How to Create Perfect Posts on Social Platforms

All of us using social media platforms for author branding and marketing want to know the secret recipe for creating the perfect post. This infographic by my clever agency gives a nice summary of how to create posts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ to get the best results:
What social platforms do you use? Have you tried these tips? Did it make a difference in the number of likes, shares and comments?
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Crime Thrillers and me: A love affair

I’ve been reading and writing since I was four years old. My reading list graduated from Archie and Mandrake to Enid Blyton to Sherlock Holmes and other crime thrillers as I grew up. My writing, which was at first just scribbling in the last few blank pages of old notebooks, graduated to something tangible only when I reached eighth grade and wrote two short stories. Both were crime-based stories, with my own detective! Then in tenth grade I attempted a novella, which was again a crime thriller. Since I read my first book of Sherlock Holmes stories, I was hooked to crime thrillers. I’d read all Agatha Christie and Holmes books I could lay my hands on; also experimenting with E.S.Gardner and Mary Clark Higgins. The only thing I read apart from crime fiction was Harry Potter, the only fantasy book I’ve read till date; and some ghost story anthologies.

Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot opened my mind to the vast and exciting field of criminal psychology. These two novelists, in my view, concentrated on studying the psychology of the crime and the criminal. This led to me doing more research on topics like criminology, forensic psychology and forensic psychiatry, and these are the themes I started using in my stories subconsciously. 

Everyone-friends, family members- who read my stories asked me the same question: Why do you write crime-based stories only? Don’t you find it dark and morbid?

Yes, crime thrillers are dark and morbid. Some because they have blood and gore rampant in their murders; some because they explore the mentality of a cunning, devious murderer- who kills either for revenge or may be a psychopathic serial killer. I want to explore this mentality, this urge to kill. Why do people kill, or commit sex crimes and other felonies? What pleasure do they get in inflicting pain on other human being? How do they feel when they’ve killed someone? How is a psychopath born? How do these people think, behave or dream? Do they realize they’re responsible for their actions? Or can they get away by using the insanity plea?  What can society do to prevent people from becoming killers? How does society contribute to a killer’s psychology? James Patterson and Val McDermid have also explored these issues in their novels- the reason I adore these authors too.

The last three questions cropped up in my brain when I read Sidney Sheldon’s Tell Me Your Dreams. The story of beautiful, successful Ashley Patterson turning out to be suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder and committing five murders, then let off by the court and sent for mental treatment simply fascinated me. This novel generates a debate which is very real- for both the law enforcement personnel and for mental health professionals. This chain of thought, incidentally led me to choose mental health as my area of research as a future pharmacologist.

That’s why my first ‘serious’ novel is about a serial killer and an FBI agent who has studied profiling, has a degree in and researches criminology, and whose father was a forensic psychiatrist. Some of my inspiration also comes from TV shows like CSI: Las Vegas and Criminal Minds. Since my novel also intertwines this story with love as a sub-theme, I also tried to study normal human behavior, so my character descriptions are a bit lengthy. That’s why one of my characters speaks through an internal monologue.

Studying the human mind, and explaining the reason why people behave the way they do, why they commit heinous crimes and how we, as a society, can help to prevent killers from being born, is my passion and my profession- and the reason I want to keep writing crime thrillers and extend the scope of this topic through them.

Percy Kerry is a student and writes in her spare time. Her first novel, The Grim Reaper's Rage, comes out next month.

A preview of her book can be had here:
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Are Book Award Contests Worth It?

A website called Reader Views gives out annual literary awards in a contest open only to writers who self-publish or have their books published by a small press, university press, or independent book publisher. Works published by major book publishers, their subsidiaries, or their imprints are not eligible. This seems more than fair, given that there are so many award contests that are not open to those of us whose books are self-published, subsidy-published, or published by small, indie publishers.
But does an award set up for the likes of us mean anything?
A few years ago, I was unpleasantly surprised when one of the list gurus on a self-publishing discussion group I belong to posted a comment calling the Reader Views Awards a Special Olympics for subsidy-published books—based on the fact that none of the award winners were books published by large publishers, which the guru took to mean the contest hadn’t attracted any real competition. (Since books from major publishers are not eligible to enter the contest, it’s not surprising that no winners were from major publishers.) This post went on to criticize the contest for having too many award categories and too many winners, and dubbed it primarily a moneymaker for the sponsor because it charges an entry fee. The guru concluded that the award is hardly of the quality of a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award (duh!) and that being the “best of the worst” is hardly impressive.
I am familiar with this view of book awards that are open to self-published or indie-published authors like me. My first novel, Too Near The Edge, won an IPPY award, which I discovered is also considered second-rate when I tried to use it to get “author status” at the Left Coast Crime (LLC) Convention. I wrote them a very polite email asking if my award would qualify me to be an author at their conference. They replied that awards like the IPPY are not on their list, “since they are primarily awarded to authors from non-traditional publishing houses.”
Given these attitudes, is it worth sending off our books and entry fees to competitions designed to honor the best among self-published books or those published by small, independent presses? Yes. In my opinion the awards have meaning. For me the IPPY was an acknowledgement that a reader or readers selected to judge a book contest decided my book was of a high enough level of quality to win an award. And, although the contest had many categories, it also had thousands of entries, most of which did not win. I don’t know the statistics for these other contests, but it seems likely that there are more losers than winners, and that awards are only given to books that meet certain criteria.
The IPPY helped me get my book into local independent bookstores, where I believe the award stickers give it credibility that leads to sales. And the mention of the award on the book’s Amazon page and other eBook sites reassures potential readers who have never heard of me that a group of judges found my novel worthwhile. Awards help books stand out from the pack. And most potential readers will give a book a second look if it has won an award—even if the award is a minor one.
Lynn Osterkamp is the author of Too Near the Edge, and its sequels Too far Under, and Too Many Secrets--the mystery novels that gave life to Cleo, a Boulder-based grief therapist whose ability to contact dead people gets her involved in solving a murder; and Tyler, a dead surfer dude who gives Cleo cryptic and often inscrutable advice. Too Near the Edge won a silver medal in the 2007 IPPY Book Awards for best regional fiction in the west-mountain region.

Lynn is also the author of two nonfiction books as well as numerous articles, manuals and national newsletters. Her professional experience includes hospital and hospice social work, university teaching and research, special education, and long-term-care ombudsman. She lives in Boulder Colorado, where she works for Boulder County Aging Services.
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
More details about the author & the book
Connect with Lynn Osterkamp on Twitter
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The bookmark–the key to successful books signings!

For sixteen years, I worked in the real estate business; eight of those years I ran my own company, Portfolio Real Estate. I specialized in properties on Lake Murray which has over six hundred miles of shoreline and is located northwest of Columbia, SC. During my real estate days, I learned that promotional items are key to maintaining a successful business. I developed a buyers’ guide to Lake Murray called the Lake Murray Portfolio, where I previewed and photographed lake houses that were for sale. I advertised in my local newspaper, and with the help of an advertising company, created a brochure about my business that was distinctive, memorable, and brought me sales. I took these lessons learned from real estate into my business as an author.
When I do a book signing, I am armed with several hundred bookmarks that were designed by the talented man, Robin Krauss, who creates the book covers for my publishing house, Boutique of Quality Books, Atlanta, Georgia. The book marks are eye catching and provide information to help customers learn about, and purchase my novels, The Cast Net and Catherine’s Cross. I have found that people who take a bookmark from me sometimes later purchase my books, or download them in an ebook format.

Another important rule to having a successful book promotion is to schedule your signing alongside a community event that will bring foot traffic in front of your table. This past Memorial Day weekend, I signed copies of my novels at McIntosh Book Shoppe, on Bay Street in downtown Beaufort, South Carolina. Since both of my novels are set in the Low Country of South Carolina, a couple of weeks before the book signing, I made a tour of the Low Country of South Carolina visiting newspapers and book stores along the coast. I visited over fifteen venues, but heard back from one very important news source, The Hilton Head Island Packet. A reporter for this newspaper called and interviewed me about my novels and wrote about them preceding the scheduled book signing. His article was outstanding. Not only did I benefit from the foot traffic that was in Beaufort for the Saturday before Memorial Day, but I had customers who had read the article and came especially to purchase my novels. I had a wonderful signing event and sold thirty copies of my novels. This broke my old record of twenty-six books that I sold last summer during an annual celebration that takes place in Beaufort.  

I would like to say more in regards to giving away bookmarks. It is a nonthreatening way of introducing yourself to passersby. As people go by my signing table, I ask them if they’d like a bookmark. Usually, the answer is yes. When a person comes forward to receive the bookmark, I tell them that I’m signing my novels, and I give a brief synopsis of the stories. I find that this works in a positive fashion, and then I close on the sale. I don’t sell everyone a book, but I have a good success rate. If you think about it, I signed books for three hours and sold thirty books. That’s a book sale every six minutes!
All right authors—get those bookmarks ready! Don’t be afraid to make eye contact with passersby at your signings, hand them out, and smile!

Please check out these links. The first one is the article written about me in The Hilton Head Island Packet:

This link is to Southern Writer’s Magazine. Catherine’s Cross was recently the must read of the week:

A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Millie West has a background in aviation, as well as in real estate, and has owned and been the broker of her own company. A licensed pilot, Millie was one of the first pilots hired by United Parcel Service when they started their flight crew department.
An artist in her own right and a collection of regional art—especially from Charleston—Millie is a supporter of charitable organizations, higher education, and the preservation of South Carolina’s historical treasures. A South Carolina history buff, Millie has spent countless hours exploring the rich historical vestiges of her home state. She has viewed many treasures of the past by
taking less-traveled paths into the countryside that was inhabited by Native Americans
hundreds of years ago.

Her love of the fascinating, complex, and compelling history of the South is expressed in her

Millie resides with her family near Columbia, South Carolina, and is an active participant in her local writers’ group, the Chapin Chapter of the South Carolina Writers Workshop. To learn more about Millie West and her first novel, The Cast Net, and her latest release, Catherine’s Cross, visit

Millie will be awarding autographed copies of Catherine’s Cross to three randomly drawn commenters (US only) and a $20 credit to buy any book through BQB Publishing’s online store to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour so I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 

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How To: Facebook Wall Chats

Facebook Wall Chats are chats that take place directly on the wall of your Facebook page. They can be a great way of increasing the level of interaction on your page, attract new readers, and increase your "like" count.

How to do a Facebook Wall Chat:

1) Set and time and date for the wall chat and check time differences.
2) Agree on the rough duration of the wall chat.
3) Create a banner for the wall chat (see below for more information about this)
4) Promote the upcoming chat and invite people to join in.

For the wall chat:

1) Post the chat banner to your page and pin it to the top so it's easy for people to find. Include an introduction explaining that this is a wall chat and present your guest. If suitable for the chat, make a note inviting everyone to post their own questions for the guest during the chat directly in the comments section of this post.

2) Post your questions (as individual comments) to the comment thread below the post.

3) The guest should reply to each question by clicking on the "reply to" on each comment. This makes the chat easier to follow as each question and answer will be together. Just posting the answer to the comment thread could mean that following the chat becomes a bit confusing as questions and answers might not be in order.

4) Let everyone know when the chat is coming to an end and thank them for taking part.

5) If you host a regular chat feature make sure you add a note to invite people to the next one at the end of the wall chat. Now is also a good time to let them know if you're looking for guest for future chats.

After the chat:

Share the url of the wall chat on your other social media channels, groups, blog and website. Some people might not have been able to join in for the LIVE chat but may still be interested in reading the transcript.

Tips for a successful wall chat:

1) Create a banner for your wall chat. It's been proven time and time again that people respond better to visual content. An attractive banner that catches their eye will help drive traffic to your wall chat.

On my public page I host "Wall Chat Wednesday" where I interview authors about their books. As this is a regular event I use the same banner model for each wall chat so it can quickly be identified.

Here's an example of the banner for a past chat I did with author +Stuart West:

2) In order to make your wall chat easy to follow, share, and analyse, it's a good idea to keep the whole chat in the one post. By using the comments section of a post for the whole chat you can promote the chat by sharing its direct url.

To find the direct url for a post click on the date that you posted it.

The whole chat can also be shared just by clicking the share button on the post.

As the whole chat is in the one post you can easily measure the metrics for the chat via your admin panel to see how many people you reached.

3) Encourage readers to post their own questions and comments during the wall chat. The more people engaging the better.

Do you host wall chats on your Facebook page? Do you have any tips of your own for a successful chat? Leave a comment below let us know.

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Interview with Jeffrey Small

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I grew up as a math and science geek and never saw writing as one of my strengths, but I devoured books and loved daydreaming story ideas.  About eight years ago in my late-thirties, I felt a calling to flex my creative muscles to a greater extent than I was able to in my job, a job I was good at doing and had achieved success in, but in which I still felt something lacking. That’s when I began the six-year process that became my debut novel, THE BREATH OF GOD.

What genre do you write and why?
I write thrillers because that’s what I enjoy reading. I like the escapism, mystery, and suspense. But my books also stretch the genre’s boundaries in that they tend to offer greater elements of spirituality and mysticism. I add that philosophical element because I enjoy getting my readers to think and question their beliefs as I am entertaining them at the same time.

Tell us about your latest book.

My second novel, THE JERICHO DECEPTION, is a thriller exploring the nexus between spirituality, neuropsychology, and international politics. In the novel, Yale Dr. Ethan Lightman’s groundbreaking invention, the Logos machine, has the power to produce religious ecstasy, but it may also cause madness. After a colleague is murdered in his Yale lab, Ethan and grad student Rachel Riley, descend into a web of treachery that takes them deep into the Egyptian desert and to Project Jericho: a top-secret CIA mind control program. Ethan and Rachel must race to unlock the Logos machine’s secrets before Project Jericho launches a modern Holy War.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book? 
I try to take a page from the non-fiction world and build a platform around myself as an author and speaker. In marketing terms, I think of myself as the brand and my writing as one of my products. Because my books have themes that touch on spirituality and I have a degree in Religious Studies from Oxford, I do a lot of speaking on the meaning of religion and spirituality in the 21st century. The subjects of my talks often touch on themes in my novels and I use my lectures to build my readership. Blogging and social media support all of the above. In today’s free-for-all of e-publishing, finding innovative ways to rise above the noise has become more important than ever!

What formats is the book available in?
THE JERICHO DECEPTION is available in trade paperback and as an e-book in stores and online now.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I still pay the bills with my day job as a real estate investor. In my free time, I love to hike, mountain bike, and be on the water with my family—basically anything that gets us outside into nature. A fun fact from my past: my wife and I are former US Champion ballroom dancers!  We stopped competing ten years ago but still like to go out for fun.

Who are your favourite authors?
When I read fiction, I love Ken Follett, Preston & Child, David Baldacci, and a host of others in my genre. I wish I had more time to read for fun now though, because the research for my books can encompass hundreds of non-fiction sources.

What advice do you have for other writers?
Writing, and getting published, is hard work that can be discouraging and ego crushing at times, yet it is also the most rewarding activity I do. The best advice given to me during a period when I had suffered years of rejections: “giving up is not an option.”

What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
This quote is not specifically about writing per se, yet it helped inspire me to take the chance and begin my first novel. It’s from Goethe: “What you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has a genius, power, and magic in it.” The only way to guarantee that you will not be published is to never write the book!

What's the best thing about being a writer?
I write because I must. The creative process for me is spiritual. Giving birth to the ideas, stories, and characters brings me a joy and sense of purpose that I never found in my day job.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
Please visit my website:

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Write the book that only you can write!

I’m fond of quoting this advice from André Gide:

“Throw away my book: you must understand that it represents only one of a thousand attitudes.  You must find your own.  If someone else could have done something as well as you, don’t do it.  If someone else could have said something as well as you, don’t say it—or written something as well as you, don’t write it.   Grow fond only of that which you can find nowhere but in yourself, and create out of yourself, impatiently or patiently, ah! that most irreplaceable of beings.”
In other words, write the book that only you can write.  No other book is worth writing.
This goes beyond the usual injunction to write about what you know.  Life experience is important, but Gide’s focus is more on the self—“that most irreplaceable of beings”—than on the writer’s outer experience.
Joseph Conrad provides a good example.  Who else but Conrad could have written Victory or Lord Jim?  The details of Conrad’s biography are well known and often cited to illuminate his works, but the more you study him and his works, the more you realize that to a great extent he sought and found the life experience he needed to write the books he wanted to write.  If he’d never set foot on a ship, he probably would have ruminated on the same issues and would have found in whatever experience he had the subject matter for his novels.  Assuming he remained true to himself, those would have been the books that only Joseph Conrad could have written.
Life experience can provide only the subject matter—but never the essence—of a book.  That is the gist of Gide’s advice.  The essence of a book is the glimpse it provides into something deeper than its subject matter.  Let’s face it, most of us don’t lead very exciting lives.  Nothing to write home about, as the saying goes, and usually even less to write novels about.  But while our lives may be commonplace, our imaginations need not be. What we call the imagination is the knowable part of ”that most irreplaceable of beings,” the inner self.
Paradoxically, Gide’s advice is even more important to genre writers than to literary ones.  It’s relatively easy to stay true to yourself when you’re writing a literary novel that can be anything you want it to be.  Genre writers have a harder time of it if they want to stay true to themselves. The best genre fiction writers are able to put a stamp of individuality on everything they write. They play by the rules and still speak in their own voice.  (Indeed, the pioneers in any genre—Raymond Chandler, H.P. Lovecraft, Phillip K. Dick—actually create the “personality” of the genre which later practitioners feel bound to imitate.)
Whether you’re writing literary or genre fiction, the engagement with “that most irreplaceable of beings” must be the same if writing is to be a process of self-discovery and growth—and ultimately, if it’s worth doing at all.  Few writers today, even very good ones, can expect to earn a living from writing fiction.  The odds of commercial success get slimmer every day.  If you’re not earning a living from your writing, why should you do it?   Are you wasting your time? 
If you’re writing the book that only you can write, the answer is no.  If you write that book, the publishing industry may eventually catch up with you—or maybe not; after all, they’re running a business.  But if the publishers never catch up with you, at least you wrote the book that no one else could write.  You didn’t waste your time. 
Bruce Hartman has been a bookseller, pianist, songwriter and attorney.  He lives with his wife in Philadelphia.  His previous novel, Perfectly Healthy Man Drops Dead, was published by Salvo Press in 2008.

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How To: LIVE Twitter Interviews

Twitter interviews are a great way of reaching a large audience and gaining new followers. In today's post I'm going to take you through the how-to of LIVE Twitter Interviews: 

1) Why are you doing the interview? What are your reasons for doing the interview? Knowing your goals will help create focus and make sure you ask/get asked the right questions.

2) It's a good idea to connect before the interview to make sure both interviewer and interviewee are clear on all the details, the goals of the interview (see point #1) and run though how the interview will take place.

3) Decide on a hashtag. You'll use this for all posts during your interview so that people can easily follow the chat.

4) Promote your upcoming interview.

5) Pick a monitoring tool to use for the interview. I personally like because it's clutter free and easy to use. Just log in using your Twitter account, enter your hashtag (in the box at the top of the page) and click "Go"

You now have your chatroom for your interview (share this link so people can follow the interview directly from TweetChat in case they want to cut out the clutter of the Twitter newsfeed). 

All tweets you post from inside the TweetChat room will automatically have your hashtag on them. You can also shorten url's to include in your posts directly when posting.

The newsfeed of all tweets using your hashtag will show below the tweet box. Each tweet in the newsfeed has icons to make it easy to retweet and favourite.

N.B. It's a good idea to remind people during the interview that your doing a LIVE Twitter interview. Something like "This is a Twitter interview with @interviewee and we're about half way thru #YourHastag".

Have you ever done a Twitter interview? Which monitoring tool did you use? Do you have an upcoming Twitter interview to promote? Leave a comment and let us know the details.


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What Inspired Me to Write the Novel

What inspired me to write the novel, The Tortoise Shell Code, and its non-fiction corollary, Universal Co-opetition?…
When my son, Dean, was in high school thirty years or so ago he shared an assignment with me that involved a very thought provoking concept.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ It related to the question of how people can compete for something, yet at the same time help each other– seemingly against self-interest. But sometimes one will gain the thing they competed for – and reach success – often to the exclusion of the other.  For example, students often cooperatively study together for the final exam, yet compete against one another to be the best on the bell curve.
That set me to thinking about whether there is something – a paradigm fundamental to nature – that enables such melding of cooperation and competition to happen. Perhaps, for example, this paradigm could lead to avoidance of polarization in politics? I thought.
I read and studied and finally came to the conclusion that this fusion of cooperation and competition is in nature itself, and is even a fundamental law of the universe.  It is in music, chemistry, economics, political science, business, snowflakes, everything!
I hired a handful of university graduate students, independently from one another, and gave them assignments to research various fields of thought – such as philosophy, physics, etc. – to find either support for, or invalidation of, my theory.  After a summer of research and course correction meetings, to a person they came back and enthusiastically said, “Validated. “
So during the decade of the 1980’s I wrote up a monstrous treatise on my coined word: co-opetition.  I did this in scraps, usually in the middle of the night, primarily to get into a zone away from the crowding thoughts of whatever trial I was in at the time.  This was how I eventually could get back to sleep.  The finished manuscript I titled Synthesis Between Order and Chaos, and I sent it around to publishers and circulated it among many others.  Generally, they were intrigued, but in those days they wouldn’t invest in my book unless I went on a speaking tour and commercialized the idea.  I was no Carl Sagan, nor did I have the time from my busy law practice to become so engaged.
The word co-opetition, obviously a contraction of “cooperation” and “competition,” has since been used by others– usually in the field of business theory, but I frankly don’t know where they got it, or whether someone also independently came up with it. It all has the same meaning, however:  a synthesis of the behaviors of cooperating and competing.
But in my view, I expanded the co-opetition idea to apply universally.  Order, I likened to cooperation.  Chaos, I likened to competition. My conclusion: to achieve the highest level of success in any system, a melding of cooperation and competition – in varying proportions – is necessary.  If we recognize that both behaviors to some extent are necessary to any equation for success, we are better able to achieve that success, or to resolve whatever problem may be under consideration.
A very brief example from my books, among many is that: Capitalism has built into it a healthy element of cooperation, i.e. ethics, fair dealing, trust. Such is necessary in order for the competition of free enterprise to work with optimum effectiveness. That was part of Adam Smith’s invisible hand.
In 1989, I sent an outline of the manuscript to best-selling author Spencer Johnson M.D. (Who Moved My Cheese, One Minute Manager), who six months later, called from Hawaii and wrote me a letter, dated February, 9 1990, telling me that I must write and publish the book. Thus, I wrote Universal Co-opetition.  Later, I figured that the best way to get the concepts across was to novelize the theory – a la the genre of Huxley, Orwell, Rand, and Burdick et al.  So I put a story together, calling on what I know – the law and the courts and maritime issues. The Tortoise Shell Code came to life – a saga of high seas crime, ship sinking, romance, courtroom drama, fisticuffs, prison break outs, revolution, sea-going gun battles, all with the spice of co-opetition theory interwoven though the plot.
And that is the inspiration
V Frank Asaro is a lawyer, musician, composer, inventor and philosopher who authored the non-fiction book, Universal Co-opetition, published Oct. 2011. He began developing the theory of co-opetition not long after he was selected out of law school as lawyer-clerk to the California Courts of Appeal. He went on to receive the highest-category law career peer review, Martindale Hubbell rating, and appeared in Who's Who in American Law, and Who's Who in the World.
Engaged in litigation most of his career, he honed skills proving or disproving facts and stories--a handy talent for a novelist. Moreover as a patent holder, he shows a creative knack. This he calls upon in weaving this most exciting tale of The Tortoise Shell Code, a fiction work in Admiralty--one of his fields. In those early days when he was an Appellate court law clerk, his creativity became a major component in developing the theory of the products liability holding of Greenman v Yuba Power Products--further expanded by the California Supreme court. A major part of the Greenman opinion is now the law in the English speaking and European Union countries of the world.
Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Legal Drama
Rating – PG13
More details about the author & the book
Connect with V Frank Asaro on GoodReads & Twitter
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