Book Trailer For Madam President

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Heaven and Hell of Working at Home

You only have to go to Starbucks to understand the duality of working at home. It is packed during the day with people who work at home. They are there for hours staring at their computers and they certainly were once in cubes or offices or sitting at conference tables. Globalization and a 1099 workforce has put a lot of people back into their kitchens. We were a nation of people who charged out of the home and hit the office. Now with computers we are becoming a nation of people who roll out of bed make our coffee and hit the kitchen table or the home office or some chair, couch, that works as a place to handle emails, write reports, compose novels.

The heaven of working at home is no commute, no interference, you just get down to work. The hell is there is no commute, no interference you just get down to work. Where is that coffee clutch moment where you gab with Bob Jim Nancy Ann about your weekend about how hard it is to get going on Monday morning. Where is that meeting where you are putting your head together with other people. Where is that lunch that coffee break, that feeling of camaraderie and finally that moment of leaving and driving back home in compartmentalized bliss. It is not there for many people anymore. There is Starbucks.

You have traded all that for your cat your dog those calls that never seem to come. There is no ringing phone, no buzz of people, not even the soft whisper of the keyboard. No. You are a company of one. No wonder people run screaming out their door for a coffeehouse, the grocery store, anything to get a little interaction. Add winter to the mix and you have people who will do anything to return to the workforce. It is not for the fainthearted.

Just ask anyone who has retired.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Missile Launch During the Book Signing

She wanted a book signed but she had to go to the bathroom first. It was last Saturday and the day had been pretty busy in Barnes and Noble. I had just about sold out of  Al Capone and the 1933 Worlds Fair  and I told the woman I would hold one back for her. She left and I thought nothing more of that moment. It was midday. Just another Saturday. It must have been ten minutes later the woman came back. She did not resemble the woman who had left ten minutes before. She was pale, out of breath, trembling, She grabbed my arm. "They just launched a missile toward Hawaii," she gasped. "My brother is there and just told me everyone is running for their lives."
 I had kept up with Trumps dueling words with the leader of North Korea and like many I thought either man might bring on a nuclear launch. But somehow the reality of it was all brought home with this woman who clearly saw death on the horizon for all who resided on Hawaii. Growing up during the Cold War I had often thought my family might be obliterated at any moment. Everyone did. The Russians and the United States just looked ready to pull the trigger any moment to a ten year old. Now I felt that old fear rise up. Maybe nuclear war had started.

The woman shook her head. "I have to go home. I'm sorry I cant buy your book...I have to go," she said panicked glancing around as if we were about to be nuked. "Hold on," I said scooping up my phone and googling missiles and Hawaii. My phone flashed up False Alarm in Hawaii on Missile Launch. " It was a false alarm I told her showing my phone. The woman stared disbelieving. "Oh...well I have to go home and call my brother. " I nodded and she left. I get it. She had just seen Armageddon and some author with his phone was not enough.

I turned back to selling books and sold her copy ten minutes later to another woman.

Al Capone and the 1933 Worlds Fair

Monday, January 8, 2018

Madam President Oprah

Why not? You couldn't watch that speech last night at the Golden Globes and not think she was going to run. What else is left for her anyway? She is African American and a woman. Perfect Storm. The perfect antidote to the Trump years. The backlash in 2020 would be tailor made for her. Trump has certainly shown that anyone can be President and that experience is not necessary. Who could take the presidency away from a television star better than another television star.

Donald Trump understood television in a way his rivals did not. It doesn't matter what you say or how you say it it is what is left on the table. Trump left a huge impression every time he was on television while the other candidates just melted away. Repetition. Drama. Shock. These are the elements of television. Oprah knows this. She has made millions mining the air waves and constantly hitting people with Oprah. Much like Trump hitting people with Trump except this time he will not be going against restrained politicians who do not really understand the entertainment business. He will be in the ring with a professional this time.

So why not Madam Oprah? I think she will run and the Democrats better get ready this time. Oprah declared herself a candidate last night and she knew exactly what she was doing. The Golden Globes ceased to exist at that moment as the Oprah Winfrey show spun up a new season. This one could go for eight years.

Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Teddy Roosevelts Prescription for all Ails Still Holds

Teddy Roosevelt was not well as a child or a young adult. He had acute asthma, Crones disease, insomnia. He was weak, thin, prone to depression and doctors didn't believe he would make it to adulthood. But his father famously told him, "Teddy you have the mind but not the body."  Enter Dr. Salter. Salter had a radical belief for the late eighteenth century and it said that the internal organs did not do well with the sedentary life. "Organs were made to work." Salter proclaimed and that meant action or the "vigorous life" as Roosevelt would later dub the life of action.  Teddy's father then added, "Without the body the mind cannot go far."

Roosevelt had his charge.  He began to box. He began gymnastics and weightlifting. This was at a time when few people exercised. Many believed exercise led to illness and certainly the Victorian upper classes of New York did not believe in getting sweaty. A constitutional consisted of walking to ones office or strolling into the parlor for some brandy and cigars. Cigars were what Teddy's parents had been giving him to ward off attacks of asthma that nearly suffocated the boy. That along with black coffee, opium, marijuana, Castor oil. Anything to stop the spasms of acute asthma. Nothing worked and so Teddy Roosevelt began the regimen his father and Salter prescribed and he began to slowly remake himself. Then he went West to the Badlands and for three years lived the wild life of a cowboy that completed Roosevelt's evolution into a man of action.

It is interesting that with all the hype over working out today we still see articles in the New York Times about the benefits of exercise. The latest said that strenuous exercise will slow down aging, ward off Alzheimer's. make us look and feel younger. It as if we are still trying to convince ourselves over a hundred years later that what Teddy Roosevelt found in the 1870s as a remedy to his ailments still holds. Without the body the mind cannot go far. True then and now.

Forging a President How the Wild West Created Teddy Roosevelt

Friday, December 22, 2017

Madam President is caught up in the Culture Wars

It began with my old publisher sending me a link. My book Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson was featured in an Op Ed in the New York Times by Sarah Vowell along with three other books. Then it vanished. Poof. Gone. The article was still there but my book Madam President had vanished. There had been a hasty rewrite and another book added and Madam President was nowhere to be seen. I managed to cobble together the old article from pieces on the web just to make sure I wasn't going crazy. Now my book is about the First Woman President Edith Wilson who ruled when her husband Woodrow Wilson had a massive stroke in 1919. It is an empowering look at what a woman was able to do under very difficult circumstances. Apparently being recommended in the New York Times was too much for somebody. I wonder who?

Lets see the First Woman President brings up all sorts of possiblities. What kind of pushback came along that after 12 hours that this article was suddenly changed? Now my old publisher Regnery cut their ties with the New York Times over differences about how the NY Times Bestseller List is compiled. This happened last year. Did someone suddenly discover my title was from Regnery and out of spite tossed out my book? Regnery is a conservative publisher but I am not and neither is my book. In fact Regnery went against the grain by publishing Madam President right before the election last year. It is a book that looks favorably upon our First Woman President.

If this is the case then someone shot themselves in the foot. The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson could only help in these very misogynistic times  by showing a woman can run the country.  Maybe Sarah Vowell decided a last minute rewrite was in order and my book ended up on the chopping block. Still, after 12 hours of the article being published that seems odd. No I have to go with someone pushed back and decided that the NY Times recommending a book about our First Woman President was not a good thing.

Again. I wonder who?

Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson

Thursday, December 21, 2017

What I learned After 31 Barnes and Noble Signings

The first thing I learned is people just want to hear a good story. In fact they are dying to hear a good story that will take them out of their everyday life for even a minute. I cant tell you the amount of times people came in looking for another book and walked out with mine. Especially when they are looking for a book to give someone. Many times people would buy all three of my titles after I spoke to them about my newest book. It is as if once they had stopped and started to listen then all sorts of possibilities opened up.

The second thing I learned after 31 signings in two months is that people don't care about price. Al Capone and the 1933 Worlds Fair lists out the door at 36 dollars and my other two nonfiction titles Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson and Forging A President How the Wild West Created Teddy Roosevelt lists out the door at about 32 dollars  On an average I would sell every signing 20-50 hardcovers. I can count on one hand the number of times people did not buy because of price. If the story is good and people want the book then people are willing to pay.

Women seem to buy more than men. They just do. Men are more reluctant to stop. Lets call it the hunter gather syndrome. Women are just more open to something new while many times men wont even stop to consider. Women think of others and are always considering what might make a great gift although many women buy for themselves. Madam President The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson was a surprise buy for many women who were caught up in the story of our First Woman President. Saying that, men did buy and  Forging A President How the Wild West Created Teddy Roosevelt was a favorite. I learned never to assume. Many times I was surprised at who was a reader of history and who was not.

People want something for free. Even if it is something small. It is an icebreaker if nothing else. I give them a small business card with the name of my book on it and that initiates a conversation.  It is nothing really but a reason to stop and if they don't buy they take it with them and there is a chance they may buy later. I have had many people circle back later and buy a book. Also I learned people you don't think will buy will surprise you every time. So I give everyone a card and I cant tell you the amount of times I was floored when someone I assumed would never buy my book would do it.

Authors are their own best salesmen. A signed copy of a book by the author is coveted. People like having their book inscribed to them or to someone they will give it to. Many times people told me they had never met an author before. I am literally surrounded by bestsellers when I am selling books and yet they just lay there and people breeze right past them. I know my book. I can talk to anybody about Al Capone, The Worlds Fair, Sally Rand, Edith Wilson or Teddy Roosevelt. The biggest advantage Barnes and Nobles has over Amazon is that it is full of human beings who interact with other human beings. People like talking to an author who is dressed up in a tie and a vest and who has a story to tell and will also listen to a story.  I can't tell you the amount of stories I have heard about Al Capone from people who bought my book.

Finally people seem to buy during the day more than the evening. If I arrived around eleven AM then there seemed to be a sweet spot right up to about 4PM. Usually I stayed in the store four hours. By then I usually ran out of books or out of gas. Evenings were hit and miss and yet I have been in a Barnes and Noble when it was absolutely dead and sold all my books. More books are better than a few. It is better to stack up fifty or a hundred books than twenty. At one Barnes and Noble outside of Chicago there were 65 books stacked on a single table and they all sold. More books implies a successful author who has come to the store to sign his or her latest.

 In the end I chewed through thirty packs of gum. Ruined three ties with coffee. I was probably asked where the bathrooms were fifty times where the calendars were twenty times and where the Starbucks was at least ten. I gave out four thousand cards and bumped into that many people. I sold over 600 hardcovers in the last two months of my three nonfiction titles It was hard work and I have a real appreciation for the Barnes and Noble employees and the managers who do this for eight hours straight. But it was also fun.

What I learned finally is that  it isn't price that sells books and it isn't having an online store at your fingertips. You just need to tell a good story. Believe me... people will listen.

William Hazelgrove

Monday, December 11, 2017

How was Capone Really Brought Down?

It wasn't Elliott Ness. When I am signing books of Al Capone and the 1933 Worlds Fair I ask this simple question of people. Who brought Capone down? Elliott Ness and the Untouchables is the fast answer. Most people have either seen the movie or even the old television show or heard it through the lore of Capone that makes people profess being related to the big man, having seen the gangster, having been past his home, his grave, worked on his car, his stills, gone to his home in Wisconsin, eaten in his restaurant hideout along the Fox River. But the truth of what really happened to Capone has not seen the light of day.

Elliott Ness in 1957 was a drunk who met a Sports writer Oscar Fraley. Fraley like a lot of writers myself included was on the lookout for a new story. So he asked Ness if he had any good stories from the Prohibition years about Al Capone. Ness produced a dogeared manuscript of about twenty pages and gave it to Fraley. It wasn't much and Oscar went to work by the time he was done the tale of the Untouchables was complete. Then Ness died and Fraley published his books and sold about a million copies. Then he sold it to television and Robert Stack was set for life and then it was sold to the movies and Kevin Kostner became famous.

But the real story is much more fascinating. Six Chicago millionaires banded together to get rid of Al Capone. They had a Worlds Fair coming and it was going to be a disaster unless they got rid of the gang violence plaguing the city. They hired their own investigators and their own police force. They began a witness protection program, set up a speakeasy, and sent their own gangsters into Capones organization. Then they started to study his operation and began to attack his profitability. In the end they famously got him on tax evasion.

So that is the real story. Fraleys story was good but the real story of the Secret Six is even better.


Books by William Hazelgrove