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Author Speak

Are you an author with a new book to promote and want to be featured on my "Author Speak" section? I'd love to hear from you. Contact me here.

In this mixed bag section, I celebrate many of my author friends, their books and other projects. I  enjoy talking to other writers to see what drives their writing passion.  There's also advice on non-fiction book writng and getting published in the ever-changing digital and print publishing fields.

 

At the request of many readers, I decided to include a few fiction authors works as well.  

 

Because my background is in entertainment publishing, I've included the latest "selected" celebrity memoir writing and other entertainment author-related books. 

 

I hope this helps inspire you to write and finish that manuscript— and get it published!

Be inspired ...

 
The Inescapable Consequence Interview With Author JD Belcher

 

Give us a quick synopsis of your book The Inescapable Consequence.

 

The Inescapable Consequence is a paranormal, fantasy thriller about a character named Cashe. After marrying his girlfriend, who is an Egyptian-American, he begins to have nightmares of a demon named Azazel who threatens to steal his new wife away from him. He is helped along the way by a boy angel named Tulpehocken, who opens Cashe up to the spirit world and ultimately reveals a real-life, flesh and blood "secret club" and the true intentions of one of its members who seems to be orchestrating all of this.

 

What's your background?

 

I studied creative writing in school, but since then I've gone on to gain a well-rounded experience in the field of writing, delving into many different areas including copy writing, journalism, poetry and being a novelist. I've even written a screenplay and TV pilot.

 

You have such an array of diverse characters in the book, male and female and different ethnicities. What was your intention with that?

 

It's really a reflection of my upbringing. I grew up in a diverse community around kids with many different ethnicities in Pittsburgh - Irish, Italian, Russian, African American, Jewish, Indian, Latin American...So, having characters from such a diverse cornucopia felt natural for me. My intention was to use that in the setting of a pizza shop, where much of the story takes place, which seemed to add a taste of genuine flavor to the novel.

 

A movie of the book seems doable-who would you like to see direct it; and, who'd play Cashe and Kia?

 

I'd like to see someone like Joachim Trier, James Wan or even one of my favorite directors M. Night Shyamalan direct it. If I could cast Cashe and Kia, I'd go with Drake and Vanessa Hudgens. Or maybe Jussie Smollet and Mia Khalifa. That might be interesting.

 

For more on JD and his books check out his website: https://belcherink.wordpress.com

The Inescapable Consequence

Advanced word for J.D. Belcher's The Inescapable Consequence (Yorkshire Publishing) has Belcher's dark, paranormal novel being compared favorably in style to works by Stephen King, with talks already in motion of a script for a film, possibly under the direction of M. Night Shyamalan (Devil, Split, The Visit).
 
In this end-times fantasy thriller set in Pittsburgh, Cashe, a mixed-race pizza delivery driver with a severe case of sleep apnea, begins to have lucid nightmares of a mysterious demon after moving in with and eventually marrying his girlfriend Kia, a second generation Egyptian-American.
 
A series of bizarre encounters—witnessing a murder, a foreboding warning from a homeless man called the "Prophet," an ethereal meeting with a young angel named Tulpehoken and an assistant manager with strange telekinetic abilities—leads Cashe to uncovering an apocalyptic secret society hiding frighteningly in plain sight, and propels him toward a destiny he never could have imagined in his wildest dreams.
 
The Inescapable Consequence not only offers a contemporary interpretation of the fallen angel and watcher Azazel, widely depicted in various forms of literature, film, art and video games, but also explores the intimacies surrounding the intermingling of different religions, ethnicities and cultures in a socially-timed moment in history.
 
Using a deft writing style, blending elements of magical realism and conspiracy theories, Belcher paints the urban landscape of Pittsburgh with superb detail, portraying and juxtaposing the so-often untold behind-the-scenes happenings of both big franchise and small, immigrant-based pizza shop business employees who work the counters of America.
 
J.D. Belcher is an author, screenwriter and journalist. His books include Hades' Melody, a memoir which was longlisted for the 2019 Sante Fe Writers Project literary award and The Inescapable Consequence, his first fiction novel. He currently serves as editor for the online news publication The Yellow Party News and the daily devotional website Ephod and Breastplate.
 
The Inescapable Consequence is set for release on April 23, 2021.
https://belcherink.wordpress.com/

 

The Writing Life: Authors Guild Spotlight With Courtney Ramm

 

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world?

 

Writing (and reading) are forms of artistic expression that everyone can relate to. I am also a professional dancer and musician, so writing was a relatively new medium for me, however I believe that writing is an intimate act of connecting that allows your deepest thoughts to be expressed.

 

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block?

 

My best cure for writer's block is to jump on a mini-trampoline (also known as a rebounder)! I find that moving my body allows my thoughts to reorganize and my thoughts flow differently after doing a few minutes of exercise.

 

What is your favorite time to write?

 

I love to write in the mid-afternoon. I'm not sure why, but that's when my thoughts seem to flow on to paper easiest, when the sun is at it's peak.

 

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers?

 

"It doesn't need to be good, it just needs to be done." Being a perfectionist, I found it very hard to start writing until I heard this advice, knowing I could go back later and edit my work. This phrase also helped me overcome writers block.

 

What excites you most about being a writer in today's age?

 

I think it's exciting that books can be available across many formats, such as paperback, ebook, and audiobook–so that people who don't usually consider themselves to be "readers" are still able to hear your story. That in turn allows you to connect to even more people.

 

Courtney Ramm's Eris Rising: A Memoir of Finding the Warrior Within is out now with Acorn Publishing.

 

Buy on Amazon

Interview With Gary Zenker, Author of  Monkees Archives Vol 1-3

Back in 2016 my friend Brad at Monkees.net asked me to interview another Monkees author named Gary Zenker. He had published a a three-volume series on Monkees Archives. I thought it was an interesting undertaking this author took. If you are a serious Monkees fan, this three-volume is a must-have.

 

* * * 

 

If you are in search of a new book on Monkees to add to your collection, look no further! Author, Gary Zenker just might have what you need—Monkees Archives Vol 1-3. Yes, three books released simultaneously. Hard to believe, but absolutely true!

 

If you haven't seen Monkees Archives Vol 1-3, then you are in for a treat. Each volume contains articles, interviews, advertising, photos and other materials related to the band during their original run in the 1960s and later, various regroupings.

 

You will appreciate the variety of materials presented as you travel backwards to the time when our favorite guys were one of the most popular music artists and TV stars in the U.S. Monkees Archives also includes plenty of fan and teen magazine interviews. Remember, 'Which Monkee is Your Favorite," or "Why Davy Loves You?"

 

Gary Zenker is a lover of pop and rock music and an award winning marketing professional with over 30 years of strategic marketing and tactical implementations. He also runs two writers groups which help authors achieve their goals of becoming better writers and publishing their work. His other popular archives series includes books on The Beach Boys, Jan & Dean and The Beatles.

 

See more of Gary's books on Amazon.

As many longtime fans will agree, Monkees Archives books have been earning rave reviews. One Amazon review stated: "As a first generation Monkees fan, I enjoy reading these old articles and looking at old photos from `60s magazines. I am grateful that this editor took the time to locate and put these together into a series of three anthologies." Another reads: "Fantastic. Brought back memories of the original glory days of The Monkees and my youth." 

You published three books on the Monkees released simultaneously. Wow…three!

 

Yes. After doing some books on other bands, I realized that the optimum way to do this is simultaneously release two or more books for the same band. It's much easier to then trying to get people to know about the second and third book months later. And some people will buy all the volumes at once, which is great. That's because the books have a very limited audience. It's more of a fan production than a moneymaker.

 

We bought all three volumes at once. There was no way we could just buy one at a time.

From a production standpoint, it allows me to go gather tons of articles and artifacts at the same time, instead of restricting myself to a specific number of items. That's very time productive.

 

Why did you choose The Monkees?

 

I had access to a lot of material in reasonable quality and they are fun personalities. Fans seem to be nice people. There is still a lot of interest, all these years later. I mean, for record day they released the box set of the original LP's on colored vinyl. How cool is that?

 

What would you like Monkees fans take away from the books?

 

I guess an understanding of the fact that the band was designed as a commercial entity. They made themselves available for the purpose of promotion. I have no idea how much of it was real and how much was fabricated but other than the Beatles, this kind of attention (entire magazines dedicated to them on a monthly basis) was rare.

 

What is the process of putting together books like these? Must have been challenging at times.

 

First, a massive search on articles, both online and from original magazines. I'm looking for things where I can either get permission or believe that the copyrights are either abandoned or so muddled that no one will threaten to sue me for using the piece. That's why the focus is on older material. Begging to borrow originals, and finding online scans is part of the process.

 

First I scan those I need to, then do a massive cleanup. Removing color from the pages for better black and white printing (yellowed paper can print as a darkish grey…unattractive and hard to read over). It also involves adjusting the contrast and brightness of the scanned photography. It's time consuming work to make things print well. Many of the originals were printed on cheap newsprint and then people scanned the pieces badly…there's only so much cleanup one can do. I do the best that I can.

 

Why aren't the books organized by date or original magazine appearance?

 

I don't always know the source of the pieces. If I scan the original, there's a chance it is in the original magazine. But it could also be pages ripped out or clipped. And if the source is Internet scans, there is a good chance it is not documented correctly if at all.

 

I should note that I am not a Monkees expert. I don't have the ability by reading the articles to know the approximate time period. I am more of a casual fan than a fanatic. But I do love the aura around the band and the positivity of the fans. There was a lot of focus on the Monkees and the boys' personalities. That makes these projects fun.

What is your background in publishing?

I began collecting Beach Boys and Jan & Dean related things when I was 15 and never stopped, so I understand the collector mind and how books like these can offer fans something that would be too expensive to amass otherwise.

 

What non-archived themed books have you produced?

Professionally, I am marketing professional who does a lot of writing of business related materials. The other books on my imprint include collaboration with my then six-year-old son Seth, a book on leadership and running Meet up groups, and an anthology of short stories for one of the two writers groups I run.

You've done books on other artists/bands as well.

 

I've published seven volumes on The Beach Boys, three on Jan & Dean, a volume on the Beatles and eight volumes reprinting the entire run of KRLA Radio Beat 1964-1968. I created White Lightning Publishing to produce these types of niche projects.

 

Why did you choose these particular artists?

The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean books started as a way of preserving my own massive collection of materials. They were published at different times because of the long amount of prep work time it takes. To make a publishing effort like this worthwhile, you have to find materials where the copyrights are abandoned or expired and there is enough interesting material available.

 

Much of the challenge is in finding enough high quality material, and by high quality I mean visually high quality. There are lots of low-res scans on the Internet. They don't reproduce well. Buying up all original source material is expensive and guarantees a huge loss on projects like these. So I look for material that I can get inexpensively and invest the time to clean up the scans or scan them myself at super high resolution, then adjust the brightness and contrast to make reading easy. It's actually a lot of work.

You also want the bands to have an active collecting base. Doing all the work to sell 20 copies just doesn't make sense.

 

Any sixties musicians or artists you would like to cover next?

Perhaps David Cassidy or The Osmonds?

I don't think so. Their fame didn't survive the way the Monkees did and I just don't think there would be a demand for books that would support the effort in making them. Oddly enough, I am considering Frank Zappa, the Rolling Stones, Brit Invasion and Sonny and Cher. And another Beatles volume of ads done to promote their recordings. That's because I already have a base of material prepared from the KRLA publication and there is a lot if easily sourced material.

 

Where can readers buy your books?

On Amazon or they can contact me directly. Garyz60625@aol.com. I can do some pricing specials when people want all three of the Monkees books that Amazon can't match.

 

Thanks Gary!

 

Thank you Mary Anne and thanks Monkees.net!

 

Buy on Amazon

Author Paula Finn Talks About Writing Inspirational Prose and Quotes for Gift Books, Framed Wall Décor, Coffee Mugs…and More

August 4, 2020

 

We chatted with Paula last year about her book Sitcom Writers Talk Shop, for which she interviewed over 50 iconic TV writers including Carl Reiner, Norman Lear, and James L. Brooks. The daughter of Honeymooners writer Herbert Finn, Paula grew up in the culture.
 
But her writing interests are broad: a former magazine journalist, she is the author of ten gift books and licenses her inspirational writings to top card and gift companies worldwide. She sold a how-to article to Writer's Digest magazine titled "Poems for Profit: Breaking into the Gift Market" and her work was featured on ABC-TV's 20:20. Her inspirational words have been translated into several languages.
 
So tell me, how did the author of a book on TV comedy get into writing inspirational books and quotes?
 
Actually, it was the other way around. For years, I've licensed my inspirational writings worldwide for secular and Christian products including high-end wall décor, magnets, posters, and ceramic giftware. My gift books are compilations of inspirational quotes and longer messages.
 
How did you get started in this genre?
 
I was writing magazine consumer advice articles and I wanted to try something more creative. At the time, a company called Blue Mountain Arts was popular; they were known for cards with long unrhymed verses in calligraphy, and for poetry gift books. I submitted some poems and they picked two to test market for cards. I didn't realize how unusual that was; the company was and still is extremely selective. They subsequently offered me a three-year contract to write for them.
 
And I take it you enjoy this kind of writing?
 
It became a passion. I love getting into the "zone" and literally writing til the sun comes up! And it's very gratifying that so many people have written to thank me for putting into words "exactly" what they were feeling.
 
Your uplifting words have been published on a wide range of products from several top publishers. What work are you most proud of?
 
I'm most proud of my work for Blue Mountain because they bought my long verses – some were almost 40 lines. Their products were the most widely distributed; I'd frequently meet people who'd either bought or received my cards. Over the years, the market has demanded shorter and shorter submissions, and now I mainly write brief inspirational quotes.
 
Where can we see your work?
 
My current licensing agreements are with Affirmations Publishing House, in Australia. I'm also collaborating with photographers to create cards and gift products for three online stores.
 
What themes do you write on and where does your inspiration (pun intended!) come from?
 
Life is my inspiration – which means the subjects to write about are essentially unlimited. Many of my long unrhymed verses deal with relationship communication, romance, and family as well as positivity.
 
You'd mentioned to me that you recently started sharing your work on Twitter. What made you decide to take that step?
 
My TV comedy book editor had hired a PR firm to run a social media campaign for the book. On my final conference call with the publicist, I asked him if he had any ideas for promoting my quotes. He read some of them and immediately thought they'd be perfect content for social media. And especially these days, when the world needs positivity and inspiration more than ever.
 
In putting your work online, do you ever worry about someone stealing it?
 
I don't think about it. But I did have an experience in the real world when I discovered one of my quotes on a magnet at Whole Foods. The quote was, "Take pride in how far you have come…Have faith in how far you can go."


I hadn't authorized the publisher to use it and they'd misattributed it to someone else! I had the documents proving my copyright ownership of the quote; I had previously licensed it for posters, plaques, magnets, and a book of birthday poems. The company admitted their mistake and we settled out of court. At the time, I had no idea the quote would get online…and would go viral! At one point I googled it and found it on over two million commercial and personal sites. And always with the wrong writer's name or "Anonymous." It's impossible to correct a misassumption on the web!
 
How are the quotes doing on social media?
 
The response has been amazing. I'm gaining followers on Facebook and Twitter, and I may try Instagram. It's really taking off! In the future I'll monetize my accounts but at this point, I don't know what that will look like. My publicist even suggested we become business partners to build the brand. We'll see.
 
Do you do any other kinds of writing?
 
I'm working on a memoir which includes literary poetry – another of my passions.
 
                                                     ###
 
Paula's work is available for sale at the following links:

https://www.zazzle.com/store/Infinnite
https://www.zazzle.com/store/Gardenofprose (cards with longer unrhymed verses)
https://www.zazzle.com/store/Wordswithspirit (religious writings)

https://www.affirmations.com.au/?rf=kw&kw=Paula+Finn


Follow Paula Finn on Twitter and Facebook @PaulaFinnquotes (Thoughts to Hold)
 
 

Interview With Noted TV History Author Richard Irvin

May 15, 2020

 

Richard Irvin is the author of several books about television history including Four Star Television Productions: A History of the Business, Series, and Pilots of the Iconic Television Production Company, The Early Shows: A Reference Guide to Network and Syndicated Prime-Time Television Series from 1944 to 1949, and Spinning Laughter: Profiles of 111 Proposed Comedy Spin-offs and Sequels that Never Became a Series – all from Bear Manor Media. Other titles include George Burns Television Productions and Film Stars' Televison Projects (both McFarland & Company).

 

I caught up with Richard Irvin to ask about why he wrote The Forgotten Desi and Lucy TV Projects and why finds writing about televison history so fascinating.


Why did you decide to write The Forgotten Desi and Lucy TV Projects?

In the course of doing research for a previous book I wrote about Dick Powell's Four Star Productions, I came across an archived copy of the script by Madelyn Davis and Bob Carroll, Jr. for a TV special called "Lucy Goes to Broadway." The unproduced special would have re-united most of the cast from I Love Lucy in a fictional story about how Lucy got the role in her Broadway musical Wildcat. I had previously read about this project but didn't know that an actual script existed. This got me thinking about other unrealized Lucy and Desi TV projects.

 

What was your research process like?

Mainly perusing the collections of various institutions such as the Wisconsin Historical Society, the UCLA TV and Film Archive, and the Library of Congress to determine what material each had concerning Desilu. And then either visiting the institution to view videos of pilots or else receiving copies of scripts for those projects for which film could not be found.

 

What were the most surprising things you found out in the course of your research for this book?

I discovered several things about Desilu that I did not know before. For example, when Desilu was formed, Lucy and Desi wanted to produce movies as well TV series. The movies included Blazing Beulah from Butte and That Townsend Girl. In addition to comedies, Desi Arnaz sought to launch several Westerns, police shows, and anthology series. The latter would have included anthologies starring Orson Welles and Salvador Dali. After leaving Desilu and forming his own production company, Desi Arnaz attempted a sitcom comeback in a vehicle called Chairman of the Board in which he would have played a bartender who inherits a large corporation.

 

What challenges did you face writing the book?

While I always like corresponding with people that may have first-hand knowledge of a subject such as producers, writers, or actors, very few people that worked on Desilu projects are still alive. Some that are that I contacted could not recall the project that I was asking about.

When you were writing it, what target audience did you have in mind? Mainly those interested in old television shows especially fans of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

 

What is your writing process?

As I gather material on a topic, I start drafting sections of the book. I usually begin with a certain outline in my head but, as the work proceeds, I often change the arrangement of specific subjects. Once I have a draft completed, I proof it several times and have other people proof it as well. Still, I know that I miss typos that should have been corrected.

 

You've written a lot of TV-themed books, what is it about television or these forgotten shows/projects you find so fascinating?

I grew up during the 1950s and early 1960s as part of the first TV generation. I have found that the history of early television, particularly of those projects that were not a big success, is often unexplored. I hope my books contribute to an understanding of this era.

 

What TV actors have you met and how have they influenced your writing?

I've corresponded with several actors, producers, and writers in the process of researching the subject matter of my books including Norman Lear, Joan Van Ark, Bill Hayes, Sheila James, George Segal, and Ann B. Davis. They have all provided great information that I have included in my various works.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 

It's a cliché but my advice is to write about subjects that really interest you.

What is the best way to market books these days? I couldn't find your author site. I contact websites related to the book's subject and also attend nostalgia conventions to promote my books.

 

BearManor Media doesn't get enough credit for the line of books it produces. I see you have done several books (I only did one so far). What is it that you like about writing books for BearManor?

BearManor is a very easy company to work with. Some other publishers dictate the title for an author's work as well as the cover art. BearManor gives an author the freedom to choose the title for their work and suggest the format of the book cover. The company also does an excellent job in editing and providing proofs of a manuscript in a timely fashion.

 

 

MARK BEGO HAS A NEW HIT BOOK WITH "ROCKET MAN: THE LIFE OF ELTON JOHN"

 

January 26, 2020

 

The year 2019 represented a streak of huge success for celebrity-author Mark Bego as he logged three Number One books in Amazon.com in a row, including his "Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul" (Skyhorse Publishing), "Living The Luxe Life" with millionaire hotel owner Efrem Harkham (Skyhorse Publishing), and the lush coffee table book "Supreme Glamour" with Mary Wilson (Thames & Hudson)—which was included on many of the "Best Of" lists for 2019.

 

How can Bego top a year like that?  With the January release of his new book "Rocket Man," we have the answer.  Based on decades worth of research on the outrageously talented Elton John, Bego's 66th published comes at the publicity height of Elton's cinematic "Rocketman" bio-pic, and his ongoing "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" international concert tour.

 

We caught up with Mark Bego where he lives in Tucson, Arizona, to ask him about his apparent love of everything Elton, his research process, and his creativity.

 

WE HAVE SEEN PHOTOS OF YOU IN THE PRESS WITH ELTON JOHN AND MARY WILSON.  IS ELTON A PERSONAL FRIEND OF YOURS?

 

"I am not on his Christmas card list, but I have met Elton several times, including attending his annual Oscar viewing party in Hollywood with Mary Wilson on three occasions.  It is such a great event, and Elton's AIDS charity is such a worthy cause.  I have actually been following Elton's career since the 1960s, before the release of his debut American album.  I fell in love with his composition 'Lady Samantha,' via the Three Dog Night version of it.  Based on my love of that song, I bought the first US Elton John album the week it was released.  I have been an avid fan and follower of Elton's ever since.  I even reviewed his album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road for my college newspaper, making Elton one of the first rock stars I ever wrote about."

 

ELTON JUST SCORED A HUGE SUCCESS WITH HIS OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY, "ME." WHAT DOES YOUR BOOK CONTAIN THAT HIS BOOK DOES NOT?

 

"As 'The Wall Street Journal' recently pointed out, Elton's book does not talk about his own music in detail, nor does he delve into his creative process--but mine does.  Having written 66 published books, I know dozens of music celebrities I could simply phone and interview, including Randy Jones of The Village People, Sarah Dash of LaBelle, Jimmy Greenspoon and Danny Hutton of Theee Dog Night, and Angela Bowie. Randy told me in detail about a 'boys, booze and blow' party Elton threw for The Village People at the height of Elton's substance abuse days. Sarah Dash told me what it was like to have 20-year-old Elton as the soul trio's piano player in the '60s. Jimmy and Danny told me great stories about Elton when Three Dog Night literally launched Elton's songwriting career in 1969 by recording his songs and releasing them in America, a year before Elton had a US record deal. Angela told me all about Elton back in the days when Elton and David Bowie were both struggling songwriters in London. I interviewed several men Elton slept with, did drugs with, and so much more."

 

WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE STORIES THAT IS IN YOUR BOOK, THAT IS NOT IN ELTON'S BOOK?

 

"I love the story about a little-known song Elton recorded called 'Flintstone Boy.'  Apparently, there was one of Elton's 1970s boyfriends who was apparently so sexy, yet was about as smart as a bag of rocks. The lad was--according to sources--about as smart as a caveman. So, he was referred to in the Elton inner-circle as 'the Flintstone boy.'  I thought that tale was a riot. Elton turned it into a ridiculously funny song. I also reveal in the book how many songs Elton recorded as homages to his many male lovers."

 

WHAT DOES ELTON REPRESENT TO YOU, AND WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU TO WRITE THOS BOOK AT THIS TIME?

 

"Elton is a one-of-a-kind rock star.  There is no one in the rock world who has had such critical acclaim, and whose list of hits spans so many decades.  Without a doubt, 'Rocket Man' is one of the most fun and fascinating books I have ever written!  And the timing could not be any more perfect. Elton's movie has been a big hit, his 'Farewell Yellow Brick Road' tour is in full swing, and he has never been bigger or more high-profile as he is today. His music has touched several generations."

 

THANK YOU FOR ALL OF THESE FUN INSIGHTS INTO YOUR BOOK. WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

 

"I am working on a great new book with Freda Payne, appropriately entitled 'Band of Gold.'  What a fascinating book this is to work on, and Freda is an absolute doll. I first met her in the 1970s when she was performing in NYC at The Playboy Club, and I was the nightlife editor of 'Cue' magazine.  The co-stars of Freda's life story include Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Pearl Bailey, Berry Gordy Jr., Mary Wilson, Quincy Jones and dozens more. In addition to that I am working on developing a TV show for Mary Wilson and me to star in, based on my best-selling cookbook, 'Eat Like a Rock Star.'  This is like a dream-come-true for me!"

 

REVIEWS OF MARK BEGO'S "ROCKET MAN: THE LIFE OF ELTON JOHN"

 

"Bego discusses John's extensive recording output as well as his drug addiction and various health issues, his failed suicide attempt, his coming out, his forays into musical theater (Aida, The Lion King, Billy Elliot), his marriage to David Furnish, and the making of Rocketman...Elton fans won't want to miss this."

---- Booklist

 

"The life and times of Elton John are explored in this fascinating read—and no details are left uninvestigated"

----Star

 

"Bego narrates the ups and downs of musician Elton John's career and music. In breathless prose, Bego cheerleads for John."

---- Publishers Week

 

"Celebrity-author Mark Bego released his 'Rocket Man' book; his take on the whole Elton-phenomena. We've read it and it's just a terrific take on Elton. Inspiring; revealing; heartfelt and fun ... a terrific read."

---- Times Square Chronicles

 

For more info on the author's work, vist markbego.com.

Mark Bego with Elton John and Mary Wilson.

Interview With Alice: Life Behind the Counter in Mel's Greasy Spoon

 A GUIDE TO THE FEATURE FILM, THE TV SERIES, AND MORE) AUTHOR BARRY M. PUTT JR.

 

November 18, 2019

 

Alice: Life Behind the Counter in Mel's Greasy Spoon published by BearManor Media is the first book on the feature film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and the spinoff sitcoms Alice and Flo. In it, author Barry M. Putt Jr. delves into the making of these film and TV classics. The book also contains a 120-question fan quiz, episode logs for both series, and much more. We sat down with Barry to learn how it all came about.

 

Why did you write the book?
I am a fan of books that explore the history of successful TV shows. I have at least a half a dozen of them on my shelf that focus on series including I Love Lucy, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, The Partridge Family, Bewitched, and more. A book wasn't available on Alice, so I set out to write it. I wanted it to be a one-stop-shop for information about the film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and its spinoff series. Originally the film and Alice were all that was going to be covered in the book. When I saw how integral Flowas to the 'Alice' story, I added it as a final component.


Who is the book geared towards?
Alice: Life Behind the Counter is a book for everyone. Movie lovers will learn the origins of the film and about its production. Fans of Alice and Flo will get a behind-the-scenes look at the evolution of these shows and be able to relive fun series' memories in the episode logs. Trivia buffs can test their film and TV knowledge. History enthusiasts will discover the important role Alice had in moving the women's movement forward.


How important was research?
Essential. The book is based on verified facts. I strove to be as comprehensive as possible. Research was conducted in three ways. Book and print sources provided solid initial information. I was fortunate to have some excellent assistance from the MCCC Library in West Windsor, New Jersey. I used the more than 240 sources I obtained there as a foundation when interviewing 'Alice' cast and crew members. I also watched the film and TV series a minimum of three times paying close attention to detail. I coupled my observations with additional sources to create the episode logs, note sections, and trivia questions.


What surprised you in writing the book?
I was surprised by how many people involved in Alice had ties to the classic sitcom I Love Lucy. Producers, writers, directors, and even 'Lucy' actors, most notably Desi Arnaz, also worked on Alice. The success of the series was entirely its own, but the knowledge that the 'Lucy' professionals brought to it gave the show a rich foundation. Alice ultimately grew to become a comedy classic that focused on relevant issues of its time and ones that continue to resonate with audiences today.


What challenges did you face while writing the book?
The biggest challenge was connecting with the cast and crew. I reached out numerous times to actors, directors, and other professionals requesting interviews to discuss their work on 'Alice'. I spoke with everyone that I was able to. Those that talked to me were delightful and eager to share their experience.


What are you working on now?
My next non-fiction book, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew on Film, TV, and Stage, will be published by BearManor Media in 2021. The book will be a fun, detailed look at these suspenseful productions and will feature interviews with cast and crew members. There is an interactive Facebook page for fans to follow the writing process and ask questions they've always wanted to know about the characters, films, and series. I intend to include answers to these questions in the book.


I am also writing a tween mystery novel currently titled The Case of the Toxic Something. In addition to books, I have written over 40 audio-dramas and have a feature-film project in the works.

 

For more on Barry's latest works visit barrymputtjr.com/alice-book. You can find him on  Facebook at AliceTVBook and Twitter at @bmputt.

An Interview With M.A.S.H. Trivia Book Authors, Christopher and Ryan DeRose

November 1, 2019

 

Spanning the entirety of the television series M.A.S.H., The M.A.S.H. Trivia Quiz Book saw author Cristopher DeRose team with his son Ryan to create questions that not only entertain and sometimes stump the reader, but also keep alive the joy and quality of a show we still feel the effects of even in 2019, over 65 years following the end of the Korean War and over 35 after the show aired it's final episode.
 
The M.A.S.H. Trivia Quiz Book is published by Bear Manor Books.
 
 
How did you two come to work together on the book?
 
CD: I'd always wanted to work with Ryan in some capacity for as long he's been around. But the question was which medium it would be and what the actual project would be. I wasn't even thinking about a collaboration when the thought came to me.
 
RD: I'm not a writer [laughs]. I acted for a while when I was younger, and I know my Dad wanted to work with me, but nothing really panned out. I left acting and went toward athletics and now sports medicine, so when my Dad asked if I wanted to do it, I thought it would be fun. And it was. It was work, but we were able to keep it fun.
 
Will you two be working together again?
 
CD: I'd like to. But just like this time, it depends on what it is and if we both have time for it.
 
RD: Yeah, it would depend on all those things.
 
What attracted you both to M.A.S.H.?
 
CD: It was a show my mom enjoyed and I ended up watching it with her. I liked how regardless of which war it was talking about, the humanity of the characters and situations transcended all that and made it something everybody could relate to. It was funny, profound, controversial at points, and sometimes utterly ridiculous. Just like its audience. [Laughs]
 
RD: It was on all the time when I was growing up and I thought it was smart and funny and I loved the cast, especially Alan Alda.
 
What are a couple of your favorite episodes and why?
 
RD: "A War For All Seasons" has to be up there. It's unique in how they had Charles behave and how they showed a whole year in one episode. "Movie Tonight" is a another favorite because it shows humor in the face of adversity, whether it's war or a broken projector. [Laughs] And "Goodbye, Farewll, And Amen" was a great ending for the show.
 
CD: I really like "Dreams." Not a popular episode, but one of the most powerful, especially how it highlighted Winchester's fears. "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler" is another, because it aired without a laugh track, had a compelling story, and had Dr. Sidney Freedman in it, and I love Sidney. "Heal Thyself" is great too, because it showed that a guest actor like Edward Herr could really be an asset rather than a liability to the show.
 
Why do we still watch M.A.S.H. as an audience?
 
CD: I think mainly it's because whether in war or peace, it speaks to our collective humanity as well as us as individuals. Conflict of all kinds and our unique reactions to it will always help to define who we are to ourselves as well as each other.
 
RD: Yeah, those things really kind of play well in the show, no matter if it's funny or dramatic or sad, it doesn't matter what time period you're talking about, it's about the people.
 
Which characters that never interacted on the show would you have like to have seen together?
 
RD: I think having Trapper interacting with Col. Potter would be interesting to see.
 
CD: I'm not sure I can really see Potter with Trapper or say, Blake being in the same storytelling space with BJ. I think it would be interesting, but it's hard for me to picture it.
 
Who in your opinion was the best surgeon?
 
RD: Hawkeye, no question.
 
CD: I want to say Hawkeye, but I think Winchester was at least as good if not maybe a bit better. I'll get hate mail for that. [Laughs]
 
RD: I see what you mean, but still… Hawkeye.
 
Which surgeon would you want to be your doctor?
 
RD: Again, I gotta say Hawkeye.
 
CD: I think Hawkeye. Nothing against the others, but he seemed to have a good grasp on how much humor to use and how much seriousness to temper it with.
 
Are there any episodes you're tired of?
 
BOTH: Anything involving letters BJ gets from Peg!

Interview: "Bobby in Naziland" By Robert Rosen

The Mac Wire

September 6, 2019

 

Bobby in Naziland (Headpress), a memoir about growing up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, in the 1950s and 60s, among Holocaust survivors and W.W. II veterans, is the third book from Robert Rosen. Best known for his John Lennon biography, Nowhere Man, he's also written Beaver Street, about his years as a men's magazine editor. In Bobby in Naziland, Rosen brings to life a New York City lost to time—a place where the Second World War lingered like a mass hallucination, racism ran rampant, and the candy store served as the nexus of neighborhood activity. Bobby in Naziland was published September 1st.

 

Why did you write this book?

The roots of Bobby in Naziland can be found in the opening pages of my previous book, Beaver Street. I describe the scene in my father's candy store, in 1961 when I was nine years old. I'm sitting at the window making change for newspapers, listening to my father, who'd fought in the Second World War, talking to his friends, the candy store regulars, about the Battle of the Bulge. As I was writing this scene, I knew that I was only scratching the surface. I knew that something was going on at that time and in that place that demanded further exploration. So I wrote down everything I could remember about Flatbush in the 1950s and 60s. When I looked back at the 400 single-spaced pages of notes, fragments, ideas, and anecdotes that had accumulated, what jumped out at me were Nazis. They were everywhere. And that's how the book came about.

 

How is Bobby in Naziland relevant to the world in 2019?

I talk about that in the Afterword: On a personal level, as I was writing the book, my two nephews, who live in Upstate New York, along with a number of their classmates, were being subjected to persistent anti-Semitism in school. They were beaten up; they were pelted with coins; scores of swastikas were drawn on the school's walls; and one of their classmates was held down while a swastika was drawn on her face. My brother, his wife, and two other families complained repeatedly to the school authorities. Nothing was done. Finally, they sued the school district, and the students were awarded $4.48 million. The story was on the front page of The New York Times. And Orange County, New York, is hardly the only place where this kind of thing is going on.Then there's Donald Trump. The racism and hatred that I describe viscerally and in depth in the book is the kind of racism and hatred that Trump knew intimately while he was growing up a few miles from Flatbush, in Queens, and that he and his father, Fred Trump, practiced when they refused to rent apartments to people of color. He knew that that kind of hatred lurked just below the surface, despite the progress American society had appeared to make over the decades. Trump was able to exploit that hatred to win the presidency.

 

How did you overcome that bigotry? 

It was a gradual evolution. The big change came when I enrolled at the City College of New York, in Harlem, and joined the radical student newspaper there, Observation Post. The staff of the paper, most of whom were passionately dedicated to the antiwar movement, were also anti-racist, anti-corporate, and, not surprisingly, super-anti-Nixon. So, I met people who showed me there was another way to be than what I'd learned growing up in Flatbush. I grew my hair long; I became a hippie; and eventually I became the editor of the paper. It was simply a case of meeting the right people at the right time.

 

How have people in the book reacted to it?

Philip Roth said that it's a curse to have a writer born in the family, and Bobby in Naziland is a pretty good example of why that's true. I did what I could to re-create my family, my neighbors, and Flatbush itself as accurately and vividly as I could. I want readers to know how Flatbush looked, felt, sounded, smelled, and tasted. My brother is the only person in the book who's read it, and he's fine with it. So that's a relief. My father passed away 14 years ago. He hated the candy store, never wanted to talk about it, and after he sold it, pretended it never existed. I'm sure there are parts of the book he'd hate but other parts that he'd be proud of. My mother is still alive. She's 92, living in Florida, having trouble with her eyes, and can no longer read. The only question she's asked me about the book thus far is, "Did you write about the candy store?" I told her I did. She wanted to know why. I said, "Because it was such a big part of our lives for so many years, I couldn't not write about it." I have an aunt who plays a small but crucial role in the book. She asked me to use her real name. Another relative, who's well known in certain circles, gave me permission to use his real name. With most other people I changed their names to protect their privacy. Who knows how they're going to react? Maybe they won't even recognize themselves.

 

Do you ever go back to Flatbush?

For a long time, no. When I was writing the book I was doing it all from memory. But lately, by chance, I've been going back quite a bit, and it's changed a lot. Flatbush used to be a Jewish enclave. Now, it's primarily people from the Caribbean and Latin America. A section of Church Avenue, which is one of the book's main settings, has been renamed Bob Marley Boulevard. The place on Church Avenue where my father's candy store used to be is now part of the subway station. Not one store is the same. On my block, East 17th Street, the buildings are still there, but they've put up all these fences and planted a lot of greenery, so it looks very different from what I remember. The Parade Grounds, which used to be a dusty place with baseball diamonds and football fields, is now covered with artificial turf and soccer fields. Erasmus Hall High School and the Dutch Reform Church are still there, but the Flatbush Avenue movie theatres are gone, two of them converted to places of worship. The Loew's Kings, however, has been renovated and now it's a beautiful venue for concerts. I saw Crosby, Stills, and Nash there in 2015 and Bikini Kill a couple of months ago. It was surreal walking down the avenue and seeing those names on the marquee. 

 

You can purchase Bobby in Naziland on Amazon. For more on Robert Rosen and his books visit www.robertrosennyc.com

Author, Robert Rosen

Interview: Author Paula Finn Talks About her New Book on Classic TV Comedy: "Sitcom Writers Talk Shop: Behind the Scenes with Carl Reiner, Norman Lear, and Other Geniuses of TV Comedy"

Author Paula Finn

July 27, 2019

 

As the daughter of Honeymooners writer Herbert Finn, Author Paula Finn grew up in the culture, surrounded by the brilliance and wit of her father and his colleagues. A former college English teacher and TV documentary researcher, she's the author of ten gift books including When Love Isn't Easy and Make This Your Day. 

 

"Sitcom Writers Talk Shop" features Q&A's with such writers as Carl Reiner (Creator, The Dick Van Dyke Show), Norman Lear (All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, Good Times), James L. Brooks, (Co-creator, Mary Tyler Moore, Taxi, The Simpsons), Matt Williams (Creator, Roseanne), Al Jean (Longtime showrunner, The Simpsons), and Phil Rosenthal (Creator, Everybody Loves Raymond). Topics include the influence of drugs, tricks for getting inspired, defining comedy, backstories of iconic series and episodes, demystifying the creative process, the realities of writers' rooms, and coping with fear (Norman Lear calls it "shit in the head"). 

 

Some of the Q&A's include relevant "Behind the Scenes" sidebar information from additional writers and answers to such questions as, "Was there real beer on the Cheers stage? How did Bill Cosby infuriate Danny Kaye? Which writer passed out mid-joke?" 

 

The book's forewords are by Ed Asner and Carol Kane. It's endorsed by several celebrities including Jay Leno, Paula Poundstone, and Valerie Harper. 

 

Paula chatted with us about growing up in Hollywood, the perks of having a comedy-writing father, and her process in writing the book.

 

What were some advantages of having a dad who's a comedy writer?

My dad's sense of humor made everything more fun. And one of the best perks was being invited to the closed sets of my favorite TV shows to watch them being filmed. My dad had connections everywhere. One time I wrote for tickets to the 1960's music show, Shindig. They sent back a postcard saying the waiting list was two years. My dad called the producer and got me four tickets for the next week's show. 

 

What are some of your most memorable brushes with celebrity?

Aside from chatting with my favorite sitcom stars at their shows, I knew Jerry Mathers in college. He gave me rides home in his Porsche when my car wasn't running. I was in classes with Lucy Arnaz when I briefly attended a private Catholic school. Jay North went to my orthodontist. Steve Allen and Walt Disney went to my church. And a highlight of my teen years was visiting Sonny and Cher's home in Encino: they invited me in and treated me like an old friend. 


Is "Sitcom Writers Talk Shop" your first writing effort?

I was always a writer. In high school I was writing a celebrity interview column for my local paper. After college I wrote magazine articles for several years, and then got into writing inspirational gift books and uplifting prose for a variety of gift products. I'm currently building a social media presence with my inspirational quotes (Gifts of Prose). Writing "Sitcom Writers Talk Shop" wasn't a stretch, as I'd done nonfiction articles based on interviews for years. 

 

How'd you decide to write "Sitcom Writers Talk Shop"?

I'd originally thought of doing a memoir on what it's like growing up with a funny father. I started by asking some of my dad's colleagues for their recollections of him. Writers like Larry Gelbart and Sherwood Schwartz shared some great memories —but they also told me entertaining anecdotes about their own careers. I realized that a book incorporating a variety of perspectives and stories from many different writers would have a broader appeal. I was also interested in learning how the business had changed since the 1950's, when my dad first started.

 

What was your process in writing it?

I researched writers and creators of the shows I wanted to highlight and came up with questions (way too many—I ended up with 1300 pages of single-spaced typed transcripts)! 

I transcribed the interviews immediately after I finished them. The actual writing was the most fun part but deciding on a format for the material took several months of trial and error. My publisher and I went back and forth on that before essentially compromising with what you see. 

 

What's something you learned about your favorite shows that surprised you?

I was surprised when Jay Kogen told me that when The Simpsons writers do pop culture parodies such as Twilight Zone episodes, they write them entirely from memory— they don't need to re-watch the episodes to do detailed take-offs. And I was surprised by how much luck was involved in the creation of Taxi— Jim Brooks remembers that they were visiting a cab company in NY and at the 11thhour, if they hadn't heard one cabbie say one specific thing — they never would have had the character of Alex Reiger. 

 

In talking with so many legendary writers, what surprised you most about them personally? 

The stress they go through to produce. Norman Lear spent the early years of his career weeping and throwing up over deadlines! And many of them lack confidence in their ability to ever write funny again. 

 

How have sitcoms changed through the years?

Obviously, the content has changed dramatically. The early shows' stories were simple, and the subject matter was childish. Characters didn't cope with serious problems or illness. The scope of what the writers could cover was much more limited, and the episodes had little or nothing to do with real life. As writer Joel Rapp says of Gilligan's Island, "You could make up any kind of nonsense for that show!"


The language was clean. Gender roles were different: in early sitcoms, the husband earned the money and the wife/mother was content in the kitchen. With few exceptions, children were raised by their two parents. They were better behaved and didn't disrespect their elders. Contrast that to Bart Simpson!


Most early shows had only one plot per episode, whereas episodes of shows like M*A*S*H, Seinfeld, and Curb Your Enthusiasm had multiple storylines. M*A*S*H producer John Rappaport even wrote one with seven stories. ["No Sweat," S9E11]. Racial and sexual diversity was almost absent compared to now. I think TV jokes today are more mean-spirited, and characters are more obnoxious.

 

I'm sure the writers had a wealth of anecdotes to share. What were some of your favorites?

Seinfeld writer Bill Masters told a hilarious story about pitching to Larry David when Larry had the stomach flu. He calls it "the vomiting story." Interestingly, Larry used that as the idea for the episode "The Shoes," in which Jerry and George are pitching to the head of NBC, and the guy has food poisoning. And Taxiwriter Ken Estin related some cruel pranks that Andy Kaufman played on people. 

 

What's next for you?

I'm getting back to my journalism roots and writing articles on humor-related topics.

And I'm always involved in the inspirational writing. I currently manage three online stores selling gift items that incorporate my motivational quotes. My most recent licensing agreement is with Affirmations Publishing House for an insight pack of 56 affirmation cards titled "Be Good to Yourself."

 

You can find "Sitcom Writers Talk Shop" on Amazon (https://amzn.to/2tWBXah) and Barnes and Noble (https://tinyurl.com/y6eaaktg) https://tinyurl.com/y6eaaktg or through Rowman & Littlefield  at Rowman.com.

Celebrity Author Mark Bego Celebrates September 2019 With His 64th and 65th Books: "Supreme Glamour" With Mary Wilson and "Living The Luxe Life"

The Mac Wire

July 14, 2019

 

New York Times best-selling author Mark Bego breaks records by releasing two separate books titles in September 2019.  One with his longtime best friend, the glamorous Mary Wilson of The Supremes. And, the second one with the brilliant millionaire hotel owner, Efrem Harkham.  This brings him to a grand total of 65 published books!

 

In December of 1975 Bego first met his Motown singing star idol, Mary Wilson in Rochester, New York, while he was working for music industry trade magazine, Record World. At that first meeting Bego proposed that they write a book on The Supremes together.  Finally 44 years later Supreme Glamour (Thames & Hudson Publishers), a lavishly illustrated coffee table book on the career of the biggest selling female singing group in the world: The Supremes, will be released in September.


To set the record straight, Bego worked on Wilson's two previous hit books, but Supreme Glamour is a true collaboration for the pair.  This book finds the pair telling The Supremes' story with a fresh perspective and many new insights. Friends for five decades, Bego claims, "Mary has shown me how to live life glamorously with passion and flair for years. She is gracious and wonderful, and I am so excited about this book. It is like a Supreme dream come true!"

 

Mark Bego is the author of the biggest selling Motown book ever published: the eight million-selling Michael! (Jackson), with an Introduction by Mary Wilson. As Mark explains it, "Mary and I have traveled around the world together, and we have worked on many projects together, but Supreme Glamour  is the absolute pinnacle." Wilson and Bego most recently worked together on Mark's best-selling celebrity cookbook,Eat Like a Rock Star (Skyhorse Publishing, 2017).


Then there is Living the Luxe Life (Skyhorse Publishing), which Bego wrote with Luxe Hotel chain hotelier-Efrem Harkham.  Says Mark, "Efrem is a true inspiration in the business world. He not only owns the Luxe hotels on Rodeo Drive and Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, but he shares his secrets to success in his inspirational book. He is a 'rock star' of hoteliers!"

 

Interestingly enough, the pair first met via one of Bego's rock & roll books.  Explains Mark, "One of Efrem's friends had read the book I wrote with Jimmy Greenspoon of Three Dog Night, and recommended we meet. I was instantly impressed with his 'rags to riches' story.  The first day we met I knew this book had to be entitled 'Living the Luxe Life." The book will also be released in September.

 

According to Bego, "I am genuinely excited to have two new books coming out at once.  Thanks to Mary Wilson and Efrem Harkham, I truly am living the 'luxe life' with glamour and flair!"

Author Mark Bego with Mary Wilson

Remembering Francine By Robert Rosen

 
  Here's a piece that my longtime friend and author Robert Rosen (Bobby in Naziland, Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon) wrote on his site, robertrosennyc.com. He recounts some of the best writing advice he received back in college from his instructor, Professor Gray.

 

"Remembering Francine" peaked my interest in many ways, especially the part where she believed the best way to write was in fragments. "Don't think about plot or form and trust your unconscious." My  highschool english teacher stressed the very same advice and  I never forgot it. I hope when you read Robert's story you will just as inspired as I was to keep on writing, good or bad.

 

It was a long time ago, and the memories are starting to fade, but when I heard last week that Francine du Plessix Gray had died, at the age of 88, it reminded me, once again, of the best piece of writing advice I ever got. It's advice that I've adhered to since that autumn afternoon in 1975, in her office in the English department, at the City College of New York, when she showed me a spiral-bound notebook, the latest volume of the journal she'd been keeping since the summer of 1951, and said, "Keep a journal; write in it every day."

 

It was, she explained, how a writer finds his (or her) voice—by making writing as natural as breathing.

 

There were other bits of useful advice that Francine—we called her "Francine," not "Professor Gray"—shared with her students, advice of the sort you wouldn't normally get in a CCNY writing workshop. Like (and I forget her exact words, but the message was clear): Edit your own work when you're stoned on marijuana. You'll have no tolerance for bullshit and unnecessary verbiage.

 

Francine arrived at CCNY for the Spring 1975 semester, slated to teach one graduate and one undergraduate nonfiction writing workshop (what would now be called "creative nonfiction"). I met her my first day back at school—I'd gotten my BA in creative writing and then taken off a few months to travel. Now I was about to embark on a course of study in the graduate literature program after having been rejected from the creative writing program, which, at the time, I saw as the key to my future. I was 21 years old and crushed. The writing program at City College, in those magical days of free tuition, was a promised land where, for little more than the cost of books, one could study under the tutelage of Kurt Vonnegut, William Burroughs, and Joseph Heller, the department chairman, who had personally rejected me.

 

I thought studying literature might be a constructive way to kill time while I figured out what to do with my life.

 

I was wandering through the English department—a quonset hut on South Campus—attempting to put together a not-too-demanding schedule of classes, when a woman, fashion-model tall with blonde hair and wearing a Viva magazine T-shirt, asked me, with the slightest hint of what I took for an indeterminate European accent, if I knew where the administration building was.

 

"New here?" I inquired after giving her directions. I thought she might be a night-school student.

Yes, she replied, she'd just been hired to teach a creative writing workshop.

 

She asked me other questions about the college, and in the course of our conversation, I told her that I used to edit one of the student newspapers and that I'd been rejected from the creative writing program.

 

What happened next still seems miraculous. Francine asked me to bring her some of my stories that had been published in the newspaper. I brought her a half-dozen samples of my work, and when I returned to her office later that afternoon, she looked up from my articles, spread out on her desk, and declared, "This is gonzo!"

 

She invited me to take her graduate writing workshop and asked if I'd be her graduate assistant.

I was in!

 

Because Francine never talked about it in any detail, all I knew about her history was what I read in the short excerpts about her European childhood—governesses, a Russian mother, Paris—that she showed the class from the autobiographical novel she was writing at the time, Lovers and Tyrants. Had I heard that her stepfather, Alexander Liberman, was the editorial director of Condé Nast, it would have meant nothing to me. I'm not sure I knew that Condé Nast was a magazine-publishing company.

 

But what was really important to me about Francine was that she taught creative writing in a way that none of my other teachers had. Where Heller, for example, said that there was only one way to write a story—well-plotted with a beginning, middle, climax, and end… no deviations and no sci-fi, supernatural, or detective stories—Francine believed the best way to write was in fragments. Don't think about plot or form. Just get something good down on paper. Trust your unconscious and eventually the fragments will congeal into a coherent whole.

 

Rather than stories, she assigned fragments. Start from the inside and work your way out: first describe an emotional experience, then a small space, then a person, then a larger space, and keep going until you finally work your way up to describing a historical event.

 

This made sense to me and I flourished.

 

Once a week, after she taught her undergraduate class, we'd sit together in her little office in the English Hut, as it was called, critiquing stories, with me, on occasion, alerting her to an unexpected gem.

 

It went on like this for two terms, during which she guided me though my first attempt to get a full-length book off the ground, reading and editing my rough drafts. After I'd badly missed the mark on one of her assignments, she made a prediction: "You're going to write darkly humorous books and travel around the world."

 

And our bond became stronger because we were both plagued by a stutter that came and went depending on how stressed we were. Writing was a way to express ourselves fluently.

Francine left City College in 1976, returning to Connecticut and a life of writing books (At Home with the Marquis de Sade, World Without End, October Blood, and Them, among others) and magazine articles, including covering the trial of Gestapo chief Klaus Barbi for Vanity Fair, which won a National Magazine Award for best reporting.

 

I somehow muddled through my final term of grad school without her.

 

Over the years, we'd exchange an occasional postcard, but by the mid-1980s we'd fallen out of touch. I now wonder if she was aware that her prediction had come to pass.

 

Yes, Francine, there have been a handful of "darkly humorous" books and there has been much travel to distant lands to talk about them. And I often think of you when I write in my notebook—which I still do every day.

 

Join Robert Rosen on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.
 

Author, Robert Rosen

Interview: Rock & Roll Biographer Mark Bego Turns Chef With "Eat Like A Rock Star"

 

The Mac Wire

September 28, 2017

 

With 12 million books in print, the rock & roll biographer known as "The Prince of Pop Music Bios," Mark Bego, has suddenly morphed into a celebrity chef with his new all-star rock & roll cookbook:  "Eat Like a Rock Star."  His long-time friend, Mary Wilson of The Supremes, has written the Introduction to the book, and has contributed several of her own recipes.  The cookbook also includes Joey Fatone, Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald, Tanya Tucker, Marilyn McCoo, Debbie Gibson, Richie Sambora, and Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones.  The MacWire recently caught up with "Chef" Mark Bego, to discuss his great new cookbook, "Eat Like a Rock Star."

 

 After having written 61 books of a totally different genre, how did you make the transition from rock & roll biographer to rock star chef and cookbook author?

 

 In 2012 I was working on a magazine that was published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Supremes.  I had a couple of pages to fill up, so I asked Mary Wilson for some "Supreme" recipes.  She gave them to me, and I really liked the way they looked.  Suddenly, an idea struck me:  "A cookbook full of rock star recipes!  That's what I need to do."  A month or so later I was going to interview Boz Scaggs.  He was my test case.  I found out that he had his winery, so I suspected that he cooked too.  When he gave me three recipes for chicken, I knew that I could make this work.  I have interviewed rock stars for years for books, newspapers, and magazines. I went to the people I wrote books with or about:  Micky Dolenz, Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson, Michael McDonald, Randy Jones of The Village People, and Debbie Gibson. I have been fortunate to have attended The Kentucky Derby with Mary Wilson several times.  While there we became friends with Joey Fatone, Richie Sambora, and Sean Stockman of Boyz II Men, and rekindled friendships with Tanya Tucker, and Marilyn McCoo.  They all gave me great recipes, and my collection started to grow. I started the project off with a food blog, and along the way my manager told me that I had to prove that I could cook too for the book to have credibility, so I started developing my own recipes as well.  Now "Eat Like a Rock Star" is exactly that:  the majority of recipes are the ones I personally gathered from bona fide rock stars, and then I contributed at least three of my own recipes per chapter. 

 

 This is one of the most beautifully designed and illustrated cookbooks ever published.  How did it come about?

 

 I have always done photography in one form or another:  whether it was taking my Polaroid to Studio 54 in the 1970's, or taking celebrity photos for my books.  When I started turning "Eat Like a Rock Star" into a fully illustrated book, I invested in a new camera, professional lights, and backgrounds, and I did all the food photography myself.  I wanted to be able to say:  "I made all of the food in the book, I sampled every recipe, and I photographed every dish I created.  If I can make this delicious food, and these great cocktails, you can too!"  In addition to the fun factor of the book being full of rock star food, I set out to make this one of the most balanced and comprehensive cookbooks ever published.  With ten chapters it highlights:  Breakfast, Lunch, Hors d'Oeuvres, Poultry, Meat, Pasta, Fish & Seafood, Vegetables & Side Dishes, Desserts, and Cocktails.  The recipes run the gamut from "easy" to "challenging." 

 

I owe a lot of thanks to Skyhorse Publishing.  They have done a wonderful job with the layouts and artistic touches they have added.  Special thanks are also owed to my editor, Kim Lim for keeping everything on track.

 

 Everything on television is so food-oriented lately.  While you were writing this cookbook, was there any famous chef who inspired you or who you emulated?

 

 Since this cookbook is "all over the map" in types of food, my only concern was making great food that could be replicated if you adhere to the recipes in the book.  When I was growing up in Detroit, the only professional chef I even knew of was Chef Boyardee!  His television commercials made him the original TV chef as far as I am concerned.  I always loved Chef Boyardee brand canned ravioli as a kid!  There was also a local Detroit cooking show:  "Lady of Grace" with Edith Fern Melrose.  I loved watching her too.  Then, when Julia Child came on TV as "The French Chef," I loved it, because she was like a comedy act who cooked.  While I love watching all of the newly famous chefs on The Food Network and The Cooking Channel, the original iconic cooking TV personality to me will always be Chef Boyardee.

 

 Speaking of television, has creating this clever cookbook made you want a cooking show of your own?

 

 Oh yes, you had better believe it!  I am working with an Emmy Award-winning TV producer, Dave Marken, on developing and creating an "Eat Like a Rock Star" television show with me as the host.  Because I gathered these recipes directly from the rock stars, a vast majority of them have already expressed interested in being guests on TV.

 

 Did you save any leftover recipes for a possible "Eat Like a Rock Star, Volume II?"

 

 Absolutely!  I have already been mapping it out, just in case!  One of my funniest rock & roll food stories is not in the book. In 1985 I was interviewing.  Aretha Franklin at her home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, for Westwood One radio network.  I was recording our interview, and occasionally we would stop for breaks.  We covered one subject, and Aretha excused herself and went into the kitchen of her house.  Then she returned and said to me, "Ask me another question," So I did, and we continued the interview.  A few minutes later she again excused herself and went to the kitchen.  Again she returned, and again the interview continued.  Then she said again, "Excuse me, I am going back in the kitchen."  And, away she went.  This time however, she did not come back out.  Instead, she stuck her head out of the kitchen door and announced, "Chicken's done.  Interview's over."  Not only did I not get a recipe from Aretha, I didn't get offered a piece of chicken either!

 

For more on Mark's books and other works  visit http://markbego.com

Interview: Author Jeanine Furino Talks About Her Debut "All The Single Girls" Book

The Mac Wire

January 15, 2018 

 

Author Jeanine Furino is a self-professed TV fanatic. A few years ago she started a Twitter account devoted to vintage movies and classic TV series. Her popular Retro TV Lovers blog has thousands of followers including actors from classic TV shows, including: Jerry Mathers (Leave it to Beaver), Kathy Garver (Family Affair), Judy Norton (The Waltons), Brandon Cruz (The Courtship of Eddie's Father) and Alison Arngrim (Little House on the Prairie).

 

 All the Single Girls tells the story of the American single woman as she has been depicted on television from the 1950s to 2014, and how she has evolved in response to, and along with, the ever changing world she lives in. The book includes interviews with actresses Sharon Gless, Susan Silo, and others, with over 130 series discussed in detail, some of which include: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, One Day at a Time, Ally McBeal, New Girl and more.

 

Jeanine Furino chatted with us about the process of writing the book, her favorite TV shows and what she's writing next. 

 

How did you get the idea to write "All the Single Girls"?

 

I've always loved old television shows and while watching Our Miss Brooks wondered which other shows featured single women in the 1950s. From there I started researching the 1960s and when I tried to find information on the subject, I couldn't find very much. So I thought, why not write a book about the history of the single woman on TV?

 

Wow! Such a massive undertaking. You included every TV show that featured a single girl from the 1950s to present.   Even the "One Season Wonders". Did not expect that. From concept to finish how long did it take to complete?

 

I came up with the idea to research television shows about single women about 5 years ago, but didn't really start writing until two years later. So, it took five years from conception but really about 3 years to write it.

 

What television shows or characters were some of your favorites to write about?

 

Ann Marie of  That Girl was always a favorite of mine from childhood. She was the first single woman to declare she was putting off marriage to pursue her career first. Then, of course, Mary Richards  (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) for so many reasons, but most importantly, she stood up for her rights and pay as a woman in the workplace. Another favorite was Christine Cagney (Cagney & Lacey). She had a very clear goal to become the first female chief of police in New York City and she very poignantly admitted she wanted to have children, but decided not to, putting her career first.

 

In writing this book, did you discover any series that you had not watched before that you would recommend?

 

Absolutely. I had never watched either of the series Weeds or Nurse Jackie and I fell in love with those two deliciously flawed women. Going back to the 1950s, The Betty Hutton Show was really a pretty sweet series, it was well-acted and well-written. For newer series, I'd never watched Jane the Virgin and was surprised at how interesting, clever, and fun a show it is.

 

How has the portrayal of the single woman on television changed over the years?

 

She's evolved on television as she has in the real world. She has many more options available to her. Over time as women became more liberated and started to be able to take control of their reproductive lives, women could take on any job or career. On TV in the 1970s we saw single divorced mothers, followed by single, never-married mothers in the 1980s and beyond. A lot of this had to do not just with the changing times, but it also directly relates to the growing presence of women as heads of studios and heads of programming, creating and writing series about women and for women. With the proliferation of studios owned by streaming services that are not run by advertising departments we are seeing much more freedom and diversity in our television heroines. We are experiencing a little oversaturation right now though. I mean, how many shows can you watch? But it's a much more inclusive medium than ever before. It's an exciting time for women and for single women on television.

 

Explain to our site's readers, a bit more in detail about the graphic symbols next to the title of each TV show. That' was a  clever touch! 

 

Thanks! Well, I realized that certain "types" of female characters kept cropping up, like: the woman who just wanted to marry (the rings icon); the career woman who had forsaken love (the briefcase icon); or the caregiver (usually a maid or nanny) who had given up on love, taking on her employer as her surrogate family (denoted by the apron icon). As time went on, and the country went through political and social changes, new types of women emerged: we saw the working mother (the Super Woman icon). In the 1950s and 1960s she was a widow (The Eve Arden Show or Julia), in the 1980s she was usually a divorced mother (Kate & Allie), and in the late 1980s onward, she could even be an unmarried mother (Murphy Brown). Retired single women, like The Golden Girls (the rocking chair icon), and the woman who isn't sure what she wants out of life, like Molly Dodd (the question mark icon) are also represented. Then there is my favorite, the feminerd (Liz Lemon of 30 Rock, or Jessica Day of New Girl) who is expert at her job, but kind of clueless when it comes to love (nerd icon).

 

Impressive! What are you working on next?

 

I am researching and writing a book about single fathers on TV called All the Single Dads. There are a surprising number of them as I'm finding. I will cover series not just about biological fathers (like the classics My Three Sons and The Courtship of Eddie's Father), but also those who feature men who took on the role of father (like Bachelor Father). I hope to have the book available by the fall.

 

All the Single Dads, seems like the perfect follow-up. Will you be keeping the same format, or changing it up a bit?

 

All the Single Girls needed to be organized chronologically to see the progression of women's roles and how single women have evolved and adapted to the changing world. I'm not sure yet that All the Single Dads will need to be kept in that format. I'll have to see where my research takes me before I can make that determination. I'm having fun finding some TV shows I'd never heard of for this new project. So far, things are progressing nicely and I am excited to get this one completed by later this year.  

 

You can purchase All The Single Girls on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Follow Jeanine Furino on Twitter and check out her Retro TV Lover blog.

One Day At A Time

An Interview With Celebrity Biographer Mark Bego On His New Memoir Book, "Paperback Writer"

The Mac Wire

June 27, 2010

 
Paperback Writer (Publish America) is the humorous and star-studded memoir of best-selling celebrity author Mark Bego. With 56 books in print, two New York Times best-sellers, a Los Angeles Times best-seller, and a Chicago Tribune best-seller, Bego has made a career out of interviewing media stars, and writing books about their lives. His most recent release was 2009's internationally published Elton John: The Bitch is Back. In Paperback Writer his celebrity co-stars include Madonna, Cher, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Mary Wilson of The Supremes, Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones, The Temptations, The Village People, Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, Martha Reeves, Billy Joel, Angela Bowie, Gene Simmons of KISS, Jimmy Greenspoon of Three Dog Night, Joni Mitchell, Hall & Oates, and even Katharine Hepburn.

 

Known for his biographical books about Leonardo DiCaprio, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, and George Strait, finally the time came for Bego to tell some of his own colorful adventures in celebrity land. Bego recalls what it was like to move to New York City as a 21-year-old wannabe writer, and turn his love of show business into a lifelong career. Paperback Writer takes each of its chapters from Bego's personal celebrity journals that finds him interviewing Aretha Franklin at her house, dancing next to Cher at Studio 54, having coffee with Barry Manilow in his apartment, traveling around the world with Mary Wilson of The Supremes, and moving into the homes of rock stars to put their life stories on paper.

 

According to Bego in Paperback Writer, "In the past 40 years, not only have I met hundreds of rock, pop, movie and TV stars, I have partied with them, gotten drunk with them, gotten into trouble with them, traveled around the world with them, lived with them, written their autobiographies with them, and I even wound up in bed with some of them!"


You have written and published 55 books on show business, and your memoir, Paperback Writer is Number 56. How have you managed to produce so many unique and different books?

 

In 1984, my book on Michael Jackson—Michael!—came out the same week he caught his hair on fire doing the Pepsi commercial. It sold seven million copies worldwide, and I was on The New York Times best-seller list! Then I predicted that Madonna was going to be the next big superstar, I wrote the first book ever published about her, and it became a million-seller as well. After that, several publishers were looking to me to write books for them, and it blossomed from there.

 

The first rock group you interviewed was Steely Dan. Is that the experience that put you on this path as a rock & roll biographer?

 

In 1974, at Central Michigan University, Steely Dan came to my campus, and I received a phone call from their record company, asking if I wanted to interview the group. Naturally, the answer was 'yes!' In the middle of the Steely Dan interview a light went on in my head, and I knew what I wanted to do with my Journalism degree: interview rock stars for magazines and books!

 

According to Paperback Writer, you were at the opening night at Studio 54, and danced next to Cher. What was that like?

 

By the time Studio 54 opened, I was writing for several publications, so I was on the invitation list for that star- studded debut evening. My date that first night at Studio 54 was C.C.H. Pounder of The Shield and Avatar. We were absolutely knocked out when Cher came boogieing over to us on the dance floor, and suddenly C.C., Cher and I were surrounded by the paparazzi! That was the beginning of countless nights at Studio 54 for me. I used to hang out and talk to Andy Warhol, Michael Jackson, and of course The Village People!

 

You were the first person to interview The Village People, and you predicted the initial career success of Madonna and Whitney Houston. How did that happen?

 

I was writing for Disco World magazine at the time, and during our interview I could tell that they were going to be a huge hit, and I instantly became friends with the guys in the group. There is a whole chapter in Paperback
Writer about that. Actually, the first time I wrote about the group was in my regular 'Nightlife' column
in Cue magazine. When my paperback biographies started to become huge sellers, along came two more talents I recognized instantly: Madonna and Whitney Houston. In the '80s I wrote Madonna! and Whitney! I revamped both books to write the expanded volumes: Madonna: Blonde Ambition in the '90s and my 2009 German language-only book Whitney Houston: Die Biografie."

 

When I grew up in suburban Detroit, I was absolutely mesmerized by Motown. When I started interviewing celebrities for magazines in New York City, I always gravitated to the stars of Motown. After I met Mary Wilson of The Supremes in 1975 for an article in Record World magazine, we became lifelong friends. Several of the chapters in Paperback Writer are about my exploits and adventures with Mary, in Japan, in Sweden, in France, and in Monaco. Working on Martha Reeves autobiography—Dancing in the Street: Confessions of a Motown Diva—was a Motown dream-come-true for me. It became a Top 10 best-seller for us, and we had a blast on our promotional tour which helped make it a hit!

 

At seven million copies sold, your book on Michael Jackson—"Michael!—is the biggest selling book on The King of Pop. What was that experience like?

I first met Michael Jackson at a party at Studio 54 that was given in his honor in the 1970s. He was in New York City filmingThe Wiz. Then, when my 1984 book about him became such a big hit, he surprised me by showing up in LaToya Jackson's suite at The Helmsley Palace Hotel. I walked right over to Michael and re-introduced myself to him as the author of his biography. He looked me in the eyes—through his dark glasses—and said, 'I know who you are.' Although I always found him to be odd and distant, I was saddened when he suddenly died. In 2010 I was able to write and edit a tribute magazine in his honor called Remember the King, as a way to say 'goodbye' to him.

 

You have had several successful books outside of the United States. How did that come about?

 

In 1984, when my Michael Jackson biography became a huge hit in America, England, Spain, Japan and several other countries published foreign editions of it. That was the beginning of my books finding an international audience. When Michael Jackson died last year, my original Japanese publisher, Shinshokan, reprinted my book Michael! as a special 25th anniversary edition for Japan only. In 2009, when I wrote the American book, Elton John: The Bitch is Back, again several foreign publishers jumped at the opportunity to bring out their own international editions. So far my Elton book is has been published in England and Germany, and Russian and Danish versions of it are due out next.

 

What rock star bio would you most like to write?

I would love to update my Barry Manilow biography, with Barry. Also, I have always wanted to write a book with Ringo Starr. He is the only Beatle who has not done his own autobiography, and I want to do it with him. Yes, he did contribute to the Beatles book that Paul and George were involved in during the 1990s, but he has never done a solo autobiography. I have done all sorts of things to try to talk him into it. I keep bugging his manager to talk Ringo into it, but I have yet to snag him. I am not done pursuing this! One of these days I will talk Ringo into it!

 

Paperback Writer spans a wide range of music, from your first books The Captain & Tennille and Barry Manilow, up to Lady Gaga. Has the music business changed a lot?

 

I was very much involved in the record business in the 1970s and 1980s. When I worked at CBS Records I would watch all of the new music come across my desk as the latest vinyl albums. Nowadays I have to pay attention to the Internet, and be aware ofAmerican Idol and Glee. The music and the musicians I write about in Paperback Writer could be a soundtrack album as much as a memoir!

 

What has been our favorite book so far?

 

Well, Paperback Writer of course! However, I have a special fondness for my book Madonna: Blonde Ambition, in which I christened her the ultimate "bitch goddess." I also loved my biography Aretha Franklin: Queen of Soul. I interviewed Aretha at her Detroit mansion, and in the middle of the interview she started cooking some chicken in her kitchen. When the chicken was fully cooked she suddenly announced, 'Chicken's done. Interview's over!' She had the maid show me to the door, and didn't share so much as a single chicken wing! I had obviously been dismissed by The Queen of Soul! I also loved my books about Cher and Patsy Cline as well. In Paperback Writer I took the opportunity to write something about all of them. I have had a fun and exciting career, and I captured it in Paperback Writer!

 

For more info on Mark Bego's books. visit www.Markbego.com

Over One Million Books Self-Published in the US in 2017

October 12, 2018

 

PR Newswire—In the US, more than one million books were self-published in 2017, breaking the record for the the total number of titles self-published in a year, according to a report published by Bowker.

 

Self-publishing in the US grew by 28% between 2016-2017, with a total of 1,009,188 self-published titles in 2017, up from 786,935 in 2016 with 8% growth from 2015-2016.

 

According to the report, self-published print books were up by 38% for 2017, driven by a 50% increase in ISBNs requested for books published using self-publishing platform CreateSpace.

 

Bowker data shows that self-published ebooks decreased by 13%, continuing a downward trend for the third consecutive year. However, Publishers Weekly notes that because Bowker's ebook data is based on ISBNs issued using its Identifier Services, the drop is likely due to more authors moving to Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) self-publishing platform, which issues its own Amazon ASIP identifiers. Although Amazon owns CreateSpace—which it will merge with KDP—Bowker still records the number of print books produced by CreateSpace, but KDP ebook titles do not appear in Bowker's data.

 

In light of the exclusion of Amazon's ebook data, Bowker's report showed that three platforms accounted for 88% of all self-published print and ebooks in 2017: CreateSpace, Smashwords and Lulu.

 

Since 2012 the number of ISBNs assigned to self-published titles has grown by 156%, due in large part to the increasing number of online self-publishing products and services, according to Bowker Identifer Services director Beat Barblan.

 

Barblan said: 'Self-publishing shows no signs of slowing down and continues to grow at a steady rate … Authors who set out to self-publish, market and distribute high-quality books now have more resources than ever.'

Book Club Stars Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen Share Their Favorite Books

 May 17, 2018

 

Can books change lives? The wine-sipping friends in the new movie Book Club say "Yes!" Book lovers in real life, Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen shared their favorite books in a Parade exclusive (and not one included 50 Shades of Grey, the movie's catalyst).


Drawn to Drama: "As a young girl, I was a big Nancy Drew person," says Candice Bergen, who'll be filming the reboot of her classic Murphy Brown TV series this summer. "The adult version is Michael Collins [author of the Dan Fortune series]." Most recently, she finished Matthew Weiner's Heather, the Totality. "I couldn't sleep afterwards," she said.


Strong Characters: An early fan of Pippi Longstocking, Steenburgen now shares the classic with her three granddaughters. "Pippi is strong and funny—a great role model for girls." Steenburgen loves reading to her grandchildren: "I have a rule that I never say no to a book." Recent adult read: A Gentleman in Moscow. "It's so good!"


Visual Inspiration: Keaton, who's also the author of several books, is obsessed with architecture and picture books, she says, like Rocks and Clouds by Mitch Epstein. When she looks at the books, "my mind is always racing with ideas," she says.


Life-Changing Reads: "Every time I'm in need of something, someone gives me a book that speaks to exactly what I need," says Fonda, who is a best-selling author herself. "When I was married to Ted Turner but knew the marriage wasn't going to last, I knew I wanted to write a book. A house guest brought me a gift—my first Anne Lamont book, Bird by Bird, a book about writing. Oh, my God—it meant so much to me."


Need more beach-reading inspiration? Find out what what's on the reading list this summer for author Ann Patchett, Emma Watson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey and more!

5 Female Fantasy Books Written by Women To Read In 2018

February 27, 2018

Displayed with permission from Newsweek

Mainstream geek culture is in the middle of a feminist revolution, most obviously in the world of comic book superheroes but also in the esoteric world of fantasy publishing. “I get a little emotional when I go into a bookstore these days and see so many fantasy books about women, written by women, on the shelves,” says Sarah Maas, author of the wildly popular Throne of Glass series. “Robin McKinley, Mercedes Lackey, Tamora Pierce and so many others all paved the way for us.”

If there is a godmother of what is becoming a pop culture moment, it’s Ursula K. Le Guin, who died at 88 in January. Best known for epic tales of sorcery, dragons and spaceships, LeGuin sold millions of copies of her Earthsea series—five novels that she began publishing in 1968. Inspired by the work of two male masters of the genre, J.R.R. Tolkien and Philip K. Dick, Le Guin was a passionate feminist who dramatically changed the way female fantasy and sci-fi characters were written—to the point where male writers like Neil Gaiman and Stephen King were influenced by her.

Fantasy and sci-fi have proved to be fertile ground for feminism (see Margaret Atwood and, in her way, J.K. Rowling), but double standards remain. No one, for example, would describe Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon as erotic or romantic, despite both being true of his 2002 science fiction novel. But if a woman had written the book, says Amy King, a board member of the feminist nonprofit Vida, it might have been “quarantined into specialized fiction or ‘chick lit.’”

Best-selling author Diana Gabaldon has talked about this, criticizing retailers, publishers and critics who label her Outlander series as romance instead of time-travel adventure, historical fiction or any of the many other genres she weaves into her novels. As a result, literary elites and mainstream publishers often dismiss books like hers, further widening the gender gap—this when 57 percent of paranormal and urban fantasy submissions are from women authors.

“The good thing is that people are now talking about the double standard,” says King, who sees a positive evolution. “We’re a little too close to it right now to see the big changes,” she says. “It’s like a diagonally climbing line that’s slow but steady.”

Hit TV series like Outlander (on Starz) and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu) have exposed the popularity of fantasy series with strong female characters and attracted more readers to the novels of authors like Maas, whose Throne of Glass is currently in development for Hulu. And there are more adaptations in the works, some for books that haven’t even hit store shelves yet.

Of the several dozen highly anticipated female-penned fantasy novels due in 2018, these are the five we’re most excited about.

High Voltage by Karen Marie Moning

This is the 10th novel in Moning’s epic paranormal series, Fever, which explores issues of mental health, consent and strength. This time, sword-wielding superhero Dani O’Malley is battling to save a postapocalyptic Dublin from a terrifying evil determined to enslave the human race. There will, per usual, be lots of sex, violence and Irish folklore. (March 6)

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

This West African–inspired fantasy debut will kick off a series called Legacy of Orisha, about a dark land where snow leopards prowl and vengeful spirits hide in the waters. Adeyemi, one of the first black authors to land mainstream book-to-movie deals within the fantasy genre, already has three upcoming novels being adapted into films. (March 6)

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

The third installment of Tahir’s Ember quartet promises to be the darkest yet. The standnarrative focuses on three protagonists—two warriors and a scholarly healer—with intertwining fates. Ancient powers will test core values and their ability to maintain empathy in the face of violence. In this world, love will always mean sacrifice. (June 12)

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah Maas

Maas calls the fourth installment of her Thrones of Glass series a spinoff: “There were still so many journeys that I wanted to take all these characters on,” she says. The thin volume, which takes place after the climactic battle of A Court of Wings and Ruin, returns to the mountainous Night Court and its cast of warriors. “It’s a story about beginning the road to healing after the final battle has been won,” says Maas. “It’s meant to be read as a bridge to the new books, but also just for the joy of it.” (May 1)

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Novik has a knack for creating richly layered fantasy worlds with complex social dynamics, ruthless rulers and epic plot twists; her poetic narratives often recast magical motifs in unexpected ways. (The first book in her Temeraire series, for example, is an alternate history of the Napoleonic wars that includes dragons.) This one, a stand-alone retelling of the Brothers Grimm’s “Rumpelstiltskin,” includes a feminist exploration of the politics of money. Whatever happens, it won’t be your grandmother’s fairy tale. (July 10)


James Patterson And How To Become A Bestselling Author Of Books

May 7, 2017

Displayed with permission from International Business Times

When we speak of bestsellers, we’re often referring to books that have sold fewer copies than one might think. By the estimation of award-winning author Donal Ryan, there are times when 300 sales might be enough to make a chart topper – the bestseller mantle tends to have more promotional than monetary value. Of course there are the literary blockbusters — titles like Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code — books that ship hundreds of millions of copies. But combine the sales of JK Rowling and Dan Brown, even throw in John Grisham, and you’re still lagging behind the sales figures of the world’s true bestselling author — James Patterson.

According to his publisher, Patterson has written no fewer than 114 New York Times bestsellers. His total bibliography is upwards of 150. He is, without doubt, one of the most prodigious literary figures that the world has ever seen.

Patterson’s success is unusual, in that he isn’t quite a household name; rather, he is a master of the airport novel, an author whose success has largely been achieved as a writer of commuter fiction. Patterson divides opinion: Stephen King describes his work as “terrible”, reviewers have deemed it “subliterate”; yet in 2015 he received the National Book Foundation’s Literarian Award for his philanthropic efforts in encouraging Americans to read.

Patterson’s prodigious output is accomplished through the use of collaborators: co-authors offered a chance to make their name under the tutelage of the world’s most commercially successful author. He is engagingly transparent about his process: co-authors work from a narrative framework provided by Patterson, who either then re-writes what they come up with or provides notes on bi-weekly drafts. The narrative frameworks he provides emerge from his understanding of the literary market, informed by his years of experience as an advertising executive. He has been described as a co-publisher, more of a brand than a writer. This is a distinction worth exploring, because it is Patterson’s name that looms largest on his covers.

Digital detectives

Using digital methods, if sufficient samples are available, the extent to which someone actively contributes to the actual words of a text can be tested. The field is called stylometry, and it has been previously used in author attribution studies involving popular figures like Harper Lee and JK Rowling.

A colleague and I applied stylometric methods to the work of Patterson in order to form an impression of how much he contributes to the writing of his books in terms of the actual words used. The results of the study show that, in each of the collaborative novels (we checked all where there was a relevant sample to test against – where the co-author had written individual texts), the dominant style is that of Patterson’s co-authors. This is quantitative evidence that, when collaborating with a junior party, Patterson’s contributions to the literary process are more concerned with plot than style. This isn’t a “gotcha!” moment: Patterson has always given the impression that he’s more about the plot. But it is confirmation that the world’s bestselling author may not principally be a writer.

At a superficial level, this tells us something about Patterson’s practices, how it is that he has managed to sustain such prolific output. But it also challenges notions of authorship — what is the significance of Patterson’s name on a dust-jacket? Is it mainly an endorsement, a valuable moniker which generates sales? Or is he properly seen as an author, just one who is attracted to the possibilities of narrative structure over those of language?

Patterson’s work might contain little to provoke the consideration of literary critics, but his restoration of the novel’s popular traditions — his approach to literary capitalism as both author and corporation, creator and trademark – gives us cause to query our own hierarchies relating to story and expression. After all, the novel’s 18th century beginnings are embedded in commercialism. Critics tend to value style over structure, yet the public are clearly drawn towards the latter. Is plot what makes an author, and style an artist?

All about story

The intention here is not to revive the tired debate between “high” and “low” art. Structure is rich in creative potential, and plot was essential to the novel long before movements like high modernism sought to subvert the popular by privileging style. At the same time, the role of the critic, and indeed, the reader, is to appreciate, interpret, and communicate that which is hidden in the nuances of artistic expression. One is unlikely to find an abundance of such nuances in a text that is all plot.

One could point to the film and music industries, where collaboration is the norm, in defence of Patterson’s approach. Most creative practices, certainly those that have been commodified, involve interaction with some form of producer or director. In the literary world, publishers and editors guide a manuscript before turning it into something tangible for dissemination. Patterson might be seen as a literary director, or even a producer, emulating the practices of contemporary ghostwriters or predecessors like Dumas, though this is something of an unfair comparison, considering Patterson’s 19th-century French counterpart was widely suspected of outright plagiarism, described as “only a myth”.

Patterson is all about story. He has turned the instruments of late capitalism to the task of commodifying storytelling. He is far from the first author to attempt such a commodification: King, Rowling, Stephenie Meyer and many other popular writers have privileged story over style. But Patterson is a curious figure among his peers, and our research suggests that “author” in its widely accepted sense isn’t always the most appropriate term for his role within the writing process.

Rare 'Harry Potter' Story Sells for £370,000

December 14, 2016

Displayed with permission from Newsweek

A rare Harry Potter story handwritten and illustrated by J.K. Rowling has sold for £370,000.

A manuscript for The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a book of short children’s stories mentioned in the final Harry Potter novel, The Deathly Hallows, was auctioned by Sotheby’s in London. It had been expected to sell for a figure between £300,000 and £500,000.

The book is just one of seven created and gifted by Rowling to those most intimately involved in the success of her books.

This particular copy belonged to Barry Cunningham, her first publisher.

The BBC reported that Rowling wrote all 6,000 words by hand and inscribed it with a message that reads: “"To Barry, the man who thought an overlong novel about a boy wizard in glasses might just sell… THANK YOU."

Cunningham said he would donate a portion of the proceeds to Rowling’s Lumos charity.

The collector’s item is bound in brown leather and features a sterling silver skull on the front.

Rowling gifted six copies of the manuscript in 2007 and auctioned a seventh for charity. Amazon bought it for £1.95 million.

A mass-manufactured copy of Beedle the Bard was released in 2008.

J.K.Rowling Confirms She is "Done" Writing About Harry Potter


August 1, 2016

J.K. Rowling has confirmed she is "done" writing about Harry Potter.

The 51-year-old author - who has become a multimillionaire after writing the book series - admitted new play 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' is the last story she will pen about the fictional wizard, 19 years after the first novel, 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' was published.

Speaking at London's Palace Theatre on the official launch day of the production, she said: "[Harry] goes on a very big journey during these two plays and, then, yeah, I think we're done.

"This is the next generation, you know. So, I'm thrilled to see it realized so beautifully but, no, Harry is done now."

The two-part play opened on Saturday in London and from yesterday (31.07.16) fans were able to purchase or download a copy of the script.

The play sees Harry as an "overworked" employee of the Ministry of Magic and centers on his and Ginny Weasley's son Albus and introduces several new characters.

It is set 19 years after the events of Rowling's final Potter book, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows', and also features an older Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.

J.K. recently pleaded with fans not to spoil the plot of the play for other Potter aficionados.
She said: "You've been amazing for years at keeping Harry Potter secrets so you don't spoil the books for readers who came after you.

"So I'm asking you one more time to keep secrets and let audiences enjoy 'Cursed Child' with all the surprises that we've built into the story.

"Potter fans have always had each other's backs."

'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' is also set to be staged on Broadway, the show's producer Colin Callender confirmed.

He said: "We've got to take a very big breath now and get through the weekend.
"Then we'll deal with what the next stage looks like - and hopefully Broadway will be part of that."

Authors Guild Dinner Recognizes Suzanne Collins, Children’s Literature

May 26, 2016

The Authors Guild recognized Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins with its Distinguished Service to the Literary Community honor at its annual dinner on May 25 in New York City. The annual dinner benefits both the Authors Guild Foundation and Authors League Fund, and marked the first time that the event highlighted children’s literature.

Collins accepted the award with a speech that addressed the impetus for her work. As a child, she was influenced by her father, who “loved the Socratic method more than Socrates,” and recounted an event in which she found a penny on the ground, and in asking her father if she could keep it, was sucked in to a long conversation on whether such an act was right. Ultimately, however, the morality of taking something not rightly yours dawned on her, when he asked, “Does it benefit you to live in a world in which someone takes this penny?”

That driving question, “Does it benefit you to live in a world in which…”, inspired her to create the Hunger Games series, which investigates poverty and just war theory. Whether or not children can understand this is irrelevant to Collins – “no adult author has ever said, ‘And everyone got exactly what I intended,’ ” though she does feel that children are introduced too late to these weighty concepts, and therefore to nonviolent solutions to acts of war and atrocity.

Following Collins’s speech, children’s authors rounded out the evening’s program. Magic Tree House author Mary Pope Osborne paid tribute to former Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken, who died of ALS in January. Following her tribute, three children’s authors, chosen by Collins herself, shared why they write for children.

However, at no point during the evening’s speeches did The Phantom Tollbooth author Norton Juster, Percy Jackson and the Olympians creator Rick Riordan, and Scholastic editor and author Andrea Davis Pinkney ever seem to be apologists for children’s literature. Rather, all three authors shared a sense of joy in doing their work along with the opportunities that writing for children affords in affecting real change in the world. Collins’s sentiment echoed throughout the evening in her statement that in writing for children, “I found an audience on which I could really have an impact.”

J.K. Rowling Reveals Her Favorite Harry Potter Character

April 12, 2016

J.K. Rowling has revealed her favourite 'Harry Potter' character is Professor Dumbledore.


The author of the books about wizard Harry Potter's wizarding adventures was chatting to fans on Twitter on Monday (11.04.16) when she was posed the big question and despite having Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Harry, Rubeus Hagrid and even Dobby - the loyal house elf - to choose from, she settled on the head teacher of Hogwarts, whose full name is Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

Asked by one of her followers on the social media site, "Besides Harry, who is your favorite character in the series?" she wrote back: "Dumbledore."

Professor Dumbledore guided the young Harry Potter through his battles with his greatest adversary Voldermort and was the Head of the Transfiguration department and a member of the Order of The Phoenix.


The character was depicted by Richard Harris and then Michael Gambon in the film adaptations and fans were left devastated when he met his death at the end of 'Half-Blood Prince'.

However, the new trailer for the upcoming prequel movie 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' which stars Eddie Redmayne as central character Newt Scamander, has teased that Dumbledore will be brought to life once more, after Colin Farrell's character Graves said his name.

JK Rowling Teases Harry Potter Fans

March 7, 2016

J.K. Rowling has teased Harry Potter fans ahead of the release of 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'.

The 50-year-old author has announced the unveiling of a four part original series, titled 'The History of Magic in North America', on Pottermore.

A post on the website reads: "The first instalment of this exciting new series is called ‘History of Magic in North America’ and will be published on Pottermore in four pieces, starting tomorrow at 2pm GMT. Another piece will be revealed each day at 2pm until Friday 11 March.

"You’ve got four days of new writing by J.K. Rowling to look forward to - as always, remember to breathe."

The four stories support the release of the hotly-anticipated movie in November, which stars Eddie Redmayne and is set 70 years before the initial Harry Potter stories began.


The message continues: "We were able to share with you the name of the North American wizarding school earlier this year, but there’s just so much more to tell you about witches and wizards across the world.

"'Magic in North America' will bring to light the history of this previously unexplored corner of the wizarding world in the run up to 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'. And you’ll want to get up to speed before the film comes around in November."

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Harper Lee Has Died at Age 89

February 19, 2016

Nelle Harper Lee, the iconic American author who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961 for her book, To Kill a Mockingbird, has died at the age of 89 in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, as confirmed by her publisher HarperCollins to the New York Times.

The news of Lee’s death comes just months after the release of the sequel for To Kill a Mockingbird, titled Go Set a Watchman, which broke sales records and became a literary event.

Lee was born on April 26, 1926 to lawyer Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee, inspiring her now landmark character Atticus Finch in Mockingbird, which went on to sell over 10 million copies.

The youngest of four children, Lee spent her childhood and career close to home in her small town in Alabama, her elementary school just blocks away from her house.

“I was born in a little town called Monroeville, Alabama, on April 28, 1926,” she said in a 1964 interview. “I went to school in the local grammar school, went to high school there, and then went to the University of Alabama. That’s about it, as far as education goes.”

A Few Annoying Things Beginning Writers Say...

Since every literate person can write, most people think they can be writers. Interestingly enough, we all can speak quite well, but few of us would deem ourselves ‘speakers.’ However, this prevalent belief encourages beginners to say the oddest things that make professional writers want to cringe (or preferably strangle them with a thin wire). If you find yourself saying the following, please stop:

1. “I can write a book in a weekend.”

I’m certain you can mutilate a couple hundred pages with words; however, that doesn’t mean that anyone will want to read them. Yes, I know there are prolific writers who can write a book in two weeks (Voltaire supposedly wrote Candide in three days). Usually they are professionals who have mastered a style and understand the craft of writing. Have you?

2. “I can write those ‘trashy’ books and make tons of money.”

Bwahaha! I love this one.

Many new writers see a 200-page romance or mystery and scoff. These things are so easy, they tell themselves. I can write this in a day. I doubt it, but maybe you can. If you do, will anyone pay you to read it? That is the difference. Those who sell in these genres usually have a passion for the craft that translates onto the page. Hate romance? Think mysteries are ridiculous? Believe sci-fi is for loonies? Then don’t write it, editors and especially readers can tell.

3. “If this crap gets published, I bet I could get a contract in six months.”

Define crap. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Don’t be arrogant and think the world should concede to your every taste (that’s what critics are for). Every writer is not meant for every reader. Just because you don’t like a book doesn’t mean it’s not good. It’s just not good for you. I don’t like okra; however, that doesn’t mean I need to start an anti-okra campaign. Diversity is what makes life interesting.

Okay, okay you’re not talking about taste. You’re talking about horrible, poorly written books. Yes, I know there are some truly bad books out there. Here’s the hard truth. Some bad books (poor grammar, poor structure and poor execution of a plot simpler than a fairy tale) get published. I have plenty of dents in my wall from an effective toss. However, these books are probably ‘placement’ books to fill a hole in a publishing list. Usually, these books sink and their authors are rarely heard from again.

Unfortunately, the existence of these books convinces people that getting their book published should be a breeze. Sure, and every person with a dream to sing will become the next International Idol. Is it fair? No. Do they care? No.

4. “I can write better than that.”

If you can, shut up and write. Nobody wants to hear about it. It’s as annoying as listening to someone explain what they would do if they ruled the world.

Harper Lee is Proof That There Are Second Acts in American Lives

Displayed with permission from Toronto Star

Unless Alabama lightning strikes twice and another lost manuscript is found, the beloved Nelle Harper Lee will publish her second — and last — novel this week. It’s a literary event a long time coming.

The elusive author of To Kill a Mockingbird is now 89 and in failing health. Her American classic on bigotry, injustice and courage was published in 1960, bringing her riches beyond imagining and fame beyond her ability to cope. Fifty years ago, though reportedly continuing to write, she withdrew from public life and has not published since.

Lee was born in 1926, the youngest of four children, a shy, non-conformist tomboy. When she was 5, a boy named Truman Streckfus Persons moved in next door. The world would come to know him as Truman Capote. The two odd ducks became fast friends, the feisty girl protector of the delicate boy. They observed life in their small town, Monroeville, spun stories to each other in a tree house and banged some out on an anvil-like old Underwood given them by Nelle’s father.

After high school Lee dabbled at college, writing for school publications, trying law to placate her father and making few friends before deciding to go to New York in 1949 to become a writer. Through the ’50s, she juggled odd jobs, completing a handful of stories by 1956. That Christmas, friends gave her the gift of financial support so she could take a year off to write. In short order, she produced the first 50 pages of a novel she called Go Set a Watchman. Over the next two years, working in her New York apartment and returning regularly to Alabama, she rewrote and revised the manuscript into what became Mockingbird.

The novel was published in June 1960, with Lee expecting critics to give it a quick death. Instead, it quickly became a Literary Guild selection and a Reader’s Digest condensed book. Within weeks, it was on bestseller lists. In its first year, it sold more than 2.5 million copies, becoming a staple of high school English classes. Lee won the Pulitzer Prize. A movie version starring Gregory Peck was nominated for eight Academy Awards.

To reporters asking about her plans for a second book, Lee said: “I guess I will have to quote Scarlett O’Hara on that. ‘I’ll think about that tomorrow.’”

The literary world, even in moments of success, is not for the thin-skinned. Some critics said Lee hadn’t so much written a novel as given fictional names to people she knew in Monroeville. In Mockingbird, Truman became Dill, just as Atticus Finch was based on Lee’s lawyer father. The town courthouse had a balcony from which Nelle and Truman would watch him at work. The town’s ramshackle Boleware place became Boo Radley’s house.

There were persistent rumours, too, that Capote had actually written the book. When his own classic, In Cold Blood, came out, Nelle — who had been his researcher, and some thought his unacknowledged co-writer — felt slighted at his lack of acknowledgment.

In 1964, beleaguered by speaking requests and endless inquiries about a new novel that wouldn’t come, Lee gave her last interview. As her novel claimed an exalted place in the American canon, she receded from public view, living quietly in New York and Monroeville. In the past two decades, two biographies of Lee appeared, neither of them authorized. It seemed that, despite her best efforts, fascination with the writer who gave the world Scout and Boo and Atticus endured.

Then, in February this year, it was announced that Lee’s lawyer, checking on the original manuscript of Mockingbird, discovered attached to it a complete second book.

Go Set a Watchman, written before Mockingbird but set 20 years later during the turmoil of the civil rights movement, with Scout Finch an adult, will be published on July 14.

Back in 1963, when her first novel was a literary sensation, Lee was asked how her next book was coming.

“Well, I hope to live to see it published,” she said.

7 Tips To Boost Your eBook Sales

More and more publishing success stories these days are coming from eBook publishers as compared to those who deal in print books. As a result, the number of eBook writers has gone up drastically. Though it may seem lucrative to write your own eBook and sell it, making enough sales to earn good money is not as easy as it seems. You need to learn and implement the right techniques and methods to promote your eBook. Here are some tips you should remember when seeking to boost your eBook sales. 

1. Have a professional cover design
Hopefully, you have used the right tools to format and edit your eBook. The next step now is ensuring that the cover itself captures a prospective buyer’s attention immediately. The cover design is a very big factor in determining how well you promote your eBook. 

The first thing is to have a professional create the design (unless you are one yourself). Look online for some of the best eBook cover designs and then use these ideas to help an expert create what you want. 

Of course a professional designer will cost money but do not compromise on this. It is an investment you have to make if at all you want to earn from your work. 

2. Sell your eBook on different stores
Amazon may have a lot of prospective customers, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Submit your eBook to multiple stores to make sure that it gets as much exposure as possible. Even small online stores will substantially add to your total revenue. 

3. Give it away for free
For a writer, it is extremely important to have a loyal following. If you are writing your first book, getting this audience is a big challenge. One way of going about it is by giving the eBook away for free for a limited period of time. Even better, you can give your first book away for free and then use the gained following to make huge sales with your subsequent books. 

Free giveaways can also help you gauge the success of the eBook and give you an idea of how much you can earn from it. 

4. Get it reviewed
A good review can make all the difference in terms of eBook sales. There are sites that provide eBook reviews. Submit your work here. In addition, get satisfied readers and eBook stores to give their testimonials about the eBook. 

If it is possible, find a well known author to also write a short review. This will give you a lot more exposure and more people will trust you. 

5. Optimize your sales pages
Whether you are selling your eBook on Amazon or anywhere else, make sure that your sales page is highly appealing. Fill it with quotes from your eBook, reviews from customers and testimonials. Tell people what to expect and make them anticipate reading your work. 

It is advisable to incorporate search engine optimization (SEO) into your sales page to make it easier for people to find it online. 

6. Interact with your readers
It is very important to connect with your readers, both current and prospective. The best way to do this is through forums and social media networks. This interaction will also attract other people and multiply your following. 

7. Be careful about the pricing
You may have done everything perfectly well up to this point but then mess up when it comes to putting a price on your eBook. Generally EBooks are priced much lower than printed books due to the lower production cost. In fact, the low prices have been instrumental in driving up the popularity and success of eBooks. 

So be careful not to overprice it such that people don’t buy it. Ideally, eBooks are sold under $10. For fiction, it should be under $7. The most favorably price range especially for new writers is between $0.99 and $2.99. This way, you will sell enough books to get good returns. 

Once your first eBook becomes a success, don’t stop there, publish another one. The more quality work you have the easier it will be to find you and the bigger the following you will have. Most importantly, don’t forget to always communicate and interact with your readers. Create a community within which people can share and even spread word about your books. This way, not only will you be able to sell your eBooks, but also create awareness about your work. 

Fan Fiction Writer Gets Six Figure Book Deal

I just love to read about how internet sensation first-time authors like Anna Todd make it big. In 2013 her erotic-tinged fan-fiction racked up over one billion online reads and captivated readers around the world. It all started on where else but Wattpad. As the story goes, she got hooked on reading romantic serialized fictional stories about One Direction. Before long she was writing her own about a female college freshman who gets involved with a handsome, tattooed, tousled-haired hunk named Harry Styles (which later was changed to Hardwin Scott). Understandingly, angry One Direction fans through social media threatened the author, so she had no choice but to change the name for new version. "After" is now a three book series.

Only time will tell if a "print version" (Simon and Schuster) which sells for $16 will be as successful as the original story which remains on Wattpad for free.

From Rolling Stone:
British boy-band singer Harry Styles can check “inspiring a work of literature” off his bucket list: the One Directioner star has allowed a 25-year-old writer to go from fan fiction scribe to six-figure published author.

Styles stars as a barely-disguised version of himself in 25-year-old novelist Anna Todd’s debut erotic novel, After, which hit stores this week. Todd began writing the sexy fan fiction – which involves a college freshman who falls for and has kinky times with a guy named Harry Styles – on free writing site Wattpad last year. But what started as a few chapters has grown into a 2,500-page epic novel that earned the Ohio native a six-figure publishing deal from Simon and Shuster imprint Gallery Books.

The first of four installments will be around 500 pages and will feature more cleaned-up prose and longer sex scenes than After’s online incarnation, plus a name-change from Harry Styles to Hardin Scott. Each subsequent book in the series will come out quickly thereafter, with novels expected in November, December and February, according to the New York Times. It’s safe to discern that Gallery is making a run at the rabid masses that made E.L. James’ thinly-veiled Twilight fan fiction 50 Shades of Grey a worldwide literary smash.

Importance Of Self Promotion

Promoting yourself is as important as writing your novel. It’s important to get your name out there, and allow people a sample of your work. People can’t buy what they don’t know about. Not only is promoting an important step of the publishing process, it’s a vital element to any writers career.

In the age of the information superhighway known as the internet, there are many opportunities to promote your work. It’s important that you utilize a good mix of all of them to maximize your exposure to readers. Why not take advantage of the vast resources available for little to no cost.

Blogging is a great way for an author to interact with readers. Services such as Myspace, Ning, LiveJournal, Yahoo 360 and Bebo are great services that allow you to customize the message you want your readers to see. You can post updates, excerpts, contests and more for your readers. When using these services it’s important to remember interacting with those on your list is important and more likely to earn you a fan base than simply hard selling your work.

Review sites are phenomenal places to get exposure for your book, gain a fan base and allow others, specifically the reviewer, to offer an unbiased opinion of your book. It’s important to get your piece to as many reviewers as possible. There are many readers out there who consult these review sites when making choices about new books and new authors. Don’t feel left out, utilize their services.

MSN and Yahoo offer the option to create and join in many groups on many different subjects. There are hundreds of groups out there specific to reading and writing. There are critique groups, promotions groups and just general chat groups. Often you will find that publishers have groups as well. This is a great way to network with other authors and publishers. These groups tend to be very active and provide a lot of information that can be useful and necessary to the aspiring author.

Finally don’t forget the power of building your own website. Not only can you customize this specifically for you, you can give extensive information about your releases, you and projects you are working on. Often you’ll find people in the writing community would like to have your website address. This is important because it provides readers a link to you. You can start a blog on your page, you can run contests on your page, you can post excerpts of your work. Ultimately, the importance of a website is giving your reader a way to connect with you.

Success as a writers is dependent on your skills at self promotion. There are so many avenues out there for exposure it is simple, cost free and often a lot of fun. Remember that readers can’t find you if they don’t know about you. So make it a point to put yourself out there and let people know who you are.

Your Personal Home Library

My idea of the perfect home library. But will there ever be enough room for all my decades of collected books?

We write and we write well. At least we hope that we do. Still, we writers need our own library of “go to” books to help us write with strength, market our wares, and simply to inspire us to greater works. I’ve compiled a brief list of useful books for the serious article writer’s library. Some I own, while others I plan on buying.

The Chicago School of Style, 15th Edition – Considered by English speaking authors as “the Bible” of proper grammar usage and style, this 950 plus page reference book is everything you need to have on hand when you simply are not sure about punctuation, grammar, spelling, etc. Surprisingly, the book is not stuffy as it allows serious writers some flexibility with the rules. If you have been writing for some time, you know that rules do change. I was shocked when even the Chicago School started a sentence with “and” in it. Oh me, oh my!

Guerilla Marketing For Writers — I am very curious about this title as I have seen reference to it on various writers’ web sites. Essentially “Guerilla Marketing” espouses the need for writers [particularly book authors] to spend as much as 33% of their time marketing. Hmmm…writing in and of itself is so involved. Who has the time?

Writer’s Market — Every year since this reference book was first issued in 1921, the Writer’s Market has served writers in finding places where they can submit their work for payment. The book lists contact information, submission guidelines, and tips on all the who/what/when/where/why of the “word” industry.

Random House Webster’s Pocket Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation Guide Okay, I admit it. When I don’t feel like lugging the “Chicago Style” around, this Random House book meets most of my needs. 300 power packed pages that will easily fit in your laptop carrying case, purse, or suit jacket pocket.

No, I rarely use a dictionary anymore nor do I rely on a thesaurus. Everything I need is right online or part of my Word program. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely a 21st century writer who manages to write, edit, rewrite, submit and accomplish a multitude of related tasks from the ease of my laptop computer. No pencil and paper for me, except when lounging by the river or down at the beach. Oh, for more of those types of experiences!

These Romance Writers Ditched Their Publishers For Ebooks—and Made Millions

I really liked what author Heather Hart at TrainingAuthors.com has to say about reclaiming our dreams as authors. By day I once worked as editorial director for a fast-paced entertainment/teen publishing house. Yes, it has been my dream job for more than 20 years now, but it is such a grind! By the time I get home, I can barely squeeze out 1,000 words for whatever book I am working on. I recently signed yet another book contract and I know have to deliver the goods. I've been doing this juggling act for far too many years than I care to admit. Yeah, I wish I could devote more time to writing books, but real life comes first. If you are working a demanding day job and feeling overwhelmed, don't give up on your author dream. Make being a success your main goal. I learned it just may take a little longer than you may have expected. But it will be well worth it.—MAC

In early 2010, things weren’t going very well for San Francisco-based romance novelist Bella Andre. Brick-and-mortar bookstores were shutting down in large numbers, and after seven years, eight books and two publishers, she learned she had been axed from her latest contract.

“I was hanging on by my fingernails,” says Andre, 41, who was trying to carve out a niche in contemporary romance. Peers advised her to try a different pen name, to change genres, to write anything but love stories. With a degree in economics from Stanford University and a background in music, she wasn’t short on career options.

Then a friend suggested she look into self-publishing. At the time, Amazon.com’s (AMZN) direct publishing platform, which allows just about anyone to publish and sell their books online, was beginning to gain traction among professional writers. After years of bending her stories to the will and opinions of publishers, editors and literary agents, Andre found the prospect of having complete autonomy over her material very appealing.

“As an author, I was not high up on the publishing food chain and [my ideas] were rarely ever listened to,” she says. “I took my friend’s advice and I dove right into self-publishing.”

Take Back Your Dreams by Heather Hart


How To Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal

Here's some useful tips that I recently found online that may help you out if you are trying to write your first nonfiction book proposal.

A great nonfiction book proposal is the key to convincing an acquisition editor you deserve a substantial advance and getting your book published.

What should be included in a book proposal?

Concept:

A brief, no more than one page description about why your book is unique.

Market:

Who will buy your book and why. Include the demographics of your potential readers and how many of them there are. If you can, quote statistics, such as baseball is the most often viewed sport on TV with x million people watching. Or x number of people attend arts and crafts shows a year. Or $xxx dollars of revenues are generated by customers buying garden tools. Whatever is relevant to your book’s topic.

Competition:

Similar books that have been published in the last year or that will be coming out soon. You can get an idea of soon-to-be published books by going to amazon.com, and searching under key words. When you get a listing of books that you think are similar to yours, then rank by publication date.

Include the title, author, ISBN, and a brief description. Then state why your book is better or what your book addresses that the competition doesn’t.

Go to the library and read currently available books you feel are competitive to yours. Again include the title, author, ISBN, and a brief description. Then state why your book is better or what your book addresses that the competition doesn’t.

All books have competitors.

Promotion:

What you will do for promotion. How will you market your book? Be specific. If you are willing to give seminars or speak at events, try to line up a few. Publishers want authors that actively market their own books. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend money, but it does mean you have to expend effort.

About The Author:

Pretty self explanatory. What makes you the best author to write this book. This is not a resume; include what is relevant to the topic of the book. If you have previous books published list them, with a short description.

Media Placement:

Any newspaper or magazine articles you’ve been featured in. Include articles that you’ve written and have published. Offline, hard copy publications are better than online. Online is better than nothing. Plan ahead and in the months while you’re working on your book proposal see if you can get a few articles placed. If you have just a few, include clippings. If you have more than a few, list the publication, date, title of the article. Writing a book makes you an expert in the eyes of the media, but you have to let them know you’re available.

Endorsements:

If you can get a well known authority figure, expert, celebrity or author to give you an endorsement, or to commit to an endorsement, it puts you ahead in the game.

Chapter Outline or Synopsis:

Two to four pages. Each chapter is listed and the subheadings with a brief description, a paragraph or two explaining what will be included in the chapter.

Sample Chapter:

It doesn’t have to be the first chapter. Pick the chapter you’re most excited to write, or that you are the most knowledgeable about. The editor will judge the quality of your writing by this chapter.

The proposal not including the sample chapter can run from 10 to 20 pages.

Resources:

Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why, 2nd Edition, Jeff Herman, Deborah Levine Herman.

Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write: How to Get a Contract and Advance Before Writing Your Book, Elizabeth Lyon, Natasha Kern

Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction–and Get It Published, Susan Rabiner, Alfred Fortunato