Thursday, October 28, 2010

Juan Williams Reporting For Work

The news that NPR had fired Juan Williams came on the heels of the story about Virginia Thomas asking Anita Hill to apologize. Two stories that gave me deep satisfaction, the first because I don’t respect any journalist who appears on Fox News, the second because I assumed that Clarence Thomas was fuming about his sexual harassment accusations coming back into the limelight again. “Things just get better and better,” I told my husband. I’d never been impressed with Juan Williams on NPR, but I was appalled when I learned that he was also a commentator on Fox News. I’d even written a letter to NPR, saying that any reporter who appeared on Fox News had no journalistic integrity. I was speaking of Juan Williams and Mara Liassen. I didn’t know their politics. I just figured they were looking to augment their public radio paychecks by selling their journalistic souls. Actually, Eric Boehlert has a good, in-depth blog about this on

But upon hearing the JW firing news, I went onto the Huffington post and was appalled when I read Juan Williams comments about being afraid of Muslims on airplanes. Then I heard the quote on NPR’s All Things Considered. Then I read it in two different articles in the New York Times. Then I heard everyone argue about it on the Sunday morning political shows. Then I wrote NPR a letter, applauding them and calling Juan Williams a bigot. And THEN, I listened to NPR’s On The Media, heard them present Juan Williams’ comments in context with everything he said in that interview, and realized that he wasn’t being bigoted. At all. He was making the point that, even if we are afraid of, for example, muslims on airplanes, it doesn’t give us the right to attack the religion of Islam, just as we don’t attack all Christians even though Timothy McVee murdered people in the name of Christianity.

So I wrote another letter to NPR, complaining of their biased covered of the story. This morning NPR sent me two identical emails in response to my two letters, saying that they stood by their decision. Juan Williams seems to have made out great, what with his $2 million contract with Fox News. But he shouldn’t have been called a bigot, by me or anyone else. And why didn’t the news report the truth, instead of the fire flaming story of a writer on civil rights who made bigoted comments?

NPR’s fund raising campaign was this week. I’m still debating whether to renew my membership. I’ve been debating since I learned that they changed their policy during the Bush Administration and stopped calling water boarding torture. The problem I have is that they are one of the only good news sources out there, and they aren’t even that good. Ditto for the New York Times. My dad reads the London Times online. He thinks they are better, in part because their international news is much more in-depth. If I won the lottery, I’d buy a faltering newspaper and make them report the whole news, instead of catering to the controversy-hungry public that Fox News has dumbed-down with their inflammatory, simplistic, and highly partisan shtick for so many years. In the meantime, I guess I’ll putter along on my blog and wait for the times to change.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Truth About Dating, live on Kindle!

This week my novel, The Truth About Dating, went live on Kindle. I posted it after hearing an interview on American Public Media’s The Story with a writer, Karen McQuestion, who, after years of false starts with literary agents, posted her novels on Kindle. Within six hours she had a sale, and eventually, a movie deal. That’s when a publisher came calling.

The way Kindle works, you upload your book, set your price, and get a percentage of every sale. If you list your book from $2.99 to 9.99, you get a 70% royalty. This is amazingly high. Any other price gives you 35%, which isn’t bad either. I decided to set my book price at $1.00. After all, I wasn’t expecting to get rich from my book sales. I just want people to read it. A low price seemed like a good way to get people to take a chance with an indie author.

Posting the book was a lot harder than I expected. Amazon doesn’t really give you much help, but after a week or so of trial and error, I finally figured out how to convert my manuscript to html and upload it. I had a great cover, done by graphic designer Jennifer Digman.

When I finally went live, I put a bottle of champagne (actually, cava, from Barcelona) in the fridge. I was going to celebrate when I made my first sale. No one knew that my book was posted (except my husband). I started manically checking my sales sheet. It was like biting you nails or any other bad habit. I couldn’t stop, and nothing sold. After two days, I told myself, OK, no more checking for one week. But the next day, I had fallen off the wagon and was logging on to check. And lo and behold, I had a sale. I had sold a copy of my book!

I called my husband from work. He said, “I’ll have the champagne ready when you get home.” But then I started wondering if some family member or friend had stumbled across my book and bought it. Plus, it was a Wednesday night. Did I really want to drink a whole bottle of champagne on a work night? I called my husband back and said, “Let’s save it for the weekend.” Then, just before I left work that day, I checked one more time, and this time, I also clicked on the sales report for the UK. Two sales in the UK! I had sold three books, and two of them in the UK! I called my husband back. It was time to celebrate!

When I got home, he had made my favorite food, popovers. And mac and cheese. And we opened the cava and toasted those strangers who decided to take a chance on an author they’d never heard of before! The kids had juice. And of course, they wouldn’t eat the homemade mac and cheese because they prefer the instant Kraft kind that you cook in the microwave. Kids always help keep your life in perspective. I’m Julie Christensen, author, seller of three books, and mother of fussy eaters. Amen!