Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Friend and Author - Ed Ugel!

Money for Nothing: One Man's Journey Through the Dark Side of Lottery Millions--an intriguing title for an intriguing book just out by Edward Ugel. So you like to gamble? Maybe just buy lottery tickets? Reading this non-fiction, astonishing book may be the best thing you've ever done for yourself. Ugel tells all in his story about his years as both a gambler, and a salesman, and then as an employee of a company that offered upfront cash to lottery winners in exchange for their prize money.

You've all seen the commercial for some company that offers cash that is due to you. All of the people cry out from wherever they are that it's their money and they want it now.  If that company, called The Firm, in this book, is one that caters only to lottery winners, however, there are oftentimes millions of dollars involved--and even though the winner may have won big, they may be as poor as ever!

One of the key issues is whether the particular lottery allows a lump sum as opposed to long-term payments. Selection of a lump sum has not always been available. Additionally, when you see the picture of the winner getting a large check with a large sum identified on it, the amount is always the amount before taxes!

Horror story after horror story for lottery winners are shared in this book--all names changed, of course.

Ugel has tried hard to write in an upbeat fashion in telling his story. His chapter titles are catchy. He ridicules some of his own actions and invites the reader to smile and commiserate with his choices. But he's not really telling about a fun-filled life. The book, in my opinion, is very much an expose' of this type of financial company, albeit though they are acting legally. Additionally, Ugel's epilogue, written in a time schedule/diary fashion reveals exactly what the addicted gambler goes through each time he gives in to this vice.

Ugel has been a gambler since the age of 19, working at jobs to earn enough money so he could go gamble. When he was called to a bar by a friend, where a potential supervisor was drinking and smoking, Ugel thought he had finally found the place where he belonged. Indeed, while his boss was there at the The Firm with him, he quickly moved into big money and promotions, each time his boss moved up. But no matter how far up he went, he at last began to hate working with the man and quit, even though he was offered almost twice his present salary to stay. Ugel struggled through the following time, until he was called and asked to return. His former boss had quit and he was being offered his job. This had been what he had always wanted. He believed he could do the job and was soon back at The Firm.

Ugel did all right until his former boss opened his own business as a major competitor and quickly started winning potential customers away from The Firm. Ugel was finally relieved to be fired, for even though he was a super salesman, he realized that he had treated his job, and allowed his subordinates to also treat their jobs, as if each "lead" was merely a "gamble" and since there was always the potential for high commissions without working too hard, he realized that though being a better "gambler" than his former boss, he was not even close to being the kind of manager that his boss had been. As he said, "a gambler is a gambler is a gambler" (p. 212). He and his staff were quite willing to gamble both with their own money...and with the lottery winners' money!

Many of us have our own addictions. If gambling is this book! If gambling is not your particular vice, read it...and insert your own predilection. For underneath the humor, Ugel has written a story that just may help you rethink what you are doing, to yourself, to your family, and on your job! Thank you, Edward Ugel, for sharing your life in such an open way and making us realize that Money for Nothing may be more trouble than anyone could imagine!



I'm so grateful that you took the time to read Money for Nothing and write such a wonderful review. Your interest and comments mean a lot to me. I can't thank you enough.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

An Interview with Author Shadrach Linscomb

I was pleased to have the opportunity to learn a little more about Shadrach Linscomb, author of Player Related plus two other novels, a novel I recently reviewed. Check out his ambitions in writing for the future!                               

1)      Where are you from?                fileId:3096224744635561                                        

I was born and raised in San Francisco, California. Even though, San Francisco is known as a popular tourist city in the United States, I spent my childhood between two marginalized communities, Bayview Hunter's Point and Lakeview (Ingleside District). Bayview Hunter's Point is known throughout the Bay Area and some parts of California as being a tough area of San Francisco and the neighborhood, Lakeview is similar, but on a much smaller scale. My earlier days were in Bayview Hunter's Point and I spent my late teen years in Lakeview (Ingleside District).

2)      What inspired you to write your novels?

When I was about eight year of age I was told by school staff that I was severely speech impaired. So I started writing short stories and poems to share with friends and family. Writings became my outlet and my way of communicating. Later in my early college days, the works of Langston Hughes, Ernest Gaines, Alice Walker, and Walter Mosley inspired me to continue my writing and display my work to a larger audience. 

3)      What made you think you could write novels?

Getting positive support from teachers and friends was helpful, but reading different authors' styles of writing really convinced me that I too can write a novel.

4)      Do you plan to write more novels?

No, it is time for a new journey. I am in the process of creating text books and reading comprehensive books. My plan is to write text books that assist professionals in the field of social work and a reading comprehensive book for teens in an urban environment. I look at it as trying to combine fiction and non-fiction together to make a powerful educational tool. I will use my ability and passion to write stories to help better understand complex issues in the fields of social work and education. I believe that literature can play an important role in helping us understand our world better.

5)      Are you doing anything other promoting your book right now?

Yes, I am extremely busy. Currently, I'm a doctoral student in a school of education, full-time County Social Worker, and novelist at night.

6)      When did you consider yourself a writer?

Well, I considered myself a writer ever since I was a little boy.  I also believe that storytelling plays an important role in our society, as human life is full of events that could be told as a story.

7)      Do you strive for a specific writing style?

When I start to write I really do not have a specific writing style in mind. Once the protagonist is delivered from intangible status to paper, he or she takes over.


                                                             Available online at:


Player Related - Shadrach Linscomb

By Shadrach Linscomb                                                    fileId:3096224744635561

View House Publishing Co.

ISBN: 978-0-9663420-6-2

171 Pages 

Click to buy:

USA Book News Finalist Shadrach Linscomb's newest novel, Player Related, just might be this year's winner! I sat stunned at the surprise ending, not expecting or wanting the book to end as it did. But that ending is part of what makes this a most memorable book!

Jake Robinson was a player. He "stood six feet tall, and weighed a hundred and ninety-five pounds. He was a handsome man, but not drop-dead-gorgeous, who was soft-spoken and had a way of making a woman feel comfortable around him." (p. 2) So comfortable, in fact, that the women, most times, were the ones that initiated sex with Jake. In fact, Jake had a routine pretty well established--Faye on Thursday, Tanya on Friday-well, you get the idea...  Seven women loved him. And readers will enjoy being voyeurs as Jake spends his nights with a college student, a married woman, a single mother with a son, and his other ladies.

But Jake was getting older. Sex was no longer the driving force in his relationships and he was having second thoughts about what he was doing with his life. Oftentimes, he would decide to end a relationship and would begin a conversation with good intentions; however, when the lovely lady for that evening sang her siren song, he stopped to listen and followed.

There was another person who loved Jake too. Devon Miller was Tanya's son, and during their relationship Jake and Devon had become close, had enjoyed doing things together. Tanya felt that a decision needed to be made; that she could not go on seeing Jake, without giving consideration to what that relationship meant to Devon.  Little by little, Jake realized that he needed to make a firm commitment to them, or break it off so that Tanya might find another man who would be willing to be Devon's father.

Jake had only one male friend, Terry Jones; that is, until his wife called Jake and asked him to come visit her one night...

Player Related is a fun, sexy book.  But there is a different side of Jake's life where his thoughts were in turmoil and confusion. We all recognize it--when and how do we turn from a player's life and move on to accept and develop a long-term loving relationship and family? I found this underlying dialogue the most revealing about who Jake Robinson really was.  And I liked that Jake--a man committed to his job working with young teenagers and a man who was trying to reject the life of brief sexual encounters that were being daily thrown down in front of him.

Linscomb has written a book that could be the "story of my life" for many, many of today's young people.  It is real, open and, if accepted in the way it is written, tells the well-known story that many face on their own.  How do we be somebody other than a "player" in a society where sex is available anywhere and at any time? The book is well written and seems to be directly from the journal that Jake kept. The female characters, especially, are liberated, aggressive, and selfish...or sensitive, caring, and loving--you hate some of them and love the others.  Reading Jake's thoughts about them lends a realism for his audience that includes flashbacks of sexual abuse as a child.

I thoroughly enjoyed Player Related. Anybody who wants to read about sexual pressures and values facing young adults will certainly consider this a must-read!  

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Historically Significant WWII Documentation

Frogmen:  First Battles 

William Schofield and P. J. Carisella

Branden Books

ISBN: 0-8283-2088-8

192 Pages



Significant historical war information, reading almost like an exciting novel, has been written by William Schofield and P. J. Carisella . A “taste” of Frogmen: First Battles is immediately provided in the Foreword:


At the peak of World War II...a small band of daredevil Italian Navymen roved the Mediterranean Sea and raised devastating havoc...These were the “frogmen,” the pilots of human-torpedoes and self-exploding Eboats...a new type of warrior. (p. 5)


Loaded with fascinating pictures and explicit details, this book moves from a quick announcement by Prince Valerio Borghese of the Italian Royal Navy in Chapter 1 that New York was the target for these men. He was dining with the Commander-in-Chief of Germany’s untersee fleet. Borghese was the leader behind the activities of the Tenth Light Flotilla.


In the midst of every war, individualswho love their own country, must stop and salute the brave, patriotic, soldiers who willingly go into battle to support their respective countries.  Even those who were part of the Tenth Light Flotilla and who wondered about the decision to support the German efforts, nevertheless overcame personal questions and risked their lives over and over.


Indeed, those who were recruited and accepted assignment to this group were perhaps required to act on their own more than any other soldier fighting in WWII. For these men set out alone or with a partner to take on...Battleships! Cruisers! Destroyers! Merchant Ships! Aircraft! They invaded Gibraltar, Suda Bay, Africa, et. al., but nobody knew they were there until the frogmen were gone!


Weapons and tactics planned for Italy’s Tenth Light were started during WWI when they faced the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They wanted to invent and deploy a new weapon capable of breaking through harbor defenses. The war ended and instead of proceeding on with this important project, nothing was done during the 17 years of peace. It took Mussolini’s desire to invade Ethiopia in 1935 to nudge Prince Borghese to move forward in developing new, unforeseen weapons. From this new effort, the story of the invention, testing, training, and use of these weapons are thoroughly documented. Two men could soon approach and attack a target without ever showing themselves above the surface of the water. And then during WWII, the Tenth Light Flotilla ultimately succeeded in destroying all of Britain’s battleships!


However, instead of proceeding to move further in this direction, military authorities moved in a different direction.  This bit of historical news certainly forces readers to wonder what might have actually happened in this War if Italy had been permitted to further use these brave warriors against Britain and the United States!


Frogmen: First Battles is well written and documented coverage of a part of our WWII history.  If you are interested in history and, in particular, weapons and details on specific actions against the enemy, this book is for you!  You may have realized that this group never did attack New York...but I found it chilling just how close they were to that particular maneuver! 


Like I said at the beginning, this book reads almost as a novel.  If I were describing it as fiction, I would call it an exciting adventure story...But this was real and what I found most thrilling was the individual, personal stories about the warriors who risked their lives routinely on behalf of their country. 


A final wonderful touch to this book was a personal interview with Sergio Denti, the only remaining frogman, who was 80 at the time this book was published. Mr. Denti was not recognized with the Medal of Honor until 1993!  I enjoy these special little touches that are often added by publisher Adolph Caso (also Colonel, USAR Retired) to enhance books he publishes. He has many times illustrated his commitment and love for his heritage! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to all interested readers!


G. A. Bixler For IP Book Reviewers


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