Friday, December 20, 2013

How not to handle a "local author" event (PS - Vromans, are you listening?)

 Shame on you, Vromans Bookstore!

I have attended many author events at Vromans over the years. Until a couple days ago, the authors whom I heard speak were well known. No matter how late they were, the Vromans emcee would always introduce them with almost bowing reverence. And their books would be prominently displayed downstairs in full view of potential buyers.

Full disclosure: Vromans charges big bucks for indie authors who would like an "event" that would give them some time to pitch their book as well as sell it. That kind of sounds all right, unless you understand that most other indie bookstores in the Los Angeles/Pasadena area do not charge authors when they invite them to talk/read/sign.

Of course Vromans has been around for a good long time, and everyone--including me--loves this store for its pleasant, welcoming ambience as much as for its book selection and helpful staff. There's only one problem--when it came to my former client who was slated to share the podium with another author for Vromans' recent "Local Author Day," the bookstore did next to nothing to promote this book before the event.

The blurb about my client's novel that was in Vromans' newsletter was less than the tip of the proverbial iceberg; although an attendee sitting next to me pointed out it was like "War and Peace" compared to the "short shrift summary" given to the book by the other author. 

Customers notice things like that.

I found out about the event a few weeks earlier while searching the Net to check on my press release distribution for that novel. Yes, I care that your book sells. Long after I am no longer paid to do so.

So I called the author to offer some free PR suggestions (e.g., make fliers with a couple strong reviews on them, and pass them out at the event so attendees could get a clearer idea of what was inside the book). 

As I am often in the area, I stopped by Vromans to check the "Local Author" shelves, and monitor how the book was being displayed. They are all grouped together, with some books getting better light and "center stage"--while others are "consigned" to the shadows or the bottom shelf which is the literary equivalent of Siberia.

Does the Vromans staff have certain reasons for not prominently displaying books by authors who will be featured in a "Local Authors Day" event in less than six days? In this case, my former client's book fell deeper into shadows and Siberia--no matter how many times I would place it myself in a more eye-catching position. 

By the next day, the book would have been put back in "Invisible Land."

What's the deal? Does Vromans not let staffers know when local authors will be needing the best spot in the store because they will be actually trying to attract readers in person? Three days before the event, I stormed up to the Information Counter and demanded satisfaction. "Oh I know," the guy behind the counter said. "That's not too good, is it? Well, I don't think there's anybody left here to help you with that. Try tomorrow."

I decided to just let the author know. And surrendered to fate.

This event is every now and then on a Sunday at 4pm. And this was a couple weeks before Christmas. Several feet away from the children's section, for crying out loud (literally).

So you've got busy shoppers, crying, laughing children, and Christmas music blaring over the loudspeakers. Add to this a microphone that isn't adjusted for each speaker so it might as well not even be there, and a bored-looking emcee who says in her introduction:

"The Local Authors Event helps self-published authors have an event for their friends and family..."

and you've got a very tough publicity row to hoe. Perhaps next time, this emcee should just say out loud, we don't think any of these books can be that good because they are not published by a known publisher--but we took their money anyway.

Ah if that were all. But there's more...

Pouring salt in the wound, the bored Vromans employee throws on a game smile, looks over at the author...and gets his name wrong as she tells him to "Go ahead..."

Honestly, is it too much to ask that the Vromans people who will have direct contact with these authors (who have paid good money to do this), just look at the featured book and read some online PR about it?

As for the fliers I'd suggested, the author had indeed made some. Just not given them out. 

Truthfully, as fed up as I am with the disgraceful way Vromans treats authors it never heard of, I honestly wish indie authors would recognize that they really need to hustle and get on the PR for their event, especially if there's no publicist to handle things.

Bookstores' bad behavior is not entirely to blame for low turnout at a book event. Like the tango, it takes two. Maybe that's not the way it was when Steinbeck, Henry Miller and Nin roamed the Earth. But it sure is how things are now.

Best case scenario is when a bookstore does what it can to promote an indie author it has agreed to host, and that author does what he/she can to promote the store's event and that book to as many people as possible.

That would be a win-win.

Monday, December 16, 2013


For immediate release

Novel Title:  Changing Spaces
Genre:          Fiction
Author:         Nancy King
Pub. Date:    Jan. 1, 2014       Publisher: Plain View Press
Publicist:      Marlan Warren 
Book Publicity by Marlan      E-Mail: roadmap.girl at hotmail
c/o Roadmap Communications
1831 Winona Blvd., #104
Los Angeles, CA 90027


“How is it possible that one minute I’m a wife
and the next I’m a discard?”
Changing Spaces, Nancy King

    Santa Fe author Nancy King’s upcoming novel (due out Jan. 2014, pub. Plain View Press) about a Midwestern runaway soon-to-be-divorced wife who gets a “makeover” in Santa Fe could end up doing for New Mexico what Moby Dick did for whales.

     Changing Spaces grew out of three incidents. “First there was a woman who said to me, ‘That was before I lost my life,’” said King. “Her husband of 40 years had divorced her to marry a younger woman.” The following week, another friend “showed up in tears because her husband wanted out of their 40-year marriage so he could marry his secretary.” By the time Nancy King spotted an Op-Ed about the author of a book that touted the joys of being a stay-at-home-wife whose husband now wanted a divorce after 40 years—she knew she was on to something.

     Into this familiar scenario, King injected a “What if?”. What if a Midwestern 60-year old woman woke up as she always did, made love with her husband of 40 years, and several hours later, learned her husband had fallen for a younger woman and wanted a divorce—and what if—she hit the road and ended up in the healing bear-hug that is Santa Fe, New Mexico?

     As one reviewer put it: “Heartbreak turns to intrigue. A season of grief leads to a wig, a closet, a script, cookie recipes, new friendships, and a wide-open future.”

“Hey, ya got the Santa Fe idea. No need to be who you were.
Be who you want to be.” —Changing Spaces, Nancy King

     In 2001, King moved from New York City “and never looked back.” The decision to leave friends and job would have been bold for anyone, but since 1985, King has been living with a rare form of leukemia known as "hairy cell." 

     “When I realized I had a chronic disease with no cure, I made the decision that it was not going to run or ruin my life. I focus on what I can do; not what I lost or what I used to be able to do. Even when I don’t feel well, I force myself to walk or hike or play tennis because I always feel better afterward.”

     The unsinkable Nancy King has trekked Thailand, hiked the Grand Canyon, and “run people 50 years her junior into the ground,” according to one friend. “She overcame the odds of a disastrous diagnosis.”

Laura tried on outfit after outfit, hoping to alter her personality
from the outside in. She practiced taking bigger steps…
Changing Spaces, Nancy King

     Why Santa Fe? “The nature around Santa Fe is spectacular. Many people find it has a magical energy that renews and regenerates. Even those born in New Mexico talk about this area’s special energy, nature, culture.”

     It’s not unusual for newcomers to experience difficulties. “It’s as if Santa Fe were trying to spit them out. Those who manage to survive their initial problems often experience personal transformations that they couldn’t have articulated before coming.”

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Berlin Airlift flies again into the Cold War--JITTERBUG LIFT-- Local Authors Event @Vromans Bookstore Sunday Dec. 15

On Dec. 15, 2013, "Oliver Flynn" (the pseudonym for Kae Oliver, Dominic Oliver, and Jay Flynn) spoke about their new book JITTERBUG LIFT at Vromans Bookstore. Since I helped launch this Start-of-the-Cold War novel a few months ago, I enjoyed the event with some reservations (Vromans was less than a helpful host which deserves a separate post).

(L) Kae Oliver, (M) Jay Flynn, (R) Dominic Oliver
Photo ©Glyn Davies

Oliver Flynn flies again into the Cold War
Jitterbug Lift Book Review 
Review & Interview by Marlan Warren
(originally published in "Dancing in the Experience Lane" Open Salon Blog

When a fire has blazed so hot, one can be
burned by even the ashes for a long time.

1948.   Berlin is starving.  As the victors of World War II vie for control over Germany, the Russians cut off Berliners’ supplies, and block the Allies’ access into Berlin.   The Allies counterstrike with the “Berlin Airlift.”  And the Cold War ignites.

Into this tortured world flies former bomber pilot, Chance Mitchell, bearing food, fuel, medicine…and scars too deep to be seen.   The American’s sole reason for joining the airlift is to find and rescue his buddy and former B-17 copilot, whose plane went down behind the newly forged Iron Curtain on a clandestine flight.
Intrigue and moral ambiguity play out against the lawless ruins as Chance follows a thin, tangled thread that takes him to a beautiful but damaged German Jewish Resistance fighter with an enigmatic mission and a fierce will that matches his own.  Attraction flares, but will she lead to his answer or his destruction?

Haunted by ghosts and loss, Chance battles Soviets of the new Communist empire on the ground and in the air. Lines between enemies and friends blur, but ultimately, the answer to salvation lies in Berlin’s subtlest and most powerful resource.

Rich with daredevil aviation action and historical accuracy, Jitterbug Lift is a Cold War adventure story with heart.  Dedicated to the men and women who came together to forgive and save Berlin.

To order or review, visit AMAZON. Available in paperback and all e-book formats.

And just who or what is Oliver Flynn?

          Dominic Oliver + Kaenan Oliver + Jay Flynn = Oliver Flynn

Book:        Jitterbug Lift
Author:      Oliver Flynn
Publisher:  Createspace
Genre:        Historical Action-Adventure Cold War Suspense Novel

Interview with Oliver Flynn: 

"Together we can do great things."

Oliver Flynn is the nom de plume of collaborative authors Jay Flynn and Kaenan Oliver and Dominic Oliver.   Taking time out from their busy screenwriting careers (separately and together), the trio published their first collaborative novel, Jitterbug Lift, an historical action suspense novel fueled by desire, revenge, romance and forgiveness during the dawn of the Cold War.  I was able to catch up with them in Cyberspace:)

Q:   Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this amazing novel, please answer one burning question:  How the heck do three people write together?

Jay:  It is a relationship.   We’ve known each other for years and had our good times and bad.   We have spent weeks non-stop polishing a draft and other times had to sneak our writing in like alcoholics.
It has to be about the story.   Sometimes one of us will champion an idea, but can be outvoted.   Dom thinks Kae and I gang up on him, but many times he is right and we have to concede despite having the majority.

Kaenan:   Whatever’s best for the story makes for the best collaboration.  Sometimes we work face-to-face but, when busy schedules intervene, we trade drafts so that each voice gets room at the table.

Dominic:   We make it a point to check egos at the door.  We have respect for the other’s point of view, and a lot of similar interests.   Bottom line: find great partners.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Now taking orders on Amazon (pub. June 1, 2014)

An Odyssey of the Heart
by Susanna Starr
 Photographs by John Lamkin

Photograph by ©John Lamkin
I hope this story serves as a reminder that business is not a negative word. Trading is as old as human history, whether for goods or services. It doesn't have to be exploitative nor impersonal to be successful. Rather, if it is infused with joy and happiness, it can provide a vital, important and enriching aspect of our lives.  
                               –  Susanna Starr, Taos, NM

     Paperback: 136 pages
     Publisher: Paloma Blanca Press (June 1, 2014)
      Language: English
      ISBN-10: 0991095618
      ISBN-13: 978-0991095612
      Product Dimensions: 8 x 8 x 0.4 inches
   Shipping Weight: 8 ounces 

Hardback (gloss laminate)                Paperback (gloss perfect bound)
ISBN 13: 978-0-9910956-0-5          ISBN 13: 978-0-9910956-1-2
ISBN 10: 0-9910956-0-X                        ISBN 10: 0-9910956-1-8
LCCN: 2013920484                        LCCN 2013920484
Pages: 136                                   Price: $19.95
Price: $29.95                                      

Zapotec Women at Market - photo ©John Lamkin

Blurbs of Praise on the Back Cover


A BEAUTIFUL BOOK, BOTH THE WRITING AND PHOTOGRAPHS. I own a Zapotec rug and appreciate the work of these artists. This book gives them credit where credit is long overdue.--Tom Aageson, Executive Director, Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship

A MUST READ FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO DO WELL BY DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD. This improbable story about an American "hippie" and traditional weavers in the Oaxaca Valley of Mexico will fire your Imagination and touch your heart. Susanna Starr's life story proves that love, respect, learning and success in business can go hand in hand.--Judith Fein, Author of Life Is a Trip: The Transformative Magic of Travel and The Spoon from Minkowitz: A Bittersweet Roots Journey to Ancestral Lands

Photograph by ©John Lamkin


 With Love it began…With Love it flourished…And with Love it continues.

     OUR INTERWOVEN LIVES WITH THE ZAPOTEC WEAVERS - An Odyssey of the Heart celebrates American entrepreneur and gallery owner Susanna Starr’s forty years of working with the Zapotec weavers of the Oaxaca Valley in Mexico. Starr takes us back to the moment when she first navigated dirt roads into the remote village of Teotitlan in the 70s, and fell in love with the vibrant Zapotec hand-loomed weavings and the warmth of the weavers themselves. She leads us on a three-generational trek of mind and spirit, as the Zapotec families and her own grow in parallels of symbiotic prosperity and mutual respect that reminds us that “business” does not have to be a negative word.

     Susanna Starr is the owner of Starr Interiors in Taos, New Mexico, which began as La Unica Cosa in 1974, and features hand-dyed 100% wool rugs, wall hangings, and pillows traditionally dyed and loomed by the Zapotec weavers.

     OUR INTERWOVEN LIVES WITH THE ZAPOTEC WEAVERS - An Odyssey of Heart reflects Starr’s philosophy that business need not be kept separate, but can be an integral and meaningful part of everyday lives.

     “I hope this story serves as a reminder that business is not a negative word,” says Starr. “Trading is as old as human history, whether for goods or services. It need not be exploitative or impersonal to be successful. Rather, if it is infused with joy and happiness, it can provide a vital, important and enriching aspect of our lives.

     The weavings have been purchased by numerous celebrities including Paul Simon, Sting and Diana Ross, and featured in style magazines such as “Architectural Digest

BOOK EXCERPT:  Introduction

     For a long time I’ve been encouraged to write about the years I’ve spent working with the weavers of a small Zapotec Indian village high up in the mountains outside of the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. Not only have I had this encouragement from family, friends and people I’ve dealt with through my weaving gallery in Taos, New Mexico over the past forty years but, most importantly, I’ve been encouraged by the weavers themselves.

     Now the time has come to tell that story. Far from being a story of running a business of introducing and selling these weavings in the United States, this is a story of the personal interactions that have taken place between me and the Zapotec people over the past four decades. The gallery that I’ve run during this time has simply been a vehicle to promote and distribute this particular art form. In the evolution of the gallery and of the weavings in general, as in any other part of life, many changes have taken place. But, as in any other endeavor, some constants remain.

    For me the most important of these constants is the deeply personal connection I’ve had with particular weaving families as well as with the village as a whole. This connection has encompassed half of my life and the passion remains. Obviously, this is a personal narrative, but it also tells the story of people working together to preserve a culture and to promote a craft that has great impact not only on the individual weavers but on the whole village. The success I’ve enjoyed is mirrored in the success of that village and the individual weavers with whom I’ve been connected.


Novel Title:  Changing Spaces
Genre:          Women's Fiction (Regional: New Mexico)
Author:         Nancy King
Pub. Date:   Jan. 1, 2014
Publisher:   Plain View Press
ISBN:           978-1-891386-43-5-51895
Paperback   Pages: 420
Price:            $15.95
(Nancy King, Ph.D. is also the author of Morning Light, The Stones Speak, Dancing with Wonder, Woman Walking)

This novel will do for New Mexico 
what Moby Dick did for whales!

We are thrilled that Nancy King's newest book will have its Santa Fe launch February 7, 2014 at Collected Works bookstore in Santa Fe at 6:00pm. Nancy will give a talk on the healing power of New Mexico on wounded newcomers who feel they have lost the life they've always known. 

If you are in the area, please join us! 

What if you woke up in your usual life, and 
by the end of the day, everything had changed? 

That's the question Nancy King poses in her newest book, Changing Spaces, as she introduces us to Laura Feldman who suddenly loses the "life" she has lived for the past forty years. When her husband suddenly wants a divorce, shaken-to-her-core Laura embarks on a bumpy ride that takes her away from her black & white Midwestern life to the bold colors of New Mexico. 

In this new landscape where anything might happen—and does—Laura finds inspiration, strength, and transformation in the friendship of Santa Fe women who help her walk the winding road to self-discovery and the home of her heart. 

Advance Praise for Changing Spaces:

“Location. Location. Location. Nancy King gets it right when she explores how a woman radically changes her life by changing her location. A plant can't thrive in any old soil; it has to be the right terrain. Changing Spaces is a reminder that one can leave the past behind, find new soil, and thrive in a different, and better, present and future.”
—JUDITH FEIN, Author of Life Is a Trip: The Transformative Magic of Travel and The Spoon from Minkowitz: A Bittersweet Deep Roots Journey

“Heartbreak turns to intrigue. A season of grief leads
to a wig, a closet, a script, cookie recipes, new
friendships, and a wide-open future.”
   —JEANNE MURRAY WALKER, Author of Geography of Memory


Changing Spaces

©Nancy King
 Summary of Story's Opening Scenes:  
Laura woke up one morning happily married. By evening, her husband had told her he wanted a divorce. After a week of emotional rollercoastering, she fled to a grant- development conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Unwilling to return home to a place that no longer felt like home, she went to the airport and reserved a seat on the first shuttle leaving, which happened to be going to Santa Fe.
     Feeling the bitterness of heartache and anger and self-pity take hold, Laura opened her eyes and glanced at the passenger sitting next to her. Despite the dim light Laura could see she wasn’t young, although how old she was, Laura couldn’t tell. The woman was large and sat comfortably across two seats, her long purple skirt flowing over her feet. Her turquoise blouse was rimmed with purple thread that didn’t quite match the purple skirt. She had rings on every finger and large earrings dangling from her ears; a silver and turquoise necklace covered most of the front of her blouse. A stole, which looked handmade, was draped comfortably around her body. Her head was against the window, her mouth open, her eyes closed. Laura wondered what it took to dress like that. Did she dress like this all the time? Where had she come from? Who was she?
     “So, do you like what you see?” asked the woman, her eyes still closed.
     Embarrassed, Laura didn’t know what to say. How could the woman tell she was looking at her if her eyes were closed? Laura turned away, as if this might block the woman’s vision, but the woman’s scent, patchouli and some kind of spice and lemon, was comforting, and she felt like nestling closer. She moved toward the far end of the seat but was so uncomfortable she had to move back.
     “Moving away won’t solve anything.”
     “I beg your pardon?” Laura responded, not sure she’d heard her correctly.
     “You can beg my pardon all you like. It’s about you, not me.”
     Laura wondered if the woman was crazy. Maybe going to Santa Fe wasn’t such a good idea, although the other people boarding the shuttle had looked normal enough.
     The woman laughed a deep throaty laugh. “Bet you’ve never been in this part of the country before.”
     “No, I haven’t.”
     “So what’d you come for?”
     “I don’t know.” Laura wished she weren’t in the back of the van.
     “That’s all right. Lots of people come thinking they know what they want but they don’t and then get themselves into all kinds of trouble.” She chuckled, as if remembering something amusing, then turned to look at Laura. “How long you planning to stay?” She sighed, “Doesn’t matter. Plans don’t mean shit in Santa Fe. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about.”
     Since Laura had no idea what the woman was talking about she said politely, “I’m sure you do.”
     “What makes you so sure?”
     Startled, Laura mumbled, “You sound sure.”
     “You always go by what you hear?” When Laura did not respond the woman laughed again.
     “What’s so funny?” asked Laura, more than a little discomforted.
     “It’s much too easy to discombobulate you.  Fight back, for godssake.”
     “Don’t have any fight left in me.”
     “What are you doing tomorrow at three?”
     “Seems my dance card is empty.”
     “Not any longer, Babe. My name’s Bountiful Sunshine. What’s yours?”
     Laura decided the woman had made up her name, so she could, too. “Melody Fine,” she said. Where had that name come from? She hated to sing and she wasn’t fine.
     “Pleased to meet you, Melody.” The woman’s voice was low and rumbly, soothing to Laura’s jangled nerves.
     “What brings you to Santa Fe?” asked Laura, wishing her name were Melody.
     “Been here all my life. Why?”
     “Just wondering.”
     “What else are you wondering?”
     Who I’ll be now that I’m no longer Mrs. Zachery Feldman. How I’m going to live. “Oh, what Santa Fe is like.”
     “Depends. It’s different for everyone. Always has been. Not an easy place to live.
     “So why do you stay?”
     Bountiful laughed, “’Cause I’m difficult. Suits me perfectly.”       She looked more carefully at Laura, who wondered what she was seeing.
     Laura could imagine what she looked like: A tight, tense, frightened woman holding herself together. One tap and she’d fall apart. Disappear. The melody would definitely not be fine.
When the van reached the corner of Sandoval and Water Streets, her stop, Laura hesitated, suddenly exhausted.
     “No sense postponing the inevitable,” said Bountiful, just behind her.
     Laura wanted to throttle her.
     “Easy does it, so go easy,” laughed Bountiful.
     Laura could not think of a quip biting enough.
     The van pulled away. A red truck pulled up. The driver, a fiftyish woman with a waist-length salt and pepper braid hopped out. She was wearing a long denim dress and a leather vest.  
     “Bounti! Long time no see.”
     “Yeah, I know. You come to meet Melody?”
     The woman frowned. “I think her name is Laura.”
     Bounti grinned at Laura approvingly. “Hey, ya got the Santa Fe idea. No need to be who you were. Be who you want to be.”

About Nancy King, Ph.D.

Changing Spaces grew out of a conversation 
Nancy King had with a woman who said:
“That was before I lost my life.”

Nancy King's novel The Stones Speak has been Boptioned for a film, and won first place in the New Mexico Presswomen’s Communications Contest. A prolific playwright and essayist, King has also written seven nonfiction books—most recently Dancing With Wonder: Self-Discovery Through Stories—an exploration of her writing and drama workshops in the US and abroad. 

She feels fortunate to be privy to the stories people share. 

Nancy King lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she weaves, writes, and finds inspiration hiking in the mountains. She is a contributing writer for the online journal Your Life Is A Trip at

Please visit Nancy King’s website at for more information on her books and workshops. You may also contact her through her publicist at memoircity at gmail.