BookCon & BookExpo 2019 Review from a self-published author’s POV

James Hannon – a self-published Cosplay Author tries to promote himself and his book at these two very different events at the same place, and learns a lot about the publishing and book reader worlds in the process.

#TheBookCon #BookCon #BookCon2019 #BookCon19 #BookExpoAmerica #BookExpo #BookExpo2019 #BookExpo19 #Unbound


During the last week of May and the first couple of days of June 2019, I made the trip into New York City to hit BookExpo and BookCon 2019 at the Javits Center. I was there to promote my book Anatomy of A Cosplayer: Tales From Behind the Mask and try to increase my footprint in brick and mortar bookstores and libraries.

BookExpo was on May 29th – 31st and BookCon was June 1st and 2nd, and they existed in the same space of the convention hall. On the surface they look the same with many of the same vendors and exhibitors, but they are totally different events for totally different target audiences.

BookExpo (also known as BookExpo America or simply “BEA”) is the largest annual book trade fair in the United States. According to Wikipedia:

Nearly all significant book publishers in the United States, and many from abroad, have booths and exhibits at BEA, and use the fair as an opportunity to showcase upcoming titles, sell current books, socialize with colleagues from other publishing houses, and sell and buy subsidiary rights and international rights. Authors, librarians, and buyers for book retailers also attend the event.

Wikipedia contributors. (2019, May 30). BookExpo America. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:42, June 14, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=BookExpo_America&oldid=899506457

BookCon, on the other hand, is a fan-based convention very much like New York or San Diego Comic Con, but with a focus on books. Most of the exhibitors kept their same booth locations throughout both events, and just switch from being in “industry networking” mode to “promoting their product to fans” mode.

I figured that as an author trying to promote my book and increase my distribution network, it would be a good idea to attend both of these events as they seemed to have all the people I needed to reach in the same place. So I applied for an author pass at BookExpo (only industry people allowed) and was approved, and bought my BookCon weekend passes for my wife Jackie and myself.

A few days later, I signed up with the Combined Book Exhibit to display Anatomy of a Cosplayer throughout both events at their 2019 New Title Showcase exhibit. They also offered an opportunity for me to have a book signing during the show, but the price was a little above my budget. As I kept visiting their exhibit area over my time at both BookExpo and BookCon, there were actually lines for the authors who were signing, and I felt a little jealous that I didn’t have that signing moment at a big con. That being said, I still would have made the same decision to not do the signing.

At this point, I’m going to split this review into two sections since I had a very different experience at each event.

BOOKEXPO 2019

Walking into BookExpo, I was very optimistic about being productive over the three days based on the “Welcome to BookExpo” message where they proclaimed in their program guide:

“BookExpo Loves Indie Publishers – Independent publishers have always been a vital segment of our exhibiting customer base. Being small and nimble allows these publishers the ability to put some of the most unique and powerful books into the market and we are excited to deliver a new way to give them a spotlight”

As I read that paragraph walking into BookExpo on the first day, I was confident this was the perfect place to help me get my book out to the right people – all in one place! Looking back a week after the show, I realized I was rather naive and uninformed as to what BookExpo actually was about. Independent publishers are NOT the same as self-published authors. Even though I have a large publisher behind my book (AuthorHouse), they did not attend BookExpo, nor did I expect them to…

A little behind the scenes here:


Anatomy of a Cosplayer and my previous book Lost Boys of the Bronx were both published by AuthorHouse Publishing. And they did their job turning my manuscript, photos and artwork into a beautifully formatted hardcover, softcover and eBook that is on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and a bunch of other online retail sites. However, unless you spend a few thousand dollars more, they are not going to help you market your book or get it into the hands of libraries and brick and mortar stores. They are pretty upfront about that, so there are no unreasonable expectations, and I probably will use them again for my next book.

So, I am pretty much on my own marketing the books. And that is a exciting and great place to be – where I am responsible for my own destiny… But at BookExpo, it wasn’t a very good place for self-published authors. Nobody tried to kick me out or was rude in any way, but I was told quite a few times that the distribution channel people would only talk to publishers and not authors. After a few occurrences of this, and seeing their face drop while reading the “Author” on my name badge, I just gave up any hope that any of my business goals were going to be achieved at BookExpo.

So, I decided to just enjoy BookExpo as a spectator with access to stuff most general readers do not have. And that made the event so much less of a total waste of time for me.

I went to the Combined Book Exhibit to take some pictures of Anatomy of A Cosplayer being displayed on the shelves of a big con, and while I was there, I heard the Downtown Stage (which was right next to the CBE) starting a new panel introducing Deborah Harry and Chris Stein of one of my favorite bands – Blondie. I have no idea how I missed this when planning out my BookExpo trip, but Debbie has a new book out called Face It and was promoting it. Well, Fate had me in the right place at the right time, so I went and watched the panel – which was great, and even tho she wasn’t autographing, I got some great pictures of her and Chris Stein from pretty close up.

I also ran into George Takei who was signing his new book They Called Us Enemy at one of the vendor tables. His lines were long and I wasn’t sure if I had to get a ticket to get an autograph, but I was able to wave at him and grab a photo.

I explored the BookExpo some more and found myself in the Unbound section of the event. This was a section set aside from BookExpo/BookCon that had non-book items for sale. There were vendors that sold greeting cards, tea, fancy writing pens, and items like that. I walked by a vendor with artwork on his walls that cause me to dead-stop seeing the vibrant colors on the prints. It was Nakatomi Inc and I struck up a conversation with the artist Tim Doyle about his work. It seems he is an artist that produces concert posters for acts such as Metallica and Weird Al Yankovic. His artwork on the walls were not those items, but they were amazing. We talked about my book cover artist Angela McKendrick (@cuddleswithcatsart) and how wonderful her art is. Hopefully the two of them see the potential of a team-up down the road.

As the day got later and I wanted to get out of New York City before Wednesday rush hour traffic kicked in, I decided to hop on the ferry back to my car in New Jersey. But I will say my mood had changed for the better with the artistic interactions I had – even if my plans for getting help with distribution had fizzled early on.

I didn’t go back Thursday or Friday, and I probably would not go to BookExpo 2020 after this experience, but I will keep an open mind about it. If you are reading this, and have any suggestions that would have made my trip more fruitful, please email me or post in the comments!

Full album of my experience at BookExpo on my Facebook Photo Album:
https://www.facebook.com/lanternmedia/media_set?set=a.10161741195450133&type=3

Now lets talk about a much more fun and productive couple of days!

BOOKCON 2019

Going into BookCon, I had a much different strategy than I did for BookExpo. As a cosplayer, I have been to New York Comic Con and other fan conventions for the last 10+ years. Its a large part of my Anatomy of a Cosplayer book, so I knew exactly what to expect. Kinda…

I had heard there was some cosplay going on at BookCon in recent years, but nowhere near the amount at NYCC. So I figured I’d ask around to see if costuming was ok. Being that I have a lot of DC Comics based costumes, I figured I’d ask the fine folks at DC Comics if they’d be interested in having me and a couple of my friends there to help promote the brand in an official capacity. (And my book… cough cough)…. They saw right thru my ruse, and told me that they wanted to highlight their authors who were appearing, and didn’t want to take away from their thunder. A perfectly legitimate concern, and they were nice about it, so I didn’t press it. I did ask a moderator of the official Facebook page of BookCon if cosplay was ok, and she excitedly told me that they would LOVE to have cosplayers there (in an unofficial capacity). So I decided to enlist a couple of friends and do some cosplay promoting – I mean I am the Cosplay Author right? LOL

On Saturday, I appeared as Jay Garrick – the Golden Age Flash from the CW show The Flash. I recruited Karen Gaebel as SuperGirl to carry my book around for photos, and my wife Jackie Hannon to wear a colorful shirt with the image of my book’s cover. We walked the con floor for quite a while and got a LOT of positive feedback and requests for pictures – Even got a few requests to purchase the book right there and then – but I read that was against the rules of BookCon for non-official vendors, so I just passed my information to them (and believe it or not they emailed me later that they bought it!). I took a lot of pictures, and met a lot of people. Saw the Adam Savage panel, and had just a great fun time…. Then BookCon closed for the day, and we went home in a much better mood than BookExpo.

On Sunday, I didn’t cosplay due to a blister from the day before. But I had no regrets because I had a secret weapon – my talented cosplayer friend Renata Gatti wore her Handmaidens costume from The Handmaid’s Tale, and it was accurate. If I thought we got a great reaction on Saturday cosplaying, we got an even bigger one on Sunday being The Handmaid’s Tale was a book before it was a TV series, and the new season was starting later that week. We (well, Renata) took well over 200 pictures with fans of the show and the book, and we got a lot of interest in Anatomy of a Cosplayer. Again, a few requests to buy my book right there and then. And again, I couldn’t sell without breaking the BookCon rules, but gave info to the requestors.

As a weird side note, on Sunday an older woman came up to Renata and myself, and started a conversation with us about her Handmaid’s costume. She didn’t ask the usual fan questions or request to take a photo, but she was more grilling us about WHY Renata chose to wear that particular costume. (There is a political movement regarding that costume, but Renata is just purely a fan of the show.)

It was an interesting convo, and when it ended, we both went our separate ways not thinking much about it. However, today, while searching for photos Renata’s Handmaid costume at BookCon, I ran across a picture of Margaret Atwood – the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, and Renata and I swear it was the same woman who talked to us. Now, I looked for a while, and there was absolutely no record that Ms Atwood did appear at BookCon on Sunday, and I assume that if she actually did appear, there would have been a bigger deal made about it. But that woman who approached us looked exactly like her – and it makes for an interesting story…

BookCon was a big success for me… I had a really great fun time and was very productive. I met a lot of people, got some excellent tips for marketing the book from other successful self-published authors, and took a lot of great photos. I will absolutely go back again!

One thing I will mention is that there were a LOT of women at BookCon. I would guess the crowd was 90% women. I expected there to be large number but not THAT big…. I saw a photo posted for a male with a shirt that said I’m just here to stand in line and hold books for my wife. Everyone was really nice to me, and I only mention it as a curiosity and a mental note about a potential marketing opportunity.

Full album of BookCon available on my Facebook album:
https://www.facebook.com/lanternmedia/media_set?set=a.10161753328435133&type=3

Thanks so much for reading! Any questions or feedback, please drop em in the comments, or email me.

-=James

Gotta Run
Gotta Run

New Year – New Cosplay – Why I made an Ace Frehley Costume

Why did Bronx author James Hannon make a cosplay of KISS member and famous Ducky Boy Ace Frehley, when he wasn’t a fan of KISS? Read on…

In case you didn’t know, I premiered a new cosplay on New Years Day 2019. This new one was Ace Frehley the Spaceman from the original lineup of KISS – or at least it was supposed to be. After all was said and done, I looked more like Tommy Thayer who is the current KISS guitarist who is wearing the Spaceman makeup. But more on that later.


So, this was a big surprise to my friends who know me and know that I was never really a big KISS fan. Sure I knew their music and gimmick and it wasn’t bad. My sister owned the KISS Alive II LP until I stole it from her. And I also bought the KISS Platinum 8-track tape (still have both of them).

But the real reason I did not want to be a fan is that when I was a kid, the biggest KISS fan in my circle of acquaintances was a pariah in the neighborhood because he was the “smelly kid”. Its not that he was unclean, but whatever detergent his mom used had a horrible stench that was just unbearable to be around. I realize that isn’t PC in today’s world, but this was the 1970s and most in my group hadn’t even turned 13 yet. The bottom line is that we didn’t want to be associated with him – and liking KISS was a sure fire way to do that. So KISS fandom was always downplayed.

When I got to senior year of college in 1989, I got into Ace Frehley a little bit. He was out of KISS for a while by this time and performing solo. Gordon G. G. Gebert was a friend of a friend of mine, and Gordon was good friends with Ace at the time. I was part of a software sharing group and Ace was looking for a particular piece of software which I had. So I shared it with Gordon to give to Ace, hoping to meet the big man eventually. But it never happened as Ace and Gordon had a big falling out shortly after. But I did learn more about Ace’s music during the time. And realized it was ok to like Ace’s music again since the smelly kid was long out of the picture.

Flash-forward to 2005, and I was starting to do research into a documentary I was planning on the real life gangs of the Wanderers movie. This video project would eventually become my book Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang. In my initial round of research, I found out that Ace Frehley grew up a couple of blocks away from me (Marion Avenue and 201st Street in the Bronx), and was a member of the infamous Ducky Boys. After all this, I figured Ace Frehley was destined to be a factor in my life “somehow”.

I reached out to his manager, and I had about an hour-long phone conversation with Ace one day. I told him about my project, and what I found in my research about where his old friends in the Ducky Boys ended up. At the end of the call, I asked him if I could film a short interview with him for the documentary, but he shut me down hard asking for a $10,000 appearance fee – which was way more than I could afford, so we parted ways.

When my documentary eventually turned into the book, some doors were opened for me. I received permission from Gordon Gebert to use a section of his KISS AND TELL book where Ace’s buddy Bobby McAdams talked about Ace’s involvement in the Ducky Boys. It wasn’t the optimal choice, but I had no choice but to cover Ace’s involvement. For months after going public with my project, I was getting dozens of emails a week from people telling me that Ace Frehley was a Ducky Boy. I still get occasional emails from people telling me this – LIKE I DON’T buy xanax uk ALREADY KNOW BY NOW! LOL

James and Jeff Hornlien meeting a un-enthusiastic Ace Frehley in 2008

In late 2008, shortly before the Lost Boys of the Bronx was released, I finally got to meet Ace at a local Chiller convention. I was even wearing a Ducky Boys shirt which one of his friends/handlers LOVED, but Ace didn’t even seem to recognize it or remember the conversation we had. Supposedly this was during his sober days, but he really seemed out of it. Not just to me, but everyone in the line. All he did was grunt and put his thumb up when taking the picture with me and my friend Jeff Hornlien. I was bummed for me, but even more so for Jeff (and all the other people there) who grew up idolizing this guy. Jeff is an extremely talented guitarist who learned to play because he was inspired by Ace and KISS. It was sad.

Figuring the Ace connection was completely dead at this point, I moved on and did other stuff – like write the book Anatomy of a Cosplayer: Tales from Behind the Mask. I met a lot of other cosplayers in my travels, and this one particular Batman costumer named Ed Universo lived in my town, and we became good friends. At one convention, he showed up in a full Gene Simmons Demon costume – and it was amazing. He asked if Jeff and I were willing to do a Halloween appearance with him in his personal KISS costumes. We couldn’t make Halloween but the thought was planted in my head.

And not just my head…. Jeff Hornlien completely wanted to costume as Paul Stanley at a convention… And he wouldn’t let it go. He kept bugging me so I had to do “something” to shut him up.

The big objection for me was “Dude, theres no way I’ll be able to walk in those heels!” Well Ed, brought over his personal Ace boots for me to walk around in, and you know what? They weren’t that hard to walk in! And I kinda liked being 6-7 inches taller…. So I started thinking about it more and more…

And then Ed sent me a link to someone selling an Ace Frehley Destroyer era costume. And well that was all I needed to know. The die was cast and my fate as the Spaceman was sealed!

While waiting for the costume to arrive, I attempted the Ace Frehley makeup. I got the specifics from a YouTube video, and gave it a shot.

First attempt at Ace Frehley makeup

And it didn’t come out too bad. Sure, there were some issues, but I spoke to Ed and he suggested different makeup to try for next time.

Which leads us to New Years Day 2019. With the new costume in hand, and the right makeup, I decided that I couldn’t wait for the next convention to premiere this costume and posted on social media….

So far the response has been great. I realized that I don’t look that much like Ace Frehley with my facial structure, but I can definitely see a strong resemblance to Tommy Thayer – so making lemonade out of lemons, we’re going with that!

Now for the second part of my plan…. Not going to give it away here, but there will be others involved…. And all I can say is you shouldn’t have let me start this mission…. There is only one way to finish it…

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, please share it

James Hannon, Jeff Hornlien, Jackie Hannon and Ed Universo
James Hannon, Jeff Hornlien, Jackie Hannon and Ed Universo
James Hannon as Kiss Spaceman and Bronx Ducky Boys member Ace Frehley on New Years Day 2019

Rest in Peace “Mean” Gene Okerlund 1942-2019

So I was writing a piece about my newest New Years 2019 cosplay today when I got a heartbreaking Breaking News indicator on my phone that “Mean” Gene Okerlund passed away. So I decided to switch gears and write this remembrance of Gene instead.

Details of his passing were pretty sparse at this writing, but I knew he had been sick for a while and it was said that he had two kidney transplants recently.

I recently met Mean Gene on November 9th, 2018 at a local comic shop in Northern New Jersey. He was unable to stand for pictures due to “pulling his back that morning”, but I noticed that one of his hands was really swollen. I had hoped it was all part of something temporary. But looking back knowing he passed away today, I guess it was all part of something else. But enough of that – I’d rather talk about the good times.

“Mean” Gene was a laughable nickname for Gene Okerlund. He was one of the friendliest people ever – you could tell it by his WWF/WWE interviews. Anybody who has ever met him will agree that he was the opposite of mean. Funny thing is that he got that name from Jesse “the Body” Ventura, and I was cosplaying as former Minnesota Governor Ventura when I met him.

My wife, Jackie and I have been fans of WWF wrestling since the 70s and 80s. Like me, her brother watched wrestling all the time when he was a kid, so she watched a lot of it with him. And when I came into her life in 1984, we would watch it together. Mean Gene was all over the WWF back then and Mean Gene was her favorite character. For still unknown reasons, she nicknamed Mean Gene “Briefcase” – and the name just stuck.

Flash forward many years, and my friend Sean Wolfe mentioned that Mean Gene would be appearing at a comic shop in Ramsey, NJ called Gotham Underground. And my wife and I decided to go. But it was a heavily raining Friday night, and traffic was horrible. We had debated skipping the event due to rain, but I had learned my lesson last time with Roddy Piper back in 2015.

I REALLY buy xanax from canada wanted to meet Roddy Piper at a convention in New York City in March 2015, but the NJ Transit bus we were taking was over an hour late, and we decided to go out to eat instead. We could catch him at his next appearance right??? Well Roddy Piper died a few months after that and we never got to meet him. So I vowed to never miss out on an opportunity to meet one of my childhood heroes.

Which was why we decided to brave the weather and Friday rush hour traffic. And we were glad we did. The rain scared off a lot of other people so the comic shop wasn’t crowded that night – and we had a bunch of time to talk to Gene about his career, about other wrestlers, and about his wonderful appearance on WWF Legends House. (Try to watch if you can – its a great series if you have ANY interest in 80s wrestling)

If you’ve been reading my page, you know I’m a cosplayer. That being said, my wife Jackie and I have Jesse “the Body” Ventura and Adrian Adonis costumes as part of our 80s wrestling legends cosplay group. So we decided to wear them to meet Gene.

We were a little worried as wrestlers aren’t really a cosplay-friendly environment, but I had done it at a Jesse Ventura book signing event (See my book Anatomy of a Cosplayer for that story) and it went over really well. So we brought it to meet Mean Gene

We need not have worried – Gene loved it. He took pictures for his personal social media and had a great time getting into character. It was a dream come true to have Gene Okerlund yell “Holy Balls” on tape at my Jesse Ventura. (see video below)…. It was a great night and I was so glad we went. I would have been miserable had we not gone and never got another chance to meet him.

Mean Gene was the voice of a huge part of my childhood, but he also was so nice to us that night. We will miss him tremendously.

A microphone Mean Gene Okerlund signed for me when we met him in November, 2018

TURNAROUND: Why the Hannon’s changed their minds and got a new kitten

Months back when Cosmo wasn’t doing so hot health-wise, Jackie & I swore we would not get another cat after he passed.  We never wanted to go thru the pain of losing a beloved pet ever again. where to buy cheap cialis online. Two days before Cosmo passed away, two kittens just showed up in our backyard and reminded us that all the years of having a healthy Cosmo was worth having to go thru a few months of pain in the end.   A month later when we needed a cat around, those same kittens reappeared out of the blue and a chain of events occurred that brought a new kitten into our lives… But not what you might expect… Read on to see why…

FYI:  This is a followup to the blog titled Eulogy for a loved pet – Cosmo – RIP 7/2/2012 – If you haven’t read it yet, go check it out – this blog may make more sense knowing the history, but this blog can stand alone if you don’t have time.. This particular blog isn’t going to get advertised much since its pretty personal, so if you found it, then you’re just awesome.

Back around Thanksgiving 2011, our 15 year old cat Cosmo began having some ear infections and neurological issues that began a decline in health that ended with his passing on July 2nd, 2012.   It was a rough time period for Jackie & myself, and we saw our beloved Cosmo slowly deteriorate.  It was a painful time for us…So painful in fact that Jackie & I vowed to never get another pet afterwards…  We never wanted to go thru that again…

And we maintained that attitude up until June 30th – Two days before Cosmo passed away on July 2nd…

What changed our mind?   Read on… Read more

Eulogy for a loved pet – Cosmo – RIP 7/2/2012

Some blogs are written for other people. Some are just written purely for myself (and Jackie). This is one from that latter category. mens health. You are more than welcome to read it, and if it makes you smile, or helps you get over a similar experience, all the better.   If you are one of those people that go “It’s just a cat, get over it.”, you may want to skip this blog, it’s gonna get a bit sappy.  You’ve been warned…

Last Monday, July 2nd, Jackie & I lost our little buddy – Cosmo D. Cat Hannon.  Old age, ear tumors and the first real heat wave of Summer 2012 proved to be too much for him, and we had to take him to the vet to be euthanized. He was in pretty bad shape, and it was the right decision – even though it was one of the most horrible days in our lives.

I don’t really want to dwell on the sadder aspects of Cosmo’s final days in this blog.  If I forget the sadder parts of this story later in life, I’m kinda fine with it.   But I just want this to make me remember the good times with as much clarity as I have now.

Shortly after his passing, I went to post a picture of him on Facebook in honor of him.  But when I went to look for the “right” picture, I found a whole lotta other pictures of him that I loved.   I’m not going to lie, I went a little (ok, a lot) overboard. I eventually found and posted 34 or so pictures of Cosmo that Jackie & I loved. (See the bottom of this blog and my Facebook link).

While looking thru the pictures, I found Read more

Estate Sales – An education over two Saturdays.

James and Jackie get caught up in the estate sale mania that is going on in reality TV and spend two weekends experiencing it.   And they learned a few things on why it isn’t for the faint of heart.

Well, for the last few weeks, Jackie & I have been hitting estate sales here in Central and Northern New Jersey.   This is a new thing for us as we have never even really hit garage or yard sales since moving to NJ from the Bronx in 1993.   We just didn’t think it was what respectable people did.

Well, reality TV changed all that for us.  Every pawn shop and antiques reality show had these stories of people finding tremendous deals at estate sales. Even one of our new favorite shows – Kevin Smith’s “Comic Book Men” showed the main characters finding big scores at garage sales and the Collingwood Flea Market.  So Jackie and I decided to check out this suburban phenomena.  And we lived to tell the tale.

We started our expeditions at the Collingwood Flea Market Mall in Farmingdale, NJ after seeing it on Comic Book Men.  The characters on the show said that “the people who went to this mall were not allowed in regular malls” – and that was enough to pique our curiosity.   And after asking around, we found it was a “ghetto mall” (which are usually awesome) where you could find “anything” – from brass knuckles, swords, and grappling hooks (seriously), to Nazi paraphernalia (we think – we didnt go in that section as it looked too shady). This is the type of mall where you could find the million-dollar Read more

New Year Resolutions from the Dalai Lama & Ben Franklin

Ok, its close to New Years, so everybody is worrying about resolutions and reminiscing about old resolutions that didn’t work…  So author James Hannon decides to share two guides to a successful life from two successful people who aren’t currently trying to sell you an entire package for hundreds of dollars…   Hey, it can’t hurt, and can only help, so why not give it a shot?

————————————————————————————————————-

Ok, this is gonna be easy to write. I’m basically gonna steal two lists of life principals from two great writers, thinkers, and humanitarians and tell you to follow their rules…   It could very well be a Twitter or Facebook update to give you motivation, but I didn’t want it to scroll off within 20 minutes after posting it – I plan to look at the list regularly during my life..   As I’ve said before, sometimes these blog entries are more for me – but if it helps someone else, all the better :)

The first is from the Dalai Lama…   Now don’t get scared – you don’t have to give up your current religion to follow these – they are practical and simple guidelines that should be a part of EVERY religion.    Even Carl from Caddyshack gets it (See the end of this blog for the video)

And now on to the first list:

20 Ways to Get Good Karma

By The Dalai Lama, Published 11/16/2006
Stolen verbatim from: http://www.spiritualnow.com/articles/25/1/20-Ways-to-Get-Good-Karma/Page1.html

The Dalai Lama isn't pointing in judgment..  He's giving us finger guns for Pete's sake..

The Dalai Lama isn't pointing in judgment.. He's giving us finger guns for Pete's sake..

Instructions for Life by The Dalai Lama

  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three R’s:
    – Respect for self,
    – Respect for others and
    – Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
  7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, Read more

Ace Frehley’s “No Regrets” and the Ducky Boys Gang

Ace Frehley‘s new book “No Regrets” covers his time with the Ducky Boys gang, and surprisingly is in-sync with James Hannon‘s “Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang

On Saturday, I was at a local 501st Legion – NER troop over at Bookends Bookstore over in Ridgewood, NJ.  We were there to support the release of a bunch of Star Wars books by DK Publishing.  The troop was fun and all and we took a lot of pictures, and made a lot of kids (and some adults) pretty happy with our appearance there. But that’s not the main point of this blog.

What I do want to tell you about is that while we were there, we noticed that there were a LOT of big-name stars that were listed on the store’s past & future booksigning event schedule. People like Bill Clinton, Regis Philbin, Mary Higgins Clark, Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath, Bill O’Reilly, Snookie from the NJ Shore TV show, the Kardashian family, and lots more..  Not every one of those names will appeal to everyone, but you have to admit they all do have some star power behind them. And it was impressive considering that it was a LOCAL bookstore and not one of the big corporate ones (i.e. Barnes & Noble).

I had to know “how” they got the caliber of authors to have a book-signing event, and I asked them. It seems they report their sales numbers to the NY Times Book list, and apparently that is a big deal when authors are going on book-signing tours.

So, me being the marketing whiz I am, thought “How am I going to jump on this bandwagon with my book Lost Boys of the Bronx: the Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang“… So I asked the owners how to get on their author list… And it was pretty simple – basically they had me autograph a few of my books and leave them there… And depending on the interest generated, they’d figure out if they wanted me to hold a book-signing event.

So the #1 piece of information you should take away from this blog is:
Go to Bookends Bookstore at 211 East Ridgewood Avenue in Ridgewood, NJ and show some interest in Lost Boys of the Bronx – hopefully by purchasing one of them!

But the story doesn’t end there… I wouldn’t hit you with a marketing plea like that without giving you a hopefully interesting story!

While talking to the manager of the store, Blair Relyea – the official (and pretty awesome) photographer of Bookends, overheard my conversation about my book and asked if these were the same Ducky Boys of the Bronx that Ace Frehley of KISS was a part of. I told him yes, and then pressed him how he knew that, since he didn’t seem to have any Bronx or obvious KISS ties.

He told me that Ace Frehley had just had a book-signing event at the bookstore for his book “No Regrets” a few weeks earlier and written a large section of the book about his involvement in the Ducky Boys growing up.

This floored me because when I talked to Ace Frehley when I was writing my Ducky Boys book, he really didn’t want to tell me any stories buy ativan online canada about his involvement with the gang – at least not for free. I have an entire chapter of Lost Boys of the Bronx devoted to my interaction with Ace regarding my book – and it wasn’t that pleasant of an interaction. Now it all makes sense – he wanted to save the stories for his own book.

So, curiousity got the better of me and I bought a copy of Ace’s book at Bookends… Even better was that they still had a few autographed copies of it (They have a huge selection of autographed books)… I must like this bookstore giving them so many free plugs LOL

I got home that night and started reading. True to Blair’s word, there were a bunch of Ducky Boys references in the first couple of chapters. It would be too much to expect that Ace would actually refer to my Ducky Boys book, but I was impressed with his stories. While they were different stories than mine, they were actually in-sync with what I had.

Some examples:

  • Most of the Ducky Boys I interviewed don’t remember Ace being in the Ducky Boys. But Ace never said he was in the Ducky Boys. He says he was in the Junior Duckies – which were the younger kids who hung out with the Ducky Boys and eventually became the 2nd generation of Ducky Boys when the original members got older and stopped hanging around the park.
  • In my book, Ducky Boy Kevin Byrne only remembers seeing Ace (then known as Punky) around the gang once. And it was when Ace put the moves on Ducky Boy Eddie T‘s girlfriend Marianne, and Eddie beat the hell out of Ace for doing so. Ace, in his book, tells that story from his point of view.
  •  Ace remembers that the original Ducky Boys were more about the camaraderie and friendship of the members, but eventually degenerated into drugs and crime. Ace also spoke of having to get away from the gang to make something of his life. That was a key theme in Lost Boys of the Bronx – a large percentage of the kids in the Ducky Boys who didn’t get away died way before their time – sometimes with very grisly endings.

I didn’t want to like Ace’s book based on our prior interactions, but I am really glad to see that he was honest and fair in his memories of the group. I am still reading how he got into KISS and his adventures there, but the interesting part of the book was his Ducky Boy memories, and he delivered.

So, the #2 thing you should take away from this blog is:
If you have read Ace’s book, and liked the Ducky Boys section, you should pick up Lost Boys of the Bronx to find out a lot more about the gang. And vice-versa – If you liked my book, you should pick up Ace’s “No Regrets” and read the first few chapters at least.

That’s about it for this blog entry – Hope you liked it… Let me know if you have any comments or questions!

Take care and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!
-=James

P.s. Here’s a picture of us trooping at Bookends last weekend 11/19/2011
More pictures here

A Tale of Two Comic Cons – Part II – NY Comic Con

Part 2 of a segment about two consecutive weekends where I got to met THREE of my childhood heroes, and have a lot of other cool things happen at a pair of conventions.  This is in addition to the weekend earlier where it was Superhero Nirvana down in Flemington, NJ– October is a great month to be a costumer!

Well, this one is about the big boy of conventions in the New York City area – NY Comic Con!  Last year there were 96,000 or so attendees – this year 105,000.  According to Wikipedia, its been going up steadily since its inception…It sold out both weekend days this year, so I dont know how much higher those numbers can get…

Year Attendees
NYCC 2006  33,000
NYCC 2007  49,000
NYCC 2008  60,000
NYCC 2009  77,000
NYCC 2010  96,000
NYCC 2011 105,000

Last year, Johnny Rox and I went to NYCC for a first time on the Saturday, and it was MOBBED (I’m not talking supermarket mobbed – I’m talking last train out of the apocalypse-mobbed!)…   We went in normal civilian clothes (as opposed to being costumed) and we had a great time.  Check out our experience last year here  (Lots of pix there too)

Anyhoo, so lets get on with the events of the individual 2011 days!

Friday Oct 14th, 2011 – Day #1 (for me)

Someone mentioned to me that since I was vacation on Friday, I should go to NYCC that day because it would be a LOT less crowded…  Nobody else was on vacation, so I had nobody else to go with, but I knew enough people there – so I headed into the city on Friday sans costume…

I got a call in the morning saying that the lines around the Javitz Center were insane but happily found out that these were people who had to pickup tickets.  Luckily I ordered my tix a few months ago and had them in hand, and didn’t need to wait in any lines..  But I got there after 2pm anyway to avoid the initial confusion that usually happen at these things.

I went in without any maps, or any idea what I wanted to do…  I said I wouldn’t do that again, and I actually created an agenda on the NYCC website, but I never printed it, nor did I remember anything on the list…   There’s a LOT to see, and there’s no way in hell I was gonna see 5% of what there was to see, so I just decided to let Fate be my guide…

So I walked… And walked…  And walked…  I zigged and zagged down aisles dodging human traffic looking for Read more

A Tale of Two Comic Cons – Part I – Garden State Comic Con

During the course of two weekends in October 2011, I got to met THREE of my childhood heroes, and have a lot of other cool things happen.  This is in addition to the weekend earlier where it was Superhero Nirvana down in Flemington, NJ – October is a great month to be a costumer!

This was originally going to be one blog entry, but there were too many pictures to split out between the two events, so I figured I’d make two so it would be easier for my readers to digest.

During the 2nd weekend of October, 2011, a small convention down in Cherry Hill, NJ happened. It was called the Garden State Comic Con and it was run by a company named ZoloWorld.   Its not the biggest con I’ve been to, and it certainly is going thru some growing pains, but you know what? I had a great experience there, so I’ll cut them slack on the problems faced…

For a small con,they had some big con names appearing – Barbara Eden from I Dream of Jeannie, Hayden Panettiere – the cheerleader from Heroes, Davy Jones of the Monkees, Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Rusty Goffe and Bonnie Piesse from the Star Wars franchise.

One particular attendee – Jackson Bostwick, most people probably wouldn’t recognize, but he was the reason I drove an hour and a half to Cherry Hill to see.  Mr Bostwick played the original Captain Marvel from the 1973 live action Saturday morning show “SHAZAM!” which was my favorite show from when I was 6 years old.  I  dare say that this show may have been the early inspiration for the costuming bug I developed years later.  I remember yelling “SHAZAM!” and tying a towel around my neck and pretending to be Captain Marvel (or as I call him Shazam).

Read more

Jimbo’s Writing Tips : Fight procrastination with procrastination????

A year or so ago, I wrote a blog entry called “Laying out the Damn Pennysaver” and I talked about how someone could get a book published while working a day job and trying to have a social life…   Read the blog entry if you get a chance, but the short version is that if you write one hour a day at lunch, you will eventually have something complete. It may not be fast, but it will be consistent and the Tortoise and the Hare shows that consistency will eventually win out as the fast get tired.

I learned that method while writing my last book “Lost Boys of the Bronx – the Oral History of the Ducky Boys” and I am continuing to use it for my new (as yet untitled) book about people who have the unorthodox hobby of costuming even when its not Halloween…  See my blog at “You’re only as relevant as your next project” for more on that book.

Anyhoo, I was thinking about the Pennysaver article recently because I just started a two-week vacation and I was planning to do 8-hour shifts of writing to get ahead in my writing of the new book…  And yesterday, I ran into one of the big problems I had before my “one hour a day” method…   It is really easy to get overwhelmed with everything you want to do at once…  You have all these hours ahead of you that you “think” you’ll be 8 times as productive as you are during that one hour…It doesnt work that way…More time equals more time to procrastinate and do other stuff  (Facebook anybody?)   I’ll be honest this blog entry itself is just a way to avoid doing…   But since this is writing, I’ll allow it… And if it helps anyone, then its worth it…

My new plan to fight procrastination is to fight it with…. procrastination????     Meaning  have to have multiple projects going on (that are important to where you want to go with your life – and I’m not talking about watching TV or framing a Shazam! photo – which I did this morning)

Having multiple projects means that if you don’t want to do something on Project 1, you can procrastinate and do something on Project (2 or Project 3, 4,5 or 6).  That way your productivity increases overall, and you still have the feeling that you avoided doing something you didn’t really want to do at the time.  Then when you have to do the next step on the 2nd project, you can Read more

SuperHeroes for Hayley event – 10/1/2011

Hey it’s almost time for another round of WIDOMW (What I Did On My Vacation) posts.  Last year was a flurry of events including events promoting my new book (at the time) – Lost Boys of the Bronx– The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang.  ( c’mon you knew I had to  advertise it at least once LOL),  NY Comic Con, an Irish-American Writers party with some big names, a Halloween Parade, and a few charity events – where one sparked one of the greatest nicknames ever – the Peeping Princess…  Click the WIDOMV category over there on the right to read some of those adventures…

Starting Friday (10/7), I’m starting another 2-week October vacation.   Now if you’re from my regular day-job, I will be in Cuba without phone or email and please stop reading right now however.

Ok, good it’s just my friends now, so I can be honest – I’ve got a few events lined up – NY Comic Con,  the annual Irish-American Writers & Artists Awards party, my best friend Jeff’s show down at the Brighton Bar, and God knows what else…  Check my Facebook or Twitter page to see where I’ll be, and check back here after the fact and I’m sure I’ll have a report of what happened…

But my biggest plans for the next two weeks may not sound thrilling to some, but to me it’s heaven.  For the next two weeks, I’ll be splitting my time between my home-office and the local Scotch Plains library working on taking a big chunk out of my new book.

“What new book?” Well, you may want to check out this link for a little better background on me and my project.  But, the short version is that for the last few months I have been interviewing some really cool & interesting people who get dressed up in costumes for various reasons and finding out what makes them tick.   The reasons people put on a costume are a lot deeper than you would think.

Well anyway, speaking of really cool costumers, I attended a really cool costuming event yesterday (10/1/2011) down in Flemington, NJ called SuperHeroes for Hayley.  It was a charity event set up by HomeTown Club in Somerset, NJ to benefit the family of a 12 year old girl with brain cancer.   The Star Wars costuming group I belong to called the 501st Legion – NorthEast Remnant Garrison was requested by the fabulous Amber Love and we showed up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Saturday morning.

Read more

What I learned about Human Nature from Hurricane Irene (and the small earthquake a few days earlier)

Well we’re finally out of the woods on Hurricane Irene…  The last few days have been pretty intense with the buildup the media has been giving – And while Jackie & I survived it pretty much intact, not everyone was so lucky.   There was a river running down the main street of our town (and we aren’t close to any regular rivers), and the reports and pictures from Facebook show that people in other parts of town had some real damage.

My good friend Anna Zelikman took a bunch of pictures of Scotch Plains-Fanwood showing the damage that Hurricane Irene did to our town.

Here is the link to those pictures…
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.243539165685094&type=1

As you can see, it was no joke – Yes, that is a picture of a tree that split down the middle and crashed into the street AND landed on the side of some poor bastards house in there.

Now Jackie & I did the smart thing and stayed indoors throughout the hurricane so we can’t really comment on the actual devastation out there outside of Anna’s pictures, but we did watch a LOT of TV and see a lot of my Facebook friends postings about what happened…  And that dear reader, is the theme of this blog.

What I learned about Human Nature from Hurricane Irene (and the earthquake a few days earlier).

First, pre-hurricane, people were already skittish about ol’ Mother Nature.  A couple of days earlier there was an earthquake in Virginia that was felt all the way up to Maine.  Here in NJ we felt it as well, but it was very small and lasted maybe 30 seconds tops.   But it was very telling about human nature and that leads us up to my first Human Nature insight:

1.  People want to know EVERYTHING about something before they react.

Read more

Richard and the Young Lions – 7 years later

Today is June 17th, 2011 – which is the 7 year anniversary of the passing of Howard “Richard” Tepp – The lead singer of Richard and the Young Lions (also known as RYL).  I wasn’t thinking about that milestone intentionally today, but it kinda jumped out at me accidentally, so it seems like the universe really wanted me to make a note out of it.  and what better way than a blog?  :)

Other than today being the release of the new Green Lantern movie (just remember, my company name is LANTERN Media Productions), it wasn’t supposed to be an extra-ordinary day.   I was just working from home, trying to decide which showing of the movie I will see.

I was Twittering back and forth with my friend Jedi-J (aka Jason Antonelli) about my Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang book and my Out of Our Dens: The Richard and the Young Lions Story documentary I did back in 2004.  I had recently sent both to him, and he had just finished them and was giving me his review on both.

Side Note:  Jedi-J (his preferred name, don’t ask LOL) is one of my interview subjects for my new book about costumers, and we’ve become friends over the last few months.  He does a killer Obi-Wan Kenobi (the Ewan McGregor one), and has a really interesting story that will come out partially in my new book, but really deserves his own book – If nobody else grabs him by the time I’m done with this book, I’m seriously going to consider writing it myself)

So, I was talking with Jedi-J about my RYL documentary and he asked how the band was doing nowadays, and I told him that Richard Tepp had died back in June 2004 – I forgot the date, but it was 4 days after I had completely finished my documentary on him and the band.    And Jedi-J was really shocked that he had died, and started asking questions about the days leading up to his passing, and how he felt the documentary became a lot more poignant knowing that.

Read more

Band Review: Black 47 at the Stone Pony, Memorial Day 2011

Band Review: Black 47 at the Stone Pony, Memorial Day 2011

As biased as my previous review was, this one will be also.  But, unlike the previous review, I became biased towards Black 47, not because of friendships (which came later), but because I was just a super fan going back to their early days (1989-1991) when they were playing in the Norwood/Bainbridge section of the Bronx – which just happened to be my old neighborhood.

I’m kinda embarrassed to admit this, but I never did see the band live when they were playing back in my old neighborhood.  They had played in the local Irish bars, and by this time I had already given up drinking at the ripe old age of 16 (more common in my Irish-American neighborhood than you would expect)

I don’t remember who exactly, but “someone” recommended Black 47, and I picked up their CD – probably at Crazy Eddie’s on Fordham Road. I was really surprised that I liked their music.   I DID NOT like Irish music at all at that time tho – too many parentally-forced listenings of “Wild Colonial Boy” and “The Unicorn” on WFUV’s Sunday radio program will do that to you.

Read more