Sunday, October 7, 2018

376. Patagonia, Alinka, Caroline, and How I Won't Grow Rich

A Coney Island of the Past:

The Professor and Other Tales of Coney Island

by Robert Lagerstrom


Hardcover available from Amazon for $30.99, and e-book on Kindle for $9.99.
Paperback available from Xlibris for $20.99.

Following my presentation of the book in last week's post, there’s been only one sale so far, leaving me with eight copies, which admittedly isn’t much.  Not a surprise, since I discouraged sales, saying only those who savor Proust and Beckett should buy.  To whom I now add Karl Ove Knausgaard, whose epic read, My Struggle, is now available in English – all six volumes.  Hailed as the Norwegian Proust, Knausgaard is viewed as alternately brilliant and dull.  Robert Lagerstrom’s The Professor, being much shorter (only 138 pages), is far less challenging.  In my opinion, it’s worth getting for just one of the stories, whose conclusion is heartbreaking.  But I still caution that it’s not for everyone.  Robert has heart, he identifies with freaks and misfits, of whom his book has many, and he is a master of style and mood.  But now, on to my latest adventures as a writer, a short post inspired by recent developments.  Short it certainly is, but I couldn’t resist.

Patagonia, Alinka, and Carolyn,
and How I Won’t Grow  Rich

They want me in Patagonia.  No, not that dry, bleak, windy southern stretch of Argentina; my stretch doesn’t reach that far.  I mean Patagonia, Arizona, population 913, in Santa Cruz County, at the very southern part of the state, near the Mexican border.  I got an e-mail from the librarian there, explaining that they have a program to make known to their readers self-published books that might otherwise escape their attention.  If I would donate a copy of No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World, my one self-published work, they would display it and otherwise make t known to their readers, and report to me the number of times it gets checked out.  But, I asked, would Arizonans in a little town so far from New York be interested in my New York-based works?  Absolutely, the librarian replied.  I’d be surprised how many New Yorkers they had there, and the New Yorker is one of the most popular periodicals in their collection.  So off I mailed a copy, delighted at the idea of being read in this far distant little town in Arizona.  But how had they ever heard of me?  My name, the librarian informed me, was listed as “a hit new indie author in Alinka Rutkowsky’s weekly LibraryBub newsletter.  Which was the first hard evidence that Alinka and her newsletter were doing me any good.  So who, then, is Alinka? 

         Alinka Rutkowsky is, as she proclaims, a best-selling author of business and money titles who out of the goodness of her heart, and her instinct for flashy self-promotion, wants to help indie authors achieve the astonishing success that she has known.  For a fee, of course.  She has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, and just about any other venue you can think of.  Write and Grow Rich is the title she’s currently promoting, though all her books promise to supercharge a writer’s career.  And how have I connected with this phenomenon?  She is the founder of LibraryBub, a service that, by featuring them in her online publication, claims to connect indie authors with over 10,000 librarians.  

          I was initially suspicious, since there now exists a whole industry of shrewd authors promising to promote your career -- for a fee, of course.  The best way to promote your own career is to offer -- for a fee, of course -- advice to aspiring young and not-so-young writers.  But since librarians are a significant part of my target audience, last June I shelled out hard coin -- to the tune of $299.00 (less than a booth at a book fair, I rationalized) -- and signed up for the program.  Then I waited and waited. Finally, last August, my historical novel Dark Knowledge (and a lot of other books) was featured online for two weeks.  The results: the newsletter mentioning my book was opened 4909 times by librarians, and my Amazon link was clicked 409 times.  Did this lead to sales?  Who knows?  If librarians decide to buy the book, they will do so during their purchasing period, which may be months from now.  But I’ve had great exposure, Alinka assures me, and my book was included in a press release that was picked up by that holy trinity, NBC, ABC, and CBS.  Meanwhile I live on hope.  Which is why the request from Patagonia, even if it cost me money, was most welcome.  If dinner is uncertain, one settles now for crumbs.

          So much for her service.  But who is Alinka herself?  Book promoters all emphasize the importance of the author’s photograph; it must grab the attention of readers.  So for Alinka, who wants her readers to “write and grow rich,” I expected a figure of authority, stern and awe-inspiring, like Michelangelo’s Sibyls on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  

The Cumaean Sibyl.  Not sexy, to say the least.  But notice how he snuck in
two naked boys behind her.
Instead, I found a deliciously charming young blonde with a winsome, almost flirtatious look.  Frankly, she is just plain flat-out sexy.  For me, she inspires all kinds of thoughts, none of them about getting rich – at least, not by writing books.  Not that I doubt her success; clearly, she has written and grown rich.  And more power to her, if she can have her cake and eat it, too.  But I’m not buying Write and Grow Rich.  For advice of that ilk, I prefer Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher.  It better suits my modest budget and ambitions.  And the author’s photo (not included in the book), white-haired and spectacled, though with a winning smile, isn’t trying to seduce me.  She and Alinka are both great self-promoters, but they have different styles.  More power to them both.  But Carolyn Howard-Johnson looks like she wants to be friends.


All books are available online as indicated, or from the author.

1.  No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World (Mill City Press, 2015).  Winner of the Tenth Annual National Indie Excellence Award for Regional Non-Fiction; first place in the Travel category of the 2015-2016 Reader Views Literary Awards; and Honorable Mention in the Culture category of the Eric Hoffer Book Awards for 2016.  All about anything and everything New York: alcoholics, abortionists, greenmarkets, Occupy Wall Street, the Gay Pride Parade, my mugging in Central Park, peyote visions, and an artist who made art of a blackened human toe.  

If you love the city (or hate it), this may be the book for you.  An award winner, it sold well at BookCon 2017 and 2018.


"If you want wonderful inside tales about New York, this is the book for you.  Cliff Browder has a way with his writing that makes the city I lived in for 40 plus years come alive in a new and delightful way. A refreshing view on NYC that will not disappoint."  Five-star Amazon customer review by Bill L.

"To read No Place for Normal: New York is to enter into Cliff Browder’s rich and engaging sixty years of adult life in New York. Yes, he delves back before his time – from the city’s origins to the 19th Century that Ms. Trollope and Mr. Dickens encounter to robber barons and slums that marked highs and lows of the earlier Twentieth Century. But Browder has lived such an engaged and curious life that he can’t help but cross paths with every layer and period of society. There is something Whitmanesque in his outlook."  Five-star Amazon customer review by Michael P. Hartnett.

Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

2.  Bill Hope: His Story (Anaphora Literary Press, 2017), the second novel in the Metropolis series.  New York City, 1870s: From his cell in the gloomy prison known as the Tombs, young Bill Hope spills out in a torrent of words the story of his career as a pickpocket and shoplifter; his brutal treatment at Sing Sing and escape from another prison in a coffin; his forays into brownstones and polite society; and his sojourn among the “loonies” in a madhouse, from which he emerges to face betrayal and death threats, and possible involvement in a murder.  Driving him throughout is a fierce desire for better, a persistent and undying hope.

For readers who like historical fiction and a fast-moving story.


"A real yarn of a story about a lovable pickpocket who gets into trouble and has a great adventure.  A must read."  Five-star Amazon customer review by nicole w brown.

"This was a fun book.  The main character seemed like a cross between Huck Finn and a Charles Dickens character.  I would recommend this."  Four-star LibraryThing review by stephvin.

Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

3.  Dark Knowledge (Anaphora Literary Press, 2018), the third novel in the Metropolis series.  Adult and young adult.  A fast-moving historical novel about New York City and the slave trade, with the sights and sounds and smells of the waterfront. 

New York City, late 1860s.  When young Chris Harmony learns that members of his family may have been involved in the illegal pre-Civil War slave trade, he is appalled.  Determined to learn the truth, he begins an investigation that takes him into a dingy waterfront saloon, musty old maritime records that yield startling secrets, and elegant brownstone parlors that may have been furnished by the trade.  Since those once involved dread exposure, he meets denials and evasions, then threats, and a key witness is murdered.  What price must Chris pay to learn the painful truth and proclaim it?


"A lively and entertaining tale.  The writing styles, plot, pace and character development were excellent."  Four-star LibraryThing early review by BridgitDavis.

"At first the plot ... seemed a bit contrived, but I was soon swept up in the tale."  Four-star LibraryThing early review by snash.

"I am glad that I have read this book as it goes into great detail and the presentation is amazing.  The Author obviously knows his stuff."  Four-star LibraryThing early review by Moiser20.

Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

4.  The Pleasuring of Men (Gival Press, 2011), the first novel in the Metropolis series, tells the story of a respectably raised young man who chooses to become a male prostitute in late 1860s New York and falls in love with his most difficult client.

What was the gay scene like in nineteenth-century New York?   Gay romance, but women have read it and reviewed it.  (The cover illustration doesn't hurt.)


"At times amusing, gritty, heartfelt and a little sexy -- this would make a great summer read."  Four-star Amazon customer review by BobW.

"Really more of a fantasy of a 19th century gay life than any kind of historical representation of the same."  Three-star Goodreads review by Rachel.

"The detail Browder brings to this glimpse into history is only equaled by his writing of credible and interesting characters.  Highly recommended."  Five-star Goodreads review by Nan Hawthorne.

Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

5.  Fascinating New Yorkers: Power Freaks, Mobsters, liberated Women, Creators, Queers and Crazies (Black Rose Writing, 2018).  A collection of posts from this blog.  Short biographical sketches of people, some remembered and some forgotten, who lived or died in New York.  All kinds of wild stuff, plus some stuff that isn't quite wild but fascinating.  New York is a mecca for hustlers of every kind, some likable and some horrible, but they are never boring.

Fascinating NYers eimage.jpg


"Fascinating New Yorkers by Clifford Browder was like sitting down with a dear friend and catching up on the latest gossip and stories. Written with a flair to keep the reader turning the pages, I couldn't stop reading it and thinking about the subjects of each New Yorker. I love NYC and this book just added to the list of reasons why, a must read for those who love NYC and the people who have lived there." Five-star NetGalley review by Patty Ramirez, librarian.

"Unputdownable."  Five-star review by Dipali Sen, retired librarian.

"I felt like I was gossiping with a friend when reading this, as the author wrote about New Yorkers who are unique in one way or another. I am hoping for another book featuring more New Yorkers, as I couldn't put this down and read it in one sitting!" Five-star NetGalley review by Cristie Underwood. 

©   2018   Clifford Browder   

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