Okay so here I am starting over – a year older – somewhat poorer and (I hope) much wiser.  

I had a great book.  I knew that for sure.  But I needed to market it properly this time around.

So here is the game plan:


First – it is now only one book.  Not five books.  Just one book.  I know I have Pillars of the Earth on the brain, but it is almost exactly the same length by word count.  So a reader can buy the book and just read the whole thing at their leisure.


Second – a new title.  After a lot of back and forth we named it:


Faythe of North Hinkapee (The saga of a young woman’s quest for justice and love in colonial America

Third – a cover – I hope you like – that reflects what the book is about.  As I learned, a reader definitely ‘can’ tell a book by its cover.


And I am trying again.


This time I have going for me:


A great book

A great title

A great cover 


And let’s see if it works out this time…..?

Faythe of North Hinkapee is a saga.  And it hits the following themes:

  • Historical fiction set in Colonial Times 
  • A young woman protagonist who triumphs against adversity
  • Women being the key players – protagonists, ruthless enemies, close friends with deep inter-woman bonds and relationships – and all having travails and triumphs against ruthless men
  • A love story wound in 
  • Interactions – both positive and negative ones — among Native Americans and White People 
  • Justice sought against terrible actions by very bad people 
  • Some swashbuckling mixed in through an aging swordsman 


The goal was a page-turner.  And I knew it was exactly that.


Then I made three – BIG – mistakes in marketing the book…


First – I called the book: Girl With a Knife.  This title was kinda dumb, as it sounded like a slasher book.  Steven King aficionados found it interesting, but not Ken Follett readers.  A lot of people discovered the book but – thinking it was a slasher book and finding out it was really historical fiction — didn’t want to buy it.  And those who should have discovered it – i.e. historical fiction readers who like women in leading roles – never heard about it.  


Second – the cover had – well – I guess obviously – a girl holding a knife.  This made the foregoing problem even worse.    


Third – I broke it up into five books.  Why did I do this?  Because I was told up and down that a best seller couldn’t be more than about 80,000 to 100,000 words and I believed that orthodoxy.  I am sure it is true most of the time, but it induced me to make it into five books.  And who wants to read five books with 60 day increments between them?  


So I blew it.  After all that work, I just screwed the marketing pooch.  Damn!!!!!


But then something strange – and amazing – started to happen…..


Those who did buy the book loved it!!!


Reviews averaged 4.5 on Amazon for the first book in the series.  Pillars of the Earth is only 4.6!!!


Some of the customer reviews said the following:

A fantastic book that had me hooked from the first page.

Couldn’t put it down 

A thoroughly enjoyable 5/5 stars and I am eager for more 

A page turner leaving you wanting more 

A great book

Couldn’t put it down

Riveting book

Riveting plot 

A true page turner loved it 

Love the characters

An amazing book 


So it hit me clear in the face.  I had written a true best seller and messed up the marketing.  


My plan now was set before me – I had to start over. 

The next book in the Girl With A Knife series, Defense, will be released on May 23, 2023.

I want to be careful what I write here.  I don’t want this to be a spoiler; however, I can say that if you liked Assault, you would certainly like Defense, as Faythe continues to get stronger and stronger the more terrible her adversity.

She is truly a force of nature.  Stuck in a time when women – especially young women – had few rights and were only one level up from personal property – Faythe continues to have none of that and set the terms of her destiny on her own.  The more ruthless and vicious her adversaries become, the tougher Faythe becomes.

And consider, only a few months before, she was just a teenage girl whose biggest concern was whether to marry the (very cute) boy next door, who was in love with her.

Things changed for Faythe awfully fast.  But sometimes heroes are not born that way; instead, heroism is thrust upon them by circumstance.

In Book II – Defense – Faythe – stronger than ever – shows what she is made of, and why being her adversary is fraught with peril of its own.

Pre-order Girl With A Knife Book Two: Defense now on Amazon

Girl With A Knife Book Two: Defense

We did a book trailer.  It is really good.  I have of course watched it a bunch of times and it gives me chills.

Hats off to the incredible group that put it together – Circle of Seven Productions https://cosproductions.com/

If you are an author considering a book trailer, I unreservedly recommend COS Productions.

Give it a watch:



You probably know by now that I love Ken Follett’s writings more than anything, and I have tried to emulate him in what I have written so far.  But I have to wonder about Mr. Zafon as a special inspiration.  Unlike Ken Follett – and me, so far – every paragraph of Zafon’s books are like a beautiful exercise in poetry.  He has his characters become essentially philosophers or representatives of concepts and ideas, and their words weave into the stories.  Consider this beautiful statement, quoted from one of his characters:

“Envy is the religion of the mediocre.  It comforts them, it soothes their worries, and finally it rots their souls, allowing them to justify their meanness and their greed until they believe these to be virtues.  Such people are convinced that the doors of heaven will be opened only to poor wretches like themselves  who go through life without leaving any trace but their threadbare attempts to belittle, and to exclude – and destroy if possible – those who by the simple fact of their existence, show up their own poorness of spirt, mind and guts.  Blessed be the one at whom the fools bark, because his soul will never belong to them.”   


Who writes like that?  And in the middle of a fiction book?  And every paragraph is kind of the same extraordinary prose.  It is truly amazing!

It is a tragedy that he has died so young – at age 55 – imagine what he would have done.  


I know this is a strange thing to say – especially about a man I never met and know virtually nothing about it – but he has inspired me – and I hereby covenant that in one of my future writings I will do my best to write like Zafon.   This will be very difficult to do and maybe even impossible.  But one thing I have learned in my 65 years so far is that if I don’t give it a try I will definitely fail and if I do give it a try I might succeed.


Wish me luck!!!

As you know, I am a first-time (published) fiction author, and this book took a lot of time – and incredible effort – to raise back up the creative writing skills that smoldered when I was a school-age kid.  In my youth, I was really good at making up stories and writing them.  My writing was by no means great writing, but it was fun and easy to read, and enjoy the story.  


So I was imaginative and creative as a kid, but at age almost sixty, I had not really written much creatively for over 40 years – so I was way beyond rusty.  


I had planned this all out and I admit I thought it would be easy to get back in the swing of writing.  I imagined it would be – well — like riding a bicycle – and I could just whip out my story.  But boy was that wrong.  Instead, first, second, third, fourth, tenth…dare I say twentieth….drafts littered the wastebasket.  At times I thought it was a fool’s errand and came close to just giving up.  


Thank heavens for my wife!


You probably think I am about to say here that it is for her love and support that kept me going right?


And yes I have that love and support from her, but instead I am referring to her honesty in telling me that my early drafts ‘sucked’ – her word for it.  


I hate false praise – it is crippling.  Maybe for a two or three year-old it is a good thing when he first can align the triangle piece with the triangle hole in the cut-out, but for adults trying to accomplish something it doesn’t cut the mustard.  Thank you Ann for giving me the gift of honest feedback.  


Notably, Carlos Ruiz Zafon – whom I think is (now was) one of the greatest fiction writes said about writing that sometimes you just have to sit down in front of the typewriter and force yourself to write.  I am searching for the actual quote and cannot find it, but that is what he meant.  As an aside, it is tragic he died at age 55.  


In the end, writing is not like riding a bicycle that you never forget.  It is more like playing a sport.  If you haven’t played it for a while, you have to practice and get back in shape, but if you do that you find you can still play really well.  


Anyway, that is what has happened to me.

As I mentioned in my last post, the characters of Girl With A Knife came alive for me at some point as I was writing the book.

When that started happening, the dialogue and interactions among the characters started to flow out of me so fast that I imagined there truly was smoke coming from the typewriter.

As an aside, my wife and I have a house in Cape May, New Jersey, where I go to do my writing. I can see the ocean from my office. And I love to go down there all alone with no wife, no kids, no dog. Just me and my keyboard and a quiet house.

I then unquiet it by blasting music so loud there is nothing but the crashing sound and the ocean view and me. And then I write.

I get up around 6:00 AM and rush – first for coffee – and then to the typewriter. I turn on the music, and the pages fly by.

I can write almost without pause until my wrists and fingers, arms and shoulders ache until about 3:00 in the afternoon when I just run out of steam. Sometimes, to my surprise, I find that as many as 30 pages have appeared in a single day.

Then it is time to go for a run and a walk on the beach and perhaps a swim. This is followed by a scotch – and if my wife is not with me, maybe even a cigar. Note: she hates cigar smoke and makes me take two – or even three – showers if I smoke one. I only have about two or three cigars yearly, so it isn’t that much of an issue.

Next, dinner and maybe a movie.

Then to bed and up the next day to do the same thing.

So…getting back to what I was talking about…once the characters came alive, I found writing dialogue, conversations, and interactions was completely effortless for me. The characters were almost writing the story themselves – or telling me what to say — in that they were acting consistent with their personalities.

Later – as I read what I wrote, I would be amazed at myself, as I found that for editing, I scarcely had to change a word.

Indeed, I have found that 95% of the editing of Girl With A Knife was everything except the dialogue.

It is so incredibly cool when my characters interact.

All of this was a strange sensation, and it felt great, truth be told.

As I wrote Girl With a Knife something strange happened to me, which is that my characters came truly alive to me.

Hopefully this is because I have become a good writer and my characters developed truly dynamic personalities as the book progressed. I guess readers will decide that; however, something that flowed out of this is that felt different. I could feel the pain of the good characters when they experienced pain. Let me explain here…

Some of my characters are complex persons, just like all of us are. And some of the other characters are more metaphorical, either good or for evil.

For a story to have any spice or to be of interest to a reader, it can hardly be like that Pleasantville movie where everything is perfect but fake. For a story to be interesting, bad things, as well as good things, have to happen.

But when bad things happen to my good characters it really hurts.

I don’t want to give the plot away, but there are a number of times in my books where some truly awful things happen to some of my sweetest and most wonderful characters. When this happens, I found myself getting truly upset – like watching something terrible happen to a loved one.

Indeed, there is one chapter that is so truly awful I found myself crying after writing it and could hardly even reread it for editing purposes.

What to make of all this, I don’t really know. I am just telling you about my process and experience and wondering if this happens to other writers as well.

I thought my audience was supposed to be a type of person, such as:






Older people 

Younger people 

Historical fiction aficionados 

Yada yada yada 


But being honest that isn’t it at all.  


Instead, I have concluded that my audience is people who love to get sucked into page-turning exciting fiction book, which effectively transports them to the world that the writer has created.  Where you love the good characters and root for them and you hate the bad characters and fervently hope for their destruction.


My audience is people who find themselves staying up all night reading rich fiction, or don’t want to admit they are blowing off their family, their loved ones, their jobs and just about everything else since they simply cannot get that incredible book out of their heads and want to sneak off to read it.  Maybe they (should I say this?) sneak into the bathroom for half an hour during a party that they are a guest at, or even hosting, just to read that book, which has hooked them in!


My audience is people who go to the bookstore – online or offline – and hope for the next book from their favorite writer – a writer who consistently puts them in the foregoing state of being.


That is my audience.  And it doesn’t seem to make much difference if the reader is a woman, a man, a kid or an adult, or a historical fiction aficionado. 


I know I talk about Ken Follett a lot – as inspiring me.  I haven’t met him so I don’t know, but I wonder if he thinks of his audience in the same way.  His books have been so different and far-ranging, I wonder.  


So who then is my audience?  The answer is that my audience is people just like me.


After thinking about it, I am becoming The World’s (Second) Most Interesting Man.  I didn’t plan it that way, but that is what seems to be happening.  And the more things I start to do, the more it gives rise to still more things.

I have so many hobbies and things going on now that I have to keep a list just to keep track.  Here are a few – all under the rubric of The Bruce Projects.  Yes, my real name is Bruce and it is pretty easy for you to find out my real name if you are so inclined.  

Now that I am a – young – 65 years old I am trying out all sorts of things.  I certainly don’t want to be some Old Guy.  Not me.  So I am doing everything I never did before.  Some of these are included 


Ripped at 65 – my goal is to get ripped during my 65th year of life.  Full disclosure – I have never been ripped before.


Philosophy – I just launched The Bruce Philosophical Project.  I hope this will be my life’s crown jewel.  As I get better with social media, you will be able to see this on Facebook, Threads, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and maybe even TikTok.  


Singing Lessons – this is so people will stop making fun of me when I sing.  And I really like to sing – especially silly songs I have written – and sometimes with a scotch or two.  


Poetry – I really love writing poems, and I have written quite a few – a poetry slam and a poetry book I hope will follow at some point.


Stand-up Comedy – because I am facing my fear of doing this. Will I be funny and will people laugh?  Well the first time they didn’t since I totally bombed – learning why it is called “dying out there.”


Fiction WritingFaythe of North HInkapee is only my first book as I have caught the writing bug.  I have a bunch of others in mind when I can carve out time for more writing.  Carlos Ruiz Zafon – a fantastic writer — says you should only become a writer “if the possibility of not becoming one would kill you…I became a writer, a teller of tales, because otherwise I would have died or worse.”  I now know how Mr. Zafon feels.  


My Single Malt Scotch Collection – I have over 300 different bottles of single malt scotch on my office window in NYC.  I think it might be the (second) largest collection in NYC.  My wife says it doesn’t make a good impression my clients, but much as I love her, she don’t know everything! ☺  


Ironman – I am pretty poor athlete I admit, but I did survive successfully two Ironman competitions – Lake Placid, New York and Kona, Hawaii.  For those who don’t know, it is a 2.4 mile swim, then a 112 mile bike followed by a full 26.2 mile marathon.  A long (horrible) day.  I didn’t do that well but I did get over the finish lines.  Sorry to brag but I brag about this whenever anyone will let me. 


Real Estate Industry Thought Leader – I hate the words thought leader, since people should think for themselves, but I am famous in the real estate industry as The Real Estate Philosopher.


Non-Fiction Writing – I wrote two books now.  One is a book on Power Niches and the other is based on The Real Estate Philosopher’s writings.  I have ideas for more when I can carve out some time.


Real Estate Lawyer – oh yes, my day job ☺ where I am one of the most well-known real estate lawyers in New York City.  The heart of my success has been my desire to help my clients on the business side with building their businesses, which I do without charge.


A Good Person – I know I sound dorky here, but I love people and I try to be good to those I interact with.  I love my family and my friends, and even people I meet on the street.  I have all sorts of friends from Starbucks, for example.  I like to help people.  I like to mentor people.  I like all of this so much that I am sometimes plain old annoying and have to hold myself back to avoid resentment.  


So I can say that life really begins when you turn sixty-five!   Instead of being labeled as some Old Guy, I am determined to have the greatest of times during this next phase of his life.  I still love my day job, but I want to do just about everything I haven’t done yet, with the exception of things that are physically dangerous, as I know I am kind of a klutz.

You know, there is a lot more, and when The Bruce Projects gets going you can go to my website to learn more about it, but I am concerned that this blog article is getting too long, so I will stop here.