Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Category: My Portfolio

This one’s personal.

Exciting Books.

Many people seek meaning all their lives. Who are we, people ask, and why are we here.

I don’t.

I won’t say I understand it all fully, of course, but from the time I was eleven years old, I’ve known I’m here to tell stories, and I’ve known those stories must be exciting.

I remember reading Stephen King’s Needful Things; before then, I’d read the Hardy Boys and A Wrinkle in Time, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Novels and whatever superhero comic books I could get my hands on (I wanted to fly, like Superman, but identified way more with Spiderman and the X-Men. The ones who were different, and knew it, but felt responsibility to the world). Before I read Needful Things, books were just words on paper, images I created in my head. Sure, they were fun, and I loved reading, but not a single one caused me to experience so singular a moment of transcendence as Stephen King (aided and abetted, as he was, by Alan Pangborn and Leland Gaunt).

The climax of that book was a moment I’ll never, ever forget, and partly because I knew I wanted to create moments like that for others.

It’s never been enough for me to write adequate, competent books. Which is good, because for many years, I never did. For many years, I wrote and rewrote bad Dean Koontz rip-offs.

I want my books to change the world. Not the one out there, but this one, here.


I want people to read my books, and afterwards for their lives to have changed, however slightly. I don’t want people to set aside my books and stories like literary detritus, enjoyed but then forgotten when everyday life resumes; I want my stories to cling to people by heart-barbs and brain-catches. I want people to chat with their friends and to start relaying a story that happened to a friend-of-a-friend only to realize, mid-anecdote, that really, they don’t know anyone who had that experience but rather read about it in one of my stories.

That is what I aspire to when I come to a keyboard. One word after another, each one leading toward some moment of revelation, epiphany, and transcendence. One word after another until one world changes the perspective of whomever reads it, so deeply is it felt.

To that end: Exciting Books.

Books and stories that change your world.

It’s so easy to settle for adequate, competent books. There are so many adequate, competent books out there. There are so many books that get the job done, provide mere escapes, momentary distraction from the routine and mundane.

Those are not what Exciting Books aim to be.

Exciting Books aims to be the choice for discerning readers who want extraordinary literary experiences. Exciting Books are meant for readers who don’t want another vampire, another zombie, another mash-up, another spy; Exciting Books are meant for readers who want to read better than incompetent pundits, stoned actors, bedwetters, and sparkly vampires.

For now, Exciting Books is concentrated on the Kindle platform. Why? Because Amazon’s latest Kindle is the most exciting thing to happen to reading since an eleven-year-old boy finished Needful Things and realized he was a writer. Apple’s iPad and Barnes & Noble’s nook color don’t compete, for two reasons. The first is their LCD displays, which are great for just about everything except long-form reading; the second is that both devices can run Kindle apps, which makes the need for Apple’s iBookstore or Nook’s Bookstore exceedingly small (also, they use ePUB, which isn’t nearly as simple or intuitive to create/design/manipulate as Amazon’s format, which is based on the Mobipocket platform and basically comes down to html). By making something available via Kindle, one is effectively making it available on every smartphone/tablet/computing platform in existence.

Company: Exciting Books

Product: Digital books; also, some print for readers who still love paper and bookshelves

Service: Extraordinary literary experiences


What good is that glorious, high-contrast, anti-glare, e-ink display if you’re not reading Exciting Books?

Without Exciting Books, it’s really just a gadget

Pitch: Exciting Books is an independent publisher of high quality, extraordinary, digital literary experiences for discerning readers. It’s not about either elitism or snobbery; it’s about good books written well and easily distinguishable from those offered by corporate publishers who favor books by reality-show stars, political pundits, and screen personalities. Exciting Books are available across all digital platforms, and perfect for laptops, tablets, e-readers, and smartphones.

Back when I was in college, I had an idea for a campaign for Structure brand clothing. The ad would depict men wearing only Structure boxer briefs in various situations: in a bar, in a boardroom, etc.

The copy would be “Every man needs a little Structure in his life.”

Structure was a brand of Express. It was a spin-off, and later, was spun back in.

Which is sad, because I thought that copy was terrific.

On the other hand, I think Express lends itself to a great campaign.

Company: Express

Product: Apparel

Service: Confidence in dressing well for any situation


Express: Your Life

Express: Your Body

Express: Your Self

I’d probably make one or two others. Certainly an “Express: Your Work” depicting a guy in business attire.

Or a woman. Express is not an exclusively male brand.

Pitch: Express is not merely a clothing company, nor an apparel company. If clothes make the man, Express is the clothing that man can wear, for confidence and style, in any situation.

This requires background.

Mercury International was the (I’m fairly certain) imaginary company for whom I “consulted” to fulfill the requirements for my MBA capstone course. In January, I teamed with four other classmates to work as a group with the intention of helping Mercury International increase revenue and market share.

I wrote about (and posted) the capstone here.

Mercury was a specialty athletic apparel company. The backstory was that a brother and sister had founded the company twenty years ago to bring to market the TrailStep, a specialty athletic shoe designed to handle “extreme” conditions like one might encounter on a nature trail, say, in the mountains of Colorado (Mercury’s home state). Later, it produced the SnowStep (for cold-weather conditions), and then SweatLess, which was apparel with those perspiration-wicking technologies that have become so popular.

You’ll notice here that there’s a lot of specialty, but nothing with broad appeal. My first thought was: “I’m a personal trainer and work out regular, but I have no need whatsoever for a trail shoe.” Though, admittedly, the SnowStep sounded useful for winters.

So our first strategy was to introduce the Mercury Wing. There were a few names brought up, but I suggested the Wing because I liked the reference to the winged talaria worn by Mercury, the god of commerce and trade. Who was known for being mercurial, traveling so quickly as he did from place to place. He was impossible to pin down.

He was, as they say, fleet of foot.

Which inspired the copy I suggested: “For the Fleet of Soul.” I liked it because I thought it captured both a quickness and a feeling of youth and enthusiasm. Those who are fleet of, say, heart or foot or mind are not just quick; there is an element of clever, as well as playfulness, I’ve always thought.

So that became the company’s tagline.

For the Forbes mock-up I did, I created some mock ads, as well. The first to introduce the Mercury Wing, and others to highlight already established brands.

If I were in this position, I’d do more to introduce the Wing, creating a solid campaign around it. I’d want to draft more copy to highlight its position. One I love: “Form follows function? With the Mercury Wing, you can stay ahead of both.”

Company: Mercury International

Product: Athletic Apparel

Service: Enhanced Athletic Performance/Experience

Copy: For the Fleet of Soul.

Introducing the All-New Mercury Wing

Happy Trails for You

Not Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Gloom of Night Will Keep You from Your Run

Pitch: Mercury International gained success as a specialty athletic apparel company targeting niche customers. By introducing a mass-market product with broad appeal to the casual athlete, Mercury can retain its core customers while increasing market share and revenue.

Company: Victoria’s Secret

Product: Under-Apparel

Service: Support, intimacy, confidence


Best When Shared

These Are Victoria’s Secret. What’s Yours?

For All the Parts You Share

Pitch: Victoria’s Secret sells three things to women: anatomical support; intimacy enhancement; and confidence reinforcement. Ads focus on beautiful women wearing, in general, only Victoria’s Secret lingerie and a smile. To that end, the campaign centers around the sharing of intimacy (and secrets), as well as prompting women to claim characteristics that make them part of the Victoria’s Secret community of beautiful, powerful, confident women.

Note: Images are straight from the website for Victoria’s Secret (which you can find here, who in no way endorses this pitch (nor has even granted permission for their use. This post is merely a spec-pitch for possible non-commercial use as a creative portfolio.

A few days ago, I got the news that I’d officially aced both my MBA capstone course and its final. This is pretty big news, the culmination of three years of work in a field I never really thought I might find myself pursuing.

Now, I can’t imagine not having pursued it.

I remember the day I went to the open house at Regis University, in Denver. I knew I wanted to continue pursuing graduate education, but I had an entirely different idea about how; I’d recently had a huge idea for an enormous non-fiction project (so big I’m still working on it, in fact), and I thought I might pursue that. I though perhaps it would be a good idea to have university support for what otherwise might have been construed as something more akin to a thought experiment.

(At this point, of course, it’s still mainly a thought experiment.)

But I got to the open house and something changed. To pursue theology, or even anything in the liberal arts, I had to design my own curriculum. Which wouldn’t have been a problem; I’d already designed and implemented a syllabus at USC.

Rather, I didn’t feel at comfortable at the liberal arts information session. I can’t really explain it better, but I sat down in the classroom, and I looked around, and I realized I felt more comfortable in the bigger room with the business students in their suits and professional attire. Their demeanor had been different, as had their language.

Business, like science, is a realm mainly of objectivity, I think. I like science at least partly because it’s recordable, measurable, and it focuses mainly on tangibility. Same with business, focusing on things like revenue and earnings before etc., and market data and demographics.

Problem was, as I mentioned, my degrees were in literature and science. I had no background in finance and accounting and those sorts of things, so, to pursue an MBA, I had to fulfill some prerequisites, and start not just at the beginning but well before said beginning.

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