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Author Russell Newell Sees Success with First Novel About Kidnapped Boy

A Massachusetts native is making waves with his novel “The Boy and What Might Have Been,” inspired by a real-life disappearance, released by Dog Ear Publishing.

Indianapolis, IN, February 16, 2017 --( More than a decade ago, Russell Newell came up with an idea for a novel inspired by the real-life disappearance of a lifeguard named Molly Bish working at a pond in Massachusetts. In December, sales of the ebook version of “The Boy and What Might Have Been” reached 5,000, thanks to its acceptance to the highly regarded ebook promotions list Book Bub and good reviews.

“I got a nice response and did some promotions, one through BookBub that was really effective, and that helped a lot,” Newell said. “That got a lot of people to become aware of the book and to read it and it doubled my reviews. And then Goodreads, it helped the reviews there too.”

He said reviewers have described the book as gripping and a page turner. “A lot of people said they couldn't wait to find out what happened, and that's music to a writer's ears. That’s what you want to hear – they just couldn’t put it down.”

Reviews were part of Newell’s plan as a self-published author to promote his book. “My strategy was to get some reviews early on, some industry reviews, like Kirkus and Indy Reader, different reviews that are well-respected,” he said. “I was hoping, of course, to get good reviews, and I did, and I thought that gave me some credibility. … And then people started reading it, and I started getting good reviews on Amazon.”

Newell is thrilled his book is doing well. “You put in a lot of work through the years and put your whole heart and soul into it and then you finally release it … out into the world and then hope it gets good feedback,” he said. “It's just a great feeling of accomplishment to finish the novel, because so many people talk about doing it and don't do it. So I was really happy to achieve that and to publish it.”

Working with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush when he participated in Missing and Exploited Children’s Day with John Walsh, whose son Adam was abducted, provided the emotional angle Newell needed.

“I just remember thinking ‘That has to be the worst possible thing a human being could go through: to not only lose a child but not know what happened.’ There's no closure. It's got to be worse than death,” Newell said. “I wanted to explore what would happen to a character if he lost his son and everything else unraveled around in his life as he looks for that child.”

“The Boy and What Might Have Been” features a boy who is kidnapped by a religious cult. Newell set the book in Billerica, Mass., in the 1970s, where he grew up. He read Walsh’s book to get a better understanding of what a parent might go through. And researched cults, including one in Massachusetts.

He thinks any parent can connect with the story. “They can relate to a person who loses everything and perseveres. I think they liked that he persevered, and they can’t imagine how they would react to losing a child.”

Newell is no stranger to perseverance: The novel took 10 years to complete. “I’d write in bursts for a while and then I’d put it down for years and then I’d pick it back up. I had an idea of where I wanted to go, but I didn't do a detailed outline,” he said. “I kind of let the writing take me where it was going, and it took me some different directions.”

He chose to self-publish his book with Dog Ear to retain control in the process. “I wanted to really experience everything and try and be creative about coming up with a title and coming up with a cover,” he said. “It was just a great learning process, trying to learn the business.”

His advice to aspiring authors is to write the best book possible. “You only get that one shot to make a good impression or to write the best book you can, so try and write a great book and then take it from there.”

Newell published his first story, “The Fox’s Hard life,” at the age of 11 in the Hamilton-Wenham Chronicle. He earned a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University. He served as a speech writer for Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and his successor, Michael Chertoff, as well as chief speechwriter for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and two secretaries of the interior and the U.S. Department of State.

He was senior media advisor for the spokesman for Multi-National Forces-Iraq in that country before returning home and getting married. He and his wife, Karoline, have two children. He is director of executive communications for Disney/ABC Television. Newell is working on a thriller and love story based on his experiences in Iraq.

For additional information, please visit www.

The Boy and What Might Have Been
Russell Newell
Dog Ear Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-4575-4624-2 328 pages $14.99 US
ISBN: 978-1-4575-46047-9 328 pages $.99 US

Available at Ingram,, Barnes & Noble and fine bookstores everywhere.

Dog Ear Publishing offers completely customized self-publishing services for independent authors. Dog Ear Publishing reviews services and other book marketing services are available to connect great content with interested readers. Self-publishing services are available globally at and from our offices in Indianapolis.
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