My 9th e-book — ‘Franz Kafka: An Amerikan Perspective’

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In June 2001, while working as a journalist, I covered an exhibition at the National Czech & Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids, IA, titled “20th Century Sensations: Czechs-Slovaks-Popular Culture.” It highlighted individuals of Czech & Slovak ancestry who’d made significant contributions to contemporary American culture, including astronauts, athletes, and artists. One in particular, Franz Kafka, was of special interest — his surreal parables have transfixed me since I first discovered them as a teenager.

So, when a Univ. of Iowa lit professor who’d been scheduled to deliver a lecture about Kafka had to cancel due to illness, I volunteered to fill in.  The museum curators accepted my offer, and this e-book is a transcription of my presentation, which gives an overview of Kafka’s biography, historical context, and his unique position in American popular culture, including Hollywood.

My First Gig as E-book Editor

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Edited by Victor Verney

Publishing eight short essays of mine as e-books entailed a bit of a learning curve, adding along with my background in editing and Web site development, a third element to my professional expertise — making me a triple threat, so to speak. Editing and formatting anything for publication as an e-book, as I found out, involves more than correcting grammar or knowing some HTML code. It’s a lot more than most  writers care to deal with, and given the growing use of e-books by both writers and readers, it seemed to me that there’s a significant and growing market for E-editors.

An opportunity to pursue this came a bit unexpectedly during a recent trip to Florida. Along with visiting my mother and sister in Sarasota, I also went to St. Augustine to visit an old Navy buddy, Carl Soto, with whom I’d kept in touch sporadically but hadn’t seen in nearly 30 years.

While I was pursuing my doctorate in English, Carl was earning a law degree from the University of Michigan. During my visit with him, I learned that he’d self-published a book titled How to COPE with Debt Collectors and had been very disappointed by the fact that although he’d invested heavily in marketing the book, sales had been virtually nil.

I thought the book was high quality and very worthwhile, dealing with an important issue affecting the lives of many Americans. I suggested he publish it on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, offering my services as an E-editor. So, after some minor revisions, along with a new cover and title: Beat Debt Collectors at Their Own Game: A Legal Guide to Stop Harassment, Lawsuits & Garnishments, it’s now available on Amazon as an E-book.

Written by a real attorney who specializes in consumer law — versus some wannabe —  this book provides all the forms, letters and step-by-step instructions needed to immediately stop harassing calls and letters, win lawsuits, halt garnishments and much more. Written for people with no prior legal experience, it explains in straight forward, non-technical language how to beat debt collectors, covering every aspect of the debt collection process: default, collection calls & letters, lawsuits, garnishments, negotiating settlements and appeals.

Yahoo! Voices

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The latest development in my freelancing career involves Yahoo’s Contributor Network, through which writers, bloggers, photographers and videographers  of all sorts, across a wide range of topics and perspectives, contribute articles, stories, opinion pieces, etc.  — and get paid for it!

Gabriel García-Márquez

The general subject categories include news, finance, entertainment, shopping, sports and movies. The specific category that caught my attention was Yahoo Voices, an initiative to build an on-line digital library in areas of general interest such as auto, business, health, tech travel — and even creative writing. Seeing this latter category, out of curiosity I took a look at what kind of stories the editors were looking for. I was pleasantly surprised to see, among the assignments offered, one that would discuss North America’s top five “magical realist” authors. Since discovering Franz Kafka in high school and Gabriel García-Márquez in college, this literary genre has fascinated me.

So I submitted a short article titled Magical Realism: North America’s Top Five Authors, told everyone about it, and quickly garnered over 100 hits.

James Hearst

Encouraged by this start, I then claimed an assignment to write a short essay on my favorite poet. Although my reading tastes tend toward novels, short stories, and historical nonfiction, I was quite taken a few years ago when introduced to the work of James Hearst, a farmer/poet/professor who was Iowa’s unofficial poet laureate throughout most of the 20th century.

USS La Moure Country (LST-1194)

The next assignment that piqued my interest was one calling for a first-person account of some aspect of my military career. Of course, four years in the Navy left me with enough stories, anecdotes and recollections to fill a book. I decided to use a rather vivid episode that I witnessed in Germany on my first extended overseas cruise on my first ship, the USS La Moure County (LST-1194). Titled My Navy Career & Americans’ Historical Memory Loss: What a Doomed Overseas Romance Taught Me, it employs a true-life, latter-day Romeo and Juliet episode to illustrate a larger point about the very selective way Americans learn and remember their history.


Spec. 5 Dennis Koepp

My fourth article appeared on Memorial Day 2013, when Yahoo voices invited stories from family and friends of American service members who died during military service to share memories and photos of them. I wrote a short piece about an uncle-in-law, Dennis Koepp, who died from a kidney infection while serving in Vietnam as an Army corpsman.

I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from family, friends and professional acquaintances about these articles, and even made a few bucks, too (which is always nice), so I will certainly be contributing further articles as congenial assignments are offered.