story of the life of a male named Finn. The book traces his life at birth and continues past his “education” as well as beyond the time when he ultimately learns of the opposite sex. What will result from the revelation of a female society? Finn may wish he never found out. This is a story of the consequences of needs, desires and answers to questions that sometimes should not be asked.
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Life Sliding follows Gavin, the popular kid in school, as he is sent to camp Lift Me Up to help special needs children. What served as your inspiration while you were writing this book?
Like myself, lots of teenagers experience alienation in their high school life, which is a challenging time of self discovery while navigating one’s way to adulthood. My inspiration is those in the trenches now and those who survived those years. Within the walls of education, there is so much more learning going on than just algebra. At times, high school life is a tornado. I believe most adults have forgotten what was at times, a nightmare. Trying to understand my experience as an outsider, I explored the story from the popular kid’s prospective, peeling back the layers to discover who he is underneath his vamped up exterior. Much later after my school years, I became friends with someone who was in the “in crowd” at my school. I discovered this person was not who I had imagined they were. As we find with Gavin, one never really knows what’s going on inside someone, the real person. How do people end up where they are positioned on the social ladder? Jacob expresses his thoughts on the matter to Gavin in a deep conversation at camp; Jacob understands.
What I found most interesting about Gavin was the slow emotional change he undergoes throughout the novel. What were some morals you wanted to capture while writing his character?
We live in a society that is highly judgmental and most are quick to come to a conclusion about someone without ever getting to know them. You can’t judge a book by its cover and you will certainly fall short trying to make a summation of someone by their looks, they way they dress or zip code they come from. If anything, we need more understanding.
Was there anything from your own life, in high school, that you put into this novel?
I was an outsider who experienced some of the issues mentioned in the story and simply observed others going through their own trials. Between algebra and biology, it’s all there – self-harm, bullying, relationships, sexuality, eating disorders, angst and so on, but mostly life happening.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My ya novel Always Here was just released in September 2017. I have an adult fiction novel tentatively titled Kudzu, which is in editing with no set release date and I am writing a New Adult novel titled Somebody Else.
As Gavin’s junior year comes to a close, he faces an inner conflict with his status as the most popular kid in high school. It’s not lost on his father, who sensed for some time that his overly indulged son needs redirection. Making matters worse for Gavin, his dad sends him away for the summer to assist at a camp for children with special needs.
Arriving at camp Life Me Up, Gavin is suddenly forced to dabble in a world less familiar. After his first uncomfortable encounter with a strange girl with multi-colored fingernails, who refuses to waiver his arrogant behavior, Gavin comes face to face with a person from the past, which leaves him uneasy.
Inevitably, three people clash and collide, but when tragedy strikes, they come to an understanding regarding their differences. Becoming a young adult, Gavin faces a summer of harsh lessons in reality. Once he crosses the bridge from a self-inflicted prison to the road to freedom, Gavin and his new friends implement a strategy to stir up the social order when they return to school in the fall.
Because of one jaded person jumping to conclusions, the plan backfires. Will they be able to survive the fallout of what they’ve put into motion?
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Turning Blue: A Life Beneath the Shield is the story of your life, from childhood to retirement, told with an honesty that lays bare some remarkable and sometimes scary moments in your life. What was the inspiration that made you want to write a memoir?
I lived only 25 miles from where I worked and grew up in a middle class neighbor that was so different from where I now went to work. It was definitely cultural shock for me. This was early 80’s and crack was on the scene and people were dying by the thousands. Life, in a sense, was cheap. As a young cop I often wondered why people hated me when I was on patrol. I got to see the anger in their eyes just walking down the street. I later realized they hated the uniform and what it represented. I wanted people to know that there was a person in that uniform. So I used what God gave me and used my life experiences to show that as people we are not that different, we all have struggles and lose, and that there was “A Life Beneath The Shield” and so came part of the title to my memoir.
Each chapter tells a story from your life. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
I found it to be a very cathartic experience writing about my life. There were many difficult areas to write about. Certainly one that was hard was the passing of my mother and coming to terms with our relationship. But the most difficult was the chapter regarding 9/11. This event changed the world and the way we live. A lot of innocent people lost their life that day. But what hurts the most is that first responders are continuing dying every day and a lot more are suffering from the after effects of that day. Many are in treatment for cancer and other health issues related to 9/11. I have written a stage play based on this chapter of my book. A working title for the play is: “9/11…Never Forget…I can’t”.
You retired from the New York Police Department after 20 years. What is one common misconception you find people have about police officers and detectives?
I believe most people base their opinions of cops either on a one-time, first-hand bad experience or form their opinion from a news story, or a second or third-hand story. Cops are human beings. We make mistakes. we hurt, we bleed, we cry… more than you will ever know. There are good and bad in every profession. Priests-teachers-CEOs…you name it. Police officers are faced with life and death situations every day and only have a split second to decide a course of action. We have families and friends who we love, and who love us. It is our duty to make sure we come home safe. Believe me, no cop ever wants to fire his gun in the line of duty. The responsibility and consequences are enormous. We are truly here to serve and protect.
Are you working on another book? If so, what is it about and when will it be available?
I have written an unpublished novel titled: “Core Four”. I have written a screenplay with Erik Wolter which is currently being reviewed by some interested production companies. It is a coming of age story about four 11 year old boys. Danny’s struggles with the loss of his father (cop) to 9/11 related disease and his expectations. Danny and his 3 closest friends go on an adventure that brings them face to face with a gang of thugs and find a hero in the most unlikely person.
As a kid growing up on Long Island, I struggled with an unknown psychological need to wear a uniform and a strong desire to be a part of an organization. My search would take me through Little League, Cub Scouts, and various fraternal organizations. This desire would only be fulfilled after joining the NYPD in February of 1984.
Somewhere during my twenty-year career, I was transformed from that kid into a veteran New York City police detective. This is my evolution from a middle-class suburban kid with simple values who naively thought the “projects” were a homework assignment into a veteran detective working in some of the most unforgiving neighborhoods of New York City. With this transformation comes the ability to separate the daily exposure to the dark side of human nature from your own life-sustaining core beliefs. Many will fail to acquire this ability and fall victim to drugs, alcohol, divorce, crime, and even suicide. This is a process which I have come to call Turning Blue.
This is my story of how I dealt with life-changing experiences at home while my gun belt and uniform hung safely in my locker. In my twenty years of experience as a police officer, I can honestly say that I have been scared and feared for my life. Could you go back to work after crying yourself to sleep, reliving your partner’s screams as he lay bleeding to death in the backseat of your unmarked car, and the only thing keeping your heart in your chest was your department-issued bulletproof vest?
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Voice of a Crimson Angel is an intimate and thrilling story that leads up to your debut military science fiction book. What was the inspiration that made you want to explore a prequel?
Creating VOCA was something that was on my mind for many years, but it seemed too monumental a task to handle. It wasn’t until I was in the midst of writing Ballad of Demise that I began to see a grand tale in the making. I took that single scene of Julissa Marconi from Reverence and then imagined what her life had been like up to that point and after. That was the only push for the new trilogy. Many reviewers asked questions about how the characters got to where they are, so I figured it was an opportunity to give them answers. It turned out to be a fun experience.
Your currently studying history at the University of Riverside. How has your major helped you write your story and develop your characters?
A TON. The sad but fascinating aspect of history is that the story of the oppressed vs. an oppressor is a familiar one. From ancient Rome to the Spanish Empire, to the British and French empires, superpowers have always had their reign unimpeded for decades before eventual collapse. I wanted to build up the history of the United Nation Republic before it too faces its ultimate crisis. Whether it is still standing when the dust settles is to be determined in future installments.
I also drew influence from the revolutionaries of old, people such as Che Guevara and George Washington. Once the VOCA trilogy is completed, I believe people will see the connections in a new light. History was also a valuable tool in discovering how a revolution starts. First come the words, then the fight to crush those words, and then bullets. The term ‘regime change’ is one perhaps not widely known by the average person, but it is an unquestionable factor in global history. The U.S. has often played a pivotal role in such operations, among them Guatemala, Vietnam, and Iran. The more I read, the more The Expansion seemed very possible.
When writing, do you look at current events, and use them as a springboard for ideas or try to incorporate them into your story?
Current events play a big role most definitely. In VOCA Part I, we see a world where warfare is basically common place. The majority of the people either ignore or don’t care about the conflicts abroad. Once again, I looked to the U.S. The U.S. has been involved in some sort of war for almost its entire history, from the Civil War, Spanish-American, the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and now the war on terror. Vietnam was the first U.S. war to not split the American conscious on a massive scale. Since 9/11, the U.S. hasn’t slowed down its war game, now in Niger, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries. Despite this, there are no longer large protests confronting this reality. As we listen to music and watch the latest films, the war machine goes on expanding.
These issues, primarily our war driven economy, were the focal points for me in writing the VOCA trilogy.
Any chance you’ll write a prequel that shows the rise of Chancellor Venloran? Kind of like how Star Wars episodes 1-3 showed the rise of Darth Vader? In either case, what do you think that would be like?
I actually have played around with this idea, and the framework is definitely there. I can imagine a young Venloran who sees his country struggling and decides to act. In a way, he’d be comparable to Joseph Halsey, which would be a great foil. It would take time to plan out, especially since I have much planned for the Reverence series. The idea is very tantalizing, though. As of now, I’ve only hinted at the rise of the UNR. For this envisioned ‘prequel-prequel’, I would go in depth to the formation of the UNR Party itself.
The evilest of deeds start with the best of intentions.
Julissa Marconi’s life has never been quite the same since her husband slipped into a coma. Her relationship with her daughter is hanging by a thread, she’s lost all her friends, and she’s retreated to the bottle amidst her sorrows. Truth is, Julissa is struggling to find a reason to wake up in the morning. That all changes when the mysterious Dr. Neeson offers her a chance to discover the truth, and reclaim her life. With the help of the scheming Captain Halsey, Julissa finally has a reason to fight again. She’ll have to act fast, however. Her nation, the United Nation Republic, is hungry for aggressive expansion and the ravenous Chancellor Venloran will stop at nothing to achieve his own twisted goals. Return to the world of the Reverence series with Voice of a Crimson Angel Part I: Persecution, the long-awaited story that sets the stage for the entire saga.
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