I attended the BEA show at Javits Center in NYC this past week, Monday through Thursday, and I must say that I was very impressed with the representation of the "printed" word. Every genre was in attendance along with just about every publisher in the trade: small, medium, and giant. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to see what the trends are and gave me much direction as to where I could place my current works as well as my self-pubbed books.
The exhibition hall was crammed with attendees, and scads of authors were doing signings on a consistent basis. Tons of freebies were available if you brought a truck to cart them back to your hotel, office, and home. The interesting thing was that the publishers were wide-open to new ideas. "Paper" ain't dead yet!
Being the producer of my own cable TV show, "Hanshi's World," gave me an additional new perspective on the extent that publishers were going to in order to promote their authors. I had many requests to have new and established writers on the show, and so I did as many as I could with the further promise of having more guests in the upcoming editions of the show to talk about their work.
Five books grabbed my interest within two minutes of reading the first ten pages or so of each book and I list them here to give you, the Redroom readers, a chance to check them out.
Stan Weisleder, an LA author, originally a Brooklyn guy, has written a 457 page knockout entitled, The Trees. When I first saw the title, he told me it was about growing up in one of the more hard-core neighborhoods, I figured here we go with a sob story about growing up poor and making something out of oneself and eventually arriving at success. Wrongo, readers! Stan begins his "fable" with development of characters in true professional style and delivers one hell of a compelling story about the transition of many local characters who grew up with mixed ethnicities starting in 1947 and stretching out over a period of fifty years in Brooklyn, LA, Vegas, etc., along with all the mobsters that you could want to meet. He incorporates Howard Hughes into the mix along with many other well-known personages: Jews and Italians that make the American gambling world come to life. I can elaborate on this theme, but my suggestion is that you read the book. It's a page turner published by Chaucer Press, ISBN 978-1-884092-13-8.
I met a fascinating young lady, Jenny Lee Wheeler, who has written her first piece, Weird is Normal When Teenagers Grieve. This is the story of a transitional period in her life that caused her to do much introspection when her beloved dad passed away. She expresses her feeling with a maturity that is very surprising and trusts that her book will find its way into the hands of other young people who have suffered tremendous loss. Jenny Lee won the coveted Nautilus Book Award for her outstanding effort. Published by Quality of Life Books, ISBN 978-0-9816219-8-2.
Irwin Zucker, one of Hollywood's better known and most effective PR people, took me aside and told me to do the first ten in a book entitled, The Mother of Jerusalem is Crying by Rosemary Hartounian Cohen. (Incidentally, for a book reviewer, the first ten pages tell you whether or not to keep going or just smile and say, "Interesting book. Good luck in your future endeavors," and then put it on the "Yeah, right" pile) Not being one for quaint autobiographies, I told Irwin I would give it a shot. Am I glad I did. Rosemary takes the reader on a journey that begins in 19th Century Armenia and travels in time to present day Jerusalem with many stops along the way. It is a compelling story about three families: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, and explicitly details family life on all three fronts while focusing on the horrors of genocide, terrorist activities, and the founding of Israel with all the attendant trauma that all of the "real-life" characters experience. A darn good read. Lico Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9667361-4-4.
This is a goodie: If Walls Could Scream by Laura Burke. The mountains and rural farmland of North Carolina provide the setting for the mysterious disappearance of two teen age girls who simply vanish. I'm not going to go into the "serial" thing about whether or not that is the case, but I had issues with trying to figure out who was actually responsible for whatever is going on. I purposely write this review in the manner that I am because the book is that intense and has the reader constantly guessing and then discovering that they are completely off base in their assumptions. Laura Burke has the genre down pat. Published by Strategic Book Group, ISBN 978-1-60911-709-2.
Last, but certainly not least: No Sun Without Shadow by Roger Se Legue. This is a bit easier to read and the story carries right along with recognizable characters that we all know and love...and hate. An Irish-Catholic man falls madly in love with a Jewish divorcee. Need I say more? Roger handles the emotional tirades as if he is directly involved with the scenarios and the family situations he describes are enticing pulling the reader along. Check it out. Hats Off Books, ISBN 1-58736-470-0.
All in all, the show was an extravaganza, and for those who attended, I am sure they will agree. For those who missed it, try to get to Javits next year. It will be well worth your time and effort.
For more info on Stephen F Kaufman, visit his homepage at www.hanshi.com.