Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner #BookReview

Think Like a Freak
by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner 
(William Morrow 2014)

How would you describe your own thinking processes? Are they conformist (running with the herd), non-conformist, idiosyncratic or some other pattern derived from celestial or religious origins?

Whatever their source, those processes are critical elements of how we interact with events on a daily basis. For example, if loudmouths are speaking inappropriate words in a loud voice in a closed in space (like an airplane), do you try to ignore it, become confrontational, or otherwise. I tend to become confrontational wanting to stop the insulting behavior.

Levitt and Dubner commenced a focus on behavior in Freakonomics with the hope of retraining our brains to think more economically and rationally. Of course, what they may be doing is retraining their own minds and lifestyles, then publishing the results to fund unique lives. We all have an axe to grind.

In any event, they celebrate unique ways of reacting and proselytize for individuality. Think Like a Freak is entertaining, easy reading. It is also thought-provoking. For example, I found quite revealing the discussion about feedback. Our authors advise that the key to learning is listening to feedback. In other words, adapting our behavior and thought based on what we learn from experience. They cite an example of an advertising campaign in newspapers. Due to an oversight, an area of Pittsburgh was not covered for an entire summer. The agency was fired. But when sales statistics were checked, there was no difference with or without the advertising. The take-away from feedback: maybe the advertising was a waste of money. Do you think it continued

I had other favorites. One was the perception that expensive wine is better. Taste tests reflect that ratings are random as compared to actual cost. Does that feedback suggest that we should retrain ourselves to buy the cheapest in a specific varietal? 

Another revealing observation involves personal exercise. If you decide that you should do wake-up thinking you should do some push-ups and can do 5, should you be happy? Or should you challenge yourself. Why not ask yourself for 25, or 50, or 100. Go for it! I did so and now do 105 per day, 35 at a time.

Finally, they address the subject of declaring an end to one element of your life and moving. This is therapeutic for all of us, regardless of how difficult it may be. Our authors address this in the context of whether they should terminate the Freaks series. Letting go of such a successful enterprise would be the antithesis of the inevitable conventional wisdom to go with a winner. On the other hand, letting go may open other frontiers of even greater opportunity/

We are all freaks, so let’s liberate ourselves!

Warms, Cym


Live Chat with Kira Peikoff (No Time to Die) on Booktrib


In a Washington, D.C. research lab, a brilliant scientist is attacked by his own test subjects. At Columbia University, a talented biochemist is lured out of her apartment and never seen again. In the Justice Department’s new Bioethics Committee, agent Les Mahler sees a sinister pattern emerging…Zoe Kincaid is a petite college student whose rare genetic makeup may hold the key to a powerful medical breakthrough. When she is kidnapped, the very thing mankind has wanted since the dawn of time threatens to unleash our final destruction. 


KIRA PEIKOFF is a writer based in New York City. She graduated with high honors from New York University in 2007 with a degree in journalism, after four years of various reporting internships: covering street crime for The Daily News, writing about Capitol Hill for The Orange County Register in Washington, D.C., reporting on business and technology for Newsday, and researching feature stories for New York magazine.
To fulfill her longtime dream of writing a novel, she then spent a year exclusively working on LIVING PROOF. The story was inspired by her experience reporting from the White House in the summer of 2006, as she watched President Bush announce the first veto of his presidency to deny federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Peikoff’s passionate feelings about what many people view as a controversy of morality vs. science-one with potentially life-or-death stakes-led to the central conflict in LIVING PROOF.
After completing that book, Peikoff worked for several years in the editorial departments at two NYC publishing houses, which gave her an invaluable inside look at the publishing process and the rapidly changing industry.
NO TIME TO DIE, her second novel, has just been published by Kensington in paperback, ebook, and audio. These days, Peikoff is working on her third thriller, freelancing for a variety of major media outlets including The New York Times, and attending Columbia University’s Master of Science program in Bioethics. She lives in New York City with her husband and dog.




How Schools Kill Creativity by Sir Ken Robinson

Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we're educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.



'Sleepless in Seattle': A Tale of Two Authors and Their Hybrid Publisher (re-post from Huffington Post The Blog)

by Robin Maxwell for The Blog, Huffington Post

"Sometimes nagging pays off. I can tell you for certain it doesn't with one's spouse, but it did bear fruit with a couple of talented writer friends who had books in them raring to claw their way into the light of day." - Billie Morton with her laugh-out-loudHow To Un-Marry A Millionaire chic lit novel, and Greg Michaels' literate, sexy, mystery/adventure The Secrets of Casanova.


Trouble was, by the time I'd convinced them to write their books, and after having worked tirelessly for years to complete their manuscript and rewriting them to perfection, the world of traditional publishing had undergone a complete, and in some ways horrifying, transmogrification.
Corporate mergers decimated the field of choices for submission. The "Grand Battle of the eBooks" was underway, and was the dominant force in the sometimes dicey self-publishing arena. Successful mid-list, and even bestselling authors, were being dropped willy-nilly by their publishers and fired by their agents. Advances plummeted. There were bloodbaths at the major houses, with lists slashed by a third, and respected editors being fired, others leaving the business altogether. Even once-robust genres (like historical fiction) were dying on the vine. If you were lucky enough to get a deal, in-house money that had once been spent on advertising, marketing and promotion had dried up, and publishers expected authors to pick up the slack with their own Facebook, Twitter and personal blog campaigns...spending their own money to boot! The old Hollywood adage, "You're only as good as your last movie" took hold in New York, and now writers were only as good as their last book's "sales track." Independent bookstores were closing right and left, and if all that wasn't bad enough, one of America's two major bookstore chains -- Borders -- went out of business.
I watched in dismay as Billie and Greg tried repeatedly to get a foot in the door of the traditional publishing world, only to have it slam shut in their faces. Both of them were leery of self-publishing, and my own experience -- the only thing I could offer them -- was with the Big-Five publishers. It was beginning to feel like all my nagging and all their years of hard work had been for naught.
Enter Booktrope, a Seattle-based "hybrid" publishing company that has, in its three years in business, published 270 titles. Greg -- a Shakespearian actor and swashbuckler -- had discovered them in his dogged efforts to find some satisfaction for his ten years of passionate obsession with Casanova, as well as the writing process.
"So you're self-publishing after all?" I asked incredulously. 

"No," he explained, still a little shaky about the facts himself. "It's team publishing. I get to choose my own editor, proofreader, book manager and cover designer."
"Huh?" I was out to sea on this, and only got farther from shore as he continued.
"I'm not paid an advance, but I don't have to pay for anything out of my own pocket. When we're done I'll have not only an eBook but a physical, Print-On-Demand book. You'll be able to buy it everywhere in every format -- from Amazon and Kindle, to Barnes and Noble and Nook, iBook, Kobo and Indie Bound. They call it "format agnostic." What they call a "book manager" is actually my publicist. She'll arrange press releases, online and on-the-ground book tours, and she'll assist me with my social media, too."
This just sounded too good to be true, especially the bit about the author keeping 33 percent of the profits (when the most a traditionally published author can expect is 15 percent) and as we all know, if it's too good to be true... I was outwardly enthusiastic and supportive because it meant Greg's book was going to get published after all. Inwardly I was more than a little skeptical. He went ahead. The process seemed to take a long time, but Greg kept assuring me that this was because the book needed a lot of work to make it worthy of publication. He wanted it to be right. I respected that, and kept watching. He had a stunning website built by web designer extraordinaire Linda LaZar and his book manager got him up-and-running with Facebook and Twitter accounts, all in preparation for his pub date.
Meanwhile, Billie -- documentary filmmaker and my longtime comedy screenwriting partner -- was watching the adventures of our mutual friend, Greg, with the greatest interest. It was, in fact, Billie who had nagged me incessantly 20 years before to stop chewing her ear off about Tudor England and write a goddamn book. The result was the bestselling Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn (now in its 24th printing with Simon and Schuster, translated into 14 languages) which kick-started my career as a novelist. Billie was in a state of frustration, unable to get any traction with New York agents or publishers with her first novel, How To Un-Marry A Millionaire, and could see Greg moving slowly but steadily towards a dignified and painless publication of Casanova -- a book she had believed in for as long as I had. She began considering the hybrid possibility for herself, but questioned whether a Booktrope title could actually get out there, not just vanish into oblivion like other friends' self-published books -- without a machine behind them -- had done. Neither Greg nor I knew the answer.
Just before publication of Casanova, Greg sent us both an article from Forbes Magazine that featured Booktrope both heavily and favorably. It stated that at least one of its titles had sold over 100,000 books, and the other hybrid publishers named in the article reported similar successes.
That was all my stonewalled friend needed. Greg made sure Billie's manuscript was read by the Booktrope staff of "early readers" who concurred with us about the quality of the writing and the commerciality of the story...and Billie became a Booktrope author.
By now I was more than a little intrigued by this upstart publisher. I was still being published by the old guard, but even after nine novels I had no illusions about my future in that world. I wanted to see for myself how the process would compare to traditional publishing. I'd read How To Un-Marry A Millionaire several times and knew it didn't need any structural editing, so I offered to join Billie's team and become her copyeditor. While this was a job I'd never attempted before, I'd been "on the other end" of a copyedit nine times and felt confident that I understood the process, as well as the vagaries of The Chicago Manual of Style. While I was doing my work Billie had begun what was to be the most joyful aspect of her publishing experience -- the front cover design.
Book jacket design -- especially in the historical fiction genre -- has become for authors one of the most dispiriting, even hair-tearing aspects of having one's book published. Even the most successful authors feel entirely out of control, knowing that their input (if it's even asked for) will most likely be disregarded. Covers foisted on them range from repetitive (the ubiquitous "headless woman running away" in historical fiction) to cheesy photoshopped pictures.



4 Ways Authors Can Rock on Twitter (The Book Designer)

By Frances Caballo

It took a while for me to understand Twitter. When I signed up, I made my first mistake in deciding my handle, @CaballoFrances.
A Spanish soccer player had already taken @FrancesCaballo so I reversed the order of my first and last names. Now I regret using my entire name because my handle has 14 characters – too many for this microblogging platform – when it should have no more than 12. Even fewer characters would have been better.
The next mistake I made was using a company name as my profile name instead of simply using Frances Caballo. People don’t interact with companies – unless you’re a huge brand like Toyota – they interact with people.
Over the years, I’ve learned how to improve metrics on this platform, and I’m going to share with you four key steps to rocking on Twitter.
  1. Your Avatar

    I’m not going to spend too much time on this tip other than to say you need to use a decent picture of yourself. Keep the social in social media by uploading a professional-appearing image of yourself.
    Don’t use a book cover, a logo, an image of your cat or dog, or the default egghead. Use your best profile picture as your avatar. Period.
  2. The Perfect Twitter Bio

    You get 160 characters to describe yourself. That’s not much.
    Your goal is to entice people to follow you. A poet on Twitter uses two words to describe himself: “Poetry Copyright.” All I know about him is that he’s worried about plagiarism, but we all are.
    Another person uses these two words: “Oui. Non.” All that tells me is that sometimes he uses the word yes, and other times he knows how to say no. He gives me no reason to follow him.
    Then there are those users who litter their bio with useless hashtags: “#Writer #Reader #Chocoholic #MetsFan #Wino #FrappuccinoAddict #Mom #Foodie.” This bio doesn’t tell me anything about the person’s books or authority in his or her niche.
    Now let’s look at Jane Friedman’s bio:
    Jane Friedman bio
    Her bio succinctly communicates her industry experience. Her image is warm and professional. I like it.
    Here’s Nina Amir’s bio:
    Nina Amir bio
    Nina’s bio is perfect. She mentions her two newest books and conveys the benefit you’ll derive from following her and reading her posts.
    Here’s Helen Sedwick’s bio:
    Helen Sedwick bio
    Helen immediately substantiates her authority, communicates her mission to help authors, and pitches her newest book.
    Guy Kawasaki has a bio that rocks.
    Guy Kawasaki bio
    Right away, he communicates his mission, then briefly mentions his work, and then shares the fact that he’s the author of twelve books. Nice.
    So the perfect Twitter bio is error-free, communicates the benefit of following you, avoids clichés such as #CoffeeAddict, and is unique to you.
  3. Tweet Images to Boost Engagement



57 Books to Read This Fall (Repost from New York Mag)

57 Books to Read This Fall

Hopefully, you've had a few minutes to play around with our Fall Entertainment Generator. But if you're looking for straight and simple lists of things to look out for by medium, we'll be breaking them out separately. Here's a look at this season's books.

The Emerald Light in the Air
By Donald Antrim
The collected short stories of the ­MacArthur “genius.”
Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of BeautyBy Vikram Chandra
Graywolf Press
Novelists and programmers both obsess over ­“elegance” and “style” — so is writing code an aesthetic pursuit? Chandra, a novelist who also codes, says yes.
10:04 By Ben Lerner
Faber & Faber
The second novel from the author of 2011’s Leaving the Atocha Station.
The Bone Clocks By David Mitchell
Random House
An epic stretching across time and space, with stops in medieval Switzerland, punk-rock England, and wartime Baghdad, all touched by a mystical battle that may last until 2043. Read more about David Mitchell here.
Women in Clothes 

By Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton, et al.
Blue Rider Press
A rummage through the “personal” elements of personal style, built around conversations with more than 600 women.
Faithful and ­Virtuous Night: Poems 

By Louise Glück
A dreamy collection from the prizewinning poet.
The Children Act
By Ian McEwan
Nan A. Talese
McEwan, an outspoken critic of using religion to refuse medical care to children, has written a novel about just that.

Happiness: Ten Years of n+1
Faber & Faber
The best of the literary and political journal’s first ten years.
By James Ellroy
The first of a planned four-novel series returns Ellroy’s readers to December 1941, as Californians prepare for war.
World Order 
By Henry Kissinger
Penguin Press
There has never been a universal “world order,” according to Kissinger. So what’s a diplomat to do when each country sees itself as the center of the universe?
Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking)
By Christian Rudder
What one of ­OKCupid’s founders learned from all that dating data.
A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing
By Eimear McBride
Coffee House Press
The winner of this year’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, written when McBride was a fully formed 27.
The Dog 
By Joseph O’Neill
In O’Neill’s Netherland, a Dutch financier navigates a New York still reeling after 9/11; this time, a New Yorker finds himself overwhelmed and isolated in hyperglobalized Dubai.