Invitation to a Book
Steve Caputi is best known for his involvement in the creation, building and management of successful nightclub and hospitality businesses. Decades of experience in the industry and the good fortune to work with a succession of the best performers in the world gave him a broad base of skills… skills that were instrumental in his entrepreneurial quest and subsequent sparkling career.
As an Ivy-league student-athlete, he graduated from the renowned Cornell University School of Hotel Administration in 1979. Rostered as the ‘smallest player in NCAA Division 1 football’, he lettered under George Seifert, world-champion coach of the San Francisco 49’ers and played centerfielder on Cornell’s EIBL championship team of 1977, led by hall of fame coach Ted Thoren. Steve set several all-time team and NCAA records, one of which still stands 37 years later.
His career experience was equally as fortunate as he was trained by the best club management experts in the business while managing the Texas billionaires’ favorite watering hole – the ultra-private, magnificent Houston Club. In the early 1990’s, Steve was President of Michael J. Peter’s gentlemen’s club empire, featuring the world-famous Solid Gold, Thee Doll House, and Pure Platinum. It was during that era that adult clubs became legitimized. After redesigning and opening Club Paradise in Las Vegas, Steve became a partner in South Florida’s most successful long-term nightclub chain ever, Café Iguana. Over the decades, businesses under his direct control amassed nearly a billion dollars in revenue.
Steve was blessed with everything a man could want until he got tangled up in Scott Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme in 2009, at which time everything was lost… including his freedom. So began his most recent quest upon his release from the Federal Bureau of Prisons… to find out what happened, how it happened, and why!
About the Book:
Stephen Caputi’s memoir, I Should Have Stayed in Morocco, is not just another forensic account of billionaire Ponzi-schemer Scott Rothstein’s life. Caputi opens his heart and soul as he takes the reader on a journey through two decades rife with personal experiences, misadventures and wild escapades with Rothstein, climaxing with their now-infamous ramble in Casablanca. It’s a frighteningly true story of how friendship and loyalty was dedicatedly served to a master-manipulator, just to be rewarded with deceitful betrayal and a prison sentence.
Read the First Chapter
Q: Congratulations on the release of your memoir, I Should Have Stayed in Morocco. What made you decide to write your own biography?
A: It was kind of a happy accident, the result of an unfortunate circumstance. I was stranded in the “Hole”, (slang for solitary confinement) in a dingy federal prison in Jesup, Ga., with literally nothing to do but ponder the past. I had nothing to read, nothing to do, nothing to look forward to until the next bowl of gruel was tossed into the cell through a flap in the door, and nothing to watch since the tiny three-inch window slit was old and yellow and glazed. Total emptiness, which was driving me crazy. For a career claustrophobe, being thrust into a seventy two square-foot space that contained only a bed, toilet and sink constituted the worst case scenario. My worst nightmare had materialized, and there was no getting away from it. No relief. I knew why I was in prison, but I didn’t know why I was in the Hole.
I began writing out of desperation. My mind was still scrambled from the shock of being thrown in the Hole. As a last resort I started to chronicle everything that happened… which wasn’t much. I wrote down every item served at every meal, everything that the guards did and said, and kept a diary of sorts that was chocked full of their shenanigans. I figured that there was no way people knew how inmates were treated in prison… and wondered if anybody cared.
The process of reflection prompted me to search for answers… about my life, about the sequence of events that led me to federal prison, and about the system that put me away. It evolved into a full-fledged quest for the truth.
Q: Did you write by the seat of your pants, or did you structure the book in advance?
A: Actually, I wrote this by the seat of myorange jumpsuit!
Q: How would you describe your writing process? Did you find the process easy or difficult?
A: Tormented is the first word that comes to mind. Writing from a prison cell was far from idyllic. I wrote after every meal, and started by chronicling every mundane event—like the trips marching to and from the ‘recreation’ cage in handcuffs. Or the shackled treks to the showers, or after delivery of every meal. Every night I’d write for an hour before crashing, after the last of the day’s insipid counting rituals were duly completed.
For my protection, I was forced to stash the written notes I was taking in-between pages of books that I was reading. I couldn’t risk mailing them out from the Hole, so I waited until after I left to transport them out. Which presented another challenge, since everything we mailed out was subject to being inspected and read. Due to its content, my writings were extremely risky. If any of the brass got wind that I was keeping a diary of their antics, there were no imaginable limits to how they might retaliate.
As an example, an inmate buddy of mine had been the unlucky recipient of “diesel therapy”—an intimidating tactic so commonly used by the Bureau of Prisons that it commanded its own nickname. Since his arrival, he was overly insistent that his rights not be violated. Because of his annoyance, he’d been kept suspended on a perpetual road trip for a year and a half. The guards would transport him in chains in a Twilight-Zone-like ride to nowhere, on an endless bus ride from one federal prison to the next. It took months and a dozen letters from his Congressman to get him anchored somewhere. Their explanation was that they “lost” his paperwork. No apology. Acting with impunity was a routine… a matter of policy for the gatekeepers who harbored little or no fear of outside pressures or intervention.
Q: Did you suffer from writer’s block at any given time? If yes, how did you overcome it?
A: It was more like “cell-block” than writer’s block. The biggest challenge I faced in my writing exploits was finding the best way to properly and effectively communicate the emotion of the roller-coaster ride I was on… while I was on the ride! I had no alternative but to write about all the horrible things that were happening—to me and other inmates—while I was suffering the indignities that I was writing about in real time. The awful physical conditions, inedible meals, harsh treatment, lack of medical attention, arcane and oppressive rules and regulations, lack of exercise, heavy-handedness and the calculated, dehumanizing protocols of the Federal Bureau of Prisons were overwhelming. I struggled every day to balance giving an accurate representation of what was happening… without it being overridden with emotion and dripping with hate by the time my thoughts were scribed to paper. Controlling my own emotions was of paramount importance, since I had to keep my sense of humor intact and my wits about me in order to maintain at least some semblance of objectivity.
Q: That’s an interesting title. Did you choose it?
A: It kind of chose me… but I knew it would be the perfect title the second I wrote the first line of the prologue. I was reliving the experience of the train pulling away from the station, on my way to federal prison, as my girl waved goodbye. It was a devastating moment for me, and that short sentence that I muttered to myself captured the essence of the book. In that singular moment, the trauma and drama of everything that I’d been feeling for the twenty-three months prior to my incarceration collapsed upon me. I was engulfed in a quagmire of heartbreak, despair, frustration, regret… and fear. It was the first moment that I really believedthat I Should Have… Stayed in Morocco.
Q: Why should anyone read your book? What do you think they will gain from the experience?
A: For one, the book gives a human portrayal of Scott Rothstein, the fourth largest Ponzi-schemer in U.S. history, from the perspective of a close friend… not from social media posts. I lived the experience with him, which was very much different than reading about him through regurgitated internet blogs. My experiences with him spanned several decades, and most of my stories are still unknown to the general public. What happened to me could have happened to anybody that was vulnerable enough to have complete trust in a valued friend of many years. A friend that suddenly went ‘AWOL’ and betrayed everyone around him without any conscience. This makes my story relevant to anyone who has close, trusted friends or business colleague whose integrity seems to be unimpeachable.
Additionally, I used my misfortune to fuel a truth-seeking mission. I wanted to know why and how the current prison system evolved into the monstrosity that it is. How millions of our citizens have been corralled into prison, and why there had been 518,000,000 arrests in this country since 1970. Why seventy million men and women now have criminal records. I was living in a prison population that consisted mainly of drug dealers, the vast majority of whom were non-violent marijuana ‘offenders’. The injustice of it all struck a nerve, and I decided to do a bona fide journalistic investigation of the subject. My findings are part and parcel of the book… and the truth is ugly. People need to know what’s really going on in America today—as well as what happened yesterday to facilitate it—and not rely solely on the mainstream media for information. The time for sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring the truth is over.
Q: How was your experience working with an editor?
A: Outstanding… and humbling, to say the least. Their input was just what I needed. The process enabled me to view things from different perspectives, and to visualize alternative (and improved) ways to effectively communicate my thoughts. I also enjoyed being challenged and forced to defend my positions regarding different elements of the story that I felt were important. The editing process required me to validate and support the facts as I presented them. It was actually as much fun, as it was constructive.
Q: What have you learned from the writing of this book?
A: Writing the book forced me to sharpen my focus on all the subjects I was writing about, since I was determined to keep my objectivity despite my environment. I didn’t want to write anything resembling most of the propaganda and drivel that had been written about Rothstein. I became better at stepping back from my emotions, and took great care to substantiate my conclusions (or disprove them) based on solid research of the issues. I trained myself to look for the facts behind the apparent reasons, and to be open-minded to whatever truths I found.
Q: What’s on the horizon for Stephen Caputi?
A: I am going to finish the last two books in the I Should Have Stayed in Moroccotrilogy, and then reenter my career as a nightclub and restaurant entrepreneur. The next book will be the second in the I Should Have Stayed in Morocco series, entitled Club Fed Confidential: Inside the Perpetual Prisoner Money Machine. It will be a more in-depth look at what really goes on inside prisons. The final (untitled) book will provide a professional analysis of the real cost of the criminal justice and prison systems, and a critical look into the skullduggery of the prison industrial complex.
Q: If there’s one thing you wish readers will take away from your book, what’s that?
A: Despite what happened to me, I haven’t given up on friendship, love and trust… which doesn’t have to be treated as if it were a four-letter word. However, people who have a trusting nature (like I do!) need to learn to place limits, keep reasonable checks and balances intact, and listen to their instincts—their ‘guts’. If you’re in tune with your intuition, you cannot go wrong.
This equates to making the conscious choice of not ever engaging in any kind of behavior that you feel might be illegal, or just doesn’t feel right for any reason—or no reason. Not for friendship, love, or money!
Georgia native Donald Joiner is a veteran who served during the Korean War era. A retired school superintendent and a lifelong student of history, Joiner has been married for fifty-two years and is a proud father and grandfather. He has taught Sunday school in his church for forty years. Joiner has also authored two previous books about antebellum churches in Georgia. Connect with the author on Facebook.
Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The Antioch Testament. To begin with, can you gives us a brief summary of what the story is about and what compelled you to write it?
A: When the novel begins, it’s 2004 during the height of the insurgency in Iraq. An American army patrol manages to rescue a frightened group of Iraqi Christians fleeing Islamic militants. The refugees’ severely wounded leader, a priest, carries with him a mysterious bundle the group brought with them from an ancient Christian monastery in northern Iraq. Barely clinging to life, the priest insists on handing over the carefully guarded bundle to an American chaplain stationed at the army base.
When the bundle is unwrapped, the chaplain finds a large, scuffed, leather-bound ancient manuscript written in an unknown language. Fearing for the manuscript’s safety in war-torn Iraq, the chaplain arranges to have the manuscript sent back to the states. Eventually, the manuscript winds up in an Eastern Orthodox monastery where internationally-recognized linguists begin the arduous task of translating it.
What the linguists discover is absolutely astonishing; the manuscript is a first century AD testimonial in ancient Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, describing what happened to Jesus’ apostles after his Resurrection. But time is running out. What the linguists do not know is that a fanatical Iraqi insurgent cell is bound and determined to retrieve or destroy the manuscript before its secrets can be revealed.
I’ve always been intrigued by the remarkable transformation that occurred among Jesus’ apostles after his Resurrection. The bible tells us that before that event they had a motley collection of fishermen, laborers, and revolutionaries seeking to drive out the hated Roman occupiers and the restoration of David’s earthly Jewish kingdom. The New Testament tells us quite a lot about them before the Resurrection, but very little afterward.
What happened to them? Where did they go? What did they accomplish? How did they die? From the fragmentary evidence left to us in early Christian traditions, I decided to tell the rest of the story. The Antioch Testament is a work of historical fiction, but it is based on early church traditions.
Q: What do you think makes a good work of historical fiction? Could you narrow it down to the three most important elements? Is it even possible to narrow it down?
A: 1. The historical setting is very important. Events that take place in your story must be based on actual events of that particular historical era. If you get these events, dates or characters out of historical sequence, rest assured some of your readers will point this out and discredit you.
- Characters in historical fiction should reflect knowledge available to individuals at that time. You don’t want characters of the first century AD, for example, carrying firearms centuries before firearms were invented or writing on paper centuries before paper was available.
- The plot in historical fiction should be based on actual events that took place in that era or surrounded by known historical situations particular to the era.
Q: How did you go about plotting your story? Or did you discover it as you worked on the book?
A: I tried to develop the individual characters of the apostles based on evidence about them available to us through their depiction in the New Testament as well as what ancient church traditions had to say about them.
Ignatius of Antioch. the character responsible for telling the story of the apostles, is believed by Syriac Christians to have been appointed bishop of that city by St. Peter himself and Antioch was in fact a central by way for early Christian disciples on their various missionary journeys in the East. Tradition tells us Ignatius was a companion of several apostles and because most of them traveled through Antioch I decided that Ignatius would be the ideal character to tell the story.
Early traditions guided the plot of the story. If tradition said an apostle carried out missionary activities in Persia, I placed him there in the midst of events going on in that era in that location. Once I placed an apostle in a specific location, actual historical events guided the plotting of the story.
As an example, since tradition said St. Peter was martyred in Rome, I had to get him there and have him arrested while preaching in the catacombs, and taken to prison, then to trial by a magistrate, then to a place said by tradition to be the location of his execution.
Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist and how you developed him or her. Did you do any character interviews or sketches prior to the actual writing?
A: The army chaplain, the one responsible for sending the ancient manuscript to America, is a composite of several ministers I have known. Though very severely wounded in Iraq, he convinces his unbelieving brother to accompany him on his quest to have the manuscript translated. The character of the brother is based on someone I knew personally.
Q: In the same light, how did you create your antagonist or villain? What steps did you take to make him or her realistic?
A: The antagonist character was easy to create. Osama bin Laden hated the West in general and the US in particular; despised Christians and plotted the events of 9 – 11. I modeled Zaid Al Rifia, the leader of the fanatical Iraqi cell, on what we know of bin Laden.
Q: How did you keep your narrative exciting throughout the novel? Could you offer some practical, specific tips?
A: Throughout the book I placed telephone conversations between Zaid and his agent in America telling about the efforts of the insurgent group to track down and get their hands on the manuscript. Something outside the regular storyline can add tension and excitement to the main theme of the story.
Q: Setting is also quite important and in many cases it becomes like a character itself. What tools of the trade did you use in your writing to bring the setting to life?
A: I utilized a map of the Roman Empire with place names of the first century AD. I also inserted large chunks of historical events such as the Jewish revolt against Roman rule in Judea, the struggle of Queen Boadicea against the Roman legions in Britain, and the war between the Romans and Persians in the East. I also inserted Emperor Nero, Roman General Vespasian, and other historical characters to lend credence to the story.
Q: Did you know the theme(s) of your novel from the start or is this something you discovered after completing the first draft? Is this theme(s) recurrent in your other work?
A: My theme all along was to demonstrate the incredible sacrifices made by Jesus’ apostles in order to be obedient to his last command that they carry the Good News to the far corners of the world.
Q: A famous writer once wrote that being an author is like having to do homework for the rest of your life. What do you think about that?
A: I think writing is hard work. Writing historical fiction can be especially difficult. You better get the historical events in the story right. There are many history buffs out there who pride themselves on knowing intricate details about various historical eras. The author may be writing historical fiction, but he can count on his readers knowledge about the historical events surrounding the characters in the novel. If he gets dates wrong or mishandles historical characters or events, the reader will be sure to share his errors with others and cross him off the ‘must read’ list.
Title: THE ANTIOCH TESTAMENT
Genre: Christian Fiction/Historical Fiction/Suspense
Author: Donald Joiner
Publisher: Seraphina Press
Purchase on Amazon
About the Book:
Donald Joiner, a veteran who served during the Korean War era, is a lifelong student of history. Joiner’s passion for history shines through in his debut novel,The Antioch Testament, a sweeping, suspenseful novel resplendent with rich historical detail.
When The Antioch Testament opens, it’s 2004 during the insurgency in Iraq. An American army patrol manages to rescue a frightened group of Iraqi Christians fleeing Islamic militants. The refugees’ severely wounded leader, a priest, carries with him a mysterious bundle the group has brought with them from a northern Iraqi Christian monastery. As he clings to life, the priest insists on handing over the carefully-guarded package to the American army chaplain. When the bundle is unwrapped, Army chaplain Charles Monroe finds a large, scuffed, leather-bound ancient manuscript written in an unknown language. Fearing for the manuscript’s safety in war-torn Iraq, the chaplain arranges to have the manuscript sent to Augusta, Georgia, his hometown. Eventually, the manuscript winds up in an Eastern Orthodox monastery where internationally- recognized linguists begin the arduous task of interpreting it. What the linguists discover is absolutely astonishing: the manuscript is a first century AD testimonial in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, describing what happened to Jesus’ apostles after his Resurrection. But time is running out. Unbeknownst to the interpreters, a fanatical Iraqi insurgent organization is bound and determined to retrieve or destroy the ancient manuscript before its secrets can be revealed. Some secrets may be worth dying for—but these secrets might even be worth killing for.
Imaginative, inventive, and intriguing, The Antioch Testament explores the lives of the apostles after the resurrection. A thoughtful and thought-provoking page-turner, The Antioch Testament is a carefully-crafted page-turner with a pulse-pounding plot, and engrossing storyline.
On a cold winter night, wind howling into the desert sky, one ordinary hospital gave witness to a historic event. JJ Sherwood was born at 2:30 a.m. on December 31st, just barely managing to squeeze in to supplant New Year’s Eve. JJ has always had a flair for the dramatics.
Sherwood began writing in the womb after a harrowing incident in which Mother Sherwood swallowed a pen—and thus, destiny was born. JJ’s first work was completed by the age of 5: a riveting tale of a duck attempting to climb into an apartment during the pouring rain. Unfortunately this book is not in print, but it served as the first spark that spurred on a lifetime of creativity.
Much of JJ’s childhood was spent tearing through the woods, playing out fantasy worlds, and tying Barbie to the roof so that the Power Rangers might rescue her. Middle and high school carried on this roleplaying, while college encompassed creating and refining over 250 characters in the world of Aersadore.
After escaping college, finally armed with the tools of the trade and a lifetime of development, JJ set to writing what would become the Steps of Power series: it was then that Eraydon slew his first dragon, Jikun battled the warlord Saebellus, and Taranus rebelled against his brother’s throne.
When not orchestrating the lives and deaths of the people of Aersadore, JJ’s hobbies include drawing, video gaming, wearing a bathrobe, and eating too many baked potatoes. JJ Sherwood lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with one loving and extremely patient spouse, a bearded dragon, a monk parakeet, and four cats who look far too similar.
What’s inside the mind of a fantasy author?
Voices. A lot of strange voices of individuals in invented cultures who tell you exactly how to do things.
What is so great about being an author?
The great thing about being an author is writing something pulled from the recesses of your creativity and then finding someone as excited about your thoughts as you are.
When do you hate it?
I hate the business end of writing—self-promotion, having to ensure you make a profit, etc… While I know it’s necessary, it is not enjoyable by any means… I’d rather just write!
I wake up, feed my four cats, say hello to my parrot, wave to my bearded dragon (who either bobs his head back or scowls), and then I start writing. And then I don’t stop working until about 10 at night (wherein I take a two hour break to play League of Legends with family and friends) and then I work again until 2am. Sleep. Repeat. 7 days a week. And I love it.
Do you think authors have big egos? Do you? How do you know?
Some do, some don’t. I have met authors who are extremely successful and they have truly admirable humility. I have met other very successful (and non-successful authors) who give off airs of arrogance. I once gave advice to another author after beta reading his novel; he discounted my constructive criticism and that was pretty much the last time we spoke. Arrogance is certainly present. For myself, I wouldn’t say I have a big ego so much as a fragile one. It’s tough—pouring 100% of yourself into your work and hearing something negative in return. You have to grow a very thick shell. And I think sometimes, for some authors, this manifests itself as arrogance—having a “big ego” or “superiority” is an easy way to take the blow from a negative review and shake it off because “such an opinion is beneath them.”
How do you handle negative reviews?
I haven’t had one yet, but I imagine I’ll be pathetic through negative reviews for a while. I’ll have to get myself a good bottle of Riesling. And a pizza. Maybe a Snickers bar on the side. I’ll have to grow a spine, frankly.
What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?
Generally people are excited. They think it’s “cool.” I suppose, since I’ve “always been a writer,” I don’t quite understand that enthusiasm, but I’m always very flattered by them.
What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?
I force it. I find that if I take a break, the “don’t feel like writing” phase lasts much longer than if I just tell myself to suck it up and write anyways.
Any writing quirks?
Well, I wear a bathrobe (yes, even in the summer) while I write. A thick, warm bathrobe. I also have a folding chair with a box on it beside my chair… for my cat. Having a cat next to me helps me write better (And keeps him off of my keyboard!). I also lock myself in the smallest, quietest, darkest space available. And then I listen to Batman music.
Have you worked on your novel intoxicated? What was the result?
I have, once. The result was the impression I was the most genius writer since Chaucer. The after-result was realizing that I am, in fact, not.
What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?
Until less than a year ago, that was pretty much everyone around me. I speak rather colloquially online and in person. If I don’t have at least 5 exclamation points in a paragraph or a dozen emoticons, it’s probably not me. So I think a big part was the inability of people to separate the goofball they know with someone who can “write a legitimate novel.” It was tough for a long time—frustrating and rather insulting. I will say what many in my shoes have said: it hurts. But I will also say, in my case, that it’s forgotten the moment they read and love my novel or see the success I have at conventions/online, etc… It has been a bit of “validation,” honestly. And so I suppose it’s eventually had a positive effect on everything.
Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate?
I understand that completely. There are days where I feel that way—usually when the voices in my head refuse to co-operate. I love those characters but I hate that they can cut their strings.
Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?
To a degree, yes. There are probably brilliant authors out there who do not have the financial means to hire a good editor or good artwork or good publicity and so they will never be discovered. It’s a real shame. I think having money going into the field is often very important to your future success. However, more than this is the way an author handles themselves online—through forums and social media—as well as in person at conventions. I ran into an author at a convention whose cover failed to impress me, but their personality was so magnetizing that I purchased their book and am enjoying it thoroughly. I hope they achieve the same impressions online—they deserve it.
What had writing taught you?
Some authors write their characters from their experience. I live with experience learned through my characters.
Leave us with some words of wisdom.
Never be afraid to share your work! So many authors I know (and even myself, at times) are embarrassed to share their work for fear of criticism. If you don’t share your work, you’ll never know how far you have come or how far you have to go. Take a chance on the people in your life. They might just surprise you.
Title: Kings or Pawns (Steps of Power: The Kings Book I)
Author: J. J. Sherwood
Publisher: Silver Helm
Purchase on Amazon
About the Book:
The first book in JJ Sherwood’s Steps of Power epic fantasy series. The Kings, Book I: Kings or Pawns is a political intrigue that spirals into an action and adventure series as the final events unfold.
8,994 P.E.—The elven city of Elvorium has become corrupted to the core by politics. With his father dead and The Royal Schism at his back, Prince Hairem becomes the king of the elven world on Sevrigel. Young and daring, Hairem is determined to undo the council’s power, but quickly finds his loyal council members brutally murdered by an assassin loosed within the city.
As corruption and death threaten to tear the city apart from within, the warlord Saebellus threatens the city from without, laying siege to Sevrigel’s eastern capital. With the elven world crumbling around him, Hairem finds himself in a dangerous political balance between peace and all out war.
- See more at: http://asthepageturns.blogspot.be/2015/10/book-review-bach-casals-and-six-suites.html#sthash.GARw6tsC.dpuf