I’d like to welcome author Alan Sakowitz as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress today.
Alan’s book is MILES AWAY…WORLDS APART. He stops by today to answer some questions about how he came to write this intriguing book. If you have any questions for him, just leave them in your comments as he will be dropping back by during the day.
Mason: What earned you the title “the accidental author?”
Alan: That title came about because I am not an author by design. By profession I am an attorney and real estate developer. By chance I became an author after being the whistleblower in South Florida's largest fraud ever.
Mason: When you discovered the fraud, why did you risk your life to expose it rather than do as so many others did, just be grateful you didn’t invest with the fraudster and walk away without saying a word?
Alan: I was frightened but I had no choice. I was not about to let other people become victims of Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme when I was in a position to try to put a stop to it. At the same time, since Rothstein was so well connected with law enforcement and politicians from the Governor on down, I needed to be careful not to choose an agency he infiltrated.
Mason: What inspired you to write this book?
Alan: I could not ignore the fact that so many people closed their eyes because the benefits to them were too great to do otherwise or that so many decent people became complicit. To me, it seemed the facts of the massive Madoff-like Ponzi scheme needed to be presented in a simple way so they could be viewed without the trappings of unreasonable rewards. That way, each person could train himself in advance how he wants to respond before he reaches his next fork in the road.
It is hoped that understanding how these schemes work will prevent readers from being scammed.
Mason: Did you have a writing schedule?
Alan: Yes. Every day after I came home from the office and all day Sunday, I became glued to the computer keyboard.
Mason: What type of research did you do for the book?
Alan: Much of what I wrote about were my personal experiences in dealing the fraudster and the different people connected and attracted to him. A portion of the research I did involved reviewing stories written about the incident and court documents filed in the matter. That lead to me reading several books to help me better understand how such a thing could happen in the first place.
MILES AWAY...WORLDS APART contrasts good and evil, selfishness and selflessness, greed and generosity, and appearance and substance. Rothstein’s world was geographically only 16 miles away from my community, but philosophically it was worlds apart. My community was proudly featured for the comparison. Showing the contrast required my verifying the facts of many stories involving my neighbors. I also needed to get their permission to use the stories and their names. Most neighbors wanted to remain anonymous but allowed me to use their names since I needed readers to be able to verify the accuracy of the stories and with the hope that the stories would inspire others to make choices for a better life.
Mason: What was the best thing about writing?
Alan: The feedback was the best part about writing. Each time a reader contacts me and tells me that reading MILES AWAY...WORLDS APART inspired him to start a program to help others in his community leaves me with a special feeling. When teens tell me that the book should be “a must read” for young people and when I find out a teacher assigned it for extra credit since it provides lessons teens need to learn before being confronted with similar situations in life, I feel the impact the book is making.
Mason: Did you encounter “writer's block?” If so, how did you overcome it?
Alan: There was only one night when I could not even write one page. Usually my thoughts just poured out onto the page. Sometimes I had so much to write that I dictated it and had it transcribed and then I just edited it without having to type it.
On the day that I could not write anything down that I was satisfied with, each time I completed a few paragraphs I deleted it and started over. After about three hours I decided to work on a different chapter. While going about my daily routine I gave the ideas more thought and a couple of days later I was able to better express my thoughts.
Mason: What message would you like readers to take away from your book?
Alan: My goal in writing MILES AWAY...WORLDS APART was not to write a history book about the over-the-top, opulent lifestyle of fraudster Scott Rothstein, but instead to use that way of life to suggest a better, more meaningful way to live. I wanted to show that other people are important and the choices we make influence others, especially our children. I wanted to show the importance of family, community, leadership, integrity, personal responsibility and other people. Those are messages I hope my readers take away and share with others.
Mason: What can readers expect next from you?
Alan: My writing will always have positive and empowering messages since pointing out problems without suggesting solutions is meaningless. My next work will in part be dictated by the likes and dislikes of my readers. Being considered now is a book of powerful stories. The second idea is a book with the same format as MILES AWAY...WORLDS APART only with a different topic and different empowering lessons.
Alan, thanks so guest blogging here today and telling us about your story. Yours is a story that needs to be shared with others.
On a professional level, Alan is president of Pointe Development Company, a real estate development company located in Bay Harbor Islands, Florida, where he combines his real estate background and legal training. His company is a recognized leader in joint venturing, and is always open to considering worthwhile projects anywhere in the country from brokers, banks, developers, and principals. Alan has taught courses in law and lectured on a variety of topics, and he is a seasoned negotiator and business consultant.
Alan, a life-long resident of Miami-Dade County, lives with his wife Leah and their five children in the North Miami Beach area, the neighborhood proudly featured in Miles Away . . . Worlds Apart.
Here’s a brief description of the book: Alan Sakowitz, a whistleblower of a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme masterminded by Scott Rothstein, fraudster extraordinaire, tells the story of his decision to turn in Rothstein regardless of the possible dangerous ramifications of such a decision. The saga of Rothstein's rise and fall which included a Warren Yacht, two Bugattis, Governor Crist, the former Versace mansion, The Eagles, and even the murder of a law partner, is the stuff that Hollywood movies are made from.
Instead of the mere accounting of such a scandal, Sakowitz uses the Rothstein scheme as a cautionary tale in stark contrast to the stories of humble, ethical individuals living within Sakowitz's neighborhood in North Miami Beach, Florida. Sakowitz's neighbors are people who have spent their lives trying to assist others, not line their pockets, and through these stories Sakowitz creates a sharp dichotomy between the greed, of a Rothstein and its mainstream culture of consumption and the charity, kindness and selflessness of a principle-oriented community. Indeed, Sakowitz speaks to the symptoms of a culture that could create a Scott Rothstein, and, though acknowledging that the easy way out is not simple to dismiss, offers remedies to the growing ills of our entitlement society. The answer, Sakowitz says, lies in thinking first of others, and how one's actions should benefit the lives of friends, not one's short-term gratifications.
MILES AWAY…WORLDS APART can be purchased at www.Legacyseriespress.com .
Here’s a video book trailer to give you a bit more insight into this book. Enjoy and remember to leave your questions for Alan.