HOLY CRAP…NOT ANOTHER “OOPS!”

February 6, 2016

lose

Last week I attended a workshop on book marketing during which someone asked the group if they knew anyone who had ever published a totally mistake-free book.  Well, I certainly was not one to jump out of my seat and yell, “oooh, oooh, call on me!”  In fact, if the question had been asked if anyone ever published a book and a year later was still discovering errors in it, well, then I may have sheepishly raised my hand and admitted it.

The only thing that helps me deal with my mistake-prone publishing experience is the fact that I have discovered even the big boys and girls at prestigious publishing houses are just as capable of having something slip through the proofing process.  That’s why it is not so unusual to pick up a New Times best-seller and, yep, right their on page 264 is this glaring fopa.

I know there are some people who think they are finished with a writing task once spell-check has scanned through every word.  The problem with spell-check, as everyone eventually finds out, is that it is not flawless and cannot differentiate among the different correct spellings of a word.  Hence, correct  usage of their vs. there vs. they’re goes unchecked.

No one beats him/herself up as much as I do when I come upon a mistake in one of my books. It’s a devastating and embarrassing moment with “I can’t believe this is happening again” undertones.  So, you can imagine the tantrum I threw last night when I discovered a mistake in my new, just-relaesed book, Anchor.  What is especially disturbing about this mistake is that I took a few extra measures this time to ensure that it did NOT happen.  I even missed Anchor’s original publication deadline because I decided to read the entire book one more time knowing I would find that one mistake “that got away.”

Well, good for me, this extra read actually uncovered more than one such “got away’s.”  BUT, it missed one too…at least I hope it was only one. The irony, and nasty insult, was that this particular mistake is a lone missing “a” …AND IT WAS IN THE VERY FIRST LINE OF THE PREFACE AT THE FRONT OF THE BOOK.

Fortunately, my book is “POD” which means print-on-demand.  Unlike traditional book-making, a copy of Anchor is printed only when one is ordered (demanded). Consequently, I don’t have twenty cartons of the mistake stacked up in every corner of the house.  I just have twenty copies of it stacked on the shelf of a closet.  All I have to do is upload a new, corrected file to my publisher and within a day or two anyone ordering the book will get this latest version.  Will it be totally mistake-free?  Im knot saying.

*****


About a Movie…Reely!

February 1, 2016

re_select_2.00001895 Inspired by true events, THE REVENANT is an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man’s epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. It is directed and co-written by renowned filmmaker, Academy Award-winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman, Babel). Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox. Copyright © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. THE REVENANT Motion Picture Copyright © 2015 Regency Entertainment (USA), Inc. and Monarchy Enterprises S.a.r.l. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

[First, a warning…this posting contains a paragraph that some may consider violent and you are advised to cover your eyes when you come to it or otherwise proceed to the next paragraph. Also, if you have not seen the movie, The Revenant, and plan to, there may be some spoilers presented here about scenes in the movie…but nothing dealing with the plot and its outcome.  One more also…this is not a movie review, just some observations about one.]

So the premise is threefold: First, I rarely go to the movies anymore; second, I won’t go to a movie that has a lot of violence in it; and third, I won’t go the to movies on Saturday night because it’s date night and the theaters are always over-crowded and over-priced.

Saturday night I went to see The Revenant.

Yeah, I know. How the hell did that happen? Well, I was upstate a couple hundred miles in Jacksonville, Florida for the weekend. I went there to attend a workshop for authors about ways to market yourself and your books. (Oh, by the way, I must tell you I am an author and I’ve written six books, all of which you can purchase on amazon…go to marckuhn.com to learn more.)

While I was at the workshop, my wife spent time with Bridgette, one of our granddaughters who lives in Jacksonville. The three of us went to an early dinner Saturday and then decided we’d go to a movie. I silently gulped, and did not mention the Saturday night thingy. So Bridgette whips out her telephonaroonie, as I refer to it, and after a brief conversation between her and her phone, she read out the list of movies showing at a theater just about ten minutes away. The Revenant was the winner. I didn’t vote.

Okay, over the past week or two, as I passed in front of the television on the way to the kitchen, I have noticed a few commercials that are currently running to promote The Revenant. Now that we’re on our way to see this movie, I’m thinkin’ “okay, guy gets really messed up in the woods by a snarly grizzly and then has to crawl his way out with a body that is bearly (misspelled pun intended) able to move.” Items to make note of: winter…wilderness…lots of freezing cold temps…snow and unfriendly people everywhere. I figure I can make it through the bear attack if I concentrate on the popcorn and Twizzlers in my lap and then cheer on Leonardo DiCaprio as he claws his way back to civilization and a possible Oscar. I can do this.

Trouble was, I really did not know much about the movie. No one told me about all the arrows that the Indians shoot at the white men and how visually accurate is the depiction of the arrows as they penetrate human skulls and chests and backs and just about every other part of the body.
No one told me about how perceptively real Hollywood can show how a knife and hatchet can likewise sliver and slice their way through various appendages of the human body. I do recall someone telling me perception is reality. No one told me that one can survive the bitter cold of the American wilderness in the 1800’s by slicing open a dead horse, disgorging all its guts and organs and then refilling the now-empty cavity with oneself so you can sleep a another night without freezing to death. I could go on.

Well, if Leonardo can survive this trek, albeit having all the hot chocolate he wanted from the actors’ commissary, I suppose I survived it even without the hot chocolate. The movie ran a little over two-and-a-half hours. It was amazing my restless body remained seated from start to finish. Several times I found myself thinking, “okay, I get it. It’s cold, he’s hurt and there’s lots of snow. Can we move on?”

I left The Revenant convinced of two things. First, I am so happy I live in Florida. I will never move north again. And, second, while all the talk is about Leonard DiCaprio finally snagging an Oscar for Best Actor, it’s the villain, Tom Hardy, who should definitely take home the one for Best Supporting. The bear was pretty good too.

*****


ANCHOR IS FINALLY PUBLISHED…LET’S HOPE IT DOESN’T SINK….

January 24, 2016

BLOGCOLLAGE

Anchor, my third novel, is set in two environments that are near and dear to me. First, my hometown of Philadelphia.  Second, my lifelong career in radio broadcasting.  Ryan Healy is the center character of the book.  He is the morning news anchor on the city’s most popular radio station, Newsradio 970, WJBN.  Ryan’s audience is huge and no one else on the radio dial comes close to the market share he holds.

But the story is not specifically about a news anchor in the city of Philadelphia.  These two elements serve as environments in which the story takes place.  The book is really about relationships.  Ryan has three.  In each there is a degree of a love/hate conflict going on.  The question is, can both exist within a loving relationship and, if so, which one eventually prevails.

Anchor is not necessarily a suspenseful page-turner as much as it is, I hope, a good story with characters who will keep you involved.  You can count on my traditional “holy crap” ending which should evoke a “Wow!” in thought if not verbally escaping your mouth.

Brief commercial:  The book is available in paperback or e-version, both at amazon.com (search “anchor, kuhn”) or at barnesandnoble.com.  The book’s website is:  http://readanchor.com    …And here following are the first few pages of Chapter 1:

[Cue open theme, fade/announce over…]

“Today is Wednesday, January 13, 1982.  It’s a cold 17 degrees in Center City Philadelphia. We’ll reach a high of only 23 with fog and light snow throughout the day. The top story we’re following this hour: ice on the wings is suspected to be the cause of yesterday’s plane crash in Washington, D.C.  Air Florida’s flight 90 took off from National Airport in a snow storm and was barely airborne before it crashed into the 14th Street Bridge and then fell into the frigid Potomac River.  78 passengers and crew are known dead.  We have several reports on this tragedy.  You’re listening to the news leader for Philadelphia and the greater Delaware Valley—this is WJBN, NewsRadio 970.  I’m Ryan Healy.  It’s 7 o’clock.  Good morning!”

[Cue end theme, segue to network…]

Chapter 1

In all his 32 years, Ryan Healy had never thought about killing anyone.  This was a first, and he was attacking the problem as he did everything else in his life—methodically, focused and thoroughly determined. He had never dreamed in the slightest that it would come to this.  His life up to this point, while not a particularly happy one, had provided a good career and a higher education beyond anyone else in the family’s history.

That history had its roots a little over a century before, when what was known as the Great Potato Famine swept across the farmlands of Ireland.  Unexpected crop failures began in 1845 caused by what was later determined to be a wind-borne fungus.  Over the next four years, Ireland would suffer unprecedented potato crop failure and, along with it, massive starvation.  The British, the most obvious to come to their neighbor’s rescue, looked the other way and felt it best to let the problem resolve itself.  This officially adopted policy of laissez-faire ensured that no food aid of any kind would reach their neighbor’s shores. As a result, nearly a million Irish immigrants fled to America.  Among them were the ancestors of Ryan Patrick Healy, now a third generation Irish-American, born in Misericordia Hospital in West Philadelphia on a drizzly June morning in 1950.

Ryan’s upbringing was embedded in the discipline and traditions of the working-class Irish-American culture.  His father and grandfather before him were devout Catholics who embellished their ranks with large families and contributed to the building of neighborhood churches with robust parishes.  Sunday Mass was always well attended.

The children were schooled in strict allegiance to Church doctrine.  They were taught that the family and church were the core social elements in their lives; the purpose of school was to learn the three R’s and establish discipline.  Most, at a young age, had already experienced the whack of a nun’s ruler on the back of their hands.  This was the environment in which Ryan was raised; the one that he adhered to and whose values guided his life.  Planning a murder, especially his wife’s, was something that was…well, it was totally out of character.

After Ryan’s father returned home from the war in 1945, there was little break between pregnancies for his mother.  Ryan was the third child born, preceded by two sisters, Megan and Colleen, and followed by a brother, Matthew.  Once the children were old enough to be on their own, they would scatter in different directions after school. But every one of them could be counted on to be home by six and seated at the dining room table having dinner.  It was a standing family rule as long as Ryan could remember:  everyone was due home for dinner.  His father insisted it was the one time each day that everyone should be together.  It was not uncommon for his father to go around the table during dinner, asking each child to tell everyone what he or she had done that day.

Ryan’s father was big on tradition, especially Irish tradition. St. Patrick’s Day was almost as important as Christmas.  His mother prepared a huge dinner on this day and there would always be guests, either relatives or friends.  Corned beef and cabbage would headline the menu.  If you wanted a different main course, you’d have to go elsewhere on St. Patrick’s Day and, of course, that was forbidden.

At this dinner, instead of the children giving their daily activity report, they had an entirely different assignment.  A few days before, each would randomly select a piece of paper from a bowl.  On each piece of paper was a sibling’s name.  Each child would have to write a limerick—suitable for family presentation—about the person they had selected.  The children would then stand up and recite their limericks while dessert was served following the St. Patrick’s Day dinner.  The parents would judge who wrote and performed the best limerick each year and that child was excused from having to help with the dishes when the meal was over.   Ryan was a frequent winner.

Birthdays were also a big event.  Dinner on the night of a family member’s birthday would always feature that person’s favorite meal.  A birthday cake and the opening of presents would follow.  On the closest weekend to each member’s birthday the family, as a whole, would participate in an activity selected by that person.  Sometimes it would be a movie, other times a baseball or football game, or a trip to the Jersey Shore.

These were the kinds of family traditions that molded the children as they grew up together, in addition to the teachings of the Catholic Church.  The siblings were close and all got along well with each other.  Matthew would turn out to be the adventurer among them.  He eventually got a scholarship to UCLA and took off for California, never again returning to Philadelphia except for his parents’ funerals.

Growing up, Ryan loved them all and being the eldest son, always felt it was his responsibility to make sure each of his sisters and brother were participating to the fullest in all the family activities. As far back as he could remember, Ryan was committed to continuing all these family traditions when he became an adult, got married and had his own family.

copyright 2015/Marc Kuhn                                                                                                                                                                   *****


WINTERS COMES TO FLORIDA

January 21, 2016

Couple at mountains in winter, Meribel, Alps, France

Here in South Florida, winter was just a tad bit late getting started this year.  Officially, it began exactly one month ago today, back on December 21st.   We don’t pay much attention to that date in this part of the country where weather is king and the tags on the rear of our cars proclaim our residency in “The Sunshine State.”

People come to Florida, especially at this time of year, to bask in our warm, sunny weather, enjoy the balmy breezes that the palm trees are willing to share, and to dip their toes and eventually everything attached to them into the bath water they call the Atlantic Ocean.  That is sort of what we are all about.  No one in their right frame of mind would consider doing likewise in, let’s say July or August.  That’s when it gets darn hot in South Florida.  It’s the kind of heat that sets up a wall that you can literally feel yourself walking into when you leave the cool confines of your air-conditioned home.

So those of us who live here year-round pay our dues in the summer months and that entitles us to wallow in the joy of winter in Florida.  While we are busy doing that, we sure do get a kick out of watching a good number of our fellow Americans scraping ice off their windshields and shoveling snow from their sidewalks.  In fact we get a good tee-hee moment out of their misery.   I know, it’s kind of perverted.

Winter in our house, at least as far as I’m concerned, commenced this year of January 19th.  That’s the official date because that’s when I first turned on the heater in the house.  Mind you, it was on for only a few hours.  Yep, it was a frigid 69 degrees when I looked at the thermostat in the middle of the night.  I had been awaken by a shivering right leg that had snaked its way out from the sauna beneath my comforter.  Right away I noticed a nip in the air that said hot chocolate, wooly sweaters, and chopped fire wood…well, those are the images that come to mind on a cold day in South Florida.  Thank God, we don’t get many of them.

*****

It’s never to cold to extend a warm thanks to those who have recently visited marc’s blog…your support, indeed, warms my heart, not to mention my toes.  Here they are: Ian Cleary, Mike Alton, Gerald Brownout, Zoe Kuhn Williams, Ron Carmean, Evolutionary Mind, Dan Pryor, Antoinette Prato Shreffler, Unbolt, Rich McMillan, Tom J. Stewart, Dave Graveline, Bridgette McVay, Camie Dunbar, Jay Howard Gershberg, John Caras, Dave LaMont, Natalia Blackie, Terry Schreiber, Buck McWilliams, Sara Hornbeck, Andie Bicho, Miriam Schulman-Kirk, Teri  Griffin, Ronna Woulfe Gershberg, Audrey Winter Driben, Mike Fuller, Tom Duffy, Lori Shepard Grasso.

 


HITCH UP THE TRAILER FOR A PREVIEW OF “ANCHOR”

January 17, 2016

Well, I can just about believe it–the most cantankerous writing experience I’ve had to date is finally about to birth itself.  I say “itself” because this book, my third novel, has had a mind of its own since the first word appeared on my computer monitor.  And even now, a year later, I am not sure what the beast is, but I keep pushing it forward.  At this point, its readers will definitely take over and decide whether or not it’s worthy.  Anchor is still a few weeks off from any kind of “official” launch, but my promotional efforts are slowly falling into rhythm.  Here’s the trailer that I’ve been working on the past week.  I admit, it is fun putting together a video when you haven’t done much of that kind of work in the past.  Perhaps that shows when you watch it, but I’m still “practicing” how to do it.  I think the effort is certainly presentable and I am sure folks in Hollywood aren’t worried about any of my efforts.  The biggest problem is promoting the book and steering away from “spoilers” that would disclose information best left for the reader to discover on his/her own.  Well, enough stalling….here it is!  I would definitely appreciate any kind of feedback you might have–good or bad–so grab some popcorn or a bowl of Chunky Monkey, click on the graphic and have at it!


IN THE TIME OF NICK, I REALIZED MY MISTAKE

January 12, 2016

sabanpic

I am not a football analyst by A N Y stretch of the imagination.  True, I had the rare opportunity of having served as the producer for the radio network broadcasts for a few years each for the Washington Redskins and the Miami Dolphins.  In such a position, one cannot help but become embedded in the sport.  But I was more concerned with the broadcasts than with the touchdowns.  Regardless, football is probably the only sport that I follow each year, but not nearly to the detail that I once did.

Last night’s national collegiate championship game could not have been better. The main reason I watched it was because I do not like Nick Saban and I attempt to watch an Alabama game every chance I get just for the opportunity to root against him and hope his team loses, regardless of the team they’re playing.

Let me clarify why I disliked Saban.  He was the coach of the Miami Dolphins for two seasons.  Like those before and after him, Saban did not display any special coaching magic in his first and only NFL coaching position. He did, however, display a lot of arrogance and bold-faced lying to the media and that’s what rubbed me the wrong way.  In late November 2006, during Saban’s second season with the Dolphins, there were all kinds of rumors about his leaving the team for the coaching job at Alabama.  Alabama had just fired its coach.  Who was that?   Why it was none other than Mike Shula, son of retired Don Shula who pretty much owns South Florida after his coaching dynasty with the Dolphins.

At the time, Saban was insistent that he was not leaving the Dolphins for the Crimson Tide.  In fact, he even answered a reporter’s question in a less-than-nice tone, “I am not leaving to be the Alabama coach.”  He said that the last week in December of 2006.  Just about 2 days into the new year, he up and packed his duffel bag and without further ado, left for Alabama.  I’ve disliked him ever since because he so blatantly and arrogantly lied to the media, but more importantly to Dolphin fans.

But something strange happened last night.  Clemson was good, really good. I got excited because I thought, just maybe, there might actually be a chance for Alabama to lose another championship game.  I did, however say out loud, “never count Alabama out.”  And then, slowly, methodically, plus with a prudent risk of an on-side kick tossed in at a critical and unexpected moment in the game, Alabama slowly took control in the fourth quarter.  Suddenly, I found myself feeling a lot of respect for this team…this team that has always been so effective and, this year, incredibly spirited to boot.  And Nick Saban?  Well maybe I have been a little short-sighted.  There have been a gazillion coaches since Don Shula retired in 1995.  Not one has come close to fielding a Dolphins team worthy of the Shula era.  And the team’s management has had no better reputation, maybe even worse.

So I’m thinking to myself that perhaps it wasn’t Saban’s ego and arrogance that led to his lying. Maybe—and this is just speculation on my part—he was being respectful as a coach/employee by not disclosing any disfavor he may have had at the time with his bosses in Miami.  After all, he was here only two years and, obviously, must have wanted out.  Maybe that was his goal and in order to achieve it he had no choice but to maneuver around the truth a bit.  I have no idea.  But it’s a different perspective than I originally had of the situation.

So, where’d this all this come from so suddenly last night.  Well, following Alabama’s impressive performance, I watched the usual post-game interview with Saban about his big win.  The man totally credited his team with the win—not himself, not once, never.  He said repeatedly how proud he was of the players—not “my” players but “the” players—and how much they—not him—deserved this honor.  As I watched I felt this was not the same man who deserted Miami in the middle of the night.  I don’t think the two personalities mix and the one I watched last night is perhaps more representative of the real Nice Saban.

Well, okay, I think I’ve undergone a change in attitude.  I was wrong.  I misjudged you, Nick Saban, and I apologize. You are one hell of a football coach and your teams, especially the current one, certainly confirm that!

*****


MY POINT HAS YET TO TIP!

January 9, 2016

 

businessman in equilibrium on wire upon the city

Malcolm Gladwell, one of the few people whose books I usually buy the first week they go on sale, is credited (at least by me) for originating the term “tipping point.”  That was the title of his first book that I read back in 2000.  Oh, it had a subtitle too:  How Little Things Can Make A Big. Difference. 

A tipping point is the precise moment when something, or even somebody, makes a significant impact or “is discovered.”  It’s when a product that has been slowly building in purchases hits the big time of mass appeal/mass demand and is suddenly a huge success.  I suppose a good example of someone who experienced an incredible tipping point would be J.K. Rowling when Harry Potter became an overnight success.  Mind you, she spent a lot of time previously being a nobody who sat in a coffee shop writing her books and collecting rejection letters.   For me, a tipping point is an elusive beast.  I keep playing with it at leash-length attempting to figure it out.  So far, I haven’t.

In my last posting (if you are on my blog site, it’s below under this one) I talked about running ads on Facebook and having a bit of a rollercoaster  ride as FB first accepted, then rejected each one of my ads.  The naked lady on the cover of the book I was advertising just didn’t play well with FB’s conservative mindset.

It has always been curious to me how some media easily come under criticism for the least of provocations.  And yet the one medium that permeates just about every household in the USA and, as such, has perhaps more influence than any other is, of course, television.  From this box, now flat screen, I have personally witness just about everything that many people consider offensive: excessive violence, pornography, the f-bomb, vivid depiction of cruelty, etc.  The majority of viewers find all these things are fine for us to watch on television, including allowing our children to join us for most of them.  Yet a non-sexual depiction of the back of a naked middle-aged woman who takes up a space that measures 2” high by 3/8” wide on a book cover that measures 8.5” x 5.5” is censored by a website whose audience is significantly young and open-minded.  Was it she who attracted people to the ad?  Perhaps, even though she appeared very tiny and hard to see.  But then, Gladwell says “little things can make a big difference.”

I ran several different versions of my ad, each time attempting to “tame” the illustration used.  But since the book’s cover is exposed within the video that made up the ad, FB felt the ad could not run.  The commercial shame of it all is that the ads performed REMARKABLY well for the few hours that each ran.  On Jan. 5 the video was watched 414 times which represented  40.5%  of the people on whose FB page the ad was placed.   The following day, a second ad placed after a slight revision to the illustration and before FB shut it down, achieved a 51.24% return.  Advertising experts, I think, would agree that this is an outstanding response to something like this .  Over 1000 people watched my video during  the short period of time my ads ran.  But here’s the kicker, out of that 1000 people, no one made a purchase.

On the cover of the new book I am about to launch (titled, Anchor) there is the illustration of another lady. This one is wearing a robe and she’s dead.  I suspect she will not cause me any problems.  In the meantime, my tipping point, if ever there is to be one, remains untilted.

****


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