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I get mail…

My e-mail address appears each week at the end of my column. I’m glad it does because it helps readers get in touch with me. And I receive many pleasant notes each week from readers who wish to comment about books and whatever else they fancy.

I just got an e-mail from a reader in Tipp City that I liked so much I want to share it with you. She wrote:


“I just wanted to thank you for your book reviews of several of the Jack Reacher novels. Without them, I probably would have never had the pleasure of this series! I have now finished the entire series, and cannot wait for the next book to come out in September!”

“The thing that held me back from reading them initially was that you had noted the books could be extremely violent. I am so glad I went ahead and read the books anyway! I have had my nose buried in my Kindle for weeks.”

“Thanks for much for introducing me to fantastic book series!!”

I loved her exclamations! That really made my day….

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My Favorite (living) Ohio Writer

Over the years I have interviewed Gene Logsdon on WYSO Public Radio on a number of occasions. But it had been a while, over ten years since I last interviewed him. I wondered what he had been up to?

Logsdon lives on a farm near Upper Sandusky, Ohio. And he has written a lot of books. His most recent one “Gene Everlasting: a Contrary Farmer’s Thoughts on Living Forever” (Chelsea Green) was inspired by Gene’s recent bout with cancer. That experience got him thinking about that elephant in every room; DEATH. Some of us think about it. The rest of us try to avoid the subject.

This is a wonderful, thoughtful book. The other day I tracked down the author. He’s 82 now. And we had a chat about his new book and quite a few other things. You can listen to our conversation by clicking here:

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Feeling like Rodney Dangerfield…

Do you remember the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield? He used to have a standard line that he repeated over and over again. He would say: “I get no respect.”

I used to laugh whenever he said it. That was the point of it I suppose. But lately I’m beginning to feel more empathy than mirth over that line of Rodney’s. Here’s why:

Over the years I have interviewed a lot of authors for this newspaper and for radio. I have been interviewing writers since 1994. Some publicists that I worked with 20 years ago when they were bright young kids fresh out of college are now VPs at major publishing houses. They know me. They know my work. That should be a good thing, right?

Many of the authors I interviewed years ago were complete unknowns when I talked to them about their earliest work. I have watched as some of these writers have become very well known and successful.

There are several writers that I have interviewed for all of their books. So they have new books out. Yay! Their publicists contacted me and asked if I was interested in doing more interviews with them. I answered that of course I was interested! By all means! Let’s do it.

Then these publicists stopped replying to my e-mails. Meanwhile I would have to be blind and deaf not to notice that Fresh Air, Rolling Stone, etc. had been given access to these writers while I waited for their publicists to get back with me. And they never did. It was almost like I have ceased to exist. I thought about contacting the writers directly to ask if their publicists had mentioned that I was interested in doing an interview. But I didn’t. It is never a good idea to mention that their publicists might be ignoring the guy out in Dayton, Ohio. Getting the big media exposure is their only priority. In a few years when that publicist has become a VP or a Publicity Director they might remember that I once complained about them. Oh well.

This week I got a new memoir by a very famous Hollywood movie star. The press release said that he was available for interviews. They even had sample questions to ask him. Yesterday I got an e-mail from his publicist asking if I wanted to interview him? I wrote right back and said: YES!!!. Within five minutes the publicist responded-she said that I could not interview him. Then she asked if I was planning to review the book? At least she responded. Do you understand why I continue to beat my head against the wall asking for these interviews? Because that is my job!

Just call me Rodney…

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A Nation that Has Forgotten How To Spell

Every day I peruse the list of the best-selling books on Last Saturday I noticed that they had a banner ad on their front page for books. In bold letters it proclaimed their big books for FEBURARY.

You might imagine that a company as huge and successful as Amazon is would never allow such a mistake to occur. Millions of people probably saw it. Hundreds of Amazon employees surely must scan that page daily, right?

So you would think that it would be noticed and fixed. It wasn’t. I posted messages to Amazon on Facebook and Twitter asking them to fix their spelling error. Nothing happened. It stayed up there through Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. This morning, Tuesday, I saw that it had finally been corrected. For 72 hours, at least, this spelling mistake had been there for the whole world to see.

As a nation, we seem to be forgetting how to spell. I see these kinds of errors every day in press releases, books, even the New York Times for Pete’s sake! (sigh).

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The only good thing about my recent illness

Right before most of us rang in the New Year I was starting to develop a bronchial condition. I thought I was catching a cold. Little did I know.

While the merrymakers were blowing up ordnance and firing their guns at midnight along my rural lane I was in my sick bed. Soon I found that I had been laid low by a case of full blown pneumonia.

Ten days later I’m finally starting to feel slightly human again, mildly optimistic, like I’m going to survive this ordeal.

And a guy cannot sleep all of the time. Between the coughing fits, the medicines, the pain, I spent a lot of time awake in my bed. Awake and dreaming.

Next to me on the bed stand I had a towering stack of books. This was a monumental pile of titles that I have been plowing through at a record pace, about 500 pages a day.

I perused a book about the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Then I blew through a history of the massive tank battle between the Soviets and Germans at Kursk. Those books had been on my to read pile since last summer.

Breezed through a couple of crime fiction titles, and so on. I may have been in hell with my illness but as a reader I was in heaven. And these books took me away from my sick bed.

There I was leading my Panzer Division into a trap. Here I am wading through the Warsaw sewers. John Rebus made me chuckle at this musical joke; brown shoes don’t make it. Thank you, Frank Zappa, and Ian Rankin.

And thank heaven for books and for the power of the imagination. My sick bed was a happier place with my big stack of escapes.

Now I’m heading back to my joyful pile…

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Kidnapped Cleveland Women Writing Book About Their Captive Ordeal

This press release just crossed my desk:

Amanda Berry / Gina DeJesus Book to be Published by Viking

New York, New York: “Clare Ferraro, president of Viking and Plume, announced today that Viking is the publisher of the upcoming book by Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, two of the three women kidnapped and held captive for ten years by Ariel Castro in Cleveland. The book, which has yet to be titled, will be written with Washington Post journalists Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan. World rights were acquired from Robert Barnett of Williams & Connolly LLP. Viking plans to publish in 2015.”

“Discussing the book, Clare Ferraro said, “Viking is proud to be the publisher of this incredible story of human endurance. We, with Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan’s help, will produce a book that honors Amanda and Gina’s sacrifice and triumphant spirit.”

“Amanda and Gina have great confidence that Mary and Kevin will tell their story of courage and hope in a compelling and sensitive way and are thrilled that Viking, such a well-respected publisher, will be producing the book,” said Jim Wooley, Henry Hilow, and Heather Kimmel, attorneys for Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus.”

“Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan are Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists for the Washington Post, who have written extensively about difficulties facing women around the world. Jordan, a native of the West Side of Cleveland, where Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were raised, is a writer and editor as well as head of content for Washington Post Live. She and Sullivan, a senior correspondent at the Post, are married and live in Washington D.C. with their two children.”

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Amazon Drones? Hype? Or Possible Future Reality?

Just over a week ago Jeff Bezos, the mastermind behind the largest bookseller on the planet made the announcement that Amazon was looking into the possibility of offering expedited deliveries some time in the future by drone. That’s right, picture a drone flying up to your house with a package containing the latest novel by Nora Roberts, or that ink cartridge you needed for your printer. Sounds like science fiction, right?

Of course this mention of Amazon drone deliveries by Bezos has gotten a ton of press. People are still talking about it. Which leads this observer to observe that the timing was perfect and that this was more of a well-timed PR stunt that anything else. Here’s why I think that: Bezos made the announcement on the big shopping weekend after Thanksgiving. The next day was the humongous internet sales day; Cyber Monday. Amazon is the beast of the internet. All their billions in sales are executed on-line. Bezos was hyping Amazon and thus hyping Cyber Monday. The press ate it up. Mission accomplished. Drone delivery was actually PR delivery. Smart guy this Jeff Bezos.

Will we ever see drone delivery by Amazon? Perhaps. But I think in this case we were seeing another example of Amazon hype delivery by their clever founder. And not much more than that… what do you think??

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