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Category: In the News (Page 1 of 8)

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Chair Sold At Auction

UPDATE: The Harry Potter Writing Chair Sold for $394,000!!!


The chair where J.K. Rowling sat and wrote the first two Harry Potter novels is up for auction. This is the chair on which the author wrote Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone outside of the U.S.) as well as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

If you are a big Harry Potter fan, or a novelist interested in channeling the famous author’s muse, you will need to take out a second mortgage on your home for this 1930’s era piece of furniture. The chair presented by Heritage Auctions, custom painted by J.K. Rowling herself, will start the bidding at $45,000.

These were the early novels which introduced us to the the now-iconic characters of Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Professor Snape, and, of course, He Who Must Not Be Named. Now, you may have an opportunity to sit upon Rowling’s literary throne and dream up your own Wizarding World.

It’s always nice to dream!


Harry Potter author JK Rowling shares rejection letters from publishers


JK Rowling has published rejection letters where publishing bosses suggest she go on a writing course and pop into a ‘helpful book shop‘ for a novelist’s guide.

The best-selling author was pitching her first novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, under her Robert Galbraith pseudonym when she got the replies from Constable and Robinson and Creme de la Creme publishers.

The Cuckoo’s Calling, a post-war detective novel, went on to be a number one bestseller, and in order to inspire other writers the Harry Potter author has posted the letters on Twitter.


Read the rest at the Daily Mail

This is priceless. Once again this shows that when it comes to the arts there are a lot of so-called “experts” who have more ego than talent.

I once saw a program where a couple of Kindergarten-aged girls were given paints and canvas and told to paint whatever they wanted. They had fun, and made messy, splotchy works of art. They were displayed in a nice gallery, but there was no note of who the artist(s) were. A lot of art “experts” commented on how good, and exquisite the works were, and talked about the technique and what the artist was so obviously conveying. When they were told it was painted by a couple of 5 year-olds in a classroom as an art experiment, some of the art critics melted away, others were clearly upset on being fooled, but one of them was pretty clever. He said, “If they’re not notable, they ought to be. They have a latent talent for the medium.”

The age old adage of “Art is in the eye of the beholder,” is clearly one of the truest statements there are.

Amazon’s Book Store – A Winner?


With Barnes & Noble showing decreasing book sales and closing more book stores, Amazon’s pilot book store is showing promise that print is not dead.

Amazon has almost perfected a shopping experience for browsers — and I mean human, not web.

Four months after the first Amazon Books physical store opened in Seattle’s University Village, Amazon appears to be satisfied enough with the results to move forward with a second location in San Diego. But is the original just a novelty, attracting only nerdy tourists? Or does it work as a retail store for people who truly want to browse and buy?

What are they doing that’s working?

  • Encourages browsing and serendipity
  • Removes “better deal” fears
  • Provides physical comparisons of Amazon-brand products
  • Leverages the e-commerce experience

Read the whole story at GeekWire

Goodbye Tom Clancy and Breaking Bad

October is a great month to prep for The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s a time to find or develop a story idea. I’m in the choosing stage. I have several ideas, and I need to figure out which one I want and can develop into a full-fledged novel.

What’s your basic story idea?

From the Homefront

We have still not been able to rent the house yet. We’ve met some nice folks who want to rent, but they have serious financial issues, a history of skipping out on a previous rental, or a spotty job history. We’re still optimistic.

As I reported last week I opted not to renew a contract to work for someone I did not like or enjoy working for at all. I thought I had a near lock on a new contract, but an 11th hour candidate appeared, a personal referral from someone in the group in which I wanted to work, and took the job.

Disappointed? Yeah. Defeated? Heck No!

Get back up dust myself off and keep going. My next job is out there and I’m going to get it.


In the News

In Tribute to Tom Clancy

Tom ClancyThis past week we said goodbye to Tom Clancy at the age of 66. It’s reported he died after a short illness. All the media talks about his novel The Hunt for Red October, which was also made into a movie, but my introduction to Clancy was Red Storm Rising. I read it toward the end of the Cold War. The premise and possibility of what it would have been like to be in a war with the Soviet Union was terrifying. Reading how it might unfold and the technology used, scared the hell out of me.

I read early interviews with Mr. Clancy. He was an insurance salesmen who wrote his stories every chance he got. He took his deep interest in the military, intelligence and technology and made a living writing novels about them. The genre term techno-thriller was coined to describe his stories.

In the early days of his success he was often contacted by the CIA and NSA wondering, for a guy who never served in the military, where he got the information he put in his novels. Clancy had to inform them it was all readily available in the public domain. He was later consulted by agencies and movie directors about his in-depth knowledge of military tactics and technology.

When talking to people who wanted to be writers Tom Clancy was forthcoming and blunt. Addressing attendees at one writing workshop he said,

“If your objective is to write a book, get a computer and write the damn book. Yes, you can do this if you try hard enough. It’s a lot easier than you realize it is.”

Never Give Up.

Gone too soon, but life well lived Tom Clancy

His latest (and last?) novel Command Authority is due out in December.

A Farewell to Breaking Bad and Walter White


A week ago today, after 5 very successful seasons and 10 Prime-time Emmy’s, Breaking Bad came to a grand finale. It was one of the most popular series of all time for AMC.

This was a great story from beginning to end.

A group of dedicated fans put some money together and bought this obituary announcement, in the Albuquerque Journal for Walter White.

Walter White Obit

A Tribute to Elmore Leonard

Elmore_LeonardAt 7:15 this morning, as I sat watching ABC News fawning over little Prince George, another one of my favorite authors breathed his last.

The master of the Crime Thriller – Elmore Leonard passed away at the age of 87, two weeks after having suffered a stroke.

Mr. Leonard was a prolific author. He was working on his 46th novel at the time of his death. For those of you who don’t think you know Elmore Leonard, you might remember some of the movies made from his novels like:

  • Get Shorty
  • Be Cool
  • Hombre (with Paul Newman)
  • Three-Ten to Yuma
  • Mr. Majestyk (with Charles Bronson)

The TV series Justified was written his popular character Marshal Raylan Givens (played by Tim Olyphant)

Elmore Leonard’s writing style was spare, crisp and direct. He didn’t waste time with a lot of internal dialogue or describing places and things. The language is strong, the action, gritty, gruesome and realistic.

Although his novels are violent, his characters are memorable and likeable – even the bad ones. He was a master of capturing a character’s essence through the use of dialogue, which was often humorous – in a dark way. He liked to write about “bad guys” because they are more interesting, albeit not too bright.

Given his style it’s not surprising that some of his biggest influences were Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and Raymond Carver. All of these authors were known for their economical writing styles.

When I began this blog 10 years ago this month, one of the early pages I set up was Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. The rule that speaks to his writing style the most is Rule # 10 – Leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.

I’ve only read about half the books Elmore Leonard authored, but I will get through the rest of the collection – including the Western’s.


Life well lived Elmore

‘I Am Legend’ Author Richard Matheson Dies at 87

My knee-jerk reaction to the news that Richard Matheson had died was slight shock and sadness. I then thought, he lived a long and productive life, one to be admired – if not envied.

The news touted him as the author of I Am Legend, which was a great book and were made into pretty good films like Omega Man in 1971, and then the Will Smith version of Legend in 2007.

Mr. Matheson wrote so many good stories. Some of my favorites are:

  • Stir of Echoes  – Also a good movie
  • Pit and the Pendulum (the screenplay adaptation of Poe’s short story) – Vincent Price’s awesome overacting
  • Somewhere in Time – A really good movie
  • Nightmare at 20,000 Feet – A classic Twilight Zone episode – Shatner or Lithgow?
  • Hell House – Scary frikkin book and movie
  • What Dreams May Come – Although odd to some, I liked the movie
  • Old Haunts
  • The Creeping Terror
  • Graveyard Shift

…And so many more including 10 other Twilight Zone episodes.

11jm44l 9780765308719-l Somewhere in Time





Richard has left a great and prolific legacy. A Life Well Lived.

What is your favorite Richard Matheson story?

The Ever Growing Trend of eReaders

This is not a fad, it IS an inevitable trend. Embrace the changes eReaders are here to stay…and become dominant.

The Rise of eReading: Are Books Going to Become an Endangered Species?
Courtesy of: Schools.com

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Summer is about Change…

How’s your summer been? Busy like everyone else’s I bet.

Summer is all about being, doing and going all things and places we don’t do during the school year – even those of us without kids in school any longer.

Summer time is also about changes. Remember being in school going into the summer then coming back in September and seeing how much the other kids have changed and grown?

As adults we also change in the summer. We accumulate new experiences with the things we’ve done and the places we’ve gone.

This summer, I got married to an incredible woman. I met my wife in the summer of 2010. It was a summer of sea changes. My life took a 180 degree turn from one of most trying and challenging times, to the best period in my life.

I began a new job the same week we were married so we had to put off our honeymoon. Our honeymoon was at the end of July. We went to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park in Maine. We had a wonderful time. On our last day there more changes occurred. My new wife slipped on a wet rock and shattered her right wrist, her dominate hand. The break was so bad; she required surgery to fix it.

We have to change our routines around for the next few months to work around the injury. Life is all about change. We know it, are ready for it and embrace it.

With the down time for healing, we’re enjoying watching the 2012 Olympics in London. It occurred to me that the Olympics officially started on my friend Mike’s birthday (July 27th) and will officially end on my friend Jim’s birthday (August 12th). We’ll be celebrating these changes this weekend!

On a more sober note, I wish to pay respect to both Maeve Binchy, who passed away on July 30th at the age of 72, and the very prolific Gore Vidal passed away a day later on July 31st, at the age of 86. Both were great novelists and left great legacies. Lives well lived.

What changes have you experienced this summer?


In Tribute to Ray Bradbury

Today story writing takes a back seat as I pay tribute to Mr. Ray Bradbury, who passed away at the age of 91, on June 5th, the same day I finally announced to the world “I am a writer.”

Tonight his ever hopeful IBM Selectric typewriter now knows Ray will never regain the motor skills he lost in a stroke. It sits forever quiet – the energy and surge of Bradbury’s words will never again weave another story.

The first Bradbury novel I read as a teenager was Dandelion Wine, followed soon after by the Martian Chronicles. I’ve been a fan ever since.

I’ve managed to read most of his novels and only about a third of his more than 600 short stories, novelettes and collections.

He wrote engaging and enthralling stories with unforgettable characters like the fireman, Guy Montag in Fahrenheit 451, the sinister Mr. Dark in Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Illustrated Man and Pipkin in The Halloween Tree. He had the ability to put you right in the story.

The thing I love(d) about Bradbury was his absolute passion for the writing process and the love of story creation. Most writers sound like martyrs when talking about the writing process: opening up veins onto the page, sweating drops of blood from the forehead and other tales of toil and torture of writing – but not Ray Bradbury. He loved it.

I’m a big fan or Stephen King, and still think his book On Writing, is hands down the best on the subject, but no other author has inspired me to be a writer more than Ray Bradbury. He always expounded on the possibilities of story and the magic of the writing process. He always made it sound fun.

When I created this blog, I named it in honor of Ray Bradbury in my About page. The title taken from one of my favorite Bradbury quotes:

“Write 1000 words a day. You’ve got to be madly in love. Don’t listen to your friends – they can’t help you. Write whatever you love–Science fiction, romance, soap opera–it doesn’t matter.”

~ Ray Bradbury ~

A couple of my early posts also refers to a different version of this quote:

1,000 Words A Day

1 Million Words or 10,000 Hours?

Mr. Bradbury – Thank You. It was a life well lived…


How will You remember Ray Bradbury?

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Encyclopedia Britannica Ends Print Run

Reuters reported today that after a 244 year run, the Encyclopedia Britannica will stop printing its multi-volume sets.

It’s the end of an era, but to be honest – I had no idea they were still printing them! I essentially forgot about EB when Microsoft Encarta came as part of a bundle when you bought a new PC as long ago as the early 90’s.

When Wikipedia came onto the scene in 2001, and grew in ever increasing popularity, it got to the point where nobody even uttered the term Encyclopedia Britannica – even in the over 40 group. For all we knew it had quietly faded away.

As a kid I remember young men stopping by the house trying to sell mom a set, but she always turned them away. We couldn’t afford them, but it seemed like most families in our suburban New York neighborhood, had a set, or said that they did.

We did end up getting an encyclopedia set. It was the Funk & Wagnall’s little encyclopedias with the green covers. They were sold inexpensively or given away if you spent a certain amount of money at the supermarket. Mom came home with a new volume every week until we had the complete set. I think it was 29 or 30 volumes.

Funk & Wagnall’s was a poor reference and the butt of jokes on many TV shows in the 60’s and 70’s – and was even the topic of jokes in comic books as far back as the Eisenhower era . The reason was due to the horrendous editorial supervision applied by F&W to the contents of their so-called encyclopedia.

This produced the infamous ‘Funk & Wagnall’s Loop’. You’d look up AAA; you get ‘See BBB’. Look up BBB; you get ‘See CCC’. Look up CCC; you get ‘See DDD’. Look up DDD; you get ‘See AAA’. All with no intervening commentary or information to help you as you continued to make your merry way back to where you started. It’s rumored that one edition contained hundreds of such ‘loops’.

F&W stopped printing their encyclopedias in the late 70’s I think. For all the belly-aching I hear about Wikipedia, it’s still a more thorough reference than F&W ever was.

The Encyclopedia Britannica print edition may have taken its place as an icon in history, but it’s not the end of the company at all. They are heavily involved in education products and online learning tools. They’ll also continue to publish and produce the classic encyclopedia online, and are trying out a model where they hope to get people to pay $70 a year for a subscription, or a $1.99 monthly app.

In a CNN Money article, Britannica president Jorge Cauz explains, “Wikipedia is a wonderful technology for collecting everything from great insights to lies and innuendos. It’s not all bad or all good, just uneven. It’s the murmur of society, a million voices rather than a single informed one.”

As a result, Cauz says, consumers are craving accuracy and are willing to pay for it.

I’m sure in academic circles it can be made to be the required reference over Wiki, but when it comes to the general populace, I guess proper marketing, branding and time will tell.

Did you have an encyclopedia set in your home when you were a kid?

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