Nathan Bransford, Author

Monday, December 19, 2016

8th Annual Heifer International Fundraiser!

It's that time of year!

This is the eighth year in a row for our Heifer fundraiser! In a time of so much strife in the world, an organization that tries to alleviate hunger is as important as ever.

Here's how this works. All you have to do is help spread the word by:

1) Leaving a comment on this post (bonus points for sharing it so others hear about Heifer and leave their own comments).

2) Tweet a link to this post ( and include the hashtag #NBHeifer

3) OR even easier, just retweet this tweet:

4) OR donate directly by going to this page:

Do one of those things? I'll donate $2.00, up to a max of $2,000.

While you're at it...

5) Click over to other participating blogs at the bottom of this post and leave comments there too
6) Make your own per-comment or tweet pledge and I'll link to you/tweet you!

If you want in on the fun and make a per-comment or tweet pledge on your own just leave a comment with a link to your blog post or tweet announcing your pledge or e-mail it to me and I'll feature it in this post.

Heifer International is an organization that fights hunger by giving families around the world livestock, training, or other assistance that helps improve their livelihood. Heifer has been recognized for its work in Fast Company and Forbes, among other places.

If you have anything to spare this holiday season I hope you'll consider making a donation. Over the past years we have raised over $12,000 together, which is quite something. Here's that link again to donate directly.

Thanks, everyone!

Participating blogs/Twitter handles:


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What is your favorite bookstore?

Photo by me in Aardvark Books, San Francisco
Amid the very sad news that beloved Cobble Hill bookstore BookCourt is closing, where I had my launch party  Jacob Wonderbar and the Interstellar Time Warp, the New York Times recently asked seven authors about their favorite bookstores.

We can do better than seven can't we? What is your favorite bookstore and why? 

While I'm on record as an e-book aficionado, when I do want to buy a paper book for myself or as a gift, I go out of my way to shop at local bookstores. And I have plenty of love and nostalgia for bookstores. I still think they're going to persist in the e-book era.

Favorite bookstore is a tough choice for me. As an author, I'm so thankful for BookCourt and Books Inc Opera Plaza for hosting me for some memorable events. I loved my pilgrimages to storied bookstores like Shakespeare & Co in Paris and Powell's in Portland.

But for sheer influence I'd have to go with Bloomsbury Books in Ashland, Oregon. My family used to go to the Shakespeare Festival every summer and we'd make multiple trips to Bloomsbury, where the staff introduced me to David Eddings and all kinds of other authors.

What about you?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Will you ever buy mostly e-books? The results! (2016)

For the 10th consecutive year, I asked people if they could see themselves going mostly paper free.

We seem to have settled into a bit of an equilibrium. Ever since 2011, the number of e-book aficionados has hovered between 44% and 49%, but last year there was anomalous reversal down to 40.5%. Interestingly, this year's bump back to 47.1% was mainly driven by people coming off of the fence and choosing the "maybe" and "I don't know" options in fewer numbers.

With all the usual caveats (unscientific poll, different sample sizes and audiences), here are the people who welcome their coming e-book overlords:

2007: 7% (!)
2008: 11%
2009: 19%
2010: 32%
2011: 47%
2012: 47%
2013: 49%
2014: 44%
2015: 40.5%
2016: 47.1%

And here are the paper dead-enders who will go down swinging for their paper books:

2007: 49%
2008: 45%
2009: 37%
2010: 30%
2011: 25%
2012: 25%
2013: 25%
2014: 28%
2015: 38.6%
2016: 37.8%

What do you make of these results? Are we locked in a stalemate? What would be a potential game-changer?

Friday, December 2, 2016

This week in books (and politics) 12/2/16

Photo by me. Follow me on Instagram! @nathanbransford
This week! The books! (And some politics this time).

First up, if you haven't already voted in the 10th annual e-book poll, pray get thee to the post to vote! I'll reveal the results early next week and compare to the past polls.

Meanwhile, links galore:

It's December (um wait a second it's December???), which means it's best-of-the-year season. Kicking things off is the New York Times, with their ten favorite books of the year, and Amazon with the best children's books of the year.

Indie bookstore expansion alert! Congrats to the fantastic Greenlight, and here's rooting for more similar success stories.

How much income has J.K. Rowling seen from her books and movies and plays and theme parks? Um. Well. A lot.

Speaking of which, reasearchers have quantified what made us love Harry Potter (and other types of archetypal stories).

The Times had a conversation with novelist and now officially fashion-icon Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about beauty and feminism in Our Modern Era.

Jennifer Hubbard talks about heroes, real and fictional.

In publishing advice news, BookEnds reminds us that publishing is not a business for the impatient, and warns against the potential downsides of querying two books at once. And editor Melissa Manlove talks about the elements of a good picture book.

What's this I see? A rumination on the similarities between writing and chess? I clicked so fast.

Writing an acknowledgments section is the best part of writing a book. Here's a handy checklist.

And lord knows it's difficult these days to avoid distractions. Here's what Medium founder Ev Williams has to say about keeping a schedule, which has great paralells for the writers out there.

In political news, an interesting look at how publishers are scrambling to make sense of Trump's victory and readjusting to the new landscape.

There have been a ton of articles about the importance of empathy and the lack thereof. GigaOm founder Om Malik makes a convincing case that Silicon Valley has a lot of soul-searching to do.

I enjoyed this post on how designers can resist what's to come.

Trump supporters, you've been a little quiet on my line in the sand post. (Except for Jerry, thanks Jerry!)

And this article is very long, but for my money this is the best post-election recap I've read. The essence? With an election this close, everything mattered.

Comment! of! the! week! goes to ABC, who nicely articulates how dominant the election has been in many of our brains:
What is happening in this country is going to be too difficult to separate from everyday existence, including writing. Heck, I'm already considering how it is/will impact what I write next. This presidential election is making it hard to sleep, it's causing me more back tension than I already have, and (as a therapist) it informs many of the discussions I have been having with clients--even those who couldn't yet vote. It's in the water and the air and the food! 
And finally, I've been hearing a lot of people talk about how maybe things won't be so bad. This New Yorker cartoon was some necessary gallows humor.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Trump supporters, can we make a deal?

Yes, this is a political post. Context here. No hard feelings if you decide to skip to the next post.

Hello and congratulations on the election.

If you are indeed a Trump supporter, I would like make a plea to you: please read this post in full even if you think I'm a lunatic. You won the election! Throw me a bone! Heck, you could throw me two bones if you were so generous as to share this with another Trump supporter or two million.

Let me start by saying what this blog post is not:
  • This is not an attempt to get you to change your mind.
  • This is not an attempt to make you feel bad for voting for Trump.
  • This is not an attempt to explain why I'm right about everything in the world oh make that the universe.
(If you do want one of those articles, by all means you can click here and here and here and here and here. But that's not what this post is about).

I don't know your personal reasons for voting for Trump, but because I'm an optimistic person by nature and believe the vast majority of people to be good at heart, I trust that you went to the voting booth with good intentions, however much I might disagree with you. I'm not going to try to persuade you otherwise. 

But I am, shall we say, scared. I am like a dog lying on its belly, paws up saying, "Master please pet my belly instead of goring my intestines." I'm scared for the country. I'm scared even more for the people who are less advantaged than me. I could list all these particular fears for myself and for my friends and for people I don't even know, which is a very long list, but again, not the point of this post. 

The fear I want to focus on, as a proud American who will croon "Where at least I know I'm free" with the best of them, and as a former public school attendee who is mindful of the very long history of charismatic leaders stirring a fear of outsiders in fractured times, is this one: the risk to our cherished democracy and the principles it stands for.

That's crazy, you might be thinking. You liberals have lost your damn minds. You are in a bubble! (FWIW my parents are farmers and I grew up in a county that voted overwhelmingly for Trump but yes I do now live in Manhattan in a building that has more people living in it than my entire hometown). We elected a businessman, not a tyrant. There you go again, overhyping and lying. You lost. Get over it. Our institutions are strong. If Trump sucks he'll be impeached or voted out. Give the guy a chance. This attitude is why you lost the election in the first place!! 

I HOPE YOU'RE RIGHT!! If this all comes down to me being a lunatic I will happily check myself into the asylum. 

But since you were kind enough to throw me the bone of reading this article, here's what I ask of you, with the inauguration still two months away and with history yet to be written:

I want you to take a deep breath and close your eyes. Just kidding!! Hope you didn't do that, I need you to read the rest of the article. 

I want you to take a moment. (Eyes open, to be clear). Set aside Trump, set aside Obama, set aside Hillary, set aside our politically fractured environment, set aside additional metaphors about dogs and bones. 

In a totally hypothetical world, what would be a "step too far" for you against our democracy? What would make you stop, even if it's your guy or gal in the Oval Office, and say, "Okay, that's too far." Pretend it's your friend Steve who just became President of the United States (love Steve!), or the Newman guy in Jurassic Park who got slimed by the dinosaur with the weird gills.

Here are some hypotheticals -- NOT SAYING THESE ARE GOING TO HAPPEN -- but just to give you a sense of what I have in mind for potential "steps too far":
  • Crackdowns on educators
  • Censoring of political speech
  • Jailing of opposition leaders and/or reporters
  • Systematic efforts to bankrupt institutions or news outlets
  • Registries for minority or religious groups
  • Restrictions on the Internet and social media
  • Assaults on peaceful protestors and a blind eye toward prosecuting those responsible
  • Defying court rulings
  • Assassinations or detainment of dissidents
  • Postponement of elections
  • Internment camps
  • Nuclear war
  • Failure to recruit Bruce Willis to avert asteroid threatening Earth
Just take a moment, work with me, and think, "If, hypothetically, Trump were to do X, Y and Z from this list (or something else), then I would have to reconsider things." Even if you think there's less than zero chance of it happening. Even if it feels like an exercise in writing young adult dystopian fiction (which you should totally try by the way).

Okay. Do you have your list? (Do tell in the comments section - I'm curious! Passive aggressive "things Obama or Hillary already did" will be deleted, not the point of this exercise though I appreciate the attempt also I'm onto you!)

Trump likes deals, I like deals, we all like deals. The deal I want to make with you is that if I do my absolute best to keep an open mind about the future and, as I am repeatedly asked on social media, to "give Trump a chance," you will withdraw your support for Trump if one of your "steps too far" happens. 

It may be hazy if and when it happens. It may feel like it had some justification. You may not even remember reading this blog post (although, if so: how could you, future you, HOW COULD YOU). That's why I want to do this now, in a vacuum before things start getting wild. Let's make this deal while our heads our clear.

All I ask is that you remember this post, remember this exercise, remember your "steps too far," and resist if it happens however you see fit.

Thank you for reading. You're fired. Just kidding.

Enjoy this post? Please consider following me on Twitter or Facebook, subscribe to my blog, or check out my guide to writing a novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series!

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