AshEdit—News About Books & Writers

June 21, 2018

Elaine’s New Deal

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 10:00 am

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The ink is drying on my contract. The official announcement will come after PR polishes the wording, but I’m bursting with the news NOW, so here goes. On May 15th, 2018 the good people at The Author Learning Center hosted a webinar with business icon Don Seitz. Mr. Seitz is the former Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales at Xlibris Corporation, and a driving force with the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council for Princeton University. He holds an MBA from Harvard. He is also CEO of Inkubate, a premier literary tech company. Mr. Seitz was presenting to the ALC’s internet membership via a live webinar. donseitz headshot B&W

I attended that webinar, and when it concluded, sent Mr. Seitz an email saying how intrigued I was with the tech developments of his company. An immediate response came back. Because the cover of my book Bestseller Metrics: How to Win the Novel Writing Game was in my email signature, he saw it and wrote, “BTW… maybe you have other eye-opening ideas that are captured in your book!”

Gentle reader, how long do you think it took me to respond to that note? Before you could say, “Immediately!” Mr. Seitz suggested we schedule a phone meeting. After an hour’s chat he asked if I could send him a copy of Bestseller Metrics. Within a few days he’d read it cover to cover and requested another phone meeting. Again, we had a lively  exchange about the needs of novelists and how technology can simplify concepts and speed up tasks. At the end of that call, we decided to work together.

Princeton Entrepreneurship

Behind the scenes, my ideas and input are being presented to the data scientists and engineers. They are enthusiastically responding and asking even more questions back. This is an incredible opportunity, a dream come true! I will soon start speaking in public about Inkubate’s technology, telling writers how it can help sell self-published books and benefit writers at all stages of development. There’s lots more, too.

I am still getting to know Inkubate and its tech, but I had to write down what I’ve been keeping secret for the last few weeks. More soon.

I would like to thank some friends and supporters, in chronological order. These folks knew what I was doing late into the night, writing down mathematical patterns that I’d started noticing in bestselling novels in 2016: Drew Margolis, Albert Tucher, Tom Burney, Dan Kelly, Dana King, Holly West, Dr. Timothy Allison-Aipa, Barbara Howe, Rochelle Staab, Maxine Nunes, Treacy Colbert, Dianne Emley, Brian Drake, Jack Getze, Lisa Ciarfella, Elizabeth A. White, Sarah and Andrew Pierce, Edward Larkins, Les Edgerton, Sam Weibe, Benoit LeLievre, Steve W. Lauden and Craig Faustus Buck. Thanks for being open minded and listening to me as I scratched and scrambled to organize my thoughts into cogent concepts. I needed your patient ears and eyes more than you’ll ever know.

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May 1, 2018

Entrepreneurs Who Inspired Me – Part 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 8:33 pm

As a freelance book editor and inventor of Bestseller Metrics, I think of myself as an entrepreneur. I wanted to post about the small business pioneers who’ve lit my path, so to speak.

 Annie Turnbo Malone (1869-1957) 

Annie

Annie Turnbo Malone was born to former African slaves in Metropolis, Illinois. By the age of 20, Annie had formulated a shampoo and scalp treatment, and got her start by pitching the product out of the back of a horse-drawn buggy. Later, she became the first person in Missouri to buy a Rolls Royce.  By 1918, Annie had named her business “Poro Products” and built a four-story, million dollar factory and beauty school complex that employed over 175 people. Chuck Berry, the famous guitarist and songwriter, trained under the Poro system as a young man. In her lifetime,

Annie trained over 75,000 entrepreneurs and gave out diamond rings for five years of service. (This habit of richly rewarding employees was later adopted by Mary Kay Ash.) In 1930 Poro Products was relocated to Chicago, where Annie owned a whole city block. Her genius surpassed product development, extending to a direct distribution and sales agent system. An enthusiastic philanthropist, Annie contributed to educational programs, universities, to the YMCA, and many orphanages. For more, see the State Historical Society of Missouri online: https://shsmo.org/historicmissourians/name/m/malone/

I admire Annie for overcoming childhood sickness and doubt to become an entrepreneur with her own products and a genius marketing system. In the 1920s there was a 20% luxury tax on hair care products. Due to this (as well as poor management) tax bills mounted after Annie let go of the reins, and the company went under. But Annie’s original genius is remembered, along with all of her fine philanthropic works.

Below: Annie at the entrance of her mansion in St. Louis.

Annie Mansion

Mary Kay Ash (1918 – 2001)

1963, Mary Kay started a cosmetics business in her kitchen, formulating face creams and then selling them door to door.

Her cosmetics made it all the way out to little old Nova Scotia, Canada. When I was 19, I sold Mary Kay products and even won a diamond ring. The sales training was excellent and I could accept credit cards from my customers with a little pink portable card swiper that fit in a purse. That was high-tech when I was a teenager! Mary Kay was innovative and nurturing in a time when business was anything but, and the “Mary Kay way” paid my bills and let me party all the time by selling cosmetics in women’s homes. Soon, it was time to head off to the big city, Toronto, and get a Bachelor of Applied Arts degree in Radio and Television, so I had to leave my cosmetics customers behind. But my Mary Kay sales training came in handy for the rest of my life.

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Mary Kay in her gilded office, 1960s.

Mary Kay adopted the Golden Rule as her guiding philosophy, determining that the best course of action in virtually any situation was to treat others as she’d like to be treated by them. She felt that life had a proper order: faith first, family second and career third. Every year she treated her top sales force to pink Cadillacs and all-expense-paid trips to her home in Texas where they were treated like visiting royalty. There are now 3.5 million Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants worldwide.

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April 19, 2018

TWENTY-EIGHT MINUTES into the FUTURE with Chrome Oxide

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 12:16 pm

Some writers are so ready for the next level that an editor just has to breathe on them and they make the leap. That’s the way I’d describe Chrome Oxide.

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Chrome Oxide and Elaine Ash in Los Angeles, 2018, celebrating his book deal with Superversive Press.

We met at a West Coast Writers Conference in 2017, produced by Tony Todaro. Chrome was sound engineering a panel I was moderating with sci-fi legend Jerry Pournelle, (the last conference Jerry ever did), along with Hugo winners Larry Niven, and Rob Sawyer.

2 Elaine Sawyer Niven Pournelle

A few months later, at a cocktail party hosted by the Taliesin-Nexus group, Chrome walked out of the crowd and asked me to help him polish a collection of short stories. I said, “Sure!” It was obvious that the material had been developed over years. Tremendous work had gone into the clever premises and jokes.

 In Chrome’s view, we would work on 82,000 words-worth of stories and then try to shop the collection. But it came clear in my mind, around the 40,000-word mark, that we had a sellable manuscript. Why wait? I felt Chrome was under-utilizing his writing contest wins and I coached him on how to bump up his bio. He thought I was overconfident, but went along with everything I suggested in his quiet and good-humored way.

 Six months later we readied a query to Superversive Press in Australia. I spent a lot of time getting it focused and boiling the pitch down to the fewest words necessary to sway a busy publisher. We fired it off and it caught Jason Rennie’s eye in a big way. Eleven days later we had a deal. Our major request was a 2018 release. We got it. Jon Eno came on as cover artist, and production ramped up immediately.

INTERVIEW

 Chrome Oxide Headshot

Elaine Ash: When did you start writing?

 Chrome Oxide: In November 2009 I was finally fed up with all the corruption I saw in both political parties. I started a blog, commenting on the insanity. I only ever had one reader, but she loved my humorous take on the world.

 EA: When did the short stories start?

 CO: When I read a novel that I hated. While I had read and liked previous stories by this author, I hated the book and the main character—hated it all so much I decided I could do better. I wrote a flash fiction piece and emailed it to an ex-girlfriend. Her response was that while I had talent, I needed skill. At her encouragement, I joined her writing group which provided excellent critiques. The best was from my ex-girlfriend who critiqued my stories, one word at a time.

 One of the first stories I wrote was “Cop For A Day.” I rewrote it too many times to count and submitted it to the Writers of the Future contest for the quarter ending September 2012. My story was selected as published finalist in their annual book, volume 29. It also qualified as a professional sale by the Science Fiction Writers Association. The following year, and after much editing and countless rewrites, “I Was A Teenage Redneck Zombie From Outer Space” also received an honorable mention.

 EA: Why is the Writers of the Future contest so important to sci-fi writers? Isn’t it sponsored by the Scientologists?

 CO: Scientology does NOT sponsor Writers of the Future.Writers of the Future is dedicated to encouraging beginning science fiction and fantasy writers. Before L. Ron Hubbard started Scientology, he supported himself by writing short stories for just about every genre magazine on the market from the 1930s –  1950s as well as novels. In his will, he funded a contest for aspiring writers. While there may be scientologists in the organization that keeps L. Ron’s books in print and the contest going, they are VERY careful to NEVER mention Scientology.

The contest is important because there is no cost to enter, the judges are professionals (some of the biggest names) in the field of science fiction and fantasy, and there are substantial payments to the winners of the quarterly and annual contest.

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Artwork by Jon Eno “Cop for a Day”

 EA: How did you get to be in Forbidden Thoughts, the highly controversial anthology with a forward written by Milo, the gay scourge of politics?

 CO: Sheer luck and timing. I continued writing and collecting rejections until I sent a story called “Graduation Day” to a couple of friends in late 2017. One of them told Jason Rennie, the editor of Superversive Press, about it and I was invited to submit. Two months later it got published alongside Larry Correia, Nick Cole, Brad Torgerson and Sarah Hoyt—these writers are famous and sell a ton. Now it’s available as an eBook, Print On Demand and audio book. I get regular royalties.

 EA: That must have given you a lot of confidence. What’s next?

 CO: Not as much confidence as you might think. At a writers’ group level, my material bombs regularly. It’s the buying public that seems to appreciate it more. When you [Elaine Ash] saw the merit in my collection, that was encouraging. Right now I’m finishing edits on the second draft of a high fantasy novel about a couple of California dopers into the music scene who travel to an alternative universe where magic works. It’s titled High Fantasy. The title is a double entendre.  My second short story collection will be started as soon as that’s finished and out being shopped.

 EA: How did the pen name Chrome Oxide come about?

 CO: I have always LOVED music. I attended a John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers reunion show at the Roxy in 1982. At that point I decided that I would record bands. I started investigating cassettes. Chromium dioxide was the most cost effective for the best quality sound at the time. When I built my web site I wanted a name that flowed, so I modified it to ‘Chrome Oxide.’

 EA: Thank you.

C&E3 Sharp

March 29, 2018

John Gwinner – Bestseller Metrics Chief Technology Officer

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 1:00 pm

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I am pleased to announce that possibly the best candidate in the universe has partnered with me to develop Bestseller Metrics software/hardware technology.

   John Gwinner is a CTO/VP of Engineering with 15+ years of experience delivering new technical innovations to start-ups as well as Fortune 500 companies. He is the author of Getting Started with React VR, a user-friendly guide to creating virtual reality games, published by Packt Publishing.

   John is an accomplished writer, novelist, screenwriter and educator for the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society and West Coast Writers Conferences. With his experience and higher education in both creative writing and technology, he is well positioned to understand the needs of aspiring authors and adapt Bestseller Metrics to best advantage.

   Welcome John, I am so lucky to have you!

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February 18, 2018

​Jonathan Brown’s Boxing Novel Pay$ Off​

A Dealmaking & Dollar$ post

Dealmaking & Dollar$

When an impressive publisher of biographical fiction needed a writer who could turn in a muscular, sports-savvy manuscript on the life of  ​boxing ​legend Angelo Dundee, they tapped Jonathan Brown. For the uninitiated, Dundee was arguably the greatest trainer that ever lived. He coached Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard, and ​many ​more. The Dundee list of grand-champion gladiators goes on and on.

Angelo & Ali

Angelo Dundee (L) and Muhammad Ali, seated

The minute Brown clinched the writing assignment—and the juicy five-figure advance that went along with it—he contacted me. Would I like to edit his work before turning it in to the publishing house editors? Would I??!!

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Jonathan Brown

Brown and I had just finished editing his roaring, rollicking manuscript about drummer Lou Crasher, a struggling black drummer in Los Angeles who is forced to go undercover to bust a musical equipment theft ring. (The Big Crescendo just landed a two-book deal at Down and Out Books). I was familiar with Brown’s stand-out voice, visceral action and relentless pace. As writer and editor, we were a well-tuned, high-octane team ready to rumble on the challenges Angelo Dundee presented with his roster of gloved greats.

The challenge was to bring the softer, more personal side of Dundee, including his family, to the story. It may seem surprising that a rock-‘em’sock-’em tale ​wanted to ​show that side, but family was highly evident in Dundee’s real life, so it had to go in the ​novel. This was one trainer as concerned with ​a​ boxer’s mental health and positive outlook as he was in the physical. The “sweet science” as insiders call the boxing life, is a lot more than throwing punches. The mental aspect separates true champs from those that never rise in the ring.

Angelo & Ali laughing

ALI laughing with the press, DUNDEE to the right, partial face showing. Photo credit: https://twitter.com/muhammadali/status/550742694486867968

In order to land this assignment, Brown submitted a 23-page chapter outline​. After a few back-and-forths, the in-house editors signed off  ​and he set to writing. Two months later, he had 50,000 words which he sent to me. In my first read, I was looking for structure. Did the story rise and fall at the right moments? Did the story flow logically from beginning to middle to end? The answer was a resounding ‘yes.’ Thanks to our intense work on The Big Crescendo, Brown had internalized the rhythm and sequence of a bestselling novel. He was able to transfer everything he’d learned to Angelo Dundee.

 Once I determined that the structure of the story was intact, I made sure each chapter set-up was crystal clear with a few visuals thrown in to paint pictures in the reader’s mind. Then I ​hunted for places where historical details could round out the atmosphere of each chapter. Who was President of the United States during each period of Angelo’s career?  What were the trends in music, fashion and popular culture? Quick references t​o​ famous milestones of each decade were briefly sketched to add texture and depth​.​

One ​aspect that needed no help was Brown’s distinctive dialogue for each character. As a professional drummer, he had an ear for the spoken word that was uncannily realistic. As an editor, my only challenge was preserving the colloquial integrity of the dialogue throughout the line edit, proofing and punctuation.

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Jonathan Brown playing a pro gig in Los Angeles.

Finally, Brown felt he had a polished first draft. Soon after, the in-house editors weighed in. “Really delightful” was the leading comment ​prefacing a page of minor notes. The manuscript was enthusiastically accepted, a few small changes requested, and the final draft commenced. This means another satisfying payday is coming for Brown. I hear a family vacation is in the works.

Does this mean Brown is casting around for a new writing project? No​t hardly. While he waits for Down and Out Books to release The Big Crescendo, we are busy finalizing the outline of book two in the series. Brown has ​also decided to self-publish a series of novellas based on the turbulent life of black Los Angeles bouncer Doug “Moose” McCrae, which will serve to marshal a readership and keep social media buzzing until the D&OB release. Brown and I brainstormed this strategic blend of self-and-traditional publishing, then ran it past Eric Campbell, CEO of D&OB for his approval. The green light came back and our plan is now ‘Go.’

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jonathanbrownwriter.com

​Friend him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jonathan.brown.79230

CLICK for more on Elaine Ash and her writer clients.

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Elaine, Jonathan and Dan Kelly (Sonia Mauro Brown behind the camera)

 

February 16, 2018

Coming Soon: Dealmaking & Dollar$

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 7:18 am

 

Dealmaking & Dollar$

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December 1, 2017

Year in Review

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2017 year review seven

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October 10, 2017

Plain Princess Jane by Jennifer Milne

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 3:14 pm

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Find Jenni on Facebook

hjsaJennifer Milne

August 7, 2017

Steve Hodel – Homicide Detective, Black Dahlia Murder

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 10:36 am
Elizabeth Little

Elizabeth Little, new prez, Mystery Writers of America, holding her first thriller DEAR DAUGHTER, which has gobbled up first-novel awards.

Thanks to the generous hospitality of Elizabeth Little, current President of the Mystery Writers of America, SoCal chapter, I got to spend wondrous hours at a backyard picnic table with  STEVE HODEL, author of five books based on the Black Dahlia murder. Along for the convo was Maxine Nunes (Dazzled). (Maxine is a mistress of sentence-craft and an author I love to read.)

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Maxine Nunes and the great Steve Hodel. Holding down the background are Richard Brewer (left) and Steph Cha (right).

The murder occurred in Los Angeles, 1947, and has been the basis of countless novels, hodel-home-rightscreenplays and movies. The most incredible thing about all this is that the murderer was Steve’s father, Dr. George Hodel–a brilliant and charismatic doctor, who threw parties for Hollywood glitterati, while leading a double life as a secret serial killer.

We dined on fine southern BBQ as Steve revealed that his latest research points to the same Dr. George Hotel as the Zodiac killer of San Francisco.

Every hard-crime writer should know of Steve Hodel and  his work. That he had the guts and fortitude to do the right thing and out his own father as a brutal maniac strains the bounds of my mental capacity (and I don’t say that lightly!)

Thank you, Steve, for your incredible example as a writer, a seeker of truth, and as an honorable former member of law enforcement. Steve’s website. Steve’s books.

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July 7, 2017

Book Distribution News

Baker and taylorI was thrilled to hear that a librarian in the the great state of New Jersey had already ordered Bestseller Metrics: How to Win the Novel Writing Game. But when I hopped over to Amazon, the sale was not showing. Neither was it showing on Create Space, where this workbook-sized paperback is published. I admit, dark thoughts of piracy and theft bubbled in my mind, but caution prevailed.

I called the helpful-and-instantly-available support staff at Create Space and ran my story past them. It was explained that when the book was published, I had chosen “Expanded Distribution,” qualifying Bestseller Metrics to be listed with distribution giants Baker and Taylor, Ingram, and Barnes and Noble. How about that, huh?Print

There is one caveat to this fantastic perk, however; royalties are tabulated 30 days after Barnesthe production of the book, unlike a sale on Amazon or Create Space, which shows within hours.

Mystery solved with a happy ending.

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