Amazing New York penthouse

If you read this blog from time to time you know I’m a sucker for luxury apartments and houses as well as good design. I’m also deeply in love with New York City which is why New York penthouses and townhouses pop up on this page sometimes. I’m not in real estate, but the industry has fascinated me ever since I read Pulitzer Prize winner Independence Day by Richard Ford. The book deals with the life of real estate agent (among other things) Frank Bascombe and his family issues and although the reviews are torn for this book, I absolutely loved it. Together with American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis they are perhaps the strongest inspiration for my novel The Wake-Up Call. I recommend all three of them 🙂

Anyway, let’s get to the point…(cough)…penthouse.

It’s in TriBeCa and covers 10 000 square feet. Now I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves (more pictures and details here)

144 Duane Street, New York

For a measly $100 000 a month you can rent this fantastic 13 500 square feet penthouse in the Tribeca area of New York. I was considering it, but when I saw that it only has half a basketball court, I got very disappointed so Lenah and I will keep on looking for the right place. If you’re interested you can check out the details and some more pictures at Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate (direct link to the apartment page).

Beverly Hills makes for Heavenly Bills

But there sure are beautiful houses. Just look at Lisa Vanderpump‘s (from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) “house”. Lenah and I are doing plenty of Hollywood and celebrity research for my upcoming novel (set in the Hollywood celebrity world, Rome and New York) at the moment and it’s quite interesting. I’m working hard whenever I get a free moment and I hope to release the novel named Hollywood PA on April 1st (not as an April fools joke!).

I will post more information about the upcoming book over the next two months, it’s a humorous take on the Hollywood lifestyle and also a love story with a twist. It will be interesting to see what people think of it when it’s released. For now, please enjoy these photos of Beverly Hills housewife, Lisa Vanderpump’s fabulous “house”.

A Wake-Up Call inspired poster

I wouldn’t say the TV series Mad Men is very close to The Wake-Up Call but there’s something about the cover to series 4 that gives me that Jack Reynolds-feeling from this scene:

Stepping inside my ridiculously large and luxurious office immediately makes me feel a tiny bit better. It’s supposed to be the warmest welcome you can get to your workday and it’s somewhat comforting that it still does to me. You see, I was always a sucker for the Wall Street movies, from Gordon Gekko to Patrick Bateman (yeah, although he’s a psycho you’ve got to admit the guy’s got class) and I always wanted floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows, big expensive art on the walls and a large dominating desk giving you the feeling that here works one of the most powerful men in New York. The view from here, on the 34th floor, is breathtaking. Everything in it is carefully thought out, has a price tag that blows your mind and screams POWER. If you’re in a salary discussion with me and you’re not intimidated, then I am.

Mad Men is by the way an excellent series with a score of 8.9 out of 10 on IMDB.

Write What You Know?

what_you_know

One of my favorite books on writing (aptly named “On Writing“) is written by Stephen King and in that book he regurgitates and then chews on one of the most common rules for writing; write what you know.

First time I read it it made a helluva lot of sense. I mean, it does sound damn difficult to write about space when you have spent all of your life with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Yet, if you can’t write about what you like, doesn’t it take away the fun of it? The reason you write is because it’s fun, right? Then it doesn’t make sense to write about accounting or plumbing (because honestly that doesn’t sound very exciting for a plot).

So the learning from this is that you should write what you LIKE. Whatever it is. Maybe you want to write about Martian plumbers? Knock yourself out. Or maybe you write a story about an accountant and his battle with Microsoft Excel? And maybe that story will be fantastic. Because it’s all about how you tell it.

Let’s say you want to write about an obese man in his upper twenties who’s decided to do what it takes to reach his dream of becoming an astronaut. Chances are you don’t know jack about being an astronaut, you might not be in your twenties anymore, and you’ve always been quite skinny. Then you need to do research, you need to listen, you need to soak up information to be able to make the story as TRUE as possible.

Don’t be lazy with research. Today you don’t have to bog your head down in library books for hours on end. Today you have your friend Google and his father the Internet. You might not be able to feel the sea breeze in the Caribbean by image browsing, but you can get a LOT of information online. Use it to your advantage. You’re going to learn a lot of stuff you don’t need, but they say we’re only using about 10 percent of our brains so my guess is you have space.

For me it works best to mix write what you know with write what you like. I have to feel an interest in the story, the characters, the topic and I have to feel the confidence that I can tell the story in the right way and make justice to it. Otherwise both I and the reader lose.

When I wrote The Wake-Up Call I placed it in a setting I was very familiar with (the advertising world) and placed it in a city I love (New York), but I also went out of my comfort zone when writing about Mexico. I wrote about something I care about (the pace of the world, how to deal with a breakdown, how to face life when it finally catches up with you) and from the viewpoint of a character I’m interested in (the narrator, Jack Reynolds). I didn’t plot it, because I don’t like plotted novels so much, and because there’s a joy in being able to unearth the fossil (another one of King’s phrases) and discover the story as I wrote it. This leads to more editing and plenty more rewrites than a plotted novel, but is a lot more fun and leads to a more creative and original end result (I hope).

The Wake-Up Call is my first published novel, although I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid. It was quite an effort to pull off, because I couldn’t stop rewriting it, but after the tenth or so rewrite I decided this was it. It was time to hit the publish button.

This was in the beginning of September this year. Since then I sold a decent number of books and gotten a good review or three, but I’ve realized that to sell even more I should probably have chosen a stronger niche or genre. It seems like you really need to do your marketing research properly, even as an indie author/enthusiast.

What do I mean by that? Well, you could argue that there’s no point in writing books that nobody wants to read. Or maybe there is? Maybe you just have to get that story out of you, because YOU believe in it and YOU feel the need to tell it?

To be honest with you, I don’t know. Everybody wants to sell or at least for people to read what they’ve written and there’s few things as sad as unappreciated writers who spent years on a book that very few ever read. An extreme example would be John Kennedy Toole and his Pulitzer prize winning book A Confederacy of Dunces. Toole got the prize posthumously because he committed suicide after the book he’d worked on and believed in so strongly failed to get published.

But today in the era of self-publishing and DYI-marketing getting published is not the problem, it’s getting people to like what you write and to SELL (we don’t like that word do we? – me I think there’s a reason it rhymes with HELL).

The general feeling I have about most self-published authors is that they write either science-fiction, thrillers, crime, or romance and that these genres are very popular. Because even if you write for a small niche, the competition will be less tough and the readership more devoted to the topic and by default more interested in what you have to say.

This is what I’ve slowly come to realize. It might be that I’m off, but it’s a strong feeling.

I decided to write a book I would like to read myself (which I think goes for most writers, otherwise it would be weird) and since I’m not so much into science-fiction, romance, thrillers, and crime – I guess I’ll have to call it contemporary, commercial or general fiction (the categories among e-book sellers like Amazon, Smashwords and Kobo vary greatly).

And now here comes the crunch. Who does this appeal to? Everyone who’s into fiction? No. The problem is that the definition is so broad and the competition so fierce that it’s very hard to reach your ideal reader. Who would like The Wake-Up Call? I hope a lot of people. But how do I reach out to them and compete with established publishers and authors?

People would say social media (twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google Plus, etc), but the problem there is to reach the right person and to win their attention with your story.

I’ve come to learn it’s not easy. But you can’t give up either. You wrote the damn thing and you want people to read it.

Just take John Locke for example. He claims he spent $25 000 on marketing and didn’t get very much out of it. Then he started blogging and twittering and not long thereafter he was in the Kindle Million Club.

So social media might work for you after all.

I’m trying a little bit of everything myself. We’ll see how it goes and I promise to keep you posted on this very blog (and on twitter or Goodreads of course!)

If you want to help me out why not check out my book THE WAKE-UP CALL on Amazon, Nook, iTunes, Smashwords

I know this was long and if you managed to get this far I just want to say…Thanks for listening.

Retro New York images

There are some really cool New York images from the 40s here. If you check them out you’ll find that some things have changed big-time but some have hardly changed at all! The beautiful city of New York still carries that special, vibrant glow that makes people write poems, books and make movies about it. It’s a city with a pulse entirely of its own.

When I wrote my novel The Wake-Up Call I had to place the main parts of it there, although I knew it’s kind of a clichĂ©. My central character Jack Reynolds simply couldn’t be based anywhere else but in the world’s capital and I couldn’t write so lovingly about any other city in the world.

Google analytics tells me a lot of my visitors find the New York tag but I’m not exactly sure why or from where. Sure, I write a lot about New York, but I still can’t figure out why the New York googlers keep on coming.

I guess I should hope a few of them happen to stumble upon my book…

The Smurfs in New York

Maybe I’ve lost my (possibly imagined) sense of humor completely, but when Lenah, Aiden and I went to see The Smurfs (3D) I (we) laughed out loud enough times to stop and wonder.

But no matter what the amateur critics at IMDB think, this movie is pretty funny.

The animation is good, some of the actors (Hank Azaria as Gargamel) do a nice job and the setting is of course wonderful (New York, New York).

My favorite Smurf was the Narrator-Smurf. He looked good in his blazer and I enjoyed his movie-trailer voice.

Now go smurf yourselves!