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Friday, July 1, 2016

Interview With Author Dave Barrett



1. What inspired you to write your book? This is a two part question.  The first part is that Chris Baty and National Novel Writing Month inspired me to write a novel.  NaNoWriMo had been a part of my life since 2007, and I love the challenge of it.  Making yourself sit down and pound through word after word - even if they're terrible - is a great experience.  I recommend everyone give it a try at least once.   The second part is that I'm a huge fantasy nerd, and have been since the day I opened Lloyd Alexander's The Book of Three.  I was probably eight years old or so at the time, and since then I've spent countless hours inside my own daydreams fighting dragons, forging friendships with other adventurers, and saving the kingdom.  And so the inspiration for this particular story began with "what if...?"

2. What is it about? Allison's best friend TJ is an avid Live Action Roleplayer, and he finally convinces her to join his friends for a weekend adventure.  The adventure starts off well enough for the high school friends, but at some point the group finds itself trapped inside the game world, fighting for survival.  This is the first in a series of books that follows the friends as they pursue their assigned quest in an attempt to get back home.  

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting  thoughts for readers who finish your book?
Above all, I hope that my readers will do exactly what I've done all these years - cast themselves as my characters within their own minds, second guessing, forging relationships, and emerging victorious.  I also hope that they like it enough to read the sequels!

4. What advice do you have for writers? Find a professional editor.  It's All Fun and Games went through four or five revisions over several years, and I was convinced it was ready for prime time.  Was I ever wrong!  The first round of developmental comments from my editor, Kiele Raymond, were so insightful, and her line edits streamlined the writing in ways that blew me away.  As I responded to each of her points, I found myself constantly shaking my head and saying, "Wow, did I really think that was a good sentence?"  It was a humbling experience, to be sure, but it improved the quality of my manuscript immensely.  My copy editor at Girl Friday Productions, Michael Trudeau, improved it even more.  Find a professional editor.

5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? Boy, that's a heck of a question for a first-time author.  I think that the book publishing industry will continue to become more bifurcated.  The barriers of entry have all but disappeared, which has resulted in a massive flood of new authors.  This is a wonderful thing.  The more people there are in the world being creative the better.   The unfortunate side is that much of the flood is made of of authors with books that were similar to mine pre-professional editing.  They read well enough, and family and friends give positive feedback, but lack polish.   My Goodreads challenge is 50 books a year.  In the grand scheme of things, that's not very many, given the number of books there are.  I don't want to use up one of those slots for a so-so book.  I want every one of them to wow me.   So, where I see the book publishing industry heading is on the one had toward tons of pretty good self published stuff, with traditional publishing houses (including my on home, Inkshares), continuing to be successful in releasing high quality writing.


6. What challenges did you have in writing your book? It's always a challenge to find time to write.  Between a full time job and a full time family, getting solid blocks of time to let the thoughts and the words flow can be tricky.  I'm lucky in that my family is very supportive of my writing time.  Every November they give me a free pass on just about all my responsibilities so that I can sit down and write.   The other challenge was in the editing process.  My first drafts have always been mostly rubbish, with little nuggets of goodness here and there that need to be teased out.  It's always heartbreaking to axe material that I originally felt good about but no longer works. 

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Do Confessional Memoirs Sell?



I’ve come to represent a fair share of memoirs and I have noticed two patterns:  You can get media for the really sensational, high-profile people but still not sell a ton of books.  You can also get shut out on media and sales even when a book reveals a lot of crazy stuff, provided the author is not a known entity. In either case, many of these books fall short of sales expectations.

It’s easy to know why.

First, these books struggle to shock us. Too many books and media reports have exposed how nuts some people will behave.  They will rape, kill, go to jail, get high, get drunk, beat their kids or spouses, cheat on their lovers and lie or steal their way through life.  It’s well documented how screwed up musicians, actors, and athletes are. It’s well known that the rich and powerful behave poorly.

Second, when the news comes out about what’s revealed in a book, people settle for free accounts rather than plucking down their credit card to read the details in a book. Case in point:  I just read excerpts from House of Nails:  A Memoir of Life on the Edge.  It’s a memoir confessional by former Mets World Series hero Lenny Dykstra.  It’s been well-chronicled that he went to prison, went bankrupt a year after being worth $58 million, did drugs, assaulted women, etc.  The book may have new stories of partying with Charlie “Winning” Sheen and Jack Nicholson, but as much as I love Met-related books, I don’t see anything to draw me in.

Third, there’s a bit of a morality factor here.  Will people pay to reward losers who did some really bad shit?

Fourth, some won’t buy these books because they cut too close to the core.  The reader may have struggled with being a victim of abuse, addiction, and abandonment and don’t find it entertaining nor healthy to read about how his or her heroes are crappy role models.

On the other hand, these books sell some copies and then get made into movies.  People are still curious – at heart – as to what life was really like for their favorite singer, actress, or ballplayer.  Some take a guilty pleasure in seeing how these champions crash and burn.  Whatever the reason, people will read these stories and feel their stars deserve redemption or a second chance.  For these readers, they applaud the confession as if it’s the first of many healing steps even though we know that most people, like Sheen or Dykstra, will always tow a troubled line.

Maybe the success these tell-all books breed whether in media attention or book sales, perversely encourages others to live recklessly, knowing they too will profit from a comeback book. Don’t put it past them.

I also wonder, for all their sharing, what did Dykstra and the like leave out of their books?  Even these jailbird cheaters have pride or other reasons why they can’t share certain stories that could cast them in an even darker light.  It’s one thing to say you did too many drugs but another to say you violated your underage sister or tried to poison your dad.  They may say they cheated on their wives but they won’t say they like it when a guy takes a dump on them.  You get where I’m going.  They admit to half of what they’ve done, though, or wanted to do.

These books of self-destruction admissions may serve a public need. They continue to warn us that unchecked fame and stardom can lead to behaviors that destroy lives.  Prince, Michael Jackson and others never got to write their confessionals because their reckless lives took over before an intervention could save them.  Maybe they did us a favor, sparing us of their confessions.  They went out with a bang and fans can now martyr them.

I do find that memoirs by powerful people that reveal their vision for success sell in big numbers.  Look at the memoirs of Bill Clinton, Elie Wiesel, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.  Maybe books that show how to be on top rather than how to bottom out are the ones that really sell and deserve our attention.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Interview With Author Gregory Seller



1. What inspired you to write your book?
While living in New York a few years ago, I was intrigued by the number of  “dark properties” in our neighborhood and in other parts of the city.  “Dark properties” are multi-million dollar condominiums that have no one living in them, and whose ownership is hidden from public records.  Through my own research and in subsequent newspaper investigations, I learned that many of these properties in New York, and in other American cities, are owned by members of the Chinese Communist Party who are hiding illicit assets outside of China.  Other foreign officials from countries like Russia were also buying such properties because, unlike opening a bank or securities account, ownership of real estate assets is easy to hide under existing American laws. What made the Chinese ownership most intriguing was not only the size and scale of foreign assets owned by Communist Party leaders, but the intense and brutal efforts being made to repatriate these assets after a regime change in China.

2. What is it about? My story is about a wealthy and successful hedge fund manager from Beverly Hills who discovers a dark and ultimately deadly secret about the source of billions of dollars he manages for his largest client.  Using events taken from current headlines, a regime change in China ensnares the hedge fund manager, his associates and family in a deadly battle for possession of the secret assets. Chinese agents are secretly dispatched to the United States to take control of these assets, but not for the Chinese people.  The assets are to be taken by the new leaders of the Communist Party, and all those who know the true source of these funds must be permanently silenced. 

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? Greed is as old as human existence, and is a powerful motivator for success, wealth and power.  But greed can also make us avoid the tough questions that may have answers we don’t want to hear, especially when money is involved. It’s not the questions you ask which make a difference in your life; it’s the questions you don’t ask.  In this story, it is the questions never asked that lead to a desperate struggle for survival, revenge, and redemption. 

4. What advice do you have for writers?
This is my first novel, so I’m not qualified to give advice except to say it is fun to write about what you know.  My background is in finance and investments, and I’ve tried to tell a compelling story, based on current events, centered around the world of finance.  I hope readers find it not only thrilling, but that they learn something about the investment world as well.

5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? It seems to me that the whole publishing industry is becoming more reader-driven.  Social media has made it easier than ever before to see what people like to read and what drives their interest.  I think this makes it easier for both publishers and authors alike to create even wider, more diverse and creative content than ever before. 

6. What challenges did you have in writing your book?  The biggest challenge was getting the grammar and layout in the proper format for a well-written novel. I believe I wrote a good story, but was concerned that readers find it well-written as well.  Fortunately, I hired a good editor who didn’t suggest many changes in the story, but was a big help with proper format, style and grammar for a novel. 

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours? Unlike other books on the shelf this month, Vanquish of the Dragon Shroud is a fast-moving thriller, taken from events in current headlines.  Once critic compared it to a Hitchcock-style thriller.  And, if you want to learn more about the high-stakes investment world, this is a fun way to do it!

For more information, please consult:
www.gregoryseller.com | www.gregorysellerauthor.com

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016







When Barnes & Noble Closes Its Doors



Five years ago I was lamenting the closing of Borders – not just a store, but the entire chain.  It was the low-point in the book industry. Combined with the raging Great Recession and the e-book explosion that created uncertainty and left the book publishing industry in a quandary.

The book world sounds healthier today.  Bookstore sales are up.  Printed book sales are up.  Audiobooks are expanding. New indie bookstores are opening and flourishing.  But then comes along a piece of bad news I just can’t seem to reconcile.

A large bookstore is closing today in Manhattan and nothing will replace it.

Barnes & Noble is closing its huge corner store with two floors on Third Avenue and East 54th Street, the one that anchored one of the city’s richest neighborhoods, a well-populated area of residents, corporate offices, and retailers.

I don’t know why it went out other than the building it was housed in wants to renovate.  But if the store was coming back afterwards, they would’ve said so.  If it was temporarily relocating, they would’ve said so.  Instead, it had a lame-ass sign on the interior glass wall saying it thanks patrons for coming for 21 years.  If it wants to really thank us it would service us and open up a store nearby.  It merely instructs us to use the nearest store on 46th Street and Fifth Avenue.

B&N has a golden opportunity to grow with New York City.  This place has over 20 million people in any given day, based on commuters from New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Westchester, Long Island, and Rockland County, as well as vacationers, business trip visitors, college students, and 8.4 million residents.  Their bookstores should be available to service the curious minds of the masses.  With every store closing they concede the marketplace to Amazon.

People can’t go looking for bookstores.  No, they need to be there as staples of the community, readily available when you need one and always there to be discovered by wandering souls strolling the streets.  Once the store closes, that business is lost and maybe 10% – if that – gets shifted to other stores.  The rest just disappears or morphs to Amazon.

Maybe rents are too high and books just can’t compete against higher-priced items in a city that houses some of the world’s richest retailers.  Come June 30th when this store closes, I’ll be mourning what was and what could have been.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Interview Author Dudley Mecum



Author of the new novel, A Sojourn Among the Avatars of Wisdom

1.      What inspired you to write your book? My book is a gift to my younger self. I experienced a lot of setbacks when I was young, perhaps more setbacks than most people endure. A seventeen-year stretch of stuttering as a young adult preceded chronic Lyme disease, which causes constant headaches. That tag team prevented me from experiencing much success in life. When the stars didn’t align to provide me salvation from my current state of affairs, I endeavored in a new adventure, one that required a great deal of patience.  Fifteen years passed until my idea became reality. When I turned to quote books for inspiration, the wisdom revealed was compiled author or by subject, which is very dry and lacks context. So, I felt the need to find a more cohesive, yet entertaining medium in which to impart the wisdom of the ages that gives hope for those who have endured a lot of adversity in their lives, perhaps more misfortune than their fair share.

Complementing the themes of adventure and wisdom, I included the traditional literary devices such as symbolism (such as chapters one and three), irony, and foreshadowing. Finally, my book is an homage to Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School, a mid-19th century art movement. The story depicts three out of four scenes from his Voyage of Life series of paintings, which can be viewed by clicking the web link below.

In essence, my book conveys not my wisdom, but the counsel of the world’s greatest sages, allowing my younger self to avoid common mistakes and achieve a greater success in life. Similarly, I’m hopeful that most readers will find my narrative entertaining and its underlying wisdom compelling.

I turned to writing as a productive endeavor. Given my misfortune, how would I craft something that served as beacon of hope to others? It would have to be something akin to celestial navigation.

Weather permitting, celestial navigation allowed the ancients to navigate across the unforgiving seas. Many a seafarer looked to the heavens for guidance and received it. What about us land dwellers? What guideposts are there along the “river of life”? Not the familiar constellations of stars that grace the night’s sky. What then? Quote books compile wisdom by author or by subject. Each quote is like a star in an alien sky. It is only in relationship with other stars that enables celestial navigation to take place.

Accordingly, we look to the heavens for some pattern of stars that joins wisdom across subjects.  In essence, we are searching for constellations of wisdom: a pattern in the sky that will guide us through the trials of life. What would be found inside this new compendium of wisdom? It should have the counsel from the world’s greatest sages. That would be a start.

However, the end result would be exceptionally dry, like a parent lecturing a child before that youth has a chance to get a word in edgewise. Then how would the conversation unfold? It would be a dialog between the person seeking advice and the individual giving it. Since we'd all like to have our own private conversation with our favorite sage, we'd all split up accordingly.

But such dialogs wouldn’t be effective because the end result would be too discordant: there would be too many conversations going on at the same time and the resultant wisdom would not be conveyed. Perhaps a better way to impart knowledge would revolve around the adventures of a central character, which calls for the suspension of disbelief.  Moreover, a “fish out of water” story would be even better. One that involves leaving this realm and returning to it after having his hopes and dreams dashed, one that forces him out of his comfort zone. Add external conflict and self-doubt, and we have instances in which the possibility for change exists for the protagonist, and by extension, for those who seek it.

2.      What is it about? Chris Cole enjoys aiming for the stars. After he rockets into orbit aboard the space shuttle, his mission is cut short when he is the victim of an accident aboard the International Space Station. Whisked back to earth for medical observation, Chris is eventually released. Before his return flight to Kennedy Space Center the next day, Chris decides to attend a nearby medieval fair with an acquaintance—a decision that will change the course of his life forever.

Shortly after his arrival at the festival, the king unexpectedly selects Chris to be a contestant in a tournament. As Chris’s quest to become a knight begins, he learns how to wield a sword, battle foes, and achieve greatness. Unfortunately, villainy, treachery, and a crucible await him. As enemies emerge from the shadows, others use him as a pawn to settle old scores. Guided by a cast of colorful characters who dispense timeless advice, Chris is overcome with self-doubt as he ponders whether it is really possible to change his destiny. In this gripping fantasy tale, wisdom of the world’s greatest philosophers and modern sages is brought to life as one man attempts to escape from a prison of his own making.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? That readers can profit from the wisdom gleaned from my narrative, if they so desire. There’s no need to repeat the mistakes of the past or stand still when the world’s greatest sages have already articulated the steps for success in life.

4. What advice do you have for writers?
Write about the subjects that are dearest to you. I found something that I was passionate about.  It takes a lot of passion to complete a book over the long haul, or in my case, about fifteen years.

5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
Originally, I thought that book stores would disappear, but there appears to be a revival.  Concerning the link below, it suggests that future authors should “integrate more multimedia into e-books.”  Still, as the story noted, “amped-up e-presentations would undermine the ostensibly separate process of reading traditional—literary—books in the traditional way.” http://lithub.com/can-the-literary-survive-technology/   Regardless, it’s possible that books, like movies, might migrate toward a VR experience while leaving some remnants of its traditional form.  As a result, that would make it harder for self-publishing authors to succeed.

6. What challenges did you have in writing your book?
My book became a Rubik’s Cube of sorts because certain scenes called for specific wisdom and vice versa. In addition, I had to figure out who would impart what wisdom and in what order. The end result called for a colorful cast of characters and a multitude of scenes in which advice would be solicited.  Moreover, it took me a long time to research the space shuttle, the international space station, and Mount Everest. In addition, I needed more time to research medieval-era clothes and how to wield a long sword.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
No one has ever woven the wisdom of the world’s greatest philosophers into fiction.  In addition, my narrative contains traditional literary devices such as symbolism, irony, and foreshadowing. Finally, for those who are fans of the Hudson River School, my book is an homage to Thomas Cole. Accordingly, I consider my narrative to be the “Swiss Army knife” of books.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016


Founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day Speaks Out



Interview with Jenny Milchman

  1. What inspired you to create this special day? Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day began when my own kids were little and I was taking them to Story Hour at our local bookstore nearly every week. Fun and edifying for them, latte and a new book for me. I asked myself, “How many children know the joy of time spent like this—and how many parents?”  But the Day really began years—decades—before that, when I was a child myself, growing up in a town with four independent bookstores, each of which provided shelter for me during the inevitable upheavals of childhood. I wanted to do something to expose the next generation to their magic.

  1. How did you go about promoting it? The very first thing I did was float the idea for Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day on a listserv of mystery readers called DorothyL. This was back in 2010, and before you could say the word ‘book,’ bloggers, authors, and readers from all across the country were getting the word out. Just two short weeks later, eighty bookstores celebrated the very first TYCBD. That summer, my husband and I packed the children who started it all into the car, along with bookmarks and posters, and we drove cross-country, visiting bookstores. That year, participants numbered 300, and things have grown ever since so that in our sixth year, we have 800 participating bookstores in all 50 states and on 5 continents! (I’m still holding out for Antarctica).

  1. Where can more people get information about participating stores? Our website has this fun, interactive map: http://takeyourchildtoabookstore.org/bookstores

  1. How should we celebrate this day?  If you have a child, or know a child, or are a child at heart yourself—go into a bookstore this December 3rd (Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day is celebrated the first Saturday in December to coincide with holiday gift giving). Perhaps your local bookstore will be celebrating—or perhaps you can introduce them to the Day. Even just spending time in the bookstore will be a celebration—and a chance for you to support a local business and introduce a child to the joys of unplugged time. And don’t limit your visits to TYCBD—I always say that this is one holiday that can be celebrated every day!

  1. Why is it so important that we get kids to appreciate books, especially printed ones from physical stores?  There is increasing research that shows our constantly connected life is, paradoxically, responsible for a great deal of disconnect. And the associated risks and unintended consequences (which extend to cognitive, social, even health realms) are particularly perilous for children, who not only miss out on real time, tactile, and interactive experiences—but may never have been exposed to them in the first place.  Books and bookstores counteract these negatives—and I am by no means saying that all technology and virtual connection is bad. But it does come with downsides, and one way we can mitigate these is by making sure children spend time in modes besides digital ones, do activities that encourage “single task focus,” and give their minds a chance to build interest and stimulation versus passively taking it in. In other words, let them ask a bookseller about a book, find it on a shelf, then take it home and read it.

6. How else can we grow literacy in this country? Libraries are huge, equalizing forces in the fight for literacy and dissemination of knowledge. Visit your local library in addition to your bookstore. If you have time, volunteer at a literacy organization, or make a financial contribution to one. Finally, being a reader yourself—letting people, children included, see you with an open book in your hands—is probably the single biggest catalyst in creating a desire to read. It’s been shown that children of avid readers are more likely to become readers themselves.

  1. What more do you believe can be done to promote independent bookstores? It’s a two part effort—members of a community must vote with their dollars, be willing to support this bricks and mortar resource by understanding that its stock will cost more than it does online where there’s no rent to pay, heating/cooling costs, and the like.  Then the bookstores themselves must get creative in terms of their “value add”. The most successful ones I’ve visited all over the country have full and rich events calendars—you can’t meet Lee Child on Amazon—or they give book clubs and writers groups a place in which to meet, have cafes to purchase a treat as you browse, employ booksellers who are true curators of the stock, and offer pleasing, inviting spaces in which to wile away an hour—or a day.  Bookstores are hubs of their communities, and what they offer simply can’t be found anywhere else.

Jenny Milchman is the author of three thrillers published by Ballantine/Penguin Random House, each of which she promoted by visiting bookstores nationwide with her family on what has been called “the world’s longest book tour.” Jenny founded Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day in 2010.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

Do You Know Your Literary Geography?



Millions of people are planning family vacations for the summer and one place to consider for ideas on where to go if you love books is a cool site,  www.PlacingLiterature.com.

The website may not be able to tell you which beach, national park, or natural wonder to visit, but it does highlight over 3,000 locations that serve as settings from novels, short stories, poems, and plays.  In the past three years, readers, librarians, publishers, educators, and authors have mapped out the street corners where a significant scene took place from a favorite piece of literature.  For example, locate Jackson Island, near Hannibal, Missouri, and you’ll see it’s the island introduced in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

It’s a creative way to learn geography and study up on literary trivia and cultural lore.

Users, when clicking on a city – or by author or title – csn view a photo of the location, search Google or Wikipedia for more information on the place, purchase the book from a local bookstore, write a review on Good Reads, share the place on social media, and report they’ve been on that particular location.

Literary explorer should be amused at the site.

The crowdsourcing website invites anyone to make an entry.  You can follow them on Facebook.com/placingliterature and @placinglit.

The site recently issued a press release to call attention to the revamping of the three-year-old site, saying this:

"Exploring the literature of a place or browsing the location from a particular author or book has never been easier.  You can now search by location (Verona, Central Park, Castle Elsinore); by author (Cormac McCarthy, Bernat Metge, Robert Ludlum); or by book (Canterbury Tales, Anne of Green Gables, Love in the Time of Cholera).  You can also browse collections of literary locations that have been curated by museums, libraries, publishers and cultural organizations around the world, including by the State Library of Queensland (Australia), St. Thomas Moore Chapel at Yale University, the Amistad Center, the Catalan Literary Heritage Network and the Mayor of Doonesbury.  Featured authors such as Hugh Howey, Assaf Gavron, Matthew Thomas and Brian Freeman have also created maps of their own novels.

So many books exist in places that aren’t real or take place somewhere else in space.  Don’t look for a map of Heaven, Hell, Mars or the Matrix any time soon.  But this attempt to map out the locations of books and authors is one to be applauded and represents a modern way to highlight the rich literary culture that we live in.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016