ORIGINAL BOOK REVIEW: “Turn it Up! Confessions of a Radio Junkie,” by Kevin Fodor

Turn it Up! Confessions of a Radio Junkie by Kevin Fodor

OFFICIAL BIOGRAPHY*:

Kevin Fodor is an almost 50 year veteran of the radio broadcasting industry working in small, medium and large cities across the midwestern U.S. He has spent almost 20 years back in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio on air at Cox Media Group’s WHIO-AM/FM, WHKO-FM and WZLR-FM. He also substitutes as a radio instructor at the International College of Broadcasting in Dayton.

REVIEW:

Turn it Up! Confessions of a Radio Junkie came to me with the kind of pedigree I can’t ignore: blurb upon blurb by those who have worked in the radio industry for decades, and whose careers are themselves a stellar lineup of heavy-hitters. Rob Ellis, Bob Moody, and Nick Roberts all lend their voices to the mix, just to name three of those of whom I speak, and for a child of the silicon age it’s not necessarily an easy thing for me to recognize the big names in radio, but I certainly have heard of a fair few on Kevin Fodor’s list of blurbers.

As for the book itself, my expectations were high going in. With such high praise from the author’s radio compatriots, I felt justified in expecting the kind of content that only an “insider’s insider” can provide–the kind of content with real pith and texture (and let’s face it, the dirty laundry we all read industry-specific memoirs for) that such a person with such longevity within a field can provide.

And boy, does Fodor deliver. Not so much on the dirty laundry, to be fair; Fodor treats both his subject and those with whom he worked for so long with good humor and a real sensitivity which allows them all to shine. But when it comes to the meat and potatoes of radio, and all the spice and drama that has made it the enduring information (and entertainment) delivery format that it is, Fodor unleashes all of his many years of experience on the page.

When it comes to the radio bug, writes Fodor, “It’s been over 47 years since I was bitten. But it’s been one hell of a ride.” And that, my friends and dear readers, is the sum total of the preparation you need before diving into this memoir of a life spent on, and with, and behind the radio so many of us (yes, including me, a late night classical music radio fan) depend on for both delight and our daily operational information. Weather, news, pop culture commentary, new and old music, and daily traffic reports constitute the grease that keeps the machinery of our civilization humming, and radio is about the only portable source for all of the above.

… And Kevin? He was the voice behind that source. For fifty years.

My entire career is still but a fraction of fifty years. Ideally, by the end of it I’ll be able to claim such a legacy (and have such a long list of flattering blurbs for my memoirs), but no matter how long I end up writing about writing (or writing about publishing, or writing about my life’s great companion, the cat Sputnik), it’s doubtful I’ll come close to accruing the amazing compilation of stories that Kevin Fodor has in his fantastic memoirs–memoirs that pack a punch without wrecking the wrists while doing so. (I’m only throwing shade at the majority of modern memoirists and nonfiction writers here, all of whom seem to think it criminal to publish anything under 600 pages, not including appendices and references.) Turn it Up! clocks in at just over 240 pages, including everything but the cover.

The judicious use of discretion carries a lot of weight with me when it comes to reading memoirs. I love them, but I love them best when they know what they’re on about, and they know when and where they’re headed from the outset. A memoirist without a solid architecture to their recollections is a memoirist with a length problem, and is a memoirist who needs a lot of editing. To put it simply, I appreciate that Kevin Fodor can tell his stories and tell them in well under 250 pages. That’s an evening or two of good reading, and still enough time to put gas in the car, pick up dinner, and bring the pets in before dark.

Turn it Up! Confessions of a Radio Junkie serves up exactly the kind of delicacies that both radio wonks and those who simply love a good memoir crave: epic insider stories of the rise (and fall? I add with a question mark or two) of a mammoth industry, anecdotes from a man at the center of a spinning wheel of opportunities and constant happenings, wisecracks and humor tempered with the richness of a life well lived, and a whole lot of life-affirming storytelling.

WHERE TO BUY?

You can find Turn it Up! Confessions of a Radio Junkie by Kevin Fodor wherever good books are sold, including Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. You can also find out more about it on the book’s Outskirts Press listing.

WHAT NEXT?

My endless lineup of delightful books on my TBR pile includes James Ocansey’s health book, A New Lease on Life. I should probably confess that as I write this I’m finishing off a “sharing size” bag of peanut M&Ms, so we shall see just what kind of sins I have committed (or health opportunities I “have yet to seize”) in the days to come.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

* Courtesy of the author’s Outskirts Press biography.


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ABOUT KENDRA M.: With nine years in library service, seven years of working within the self-publishing world, as well as extensive experience in creative writing, freelance online content creation, and podcast editing, Kendra seeks to amplify the voices of those who need and deserve most to be heard.

In Your Corner: The Art of the Outline (IV)

The last few weeks have been a lot of fun as we’ve covered some of the many popular outlining methods available to the author preparing to start a new project. We’ve covered a total of nine:

In a lot of ways, putting together and defining the various points on this list has felt a lot like the process of drafting my usual late-week blog post. Perhaps this is because my usual late-week blog post is the product of much planning, and planning for me often takes the form of–that’s right!–outlining. And researching. And organizing what I’ve researched into the most streamlined, most effective means of communicating possible. The product is, for me, a string of blog posts that say the most they can with as little ornamentation as possible.

I hope that at least one of the methods we’ve covered proves useful for you to try! Regardless of whether it proves useful as a great new addition to your toolbox or as part of the process of elimination in discovering what works for you. I’d love to hear about your experiences in trying one or all or any of the above methods! And next time I write, you can expect further thoughts on where to go from here–from the outlining desk to the drafting table.

Thinking of you always. ♣︎

Thinking of you always. ♣︎

Elizabeth
Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, below.
ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Self-Publishing News: 4.13.2021

news from the world of
self-publishing

This article from Amy Rosen for Toronto’s The Globe and Mail is everything we needed over the last couple of weeks: a dash of joy, and the solid affirmation that we’re not alone in looking for and publishing information on a new generation of platforms that have evolved in the post-print newspaper age. (Not that we don’t love print or newspapers! As with all new and wonderful things, these new ways and means will eventually, if they haven’t already, reach a new and happy balance with the old, and all will be welcome tools in the race to learn about this wild world of ours.) Writes Rosen, “From knitting and kneading to photography and illustrating, PDFs, e-books and other downloadable guides are surging in popularity. Selling DIY digital downloads is becoming the modern-day way to let your creative and entrepreneurial passions fly.” Rosen highlights one of the earliest DIY sources of such self-published projects: “On Etsy, makers sell digital downloads of face-mask designs, knitting patterns and printable 3-D gift boxes. No middlemen, no shipping, no waiting.” If someone hasn’t already immortalized that statement in needlepoint, one of us most definitely will––it’s our ethic, down to our very core. Rosen also covers the story of a cookbook author whose digitally downloadable new PDF ebook may “lack the cachet of the printed book,” but whose $5 download fee “translates into far more money per purchase than she’d receive with a traditional book deal.” She also points the way to numerous other kinds of creatives who have used the various ebook self-publishing methods available to them to take advantage of the pandemic-driven surge in experimentation and craftiness. This article is an injection of pure inspiration for those of us casting about for our next simple-but-productive project.

Entrepreneur.com has published many other thought-provoking pieces on self-publishing in the past, and continues that trend by hosting JJ Hebert’s recent collection of marketing tips for self-published books. (A list of five has always held an appealing degree of symmetry!) “Writing a good book is one of the simplest ways to establish yourself as an expert on a topic,” he notes early in his article; “Your book can serve as the ultimate business card, both as a way to connect with people and build your reputation.” And of course, he has both plenty of experience and a personal stake in self-publishing. “As the owner of a self-publishing company,” he writes, “I am an adamant believer in the value of self-publishing. Not only does self-publishing give you have complete control of your book, but you’ll enjoy higher royalty rates as well.” But how to find success in such a packed field as self-publishing? For Hebert, success ultimately comes down to marketing, and successful marketing comes down to branding, reviews, emails, a certain carpe diem attitude, and crafting a solid architecture of support. For more information and explanations of these barest hints, we highly recommend you read the entirety of Hebert’s article, linked above.

We’ve written about the three (primary or popular) models of publishing available to the average human before on this blog, but it has been a minute since we’ve revisited the topic, and Alinka Rutkowska does such a fabulous job in this article for Forbes that we recommend brushing up on the big three categories of publishing (traditional, hybrid, and self-published or “indie”) by checking it out. As Rutkowska notes straight off, “Traditional publishing is considered prestigious, difficult, long — and lucrative for a rare few.” While recognizing the perks of successfully navigating the traditional route, Rutkowska advises readers to be realistic about the likelihood of doing so; when it comes to searching for an agent, “only a very small percentage of the authors who pitch agents will hear back from them, so your chances are pretty slim. If you do make it, you should be prepared to relinquish some creative control as your book will now be ushered into the hands of a group of professionals.” As for the other routes, Rutkowska makes it clear that they, too, have some substantial benefits, and might just prove more accessible to the average writer. “The beautiful thing about self-publishing is that there are no gatekeepers and the market becomes the ultimate judge,” writes Rutkowska, before going on to allocate the lion’s share of the article to describing what she defines as “hybrid” (and it should be noted here that definitions vary wildly, and that some industry experts would consider what she describes to incorporate significant aspects of what others would consider plain ol’ regular self-publishing). With a devastating gift for brevity, Rutskaya’s article is a quick but interesting read.

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As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

ORIGINAL BOOK REVIEW: “The Enchanted Rope” by David D. Bernstein

The Enchanted Rope by David D. Bernstein

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION*:

Young Jack’s mother has become an angel.

He misses her singing him to sleep, misses her reading him fairy tales and misses her love of wildflowers and dragons.

Under the Alaskan sun, in a field of dreams, Jack gathers up one hundred wildflowers and starts to weave an enchanted rope so he can climb up to the world of angels his mother is in. A school of salmon, a clan of wolves, a brown bear, and one bold eagle watch him as he weaves and weaves and finally sends the magic rope far up into the air.

When he returns from his adventure, he sees one red flower is missing from the rope. Jack smiles. He knows what that means.

In this magical and touching tale for children ages 6 to 8, David Bernstein explores the loss of a loved one by a young boy and offers an imaginative and comforting view of the possibility of reconnecting with someone who may have gone from earth, but who is not, in truth, gone.

REVIEW:

This week is something of a reunion for me, in that I’ve actually read the book I’m reviewing several times before, and am only now ready to post the review. I have also reviewed a book by this author before, and you may remember his name from my review of the middle grade novel The Portal several weeks ago.

So, why the delay?

The Enchanted Rope is a story of loss, grief, and what comes after. In particular, it depicts a child who has lost his mother and who desperately seeks to stay connected with her by weaving a rope made from her favorite wildflowers. It has a happy ending, in that he meets his mother in “the great beyond” (to quote Soul), albeit in a transformed state, and they do end up maintaining the connection he was so desperate to recreate. Those who know me well already know this, but my own mother has undergone a “health journey” of her own over the last five months, one that she is lucky to have survived––and yet she is changed, fundamentally, as the result of months of cascading problems totaling to a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). The first few months I spent by her side, I thought we might have lost her. I am so, so grateful that her story didn’t end there, though, and that despite her total transformation as a person as a result I have another chance to forge my own new connection to her before facing the struggle that Jack, the boy at the heart of Bernstein’s The Enchanted Rope, must go through at the beginning of this book.

Yup, I read a children’s picture book about a child grieving the loss of his mother while I was at the bedside of my own precious mother, not knowing her fate. And as the weeks ticked by with little apparent progress, my ability to handle fictional portrayals of grief and loss over sick or lost mothers took a bit of a nose-dive. (Thus the delay. I’m so sorry about that.) I was already the kind of person to cry over a really good Christmas commercial, or anything involving injured animals, but this experience has sensitized me to a whole new range of possible emotional triggers. Including Disney (Disney+?) movies. Mothers don’t tend to last long or be very caring/capable in most of the animated classics. Even the new live-action Beauty and the Beast highlights the fact that Beauty’s mother has passed away and that she and her father grieve daily for her. My heart, my heart.

I should note at this point that The Enchanted Rope was not itself triggering for me, merely that its subject was one I wasn’t terribly well equipped to handle for a while, and yet I’m so grateful to get to review it now. In my years as a librarian, I came to realize that there are relatively few books for toddlers through elementary school that grapple with loss. There aren’t even a huge number of books on the subject of losing pets! (One good one, though, is Big Cat, Little Cat.) I continue to hope that authors and illustrators will add to the general canon more beautiful, sincere, and helpful books on grief. That David D. Bernstein goes down this road is in and of itself a rare thing for a children’s author, and that he finds a way to give voice to a child in need of connection to a lost loved one is rarer still. Sally Taylor’s illustrations are colorful and eye-catching, too.

I think I’m one of those people who will always have a soapbox on balancing the text-to-page ratio in picture books, and I can’t even blame the typography professor at my alma mater, since I cleverly (and errantly) arranged to skip that class, despite my minor in Illustration. As Bernstein’s book goes on, there is simply more story that he wants to share than in its early pages, where he communicates much with very few words. I try to remind myself in many ways, though, that any objections I have on this front come down to taste, and not necessarily even all that educated of a taste, if we’re talking about my own. (Just imagine a self-conscious laugh-cry emoji here!) I doubt many of Bernstein’s readers would even notice the shift in text-to-page, much less object. It’s just … a thing that is there. There are one or two typos to get excited about, but nothing that detracts from what I believe to be an invaluable central message:

As Bernstein might put it, one’s connection to people gone or transformed is not necessarily severed by death, and in remembering and cultivating the kinds of beautiful things that our loved ones loved, we maintain our relationships with those who leave us for what comes next. Love, imagination, and a bit of arts-and-crafts know-how can be healing to the hurting heart. More of this, please!

WHERE TO BUY?

You can find The Enchanted Rope by David D. Bernstein wherever good books are sold, including Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. You can also find out more about it on the book’s Outskirts Press listing.

WHAT NEXT?

Next week I will be posting my review for Kevin Fodor’s memoir, Turn it Up! Confessions of a Radio Junkie.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

* Courtesy of Outskirts Press book listing.

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ABOUT KENDRA M.: With nine years in library service, six years of working within the self-publishing world, as well as extensive experience in creative writing, freelance online content creation, and podcast editing, Kendra seeks to amplify the voices of those who need and deserve most to be heard.

ORIGINAL BOOK REVIEW: “Wailing Winds” by Patrick Scott

Wailing Winds by Patrick Scott

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION*:

This is a deep and soulful description of emotions, feelings, and inspirational moments in the life of one. These are memorable memories scripted in poetic form that shaped a life.

REVIEW:

I … am a terrible poet. And because I’m a terrible poet, my natural instinct is to steer well clear of it. That said, I have been extremely lucky in the poetry that has managed to squeak in through the cracks and climb my seemingly endless TBR pile, all the way to the top where they pop into my hands. Patrick Scott’s Wailing Wind is one of those few collections, and I’m glad for it.

There is a certain difficulty to reviewing poetry, however, that doesn’t crop up as often in narrative fiction and nonfiction: to read poetry is to encounter another mind, and to spend some time getting to know it. Wailing Winds is definitely a collection that abides by this general statement. Each of its poems is a testament to Scott’s lives–his life as lived in the world we all know, and his rich internal life as described and demonstrated by each poem included in its pages. I’ve been friends and family with far to many poets to fall into the trap of pretending that there is any easy way to separate “literary criticism” from a criticism of how the poet chooses to view and express their own lives, so I am going to try very hard here to describe the book without delivering any sort of rating or verdict. Poetry is personal.

There are 27 poems, beginning with “Poor Child” and concluding with the titular “Wailing Winds.” The penultimate poem, “In My Lifetime” indicates the overall arc of the book even without reading that closing poem (though I certainly encourage you to do so), from the instinctive reactions of childhood through the more informed–though still sometimes imperfect–maturity of adulthood. And those winds that wail? They are, as that final poem states, “feelings out and feelings in,” part of a constant cycle through which Scott has moved, is moving, and will continue to move.

After all, that’s part of the magic of poetry, isn’t it? Poetry holds the past, present, and future as one continuous whole, a spinning tangled mass of evergreen feelings. Scott opts not to annotate or endnote his poems, leaving the interpretation entirely up to his readers. He comments on neither individual poems or the collection as a whole; the collection skips past other potential inclusions, such as a preface or introduction, end notes, further reading, acknowledgements, or conclusion. Many artists use these sections in an attempt to guide readers to interpret poems the way that they, the authors, intended. But Scott chooses a different path. Do his poems translate to direct reflections on his life as literally lived, and make an accurate history as well as an historic artifact? Or do they arrive on the page slantwise, sliding in diagonally as reflections on possible lives both lived and un-lived, lives from which Scott is only separated by the choices he made? Are they strictly metaphorical in nature, forming a sort of spiritual or cultural commentary upon many more lives than his own? Again, here comes poetry, muddling all options together until it is all three simultaneously.

All that remains is the poetry.

Well, the poetry and a contents page, the copyright information, and cover image. This is an incredibly brave choice, and many of Patrick Scott’s poems are themselves brave choices, either records or reflections on personal decisions both good and bad, but always real in a way that echoes compellingly in a way that sticks with me, even after I’ve finished the last word.

IN SUMMARY:

In a collection of 27 unique and yet interrelated poems chronicling life and loves in all their various stages, Southern veteran, photojournalist, and poet Patrick Scott’s Wailing Winds is both compelling and interesting, and indeed well worth a perusal by those curious enough to dig through to the heart of questions like “What makes a life a life?” and “What gives life its meaning?” Our mistakes, sometimes, hints Scott, but just as often our good choices and our loves lost and gained, our faith in others.

WHERE TO BUY?

You can find Wailing Winds by Patrick Scott wherever good books are sold, including Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. You can also find out more about it on the book’s Outskirts Press listing.

WHAT NEXT?

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

* Courtesy of Outskirts Press book listing.

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ABOUT KENDRA M.: With nine years in library service, six years of working within the self-publishing world, as well as extensive experience in creative writing, freelance online content creation, and podcast editing, Kendra seeks to amplify the voices of those who need and deserve most to be heard.