Alias Juno Wolfe – Chapter 1

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I’m working on my next spy novel in the series, “The Secret Lives of Jessie Monroe.” The first book in the series was “Alias Juno Wolfe.” The second was “Who is Juno Wolfe?”

I thought since people are on lock-down, I could post in pieces the first book for you to read. If you like that idea, let me know. Here’s the first chapter of “Alias Juno Wolfe.” (Sorry, but cut & paste doesn’t add paragraph indents – hope it’s readable).

Add a comment if you want to see more. (Also available on Amazon and Kindle.)

Chapter 1: CELESTE

The sound of the diesel engines assured her that the 120-foot yacht was still traveling full speed towards their destination.
Since her rescue, her photo had been prominent in the press, touted as the new, attractive, and now well-accepted companion of Roberto Moreno, a wealthy Columbian businessman. It didn’t make a difference that Roberto already had a wife and two children in Colombia. He was happy to flaunt his new mistress, who was always seen by his side at various events and business meetings.
Celeste was someone the photographers were happy to photograph. Her beauty was obvious. She was tall, blond, and slim. With Celeste by his side, Roberto seemed much more at ease and assured in his power, although he had always been a strong and confident businessman.
There was a great deal of curiosity from the press about Celeste’s past, but it was something Roberto was unwilling to share with them.
Of course, Roberto was aware of her history. Having been sold into slavery at a young age, she was eventually bought by Carlos Santos, a king pin in the Colombian drug cartel. She was hidden by Carlos and abused. For years no one knew she existed, except a few aids close to Carlos.
When Santos’ compound was raided by Roberto’s cartel and Santos killed, Celeste was found in a back room, crouching and hiding.
Roberto took pity on her and gently coaxed her out of her hiding place. She wept in his arms and thanked him over and over for freeing her. Her unabashed gratitude and total commitment to him was overpowering. He decided then and there to love and protect her for the rest of his life.
Since then, she had been by his side continually.

He told Celeste they were taking a long boat ride. Preparations were made and he encouraged her to shop for clothes and other items she would need on the long voyage from Colombia heading north. The voyage would not be difficult. Roberto owned a huge yacht, with a full crew and plenty of amenities. The voyage would be an adventure, he told her. He wanted to show her the world, starting with the United States. Her excitement was obvious. But before they left there was business to be done.
A large social event had been planned to honor the current Colombian dictator’s daughter’s marriage. Roberto, as one of the key Colombian business owners was, of course, invited.
The gala was huge. Flash bulbs flashed as Roberto and Celeste entered the room. Both were dressed exquisitely. Roberto was the epitome of what every woman expects the prime Latin American male to look like. He was dressed in a well-fitting black tux with silver cummerbund that matched his black and silver hair. Celeste was dressed in an ice blue slim-fitting gown, a beautiful silver chocker with large sapphires adorned her neck. Her long blond hair was wrapped up and piled on her head, held there by a beautiful silver clip. Roberto spared no expense when it came to giving Celeste nice things to wear. With Celeste on his arm, they were the couple of the evening.
Afterwards they headed directly to the yacht where their luggage had already been stowed. After taking time to freshen up, Roberto escorted Celeste to the dining room where dinner would be served. The yacht was well equipped and the chef prepared meals that Celeste was never able to finish. After dinner, Roberto would signal to her to leave as the men took out their cigars and began to talk business. Roberto never let her stay during their discussions, although she was at times able to pick up a few of their words as she headed out or if she dallied in the hall outside the salon before heading to the stateroom. Roberto had told her not to roam throughout the boat after dinner. He explained that he feared if she had a mishap and fell off the ship, no one would know to rescue her.
However, this night, instead of heading directly to the stateroom, she slipped down the stairs to the galley. The dinner preparations had been cleared up and the crew were with Roberto. The galley was empty. Stealthily she searched the area. She noticed a stack of tin cans under the sink that looked like they could have been empty containers left over from prior dinners, but the ingredients didn’t match the meals they’d had so far. She lifted the lid on one and found bags of white powder. “So that’s how they will move the drugs to the docks,” she thought to herself. “They are making it look like just an offload of garbage.” She was aware that their first stop would be Newport Beach where they were planning to gather more supplies there.
She then pulled up the floor hatch and used her iPhone flashlight to peer in. She saw garbage bags piled up. She leaned in and opened the draw string on one and saw more bags of the white powder. She closed the bag, lowered the hatch, and quietly slipped out and returned to the stateroom with no one seeing her.
For days, they headed north. After several days at sea, they were within the waters of the United States. Tension was in the air and the crew was on high alert. As usual, Celeste politely excused herself when Roberto signaled to her that the men were going to start their private discussions.
She entered the stateroom, gabbed her small pink bag out of the cabinet and quickly pulled out two items from the bottom of the bag, and returned the bag to the cabinet. She hid the small switchblade in her high heel boot and took the other item with her. Slipping quietly through the salon, she went out the sliding door onto the outside deck where she hastily typed her final message into the small encryption device.
“Last transmission. Docking guest dock Newport Beach Marina 0700 tomorrow. Flying BVI flag.”
She paused. A pang went through her heart. She knew what her mission was and she knew it was necessary, that it would save lives. But Roberto truly cared for her and was the first man she had known. She was torn.
She hadn’t planned to become physically involved with Roberto. It wasn’t that he was unattractive to her. He was strong and fit with tanned skin and dark wavy hair. But she had felt it was important to avoid entanglements during assignments and had successfully avoided it in the past. She had planned to play the fragile abused girl and to convince Roberto he needed to wait for her to recover from the emotional injuries Carlos Santos had inflicted on her. At first it worked. Roberto had remained gracious and kind. As time went on, she became concerned that he was starting to feel rebuffed. But it was more than concern for the mission that motivated her; the look in his eyes as he gazed on her always made her feel a kind of love and appreciation she had never known before. Then one night in the large Spanish-style home he had established for her use, he offered her a drink on the balcony. There he professed his love for her and his long-term commitment.
“My beautiful and fragile Celeste,” he started. “I know you have not been treated well in the past. But I want to take care of you and wrap you in my arms. I will wait for you as long as you need me to, but when you are ready, I hope you will come to me.”
His eyes were deep with emotion and she felt an urge she had never felt before, a need to be connected with this man, a need to surrender. She relented and found a passion within her she didn’t know existed. She let herself be drawn into his arms and let go of her self control. It was the most amazing feeling she had ever had; she discovered what it meant to be a woman.
The next morning, Roberto was already gone and she was left with a mix of emotions: satisfaction and contentment, concern and worry, and a wishful thought that her excuse could be that perhaps he had drugged her. No, she had to admit she had taken the step willingly and now had passed the point of retreat. From then on, they were truly a couple. It made her deception easier, but at the same time she struggled to maintain focus on her mission.
Now on the balcony of the yacht, she forced herself to remember that the real Roberto was a murderer and drug lord. She forced logic to control her actions as she hit the “Send” button. It was done and she felt an ache in the pit of her stomach. She wasn’t sure what part of her loved Roberto, but she knew part of her did.
She quickly folded up the encryption device and dropped it over the side and into the ocean.
“What are you doing out there?” she heard Roberto from the salon behind her.
“Just getting some fresh air,” Celeste lied, and hated herself for the lie. He looked at her for longer than usual, seeming to ask a question.
She asked herself, “What’s wrong. Does he know?” She tried to submerge her thoughts. Out loud she said, “Don’t worry so much about me, dear. I won’t fall off the balcony.” She tried to flash him a sweet smile. “You’re back early. Is everything all right?”
“Of course my dear,” he smiled charmingly. “I’m just tired and we have an early morning docking tomorrow. I thought I’d get some rest.”
He walked to the liquor cabinet and pulled out a bottle of fine rum. “Care to join me in a nightcap?” he asked as he poured them each a small amount in fine crystal glasses, turned, and extended one towards her. She came in from the balcony, took one, and sat down on the bed. They both sipped their drinks without talking. A knock came on the stateroom door.
“Excuse me sir. We have a slight problem.”
“Sorry dear, but I must go.” Roberto said. He said, “Drink up,” swallowed the rest of his rum and waited expectantly while she finished her drink. “I hope I won’t be long.”
She went into the bathroom, removed the switchblade, and hid it under her bras in her drawer. She got ready for bed in one of her silky nightgowns, and awaited Roberto’s return.
She was feeling woozy. She hadn’t had much to drink. Her wooziness concerned her and she began to think back to the evening’s events and how unusual Roberto’s sudden appearance had been: he didn’t normally return to the stateroom until late at night.
“Unbelievable,” she reprimanded herself. “How could I have missed such an obvious move? The crew must have detected that last transmission. They would not have been able to decrypt it, but perhaps he is becoming suspicious.”
She dragged herself to the bathroom and stuck her finger down her throat until she gagged and threw up. It wasn’t nearly enough to remove the entire effect of the drink, and she was too groggy to come up with a plan. She struggled to her bed and hoped she was wrong. It was all she could do. She passed out.
She awoke suddenly. The sun was not up but the boat was obviously slowing down and entering port. The change in sound in the motors must have been what had awakened her. She realized Roberto was not in bed and thought back to the night before. She could tell he had not come to bed at all which sent panic up her spine. She jumped out of bed and as she reached in her drawer for her switchblade, she discovered it was not there. Then she knew. She had been found out.
Before she could make her next move, the door flew open and Roberto’s men came in, overpowered her, and hauled her out in her nightgown. They dragged her up to the top deck.
She saw the Newport Beach Marina pier lights not far away. Roberto was on the deck
“What’s wrong?” she asked innocently. Roberto looked at her with fury in his eyes. Obviously, acting innocent was not going to work. He knew.
Suddenly, she kicked at one of the men holding her and he crumpled. She twirled and caught another with her other foot. Freed from their grasp, she flung herself over the railing, but not fast enough. She heard the gunshot and felt the pain in her back. But she was free from the boat, into the bay. Underwater, she wrestled free of her long flowing nightgown and was in just her bikini panties, making it much easier to swim.
She knew which way she needed to go and she did, swimming underwater with a strength she found from within, strength she didn’t know she possessed. She heard the sound of gunshots spraying the water behind her. She stayed under the water as long as she could, then emerged for a quick breath and saw the flash of spotlights on the water, but they were searching near the boat and she was now quite a distance away. Then she quickly ducked below the surface again.
Surprisingly, she was soon near the pier and clung to a pylon underneath it. Then the pain from her wound, which she had somehow been able to ignore due to the cold water and adrenalin, started to radiate intensely and overcome her. She worked to keep her head mostly above water as the waves splashed over her. She faded in and out of consciousness, but somehow managed to remain clinging tightly to the pylon.

Meanwhile on the yacht, Roberto turned away from the railing and motioned his men to stop looking for her. Assuming that they had finished Celeste off he shook his head. “Unfortunate,” he said softly. “She was such a beauty.”
To his men he reiterated the discussion they had the night before. “She must have been working for friends of Santos’.” His third mate had already cleared everything of Celeste’s out of Roberto’s stateroom, stuffed it in a burlap bag, added a heavy weight, and threw it overboard.
He turned to his captain and asked, “Any chance we can go on to another marina, assuming Santos’ people know of our stop?”
The captain shook his head. “Sorry Senior, but we are too low on fuel. We must refill here.”
“Don’t we need to make a shipment to Juan Rodrigues tonight?” asked Roberto’s senior aid. “To repay him for the trucks and supplies he sent here.”
“That would be best for relations,” Roberto acknowledged. “Tell his men to just send the first truck down to the pier with our supplies and we will unload from the boat only what we owe Juan. Refuel as quickly as possible and we’ll head right back out to sea, to a destination that Santos’ people will not know about. We will arrange for the full unload at a safer place.”
As they approached the fuel dock, everybody was on alert. “Santos’ cartel may be waiting for us somewhere near the marina when we unload,” Roberto cautioned. “Tell the men on the truck to have their guns ready and to be alert.” Roberto sent his men to their stations to prepare to dock.

Just as Celeste was losing her grip on the pylon, she saw Jimmy next to her in the water. She thought she was hallucinating and assumed she was dying. She let herself drift off into the darkness.

The sky was just starting to lighten as the yacht approached the fuel dock. Roberto’s deck hands deftly jumped on the dock, caught the dock lines, and secured the yacht. They saw a truck at the top of the unloading ramp and two men were bringing a dolly down the ramp stacked with supplies. The men took the supplies off the dolly and stacked them near the yacht while Roberto’s men carried several large boxes down the yacht’s ramp to the dock in exchange.
The sound of gunfire near the truck caused them to pause. Drug Enforcement Agents accompanied by men in SWAT team gear ran down the ramp to the fuel dock, rifles pointed. More SWAT team members were at the top of the railing pointing their guns down at the yacht. The agents in front yelled out, “Everybody stop and raise your hands. Federal agents. We’re boarding the vessel.”
Roberto was standing at the top of the yacht ramp with his hands out innocently and said, “But what is wrong, sir? Do you have a warrant to board my ship?”
“Yes we do, Captain,” the agent in charge said, waiving the paperwork.
Roberto smiled and said pleasantly, “I’m sure this is just a misunderstanding. You are welcome to look around.”
“We’ll start with the boxes you just unloaded,” the agent said. “Have everyone disembark from the boat now. How many are on-board?” the agent in charge asked. Roberto told him two of his men were already on the dock and seven more were aboard.
The agent told Roberto and all of his men to leave the boat.
Roberto told his men to comply. He could tell they were outnumbered and it would be best to cooperate. He knew the drugs on-board were extremely well hidden, and his best hope was to diffuse the situation and be on their way.
They went down the ramp to the fuel dock, when the SWAT team members lined them up against the fuel shack with their arms raised. Several SWAT team members jogged up the ramp to check the boat for any stragglers.
The DEA agent in charge pointed to the boxes they had just unloaded.
“We’ll check these first,” he said.
“Those are just our spent supplies. Empty garbage,” Roberto claimed.
They began checking anyway, and opening some of the cans, they found the cocaine they knew was there. Roberto shut his eyes in dismay. Now he knew the agents would impound the yacht and tear it down to the hull until they had found all of the cocaine on board.
Roberto realized that there was only one way the agents could have known to look in the discarded supplies. Celeste wasn’t working with Santos’ men. Celeste was working for the United States government.
Roberto and his men were lead away in handcuffs.

Who Is Juno Wolfe?

I just finished my new spy novel – the second in the series, “The Secret Lives of Jessie Monroe:” Who is Juno Wolfe? I’m super excited about this book. I’d love it if you read the first book in the series, “Alias Juno Wolfe,” and then this one, but you don’t need to: they stand alone.

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My daughter Kristin was one of my proof-readers and said I need to get this one released ASAP. I started it a year ago, yet it predicts the recently breaking news occurring after the book was sent to the publisher: Russian hacking of our networks! And wait until you see what happens next! Kristin said it was an important book for people to read today.

It wasn’t originally meant to be a political novel, but I admit I have been worried about the trends I have been seeing in the U.S. I’m not talking about any specific president(s) (really I’m not), but more the trends towards Corporations taking over government (both parties) and the resulting negative effects. On the other hand, it’s also a fun spy novel so politics aside, I hope you enjoy it.

The book is set seven years in the future, where these negative trends have continued and America has degenerated. Like “Atlas Shrugged,” the book depicts a dystopian United States, updated and based on current events. Only our heroine can set them straight.

It’s both a warning about the future and an optimistic view of how things can be returned to the right course.

Let me know what you think! It’s on Amazon and you can get to it from http://www.Goodreads.com.

Sassy the Salmon

My first children’s book, “The Fable of the Farmer and the Fish,” was very well received, especially by parents and children concerned about the awesome California Delta and preserving it for future generations.

There was still another story I wanted to tell related to the California Delta, and that was the current plight of the native salmon species and what the State should be doing to reverse the current trend of over-exporting water from the Delta to the South and causing the salmon’s demise.
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This story is about two little salmon, Sassy and Trip, as they go on their adventure, learning about their purpose in life. (A fun side-note – my granddaughter Serenity goes by the nickname “Sassy” and her little brother Sojourn’s nickname is “Trip,” the two little salmon in my story.)

Our story starts out as the little salmon hatch.

The mother salmon laid her eggs in the cool river water. She laid a hundred eggs in the nest and then, satisfied, she sighed and swam away. She had fulfilled her purpose.

In the spring, the tiny fish hatched.

“Hi. My name is Sassy,” said one little fish to the others. “What’s your name?” The brothers and sisters introduced themselves and began to swim around and play. One little fish was smaller than the others and two big boy fish were teasing him.

“Stop that,” Sassy told the two boy fish. “He’s our brother too.”

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“Sorry,” they both said.

“What’s your name, little guy?” Sassy asked.

“Trip,” he said.

“You stick close to me. Let’s go have fun.”

“Sassy the Salmon” is a story of hope – hope for common sense to come to the forefront and hope for those in charge to start reversing the negative trends and restore the Delta to the healthy and clean river it should be.

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My daughter, Kristin, talked me into illustrating this book. She picked water colors as the mode since, she said, it’s about water, after all. I hadn’t painted with water colors in years, but she found “how to” videos, went to art supply stores with me, and together we started. She encouraged me, saying she liked the art and so I continued.

For me, it was a project of hope and love.

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I finished “Doug’s Last Laugh”, but there was another story nagging at me.

I had this secret persona I’d thought about on and off. Yes, me – the good little Mormon girl from Utah had often thought through spy scenarios when falling asleep, to entertain myself. This one in particular kept coming back.

It was about two twins, Jessie and Jimmy Monroe. When they were small, they met their uncle for the first time and to their surprise, he looked exactly like their dad. (Uncle John and their father were twin brothers – identical). They didn’t know then why they’d never met Uncle John before, but it was because he was a spy for the CIA and not into family get-togethers. But they did finally meet once. As the twins leave the restaurant with their parents while Uncle John pays the bill, gunmen, mistaking their dad for Uncle John, mow their parents down in cold blood, right before the two small children. The trauma puts the young twins into a state of shock. Uncle John takes them in, but doesn’t know what to do with them. They survive by clinging together and speaking in a language only they can understand.

Uncle John brings in tutors, but all the twins are interested in is math and science – subjects with little or no interaction with the teachers. After many years of being isolated and home-schooled), Uncle John does find, finally, something they will leave the house for – martial arts.

So here you have this combination – extremely intelligent, technical twins highly trained in combat. Their uncle is a CIA spy. Hmmm. That seems like a good basis for a smart, tough female spy novel.

The first book in the series is Alias Juno Wolfe . The series is “The Secret Lives of Jessie Monroe.”
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Here we find Jessie in her undercover operations as Celeste, companion of Roberto, a Columbian drug lord. Later, Jessie goes undercover as Juno Wolfe, a software security guru who identifies a plot to use delivery drones to attack the nation’s capital.

It was a lot of fun to write – I hope you like it.

If you do, please add to the Amazon Reviews . Thanks!

Doug’s Last Laugh

After I finished writing It Starts with an Idea, and then wrote down my memoirs for my grandchildren, “Class of ’67”, I had the writing bug.

There was a story I was wanting to tell about our best friend’s dad, Doug. Doug was like a father to me. When we moved from Utah to California, Doug always welcomed us into his home as if we were part of the family. I loved it, because my father had died years before and my mother died shortly after we moved to California and had our two babies. Even my mother’s second husband died shortly after she did, from a broken heart.

Doug was funny, witty, and always on-the-go. Some people thought his humor was over-the-top, but I loved his humor and him.

So, how should I tell the story? I thought of writing it as a non-fiction, like my prior two books. People were giving me great feedback on them, said they liked my writing style. But our friend was somewhat private about things. He’d worked on classified government projects with clearances and didn’t trust having a FaceBook page. When they decided to write a travel blog, they opted for WordPress instead of FaceBook so they could control the audience. So I didn’t feel comfortable writing about he and his family.

Instead, I decided to use the experiences I’d had with Doug and create a different person and family and wrote “Doug’s Last Laugh”.

Most of the activities did occur, but not always to the same family members. I made up a new family, put my friend and my husband in it as twin brothers, and voila – I became an actual member of the family, a daughter-in-law.

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The ending is the true, special story of hiking to a tall, tall mountain in Montana to spread Doug’s ashes, to say goodbye to Doug, the man we all loved.

Class of ’67

“Mimi,” said my granddaughter, Serenity (she calls me Mimi), “tell me a story about when you were growing up.”

That was a constant request from our little Sassy (our nickname for Serenity).

I’d finished writing my book about my software start-up, It Starts with an Idea, and had learned how to use Amazon’s self-publishing website, http://www.createSpace.com, and thought to myself, “Instead of telling her stories all the time, I should write them down so she has them forever.”

I mean, I’m not getting any younger and you know what say, “Memory is the second thing to go.”
“What’s the first?” you ask.
“I forget.”

I started reflecting back on my childhood and growing up in Utah. As a young child, I lived in a very homogenous (aka white), Mormon neighborhood. All of the kids in my elementary school were white and Mormon, except Joanne who was Catholic and the kids teased her about that. That’s not exactly right. I had a good friend who was Japanese but in general, white and the same. Until junior high, that is.

Our junior high was right on the board of the East Side of Salt Lake (where we lived) and the West Side (across the tracks). Arriving at junior high was quite an eye-opener. I remembered one day we even had a rumble – quite “West Side Story”-ish. I wanted to do more than write stories, I wanted to create the atmosphere from that time. Growing up in the ’50s; the vibrancy, how we lived and played. So I wrote it more like a novel – starting out in the summer before I headed off to school at junior high the first time.

So my story starts out when I’m awoken from the drum beat of the South High Pep Club marching in the park near our house:

I awoke at 7 a.m. to the sound of the drums. Boom, ba-da boom, ba-da, boo-boo-boo-boom. It was the beat of the South High Pep Club, who would be practicing at Liberty Park every morning for the next two weeks. The park was very near to our house – close enough that the drum beat echoed through my bedroom’s open window.

“Argh,” I thought as I tried to pull the covers over my head. My sister Kathy, five years older than me and soon a senior at South High, would already be at the park, going through the routine with the other Pep Club girls. But for me, it was supposed to be a lazy summer morning, and I had planned to sleep in.

I would be starting junior high soon, and needed my sleep. We had only two weeks left until school started, and I hadn’t wanted to be woken up early.

Then I heard the pans crashing in the kitchen and knew Mom was making her oatmeal. She always ended up making a huge noise in the kitchen when she was trying to get her small oatmeal pan out from under the bigger pans for her early morning breakfast before going to work.

I dragged myself out of bed and padded into the kitchen.

“Really, Mom?” I asked. “Can’t someone sleep in around here?”

“Now that you’re up,” she said brightly, “make my coffee. OK? I need to get to work.”

Then what to name it. My first choice was “On South High!” the opening words from our high school song. But my husband and others who hadn’t attended South didn’t “get it.” So then I picked my high school graduating class, “Class of ’67”.

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I used pictures from our yearbook and our school colors, blue and white on the cover.

As luck would have it, I published it shortly before our South High Class of ’67 had its 50th Reunion. Needless to say, it was a big hit at the reunion (I took extra copies). Even my sister’s friends bought it (and she was five years ahead of me in school). They all said how it reminded them of their school years and what a fun read it was.

On South High!

That was so exciting. I think I need to write more books!

“It Starts with an Idea” – Available on Amazon

“It Starts with an Idea” is finally published and available on Amazon – Click here.

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Read about the adventure of a start-up in Silicon Valley. The book interlaces the story of the start-up Intelic (renamed “Azerity” in 2001) with stories from prior jobs, valuable lessons learned. The book reveals how Intelic created a dedicated and enthusiastic team – a team that worked hard and had fun – and a great product.

Almost Ready to Publish!

Now that we’ve finalized on a book title and sub-title that ties in, the final draft proof is on its way in the mail. The title and subtitle are: “It Starts with an Idea” – How a little software company competed against the big software gorillas by turning an idea into practical software.

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Our friend, Pete, came up with the title, which was actually one of the early chapter titles. Since the book is about a start-up, it made sense to use that as the title. I like it.

One final review then it goes to Amazon to publish a print and Kindle version. Hope you like it!

Naming a Book is Hard

OK – No one likes either of my first two book name ideas: “Gorilla Warfare” (sounds like a story about combat if you don’t know how to spell, or an issue in the jungle with real gorillas if you do know how to spell) or “Practical Software” (sounds like a boring technical manual). People suggest that since it is such a fun read, it should have a title that draws people to read it other than just software geeks. Something catchy that would cause people to download it from Kindle.

The byline is “How a little company competed against the big software gorillas by building practical software” (that is working well), the book talks inside about competing with the big software gorillas, and so the cover has a gorilla on the front, little chimp (our company) on the back.

New suggestions currently are:

  • “It Starts with an Idea” – that’s actually one of the early chapter titles.
  • “Safari into the Software Jungle” – unless it’s too long.
  • “Software Safari” – if the above is too long. But the one above sounds more fun to me.