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All about the ins and outs of writing

Sep
22

Hillary Clinton making her concession speech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Happened Today (Sept.12)

Today, the day after the 16th anniversary of 911, was also book release day for Hillary Clinton’s latest memoir, What Happened?. The big event took place in Manhattan’s Barnes and Noble bookstore in Union Square, where hundreds of die-hard fans showed up to purchase their signed copy. A few brave souls even camped out overnight to see their hero. No speeches, no choice words, just a chance to stand in line, buy a book and then get it signed by the former Secretary of State. I don’t why she didn’t give her fans a short speech or just a few words of greeting, they deserved at least that much.

What’s Coming Up

The book tour is next. Today’s signing in NYC was free unless you decided to buy a book, but most stops on the book tour will not be. Fans, who want to get close to the former First Lady, who also made it to the White House as the first woman president, will have to pay some bucks for the opportunity. Her tour begins next week with a stop in our nation’s capitol and continues into December, when Mrs. Clinton visits Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.

A Case of Diminishing Return

Her first book sold well, Living History,  but her second, Hard Choices, did not do nearly as well as Living History. Just after one week of sales, Living History outperformed Hard Choices by a margin of  600,000 to 100,000. And after one month the margin was 1 million to 160,000 still about a six to one advantage for Living History. By November 2015, about the time things were just getting to roll, Hard Choices had racked up 340,000, a far cry short of Clinton’s first memoir, which sold well over 1.5 million copies.

What Happened Is Selling (a week later)

Just recently, Hillary released her seventh non-fiction effort with Simon Schuster. Though unlikely to match sales figures for Living History, it may still do well. In fact, What Happened has sold over 160,000 (hardback) in the first week, which is a big improvement from Hard Choices, but will likely not match the impressive sales figures of Living History.  Along with the hardback sales, there is also the e-book sales, which have also done quite well, pushing first week sales up to the 300,000 mark. But keep in mind here that the publishing industry tracks book sales of bestsellers through hardback copies, mot e-books.

Can Book Sales Determine Future Presidents

There is some evidence that having a best selling book or memoir is practically a pre-requisite for making it into the White House, especially in the 21st century. To make the point, all you have to do is look at our last three occupants of the White House (including the current one). All three have had popular best sellers that have outsold all competitors. This includes George W. Bush’s, Decisions Points, which sold 1.9 million, Barrack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope (540,000 in the first year) and Donald Trump’s Art of the Deal, which has sold over 1 million going all the way back to its 1987 release date. What is clear, is that for the major candidates, whoever sells the most books, will likely take the White House. With that in mind look for Al Franken to win the Dem nomination in 2020, but he may trouble beating Trump.

My Take

After the disappointing release of Hard Choices, I was surprised to see Hillary’s current release sell as well as it is doing right now. Since part of this blog was written on the day of her new book release, you can see it the writing.

However, the big story here is how important book sales may be in determining, who becomes president of the United States. The direct relationship between the two is very eerie. For Hillary, Living History, should have been good enough to put her back in the white house. But as we all know now, she was eclipsed by an even more popular writer and bookseller, Barrack Obama.

 

 

The New Yorker already had their cover ready for a 2016 Hillary Clinton victory

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Sep
21

This image of a simple window, illustrates the concept of layered, photo by author taken in Old Town, Albuquerque, NM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Layered

Here, all in one picture, you have an adobe wall,  a white wood frame and some glass complete with reflection. All in all, there are many different layers here.
Layered

Sep
19

Jazz originated as a musical expression, but its ideas can be applied to other areas such as writing and visual art. design by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jazz

Jazz is a truly American art form that has inspired artists in many different realms besides music.

Sep
14

A recipe for disaster….too many cooks spoil the broth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe

What we have here is four of the more recognizable cooks from around the country all working on the same recipe. To me this spells disaster.

Sep
07

Ralph was proud of his mohawk haircut that he received at the Samurai Barber Shop, drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samurai

Despite its unusual technique, the Samurai Barber Shop on Cleveland St. did a thriving business.

Sep
06

Two walkers await the sun to set over the Charles River, MA photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting

These two walkers are braving the below-freezing elements to witness an inspiring event, a wintertime sunset. Perhaps, when they are done, there is some hot chocolate waiting at home or a Hot Toddy in a nearby bar.

Waiting

Aug
30

Writers and playwrights aren’t the only ones that have to deal with structure, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Structure

For many creative-type of individuals, structure can be an intimidating thing to deal with.

Structure

Aug
23

This street corner in Kanab, Utah is well guarded, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corner

The masked stranger makes sure that there is no hanky-panky going on at this street corner.

Corner

Aug
21

 

Frosty anxiously awaits his fan mail, drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mail

Frosty the Snowman would be all alone, if not for the daily visit by the federal employee, who delivers the mail. Letters and cards from his many fans keep this snowman’s spirits high.

Aug
16

Ooh, a shiny red horse. photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ooh, Shiny!

The other day, I was walking down the street….and guess what I saw. A shiny red horse….Ooh la la!

Ooh, Shiny!

Aug
10

Mark Twain is known for having wild hair, photo and drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hair

Hair often defines who we are. If you don’t believe me, you have to look no further than the White House. In the past, many celebrities have become known first and foremost by the way they wear their hair. And it’s not just the women, who do this, for the men are often just as showy as the women. Here’s a light-hearted tribute to an author, who was way ahead of his time in this regard.

Aug
09

This is a rock formation near Tonalea, AZ, called Elephant Feet, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elemental

Earth, wind and water most likely created these two sandstone, rock formations, which as the name implies, look just like elephant feet. You can find these two rock pillars along Arizona State Highway 160, as it cuts across the Navajo Reservation between Kayenta and Tuba City. There is a rest area here, so motorists can stop, pull over and have a look. And sometimes Native craftspeople set up shop here to sell their handmade items.

Elemental

Aug
03

Urban neighbors sometimes live very close together, drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neighbor

Neighbors can live very far apart or very close together.

Aug
02

Mother Nature is the force that created this rocky texture, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texture

This is Checkerboard Mesa in Zion NP, Utah. The strange patterns and textures in the rock surface was caused by horizontal cross-bedding of ancient sand dunes and vertical cracking due to the expansion and contraction of the sandstone during winter.

Textures

Jul
20

This ice cream is Mmm…delicious

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ice Cream

New ice cream flavor is now available.

Jul
19

The smiley building says Hello. photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unusual

This unusual building greets the people of St. George with a big smile. During the warmer months it might also sell them a cold, icy treat.

Unusual

Jul
12

Outside the Museum in Montreal, this poster displays the collage aesthetic, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collage

This poster that is displayed outside a Montreal Museum displays the collage aesthetic, a fairly rececnt artistic development that really got rolling in the early 20th century

Collage

Jul
06

Looking up at the support structure that is above the bridge can be just as interesting as the main part, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bridge

When searching for design elements that makes for a striking picture, sometimes it might be advantageous to look above the bridge, instead of below it. For in reality, this part of the bridge is just as important as what holds it up from the bottom.

P.S. In case you are wondering where this photo was taken, it was made on the Richard I. Bong Bridge that spans the St. Louis Bay between Duluth, MN and Superior, WI.

Bridge

Jun
29

As a teenager Jim was starting to show some growth..it just was not the kind of growth that everyone expected of him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sprouts

Often times sprouts can lead to growth. …. It’s just that it may not be the kind of growth you were anticipating.

Jun
28

The Wolf Neck Creek tidewater delta near Freeport, Maine, is a small tributary with a very big delta, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delta

This little Creek has a big Delta due to the fact it is located in Maine not too far (several hundred miles to be exact) from the Bay of Fundy. This means that there are big tidal surges here along with a low tide that recedes out very far because the shoreline is so shallow.

Delta

Jun
22

This abstraction is created from many three-sided geometric shapes, better known as triangles, photo and drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three

To create this drawing, I first sketched in a maze of triangular shapes. Each shape was filled with black ink and a bright red marker created the red color. On top of the black spaces, a blue oil stick was added and finally a light gray color, also oil stick was used to cover the red area.

Jun
21

Our western movies are full of heroes leading a transient lifestyle, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transient

The movies are a very important storytelling medium in our contemporary culture. And quite frequently, they portray the outsider, the conformist and/or the transient as the hero. This is especially true in the Westerns.

Taken in the town of Kanab, Utah, where many western scenes were filmed, this picture shows how one Office of Tourism proudly displays its Hollywood association.

Transient

Jun
14

This photograph of a boat’s reflection in the harbor has areas of the picture that are both focused and unfocused, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focus-pocus

Look closely, as this picture contains large patches of both focused and unfocused material. The camera was focused on the surface of the water, so all those squiggly lines are actually in focus. Even the boat lettering, though illegible because of the movement of the water is in focus. The only things out of focus are the blue sky and red body of the boat.

Focus

Jun
13

This skate likes to go swimming, drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skate

Skates differ slightly from rays. First of all, they reproduce by laying eggs. (rays bear live young) Also they lack the dangerous spines on their tail, prefer deeper water and tend to be smaller in size. Definitely a more benign encounter, if you happen to come across one.

Jun
07

These lobster buoys give a good picture of a fisherman’s sense of order, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Order

To survive at sea, a fisherman needs to keep his gear organized and within easy reach at all times, as the item may be desperately needed in an instant. Even when storing his gear on land, this lobsterman displays his ability to keep things in order.

Order

May
24

Waning light at Back Cove in Portland, Maine, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evanescent

I had to look this one up, as the use of this word has escaped me. Here is its definition according to Merriam-Webster;

The fragile, airy quality of things evanescent reflects the etymology of the word evanescentitself. It derives from a form of the Latin verb evanescere, which means “to evaporate” or “to vanish.”

Seems to me a rainbow or sunset would the perfect metaphor for this word. I chose the latter.
Evanescent

May
24

All across North America ambitious travelers can find enticing highways like this one in the Gaspe region of Canada

Off the Beaten Path

Recently, I watched two movies that in their own unique way defined going off the beaten path. I was especially interested in viewing these two films because I had read both books before I viewed the cinematic takeoff. Although the  two books story were published some 40 years apart (1957 & 1998) and differ widely in the worlds they describe, there is definitely a shared corps d’esprit that inhabits both literary adventures.

Essentially, both sagas are buddy stories, whereabouts two or more male adventurers set off on a journey of self discovery that definitely runs against the norms of conventional thinking and also poses a high likelihood of failure. In the end, the experience is the important event, not the goal.

On the Road

Overall, the movie, On the Road follows the original text to a greater degree than its counterpart, A Walk in the Woods. It is important to note, there are few novels, where all details can be compressed into a viewable two-hour movie. Taking note of this reality, the film catches the Zeitgeist of post war America in a convincing and entertaining way. It also explores the fascinating relationships of four men, (William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Allan Ginnsburg and Neal Cassady), who would go on to become major writers  of the 50s and 60s. If this type of film interests you, you might want to check out the DVD. And of course, fans of the Beats would want to watch this movie also.

Despite the cover, no bears appear in the book….but in the movie, two of these wild creatures make a nocturnal visit to the campsite of Bryson and Katz.

A Walk In the Woods

When I first heard that A Walk in the Woods had been made into a feature-length film, I was surprised to say the least. Though the book was a great read, I did not see how anyone could make a decent movie from from two old men  attempting to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. After viewing the movie, I quickly realized that I had underestimated the imagination of Hollywood screenwriters or the ability of the two major actors, Nick Nolte and Robert Redford.

Though the movie makes some serious departures from the reality of walking the AT, it does weave a good tale around the late-in-life adventures of two senior citizens. Perhaps the biggest shortcoming, revolves around the portrayal of off-the-trail Southern characters that Bryson and Katz encounter, when they leave the trail for a night in a motel and a hot shower.

Essentially, what the writers did was to take the first half of the book and then expand the story, immensely, adding many scenes that were not in the book. The results were impressive. Redford and especially Nolte put on stellar performances that carry the story. They do this this despite the fact that both actors are in the twilight of their careers, where good roles are undoubtedly more difficult to find.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screenwriters Take Note

Creating workable scripts from popular novels is a challenging task. Not only is the writer faced with the difficult task of condensing a story that is way too long for the big screen, but he also faces an audience that is familiar with how the story line plays out. However, adding new material, to a popular story is a whole new ballgame that can have surprisingly results.

May
18

Our planet is just a tiny blue ball, traveling through space, drawing by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother

The earth is our mother.

May
17

Bread and apples for sale at a roadside stand in Quebec, Canada, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heritage

This photo is dedicated to everyone with a French Heritage. Doesn’t really matter if your French link is to Canada (where this picture was taken) or France, you will still appreciate the subtle bilingual humor is this picture.
Heritage

May
10

This small New Mexico church located near the town of Navajo Dam has a very reflective interior, photo by author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflecting

Built in 1920, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on the San Juan River no longer has a regular congregation. For nowadays, it is surrounded by the Navajo Lake State Park in the stunning four corners region of the U.S. The church was closed when I cruised by on Sunday morning, but a return afternoon visit, revealed an open door and empty pews. Perfect place for someone in a reflective mood. Aided by the afternoon light being reflected off the ceiling, the camera also captured the somber spirit of the building.
Reflecting

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