.

.

Monday, March 31, 2014

My father was right. Nike is right. Just do it, dammit.


When I was 24 years old, I discussed a business idea with my father. I asked him if he thought I should try it. He said he didn’t know if I’d succeed, but he did know that if I didn’t try it, for the rest of my life I’d wonder what would have happened if I did try it.

If you wonder what will happen if you write and publish a book—try it! The risk is low and the potential benefit is huge.

Words are toys for me. As a writer, I get paid to have fun. Writing books and blogs is probably the second best way for a man to make money. I'm nearly 68, so I have little chance of employment as a gigolo. (Anyway, wife Marilyn has an exclusive contract for my intimate services.)

If I can publish books, so can others. (And, of course, my books can help.)

There's no reason to wait until next year, next week or tomorrow to start a book. Just do it -- NOW.
  • Be innovative.
  • Be productive.
  • Be useful.
  • Change the world.
  • Let off steam.
  • Have fun.
  • Fill empty hours.
  • Make people laugh.
  • Make people cry.
  • Make people think.
  • Make money.
  • Get famous. Maybe get laid more often. Maybe get better tables in restaurants or free upgrades to first class when you fly.
  • Don't be afraid to piss people off. What you think of yourself is more important than what others think of you. Write to please yourself.
  • It's nice if your words cause others to smile, say "thanks" and pay money; but self-satisfaction is more important. Not everyone has to "get" you. Even a small, happy audience can be satisfying. One good review can make your day.
Don't leave the keyboard until you're satisfied with what you've written, because you never know which words will be your last words.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Authors: Every word you write is an audition. Don't let readers think you're an idiot.


Every word a writer writes must be considered to be an audition, a tryout, part of a competition, the equivalent of a performance on America's Got Talent, American Idol, etc.

It would be a shame to turn off prospective readers and lose book sales because of silly, easily corrected errors. Read, re-read, and re-re-read everything you write.

A while ago I read a writer's blog.
  • The writer said that someone "range" [rang] the doorbell, wore "sheek" [chic] clothing and that something is "cheep" [cheap].
  • This person also wrote "nation-wide" [nationwide], "main stream" [mainstream], "self published" [self-published] and more.
  • This person mentioned "the hard work of revising and polishing" a book.
The blog deserved similar hard work. (Confession: I am not perfect, but I try to be. Some people don't try.)

It's important that those of us who have writing careers never go "off-duty." We must produce professional-caliber work all of the time, even if it's just a 20-word Tweet or a three-word reply to an email. Never excuse your own sloppiness. Never say, "It's only an email," "it's only Facebook" or "it's only a blog."

Words intended to promote your books deserve and require extra attention to spelling and grammar. Search for improper punctuation or wrong words. Insert words and punctuation marks that may be in your mind but not on the screen. Make sure everything makes sense. Delete material that may be juvenile, unprofessional, irrelevant or distracting.

Here are some online comments I recently read from authors:
  1. I am interesting in your opinion of my new book.
  2. my new book shall be available soon a true story I am a first time writer who went for the self publishing road e book and pod I am looking forward to the launch date shall be announce soon.I shall keep you all posted. many thanks for reading this article for an extract from my book go to my blog page
  3. It's about a girl, Julien, that's trying to adjust to life in a new place after her parents divorced. Just as she is starting to settle in, an "attack" by a Breaker, a person who can enter a persons mind and control thoughts and actions, shakes the town. Before she knows it, her life takes a difficult turn and it could be more than she can handle. Again, you reading it would be super kick ass
  4. For a short period of time the ebook addition will be on sale for only 99 cents.
  5. It seems no one will ever run out of questions about ISBN's - least of all me!
    When you fill in your short & long descriptions on your
    ISBN numbers
  6. I've published an analogy
  7. My first novel, Darkness Forbidden, was published in December on Kindle the paperback should be released shortly.
  8. In the early 90s, Sheila and I selling my art at malls and arts & craft shows, decided to create a few in-demand original titles 
  9. they should have went with Vantage
  10. I need some good honest and reallistic advice. I used AuthorHouse to publish my historical fiction and was very unhappy with their work. I want to format the book myself and then find a link to a POD arrangement bor printing.
  11. Author presently resides in Easton, Pennsylvania and remains in close contact with his family members. Who cares? Is this a reason to buy the book?
  12. The writers adventures as both a military officer and quality professional add greatly to the writings contained in this epic tail of adventure.
  13. My book and movie is going to catch the world on fire! 
  14. Myself and two other authors in the same genre are thinking of . . . 

- - - - -

Even alleged publishing 'pros' make stupid mistakes for the world to see:

  1. Outskirts Press founder Brent Sampson wrote that Roget's Thesaurus was published by Peter Mark (actually, Peter Roget published it), confused a foreword with a preface, and misspelled "offset." Brent advises that "Errors in your writing cause readers to question your credibility."  He's right about that.
  2. Lulu founder Bob Young misspelled "misspell" and confused "less" and "fewer." A publisher should know better. 

keyboard photo is Microsoft clip art

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I don't fancy "fancy"

In the past I've complained about old-fashioned words like "dungarees" and "tennis shoes" which sometimes pop up in 21st-century conversation and writing.

One particularly quaint term that should have been put to sleep before the dawn of the 20th century is "fancy."

I'm not talking about the basic adjective meaning the opposite of "plain," i.e., decorated or ornamental.

And I don't mind uses such as "fancy foods," meaning high quality victuals, er... food.

What I can't stand is when the word is used to imply liking something. (Maybe it's related to being a "fan" or 'fanatic.")


If I close my eyes, I can visualize scenes in TV and movie westerns. A thirsty and dusty cowpoke ties up his horse in front of a saloon. He goes inside and walks up to the bar. The bartender says, "Howdy, stranger, what'll it be?"

The cowboy responds, "I've been on the trail for a week and have a powerful thirst." The helpful bartender says, "How about a tall, cool sarsaparilla? We just got a barrel from back east."

The cowboy dismisses the suggestion with, "I don't fancy that. Gimme something stronger!"





One of the dumbest magazine names is Dog Fancy. It has a feline companion called Cat Fancy














A few years ago the mags were modernized, and the unfashionable "Fancy" was printed in significantly reduced type size -- about 50 years late!



Strangely, the small fancy experiment was short lived, and "fancy" came back to full size.


I encountered what has to be the absolutely worse use of the term at an "Inventors Show" at the New York Coliseum in 1970. Various scientists, engineers, dreamers and lunatics paid to rent space to display what they though might change the world and make them rich.

One guy was showing some experimental hi-fi equipment. His business card had his name, and the ancient and redundant phrase "Fancier in Audio Sound."

Fancy that.

----
Saloon illustration from http://fineartamerica.com/featured/saloon-keeper-valerian-ruppert.html

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Book plagiarism or AMAZING coincidences?




I am researching typography for a book I am writing called Typography for Independent Publishers.

I own about 100 books related to publishingOne my favorites is The Non-Designers Design & Type Books, by Robin Williams (no, not Mork-from-Ork Robin Williams).

Below is part of a scan of one page:

(left-click to enlarge)
The highlighted text made sense to me, but it seemed strangely familiar. I took a look at one of my other favorite books about books, Book Design & Production by Pete Masterson.

(left-click to enlarge)



Yup -- it's about 95% the same thing.

This seemed really strange. The same sentence appears in two copyrighted books that are sort of competitors. It was strange enough to motivate me to do a Google search, and I found this:

(left-click to enlarge)

Yup -- here are those words again, this time in a teaching tool produced by a teacher at a big high school in Texas.

And if that's not enough, I also found the same text on a website operated by the South Newton School Corporation in Indiana. It was apparently copied, but the homepage shows:  "Copyright © 2011 South Newton."

(left-click to enlarge)

And, of course there's more.

I have no idea who wrote the sentence first, but without attribution the same text can't have multiple valid copyrights. I wonder if the school teachers who have apparently copied the material from another source would approve of a student submitting a term paper with text copied directly from Wikipedia.

Most writers do research. I read lots of book in fields I'm interested in, and try to distill what others have said and then REPHRASE IT IN MY OWN WORDS and try to add my own insights and discoveries.
  • With the Internet, if you copy and publish someone else's work you must assume that someone will notice. (It takes big balls to steal intellectual property but it takes a small brain to exhibit the stolen material where millions can see it. I've caught more than 100 copycats of my own work.)
  • Back when I was a journalism major at Lehigh I was taught never to copy more than four consecutive words without attribution. That's good advice.
  • My own research technique may be imperfect. If I have been an accidental copycat in my 40-plus years of writing, I hereby apologize.
Image at top from Akaniji. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Are these the two most disgusting bits of literature ever published?


Would you want to read any more of Rainbow Gliding Hawk and the Last Stand of the Patriarch by Doug Lambeth after encountering the first page of the first chapter?

The vomit warmth reaches through the shiny leather and as my toes begin to sweat, I pray that rental tuxedo shoes are water/puke proof. I wonder if they’re Gore-tex lined? “It’s just puke,” I say, and to punctuate the point Dirk retches his remaining stomach contents onto my feet.



The next gem is from The Wayward Comrade and the Com­missars, by Yurii Karlovich Olesha.

How pleasant my life is. Ta-ra. Ta-ra. My bowels are elastic. Ra-ta-ta. Ta-ra-ree. My juices flow within me. Ra-tee-ta. Doo-da-da. Con­tract, guts, contract. Tram-ba-ba-boom! (I wrote a book report on this one when I was in junior high school.)

It's probably best to minimize the disgusting stuff unless you're writing for doctors or children.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Is this the worst book ever published?


(left-click to enlarge)

This overpriced, unprofessional, ugly and weird book was ranked #10,125,019 by Amazon.com this morning.
  • That means that more than ten million books have sold better than it has.
  • It may be the absolute worst-selling book on Amazon.
  • Based on its title, cover, formatting and writing, it may also be the absolute worst book ever published.
  • I would not be surprised if its sales have been ZERO.
  • It was published by AuthorHouse (part of pathetic pay-to-publish behemoth Author Solutions) -- a self-publishing company with just two requirements for publication: blood pressure above zero, and money to buy a publishing package.
  • AuthorHouse brags that it "assigns each author a personal publishing consultant, who provides guidance throughout the self publishing process." I'd like to see the IQ test and eye test for the consultant who guided the author of this trash.

Originally I thought this book was a spoof, a scam, a con job -- published by pranksters to demonstrate the low standards of AuthorHouse. I thought it was like the deliberately bad books published through PublishAmerica: Atlanta Nights by “Travis Tea” (travesty) and The Crack of Death by “Sharla Tann” (charlatan).

Sadly, this book is real.

In the past I've stated that I don’t believe in prior censorship or the licensing of writers or publishers. Unfortunately, the ease of publication means that a lot of worthless crap gets published, and this is probably the best example. Based on this book I may support pre-publication testing and licensing. I am certain that MS. ELIYZABETH YANNE STRONG-ANDERSON would flunk the test.

This book has 648 huge 8.5 x 11-inch pages and a $150 cover price. Amazon discounts it to $114.48, but it's available for just $75 on the AuthorHouse website. That's $74 too high.


No lowercase letters are used in the book.

What follows is a sample of the text, and some "author" info. Keep your barf bag handy.


ARE YOU BARREN AND DISGUSTED?? OR BIRTH CONTROLING AND BUSTED?? THESE QUESTIONS IS >ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CHAPTERS IN THIS BOOK: > REVEALING > THE SINS OF THE CHURCHES: REVEALING: HOW *THE SINS BIRTH CONTROL IN OUR CHRISTIAN MARRIAGES AND IN THE WORLD MARRIAGES EVEN IN SINFUL SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS: HAS CALLED WORLD SIN IN ADULTERY AND FORNICATING RELATIONSHIP AND FALSE CHRIST LEADERSHIP.

THE PIT OF SPIRITUAL WHOREDOM BECAME OPEN AND THE CAUSE OF ORGANIZED CRIME IN OUR GOVERNMENT AND WORLD LEADERSHIP

THE YEAR OF 1994. THE MILITARY HELP DESTROY MY MARRIAGE OF 17 YEARS. FALSE CHRIST LEADERSHIPS BEGAN TO FORM ON TELEVISION.

BECAUSE OF SPIRITUAL SEDUCING SINS. AND SPIRITUAL DARKNESS IN OUR CHURCHE LEADERSHIP.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT: BIRTH CONTROL IS ONE OF THE MAJOR REASON: WHY HUMANS HAVE FALLEN FAILED COMES COMMANDMENTS: AND NOW THEY HAVE BECOME: WARFUL AGAIN: HEARTLESS AND SINFULLY PERSECUTING CHRISTIANS AND HOLY PEOPLE IN MANY COUTRIES. ** SINFULLY STARTING PERSECUTIONS AND RACISM: THROUGH EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATIONS. **RESULTING IN GREED AND EVIL: EVEN WORLD WHOREDOM: CAUSING > HOMOSEXUAL AND GAY SINS: USING THE MEDIA OF TELEVISION, THE INTERNET WIDE WORLD WEBSITES AND RADIO SATANIC WORSHIP.

MY FIRST CHRISTIAN BOOK: ASK THE QUESTIONS:

ARE YOU BARREN AND DISGUSTED?? OR> . BIRTHCONTROLING AND BUSTED?? >REMINDING THE WORLD: > ONE IS A SIN AND THE OTHER IS A CURSE OR PERSECUTION!!

JESUS SAID: YOU CANNOT SERVE TWO MASTERS: BECAUSE > YOU WILL LEARN TO HATE ONE! > AND LOVE THE OTHER!! **

WOMEN AND CHRISTIAN MARRAIGES ON BIRTH CONTROL HAVE LEARN TO HATE HAVING CHILDREN: AND LOVE LIVING WITHOUT THEM. *CAUSING WORK DISCRIMINATIONS AGAINST WOMEN WHO DO HAVE SMALL CHILDREN. AND CAUSING DISCRIMINATIONS: AGAINST OUR CHILDRENS FUTURE BY STARTING WARS AND BY WRITING LAWS AGAINST SCHOOL PROSPERITY.

MY AUTHOR NAME IS:

MS. ELIYZABETH YANNE STRONG-ANDERSON: I AM A HOLYSPIRIT ANOINTED CHOSEN DISCIPLE OF GOD AND CHRIST JESUS. NAMED TO BE A ANOINTED APOSTLE TEACHER BY THE VOICE OF GOD: TO HELP CALLED THE TRUE CHRISTIAN CHURCH INTO TRUE ETERNAL LIFE SALVATION IN JOHN 3:16. THIS BOOK IS DIRECTED BY GODS HOLYSPIRIT VOICE: ALSO BASE ON THE HOLY COMMANDMENTS: EXODUS 20:13 THOU SHALT NOT KILL, GENESIS 1:26-31 GO INCREASE, MULTIPLY AND TAKE DOMINIONSHIP OVER ALL THINGS. AND 1TIMOTHY 2;15 *THE WOMEN WILL BE SAVED IN CHILD BEARING YEARS: IF SHE CONTINUES: WITH FAITH, CHARITY AND HOLINESS. *ALSO REVELATIONS 2 & 3:*GOD IS ASKING THE CHURCHES TO REPENT OF ALL THEIR> SINS: AND TO RESTORE THE TRUE CHURCH BACK INTO GOD EVER LASTING COMMANDMENTS. * GOD HAS CALLED AND CHOSEN: ELIYZABETH TO HELP SAVED THE WORLD AND CHURCH FROM THE FALSE CHRIST TEACHINGS. *THROUGH THIS BOOK HOLYSPIRIT PRAYERS: AND HOLYSPIRIT TEACHINGS: YOU WILL AND CAN FIND TRUE SALVATION IN GOD AND CHRIST JESUS: JOHN 3:3-16 THIS HOLYSPIRIT BOOK OF REPENTANCE AND REMEMBER OF THE WORDS AND COMMANDMENTS OF GOD: WILL HELP YOU BECOME A TRUE: BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN: JOHN 3:3-16 REMEMBER: JESUS SAID: YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN: OF THE WATER AND OF THE SPIRIT . GOD HAS DIRECTED*ELIYZABETH HOLYSPIRIT WRITINGS IN THIS BOOK TO HELP ALL>UNDERSTAND GODS SALVATION CALLS!! GOD HAS DIRECTED THIS BOOK TO HELP ALL WHO SEEK TO BE OBEDIENT TO GODS HOLY COMMANDMENTS: EVEN OVERCOME ALL FALSE CHRIST TEACHINGS: THROUGH REPENTENCE & RESTORATION: GIVING GODS TITHES BACK INTO THE HOLYSPIRIT LEADERSHIP: STARTING WITH: THIS BOOK OF HOLYSPIRIT SERVANT: MS. ELIYZABETH YANNE STRONG-ANDERSON: WHEN YOU GIVE TO MY HOLYSPIRIT DISCIPLESHIP: YOU CAN BE SURE YOUR ETERNAL LIFE AND NAME WILL BE WRITTEN IN THE LAMBS BOOK OF LIFE. **SUPPORT GODS HOLYSPIRIT GOALS: THROUGH THIS HOLYSPIRIT BOOK WITH YOUR CHRISTIAN CHARITY DONATIONS: TO HELP ME BUILD HOLYSPIRIT CHURCHES AND TO HELP ME MENTOR ADOPTIONS OF GODS ORPHAN CHILDREN. I AM A HOLYSPIRIT BRIDE VOICE FOR GOD AND CHRIST JESUS: REPENT AND SEEK TO RESTORE YOURSELF: FROM ALL YOUR SINS: WHEN FOLLOW ME: IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMANDMENTS OF GOD AND CHRIST JESUS: JOIN YOUR HOLYSPIRT CONNECTION: SUPPORTING ME: SISTER ELIYZABETH WITH YOUR CHRISTIAN TITHES AND CHRISTIAN OFFERINGS!! *MALACHI 3:1-16 *AND MATTHEW 4:17-25. & MATTHEW 28:18-20

IT IS WRITTEN: REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND!!

Is there anything good I can find to say about this book? Sure there is. It's so big and so heavy that it can be used as a doorstop. It's also a powerful example of what writers and publishers should NOT do.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Author says we should constrict our assholes 100 times a day and have 50% less sex. Men need well-developed gills. Women need well-developed fins.

Hiroyuki Nishigaki tells us: "I think constricting anus 100 times and denting navel 100 times in succession everyday is effective to good-bye depression and take back youth. You can do so at a boring meeting or in a subway.

I have known 70-year-old man who has practiced it for 20 years. As a result, he has good complexion and has grown 20 years younger. His eyes sparkle. He is full of vigor, happiness and joy. He has neither complained nor born a grudge under any circumstance. Furthermore, he can [have sex] three times in succession without drawing out.

In addition, he also can have burned a strong beautiful fire within his abdomen. It can burn out the dirty stickiness of his body, release his immaterial fiber or third attention which has been confined to his stickiness. Then, he can shoot out his immaterial fiber or third attention to an object, concentrate on it and attain happy lucky feeling through the success of concentration. If you don't know concentration which gives you peculiar pleasure, your life looks like a hell."




 


Some reviews:

"This book is better than lithium. I was depressed for years until I came across Mr. Nishigaki and his incredible anus book. I was skeptical at first, but after only a week of the recommended anus exercises, I could feel my spirits lifting, my buns firming and my blank-shooting ability reaching new heights. It's now been three months since I began the program, and I feel as if I've finally mastered my emotions. Nope, no more crying jags at the liquor store...for me. Instead, whenever I get down or feel as though I might need to abuse myself, I simply stop, concentrate on crushing the imaginary walnut in my anus and-BLAMMO!-all depressing and/or criminal thoughts are gone in a single squeaky fart. Of course, the resultant hemorrhoidal burning and itching can suck a bit, but I just think of it as the price one has to pay for rectal sanity.

"So far I have seen its benefits in faster lane changes and negotiating discounts at Waffle House, but I'm sure there are more uses."


"when you're 40, you'll have the anus of a 20 year-old."

"Wow. This must sound crazy but this book saved my life. Before reading this book my life was a wreck and I was considering ending it. I found this book and bought it. It was my last hope and I was not disappointed. After learning various techniques on how to properly constrict my anus I started trying it out. It was amazing!! Only two weeks later I had lost 50 pounds and got a job in politics. now I'm happily married and have adopted two African children. I have invested in a new time travel technology which has been very profitable and am running for house in 2014 and 1982! I completely endorse this book and would strongly suggest you buy it and start constricting your anus today!"



This book is perfect proof that iUniverse, part of pay-to-publish behemoth Author Solutions, is willing to publish anything -- without regard for content or form.

The company says, "
One of the key features that makes an iUniverse book distinct from other self-published books is our professional evaluations for both editorial quality and marketing potential."

However, the evaluation is optional, and iUniverse is perfectly willing to accept money from ignorant or wacky wannabe authors.


CLICK to laugh more, or buy the book.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I'm addicted to reading and don't want to be cured

Like most people who like to write, I like to read. Actually, I love to read.

I've been accused of being addicted to reading. Like other kinds of addicts, I've resorted to sneaking and cheating to satisfy my addiction.
  • When I was in first grade, I had a ridiculous 7:30 PM bed time. I got into bed, pulled the blanket over my head, and read with a flashlight.
  • Later, maybe in third grade, when my technical skills improved, I came up with a better solution. I put a bright light bulb in my bedroom closet and it was bright enough to illuminate a book when I was in bed. I attached a long string to the pull-chain that controlled the light, and put a tennis ball at the end of the string. When I heard my parents approach, I yanked the string to shut off the light, and tossed the tennis ball and string into the closet to hide the evidence, and made believe I was asleep.
  • The ultimate evolution of my scam occurred around sixth grade. I installed a photoelectric cell in the garage, aimed outward. If my parents were out for the evening, and then came home when I was supposed to be asleep, the car's headlights would trigger the photocell which then rang a bell in my bedroom -- so I could shut off my light and shut my eyes.
  • Later on, my parents didn't care how late I stayed up, and I often read until midnight, and started again around 4 AM. 
  • In my senior year in high school, my English teacher required us to read and report on one book each month, with a bonus if we could read one book each week. I half-jokingly asked her what would happen if I did one a day. She half-jokingly said she'd give me an "A." I read the books, wrote the (short) reports, and got my "A."
  • When I was in college, I was still building book shelves a week before I was going to move out of my apartment and go to New York to be a magazine editor. (Assistant editor, actually.)
I am seldom far from books. I figured out that my house has nearly 400 linear feet of book shelves, which means I must have (GASP!) nearly 4,000 books. There are also books in cartons, and in drawers and in my cars, on the UPS truck on their way to me, and on my phone, Kindle Fire and iPad.

I order books from Amazon at least once a week, and buy at my local Barnes & Noble at least twice a month. I also download ebooks.

I'm a fast reader, but I can't possibly read fast enough to keep up with the inflow. Even if I stopped buying new books, I probably won't live long enough to read all of my old books.

Even worse, for some inexplicable reason, I stopped reading books a while ago. I have no idea how or why. It just happened. I also stopped smoking a pipe shortly after I got married in 1971, and no longer ski or SCUBA dive. I also watch fewer movies.

I missed reading the most, but somehow just could not get in the mood until the beginning of this year. I restarted with The Brothers Emanuel by brother Zeke. I've been reading it mostly on my smart phone, and occasionally on a PC or Kindle. I like being able to switch from device to device.

I recently made some physical changes in my home office/man cave. It's loaded with electronics, has a mini-fridge, an animated talking deerhead on the wall, three parking meters, a coin collecting device from an old New York bus, CDs and DVDs, a traffic cone, two paper cutters, FIVE printers, three laptops, one desktop, an original "portable" Compaq PC, jars of coins which should go to the bank, tools, and lots of pictures and crap that no one else would appreciate. 

The cave now functions as my Main Reading Room. The Library of Congress has a Main Reading Room, so why shouldn't I?

It has an extremely comfortable leather loveseat (a stupid term for furniture in a man cave), a blue blankie if I feel the need to cover up, and a table next to the man couch that holds a tall lamp that can be aimed right at whatever I'm reading. The table ($9 at Ikea -- I bought three of them) also holds a phone, my iPad and Kindle Fire, some books, a bunch of bookmarks, a red pen for marking things that piss me off, and a few of my remote controls. It's also a good place to keep my reading glasses. The john and the fridge are just a few steps away.

In a reversal of my parents' reading curfew, I've instituted a mandatory reading period, from 6:30 to 7:30 AM three days a week. It's almost 6:33 now, so I'll soon stop typing and move over to my man couch.

Today I expect to start The Jews of Prime Time by David Zurawik. Or maybe I'll start Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean. Or maybe something else. It's nice to live in a library. It's nice to be the acquisitions librarian.




Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I have ten literary gods. Who do you worship at your keyboard?


(above) Creations of Groening, Martin and Ward.
Barry, Shepherd, Lehrer and McCahill.
Creations of Solomon & Hirshey, and Douglas.

I thank them for entertainment, stimulation and setting high standards.

Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist and author, and the funniest writer I know of. He is so funny that I had to stop reading his column because I got so jealous. Dave used a picture of my dog Hunter in one of his books. It's called Dave Barry's Money Secrets. Here's a Dave Barry money secret: Dave didn't pay me any money for the picture, but I did get a few free books. I'll let Dave read my books for free, too. See: www.DaveBarry.com

 ● Jean Shepherd (1921 - 1999) was a radio and TV raconteur, and he probably ties with Mark Twain for story-telling ability. Shep's books include In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories and A Fistful of Fig Newtons. Twain was a great writer, but Shep was funnier. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Shepherd

Jack Douglas (1908 - 1989) was an Emmy Award-winning comedy writer on The Jack Paar Show, The George Gobel Show, Laugh-In and other TV programs. I remember him most for his book titles, which include My Brother Was an Only Child, Shut Up and Eat Your Snowshoes and Never Trust a Naked Bus Driver. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Douglas_(writer)

 ● Michael Solomon and David Hirshey edited and did the headlines for the annual Esquire magazine “dubious achievements” awards in the 1990s. Why is this man laughing? See: http://observer.com/2008/01/beloved-iesquirei-franchise-dubious-achievements-becomes-one/

Don Martin (1931- 2000) was an extraordinary cartoonist best known for his work in MAD magazine. Don created such notable characters as Fester Bestertester (top, center) and Freenbean Fonebone, and printed sound effects like “FAGROON klubble klubble.” Don's books are available from Amazon: www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b/102-1200899-0172121?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=don+martin 

"Uncle" Tom McCahill (1907-1975) was an automotive journalist who wrote for Mechanix Illustrated magazine in the 1950s and 60s. He rated car trunks by the number of dogs they could hold, and described the ride of a 1957 Pontiac as “smooth as a prom queen's thighs.” Tom was a Yale graduate, and knew classic literature as well as cars. When a reader asked how to pronounce “Porsche,” Tom answered, “Portia.” Some of us understood. Another time another reader asked, without specifying a vehicle, "How much is the parts cost and how much do the car?" Tom had a great answer: "Sure." See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_McCahill

Tom Lehrer claims he "went from adolescence to senility, trying to bypass maturity." Tom was a Phi Beta Kappa student who taught at MIT, Harvard, and Wellesley, but is best known for hilarious songwriting, much of it political satire in the 1950s and 60s. Lehrer's musical career was notably brief: he said that he had performed a mere 109 shows and written 37 songs over 20 years. Tom developed a significant cult following in the U.S. and abroad. Britain's Princess Margaret was a fan, and so am I. I can still sing lyrics I first heard in seventh grade. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Lehrer

Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons and Life in Hell. The Simpsons has been the longest-running comedy show in American television history. Because it's a cartoon, some people make the mistake of assuming it's for kids. It's not, but kids love it. See: http://www.thesimpsons.com/index.html

Jay Ward, creator of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, Peabody and Sherman  Crusader Rabbit. The Rocky show was filled with literary allusions and magnificent puns (or horrible puns, depending on your outlook on such things). Unless you are an old fart who watched TV in the fifties and know that Durward Kirby was the sidekick on "The Garry Moore Show," you would not appreciate the pun in "Kerwood Derby," a hat that increased the intelligence of its wearer. See: http://bullwinkle.toonzone.net

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A few words about Chinese restaurants' English

I am an American Jew. Therefore, I eat a lot of Chinese food. It's the Eleventh Commandment.
As an avid reader and language critic/cynic, I've spent a lot of time analyzing the text and math in Chinese restaurant menus.

In many small Chinese restaurants on the upper west side of Manhattan, you can get a large order of fried rice for $3.95. However, if you are willing to accept four chicken wings along with the same amount of rice, the price for the entire meal drops to just $2.95.

One of my favorite restaurants, the Golden Wok, in Yonkers, New York, stated, "The order of eating in is much larger than the order of taking out." They also said," We can alter the spicy to suit your taste."

Many Chinese restaurants have trouble with English plurals and possessives. It's common to see "General Chicken" instead of "General Tso's Chicken" or "General's Chicken." If I don't want "General Chicken," could I get "Specific Chicken?" 



I probably would not order "spicy cold children," "strange flavor chicken," "aunt eggplant," "saliva of a chicken product" or burned beef.

What should be plural nouns are often singular, like "direction to the restaurant." In the other direction, I've seen "beefs with broccoli."

"Hibachi Grill and Supreme Buffet" recently opened in Orange, Connecticut -- a few miles from my house. Part of its website was copied from another restaurant and stated that it is "the largest restaurant in Danville and surrounding area." There is no Danville near Orange.

The newspaper ad for the grand opening touted the restaurant as being the best "on the peninsula." The town of Orange is landlocked. It is not on a peninsula; but apparently some other restaurant is on a peninsula and the Orange restaurant copied its ad.

The menu includes "salmon fish." Apparently they have no salmon vegetables.

However, the food is excellent. The people are extremely nice. The selection is huge and you get a lot for your money. I eat there often.

All the place needs is a good copyeditor.

However, because of my high regard for the Chinese people, I hereby grant a perpetual "pass" for imperfect menus and websites. If my stomach is happy, my brain will go along. A good chef is more important than a good writer.

Besides, If I had to write a menu in Chinese, it would be a disaster!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dishonest Michael Hyatt's Thomas Nelson published a book of lies.


I have frequently criticized "Christian publisher" Thomas Nelson, its Westbow Press pay-to-publish operation and paranoid/hypocritical/lying boss Michael Hyatt.

I am not alone in my scorn for Hyatt.

A reader of this blog wrote: "
I can't stand Hyatt and I'm in the Christian publishing world. . . . He . . . focuses more on himself than Jesus Christ and I think he's a disgrace. Even his Twitter following is a joke.  . . .  20% fake, 35% inactive and 45% active followers . . . . Some of us know the truth.

Another wrote: "
Hyatt deserves the same fate as St. Ignatius of Antioch -- to be ripped apart and eaten by hungry lions. However, I doubt that Hyatt will qualify for sainthood. It's more likely that he will roast in hell."

NPR has broadcast and published an extensive analysis of The Jefferson Lies, written by David Barton, "The Most Influential Evangelist You've Never Heard Of."

Barton's book has a foreword written by right-wing nutso Glenn Beck and aims to change public opinion about President Thomas Jefferson. Barton tries to 'correct' commonly believed 'lies' about Jefferson being anti-religion and pro-slavery.

However, the book has been condemned by both historians and religious leaders as full of lies -- which makes it perfect for Hyatt and Nelson.


From NPR: "For example, you've been taught the Constitution is a secular document. Not so, says Barton: The Constitution is laced with biblical quotations.
'You look at Article 3, Section 1, the treason clause,' he told James Robison on Trinity Broadcast Network. 'Direct quote out of the Bible. You look at Article 2, the quote on the president has to be a native born? That is Deuteronomy 17:15, verbatim. I mean, it drives the secularists nuts because the Bible's all over it! Now we as Christians don't tend to recognize that. We think it's a secular document; we've bought into their lies. It's not.'
We looked up every citation Barton said was from the Bible, but not one of them checked out. Moreover, the Constitution as written in 1787 has no mention of God or religion except to prohibit a religious test for office. The First Amendment does address religion.
What about the idea that the founders did not want government entangled in religion? Wrong again, says Barton. On his tours of the U.S. Capitol, for example, he claims that Congress not only published the first American Bible in 1782, but it also intended the Bible to be used in public schools.
'And we're going to be told they don't want any kind of religion in education, they don't want voluntary prayer?' Barton asks his audience rhetorically? 'No, it doesn't make sense.'
But historians say Barton is flat-out wrong in his facts and conclusion. Congress never published or paid a dime for the 1782 Bible. It was printed and paid for by Philadelphia printer Robert Aitken. At Aitken's request, Congress agreed to have its chaplains check the Bible for accuracy. It was not, historians say, a government promotion of religion.
David Barton is not a historian. He has a bachelor's degree in Christian education from Oral Roberts University and runs a company called WallBuilders in Aledo, Texas. But his vision of a religion-infused America is wildly popular with churches, schools and the GOP, and that makes him a power. He was named one of Time magazine's most influential evangelicals. He was a long-time vice chairman for the Texas Republican Party. He says that he consults for the federal government and state school boards, that he testifies in court as an expert witness, that he gives a breathtaking 400 speeches a year.
Seeking his endorsement are politicians including Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz of Texas and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who's mentioned as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney. Newt Gingrich is a fan. So is Mike Huckabee."
"The idea that Jefferson was a civil rights visionary appalls the Rev. Ray McMillian, pastor of Oasis Church in Cincinnati. 'Thomas Jefferson hated African-Americans," McMillian says. "He hated the color of our skin. He talked about how inferior we are, in both mind and body.' McMillian is president of Cincinnati Area Pastors, which is boycotting the publisher of Barton's book, Thomas Nelson Publishers. He says by 'whitewashing' Jefferson — and all the other slaveholding founders, for that matter — Barton is rewriting history to make it palatable for Christians today. All in their hearts they're saying, 'If we could just go back there, America would be right. Right for who? Not for blacks, not for women, not for Native Americans, he says — only for white men."
I don't like the idea of boycotting publishers, even sleazy publishers like Nelson, but it's important for people to know that a book Nelson published about 'lies' is rampantly dishonest.
More from NPR: "In 2010, the Texas Board of Education voted to rewrite the history textbooks to make them more conservative and Christian-friendly. One of the advisers was David Barton.
Barton later said on the cable talk show Chapter and Verse that it would take another 16 or 18 years before kids go through the entire curriculum, 'then another 10 years after that before those kids get elected to office and start doing things. So we're talking 30 years from now. But, it's in the pipe coming down.'
Asked about this 30-year plan, Barton says of course he wants to shape future leaders, any educator does. But he says he doesn't see himself as a particularly influential person.
'I'm going to be an active citizen and be involved and do everything I can to help move these principles forward,' he says.
Barton's next stop: the Republican National Convention, where as a Texas representative to the GOP Platform Committee, he will lay out his vision of America."

- - - - - -

If anyone at Nelson would like to defend the book, I'll be glad to publish the defense here.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Oops. I goofed.

Due to a senior moment ("brain fart") today's posting got lost. I'll try to re-create it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Warning To Writers: your book's title shouldn't limit its sales

In a posting in an online group for writers, writer/writing trainer/consultant Paul Lima said, "I will soon be publishing a book of short stories, Hockey Night On Ossington Avenue. A couple of people who actually like the title have suggested that I use a title of one of the other stories for the title of my book -- perhaps Rebel In The Back Seat, The Conquest of Kong, The Winter of Whisky. Why? They feel my title might (might, not will) limit my American exposure and sales . . . And it might. (Overall, I think it's fair to say we're more passionate about hockey in Canada than you are in the U.S. But I'm not going to change it. This is my labour of love, and I'll call it what I feel it should be called, and I'm OK with that . . ."


I responded:

Unless all of the stories are hockey-related, PLEASE consider changing the title. I have absolutely no interest in hockey, and would probably never buy a book with "hockey" in the title, unless it was something like Hockey Sucks. (I watched one Hockey game -- when I visited a friend at Cornell in 1968. It was amusing, but I have never been motivated to see another skating-and-mayhem session.)

You certainly have the right to call your love child anything you want, but exercising that right may limit your income -- and deprive potential readers of a pleasant experience.

Back in 2008 I published a mostly humorous memoir intended mostly for "the kids" I went to school with in the 1950s and 60s. The title was a quote from one of my nutty teachers, I Only Flunk My Brightest Students: Stories From School and Real Life. The title made sense only to others who suffered in the classroom of "Crasy Frehse" in New Haven. Any time I showed the book to strangers, I had to provide an explanation. That's no way to sell books.





Because of good reviews, I revised the book. I replaced and added some stories, and gave the book a new cover and title to appeal to more people: Stories I'd Tell My Children (But Maybe Not Until They're Adults).

The book has sold thousands of copies worldwide, in multiple formats. That's pretty amazing for a memoir by an unknown. My name is not Obama, Kennedy or Beyonce.

For your book, even tho you haven't asked me, I vote for The Conquest of Kong & other stories.




One good way to evaluate potential titles is to make a quickie cover and wrap it around a real book and hand it to people to see how they react when they hold it in their hands and verbalize the title.


I wish you luck (but a different title may make you luckier).







Paul ultimately published the book as Rebel in the Back Seat. It has some very positive reviews.




(Hockey sticks photo from http://sportsautographsshop.com. I thank them.)


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Don't be discouraged when gatekeepers say "no" -- but don't self-publish crap.




Many writers turn to self-publishing companies or independent self-publishing or even stop writing after being rejected by agents or traditional publishers.

(Some writers -- like me -- have not been rejected but prefer the control, speed and income of independent publishing.)

While rejection can be depressing and discouraging, the failure to be approved by the media gatekeepers is not necessarily an indication of bad writing or an uninteresting idea.
  • Books are rejected for many reasons (not only bad quality)
  • Books are usually accepted for one reason: because someone thinks they will make money.
Sarah Palin's Going Rogue and the endless stream of celebrities' addiction/abuse/confession/recipes/weight-loss books are not published in anticipation of glorifying the publisher by winning Pulitzer prizes. They are published in anticipation of making money.

Professional judgment is imperfect!

Many books that are rejected by one publisher -- or by many publishers -- are later accepted by another publisher.


Joanne Rowling's first Harry Potter book was rejected by TWELVE publishing companies. More than 400 million Potter books have been sold, and the Potter movies have been seen by many millions.

I wonder if any of the publishing executives who rejected that first book were fired for bad judgment.

Most books published by traditional publishing companies with highly paid experts having years of experience, do not sell well. After a few months they are doomed to be sold on the buck-a-book tables or recycled into the raw materials for more books.


My taste in books apparently puts me in the minority of book buyers. Often I eagerly buy a new book as soon as it is released. As expected, I love the book. Alas, few others care about the subject, and the book is soon available for almost nothing at Barnes & Noble or Dollar Tree. This has become a running joke in my family, and my wife would strongly prefer that I wait a while and pay just one dollar instead of $25. But I won't wait.
  • There may be many people like me who are waiting for what you are writing. Find a way to reach us.
If you can't get a contract from a publisher, self-publish... on paper, online, or in ebooks. Don't be stopped. Don't be silenced. Don't skip professional editing and design. Don't publish crap. Readers are ready. Get to work.

(gate photo from http://www.123rf.com)