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Exclusive Magazine Reviews Chasing Zebras

From Exclusive Magazine

 

Book Reviews

Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, MD
By: Barbara Barnett
(Paperback / 352 pages / Ecw Press / ISBN: 1550229559 / $17.95)Description: ‘Chasing Zebras’ is a resource for seasoned fans, an atlas for new viewers, and a guide for students of television, film and pop culture. It combines Barnett’s insights with details from her numerous interviews with the show’s writers, producers and actors.

Verdict: Now, and for the record, House is not my kind of guy – too rude – but the show appealed to me for some reason. This book helped me understand why. House claims he only cares about solving the medical mysteries, yet somehow you sense that he really has compassion for many of his patients. The book explains the subtle comments and signs that indicate he does.

It reflects skillful scriptwriting and acting. In addition, the book’s in-depth analysis of House as a brilliant but troubled person humanizes him and creates a level of sympathy that somewhat excuses his behavior. The other main characters are profiled as well. These profiles are a reminder that the more you know about someone – on TV or in real life – the more connected with them you feel.

What this book really did for me, though, was teach me to better understand and appreciate good scriptwriting. Author Barnett, whose own writing I found impressive, explains how the stories and the characters are developed and presented. I plan to watch the show more often, and will be looking and listening more closely for things that reveal motives and insights into the personalites of the characters. I think anyone reading this book will become a smarter viewer, not only of this series, but of other dramas. [JVO]

Buy Chasing Zebras everywhere in paperback or in Kindle

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Book Signing and House Talk! Chasing Zebras Now on Kindle!

House Fans in the north/northwest chicago suburbs:

Join me Thursday night 6:00 PM-9:00 PM at SOMETHINGS BREWING’s “BREW AFTER DARK”

1126 E.Washington in Grayslake.

I’ll be there to talk House and sign books!

In other news, Chasing Zebras is now available in Kindle version from Amazon.com

Of course, the print version is available on Amazon and most online sellers, as well as most traditional bookstores worldwide.

The TV Ratings: The Mystery Demystified-An Interview with a Ratings Guru

First appearing at Blogcritics.org

House, M.D. is still very much a hit series. Still going strong, with star Hugh Laurie, continuing to pour everything into his compelling portrayal of Dr. Gregory House, the show is now in its seventh year. The series is probably closer to the end of its long run than it is to the beginning, with Laurie’s contract up the end of next season.

Having lost its cushy American Idol lead-in a couple of years ago, House is now expected to support Fox’s new and promising ventures, providing an anchor on Mondays at 8:00 (ET).

The series producers have refused to fall back on formula and have played with viewers expectations couple of times over the series’ run. And, in a narrative sense, the last two seasons have seen the central character of House also begin to (at least try to) change.

How does all of that affect the show’s ratings and ultimately its future both on Fox and in syndication? And, why are ratings so important, anyway?

Television networks, producers and starring actors all track them. It’s what the industry lives by: they foretell who will live into syndication and who will die after two episodes. But fans watch the ratings too, and House‘s ratings have always been a hot topic within the fan community. This year is no different.

Read more: http://blogcritics.org/video/article/demystifying-the-tv-ratings-an-interview/#ixzz13VEg8Tiy

Reflections on the Birth of Chasing Zebras

Article first published as A Book is Born: Reflections of a First Time Author on Blogcritics.

As Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. hits the shelves this week, I thought I’d offer my reflections on how it feels to be a first-time author.

Read more: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/a-book-is-born-reflections-of/#ixzz0yPB5J4dk

The birth of a book: end of week one

So Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. has been on Amazon.com pre-order for a week now. Like many authors (or so I’ve learned), I’ve become addicted to watching that little ole Amazon sales rank. Interestingly, or perhaps not, there are a lot of people obsessed with trying to figure out how it works. What does that all-important rank mean in the grand scheme of pre-sales?

My book doesn’t hit the shelves until September, so it’s a marathon. And we’re just at the start. After a quick start (as I posted last week, my sales rank hit 13,000 last weekend, only to drop like a lead balloon the next day into six-figure territory. Most of the week, however, my ranking has wandered between 20,000 and 60,000, and it would seem that’s a fairly respectable number (from what I’ve read), all things considered.

Mid week, the book went up on Barnes and Noble’s website as well. Like the Amazon listing, there’s no image of the cover; no description. So any sales on either front is strictly word of mouth effect. So, how to generate word of mouth?

I’ve begun to create “a presence” as an author. So, I did what every red-blooded author does and created a Facebook fan page. I paid for a little advertisement to let people know about it. I ran the ad for two and half days and it cost me about $170. In two days, I gained 459 fans. I’m not big on Facebook; I’m more of a twitterer. But I can post longer bites on Facebook–and the links and posts don’t fade into the ether within 10 minutes.

I also created an website for the book. I’m still trying to get the hang of it, and today, at the suggestion of my literary agent, I posted some excerpts from the book’s preface (although I haven’t yet received the manuscript back from the copyeditor). My publisher has asked me to gather a list of House fan sites that might be interested in reviewing the book or doing a “giveaway” once the book hits the stores this September.

I have also begun trying to figure out what else I need to do to make the book a success: Business cards? Bookmarks with the cover art on it?

Well, gotta get back sales rank gazing (oy. It’s 94,000 and dropping)

My first book: Journaling the Journey


It’s a weird feeling seeing my book up there on Amazon.com, where I’ve bought hundreds of books written by others. Knowing that my book, Chasing Zebras: THE Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. (ECW Press, September 2010) would be on pre-order sometime during March, I’ve indulged my vanity by checking the site daily. And Friday was the day.

Of course I tweeted the news (from the rooftops); I launched an “author” website, although there’s not much to tell–yet. And feeling rather self-conscious about the whole thing.

The book is six months from hitting the shelves of the local Barnes and Noble; there’s not even an image yet on the Amazon.com site (although I assure you the book has a cover–and a very nice one, which you can see at BarbaraBarnett.com, my “author” site). There’s no description of the book either (it’s an introspective and hopefully intelligent companion guide to the series), yet the first day I hit #48,000 on the Amazon.com sales rank. “See Bestsellers,” the product description provocatively beckoned.

Besteller?! On the first day? Cool. Of course, ever the skeptic, I tried figuring out just how #48,000 actually translated to “bestseller.” It meant, I supposed, that at least someone bought a copy. Maybe more than one. By mid-day Saturday, Chasing Zebras had reached 13,000. And more than that, it was #11 in Guides and Review about Television shows. A menu appeared below the product listing that showed what other products people purchased who also purchased Chasing Zebras. (Obviously mostly books, DVDs and other things to do with House, M.D. and/or its star Hugh Laurie. OK, so now I was pretty sure more than one person bought the book. Very cool indeed.

By Sunday (yes, I’m obsessing), the book has settled to 170,000 (Note to self: learn to toughen that easily bruised writer’s ego.) and #65 on the Bestsellers in TV guidebooks and reviews. Well, at least its still on the best seller lists, for what it’s worth. My agent says that it’s encouraging and a good sign that my book is on the charts at all right out of the gate (especially with no image, no description, no keywords in the product description).

So, who knows what this week will hold. And on into the spring, summer and the book’s official launch. In the meantime, check out the book, if you’d like and follow my blogposts here about my virgin journey in publishing.

Chasing Zebras: THE Unofficial Guide to House, M.D.–A new book about the hit series

Chasing Zebras: THE Unofficial Guide to House, M.D.

Coming September 2010 from ECW Press–and now available for preorder on Amazon.com

A new book about the series House, M.D.!

Also, please visit my author site for updates on the book, excerpts, etc. in the weeks to come.

Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. is the essential companion to one of television’s most popular and fascinating series. Using her unique perspective and insight into the show, writer Barbara Barnett, noted as “one of the industry’s leading experts on the series,” immerses fans new and old into the heart and soul television’s most compelling series. It will be a dog-eared resource for seasoned fans, an indispensable atlas to anyone new to the show, and valuable guide to students of television, film and pop culture.

House, MD is a study in contradictions: straightforward medical procedural on the outside; intricate character drama within. No wonder the acclaimed series is the most watched television show in the world.

Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D takes readers deep within the series’ rich layers—into the heart of its central character and his world:

Who is this medical Sherlock Holmes? Is he simply a misanthropic jerk with a brutal sense of humor–or a tormented romantic hero in the tradition of Byron?

  • How do House’s colleagues and patient relate to and reflect him and each other?
  • How do the music, settings, even the humor enhance our understanding of the series narrative?
  • What does the series say about modern medicine? Ethics? Religion?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Writing about  House for Blogcritics magazine, I thought it would be nice to develop a book to serve as a guide for the intelligent fans of the show. Rather than a straight-on episode guide, I wanted to do a book about the series’ character and story narratives and the themes, it would provide intelligent and thoughtful analysis of the complex series.

I’m not really a television watcher, but when I started watching House, I was immediately drawn to the writing and the indelible performance of Hugh Laurie as the central character. Always fascinated by romantic anti-heroes, especially “Byronic Heroes,” I felt that there was much lurking beneath the surface of this “medical procedural drama.”

Like my Blogcritics.com blog “Welcome to the End of the Thought Process,” Chasing Zebras takes readers between the lines and action and takes an introspective look at House and his world.

House demands deeper thinking and analysis than most TV shows. Sure it’s fun to laugh at House’s antics; cringe at his anti-social behavior and grin the interplay between the characters. But the show is much more than that. House is meant to provoke discussion and thought. House offers commentary on everything from ethics to mental illness, race, relationships, family dysfunction, sex. The scripts are fragile and intricate Faberge Eggs and half the fun is getting inside them to poke around and find the inner depths within the writing and performances.

Revisiting the Amazon Kindle e-book reader

Originally published at Blogcritics.org

I confess to having a thing for new electronic gadgets and gizmos.  I always have.  But I’m pretty fickle about them as well.  Gadgets that look cool and act cool, but are too much trouble to use, frustrate my simple mind and typically wind up cast off into a drawer, unused or, if I’m feeling particularly industrious, for sale on eBay.

And so it was with amused disdain (tempered with his usual teasing indulgence) that my husband greeted my delight at having acquired an Amazon Kindle last November. The Kindle is Amazon.com’s electronic reading device. Using something called e-Ink, it provides the user with a traditional reading experience, but without the paper. He waited (and waited) for this, too, to be cast off and up on eBay. Although I was sorely tempted (the eBay price for a Kindle topped out at around $1000 when the product was sold out on Amazon.com for months), nothing would get me to part with my Kindle.  Eight months later, I’m still as enamored of it as I was back in November.

I reviewed the Kindle right out of the box when I got it, but now, after eight months of daily use, I thought it might be time to revisit the device. You know, honeymoon being over and all. So, without further ado:

The Fabulous

Instant access to Amazon.com—Do not underestimate the importance of this feature.  It makes owning the Kindle and browsing in the Amazon.com store an experience as satisfying as browsing the aisles of a brick-and-mortar Borders or Barnes and Noble.  It also places the Kindle head and shoulders above the Sony Reader.

Because the Kindle is wireless, access to the Amazon.com store is always available (and free):  sitting in the pediatrician’s waiting room, in the airport waiting to board your flight, sitting at the pool or lounging in bed wishing you had something good to read.  You flick on the wireless switch, hit the button and you’re in the store.  Browse new releases, the best seller lists (several of them), or search for your favorite author (by typing on the Kindle’s keypad) or genre.  Read reviews, download a free sample chapter or two (instantly), or buy the book.

There is no other reading device (as far as I know) that can do this.  You can also access the Amazon.com store on your computer, buy the Kindle version of the book and, voila, when you turn on the device, your new book magically appears on your device’s home page within a minute or two.

You can also subscribe to newspapers like the New York Times. (The Kindle “whispernet” deposits the newspaper into your device like an invisible newsboy.)  Magazines, including Time and The Atlantic, as well as e-magazines and blogs like Slate and—breaking news—BlogCritics(!) are also available for subscription.

Book Price—The current best-sellers and most other hardcover books are $9.99. Paperbacks cost generally between $3.00 and $7.00. If you buy a lot of hardcover books (and I do), you are saving about $15.00 per book.  Admittedly, you don’t have a physical copy of the book, and for some of us, that’s a blessing.  The Barnett household is littered with books.  We have approximately 2,000 volumes stashed and stacked in various bookcases (shelved two deep in places), on coffee tables, shelves nightstands and other places.  The possibility of buying new books without adding to the clutter is (as they say in Yiddish) a mechaiyah. (Insert deep relieved sigh here.)

Deleting a book from the Kindle library doesn’t erase it, either.  The book is simply stored back at Amazon.com for easy retrieval. Unlike storing a finished book in the dark reaches of my bedroom bookcase, I can actually find that biography of Thomas Jefferson when I absolutely must read it again.

Selection and Variety—The Amazon.com Kindle store contains more than 130,000 books, and it’s not just the best sellers and new releases.  A couple of weeks ago, for example, I needed a particular book on Jewish prayer. I was out of town and needed the book for a lecture.  I accessed the Kindle store on the device, and crossed my fingers (or to be more to the point, said a little prayer).  And there it was. The Kindle store has a very comprehensive selection of all genres.

Portability—For me, this is the reason for forking out $350 or more for any electronic reading device.  I can carry a whole library of books with me wherever I go.  And I do. I typically read one novel and two or three non-fiction books at a time.  In hardcover.  That’s a lot of books to carry around on a daily basis (or especially when traveling).

I also like to read at lunch, and to me there is no bigger reading buzz kill than trying to manage silverware and 750-page novel at the same time (especially when the novel is towards the beginning.)  Keeping those pages weighted down with salt-shakers, ice-water tumblers, and other at-hand implements is neither easy nor relaxing.  With the Kindle, I simply turn it on and prop it up.  Pages are turned by pressing very large buttons located both on the left and right of the Kindle.  Making it a wonderful lunchtime companion.  It’s also great to read in bed, for much the same reason.  No more unwieldy and hefty tomes to balance while I’m propped up bed. (So sue me, I like really long novels!)

Adjustable Type Size—This is a great feature for the middle-aged and elderly amongst us.  You can bump up the font size incrementally—all the way up to “I-really-ought-to-get-reading-glasses” size.

Keeps your place—Ever fall asleep and lose your place in a book?  Forget to bookmark or dog-ear a page?  The Kindle always saves your place.  If you want to mark a page for reference, there’s a cute little dog ear graphic in the top corner of each page.  Place an electronic bookmark and the little “corner” turns down just like a real dog-eared page.

Battery Life—Like most electronic readers using “e-Ink,” the Kindle’s real-time battery life is about two weeks or more.  If, that is, you use the wireless feature only when needed.  Flip it on to download your books or browse in the store and turn off when you’re done.  The device itself uses very, very little energy.

Needs improvement:

The Back Cover—Maybe it’s just my personal device, but the back of my Kindle keeps coming loose.  It’s a nuisance, and it should snap in place more securely than it does.  Without the included book-cover (which is great), I believe I may have lost the back of the device long ago.

Buttons—Don’t get me wrong; I love the big, accessible page-turning bars.  But accessible location also makes them too easy to flip accidentally.

Color—The Kindle would be extra cool if it had color ability.  Maybe in its next life; I understand that Kindle 2.0 may not be too far off in the future!

Page Numbers—I like to know what page I’m on.  I just do.  The Kindle tracks your reading progress by paragraph rather than by page.  I do understand why, especially if you’ve bumped up the type size, you can flip page after page without seeming to have made progress.  Although I’ve grown accustomed to this “new” way of judging my progress in the book, I really miss those page numbers.

Blurb—Sometimes, especially after I’ve put down a book for awhile, I forget why I started reading it in the first place, and the back cover (or the blurb) synopsis helps remind me of what the book’s about.  It’s something lacking on the Kindle, and something I greatly miss.  It’s a little thing, but (for me) it’s the one thing that would really make Kindle books “real” for me.  Silly, huh?

Bottom line:  It’s still a totally worthwhile electronic gizmo.  I rank it in importance after my laptop and my Blackberry (and actually ahead of my iPod – though just slightly).