It's an exciting time in May at the Motor Speedway the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 race quickly approaches. The following is an excerpt from Lew Freedman's book, The Indianapolis 500: A Century of High Speed Racing. Enjoy The Beginning... The first Indianapolis 500 took place in 1911 when the “Average Joe” in the United States did not even own a car for private transportation, or at least one that had an enclosed body and could take him very far. Compared to the cars on the road these days, passenger cars moved at the speed of golf carts, so right from the beginning, just being able to watch a race car speed around an oval at more than ninety mph was breathtaking. Initially construction of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was not aimed at auto racing, but automobile development. Indianapolis was vying to become the nation’s motor vehicle center, competing against Detroit for the soul of the industry. Detroit had Henry Ford. Indianapolis wanted to lure manufacturers with a splendiferous testing facility. The world’s most famous automobile race was begun as a tenant for the Speedway, which opened its doors in 1909 and successfully attracted crowds well into the thousands for motorcycle racing and other events. The Speedway itself was a showplace from the start and it took almost no time before the Indianapolis 500 race added more cache to its fundamental reason for being. From its inception – and its reputation only grown and enhanced – the Indy 500 was the longest, most prestigious, most popular, and most exciting automobile race in the world. This new gravel-and-tar track built for $250,000 on 328 acres of what had been farmland six mile west of the city at the (now-famous address) corner of 16th Street and Georgetown Road lured fans fascinated by speed. About the Author: Lew Freedman is author of over 75 books including JUMP SHOT: Kenny Sailors, Basketball Innovator and Alaskan Outfitter.
Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet, offers more than 130 delicious, vegan recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, each complete with nutritional analysis. Enhanced by over 200, full-color photographs, each recipe is ranked with an Ease-Factor to make it easy to choose recipes that fit into any busy schedule. It’s strawberry picking time! I LOVE fresh berries, and I’m always motivated to make a delightfully delicious berry dessert whenever fresh strawberries are available at the market! This luscious pie provides the perfect showcase for seasonal organic strawberries. The filling is so creamy you will not believe it’s based in raw cashews and tofu. Easy to assemble and super yummy! Here is the seasonal strawberry recipe with a wow factor! Strawberry Mountain Pie Makes 6 to 8 servings CRUST 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegan cookie crumbs or vegan graham cracker crumbs (see note) 3 to 5 heaping tablespoons sesame tahini 1½ tablespoons nondairy milk FILLING 16 ounces extra-firm regular tofu 8 ounces soft silken tofu 1⁄3 cup raw cashews 1⁄3 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegan white sugar or your preferred dry sweetener TOPPING 16 ounces organic strawberries 2 tablespoons strawberry preserves 2½ teaspoons filtered or spring water Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. To make the crust, put the cookie crumbs, 3 heaping tablespoons tahini and 11⁄2 tablespoons nondairy milk in a medium-sized bowl and combine using a large fork or dough blender. Add more tahini until the crumbs are moistened, but still crumbly in texture (up to 5 heaping tablespoons of tahini in all). Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 5 minutes. Put the pie plate on a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. While the crust cools, put the extra-firm regular tofu, silken tofu, cashews and sugar in a blender and process until smooth. Pour the tofu mixture over the cooled crust. Spread in an even layer and smooth the top. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top of the pie is slightly firm to the touch (center of the filling will still be very soft). Put the pan on a wire rack and let cool 5 minutes. While the pie bakes, trim 1⁄8- to 1⁄4-inch off the wide end of each strawberry. Then, when the pie is out of the oven but still warm, arrange the strawberries, flat end down, in a pleasing pattern on top of the pie, gently pressing the end of each strawberry into the filling so it stands upright. Put the preserves and water in a small mixing bowl and whisk together. Spread the preserves evenly over the top of the strawberries using a pastry brush or small spoon. Refrigerate 4 to 8 hours before serving. Carefully cut the pie into slices (the filling will be soft). Stored tightly covered in the refrigerator, leftover pie will keep for about 2 days. Chef’s Note: To make cookie crumbs, put 11⁄2 to 2 cups of broken-up vegan cookies in a blender, and process to coarse crumbs. Add more cookies, as needed, to make the amount of crumbs needed for this recipe. Photo credits: David Kaplan This blog is brought to you by CPG News & Information Services
There is no one solution for book distribution. Selecting the right form of distribution for your publishing enterprise is determined by considering your own strengths and weakness and finding the right distribution partner or partners to enhance your strengths and cover for your weaknesses. What follows is an overview of several popular ways independent presses get their products to market. Before discussing distribution options let’s look at the entire publishing process broken down into four distinct parts. First the publisher creates or acquires the content from an author. Second the publisher fashions the content into a book. Thirdly the publisher gets the book into the marketplace. In the fourth step the publisher reaches out to the consumer through marketing and publicity. Below I discuss four popular options for independent presses to distribute their books: Full Service Book Distribution: Full service distributors will typically offer many services beyond basic distribution, but the main parts of distribution have remained fairly consistent over the past several decades. The book distribution process involves sales, customer service, warehousing, inventory control, fulfillment, book trade marketing, billing and collections, and metadata service. If any of these basic elements are missing then the service provider should not be considered full service. The advantages of full service distribution include a large reduction in the publisher’s infrastructure costs. In addition, your line has professional sales representatives actively promoting your books, authors, and imprint brand. The full service distributor is already doing business with most, if not all of your important customers. The best full service distributors make their money from client sales so upfront costs should be negligible. Limited Service Book Distribution: The limited service distribution partner might perform many of the same functions as the full service distributor. Most commonly missing though is strong sales representation to retailers and wholesalers. A publisher’s book might be widely available, but the distributor may offer only minimal help getting product sold to retailers and wholesalers. The advantages of a limited service distributor is that like a full service distributor, they may already be set up with many of your potential customers making selling your books easier and like the full service distributor their fees take care of many of the infrastructure costs of publishing. Since these distributors offer less service, the cost of distribution should be less, but be cautious of high up-front costs or charges unrelated to sales. This is a good option if a publisher is confident in their ability to generate strong publicity to pull demand through the system, or larger publishers that have their own sales and marketing team already in place. Vendor of Record: Using a vendor of record strategy is another way that the independent press can structure their distribution. Instead of contracting with a single distributor, you set up directly with one or several wholesalers. Once this network of wholesalers is established you can sell directly to institutions and retailers and direct them to order through one of your wholesalers. You can still sell directly to retailers and institutions, but many of these customers will prefer to order through a wholesaler. The advantage to this strategy is that you have only a limited number of customers to service directly, which can help keep infrastructure costs low. Since you are selling directly to your wholesale customers you keep more of the proceeds. Vendor of record arrangements are also non-exclusive, so you maintain more control. You will need to have a strong sales team since wholesalers will not be selling your book, but if you are comfortable selling and taking on some of the pick, pack, ship, billing, customer service and metadata work this might be the independent presses most profitable option. Print On Demand - The last distribution option I will cover in this blog post is a popular option for publishers because the startup costs are low and the publisher’s infrastructure needs small. Many of the best self-publishing services used frequently for e-book publishing and distribution also offer distribution to traditional trade book markets using the distribution reach of POD (Print On Demand) manufacturers either in-house or thru partners. Although there remains some stigma directed at POD this bias is eroding for several reasons including even the largest publishers are using POD for some even most of their manufacturing. Be careful not to pay much extra for this service up front unless you have a good and sustainable means of marketing books in that format. Whether you are using a full or limited service distributor, a vendor of record distribution partner(s), or offering POD product a publisher should endeavor to understand each method clearly before choosing which best fits the need. This post covers only the most basic elements of only four methods to have your book distributed. There are other models as well including, hybrid models and blended publishing models that also offer distribution of your books. Every method described above will require that you sign an agreement or several agreements. Be sure to read each carefully. These agreements will spell out the contractual obligations of each party and best prepare you for success with a full understanding of your chosen method of distribution. Ideally you will start planning your distribution strategy nine to twelve months prior to release your book(s). If that doesn’t describe your situation then the best time to start is now: To learn more about your distribution options through Cardinal Publishers Group visit www.cardinalpub.com. You can visit us at BEA 2016 in Chicago at booth #1624. Some good resources for finding distributors: http://www.bookmarket.com/distributors.htm http://www.ibpa-online.org/resources/distributor-wholesalers/ A good resource for finding an e-book publisher for self-publishers: http://www.bookmarket.com/ebooks.htm A good resource for finding vendor of record wholesalers: http://www.bookmarket.com/ This website offers a list of wholesalers at a reasonable cost. If you’re new to marketing books you should also seriously consider picking up a copy of John Kremer’s 1001 Ways to Market Your Book. If you are serious about publishing for profit, or even profitably publishing for a non-profit I suggest you consider joining an organization like the Independent Book Publishers Association, http://www.ibpa-online.org/benefits/list-of-benefits/ . This organization has a great monthly magazine, The Independent, and many other education and marketing benefits. There are other good organizations that help self-publishers and I encourage you to look into several, particularly local or regional ones when available to see which best fits your needs. Tom Doherty is president and founder of Cardinal Publishers Group. Brought to you by CPG News & Information Services
What’s a party without cocktails? With the Derby it’s all about bourbon cocktails too. So here are a few suggestions on how to make a bourbon cocktail: Bourbon Sour Get a can of frozen concentrated lemonade, and put that in the container. Then fill that same can with water, and add it to the container. Then fill that same can with pulp free orange juice and add that to the mix. Finally, fill the lemonade can with bourbon. Repeat all the steps as needed to fill up the container (or pitcher), and then all that’s left to do is fill glasses with ice, pour and serve. Bourbon Lettuce and Tomato Cocktail It’s just a Bloody Mary using bourbon instead of vodka. You see vodka only adds alcohol to a Bloody Mary, but bourbon brings alcohol AND flavor to this classic drink. I use Evan Williams Black Label 86 proof bourbon in mine. The five years of aging and 86 proof bring some good barrel notes to complement and enhance the Bloody Mary’s ingredients. If you want to get cute, garnish it with a baked slice of thick bacon! Dawn at The Downs Cocktail This is your elegant morning option. In a champagne flute pour one ounce of bourbon (I like Elijah Craig 12 for a little more spice or Evan Williams Single Barrel for a little more vanilla flavor), and then fill the rest of the glass with Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider. You can garnish with an apple slice to give it a little extra “oomph.” And for the main attraction, The Mint Julep, check out Bourbon Whiskey: Our Native Spirit 3rd edition! Bernie Lubbers travels the U.S. and the world educating people on American Whiskey, and how it weaves through the fabric of Kentucky and America’s history. Bernie especially has a passion for Bottled-In-Bond whiskies and how The Bottled In Bond Act of 1897 and the Taft Decision of 1909 which changed the whiskey landscape here in the U.S. With his friend and bluegrass musician Hickory Vaught, he wrote and co-performs a live music show/whiskey tasting called; “Bourbon Thru Bluegrass” where folks get to sample whiskies from the style of the 1700’s, through the 1800’s, & then the single barrel and small batch bourbons of today. All throughout the tasting folks simultaneously hear the history of bourbon, enjoy live bluegrass music from that time period, or about that time period, and taste whiskey in the styles of those time periods. Bernie won Whisky Magazine’s Whiskey Ambassador Of The Year in 2009 for the U.S. and then went on to win Whiskey Ambassador Of The Year International. He was again presented the U.S. Whiskey Ambassador Of The Year in 2012 alongside the legendary Elmer T. Lee. He was also named the U.S. Whiskey Ambassador of the Year in 2016. This blog is brought to you by CPG News & Information Services
Inside the Steelers’ draft room at Three Rivers Stadium with (from left to right) Bill Nunn Jr., Dick Haley, director of player personnel, V. Tim Rooney, a nephew of Art Rooney Sr., and Art Rooney Jr., vice president. Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Author of The Color of Sundays and Breakaway: The Inside Story of the Pittsburgh Penguins' Rebirth, Andrew Conte, brings to light the hidden talent. Championships are made in the late rounds. Everyone knows about the first-round picks, the guys sitting in the green room waiting for their name to be called. The only suspense centers on what team exactly will choose them -- not whether anyone will. Many NFL insiders knew about "Mean" Joe Greene before the 1969 draft. A defensive tackle, he attended the University of North Texas, a small, but racially integrated school. The Steelers chose him with the team's first pick, fourth overall. Then 234 picks later, in the 10th round of the same draft, the Steelers also chose L.C. Greenwood, another defensive line player, who was a student at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, an historically black college. He had been overlooked by every NFL team -- many times. Together, Greene and Greenwood made up half of the Steelers' famous "Steel Curtain" front four. The other half came together two years later. Dwight White, from East Texas State (now Texas A&M University at Commerce), went in the fourth round, 104th overall. The Steelers found the final piece, Ernie Holmes, at Texas Southern University, an HBCU, in the 8th round, 203rd overall. Nunn plaque: Steelers scout Bill Nunn Jr. helped the team find many of its late-round draft picks during the 1970s. A plaque with his name and face now hangs outside the draft room door. Those four men, cobbled together mostly from later rounds, went on to comprise what would become one of the most-famous NFL defensive lines in history. Even the Steelers' famed 1974 draft hinged on the team's later picks. That year, the team found four hall-of-famers with its first five choices: Lynn Swann, in the first round, 21st overall; Jack Lambert, in the second round, 46th; John Stallworth, fourth round, 82nd; and Mike Webster, fifth round, 125th. After the draft ended that year, the Steelers picked up Donnie Shell, an undrafted free agent from South Carolina State, another HBCU. He nearly missed having a shot at the NFL but ended up playing in five Pro Bowls and winning four championships. This blog has been brought to you by CPG News and Information Services
By Tom Doherty If this is your first trip to a BEA conference or your first trip to BEA looking for a distributor here are a few tidbits that will hopefully make your search easier and more productive. Something to keep in mind when visiting distributors at BEA is that much of the distributors’ staff at the booth will be sales and marketing people. That makes sense since BEA is the time to showcase upcoming summer, fall, and winter titles to retail, wholesale, library and other institutional buyers. I encourage you to talk to the sales and marketing people, but you want to specifically look for somebody at the booth familiar with client services. The following are 5 steps to finding a distributor at Book Expo America 2016 in Chicago. You may not be able to get all of the information you need or all of your questions answered during the show. If the distributor staff you need are too busy then take notes about the booth, search out printed material about their services and talk to sales and marketing staff or the distributor’s existing clients that might be at the booth. If you can talk to the right people be sure to have prepared questions and take notes during or directly after your discussion. You’ll have a hard time keeping track of what you did and didn’t learn about each booth visited after the show. Do your research before the show. Which distributors offer the best match of services to needs, do they distribute similar product, and of course will they be attending Book Expo America? Prepare your questions in advance. Do your initial reconnaissance the first day. Stop and talk if you can, but the first day and much of the second day distributor staff may be inundated with customers as well as client prospects. If the staff at the booth is very busy you might ask for a time to schedule a fifteen minute meeting later in the show. By late the second day and much of the last day booth staff will have much more time to answer your questions and follow up questions. You may also need to return to a booth for follow up questions later in the show so be prepared to back track. Have your elevator pitch ready before you get to the show. Bring along one handout that includes information about your book(s) and your contact information. Keep it simple. The best thing you can do is try and schedule as many meetings in advance of BEA as possible. Visit one or both of the links I list below to find a list of distributors to begin your research. Contact those attending the show and see if you can set up a meeting in advance. If you have fewer than five titles then fifteen minutes should be all you need. If your line is larger you might want to schedule more time. You can (and should) always follow up after the show to have any unanswered questions answered. Good luck at the show and be sure to wear comfortable shoes. To learn more about your distribution options through Cardinal Publishers Group visit www.cardinalpub.com. You can visit us at BEA 2016 in Chicago at booth #1624. Some good resources for finding distributors: http://www.bookmarket.com/distributors.htm http://www.ibpa-online.org/resources/distributor-wholesalers/ If you are serious about publishing for profit or even profitably publishing for a non-profit I suggest you consider joining an organization like the Independent Book Publishers Association http://www.ibpa-online.org/benefits/list-of-benefits/ This organization has a great monthly magazine and many other education and marketing benefits. There are other good organizations that help self-publishers and I encourage you to look into several, particularly local or regional ones when available, to see which best fits your needs. Tom Doherty is the president and founder of Cardinal Publishers Group. This blog is brought to you by CPG News & Information Services
Spieth’s collapse at this year’s Masters has been rated by some reporters as one of the worst collapses in golf history. But collapses in sport are not uncommon. It's not a sports first nor will it be a last. They do occur and will continue to occur. For every loser, there is a winner and fans love to see come from behind victories. You may even say that this phenomenon helps create the big salaries that we see in sports. Sport fans are constantly looking for the unexpected and it’s probably one reason that sport draws big numbers in TV ratings and at live events. But for the athlete that is having a meltdown, we have to look at what causes this collapse. Quite often it’s a mental thing. For some reason, they cannot stop a downward trend. How can they play great one minute and then totally lose it for the rest of a game? From my book, The Last 9 Seconds, I spend some time helping coaches work with their athletes to stop this meltdown by providing some simple psychological ideas. Here is an excerpt. I recall a similar collapse while I was watching the 2005 Women’s Australian Open tennis final between Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams . Davenport was ahead 1 set to 0 against Serena Williams and ahead halfway through the second set. Davenport had the opportunity to break Serena Williams and take a commanding lead in the second set. She had 7 break points and numerous opportunities to win one of the games in the second set. She failed. Shortly afterwards, in the next game, Davenport had Serena Williams at 40/love but missed a simple shot that should have put the game away and tied the set at 4 games apiece. After that miss, the game, set, and match were practically over. You could see it in her body language and reaction. I remember saying to myself after that miss, “it’s over, and she’s given up unless she composes herself”. She proceeded to lose total composure after that miss and lost that game ending it with a double fault. She then lost again to lose the second set. In the third set Williams won 6-0 and won 2 sets to 1 to claim the Australian Open Women’s title. She was unable to mentally overcome her errors and she broke down so quickly it was sad to see such an even match turn so one-sided in such a short time. Eliminate errors and you will be more successful The key to victory or success in any individual sport comes down to eliminating errors. The golfer who gets a hole-in-one and then a triple bogey the next three holes will not win the competition too often, if at all. The tennis player who misses and easy shot has to be mentally strong enough to overcome a mistake and focus on the next shot. Tennis player Roger Federer has an amazing ability to stay focused, eliminate errors, and stay consistent without being too flashy to get the job done. Former number one ranked men’s tennis player in the world, Roger Federer said that after years of playing tennis he has found peace on the court. He used to be “wild’ on the court before becoming “number one” because he’d get frustrated: “Now I can handle it. If I miss shots, I say, ‘Okay, I hope the next one goes better’. So I can just always see something positive in my game”. When I lecture to athletes I say, “ DO NOT let the past affect the future in a negative way. If anything, make it a positive thing. Ask yourself to control the emotions that you have racing through your mind when you make a mistake. You can simply re-focus by telling yourself to calm down and do the simple things right as you have done all game. Analyze what went wrong quickly and tell yourself that you know how to fix it. The key is that you know what you will do next time when a similar situation presents itself. What you need to do is be thrilled with the fact you are playing a sport you love to play and be excited for your next chance. You will be happy being where you are. Do not worry about the people watching. You can do nothing about what happened. Just get excited about what can happen when you do better later because you will be more focused.” Federer worked with sport psychologists to stay at the top of his game. Overcoming mistakes is huge and is something you have to learn to deal with to get to the top. It will happen to the best but the best will bounce back from any breakdown and stay towards the top for a long time. Those who cannot deal with adversity will disappear off the spotlight. Tiger Woods learned to stay focused and forget about bad holes early in his career. I’m sure Jordan Spieth will bounce back. Time will tell. John DeBenedictis is author of The Last 9 Seconds: A Psychological Perspective http://www.cardinalpub.com/store/last-9-seconds-2/?add-to-cart=1157 This blog is brought to you by CPG News and Information
By Laura Theodore Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet, offers more than 130 delicious, vegan recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, each complete with nutritional analysis. Enhanced by over 200, full-color photographs, each recipe is ranked with an Ease-Factor to make it easy to choose recipes that fit into any busy schedule. If you are looking for an easy and fabulous warm-weather salad, this tasty recipe makes a lovely addition to any festive springtime meal. Spooned into tiny parfait or champagne glasses, this colorful combo provides a refreshing change to a green salad. With a pretty presentation, and delicious flavors, Avocado Salad Parfaits are sure to please all the diners at your table throughout the spring and summer months! Avocado Salad Parfaits 1 or 2 small tomatoes or 12 to 14 grape tomatoes, diced 1½ medium avocados, peeled, pit removed and diced 1 small clove garlic, minced Juice from ½ medium lemon 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, plus more as needed 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, optional Put all of the ingredients in a small bowl and gently stir to combine. Season with more salt, if desired. Cover and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes before serving. To serve as a fancy first course, spoon in to pretty glasses, displayed on a decorative salad plate. This warm-weather salad is easy and fabulous! Laura Theodore is an award-winning public television personality and host of the Jazzy Vegetarian, presently available in 88% of US households. She is a vegan chef, radio host, jazz singer, and the author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics 9781937856939 and Jazzy Vegetarian 9781570672613. In 2014, Laura was honored with a “Special Achievement Taste-Award” along with the likes of Martha Stewart and Emeril; she has also been recognized by VegNews magazine with a “Totally Tubular Veggie Award.” Laura hosts the popular podcast radio show, Jazzy Vegetarian Radio, now in its 7th year, and has appeared on every major TV network. She writes a weekly food column for Mother Earth Living and has been featured in many highly respected news, food and lifestyle-related journals. A critically acclaimed jazz singer and songwriter her CD, Tonight's the Night, received a “Musician Magazine Award.” Laura has appeared in many plays and musicals, including the Off Broadway hit show Beehive, earning her a coveted “Backstage Bistro Award” and was honored with the Denver Critics Drama Circle Award as “Best Actress in a Musical” for her starring role as Janis Joplin in the world premiere production of Love, Janis. Photo credit: David Kaplan
Spring has Sprung with Healthy Recipes By Laura Theodore Laura Theodore’s Vegan-Ease: An Easy Guide to Enjoying a Plant-Based Diet, offers more than 130 delicious, vegan recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, each complete with nutritional analysis. Enhanced by over 200, full-color photographs, each recipe is ranked with an Ease-Factor to make it easy to choose recipes that fit into any busy schedule. Spring is here! As weather permits, I love to grow my own herbs in containers on my deck. Herbs are also easy to grow in a small garden patch, or if you live in an apartment, a sunny window box will do. Growing your own herbs offers fresh cuttings to cook with all spring and summer long, adding depth of flavor and pizazz to your recipes. I grow herbs like rosemary, parsley, thyme, chives oregano, basil, sage, and spearmint from late April or May to early October. Using fresh herbs in your daily recipes adds great nutrition, while making your food taste delicious! This inviting Grape Tomato, Avocado and Fresh Herb Salad, was inspired by bountiful herbs from my deck garden to create a refreshing salad. Fresh basil and parsley are my “go-to” choices all season, and they are featured front-and-center in this hearty and substantial main dish salad offering. Have a happy, healthy spring! Grape Tomato, Avocado and Fresh Herb Salad Makes 2 to 4 Servings Ease-Factor: Level 1 1 cup cooked and chilled black beans, drained and rinsed (canned are fine!) 8 ounces grape tomatoes, halved 2 medium avocados, seeded, peeled and cubed ¼ cup lightly packed chopped fresh basil 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 1 clove garlic, minced 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste Several grinds of freshly ground pepper, to taste Put all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and toss very gently to combine. Let stand 15 minutes to marry the flavors. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and serve. Photos by David Kaplan "Spring has Sprung with Healthy Recipes" has been brought to you by CPG News & Information.
If I had known what fun it is "Writing Irish," I would have started half a century ago. Maybe I was so slow to go Irish due to my Scots blood. Our bookshelves at home were loaded with Burns, Scott, MacDonald and Stevenson. Mighty bards and storytellers, but a different branch of the Gaels. But I should have been infected young by all those great Irish authors I read in school -- Swift, Moore, Shaw, Yeats, Joyce -- who kept Literature classes from being dull. And I should have taken clues from all those rowdy Irish newspapermen I worked with as a young journalist, who kept the newsroom alive with eloquence and laughter. It was never dull there, either. Language was music. But always the slow learner, I was in my seventies and had written a dozen books before I ever came up with an Irishman for a protagonist. I created Paddy Quinn as a lowly Army camp errand boy in the Mexican War, in my novel Saint Patrick's Battalion. Irish immigrants were hated and abused in the United States in those days, and many Irish soldiers deserted the American Army to fight on the side of Catholic Mexico. The boy Quinn saw all that drama happening. Paddy had learned to read, and he scribbled in a diary and a sketchbook, and evolved toward manhood in that war writing, and, therefore, thinking big. He was on the way to becoming a somebody instead of just a scorned servant. And because he was of the bardic Irish race, he had certain characteristic strengths, talents, and weaknesses that made me feel young again. By the end of that novel, I was so hooked on writing Irish that young Quinn grew up to be a famous Civil War correspondent in my next novel, Fire in the Water. It was issued last fall by this publisher -- who happens to be, by the way, a cheery Irishman by the name of Doherty. A Happy Saint Patrick's Day to us all -- with a tip o' the hat to me own St. Andrew. ~ James Alexander Thom