CHRIS DROUKAS / THE EAGLE
Deciding to read a book by a new author is a daunting task. Who among us would have found, let alone read “The Da Vinci Code” or “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” if not for the buzz surrounding each book?
AU professor Steve Piacente is tackling this problem with the release of his self-published novel “Bella.”
“Bella” is a gritty story of a military cover-up. Isabella “Bella” Moss knows for certain that the circumstances surrounding her husband Hank’s death are riddled with lies and treachery. According to the Army, Hank was killed by a homemade grenade, but Bella believed that the government had a hand in it.
“An Army officer decides to cover up the truth about Hank Moss’ death,” Piacente said. “That decision affects everyone from Hank’s widow, Bella, to Dan Patragno, the reporter she lures into the investigation. I’ve always been fascinated by the ethical decisions people make when no one is watching, particularly people in positions of authority.”
The story is told from the perspective of Dan Patragno, a Tampa-based journalist working in a D.C. bureau. Piacente used his prior career in journalism to help develop the character and theme of the book.
Ethical choices play a huge role in this book. The convergence between journalism’s ethical boundaries and self-imposed personal ones creates a delicious subplot, which makes this book an excellent read.
Another excellent touch is the dialogue. While many books trend towards simple back-and-forth conversation, Piacente adds the right amount of flavor to the text. Every character serves a useful purpose, if only to serve as a moral compass.
However, what truly makes “Bella” remarkable is that it is a self-published novel.
“When you decide to self-publish, you take on a hundred tasks that we never expected — everything from conceiving and designing a cover, to the font, layout and size of your book,” Piacente said. “And that doesn’t begin to address the marketing piece. In short, technology has made it possible to bypass traditional agents and win over potential readers.”
Piacente has his own website, is on Twitter and makes YouTube videos. In the YouTube videos Piacente has created a movie trailer for his books, not a dry rehashing of the plot. Nothing is given away, but more flavor for the book is disseminated to the reader. In this age of direct contact with people, Piacente felt it would be a better avenue to go “straight to the reader.”
“I think we’ve come up with some creative ways to separate ourselves from the glut of book websites competing for readers’ time and attention,” Piacente said.
“Bella” is now available on Amazon.com.