Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Promise of Failure

John McNally occupies what is, at least in my experience, a unique place among writers who share their advice about the craft: more than authoring books on how to write, he talks about how to be a writer. They’re not the same thing.

McNally has written three books on writing. The first, The Creative Writer’s Survival Guide, talks about all the things to be considered when making writing a career that don’t involve actual writing, such as making enough money to live on while your career gets its feet under it, how to choose a writing program, how to handle workshops, and publicity. Highly recommended for anyone considering writing as a career, or in the relatively early stages of it.

His second book, Vivid and Continuous, is the how-to writing book. It’s designed to be used as a textbook, though it works well for individuals. It also lays out well for anyone trying to get a better handle on things they might not have been ready for on a previous reading. This is a book I take a look at every couple of years and consider to be on a par with Stephen King’s On Writing.

We’re not here to talk about either of those today, as McNally has released another book that deserves attention from writers of any experience level. The Promise of Failure (University of Iowa Press) is McNally’s examination of what it’s like for a professional writer to have to prove himself again with every book. Sure, there are writers who don’t have to deal with rejection anymore, if only because their names have become so well recognized that people will buy their grocery lists and wonder what was meant by “romaine lettuce.” Did she change her mind about what kind of lettuce she wanted? Did someone tell her they didn’t like romaine lettuce? Did she have a bad experience with romaine lettuce that reared up from her subconscious mind after the list’s first draft? (“Then I remembered when Algernon took me to my favorite restaurant to tell me he was leaving, though he knew I was pregnant. A piece of romaine lettuce hung from the corner of his mouth, waving insolently at me as he ruined my life. Until then I loved romaine lettuce.”) No offense, but you’re not one of those writers. You wouldn’t be reading this if you were.

What McNally does in The Promise of Failure is to prepare the rest of us for the inevitable bumps in the road. How to avoid as many of them as possible. How to make those we do encounter smoother than they might otherwise be. How to find that failure exists on multiple levels and is in large part defined by your personal definition of success. How failure can in some ways be a good thing by freeing you to try something you might not have done had “success” set you on another path where the vistas weren’t as wide.

As with all of McNally’s books, The Promise of Failure is written in common sense, matter of fact language. He has a working class background and has come up through the ranks of writers by having made his share—and maybe then some—of choices he would not, in retrospect, repeat. You know, just like the rest of us. The book isn’t a lecture delivered from someone who has either won a Nobel Prize in Literature, or thinks he should have had those Scandinavian pricks understood the subtleties of the English language. McNally is your uncle—maybe a Dutch uncle—sitting next to you at a quiet neighborhood bar making an effort to tell you what to expect. Maybe you’ll get it, maybe you won’t, and maybe something he says today will resonates later when you most need it. Whichever way, his conscience is clear, and you walk away knowing he meant the best for you.

(Full disclosure: I read an advance copy provided by the University of Iowa Press. I was a student in John McNally’s workshop during the winter and spring of 2002 while he was George Washington University’s Jenny McKean Moore Visiting Writer.)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Guest Post by Sharon Buchbinder

Happy Friday, folks, and welcome to a new feature here at OBAAT. The blog runs three times every two weeks, on Monday, Friday, and Wednesday. For at least the summer, Fridays will be given over to guest posts from other writers, not necessarily from the world of crime fiction. It’s a way of broadening all of our horizons and hopefully getting some cross-pollination going.

Today’s inaugural post is from Sharon Buchbinder. Sharon is one of the first friends I made at the multi-genre Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity conference held annually in Columbia MD. Sharon worked in the health care delivery field, as well in academia before the writing bug called her back. She has since become known for her work in the contemporary, erotic, paranormal, and romantic suspense genres.

Sharon is one of those writers that makes others want to hang around us. (By “us” I mean writers, not necessarily me.) Her generosity toward other writers and readers can be seen by her regular sponsorship of the C3 conference, which this year includes a scholarship for one aspiring, unpublished author, providing an opportunity to leant what he or she is getting into first hand from a variety of writers and publishers. Getting a chance to catch up with Sharon is something I always look forwards to and I’m delighted to have her as OBAAT’s first guest poster in what I hope becomes a long-running series.

Ready, Set, Listen Up!

With spring coming in fits and starts, you know it's really going to be here...soon...right? I get REALLY bored when I walk my dogs, so I always have my earbuds in and a book playing when I'm hoofing it. The time flies and so do my feet! So why not be prepared with some good audiobooks to power up your work outs? I have two award winning books that are now available in audiobooks, both narrated by the awesome Jeffery Hutchins.

The Haunting of Hotel LaBelle, Hotel LaBelle Series, Book 1
When hotel inspector, Tallulah Thompson, is called in along with her pug, Franny, to investigate renovation delays, she meets an extremely annoyed and dapper turn-of-the-century innkeeper. The only problem is he’s in limbo, neither dead nor alive, and Tallulah and the pug are the first to see him in a hundred years.
Cursed by a medicine woman, “Love ‘em and Leave ‘em Lucius” Stewart is stuck between worlds until he finds his true love and gives her his heart. When he first sees Tallulah, he doesn’t know what he’s feeling. Yet, her stunning beauty, and feisty attitude pull him in.
With the fate of Hotel LaBelle on the line, Tallulah with the help of a powerful medicine woman turns Lucius back into a flesh and blood man. She and Lucius team up to save the hotel, but Tallulah can't help but wonder if he will ever let go of his past love and learn to love again. Available at Amazon and iTunes

Legacy of Evil, Hotel LaBelle Series, Book 2 
When a wild mustang is shot in Montana, renowned horse whisperer and telepath, Emma Horserider, is called in to calm the herd and find out what happened. Once on scene, she is almost killed by a bullet-spewing drone and calls her black-ops brother for backup.
Emma's help roars into her life covered in tattoos and riding a Harley. Remote viewer Bronco Winchester takes the assignment because he is ordered to, but he wonders what type of assistance his boss's sister needs. That is, until he sees Emma, a valiant warrior woman proud of her Crow heritage.
Posing as a married couple, Emma and Bronco go undercover to infiltrate and stop a hate group. Both are anxious enough without the growing attachment they feel for each other. When the lives of many are on the line, they are not sure if they will live or die - let alone, have a chance at love. Available at Amazon and iTunes
What's your LEAST FAVORITE work out activity? I confess, it's working on my abs. Does anyone have a cure for flabby abs? PLEASE SHARE! LOL!

Monday, May 21, 2018

No One Cares

People can do a lot worse than to read Joe Clifford. Not just the books; the blog. Maybe especially the blog. (Not that the books aren’t good. Nomination for the Bill Crider Award, anyone?) True, Joe can be a depressing SOB once in a while, but never without purpose. His blog is always thought-provoking, and one can only hope he’ll get more consistent about posting them.
Joe’s been re-examining things lately, and on March 15 he reminded me of something I’d forgotten in a post titled “Dennis Lehane’s Note.” Regular readers know how I feel about Lehane and his work, so I perked up right away. What Joe mentioned wasn’t news to be, but it was a worthy reminder:

One of my favorite bits of advice re: writing comes from Dennis Lehane, who carries a little reminder in his wallet: No one cares. Yeah, that can be depressing to some. To me (and Dennis) it’s freedom: No one cares. You can do whatever the fuck you want.

I typed up no one cares and taped it to my monitor next to the desk placard The Sole Heir bought me that reads, “If you were in my novel you’d be dead by now.” Joe’s right. It’s not depressing. It’s liberating.

It occurred to me several years ago why more people don’t buy my books: they don’t need them. Not just my books. Anyone’s. My personal library has hundreds of books. It’s smaller than many writers I know, but still substantial compared to the general public. I looked at those shelves one day and realized that, as a man in my early 60s, I never need to buy another book. I have enough books I’d love to re-read that I could live happily going through my library from one end to the other and starting over. I buy new books because I want to, not because I need them.

Sure, there is a handful of people that I’ll read whatever they publish. And a couple I wish would break their self-imposed hiatuses and write something new because they were in that handful but haven’t put out anything lately. (I’m looking at you, John McFetridge and Declan Burke.) I’m not actively seeking new authors, though I occasionally stumble onto someone in social media and check them out.

I’m a writer, and if that’s how I feel about books, imagine how the average reader feels. Lehane’s right: No one cares.

I’m okay with that. It means I can take a few months off to get my head back together after what The Beloved Spouse calls The Chaos™ disrupted large chunks of my personal and family life. It means if I want to re-boot the Penns River series and switch out a bunch of characters, I can. If I decide to write the next novel more as a loosely-connected series of vignettes with the same cast and location instead of a through-written novel, I can. You know why? Because no one cares.

Except me. I’m the guy who has to live with the book every day for twelve to eighteen months. It needs to be what I want it to be.

Down & Out Books has been great. Very supportive and patient, but they don’t really care. It’s not like they came to me when I suggested what I might do for the next book and said, “Whoa, take a deep breath. That’s a money-making franchise you’re fucking with here.” Maybe a new approach will get me over the hump. Maybe it won’t. No one knows. So what the hell. Roll with it.

This is something writers don’t want to hear, that no one cares, no one needs our books. Sorry. I like writing and I’d almost certainly write something even if Down & Out cut me loose. (Note to Eric and Lance: Not that I’m interested in finding out. Just saying.) The Beloved Spouse loves me. The Sole Heir loves me. My mother loves me. My ex-wife’s dog loves me. None of them care a bit about my writing except for how it affects me; they care about me. If writing makes me happy, they’ll want me to do it. If it doesn’t make me happy anymore, they’ll be good if I stop. It’s liberating and exhilarating to know the only person I have to please when I sit at the keyboard or with a pad of paper in my hand is me. You know why I get to feel like that?

no one (else) cares.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Cultural Appropriation

Having a social conscience is tricky business. Not only are there things to be for and things to be against, there are also degrees for which you must be for or against them lest one be declared insufficiently pure. The methods must measure up, as well.

One may now be part of the problem of discrimination and/or subjugation by writing empathetically of a different gender/race/religious group. “A cis white Christian-baptized man can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be a woman/African-American/gay/trans/Muslim and how dare he write as one” is a not uncommon comment, though I have amalgamated it somewhat for the sake of argument. (“Comment” is also way too tame a word for the reaction.)

To which I say, “Let’s all take a deep breath and look at the context of each individual case.”

First off, anyone who thinks I’m about to defend racist, homophobic, religious zealotry might as well stop reading now. Those of you who know me know that’s not where I’m going and those of you who don’t know me well enough to know better can kiss my ass. Racist, homophobic, etc. screeds aren’t cultural appropriation; they’re racism. Or homophobia. Or et cetera. Those who write such material can all fall dead in the middle of whatever they’re doing at 3:00 PM EDT tomorrow afternoon and my response will be along the lines of, “That’s nice. What time is hockey?” My position is that a little distance can come in handy when seeking to provoke empathetic thoughts in people not inclined to have them, or who just haven’t thought about the subject much because it didn’t affect them directly.

Danny Gardner wrote a strong and thought-provoking piece for Do Some Damage a while back that touched on how easy it is to claim deeper knowledge of a problem than one has because one claims the appropriate cultural touchstones:

Deep familiarity of black Americans at large, acquired through binge-watching five seasons of a television show about people from Baltimore. If they stayed with David Simon for HBO's Treme, they're a scholar. If they can go all the way back to Homicide: Life on the Street, whooo lawdy, you have a hell of a cocktail party debate on your hands. Multiple-degreed historians and anthropologists struggle with getting our shared existence in this country right, but you know what's up because you had an HBO subscription and plenty of time one weekend. I listen to NPR in the car, right up until I hear mention of "The Wire," which is just about weekly, and always in relation to someone's professed understanding of black Americans. It's what we do with new insights. We peddle them everywhere and lend them to everyone we can get to listen. It's just human.

Danny’s primary point is well taken. Watching The Wire however many times—I’m up to at least five now—does not give me an understanding of what it’s like to grow up and live black in Baltimore. What it has done is make me curious. Hell, much of what The Wire got me to thinking about are things I hadn’t been aware of at all, semi-rural white boy that I am. What The Wire did for me was get me to wondering, and David Simon has a knack for getting to things I hadn’t thought of in ways that didn’t turn me off, so I read The Corner.

It’s not uncommon online for people, especially writers, to talk about “books that changed my life.” It’s the plural use of “book” that disturbs me. Anyone who has a long list of books (movies, TV shows) that “changed” their life doesn’t have much of an internal rudder. Having said that, The Corner changed my life. Not that I now suddenly understood what it is to be black in Baltimore, but I now have a better picture of the depths of my ignorance, and a realization that this ignorance can never fully be overcome. The best I can do is to imagine myself in the place of someone whose position I can’t fully internalize and wonder how I’d feel. It also taught me to look for historical perspective. Baltimore’s tragedy isn’t that so many kids grow up to be drug dealers, it’s that so many of them want to grow up to be drug dealers because they don’t see any better options.

Middle-class white America was shocked—shocked!—at the brutality of black gangs and the advent of drive-by shootings in the 80s like white gangs hadn’t done the same things as far back as the 20s. What do black drug gangs and Italian/Jewish/Irish bootleggers have in common, other than violent criminal enterprises? They grew up in areas where they were discriminated against and their options severely limited, and not by their own actions. It’s not predestination; not everyone from those neighborhoods grew up to be criminals. Not all middle-class suburban kids grow up to be gainfully employed taxpayers, either. What’s their excuse?

What David Simon brought to both The Wire and The Corner was empathy, a desire to be fair and get as much right as he could, and, maybe just as important, a little distance. He grew up in suburban Silver Spring MD and went to the University of Maryland in College Park, not Baltimore. Working for the Baltimore Sun taught him to recognize what he didn’t know and what he might be able to do about it. While he understood he couldn’t get the truly black perspective, his greatest gift—in addition to being a master storyteller—was to know how to tell the story so people who also didn’t get it might at least wonder about it.

The genius of The Wire and The Corner isn’t that they tell you what to think, it’s that they give you new things to think about. Simon had enough cultural and emotional distance that he could tell the stories in a documentary style and still evoke strong emotions in people whose personal experience was such these stories could be set in Thailand for all the more the audience’s lives intersected with the characters. That distance kept him from having too much invested in the telling, or hammering too vigorously on the point he wanted to make. You picked up on it or you didn’t.

Doubt me? Season Five of The Wire, while still better than damn near everything else on television, is universally regarded as the weakest. What’s wrong with it? The newspaper industry is something Simon loves and still cares deeply about. Many of the strengths of seasons 1 – 4 are lost as Simon hammers home his thoughts on the decline of the industry. Newspaper employees explain things to each other they all obviously already know so the audience will know, too. The upper echelons of the fictional Sun’s staff are two-dimensional, if that. Simon now was too close himself, and the product suffered because of it.

This isn’t to say white men can write whatever the hell they want and get defensive when criticized. Don’t claim knowledge and understanding you don’t have. David Simon had a unique set of experience, background, and talent that allowed him to pull this off, not to mention having paid his dues. Tread lightly and be careful to think of how you’d feel if someone presuming to understand you got things fundamentally wrong, even if no malice was intended.

This is also not to be interpreted as saying we don’t need more black/gay/trans/Muslim/etc. writers to lend their voices, nor that publishers don’t need to do a better job of seeking out those best suited to tell the stories people other than their traditional audiences want to hear. (See “No, We Haven’t Reached All Readers” about halfway down the page at Toe Six Press’s current issue.) That’s a whole nuther discussion.

Friday, May 11, 2018


Reviews have come to be thought of as almost synonymous with “marketing,” which is a shame. True, a good review from a trusted source can be helpful in generating interest, but the current algorithm tends to equate volume of reviews with merit. That’s not only a mistake, it’s potentially dangerous.

First we’ll talk about reviews from trusted sources. Dead End Follies recently reviewed Bad Samaritan and had quite a bit to say, both good and not so good. What I like best about it is that Benoit Lelievre takes a stand on what the book is about. He doesn’t just rehash the plot and conclude with “I liked it,” or “I didn’t like it,” or “It was okay.” He invited readers to draw their own conclusions and go a few rounds with him. (“I'm simplifying here, but if you read the novel in its entirety, I'd be glad to debate its representation of women via email.”)

In short, the review is fair and thought-provoking, at least for me. The overall assessment is encouragingly neutral. (“Not bad. File this one as ‘interestingly flawed’, but it could've definitely been a lot worse.”) It’s in the particulars where the review is most worthy.

On one hand, Lelievre appreciates the depictions of the kinds of violence women have to routinely deal with. On the other, he’s less than satisfied that the confrontations are mainly between protagonist Nick Forte and the men’s rights advocates and other cowards who ate the book’s antagonists. That’s a fair criticism. Forte has shown issues with the treatment of women in other books, and I wrote this to show how his preferred resolutions have become more violent as his personality grows darker. The problems are two-fold:

1. It’s extremely difficult, maybe impossible, to reasonably portray this issue from the perspective of a man who feels compelled to interject himself as the solution every time he perceives an injustice toward a woman.

2. It’s too much. All of the subplots involve the same issue, and Forte’s attempted resolutions are too similar. It gives him too much credit to call what he does “resolutions.” His heart’s in the right place, but he’s an oaf, doing things for his own reasons that may or may not result in the resolution the woman prefers, whether she appreciates his “help” or not.

This is a review that clearly passes the $25 test. (The key element of any review is to help a potential reader decide if the book is worth $25? Or $15, or $30. Whatever it costs.) It also gives readers—and the author—things to think about based on what’s in the book. I follow Dead End Follies regularly. Its purpose is to try to raise the level on internet criticism. To me, he’s going about it the right way.

Now let’s contrast that with passes for internet criticism more all the time: online reviews. This is a difficult subject because I’m close to touching the third rail for authors: arguing with a reviewer. I’m trying to make a point, though, so bear with me.

Benoit Lelievre did me a solid by posting an Amazon review distilled from what he wrote in Dead End Follies. He gave the book three stars and said: File this one as "interestingly flawed.” BAD SAMARITAN is a fundamentally sound detective story that's somewhat bogged down by an overbearing theme. Its heart is at the right place and it wants to expose violence against women, but it's more about male's perception of the problem than about the problem itself.

It's appropriately funny and goofy at times, it's a classic case of a book trying to do too much.

 Again, a fair assessment with which I have no issue.

There’s another three-star review directly beneath it.

Story felt too rushed and didn’t flow well.

I voluntarily read an advanced copy.

Let me start by saying I take no issue with the criticism. This reviewer isn’t the first to say I get in and out too quickly. (Fortunately my wife is not among them.) It’s just that that’s all there is.

First, I am not aware of anyone who forces people to read advance copies, so saying one “voluntary read” the book is, at best, a pleonasm. Given the disclaimer is 42% of the total review, it can safely be said not a lot of thought went into the rest of it. This strikes me more like someone who’s trolling for free books. I checked—because investigations are what I write about—and found no fewer than eleven reviews posted in the previous week.

Really? What level of thought can have gone in to any of them? Why even bother to write them up, unless there’s some frequent reviewers award you’re gunning for?

I don’t mean to hold civilian reviewers to the same standard I hold the pros. I also don’t mean to compare this review to those one-star pieces of shit some give because they didn’t like the cover or thought the book was too expensive or found a typo. Still. Online reviews are supposed to provide a service and not just provide yet another forum for onanistic proclamations. Maybe Amazon needs some review standards beyond checking for foul language and looking to see if the author is a friend of the reviewer. Maybe there should be a standard before any review is acceptable.

What should it be? Twenty-five words? Fifty? Fuck if I know. I’m the author. My job is to get people to think, not tell them what to think. This small sample shows a failure in both regards. The review I care about showed me I was too busy trying to tell people what to think. The second implied I didn’t get that reader to think at all.

Monday, May 7, 2018

A(nother) Conversation With Jenny Milchman

Jenny Milchman made her first appearance here on OBAAT in March. It’s rare that I interview the same author so close together, but Jenny was promoting The Night of the Flood that time, which was edited by Ed Aymar and Sarah Chen, and—no offense to Sarah, who is a lovely person—I thought Jenny was entitled to an interview of her own without the Shadow of Aymar hanging over her.

Jenny is the author of four books, of which Wicked River is the most recent, having launched May 1. Her debut, Cover of Snow, won the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Jenny is also Vice President of Author Programming for International Thriller Writers, and the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. She teaches writing and publishing for the New York Writers Workshop.

She took time from her Wicked River tour to chat with OBAAT.

One Bite at a Time: Let’s hit the ground running. Tell us about your new book, Wicked River.
Jenny Milchman: Wicked River arises from an incident in real life. No, my husband and I
weren’t stalked through the wilderness by an extremely smart and manipulative madman, but we did set out on a back-country honeymoon deep in the Adirondacks. The only difference between us and my heroine, Natalie, and her husband, Doug, was that my hubby and I had to turn back after just one day. (We wound up going to Paris on a borrowed credit card, and paid it off for-ev-ah). Natalie and Doug didn’t get so lucky, however. For them to make it out of the woods will require the fight of their lives. The question that stalked me as ardently as the madman in the novel was: what if my hubby and I hadn’t turned back when we did? I had to sit down and write a book about it.

OBAAT: Ahhh, the classic “What If?” premise. Think of how many thrillers would never have been written if authors didn’t think like that. Do you find yourself killing time coming up with “What If?” scenarios for the most innocuous things? “The counterperson at Wendy’s seems distracted. Maybe I’ve stumbled onto a hostage situation.” That sort of thing.
JM: You just described my life. I think that if I weren’t such a scared person, seriously living with a degree of fear that would probably strike most people as panic-inducing on an everyday basis, then I never would’ve come to crime fiction. The counterperson at Wendy’s, the guy who stands too close on a subway, the car that swerves on the road, the overly nice babysitter…I could go on and on. That said, it wasn’t a what if that made me first take the plunge and start writing suspense fiction, but a what was.
Here’s how it happened. I was working as an intern at a rural community mental health center when I got assigned this very frightening case. A mother brought her cherubic, blonde, five year old daughter in to see me. This little girl had just killed the family pet.

It was my job to find out why. And with that, life became a suspense novel, a mystery, a thriller all wrapped into one. I sat down and wrote the first work of crime fiction I’d ever tried my hand at. Seven manuscripts later, I would be published. And now my fourth novel, Wicked River, a true “what if” is about to come out May 1st.

OBAAT: You and I talked before about how your books are essentially a series of standalones that inhabit the same universe built around the fictional town of Wedeskyull. Was this something you thought would be cool from the get-go, or did it kind of evolve as you went along?
JM: Very little of my writing is something I thought would be cool—or thought about at all, to be strictly truthful. It’s not really intentional, in other words. And some of my all-time favorite crime writers would scoff at me for this (politely, of course). They feel writing to be a business, a pursuit, a job like any other, and of course it is.

Just not always.

For me, the creative part feels very much sent from elsewhere. Flowing through me—like a river—wild and out of my control.

The town of Wedeskyull, where all four of my novels are either set or have some close tie to—Wicked River takes place almost entirely in the wilderness, but Wedeskyull’s police chief must venture into the woods at one point in the story—exemplifies this. It feels less like any creation of my own, and more like a place I’ve been shown. A secret parallel universe to which I’ve been granted entry.

OBAAT: You take legendary promotional tours. What’s the agenda for Wicked River?
JM: Those legendary tours—dubbed “the world’s longest book tour” by Shelf Awareness—
were unique in a couple of ways. First, the whole family came with. My husband worked from the front seat, kids were “car-schooled” in the rear. We drove a total of 75,000 miles over 15 months for my first three releases. Second, although we had the help of a fantastic independent publicity firm, my husband and I set up each of those tours on our own.

Then a few things changed. The kids got older, and got lives of their own, go figure. (Actually, it’s a freaking miracle, is what it is). And I got something too: a new, dream publisher. One that sets up pretty magnificent tours.
For the “Get Wicked” tour I will be in the air and on the road for a total of five weeks. Something like 25 cities and as many events. You can see the whole itinerary here:

And then, the month after I return, my publisher is doing something equally cool. They are sending four authors out together, coast-to-coast, on the Up All Night Thriller Tour. We’ll appear at events as a quartet. I can just imagine what all four of us will do. Sing? Dance? Debrief every night over drinks, or, in my case, cake? Take a quick, energizing hike before we appear at the legendary Tattered Cover, only to get lost in the Rockies, and have to rely on each other to survive…oh wait, I’m writing another thriller.

OBAAT: You’re the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. How did that come about?
JM: Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day began back in 2010 when I had two preschool children whom I was taking to story hour at our local bookstore almost every week.
Inspired by Days such as Take Your Daughter to Work, I floated the idea for a special holiday linking kids and bookstores. Bloggers and listserv members took to the web and before I knew it, 80 bookstores were celebrating. By the following year, Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day had grown to nearly 300 bookstores. And today TYCBD is celebrated by over 800 bookstores, including one national chain, on five continents.
During one of the recent years, I turned my attention to the fact that not all children have access to bookstores. In fact, with one in five kids in the United States "food insecure," owning a book can be an unheard of luxury.

Through the help of generous volunteers and donors, we now have TYCBD field trips for kids in an at-risk region of New York State. One day, I hope such programs can be instituted in towns and cities nationwide.