5 Ways to Get People Talking About Your Brand, Both Online and Off

22 March 2018

From AdWeek:

Across continents and generations, research shows that the recommendations of friends are trusted more than any other form of advertising. People love to hear, watch and share stories with the people who matter most to them. The Story feature on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and even Google encourages users to share their choices and experiences more frequently than ever.

Rather than interrupt those stories with ads, your brand can become the topic of these stories—if you deliver an experience worth sharing. The main factor that drives these experiences is not the size of your staff or marketing budget; it’s something we all possess: creativity.

Below are five key touchpoints to consider when creating your strategy to spark shareworthy stories about your brand.

Use your staff as story drivers

People value authentic human connection in a brand experience. Lyft’s social media interaction with customers is a great example of elevating the “customer service” to “customer celebration.”

But you don’t need a whole social media department to spark these stories. The Library Hotel, a boutique hotel in Midtown Manhattan, sparks conversations in the lobby and online by adding staff members’ favorite books to their name badges and celebrating shared enthusiasm for reading. This inexpensive action inspires selfies that get shared and liked across the web.

Make a scene

An aesthetic environment encourages people to take and share pictures. By elevating the traditional brewery visit into a more interactive, multi-sensory experience, Guinness found an engaging and picturesque way to tell its story and quickly became the most popular attraction in Ireland. Merci, a concept store in Paris, uses affordable materials to constantly innovate the interior of their store through a simple rope installation. Customers happily share this experience with friends and regularly return out of curiosity.

Link to the rest at AdWeek


The Novel Versus the Short Story

22 March 2018

From The Millions:

The novel’s superiority over the short story has long been a subject of contentious debate among writers, readers, and publishers, and is in no danger of being resolved to anyone’s satisfaction in the near or distant future. The New York publishing world’s privileging of the novel over the short story, with a few notable exceptions, helps to assure the novel’s primacy among today’s prose forms, and booksellers likewise feature more novels on their frontlist and new paperback tables than short story collections.

Certainly there are other reasons why novels, along with memoirs (putative autobiographies, in which their authors often employ the conventions of the novel), are the dominant prose forms on offer in bookstores, but if more short story collections were published by corporate publishing houses, it seems a reasonable assumption that their sales and marketing departments would then necessarily be tasked with promoting them with the same publicity muscle and marketing ingenuity used to promote long-form fiction titles.

Some readers complain that the short story doesn’t allow them to fully inhabit the fictional world the author has created because they feel as if the story is over almost as soon as it begins, but this has always struck me as a hollow reproach, one easily remedied by more careful reading, by slowing down and calling on all five senses instead of proceeding solely with the devouring eye that savors little of what it alights upon.

. . . .

Outside Is the Ocean is novelistic in scope, spanning 42 years, with the earliest story set in 1967 and the latest in 2019—the force of Heike’s big personality reverberating through every story. In order to escape the unreasonable expectations she has of their mother-son relationship, and her recriminations when he can’t meet them, Stewart flees to the other side of the country as soon as he reaches adulthood and eventually becomes a college professor in Boston.

Stewart’s father, Raymond, is also an academic whom he sees rarely, and in the stories where Stewart does visit his father, he is treated with hostility if he fails to behave or perform exactly as his father demands. Although it would be easy to portray both Raymond and Heike in a villainous light, Lansburgh manages to suffuse the stories that focus on them with pathos, ensuring they are fully realized, complicated characters whose sorrows and disappointments ultimately feel as immediate as Stewart’s do.

Link to the rest at The Millions

PG says you can publish short stories and collections of short stories to your heart’s content on KDP.

On a tangentially related topic, PG is reading an excellent series of short articles about the ancient wars between the Greek city-states and between the Greeks and Persians. The short articles can feel like an easier journey than a single long volume.

For your general ancient history information, experts in the field have written about the influence of hoplite military tactics on the civit cultures of Athens, Thebes and Sparta.

For your further ancient history information, Socrates fought as an Athenian hoplite in three major battles. That fact certainly changed the way PG regards the philosophical teachings of the great man.

Despite the topic, if you wish to consider the book, you can find it here.

Can Blocking Ads Help Artists?

22 March 2018

From The Trichordist:

In the fight for fair pay artists are not at war with the Internet or really even the streaming services, we are at war with the online advertising industry.   As we have demonstrated time and time again, subscription (paid) music streaming services pay at least 7 times the rate that the free services pay.   When you see artists (like myself) post absurdly low royalty payments it’s usually from one of the services that is predominately ad supported. Above is a chart that illustrates this nicely.

So for artists the solution seems easy:  get rid of ad-supported free tiers.  The problem is that in order to do away with these ad-supported tiers we have to fight not just the music streaming services but we have to fight the real power behind the throne:  the online advertising industry which is dominated by Google. Indeed all three ad supported services above rely on Google to serve their ads.

. . . .

So what would happen if most consumers decided to block ads?

First of all it’s not a question of if consumers will block ads but when.  Consumers have grown increasingly suspicious of the entire ad tech industry.  It’s not just the annoying banners, pop-ups and pre-rolls that slow down our browsing experience, consumers have finally become aware of the industrial scale data mining and spying operations used by the online advertising industry. These companies are tracking virtually every web page you visit and often know your physical location to within a few meters.

. . . .

While it’s relatively easy now to block pop-ups and banner ads it’s more difficult to block ads on Spotify and YouTube.   But it is doable (if a little clunky)  and it is only a matter of time before ad blocking technology catches up with the streaming services. Apple has announced its intention to allow ad blocking in the newest IOS.  It’s unclear if this will eventually block ads in Spotify and YouTube but most users would welcome it.

So what happens to artists if this happens?  If it becomes suddenly possible to block all ads?

In the short term artists would lose revenue.   But it is not as bad as you think.  If ALL the free streams on Spotify went away IMMEDIATELY artists would see their Spotify payments drop only 16%.

. . . .

YouTube is the biggest digital platform of all. Yet as a songwriter I received $12.87 from YouTube last quarter.  By my calculations YouTube paid all rights holders (label/publisher/songwriter) less than $340 for access to my catalogue.  YouTube revenue is not gonna save artists and or the industry at large.   I will barely miss it.  And YouTube is clearly inhibiting the growth of subscription services that pay higher revenues.

Link to the rest at The Trichordist

Stop Looking For One War Story To Make Sense Of All Wars

22 March 2018

From The Literary Hub:

Sometimes in conversations about my book, the person with whom I’m speaking to brings up how unusual it is for Marines—especially enlisted infantry Marines—to write so articulately, poetically, and lyrically. It’s meant as a compliment, so I nod and smile, make a self-deprecating joke about being a dumb knuckle dragger. The person usually follows up by asking if I read and wrote a lot during my enlistment or if it was hard being an artistic type in the military. The main supposition being that the average grunt must be too stupid to write. But underlying it all is the idea that veteran writers have certain personality traits—that they have to be wily, intelligent outsiders who don’t take kindly to routine.

At my high school in Indiana I was a C-average student. I never read T.E. Lawrence in country. I never quoted Stephen Crane before patrols or recited Alfred, Lord Tennyson before raids. All of this is to say: I was not that unique, standout, thoughtful anomaly people have in their heads of veteran writers. I didn’t keep a journal or write or even read very much aside from Marine Corps publications and James Patterson novels while I was enlisted. I watched a lot of porn. I wasn’t quirky, individualistic, or flighty. I didn’t think about the legality and justification of the war until I left the Marines. The military—and especially the Marine Corps—doesn’t want quirky. It wants people who have the ability to think and problem solve and make decisions. But they also want people who do those things while following the orders of their superiors mechanically.

The romantic image of the warrior poet is pervasive throughout our culture. It’s a symptom of the civilian-military divide. Who decides to share their stories, who does not, and what kinds of stories are culturally acceptable are root causes of that symptom. Most memoirs written and published about the Forever Wars are from the perspective of officers or elite forces. The average enlisted grunt experience gets a lack of airplay.

. . . .

Many of the problems concerning enlisted representation have to do with the culture of silence surrounding grunt units. We’re told not to talk about what we do. We’re told we’re malingers if we go to sick call. We’re told to lie on psyche evaluations lest we be booted from our units and locked in padded cells. We’re told people won’t understand us and they’ll twist our words and make us into monsters.

. . . .

When I was finally ready to talk about that stuff I felt I had to have some deep philosophical thing to say, because that’s what I’d seen other vets doing. I wanted to present my story like I’d learned something important from my experience or had gained some knowledge others couldn’t. I tried to brandish my perspective like a hot iron and in doing so I discounted the experiences of others, both military and civilian, as well as cheapened and made facile my own. It wasn’t my voice and smart readers could see through my bullshit. I couldn’t imagine an alternative—I felt locked into the styles and narratives I’d been reading. I felt like people didn’t want to hear my voice.

To tell our stories well we’ve got to ignore how other people think our voices should be heard. We’ve got to ignore what other people think are valid experiences to write about. We’ve got to think about what mattered to us when we were at war. We’ve got to think about what we wish we’d known. We’ve got to think about the things that made us laugh and want to die. We’ve got to realize there might not be a lesson in our experience, there might be no moral, there might not be a tight bow with which to wrap up our stories. We’ve got to give ourselves time and distance to process and understand and then we’ve got to shine a holy light of brutal honesty in the places civilians aren’t allowed to see. Show them what war is to the individual—create a primary source mosaic of experience.

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

The author of this piece is Matt Young. His memoir is Eat the Apple.

I don’t believe

21 March 2018

I don’t believe in reincarnation, and I didn’t believe in it when I was a hamster.

Shane Richie

Swedish Supreme Court says that painting based on photograph is new and independent creation and hence … non-infringing

21 March 2018

From The IPKat:

The case reported is colloquially known as Swedish scapegoats – a case from 2017 that made all the way up to the Swedish Supreme Court, and concerned a copyright dispute between the author of a close-up photograph and the author of a painting that was based on that photograph.

Markus Andersson is a Swedish artist who primarily paints images in oil and watercolor. In 2006 he was invited to exhibit his oil paintings at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm (The Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art). Mr Andersson exhibited a number of oil paintings of Swedish people, represented as scapegoats (a scapegoat is someone that is used to lay the blame on for all that goes wrong). Amongst others, there was a painting depicting the prosecuted – but subsequently freed of charges – Christer Petterson, ie the alleged murderer of former Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme.

The portrait used as a basis for the painting of Christer Pettersson was a photograph by Jonas Lemberg. Mr Lemberg had followed and photographed Christer Petterson for a few days in 2005. One of the photographs taken by the Mr Lemberg was a close-up portrait of Christer Petterson that was consequently circulated on Swedish media.

Mr Lemberger’s picture (left) and Mr Andersson’s painting (right) Click on image for a larger version

. . . .

The painting used dull colours in a rugged landscape and – compared to the photograph – featured a goat depicted in the upper right corner in the background. A photograph of the painting was subsequently uploaded onto Mr Andersson’s website and also sold in poster format.

When finding out about the painting, Mr Lemberg claimed that the artist had infringed the copyright in his close-up portrait of Mr Christer Petterson.

. . . .

The Solna District Court held that, because main focus of the painting was Christer Petterson, which was also the case in the close-up photograph, the painting could not be considered a new and independent work, but rather an adaptation of the original work. This was the case despite the alteration of the environment, such as the dull colours, the rugged landscape and the goat.

The Court of Appeal, however, held that the painting could not be regarded as an adaptation of the close-up portrait but rather as a new and independent work. In the Court of Appeal’s judgment it is stated that “the face of Christer Petterson has … been highlighted and the face seems less angular than in the photograph. In addition, the colours in the painting are more subdued and adapted to the background, which also causes some differences in how the light falls over the face”.

. . . .

According to 4 § of the Swedish Copyright Act (SCA), a person who has made an adaptation of a work or shall have copyright in the work in the new form, but the right to exploit it shall be subject to the copyright in the original work. Hence, the exclusive rights of the author of the adaptation would be dependent on the original photographer’s rights. 

. . . .

If the artistic individuality that embodies the older work appears as dominant in the new work, then it would be merely regarded as an adaptation. If, however, the new work is characterized by the author’s own expression of individuality and originality, it would be regarded as a new and independent creation.

In making its assessment, the Supreme Court stated that the painting must be considered in its entirety. Hence, even though Christer Petterson is at the centre of the painting, the dominant composition thereof essentially differs from the photograph. The dull colours, the rugged landscape and, above all, the symbolic goat – all give the painting a completely different meaning than the one conveyed by the original photograph.

Link to the rest at The IPKat

  1. PG advises that, if you want a peaceful life (at least in the US), you not make quite the same use of the photo as the painter did in the OP.
  2. Is PG the only one for whom the painting is quite unattractive?

“Blurred Lines” Verdict Upheld by Appeals Court in Win for Marvin Gaye Family

21 March 2018

From The Hollywood Reporter:

A jury’s 2015 verdict punishing Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for infringing Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” to create the international chart-topper “Blurred Lines” was a controversial one in the musical community with some believing that the $5.3 million judgment would chill musical creativity. But Wednesday, a divided panel at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals largely affirmed the verdict in a lengthy decision that provides a huge win for Gaye’s family.

The majority opinion from Circuit Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. rejects the Thicke camp’s argument that Gaye’s copyright is only entitled to “thin” protection, commenting, “Musical compositions are not confined to a narrow range of expression.”

Smith looks at the 1909 Copyright Act, which was the law until the mid-1970s and didn’t protect sound recordings. “Got to Give It Up” was one of the last songs created before the law was amended, and as such, the trial judge decided that only the sheet music deposited with the U.S. Copyright Office was entitled to protection. The 9th Circuit, however, decides not to resolve the question of whether the scope of Gaye’s copyrights was limited to the sheet music.

Nor will the appeals court disrupt the trial judge’s decision not to allow the jury to hear the actual sound recording with cowbells and party noises. Additionally, the appeals court affirms the trial judge’s discretion in allowing testimony from Gaye’s music experts, which the defendants asserted illegitimately incorporated opinions about the similarity of the sound recordings.

. . . .

A good part of the appellate discussion is directed at damages where the jury awarded 50 percent of publishing revenue for “Blurred Lines” as actual damages. That amounted to nearly $3.2 million and the appeals court says that testimony from an expert regarding this wasn’t speculative. Additionally, the trial judge and jury awarded profits in the amount of $1.8 million against Thicke and $357K against Williams, and the conclusion by the 9th Circuit is that the award wasn’t clearly erroneous. The Gayes also will be able to get a running royalty rate of 50 percent.

. . . .

The decision offered a sharp dissent from Judge Jacqueline Nguyen and a rebuttal from Smith and Judge Mary Murguia.

Nguyen blasts the outcome.

“The majority allows the Gayes to accomplish what no one has before: copyright a musical style,” she writes. “‘Blurred Lines’ and ‘Got to Give It Up’ are not objectively similar. They differ in melody, harmony, and rhythm. Yet by refusing to compare the two works, the majority establishes a dangerous precedent that strikes a devastating blow to future musicians and composers everywhere.”

She continues by addressing the experts.

“While juries are entitled to rely on properly supported expert opinion in determining substantial similarity, experts must be able to articulate facts upon which their conclusions — and thus the jury’s findings — logically rely,” states the dissent. “Here, the Gayes’ expert, musicologist Judith Finell, cherry-picked brief snippets to opine that a ‘constellation’ of individually unprotectable elements in both pieces of music made them substantially similar. That might be reasonable if the two constellations bore any resemblance. But Big and Little Dipper they are not. The only similarity between these ‘constellations’ is that they’re both compositions of stars.”

Link to the rest at The Hollywood Reporter

Harry Potter and the Prisoner

21 March 2018

From The Jesuit Post:

Growing up, my brother and I fought all the time. He played football; I sang soprano in the boys choir. He listened to as much gangsta rap as he could get his hands on, while I waited in line at midnight to get the latest Harry Potter book. I was a teacher’s pet where he was a regular in the principal’s office. His constant refrain was “you have no friends!” I would shout back “when they put you in jail, I’m not coming to visit!” He was the bullying cousin Dudley to my Harry Potter.

My brother has been in prison for most of the last five years. He was convicted on a minor drug charge soon after graduating from high school, and spiraled quickly into harder drugs as he found himself caught up in the Pennsylvania prison system. Driven by the thirst for profit, the commonwealth’s corporate prisons have fostered his dependence on the system so that their coffers might remain full. In particular, they regularly send him to solitary confinement for infractions that any outside observer would dismiss as a reasonable reaction to the toxic blend of addiction, loneliness, and helplessness that defines his daily existence. As a family, we share that helplessness with him, especially when the strictures of solitary confinement prevent even a phone call. We came to learn that the best way to communicate with a person so imprisoned is by sending books through Amazon.com.

Once my parents found out that we could send him books, they started a steady stream of reading material. From my dad, the latest crime fiction and sports history; from my mom, a grab bag of New York Times best-sellers. I got regular updates from them about his favorites–I think he’s read the entire John Grisham back catalog at this point. I was shocked to find out, then, that he had started to read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I was flabbergasted to hear that he had devoured it. He asked my parents to send along the rest and quickly became attached to the characters to whom I had turned for refuge as a child. He couldn’t believe he had ignored these stories for so long.

As a Jesuit novice, my funds were severely limited so I couldn’t participate in the de facto book-of-the-week club with my parents. I wanted to help, though, so I outsourced my contribution. I emailed a group of close friends, citing their many offers to help over the years. I told them what he’d liked so far and encouraged them to pass on something they thought he would like. Because he was still in solitary confinement, we assumed the books arriving, but had no way of knowing for sure. Finally, his attorney managed to get a visit in. They talked for hours and she emerged with messages for each of us. I received an email from her that said “Tell Jake to let all his friends know how much he loves all the books. He was overwhelmed.”

In that stark fluorescent light, my brother entered the world that for so many years had been my refuge from him. He mourned for Professor Dumbledore, he got excited about the Triwizard Tournament, he sorted himself into Slytherin house. He told me about his attachment to Neville, the sad sack who emerges as a hero. And in that dingy waiting room, over a revolting microwaveable cheeseburger, we reconciled. We laughed in a brotherly way that had eluded us for our first 24 years together. We reminisced about our least favorite teacher, and fretted about our youngest brother’s progress in school. He told me about his defense of scrawny new prisoners, and I told him about how I’d been sent to help seventh-graders study for vocab tests. It was refreshingly normal.

The Bible is littered with stories of brothers at odds: Cain and Abel, the Prodigal Son and his scornful brother, plus Joseph and David and their respective broods. Consistently, God works through fraternal animosity to accomplish something greater. Stark contrasts in character lead to moments of surprising grace. For most of my life, I’ve tried to distance myself from my brother’s embarrassing behavior. But despite my best efforts, God brought us back together.

Link to the rest at The Jesuit Post and thanks to Noreen for the tip.

PG wonders if anyone can recommend a quality charitable organization that provides books to prisoners to which he could make a donation.

Why Jewish History Is So Hard to Write

21 March 2018

From The New Yorker:

“Can there be a history of a slave?” When Isaak Markus Jost asked this question, in the introduction to his “General History of the Israelite People,” published in 1832, it was by no means clear that Jewish history was a viable scholarly discipline. To many people, Jost knew, it might seem that the important part of the Jewish story had ended with the Bible, leaving only a long sequel of passive suffering. “It is commonly held that where independent activity has ceased, there too history has ceased,” he noted. And where was the independent activity in Jewish history? Ever since Judea was crushed by the Roman Empire, the Jews had possessed none of the things that made for the usual history of a nation: territory, sovereignty, power, armies, kings. Instead, the noteworthy events in Jewish history were expulsions, such as the ones that drove the Jews out of England, in 1290, and Spain, in 1492, or massacres, such as the ones that cost thousands of Jewish lives in the Rhineland during the Crusades and in Ukraine in the seventeenth century.

To a generation of German scholars engaged in inventing what they called Wissenschaft des Judentums, “the science of Judaism,” it was crucial to overcome this despairing view. Above all, it was necessary to rebut the greatest historical thinker of the age, Hegel, who had elevated the writing of history into a branch of philosophy. Hegel saw the entirety of world history—or, at least, of European history, which for him was what counted—as a progressive revelation of the spirit. Each civilization had its contribution to make to the formation of humanity; when it had done so, it inevitably crumbled, making way for the next stage.

This scheme had trouble explaining one civilization in particular. In the early nineteenth century, there were no more Egyptian dynasties, Greek city-states, or Roman emperors; but there were still Jews, practicing the same religion that their ancestors had, millennia earlier. For Hegel, the historical function of Judaism ceased once its values had been universalized by Christianity: “The Temple of Zion is destroyed; the God-serving nation is scattered to the winds.” So what explained the Jewish refusal to fade into history?

The first modern historians of Judaism converged on the idea that it endured because its contribution to human civilization was of eternal relevance. This contribution was characterized by various writers as “the unlimited unity of the all,” “the universal spirit which is within us,” or “the God-idea.” What they shared was a conviction that Judaism was defined by ethical monotheism and Messianic hope. If Jews never stopped preaching these ideas, it was because the world always stood in need of them. In the words of Heinrich Graetz, the greatest of nineteenth-century Jewish historians, “Judaism is not a religion of the present but of the future,” which looks “forward to the ideal future age . . . when the knowledge of God and the reign of justice and contentment shall have united all men in the bonds of brotherhood.”

. . . .

[E]very generation of historians draws a picture of the Jewish past that is bound up with what they think about the Jewish future. And those visions of the future generally turn out to be wrong, because the past two centuries have seen continual, radical upheavals in Jewish life. After the French Revolution and Napoleon’s conquests brought legal emancipation to Jews in much of Western Europe, for instance, many Jews began to think of their Jewishness as a private matter, an individual religious choice. They were not Jews who happened to live in France, say, the way other Jews in the past had lived in Spain or Persia, but “Frenchmen of the Mosaic faith.” But the persistence of anti-Semitism, as demonstrated in the Dreyfus Affair, convinced a later generation of Jews that this was a vain hope—that Jews were indeed a nation, and had better find a state of their own if they were to survive. This was the conclusion that turned Theodor Herzl, a highly assimilated Viennese journalist who barely observed Jewish customs, into the founder of modern Zionism.

. . . .

But, of course, Judaism is not the name of a people; it is the name of a religion, a system of beliefs and practices. Perhaps, then, the story should begin with “Moses our teacher,” the lawgiver who brought God’s commandments down from Mount Sinai. It was Moses who turned being Jewish into a way of life, involving everything from ethical behavior (thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal) to inscrutable rituals and taboos (thou shalt not wear a garment made of mixed linen and wool). It is perhaps this double founding—by Abraham and Moses, as a people and as a faith—that is the key to the Jews’ historical durability.

. . . .

According to the late historian Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, modern Jewish historiography rejects “premises that were basic to all Jewish conceptions of history in the past.” That is the central argument of Yerushalmi’s 1982 book, “Zakhor,” one of the most influential works on Jewish history of the last half century. “Zakhor” is the Hebrew word for “remember,” a command delivered many times in the Bible, and it is possible to see Judaism itself as a technology of memory, a set of practices designed to make the past present. Read the Bible closely and you will find that the holiday of Passover, which commemorates the Jews’ exodus from Egypt, is established by Moses before the exodus actually takes place. It is as though the miracle happens primarily so that it can be remembered.

Link to the rest at The New Yorker

The two books discussed in the OP are A History of Judaism: From Its Origins to the Present, by Martin Goodman, and The Story of the Jews Volume Two: Belonging: 1492-1900, by Simon Schama

Lessons From Watching A Classmate Become A Famous Author

20 March 2018

From BookRiot:

I spent a few semesters in creative writing workshops in college and graduate school. Even though I was never one of the best writers, I liked to think I was pretty good at picking out the people who were going places. I could tell who was letting their own insecurities get in their way, who was interested in being “called a writer” rather than in sitting alone and writing, and a few other usual suspects. I also noticed the people who put raw emotion on pages, who set aside time they could have been doing other things to write, and who took critique seriously.

. . . .

All that to say, one of my former classmates is in the process of making it big right now. I won’t namedrop, because his success isn’t about me, but his book arrived in the mail the other day and I realized that I relate to it differently than I do to other books. It feels like a monument to the hours we all spent trying to say the right thing to help an author make a breakthrough. It looks so pre-formed: the paper is thick and the wording is careful. The back jacket has famous people gushing about the prose and the symbols and the meanings. Back in class, he just got our stack of page-long letters that critiqued and praised his work. We knew he was onto something too, but we knew that not every great writer makes it to the big leagues.

. . . .

Now one of us has, and I’m sure others are focused on their own careers, measuring themselves against his success. I have strayed so far from being a “Writer” that I focus more on the book itself, physically. I think I identify more with the way I read stories written by a class buddy, but realizing that every book I pull off the shelf is actually someone’s community, someone’s culmination of hours of work and of other people reading and responding and participating…It makes books even more special to me.

. . . .

I am so tempted to go buy every mildly-recommended first-time author’s book after this experience. Knowing how much this experience of success is validating and uplifting a hardworking person who matters to me personally makes me want to spend more (even more?) money on books, specifically the less-known newbie authors. This is a big break for my classmate, and I love the idea that buying the book contributes to his career getting a great start in the publishing world.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

PG attended college (a long time ago) with some people who became well-known in the acting, directing and producing businesses in New York and Hollywood.

One thing that he learned was that he was no good at predicting who would and would not succeed in their showbiz aspirations.

The single best actress he knew disappeared without a trace from any public mentions after marrying one of PG’s goofier roommates.

Another contemporary was a very nice guy with moderate talents who, to the best of PG’s recollection, never had more than a minor role in any significant academic stage or film production. He went on to a long and successful career with roles in over 200 motion picture, television and stage productions.

Another very talented actress was a one-hit wonder, starring in a popular television series for a few years, then apparently unable to recreate the magic in any other projects.

Another classmate was on a major studio lot playing the lead in a motion picture within three months of graduating. He went on to perform major roles in other movies and a couple of television mini-series then, after 10-15 years, pretty much disappeared from the public view. The last word PG heard about him was that he was an avocado rancher somewhere in California.

No, PG isn’t going to name names.

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