Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Season's Greetings from Budapest

Happy Holidays to everyone from my second home here in Hungary.  I'm back for just a month this time, visiting friends, strolling through the Christmas markets and sipping hot wine.

The days are short and the temps are chilly.  The other day I took this photo of my favorite bridge across the Danube, the Liberty Bridge (Szabadság híd):

Szabadság híd

This picture was taken at 3:30 in the afternoon and the sun is already going down!  No snow so far, though I'm hoping we get a little before I head back to California in January.  A little bit of holiday snow would be nice.  Fingers crossed, anyway!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Kindle Countdown Deal

I'm running a Kindle Countdown Deal on No Cure for the Broken Hearted this week for the first time since I updated the cover.  The book is on sale for 99 cents and so far I like the results!  Over 130 downloads by noon! Anyone who wants to check it out can do so here:

No Cure for the Broken Hearted

Friday, October 31, 2014

Last gasp of summer

I was up in the mountains and visiting friends in the Bay Area for the past three weeks before returning home to beautiful Laguna Beach.  I figured the summer-like weather and warm ocean temps would be over by the time I got back. I was happy to be wrong!

Usually the water temp here in Laguna is around 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the summertime.  On rare occasions it climbs to 70 or above.  When I got home this past week, the water was still a balmy 71 degrees!

It's hard to complain.  I managed some surfing with friends and a bit of snorkeling.

Now the weather has turned and the skies are threatening rain.  Sea temps are sure to drop soon, too.  Ah well, the good times couldn't last forever.  Plus we need any rain we can get.  And besides, all of the nice weather makes it awfully hard to write!  Maybe now I'll get a little work done. :-)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Autumn in the Eastern Sierra

I'm back up at Mammoth Mountain in the Sierra Nevada mountains this week, putting the finishing touches on my latest novel.  I've arrived at the peak of fall color here in the Eastern Sierra, which is stunning, but also makes it a little hard to sit inside and write!  Yesterday I spent the day at McGee Creek Canyon, hiking and taking photos.  It was a nice day to be out!

I did manage to get some work done this morning, but now it's time to head back out on my bike to enjoy the scenery!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rubbing Shoulders with Giants

After 25 years of rejections from the publishing industry, it certainly is a relief that I am able to finally put my books out on my own these days.  It is even better when I manage an occasional sales boost that lifts me up on Amazon bestseller lists alongside some of my writing idols.

This week I dropped the price on Memoirs of a Starving Artist down to 99 cents and am running some ads to support the sale.  I woke up today to find that I was sitting at number seven on the Author Biographies and Memoirs list, just behind Maya Angelou.

On the Travelogues list I was just ahead of Jon Krakauer and Bill Bryson.

Of course I realize that without these ads and the low price, I'll drop like a rock, but there is still some small thrill in being right up there alongside these literary giants, however fleeting it may be!  And hey, maybe I'll even manage to keep up some momentum.  That dream itself is enough to keep me plugging away...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New Memoir Cover!

I decided this week to change out the cover for my Memoirs of a Starving Artist to portray something more compelling than a coffee cup, which was the image on the previous cover.  I figured I should have something that better represents my journey over the past 20 years or so.  After searching around a bit, I've opted for this one:

I'm pretty happy with it.  Thanks to the designer, James at Go On Write.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Thank You Marie!

It's been a few weeks since I posted anything here, so I think it's time for an update!  I'm currently busy revising away at my latest effort, Bachelor Number Nine, and spending some time in lovely Laguna Beach.

We've had some epic surf this week here in Southern California, thanks to a hurricane named Marie.  Of course, as a surfer I had to take some time off this week to hit it!  These kinds of swells don't come around every day...

After surfing on Wednesday, I headed up to the famous Wedge in Newport Beach to take some photos of the body surfers who have free reign on the place during the day.  Lifeguards kick out all of the surfers and body boarders, just to keep things from getting too crazy out in the water.  Here are some shots:

Today the swell was finally winding down out there, but this is definitely one of those that will be remembered for years to come!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bachelor Number Nine - First Draft finished!

Whew!  When I started working on the second volume in my Bachelor Series last May, I hoped to have a 65,000 word rough draft of Bachelor Number Nine finished by the middle of August.  Well, it is now August 14th and... I just made it!

I've completed my first draft, which came in at 64,911 words.  Only 89 words short of the target!  I'm pretty happy with it at this point.  We'll see how I feel once I get into the revisions, but hopefully I'll have it all done and ready to go by the end of September.  Knock on wood, anyway!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Not One Giveaway, but Two!

This month on Goodreads I'm giving away a free paperback copy of not just one of my books, but two of them!  These giveaways are open to readers in the United States (sorry foreign readers!).  The first book is my latest romance, Bachelor Number Five:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Bachelor Number Five by Kenneth Rosenberg

Bachelor Number Five

by Kenneth Rosenberg

Giveaway ends September 28, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

The second is my non-fiction Memoirs of a Starving Artist: An Itinerant Writer's Journey through an Unconventional Life:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Memoirs of a Starving Artist by Kenneth Rosenberg

Memoirs of a Starving Artist

by Kenneth Rosenberg

Giveaway ends August 31, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win 
Feel free to enter one or both!  Don't want to miss the next one?  Sign up for my New Release and Giveaway notifications list by entering your e-mail below! (No e-mail addresses will be shared with anyone, ever.  Also, signing up for the e-mail list below will not enter you into the giveaways.  Click on the links above for that).

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Good luck to all who enter!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Life Imitates Art

There is a term that screenwriters sometimes use called the "inciting incident."  That is the incident early on in the script that basically sets the story in motion.  For instance, think of the movie Titanic.  Early on, Leonardo di Caprio's character wins passage on the ship in a poker game.  He thinks it is a great bit of luck, but we all know better.  For his character, that one game sets the stage for what will come.  It is the inciting incident.

In my latest novel, Bachelor Number Five, the inciting incident comes when our heroine, Amanda, sees a magazine cover on the rack at her local grocery store.  She is fed up with her life in small-town Iowa.  When she sees a tabloid magazine with a cover promoting the bachelors from her favorite TV show, it sets her own story in motion.  That one image leads her to pack in her life and move off to Hollywood.

The magazine cover in question shows her favorite bachelor standing bare chested on an L.A. beach.  I thought it was a pretty good idea when I wrote it.  Then yesterday I had a bit of a deja vu moment.  I went to my local supermarket and saw this in the magazine rack at the checkout stand:

I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  Hollywood is always trying to sell sexy bachelors and bachelorettes.  Why else would I have written the book?  It is nice to see, however, that my imagination isn't too far off the mark!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

European Sojourn Winding Down

As an itinerant writer, I've spent a big portion of the last five years in Europe.  I've lived in places where the atmosphere is thick with inspiration and the rents are cheap.  This means primarily Lisbon, Tallinn, and most of all Budapest.  Now I'm visiting friends in the south of France, which has been terrific.  I also caught up with some friends outside of Venice and spent some time there getting to know the place.

Overall, I've enjoyed my time in Europe, and I've also found it to be a great place to write, with fantastic cafes and libraries to work in.  I do tend to get a bit homesick at times, though, and I miss the outdoor lifestyle of my native California.  I miss the surfing and snorkeling, mountain biking, hiking and snowboarding.  I miss being able to throw a bunch of camping gear into my pickup truck and head off at a moment's notice on a wilderness adventure.

And so, this present sojourn is coming to a close.  In two more days I'll say au revoir to France, goodbye to Europe, and I'll head on back to sunny So Cal.  It's always sad to say goodbye to the many friends I've made over here, but home is calling my name!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hitting the Big Time!

When I was younger and just starting out as a writer, my dad and I used to joke around about when I finally hit the big time with a big advance or a movie sale that I'd pull up in front of my parents' house in a brand new red Ferrari.  Not that flashy cars are even my style, but somehow the joke stuck, so I couldn't resist taking this photo when I was out in front of the casino in Monte Carlo yesterday.

So here you go, dad!  Not that I've quite hit the big time yet, but maybe this is what it will look like when I do. :-)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Going "Perma-free"

Since I started my self-publishing journey four years ago, sales tactics for self-published authors have constantly evolved.  Back in 2010, not many authors were selling their books for less than $2.99.  Some of us found traction selling ours at 99 cents.  My first book, No Cure for the Broken Hearted, really took off at that price, garnering 300 sales per day for months on end.  It was a good time.

Later, authors began giving away their books for free for limited time periods.  One could get a huge boost in visibility, and thus sales, coming off of a free run.  Amazon's algorithms favored this tactic by placing these books high on the "also bought" lists that customers see when they look at another book.

Eventually Amazon adjusted their algorithms and this benefit evaporated.  These days, one of the tactics self-published authors use is to go permanently free with one of their books, on the hope that if a reader likes it, they might buy other books by the same author.

To give my own sales a boost, I decided to go "perma-free" with No Cure starting last week.  The first week was interesting.  Downloads took off out of the gate, with nearly 500 the first day.  Then they dropped, and dropped and dropped again.  Here's what the sales chart looks like:

By the seventh day, I only had 10 downloads in 24-hours.  Not so stellar.  Oddly, I didn't announce or promote the book being free until the second day, where I posted it in a few places on Facebook and Twitter.  I'm not sure why it took off like that all at once in the beginning.  What I do know is that when I gave this book away for a week several years ago, I had 45,000 total downloads.  That time I was picked up for a mention by a prominent promotional website.

In any case, I'm planning to leave this one free for the time being.  I'll try promoting it here and there, and hopefully pick up a few readers along the way.  For anyone who wants to read the book but hasn't yet, feel free! :-)

Monday, May 19, 2014

A movie about cats

I saw the movie Inside Llewyn Davis last night, and while I liked it a lot, I never realized going in that it was really a movie about cats.  The film follows the fictional Llewyn Davis, a struggling folk singer in the 1960’s in New York.

Now of course I can relate to and appreciate any film about a struggling artist trying to survive through his craft.  Not all that much happens to him though, but here is my general synopsis.  Spoiler alert, if you don't want to know what happens with the cats, look away now.  Otherwise, here we go:

Llewyn accidentally lets out his friend’s cat.
He takes the cat home.
He loses the cat.
He finds the cat.
He takes the cat back.
The cat he found was the wrong cat.
He takes the wrong cat on a road trip.
He loses the wrong cat.
He runs the wrong cat over in the car.
The wrong cat hobbles off into the woods to die.
Llewyn returns to New York.
The original cat comes home.
The end.

For those who haven’t seen it yet but wondered what the movie was really about, you’re welcome.  A few other notes: firstly I appreciated the fact that Davis was a merchant sailor in the Seafarers International Union, of which I also have a history.  Secondly, I really am tired of John Goodman playing overblown, over-the-top characters in every single Coen brothers movie, though his character this time was also left by the side of the road to die, so maybe that is that last we’ll be seeing of him?  One can hope.

To wrap my little review here, I do actually recommend the film.  Most struggling artists never do quite make it, even if they are talented, but that doesn’t make the journey taken any less worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Money Can’t Buy Happiness…

…at least not always, anyway.  Or intelligence or sanity.  This observation after reading the newspapers back home in California lately about the whole Donald Sterling affair.

For anyone who hasn’t been following the story, Sterling is the owners of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, who made disparaging remarks a few weeks ago about black people in general and basketball legend Magic Johnson in particular.

After those comments became public, the ensuing firestorm resulted in him being banned from the NBA and most likely he will be forced to sell the team.  This week he went on CNN to apologize.  He did so by making more disparaging remarks about black people in general and Magic Johnson in particular.  This guy just doesn’t know when to shut up.

Obviously Sterling is insensitive, ignorant and out of his mind.  That much has been widely discussed and agreed upon by just about everyone on the planet.  Another side to the story that strikes me, however, is that here is a guy worth nearly $2 billion, yet at the moment anyway, he seems to be one of the most miserable SOB’s around.

Sterling’s wife has apparently abandoned him.  Likewise his “friend,” the attractive woman he used to take to the games that released the recording in the first place.  His beloved team is in the process of being stripped away.  Even PR firms are refusing to take him on as a client.  It makes me wonder who the guy has to hang out with at all anymore.  I picture him sitting on a couch in some big fancy mansion, completely alone and despised.

This all reminds me of another story of a miserable eccentric millionaire from Los Angeles.  Back in the 1980’s, Georges Marciano rose to fame and fortune with his name brand clothing company, Guess.  As everybody knows, it was a huge success and he became very wealthy. 

Also somewhat paranoid.  He thought numerous former employees were stealing his money.  Marciano went after them in court with great zeal, spending millions of dollars and going through 17 different law firms. 

The charges were baseless and the figures minor in the grand scheme of things, but the issue consumed him, robbing his life of joy.  At one point Marciano’s assets were valued at $360 million.  But then his employees counter-sued, and won, leading to an original judgment against him of $425 million (later reduced to $260 mil).  Long story short, Marciano is now bankrupt.

There are plenty of other examples of very wealthy people who are unhappy.  I wonder sometimes about Donald Trump.  Is he happy?  That blathering blowhard of birtherdom?  Maybe so, but that doesn’t make him any less an idiot, forever craving the spotlight.

In any case, it is good to remember sometimes for the rest of us as we chase after our own material gain, hamsters forever running in the wheel of consumerism, that money isn’t what life is all about.  You can have billions of dollars and still be miserable.

Or you can be flat broke yet have your friends and your family and perhaps a sunny afternoon in spring to do with what you like.  Those are the things, after all, that really make life worth living.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Bagging the Tallest Peak in Hungary

Here in Hungary I'm busy working away on my latest novel and enjoying the cafe life in the capital city, but that doesn't mean I don't like to get out and about now and again.  This week I went off on a nice excursion with my friend Gabor to climb the tallest peak in the country.  Luckily, this didn't prove too taxing.  Kékes mountain is only 1,014 meters high (or 3,327 feet).

Up at the top is a TV tower, where if you pay 480 forints (about $2.17), you can take a lift up to a viewing platform.  The view is quite nice, and worth the price of admission:

The hike through the forest to get there is equally stunning.  Most people actually drive to the top, which means that the woods were a quiet and peaceful antidote to a crowded holiday weekend in Budapest. 

All in all, a nice day out, and despite plenty of thunder and clouds all around, we even managed to avoid the rain.  Good thing since I'd left my raincoat at home!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Back in Budapest

I do feel these days that I have two completely different lives, on two completely different continents.  There is my California life, with surfing and snowboarding, and spending time with family.  I just spent the past ten months in that life, much of it up at Mammoth Mountain for the winter.  Then there is my Hungarian life, hanging out in my favorite haunts to sip a latte and work on my writing, visiting with friends and generally enjoying a continental existence.

I first came to Budapest in 2009, looking for a city with ambiance, low rents and lots of good cafes to write in.  I found all of that and more as I developed a great social network as well.

Now I'm back in this city on the Danube for another extended stay.  How long this time?  I don't know.  Maybe until the fall.  Time will tell.  In the meantime, it is good to be back, reconnecting with friends and settling in at the cafes with my laptop and a latte.  Hopefully something good will come out of it!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Amazon's blowing them out!

A funny thing happened last December with the paperback version of my book Memoirs of a Starving Artist.  I sold around 8 copies all at the same time to friends and family who planned to give them for Christmas presents.  Amazon must have thought that meant the book was selling pretty well.  Normally they don't stock copies of POD books like this in their warehouse, they just print them when someone orders one.  In this case, they actually went ahead and printed 20 copies to keep in stock so that they'd have them on hand to ship right away.  Then a funny thing happened.  Nobody else bought any.  They'd already paid me the royalty up front though on all 20 copies, which was around $4 apiece on each $12.99 book.

So, fast forward to the present.  They still have all of these copies sitting in their warehouse collecting dust, and apparently they don't know what to do with them.  They just discounted them on down to $5.87, which means that after printing costs and the royalties they paid me, this is definitely a losing proposition for them.  If anyone wants to pick up a cheap copy, though, now's the time!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Bachelor Number Five - Now Live!

Bachelor Number Five is finally here!  My latest romance novel and the first book in my new Bachelor Series is finished and live on Amazon.  This series follows the lives and loves of a group of young professionals living in the same apartment building in Hollywood, beginning with the story of Amanda Perkins, a small-town girl from Iowa living in the big city for the first time.

For anyone who has been stopping by here for the past five weeks, I've been posting sample chapters.  This week I'll conclude these excerpts with Chapter Six.  If you care to check out the book on Amazon, please click on the cover image above.  Thanks!

Chapter Six

 Amanda sat with her laptop computer on the kitchen table, scrolling online ads for waitressing jobs.  She’d already applied for a few positions, sending her short resume in an email to some promising places.  As she read the listing for a job at a kosher deli on the west side, her eyes wandered to the search box at the top right corner of her browser.  The box was taunting her; tempting her to type in the query she was really most interested in after all.  It was far too hard to resist.  Amanda clicked her cursor in the box and typed the words.  Grant Hutchinson The Bride.  Enter.  Back came a whole string of results, mostly articles about the show itself.  She clicked on “Images” and saw various photos of bachelor number five; in a tuxedo, on a horse, holding a bouquet of flowers.  She’d already seen this stuff before.  What interested Amanda at the moment was any information she could find about where he hung out in LA.  Besides the nightclubs she already knew about, what restaurants did he go to?  What part of town did he live in?  Who were his friends?  How could she organize her life to give herself the very best chance of crossing his path?
The realization that Amanda actually was stalking him did bother her some.  Apparently Piper was right.  Was Amanda turning into one of those people that you read about in the papers, arrested on the street in front of some famous person’s house, refusing to leave them alone?  Obsessing over some fantasy and desperate for a life not their own?  Hers wasn’t all just a fantasy, was it?  She and Grant wanted the same things; to find that perfect mate, settle down, get married.  They both wanted kid and a happily ever after.  Grant wouldn’t be on the show if he didn’t want those things.  He wouldn’t be chasing after the bride if he didn’t want to end up with someone in the end.  Obviously he failed to understand that this bride was entirely the wrong woman for him.  He hadn’t seen the segments showing her dates with the other bachelors.  He had no idea how narcissistic she really was.  He didn’t understand how miserable he would be if he went through with the wedding at the end of the show.  If Amanda could somehow meet him, she’d be doing him an enormous favor.  Even if she didn’t end up with Grant herself, at least she could warn him.  That was all the rationalization she needed to carry on searching.  She was merely being a humanitarian, and so she scoured the links, looking for clues.
Facebook had more than 20 Grant Hutchinson’s, none of whom looked like her man.  A few had avatars for their pictures, making it impossible to tell what the person really looked like.  The restrictive privacy settings made these profiles a dead end.  Her general web search offered no information that she didn’t already have.  What she needed were some basic clues.  Where did he like to eat?  What gym did he go to?  What neighborhood did he live in?
IMDB listed a few acting credits; bit parts on some second-rate television shows.  Nothing useful.  It was when she checked LinkedIn that Amanda finally hit pay dirt.  Grant Hutchinson, actor, Los Angeles.  She clicked on the profile and a smiling picture of Bachelor Number Five stared back at her from the page.  Born, Houston, Texas.  Age: 26.  Graduated from the University of Texas at Austin.  His resume included some of the same acting gigs plus a few roles in regional plays.  Below that was a series of food service and bartending positions, starting with a honky-tonk in Austin and continuing on to a hamburger joint in Hollywood.  Her heart almost quit beating when she saw the word “present.”  Could it really be true?  Was he still working there, even now?  The possibility that all she had to do was go get a hamburger and she might finally meet the man of her dreams made her lightheaded.  On The Bride he was referred to as an entrepreneur but there was no mention of that here.  Maybe he waited tables to supplement his income until his company took off?  She did a quick search for the restaurant, The Hamburger Hut.  It was located on Melrose, less than a mile away.  Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.
The clock on Amanda’s computer read 9:02 a.m.  She had just two hours to wait.  She’d go there for lunch and maybe even apply for a job while she was at it.  There was no better way to get to know Grant than that, working with him side by side.  Amanda felt a surging sense of confidence and well-being.  Everything was going to work out, she was sure of it.  As for right now, she’d have a quick bowl of cereal and then head down to Santa Monica.  She wanted to see first-hand where Bachelor Number Five went to the beach.  Who knew, maybe he’d even be down there catching some waves before work?  Amanda moved across the kitchen and pulled a box of cereal from her shelf.  Next she took out a fresh container of milk from the fridge.  When she’d poured the cereal in a bowl and added the milk, she could hardly get it down fast enough.  Today was the day, she told herself!  Deep in her bones, she could feel it.