Saturday, December 28, 2013


The newspapers during the last few days have contained many reviews of 2013. Many of them are gloomy.  The U.S. Congress remained gridlocked during the year, stumbling from one crisis to another. The government was forced to shut down for several days. Fights over the implementation of the “Affordable” Health Care Act dominated politics and the news. Nelson Mandela passed away. The giants appear all gone, and mere humans are left to grapple with the problems of our times.

2013 was far kinder to me. When the year began, I was struggling to market my little-known novel, FALL EAGLE ONE, about a Nazi attempt to kill FDR. Sales were very modest, and I had few ideas about how to spread the word about my book. But I had asked my daughter, Karen Williams, to help me mount an Internet marketing campaign as my Christmas present. In late winter, we began the effort.

I already had a Facebook page, but it needed a lot of updating. Then Karen introduced me to Twitter. As soon as I grasped the “expanding ripples” effect of Twitter, I took to it readily.  Carefully studying how successful authors were using the media, I realized that one had to widely publicize the works of other authors to get them to publicize mine. I began devoting over an hour per day to Internet marketing. Meanwhile, Karen was building an author’s website for me.

By April 2013, FALL EAGLE ONE had climbed into the upper one percent of Kindle sales and has hovered in that range for the remainder of the year. It has 43 reviews with a 4.5-star out of 5 average rating. I spend about an hour and a half a day on marketing, but it has paid off handsomely.

I completed my second novel, HOLD BACK THE SUN, in the summer of 2013. Another World War II yarn, my new work follows the adventures of two U.S. Asiatic Fleet lieutenants during the opening months of the Pacific War. Karen built a YouTube trailer, which appears on my website. We launched the Kindle version of the new book in early August, and it quickly began to sell. When subdivided its bestseller lists in autumn, HOLD BACK THE SUN appeared as #8 in the historical fiction/Asian category. It soon climbed to #3 and has been in the upper 10 all year. It has 28 Reviews with a 4.3-star out of 5 average rating.

My third book, ASPHALT AND BLOOD, is already in the works. It will tell the story of how the U.S. Navy Seabees aided the Marines during the Battle for Hue City during the Vietnam War. My target launch is for Labor Day 2014.

I shall always remember 2013 as the year I could truthfully add the title, “author,” after my name.

Note: Warren Bell is a historical fiction author with two novels released and for sale either for Kindle or in paperback from  Both are set during WWII, with Fall Eagle One taking place in Europe, and Hold Back the Sun is set in the war in the Pacific. Karen Williams, Marketing for Authors specializes in Marketing and PR for Independent Authors.  She can be reached through her website or at

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Disruption of Identity Theft

Last weekend, my wife, Annette, and I were the victims of identity theft. The incident is still under investigation, so I’ll not reveal all the details. Our incident was not as serious as some, but it completely disrupted our lives for several days.

On Saturday, we held a book sale and signing in Norfolk, Virginia. We had the best sales of any similar event to date, so left for Williamsburg feeling very satisfied. After fighting through a driving rainstorm, we arrived safely at home. Annette tallied up the finances of the event and them did some work on line. On a whim, she checked our bank accounts. Red flags began slapping her in the face.

Someone had gotten into one of our credit card accounts and advanced a large sum of money to our checking account. They were in the process of transferring smaller sums from that account into other bogus accounts at the bank, then withdrawing it at once. We were fortunate that Annette discovered the scam so soon. A frantic call to the bank’s 24-hour number got all the accounts frozen and stopped the hemorrhage. After we filed a fraud report, the bank made us whole. The bank, however, is currently out several thousand dollars.

Then the cleanup began.  Since this was a sophisticated hacking, we had to close all our accounts with the bank and open new ones. Consequently, we had to contact all the sources of our revenue and change the account to which our direct deposits are made. Even more complicated, we had to contact every establishment to whom we had agreed to automatic drafts from our accounts and change them also.  This has taken the better part of a week to accomplish. The big bugaboo was avoiding additional charges for returned and late billings. We’re not sure that we’ve plugged all the holes yet. We still have to contact all the charities that take monthly amounts from our credit cards. One of our remaining headaches is that we have to physically go to our bank branch to conduct business until the changes are all in place. Another requirement of the bank was that our computers be completely scanned for viruses.  We use have an Imac computer, but the scan did find some weaknesses, which have been repaired.

Internet banking can be a wonderful convenience. Vulnerabilities to hacking can turn it into a nightmare. As violated as Annette and I feel, our experience must pale before the realities of people who have had new credit cards and accounts opened in their names by identity thieves. Many have had their credit completely wrecked by these heartless criminals. We have credit monitoring in place to spot such activity early. Everyone who uses the Internet for financial transitions should do likewise. I leave you with one further piece of advice: NEVER write a check and use a credit card issued by the same bank at a single establishment on the same day!

Note: Warren Bell is a historical fiction author with two novels released and for sale either for Kindle or in paperback from  Both are set during WWII, with Fall Eagle One taking place in Europe, and Hold Back the Sun is set in the war in the Pacific.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Babyboomers and Technology

Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri ignited a flurry of rebuttal letters with her recent editorial suggesting that Babyboomers are far behind Millennials in their grasp and use of today’s technology. I have to agree with her critics. My children and their spouses are all Babyboomers.  All of them are very adept with the world of electronic gadgetry. They are my technical support. Without their help, I would never have mastered the intricacies of Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, webpages, and all the other technology I use daily in writing and promoting my books. 

Unless I can’t count, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are both Babyboomers. So are Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas. The Internet was largely a Babyboomer invention, as were cell phones and videogames. Facebook and Twitter may be credited to the next generation, but I don’t know many Babyboomers who don’t employ them.  It seems to me that the difference between Babyboomers and Millennials is that Babyboomers use technology to accomplish their ends while many Millennials appear obsessed by it. Computer screens of one size or another consume a very large percentage of their attention.

Many Millennials appear both rude and impatient: rude because they ignore other humans around them in favor of an electronics device; impatient because they expect their every want to be satisfied with Internet speed.  Most Babyboomers are more adept at human interactions. My sister-in-law observed such behavior when she taught briefly at the university we attended earlier. In our day, students clustered in groups and enjoyed each other’s company. During her tenure as a professor, she observed most students crossing the campus independently, their faced buried in their cell phones.

You may notice that I use the words, “many” and “most,” in my discussion.  I’m trying not to overgeneralize. I would not say “all” to characterize any large group, for there are always exceptions to group patterns of behavior.

My generation learned patience as a virtue. One of my maternal grandmother’s favorite sayings was, “With patience possess ye your soul.” I’ll admit that I wasn’t a patient man for many years. Changing Navy duty stations every two or three years for decades, I learned what I termed, “calculated impatience.” When one is presented with a limited time to make an impact on one’s environment, too much patience can result in a lack of performance. Only with age did I finally conclude that my course was negatively affecting my relationships with others.  I learned patience to preserve those relationships. For in the final analysis, relationships are what count most in life.


Friday, December 6, 2013

The Passing of a Giant

Yesterday, the world lost a great peacemaker. Nelson Mandela was one of history’s indispensible men, as important to South Africa as George Washington was to the United States. Emerging from a long political prison sentence, he guided his country through a period of forgiveness and reconciliation that ensured the creation of a stable democracy. In South Africa, the pattern of “one man-one vote-one time” that plagued the continent’s post-colonial history was not repeated. Like Washington, after a time as President, Mandela foreswore a ”presidency for life,” stepping down after one term.

South Africa could have turned out quite differently. After reading The Covenant, James Michener’s long novel on the country, I was convinced that apartheid could only end in an inter-racial bloodbath. Then I discovered the writings of Wilbur Smith. A native of the state of Natal, Smith writes of Africa with the clear-eyed realism of a man who loves his homeland. His works address the history of Africa from the viewpoints of both black Africans and white colonialists. His stories of friendships developing between the races gave me hope for a peaceful resolution of a seemingly hopeless situation. Mandela brought those hopes to reality.

Wilbur Smith was not widely recognized in the United Stated before the end of apartheid, perhaps because of his origins. Since the emergence of Mandela’s “Rainbow Democracy,” Smith’s epic novels, River God and Triumph of the Sun have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller lists. I recommend his prolific writings to all readers who would understand the history of Africa, especially South Africa and Zimbabwe. His last few books deal with Egypt, the Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya.

Nelson Mandela will be long remembered and revered. His life stands as a challenge to those of us who remain to match his capacity for forgiveness and peaceful change. The cycles of revenge so prevalent in today’s world must somehow be broken if peace is ever to prevail. Perhaps Mandela gave us a roadmap.

Note: Warren Bell is a historical fiction author with two novels released and for sale either for Kindle or in paperback from  Both are set during WWII, with Fall Eagle One taking place in Europe, and Hold Back the Sun is set in the war in the Pacific.