The Clinton’s Basement

/Beth Wareham

Poor Chelsea. All kids make out in their parent’s basement and she must have looked so unappetizing in the pulsating blue. Or perhaps she looked more beautiful, blue eyes bouncing back the shiny azure of the server light.

I never cease to be amazed at all the stupid shit the rich and famous need and want – air-pressure chambers, fish toxin injections, panic rooms (though I have one in my head), hair wranglers. But I must say, this “server-in-the-basement” thing is a fantastic new wrinkle in the game of the rich and powerful.

What would I put on my basement servers? Well, it wouldn’t be dick picks. Hillary probably got group blasts of those from congress. I’d put my financial information, most personal exchanges with people I loved and medical information. The stuff that matters.

Hillary is just too damn smart to not have good reasons to have servers in her basement. She has been a target of some of the most humiliating take-down attempts in the history of the Presidency. She’s got a right to be a bit more discerning than most. Whatever you think of her personally, she has served her country tirelessly and deserves our respect and thanks.

So, I say to Hillary, RELEASE AND REDACT whatever you need to; You have served us so well.

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For the love of God, it’s ALL DIGITAL PUBLISHING

Hachette and Amazon made great theater. Mergers and oustings are our present form of castle sieges and beheadings (the Game of Thrones kind, not the Isis kind) and in all this noise there is something called a story.

As Amazon began leaving the pack behind, Kindle was the word, product, catalyst, stick with fire on the end, that drove all things “book” forward. The established order needed words for the scruffy wanna-bes climbing their walls, hoping for an advance and a place at the banquet table.

So up bubbled that word, SELF-PUBLISHED. That word has connotations of type-os, run-on sentences, dangling modifiers and strange page breaks. Well, have you checked out a “real” book lately? A colleague reported a typo on the DEDICATION page recently. I don’t know about you, but I’d get my husband’s name right in a book. Especially if it was the 5th page. This writer didn’t. I suspect it wasn’t her fault.

Now, here come children’s books on amazon’s new digital platform. SELF-PUBLISHED was a term of the range wars, the battle for dollars within an industry losing its market share. It was derogatory. It suggested these books did not have the “expertise” of other books. Those children’s book authors are gonna explode with creativity in this new world. They are the most resourceful, driven people I’ve ever met.

And, with the beginnings of publishing services companies appearing – like mine – we edit, copyedit, design, cover design, and market -a “self-published” book is a complete misnomer. It’s a DIGITAL story. It’s highly produced. And as more and more writers hire companies to prepare their ebooks with rigorous editing, position and cover design, what precisely IS the difference?

I say there is none. I say we need a new word.

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EVERYBODY POOPS: The Day Amazon Announced Kindle’s Kids’ Books Creator

Today, Amazon announced that the self-publishing world would now include children’s books. Their newest platform, Kindle Kids’ Books Creator, could now take the particular needs of an ebook for kids – illustration, text placement, etc. – and make it work in the electronic world. So what, you think. It is a ZZZZzzzzz of a story, except if you make your living writing and publishing. In that case, that announcement was one big KA-BOOM.

Publishing companies made huge profits from their children’s departments in recent years. The lockdown on that market was still intact. Apps allowed fantastic children’s stories to come to life – look at Loud Crow’s work with Sandra Boynton – but made no real incursion into trade publishing’s territory. As a matter of fact, at least in Sandy’s case, the app (it IS glorious) seemed to drive sales of the same book. Still can’t figure that out.

Now with the KKBC, who knows what will happen? Sure, great stories rise but the competition just got a whole lot rougher. Amazon just gave all those aspiring children’s book authors and illustrators out there the gift of fire. I think I see it rising above Washington Heights already.

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THIS IS WHY: Wild Mad Love for Ebooks

I believe ebooks to be the coolest thing I’ve touched since Bono in the 90s. I wanted in on an idea that allowed anyone anywhere to be faster smarter higher than they could ever dream of being. Books in the hand. Ebooks. Millions, if you want and they fit. 

There is a time as an older girl, adolescent and young woman where I ate books. Nobody was talking about much of anything – though there was some drunken polka dancing I remember feeling great shame over – I became aware of this huge, now dead, march of voices behind me. They talked to me and I ate their stories whole, trying to shape in my own mind a life I wanted to live. West with the Night by Beryl Markum is the story that haunts; I volunteer on a project in Zambia. 

This is the child I see now. This is what I have stayed to see: I am so excited about ebooks.

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I always put “tech” under tags because I think tech people invented the green smoothie. I think they invented it so they could stay at their computer clicking and sucking, sucking and clicking. I do it too. It may be wrong. It may be sad. But I do it too.  21st century Mommy-fixation? Probably.

And behind the computer, these two little guys were working. They hollowed out a watermelon and put spinach in the blender, packing it down with wee paws. They whirled and whirled, making a highly dangerous foray into your freezer for ice. Now they are exhausted and you need to drink up:


No-Click Labor Day Green Smoothie

3 kiwi fruit, peeled and chunked

1 cup pineapple chunks

1 stalk celery

Decaf green tea to taste

1 cup spinach, kale or beet greens, torn into chunks

2 tablespoons chia seeds


Put the kiwi, pineapple and celery in the blender and pulse to break down. Add a little of the tea to make the tornado in the blender jar, if needed.

Add the greens and chia seeds and cover all with tea. Blend, dropping ice down through the blender top. 


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So, the Man Booker Prize has a crowd-funded, crowd-chosen finalist in this year’s prize. The setting is the UK in 1041. But oh, did it rock the house. Even Jennifer Lopez voted for it.

What happens when rarefied, highly educated, highly prejudiced, highly self-involved gatekeepers give way to the maddening crowd? We are about to see. But I do know this: the Man Booker Prize is helping, along with amazon and other institutions that use electricity to make and distribute books, in making the world a more interesting place.

No, I’m not going to read about muddy England in the 2nd Century. But damn, I’m glad that I CAN if I WANT to. IF I WANT TO, I can put on a deeply cut jumpsuit – just like J Lo – and spend days lost in the world of 1041 England.

Thanks to the crowd, our histories live.


I was really really pissed when Colbert got into the Amazon/Hachette squabble. I call it that because of the childishness of it all.

Colbert is a really funny man who probably doesn’t know squat about the ins and outs of book publishing. How could he? His calls go directly to voice mail. But someone got through to him and convinced him to denigrate on the air. TV sets in Seattle clicked off by the dozens. The dispute grew personal. Authors were now involved.

And Hachette had used Stephen Colbert as a human shield!

All of this is a shame. Colbert is to be protected, not drawn into the fray. He’s the TALENT, the thing you need to keep doing what you are doing: publishing books. You also have a contract with him, further proof you like and admire his work. So why have him trash Amazon and the most important relationship of his publishing life?

Copyright law was invented and pushed forward by WRITERS. Pamphlets, newspapers, penny dreadfuls, and later books were published by writers. Often, you wrote it in one room and walked to your printer in the front room, JUST LIKE NOW.

For 300 years, the work of publishing slowly migrated from the hands of writers. We got interested in other things, liked the big advance, wandered off to look at butterflies. Who knows. But the writers are back and they have Amazon behind them.

Doers once again will reap a fairer share of rewards for doing. That is what Amazon offers. Sure, things will have to shift and change: They always do. But returning publishing to the abilities and talent of writers is the best idea I’ve heard since Samuel Johnson. Yup, I’m that old.

In the meantime, don’t use Stephen Colbert – or any writer for that matter – as a human shield. We need him here, being funny.

Shadow Teams Creates Publishing-House Experience for Indie, Self-Published Authors

New York City (July 16, 2014) —The self-publishing industry has grown exponentially in the last six years, increasing over 400 percent since 2007 and over 50 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to a recent Bowker analysis. Yet authors who choose this route are often on their own in editing, designing, and finishing books to the high standards demanded by today’s readers.

Shadow Teams is stepping up to fill that service gap by providing an affordable and humanized way for authors to self-publish with the expertise of a publishing house.

To meet this rising tide and to address self-publishing authors’ need for quality, Shadow Teams has gathered professionals including content specialists trained in top-grossing publishing companies in New York City and tech experts in Silicon Valley. Together, these behind-the-scenes teams create an efficient and effective experience for authors.

“It’s about story. It’s about information transmitted to a hungry mind. Shadow Teams created a bridge in the publishing process–a perfect partnership with the best tech and editorial worldwide –that will help self-published authors fly,” says Beth Wareham, Founder and CEO

Shadow Teams can handle the marketing and publicity aspects of the book business, offering services from experts who can advise authors on up-to-the-minute best practices in these areas. Other experts in project management and electronic publishing provide information on SEO optimization, big-data mining, state-of-the-art design, blog tours and long-tail publishing.

“A book is an investment of time, money, and dedication for an author,” says Wareham. “And you want an investment to pan out. We provide the expertise that can make the difference between a successful book venture and a frustrating experience that wastes time, money, and quality.”

Shadow Teams is an author-based, results-driven, SEO publishing management company created and run by book and tech-industry experts to help writers self-publish their works with the expertise of a publishing house behind them. All employees are virtual.
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Unknown-1I didn’t expect Ruth. Odds are, if her son had not been a now-famous doctor I met when he was not famous, I would not have Ruth. I certainly wouldn’t have her if I still worked for a trade publishing house. Nobody would publish Ruth: She’s 85. But I do not work for a trade publishing house and that’s where the beauty lies: I can publish Ruth and I can do it brilliantly.

          In all this blah blah blah about amazon, that company made Ruth possible. That company became such a brilliant retailer that heads spin, no one can keep up, and everyone gets angry. So, whats the big deal? Try to keep up as best you can.

        Like the mongoose in Hawaii, amazon has no predators. But it will. It’s nature’s way. Right now, good heads are at work. Incursions will come. It’s capitalism, baby, so don’t whine out of both sides of your mouth, book publishing. No one owes you a living. Innovate.

       But I don’t care about them. I care about Ruth’s story: She’s a wife, mother, teacher, high school principal, community volunteer and smuggler. It’s 1953 and she is in Berlin, smuggling for the “people of the forest” – Jews that survived the concentration camps.  They survived because they were young, strong. They ate bark off the trees, stole goods when they could, did anything they had to do to stay alive. They came to the edge of the trees to meet the car, standing around in ragged clothes.  Her husband Saul is a philanderer. They run dangerous missions across borders for the forest Jews in a hollowed out Mercedes.  They never get caught. This is non-fiction. 

         I look up from the manuscript and can’t believe it. Characters have left the room and Ruth’s voice isn’t in my head, matter-of-factly telling me what she learned about human beings by running gold over International borders after the Holocaust.  She is Jewish and “wanted to do what she could.”

         I can’t believe we almost lost this story and that’s the miracle: Companies such as amazon have given countless people a place to tell stories that never ever would have seen the light of day – and that matters. A whole bunch. 

        Viva amazon. I say. And I can’t wait for that drone to deliver my stuff in 30 minutes.