Real-world author events are usually overrated unless you are Christina Oxenberg

Being in the right place at the right time and taking advantage of a situation should not be underrated.

Taryn Ryder, writing for omg!, reported [claimed] that Gwyneth Paltrow hijacked the East Hampton Library’s 9th Annual Authors Night on  Saturday, August 10.

And Christina Oxenberg may have been the loudest complainer quoted by the media. Oxenberg complained about the number of people who came to see the A-list actress.  Then Oxenberg complained about the A-list actress’s healthy vegan lifestyle and decided to eat unhealthy food at her author table next to Paltrow to rub it in and of course get more attention.

How many authors were at this event? Ryder failed to mention that in her omg! piece.

IMDb reported, “Paltrow was one of about a hundred writers who gathered for the East Hampton Library’s Authors Night … and she was seated — “due to the inflexibility of the alphabet” — next to writer Christina Oxenberg at the fund-raising event. Paltrow was signing her cookbook “It’s All Good,” Oxenberg her latest book “Life Is Short: Read Short Stories.”

Christina Oxenberg should get down on her knees and thank God that Paltrow’s table was next to her’s, because now Oxenberg and her work has been exposed to millions of readers who would have never heard of her. I never heard of her. Have you heard of her?

I think that’s why Oxenberg acted like a smart “ass” to make sure she was noticed and quoted by the media. After all, even bad publicity is better than no publicity. Besides, the media doesn’t pay much attention to someone being polite and nice. In fact, I think you have to be an “ass” to get media exposure and Oxenberg was smart enough not to miss this chance at priceless national media exposure.

Until I read Ryder’s omg! piece, I didn’t know that Oxenberg even existed, and that led me to search Amazon to find out what she writes. The book that Oxenberg was plugging at this one-hundred author event was “Life is Short”.

I couldn’t find “Life is Short” on Amazon, but I did find “Royal Blue”; “Do These Gloves Make My Ass Look Fat?” and “Taxi”.

My wife is an A-list author who has lectured to hundreds of people in sold-out events across the country. But it wasn’t always that way. In 1994, when her first book, Red Azalea, came out—before it became a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and went on to win the Carl Sandburg Award—she had author events in bookstores where no one came.

In addition, I’ve been to a few of my own author events—as a lowly midlist author—ranging from no one showing up to a full house with standing room only, but none of those events sold many books. Even a dozen sales was considered good but can’t compare to one ad on BookBub that sold more than 1,900 copies of my work in one day. I’d be willing to bet that there wasn’t one author at the East Hampton Library’s 9th Annual Authors Night who sold that many books at the event—not even Gwyneth Paltrow.

The best thing that ever happened to Christina Oxenberg as an author was sitting next to Gwyneth Paltrow. It was like winning the lottery. I wonder if Oxenberg realizes that yet.

What did I learn? When opportunity knocks, make sure to open the door like Oxenberg did and make a smart ass of myself unless I’m too much of a dumb ass to even notice.


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran and English-journalism teacher.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy that started life as a memoir and then became a fictional suspense thriller. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The NEED to Edit – Part 1/6

Authors have one challenge most artists outside of writing do not have.

Most artists, such as painters, do not need to worry about developing skills in the logical, analytical, fact-based side of the brain. Instead these artists work almost exclusively out of the holistic, feelings based, emotional side of the brain where the imagination and creativity blossom.

Unfortunately, for authors, the craft of writing requires using both sides of the brain with an emphasis on the left side of the brain’s organized, analytical, fact-based logic where editing skills hide.

Writing the rough draft of a book length manuscript is the easy part of an author’s work and mostly this work takes place in the right side of the brain.

For editing and revisions, authors must switch gears to the left side of the brain where these skills work. If those skills have not been developed, the author—as an artist—is crippled.

However, there is an option. Authors may hire someone (more on this later with links, but I want to be clear—I am NOT an editor for hire. I am an author and I do most of my own editing) and pay for the left-brain labor of editing/revisions unless the author is economically deprived.

For example, economically deprived authors should know there are rules that govern where commas go. In fact, there are thirty-three pages in The Writer’s Digest Grammar Desk Reference on how to properly use commas, and I use my copy of this 354 page book (designed for writers) often.

More examples: The dash [ — ] looks similar to the hyphen [ – ] but these two punctuation marks have different functions in a sentence, and the semi-colon has a different job than the colon (and I’m not talking about the colon that is the main part of the large intestine but the one that is a punctuation mark—they are both nouns and are spelled the same way).

Did you know there is a difference in meaning for on to and onto, and what does the dash [ — ] and the ellipses [ … ] have in common?

The odds are you do not know the answers to the previous question. Yet, the dash, if you have not heard, is “the most dramatic punctuation mark you can deploy within the interior of a sentence. Use it sparingly.”  Source: The Writer’s Digest Grammar Desk Reference

About this time, the author, as an artist, is complaining that he does not have time to mess with editing. Instead, she wants to write the next so-called great novel and has endless excuses why learning how to edit is not important when it comes to the creative process.


Writing, revising and editing are part and parcel of an author’s work, especially if she doesn’t have a contract with a traditional publisher that hires editors to do more than half the author’s job for him.

Moreover, the economically deprived author does not need editing skills equal to an anal-retentive grammarian with a photographic memory and instant recall that has memorized all 532 pages in the fourth course of Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition textbook.

Since the average American reads at fifth-grade level, authors should not worry about a few grumpy perfectionists.

As you will discover by the end of this series of posts, all an author has to do is to write a book that does not distract an avid reader with too many mistakes—let’s say no more than one error every 10,000 words or if we are generous, one error every 5,000 words. If mistakes appear on every page, that may signal the death of a writing career before it has a chance to begin.

Continued August 7, 2012 in The NEED to Edit – Part 2

View this Six-Part Series as a Single Page

Note: My Blog posts do not go through the exhaustive editing process my novels do.


Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”