Fear and Camping

SUMMER READING:

GET YOUR FLASHLIGHT AND HIT THE WOODS

th.jpegLisa Hagan Books

/bethwareham

What is it about a flashlight and a book? Sure, there is an element – no matter what your age – that your mom is going to bust in and tell you to go to sleep. But something runs deeper with a tiny pool of light and the endless black woods. Talk about existential threat. Your lizard brain is jumping and when you read a scary book out there in the void, each word is scarier than the last.

If you’ve spent time in Maine, you understand how Stephen King got his scary. Those woods are dark. Just walking from car to house must be navigated by starlight. It’s that black. I was an impressionable age when I read Salem’s Lot, 17, and in the wilds of Mexico. In the book (as well as in the primary work), vampires knock on a window in the dark night to gain entrance and suck necks. A Mexican waiter rapped on mine and I became so frightened, I cried.

In the werewolf corner, I am haunted by Sharp Teeth. I read it in manuscript and loved it. My opinion hasn’t changed. Werewolves run wild in Los Angeles, ensnaring a dogcatcher who falls for an outlier werewolf-ess. And did I tell you it’s written in blank verse?  If you’re rolling your eyes, it’s not for you. But if you like unusual, jump!  Harper Collins ended up publishing the book, for which I am grateful.

Dean Koontz, H.P. Lovecraft, and this gentleman will put all sorts of frightening ideas in your head with just a few suggestive words.  Invest in an anthology of the last two and pack it with your sleeping bag each summer. There is that much scary material to make the investment worth it.  Throw in The Turn of the Screw, Henry James’ big attempt at creepy and he succeeded. A novella – thank goodness because that Henry do go on! – this can be read in an hour.

Last, but not least, have you ever noticed that UFOs usually land in fields, woods or desert? Disc-shaped craft never come down on the Met Life building or the 101.  It’s because aliens know it’s even scarier when they land in unpopulated unlit places and frighten campers. The scariest UFO books I’ve read? 365 Days of UFOs is an historical accounting of landings, sightings, controversies, experiments, monster tracking, and coverups – one for each day of the year. Many happen in the fields and forests of Europe and middle America or the grit of the Southwest.  Roswell, a book by Nick Redfern, author of the 365 book above, is scary in a different way. It lays out a damning case against a government conspiracy that promoted little green men in a  misdirection campaign away from secret experiments at the end of WWII.  Roswell may be the scariest when you contemplate what other programs our government has hidden.

Being scared is fun and a big black wall of woods pierced by flashlight sets a fine mood. Here are more lists of favorite scary book from Men’s Journal , Flavorwire and Paste.

Enjoy the summer, share your scary book #recs with us, and don’t forget your mosquito spray.

Great camping gear: REI  amazon.com L.L. Bean

Follow us on @shadowteams 

Post on Facebook    shadowteamsnyc

DON’T GO IT ALONE: AMAZON IS LIKE GETTING BITTEN TO DEATH BY DUCKS

images

www.shadowteams.com

/Beth Wareham

Of course I’m prejudiced: I have a digital publishing/tech company with a very old-fashioned business model: For one agreed-upon fee, a client receives every service he or she needs to make an ebook and paperback. We build the electronic presence around the book it needs to succeed. We are also responsible for every word in the books. In perpetuity. We’ve done the editing and proofing and have the tech experts to go in and make every change. In perpetuity.

Now, let’s paddle on over to amazon and see how they are handling the explosion in independent publishing. Looks kind of like ducks nibbling for bugs in the grass. For $199, you can pick from one of any ten interior designs for your book. You plunk your beloved manuscript in the template you choose and BAM!, any change you make will cost $79 per change.

If you want something a big jazzier, there is a template level of ten designs for $349 with 10 interior images. More photos – up to 30 on this template – will cost $25.00 per photo for each addition picture. The math on that one is easy.

There are charges for formatting author-supplied indexes, an adjustment to a template, conversion from Createspace to Kindle, a cover design package with one choice and and one change, and a higher package that supplies the writer with two concepts and two changes for not cost. Any more changes to the cover revert the the $79.00 a change charge, I assume.

My goodness. Was the internet merely a way to hasten the death I always felt awaited me when I worked in corporations – that of being bitten to death by ducks? This time, the nibbles are small costs that end up in one big pile of duck poo on your dock and a book that looks like hundreds of thousands of others.

The most shocking part of all this is that I’ve worked in publishing for 25 years and HAVE NEVER seen a manuscript completely error-free, no matter how many eyes ogled it. (Even The Great Gatsby suffered a typo in that first printing: Find one and you win the lotto.)

So I wonder, if I have 18 changes in a book I’ve worked on for years, in amazon’s world, I have to pay over $1,400 to have my book corrected?

More duck poo. I say that you can’t parse this kind of an artistic endeavor down in that fashion, and, as much as I love amazon, these “change fees” might have writers choosing between putting dinner on the table and making their work finer.

That is one crappy choice. Do yourself a favor: find a team to help you publish and you stay on your keyboard, making more art. It’s cheaper in the long run and you won’t have that icky “bitten to death by ducks” feeling.

For more information, follow us on twitter @shadowteams @skinnysmoothies @giantsweettart
Chat on Facebook at Shadowteamsnyc

A Book IS Its Cover

imageswww.shadowteams.com
Unknown-1

I am not going to tell you at this moment how the two images above – baldness and fire – interlock in my new novel, you’ll just have to wait and see.

But after reading a really smart blog about how publishers must up their game on covers, I really started to ponder things. Why are covers so static? I’ve worked with art directors who loved to place one perfect little thing on the cover, put a frame around it and put it on a shelf. I called these art directors THE TURD BURGLARS. Doesn’t matter how pretty that art is, across the room it still resembled a tiny turd.

Yup, they gotta want to buy the book before they can read it. That’s where covers come in.

I am from the FULL BLEED SCHOOL of art direction, as you can tell by the covers on my site. Find an arresting image – often from the past – and blow it up large. That’s the FULL BLEED style and I love it.

I want cinema in every book I do. I just like it that way, I can’t help it. I never can afford the Frank Capra photos from Magnum Photos and it makes me sad.

Lately, as young graphic designers strut their stuff, lots of book jackets resemble writing on the ASIAN CAVE WALL. While very cool and no doubt pleasing to Plato and his Republic, I can’t figure out what it is telling me about the book. But I like it. Just one more thing to feel ambivalence over, I guess.

This smart blogger suggested covers that create huge emotion and action just out of range of the frame, in this case, the cover. Her example was the teary-eyed face of a girl in The Blair Witch Project. I must admit, I too wanted to know what was happening just out of the frame of that picture.

Book covers must generate a lot more excitement than their current state. Visual artists are needed as badly as tech experts. Because books are, by necessity, becoming more visual because of the internet (weird, right?), and they need to compete with the amazing level of images Americans are now used to and expect.

In this new world, why can’t book covers move? Why can’t an alternative ending, on film, begin as soon as you touch the link at the end of the novel? What would a little Tristan und Isolde do in the background as you read the last chapter? Why aren’t we playing with forms? Pushing more? Pissing more people off?

Oh, okay, I’ll guess I’ll just have to do it. 🙂

Follow us on twitter at @Shadowteams

Visit us on Facebook and say something weird Shadowteamsnyc

THE NEW TOOLS: Book-making’s Newest, Most Useful Widget…or Something

/Beth Warehamimages-1

https://gumroad.com/products/PWAI/edit

I’m a black ops publisher. I named the company Shadow Teams so that authors would understand that we come in, camouflaged faces and knives between our teeth, find that manuscript and WiFi connection and make a book. Then, we float off in search of more writers in distress. Our website gets a lot of hits from Afghanistan.

Being a black ops publisher means you need the latest tools before they hit the streets. You need to be on them, assessing their use for your client, and tossing it in the “stupid” or “useful” bin, depending. A Shadow Team is always learning the secrets of the competition – except if it’s Sony Pictures. Then we run away, vowing to never do what they did.

That is one definition of “shadow team.” Another definition of “shadow team” has to do with Silicon Valley: You hire the entire team away from a competitor and get a huge chunk of corporate knowledge. We did that too.

The most difficult aspect of this black ops publishing company is selling books. Since the highly structured, hugely anachronistic publishing industry began to fall in 2007, retail possibilities for books have all but dried up. You either place your book in that cyberspace landfill known as “amazon” or you email it to your friends so many times, they buy it and never invite you over again.

Try gumroad.com Consider it our Holiday Gift to you. Pull your book out of the amazon ghetto. Add bonus value to your core readers. Bundle books. Change your content or advertising copy. Get paid directly.

Follow us on twitter @shadowteams   @giantsweettart   @skinnysmoothies

www.shadowteams.com

BIG PUBLISHING COMPANIES KNOW LESS THAN YOU DO

 

images

 

http://www.shadowteams.com
by Beth Wareham

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/retailing/article/64983-hachette-to-try-selling-books-via-twitter.html

After a much publicized and embarrassing fight between Hachette and Amazon, Hachette today announced they would sell books directly off twitter! Let’s have a parade.

Big news! How many self-published authors and digital book companies have paved the way using http://www.aerbook.com and others to sell their content and books on twitter. http://www.gumshoe.com is great, but it is a great big comedown from wrestling amazon to the ground.

The more I observe, the more I see big publishing taking it’s cues from us on the ground. They fail at huge negotiations and cry in their saucer of milk, then turn to see what the working folk have been up to. We’ve been selling books.

Follow us on twitter

@shadowteams

@giantsweettart

 

www.shadowteams.com

 

Cured of Hoarding in One Purchase

images

www.shadowteams.com
/Beth Wareham

I have heard a lot of reasons why humans love books. The love of story is probably the best one. I also like the philosophical idea that a book represents time as it will take you time to read it. The more books you have, the more time you have. Have a lot of books, live forever.

We build special shelves for them, stack them atop one another in a column that reaches the ceiling, pile them beside the bed. They shout, “we’re smart! We read!” to all visitors. We may have read some or all of them. The real answer is probably more like one or two.

Humans love to hoard books. It is more acceptable than gathering large numbers of say, cats or ironing boards, in the same room. It is acceptable stock-piling. It’s kinda weird.

41DjGgGH-5L._AA160_I, too, was once a hoarder of books. I have bought and not read so many of them, I should be on a booksellers’ Hall of Fame list somewhere. I would squat in dingy corners of Half-Priced Books trying to find the 20 I needed that week to live. I would read three or four and feed off the paper molecules of the rest. I was hungry and young and my brain was so needful.

A year ago, I approached one of my piles and pulled up an old favorite. I held it in my hands lovingly, remembering when I bought it. I ran my hand across the cover, smiled, opened the book slowly and a big fat centipede fell out. In New York City. Technology and nature had reached a tipping point in my life.

Kindle Paper whiteWith centipede disgust, I ordered my first e-reader. It arrived and I loaded it with a couple of books, tentatively, like they might explode. I put the reader in my bag. Now, what I loved to hoard – books – could be taken with me EVERYWHERE. It was like I had a Sears shed for my own special hobby and no one could come in and bother me. This e-reader was an anti-boredom machine that would make any journey bearable. The world can do what it wants: I’m gonna read.

Much of the dust-centipede breeding ground has been removed from my house. My allergies are better and I found my first husband, dead, under a pile of coffee table books. It was expected, but still sad.

On your reader, you create your own library, your secret world where your brain can play out of sight. On your reader, you can go anywhere and do anything without the paralyzing fear of not having the RIGHT book to read. On your reader, you have the tools to journey further and further into the world, taking your essentials with you. Sometimes with e-reader in hand, I feel like I’m a rocket ship, able to travel a long long way.

On your reader, you

black-fas-slate-01-sm._V325436165_

build a part of your life and take it with you, drawing on its strength as needed. Sure, I’ve got 237 titles on my Kindle – all stock-piled with glee – but the difference is no one can see and I, like all hoarders, feel better just knowing Euripides is there.

We’d love it if you joined us on twitter @shadowteams @giantsweettart

 

www.shadowteams.com    

All purchases at The ST Store go to Ebook Africa.

It’s Not ISIS: It’s the Golden Age of Books

Uber-Agent Andrew Wylie sees amazon employees going to work.

images

www.shadowteams.com
by Beth Wareham

When Andrew Wylie, literary agent to the stars, declared amazon an “ISIS-LIKE DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM” at the Toronto Book Fair, it was the metaphorical gunshot that alerted the world that publishing had indeed gone around the bend, was no longer the sharpest knife in the drawer, or even had all its lightbulbs in the chandelier. And just months before, Mr. Wylie wanted amazon to be his buddy, selling all the ebooks that unfortunately, Random House owned. A judge – more and more an important person in publishing – said The Jackal couldn’t do that. He’s called “The Jackal” in the industry for just such moves. After the ISIS-LIKE DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM comment, though, I call him The Loon.

This one man has so bullied the publishing elite it is laughable. Whole careers have been built and destroyed based on whether or not Andrew Wylie will sell you a book. But “The Jackal,” as he was known to those shy folk in sensible shoes, was always wily in the right way: he hired the best editors on Earth to work his clients books BEFORE he let a publishing company touch them. Smart man. He knows quality and he knows it sells. Watching arrogant publishers bend to his will was fine sport.

So, as I work with amazon, I dress more and more like ISIS. It just seems to happen. A headscarf to keep out dust as I post a blog. An ammo belt to wear as I upload a book on Kindle Direct Publishing.  Dirty boots to run to the photocopy shop.

What a stupid metaphor, Andrew. As if your life and your problems and your slow down of massive income had a thing to do with a terrible war on the other side of the world.

Come on, fancy commercial publishing, get your metaphors right. The world of books has blown open. The 60 (80?) million bucks you spent on lawyers and price-fixing is gone, pissed away on anything but the art of writing.  Hundreds of books did not get published: You built an empty library and to your surprise big publishing, the world went right on writing and reading.

We found a way.

Follow us on twitter @shadowteams   @giantsweettart

www.shadowteams.com

10 NO-FAIL GIFTS FOR FOODIES

images-1

www.shadowteams.com

10 NO-FAIL FOODIE GIFTS  by Beth Wareham

My business partner and I share a background heavy in food preparation. She is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu. Not some soft U.S. outpost; she trained in Paris. Huge Frenchmen screamed at her and her pastry. She got butter in her hair.

Hey, everybody has to scratch an itch and, if your hands are smeared with flour and fat, you have little recourse but to smear some around. At night, she’d wash it off and call the States, enraged: “I’m gonna get that Frenchman,” she’d tell her little brother. No tears. No trembling behind the door of the walk-in larder. Just thoughts and plots of revenge.

My experience in food preparation covered 20 years as a cookbook editor, with three editions of the Joy of Cooking notched into my pencil plus chefs Daniel Boulud and Bobby Flay. (I LOVE Bobby Flay. I fought off endless urges to buy him fleece. I thought the warm kitchens would take care of it.) Al Roker was in there somewhere with barbecue and, when I think of recipes from The Herb Farm outside Seattle, my taste glands activate.

I’m forgetting at least 25 other chefs and cookbook authors I edited, perhaps on purpose. I know what makes a great recipe and I know one that won’t work within 3 seconds of looking at it. Food and bullshit often go hand in hand.

My partner and I rarely cook now. I’ll do a steak over an open fire and she’ll throw lobsters into boiling water, but that’s about it. Maybe this is our revenge: Simplicity. But if we do host a party or take food to someone, we’ll strut our stuff like the high-stepping, high-achieving women we are. Tell me, kid, ever de-boned a chicken? That’s hot Cougar talk.

Below is a list of cookbooks that, should my partner and I ever encounter them in your kitchen, we’d lean in to each other and whisper “real deal,” as we moved past on the tour of your house. These books are cornerstones of the world’s great cuisines. These books will, if you let them, explore a whole culture through the entryway of their food, a place where family, society and spirituality often meet.

These books are the equivalent of a cooking school course and look into a culture, without the screaming Frenchman and the butter:

1. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

This book is so famous it seems silly to write about it. It blew into the American consciousness in the 1960s and had housewives preparing 7-course French meals for the boss and his wife. Julia trained an entire generation of magnificent chefs as they sat in front of the television in their diapers, watching her magic and dreaming of future meals.

51Asy92Sa8L._AA160_51QswVmERzL._AA160_buy now

 

2. The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean by Paula Wolfort

Twenty years or so ago, America discovered the Mediterranean diet and the books haven’t stopped coming since. A particularly healthy cuisine – tomatoes, fish,olive oil, citrus, raw garlic, vegetables, grains – the flavors are sunny, timeless, and satisfying and no one has ever done it better than Paula Wolfort.

 

61JH39QBB6L._AA160_

buy now

 

 

 

3. Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni

I get a lot of phone calls looking for writers to do new Indian cookbooks for the expanding Indian culture in the United States. I always say the same thing: “Why do you need something more than Julie Sahni?” Many don’t know who she is and I suggest if you love Indian food, you get to know her. These complex ancient dishes are brought to life in a simple, vibrant style any cook can master.

Unknown-1

buy now

 

 

 

4. The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy

I stand by this statement until the grave: Most Mexican cookbooks steal wildly from Diana Kennedy. Part Indiana Jones, part Julia Child, Diana took to Mexico, learning food ways and breaking that cuisine’s code for the North American cook. Her Lifetime Achievement Award for the James Beard Foundation proved that flashy organizations can promote an authentic intellectual on a quest to understand a culture: that’s Diana.

Unknown-2

buy now

 

 

 

5. The Taste of Country Cooking: The 30th Anniversary Edition by Edna Lewis

When Virginia-born Edna Lewis operated the Café Nicholson in New York City, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote were frequent diners. You think Edna knew something about Southern food? Edna was snatched up by Julia Child’s editor for a book the New York Times said “may well be the most entertaining regional cookbook in America.”

 

 

Unknown-3

buy now

 

6. How to Cook Everything: 30th Anniversary Edition by Mark Bittman

He’s Mr. Minimalist in the New York Times, a persona that matches Mark’s no-nonsense approach to food. This is a big, all-purpose cookbook, much beloved by younger generations, and a perfect gift for those starting a new home. Heavily-branded,there are several versions of How to Cook Everything, including , one to vegetables, and one to just the basics, all good.

 

51SzFWY20lL._AA160_

buy now

 

 

 

 514SFQtA8fL._AA160_buy now


51OBxgmZ9WL._AA160_

 

 

 

 

buy now

 

 

 

 

7. Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo

Home cooks in the United States haven’t taken to Chinese home cooking as they have other cuisines. Two reasons explain this: Chinese food is extremely heavy on prep work and, our Chinese restaurants are so good. Shopping for and cooking with these exotic ingredients is a rush. So is learning Chinese techniques.

 

Unknown-4buy now

8. The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

After a horrific childhood in wartime Italy, Marcella immigrated to the United States and and later published the go-to book for classic Italian cooking. Now, more than 30 years later, this is still the go-to book for classic Italian cooking. In fact Marcella was to Italy what Julia was to France. Marcella was just grumpier and drank more whisky. This book is full of the simple transcendent food of the Italians. Don’t miss the pork braised in milk.

Unknown-5buy now

9. Larousse Gastronomique: The World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia Completely Revised and Updated by Librarie LaRousse

The first edition of this kitchen titan was written in 1938 with a preface by the revered Escoffier. Repeatedly revised, it no longer just covers the deepest secrets of French food: world cuisines have now made it’s pages It was Julia Child’s “desert island book” and any cook that has an inquiring mind will want this reference by his or her side. Weighing in a 8 pounds, Larousse can be used to tone your arms as things bake.

 

Unknown-7

Unknown-8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 buy now

 

10. The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook:
2,000 Recipes from 20 Years of America’s Most Trusted Cooking Magazine

Another all-purpose cookbook, Cook’s Illustrated always reminds me of the “anal retentive chef” from Saturday Night Live. Recipes are perfect. Hints come at you like tennis balls: Did you know vodka makes your crust more tender WITHOUT adding flavor? But throughout, the recipes work perfectly, are delicious and you learn the “why”of it all, an important thing to learn.

 

51j7VUvineL._AA160_buy now

The New York Times Will Never Cover Publishing without their Dreams of Bestsellers

Unknownwww.shadowteams.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/05/public-editor/publishing-battle-should-be-covered-not-joined.html?_r=1

The New York Times is simply not the place to look for publishing insights. First, everyone that writes for the paper has a dream that looks like the one above. That’s right, that old white guy is receiving his Nobel Prize. Folks at the Times also get riled up over such words as Pulitzer, National Book Critics Association, huge advance, Andrew Wiley, multiple book deal and of course, lunch with my agent.

The New York Times is also full of reporter/writers who do not necessarily make a huge amount of money. Their platform – The New York Times – gave many a chance to add  $50,000, $100,000, $500,000 – to their annual income, if they could sell a book proposal to a large publishing company. Many could. Publishers scooped them up like chocolate almond ice cream: They bought houses and sent kids to college on publishing advances.

Alternatively, The New York Times was hugely disrupted by the digital revolution. The New York Times has done a magnificent job of wrapping their heads around what must be done. But that doesn’t mean their hearts are there yet.

So, get your publishing information from somewhere else for awhile. Or, better yet, go write a great book while the whole thing blows over.

Follow us on twitter  @shadowteams  @skinnysmoothies @giantsweettart

Visit on Facebook at ShadowteamsNYC

 

 

 

Amazon Bashing: Zzzzzzzzzzzz

Unknown

I couldn’t be any more sick of this amazon-publishing theater than I am of , say, Olivia Pope’s overly large handbags.

Now, writers are even doing it at the National Book Awards? From the podium? Come on. This kid has more dignity.  Of course you’re a writer in a room of publishing executives and you want to tell them what they want to hear because that is who you are. But you shouldn’t.

To indulge in any kind bashing on a night celebrating art is just not the right thing to do. Many have been hurt by some of amazon’s tactics. They still love to read: the art and the business are not the same thing.

visit at www.shadowteams.com

Follow us @shadowteams    @Giantsweettart   @Skinnysmoothies

Visit Facebook ShadowteamsNYC