Sunday, November 15, 2015

Big Government 2500 Years Ago and Today!

The more things change the more things remain fundamentally the same with respect to the human condition as evidenced by Socrates’s comments defending himself from charges of corrupting the young:

"The State is like a great and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life. I am that gadfly which God has given the State and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you."

Socrates’s quote appears in Plato’s Apology retelling Socrates’s unsuccessful efforts to defend himself from charges brought by the state.

I was reminded of Socrates’s comments by a November 8, 2015 article in The Tennessean newspaper reporting on the misguided attempts of the City of Franklin Tennessee to intimidate what the city called environmental gadflies.

Present 2015 political currents evidence that the problems inherent with big government continue to this day. Big government (in Socrates’s time it was Athens) is not only “tardy in its motions”; the untended negative consequences of its actions often far outnumber its accomplishments.

Our country was created to be different—to be a country of the people and for the people. But, given time Jerry Pournell’s The Iron Law of Bureaucracy proves inviolable. The fact that the inmates have taken control is the only explanation for the chaos in our policies, lack of policies, actions and inactions.

Is government broken? Yep! How do we fix it?  The only effective treatment for “tardy motions” is a smaller more agile and attentive government. It was true almost 2500 years ago and it is true today.

Rather than “more,”- the preservation of the American Way requires “less.”- Great leaders diligently simplify and eliminate.  It is that trait, to constantly simplify and eliminate, that we sorely need in the next President of the United States of America.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Machines are Here

Is the future a future of the “Machines” and are the machines 3D printers?

While 3D printing is not a kitchen table topic in American homes, it is evolving to change the world as we know it. 3D printing is creating a new horizon of possibilities. But, will it prepare us for an exploding population or necessitate a smaller, but more leisurely one?

What happens when anything we want or can dream up is printed for us? Think I am exaggerating? The industrial military complex has successfully printed an eighty-six foot rocket complete with an engine that can put a 250 satellite into orbit. Amsterdam is using massive 3D printers to build a bridge in place that seems to defy gravity.


3D printing is being used to build replacement

organs for humans, and with continued innovation, we are going to routinely use 3D printers used for the production of virtually all good and products.


3D printing will undoubtedly lead to the development of things never dreamed possible. However, when food, apparel, appliances, vehicles, and structures can be printed what happens to the people who grew and prepared the food, tailored the apparel, manufactured appliances, or built bridges and other structures. What do humans do, when the machines do everything?

Wait, you say -- humans will build the machines.

Somewhere, some young engineer is already working on a machine that will print its own off springs—the Mother Machine.

Now what? 


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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015




My List of Good Products and Services

Updated November 3, 2015

Bad service and poor qualiy has become so common place that its time to fight back by reconizing the exceptions--the good guys who do it right. 

  • Mosquito Squad: For years we had to retreat to our screened in porch. Not anymore! To find out more go to their website at www.mosquitosquad.com.
  • Closets by Design: The installer arrived when promised. The installation was professional and the finished product was exactly what we expected—Good quality, fair price, nice people. Go to www.closetsbydesgn.com.
  • Turfcare Landscapes: We use them to maintain our current landscape including mowing, rose care, mulching, debris removal, roundup and insecticide treatment as needed, aeration, reseeding, trimming and pruning.  It is like our lawn and landscaped areas are on autopilot. They just take care of things—we don’t have to tell them what to do. They see what is needed and they take care of it—that’s all folks and it is great! Go to http://www.turfcareofnashville.com.
  • Chris Doubler, Art Handler & Designer: We had some really large paintings that needed to be hung in high and difficult locations.  Finding the names of people who do that work wasn’t easy, but I finally came up with three recommendations. Two never returned my calls.  The third finally did, but he explained that what I needed was beyond his job grade; however, he gave me the name of someone who could do what I wanted. That someone was Chris Doubler. Chris called me back almost immediately. He quoted a fair hourly rate, and we agreed on the day and time for the work. He arrived as promised with all the equipment, tools, and helpers needed for the job.  He installed eight large pieces in a little less than two hours. The workmanship was first rate. You can reach Chris by phone at 615/423-5763. Services include installation, packing, consultations, and transportation of art.
  • Elon's Ornamental Iron: After remodeling our stone deck and patio, we needed to add wrought Iron stair rails and refinish older existing wrought iron railing. Owner Kenneth Morrison meet with us;help us pick the design and gave us a reasonable estimate and timeline for completing the job. They delivered as promised and on time. You can reach Elon's by calling 615/403-6372. 
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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Monday, August 31, 2015

“They’re Stupid!”

Where have you heard that lately? People are saying that Mr. Trump’s “they’re stupid” mantra has turned political correctness on its head. But, he may be on to something. A friend of mine reminded me of Carlo Maria Cipolla’s study of human stupidity which he reported in an essay titled The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity. Cipolla identified five fundamental laws of stupidity:

  1. Always and inevitably each of us underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
  2. The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person.
  3. A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process.
  4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the harmful potential of stupid people; they constantly forget that at any time anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error.
  5. A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is.

You ignore Cipolla’s five laws at your peril, especially #5.

As a business owner and executive, I didn’t use the word stupid, but like any good executive or manager, I understood the dangers stupid people presented.

My team at Juris, Inc. called them “unconscious incompetents.” They are people who are not yet competent for the position they are in and do not know they are incompetent. Few people, including the President of the United States, go into a position fully competent on day one. Conscious incompetent people know their limitations and compensate. They seek advice, take advantage of training opportunities, they self study, etc. — all in an effort to learn and gain experience that increases their level of competency. The process from incompetent to competent is explained by the authority triangle in my book The Language of Excellence.

The unconscious incompetent without hesitation makes decisions for which they are not qualified. As employees they expose an organization to undue risk and thus when identified they are driven out—terminated. The risk to society of unconscious incompetent political figures and bureaucrats is even greater, and unfortunately, they are seldom driven out, and prior to Mr. Trump, there was often no attempt to identify them. Who are unconscious incompetents: “They are the dangerous people—Trump’s “STUPID!” people.”

Now....consider this. Do you think Mr. Trump is ready, fully competent, for the job of President of the United States? If not, do you think he knows that? ...And if he doesn’t, wouldn’t that make him, I don’t know... “STUPID!”

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For signed copies of The Language of Excellence and other books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Every once a while, someone really comes through!  These are the Good people and Good products. The Good people do what they promised when they promised to do it, and they do it at the price they promised. Likewise, you occasionally get your hands on Good products.  They are priced right, built right, and do exactly what you expected them to.
 
Unfortunately, Good no longer seems to be the norm. More likely than not, you will not get what you paid for. I am really getting tired of poor service, shoddy products or poor workmanship, and failures to deliver (or show up) on time as promised. Those are the Bad people and products.  And it can only get worse from there. The Ugly are those situations where you feel you were cheated, intentionally mislead, or the product or service causes more harm than good. Since the Good is so rare today, I want to start sharing the identity of services and products that really stand out as Good—at least in my experience. I hope this list grows, because it is disappointingly short.
 

My List of Good Products and Services


  • Mosquito Squad: For years we had to retreat to our screened in porch. Not anymore! To find out more go to their website at www.mosquitosquad.com.
  • Closets by Design: The installer arrived when promised. The installation was professional and the finished product was exactly what we expected—Good quality, fair price, nice people. Go to www.closetsbydesgn.com.
  • Turfcare Landscapes: We use them to maintain our current landscape including mowing, rose care, mulching, debris removal, roundup and insecticide treatment as needed, aeration, reseeding, trimming and pruning.  It is like our lawn and landscaped areas are on autopilot. They just take care of things—we don’t have to tell them what to do. They see what is needed and they take care of it—that’s all folks and it is great! Go to http://www.turfcareofnashville.com.
  • Chris Doubler, Art Handler & Designer: We had some really large paintings that needed to be hung in high and difficult locations.  Finding the names of people who do that work wasn’t easy, but I finally came up with three recommendations. Two never returned my calls.  The third finally did, but he explained that what I needed was beyond his job grade; however, he gave me the name of someone who could do what I wanted. That someone was Chris Doubler. Chris called me back almost immediately. He quoted a fair hourly rate, and we agreed on the day and time for the work. He arrived as promised with all the equipment, tools, and helpers needed for the job.  He installed eight large pieces in a little less than two hours. The workmanship was first rate. You can reach Chris by phone at 615/423-5763. Services include installation, packing, consultations, and transportation of art. 
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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Monday, May 25, 2015

We Were Robbed!

Once we moved, we told the contractor, “Thank you but we will take it from here.”

Since our plan was downsizing, we didn’t expect to spend a lot of time on the second floor. Nevertheless, we realized that those upstairs bedrooms depended mainly on lamps for illumination. So being “contractorless,” we called an electrical subcontractor and told them we would like to have recessed lights installed in the three upstairs bedrooms. It seems everyone in the construction business is super busy in the Nashville area these days. Home construction may be down but mega apartment buildings are going up everywhere. The subcontractor “worked us in” to their schedule sending over two workers on a Saturday.
  
The electrical company has done work for us many times over the years and has done a great job. They have often worked in the current and prior residences when neither we nor anyone else was in the house. We trusted them completely. I admit, however, that this time we were not familiar with every member of the crew doing the recessed light work. My wife and I needed to run an errand, and we left the men alone to complete their work with instructions about securing the house if they should finish before we returned. We were gone a couple of hours.

When we returned, the house was locked, fully secured, and the men were gone. I had to go out again, so I looked for some cash that I had left in a basket on the kitchen counter.  [I have to be very careful here not to mention names. In America, you are innocent until proven guilty, and proving guilt isn’t easy without the help or stupidity of the thief.] Oops, the money was gone. So were three of my wife’s rings that were also in that basket including her 53 year old wedding band. Now getting nervous, I checked where I kept my watches and rings. Two very special rings were gonea 22ct gold David Yurman piece with the image of a horse in black jade and a second gold ring with a carnelian carved by the German artist, Manfred Wild.
  
The sheriff is on the case—so is Mark Rollins because whoever the culprit is, this probably wasn’t his first robbery, and unless we catch him and put him away, it probably will not be his last. “Mariko, get your Beretta—the game is afoot.”

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For more about the move and its trails and tribulations go to the prior post titled Our Next House.



For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.






Saturday, May 23, 2015

Our Next House

My email, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts have been filled today with well wishes. My thanks to each you for touching base on my birthday. I thought I would use the occasion to give you an update on our physical move. It is only about three miles from the old homestead, which is now in the hands of my daughter and her family.

We are figuratively ‘bruised and bloodied’ but finally in our next house. I’m not calling it home yet because there is still a lot to do before it feels that way.

The plan had been to down size, but I think something went wrong with that plan. The house was previously owned by a professional hockey player. And I have been told the house was frequently an after game hang out, so it has taken some wear and tear. Thus, we decided to remodel and - renew the house before occupying it.

Our three month remodeling plan took about eight months, and there are still odds and ends that have to be done.  We had five destructive water events during the remolding. The first was an overflowing drip pan of an air handler installed in the attic. Then during a severe cold snap, we had an ice damn that damaged the ceiling and floors of the breakfast room. Both events did a lot of damage but were nothing compared to what we experienced during the water heater saga. It started when a traditional water heater also installed in the attic died of old age. Its tank burst sending water crashing through the ceiling and flowing down the walls of the living room and master bedroom suite. The contractor talked me into a tankless replacement so that I would never have that kind of problem ever again. Not so! After the drywall and other damage from the first water heater had been repaired, the tankless water heater froze and burst. It was déjà vu. Then the contractor recommended that I build a insulated room around the next replacement to prevent such a thing from ever happening again. Confident that the insulated room eliminated all risk of another frozen water heater, we went ahead with the installation of  new subflooring and carpet. The temperature outside dropped. The replacement of the replacement of the replacement froze and burst despite its protective new insulated room. In came the big fans again. Freshly painted dry wall was removed along with light fixtures, portions of the carpet, and subflooring. All had to be replaced, restored, and repainted. It déjà vu all over again!

This time I remembered the old saying “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” It turned out the tankless water heaters were installed in such a way that when the lights in the attic were turned off so was the power to the water heater. Which I later learned later, if installed properly, would remain unfrozen even at 30 degrees below zero.

That was the last straw when it came to a water heater in the attic. You see we already had a second traditional water heater in the garage. The only thing the one in the attic did was serve the master bedroom bath. “Guys, we are downsizing! Why in the world would two people need two water heaters?  I wish the contractor had thought of that instead of “an insulated” room. We rerouted the plumbing of the master bath to connect to that already existing other water heater—and finally I can say “We will never have to deal with that kind of problem ever again!”

We did get something out of this that most people don’t have—a nice insulated room in the attic. It is empty. The tankless water heater that once called it home is only a bad memory.

More to come—We were robbed!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Cake Angel

I’m a cancer survivor—one who beat the odds. So far, to do so has meant three major operations, chemo, and radiation. After the first operation, I remember waking up in the hospital to listen to the surgeon tell me that he had been unable to remove all of the offending tumor. I should go home and put my affairs in order. I had two years to live, maybe. The team at Tennessee Oncology took over and thanks to them I am cancer free, at least for now.   The Oncology team is determined to keep it that way monitoring my health closely. That means regular visits to the clinic and my little slice of cake from the Cake Angel.

Everyone at Tennessee Oncology has been visited by the Cake Angel.  I don’t know her name or her story, but I would like to know both.  What I do know is that every day this nice lady brings a basket of freshly baked cakes to the clinic for the patients. She calls her goodies bread—Zucchini bread, banana, chocolate chip, cinnamon nut, butter pecan, etc. What an unselfish act.

Cancer is scary. Hours in a chemo chair with poison dripping in your veins is hard. It is a little less scary and chemo is just a little easier because of the Cake Angel.

A good person might do something nice once in a while. What elevates this lady to Angel status is that she does her nice thing every single day. That kind of dedication to a task she has created for herself can only be an act of love. Knowing that we have caring people like the Cake Angel in this world is sweeter that the daily slice of bread she offers to each of us.
Me on Chemo


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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.



Thursday, February 5, 2015

Two spaces after a period is just wrong!

I learned to type in high school. It was 1958, so, of course, my typing was done on a manual typewriter. At the time, I had no idea just how valuable typing skill would become to me as a computer user. But I also picked up one almost unshakable bad habit—the “two space” error.

As Farhad Manjoo explains in Slate, “you should never, ever use two spaces after a period.” In spite of the fact that every major style guide prescribes the single space rule, people of my generation can’t seem to stop putting that extra space into everything they type including e-mails.

Farhad notes that “the people who study and design the typewritten word decided long ago that we should use one space, not two, between sentences.” So when and why did some of us start adding an extra space?


It seems that the misguided two spaces are a product of those old manual typewriters I used in high school. We were taught to put two spaces after periods by our typing teachers to accommodate the shortcomings of manual typewriters. With those outdated obsolete machines used mono-spaced type, every character occupied an equal amount of horizontal space on the sheet. Putting an extra space after a sentence made text easier to read. With today’s electronics, nearly every font is proportional. With proportional fonts, the two space exception to the long established one space tradition was no longer needed. With proportional fonts, typographers say the extra space diminishes rather than enhances readability.


The problem for people of my generation is that the muscle memory in our fingers that allows us to type without looking or thinking about the keys also automatically adds the extra space. While we know right from wrong, our fingers have a mind of their own.

P.S.: After originally typing the above, I edited the text to eliminate all the extra spaces my independently thinking fingers had added. There were nine.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

πόλλ' οἶδ' ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ' ἐχῖνος ἓν μέγα

The above ancient Greek text translates as "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."  A surprising number of fables and modern stories have been inspired by this bit of text attributed to Archilochus.  Jim Collins even included a version of one in his book Good to Great. Collins explains it this way:
“Picture two animals: a fox and a hedgehog. Which are you? An ancient Greek parable distinguishes between foxes, which know many small things, and hedgehogs, which know one big thing. All good-to-great leaders, it turns out, are hedgehogs. They know how to simplify a complex world into a single, organizing idea—the kind of basic principle that unifies, organizes, and guides all decisions. That’s not to say hedgehogs are simplistic. Like great thinkers, who take complexities and boil them down into simple, yet profound, ideas (Adam Smith and the invisible hand, Darwin and evolution), leaders of good-to-great companies develop a Hedgehog Concept that is simple but that reflects penetrating insight and deep understanding.”
The wily fox in chase or being chased uses a complex web of tactics and strategies to counter obstacles or challenges. Sometimes he succeeds and sometimes he doesn’t. The determined hedgehog, on the other hand, has one superior advantage in the world, his spiny needles. His goal may appear simple, with his superior advantage he perseveres against every foe. The fox is an opportunist and pounces from opportunity to opportunity—never gaining the clarifying advantage of superiority.

A good friend of mine, Tom Trebing, and a mentor to fresh entrepreneurs, tells (or re-tells) the story this way:
“A fox and a hedgehog were strolling through a country path.  Periodically, they were threatened by hungry wolves.  The fox — being blessed with smarts, speed, and agility — would lead packs of wolves on a wild chase through the fields and over hill and dale. Eventually the fox would return to the path, breathless but having lost the wolves and continue walking. The hedgehog, being endowed with a coat of spikes, simply hunkered down on its haunches when menaced by the wolves and fended them off without moving. When they gave up, he would return to his stroll unperturbed. The crafty cunning fox devises many strategies. The persistent hedgehog knows one effective strategy—i.e.—the fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one GREAT thing.”  
Let me try expanding concept using The Language of Excellence. The essence of excellence in leadership is the concept of Management Candy, M&M’s—doing the main things with the minimum resources necessary to achieve the objective. Great companies succeed because they practice Management Candy. They also have clarity of a mission.  In the choice between the Doing the Right Thing and Doing Things Right they have chosen the Right Thing.

Simply put, great companies have chosen the right thing (their superior advantage), and they have stuck to it like glue!

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2nd & Church review of The Language of Excellence

The current issue of the literary magazine, 2nd & Church, includes a review of my book The Language of Excellence by talented author and distinguished business leader Gary Slaughter.

2nd & Church is a literary journal by, for, and about writers and readers throughout the United States. The publication’s goal is to be inclusive of many different types of writers and writing. To have a review in 2nd & Church and to have Gary Slaughter as the reviewer is a tremendous honor. What does Slaughter have to say about my book on leadership and management?



“In my judgment, The Language of Excellence by Tom Collins is among the best five books I have ever read on this subject. “ 
“Tom Collins’ The Language of Excellence just may be the only guide book to personal and business excellence you will ever need to read. Borrowing from a lifetime of achievement, Collins lays out clear guidelines that can help you find your own success while enabling you to offer others the same excellence that has marked both his life and career. A must-read for achievers.” 
To subscribe to the 2nd & Church or view the publication online go to http://secondandchurch.typepad.com.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Our Next President

Will the next president be a “problem solver”? I hope not.

Years of interviewing candidates for leadership positions have taught me
one thing: Never hire someone who describes their strength as problem solving. People who spend their time solving problems never seem to run out of problems to solve. Nor has solving a problem ever added value. At best things are just returned to where they should have been to start with.

Problems constantly confront leaders, but the best leaders devote most of their energy to pursuing opportunities. Those leaders don’t ignored problems, but they have come to understand that most problems are the symptoms of neglected opportunities. Pursue the right opportunities and many problems tend to take care of themselves.

What is needed in a President, or any leader, is the talent for doing the right things and building the right team. Great leaders focus on opportunities not problems.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.