How Jessica Mitford Exposed A $48m Scam From America’s Literary Establishment

An extremely interesting article …

David Gaughran

Cerf1Jessica Mitford took on the American funeral industry, the California Department of Corrections, and the Ku Klux Klan, but it was her 1970 exposé of The Famous Writers School which led to Time calling her “The Queen of the Muckrakers.” And if a courageous editor hadn’t reversed his decision to kill her story, it might never have happened.

Mitford had been aware of The Famous Writers School’s existence for some time. Anyone who was a frequent reader of newspapers, books or magazines would have seen its ever-present advertisements, inviting aspiring writers to cut out and apply for the free aptitude test. While Mitford was suspicious, she didn’t have anything concrete until her lawyer husband took on a new client.

Bob Treuhaft was approached by a 72-year old widow, living on Social Security, who had cleaned out her bank account to make a down-payment to The Famous Writers School. On the…

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Eagles Crack Heads in Naughty Nha Trang

Both Katie and I found it difficult to leave the historic ancient port of Hoi An, with its relaxed riverside dinning, its mix of interesting architecture and its appealing streets, all crammed with shops of every kind. If you add warm and fun-loving local people into this reasoning, then it probably seemed a little crazy not to stay a while longer. This is where fate intervened. Previously, we arranged to meet our niece Cassie and her partner Michael, in Nha Trang, which somehow caused a chain reaction of unwanted events.

Beautiful Hoi An on Sunset

Beautiful Hoi An on Sunset

So, blissfully unaware, we taxied it north and headed back to Danang, where we became caught up in a large crowd of paparazzi and onlookers. We didn’t know who they came to see, but we waved at them like movie stars as if it was us, smiling all the while as their camera’s clicked and flashed at these unknown celebrities. It seems unfortunate and somewhat amusing that someone’s treasured celebrity shot, perched lovingly on their mantle, might actually be little old me.

Anyhoo, once we Hollywood celebs made it to Danang, we boarded the overnight train and headed south. After several arguments over whose beds belonged to who, copious expulsions of wind, an unholy amount of snoring and really horrible train food, we eventually trundled into the seaside city of Nha Trang. After an hour so waiting outside the station waiting for our pre-arranged ride to our hotel, we finally managed to contact them. Thirty minutes later, a guy showed up on a scooter to pick both of us up, plus our humungous backpacks. The end result of this, amounted to nearly two hours of constant hassles by the masses, trying to sell us a ride. In the end we got our own taxi, who managed to drop us nowhere near our hotel; perfect.

Several blocks in from the beach, the sea breeze disappeared and we began to wilt from the heat. Carrying all of your worldly possessions on your back, ensures a hot and frustrating search for your internet booked apartment. Once there, we discovered that the air-conditioning in our noisy second floor room didn’t work. Later in the evening, we also discovered that a searchlight positioned to illuminate an advertisement sign, shone directly at us through an almost non-existent flimsy curtain.

We felt like rabbits caught in a hunter’s headlights. Consider the torture of trying to sleep through an entire night of blaring crappy music, with light so bright, it burnt through your closed eyelids, while you boiled away in a pool of your own sweat. Needless to say, we moved out the next morning and because of our previous torments, decided to have a splurge. I didn’t take us long to find our intended heaven and eagerly headed into the beachside Novotel Hotel, to secure our two glorious romantic nights. After checking out a few rooms, we eventually went for the oh-my-God penthouse suite, unaware that fate had taken charge and continued to propel us towards catastrophe.

Later that morning, we met up with Michael and our bubbly niece, Cassie and caught up with each other’s travel stories and news from home. Together we enjoyed a hearty breakfast and an equally sumptuous Vietnamese lunch, before we took on the tiny waves, attempting to body surf, while trying to catch an Aussie rules football.

The Beach-side in Nha Trang

The Beach-side in Nha Trang

After our swim, we decided to return to our hotel and freshen up a little, as we entertained plans to go out for a late dinner with Cassie and Michael. On the way back to the Hotel, I cut my bare foot on a bolt sticking out from the road. It didn’t hurt, but caused quite a gash and a bucket of blood to flow. I went to take a shower and discovered that our room at the Novotel had two, one with a marble sunken bath beside it, and both having floor tiles that are unbelievably slippery. You can probably guess the rest. Katie heard an enormous thud and rushed to find me unconscious on the floor of the marble bath. Death is what she envisaged on first seeing me; it must have been quite a shock for her.

Sometime later, I drifted back to consciousness and wondered why a young Vietnamese man was gently stroking my naked back and whispering, soothing incomprehensible assurances, into my ear. I also noticed a lot of people milling around in our suite, making a fuss. How could this be? What on earth was going on here?

Think … Yes, reaching for a towel … that seemed to be my last and only memory of the event. Somehow, my petite wife, heroically lifted me into the lounge area by herself, which is amazing, given that I weigh more than a full-grown male Yak on steroids. She also called for the local Paris-trained doctor, arranged staff to assist me and telephoned our travel insurance company for advice.

I don’t have that many more memories for the next couple of weeks, although I apparently conversed with several people over the period. However, I do remember the fist-sized Hematoma sticking out of the back of my head and the resultant blown-out eye socket and bulging, protruding eye. I also remember the sombre ride in the lift and the shocked staff in the reception area. With absolute clarity, I remember attempting to get into a cab, posing as an ambulance, only to experience the pain of another similar-sized Hematoma sticking proudly out of my back.

I think brave Katie saved me in that hospital. All of the drugs prescribed for me, were given to Katie to administer, where she would telephone our insurance company doctor and quote the numbers and names of the drugs. On their advice, at least half of the medication went into the bin. Katie told me later that, after I vomited on the technicians scanning my brain, I told the doctor that I couldn’t remember anything, which of course … I couldn’t remember. This caused him to prescribe brain stimulants that didn’t feel that pleasant, when stimulating an already swollen brain. At times I woke to that jackhammer thumping away in my cranial cavity, while in every waking moment, my grey matter felt like it might expand beyond the borders of my skull.

The Amazing View from our Penthouse Suite - Nha Trang

The Amazing View from our Penthouse Suite – Nha Trang

Then, for apparently no reason at all, the hospital released me from their care and I returned to the hotel. Again I remember very little, except that I secretly organised a cake for Katie’s birthday. She loved the gesture, but soon realised that I looked like a ghoul from some b-grade horror movie. Horror is also how our insurance company doctor handled my release. They immediately contacted the hospital and I went back to that noisy ward for another unremembered stay.

There are some positives in this story. It must be said that the management and staff of the Novotel, treated Katie and I like we were one of their own family during our ordeal. I have never felt so loved by people I hardly knew, many of which, visited me daily at the hospital on their own time. I will never forget their kindness and sincerity.

And, what can I say about Katie? In those brief periods of consciousness at the hospital, I remember a strange sickening feeling that I can only describe as ‘death’. I actually remember worrying about how Katie would emotionally handle bringing me home in a box. The truth is, if she hadn’t been so courageous and cool under pressure that may well have been the outcome. I can only imagine the enormous stress she must have endured. Now that’s a companion that you’d want in your corner any day. Thanks my love.

It never occurred to me that I actually received a ‘brain injury’ rather than just a thump on the skull and a period of unconsciousness. It also never occurred to me that there might be unwanted ongoing symptoms, which might alter my life experience for many years to come. All we knew at the time was that I couldn’t fly, which meant staying put, or braving further travel closer to the ground. We chose the latter and decided to travel on the blue train, overnight to Ho Chi Minh City before our Vietnam Visas expired. I hope you will join us on the trip.

Conor Cawley: 5 Things You’ve Resolved To Do in 2015

Drinkers with Writing Problems

With every New Year comes resolutions. If you didn’t post a long Facebook status about it, you at least had that voice inside your head that said, “It’s 2015 already? Well fuck. I should probably do something with my life.” It’s hard not to reflect on what you’ve accomplished when something as significant as the last digit in a date line changes, but how can you be expected to improve so vastly in a single year?

Making vague, impossible-to-keep resolutions leads to inevitable failure. So here is a list of those resolutions and a few simpler ones that will make 2015 that much more manageable:

1. Lose Weight
If you didn’t assume I was going to start with this one, you’re a fool! A fool, I say! But this is at the top of the list because this is at the top of everyone’s list. I am in no way…

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NEW YEAR, NEW LOOK & SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL OFFER FOR MY FOLLOWERS

Happy New Year! I hope that 2015 is going to be a fantastic year for all of you. May it be filled with good health, good fortune and good times.

Every year, I’m sure you all spend a little time thinking about what your New Year Resolutions will be. Usually for me it is a combination of writing better, eating healthier and exercising more.

This year, as part of my resolutions and as a special treat to my followers, I am putting out an ‘Anniversary Edition Cover’ for my novel ‘Blood Prize‘. That’s right! It has nearly been one whole year since I published my first novel. (Where did the year go?)

Blood Prize has received some fantastic reviews. Read them HERE and HERE

Below are the two covers; (old and new) and I would love to hear your feedback on them. You can post in the comments below or drop me a line at ken@kengracebooks.com

2014 Cover Desgin  2015 Anniversary Cover Desgin  2015 Anniversary Cover Desgin (FSB)

2014 Cover                         2015 Cover                            2015 Anniversary Cover

Thanks must go to Ilian – http://ilgeorgiev.elance.com for the ‘Anniversary Cover Design’. His details can also be found in the front of the book.

In addition to the ‘Anniversary Cover Design’ I am also offering followers a Special Promotional Price of $2.99 (usually $7.99). If you are an Amazon Prime member you can borrow this book for FREE!

UNITED STATES     AUSTRALIA     UNITED KINGDOM

The title is also available in every international Amazon store. Visit your usual store and type ‘Blood Prize‘ to get this offer TODAY! Remember if you are part of Kindle Unlimited this title is FREE!

If you don’t have a Kindle, no worries because there is a free Kindle reading app that you can get for your browser, smart phone, or tablet. After you’ve installed the app then you are all ready to get your Kindle books.

Finally, I must say a big THANK YOU to all my supporters and followers. You are all AWESOME!

HAPPY 2015

Ken Grace

Christmas Giveaway

Looking for books to add to your Kindle for Christmas?

Get Your FREE copy NOW!

Giving someone a Kindle for Christmas? Why not stock it with a great read?

Got a Kindle for Christmas and want to fill it up with yummy books?

Christmas starts now! Stock your kindle with this gripping read for free!!

Get Your FREE copy NOW!

*If you don’t have a Kindle, no worries because there is a free Kindle reading app that you can get for your browser, smart phone, or tablet. After you’ve installed the app then you are all ready to get your free Kindle books.

Halloween Across Time! On Now! Online!

Halloween Blood Prize Special

Halloween Across Time Promotion (H.A.T)
Beginning at the first Time Zone to celebrate Halloween (Kiritimati) through to the last (Baker Island. That’s 2 whole days + 2 hours). During this time – ‘Blood Prize’ will be on special for 99c on Kindle tinyurl.com/qzn39lm and Smashwords tinyurl.com/kfenrcb. For my sanity I will use AEDT as my measure of time. So, from 30th October 9.01pm through until 1st November at 10.59pm! Get your Halloween Read now! Wherever you are in the world!