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Opening Bell
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A fictitious account of one man's attempt to create a Utopia in a country where bureaucracy has created the need for a revolution. Absolutely breathtaking from the beginning to the end!

Title: Opening Bell

Author: Keith D. Cummings

ISBN: 1403353190

Publisher: 1stBooks Library; (September 2002)

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Hardcover; 364pp



I received Mr. Cummings' Media Kit almost 2 weeks ago and the level of perfection portrayed by the documents enclosed has also been applied to his novel.  Mr. Cummings has done an excellent job in the development of the plot and the characters that are bound to the pages of Opening Bell. You can see a sense of purpose similar to that of John Grisham, where current events take on a life of their own


Marc Reid is an intelligent, calculating, wealthy and able man with a vision of perfecting welfare, eliminating affirmative action and downsizing the corrupt government.  These are a few of the motivations that have inspired Marc Reid to plot a takeover of that government, a plan that took over 20 years to reach fruition.  He has recruited a team of "visionaries" with similar goals and on May 10, 2010 at 8:30 A.M. they take over the financial functions regulated by computer and effectively take over the United States of America.


Marc has his own personal motivations for this coup d'etat (The sudden overthrow of a government by a usually small group of persons in or previously in positions of authority.) In his late teenage years he felt that he was the victim of government policy as he witnessed the demise of his small but affluent family. His father's fortune was "stolen" by the family's attorney and his mother was reduced from a proud matron of the household to a prisoner of a reality that she created to deal with the tragedies that poured into her life. 


Marc was powerless to make any effective change to his life during that time. Therefore, as an adult, he created and executed this plan to effectively change everyones life and exact vengeance at the same time.  Somewhere between Marc's vision of a better society where welfare and the IRS no longer existed and the stifling bureaucracy was downsized, Marc's vengeful goals were accomplished.  His own personal agenda became the country's agenda.  He had attained a level of power that one could even consider a dictatorship.  Even his fellow revolutionaries could see that their goal was over exceeded and Marcs will controlled everything.


This is a true journey through the harsh cycle of power and helplessness.  A lot of issues inspired by nonfiction are included and developed by this piece of fiction.  Opening Bell is a beautiful book for your library as well as an excellent and well-planned novel. 




An Interview with Keith D. Cummings




To start this off, why don't you give an idea of what the book is about?


Opening Bell is the story of a group of financial and computer professionals who, unhappy with the political direction of the US, conspire, over 20 years, to take control. They seize control of the major institutions of the US Economy, the New York Stock Exchange, the AMEX, the NASDAQ Market, and the Federal Reserve among others. They use their economic power to take political control of the government.



Where did you grow up and was reading and writing a part of your life?


My family moved a great deal. I was born in Richmond, Virginia, but I lived in Detroit, MI; Memphis, TN; Pittsburgh, PA; and Washington, DC. As one of the youngest of eleven children, I was encouraged to read by my parents and siblings. I started reading at an early age (Dr. Seuss and other Beginner Books) and continued to read avidly through school. I am still a voracious reader, reading two to three books a month. I became a writer when I was an undergraduate student at VCU and I enjoy my novels and my opinion articles.



Who were your earliest influences and why?

My father was always a strong influence on my beliefs. My mother, the stronger conservative in the family, was even more of an influence. She taught me to manage expectations, but never let fear of failure prevent me from attempting whatever goal I had.

Mostly authors whom I have read as an adult influence my writing. Ayn Rand and George Orwell influenced my political thought, while Michael Crichton, Stephen King and Tom Clancy have had an impact on my writing style: character and plot development.



What would a typical day be like for a writer?


I think, for each writer, the typical day varies. Because politics figure so strongly in my work, I review major news services and political writings. I see what is news on CNN and Fox News; I check out the Washington Post and Washington Times and the National Review Online. I also go to townhall.com, where many conservative Op/Ed writers are featured. I try to scan the news and political press to determine what story strikes my fancy and then I try to develop my own thoughts. My fiction requires more thought about the American experience on a larger scale. Since Opening Bell is about revolution, I have to think about who would seek to institute a coup, how they would do it, and why they would do it. Then, I make myself sit at the computer and write something, anything, every day.

Thats how Opening Bell and The Wise Bonds, my two completed novels were finished. (TWB isnt published or sold yet). Its the same process that I am now using on the first draft of Liberty Bell: The Story of the Free Republic, the sequel to Opening Bell.



How long have you been writing and in what capacities?


My first fiction I wrote in 1990, a short story that is available in PDF form on my website.


Opening Bell was my first attempt at a novel and I wrote it in 2001. The Wise Bonds, Liberty Bell, and WMD are other novels I consider works in progress.


I write a personal finance column for Pinnacle Life magazine in Colorado Springs, CO. The magazine hasnt premiered in hardcopy form, but it is online.


Finally, I have begun to contribute my opinion pieces to the conservative website www.enterstageright.com.



Which is more difficult to write - Fiction or nonfiction and why?


Non-fiction requires a great deal more research than fiction. Also, the topics covered in non-fiction can be, though they arent always, rather dry. Keeping readers interested in non-fiction is much tougher.


Fiction is much easier for me. I find that I can give my characters a life of their own, and let them drive the story in directions that sometimes I dont even understand. For that reason, fiction is also more fun; the author doesnt always know how the story will end.



Has there ever been a time when you wanted to throw in the towel and give up? And if so, how did you defeat those instincts?


What time is it?


Seriously, I often think about throwing in the towel. Just about every person who has read it so far has praised Opening Bell. Unfortunately, thats a very short list. Its hard to get anyone to buy the book and take me seriously as a writer. With degrees in Computer Science and Finance, thats understandable. I write shorter opinion pieces just to give people a sense of who I am and how I read, so they can be more comfortable with my novels. I have to give a lot of credit to my family. My brother Ted and his wife Corinne have been incredibly supportive, both morally and financially. Corinne remains much more convinced than I that I will someday be able to make a living at this.


My brother Paul and his wife Amy helped a lot in the early days, reading Opening Bell and taking on the unpleasant task of having to risk telling me that it was awful. Finally, my sister Mary, in Texas has been calling me the next Tom Clancy for nearly a year.



What is the hardest part about being a writer?


Working as a waiter to make ends meet.


I suspect rejection is difficult, but I never expected everyone to like me, or what I have to say, so I can accept rejection. It helped that my mother, when I offered her an early draft of Opening Bell, told me that it wasnt my cup of tea. You understand that written works, fiction especially, is never going to appeal to anyone. You want to be true to yourself and your ideals and let those people who share your position enjoy your work.



Do you have any hobbies? What are they? How do they enhance your writing?


I love to snow ski, although I wont be doing that much this year. I also cycle and I try to be good about going to the gym. Physical activity, I think, give the brain a rest and allow a writer some downtime.


As far as helping my writing, nothing is more valuable that reading, which I love. I also do crosswords; they help hone my thinking skills.



Articles and media alike make it sound as though the only way to rise to the top is to sacrifice. What do you find to be good sacrifices?


I dont really know. One mans joy is another mans sacrifice. I dont know if I have sacrificed anything to succeed. Of course, I dont know if I have succeeded yet. I would like to believe that the adage do what you love and the money will follow, contradicts the idea that one must make sacrifices to succeed.



What question do you get asked more than any other?


Are you running for political office?



Whats the coolest thing a reader has said to you?


I had a personnel director from a hospital in Texas ask my permission to quote from the novel in a training class she was offering. The quote, from page 175 of Opening Bell is my position on lost causes. It was really satisfying to have someone respect that enough to want to pass it on.



What has been your feedback from readers? What do they say to you about their interpretations of your book?


As I said before, the few people who have read the book have been very positive. As a POD novel, I realize that Opening Bell has a couple of minor errors in it, but I think they are few enough that they dont wholly detract from the subject matter.


I enjoy that some people can read the book on a superficial level and find it just an entertaining read. At the same time, others see the politics and agree with what I have to say. Its always great to have your political beliefs validated by others. I can also hope that those people who see the novel as a simple fun story are getting the politics subliminally.



Do you think that as a writer you are more prone to watching what goes on around you and observing behaviors than most people are?


Personally, I dont think I am. In fact, I have always considered myself as less competent than others in interpreting the meaning behind what other people do. Im told Im an incredible flirt, but I honestly dont see it. Maybe I register those things sub-consciously, since I have been told that my characters behave in consistent, logical and believable ways.



Who are some of the authors you consider to be "don't miss"?


Thats a tough one, since I think that many authors can be great and fade over time. I love Stephen King and his character development, but sometimes I think he cheats on his endings. I have enjoyed Michael Crichton, but some of his books have become derivative. I do think that Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead are must read novels.



If one were looking to start his/her own career as a writer, what would you suggest his/her first step to be?


Write. Write whatever comes to you. Once you have finished, find a reader. By that, I mean find someone who reads and reads a lot. You need to find someone who knows what is on the market, what (s)he likes and what other people are reading. Finally, your reader can be anyone if they are willing to be brutally honest. I found out that, after I asked my brother Paul to read Opening Bell, he confided in my mother that he was concerned that the book would suck, and he would have to tell me. Thats the honesty that money cant buy.


Once youve gotten feedback, try to find someone with no emotional attachment to reaffirm the opinion youve already been given. The more people you can trust to read your work, the more you will be able to tell that you have something.


Finally, dont expect the world to beat a path to your door. Understand that you may beat a path to theirs, only to have it shut in your face. Be prepared for that, emotionally and financially.



What kind of movies do you enjoy?


I like most movies. Im not a big fan of melodrama or romantic comedy. Action, adventure, thriller, suspense, science fiction, comedy are all genres that I love. Most recently, I found The Runaway Jury both exciting and entertaining.



What is your favorite city to visit, but one that you wouldnt want to live in?


I like so many cities I have been to, but I would probably say Vail, Colorado. I like Vail and I love to ski, but the mountain towns are so small, with such limited resources that I think I would quickly become bored if I lived there.



Whats the strangest question youve ever been asked in an interview?


I was recently asked how to disconnect the on-board computer on the newer GM cars.  Someone who doesnt want his car recording all of the data about his driving technique asked it.



Whats the best part of being a writer?


Its great to be able to hear people talk about how much they enjoy what theyve read, be it a short story, a column or a novel. There is nothing like the shot in the ego I get from the praise of a reader. Of course, being on TV and radio hasnt been bad either.



What's next?


I hope to be able to get Opening Bell into mass-market paperback. I would love to find a publisher for TWB or one of the other novels I have in process. Otherwise, I will still plod along with my opinion work even after I find a real job.

Betsie's Literary Page would like to thank Mr. Cummings for his time, it was a pleasure. We wish him well and great success with all future works.