My post on PJ Lifestyle: 8 Lessons I’ve Learned By Self-Publishing 3 Kindle E-books

Book publishing back in the dayI have a new post up at PJ Lifestyle:

When I was in my 20s and 30s, my dream was to publish the Great American Junk Novel. I had no illusions about my ability (or, rather, inability) to write something profound, but I truly believed I could write a Bridges of Madison County or Da Vinci Code. I was wrong. After innumerable efforts, I gave up. I have no imagination, no sense of character, and I’m incapable of writing dialog.

Thanks to the blogosphere, however, I discovered in my 40s that, while I’m not and never will be a novelist, I am an essayist. Over the past decade, I’ve written over 11,000 essays, which easily qualifies me for “expert” status. My blog has become a vast repository of my thoughts on just about everything: politics (mostly politics), parenting, education, Hollywood, social issues, national security, travel — you name it, and I’ve probably written about it.

Considering how many hours I’ve spent at the keyboard, I’ve always hoped that I could monetize my blog. Unfortunately, while I’ve got a solid, and very dear to me, following of readers who genuinely like the way I think and write, I’ve never leveraged my way into the Big Time amongst conservative bloggers. Not being in the Big Time means that any monetization I’ve done has earned me just enough money to buy a few books, not to make a mortgage payment or two.

A few years ago, it occurred to me that I might be able to make some money if I took my writings to a new readership. That’s how I decided to try my hand at self-publishing. I saw it all clearly:  I would assemble my essays, package them attractively, upload them at Kindle Direct Publishing, and sell them for a profit on Amazon. It seemed so easy….

Sadly, it wasn’t easy, at least not the first time around. That didn’t deter me from publishing a second e-book and, just recently, a third. Each book has been easier than the one before, so I’d like to share with you some lessons I’ve learned, many of which I learned the hard way.

Read the rest here.

For those unfamiliar with my writing, the three books are:

The Bookworm Turns: A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land

Easy Ways To Teach Kids Hard Things : The fun way to teach your children important life principles

The Bookworm Returns : Life in Obama’s America

Seraphic Secret wrote a lovely review for “The Bookworm Returns”

Kindle.web_Andrea.coverMASTERRobert Avrech, who blogs at Seraphic Secret, read The Bookworm Returns : Life in Obama’s America, and then wrote the kind of review that every author dreams of getting.  What makes it better than the mere words is the source.  Robert is an Emmy Award winning screenwriter, which means that he really knows his writing.  Add to that the fact that, as his blog routinely shows, he’s brilliant, erudite, compassionate, amusing, and just an all-around wonderful thinker . . . and, well, you understand how flattering it is to get a review like this:

A few days ago, a friend from shul told me that he feels like giving up.

“Reading your blog post about the countless gender choices on Facebook,” said my friend, “made me realize that my grandchildren won’t be shocked at this craziness. To them, it will be normal. And that is sick. It feels like the radical left have won the culture wars and now we’re just fighting over meaningless scraps.”

“We can’t just give up,” I said.

But his despair left a profound impression on me.

Is it true that the radical left have already won? Does the rise of a Marxist community agitator to POTUS mean the end of the American Republic?

And then I sat down and read The Bookworm Returns: Life in Obama’s America, an eBook which should be mandatory reading for every American.

Bookworm Room is a wife, a mother, a lawyer, and a blogger who is something of a hero to me. Whenever I need some common sense talk about difficult political or social issues, I make my way to Bookworm and see what she has to say.

Her opening essay on guns, written as a letter to a teacher (but wisely never sent) is a classic discourse on the Second Amendment, and how best to protect our children.

Because Bookworm is a brainy lawyer who has not sacrificed her common sense, she writes astonishingly clear sentences that manage to cut to the heart of, well, everything.

Her chapters on what the Democrats have done to our health care system is, quite simply, revelatory.

Read the rest here.  Even if you don’t want to read the rest of the review, you might want to check it out because Robert’s pretty sure he’s found a picture of me.  ;)

Teri O’Brien has the nicest things to say about The Bookworm Returns

Kindle.web_Andrea.coverMASTERRenowned blogger Teri O’Brien has written the nicest review of my newest collection of essays, The Bookworm Returns : Life in Obama’s America:

One reason that conservatives have a much easier time making logical arguments is that we constantly see our positions under siege by the popular culture, by academia, and by the legacy media. We are have to defend our positions, which are laughingly characterized as “out of the mainstream” by people who think Bill Ayers is just a college professor from Barack Obama’s old ‘hood. We see our values and traditions mocked and denigrated on a daily basis. Not so for liberals. They spout crazy talk that goes unchallenged. They repeat threadbare clichés to each other as everyone nods in agreement.

Someone who demonstrates the value of engaging in actual debate is the author of this book, Bookworm, a common sense conservative living in one of the most liberal bastions of the bluest of blue states, and the publisher of a popular blog, The Bookworm Room. Her many fans know that she uses her well-honed intelligence to slice and dice liberal foolishness, and to expose liberalism’s inherent inconsistencies with clever wit, humor and well-researched, hard evidence, delivered in extremely readable prose that is a delight to experience. Now, she has compiled some of her best into a new book, The Bookworm Returns: Life in Obama’s America.

Read the rest here.

By the way, when it comes to political writing, Teri is no slouch herself.

A polite request re my book

Kindle.web_Andrea.coverMASTERIf you’ve read and liked my newest collection of essays, The Bookworm Returns : Life in Obama’s America, I would very much appreciate it if you could give it a review on the Amazon page.

Unless, of course, you hated it, in which case you can consider yourself off the hook for any reviewing obligations.

If you’d like inspiration, I can’t point you to a better example than the review from Caryl B. Miller:

Deep in the wilds of Marin County on the other side of the Golden Gate bridge lives Bookworm, a pseudonym for a wonderful writer and culture warrior tilting against the predominant Left flowing current. I’ve always loved her blogging and here is a collection of some of her best work.

Her take on living in Obama’s America, delivered from what some people might call the heart of it alternately made me laugh and reflect seriously at what we’re becoming as a society, and I think it will have the same effect on you. It is, more or less, a diary on what we’re going through right now. And being a collection of short essays, it’s a great mental snack when you feel like giving your brain a treat.

Highly recommended.

What people are saying about “The Bookworm Returns : Life in Obama’s America”

Kindle.web_Andrea.coverMASTERI’m kvelling.  When I toddled over to the Amazon page for my new book, The Bookworm Returns : Life in Obama’s America, I discovered that Caryl B. Miller left the nicest review:

Deep in the wilds of Marin County on the other side of the Golden Gate bridge lives Bookworm, a pseudonym for a wonderful writer and culture warrior tilting against the predominant Left flowing current. I’ve always loved her blogging and here is a collection of some of her best work.

Her take on living in Obama’s America, delivered from what some people might call the heart of it alternately made me laugh and reflect seriously at what we’re becoming as a society, and I think it will have the same effect on you. It is, more or less, a diary on what we’re going through right now. And being a collection of short essays, it’s a great mental snack when you feel like giving your brain a treat.

Highly recommended.

If you liked the book, and if you feel so inclined, I would appreciate it if you could pop over to Amazon and say a few nice words too. The Amazon metrics are such that those stars and reviews are very useful for sales.

Gack! I’ve done it again — I’ve self-published a book on Amazon

Kindle.web_Andrea.coverMASTERI’ve been silent today for a reason:  I was putting the finishing touches on my Kindle e-book, The Bookworm Returns : Life in Obama’s America, which has just gone live at Amazon. It’s a collection of my favorite posts from the last three years.  I describe it on Amazon as follows:

In 2008, President Barack Obama promised that he would fundamentally transform America — and that’s one of the few promises he’s kept. In a series of clear, elegant, witty essays, Bookworm looks at the changes in American society since Obama became president. These changes have seen America become a poorer, less safe, less free, more racially-charged nation, adrift in a world that, without America as both protector and anchor, is also become increasingly poor and dangerous.

I had a lot of fun assembling the book.  I was rather delighted to see how prescient I was when discussing Obamacare, the Obama economy, foreign policy, educational trends, etc.  I was also pleased to see that my original posts, which I tend to slam out in bouts of frenzied writing between parenting, household maintenance, caring for my mother, and the occasional legal job, were fairly coherent.  They all had typos (sigh!) and awkward phrases, but once I ironed those things out, they seem to me to read pretty darn well.

Also, please note the bee-yoo-ti-ful cover, which a friend of mine, who is a professional graphic designer, created for me.  If you’re interested in working with him on your own e-book, or have other graphic design needs, you can see his contact information on the inside title page.  (You can see that title page simply by downloading a Sample of the book.)

If you enjoy my writing, please consider buying the book (a bargain at $2.99).  I will receive $2.05 for every book sold.  You’ll get reading pleasure (I hope), and I’ll get a return on the effort I put into blogging.  As you know, I blog compulsively, rather than to earn money, but it’s really nice to see a little money coming in for the effort.

Book Review: Teri O’Brien’s “The ABC’s of Barack Obama: Understanding God’s Greatest Gift to America”

One of the problems I find myself having lately when writing about both Barack Obama, the man, and President Obama, America’s CEO, is my lousy memory, which goes blank when I try to pull up useful information about him.  He’s been connected with so many scandals that I can’t keep track of them.  It would be very helpful, I then think to myself, to have a laundry list of every lie he’s told, every failure he’s overseen, and every scandal on his watch (with Obama always having carefully averted his eyes when his minions carry out their dirty work or display their gross incompetence).

Thankfully, Obama laundry list I crave is now here and, even more thankfully, it’s funny, snarky, informed, and comprehensive.  I speak, of course, about Teri O’Brien’s recently released book, The ABC’s of Barack Obama: Understanding God’s Greatest Gift to America. For those of you unfamiliar with Teri, she’s a self-described “recovering attorney,” as well as a radio personality and a blogger.  All of those skills inform her book.  The lawyer part means that she knows how to put together a strong argument, with each allegation fully supported by relevant facts.  The radio personality means that she has a breezy, friendly style that’s easy to follow.  And the blogger in her means that her writing is fluid and effortless.

In her book, O’Brien takes on the persona of an Obama supporter who keeps getting humorously overwhelmed by Obama’s unsavory reality.  Imagine, if you will, a defense attorney trying to defend a client he knows is guilty as Hell.  The beleaguered attorney keeps coming up with new arguments, only to have the ugly facts float up like long-dead bodies in a fetid pond.  O’Brien has a deft touch that makes this technique work.  One can read about Obama’s many sins without getting bored or overwhelmed.

If you check it out today, you can get the book for free.  If you wait too long, you’ll pay only $1.99, which is a giveaway price.  If you’re a leisurely reader, the 56-page book will take a couple of hours (or more) to get through.  That’s time profitably, intelligently, and enjoyably spent.  On the other hand, if you go see a Hollywood movie for the same two hours you’ll help fund Leftist directors, producers, and actors, be forced to watch commercials and product placements, and it will cost you $12 a ticket.  Also, depending on the movie, you might feel pretty soiled when you leave the theater.  With Teri’s book, for a 6th of the price (or for free, if you act quickly) you can laugh, learn, and tell yourself that, no matter how corrupt our current political scene is, as long as America produces people like Teri, we’re going to be all right.

Book Review: Ray Zacek’s “The Daguerreotype”

The DaguerreotypeI’m always delighted when a friend sends me a book he has written and I love the book, since it means I can write an honest, favorable review.  I’ve already read and positively reviewed one book from Ray Zacek (The Taxman Cometh) and it’s my pleasure to give a positive, albeit short, review of his latest effort, The Daguerreotype.

I thought Zacek’s The Taxman Cometh was an excellent novella.  The Daguerreotype is even better, showing Zacek’s development as a writing.  Zacek is an economical writer who never uses one word more or less than is absolutely necessary to tell his tale.  That technique works very well in this book, which ties together two ostensibly separate stories, one set in early 1840s Paris and the other in modern-day America.  Both stories revolve around a daguerreotype and move, slowly but inexorably, from a prosaic beginning to a thrilling, and entirely unexpected, conclusion.

I highly recommend this book, which is perfect reading for a dark, rainy afternoon.  The book will make the afternoon fly by, while the ever-so-slightly claustrophobic feel of the rainy day will add a little something extra to this subtle, yet exciting book

What I’m reading right now — and recommend

A friend recommended that I read Dan Simmons’ Flashback.  It’s a futuristic dystopian crime thriller with a twist:  the dangerous, crime-ridden, war-torn disaster that is the United States in the  mid-21st century came into being directly because of Progressive policies.  This could have become a Tea Party polemic — and I’m not fond of polemics, which are boring even when they support my viewpoint — but this book works because Simmons is the real deal as a writer.

Nick Bottom, the story’s “hero” is a washed up detective in thrall to flashback, an addictive drug that allows people to relive their happiest moments.  He’s been asked by America’s Japanese overlords to investigate a crime committed six years before.  Although he’s not much good, since he was one of the chief detectives on the case, he can use flashback to relive his investigation.

I’m only halfway through the book and I can’t put it down.  I know that I’m going to discover why a Japanese documentary maker was murdered, how Nick’s wife died, what will happen to his son and father-in-law, and whether Nick’s eventual discoveries will have any effect on the war-torn America in which he lives.

I’ll let you know if the book jumps the shark (because even made-up futuristic worlds can get to silly to tolerate), but I’m currently optimistic that the second half will be as good as the first.

Remembering C.S. Lewis

I am not exaggerating when I say that C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books were an important element in my moral development.  I read them as a child because I loved the fantastic stories.  I appreciate them as an adult because I value their spiritual and moral underpinnings.  I have no doubt that the books’ foundational ideas seeped into my subconscious when I was too young to realize that I was reading a series of beautifully crafted moral and religious allegories.

Sadly, my kids do not share my passion for the Narnia books.  They did, however, love the first movie, which I thought had some important lessons about honor and manliness.

Why am I suddenly talking about C.S. Lewis?  Because (unbeknownst to me) tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of his death.  Peter Wehner has a lovely homage to Lewis, who was one of the last great 20th century moralists and thinkers.

Charles Murray taught me libertarianism in a hurry

One of my favorite songs when I was young was Betty Hutton’s Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing In A Hurry.  Because of the way my mind plays with words, the song always pops into my head whenever I think of Charles Murray, the deservedly famous libertarian thinker and writer.  The rhyming names are, of course, a facile connection between the man and the song.  The deeper, more meaningful connection is that Murray’s 1994 book, Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, was one of the pivotal books that hastened my transition from knee-jerk liberal to thinking conservative.

Bell Curve was so relentlessly logical it dealt a death-blow to the cognitive dissonance that is a necessity for a moral, rational Jew who lives in the real world, but who continues to vote the Democrat ticket. I read the book in 1995 and became hungry for more and more books that inevitably destroyed my Jewish, San Francisco, UC Berkeley, PBS, New Yorker, New York Times world view. (Some of those books were Keith Richburg’s Out Of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa; Charles Sykes’ Profscam: Professors and the Demise of Higher Education; and, believe it or not, Arthur Schlesinger’s The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society, in which an old Leftist mourned multiculturalism without realizing that he ushered it in America’s front door.)  It took until 9/11 before I was able to sever completely the cord between me and the Democrat party, but I never would have reached that state had it not been for The Bell Curve.

As always, there’s a point to one of my meandering introductions.  I was fortunate enough today attend a luncheon in San Francisco at which Mr. Murray spoke.  The theme of the speech was the same theme he sounded in his best-selling book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010:  namely, that 21st century America is experiencing a class divide the likes of which has never been seen before in this country.

We’ve all seen this divide in the responses to the previous and current occupants of the White House.  George W. Bush may have come from an old American family, and been educated at all the right (i.e., Ivy League schools), but he was considered a class traitor by the Leftist elite, who relentlessly mocked his speech (“new-cu-lar,” “misunderestimated,” etc.), and sought to portray him as an ill-educated yokel who squeaked into the Ivies because of family connections.  Meanwhile, Barack Obama, the stoner who drifted into the Ivies on a cloud of marijuana smoke and affirmative action, is held up to the world as the most intelligent president ever to occupy the White House (never mind his staggering ignorance about everything but Leftist cant), in large part because he plays the class game so adroitly.

I certainly saw the class divide in my own world when a liberal family member was horrified to learn that I admired Sarah Palin — a gal who didn’t go to the Ivies, who believes in God, and who shoots moose.  He didn’t even bother to challenge me on political substance.  He simply said, “She’s not one of us.”  We stared at each other over a giant chasm of value differences.  To me, she’s “one of us,” because she believes in American exceptionalism, distrusts big government, supports the Constitution, recognized the inevitable loss of freedom that comes with socialized medicine, supports Israel, supports the troops, etc.  While this relative disagrees with Palin on every one of those issues, her real crime was being a yokel.  If he was the bumper-sticker type, he’d have had one that said “We don’t vote for yokels.”

The point Murray made in his speech is that the Bush/Obama or Obama/Palin divides are more than just political.  He began with something simple:  marriage.  Upper middle class white people marry — 84% of them today, as opposed to 94% of them when I was born.  Lower class people have abandoned marriage — 84% of them were married when I was born; only 48% of them are married now.  The problem isn’t just an economic one, although the economic effects of single-motherhood are so catastrophic that even the New York Times has had to acknowledge it.  Two-parent families are the glue that holds a community together.

As Murray said, single dads don’t coach Little League and single moms don’t go to PTA meetings.  In Marin County, Tiburon and Ross moms bring their formidable energy and skills to scarily efficient and excessive PTAs and school plays, while in San Rafael and Marin City (Marin’s genuinely poor communities), those same Tiburon and Ross moms, as charity work, try to do the same in communities that have virtually no parental participation.

It’s not just that the rich are richer and the poor are poorer (although that too is a problem, because it means the middle is vanishing).  It’s that the rich and the poor live entirely separate lives.  Back in 1960, even in affluent neighborhoods, neighborhoods were more blended than they are today.  Incidentally, much as I hate to give any praise to my former law-prof and current-Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren, she diagnosed this problem almost a decade ago.  In The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke, she pointed out that the upper middle class drive for public schools that offer the same quality as prep schools drove up housing prices in certain areas, making it impossible for middle and working class families even to remain within the school district’s boundaries.  While Warren had the smarts to divine the problem, she’s so ideologically blinkered that she thinks government control and intervention is the solution.

Murray describes a lost American world in which the upper classes and upper middle classes sought to blend in, not to stand out.  They bought Buicks, not Cadillacs, because it was déclassé to flaunt ones wealth.  Nowadays, with stratospheric incomes propelled by information technology, you’re failing the new upper class if you don’t have the $100,000 Tesla.

Our children grow up untouched, not just by poverty, but by a connection to the blue-collar working class.  Many of the children in Marin have never met a parent who makes his living using his body (unless he’s a chichi personal trainer) as opposed to his brain.  I certainly know that’s the case for my little community.  I like to describe my delightful neighborhood as one populated by old people with young children.  This used to be a nice suburban working class neighborhood, with stay-at-home moms and blue collar or low-level white collar (i.e., teachers and clerks) dads.  Now it’s an expensive, upper class neighborhood where every adult has at least one degree, where all the fathers are professionals, and where the mothers were professionals before their income level gave them the luxury of staying home to raise their children.  All of us worked like the dickens in our 20s and 30s so that we could afford these homes in this top-flight school district for our late-in-life kids.

Popular culture has also divided.  As  I like to tell my kids, back in the 1940s, everybody listened to Bing Crosby and Benny Goodman, and in the 1950s, everybody watched I Love Lucy.  Now, our popular culture is divided up by 500 cable channels, God-alone-knows-how-many pop music charts, and movies targeted to micro-stratum demographics.  Murray saw this as a class issue, and I agree.  He pointed out that the audience before him watches Mad MenDownton Abbey, and Breaking Bad, while that other class is watching shows we don’t even know exist.  (Although I do know about Duck Dynasty and one day, if I can drag myself to the TV, a box I usually avoid, I  might watch it.)

I’m very aware of the pop culture chasm, of course, because I have kids.  My blogging means that I know everything my kids know, which is very fortunate.  I’m usually a step ahead of them, and can deconstruct Miley Cyrus or “I kissed a girl and I like it.”  They wouldn’t listen to me if I just concluded that it’s “nasty” or “inappropriate.”  They do listen to me because I can describe the behavior in detail and, in the same detail, explain why it’s destructive.  Most parents, of course, don’t have the freedom to be as informed as I am, and the children pay the price.  They grow up in a pop culture world where it’s not just that “anything goes,” it’s that anything that is base, demeaning, and immoral is elevated and emulated.

I do believe, though, that children are beginning to see through the noise of a sleazy, degrading pop culture, and they’re recognizing that, no matter how much they’re forced to read a second-rate, civil-rights-era play such as Raisin in the Sun, that they’re being lied to.  Whatever pathologies may be plaguing today’s black community, they understand that systemic institutional racism is no longer an issue., especially when there’s a black man in the White House.

In other words, the fact that the Left controls the discourse in the media and the schools, so that children get a monolithic Leftist world view, also means that the cognitive dissonance grows and grows.  In this way, we’ve become like the Soviet Union, where people became cynical as they looked at housing shortages and hunger while the government trumpeted the stunning success of whatever iteration of Stalin’s Five Year Plan happened to be in vogue that year.  Our children too are struggling with cognitive dissonance.  It’s a slow process, as I know personally, but a real one.

All in all, it was a very good lunch.  The meal was delicious (perfectly prepared chicken, wild mushrooms, and fruit tart), and the intellectual food was just as good.  If you live in the Bay Area, I strongly suggest that you get on the Pacific Research Institute (“PRI”) mailing list.  The speakers that PRI brings to San Francisco are always worth hearing.