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Saturday, November 28, 2009

How do Celebrity Books hurts real authors.

How do Celebrity Junk Books hurt real authors.

I took part in a radio broadcast in October of this year where one caller asked me why is it that some of the most hated celebrities get book deals through the back door whereas real writers constantly get overlooked. I told her that although thousands of people may not like a particular person that may have gotten a book deal, publishers would take an interest in that person simply because the individual has a platform. In other words, the individual has a large enough fan base. And regardless of the person’s talent and credibility—or lack of in most cases—publishers stand to profit more on their investment than if they were to publish a novel from a lesser-known but more deserving author. Is this fair? No it isn’t. However in this day in age it has become a necessary evil in the publishing world to put money before talent. Bestselling author, John Irving (pictured on the right), said in an interview that he worries for new writers and admitted that his first novel would never have been published had it been written today. Why has this trend evolved? Is it because of the economy? Is it because of the rising popularity of digital over print media? Those may be the answers. However one fact that is overlooked is that readers also control the publishing industry. That’s right. It all comes down to the ones that choose to buy Celebrity Books. And I specify Celebrity Books and not books written by celebrities because almost all of them are ghostwritten. The only way that this unfortunate trend will change is if book lovers boycotted Celebrity Books just because they are celebrities and focus on writers with credibility.

A very good online acquaintance of mine and fellow author, Donna Carrick, said that when she approached agents with her book, she was turned down by all of them. Many of them gave her the same excuse: that Americans would not be interested in a story that takes place in China. I laughed when I read this, considering that The Bourne Supremacy (the novel, not the movie) took place in China and is a bestseller. The truth is that agents are gatekeepers for publishers and have established relationships with acquisition editors. Agents know what publishers are looking for, and it’s what’s hot at the moment. Take for instance, Sarah Palin. She’s had so much bad press in the past several months—mainly due to the fact that she could never back up her quotes (Remember the Katie Couric interview? ‘Nuff said). Yet, her book outsold Dan Brown’s latest thriller. Rupert Murdoch biographer, Michael Wolff, wrote in his column that Palin’s publisher, HarperCollins, “Does not really believe Sarah Palin has written a valuable book—or even that it is really a book, not in the way that HarperCollins has historically understood books, or in the way that people have counted on HarperCollins to have understood a book.” Add insult to injury, Palin did not even write her own book. This illustrates how publishers are so desperate that they will peddle celebrity junk to bookstores before effectively marketing quality books that are written by real authors.

The literary world is continuously going through major changes. Publishers are desperate to recover the millions that they’ve lost in books that either broke even on their initial investment or haven't sold well. Remember Joe The Plumber’s book? Yeah, he had a book too. At a book signing at Borders in Washington, DC in February, 2009, only eleven people attended, fewer remained behind to buy his book. Oh yeah. It crashed and burned, which serves his publisher right. This is the type of message that readers need to send to publishers more often. If more people exercised proper judgement, publishers would have no choice but to drop the fake Celebrity Books and invest more in quality fiction and non-fiction that are written by real authors. As for Palin’s book, all I’ll say is this. I already watched her numerous times on television make an ass of herself—for free. I won’t spend money reading about her doing it.

Russell Brooks is the author of the upcoming action/thriller, Pandora's Succession. Visit here to join the mailinglist to hear excerpts and receive updates.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jacket blurb for the action/thriller, Pandora's Succession

Imagine if a destroyer of ancient civilizations lay dormant under the polar ice caps…until now.

CIA operative, Ridley Fox, never stopped hunting his fiancĂ©’s killers—a weapons consortium called The Arms of Ares. When an informant leads him to an old bunker outside of Groznyy, Chechnya, Fox is captured and left for dead. When the informant rescues him, Fox learns that his capture was no coincidence: someone had set him up—possibly another government agent. Fox barely escapes after learning that Ares has acquired a hyperdeadly microbe—called Pandora—that is believed to have wiped out ancient civilizations. The trail leads Fox to Tokyo where he discovers that other forces including agents within Japanese Intelligence—want Pandora for themselves. The only ally Fox turns to is a woman from his past who he nearly got killed.

The first three chapters of the upcoming action/thriller, Pandora’s Succession, have been recorded and scored as they do in the movies. Visit and subscribe for free to receive serialized excerpts each week.

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Is Eddie Murphy a thief?

Guest Gregory L Hudson discusses copyright issues in the movie and publishing industry and also his fight against Eddie Murphy and Universal for copyright infringement on the movie, Life, which starred Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence.

I was asked to recite an excerpt of Justina Wheelock's upcoming novel, Twisting the Script, and a poem by the poet Ka_Tee, as a tribute to her husband.

Russell Brooks is the author of the action/thriller, Pandora's Succession. Visit here subscribe for free in order to receive excerpts from chapters 1 through 3.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From Rihanna to Safia Abdulleh. Do we really give a damn about abused women?

On November 6, 2009, millions of viewers were glued to their television sets to watch the much anticipated interview that Diane Sawyer had with pop singer, Rihanna. In February 2009, Rihanna was the victim of domestic abuse by her ex-boyfriend and fellow artist, Chris Brown. It did not take long before pictures of her bloodied and bruised face circulated around cyberspace, making it one of the most talked about topics of 2009. In the lesser-known Galguduud region of Somalia, a young woman named Safia Abdulleh got married to a 112 year-old man in late October, 2009. Although it has become the norm in Somalia for women to face psychological and physical abuse, less attention was given to the most likely circumstances that surrounded Abdulleh’s marriage. The fact that western journalists chose only to sensationalize the wedding rather than highlight the likely injustices surrounding it illustrates western society’s double standard when it comes to women’s issues—namely abuse.

After having watched Rihanna’s interview on November 6, 2009, one ought to have respect for Rihanna for having the courage to open up about everything that she went through. Rather than use the interview as a means of attacking her ex-boyfriend, she made better use of the time to help other women who are victims of domestic abuse. One could not help but notice the sympathy that was drawn towards Rihanna for the horrific and life-altering experience that she went through. In contrast to Abdulleh’s marriage, most of the attention was not even about her. It was mostly given to her husband—Ahmed Muhamed Dore—who has over 114 children and grandchildren. Furthermore, one would be forced to read between the lines and draw inferences from the article in order to recognize that Abdulleh is an abused woman.

According to the BBC article, it was reported that she was "happy with her new husband." However Abdulleh was not quoted as saying this, it was her family. Dore was later quoted as saying, “I didn't force her, but used my experience to convince her of my love; and then we agreed to marry” (1). According to Somalian Human Rights activist, Zam Zam Abdullahi Abdi, parents take their daughters out of school at a young age and marry them off. They may even give their daughters away, selling them as if they were property (2). With these facts highlighted by Abdullahi Abdi, it is very unlikely that both Dore and Abdulleh had both agreed on getting married? Furthermore at the end of the BBC article, it was reported that Dore hoped his new bride will give him more children and was quoted as saying that, “It is a blessing to have someone you love to take care of you” (3). Sure, easy for him to say. Considering that his genitals have not been mutilated to the point that he would not have painful ejaculations. Abdulleh, on the other hand, is most likely among the 98% of Somali women who have had Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) forced on her at a young age. Not only will she experience extreme pain without pleasure during intercourse, but giving birth would be murder on her body, apart from suffering from extreme health consequences that range from infertility to having cysts. What is worse is that her husband will decide how many children she would bear for him.

Hopefully every woman has learned from Rihanna’s experience and should enjoy their freedom to choose to be with—or to leave—any man of their choice. By the same token, more responsibility ought to be taken as to not sensationalize unethical marriages in countries where abuse towards women is supported. If one were to compare Rihanna to Abdulleh, Rihanna suffered less and was able to bounce back. As for Abdulleh, she may have been conditioned to accept her oppression. But it’s more likely that she is silently crying for help. How do I know that? Just look at both pictures of both Rihanna and Abdulleh. Rihanna isn’t smiling. Have you ever wondered why Abdulleh isn’t smiling in her wedding photo? If you haven’t before, I’ll bet you are now.

Russell Brooks is the author of the upcoming action/thriller, Pandora’s Succession. Visit to subscribe for free to receive excerpts from chapters one to three

World Health Organization (WHO):
Amnesty International:
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