Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Venice, Missing - A New Gregory C. Randall Book
Publisher’s Marketplace Announcement

It’s been a while since my last post, I apologize to all my readers who thought that I either quit blogging or ran off to Tahiti (great thought, BTW). What I have been up to is writing, seriously writing. Finished two books since August, one that was taking in by a publisher, and another that is being shopped by my agent. Every book or manuscript goes through a series of steps or stages, from initial concept through drafts, rewrites, edits, line edits, actually until the thing looks like road kill (and often feels like it too). That’s when you present it to a publisher hoping they too see what you started with, so many months before.

Big Announcement:
What a great way to start the year! I’ve been writing fiction and non-fiction for twenty years. I have two active thriller series (see columns left and right) and three others underdevelopment. I’ve self/indie published nine books. Writers want to share our stories with others, and Kimberley Cameron has helped this writer achieve this dream, a real contract with a real big-time publisher. So here you are as posted in the upcoming Publishers Marketplace:

Fiction: Thriller
Greg Randall's VENICE, MISSING, book one of the Alexandra Polonia Series, involving two women protagonists—each carrying heartbreaking burdens from their pasts and seeking retribution for bloody wars and shattered families— as they confront their enemies, personal ghosts, and eventually each other in the ancient city of canals, to Jessica Tribble at Thomas & Mercer, in a two-book deal, for publication in 2018, by Kimberley Cameron at Kimberley Cameron & Associates (world).

I’m going to frame that and put it on the wall. 

Not to worry Sharon O’Mara fans, a new book is on the way, hopefully this summer. Sharon and Kevin are in Ireland, nasty stuff happens, but of course our friends manage to win the day.

And not to forget Tony Alfano—our Chicago detective is hard on another case. Fists fly and bodies fall as Alfano chases down another villain during the Century of Progress Fair. Its 1933, those bygone days of yesteryear, when men were men, women soft and lanky, and Chicago politicians acted just the same.

Some new characters are in the works. New Guy: he’s spy in Rome during World War II and a follow-up book in Cairo. Good historical stuff here, OSS and CIA, sexy brunette, and very bad Nazis.

The new year looks very promising, can’t wait to get started.

More later . . . . . .

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The 10 Best/Worst Inventions of the 21st Century – So Far

Obviously this is my list, while most of these are on a lot of people's lists there are many others not included. We each have our favorites.

1. The Keurig Coffee maker (K-Cup) – while technically from the latter part of the 1990s, this appliance caught on in the after being wholly acquired by Keurig Green Mountain Coffee and revolutionized the coffee industry as much as Starbucks changed coffee drinking. Starting in 2008, innumerable brands of coffee, soup, tea, became available at the local supermarket for the machine. I love the thing, and don’t start with all the baloney about the throw away cups. I ask you, how many wine and liquor bottles did you toss this week? And what about that countertop roll of paper towels that you replace each week? And at 5:00 a.m. who wants to make a full pot of coffee? 

2.  Apple iPad (2010) and the ensuing wave of personal tablets. If one item changed how we deal with everything from entertainment to logistics it was the invention of the iPad and its imitators. In your hand you can contain a library, access to patients records, maintain shipping records, managed inventories, display restaurant menus, and even waste innumerable hours playing WarCraft. I actually invented the original reader tablet (go here), I was just fifteen years too early.

3. The (now) ubiquitous Smartphone. While the successor to a number of late 20th century PDAs and Blackberries, the iPhone (2007) set off the mad scramble to change how we entertain, interact, and access the world around us. While a lot like the tablet, the Smartphone’s advantage was its cellular connection, size/portability, and ever-expanding world of Applications (Apps). It has also lead to police citations for distracted driving, users injured after walking into poles, ponds, and crosswalks, and more selfies than the world should ever need or want. In fact the selfie might be considered a 21st century sub-invention of the Smartphone.

4. Facebook (2004). This social media application took the world like Genghis Khan did in the 13th century. No description is necessary – if you don’t know what this is you probably are in the 13th century. I often believe that Facebook is like being forced to spend the rest of your life at your Aunt Milly’s with her cats being required to go through the photo albums of her bus trip to Bulgaria in 1973 with Trump driving and Hillary doing the tour guide thing.

5. Print On Demand – POD
Like most technologies, POD is a derivative of the high-speed reproduction systems developed during the last forty years (Xerox, Minolta, etc.). POD differs in that with one machine produces a professional book of fiction or non-fiction a in less than five minutes (often much less). The Espresso Book Machine (Xerox) was first installed in 2007. This is both a physical invention and a data system using interrelated tools for data storage (book files), sales access (book page at Amazon, etc.), and input (authors/publishers). It has dramatically changed and expanded the number of books (paper) available.

6. Amazon Kindle (2007) and the eBook. I ask you, does an ebook really exist? Without a reading device such as the Amazon Kindle and subsequent tablets, or iPad, or smartphone, or even you computer, the ability to read an ebook is impossible. Yet, this electronic collection of whatever it is has revolutionized – and I mean revolutionized – the world of writing and publishing. I would offer that more than 90% of those with a tablet device or a computer have downloaded at least one ebook—admit it. Jeff Bezos and Amazon not only changed how we buy books but how we read them as well.

7. The Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDOs). I didn’t say they would all be positive - go see the movie the Big Short Wikipedia Says : In the early 2000s, CDOs were generally diversified,[5] but by 2006–2007—when the CDO market grew to hundreds of billions of dollars—this changed. CDO collateral became dominated not by loans, but by lower level (BBB or A) tranches recycled from other asset-backed securities, whose assets were usually non-prime mortgages, and are known as Synthetic CDO. These CDOs have been called "the engine that powered the mortgage supply chain" for nonprime mortgages,[7] and are credited with giving lenders greater incentive to make non-prime loans[8] leading up to the 2007-9 subprime mortgage crisis. And the world was given the Great Recession and the destruction of my company.

8. YouTube (2005). And yes, you can become a movie producer of cat and puppy videos all in the comfort of your own home. You too can put your wedding movies out there for everyone to see, and yes this simple company and its camp followers has led to the destruction of the traditional porn industry – is nothing sacred? YouTube Movie production is the direct result of the blending of softwares, cameras, phones, and creative genius (for some), and is now significantly responsible for how we store old memories (digitization) and create new ones.

9. Google Earth (2001). For armchair travelers, planners, geographic voyeurs, and vacation planners, Google Earth is just plain cool. With its 3D function you can get a feel for the land
 nd the structures of cities, with its street view walk or drive the cities and countries of much of the world. Combined with its ad features for hotels, businesses, restaurants, and almost everything else that pays to play, it can make a business. (also includes Google Maps here).

10. DNA Testing.
AncestryDNA, 23and Me, Family Tree, etc. are all companies that will test your DNA to try and place your genetic ancestry based on their huge pool of DNA tests. Like the commercial though, you may think you were German and discover that you are really Scottish, or Norwegian, or Dalmatian (the region, not the dog). Not done this myself, kind of spooky out their in my gene pool.

Also Rans:
  • iPod (2001)
  • Bluetooth (2000ish)
  • Skype (2003)
  • Robotics – ongoing for the wounded and injured
  • Drones – I am so tired of them
  • Tesla Electric Car – While cool, I think its financial success is still debatable
  • Roomba Vacuum Cleaner (2002)
  • Flat Screen TVs – Smart TV
  • NetFlix (late 20th century DVD – but took off in the digital world)
  • Medical devices for the heart, pancreas and other organs
  • Innumerable international political organizations – most corrupt and derivative

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas to All

Have a wonderful Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year from
Greg Randall and all the folks
at Windsor Hill Publishing

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Latest and Confusing Housing Reports

Trying to track the ups and downs of the housing market is like handicapping the various races for president. Whose up, whose down, and why—place your bets, chumps. It’s all a jumble of meddling politicians, social correctiveness (the new politically correct), flat interest rates, job migration, oil prices, NIMBYism, millennials, boomers, college debt, and Fannie-Mae and Freddie-Mac (who do control the loan market – look HERE).

The following articles are some of the more interesting articles of the last few weeks that deal with this whole “roof over my head” issue. Remember that the days of “market rate” housing are gone; in some areas more than a third of a home’s cost (and more) can be attributed directly and indirectly to local entitlement and underlying land costs. To believe that the housing market responds to the supply and  demand theories of the last century are well, so last century.

Who’s really renting? Good discussion HERE on the renters that are populating the new apartment complexes.

The Wall Street Journal noted that one of the biggest problems in the housing construction is labor – seems that when those Mexicans went home they took their abilities with them – they have not come back (HERE for a different look). 
Also HERE,  for a take on the impact of this shortage of construction workers.

Housing Starts UP and DOWN – Whatever
It seems that every week we get hit with the latest in housing stats from somewhere – and even during the same week they have different conclusions. Take your pick:
Here’s the New York Times’ take: U.S. Housing Starts Increasein September:  
Next month they will both print some form of a retraction.

And HERE'S what the impact is on housing stocks.

And Home Prices Keep Rising – One Reason:
If you have to provide one subsidized unit (affordable) for every ten approved units, isn’t it fair to believe that every one of those free-market units is now more expensive? I assure you the builder is not going to eat the difference no matter how big his heart. Affordable housing hurts everyone, but it wrong to believe that – GO HERE on Portland, Maine’s latest move (Portland, Oregon did something like this years ago). 

And in San Francisco they are still leading from the rear, HERE:

And it’s not YOUR fault:
When it comes to buying the consumer has no clue, they can’t make correct and appropriate decisions, obviously we need the government to step in, or so says Noble Prize winning economist, Robert Shiller HERE . 
But then again there are few other economists that would argue his point – i.e. Ludwig von Mises for one.

And it’s not your fault either – Part 2, 
Apartment builders should have thought about the THIS change:
And now we have to think about the new paradigm: On-Line Shopping. Where do apartments store and then deliver packages to their tenants? Should new homes have more secure exterior package drop-offs - HERE?

Stay Tuned . . . . . .