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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Artist -- Great Movie -- Offers Book Publishers Lessons For The Digital Era

One of the best movies of the past year is The Artist. It is a well-done film that pays homage to the era of silent film, but it also tells a love story and a story of one man’s battle to change with the times. Shot in black and white, and silent but for the well choreographed music and well-placed sound effects, it shows how a screen star of the 1920s silent film scene fears making a transition to speaking films or talkies. Whereas he had a face that could pull off wild expressions for the camera when words weren’t spoken, he was at a loss to speak for the camera once the technological means to capture his voice were developed. One can’t help but see a parallel story for today’s entertainment and news industries. Television, printed books, magazines and newspapers and the music industry all struggle to fully transition into the digital era. Some won’t survive. But when one can find a way to adapt, life can go no.


Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine Disses Curious George

All “best of” lists and all awards are subject to scrutiny. Does this one deserve an Oscar? How come she wasn’t even nominated for a Grammy? How could the Hall of Fame put so and so in and not such and such? Many awards and lists are subject to bias, politics, and financial influence, so we can’t take too many of them too seriously but I was outraged when I saw the “100 Greatest Books for Kids” list released by Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine. If this is the editorial judgment they exhibit in creating a list, one can only wonder about the rest of the magazine’s content. Hey left out one of the all-time best-selling and most beloved children’s character of all time: Curious George. The list had many well-deserved books on it, including Charlotte’s Web (No. 1), Harry Potter (No. 6), and Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham (No. 7). But no Curious George. Are they crazy? George has a PBS-TV show. He was in the Thanksgiving Day Parade. He had a movie made after him. His books have entertained multiple generations of inquisitive kids since 1941, having sold tens of millions of copies. This should go down as one of the greatest list gaffes of all time. Maybe I should compile such a list. Though I may miss a few, this will surely be at the top of the list.


Interview With Best-Selling Author Susan Wingate

  1. Susan, you had a #1 Amazon Bestseller for DROWNING! Last year and the book won the  2011 Forward National Literature Award for Drama. what do you attribute your success to? Lots of perseverance and resolve. I always promise myself that, one, I will write at least one (if not two) novels a year; and, two, when a book gets published that I will push it for as many months as necessary in order to get a substantial reader base. First, though, my story must be compelling.

The awards help greatly with a sense of accomplishment. Usually, with literary competitions, an independent group of judges read a whole bunch of different novels and then deem one worthy of a category, like drama in the case of DROWNING. It’s really amazing because any kind of high critical acclaim feels odd, great, but odd.

  1. You are best known for your award-winning Bobby’s Diner Series. BOBBY’S DINER, which reached bestseller status nabbing the #5 spot on Fictionwise.com in 2008. What inspires your writings? I was happy to see that on February 14th Bobby’s Diner got to #2! But, yes, the Bobby’s Diner Series is one of my more popular works. With BOBBY’S DINER, book number one, several things inspired me. First of all, I was newly married to a man who had been married before. I am his third wife and he is my second husband. It amazed me how the exes on each side handled our marriage. I’ll leave it at that but suffice to say, it gave me a bit of fodder to work with.

As for other stories, DROWNING evolved from a real-life incident. My family actually witnessed the drowning at the front of the book. The premise of SPIDER BRAINS, which will be released in the spring, occurred after watching a small spider traverse a span of our bedroom ceiling. THE DEER EFFECT, out in late fall of this year, came to me while my dog, Robert, and I were on a walk.

Ideas come from everywhere and out of nowhere. I call them “the voices in my head.”

  1. Any advice for a struggling writer? Yes! Keep at it. Don’t give up. You can make anything happen if you want it badly enough. So, keep your eye on the apple and fight. Keep writing and practicing.

  1. Where do you see the book publishing industry heading? Only upward. With the advent of eBooks and ePublishing of all kinds—whether device driven (the Kindle, Nook, iPad) or online through blogs and eZines—the breadth of publishing seems like the universe. It’s so vast, so endless, it can only increase exponentially. I’m super excited about publishing. The industry has cracked open for authors and we’re the ones benefiting. With self-publishing combined with eBooks, opportunities to make a living as an author today look very bright.  

  1. What does writing mean to you? Everything. I wish I could say it was second on the list but my thoughts are most consumed with writing and story. I have to reel myself back to the here and now in order to be a social, normal human being and, I tell you, it’s not easy sometimes. It’s my passion. Writing is me and I am writing. I don’t really know where one ends and the other begins. That sounds so pathetic but nothing happens that I don’t think, “I could write about that.” I mean nothing. It’s good and bad but it’s who I am. I wish I was just a dog-walker. I’m good at that too but when we go on walks, I just fantasize about that next story line or that perfect phrase. Writing is everything.

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.

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