Bloomberg Businessweek online quoted Workman saying the Gecko “has spent the last few years traveling across America, like a modern-day de Tocqueville.” What’s more, it adds:
“He’s a philosopher, an aphorist, a humorist, an artist, a warm companion, a natural storyteller—and, in a grand tradition, a keenly observant and wise outsider who in the course of living and traveling among us has discovered quite a lot about the things that make us human.
“He makes curious and interesting observations on everything from dreams to job interviews to adversity, Twitter to the Golden Rule (it’s not what you think it is) to talking animals: I’m really not sure what all the fuss is about. Lots of animals talk, including humans. The bigger question is, what do you have to say worth listening to?”
See the trailer on YouTube.
Available at bookstores everywhere.
“I was completely surprized…especially to know only now how this quiet person had gone against all odds, exposed himself to so much danger and took the risk to do something that he believed in and acted upon to bring resolve. I must say that with all that he was going through, he did not show it.” – Heidi Efteckhar Silver, a character in the novel, The Man Who Fooled SAVAK.
Doug Roberts exciting novel, The Man Who Fooled SAVAK, came into being with the help of his long-time friend and co-worker, Heidi Efteckhar Silver, who helped him remember a lot of the details of his daring escape from Iran forty years ago. Mrs. Silver, one of the major characters in the book, played an integral part in helping Doug smuggle his then fiance and her mother out of Iran when the secret police, SAVAK, would not allow them to leave. SAVAK watched the family closely because they wanted the family to lead them to the husband and father, who was a human rights activist and lawyer who had escaped a decade earlier. Here is Mrs. Silver’s thoughts on The Man Who Fooled SAVAK.
Q. Not many novels use the names of real people but Doug Roberts in his book The Man Who Fooled SAVAK, portrays you as being a friend and co-worker in the Administrative Services office in the U.S. military advisory unit to Iran, ARMISH/MAAG. I find that rather remarkable.
A. Since Doug’s story is based on a real life experience, it’s great that he has used people’s real names in his story. Most things mentioned in his book did happen. Technology, such as Facebook, also played a big role in Doug being able to find some of the people he had worked with in ARMISH/MAAG, such as myself, and hear more stories from them that made his book more authentic and I am glad I was part of it.
Q. Did you know why Doug was sent to Administrative Services before leaving Iran?
A. I had absolutely no idea. I must say that Captain Seaman and Del, with whom I worked closely had great respect for Doug and kept his ordeal, which was extremely serious, strictly confidential.
A. I found him to be a pleasant fellow, who was very easy to work and get along with. I was completely surprised when I read “The Man Who Fooled Savak,” especially to know only now how this quiet person had gone against all odds, exposed himself to so much danger and took the risk to do something that he believed in and acted upon to bring resolve. I must say that with all that he was going through, he did not show it. He exercised great care in keeping the situation under wrap. This also speaks of Doug’s strong and determined character which is well played out in the book.
Q. What did you think of the book.
A. I thought the book was amazing. When I was reading the book, events played out in front of my eyes. His description of the culture, food, the Iranian way of life and their hospitality is so authentic that it also took my life for a review during those years in Iran. The amazing thing about this book is that Doug, as an American GI, who was stationed in Iran for a brief period of time witnessed the signs of the revolution which came about only a few years later.
Q. Would you recommend this book to your friends.
A. Absolutely. Especially young adults. My own children, who are now young adults, were very small at the time and knew nothing when we had the Iranian Revolution in 1979. This book is not only intriguing and entertaining, but also has a great historical value. During the 2009 uprising, I found myself explaining to my boys, their friends and even some of my friends how all this had come about. Doug has done a great justice in describing what was going on in Iran during the Shah’s reign which lasted nearly 37 years before he was overthrown during the 1979 Revolution. I think those who read this book today will not only be intrigued by the story, but will also learn about Iran and gain great respect for this ancient country, with rich culture and history whose people are kind, friendly and hospitable, but have suffered much in the hands of politics.
Published June 2011
So you wanna get published, right? So you think only a big house can get you anywhere worth getting, right? So, you think you need an agent first thing, right? I thought all these things and have the credentials to prove that I’ve been on a literary journey: English major, Phi Beta Kappa, teacher, professor, MFA degree, literary journal editor, literary prize winner. But no big house and no agent.
Instead, I did what some may think is crazy. I went with a product development company that dabbled in publishing. But my book got out. And I went to work. I have an active public Facebook page that is linked to my Twitter account, a website always under revision as new stuff happens and I write a blog where I try to post at least once a week.
Today’s post that you are reading would have been this essay. But this site begged for it and it’s theirs. But later you may see this post on my blog. Go check out this: How to buy a dress and end up with a book party.
I don’t tweet about my memoir (Re)Making Love: a sex after sixty story much, though some. I don’t blog about my book much, but some: actually, I blogged the book while I lived it—that’s the first crazy-some-say thing I did before the product development company found me—and that accounts for the banner of a blog that deals not with erotica but with literary thought, interviews and essays on writing and books.
Now you’d think a book with this sordid, unconventional history wouldn’t be doing very well, right? And, indeed, I’m not getting rich. But is that what we artists are really about? Okay, a girl could hope but that’s never been the goal: The work will out.
But get this: The small print in the visual of my book on Amazon says, #7 top rated in the Kindle store for Non-Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, Arts &literature, Authors. The week before it was #5 behind The Diary of Anne Frank and Steven King’s On Writing.
And guess what: The book party at Upstairs on 7th (aka: “How to buy a dress and get a book party”) resulted in the promise of another book party by one of the women who came. Then I went to dinner with a banker-friend I know and told him what happened. He called his wife and is planning another book party in another dress shop and he’ll be providing the wine.
Is there a moral? Ain’t no good here at morals. But I will say this: If you put your heart and soul into your book and you’ve edited it like crazy with a cool eye, had others eyeball it and critique it, then find a reputable publisher and work—yes that means you—to sell one book at a time. Because like the memoir I wrote, it’s all personal.
PS: Another piece of good news: A new and much more experienced indie publisher has taken my memoir. Be sure to check out the second edition (more edits and a prologue) now from Outer Banks Publishing Group.
(Re)MAKING LOVE: a sex after sixty story, second edition, is available on Amazon, the Kindle, Barnes & Noble, the Nook, iBook, Sony ereader, the Outer Banks Publishing Group Bookstore and in other electronic formats from Smashwords.com.
I happened to look in my rear view mirror to see a black Mercedes sedan zoom up behind me then pass. It shot around me at an extremely high rate of speed and was soon out of sight. “Wow, where’s the fire?” I though. A few minutes later as I was about to make my final right turn off the main highway, the same black Mercedes shot out of the intersection I was about to turn into. It turned left and roared past me, heading west toward Tehran.
I took my foot off the accelerator, my stomach feeling queasy with deep apprehension. I had caught a glimpse of the driver’s face with dark glasses and thick mustache. It seemed vaguely and ominously familiar. I slowed the car and idled toward the vacant lot where I was to meet Junior, afraid of what I might find. I could see Junior’s old Peykan in the distance, the driver’s door open. I was sure I saw him move and at first I thought he was about to get out of the car, but as I got closer I could see Junior’s body suddenly fall forward against the steering wheel, sounding the car’s horn.
“Oh no! Please God! Oh no! This can’t be!” I said over and over. “Oh Jesus, no!”
I pulled my car alongside his. My knees were shaking as I got out of the car, and walked toward Junior. As I approached, I could see the back of his head was covered with blood. He had been shot, execution style. I pulled his torso off of the steering wheel to stop the horn from sounding, and then I lifted his left arm to feel his wrist. I thought I detected a faint pulse, but then a few seconds later, it stopped.
The only pulse I could feel now was my pounding heart, ready to burst through my chest. Flooded with a mixture of fear and sadness, I tried to ponder what to do next.
“We’ll need to notify his wife,” I remember thinking. I started searching his pants for a wallet with an ID, but I found nothing. The only thing I found was a large roll of bills in the left pocket of the old tweed jacket that Junior always wore. My hands were shaking.
“My god, this is a lot of money! His wife is going to need this,” I thought as I crammed it into the pocket of my fatigue jacket. I looked across the vacant lot to see an old man who was walking with a shuffled gate toward me from one of the distant houses. I waited for him as he approached. When he came up to the car, he was shaking his head.
He looked at me, quizzically. “SAVAK?” he asked.
I nodded. “Bali Agah. SAVAK.”
The old man started shaking his head again. “Shah very bad. Very bad man.”
I nodded. The old man and I stood together in silence appraising the ghastly scene.
“You want me call police?” he asked.
“Yes, you call the police. Don’t tell them I was here,” I said in my best Farsi.
“I no tell. We see nothing.”
At that moment we heard a siren somewhere in the distance growing louder.
“I need to leave now,” I said.
“You go! Boro! Boro! Zud bash!” (Go! Go! Hurry!) exclaimed the old man waving me away vigorously with his hands.
I stepped away from the old man and got into my car, knees and hands still shaking. I turned the key in the ignition and headed out to the main highway by first going around the block. I waited until I heard the siren stop and then proceeded. As I drove, I kept checking the rear view mirror, side streets, and intersections for any sign of a black Mercedes. But it had done its dirty work and was long gone. When I got back to the Teamhouse, I unloaded my car and took the goods up to my room. The boxes seemed incredibly heavy and my shaking knees complained at the load as I came up the stairs the last time. When I had finished, I collapsed into my bed and started sobbing again. “Junior, I am so sorry man,” kept repeating as though he could hear me.
I looked at the huge roll of cash, and was suddenly struck with an irrational fear that Lou might think I was trying to cheat him. I counted out what I felt Junior would have paid him that day and put it in an envelope, then slipped it my desk drawer. I took out a sheet of paper, and scrawled simply, “Lou, bad news. Junior’s dead. SAVAK shot him.” I placed the note on the desk where he could find it then walked downstairs to my car.
I dreaded having to tell Fari what happened, but forced myself to the car. When I walked into the house minutes later, Fari emerged from her room to meet me and immediately stepped back. “Oh my god, Doug! What happened? Your eyes are all red!”
“Fari, Junior’s dead. SAVAK shot him in the…in the…back of the head,” I said with my voice breaking.
Fari put her arms around me and held my while I continued to weep. “Doug, this is awful.”
I put my face down onto Fari’s shoulder. “Junior was a good person,” I said through my tears. “He didn’t deserve to die.”
Published June 2011
When I heard this sad story on NPR radio this morning it moved me so much and reminded me of Doug Roberts novel, The Man Who Fooled SAVAK, a suspenseful love story based on true events. This is the kind of repression that still pervades a lot of the Middle East today as it did forty years ago when Mr. Roberts staged the successful escape of his fiancé and her mother from a repressive and threatening Iran.
In January of this year in Pakistan, the governor of Punjab province, Salmaan Taseer, who was an outspoken defender of civil rights, was gunned down for criticizing the hardness of Islamic law. He was merely sticking up for a Christian woman who was accused of blaspheming Islam. Her punishment: death.
His daughter, Shehrbano Taseer, is a journalist in Pakistan, and she talks to Steve Inskeep, host of NRP Radio’s Morning Edition, about her father’s legacy and her own fight against extremism.
Here is part of that interview:
“INSKEEP: And it was not that your father committed this alleged act of blasphemy, but merely spoke up for the rights of someone who was accused of blasphemy and asked for her to be accorded mercy. This is what many clerics described as itself being blasphemous.
Ms. TASEER: Yeah, because my father had criticized the law. He had criticized the misuse of the law.
INSKEEP: Did anyone speak up for your father after his murder?
Ms. TASEER: There were three people who believed that this law was being misused and that this was an unfair allegation of blasphemy. There was my father. There was our federal minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, and there was Syeda Imam, who is a parliamentarian. And she had tabled a bill in the national assembly trying to water down this law and stop the misuse. And two out of three of these people are now dead. Shahbaz Bhatti, our federal minister for minorities, was gunned down outside his mother’s home two months after my father was shot dead.”
You can read the rest of this moving interview or listen to it on the NPR site. And if you want to read more about a similar story with a much different outcome, download a copy of The Man Who Fooled SAVAK, available on the Kindle, Barnes and Noble NOOK, Apple iBooks and in various ereader formats from Smashwords.
We just received this newsletter from a new site called kindlelendingclub.com launched by Amazon last December.
If you have a Kindle or any of the Kindle reading apps (Kindle for PC, Kindle for iPhone, Kindle for Blackberry, etc.) you can go to the site, sign up and borrow any Kindle book that has lending enabled.
The book will then be loaned to you for 14 days and then automatically transferred back to the original owner.
What we found interesting is the lending trends reported by the site in the following newsletter and the 25 most wanted books.
In light of the demographics (females between 35 and 55) we would have thought romance novels would be the leading lending genre. However, here’s what they reported.
The 25 Most Wanted
Literary fiction, the paranormal, sci fi, crime fiction, thrillers and even a memoir about a comedian’s one-night stands; it seems like KindleLendingClub.com readers (who tend to be female and between 35 and 55 years of age) are borrowing anything but traditional romance in the lead up to Valentine’s Day 2011.
While Amanda Hocking’s vampire and paranormal romances for young adults remain perennially popular, only two of the top 25 most requested books are traditional romance novels: A Season to be Sinful, by Jo Goodman, and Terry Spear’s An Accidental Highland Hero.
(Another interesting trend we saw last week as well? Eight of the 25 titles fall under the umbrella of young adult fiction.)
KindleLendingClub.com Most Wanted – Week of January 30, 2011:
1. The Hangman’s Daughter, by Oliver Pötzsch
2. Water for Elephants: A Novel, by Sara Gruen
3. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
4. Switched (Trylle Trilogy, #1), by Amanda Hocking
5. Wicked Appetite, by Janet Evanovich
6. Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games), by Suzanne Collins
7. Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games), by Suzanne Collins
8. Heart of the Matter, by Emily Giffin
9. My Horizontal Life, by Chelsea Handler
10. My Blood Approves, by Amanda Hocking
11. The Lover’s Dictionary: A Novel, by David Levithan
12. Freedom: A Novel (Oprah’s Book Club), by Jonathan Franzen
13. The Templar Concordat, by Terrence O’Brien
14. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
15. We Interrupt This Date, by L.C. Evans
16. A Season To Be Sinful, by Jo Goodman
17. Sizzling Sixteen, by Janet Evanovich
18. Favorite, by Karen McQuestion
19. The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, by Kevin Malarkey
20. Ascend (Trylle Trilogy, #3), by Amanda Hocking
21. Ender in Exile, by Orson Scott Card
22. Crossing Oceans, by Gina Holmes
23. Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater
24. Firefly Lane, by Kristin Hannah
25. The Accidental Highland Hero, by Terry Spear
I am not surprised that Google will launch it’s own electronic book venture called Google Editions. After all, why were they scanning every book ever published into digital form?
The Wall Street Journal and numerous other major publications, blogs and websites reported that Google is now nearing the launch of its massive new ebook venture and they hope to launch this year.
Instead of building another boat to navigate the ebook waters, they are diving into the water and going with the flow. Google says its books will not be tied to one particular device like a Kindle or iPad, but their books will be accessible from any device with an Internet connection.
Google is not running against the current trying to sell their own reading device with its own ebook store. Instead, they are the current ready to sell books to any device, in any format as long as those devices have a connection to the Internet.
And they won’t have just one web site where you have to go to buy their books, they will have unlimited websites paying commissions to anyone who directs traffic to a Google Editions book using the same model as their Google ads.
And some observers think they may have a competitive advantage over the other Titans in the electronic book publishing market.
It will be interesting to see which Titan comes out on top: Amazon, Apple or Google.
Take a look at the video for more – Rex Crum talks with Amir Efrati of the Wall Street Journal about what Google’s entry means for the online book market.
by Manisha on November 12, 2010
Market research firm Forrester has estimated e-book sales to touch the 1 billion mark by end 2010 in US and to triple by 2015!
Although only 7% of the 4000 people surveyed by Forrester actually read e-books these few are probably the most important ones reading 41% of their books in the digital form and buying books by the heaps.
In what might be viewed as a pat on the back for Kindle, it has surfaced as the most popular e-reader (32%), followed by Apple iPhone, Sony e-reader and Dell notebook and finishing a close second to the ubiquitous laptop in the Forrester findings.
Doing 66% of their reading in the digital form, Kindle users have emerged as the most avid e-book patriots and as if on a cue Kindle has already announced the flipping of its revenue sharing agreement with its publishers which we covered right here for you.
The findings could be a wake-up call for the tentative publisher yet to decide on whether to go digital with his next publication-the writing seems clear on the wall though-and before paperback becomes old hat it’s time to cash in on the promising prospect of e-books as unveiled by Forrester.
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In an unprecedented move, the Wiley Literary Agency struck a deal with Amazon to publish 20 classic titles as ebooks on the Kindle. According to reports, this is the first time a literary agency moved into the publishing business.
Will this be a trend as agencies struggle to survive in the dwindling print market? It might be. An agency would sign on an author, retain electronic publishing rights and then sell print rights to traditional publishers.
Agency revenues would increase considerably for ebooks, especially with the current structure where agencies only receive 15% of the author’s royalties.
However, the big question is will traditional publishers go along with this scenario or refuse to publish an author unless they retain electronic rights?
Will this be beneficial to authors?
Read Stephen Windwalker’s column for more information on this emerging development.
Read the report from The New York Times.
It was only a matter of time. Did you think Amazon would sit back and let Apple steal its thunder from the Kindle? I predict based on the following New York Times blog post, that we will see an iPad-like device from Amazon by the end of this year or early next year. What do you think?
From The New York Times blog, Bits, May 17, 2010, 3:42 pm
By NICK BILTON
Since Apple announced its plans for the iPad, Amazon has shared few details about how it would respond to the competition for its Kindle. But over the last few weeks, it has offered some more clues.
Lab 126, the division of Amazon responsible for building the Kindle, has been on a hiring binge, with dozens of new job listings on its Web site. Some are positions for testing and readying new products. And this suggests that the company might be preparing a new device. More >>
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