November 11, 2014

What Makes A Good Book?

How Important Is Character Development?

Since books have been written, and especially since “bestsellers” have been on the minds of publishers, almost everyone has tried figuring out what makes a good book.

Some people swear it’s plot—that a well-developed mystery with a few good twists will keep readers turning pages. Others swear that character development is the key—the glue that holds it all together. And there is a segment of the analysts who insist it is neither plot nor character development, but storytelling that drives word of mouth, and therefore, sales.

Regardless of what it is, it doesn’t seem to be the same thing for all people. Take a look at the books on top of the list of bestsellers and you’ll find the reviews often have more conflict than the books. I just checked Gone Girl, which has been lingering near the top of the list for a long time. It has an astounding 29,000+ reviews on Amazon, and more than 4,600 of them are either one- or two-star reviews. That means that for every three people who felt the book was fantastic, another person thought it was garbage.

So, who is right?

Nobody’s right. And everyone is right. Different books appeal to different people. Look at some of the other bestsellers and you’ll see what I mean.

Divergent (book one in the series) got almost universally rave reviews, but Allegiant (book three), received more than 4,600 one- and two-star reviews out of 14,000+. Far worse than Gone Girl fared. And Fifty Shades of Grey had almost 10,000 one- and two-star reviews out of a total of 27,000+.


What does that tell you?

Nothing, except that something in those books got people talking. Some conflict made people think and discuss the books, which in turn drove sales. Once a book crosses a certain threshold, it doesn’t matter whether it is loved or hated, as long as people are talking about it.

What Is It That Makes You Buy The Next Book?

Or put a book down?

  • What makes you stay up late reading, even when you’re tired?
  • What makes you eager to pick up the book and start reading again?
  • What makes you put a book down, and quit on it?
  • What are your pet peeves?

It seems more and more difficult to write a book today that is considered realistic without resorting to foul language. What do you feel about that?
What are your thoughts about violence in books?

Do you like books where the killer is known up front, or where you have to guess who did it?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment or drop me a line.

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

November 4, 2014

What A Copy Editor Can Do For You

Don’t Ignore The Copy Editor

If you’ve ever wondered what a copy editor can do for you, you’re not alone. It’s a decision that thousands of self-published authors face each day, and many of them choose not to engage a pro. I think that’s a decision made on budget and not on common sense. I’ve put together a short Infographic to demonstrate just what a good copy editor can do. If you want more details, check out the posts I did here and here.


what a copy editor can do for you


This is but one tiny example. A good copy editor will transform your manuscript into something beautiful, something precious, something error free. And that’s what you want. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read where mistakes and typos almost made me put the book down. In fact, I messed up a few months ago and uploaded the wrong ebook, using the one I had sent to beta readers instead of the one produced after the copy editor. I was mortified, but fortunately I caught it about one week after it went up.

If I had to choose only two things to spend money on when it came to my book it would be a great cover designer and a great copy editor.

###If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

October 28, 2014

How To Edit Books On An iPad

It’s Easy to Proofread On An iPad

If you’ve ever wondered how to edit books on an iPad, you should read this post. If you use Scrivener, this will definitely make your life easier. (This might also work with some of the other ebook reading software. I don’t own a Kindle or Nook, so I couldn’t test it. It didn’t work on the Kindle for iPad app, but the device might offer other options.)

I love Scrivener, but I have always despised incorporating edits or proofreads back into my documents. There is no easy way using Word, or Pages, or any of the standard word processing apps. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a quick fix for editing on Scrivener; we’ll have to wait for the folks at Literature and Latte to bring that to us. But this does offer a great alternative to proofreading in Word, and it might also improve your proofreading skills/effectiveness. How does it help?

  • Easier to spot mistakes when reading on iPad as opposed to on the computer in Word/Pages.
  • Easy to color code mistakes and see where you are going wrong (for future purposes).
  • Easy to incorporate corrections back into Scrivener.

Some of you might not agree with the statement about this being easier to spot mistakes, but for me it’s much easier. And my eyes don’t get as tired as they do using the computer either.

How To Use The iPad For Editing

The options are almost endless, but I’ll tell you how I use it.

The first thing to determine is if you are going to use a color-coded system. Apple offers 5 colors for highlighting: Yellow, green, blue, pink, and orchid. I use the colors as a quick indicator of what type of error I’m facing. It also gives me a great overview of where I’m making the most mistakes. (Not all of the examples here show the color coding.)

Yellow = missing or extra word
Green = misspelling
Blue = punctuation issue
Pink = wrong word (like lead instead of led)
Orchid = other questions (notes required)

This is for proofreading. When I do beta reading, the colors mean other things.

In addition to highlighting words or passages, you can press on the screen and bring up a “note” option. A small “sticky” type image appears (like below) and you can either type a note, or use the microphone built into the keyboard to speak a note, which is transcribed into text. I find this perfect for editing my books in bed.

Each time you highlight or make a note, you have the option of sharing/emailing that correction by itself, but I like to wait until the editing is finished and do it all at once. The following section shows how to do it.

Note: Make sure you highlight enough of the words surrounding a mistake so that you can use the search tool in Scrivener to easily locate the error. In other words, if you found a sentence with an extra word in it, like this:

Bob walked walked to the store instead of driving. Highlight the whole sentence so it’s easy to plug it into the search tool and find it.

Managing Notes

When you’re ready to export your notes, follow these instructions.

  • From anywhere in the book, tap the top left of the screen. You’ll see “library” and next to it a small icon similar to a bulleted list.

Tap the bulleted list.

  • A new screen appears, and on the top right you’ll see “contents, bookmarks, and notes.”

Tap “Notes.”
– You will see the highlights and notes you made, along with the dates you made them and the page number or position in the book.

Notice the Different Colors on the Highlights on the Side. I Used This as an Example Only; This Wasn’t a Real Edit.

  • On the top right, press the share icon. You will be presented with two options: share book or edit notes.

Press “Edit notes.”

  • At the top left of the screen, press “Select All.” This will place a checkmark next to all of your highlights. (The screenshot doesn’t show the checked boxes because I had haven’t hit the select all option at this point.)

  • At the top left of the screen again, press, “Share.” This will bring up an option to export the notes via email, or using Evernote, or other options. I find email the easiest.

The Next Step

Now that you have exported your notes, it’s time to put them to work. Open your project in Scrivener and set the windows to “split vertically.” I display my manuscript on the left side and the exported notes on the right, but do what’s easiest for you. Here’s a screenshot of what mine looks like.

The rest is easy. Fix all of your mistakes, make any other changes you want, and then compile the manuscript in Scrivener and export it in epub or mobi, Word, or whatever you do.

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

October 7, 2014

When Should Writers Lie?

Even If It’s Fiction—Should Writers Lie?

I read a review on one of my books the other day, and the person found it unbelievable that 6-year-old kids were drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, and using foul language. Mind you, these scenes took place 30+ years ago, and in an ethnic neighborhood in the city. But this wasn’t the first time a reviewer mentioned this. I even had one person email me to state how it almost made him put the book down.

I admit that the kids in my book, Murder Takes Time, do a lot of wrong things. I admit that they do adult things, and that it might be difficult for some readers to identify with that. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t, or doesn’t, happen.

What’s really unbelievable about this, is that readers will buy into almost anything—aliens, vampires, werewolves, insanely ridiculous loves scenes, gruesome murders, car chase scenes that couldn’t be done if the streets were empty (let alone in the middle of rush hour traffic). But these same readers can’t buy into a six-year-old drinking coffee and smoking.

Here’s the Crazy Thing

All of the things these readers couldn’t buy into were true.

These were stories from where I grew up. In our family, and many others, coffee was served to you before school. My mother had coffee waiting for my brothers and me every morning by the time we got downstairs—in first grade! My aunt used to give it to me in a bottle when I was two and three. And damn near every house in the neighborhood had coffee brewing at all times of day. My two aunts, who lived next door, had coffee on at 10:00 at night. That’s how we did things.

What About Cigarettes?

Cigarettes were a different story, but not much different. Most families had at least one parent who smoked, and the majority of the young boys smoked. My older brothers got me started when I was five. I never quit until I had a heart attack 40 years later. And all of the stories about stealing cigarettes were true also. Even the story about the roach races was true. If I thought anyone would doubt anything it would have been the roach races. I even put a picture of the original sign we made to announce it on my website. I’ve included it below.

The other common complaint in the book was the language the kids used. I can tell you that kids in our neighborhood were not saying “oh sugar” when something went wrong. But we did have respect for women and elders.

Should I Have Left Out The Truth?

Should writers lie? In this case, absolutely not. Regardless of what anyone believes or doesn’t believe, Murder Takes Time was the kind of story that demanded a certain amount of honesty. The Friendship & Honor series is built on the basis of the unbreakable bonds formed by a few kids growing up in their neighborhood. Even though these kids have taken different paths and lead different lives, that bond remains.

In order to show that, and to make it work, I had to be honest with the depiction of the young boys. Their bond in the book had to be real, or it wouldn’t have worked when they grew up. And it certainly wouldn’t have held together through several books.

Bottom Line

For anyone who questions—why do I portray kids smoking, and cursing, and drinking coffee as six-years old…it’s because those kids really did that.

And to all the people who have read these books, you have my gratitude. I’ll do my best to keep turning out the best I can.

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

September 30, 2014

The Perfect Pet

Freckles—The Perfect Pet?

I was being a little disingenuous with the title of this post; Freckles is not the perfect pet. At least not for us, but she could be the perfect pet for someone.

Freckles is a rat terrier mix. If I didn’t know better I’d swear the “mix” part was wolverine. Thirteen years ago we rescued her from going to the pound and almost certainly, death row, the whole time wondering how anyone could have gotten rid of such a sweet little dog.

Two days later, we realized why. We had two days of quiet, followed by 13 years of incessant barking—at anything and everything. Freckles is the only animal that has made me question our policy of being a no-kill animal sanctuary. She is nasty. Noisy. Mean. Jealous. Envious. Grumpy. Ill tempered. And vicious. Yes vicious.

She has bitten my wife, who is adored by all animals. She has bitten my son, my grandson, my brother, a neighbor, and she has bitten me several times for daring to sit on her couch.

I’m not kidding about the couch. If you notice in the picture, she perches on the back of the couch and dares any person or dog to come near her. In fact, the one with her and Briella—our 180 pound Great Dane—Freckles was “telling” Briella to get off the couch. After a brief showdown, Brie got up and left.

By the way, many years ago that was a couch for humans; now the dogs own it.

But it would be wrong for me to only list her bad side because even Freckles has a good side.

A Redeeming Quality

Yes, even Freckles has redeeming qualities, and perhaps her most endearing and impressive is her confidence. She has confidence galore. At times, I believe it borders on arrogance but she wears it well.

She weighs 15 pounds, but she bosses all the dogs in the house. Dogs up to 12x her size! She chases anything that comes on our property. She even chased after a coyote once, but fortunately for her, one of our other dogs was around to back her up. There is only one place on the property where she won’t go—into the area where we keep Dennis, our wild boar—even Freckles’ confidence has limits.

It’s amazing to watch her audacity. When I feed the dogs, Freckles will walk up as if nothing is wrong and start eating from the other dogs’ bowls. Sometimes they growl and pretend to be fierce, but she ignores them. And it works!

Freckles also has many talents. She has learned how to open the gate between the kitchen and the dog room. She can still jump from the floor to the top of the sofa, and off again. And she can be as stealthy as a ninja when she is attempting to sneak food from the pigs or the cats. Even more amazing, is at 14 years old, she has enough energy for four or five dogs. It makes me afraid to look up the life span of rat terriers.

But she also knows when to be sweet. Our granddaughter visits every other week for two or three days, and she adores Freckles. Oddly enough, the feeling seems to be reciprocal. Freckles lets her do anything and never growls or even bares her teeth. It’s nothing short of a miracle.

Being Serious

I’ve made a lot of jokes about our good friend Freckles, but I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. She has made me laugh more times than I can count, and she might be the best watchdog I’ve ever seen. Nothing, and I mean nothing can get within 100 yards of our property without Freckles sounding the alarm.

Bottom Line

Freckles would be the perfect dog for someone who only wanted one dog, especially a person who enjoyed lap dogs or a dog to snuggle with them at night.

We are fortunate enough to see the personalities of many different animals. Over the years I’ve come to realize that there is a place in this world for each and every one of them. So, the next time you go to purchase a dog or a cat, consider looking at the animal shelters. I guarantee you that there is one who would be a perfect match just waiting for you.

PS. Pretty Girl still needs a home. She is at the Austin Animal Shelter and would be a tremendous dog for someone without other animals. She is loyal, friendly, and loving.

If you know of anyone who would be interested in Pretty Girl, please write to me and I can get you all of the information.

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

September 23, 2014

Author Visibility

How Does Author Visibility Affect Book Sales?

Before we get into visibility, let’s talk about invisibility and how great it is. Animals have been using invisibility in one form or another for a long time: moths, butterflies, snakes, caterpillars, chameleons, octopuses, lots of fish, and many others. (For a picture of an unbelievable stick caterpillar, check out this post on Invisible Characters.) To these animals, being invisible isn’t an option—it’s for survival.

Humans have a different take on invisibility.

I still remember when I was 8 years old and I saw The Invisible Man for the first time. The movie starred Claude Rains, and man was it great. It gave me months—hell, maybe years—of pleasure, dreaming of things I could do if I were invisible. I even wondered if it was possible to someday turn invisible, and I dreamt of becoming a scientist to figure out a way to accomplish that.

And then my dad ruined it all by telling me there weren’t any invisible people—and there never would be. I can’t say that I blamed him; I think he grew tired of me pretending he couldn’t see me when I was right in front of him.

Okay, that was 50 years ago, and now I am invisible. And you know what? I don’t like it one bit.

What The Hell Do You Mean?

Just what I said. I’m invisible. As an author that is.

The problem is that authors don’t want to be invisible. In fact, unlike the animals discussed above, our survival depends on the opposite—visibility.

When you’re an author, you want everyone to know you’re there. Like a hunter wearing orange during deer season, or a crossing guard with their yellow coats or vests.

According to Bowker, 500,000 new books will be published in 2015. I’ll save you the trouble of doing the math—that’s almost 42,000 books per month. And that doesn’t count the millions of books already for sale. So how the hell are readers going to find you among the masses?

I have news for you…

There Is No Cure For Invisibility…

Except money. Or publicity. Or word of mouth. Or a number of other things that might make you and your book go viral.

When one of the big publishers has an author or a book that they feel has a shot at the bestseller list, they pour money into it. They send out hundreds if not thousands of ARCs (Advanced Review Copies); they place advertisements in the major media centers; and they arrange for reviews at the big papers and magazines. Oh, and they pay for those books to be quite visible in the bookstores, with front-of-store placement, books turned sideways on the shelves, and posters in the windows.

All of that is fine, and it does work, but only for the select few who are deemed worthy of receiving that level of advertising budget. For the peons, and for indie authors, none of those options are feasible. It’s up to us to make a splash, and usually with little or no budget.

But The Problem Is Deeper Than That

Most indie authors believe they have a quick cure for invisibility. They think that if they Tweet about their books endlessly that readers will respond. Or if they post countless times on Facebook, that readers will decide they should buy the books. Or if they put enough images of book covers on Pinterest that someone will pay attention.

This kind of activity will not prompt readers to buy your books. It might, however, convince them not to buy. The sad news is that there is no quick fix for invisibility. None.

Yes, you might get lucky and have Amazon or Apple pick your book to feature, gaining you tens of thousands of readers instantly. Or you might be spotted by an agent or publisher and offered a sweetheart traditional deal. But chances are you won’t. And chances are that nothing you do regarding social media will make enough difference to sell more than a handful of books.

How Do You Sell Books?

The only true and tried method I know of is to write great books, and keep writing them. Don’t stop after the first one and think you’ll sell a gazillion books. And don’t stop after the second or third or fourth book either. You have to keep going. It takes a lot of books to build a following. And every one has to be as good as the first, if not better.

The big-name authors you see at the top of the bestseller lists didn’t get there by being overnight successes. Most of them were still struggling after their fifth or sixth or even tenth book. Look at two of the best-selling indie authors—Russell Blake and Melissa Foster. They were both doing pretty darn good, but it wasn’t until recently that sales exploded. And by that time both of them had more than 20 books published. If they had quit after writing five books, they would have never seen this level of success.

Am I Saying You Have to Write 20 Books?

No. But the chances of striking gold with your first or second novel is equivalent to hitting the lottery. My suggestion is to stop worrying about sales. Stop spending so much time on social media. And keep writing good books. That is the one method that works more than any other.

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

September 16, 2014

The Joy of Owning Good Dogs

Good Dogs and Bad Dogs

There are good dogs like Gracie (Coffee Dog), who I wrote about here, and here. And there are good pigs like Sweet Pete, who I mentioned here. And then…there are dogs like Mollie.

The first post I ever wrote was about Mollie—more specifically, the trouble she caused. And then I wrote about her again to emphasize a point in a post regarding a quaint old saying—Eat Shit and Die.

But I have never actually gone into detail on Mollie or why she makes for such an interesting and often unpredictable day.


Many of the animals who find their way to our sanctuary were abused, mistreated, or abandoned. If they behaved badly, I could find it in my heart to forgive them. But they don’t. They are almost always grateful and loving.

Mollie came here a little more than 10 years ago. She wasn’t abused, nor abandoned. She was the result of the bad behavior of one of our other “troublesome” members—Bear. I have a book coming out about Bear soon, so I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say Mollie was not a result of a “planned parenthood” type of arrangement, and the neighbor whose dog Bear “ruined” insisted that I select one of his offspring.


Mollie looks nothing like Bear, as you can see from the pictures. But somehow she seems to have inherited all of his DNA. I know that’s not possible, but she did. Trust me. And one trait more than any other that she “assumed” was Bear’s distrust and dislike for strangers.

When I say strangers, I don’t just mean people. Mollie won’t tolerate new dogs, coyotes, wild pigs, deer…she even goes after the herons who come to feast at our pond. But people seem to hold a special place in her heart, and delivery drivers sit at the top of her list. She has bitten Fed-Ex drivers, postal workers, vets, and her favorite—UPS drivers. One time she escaped and chased down the UPS truck and jumped up into it while it was going down the drive. All in a misguided attempt to bite the driver.

Everyone Needs A Guard Dog

I know what many of you might be thinking—that a good guard dog is nice. It makes you feel safe, protected. That’s true. I won’t deny it. But…there is a problem with Mollie and her mutated genes. She not only wants to bite the strangers, she is so passionate about it, that she will bite anyone who is in her way.

I take that back. Somehow my granddaughter, Adalina, has earned immunity. I don’t know how, but she has. Adalina can tug on Mollie, pull her hair, fall on her, use her as a crutch when walking…it doesn’t matter. Mollie never so much as looks sideways at her. However…if anyone else is in the way of Mollie wanting to bite someone—she will bite that person. Even when that person is me. I have learned this the hard way.

Last week, a stranger dared to get lost. She pulled into our driveway and started up our sidewalk. Foolishly, I opened the back door and tried to sneak out to greet her. The image below shows the result. And this was through long pants.

And just so there is no confusion about intent. This is the third time Mollie has done this.

Getting Back To Genetics

The amazing thing is that Mollie has developed this habit—which is identical to Bear’s habit—all on her own. Bear lives with my son a few blocks away. He has visited Mollie, but he hasn’t been here to raise her. Somehow, that wonderful trait has found its way through the gene pool and into sweet Mollie all by itself. Below is a picture of Bear next to Mollie.

Bottom Line

I know that some of you might think that it’s terrible to keep a dog that bites. But we keep every animal on the sanctuary. None of our “family” is put down unless their time has come. And in so many ways, Mollie is a gentle soul.

I mentioned how good she is with Adalina. But she is also wonderful with the pigs. Even when they were small she never tried hurting them. She is also amazing with my niece, who often visits. And she is exactly what I need some nights to kickstart a laugh. What more could I wish for?

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

September 8, 2014

Launch of New Mystery Book

Murder Takes Patience—Launch of New Mystery Book

Before I get started today, I want to apologize to all of the readers who might have pre-ordered from Nook, Apple or Kobo. I made a huge mistake and uploaded the wrong file. The result is that the book you received—if it was delivered before 9/3—has mistakes in it. I think this only affects Nook customers, but in any case, if you purchased a pre-order at one of those three retailers prior to 9/3, please email me at and I will send you the proper book.

Again, my apologies. You know how much I despise mistakes.

Now on to the good news. My new mystery book — Murder Takes Patience—is now for sale at Nook, Apple, and Kobo. It will be on Google by the end of the week. And it is available for pre-order on Amazon, where it should go live next week.

Friendship & Honor Series

There was a time when a person’s word meant something, when friendship was more than a quick hello or a meaningless handshake. When you didn’t give your word lightly, and honor was something people were proud of.

Nicky Fusco and Frankie Donovan grew up in those times, and they’ve never forgotten the code.

Read the Friendship & Honor series. See what you’re missing.

• Murder Takes Time
• Murder Has Consequences
• Murder Takes Patience   

Murder Takes Patience—Available Now

Book III in the Friendship & Honor Series

Even good people are haunted by nightmares. Some are kept awake by things they did in the past: Lies they told, people they cheated, laws they broke.

The ones who lived the worst lives are haunted by more than lies or broken laws. Their sleep is stolen by the people they killed.

Nicky Fusco isn’t like any of them. He’s not bothered by lies, or broken laws. Not even by the people he’s killed.

Nicky is kept awake by the people he hasn’t killed yet.

For the next week only, buy at the discounted price at Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, or Amazon.


Giacomo Giammatteo

August 25, 2014

What Confidence Can Do For You

Confidence Is A Magic Bullet

Why do some people always succeed, while others keep missing the mark? Everyone has different talents and abilities, but some people, even those without a lot of natural talent, seem to rise above the masses and end up at the top. And confidence is often the driver behind that success.

The best sales people exhibit confidence, and the managers responsible for hiring them know this, which is why in any good interview scenario the interview team looks for signs of self-confidence. Displaying your self-confidence is similar to tightrope walking. Lean too far to the right and you are perceived as arrogant. Too far left and you appear to lack self-esteem. But when you hit on all cylinders—then you’ve created magic.

Talk to any sales person who’s been around a while, and they can tell you how it feels when they come out of a presentation and they know they closed the deal.


I was fortunate to have been raised in a house where confidence was instilled in all of us. As a result, I guess I never gave it much thought until my wife and I started our animal sanctuary. Observing the animals has taught me a lot, and one of the most important things I learned is that confidence is not restricted to humans. It plays a big part in animal politics. Take a look at the picture of Kelly (above). You can even see the confidence in her.

During the past twenty years I have seen dozens of examples, but today I’m only going to show you one of them.

Sweet Pete

Let me give you a little background. On our sanctuary we have about 45 animals at any given time. About half of them are either potbelly pigs or wild pigs. As you might guess, when it comes to feeding time, there is a mad rush. For a long time the biggest and toughest pigs got the lion’s share of the food. But then…

Along Came Petey

As you can see from the picture, Petey is not the most intimidating thing.

• He’s smaller than all of the other pigs. 
• He’s older. 
• He came to us with a broken jaw, which causes him trouble eating. 
• And the biggest handicap of all—his deformities prevented his tusks from growing. 
In the pig world, tusks are the primary weapons. 

But none of that stopped Petey. He had a few other weapons in abundance.

Determination, Persistence, And Confidence

The pigs are fed every day about noon. Petey is never late for lunch. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, cold, or 100 degrees. Petey is at the gate waiting for me to show up. If I’m 10 minutes late, he’s waiting, and he’s normally squealing loud enough to wake the dead.

It takes me a few minutes to prepare the food, and then place it on the feeding platform. The entire time I’m doing this, Petey is positioning himself. The pigs with the biggest tusks normally bully their way to the front and take the prime position on the platform. It’s very much like the game children play—King of the Hill. Once the food goes down, it’s a free-for-all.

King of the Hill

By all rights, Petey should be the loser in this game, relegated to sate himself on the crumbs that fall from the feeding table.

But no one seems to have told Petey that. He is so confident that he pushes, and shoves, and squeezes through—and if the other pigs stop him, he tries from another angle. If they stop him there, he tries something else. He does whatever he has to to get his position on the platform.

And he doesn’t seem to have a care in the world while this is happening. He’s almost nonchalant, as if he knows he’ll get what he wants.

By looking at Petey you wouldn’t think he could accomplish this. The other pigs are bigger, stronger, younger, and have far bigger tusks. And yet, every day, Petey wins the prime position on the platform. He’s determined, and he’s relentless. And before feeding time is over, he’s the king of the hill.

Getting Back To Confidence

The world seems to be getting tougher. People don’t look out for each other anymore, and everyone is on a fast-track in an effort to get to the top of…something. The people who have natural confidence don’t have to play this game. They have the luxury of going through life knowing that if they need to reach a goal, they can. And if they fail, they can start over. If you’ve ever wondered what confidence can do for you, the answer is—everything.

Bottom Line

If you are raising kids, think about what you can do to instill confidence in your children.

The best gift you can give your child is confidence. It will let them live their life on their terms.

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

August 18, 2014

Family Is Everything

author Giacomo Giammatteo and his dog Slick

Giacomo & Slick

Family Isn’t Dead

Everyone has problems, and sometimes problems have a way of multiplying as we grow older. Worries heaped atop other worries, and those on top of physical issues. Despite that, I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world.

I grew up in the most loving family I can imagine. And we lived in a neighborhood that I still think of as the greatest place on earth to raise a kid. It wasn’t just our family. It was a neighborhood of working-class people, many of whom were descendants of immigrants—Irish, Italian, Polish, and others.

This neighborhood and the values that we were raised with find their way into some of my books in the friendship & honor series. In my other series, the entire theme is, La famiglia é tutto—family is everything.  

But this post isn’t about books.

This Is About Family

I often worry about where this country is heading, mostly due to what I see as the lack of values in the younger generation—values that were infused in us when we were young. Read the news on any given day, and you’ll be appalled at the stories of things kids do to each other, and to themselves. It makes me wonder just what is being infused into the younger children. It’s depressing to read article after article of bad things happening, so when I run across a good story, especially about a young person, it makes me feel as if there’s hope.

I ran across just such an example recently.

Tim and Mike Ferrier were good friends of mine when I lived in Cleland Heights. Like many of the families at that time, the Ferriers had a lot of kids and they made sure the kids grew up in a very loving family. Mike sent me a poem that his granddaughter Rosalina wrote for a school project. I was so impressed, and so moved by the emotion, that I had to share it. The title of the project was…

Where I’m From


Lindsay Tucker


I am from a comfortable family,

Not a lot of money, but enough.

I am from the old brick house on South Clifton Ave.

The one that you couldn’t see until the old oak tree was cut down.

I am from the red rose bushes in my Grandfather’s garden,

And the old bird’s nest on top of the fan outside.

I am from the nickname Rosalina given to me by my Grandfather

And the many stories that go along with it.

I am from sun blankey and my yellow sunglasses

That were used when my Grandfather picked me up from school and the sun was too bright.

I am from a Grandmother, who helps me to be the person I am today,

And I wouldn’t have made it where I am today without her.

I am from the family with a million cousins

And plenty of hearts ready to help.

I am from a house that gets packed on Christmas Eve

And has many Italian foods ready to eat prepared by Mike and Marie.

I am from the world’s cutest puppy named Marilyn

And two younger sisters that make me want to pull my hair out at times.

I am from one true best friend that no one could ever replace,

Also known as my Mom.

I am from the brown hair and blue eyes

That comes from my Great-Grandfather.

I am from a small city where everyone knows my Grandfather,

And an even smaller neighborhood where everyone knows each other.

I am from the pizza and Chinese food that my family eats on special occasions

And the birthday cake that has a 0 candle on it no matter what age you are turning.

I am from a family where stress is overcome by love

And problems are worked on together rather than on your own.

I am from a loving family, who cares about everyone,

That would do anything for anyone at anytime.


Rosalina, whose real name is Lindsay Tucker, is 15-years old. This poem is from her heart, and from her experience. You can’t make this up.

This is what family is all about.

What strikes me most about this poem is Rosalina’s self-awareness. “Where I’m From,” is a broad topic for a teenager. I’m sure many of them wrote about their neighborhood, or their city, or even about the country where their ancestors originated.

Rosalina dug deeper than that.

She has an awareness that most adults haven’t learned to recognize, much to their detriment. Rosalina seems to realize, even at this early age, that who she is, the person she has become, is a result of her family and her surroundings.

I am so happy for Rosalina, because I already know that no matter what life throws at her, she’ll do fine. She is a very lucky girl.

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

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  • This blog will be a little different from many you see. Contrary to the characters in my books, I don’t really kill people, or catch those who do, so the blogs might be about reading, or writing, or animals. These are the things I have great passion for. It might also contain posts about food, or ancestry, or substance abuse. My oldest son is a great cook. My daughter is a genealogist ( and my youngest son is a recovering drug addict. He has been clean for three years, and runs a rehab center (

    I hope you enjoy the posts, and please let me know what you think.



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