Kim Weiss Publishing Services

Cat lovers won’t be able to resist Dewey – I couldn’t

September 23, 2008 at 5:30 am

Cat lovers won’t be able to resist Dewey:The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. That’s my conclusion even before starting this post. You can stop reading here and get yourself a book or you can take a ride with me down the Florida turnpike as I listen to the book. Yes, listen.

I should set up the scenario first. I once worked with Bret Witter at HCI for a short time when he held the post of Editorial Director.  He’s the co-author on Dewey. There was something pleasantly quirky but cool about Bret. His funny glasses, rumpled shirts, but most notably his keen sense for acquiring a good book. While with HCI he brought to our list, What the Bleep Do We Know, a perennially good seller. He brought Hypnobirthing,  Reallionaire,  and even influenced talented and witty editor, Allison Janse to write, The Germ Freak’s Guide to Outwitting Colds & Flu. He had a good nose for good books. And, that red velvet jacket at the HCI holiday party -priceless.

Then he left us. Took his wife and beautiful cover girl baby, Lydia to South Carolina. Or North Carolina. Definitely a Carolina.  Perhaps Kentucky? Anyway, he was gone to some Southern state and with him went a particular brand of talent that we miss. Don’t get me wrong, we love our current editorial crew and their brand of genius. Bret definitely had a distinctive signature.

Very few staff heard from him over the years, then one day we read in The New York Times (of all places) that he got this enormous advance for a book about a cat that lived for 18 years in a Iowa library. It was going to be the feline counterpart to the bestseller, Marlee and Me.  Tall order, if you ask me.

Well, given that I am kind of a surly sort of human being who likes to be shown (no, I’m not from Missouri), I decided to test Bret’s new book on my long drive home from central Florida. I thought four hours would be the perfect timing. And, I loved Marlee and Me. Winning me over wasn’t going to be easy. 

First of all, Dewey looks like Mochi, my long haired red striped tabby cat. Not quite as handsome, but pretty close. From what I ‘read’ (heard), he had some interesting habits of hygiene that were not unlike Mochi’s. There was a point of bonding if I ever saw one. Litter box unity. That was one of the strange ways that I ‘got’ Dewey.

Merrily it went along from there. Early in the story, I deemed it an extended Chicken Soup for the Soul story. It still does have some similarities, some sappiness, but Dewey goes further. They both share the occasional tug of the heart strings. Additionally, Dewey tugs on some red yarn strings. Poops elastic bands, too.

When he gets lost for a short time, you hold your breath. When he’s shuddering in the car on his way to the vet, you want to hold him. When he wins the town pet photo contest you cheer. But mostly, you applaud his ability to be a community builder inside the walls of the Spencer library.

I didn’t want to like this book. I wanted to report back that it didn’t stand a chance on the bestseller list like Marlee. I can feel it climbing now.  

But guess what, although it took a couple of commutes to and from work before I finished the book, it won me over. Dewey, himself me over.  The real life story translated well thanks to its skilled writers.

All I can say is, if any of you still use your public library, be very, very careful when you slide your books into the overnight return box. You never know, there might be a tiny, scared, matted kitten deposited there waiting for some kind librarians to bring  him in. Be gentle.

I’m pretty sure. You won’t be able to resist Dewey. 

And, for posterity, I’m showing off a picture of what could be Dewey’s cousin. My beautiful Mochi. He might have beat Dewey in the pet picture contest. Sorry, Dewey. RIP.


Mochi, possible blood relation to Dewey

Mochi, possible blood relation to Dewey with "Children of the Damned" eyes

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In deference to the species: know-it-all-icus

September 22, 2008 at 5:30 am

Know-it-all-icus: Def. noun: Those sentient beings who choose to remain immovable in their approach to life, work and the pursuit of knowledge (source: K.G. Weiss dictionary – sorry, out of print)

Long ago there were a handful of network television shows. Daytime talk shows on every channel, morning shows in every city, evening news magazine shows, and entertainment programs. Then they started to fall away and the remaining few opted to take fewer risks with unknowns and go the sure fire celebrity guest route. Then celebrities with books. Cable channels began to emerge, satellite dish television multiplied the channel choices and the American ADD culture was aptly accommodated.

Men on couches with a remote never had it so good.

However unscientific that observation may be, what did happen in the meanwhile is, the spaces for authors to peddle their wares shrank then diffused across a strata of broadcast stations that didn’t reach enough viewers to make a bump in book sales.

I won’t even “once upon” you with what’s happened to and sadly continues to the waning book review sections at the daily newspapers. 

Enter “www”, the world wild  web. Even more venues for authors to peddle. A mixed blessing?  Look at me, right now, even I, a bookless blogger can grab my piece of space that might attract a reader or two. So, what’s a (real) author to do? And, what about his or her publicist?

One thing I can tell you for sure what they can’t do is conduct business as has been usual in the past. It’s every man and woman for him/herself reinventing the promotional landscape. With the diffusion of venues, how does one gain any traction?

Since the spots in the media that will mega sell a book are either almost a mathematical anomaly to conquer or too scattered to attract a sizable audience, the advice that I have here is to remain fluid and flexible in your approach. (get a second job and take Prozac, just kidding) There’s less of a one-size-fits-all formula for publicity success than ever before.

But as I’ve mentioned in recent posts, this state of affairs is at once frustrating and exciting. The amount of tools we have accessible to us has grown in quantity and we’re only as limited as our own brain. Creativity is king although it doesn’t hurt to know people in high places. Nowadays, that can mean someone with a gargantuan mailing list as much as friendship with a producer or editor. Friendship is friendship, but when it comes down to story making, ratings are everything and the personal connection is less important.

What will prohibit the chance of success is rigidity and reluctance to learn the new landscape. Explore what’s out there and read about and listen to what is working and what is not from your peers. Think out-of-the galaxy. It’s eyeballs we want to get in front of and lots of them in first a concentrated then a continual time period.

Here I am, a self-proclaimed geezer publicist, and I’m blogging. It’s actually kind of funny if you know me. But, remember the old saying that youth is wasted on the young well I refuse to let the new technology horizon be only theirs. You know how it goes, if I can do it,…

It’s not that blogging will make you a star, it’s that blogging is about the new communication of information. It’s about immediacy, personality and the in a way, a new freedom.

I’ve said very little here about how it is that you will achieve publicity success in your book or other career, but the message is to refuse to remain stagnant. Don’t give up the tried and somewhat-still-true venues that partly still exist, you still always have to throw your wares into that ring (I mean, an Oprah producer may stumble upon your good idea) , but be inventive and learn how others are being so.

Easy for me to say, more difficult to execute, but really, you’ll have more fun growing your brain while you grow your promotional repetoire. I promise.

Take it from a once low-tech dinosaur. I don’t know if the metaphor fits, but shedding my reptilian skin on a regular basis not only led me to you but hopefully, a few bestseller successes, too.

Feel free to send your ideas to this blog. I learned after a substantial number of years in this business, being proprietary with your knowledge and tools is a useless one way street. Nothing will come your way if nothing is given.

My parting zen words from a former, card-carrying know-it-all-icus.

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Some Sunday iphone icandy

September 21, 2008 at 9:15 am


May your path be filled with truth and beauty

May your path be filled with truth and beauty

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Haikus and limericks welcome here!

September 19, 2008 at 3:09 pm

Today’s request – Your haikus and limericks are welcome here, but they must be election-related.

Haiku’s are haikus and the limericks should be no more than 5 lines.

Submit to the email address:, please with permission to post in writing.

Thanks – Fun stuff is already coming in!

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Tell me this sounds like your average beauty makeover book…

September 19, 2008 at 6:08 am

Tell me this sounds like your average beauty makeover book! Just look at the testimonials I plucked from the extensive email cache of wonder-makeover-man, Christopher Hopkins, the Makeover Guy. You’ve seen his book, Staging Your Comeback, written about before on my blog, but I just had to share the kind of feedback that he gets. It’s almost “Chicken Soupy”. Somehow, Christopher has struck a chord with women that penetrates very deep beneath the surface. It’s a lot more than scarves, Spanx and mascara. Take a deep breath,  keep a kleenex box nearby, and have a read…(names have been removed and minor editing has been done to protect the anonymity of the emailers)

#1 Every page so far has reduced me to tears.  Every excuse , every feeling , every denial has been my battle cry since I was fourteen.  I had a disfiguring car wreck.  My confidence has been still born for 42 years yet your book has given it hope and I feel the stirrings of a rebirth.  God bless and thank you on behalf of all the women who’s life you are changing without you ever knowing.  When you change a life it pools out and touches others lives with its light…

#2  I am going to be 46 this year and I know I’m in desperate need of a makeover.  I have always prided myself on looking and acting younger than my years, but in the past 17 months I look like I’ve aged 10!  Since February  2007, I have been helping my now 17 year old daughter battle an addiction to cocaine and it has really taken its toll on me.  Her story is one of great success and I wouldn’t take any of the struggles we’ve been through (or worry lines) back for anything, because she has truly become a changed person.  But, as I send her off to college 17 MONTHS SOBER !!!, I take a look in the mirror and know that I have suffered as much from the devastating affects of addiction as she has. I want desperately for her to have a “new start” as she finds her way in the world, but I want a “new start” as well.  I feel like I’m at a turning point and it’s now or never that I begin to refocus my energies on myself and my appearance as I go forward with my second act! Thanks so much for the words of wisdom and encouragement you gave me in the book.

#3 I love working in hospice, feel it is my calling and have had the privilege to meet wonderful people who unfortunately have cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and other terminal illnesses…. In the past two years I have gone from 125lbs (size 6) to 181 lbs (size 1X). I am 5’7″. The stress shows on my face, body, hair and has sucked the life out of my role as a wife and mother. Most importantly it has taken its toll on me,  a once vivacious, life-loving person. I have reached the point that I know I have to do something for the sake of my sanity and health.. I desperately want to remake myself and regain my love for life. I feel old beyond my years and very frumpy. I don’t recognize the reflection looking back at me in the mirror. I have taken the first step by changing jobs and have started a very healthy diet to not only make me look better but to help with the gnawing feeling I feel in my stomach everyday. What I am asking is would you help me makeover my looks?

#4  I don’t really have a question, just a note of thanks. For the first time in seven years, I feel hopeful that I can look okay again. I bought Staging Your Comeback yesterday. Boy, did I need it. Six years and eleven months ago, my world fell apart in many ways-illness, miscarriages, job losses, financial hardship, you name it, I’d been through it. I was newly married at 40 and in my first year of law school, but I stuck it out and learned how to walk, talk and think again after severe illness. However, the traumas took their toll on my psyche and looks. I look sick and tired…and feel it, too. But this book offers clear, realistic advice yet delivered stunning results. And the pictures are so beautiful. I’m thinking…maybe it is time for my comeback. I’m going to read it thoroughly and try some of the tips. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and gifts.

Yes, it’s true. I represent this book at HCI. How lucky is that? You can be sure that I’ll only include items on this blog that have meaning for me and hopefully for you. Corny as it sounds, I can think of nothing better than touching people’s hearts, this time in the most unexpected package. I don’t know about you but I love surprises.

So, what’s the verdict? Does this sound like your average beauty makeover book?

I think not.

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