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John Childress

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Almost Perfect. . . The Movie (not)

Posted on October 9th, 2013 by John Childress

There is but one stage for the peasant and the actor.  ~Henry David Thoreau 

This summer we were lucky enough to have a film crew at our house in France for a week.  They were shooting a local classical music festival that ran for 6 evenings, but during the day I was able to secure some of their time to film trailers for my thriller novels. Being an author and not a script writer, nor an actor, I took on the task with the same approach I take to my novels – sheer panic!

Actually, we spent a few days talking about my books and what my readers most enjoy, deciding that the best approach would be to think like a fan and not like an author.  I think it worked out well, but I am sooooo glad I am a writer and not an actor.  Endless takes, flubbed lines, bad lighting, stopping for the occasional rain shower, a jet flying overhead.  Thousands of interruptions and miscues, not to mention the camera battery running out of juice. All in a days work!

Here is the Almost Perfect trailer, for your viewing pleasure . . .

Also, my thriller novels are about to be published in paperback (formerly they were only available as eBooks) and to celebrate we have redesigned the covers.  Here is the new Almost Perfect cover.

Almost-Perfect-Oct-2013-100

Notice the Languedoc cross, the symbol of the region in southern France where the story takes place (also London and Boston).  Look for it on Amazon in the next few weeks.  And spread the word.

Here’s what’s on the back cover:

A novel of 13th Century France, Cathar treasure, the Inquisition, the Vatican, and modern-day financial fraud and murder. What would you do if your marriage was falling apart, you were forced out of your job, you started having weird “dreams” about the Crusades and people being burned at the stake, one of your associates was just murdered, and now someone is trying to kill you? Matt Brennan’s life is a mess, and it’s only getting worse!

A young, arrogant investment banker gets caught up in an 800-year-old conspiracy by the Catholic Church, greedy private bankers in London and an international criminal organization. The story follows two inter-linked tales, one of the Crusades against the Cathars in the 1200’s in the south of France and the other a modern day conspiracy of fraud and murder.

Matt Brennan and his young wife Francine, who is distantly related to a female Cathar priest, purchase an old Cathar Chateau and become part of the history to a point where modern and historical events tend to merge and their lives are put in imminent danger.

This is a fast paced thriller which will take you on a historical journey to one of the most beautiful parts of France and one of the bloodiest Crusades, where over 1 million people were killed in battle or burned at the stake in the name of the Church, God and Greed!

Keep reading . . .

John Childress

john@johnrchildress.com

 

 

An Author’s Lunch . . .

Posted on August 17th, 2013 by John Childress

 I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.  ~Mark Twain

Writers and authors are strange creatures indeed. First of all, they keep strange hours, more akin to a night club owner. Second of all, they live in two worlds at the same time; the world of you and I and everyday events, and also the world of make-believe characters, stories, plots, subplots and dreams. And to them, both are very real!

twain shotAnd if that is not weird enough, they spend most of their time alone.  Unlike the hermit who hides out in a cabin in the woods, away from other people, the writer is alone in a crowd, at home with family, on an airplane or train.  Always alone, but never lonely; their brain is always ticking over with characters and locations, plots and of course, that one great line that will be remembered for ever. “Quite frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!” or “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee!

But, like all humanoids, authors and writers must eat, and their favourite meal (at least mine) is lunch! Most of us are awake by 11am or so after a long night of writing and while breakfast is the important meal for normal people, lunch kick starts our day. And for those writers with families and school age children, after getting up and making certain everyone gets out of the house on time, then checking email, doing dishes and light housework, and a little editing, lunch signals the beginning of our workday.

For most authors, food and drink are their muses (the order of importance varies as the writing progresses), while for painters muses usually have two legs and other great attributes! So, for an author, lunch is of great importance and there are at basically three different types of author lunches.

lunchMost days, lunch for an author is a solitary affair, at least solitary in terms of other people.  And being alone in quiet surroundings is one of the most productive times for the creative process.  I tend to have my lunches out in my garden, weather permitting, and I find that the hour flies along and by the time I come out of my reverie, my notebook has several new pages of ideas and my salad is finished. The fascinating thing about being a writer is how random thoughts and ideas, planted days or weeks ago, can link together into new insights over a relaxing lunch, and a glass of wine!

The second type of author lunch is the “research lunch”, where the author is interviewing one or two people over lunch.  In this case, lunch is the false focus, while the writer probes for new information, insights, stories, and events that can help move Wiltonshis work forward.  All writers get their inspiration from real life people and events, then twist them (either a little or a lot, as in science fiction) to fit into their plot.  Often times the most off-hand comment opens a flood gate of ideas.

For this type of lunch, a moody and energetic atmosphere seems to work best, as the commotion and activity tends to help our guests relax and drop their guard.  My favorite places in London are Wilton’s Oyster Bar and Restaurant (akin to the bistros of San Francisco), Sheeky’s in Covent Garden, and the Royal China in Bayswater.  All great places for a “working” lunch.

outdoor lunchAnd the third type of author lunch, is when you need a bit of cheering up and for that, a crowd of noisy, fun people is just the ticket. Not much work gets gone after these lunches, which thankfully are  not too often, but the company, wine and laughter does the trick when you everything in the world sucks, especially last few chapters!

If the day is sunny, have lunch outdoors in the garden or a nearby park.  If it’s rainy and wet, spread a big table cloth on the dining table and crowd around.  Some background music helps tremendously.  And the best thing about these superb and noisy lunches? A nap afterwards.

 

It’s amazing what a nap can do to get your writing back on track!

Tight Lines . . . and keep writing

John R Childress

 

 

Bad Company

Posted on December 5th, 2012 by John Childress

Now and then we had a hope that if  we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.  ~Mark Twain

In my mind far too much attention is focused on big business.  Politicians pander to them, make concessions to appease them, skew the tax laws in their favor and allow them to manipulate their balance sheets with offshore investments, R&D credits and other legal tricks. Sure big business is important to the economy.  But for Starbucks to pay zero tax in the UK on hundred of millions of profits?  Wish I could do that (both the zero tax and the hundreds of millions).

 

But there is a group even more important to the economy and the health of our nations, small businesses.  Few of us realize that small businesses:

  • provide 60% to 80% of the net new jobs annually
  • account for 97% of all U.S. exports of goods and produce 14 times more patents per employee than large firms
  • account for 52.6% of all retail sales
  • make 46.8% of all wholesale sales
  • Women own 10.4 million small businesses in the United States (nearly 50%), generating $1.9 trillion in sales.
  • Small businesses employ 40 percent of high-tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers).

Small business is vital to a nation’s economic health and growth. And in developing countries it is the energy and creativity of small and emerging businesses that hold the promise for economic growth and prosperity.

The Bitter Truth is …

Many of my friends, many of your friends, and a large number of us out there in the world either own or work in a small business.  And we know the truth.  Small businesses struggle to survive and it doesn’t help that they are under constant attack.  In many cases the attacker is our own government, passing laws and regulations that are overly onerous on the small business.  For example, the average US small business spends nearly $10,000 per employee (that’s above salary, benefits, etc.) just to stay in compliance with government regulations.

And who stands up for the small business in times of trouble?  Practically no one. Law firms don’t want to deal with the legal issues of small firms – there’s not enough money in it for them.  Lawmakers respond to the big lobbying firms hired by large corporations but not to the cries of the small business person.

To make things worse, a growing class of criminals have targeted small businesses through fraud, extortion, theft, coercion and of course, robberies.  Well over 85% of all business crime is against small businesses!  And over half the crimes against small business are not reported by the owners because they didn’t think it would achieve anything (based on previous experience) and believe the police would not be able to succeed in getting a prosecution.  And sadly a quarter of small business owners don’t even trust the police to help find the criminals.

In addition, the proliferation of the Internet, Internet hackers and scammers will certainly increase the number of crimes against small business. Not only do small business owners have to struggle to make ends meet; they have to protect themselves as well.

So in my own way I have written a novel to help draw more attention to the plight of small business against organized and petty crime.  It’s called Bad Company and features a ruthless band of pirates disguised as consultants and small business advisors. They target and prey on small businesses in trouble. This eBook (available on Kindle US and UK and other eReaders) describes how they ruined one particular business.  Had it not been for one person, Josh Steele, both victim and hero of this novel, many more lives could have been ruined.

Bad Company is purely a work of fiction!  However the idea for a band of  “pirates” preying on small businesses came from an actual experience I had a few years ago running my own small wine business in California.  The new CEO I hired for my company (since I had moved to London) looked great on paper but was totally ineffective and fiscally irresponsible with company money.  She even purchased personal items with the company credit card. And yet the references I spoke with before hiring her gave glowing reports and her resume was superb!

Worst of all after nearly bankrupting the company no attorney would take my case against this person.  It wasn’t big enough for them. A waste of their time! I should have been more careful, they said!

I am not proud about this experience as a small business owner because it negatively impacted my friends and dozens of employees. But during this fiasco I personally experienced what small businesses are up against and I will never forget the frustration, pain and financial loss.

There are very few willing and effective advocates for the small businessperson when they are cheated or taken advantage of.  The legal and regulatory system seems totally focused on big corporations.  Notwithstanding the vital importance of small businesses to the economy, they are constantly at the mercy of countless frauds, cheats, liars, con artists, and perhaps, even pirates!

A very good friend of mine used to say: “the best defense is a good offense!”  It is time we band together and support each other to protect a way of life that is vital to the health and well-being of our economy.  Small business owners need to share information, talk about real and potential threats, share ideas, look out for each other, bring in the police early and not just after the fact, support community associations of small businesses.  Big government is not going to protect small business so we must protect ourselves and each other.

Bad Company is a historical thriller with connections between 18th Century pirates and modern-day small business pirates. I hope you enjoy reading Bad Company and that it not only entertains, but also informs and spurs you to action.

 

 

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

E | john@johnrchildress.com