Friday, August 10, 2012

Lunch with New York Times Best Selling Author David Hagberg June 2012

Lunch with New York Times Best Selling author David Hagberg. Our usual stop is Sarasota's Polo Club in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. Talked publishing, tipped a few and snapped some photos of our novels...cause that's how we roll...hahahahahaha.

In the picture: Cheryl & Norm Applegate, David and Laurie Hagberg

David’s latest two novels are Blowout and Castro’s Daughter.

Blowout, written with SENATOR BYRON L. DORGAN (a U. S. Senator and Congressman for North Dakota)
America is on the brink of crisis. Unless we can curb our dangerous appetite for foreign oil, petroleum-rich countries and speculators will bring our economy to its knees…long before CO2 emissions will devastate our ecosystem. The President has answered the call with the Dakota District Initiative, a top-secret research team hidden deep in the Badlands of North Dakota. The Initiative is developing a way to produce clean energy from coal.
But powerful enemies will stop at nothing to sabotage this revolutionary technology. A cadre of oil hedge fund managers hires a crew of mercenary fanatics to attack the Initiative’s experimental power station. Despite the bloody assault, the research continues as war-hero sheriff Nate Osborne and brash journalist Ashley Borden search for the attackers.  Blowout

Castro’s Daughter: Cuban Intelligence Service Colonel Maria Leon is called to the bedside of the dying Fidel Castro. She is his illegitimate daughter but has never been acknowledged by her father until now. Castro makes her promise to contact the legendary former Director of the CIA Kirk McGarvey to help her on a mysterious quest to find Cibola, the fabled seven cities of Gold.  Castro's Daughter

DAVID HAGBERG has published more than eighty novels of suspense, including the bestselling JOSHUA'S HAMMERSOLDIER of GOD, and ALLAH'S SCORPIION. 

Former Air Force cryptographer David Hagberg is a bestselling author of international thrillers who has a knack for creating fiction that becomes fact. In THE WHITE HOUSE he predicted North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. In JOSHUA’S HAMMER he foresaw the 9/11 attack on the United States by bin Laden and his al-Quaeda, in DESERT FIRE Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions, in HIGH FLIGHT the downing of airliners as a method of terrorism on a massive scale. 

Born and raised in Duluth, Minnesota, David Hagberg joined the Air Force right out of high School where he was trained as a cryptographer, stationed in Greenland above the Arctic Circle and in Germany where he helped construct the (then) world’s largest crypto center on the planet. He attended the University of Maryland, Overseas Division and the University of Wisconsin studying physics, mathematics and philosophy. 

But he learned to write as a cub reporter on the Duluth Herald & News-Tribune and later as a news desk editor for the Associated Press. His first novel TWISTER was published in 1975 by Dell, and since that time he has published more than 70 novels of suspense in a career that includes a nomination for The American Book Award, three nominations for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award and three Mystery Scene best American Mystery awards. 

His papers are archived at the University of South Florida in Tampa. 

David and his wife Laurie, who is a professional fundraiser, make their home in Sarasota, Florida from where, whenever they have spare time, sail the West Coast of the State and the Keys.

By Norm Applegate author of:

Friday, July 6, 2012

12 Signs and Symbols writers should know

Okay I found this really interesting. What is the origin of various symbols used in English, and when is the use of each appropriate? Here’s a guide to twelve common signs, including how they developed and in which contexts they are used or avoided.

1. & (Ampersand)

The ampersand was, at least until well into the nineteenth century, treated as the twenty-seventh letter of the alphabet, but its star has fallen, so that now it is used only informally except in registered names of businesses (“Ay, Bee & See Inc.”), which should be written as rendered; a comma preceding it is extraneous.
The symbol comes from the cursive formation of the Latin word et (“and”), and the name is a slurring contraction of “and per se and,” which used to terminate schoolroom recitals of the alphabet: The phrase means “and by itself and”; instead of reciting, “. . . W, X, Y, Z, and,” children said, “. . . W, X, Y, Z, and per se and” to clarify that “and” referred to a list item rather than serving as a conjunction for an item that was left unuttered. The symbol is also seen in &c. (“et cetera”), an alternate form of etc.
American Psychological Association (APA) style allows the ampersand to link author names in an in-text citation (“Laurel & Hardy, 1921”), but other style guides call for using the word and.

2. * (Asterisk)

The asterisk is used to call out a footnote or to refer to an annotation of special terms or conditions, to substitute for letters in profanity (“Oh, s***!”) or a name rendered anonymous (“the subject, M***”), to serve as a low-tech alternative to atypographical bullet, or provide emphasis in place of boldface (“Do *not* go there — the food is awful.”). It also has many specialized technical usages. Its name is derived from the Greek term asteriskos, meaning “little star,” and it was originally applied to distinguish date of birth from other references to years.

3. @ (At Sign)

Until the age of e-mail, the at sign was restricted mostly to commercial use, in purchase orders and the like, to mean “at the rate of” (“Order 1K widgets @ $2.50 per.”). It’s also used in displays of schedules for competitive sports to identify the event venue. Now it’s ubiquitous in email addresses and in social-networking usage, as well as computer protocols, but outside of those contexts, it is considered inappropriate for all but the most informal writing.

4. ¢ (Cent)

This symbol for cent (from the Latin word centum, meaning “hundred”), unlike its cousin the dollar sign — it’s also used in many monetary systems other than that of US currency — is rare except in informal usage or for price tags. When it does appear, unlike the dollar sign, it follows rather than precedes the numeral, though as in the case of the dollar sign, no space intervenes. The equivalent usage in a context where dollar signs are employed is to treat the amount as a decimal portion of a dollar (“$0.99”); for clarity, a zero should always be inserted between the dollar sign and the decimal point.
The sign probably originated to distinguish an ordinary c from one denoting a monetary amount.

5. ° (Degree Sign)

The sign for degrees of arc or degrees of temperature, which started out as a superscripted zero, was chosen for consistency with use of the minute (′) and second marks (″) employed in geometry and geography; those symbols originally stood for the Latin numerals I and II. The degree sign appears in technical contexts, but in general-interest publications, the word degreeis generally used.
In references to temperature, the symbol (and the designation of the temperature scale) immediately follows the associated numerical figure (“45°C”). This style is true of many publishing companies, though the US Government and the International Bureau of Weights and Measures prescribe a space between the number and the symbol (“45 °C”), while other publications omit the first letter space but insert another between the symbol and the abbreviation (“45° C”).

6. ” (Ditto Sign)

The ditto sign, first attested three thousand years ago, signals that text shown above is to be repeated, as in a list in which the same quantity of various materials is intended to be expressed:
apples 24
bananas ”
oranges ”
The word ditto, meaning “said,” derives from the Tuscan language, the immediate ancestor of Italian, but was borrowed into English hundreds of years ago. The word, its abbreviation (do.), and the symbol are considered inappropriate for most writing, though the term has often been used in informal spoken and written language to mean “(the same as) what he/she said.” Although the symbol has a distinct character code for online writing, straight or curly close quotation marks are usually employed to produce it.

7. $ (Dollar Sign)

This symbol for the American dollar and many other currencies was first used to refer to the peso, which inspired the American currency system. Various origin stories for the symbol come in and out of fashion, but it’s most likely that it developed from an abbreviation of pesos in which the initial p preceded a superscript s; the tail of the initial was often superimposed on the s. A dollar sign with two vertical lines is a less common variant.
Most books and other formal publications tend to spell out dollars in association with a (spelled-out or numerical) figure, but periodicals usually use the symbol, as do specialized books about finance or business or others with frequent references to money. In international publications, when the symbol is used, for clarity, it is combined with the abbreviation US (“US$1.5 million” or “US $1.5 million”).
The dollar sign is also used as an abbreviated reference to various functions in computer programming and similar contexts.

8. # (Number or Pound Sign, or Hash)

This symbol evolved from the abbreviation for poundlb. (a literal abbreviation for the Roman word libra, meaning “balance”), in which horizontal lines were superimposed on the vertical lines of the letters, producing something like the tic-tac-toe pattern used today. One of many other names for the sign, octotherp (also spelled octothorp or otherwise), was a jocular coinage by telecommunications engineers in the mid-twentieth century. The symbol is seldom used outside informal or highly technical or otherwise specialized contexts.

9. % (Percent)

The sign for indicating percentage developed in the Middle Ages over the course of hundreds of years, beginning as an abbreviation of percent (from the Latin phrase per centum, meaning “out of a hundred”). Its use is recommended only in technical contexts or in tabular material, where space it at a premium. (Some standards authorities call for a space between a number and this symbol, but most publications and publishers omit the space.)

10. ~ (Tilde)

The tilde is used as a diacritical mark over various letters to indicate a variety of sounds in different languages, but it also appears midline, like a dash (and is sometimes called a swung dash), to denote “approximately (“Last night’s attendance: ~100”). It has technical connotations as well and is even used as a notation for recording sequences of action in juggling. The name, borrowed into English through Portuguese and Spanish from Latin, means “title.”

11. / (Slash, Solidus, Stroke, or Virgule)

During the Middle Ages, this sign of many names, including those listed above, served as a comma; a pair denoted a dash. The double slash was eventually tipped horizontally to become an equal sign and later a dash or hyphen. (The equal sign is still used as a proofreader’s mark to indicate insertion of a hyphen.) The slash — also called the forward slash to distinguish it from the backslash, which is used only in technical contexts — is an informal substitute for or.

12. _ (Underscore or Understrike)

This artifact from the era of the typewriter was used on such devices to underline words to indicate emphasis in lieu of italics. As a survival of that function, words are sometimes bracketed by a pair of single underscores in email and other computer contexts to mark a word for emphasis (“That band totally _rocked_ the place.”). Indeed, as I typed this post in Microsoft Word, the program automatically converted rocked to italics. The symbol also appears frequently in email and website addresses and other technical contexts.

Original Post: 12 Signs and Symbols You Should Know

Norm Applegate author of:
The Prisoner

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Smashwords Alert

Just received this email from Mark Coker at Smashwords.

Smashwords today announced a new distribution partner: Page Foundry. Page Foundry has created mobile ebook store apps for Android smart phones and tablets. This is a standard agency pricing relationship, so 60% list price to the author, no discounting. This deal will lead to distribution at the following four places:

A. Cricket Wireless: Cricket Wireless is the leading mobile operator of pre-paid smart phones you can purchase in places like Target and Best Buy. Cricket has roughly 2.5 million monthly smart phone subscribers, and Page Foundry is powering the ebook store app available to all existing and new smart phone customers. Starting this summer, new Cricket subscriber phones will ship pre-loaded with the Page Foundry app (previously, subscribers had to manually download the app from the Cricket app store).

B. ASUS: Asus, a leading manufacturer of netbooks, notebooks and tablets, currently has about 8 million devices here in the US pre-loaded with the Page Foundry ebook store app, all part of their @Vibe media store. Page Foundry is one of two pre-loaded ebook store apps on the Asus devices.

C. VERSENT and INKTERA: These are two sister e-reader apps, available for download to Android devices from Google Play (formerly known as the Android Market). Versent and Inktera also sell books through their websites at and Page Foundry set up these two sites as experimental showcases of their platform, though they've also started attracting some customers so they plan to continue operating the sites as independent ebook retailers.

The distribution above is currently US-only. Page Foundry plans to add additional mobile operators and device-makers in the future, and further international distribution is possible.

Like any new distribution channel, I expect the Page Foundry partnership to start small and then grow over time as their business grows.

I added a short post at the Smashwords blog about this, where you'll find screen shots of their app:

As with all new Smashwords distribution partners, all Premium Catalog books will automatically go to Page Foundry unless you opt out, or unless the title is unpublished. You have 48 hrs to opt out of the channel if you don't want a book going to the new partner. Click to your Dashboard's Channel Manager to adjust distribution settings.



On June 14, we announced over at the Smashwords Blog - - and at Site Updates - - that starting around July 15, we'll require larger cover images for new Premium Catalog titles. Also that week, I updated the Smashwords Style Guide and Smashwords FAQs to reflect the new requirements.

Your current Premium Catalog titles, even if they have smaller cover images, are NOT affected by the new guidelines unless you update the cover image.

This change is prompted by new requirements at Apple that go into effect in August. The new requirements are also consistent with updated recommendations by Amazon (some day, Amazon-willing, we'll distribute to Amazon!), which also now recommends larger cover images. We think the new recommendations make good common sense because they create a more satisfying customer experience for readers who use the newer high resolution screens such as Apple's amazing Retina display.

Starting July 15, cover images for new titles, and cover image updates for existing titles, should be at least 1,400 pixels wide. Please see the Smashwords blog for full details and suggest width/height ratios and options -

If your book is among the tens of thousands at Smashwords that have the smaller covers, and you're already Premium Catalog-distributed, you can leave your cover as-is for now. Better yet, consider this a good time to update your cover. As I mention in my new best practices book, The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, the cover image is the first impression your book makes on a prospective reader. If your cover image doesn't look as good or better than the covers put out by big New York publishers, you're at a disadvantage. Make the effort to upgrade to a professional cover image. Professional cover design is very affordable. Most of the cover designers on my "Mark's List" (send a blank email and you'll receive it via instant autoresponder) charge between $40 and $100 for a cover. They all have online portfolios, so you can decide if their work matches your vision. We don't get a commission if you hire them, though all the folks there are on the list because they've done good work for your fellow Smashwords authors and publishers. If their portfolios don't match what you're looking for, ask your favorite indie authors for references. There are many great cover designers out there for under $300. *Always* review an artist's online portfolio before signing on with them, and try to work directly with the artist rather than through an intermediary.



For most Smashwords retail partners, we ship new books and metadata updates once per week. As promised, we're working to speed deliveries for all retailers that can support faster shipments. On June 4, we announced faster shipments to Apple and Kobo.

APPLE: For Apple, we're now shipping near-real-time (about every 15-20 minutes). This means immediately after receiving Premium Catalog approval, your book will ship to Apple. Metadata updates ship at the same speed. If your book is already Premium-catalog approved, it's possible to see price changes at Smashwords reflected within an hour or two at Apple.

A few months ago Apple implemented their own manual vetting process for all incoming titles from all publishers and distributors (previously, they only inspected erotica). At first, this created a multi-week lag time on their end, but now they've cut the lag down to only a few days so it's not too bad.

As with any new system, we're still working out kinks. Most shipments are flowing through great, but some aren't landing on the first shipment attempt, and until we improve reliability we won't be satisfied.  We've already proactively identified and reshipped most missing titles.

Some Apple shipment issues are unrelated to bugs mentioned above, such as if your book mentions competitive ebook retailers, or if cover images are blurry, or if NCX navigation isn't working properly, or if they deem the book too obscene. For a more complete list items that can delay Apple distribution, see the fourth FAQ here, "My book shipped to the Apple iBookstore but it's still not showing in the store. Why?" -

If you're writing non-erotic books, and your book doesn't appear within ten days days of shipment to Apple (check your Dashboard's Channel Manager for ship dates), then please contact our support team at "comments/questions." Our support team is aggregating daily bug reports and working with our tech team to diagnose issues and reship books where necessary. 

KOBO: Around June 4, we began shipping daily to Kobo. This integration appears to be working much more smoothly. As I mentioned above for Apple, if your book or metadata update doesn't appear at Kobo within ten days (like Apple, most are appearing much quicker), please contact our support team at the "Comments/questions" link at the top of any Smashwords page.

See the Smashwords blog for my post on the Apple/Kobo news:

Here's some cool Apple news I haven't reported: We've seen a dramatic sales increase at Apple over the last five weeks. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's a result of summer vacation reading, or the faster shipments, or a big increase in multiple strong sellers (several Smashwords authors are selling thousands of copies a week there), or maybe iPad and iPhone sales are especially strong, or maybe a combination of all the above plus mysterious pixie dust. Regardless, the results are impressive and the upward trend is pronounced. If you're not on Apple, Smashwords can get you there. Apple distributes to 32 countries. For the month of may, 44% of our Apple sales were from outside the U.S. Go global!



This news just broke last night. Califa, a consortium of 220 California libraries, is creating an ebook aggregation service modeled after a similar system created by Douglas County Libraries in Colorado. The service will deliver ebooks to California libraries, and to other states as well. They plan to establish an "opening collection" of ebooks by purchasing the top 10,000 best-selling Smashwords titles. We'll also work with California libraries to create local publishing portals, where local authors can upload ebooks to Smashwords that can then be purchased by their local libraries. Library Journal has the scoop (we didn't intend for this story to leak out so soon!):

A few months ago, we announced a distribution deal with Baker & Taylor's Axis360 library service, and two weeks ago 3M announced Smashwords will supply titles for their Cloud Library service (we'll formally announce the 3M deal once we get further along with integration). We're talking with other library aggregators as well.

I expect Smashwords will become the largest single supplier (by title count) of ebooks to public libraries by the end of this year. If your books aren't fully distributed at Smashwords, please consider getting them on asap so you don't miss out. I think from a sales perspective, the library channel will start off small this year, but then become increasingly significant over the next couple years. Authors and publishers who embrace libraries early will receive the most benefit two or three years from now (much in the same way that the first indie authors to get distribution through Smashwords a few years ago are reaping the greatest benefit today). Smashwords was the first to open distribution of self-published ebooks to B&N, Sony and Kobo back in 2009, and now we're going to do it again with libraries.

Last week, I conducted a flash survey at Site Updates to understand how Smashwords authors and publishers view the library opportunity. 150 of you responded (thank you!), and 82% of you said you think libraries can help increase your overall book sales.

Most large NY publishers have been unfriendly to libraries, and some won't even sell ebooks to them. I think this presents a great opportunity for progressive indies to step in and satisfy the demand.

In the next few weeks, we plan to add a new library-specific pricing option so you can control the price at which libraries acquire your books. Some of you want to price lower than retail, some want to price higher, and some want to make their books available for free to libraries. We'll give you the choice because Smashwords is all about putting you in control.



Thanks to you and your support, Smashwords is a thriving, profitable business. Thanks to your support, we're helping tens of thousands of writers and small presses achieve their publishing dreams.

Forbes Magazine has a feature story on us this month, and for the first time ever, I revealed our revenue numbers. In 2012, Smashwords authors and publishers will earn over $10 million. The Forbes story is on newsstands now. Read it online here:

Unlike other self-publishing services that earn most of their money by selling you service packages, we only earn money if we help you sell books. We give you the flexibility to control your destiny. Thanks to the sales success of our 45,000 authors and publishers, and the tremendous support of our retail partners, Smashwords has now been profitable for 22 months straight. We've done this entirely without venture capitalists. This means we have the independence to do what's right for you without the distraction of outside investors.

We've reinvested our profits in the business to further improve our services and our ability to help you achieve your objectives. One year ago we were about five people. Now we're fourteen going on fifteen. As we grow the business, we're growing our capability to serve you.

Four years in to this, I still feel like we're only now getting started. I'm really excited about our roadmap for new service enhancements, and new distribution partners. We've got a great team in place, all of whom are sincerely committed to serving you. With your help, we'll change the face of publishing one indie ebook at a time.



Our annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale kicks off in a few days. Why Summer/Winter? Because it's summer here in the northern hemisphere, and winter in the southern hemisphere. Enrollment is optional. If you enroll, you can choose coupon codes to make your books 25%-off, 50%-off, 75%-off, or FREE. Past Summer/Winter promotions have been great successes and a lot of fun. To enroll now, visit the Smashwords home page. Here's a direct link to the enrollment form: The promotion goes live one minute past midnight July 1.



Smashwords now publishes over 130,000 ebooks. Over 100,000 are in the Premium Catalog. Although the vast majority of time our distribution systems perform reliably as intended, there are always glitches, and when glitches hit they can hurt our authors.

As we have for the last four years, we will always push the envelope of what's possible. We will make mistakes. There will be glitches and bugs (witness our Apple glitches mentioned above). Our retail partners will make mistakes too, mistakes for which we'll often get the blame. We accept that.

The world of e-publishing is in a constant state of change. It's a world increasingly driven by computer software, and since software is created by humans, it's not infallible. We and our retail partners are always striving to move forward and improve. We don't like system glitches, and we will never stop working to remedy them, but we will also not allow the fear of mistakes to stop us from innovating. Despite the hiccups along the way, they're mere bumps along the long term road we're heading. Those who have stuck by us and our retail partners for several years know we always persevere and come out stronger the other end.

I created Smashwords to serve my fellow authors. Nothing is more important to us. With your continued support, trust and goodwill, we will be here to serve you and authors/publishers like you for many years to come.

In my survey last week, I asked authors what they liked most about Smashwords, and where they think we can improve. I'm happy to say that the suggestions and requests are very much aligned with where we're going. You want faster Premium Catalog approvals, faster shipments and faster reporting. You want faster, more accurate metadata updates at our retail partners. You want us to improve the look of the Smashwords retail store. All this and more is coming in the months and years ahead. It won't come all at once, and it may not come as fast as we would prefer. Thank you for your patience as we work to take you there.



Frequently asked questions:
Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best practices of best-selling authors):
Smashwords Site Updates:
Smashwords blog (subscribe via the email option!):
Data on ebook pricing, word counts and more:
How to publish and distribute ebooks with Smashwords:
Connect with fellow Smashwords readers and authors at Facebook:
Mark's List - Low cost cover designers and ebook formaters. Email

Do you know authors, publishers and literary agents not yet on Smashwords? Invite them to join our 45,000+ strong worldwide community.

Together, we're changing the world of publishing one indie ebook at a time. Every new author, publisher and literary agent brings new readers who can then discover your books too!

Best wishes,


Mark Coker

Norm Applegate author of: 
The Prisoner

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Joseph Campbell: How to fix what’s wrong with your story!

Joseph Campbell was an American professor of mythology. His writing and interviews with PBS anchor Bill Moyers are deeply moving. I was recently introduced to Campbell’s work and my approach to writing or outlining a novel has profoundly changed.

Interesting fact, George Lucas was the first Hollywood filmmaker to credit Campbell's influence. Lucas stated following the release of the first Star Wars film in 1977 that its story was shaped, in part, by ideas described in The Hero with a Thousand Faces and other works of Campbell's. The linkage between Star Wars and Campbell was further reinforced when later reprints of Campbell's book used the image of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker on the cover. Lucas discusses this influence at great length in the authorized biography of Joseph Campbell, A Fire in the Mind.

Intellectuals are saying: In the long run, the most influential book of the 20th Century may turn out to be Joseph Campbell's THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES.

It's certainly true that the book is having a major impact on writing and story-telling, but above all on movie-making. Aware or not, filmmakers like John Boorman, George Miller, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Francis Coppola owe their successes to the ageless pattern that Joseph Campbell identifies in the book.
The ideas in the book are an excellent set of analytical tools. With them you can compose a story to meet any situation, a story that will be dramatic, entertaining, and psychologically true. With them you can always determine what's wrong with a story that's floundering, and you can find a better solution to almost any story problem by examining the pattern laid out in the book.

This is the outline to telling a universally appealing story; the hero myth.

Stories built on the model of THE HERO OF A THOUSAND FACES have an appeal that can be felt by everyone, because they spring from a universal source in the collective unconscious, and because they reflect universal concerns. They deal with universal questions like "Why was I born?" "What happens when I die?" "How can I overcome my life problems and be happy?"

The stages of the HERO are:

Most stories take place in a special world, a world that is new and alien to its hero. If you're going to tell a story about a fish out of his customary element, you first have to create a contrast by showing him in his mundane, ordinary world. In WITNESS you see both the Amish boy and the policeman in their ordinary worlds before they are thrust into alien worlds -- the farm boy into the city, and the city cop into the unfamiliar countryside. In STAR WARS you see Luke Skywalker bored to death as a farm boy before he takes on the universe.

The hero is presented with a problem, challenge, or adventure. Maybe the land is dying, as in the Arthur stories about the search for the Holy Grail. In STAR WARS again, it's Princess Leia's holographic message to Obi Wan Kenobi, who asks Luke to join in the quest. In detective stories, it's the hero accepting a new case. In romantic comedies it could be the first sight of that special -- but annoying someone the hero or heroine will be pursuing/sparring with the remainder of the story.

Often at this point, the hero balks at the threshold of adventure. After all, he or she is facing the greatest of all fears -- fear of the unknown. At this point Luke refuses Obi Wan's call to adventure, and returns to his aunt and uncle's farmhouse, only to find they have been barbequed by the Emperor's storm troopers. Suddenly Luke is no longer reluctant, and is eager to undertake the adventure. He is motivated.

By this time many stories will have introduced a Merlin-like character who is the hero's mentor. In JAWS it's the crusty Robert Shaw character who knows all about sharks; in the mythology of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, it's Lou Grant. The mentor gives advice and sometimes magical weapons. This is Obi Wan Kenobi giving Luke Skywalker his father's light sabre.
The mentor can only go so far with the hero. Eventually the hero must face the unknown by himself. Sometimes the wise old man is required to give the hero a swift kick in the pants to get the adventure going.

He fully enters the special world of his story for the first time. This is the moment at which the story takes off and the adventure gets going. The balloon goes up, the romance begins, the plane or spaceship blasts off, the wagon train gets rolling. Dorothy sets out on the Yellow Brick Road. The hero is now committed to his journey... and there's no turning back.

The hero is forced to make allies and enemies in the special world, and to pass certain tests and challenges that are part of his training. In STAR WARS, the cantina is the setting for the forging of an important alliance with Han Solo, and the start of an important enmity with Jabba The Hut. In CASABLANCA, Rick's Cafe is the setting for the "alliances and enmities" phase, and in many westerns it's the saloon where these relationships are established.
The tests and challenges phase is represented in STAR WARS by the scene of Obi Wan teaching Luke about the Force, as Luke is made to learn by fighting blindfolded. The early laser battles with the Imperial Fighters are another test which Luke passes successfully.

The hero comes at last to a dangerous place, often deep underground, where the object of his quest is hidden. In the Arthurian stories the Chapel Perilous is the dangerous chamber where the seeker finds the Grail. In many myths the hero has to descend into hell to retrieve a loved one, or into a cave to fight a dragon and gain a treasure. It's Theseus going into the Labyrinth to face the Minotaur. In STAR WARS it's Luke and company being sucked into the Death Star where they will rescue Princess Leia. Sometimes
it's the hero entering the headquarters of his nemesis; and sometimes it's just the hero going into his or her own dream world to confront his or hers worst fears... and overcome them.

This is the moment at which the hero touches bottom. He faces the possibility of death, brought to the brink in a fight with a mythical beast. For us, the audience standing outside the cave waiting for the victor to emerge, it's a black moment. In STAR WARS, it's the harrowing moment in the bowels of the Death Star, where Luke, Leia and company are trapped in the giant trash-masher. Luke is pulled under by the tentacle monster that lives in the sewage, and is held down so long the audience begins to wonder if he's dead. E.T. momentarily appears to die on the operating table.
This is a critical moment in any story, an ordeal in which the hero appears to die and is born again. It's a major source of the magic of the hero myth. What happens is that the audience has been led to identify with the hero. We are encouraged to experience the brink-of- -death feeling with the hero. We are temporarily depressed, and then we are revived by the hero's return from death.
This is the magic of any well-designed amusement park thrill ride. Space Mountain or The Great White Knuckler make the passengers feel like they're going to die, and there's a great thrill that comes from surviving a moment like that. This is also the trick of rites of passage and rites of initiation into fraternities and secret societies. The initiate is forced to taste death and experience resurrection. You're never more alive than when you think you're going to die.

Having survived death, beaten the dragon, slain the Minotaur, the hero now takes possession of the treasure he's come seeking. Sometimes it's a special weapon like a magic sword, or it may be a token like the Grail or some elixir which can heal the wounded land. Sometimes the "sword" is knowledge and experience that leads to greater understanding and a reconciliation with hostile forces.
The hero may settle a conflict with his father or with his shadowy nemesis. In RETURN OF THE JEDI, Luke is reconciled with both, as he discovers that the dying Darth Vader is his father, and not such a bad guy after all.
The hero may also be reconciled with a woman. Often she is the treasure he's come to win or rescue, and there is often a love scene or sacred marriage at this point. Women in these stories (or men if the hero is female) tend to be SHAPE-SHIFTERS. They appear to change in form or age, reflecting the confusing and constantly changing aspects of the opposite sex as seen from the hero's point of view. The hero's supreme ordeal may grant him a better understanding of women, leading to a reconciliation with the opposite sex.

The hero's not out of the woods yet. Some of the best chase scenes come at this point, as the hero is pursued by the vengeful forces from whom he has stolen the elixir or the treasure. This is the chase as
Luke and friends escape from the Death Star, with Princess Leia and the plans that will bring down Darth Vader.
If the hero has not yet managed to reconcile with his father or the gods, they may come raging after him at this point. This is the moonlight bicycle flight of Elliott and E.T. as they escape from "Keys" (Peter Coyote), a force representing governmental authority. By the end of the movie, Keys and Elliott have been reconciled, and it even looks like Keys will end up as Elliott's father. (The script not the final cut, guys).

The hero emerges from the special world, transformed by his experience. There is often a replay here of the mock death-and-rebirth of stage 8, as the hero once again faces death and survives. Each ordeal wins him new command over the Force. He is transformed into a new being by his experience.

The hero comes back to his ordinary world, but his adventure would be meaningless unless he brought back the elixir, treasure, or some lesson from the special world. Sometimes it's just knowledge or experience, but unless he comes back with the elixir or some boon to mankind, he's doomed to repeat the adventure until he does. Many comedies use this ending, as a foolish character refuses to learn his lesson and embarks on the same folly that got him in trouble in the first place. Sometimes the boon is treasure won on the quest, or love, or just the knowledge that the special world exists and can be survived. Sometimes it's just coming home with a good story to tell.

The hero is introduced in his ordinary world, where he receives the call to adventure. He is reluctant at first but is encouraged by the wise old man or woman to cross the first threshold, where he encounters tests and helpers. He reaches the innermost cave, where he endures the supreme ordeal. He seizes the sword or the treasure and is pursued on the road back to his world. He is resurrected and transformed by his experience. He returns to his ordinary world with a treasure, boon, or elixir to benefit his world.
As with any formula, there are pitfalls to be avoided. Following the guidelines of myth too rigidly can lead to a stiff, unnatural structure, and there is danger of being too obvious.

The HERO MYTH is a skeleton that should be masked with the details of the individual story, and the structure should not call attention to itself. The order of the hero's stages as given here is only one of many variations. The stages can be deleted, added to, and drastically reshuffled without losing their power.
The values of the myth are what's important. The images of the basic version -- young heroes seeking magic swords from old wizards, fighting evil dragons in deep caves, etc., -- are just symbols, and can be changed infinitely to suit the story at hand.
The myth is easily translated to contemporary dramas, comedies, romances, or action-adventures by substituting modern equivalents for the symbolic figures and props of the hero story. The Wise Old Man may be a real shaman or Wizard, but he can also be any kind of mentor or teacher, doctor or therapist, crusty but benign boss, tough but fair top sergeant, parent, grandfather, etc. Modern heroes may not be going into caves and labyrinths to fight their mythical beasts, but they do enter an innermost cave by going into space, to the bottom of the sea, into their own minds, or into the depths of a modern city.
The myth can be used to tell the simplest comic book story or the most sophisticated drama. It grows and matures as new experiments are tried within its basic framework. Changing the sex and ages of the basic characters only makes it more interesting, and allows ever more complex webs of understanding to be spun among them. The basic characters can be combined, or divided into several figures to show different aspects of the same idea. The myth is infinitely flexible, capable of endless variation without sacrificing any of its magic.
And it will outlive us all.

 Taken from

Adapted from coverage by Chris Vogler

Norm Applegate author of:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Prisoner
Thriller writer Norm Applegate, author of Shockwave and Into the Basement, brings back, Jack Dwyer. 
Product Description
For fans of Lee Child: a staccato style of writing with deliberate violent descriptions...
A brutal killing in a city jail.
Isolation. Escape. Murder. 
A prisoner walks out and disappears. 
A stranger enters an apartment, a grotesque murder, a passport is seized.
A woman meets a stranger, a sultry night together, in the morning she’s dead…
A FedEx driver is mutilated, a .50 caliber sniper rifle is missing…
The President makes an appearance…
The Prisoner: a merciless assassin, cold and ruthless with no compassion for human life.
Jack Dwyer ex-military psychologist puts together the pieces. You go to the FBI, they don’t buy it. You go to the Chinese Embassy, they aren’t listening. You’re followed, picked up on the street. You’re beaten, blindfolded and taken to a safe house. You’re not sure why. But then you meet the prisoner and the pieces come together. There’s only one outcome…violent!
Edited by Deborah Levinson
Cover art Linda Boulanger
The Prisoner is approximately 68,000 words long, and is specifically formatted for Kindle. 

This ebook also contains bonus material:
Chapter 1 of Shockwave by: Norm Applegate. The first Jack Dwyer thriller

...And Chapter 1 of Amazon's best selling horror thriller in the UK and USA: Into the Basement 

Amazon link to: