BookFest PA, State College, July 16, 2011

Join me and over 20 other authors at BookFest PA on Saturday, July 16 from 10 – 5 outside of Schlow Library in State College. We will be signing and selling books, as well as chatting with readers.

Many people know about The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, better known as Arts Fest. It’s a five-day event, featuring artists from all over the country, selling their work along the sidewalks of State College and Penn State’s University Park Campus. Arts Fest is an event State College residents look forward to all year long. The festival includes fun for kids, live music, 5K and 10K runs, numerous other events, and a variety of food vendors. It draws about 125,000 people annually and is a boon for local business during State College’s quiet summer months.

For the second year in a row, Arts Fest includes BookFest PA. Featured authors Lisa Scottoline, Tamar Myers, and Nancy Martin, will be there along with Cyn Balog, Josh Berk, Lyndsay Eland, Lyndsay Barrett George, Paul Yeager, and Daryl Gregory.

Local authors include Sylvia Apple, Georgia Ann Butler, John F. Carr, Judy Ann Davis, Jeffrey Frazier, John Gastil, Cindy Simmons, Jennifer Herbstritt, Sandra Hill, Ken Hull, Marie Jackman, Heather Jordan, Janice McElhoe, Jodi Moore, Kieryn Nicolas, David Penek, Melicent Sammis, Judith Vicary Swisher, John Swisher,  Patricia Thomas, poet Zoë Brigley Thompson, Phillip Winsor, Veronica Winters, and me. Please stop by, say hello, and have your books signed by the authors.

Thanks to Pat Griffith at Schlow Library and the other BookFest PA and Arts Fest organizers for making this event happen.

Learn more at BookFest PA and at Arts Fest.

Greg Halpin is the author of Welcome to Scranton.


Book Sales Info from Amazon

Two copies of my novella Welcome to Scranton sold in the San Francisco Bay Area last week. That might not seem like a big deal but considering my book isn’t sitting on the shelves of book stores there or anywhere, for that matter, but Scranton, I found it quite interesting. I know about the sales because Amazon allows authors to access sales information of their books via BookScan. It’s a fantastic source of information, which shows how many books you are selling in geographic areas around the country. BookScan is a service from Nielsen, the same company that provides TV ratings data. Major book stores, except for Wal-Mart, report their sales information to BookScan.

Thanks to BookScan, I was surprised to learn that copies of Welcome to Scranton have also sold at book stores in Pittsburgh, Johnston, Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Orlando and Norfolk, Virginia. The buyers of the book must have gone to a store and ordered it, which is how they show up on the report (see image below). If you are an author and have not created an Author Central account, I encourage you to do so at

BookScan is just one of the tools available from the Author Central. Kindle sales information is provided. You can also link to a blog, see reviews of your books, and create a bio.

Welcome to Scranton Sales Map

Welcome to Scranton on TV

Welcome to Scranton made a cameo appearance on TV in one of Liz Randol’s political ads during the recent primary election campaign. Randol ran for Lackawanna County Commissioner. The ad, which shows Ms. Randol holding a copy of the novella while speaking with a group of young women, was replayed over and over every day in the first half of May. I couldn’t have asked for better publicity for Welcome to Scranton, except perhaps for the book to appear on an episode of the TV show The Office.

I have never met Ms. Randol and do not know her positions on the issues, nor did I endorse her. But I am in favor of all candidates holding my book in their TV ads, regardless of their political persuasion–Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or vegetarian.

The Scranton Times-Tribune reported that Randol won in Scranton and the Abingtons, was second in Dunmore, but came in fifth in Carbondale. County-wide, Randol came up just 403 votes short of edging out Commissioner Corey O’Brien, meaning she won’t be on the Democratic ticket in November.

It must be disappointing for Ms. Randol. But we may see her again, given her strong showing in Scranton. Perhaps she’ll run for Mayor in the future. I’m hoping she does so she can run more commercials featuring Welcome to Scranton.

Take a look at the ad below and see the cover of Welcome to Scranton 17 seconds into the video.

Nittany Valley Writers Network Self-Publishing Discussion Panel

The Nittany Valley Writers Network discussion on self-publishing at Schlow Library this past Tuesday went very well. We had a crowd of over twenty come out to hear Michelle Weisen, Cindy Keith, John Swisher and me share our experiences in the brave new world of self-publishing.

The meeting including a demo of how to format and upload a book to a self-publishing service. There were a lot of questions during and after the discussion. It became quite heated at the end with members of the audience disagreeing with each other over self-publishing in the world of academia. Some thought it was a career killer. One said that at her age, she couldn’t wait around for a publishing company and decided self-publishing might be the way to go.

Here are some useful links for those interested in self-publishing:

  • Joe Konrath’s Newbie’s Guide to Publishing has everything you need to know from writing to pricing and tips on a good cover:
  • has the best royalties for self-publishers that I could find.
  • Amazon’s Kindle self-publishing site: If you want to sell ebooks, you want to sell to Kindle readers.
  • is an ideal site for the less tech savvy or for those who may only want to print a few copies of their work for friends and family.
  • Barnes and Noble’s Pubit site:

Below is some information about our panel.

Michelle Weisen, is English professor-turned-author. Lavinia’s Window is
her first novel and third children’s book. She self-published it in 2008. Michelle has since formed her own publishing company called Words of Mercy. A portion of the proceeds from sales of her books support

Cindy Keith is the owner of M.I.N.D. in Memory Care. She consults with families nationwide who struggle to care for a loved one with dementia. She is the author of “Love, Laughter, & Mayhem – Caregiver Survival Manual For Living With A Person With Dementia,” as well as “Love, Laughter, & Mayhem In Eldercare Facilities: The Master Key For Dementia Training.”

John Swisher, a professor emeritus of Counselor Education at Penn State, is the author of Two Paths Crossing: Then and Now. The novel was stimulated during a tour of Greece that focused on ancient sites including Delphi. He wondered what happened to real treasures given to the Oracles.

WPSU Jazz Online

WPSU Jazz now has its own web page at

Jazz shows are now archived so you can listen to previously broadcast programs online. I have been a WPSU Jazz host since 2006 and am very happy that friends and family can listen to the shows if they missed them when they were broadcast live. My April 2011 show is available at:

You’ll hear music from Wynton Marsalis & Norah Jones, Brad Mehldau, Charles Mingus, John Boutte, The Jazz Crusaders, Richie Cole, Julia Hulsmann Trio, Cassandra Wilson, an all-time favorite but little known song by Lee Morgan, and others. Hope you enjoy.

Self-Publishing Discussion, May 10, 7 p.m.

I will be hosting a discussion about self-publishing at the Nittany Valley Writers Network meeting on Tuesday, May 10 at 7 p.m. at the Schlow Library in State College, Pennsylvania. Anyone interested in learning more about self-publishing is encouraged to attend.  The discussion is free and open to the public.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, self-published authors are shaking up ebook sales thanks to Amazon’s Kindle and the Nook from Barnes and Noble.

Many of the top selling Kindle books are from self-published authors like Amanda Hocking, Joe Konrath, and John Locke. Hocking’s books became so successful, traditional publishers took notice. She recently signed a contract with St. Martin’s Press for a four-book deal reportedly worth at least $2 million.

At the same time, some traditionally published authors like Barry Eisler are walking away from lucrative publishing contracts. These authors believe they can make more money by self-publishing. More importantly, the authors will have more control over their books and the timing of their release. Instead of waiting 18 – 24 months for traditionally published books to hit the store shelves, self-published authors can release their books as quickly as they can write them, have them edited, and a cover produced. Some authors publish several a year.

We will talk about these and other topics at the meeting. I’ll also demonstrate how to upload your book to the Amazon Kindle site,, and

Penn State Student’s YouTube Video Goes Viral

Below is a YouTube video by Penn State student Mel Torres, featuring the many animals sounds she can make. It went viral. Over two million people have viewed it.

Some people on YouTube made some rather nasty comments about her. I told a friend it’s a shame that her family might see those comments. He said, “that’s what you get for exposing yourself on the Internet.”

Maybe, but I think, in the end, Mel will get the last laugh. Here’s my prediction for Mel’s future. The video lands her on a TV show to feature her talents. That leads to a well-paying job hosting a TV program about animals. In thirty years she receives an award for her efforts over the decades to help endangered animals.

Penn State Dance Fundraiser

Penn State Dance Fundraiser

During National Dance Week, April 22 – May 1, 2011.

The University Dance Company at Penn State is trying to raise $1,000 to send students to an intensive dance program in July and to fund costume and travel expenses for the 2011-2012 season.

My wife Elisha is the head of the Dance Program at Penn State. To help her and the students, I am donating the profits from sales of Welcome to Scranton during National Dance week to the University Dance Company.

 Where to Buy  Price  Penn State Dance Receives
 CreateSpace  $9.95  $5.00
 Amazon    9.95    3.00
 Kindle    2.99    2.00
 Nook    2.99    2.00

To raise more money, buy copies to give as gifts. You can also give Kindle copies as gifts.

Penn State Dance Slide Show

Welcome to Scranton in Paris

Welcome to Scranton was spotted in Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Now if only I could get to Paris.

At the Eiffel Tower

Welcome to Scranton in Paris

How Did We Get Here?

I tried something different with this writing prompt: How Did We Get Here?


Sunlight shone through the window, hitting his face as it rose above the mountain. Todd woke, covering his eyes to protect them from the blinding light. His head pounded. He had cottonmouth. Todd sat up on the futon and grabbed the half empty forty ouncer from the large plastic storage bin that served as a coffee table. The warm beer, normally his favorite breakfast beverage, had a chemical taste. As he sucked it down in one swig, his lips felt a foreign object–a cigarette butt. If only he could remember to check before he drank, not that it would matter. He’d probably drink beer no matter what he saw floating in it.

Todd looked around but didn’t recognize the room. It was like any number of trash strewn, busted up living rooms he had woken up in the past few years after a night of drinking and doing whatever drugs available. Todd got up. He had trouble finding his balance. His head felt like it weighed a hundred pounds. Todd thought about laying back down but he had to find the bathroom to take a leak and fast. He was about to burst. Thank God he hadn’t pissed his pants in his sleep this time. His cousin won’t let Todd crash at his place again, at least not until he reimburses him for the couch. Like Todd could ever save up enough money for that.

Todd went down a hallway, stepping over someone he didn’t know. He looked in the doors at the end of the hall. On the right were bedrooms with people sleeping, empty bottles on the floor. The bathroom was on the left.

He felted a wave of relief when he was done. As he was about to flush the toilet, he heard someone groan. Todd turned, almost losing his balance. He opened the plastic shower curtain. There was his girlfriend, Debbie, waking up after a night of sleep in the tub.

“There you are,” he said

“I thought that was you taking a piss.”

“Yeah, now let’s get outta here.”

“Where are we?” Debbie said.

“I don’t know.”

“How did we get here?”‘

“Same way we always do, Deb. Now let’s find the kid and go home.”