Pulitzer Winner Accused of Plagiarism — Twice

Alex Haley, Author of Roots: “Alex Haley Heritage Square — Knoxville, TN” by SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent) is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The Publication of Roots

Forty-five years ago, August 17, 1976, Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley was published by Doubleday and shot straight into the hearts of the people. It was a good story, well-told, that spent more than 46 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and for more than five months, held the coveted number one slot.

Roots won a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation in 1977, and the novel won the National Book Award Special Citation for History that same year.

Alex Haley’s Roots took hold partly because ABC purchased the rights for a mini-series, out of…


REALLY GOOD MARKETING

Amazon Prime & Rapunzel

Rapunzel waiting in her castle. Photo: Shutterstock

Was Amazon’s New Ad Targeting Me?

When was the last time you laughed out loud when you saw a commercial?

It happened to me today, a commercial so perfectly executed to hit my funny bone and my belief system that when I saw it, I laughed out loud. Not a smile or a tiny chuckle, but a loud guffaw, unbidden and unexpected.

It started out innocently enough. Rapunzel sitting in the window of the castle, and then the line,

“Once upon a time, there was a princess with really long hair who was waiting for a prince to come save her….”

I barked at the television…


Nandini Patwardhan’s book

Photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash

Radical Spirits: India’s First Woman Doctor and Her American Champions

I admit it. This was a different kind of book for me to read, but when a friend of a friend wrote it and it was nominated for a nonfiction award, I knew I wanted to get it.

I am so glad I did. Reading Radical Spirits expanded my understanding of two cultures, both Indian and American. It gave me an appreciation for the people who believe in the “soul” qualities — who see the kindness, the ability, the drive, and the intellect of others instead of skin color. The kind of people who respect the beliefs and the traditions…


The current state of covers

Photo by Pj Accetturo on Unsplash

Saturday morning seduction

When I was young, my dad would take my sister and me to the library on a Saturday morning — just for fun. We were a reading family and got a thrill from picking our stack of books for next week’s reads.

My sister and I would run downstairs to the kids’ section and start the treasure hunt. So much fun browsing those shelves, pulling books off one at a time to see the cover, only then reading the front flap, flipping through the pages, and stacking it in the “Yes,” “No,” or “Maybe” pile. …


The blaze that burns within

Photo by Ryan Cryar on Unsplash

“White-Hot and Passionate…”

It’s a quote I keep pinned in front of my desk where I can look at it daily:

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all, become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.” — Roald Dahl

I am not a flashy, boisterous, rabble-rousing person, but that doesn’t mean I…


Stretching the bibliophile’s budget

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

If you’re a bibliophile with a limited budget, you know how hard it is to cover your book purchases when you have to have a place to live, food to eat, and clothes to wear….not to mention insurance, internet, transportation, utilities, appliances, cleaning products, and home maintenance.

I’m not where Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus was yet, but I understand where he was coming from when he said,

“When I get a little money, I buy books; if any is left, I buy food and clothes.”

If books are your passion and you have a limited income, you have to find ways…


I’m failing my own Pulitzer Project

Photo by Hans-Jürgen Weinhardt on Unsplash

Do you make reading goals?

Every year, (heck…every month, every day) I vow to read more. My New Year’s Resolutions, for decades on end, have included the phrase, “Read More.” I have a passion for human stories and interesting innovations. History fascinates me. Science intrigues me. Books turn me on. (Truly, I get a physical thrill and a rush of endorphins, the body’s own joy juice, when I enter a bookstore.)

So why is it that I don’t read nearly enough? That I buy books that sit on my T0-Be-Read shelf for months? …


Mating, molting, and the joy of making music every 17 years

Holes made by emerging periodic cicadas in Central Illinois. Photo: Melissa Gouty

“Listen. Just Listen.”

I stepped outside and walked into the yard on a late May day. Finally, after a cool, rainy spring, the weather was beginning to warm and the sun was starting to shine. My husband ran up to me, smiling, pulling the headphones off my head, saying,

“Listen. Just listen. Can you hear it?”

At first, I thought I heard a low hum from the interstate a couple of miles away from our home, but then I realized that it was a steadier, softer sound than truck tires wheeling around and around on the highway.

A million tiny tambourines. A thousand…


Great publicity for around $50

Book cover postcards: Photo by Melissa Gouty

Book cover art as postcard promotion

You spent hours deciding on your book cover. You may have paid to have it professionally designed. You might have done it yourself, playing with color, font, spacing. Deciding how big to make your name.

But no matter how it came to be, your book cover is the best way to promote your work.

Use the high-definition digital file of your book cover to create a postcard. I use a traditional 4" x 6", but you can go bigger if you choose.

I use a two-sided card so that I can print information on the back about where the book…


Curated pieces, May 1 — May 31, 2021

Photo by Maximalfocus on Unsplash

Has something changed?

Last year, I was curated often, about 70% of the time. This year, and particularly in the last three months, I’m running 100%.

Don’t get me wrong. While I’m baffled at my new curation rate, I’m absolutely thrilled. Obviously, any curation I can get is a good thing because every single piece that gets distributed adds to my exposure and the amount of time that other people might read my work. I’m hoping that someday, I will actually break the $100 mark in earnings.

If there are designated publications or specific people who have been given the green light for…

Melissa Gouty

Writer, teacher, speaker, and observer of human nature. Creative content for the literary world. Follow me at LiteratureLust.com, Twitter, or Facebook.

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