Kim Weiss Publishing Services

Where do I start? At Peace Village, of course. (part 1)

September 30, 2008 at 6:50 am

It’s the eve of a new year, according to the Jewish faith. A time to clean the slate and make a fresh start. We’re lucky. We get to do this once a year. So if we screw up, we’re encouraged to get it right the next time. Kind of like an annual do-over.

I can’t think of a better way to face my new year than attending the Images and Voices of Hope Annual World Summit * this past weekend which ironically was located in a former geographic haven for Jewish family vacations. Maybe in addition to the amazing people at the summit were the souls of some of the great tzadiks. Who knows.

All I can say is that it felt like we were being stroked and coddled in the lap of the Catskill Mountains while our minds danced in some of the most stimulating conversation I’ve experienced.

Peace Village is the name of the place where the summit was held. It’s full of peace as it’s a full time retreat center run by what some refer to as “angels on earth.” The hosting organization is The Brahma Kumaris affectionately known as the “BK’s.” I’ll let you read about them with my links but whenever I have to describe who they are, I call them peace missionaries. And, the distinction that I love to share about this spiritual group, which spans around world in over 80 countries, is that it is run by women, has been for decades.

I think that’s divinely unique. Uniquely divine.

So, ok, Kim, get to the summit.

The theme: Engaging Our Audience: Effecting Change in Ourselves and the World. The participants: around 100 of  the most brilliant and creative journalists, artists, musicians, documentary filmmakers, photographers from around the globe, and yours truly.

We gathered to do what the IV of Hope folks like to do best. Examine the vast realm of communication and how we might positively affect it. This doesn’t mean just telling nicey nice stories and closing our eyes to the sadness and horrors of the world. It means how can we do it better.

When someone said “we’re among giants,” he wasn’t kidding. Around me were people well known in the media and many who deserve to be.

On Friday, we sat in rotating groups in the exercise of “appreciative inquiry” exploring how we are engaged by the media on a grand scale and in our personal lives. There was a recurrent micro to macro theme weaving through the groups and throughout the weekend.

After the circles of rich conversation came the showcases of the work. I’m talking lump in your throat work. Documentaries about child slavery (Jody Hassett Sanchez), an epic dimension anti-war mural (Huong), songs from an emmy award winning composer (Gary Malkin), environmentally powerful photographs (Chris Jordan) and a host of other amazing stuff.

Then, on Saturday we witnessed Bob Steele, the country’s leading expert on ethics in journalism interview some more giants. There was Maura J. Casey from the New York Times, Renee Ferguson from NBC5 News Chicago, Maude Beelman from the Dallas Morning News (formerly AP war correspondent) , Victor Merina, an award winning investigative reporter and to top it off, Jon Alpert, producer/reporter/co-director and co-founder of the Downtown Community Television Center (known for his years on the Today Show and his current HBO special, “Baghdad ER“) and then…be still my beating heart…Steve Hartman. Yes, the Steve Hartman who, on CBS, throws darts over his shoulder on the evening news at a map, goes to that location, and finds the subject of his next story in the phone book. He’s a rock star to me and often a part of the show that Charles Kurault used to host on Sunday mornings.

Steve Hartman and fan (moi)

Steve Hartman and fan (moi)

We watched the first presidential debate together with people who worked on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. My jaw rarely closed.

There was an impressive Saturday night awards program, meditation sessions for ambitious early risers, delicious vegetarian food, all going on inside of a lush landscape of orange, gold and green speckled mountains. There was actually a noticeable change of autumn colors from when we arrived to when we left. Just for us.

Today, I wanted to paint a broad brush of what the summit at Peace Village was like. There was so much going on in our heads, our hearts and our bodies that I’ve still not assimilated it enough to convey more detail. I’m hoping that will happen.

What I did take away from the weekend was something I know has been in short supply for me and surely for the rest of the world.


Yes, hope. It was and is so comforting and so inspiring to know that there are many really smart, really talented and hard working people out there that really give a damn. Whose work is about affecting change.

Thank you Judy Rodgers, Meredith Porte, Gayatri Naraine, and Veronica McHugh for inviting me for the last ten years.

I finally made it.

*The mission of IV of Hope:

“To expand awareness of the choices those in media make that raise public trust, generate constructive meaning, and amplify human hope, thus enhancing humanity’s capacity for life-promoting action.”

Comments (1)

Good Monday -coming: Images & Voices of Hope, Summit 08 – reflections from the Catskills

September 29, 2008 at 6:37 am


Images and Voice of Hope 2008 - much to tell...

Images and Voice of Hope 2008 - much to tell...

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Day two, your political haikus and limericks – good job!

September 26, 2008 at 5:29 am

We had a lot of fun gathering your election-related limericks and haikus. Thank you all for sending them along and HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

LIMERICKS #3, #4, & #5

It really should be a no-brainer

To be an Obama campaigner.

Simply turn on the news,

And see anchormen lose

their former objective demeanor.


The media once loved McCain

His policies clearly explained.

But along came Obama

And his “Hope/Change” nirvana

Now reporters have joined his campaign.


Years ago she was out hunting moose

Now this soccer mom’s out on the loose

And while skewering Biden

She’s Commandment abidin’

But qualifications she can’t quite produce.

submitted by Dan Ward, APR, Vice President, PartnerCurley & Pynn , , Taking Aim – blog


 HAIKUS # 3, #4,& #5

Like man and woman

Differences rise and recede

Elections unite


Like man and woman

Differences rise and recede

Elections divide

Like man and woman

Dividing and uniting

Country right and wrong.

submitted by Diana Daffner author of Tantric Sex for Busy Couples: How to Deepen Your Passion in Just Ten Minutes a Day

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The results are in – your haikus and limericks and,… enjoy

September 25, 2008 at 5:31 am


For the next two days, I’m posting what I think are the best Haikus and Limericks submitted. Remember the only perimeter was: they had to be about the upcoming election. Enjoy! (and send your own.)

HAIKU #1: 

Rhetoric and hype

Partisanship empowered

My vote really counts?

submitted by Tim Blair



bearing his vision

barak brings change to alter

political norms

submitted by Phyllis Beckman



It’s hard not to hate

The candidates’ debate

When it’s based on recrimination and rumor

We ask that you all, before starting to brawl

Just relax – and have a Good Humor!

submitted by Mary Huff, Huff Communications



There’s a veteran vestige McCain

Whose platform is perfectly plain

We’ll stay on the course

By flexing our force

While the country goes right down the drain

submitted by Jeffrey Hornaday, San Luis Obispo, CA


Comments (2)

Publish, POD, print your own or perish?

September 24, 2008 at 5:00 am
ah...smell the ink

ah...smell the ink


There are all your “p” choices, and believe me, I find it hard to keep up with this stuff.

To publish. To print-on-demand (POD) or to print on your own. Dying is really not necessary.

Today’s post is a very abbreviated overview of how these routes differ. Surely, you and I will both require more sleuthing. Especially before any decisions are made.


That which relies on the acceptance of an enclave of people who think they know what readers want. They take you on, they foot the bill. Unless you are very clever at contract time, they take charge of your timeline, your title, your cover, some direction of your content, your promotional campaign, your destiny. You get a buck or two for every book sold. You may have to wait a few publishing cycles for your book to be born, but you have no cash outlay (except for the hidden suggestions that you really should be proactive in marketing your book. Proactive translation: expensive)

If you get a big fat advance, remember, all that money needs to be made by the sales of your book before you see any more of it.


You hire a company to act as your publisher but you pay them. Hey, what? It’s true, but you retain some semblance of control as you employ them. They do all of the front end fussing like getting you an ISBN number, designing your book, choosing the paper, and they even offer some promotional packages (that’s extra) or a la carte services. What do you get? Books when you want them, no warehousing woes, limited distribution (be careful here, this can be misleading), and some help along the way if you need it. Beware, the company OWNS your ISBN number and your files. You are bound to them. Can’t just pick up your files and take them down to the neighborhood printer. And, the unit price for POD printing is pretty high. Hard to  profit this way.

Printing on your own:

I kind of like this option. We even have a division that does this at HCI. There something a little more freeing about it. You get total artistic license, you are the master of your own castle. Hire your own editors, proof readers, researchers, whatever you need. Take your finished manuscript, download it into some “Quark” or “InDesign” or other file and turn it over to some master printers. The more you print, the cheaper the unit price is. So, whatever you sell it for, once you get the money, everything but your investment goes into your pocket. True, you now need to investigate fulfillment houses and think about marketing your book. That’s where people like me come in – hee – hee! All kidding aside, at this phase you either become not only a self-published author but a self-marketer, too. Or, seriously, you can hire any number of very talented people to help you promote your book. For both the POD and this route, getting books distributed into stores is a little tricky. It can happen, but it’s hard. Trust me, distribution is hard even for the big league publishers.

So, if you’re an author who does a lot of lectures, special events, or have an online presence, you may have plenty of opportunity to sell books this way. This is really one of the primary secrets to the legendary Chicken Soup for the Soul success. The old selling books in the back of the room routine. It just so happened they had a publisher. The same can be done if you don’t.

If you’re just a woodshed writer waiting to be discovered and handled, these are not for you. 

Whatever your publishing scenario is, at least now there is a bigger variety of choices. And, the alternate publishing routes are gaining more respect and credibility all the time. Just be sure to do your homework, always ask to see samples of a POD or printing company’s wares. Talk to former customers. Just because a book gets self-published doesn’t mean it has to look self-published. 

I’d like to hear about your experiences particularly working with the self-publishing companies like Lightning Source, iuniverse, authorhouse, etc. You don’t have to mention them by name, but I am curious about how things went for you. I have heard mixed stories.

So, until the next time

May the force be with you.

p.s. Coming Thursday AND Friday: Your election haikus and limericks. They turned out pretty well!

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