Blog Categories Archives
Insights from Hawthorne Publishing

A trip down Doris Day Memory Lane by Mary Anne Barothy

 

Author of Day at a Time: An Indiana Girl’s Sentimental Journey to Doris Day’s Hollywood and Beyond
This past October my dear friend and fellow Doris Day enthusiast, Joy, came for a visit from Virginia. I had told her about my “Doris Day family” in Cincinnati who had close connections to the star. I was thinking primarily of Marian, who just turned 100, and her family. Marian was a teen friend of Doris’s who was in an auto/train wreck with Doris Day on October 13,1937, in Cincinnati. Marian went through the windshield. Doris suffered compound fractures in her right leg, and doctors doubted she would ever dance again. Ironically, her leg injuries really changed her course in history. Up to this point in her life, she was determined to be a famous dancer. She believed that could not happen, so she took up singing and acting.

Joy in front of DD’s home

I had the pleasure of meeting Marian thru a friend of hers when I was the guest speaker at a luncheon at Deaconess Hospital in Cincinnati in early February 2009.  I feel our friendship was made in heaven—Marian and I had many common interests, but the biggest and most important to me was our connection with Doris Day. Marian knew Doris back in the 1930’s when Doris was striving to be that famous dancer. They were pals in their teens and often double dated back in the day.

Marian and her wonderful family took me on a very special “Doris Day Cincinnati Tour” in 2009. I got to see first-hand many DD landmarks and now I could share them with my friend Joy.

Marian’s daughter-in-law, Pam, kindly took Joy and me on a special tour of Cincinnati.  We saw the home where Doris grew up, along with the location of the dance studio where Doris took lessons. Doris had grown up Catholic; we saw the location of her high school Our Lady of Angels High School in St. Bernard. Needless to say, Joy was thrilled seeing all of these historic places where Doris lived and danced.

Another highlight was seeing the sign DORIS DAY WAY in downtown Cincinnati, a street named after their native daughter.  Dr. Robert Maltz, an avid fan since his teen years as I was, had urged the Cincinnati City Council to name Walnut Street, between Sixth and Seventh streets, after the gal who was surely the most beloved of their citizens. I was happy and honored to have a small part in getting this accomplished by joining his cause.  Needless to say, we both, but especially Joy, felt closer to Doris that day and we took many pictures to remember “the DAY.”

Now that Doris is sadly no longer with us, it is even more special to be able to visit the places where Doris lived and danced.  I remember that on my own tour in 2009, visiting Hessler’s Dance Studio in Mount Adams, the location where Doris took dance lessons as a teen, I saw some major renovations were under construction. There were many old bricks scattered around the grounds, and I asked if I could have one and was told yes!
Doris may no longer be with us on earth, but I can assure you she is in the hearts and minds of many adoring fans who still love and admire her!

A new, second edition of Day at a Time is in the works for release early next spring. It will have many new color photos of Doris from the time in which I lived with her and worked as her secretary, from my personal collection. Watch for this intimate new view of Doris at home and out in the community in Beverly Hills!

Posted in Welcome |

Formulaic Novels: Predictable, but they still can have merit!

An entire generation of romantic novels, with elements of the thriller and historical fiction, are on the market and offer interesting reading. I’ve just finished reading Song of the Jade Lily by Kristy Manning. It’s a worthwhile read. At times it’s compelling. But most of all it has been well-researched, and educates even one who has studied history for years in a little-known chapter of World War II.

The book tells the story of a young girl who is part of a Jewish family fleeing Germany in 1937, leaving behind her brother killed on Crystal Nacht by the new proto-Nazi storm troops.

We learn that thousands of Jews fled Hitler’s Germany to find refuge in Shanghai, an international city at that time, which welcomed them with relief agencies, housing, food and employment. Who knew that? I didn’t.

The story moves effectively through twists and turns involving the daughter Romy and her new friend Li, bonded by chance and love, who must soon face the Japanese invasion of China and frightful and dangerous occupation of Shanghai. Family members come alive and the Chinese-French-American culture is colorfully portrayed, elegant cocktail lounges, movies and all.

Romy and the man she finds to love eventually escape to Australia. Told alternately are segments of the adoption of their Chinese granddaughter with plot complications that are interesting and satisfactorily resolved in the end.

But I have said this was a formulaic novel? What do I mean by that?

This is a new class of novels which will have certain characteristic devices in their plots that today’s writers believe are what readers want (and they are probably right—at least until they tire of the repetition). Exotic setting in places that are little known in history or in our contemporary world, defiant and clever heroines (usually), tons of background scenery to bring the past scene to life, buildings, landscapes, street scenes complete with the exact garbage in the gutter.

But more importantly, it seems, is—lots of food, especially in restaurants. All the readers, these authors believe, love to hear about the dishes served in elegant or tucked-away cafes or at home in detail. In this book it’s Chinese cookery. Spices: ginger, nutmeg, anise, sunflower seeds, cardamom—on and on. Six types of noodles in their slurpy deliciousness. Broths, chicken, pork, two types of fish broth. And the names are quite specific, exotic, unusual.

Dress and clothing styles, described as if for Vogue magazine with French-sounding names. “She came down the stairs in a floor-length, cream satinette gown with a six-inch Parisian slit in its left side.” Same detail for the living rooms. “His eyes took in the Art Deco, quarry glass coffee table on deep mahogany, curve-legged, lion leg pedestals.”

Why all these details obviously pitched to the reader’s senses? It’s the formula, taught I think in the creative writing classes in universities who have recently begun MFA programs—Master of Fine Arts. One may learn there how to write—at least how to create platefuls of reading food served up with yummy sensual details.

In spite of this contrived feeling of the settings of these MFA-taught plots, they are redeemed by another part taught in the classes: how to significantly research the background history and scenery of the chosen time.

I did not know anything of the Jewish flight to, and acceptance by, Shanghai at the start of World War II. This author did her job; that historical story carries the entire plot and shifting scenery for the senses along. As usual, history itself is stranger than fiction, stronger than even a richly contrived, somewhat overdone story. That’s what makes this, and other new novels like it, successful.

Nancy Baxter. Senior Editor Hawthorne Publishing

 

Posted in Book Publishing |

Spotlight on an Injustice: Modern history with women in the military Cracking the Camouflage Ceiling by Chaplain (Colonel) Janet Yarlott Horton US Army (Ret)

By Nancy Baxter, Senior Editor Hawthorne Publishing

 

Colonel (ret.) Janet Yarlott Horton was one of the first women and women chaplains in the United States military. A bright and energetic young woman planning to be a teacher and in college, she was contacted by officials in her own Christian Science church to see if she wished to train for the military chaplaincy. Women at that moment in history, the mid-1970s, had just begun to go into the United States Army. Men warily or even with hostility, were expected to accept the women as comrades in arms, and they weren’t at all ready to do that.

One does not enter the chaplaincy of America’s armed forces from a certain denomination. There were Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish chaplains. (Today there are also Muslim chaplains.)

Colonel Horton tells the story of studying in a tough graduate theological course and then serving an internship—graduating as a chaplain to be sent in 1977 to an army training area near Phoenix, Arizona. She would be a chaplain to all who considered themselves Protestants and some who just wanted to experience a faith community.

Janet was the “token woman” with the bunch of “guys.” They warned her their morning run into the desert would “be too much for you,” but she told them she was a seasoned long-distance runner. Into the desert they went, Janet with a bunch of skeptical men; as she tells the story in the book. As they loped in that early morning into along an unpopulated road a distance from settled areas, a pack of hungry, growling coyotes approached. The men climbed trees or hid, leaving her alone.

She told herself she was a chaplain, a person of faith with men from the army looking on.

“Having been ‘praying without ceasing,’ I felt very prepared. . . I prayed to hear the still small voice of God’s Word for this situation. What came to me was to ‘get down and speak to the lead dog.’” All the coyotes lay down as Janet knelt to speak to that lead dog.

She spoke as to a friend. “You have a purpose, but’s it’s not to harm me. And I have a purpose and it’s not to harm you. We need to be about our Father’s business, but it’s not here.”

She stood and pointed to the desert wilderness and the lead coyote trotted in that direction, followed by the others.

The men came forward from their hiding places, astonished,  and they all spoke together about what having a woman with them meant, as they made an effort to understand what the new world of equality even in the armed forces would mean.

Scores of episodes in Colonel Horton’s distinguished career are explored in this remarkable book which has been a best-seller for Hawthorne Publishing, going around the world.

 

To come: Colonel Horton is at the Pentagon when it is attacked on 9/11.

To purchase her book Cracking the Camouflage Ceiling: Faith Persistence and Progress in the Army Chaplaincy During the Early integration of Women in the Military click back to the website.

Posted in Winds of Change |

Audio books’ popularity soars. . .how does a publisher view this niche in the market?

New statistics show that 50% of Americans over 12 years of age have listened to an audio book in the last year. That percentage has grown from 44 percent in 2018.

A young business friend of mine said recently, “I don’t know why people keep buying cumbersome hard and softcover books. The minute I get into the car, I put on the audio book. It can be a popular thriller or a book that involves my business interest, which I’m supposed to read and discuss in an upcoming office meeting, but every minute I’m improving my mind easily as I drive.”

Smartspeakers are facilitating this surge in popularity in books that often feature well-known actors delivering the narrative and acting the characters.  A person may sit under a tree, on the beach, or on the road, and follow the latest mystery or non-fiction biography.

The popularity and success of many of these books, particularly fiction, depends on the voice and narrative, the reading of the book. Actors with rich, powerful interpretive voices will bring the narrative to life with a variety of tonalities, voices, and expressions. We enjoy hearing something coming alive, giving us some of the pleasure we receive watching a movie.

.But what value do they have for small presses or regional publishers, whose sales have been invested in soft bounds, diminishing amounts of hardcovers and e-books. The answer is not much value so far.

Small press sales can be in the low thousands for any given softcover title, at best. Historical presses are pleased to sell 2,000 at the release of any given title as a new release and then feature it for many years as a standard or backlist title. They have returned their original investment of print and typesetting costs and made a modicum of profit as well as serving their publishing mission. Authors have received some sales royalties and are satisfied.

But audio books are surprisingly expensive to produce. Any one title can cost around $3,000-$5,000 or more to record and produce with a sophisticated and talented performer doing the voice and smooth technology to produce it. E-books can be produced at a professional level for about $500 and very little trouble in India. Of course e-books do not return much when sold through Amazon for either small presses or authors, often a few dollars per sale.

Small presses sell softbound titles for $20 or more.  Audiobooks are sold by subscription usually, a situation small presses cannot manage easily.

So for now, we small presses are still in the business of producing high quality softbound books with arresting themes, titles and content. That’s the way the book business has been since the 1400s, and it’s clear that hand-held books with high quality reading content will continue to sell at least in the near future.

Posted in audiobooks |