A unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories, and provocative opinions. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.
should writers dress up as for Halloween? Ghostwriters!
I won’t quit my day job promoting and marketing writers.
struggle to decide on a costume for the October 31 ritual of being someone I am
not and am not likely to be, I thought about what writers, who usually live in
fantasy, would wear?
I should consult scary writers like Edgar Allan Poe, Brian Stoker, Stephen
King, Dean Koontz or Mary Shelley about what to wear, but with some of them I’d
just be following a dead-end lead.
ranks Anne Rice as the most popular horror author. I wonder what she’ll do this Halloween. Maybe the Horror Writers Association can
guide us. Check out horror.org.
some of the hottest costumes this year are of best-selling authors – Donald
Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Dressing up is just part of the tradition and festivities of the holiday. Pumpkin carving, trick or treating, hanging
scary decorations, and behaving mischievously are par for the course. So is telling or reading ghost stories around
a camp fire.
the real question is: Which scary book
or short story will you read on Halloween?
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was published
nearly 200 year ago – in 1820 – by Washington Irving. It is among the earliest examples of American
fiction with enduring popularity that’s associated with Halloween.
scary characters like a vampire, werewolf, ghost, mummy, zombie, Frankenstein or devil can
still be found, but they seem to be giving away to costumes that reveal dark
fantasies, from ones that sexualize parts to ones that combine pop-culture
with demons in the news. We see pimps
and dead brides, naughty nurses and superheroes. There are emojis and tech device
costumes. Will anyone dress up as a
is supposed to be a holiday where people can have safe fun but sometimes things
get out of hand.
up in 1970’s and 1980’s Brooklyn, I was afraid to go to school on
Halloween. Too many punks were up to no
good, egging homes, houses, cars and kids.
Bad people used the day to honor their badness while otherwise good
people tried to use the day as an excuse to get away with bad behavior. It may not be the Purge, but Halloween is a get-out-of-jail card for low-level truant behavior.
is no longer just for kids. After they
stop trick or treating as kids, they dress up for parties in high school and
college. Older adults can dress up if
they are attached to kids. I use my kids
as props so I can dress up.
want to hear a funny story about Halloween?
back in the mid-1980s I went to a Halloween party on the Saturday night before
Halloween. Apparently, not everyone knew
that the night was linked to celebrating Halloween. I was dressed as a cowboy, fake gun and all, and waiting
at a Brooklyn bus stop in Bensonhurst and all of a sudden two cop cars pull up
and cops fall out of their cars, guns – real ones – pointed at me – with shouts of “get down, put you hands up, slowly.” I complied and straightened everything out but
that was scary!
could be a good excuse to watch scary movies, like the horror franchise Nightmare on ElmStreet, Friday the 13th, Halloween, or Scream.
Maybe the Purge series will
join that list soon.
Halloween I plan to be something or someone that I’m not, to touch base with
the darker, weirder, or freakier side of me – but I will not go as a
writer. What will you be?
classic remains a classic; it stands all the tests of time and changing
sensibilities; we read the classics not because we are required to do so,
because we have been told to read them, but because they are wiser, more
enduring, and provide more pleasure than lesser works.” -- Helena Hjalmarsson
Through The Power of Fearless Recovery is Out There
1. What inspired you to write your book?
I wanted to try to sort through my life in a way that might help it make sense
to me. I thought maybe it could make a compelling story, but really I had to purge
it all and see what it looked like form the outside.
is it about?
about losing yourself and finding yourself again in a whole new way. It's about
how we view ourselves, why we look at ourselves the way we do - and how to
3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for
readers who finish your book?
did my job correctly the reader will stay awake at night and wonder if they
have sold themselves a big lie on what they are capable of doing.
4. What advice do you have for writers?
precision and authenticity.
5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is
think in one way it's great that it is easy to publish these days- the down
side being there is a lot of stuff out there to sift through. My hope is that
people continue to look to books to keep the mind nimble and present as we be
some more distracted.
6. What challenges did you have in writing your book?
was an absolutely emotional cage fight. The highs and lows were hard to manage
at times... in fact after I wrote about my rise from homeless kid, to
making a million dollars, becoming an addicted and losing it all, I walked away
for about 6 months before writing again.
7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should
it be yours?
someone can only buy one book this month they might want to focus on something
a little more light- maybe a comedy?
has long been a love-hate relationship between authors and their publishers.
While each agrees that one could not exist without the other, it frequently is
not a relationship of mutual admiration and respect, to say the least. Few
writers acknowledge their great debts to those who have published their work,
and even fewer published acknowledge how dependent their lists are upon the writers
whom they have published.” -- Helena Hjalmarsson
happened to be in a Wells Fargo branch recently. I’d forgotten to send my mortgage payment in
and didn’t want to mail it in late or use online banking. My son, 11, was with me. We joked that we should ask the bank teller
if she can open a new account – with no credit, no job, no assets. Wells Fargo was penalized for ordering the
opening of fake bank accounts on a mass scale.
They ended up firing 5,000 workers, though the ones that really had to
go were the people at the top who actually benefited from the fraud. It wasn’t until this past month that the CEO
quit – retired – got fired. He paid scores
of millions from running the financial institution that people can no longer
trust. There are many criminal CEOs like
him. Remember ENRON and Ken Lay? How about Tyco’s Dennis Kozlowski, Jon
Corzine’s M.F. Global, Bernie Madoff, Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide Financial
Corp, Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers, Tony Hayward of BP, and on and on? No one will miss Wells Fargo’s John Skimof. But all of this talk of scandalous,
scurrilous CEOs has me wondering: Does
the book publishing world have its versions of corporate shenanigans?
hard to search for this. If you search
under terms such as “criminal book publishers’ or “book publishing criminals,”
you get lists of people who publish crime books. Or they show books written by
criminals. "Book publishing crooks" did
yield a hit from a Goodreads post that complained about vanity presses.
call up the ugly side of book publishing.
There’s a huge pay-to-publish industry and it comes in many forms. There’s nothing wrong with self-publishing,
but too many people are overpaying for books.
Others pay money for services that were never delivered.
is a site, sfwa.org that puts out Writer Beware, an online information source
about industry service providers. It
highlights specific practices it deems to be unscrupulous and highlights
specific companies that they accuse of wrongdoing. Through the site doesn’t fully litigate or
research a complaint, it does act as a bulletin board for people to
consult. I would caution people to be
aware that not every complaint posted is valid or shows all sides. Still, it may be a place to check if one
can spot a trend of serious offenses by specific companies. Another
such site is editorsandpreditors.com.
who really are the monsters of the book publishing world? Could their ethical lapses or criminal
actions be going on but just not getting exposed?
We know every day that someone is:
§Publishing a book
copyright with rampant plagiarism.
§Screwing an author
out of royalties.
bookstore out of money due.
their services or capabilities.
advertising a book.
threatening writers to give up valuable rights.
book industry may consist of people who by and large love books and want to
fight censorship, promote the First Amendment, expand literacy to all, and encourage
more people to read more books, and to nurture more people to become writers
who perfect their craft. But there are
scumbags that ruin it for others, who lie, cheat, steal, and manipulate for their
Fargo, on a large scale, is one of the worst offenders out there. But they are not alone. Every industry has its version of a Wells
Fargo, including book publishing. Words
cannot say what irreparable harm these con artists do to a terrific industry
like book publishing.
your questions to any good library, and most likely you will match them up with
answers. Bring loneliness, and in books you will find the solace and company of
other lives. Bring the gray of the everyday and you will lose it in the
infinite colors of books. The great houses and protectors of books, libraries
offer as many thousands of worlds as there are volumes on their shelves” -- Helena Hjalmarsson
recently watched, with great anticipation leading up to my viewing the movie, The Girl on the Train. The film is based on the best-selling
psychothriller penned by Paula Hawkins.
It was my favorite movie since Gone
Girl, another movie based on a blockbuster book, by Gillian Flynn. I really enjoy these “books-on-video,” so
much so that I must confess I’d sooner see a movie based on a great novel than
read that very same book. Why would a self-professed lover and defender of
books say that?
only so much time to read so many books, so I’d rather read the books that don’t become
movies. For books that get dramatized on the big screen. I thoroughly enjoy watching the action
unfold. Nothing beats the fantasy and
imagination of a reader combing through a great book, but if I can consume some
great books in less than two hours with great visuals, I’m in. This allows me to not only experience a story in a different way, but it also provides me with reading time to explore non-fiction,
and other fiction that won’t convert into Hollywood artistry.
it so bad to admit I enjoy a movie over reading the book it’s based on? The book world needs people like me, so it
can make more money. Some read the book.
Some see the movie. Some do both.
think there are many genres of movies that have taken over in the past few
years. There’s a market for a dystopian
future (Hunger Games), science
fiction (The Martian), and
psychodramas like The Girl on the Train.
of these novels-turned-movies represent something about society that
seems in need of deeper exploration -- otherwise these books would fail and
falter at the box office. We seem to
have deep-seated fears about the future, unending curiosity about space and
technology, and fearful insecurities about the relationships we commit to.
happened to the schmaltzy, Hollywood-ending, feel-good movie? It’s no longer enough nor reasonable to
accept happily-ever-after or guy-gets-girl films. Now it’s who can save a world
that isn’t always worth saving? Who gets
to play God when it comes to the unlimited power of science and
technology? Who gets to cheat on or kill
none of this is new to publishing or Hollywood. Many books and movies over the
years have been crafted based on different fears, desires, and delusions of
power. Instead of movies about drug wars, we do battle in space. Instead of
stories about a spouse having an affair, we amp it up and toss in murder, rape
and abuse. Instead of movies about dictators
that actually existed, we explore how machines will dictate our lives.
one thing we’ve been spared is more political dramas. The nation is exhausted and fatigued from a
four-year-old election with the highest level of low-brow, mud-slinging ever seen.
What books or movies can possibly come of this deplorable race to the White
if we can have Trump battle an alien, or find a way for Clinton to Kill Bill
and cover up her affairs, maybe we’ll get the book or movie some people eagerly
you like a good thriller, where beautiful, rich people seem unhappy over having
everything, go see The Girl on the Train. Or read the book. Or both.
A number of years ago I became troubled by the
distortions and outright fabrications surrounding the funding of Social
Security. And then the poorly thought out Affordable Care Act and its
disastrous rollout occurred and I wanted to understand why. Once I began to
look at these two issues more closely and added my own experience as a Federal
employee, I began to see that the entire governmental structure was flawed. To
the point I couldn’t see the country surviving much longer with the
What is the book
The fallacies in the current governmental system and
also the loss of liberty that more government intervention entails. On the
other side, I present solutions to bad government in the form of Constitutional
amendments and program policies. I seek to have a government where the people’s
voice is heard directly and is much less responsive to special interests.
What do you hope
will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish the book?
The desire to help form and join a movement aimed at
forcing our government to make the changes necessary to reduce its size and
scope and to only engage in activities that are certain to help the country.
What advice do
you have for writers?
(1) establish a network with published writers,
preferably those who have a national or regional reputation for the quality of
(2) eschew amateur writing groups.
(3) if you can find a college writing program with a
faculty member who writes the same sorts of material you aspire to. Enroll for
at least a semester.
(4) the younger you start writing the better.
(5) non-fiction sells better than fiction – a
background in journalism or free-lance writing helps the latter.
(6) be aware that an apprenticeship in quality writing
may take 10-15 years to reach full competence.
(7) be delighted if you find an audience of 10-15,00
readers. 5,000 is actually pretty good.
did you have in writing your book?
It is a product of deep thought requiring 15-20 revisions
and three major drafts. Also, maintaining a consistent voice is always a
struggle. Trying to squeeze so many topics in 314 pages was a challenge. I
settled on concentrating on a few, emphasizing structural ideas. For the rest I
gave only results and very little rationale.
If people can
only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
Because our country is in serious jeopardy of becoming
a second-class power. To avoid this depends on a national dialogue around ideas
such as mine –and then action based on aconsensus.
I was going through a
dark time in my life: after being divorced, my brother died of cancer, my best
friend died of an oxycontin overdose, and I my work as a tenured professor was
killing me. I knew that I needed to heal, and that I had important things to
give the world, and to do, but I didn't know what or how. I decided that the
only person who could teach me how to be me, how to Become who I dreamed of
Being, was my future self. So, I created a process of dropping down into Alpha
brain wave levels through meditation and Quantum Leaping 20 years into the
future to learn from my future self.
2. What is it about?
In the book I use the
Silva Meditation Method to achieve Alpha brain wave levels and Quantum Leap 20
years into the future to learn from my future self. Through a series of
conversations, and leaps through time into my past, present and future, he
teaches me how to heal and be who I've always dreamed of Becoming. Through
these conversations readers learn techniques from Neuro-Linguistic Programming,
Hypnosis, Biofeedback and more, along with me as I learn them and apply them to
my life. Readers learn how to clear negative feelings and past trauma, how to
improve their performance in every area of life, reduce stress, speed healing,
improve memory and more. The book is both a story and a guide to living the
life of your wildest dreams.
3. What do you hope will be the
everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?
What I want for my
readers is to have the wonderful experience of living the life of their dreams
and saying "Wow, The Art of Becoming has powerfully transformed my life.
Now, I want to share it with others and help them Be, Do and Have everything
they have ever dreamed of." And to carry with them the recognition that all
creation begins with thought, and that if you can conceive it, you can believe
it, and if you can believe it, you can achieve it!
4. What advice do you have for writers?
Write every day. Pick
a time and create a regular practice of writing. And stick to it. Write what
you know and love and are passionate about, and read the authors you want to
emulate. When you sit down to write, deep breath and reconnect to your last
writing session and the vibrational frequency of your work so that you are in
the flow before you start writing. When you finish a writing session, leave the
last sentence unfinished, and write down a few thoughts about what you were
going to write next, then re-read these at the start of your next writing
session. Get a writing partner or group to keep you accountable, give yourself
due dates, and plan "writing stay-cations" to get your work done.
Attach your deepest pleasure and purpose to your writing, the process of doing
it, and the experience of having it done and seeing it in the world. And then,
put it out there in the world and let it go!
5. Where do you think the book
publishing industry is heading?
It has changed a lot
since the advent of ebooks and self publishing. Still the primary obstacle you
have to overcome is marketing, getting the word out about your book. I believe
we will see an increase in self-publishing, ebook sales, and audio book sales,
and we will continue to see that it is easier and easier for authors to
publish, but it remains difficult, or takes resources, to market those books
and let the targeted demographic of readers know it exists.
6. What challenges did you have in
writing your book?
I was living the story
the book tells as I wrote it. I would meditate and Quantum Leap to Corey, have
our conversations and learn what I needed to, then come out of meditation and
write that portion of the book. Because I had to live and experience each part
of the book before it could be written it took me quite some time to draft and
finish the entire manuscript.
7. If people can only buy one book this
month, why should it be yours?
You should buy The Art
of Becoming because it will show you how to live the life of your wildest
dreams on a daily basis, how to consistently think, feel and act better than
you have ever before, and how to Be Now who you have always known you were
meant to become. So, now be a good time to get your copy today at www.TheArtOfBecomingBook.com
elections and rigged media. This is what we have heard in the waning days of
the contentious race to the White House. It’s the latest story line in an
election cycle that seemingly started at the end of Obama’s second election night
victory. National TV has been taken over by self-anointed pundits who
relentlessly discuss, ad nauseam, the upcoming election as if this were one big
pre-Super Bowl show. The approach national television has taken to the election
has left America less informed about actual news regarding the rest of the
country and world. Further, the process shuts out authors from bringing their
voice to the table.
forces people to either seek their news elsewhere – hello, Internet – or it
pushes them to turn away from the media. We’re sick and disgusted to see non-stop
media coverage of nothing. Who wants 23 hours and 40 minutes of repetitious
analysis after just a 20-minute serving of news? How much longer can we take watching
biased media present things in such a non-centrist way? What happened to television
that, with so many options, we became left with no choices?
citizen, I have no doubt that the latest TV news leaves our nation damaged and
vulnerable. An uninformed or misinformed citizenry, a misdirected populace, a
distracted people is bad for those who want reform and implement in how our
government and society act. How can we get anything done if real issues aren’t
debated honestly, if facts and news aren’t presented, if the only viewpoints
shared are from insiders network payroll?
book promoter, I’m saddened, frustrated, and angry that there are so few shows
available to authors for appearances. Authors are relegated to late-night
comedy shows where only certain topics and types of authors are invited, or to morning shows in limited doses. The big cable networks like Fox, MSNBC, CNN, or
CNBC largely do not bring on authors. They used to have them on around the clock.
it’s a coincidence that TV news viewership has declined significantly this
century. It’s not just that people are distracted by Netflix, video games, or
Instagram – people are fed up with the lack of journalism and quality of TV
news. It’s boring, insulting, uninforming, and infuriating. Fox is a joke. It
is an ignorant bully. MSNBC is just an intellectualized version of propaganda.
CNN tries to hug the middle but often falls short.
premise of 24-hour global news has been reduced to sitting-around one’s kitchen
with a bunch of stupid neighbors. These stations don’t run original programming
all day and night.
re-run shows part of the time. Many hours are gobbled up with opinion-sharing
though they don’t clearly label themselves as such. The news that’s reported is
rarely original – they copy each other and feed off of other sources like a
newswire, the morning newspapers, or popular bloggers. You have a better chance
at learning what is going on by watching Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live.
TV has turned into The View. We let the TMZ version of the news dominate the
boob tube. Sex scandals. Fallen athletes. Addicted celebrities. This is old
news. We’ve become so limited, predictable, and boring in what we watch and
discuss. I’m annoyed at hearing myself whine about it. But I cannot believe to
what depths we’ve sunk and how awful it is for Americans, authors, and the
world to suffer this Dark Age.
what are we left with?
on radio is either weather-sports-traffic repeated every three minutes or it's
talk shows that have a biased host chatting with ignorant call-ins.
can go in-depth and newspapers can break stories, but both are getting smaller
in number, and thinner in staff and are battling shrinking page counts.
is a Wild West mixture of dot.com versions of traditional media with untrained,
unvetted bloggers, podcasters, and amateur video posters. Tweets are on par
with The New York Times online. You don’t know what’s fact or fiction online.
You need to piece together a version of the truth – not necessarily the truth
mind you – by consuming large bits of video, sound bites, photos, and words
from a variety of sources. It’s a lot of work.
are getting tired of having to be entertainers and personalities, rather than be
writers. They are annoyed at how much content beyond writing a book that they
have to keep creating. They hate having to put out content through a variety of
means daily, and trying to get past gatekeepers who no longer provide the
opportunities that used to exist. Folks, the news media is in shambles. We
suffer, as citizens and authors, for it. I don’t have a silver lining or a
positive suggestion. I feel defeated by it.
the only suggestion I have for you is that you should write a book about this
and look to open and influence others out there so they are motivated to revolt
and do something about it.
only the media would report on your book and interview you.