Jeffrey Marcus Oshins's Blog

July 1, 2016

The longing for a homogeneous society/why can’t things stay the same— is at the root of Brexit.

Brexit


That and the tag BREXIT.


High on the list of those to be blamed is the stone-cold marketing genius who came of with that sobriquet (a quick search does not reveal the culprit).


Know any successful tech companies known for being “conservative?”


My father, one of the original architects of the European Union, once said, England should be turned into one big beautiful park. Little did he know…




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Published on July 01, 2016 21:13 • 4 views

April 3, 2016

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Persistent rumors that Donald Trump is a black hat Democrat who made a deal with Hillary and Bill Clinton to clear the field for her election must now be confirmed.


It is time to emphatically declare that Donald Trump is the greatest Democrat ever and is accomplishing what no Democrat before him has ever come close to doing — systematically destroying the Republican party.


On issue after issue beginning with his claims that Obama was disqualified from being President because he was not born in the United States to immigration and abortion, Trump has extended positions held by various parts of the Republican party in a manner that has forced Republicans to either support or renounce their own dogma.


Trump repeatedly uses legal logic to expose the hypocrisy and lack of workable solutions of the Republican party. If abortion is illegal and criminalized then anyone assisting the abortion including the mother would be a party to the crime. If it’s a crime to be here illegally then you should be deported. If trade deals harm some workers then they are bad contracts and should be broken.


Forcing Republicans to address the logical outcomes of their proposals is like the Biblical story of Lot’s wife who looked back at Sodom and was turned to a pillar of salt. Right wing rhetoric doesn’t work well when nuanced. When compromise is heresy you either have to support a position or your arguments turn to salt and your party is blown away as will happen to the Republican party up and down the ticket in November.


As a lifelong Democrat who hungers to see issues addressed and solutions reached through a mature, political dialogue, I say thank you Donald Trump. And if the Republican party is to reemerge from its destruction I hope the party will be one based on optimism and political arguments that can withstand a Democratic plant taking their ideas to their logical conclusions.


Thanks, Donald.




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Published on April 03, 2016 11:00 • 8 views

November 25, 2015

Originally posted on :


Should you get a website in your name?

I’ve got multiple artistic careers going — an EP that’s getting some attention and my fourth novel coming out in February. My dilemma is how much do I want to promote myself— a battle between innate modesty and the cold truth of entertainment — if you want the spotlight you’d better grab it because there’s a lot of competition for those readers and listeners.



Giving into graven dreams that somebody might actually come looking for me, I bought my name (.com) and put up a website jeffreymarcusoshins.com.





I have also been promoting myself on the Amazon-owned Goodreads. Part of that effort involves the mostly fruitless effort of contacting all your friends and letting them know that you’ve a novel coming out.



Now, the good thing about Goodreads is that it really is mostly populated with readers. But lurking in reeds of Goodreads (forgive me) are…


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Published on November 25, 2015 21:31 • 10 views

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Published on November 25, 2015 21:29 • 1 view

November 24, 2015

Should you get a website in your name?

I’ve got multiple artistic careers going — an EP that’s getting some attention and my fourth novel coming out in February. My dilemma is how much do I want to promote myself— a battle between innate modesty and the cold truth of entertainment — if you want the spotlight you’d better grab it because there’s a lot of competition for those readers and listeners.


Giving into graven dreams that somebody might actually come looking for me, I bought my name (.com) and put up a website jeffreymarcusoshins.com.







I have also been promoting myself on the Amazon-owned Goodreads. Part of that effort involves the mostly fruitless effort of contacting all your friends and letting them know that you’ve a novel coming out.


Now, the good thing about Goodreads is that it really is mostly populated with readers. But lurking in reeds of Goodreads (forgive me) are hungry authors.


One thing I noticed in going through my 800+ friends was that you could tell who was an author and a reader by their picture. Readers had pictures with their cats, significant others smiling in a neighborly way. Authors had formal expressions and professionally shot photographs as if to say “I’m serious.”


There is something about promoting yourself even if you have flacks doing it for you that requires a dressed-up version of yourself and the confidence to say, “Seriously, I’ve worked hard on this shit and I’m worth a few minutes to take a listen. Or in the case of a book — well that’s going to require some more of your time.”


I believe I have a new understanding of what success in art would be — that you reach a point where people come looking for you and you can just smile back at them in a neighborly way.


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Published on November 24, 2015 18:35 • 4 views

April 18, 2015

SF-Master-Servant





Much has been made of the class wars of San Francisco and the emerging servant class where any service can be provided to those who can afford it. I find hope for a better future in the way the classes mingle in the City.











My family has lived in San Francisco since the 1880’s. I���m 65 years old and have seen the City (a real San Franciscan always calls it the ���City��� and certainly never ���Frisco��� according to my mother���a proud Daughter of the Golden West) change from old and decaying to ���summer of love��� decadence to gay capital to latest incarnation of tech center of the universe.


Upon a visit to see my son paying a remarkable amount to live in a walk-up in the Outer Richmond, I was struck by the obvious vibrancy of so many young, brilliant and beautiful living and playing together.


The City has always attracted the artistic, gifted, and bohemian but now is a magnet for those who want to invent and be part of the future. I won���t make this a paean to what is obvious and widely celebrated but I do want to point to one remarkable classless (in least pejorative sense) feature of life in the City.


I do not believe there has ever been such a commingling of servant and served where in the bars, restaurants, and parks the rich and poor are indistinguishable from each other as they eat, drink, and play together.


Now this is not to say that the homeless, addicted and criminalized are suddenly welcome in the condos that are encroaching on the Panhandle. But the woman who is coming to do your laundry or drive you to your meeting is likely to be just as attractive as you are, similarly educated, and occasionally on the receiving end of a Frisbee in a game of Ultimate in the park.


I spent a good part of my career in Washington where the first question upon meeting a new person was almost always ���what do you do?��� You don���t hear that much in San Francisco and if you do it���s usually answered with ���I���m in tech. I teach. I work for a startup. I drive for�������� There is not the suspicion or need to categorize that I found in DC.


Aspects of society in San Francisco today gives me reason to hope that a new more egalitarian culture is emerging along with the tools and toys that are bringing the world closer together.





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Published on April 18, 2015 12:43 • 26 views

December 16, 2014





Publicizing your great incites into the human condition if you’re not already famous, don’t already have a following, a fascinating tale, or a high colonic cleanse is going to be a tough sell. There’s no getting around you or somebody having to do the hard work to spread the word.


In the survival game of a full-time, committed author budgets get tight. You have to prioritize–rent, food, whether to pay for a review in Kirkus, run a promotion and ad in Goodreads. Precious moments of concentrated thought and writing are constantly under attack from those distracting, exhausting, awful part-time jobs, family and friends, and doing your own publicity.









The idea of paying someone else–no matter how professional or accomplished–to maintain an email list, write blogs, seek out reviewers, to tell you what you should be doing to promote your book seems like an extravagant waste of money unless you can afford it.


Having someone else pay for publicity is mostly afforded to those who already have fans to be alerted with a full-page ad in the New York Times of the availability of a new book. For the rest of us grinding away in near-obscurity, you have to pay for your publicity.


Publicizing a book is the major but unavoidable hassle of being an author–both those who self-publish and are published. It’s something you have to do. Unless you like blogging, managing a scant advertising budget, or making costly mistakes, letting people know about your book takes up a lot of time you would rather be writing.


Then, there is the problem of so many charlatans offering to borrow your watch to tell what time it is. Sketchy professional publicists are not just hustlers but the major review magazines, professional bloggers and social networks who have set up pay-for-a-review schemes.


Publicizing your book is probably the biggest waste of money an author can make. The return on investment is depressingly low. And as in most ad campaigns you have to be repetitive. You can easily shoot a $100 wad on a Google ad with 50 hits and no sales. On a tight budget, hiring a book publicists is far down priority lists–below paying bills and visiting relatives.


Unless a publicist can get you reviewed in a major publication or featured at a book fair or writing conferences there is not really much she can do for you that you should do yourself.


Why pay someone to tell you what to do when a little research will tell you to take advantage of all the free publicity–both direct and indirect–you can find or develop. This includes mailing lists, blogs, websites and strategic advertising.


Yeah, I know it’s a bummer but unless you can afford to pay someone to do the things you don’t like to do, it’s the only way your work is ever going to get more read.


















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Published on December 16, 2014 09:30 • 25 views

October 28, 2014

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What���s the deal with literary agents? They don���t know what publishers are looking for and neither do we.


Our Linkedin group���������Let���s Talk About Writing���������has 4,996 members and we���ve been having a lively ongoing discussion about whether it���s worth it to keep sending out query letters to agents because even if we do get an agent most often they can���t get us a publishing deal and if they do the deals are so bad we���re better off self-publishing.


Our group of writers have been trying to find an acquisition editor at a major publisher (there are apparently five left) or small press who will come into our discussion and answer some questions about their present relationship with literary agents.


We���ve all tried self-publishing with varying degrees of success. We know that getting our books reviewed by literary journals, into libraries, bookstores, and foreign sales is nearly impossible on our own (unless we pay for it���������thanks a lot Kirkus and Publishers Weekly for exploiting self-published authors.)


We���ve read the stories of indie authors who are approached by agents after their books are a success.


We know that an agent is a useful thing to have once you are a success. But what about the rest of us?


The old model of agents culling through piles of manuscripts for good ones to present to publishers is like so many other aspects of the publishing business either broken or in the midst of a rapid transformation. These poor bastards are receiving 200 or more queries a week (many ginned by a thriving book query writing industry). How are they supposed to know from a few lines or a partial submission if something is going to make them or the publisher some money (we know that���s the deal)? And forget about good writing on fascinating topics���������god knows how those books manage to keep being published, reviewed by the New York Times and promptly forgotten.


And even if we do manage to get published we still have to do our own publicity���������blog, beg, and grovel for attention.


So we might as well self-publish, right?


Come on editors, we���d love to hear from you and ask you a few questions.


Here���s the link to our discussion.


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Published on October 28, 2014 13:41 • 16 views

 BetaReader-support-services-logo4


What’s the deal with literary agents? They don’t know what publishers are looking for and neither do we.


Our Linkedin group — Let’s Talk About Writing — has 4,996 members and we’ve been having a lively ongoing discussion about whether it’s worth it to keep sending out query letters to agents because even if we do get an agent most often they can’t get us a publishing deal and if they do the deals are so bad we’re better off self-publishing.


Our group of writers have been trying to find an acquisition editor at a major publisher (there are apparently five left) or small press who will come into our discussion and answer some questions about their present relationship with literary agents.


We’ve all tried self-publishing with varying degrees of success. We know that getting our books reviewed by literary journals, into libraries, bookstores, and foreign sales is nearly impossible on our own (unless we pay for it — thanks a lot Kirkus and Publishers Weekly for exploiting self-published authors.)


We’ve read the stories of indie authors who are approached by agents after their books are a success.


We know that an agent is a useful thing to have once you are a success. But what about the rest of us?


The old model of agents culling through piles of manuscripts for good ones to present to publishers is like so many other aspects of the publishing business either broken or in the midst of a rapid transformation. These poor bastards are receiving 200 or more queries a week (many ginned by a thriving book query writing industry). How are they supposed to know from a few lines or a partial submission if something is going to make them or the publisher some money (we know that’s the deal)? And forget about good writing on fascinating topics — god knows how those books manage to keep being published, reviewed by the New York Times and promptly forgotten.


And even if we do manage to get published we still have to do our own publicity — blog, beg, and grovel for attention.


So we might as well self-publish, right?


Come on editors, we’d love to hear from you and ask you a few questions.


Here’s the link to our discussion.


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Published on October 28, 2014 13:41 • 23 views

October 23, 2014

Apokaful-Youtube-template-banner-com


Never Too Old To Rock
What’s Your Grandfather Doing in His Room

I am 64 years old and have been writing songs for over 40 years. But it’s only in the last few years that I’ve been able to live my teenage dream of being a recording artist. I’m hoping to be discovered — Lord knows not for the fame but a bit of the fortune would do — I want someone else to pay for me to record in a real studio, work with the best equipment and software, session players, engineers, and producers.



ApokafulI have everything I need to put myself out there and join the cavalcade of musicians clamoring for a listen and a look.


I have a:



1960’s vintage mashup electric guitar (Humbucker pickup, Strat neck, and Tele body);
Early 70’s Martin D-18 with a cracked body (but still the sweetest sound);
Borrowed Samick bass;
Six-year old MacBook Pro;
Pirated Logic Pro 9 recording program;
M-Audio Keystation 88 MIDI keyboard and Fast Track audio interface;
Two cheap mics, stand, and headphones;
I-phone 4; and
Student version of Adobe Creative Suites.

In other words all the tools to write and produce my own music and videos are in my bedroom.


I can:



Use Photoshop to create graphics, WordPress and Godaddy to make a website;
Upload and distribute my songs through Distrokid;
Sell my songs on Amazon and iTunes;
Stream on the online music channels;
Make and upload by videos to YouTube and Vimeo using footage shot with my phone camera or from the public domain collection from the Library of Congress; and
Design, make and distribute my own CD’s (at least I could. Amazon’s Createspace, because they are “constantly evaluating our service catalog,” will no longer provide this service).

What I can’t do to get discovered is hit the road and tour. I’m just too old for that. But that doesn’t stop me from admiring and rooting for the bands that do.



I like to go to hear the young bands perform at Soho. There’s a Soho in most towns — a bar with a stage, a decent sound system and lights. The bands arrive road-weary but purposeful, unload their van, setup their equipment and merch table (better have some vinyl), and try to build a following. That long exhausting process is definitely for the young and optimistic who still have years ahead of them to try, fail, and try again. Occasionally, an old rocker, like Peter Wolfe or Chris Robinson, who once did or still does play on the big stage, will perform at Soho either because they can’t get it out of their system or they’ve written songs that they know will only grow if they play them before a live audience.


Sometimes, a band will arrive with a great buzz and you know that they very well might make it to the next level of playing on a big stage, lights, sound, tour bus, roadies. And every once in awhile you get to see a nascent act like Jack Johnson or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros who does make it big.


dragonfly



I went to hear Cymbals Eat Guitars last week and there was hardly anyone in the club. Despite having been featured on NPR’s First Listen, being experienced pros who had produced and recorded a great record (definitely not recorded in a bedroom) — few turned out to hear them play on a Wednesday night. The band delayed coming out, letting the two opening acts take their time, but the crowd never grew. What must that do to your hopes? All that creativity, practice, money, great production, the buzz, transport all your gear to California from Staten Island, hiding out in a converted closet offstage, waiting, and nada.


The bands I admire are the ones who put it out there anyway. There were even less folks in the club for the Melismatics who’d driven out from Minnesota, and they tore it up. A paid rehearsal might be how they looked at the nearly empty room or maybe they’re true pros who always play hard.


What can an aging, unsigned recording artist do?


I could send my tunes to:



College radio stations (practically the only terrestrial outlets where the DJ’s can play what they want); or
National Public Radio who may use part of a song as a musical bed or feature me and my music on a radio show.

I could:



Pay for a backup band, studio time, engineer, producer, mixing, and mastering ($20,000 for an album); or
Crowdsource the funding for the album.

Or I can just stay in my room and let the creativity flow and hope that somebody might notice.


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Published on October 23, 2014 11:48 • 36 views