Social Media and Books

I've been looking for ways to break into social media for book promotion, and that led me once again to You Tube. After watching a couple of videos on the power of social media, YouTube point its digital finger to a couple of videos used to promote books. I'd like to share these with those of you wandering down the social media path with me:


This first one is movie-grade, brief, and has strong impact, probably done by a pro.

The second was likely done on a home computer, but it accomplishes its purpose with audio narrative and visual sketches. The sound, however, is a bit weak, so turn it up. There are quite a few similar videos on YouTube, so check them out before your take the YouTube plunge.




Cast Your Vote – Oscars 2011 –

For years, the cinematic tug of war has been between the indies and the big studios. Now foreign films are creating a  mini-stir, although not in the voting for Oscars. Just for grins, cast your vote – the link is below.


Cast Your Votes Who will take home an Oscar this year? Cast your votes and compete with your Facebook friends. will award an iPad to one randomly selected ballot.


Irrationality and its Pitfalls

Magic and  Mayhem, by Derek Leebaert



In the democratic model of citizen/government relationship, those in governmental power are charged with representing the interests of the people in a reasonable, rational way. Leebaert, in this book-long essay, goes to great lengths to examine the irrationalities that the U.S.’s leaders have foisted on us via their most consuming decisions since World War II.

What then are the warts on U.S. decision making? Leebaert examines six different aspects of the magical thinking he claims has led the U.S. to its current dilemmas, both internal and external:

Emergency Men: these are persons who step to the fore in hard times, partly informed on the issues at hand, who are telegenic and glib enough to garner the trust of governmental administrators and citizens.

The Mystique of Management: this is the tendency of administrators to impose management on what is unmanageable, particularly in foreign policy.

Star Power:  this is the obsession Americans have with self-identified experts, who elbow their way into the national spotlight. Such persons are long on personality, invariably short on the expertise they’ve laid claim to.

Expectations of Wondrous Results from Nominal Effort: To paraphrase, Americans seek easy answers to complex problems. When self-styled experts rise to prominence, promising some catch-all solution to complexity, we’re invariably willing to accept it over an incremental, less showy approach.

History: We often misread history or accept the implications of history only in part.

The World Wants To Be Like Us: we’re so enamored of our nation’s history, of its rise to power, its particular path to economic well-being, that we assume (in error) that the rest of the world would evolve into international versions of our history, or success as a society, if only they had the chance.   

Leebaert, while teetering on the precipice of rant, does provide incisive views into our decision-making history and the draining effect this history is now having on our dynamism and creativity. Identifying problems, however is always much easier and showier than providing solutions, particularly when the complexities of modern societies are highlighted.

 However, the author does attempt to provide the first nibbles at solution here. Some involve re-organization and re-management of government to emphasize true professionals, not political snake oil salesmen. This, however, places a greater burden on citizens to ferret out these emergency men, these stars, and to demand that reason be imposed on those who step to the fore. But this has always been the project of the Enlightenment: to provide a society in which citizens may overcome the emotional baggage of history through education and understanding.

 As with any complexity, Leebaert’s suggestions are only a start.


My Rating: 4 of 5 stars





Interesting New Books — 2011 | Conversational Reading

Besides pontificating about my own reading and writing here, I'm always on the lookout for new books and new blogs about books and writing. This one by book critic Scott Esposito presents an intriguing list of new books. As always, I'm taken by the lack of U.S. writers in such lists. 

Even the mass market genre book lists I find online present fewer and fewer U.S. writers.


In the end it's such reviewers, critics, and bloggers – as well as readers – that define the best writing.

As always, I invite comments – this time on why you think U.S. writers receive a decreasing piece of the critical pie. 


A Word About The Blue Bike

In the new media world, it's hardly enough to advertise your written works in print. Social media is other there for fun, but it's increasingly being used for business – and for those of us dabbling in the arts, it can be used to let you know about those works, and even some tidbits you won't glean from the works themselves.


Thank goodness for Apple and its OS! It's allowed me to make a video about some of these peripheral aspects of my novella, The Blue Bicycle, and to serve it up on the various social media out there. 

It's currently on Facebook if you're curious; I posted a link on Twitter as well, and both will refer you to YouTube. Marketing is a repetitive affair, so more showings and more videos may follow. Be forewarned!


Truly Gritty

The missus and I had to mail a couple of packages and, having left home a few ticks too late, barely made it to this day's mid-afternoon showing of True Grit. Coming movie trailers go on interminably these days, leaving me wishing desperately for a newsreel and Mel Blanc's voice behind some wacky cartoon character. Anyway, the movie.


I had seen the John Wayne and Glen Campbell version of the movie back in the day, and remember it as a caricature of the westerns we took oh, so seriously. So when I heard the Coen Brothers had their remake in the can, I thought surely it'd extend the sixties caricature with their usual dark comedy. 

Strangely, that's not how I'll remember the Coen Brothers' version. Oh, I grant you there was plenty to snicker about, most of it buried in the quaint but completely engaging period dialogue. But the tone of this version is one of tenderness buried beneath the gruff exteriors of that day, fed by some of the best character transitions I've seen yet in a movie.

Jeff Bridges more or less reprises his Oscar-winning part in Crazy Heart, Matt Damon plays the tentative, effete LeBoeuf, Josh Brolin the rogue Chaney, and newly minted phenom Hailey Steinfeld as the precocious fourteen year-old Mattie Ross. Each of these actors give inspired performances – sometimes droll but without making the period language seem camp.

Movie makers who know their stuff and take their craft seriously can – and do – make art of any genre, and it's now clear the the Coen Brothers are cut from that cloth. They weren't afraid to follow Charles Portis' novel closely, including Mattie as the on-and-off narrator. 

The missus and I agree that this versin of True Grit is about as close as cinema can come to literature.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars.