Helena Visconte first saw Father Matteo Pintozzi when he stepped out of the sacristy into the deserted curved colonnade that led to the Vatican museum. She had no way of knowing that within a few minutes the priest would arrive at his destination, and both their lives would change.
By now tourists would normally be milling about, but a fluke June thunderstorm had just ended, leaving a vaguely musty smell rising with the vapor from the hot stone pathway. Father Pintozzi glanced to his right and then to his left and looked relieved, as if he were grateful no one was in sight. He quickly swept past the Vatican courthouse, the Eagle fountain and the Papal Academy of Science.
I fled the Islamic Republic of Iran with a suitcase, a thousand dollars, and no regrets. But it wasn’t easy; I had to rebuild my life from scratch. Less than ten years later, I faced a decision that threatened to erase most of what I had accomplished, and I hesitated as I weighed the consequences.In 1988, I lived and worked in Manhattan as Head of Mortgage Backed Securities Marketing for Merrill Lynch. I analyzed financial products, accompanied salespeople on customer calls, and spoke at seminars. Every morning I used the squawk box to broadcast a trade idea to the New York trading floor and U.S. branch offices: “sell this callable corporate, buy this tranche of a collateralized mortgage obligation,” or vice versa. It was a great gig.
No Country in the World Has a Worse Record on Human Rights —Amnesty International on Iran, 1974
In the summer of 1978, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was the Shah of Iran. The iron curtain was still drawn, and Jimmy Carter was President of the United States. Animal House opened in U.S. movie theaters. Bonnie Tyler’s It’s a Heartache and Abba’s Take a Chance on Me were at the top of the pop charts.
Poor Men Want to be Rich
When I arrived in Tehran, the palpable excitement of the upwardly mobile city hit me like a blast of hot dry air. Iranians enthusiastically embraced consumerism as the oil revenue-fueled economy flourished.
When I first walked down Pahlavi Street in 1978, young adults pored over foreign magazines at local newsstands. Jeans made in the USA were prized possessions.
On March 13, 2013, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected Pope. He’s the first pope from the Americas. He’s the first Pope Francis. He’s the first Jesuit pope in the history of the Catholic Church. This is all the more extraordinary, because the Jesuits have been held in suspicion by many past popes.
The events that felled Cardinal Bergoglio’s competitors prior to the election are as shocking as my fictional conspiracies. The timing of those events couldn’t have been more perfect if they had been intentionally orchestrated.
Amazon has blossomed from the world’s biggest retail book seller, and Amazon is constantly changing the game to stay that way. In 2014, The Atlantic reported that Amazon controlled 64% of printed book sales. But Amazon further excels in the eBook market. Amazon’s Kindle app allows readers to read its eBooks anywhere, on any device. The Balancereported that in 2015 in the United States, Amazon sold 65% of traditionally published eBooks and had a whopping 74% market share of all US ebooks sold, both traditionally and independently (“indie”) published. For every dollar readers spent on eBooks, Amazon raked in 71% of the loot.
Helena Visconte fue la primera que vio al padre Matteo Pintozzi cuando salió de la sacristía en la desierta columnata curva que llevaba al museo del Vaticano. No tenía forma de saber que en pocos minutos el sacerdote llegaría a su destino y la vida de ambos cambiaría.
A esa hora los turistas normalmente estarían apretujándose, pero una repentina tormenta eléctrica de junio acababa de terminar, dejando un vago olor a humedad que se elevaba debido al vapor emitido por las piedras calientes del sendero. El padre Pintozzi miró a su derecha y luego a su izquierda y parecía aliviado, como si estuviera agradecido de que no hubiera nadie a la vista. Rápidamente pasó por delante del palacio de justicia del Vaticano, la fuente Águila y la Academia Papal de Ciencias.
Why would any traditionally published author give exclusivity to Amazon? I thought I knew the answer, but I discovered the reasons are as varied as writers and book genres.
I am a successful finance trade book author published through John Wiley & Sons, but I had other manuscripts that didn’t fit Wiley’s publishing model: a novel, an anthology of blog posts, and non-fiction memoirs. Award winning traditionally published fiction writer Libby Fischer Hellmann, told me it was time for these manuscripts to come out of the closet. There was no need to spend my limited free time scouting agents and publishers. Self-publishing had come of age. Dozens of traditionally published authors were publishing their own work through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
Dan Brown is well-known for his entertaining and controversial fiction books including The DaVinci Code and Inferno.
In November 2012, I published a murder mystery, Archangels: Rise of the Jesuits. Jesuits blackmail the pope with secret documents and seize power to clean up corruption and financial scandals in the Vatican. The novel hit the stands before Pope Benedict XVI resigned and before the first Jesuit pope in the history of the Catholic Church was elected. Both my book and Dan Brown’s book offended some Catholics.
Thrillers are “Lethal”
How do I know Catholics are riled up about Dan Brown’s book? Amazon reviewers of Archangels: Rise of the Jesuits debated in comments. Here’s what one irate reader had to say when other readers defended Dan Brown:
A couple of months ago I asked indie mystery authors how they are getting their books translated to Spanish. To my surprise, only a handful of authors were translating their books. I’ll explain why in a moment. Prosperous Growing Market
US Hispanics represent $1.3 trillion in rapidly growing purchasing power. Average household income is over $50K and growing.
Of the 50 million Hispanics comprising 17% of the US population, 28 million speak fluent Spanish (15 million prefer Spanish to English), and another 13.5 million speak some Spanish.