"That's why I'm looking for the next best thing"
-- Warren Zevon
My longtime friend Rick Robinson, from Northern Kentucky, just received a "six-figure" option for the movie rights to his novel, Manifest Destiny.
Rick writes political thrillers. His third book is the one that hit the jackpot.
Another longtime friend, Dr. Keen Babbage, just released his 13th book, The Dream And The Reality of Teaching.
A pretty good feat, since Dr. Babbage has been battling cancer and spent a lot of the past year in chemotherapy. He is now cancer-free and back to teaching high school in Lexington, Kentucky.
Rick, one of the funniest people I have ever met, draws on his decades as a political insider in Washington and Kentucky, and writes gripping novels that entertain. Dr. Babbage writes books that draw on his expertise in education and life.
Rick is a successful author in the conventional sense. A lot of people talk about writing a novel, but few ever do it. With his first book, The Maximum Contribution, Rick achieved the rarified title of "author." It was a good book. Sniper Bid, his second, was even better.
When Manifest Destiny came out, my review in the Huffington Post said that "Manifest Destiny is where The West Wing meets The Bourne Identity."
It looks like Hollywood shares my opinion. Businesses don't hand out six-figure checks unless they plan on making far more in return.
What separates Rick from other authors is his enthusiasm and work ethic. He will go anywhere, anytime, to do a book signing. He has built up a strong and growing audience.
Rick does this while maintaining a full-time law practice and remaining a political insider who has his finger on the pulse of politics in Kentucky and nationally.
Some writers give Rick a backhanded compliment in praising his marketing skills and not properly noting his writing ability.
As the people who promoted New Coke, the Edsel, or Pets.com can tell you, a great marketing campaign is useless unless you have a great product.
Rick can really write. He's winning awards right and left. Although critical success does not always lead to commercial success, (e.g., Kiss has never won a Grammy but has sold more records than many who have), Rick has both going for him.
Unless something dramatic changes in Hollywood, I doubt that they will be making The Dream and The Reality of Teaching, or any of Dr. Babbage's other books, into a movie. I don't think Keen cares.
Keen is totally devoted to the teaching profession. He uses his books to instruct and inspire others.
His attitude reminds me of the wisdom of Thomas More in the movie, A Man For All Seasons..
More encouraged one of his political assistants to become a teacher.
The assistant said, "If I was [a teacher], who would know it?" More replied, "You; your pupils; your friends; God. Not a bad public, that."
Many of Dr. Babbage's students have told me that he is an outstanding and inspiring teacher. One of the things that kept him motivated during his battle with cancer was the goal of getting back to the classroom and making an impact.
Through his writing, Keen allows the world outside his classroom to hear his insights about education and his teaching skills.
That is not a bad audience, either.
I've been friends with Rick and Keen for over 30 years. I knew them before they ever thought about writing a book. I've read most, if not all, of their books along the way.
In the way that Rick is capturing commercial and critical success and Keen is impacting the education profession, both have one thing in common:
They have "hit it big" as authors.
Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC of Richmond, Kentucky is the founder of McNay Settlement Group. He is the author of the book, Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win the Lottery. He has appeared on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric along with numerous other television and radio programs. McNay has Master's Degrees from Vanderbilt and the American College and is in the Hall of Distinguished Alumni of Eastern Kentucky University. McNay is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Round Table and has four professional designations in the financial services field.
You can read more about Don at www.donmcnay.com.