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Author Spotlight no.91 – Steven Mercatante

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the ninety-first, is of author and editor Steven Mercatante.

Steven D. Mercatante, JD, is a lifelong resident of Michigan, and the founder and editor-in-chief of The Globe at War (www.globeatwar.com); a website focused on exploring World War II that has established the author as a respected authority on the subject. He is a corporate tax attorney; member of the State Bar of Michigan; and founder and principal of TIR Consulting LLC – a consulting firm specializing in international, federal, state, and local tax compliance. Mercatante received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a teaching certificate in history and political science from Eastern Michigan University, and a juris doctorate from Michigan State University College of Law, graduating with a concentration in International Law. His published works include many writings in the legal and historical fields, including the 2008 journal article The Deregulation of Usury Ceilings, Rise of Easy Credit and Increasing Consumer Debt published in the South Dakota Law Review.

And now from the author himself:

Why Germany Nearly Won: A New History of the Second World War in Europe – The Story behind How I Came to Write My Book, The Book’s Thesis, and its Reception

I have been interested in World War II since I was very young. It was really a combination of exposure to different people and things that came together all around the same age. My grandfather was a sergeant in the U.S. Army who served in the Philippines during WWII. He shared some of his experiences and gave me his medals and other memorabilia from the war. My father is also a U.S. Army veteran who served in Korea in the early 1960s, and he gave me similar memorabilia. My great uncle was a Korean War U.S. Army veteran. All of them spoke freely about their experiences.

In addition, as a child I loved to draw and for some reason I started gravitating toward drawing planes, tanks, and ships – things of that sort. Furthermore, I love to read and have loved reading since as far back as I can remember. When I was young I got a hold of some history books and was hooked. I think history is absolutely fascinating. My Mother was very important in encouraging my joy of reading. Not only did she like reading, but she encouraged it. She would take my sister and I to the library to check out books. She would also take us to a used paperback book store in town that had all kinds of books – including quite a few of the old WWII Bantam Paperback series. In addition, I had some great teachers who encouraged my interests in history and writing. I won young author’s awards in the fourth grade at elementary school, and in the sixth grade at middle school.  My sixth grade young author’s award actually was for a book I wrote about a B-17 bomber crew fighting over Europe in the Second World War.

From there I continued studying the Second World War – it has actually been three decades now and I have read thousands of books, articles and other documents on the war.  Beginning in the 1990’s I tracked with great interest the wealth of new documentation/information that has emerged from the Russian archives following the fall of the Soviet Union.  As I learned and read ever more about the war it became obvious to me that something was amiss in regards to explanations of the outcome of the Second World War in Europe. In short, there was a conventional wisdom that had evolved over time. One somewhat politicized due to the nature of the Cold War and lack of access to Russian archives – with a corresponding overreliance by historians on German-centric sources that were often self-serving, but that, nevertheless also seemed to have constructed an overly simplistic narrative explaining the outcome of, in particularly, the war in Europe. This narrative essentially reduced the war’s outcome as one overwhelmingly the cause of sheer numbers – meaning the fact that the combined economic resources available to the Allies and Soviet Union dwarfed German resources and for the most part finding that once Germany decided to attack the Soviet Union it had essentially lost the war. But this narrative didn’t add up – so to speak – there was something not quite right with it in my mind.

For instance how did a quantitatively smaller, and often time technically inferior armed, Wehrmacht (the name given of Nazi Germany’s combined armed forces) run circles around enemies with far more “brute force” strength in 1939-1942 but then lose the war in 1943-45 for reasons often attributed to brute force and mass. This led me to a qualitative vs. quantitative analysis of the war that would ultimately develop into the thesis for this book:

That the re-establishment of the traditional German art of war—updated to accommodate new weapons systems—paved the way for Germany to forge a considerable military edge over its much larger potential rivals by playing to its qualitative strengths as a continental power. However, these methodologies also created and exacerbated internal contradictions that undermined the same war machine, and left it vulnerable to enemies with the capacity to adapt and build on potent military traditions of their own – in essence developing the qualitative ability to best an enemy that no amount of quantitative preponderance had been able to vanquish. Nevertheless, because of the German military establishment’s initial qualitative strengths, Hitler, through his invasion of the Soviet Union, came within a whisker of cementing a European-based empire that would have allowed the Third Reich to challenge the Anglo-American alliance for global hegemony—an outcome that by commonly cited measures of military potential Germany never should have had even a remote chance of accomplishing.

By this time I was a law student at the Michigan State University College of Law. Because of my early interest in the Second World War I had developed quite an interest in all things “international”. In fact, my decision to attend MSU’s Law College had come about because I had noticed they had an international law program (actually MSU was the only law school I even applied to, I took the LSAT in June, and was accepted into MSU in July – it was that simple). Then, as a first year student, my contracts professor had convinced me that between my first and second year of law school I needed to get direct work experience in my area of interest. As a result, I was able to find a program whereby students could spend the summer studying in Rome, Italy and working (for college credit) at a participating law firm or business that chose them from the pool of students participating in the program. I was chosen by a British international law firm (Allen & Overy – one of the biggest in the world no less) and worked in their Rome office (attaining valuable exposure to areas of the law such as international securities, contracts, and mergers & acquisitions). During that summer in Italy I met a lot of interesting people and in the course of conversations with them I revealed that I had been debating about writing a book even though the time commitments of law school were so great – they helped encourage me to push myself and do it. So, between my access to Michigan State’s library, and my familiarity and access to the University of Michigan’s libraries and collections (where I received my undergraduate degree), in my free time I was able to actively test and research my thesis for explaining the outcome of the war in Europe. The more I looked for evidence to disprove my theories the more I realized I was on to something. As such research turned to writing.

In the meantime, during my third year of law school I was clerking at a small local firm that specialized in probate matters. There I gained my first real practical exposure to tax issues – i.e. those that came with dealing with wills and trusts. Needless to say I was not interested in probate law so I left this firm, and when the opportunity came to work at a small firm in Detroit (one specializing in corporate matters) I took it. Unfortunately I was only there for a very brief of period of time as they did not have enough work for me. However, I was able to land on my feet as an in-house attorney at a company in Ann Arbor that handled various tax issues. When that company folded I started my own business based upon my experience there, and ever since my firm has grown. Today I continue to specialize in international, federal, state, and local tax compliance matters. During that time period I finished my manuscript, with a big assist in doing some final research coming from the interlibrary loan program previously offered by the Brighton Public Library, submitted it to several publishers and in 2010 signed a contract with ABC-CLIO’s Praeger imprint that led to the publication of this book.

Since the book’s hardcover publishing in the United States the response has been overwhelmingly positive. The book went into its second print run within only one month and has received endorsements from several notable military historians.

For more on the book, a teachers / readers guide created especially for the book, and a complete bibliography see http://www.globeatwar.com. Finally, the book will soon be available in the United Kingdom, from the publisher Casemate.

For any further information please feel free to contact Steven by email at editor@globeatwar.com.

Thank you so much, Steven. :)

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with non-fiction business author Rosanne D’Ausilio – the three hundred and ninety-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 

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Post-weekend Poetry 011: ‘Soldier’s Cry’ by Dicy McCullough

Welcome to Post-weekend Poetry and the eleventh poem in this series. This week’s piece is by Dicy McCullough.

Soldier’s Cry
Sing me a song
of times forgotten, of memories
lost and moments shared.
Sing me a song to comfort my soul,
to give me a smile
and bid me farewell.
Sing me a song.
Tomorrow I leave for places unknown
with distant shores and nights endless.
Think of me when nights are lonely;
hold our love close to your heart.
It’s hard to explain the torment and fear,
but easier knowing you are there.
Sing me a song
all through the night
of peace and rest and a journey safe.
Sing me a song to comfort my soul,
to give me a smile
and bid me farewell.
Sing me a song.

I asked Dicy what prompted this piece and she said…I began writing poetry six years ago when my dad passed away. It was a tragic death and so poetry was a way of dealing with grief. My dad was a WWII soldier having fought in Germany, France, and England. He never got over what he saw and carried haunting memories with him to the grave. The first poem I wrote was Soldier’s Cry, which for me was a metaphor of his death.

Thank you so much, Dicy. It’s still hard ten years on, so my heart goes out to you.

Dicy McCullough, author of three children’s books, writes for her local newspaper, The Salisbury Post.  She is a published poet and a contributing author for the book, This One’s for the Birds! A retired teacher, she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from Gardner-Webb University,  Boiling Springs, N.C., and a Master of Education Degree from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte,  Charlotte, NC.  In 2011 she was inducted into the Gallery of Distinguished Alumni at Gardner-Webb University.

Her books Tired of My Bath, Tired of School and Tired of Being Different can be found on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and http://dicymcculloughbooks.com.

Anyone who would like to read my poem for my father can do so here.

If you’d like to submit your poem (40 lines max) for consideration for Post-weekend Poetry take a look here.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with contemporary fiction novelist Katie Fforde – the three hundredth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore and Kobo. And I have a new forum at http://morgenbailey.freeforums.org.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in articles, childrens, ebooks, novels, poetry, writing

 

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Guest post: A Writing Team by David Coles

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of his writing collaboration, welcomes the return of multi-genre novelist David Coles.

A Writing Team

We, David and Jack, have been writing together for more years than we can easily remember. It started with a humorous tale with the working title of Chunnel BC, it concerned Roman plans for a tunnel beneath the English Channel, because Julius Caesar became seasick outside of the Mediterranean. It never even made it to the publisher but as a first attempt, it was good fun and cemented our friendship.

In the years since then, we have continued the historical theme with a serious novel leading to the disappearance of the Roman Ninth Legion in Britain, a medieval mystery and a WWII story. There have also been fantasy and science fiction novels – built on a shared admiration of Jack Vance’s work – and most recently, a political thriller: 1/1:Jihad-Britain. Work-in-progress includes sequels to a historical fantasy and recently-released The Tourist. Humour seems to creep in whether we will or no, sneaks under the door at night when no one’s looking.

We have written all of these novels as a team. The writing model is one of repeated layers. Typically, after discussing the main sweep of the plot for a new book, Jack might begin writing and pass a week’s work on to David who rewrites it, checking facts in some cases, questioning flights of fancy in others and adding 10% to 20% new material. Once the initial draft is completed, it goes back to Jack, back again to David, a process repeated until we are both satisfied and at each stage, material is added or changed, phrasing is amended.

It works for us. In this case, two people writing together generate far more than twice as much fun.

Our novel: 1/1:Jihad-Britain, began as an idea put forward by David and thought about for some time by Jack. Eventually, David wrote what is now some of the opening prologue and also the road to the radicalisation of Fahkri, a leading character.

The book raised some quite unpleasant questions. How does a young person reach the conviction that killing himself and others is some sort of solution? How do religious organisations come to the absolute conviction that their view of life is the only right view and that violence will change the mind of the rest of the world? Research into these attitudes took us only part way. The fundamental differences seem to be in  attitudes to others: the unimportance of the individual versus the people. Is this born out of the tribal way of life left behind by the West? We have to remember that only some 30%-40% of the World has lived a democratic way of life for any significant time; not so surprising then that societies are content to let minorities or individuals do their thinking for them.

We differed on what we considered important themes. We can both point to parts of the book which are particularly our own work. The difficulties suffered by Brian, a self-employed electrician, was written by Jack and may be more in tune with UK readers than the rest of the world. David wrote of an escape of 40 or so prisoners from St. Kilda – Britain’s answer to Guantanamo Bay – trying to show that Moslems are not somehow a different species from Westerners.

Both these examples of writing were edited by the other author and both passages gave birth to later episodes not envisaged in the original manuscript.

So, perhaps accretion is a better description than layering. Whatever, we enjoy the work; it’s kept us closer than most brothers and both know that it is the readers who make the book a success, not the writers.

Our most recent novel: The Tourist was written principally by Jack while a historical fantasy currently at the publishers, was mainly from David’s imagination. So there is considerable variation in the way a book is initially put together but finishing is always the same process and one rule remains paramount: if either of the team dislike something, it gets pulled.

Currently, there seems to be a new trend in the way we work. We are both working solo on two books and these won’t go to the other author until the originator is satisfied or has run out of ideas… Change, that’s the great constant.

Wow, we’ve had a lot of laughs!

Our output is varied, we’ve yet to figure out what particular genre of ours might be favourite so we can concentrate on a series. Please leave a comment and let us know.

Thank you so much, David. As someone who’s never collaborated in person it’s certainly interesting to hear how it works for you. Oh, and I’ve been writing on and off for six years and don’t have a clue what my genre is… ‘dark and light’ if there’s such a thing. :)

David and his co-author Jack both live in Yorkshire but 25+ miles apart, and have been writing together for too many years to remember but still meet weekly. David lives on the outskirts of a big city whereas Jack’s home is more rural. They still enjoy each other’s presence though – if the truth be known – they probably laugh more at the antics of their grandchildren. Their tastes in music differ, David prefers more instrumental works especially acoustic guitars whereas Jack likes good balladeers. David likes walking and exploring foreign climes. Jack also enjoys travelling but on four wheels in preference to Shanks’ pony. They both enjoy a good meal and glass of wine and still like to curl up with a real book despite having eBook readers. David’s websites are www.DavidBColes.co.uk and www.ArchimedesPress.co.uk. You can also go to http://acclaimedbooks.com/wordpress/abcauthors and find…“Everett Coles”.

Jack and David’s books can be seen and purchased at http://www.AcclaimedBooks.com and at Amazon around the world (including Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com). They run the gamut of thriller through historical to fantasy and SF. Details and a directory can be found at http://www.ArchimedesPresse.co.uk.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with historical adventure fantasy author Helen Hollick – the two hundred and eighty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in ebooks, novels, writing

 

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