Writers Should Stay Home

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

Once, yes, I did give in. I went on the Today Show and was interviewed by Matt Lauer. That’s when Indecent Proposal first came out. First my novel, then the Paramount movie.  When I watched the replay I kept referring to myself as “That guy.” As in, “Who is that guy and what is he talking about?” I wondered why “he” had no eyebrows. Was it the lighting? I came in with eyebrows!

 

Why is “he” not more glib? He is awfully glib at home. Where is the wit? Where is the wisdom? Where is the charm? I had it when I left the house.

 

My agent at the time and all the rest them said I did “beautifully.” What they meant was – I did not make a COMPLETE fool of myself and that makes it “beautiful.”

 

I mean it – writers should stay home. We have no business going out there to market. That’s why God invented salesmen. That’s why we write. So we won’t have to sell. It’s called – or used to be called – the gift of gab. We should have it for the typewriter, but not for the camera or the microphone. Most of us – novelists – are grumpy and moody and that’s no way to make a sale.

Details

The Art of Pushing Books

By Jack Engelhard

 

The trick is to get yourself a good publicist, a publicist, as I was once told, who would kill for you. Well, that’s going too far, don’t you think? I haven’t had a publicist since that one time back then. After that it’s been me and you and where are you? I must learn the art of persuasion, public relations, backslapping. I should go to the right parties. I should do lunch at Elaine’s. I should get out more. Must get on TV. Better yet, get my own show.

 

My guess is that I’ll become rich and famous after I die. That’s how it usually happens. Success (for artists) usually happens after it too late.

 

I have no idea why I’m complaining. Most people have it worse. My gripe, I guess, is why we need all that marketing and the trickery that goes with it and why it is that TV personalities have all the apparatus and all the luck – when real writers  are stuck at our computers without a paddle.

Details

Books That Could Never Get Published Today

By Jack Engelhard

Readers at the New York Times have already spoken about the most overrated books of all time and the winners (or rather, the losers) are J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” and God’s “The Bible.” I read all about it in the Times’ Paper Cuts blog ( “Plaster Saints?”) and arrived at the conclusion that the least favorable works were usually those that failed to adhere to political correctness. 

Hence, Books That Could Never Get Published Today

The Hebrew Bible: Too Jewish.

Confessions of St. Augustine: Too Christian.

Moby Dick — Dear Mr. Melville: A quite similar book has already been done by Jonah and it is still in print. We’d reconsider if you could produce a more sensitive Capt. Ahab. You do go on about whaling. Also, your opening line does not work for us. Can you come up with something better than “Call me Ishmael?” (Our first readers, by the way, were rooting for the whale.)

The Old Man and the Sea — Dear Mr. Hemingway: We no longer use the term “old man.” (Our first readers, by the way, were rooting for the fish.)

Details

Writer Burns Her Own Book

[Intro from Jack Engelhard: We’ve all endured this frustration about a book we’re trying to write – but it just refuses to happen.  I met Orit online. I ran into one of her pieces at israelinsider.com and was taken by her brutal honesty and her cool style with words. I’ve been a fan ever since. She is also a knockout in the looks department and I promised to cast her when The Bathsheba Deadline goes Hollywood, a promise I intend to keep. But enough from me. Here’s Orit.]

I Burned my Own Book

By Orit Arfa

Beware any society that burns books–it is one that leads to a dictatorship. To name a few: China’s Qin Dynasty, Nazi Germany, Ray Bradbury’s fictional America in his novel Farenheit 451.

So what does that say about me? I just burned a book—my own. Have I become a one woman dictatorship?

Actually, I felt like I had to burn my book so that I stop becoming a dictator—over myself.

Details

Best of 2008? Please Don’t Bother

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

So here we go again. News organizations and what-not trot out the best of the year – also the worst. The worst is easy for anyone who makes these lists.

 

But I hate these lists. Please don’t tell me what books I should have read, movies I should have seen, or music I should have listened to; I only listened to Beethoven anyway.

 

So far as world events all I remember is war, right up to this minute. Pick the spot, and there was war or some kind of disturbance. People just don’t get along.

Details

Who Is Obama Reading?

By Jack Engelhard

 

During his interview on “60 Minutes” president-elect Barack Obama mentioned a book that he’d been reading on FDR’s first 100 Days. He did not name the book, tantalizing publishers that had such books on the shelves. After all, the mere mention of a book by Obama could lead to dancing – best seller!

 

Turns out that the prize went to two authors, Jonathan Alter and Jean Edward Smith. He’d been reading them both on FDR.

 

Bingo.

 

Some people have all the luck. However, a week or so earlier, the New York Times asked people to suggest what books Obama OUGHT TO BE reading, and here came the (truly gifted) writer John W. Cassell. He wrote in and suggested “The Bathsheba Deadline” as MUST READING. Well, until we find Obama with that book of mine (and riches to follow) I thought I’d present a portion of “The Bathsheba Deadline” that in fact touches on FDR. From page 154 of the paperback version, here goes:

Details

When Bad Things Happen to Good Computers

 

By Jack Engelhard

 

Well, it finally happened. My computer crashed. All my works in progress – gone! Fortunately, most of my novels are already published and listed on Amazon and elsewhere, so that’s good, and as for my journalism, well, that’s also preserved here and all over the Web.

 

I’ll bet I’m not alone in this. This has happened to everybody. We’re all at the mercy of technology and technology is not perfect. Stuff happens.

 

For some reason I equate all this with the economy, which also crashed, and I equate it even more with something almost cosmic, that our entire civilization rests upon the mercy and the good graces of a power higher up, beyond us mortals – in other words, we are all plugged in and, just like that, someone can pull the plug and plug us out.

 

Is this religion?

Details

Someone Stole My Novel (Indecent Proposal)

By Jack Engelhard

What’s this?

Just for the heck of it I decided to check out how my most famous novel is doing among top booksellers and found that there are a slew of books by this title “Indecent Proposal” that were written by everyone but me – and years after me! In fact, someone just came out with his very own “Indecent Proposal” sometime this year.

Let’s get this straight!

I wrote the original novel back in the mid-1980s; it was published by Donald I. Fine Publishers in 1989. I repeat, 1989. Paramount Pictures bought the rights to it two years later and, based on my novel, delivered the famous movie starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. The movie was released April, 1993. (See the credits at the beginning of the film– Based Upon The Novel By Jack Engelhard).

At the same time, this novel, MY novel (for crying out loud) was translated into more than 22 languages.

Following that, Pocket Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, reprinted the novel into a movie-tie-in paperback.

After Pocket Books lost the rights to it, I retrieved the contract and had it republished by Comteq Publishing – the version that ought to be on sale right now.  

  Indecent Proposal 

 

 

Instead, I find that a host of other writers and publishers have decided to feast off the fanfare and fame that was generated by my original novel, and movie. Obviously they’ve tacked in different storylines while using my title. This is legal, right? I mean anybody can beg, borrow or steal another man’s book title.

Details