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

A Native American woman whose prowess with the bow and arrow is breathtaking


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.


By the way, the protagonist – Faythe – does have a knife in her possession, but it is really not that relevant to the story.


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.  Notably, 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.

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 sixty (when I started writing Faythe), 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 draft ‘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 writers 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.

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 probably not that hard 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.

So where did James Tobias Hogg come from?  Here is the background:


To start out, I don’t really like my (real) name that much.  There is nothing wrong with it, but it just isn’t that interesting a name.  If only I could be James Bond, and say when people asked my name:


The name is Bond.  James Bond!


How exciting that would be.  Well, I wasn’t going to really change my name at age 65, but I thought my pseudonym would begin with James.


Then we get to Tobias.  That is even stranger I guess.  But in my law firm business whenever we are talking about someone who is a metaphor, we have used the name “Toby”.  I have no idea why this happened – it just did – but after 25 years everyone in my law firm now uses Toby as a metaphor.  So Tobias seemed like a good middle name.


And now the Hogg part, which I bet you are wondering about.   The answer there is stranger yet, and is based on the fact that my wife and I have been collecting pigs for about 35 years.  Without giving away too much I hope, my wife’s nickname is Sweetie Pig and our house is festooned with pigs – probably well over 1000 pig stuff infests our residence.  As the crowning touch, our front yard has eleven pig topiaries looking out proudly on the street, no doubt to our neighbors’ glee.  So that leads you to a pig-type name, which I decided would be Hogg.


Now you know everything!

I apologize if I sound like kind of, well, a bit of a jerk, but I guess sometimes that is what I am.  Here goes…..


It was about twenty years ago – probably around the year 2000.


I had just read a fiction book that was a Best Seller.  I don’t remember the book, but it was pretty lame.  Trite characters and a plot that was like so many other books.  It kinda sucked.  Yet it was a vaunted Best Seller!


So, there I was in the kitchen.  I was with my wife.  By the way, I should mention I have been married close to forty years and am head over heels crazy in love with my wife – still – like a schoolboy with his first crush.  Go figure that.


Irrespective of that, I was sitting at the kitchen table and ranting.  I was going on and on about how this book was a Best Seller but it sucked!  On and on I ranted, while my wife probably just rolled her eyes.


Finally, she looked at me and said:


“If you’re so amazing, could you write a best seller?”


This sounded like a challenge – like fighting words – so I responded:


“Of course.  Here’s the plot……”


And then – it was almost scary – the plot for Faythe of North Hinkapee just bubbled out of me.  I told the first part of the story in about five minutes without pausing for breath.


When I stopped I looked at her and she looked at me.  We were both kind of shocked at what had happened.  And she said:


“My God.  That does sound like a best seller!”


Trust me – my wife doesn’t kiss my ass.  She was then a second degree black belt in karate – today a sixth degree black belt — and has a fighting spirit.  She was serious and I knew it.


So maybe I had something here.  Let’s test market it….


At that time, my older daughter – about 11 years old – and I used to go running together.  The runs got longer and longer till they were around two hours in length.  We didn’t go super-fast but we kept going.  And part of what kept us going is I would tell stories as we went.  Strangely, there wasn’t ever a pre-existing plot before we left for a run.  I would just start out with something and see where the tale went.  It was odd, but something about running along created all sorts of tales.


I started out with the story I had told my wife, which was only the first part of Faythe of North Hinkapee.  And my daughter loved it.  And then I gradually unfolded the rest of it to her on various long runs, until we had the whole story finished.  I give her credit as sometimes when the plot stumbled she would help me out with ideas and angles.


Roughly 15 years went by and I always wanted to write the book, but couldn’t get around to it.  I had a round-the-clock day job as a lawyer in mid-town NYC, and there just wasn’t that kind of time.


Then, starting about five years ago — about 2018-ish – I started out writing the book.  I found that if I could take two uninterrupted weeks at a time and turn off email, I could whip out a volume.  With a total of four weeks a year, it took roughly two years and it was done!


This was pretty fast I realized – an 850 page book written in about 8 weeks – a hundred pages a week.  But it was done, finally,


As a first-time author of fiction, I then learned the hard way that “done” means I was starting on editing, marketing and all sorts of things that discourage authors.  And that took another two years.


But now I am happy to say, I am really done, and here is the book for your reading enjoyment and excitement.

Ken Follett has been an inspiration to me.  I find myself continuously wrapped up in his books, whether super long or short – and eagerly awaiting his next book.  The characters I root for wholeheartedly – and I thoroughly hate the bad evil characters.  Plus the plots are incredibly interesting, creative and suspenseful.  How many days did I show up at work bleary-eyed from staying up an extra hour – or two hours – reading the book till the wee hours, because I just couldn’t stop reading the next chapter?

If only I could write like that, I would feel so, well, proud of myself.  But how could I ever be that good.  I mean I am one of the top real estate lawyers in NYC, but I am now sixty-five years old and starting a fiction writing career.  I could never get that good…..or could I……?

So Ken Follett inspired me in another way.  I am going to be too honest here, but hopefully this will not ruin my hero worship.

So I found a book Mr. Follett had written under a pseudonym long ago – maybe one of his first books.  I got it and read it.  And – sorry Ken – it was truly awful.  The characters were almost shockingly wooden and the plot was so inane I couldn’t even finish it.

Now the ingredients for inspiration were upon me.

If the man, I believe, is possibly the top fiction writer in the world started out writing so poorly and could create himself into a fiction-writing genius, maybe I could do the same.  Or at least I could give it a try.

Adding a final ingredient, my entire family (including myself) all have Follett’s masterpiece opus Pillars of the Earth as one of their top five favorite books.

Could I do something like that?

Could I create a bunch of sleepy, blear-eyed people who would stay up all night reading my epic story?

Well, my book – Faythe of North Hinkapee – is my attempt to do exactly that.

It is a far-ranging epic historical fiction story with Faythe Emily Wentworth, as a young and indefatigable female protagonist, set in Colonial Times.  Notably, women – especially young women – in those days were to be seen and not heard, but Faythe is having none of that, and when her innocent younger sister is brutally raped by the ruthless Downing Family boys – and her family is falsely accused of witchcraft and burnt to death in the village square — she confronts seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her relentless quest for justice.

The plot – similar to Pillars of the Earth – is deep in the genre of Historical Fiction.  And like Pillars of the Earth, the plot starts from different antipodes, and at the end weaves the characters together into an exciting climax.

Is it as good as Ken Follett’s writing?

You know – my wife says I am ‘arrogant in a nice way’ – but I am not that much of a humbug.  No, I am not Ken Follett just yet, but if you pick up, and you read, the first chapter, I will bet that you will get sucked in, just like everyone else who has started – they all can’t wait to get to the finish.