Books That Help Us Remember September 11, 2001

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Many of us will not forget that gorgeous September morning when we shared the shock of the decade as the Twin Towers fell. It’s good to take into account though, that to some people–and by some people I mean perhaps children who were born in 2001–this might be a story for the history books. I can understand that notion because it would be akin to what the assassination of John F. Kennedy was to me. Not having been born when it happened, I have no relationship to it. But for many who were there, and witnessed the story unfolding, they struggled with the senseless act, and found it difficult to articulate their emotions. They were forever haunted by it. So, perhaps, the same is true with September 11, 2001. Maybe it’s an event in the history books without a human face.

But many personal accounts have been written about it to keep alive the memory of what a blow it was too all of us. I, too, join the ranks and have a personal story about that day. Just one week to the day my husband and I had been in the Trade Towers. We had been in New York for the U.S. Open, as my husband is an avid tennis fan. One morning, Tuesday, September 4, precisely,  we took a trip via subway to downtown Manhattan. One of our favorite discount department stores, Century 21, was nearby, and we wanted to walk around Wall Street as well. We got off at the Trade Tower stop, right underneath the building. It was cool looking, but dark, and quiet. I guess many people were already at their desks in the offices above us. There were a lot of little stores and there was a Borders Bookstore I wanted to stop in if we had the time. As I was washing up in the restroom I noticed a sign posted that listed a number of rules about conduct in the towers. At first, I thought it odd, but then I remembered the World Trade Center Bombing attack in 1993, the epicenter was the parking garage beneath the tower. Granted, this had taken place eight years prior, but it resonated with me. I found my husband browsing the mall area and told him I thought we should get out of the building. I reminded him of the bombing in 1993, and then said, “This place is a target, we need to leave.” Isn’t that crazy? I thought nothing more of it until after we came home and we were watching in horror as the news covered the story of  two Boeing 767 jets flying into the twin towers, collapsing them on September 11, 2001. For me, 9/11 will always be personal.

On Monday’s Book Hound radio program Jan and I discussed some of the books that came out after 9/11. So, if you are interested in reading more about 9/11, then this short list might be of some interest to you. Let me know what you think, or if there are any 9/11 books you think should be here.

Nonfiction

Firehouse, by David Halberstam, published in 2003. Firehouse is the story of  Engine 40, Ladder 35, and the thirteen men who were on two rigs setting out from this firehouse, twelve of whom never returned. Along the way, we learn the culture of the firehouse and try to understand why these men would become firemen and pursue so dangerous a profession.

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey, by Maira Kalman, published in 2005. This is a children’s picture book. The John J. Harvey was the best fireboat of its time, but by 1995 the city didn’t need fireboats any longer, so the John J. Harvey was retired. Then one  day in September a horrible event shook the world. The fireboat was needed to fight a roaring fire. This is a true story.

American Widow, by Alissa Torres, illustrated, published in 2008. A memoir written by a young widow who lost her husband that day in September. Alissa’s entire world was upside down. This book chronicles her journey through being a widow and carrying the baby of a father who would never set eyes on his child.

Fiction

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer, published in 2006. Narrated by nine-year-old Oskar Schell, who is trying to discover clues about his father’s death on September 11.

The Zero: A Novel, by Jess Walter, published in 2007.  New York city cop Brian is suffering from a brain injury due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He is  now a tour guide for celebrities who want to visit “The Zero.” He ultimately gets a job with the Documentation Department and uncovers clues about who he works for and who he was before he tried to kill himself. This book is described as a dark comedy and I can see why! It’s a complicated story that sheds some light on a harrowing time in our history.

Falling Man, by Don DeLillo, published in 2008. This story brings to the surface emotions and memories of Sepetember 11, and shows how those events shape our perception of our world as it is now. It centers around a married couple and their son who are forever changed by the events surrounding 9/11.

And check out Flashlight Worthy for more recommendations.

Please join us Monday’s on The Book Hound. We sniff out new books and learn about new and bestselling authors. We air weekly on 101.3 FM Renegade Radio and 99.1 FM Talk Fox News Radio. Tunein radio: Search America Matters Media
Text: 775.237.2266
Call in: 844.790.8255

 

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LRP Book Hound Radio Program Highlight Shows: Bobby Rydell, Kristen Lamb, and Matthew Bayan

For many of you who follow my author page on Facebook, this is not new information, but this year my life took a new, exciting direction in the public media eye when Janice Hermsen, of LeRue Press, asked me to co-host with her on the Book Hound radio show . Since the beginning of April when I joined, we’ve had fascinating guests on the air to discuss their books and their lives, some of whom are well-known and some of whom are slightly less known. The show has been a lot of fun, and Jan and I are hitting our stride, learning each other and how to make it interesting for the listeners (I hope!)

Over the last five months of co-hosting there have been many highlights. One of our recent and most exciting guests was Mr. Bobby Rydell. Yup, that’s right, of Grease Rydell High fame, of Bye Bye Birdie fame (he played Hugo Peabody and was super cute!) and of course he was known as a teen idol waaay before there was such a thing as Justin Bieber, and had many hits like Wild One and Volare.

 

Bobby Rydell has a new memoir out and he was sharing some of his journey and life experiences that make up the behind-the-curtain peek at his life. It’s called Bobby Rydell: Teen Idol Life on the Rocks. He was a gentleman to talk with, and he had some great stories to tell. One such was about how he would wait in the wings while George Burns did his comic routine. He said he learned a lot about comedy and timing from him. We have a podcast of the show if you would like to hear the interview. Go to America Matters Media, click on Podcasts, click on Book Hound. It goes by date and Bobby Rydell’s show aired on August 8, 2016.

Another highlight was this past Monday. We had Kristen Lamb on the air August 22, 2016. Kristen is the top resource for author branding in the digital age. She is the #1 Bestselling author of We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer. Her latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Author’s in a Digital World is an outstanding resource for any writer, emerging or bestselling. The publishing world is changing, and in order for our books to be seen in the vast ocean of e-books, we need to adapt with it. How will we stand out? How do we connect with our readers? And how do we maintain a long-term fan base? Kristen’s book explains it all! I also recommend following Kristen Lamb’s Blog weekly for writing tips and social media advice.  You can pick up a copy of Rise of the Machines on Amazon, and I recommend you do so. Until I can figure out how to share the podcast on my blog, here is a YouTube Video just for fun:

Clearly, I’m a fan.

Mr. Matthew Bayan has joined us on the Book Hound numerous times and he is a hoot. Matt is the author of the #1 bestseller Eat Fat, Be Healthy–When a Low-fat Diet Can Kill You and an editor. Matt is president of High Sierra Writers, a writing group located in Reno, Nevada and meets every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Reno Barnes and Noble located at 5555 South Virginia Street, inside the store at the Cafe. He has many years writing experience. We always learn something new when Matt is on the show! You can check out his blog here. And of course I would be remiss if I didn’t share one of his videos, this one is on character graphing. Hmmm…don’t know what that is? Watch the video:

This is what happens when I don’t blog for awhile–blog overload! So, this is a biggie, please bookmark and come back to it when you have the time. I get it, we are all busy, but I couldn’t hold back my enthusiasm for our great guests. Please tune-in to the Book Hound on Mondays.

Here are the specifics for the Book Hound: we air every Monday, 4-5 PST on 101.3 Renegade Radio, and 99.1 Talk Fox News Radio. If you can please join us and spread the word where to find us:

Streaming on http://amm.streamon.fm and KCKQ 1180 AM, a Lotus Station
Questions and comments: www.facebook.com/LRPBookHound
Tunein radio: Search America Matters Media
Text: 775.237.2266
Call in: 844.790.8255

If you’ve  missed the live show, you can pick up a podcast at americamatters.us. Go to podcasts and find Book Hound Show. If you are an author with a published book to share please let us know, maybe you will be our next guest! Contact Janice at janiceh at lrpnv dot com, or me, April, on my Facebook page.

 

 

How Should An Author React to a Bad Review?

This blog post originally appeared on Pypeline Editing’s blog. Here’s the link. Jenny Perry and Krystal Pyatt are a terrific team of editors and I strongly recommend checking out their Web site for editing advice. This is a re-blog of sorts! Thanks for reading.

The Story of One Lost Sheep

A favorite story of mine is of a shepherd who had a hundred sheep, but one had strayed. Was he happy that he had ninety-nine happy sheep? Sure. But, he really obsessed over that one sheep he had lost. He wouldn’t stop looking for it until he found it. Then when he found it he greatly rejoiced over it.

This is a Bible story and it really has a different meaning than the one I’m using it for, but I’ve been kind of feeling like that shepherd lately. I happened to notice a one-star review on my book The Altered I, Memoir of Joseph Kempler Holocaust Survivor. I wasn’t too surprised. In fact I’d been wondering when that would actually happen. Not that I wanted it to, mind you, but you know, not everyone is going to like everything, even if others do rave about it. But, I have to wonder why. It was a rating, without a review. Was it something I did? Was the book not what they expected? Did they start it and realize without finishing it that it just wasn’t their cup of tea? I really do respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I guess this one-star haunts me. I want to go out there and bring it back into the fold, so to speak. I know that sounds crazy.

So what do you do if you get a bad review?

Nothing. Accept that this person felt free enough to express their feelings on the matter.

Act professional. Don’t contact them and ask WHY?!

Be grateful for all the wonderful five and four-star reviews.

That one-star makes you look legit. It’s true, a lot of friends and family will leave excellent reviews, but it will look better in the long-run to garner reviews from people you don’t even know.

Learn from your mistakes, and write better.

The strangest thing could happen. The reviewer might change their mind and re-review it. One of the biggest fans of The Altered I–and  no it wasn’t my mother–confided that she didn’t like the book the first time she read it, but it lingered with her and she had to read it again. She has gone on to buy multiple copies, given them out as gifts and even suggested the book for her book club, which they in turn agreed to and also purchased multiple copies. How’s that for a surprise ending?

So please don’t judge the reviewer too harshly. They don’t know that there is a flesh and blood person on the receiving end of that review. They just want to share their opinion in a forum that allows them freedom to do just that. As author and world-famous blogger Kristen Lamb says an author must develop rhino skin.

Some helpful links you might want to check out:

What do you do if you get a one-star review? Tweet That!

 

Guest Post: Storytelling, and Editing, is About Intent

Manuscript THE ALTERED I

Today I have the honor of sharing a guest post from Krystal Pyatt, one of the editors of Pypeline Editing. When people find out that I wrote and book and it was published the response I often hear is how they, too, would love to write something. That is terrific, I say in reply. But, often these starry eyed dreamers have little idea of what the writing process is all about and how crucial having a clear goal is to a finished, and polished work. Critical too, is the editing process. Few realize what effort goes into making that writing project sparkle and glow off the page. Here to give a glimpse into what objectives you, as the writer, should take into consideration when mapping our your story is Krystal.

 

Storytelling, and Editing, is About Intent

 

Writing is a magical thing. It is the activity where you place on paper ideas, stories and lessons. It is the ultimate way to share knowledge with others and even generations. To read it is to be entranced, immersed, captivated. If you do not believe in the magic of books, then you may not have found the right ones yet.

That being said, I can think of a few books that have failed to become anything magical. Perhaps it was the writer, the concept or even the editing—or maybe it was a combination of all of the above. Anyone reading this blog may have a few stories in mind as well that did not meet expectations.

The good news, intent can impact everything. Tweet That!

Writing is the process to dump all of your ideas and place the contents in your head to that of your story. However, having intent, having a purpose, can greatly impact the success of any book.

Free writing is important; some of the most creative ideas can come from free writing. However, having a clear intent, a clear message, a clear purpose when writing, can make sure the story moves in a particular direction. This can make it so the story is cohesive to the point of excellence. The reader will lack nothing in terms of the story and, in fact, the reader will be treated like an ally rather than an opponent. They will be in on the secrets of your world, they will be privy to foreshadowing even the characters do not know and the readers will then stay along for the ride, even if it is a torturous one for the beloved characters.

Intent extends to editing as well. In fact, this is when intent shines. It is valuable for each and every author to then ask themselves important questions while editing.

  • From the writing stage, what is the overall purpose of the story?
  • Does the chapter apply to that larger goal?
  • Does the character apply to that larger goal?
  • Does the event apply to that larger goal?
  • Is there anything missing the reader would not know?
  • Are you going in chronological order or is the timeline intentional at least?
  • Does the ending serve its purpose?
  • Is there too much going on?
  • Is everything clear and concise?
  • Are the words strong enough to convey the necessary emotions?

At the end of the day, the story should be a pleasure to read, not painful. The way to accomplish this it ensure, through the editing process, that every word, every punctuation mark and every page contribute to that purpose. Editing helps you cut out the excess content, albeit painful at times.

So, decide your intent and set sail. Create the masterpiece readers will find magical.

 

Author: Krystal Pyatt from Pypeline Editing

Pypeline Editing is a local editing firm in Reno, Nevada. Two editors work on every book. That’s two sets of eyes to ensure grammar problems and typos are completely eradicated. With copyediting, Pypeline Editing also offers professional insights in order to make each book ready for publishing using developmental suggestions.

 

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April Voytko Kempler is the author of The Altered I, a  memoir about Joseph Kempler’s Holocaust experiences. Joseph was sent to six different concentration camps throughout Poland and Austria between the ages of 14-17. His story can be found on Amazon and Google Play books. 

Altered I Sample-April Kempler

How I found My Editor in a Barnes and Noble Bookstore

Nothing about my road to publishing has been done by conventional routes. I really can’t even say how I found a publisher to take on my manuscript in the first place. I was trying to narrow the sequence of events down with my husband, and what we came up with was that we found the publisher through a business acquaintance of his.

I had just finished writing the memoir known as THE ALTERED I and had no idea what steps to take next. I asked everybody from my Mary Kay sales person (don’t ask me why! Unconventional, remember?) to the webmaster of our window covering business. Apparently he worked in some kind of publishing and said there was one publisher in town and we might give them a call. My husband must have done just that because next thing I know they were calling to find out when my manuscript might be finished and when they could read it.

Oh my goodness! Could this be true? As easy as that I found a publisher? It just so happens this publisher was new in the business, as was I, so that didn’t bother me. They are actually what is known as a small press. Things are done somewhat unconventionally when dealing with a new business, or a smallish start-up, and there is more room for leeway.

In an earlier post I wrote about how long it took me to get published, so if you read that we will just skip to the bit where I submitted an entire manuscript without it being professionally edited. “Have it edited and re-submit,” were the closing comments.  Well then, where to begin?

Again I had no idea! I wasn’t part of the Facebook family, or LinkedIn, and didn’t even know how to tweet! So, where was I to start? Heaven only knew.

One night while sitting in my local Barnes and Noble with some friends at the coffee lounge I took a long, slow look around me. Why, seemingly, everyone there had a laptop and was working on something important. These must all be writers, or dare I say it? Could they be editors? How naive can a person get? I’m telling you I was as green as the Irish hillsides. Lo and behold, the first person I approached turned out to be a professor at our local university. No, he wasn’t an editor, but he knew one. Really? And he happened to have her business card on him. What a break!

I called her. She called back. We emailed each other. I sent her a sample chapter to edit. She edited it and sent it back. We agreed to meet over coffee and see if we would make a good fit. We did! Not only that, but we agreed on a price and time frame. She loved my manuscript, loved my genre and exceeded all my expectations.

The point of the matter is this: you can find what you are looking for in unusual places. Thinking outside the box can be very instrumental in finding success.

For example, an author acquaintance wrote a collection of edgy, modern short stories. She has had her book signings not only in bookstores, but at her local gym, a second-hand funky and unique consignment store, and a second-hand record/DVD store. These places match perfectly the themes of her stories, her characters and the vibe she is creating to attract her target audience.

I may not have gotten published the conventional way. I may have taken a long time to figure it all out, but I got there and you can too.

What unconventional ways have you found to complete your manuscript?

What unconventional ways helped you to find your target audience? I would love to hear about it!

A Note From the Personal Files of April Kempler: Unknown Author or How Long Does it Take to Get Published Anyway?

I get asked all the time How long did it take you to get published from inception to published book? I have an answer but it is a bit complicated. First, I will give the short answer: I started May 23, 2007, I will have a published book in hand November 13, 2013, so that is 6 years, 5 months, and 21 days. Math really isn’t my thing, so I hope my math is good on this.

These dates don’t tell the whole story of how it began or the long, and sometimes arduous journey it has been after signing a publisher’s contract. But, I will try to explain it as best I can.

Here is the longer version and I hope you stay with me. After finishing the manuscript I did what every author is told to NEVER do: Don’t send your entire manuscript to a publisher and for heaven’s sake don’t send one that hasn’t been properly edited! Yes, I blundered this one right from the get-go. I figured it was edited. I know how to spell and my husband read it and made all his little adjustments, so it was ready, right? Wrong. Only after I had delivered 174k, or so,  words in a large, and I mean LARGE, binder did I bother myself to read anything on how to actually get a publisher. Then in big, black and white letters I read: “Always hire a professional editor before submitting any manuscript.” Oh! A professional editor, like one I had to pay. I get it now! Silly me.

Then I realized no one in the professional author realm ever sends their entire manuscript to a publisher unedited, no one in the professional author realm ever refers to their manuscript by page number (blunder # 277). I fumbled and bumbled my way through this entire thing. There is a process to getting published, and had I learned it I might have saved myself a year or two and maybe several months. So after slogging through (all 417 pages) of my tome, the publisher called me for a meeting. The bottom line: get it edited and re-submit. This took additional time and research not to mention weeks, turning into months of waiting for the edits to be complete.

From reliable sources I read that the average time for an unknown author to get published is around 5 years. By some miracle the publisher still was interested in the manuscript after all the false starts and offered me a contract. If you count the time to signing the contract (which is considered being published) then I come in around 4 years, and approximately 5 months. That is near average for an unknown author so I’m pleased. But somewhere along the way I had managed to cause some concerns for the publisher. After handing in my copy of the contract, with all my changes in bold, black ink, I was told that they were rescinding their offer.

Wait! What?

What had I done wrong? Aside from everything in the beginning, what had I done wrong to get myself out of a cherished and much anticipated publishing contract? I thoroughly researched it. I read books, asked questions, hired an attorney. Perhaps it was the myriad of changes I made to the contract (I might have gone overboard), or perhaps it was the rights I wanted to reserve without a good reason (e.g. could I actually hope to secure publishing rights in Turkey? No. Impossible. I have zero connections for  getting my book published in the middle east!) whatever it was, it sent up some kind of red flag and just like snuffing out a candle, my publishing dreams went up in smoke. I was free to roam about the country to find another publisher.

Did I rant and rave, break down sobbing WHY? No, for the first time I behaved like a professional. I wrote a nice letter thanking the publisher for all their work, all their advice they had given me over the course of several months. I thanked them for giving me the opportunity to be published and I hoped we could remain friends, in a business sense.

I’ll skip ahead, about two weeks later I received a message from the publisher saying they would like to revisit the terms of the contract.

They were giving me another chance!

I couldn’t believe it. But first they wanted to, yes — maybe you have figured this out already — rewrite the contract. I had to wait some time for this, another 5 months, or so. Then the day came, which according to my contract was: March 27, 2012, I was legit, I was a published writer.  So from signed contract to book release it will be 1 year 7 months, and 17 days, but who’s counting?

I have come to understand one thing about the publishing world. It is that everyone’s publishing journey is different. Some paths chosen are shorter and some longer. But each writer, published or unpublished, self-published or traditionally published, has a similar goal: to get our written words out there into the universe. Hopefully to be read, enjoyed, cherished. Hopefully to give pause for thought. Or create an emotion (love, sympathy, anger, shock, horror), or to learn something we never knew before. Hopefully to share something of ourselves with another person. That is what it’s all about isn’t it? We write to encourage one another, to inspire one another, to sharpen each other.

What has your writing journey been like? Are you a published author? How long did it take you?

Or, are you hoping to be published some day?  What are your goals to getting published? I would love to hear about it in the comments section, don’t be shy, share!

What to do (and not do) While Waiting for Your Book to be Published

I’ve had quite a bit of time on my hands lately since signing that Holy Grail of a publishing contract and waiting for said book to actually be published.

The Damsel of the Sanct Grael, by Dante Gabrie...

The Damsel of the Sanct Grael, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti: medieval romance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most authors who have been around this publishing block a few times dig in and write another book. Of course, if you are like me and barely know how to use the tools in your Word program, then you’ve been gobsmacked!  There are a number of things you should be doing. Sitting around twiddling your thumbs waiting for your publisher to tell you what to do isn’t one of them.

Not that I ever thought that. I went into this situation with my eyes wide open. I knew the rules had changed since the early days of publishing and now a substantial amount of marketing was squarely on my shoulders. I just didn’t know where to go or how to get started and it all seemed daunting, and techie, and alien to me. So here is a brief list of things I discovered and that just might be useful to you, the burgeoning writer:

Step One: learn how your computer works.

Step Two: learn how to back up files. For some time it has been suggested opening up a drop-box account and simply shift your files there. I have been too overwhelmed with learning everything else there is to learn that I haven’t taken this step myself. . . yet. But I will! In the meantime, my computer automatically backs up to an external hard drive and I feel comfortable with that system. And yes, I hired someone to help me, just so you know before reading step three.

Step Three: if any of this is over your head hire an IT guy, or a computer fix-it guy, or gal (don’t want to presume) and let them handle it!

Step Four: set up you social media sites. This will take time, cause a headache, make you crazy and cross-eyed, but you just have to do it, so there! Not to mention all the passwords and user I.D.’s you will have to set up. Write them all down and keep them somewhere safe.

Step Five: learn how the social media sites work. Sometimes just a picture will suffice. Sometimes a sentence or two and a link (go back to Step One: learn how to work your computer) Simply cut and paste the URL and this will take readers down a rabbit hole right to where you want to lead them, hopefully. If it is any consolation I’m still learning. For example Twitter. I had no idea how to work it, I just wrote something and clicked on the tweet button. I had no idea where it went or what it all meant. You will also want to learn about ow.ly and bit.ly for Twitter. . . take my word on that.

Step Six: Start a Blog. If this proves problematic for you, don’t stress it, don’t do it. Content yourself with social media, or whatever is easiest or suits your personality. There are a lot of different ways to market yourself nowadays. Don’t limit yourself.

Step Seven: write blogs or short articles for other bloggers. Where to start? Facebook, Writer’s Literary Cafe, LinkedIn. These are all excellent places to find bloggers looking for content for their blog. The easiest is to write an author interview.  In your search engine look up typical author interview questions (you supply the answers) and customize the questions for your book, your genre and your personality.  This really works. I am personally grateful to all those bloggers out there who generously invited me to write for them. You can also write for news sites like examiner.com or Yahoo!Contributor Network. Click here to read my articles: April’s Yahoo! Articles.

Step Eight: if you have all this down cold, are already doing this sort of thing, then by all means write your next book!

In my opinion these steps are good to follow even if you are going down the self-published lane. It all comes down to marketing. So while you are designing your font, your front cover, your back cover, getting expert reviews, setting up your author pages on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble (and where ever else you can dream up), and learning how to create your space, you will need to tack on some of the above-mentioned steps.

Whatever you do don’t do nothing at all. Now is the time to build your platform, make a brand for yourself, make your unique voice heard. Many authors are doing this very thing, so don’t hold back and don’t be shy. I fondly remember what my publisher said to me in an email: “You are an author now, act like it. Get out there and get some interviews done.” Then she kindly shared some helpful links. Remember you are authors. Get out there and act like it.

April signing her book publishing contract with LeRue Press for THE ALTERED I

April signing her book publishing contract with LeRue Press for THE ALTERED I

What other suggestions do you have while waiting for your book to be published? I would love to hear about it.