Let the Shilling Begin

March 28, 2012 § 15 Comments

What happens when a novelist is also an advertiser?  Well, it’s not pretty. That’s what happens. They say Cormac McCarthy is an elusive writer who won’t do interviews.  I am a non-elusive writer who will do interviews and will also pretend to poison everyone at a book reading for Absence of Nectar and drive twelve hours to an influential bookstore and just pretend happen to be in town and hire twenty college kids to read House of Gentle Men outside another bookstore and do websites and mass mailings and donut bribes and letters and readings and talks and get on a plane to North Carolina with a suitcase full of galleys and drive all the way back through the south, visiting unsuspecting bookstores and getting attacked by an ironically placed bookstore Doberman*, and take out ads and have young people do my bidding and scheme and shill and wheedle and lurk and stalk and, together with my dear unwitting squirrel-hating mother, become the Joan and Melissa Rivers of literature, because this is the 21st century, baby, I’m not Cormac McCarthy, and all bets are off.

Besides, I love stories and fear some day I will choose a good story over my life.  And to make a few good stories on the way to selling a good story is an author’s great joy.

Blue Asylum finally comes out April 10th. In the meantime, some recent publicity efforts:

Here’s a link to the Who’s Crazier website that the Phoenix and I came up with over lunch at a restaurant in Santa Barbara.


The cakes are something I had made for the Martin Agency in Richmond, VA, for the Open Bribe category, soon to be represented at the One Show.

Here’s some letters from the main characters of Blue Asylum some cool college kids from Oregon dreamed up to send with galleys to independent bookstores. (The actual letters were sent on vintage paper, folded in 19th century style, in an envelope marked Sanibel Asylum)

Blue asylum letters from characters

And finally, there’s the Oprah thing.  No, I haven’t given up.  My master plan is now in motion and it is a good one. An epic Hail Mary pass to the mystical and supreme daytime lord who never gave me the time of day or a car. First one to guess my master plan to get Oprah a copy of Blue Asylum wins a nice new hardback copy, just off the press, of which an author gets twenty-five free.  Here is your hint:  Shawshank Redemption.  And it doesn’t count if I already told you. (No, I am not going to burrow through her wall in Montecito. She has men with guns.)

*I don’t remember the exact breed. He was mean and tried to bite me, and I think he ate the bookstore cat who came before him.


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§ 15 Responses to Let the Shilling Begin

  • jeff says:


  • Thank you, Jeff. See you Sunday.

  • Every month that we’re not shilling for what we believe in, 500,000,000 Americans lose their jobs in all 57 states. Just sayin’
    Found the whole “Who’s Crazier” experience almost sensuously therapeutic, and wonder if Dr. Cowell would recommend the water treatment for that?
    Epic Hail Mary pass… either you’re going to jog in front of Oprah dropping loose pages from your yoga pants OR you’ll stuff kibbles in a copy of Blue Asylum and bury the book in her stone fence, for her dogs to retrieve.

  • Those are both very good guesses…and cheaper than the stunt I am actually imagining. Maybe I will tack those on top. My favorite part of the who’scrazier site is the Mickey Rourke poem.

  • sarasmile101 says:

    I read the word Shawshank and the first senario that jumped into my mind to get your book to Oprah …was to shrink wrap a copy of Blue Asylum securely and then bake it into a chicken pie and ship it to her post-haste. But first you’d have to look up the name of her favorite pie bakers that she had on her show (I confess that know about this through watching the Soup) they should be easy to find because she tends to list all her favorites somewhere right? It might actually help if you get hold of their recipe through bribery or some such method since taste is everything. Once you have a freshly baked pie concealing your new book you might want to further cover the deception by using your advertising skills to make a matching label that looks like it really came from those same Oprah-approved bakers. If she’s anything like me with a new pie in her hands she will eat the whole thing immediately thus finding your book. But the shock of finding a book like this might stun her a bit. A stunned Oprah might not be so open to reading a book discovered in such an odd fashion so getting her to start reading it might involve some sort of prompt like a cleverly written letter to her inside the front cover. Such as: “Oprah I’d do ANYTHING for you …if you want more pies read on to chapter TWO…” you’d have to make it a bit more interesting which should be no problem for you…basically create a handwritten-in ‘choose your own adventure’ that gives Oprah treats for getting started on your book extra fast. I’m sure she’d want to start reading it quickly on it’s own merits but after that much pie she might be a bit sleepy so every bit of encouragement helps right? Once you get her rolling through a couple chapter you are solid! Just thinking about this makes me want a fresh, Blue Asylum pie coated in low-fat chocolate pudding. Plus if this idea fails you could try sweet potato pie next. The options are endless! xoxo

  • Okay Sara that idea is actually better than my idea. And $800 cheaper. Thinking…

    • sarasmile101 says:

      YAY! Glad you like it – the only real drawback/hassle would be if Oprah gets all ‘if you SEE something SAY something’ and calls someone and then homeland security gets hold of the decoy pie and then hunts you down for suspicious activity against Oprah. But even then…think of the publicity!

      She really DOES love pie though…so I can’t imagine she’d turn it over to the FBI without having a few slices first. On The Soup clip I saw ages ago she’s manically shrieking PIE!PIE!GOoooOODPIE! I suppose it’s possible you could just BUY her a darn chicken pie from the bakers she loves and put the book in a giftbox NEXT to it. It’s just not super newsworthy and she might miss the book in all of the pie excitement : )

      Are you joined to her Facebook page? I went there earlier since I’m intrigued by your quest to meet her (I’m easily obsessed and home with bad allergies and two sleepy cats today – so Oprah-quest is more than enough to keep me entertained for an afternoon) But I may have gone over the deep end since I’m starting to think that meeting Oprah is something we should all strive to do. It can’t hurt right? Check out the line-up of dogs on her page – do they look familiar? Maybe she’s joined to local rescue-dog charity group that you know about and could meet her through. Or maybe that pet-psychic you fired knows Oprah’s dogs? Or maybe there is a WAY better pet psychic she uses that is a mere phone call away? xoxo


      • Saintly Mother says:

        OK, Sarasmile, you have struck fear into my heart. Kathy can get into enough trouble by herself, but you appear to be as insanely clever. I may have to solicit some gun-toting relatives to caravan to California to protect you two. Or is Oprah the one who needs protection from you two?

      • sarasmile101 says:

        No fear please! I’m fully willing to scale back the plan to a muffin basket with a nice note if we can call off the armed caravan. I’m more into ideas and not action – hoping not happenings – dreams not dilemmas – peace not pies…? Ok I really prefer pies to all of that but yummy pies win out over scary ones every time! xoxo

  • Kelly says:

    I’m wondering if you left a Blue Asylum cake crumb trail, Oprah might find your book faster?

  • Since Shawshank included two sets of books, one the correct version, one a forged version, I think it makes perfect sense to bribe a minimum wage employee at Amazon to take the dust cover off a novel that Oprah has ordered, and insert your masterpiece. Oprah will get the book, see the dust cover, and say, “I have been soooo looking forward to reading this one.” She’ll be chapters in and in love with the story before she figures out the picture on the back cover is not of Stieg Larsson.

  • eric a says:

    I fooled around with a couple of ideas but this one just makes the most sense. The wheels are already in motion so if you don’t like the idea, text 911911 to sshhh.

    Operation: Cancel Rosie O
    Black Op: Civl-Military
    Status: Engagement
    Special Forces Combatants/Four (4)
    Hard Target (HT): Oprah
    Alternate Target (AT): Gail
    Objective: Convince HT to read Blue Asylum. A “richly compelling Civil War–era” fiction novel by Kathy Hepinstall. 288 pages English
    If HT is uncooperative, instigate Tiger Mission with Hard Target’s friend Gail as Alternate Target to be used to influence HT (Oprah) to cooperate.
    Success Rate: 97.6%
    Method: Non-consensual abduction. Minimum yet necessary force to insure successful completion of mission.
    Location: Santa Barbara CA.
    Type: Residential / Compound
    Acces: Easy
    Security Force: Celebrity / Medium to Medium-High
    Sec Force Number: 3 on weekdays. 2 on Weekends.
    Estimated Takedown Problem Potential: None
    House Staff: 4
    Special Instructions –
    Hard target must be kept – alive.
    Alternate target is classified – expendable.
    Failure is NOT an option.

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