Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery … or so they say.


It was getting down to the zero hour and I still hadn’t found a ukulele. I Googled eBay. Nope; they wanted hundreds of dollars for highly prized wooden versions. Next, I called the local music store, but they, too, wanted way too much money for fancy renditions of something that I was never going to really use. Darn. I only needed the ukulele for an hour … and time was growing short.


Oh well; I was going to have to put my angst on a shelf for a couple of hours. The front desk was buzzing me; my lunch appointment was here.


I got into my car and headed off to a favorite French restaurant with one of my best-selling authors in tow. Jeff had just started a new business and his wife had asked me if I would take him to lunch and give him some pointers on handling his employees. He was such a nice and generous guy, that she was afraid he was going to bequeath all of his hard-earned profits to his staff if he didn’t get some coaching soon. She felt confident that, as a lifelong entrepreneur, I could help show him the ropes of running a business.


As I started to munch on my cornichon-and-Brie sandwich, I thought to myself, To heck with his employees; I’m having a real emergency here. I need a ukulele! I was obsessed with my dilemma, so I impatiently interrupted Jeff just as he was telling me about how, after three weeks of her coming in late, he had decided to give Amy a bonus today because she had been on time. Not able to stifle myself any longer, I blurted out that I was in desperate straits. I needed to find a ukulele. Jeff’s head popped back. He got a big smile on his face, and he said somewhat proudly, “I have a ukulele.”


Did I just hear correctly? “You have a ukulele?” I exclaimed.


“Yes, I just got back from a vacation in Hawaii, where I bought a ukulele as a souvenir.”


“Oh my goodness, can I borrow it? I only need it for an hour tomorrow morning,” I asked.


“Well, if you don’t mind a blue, plastic ukulele, it’s all yours,” he replied.


Blue plastic. Yuck! I didn’t even know they made such things, but you know what they say: beggars can’t be choosers. “Sure. How fast can I get it?” I replied through a scrunched-up face and a forced smile. OK, so it was not exactly what I needed, but it was a ukulele … kinda-sorta.


The next morning, I proudly strolled into my office conference room, where we were all to gather. I was so excited; I knew I was going to win the prize. Now, all my staff had to do was just guess who I was. Wearing a short, gray wig and a black and gold St. John suit, carrying both my newly acquired blue ukulele and a realtor’s “For Sale” sign, I was sure I was going to emerge victorious.



It was October 31. You see, each year at Halloween, it is our tradition at Brown Books to dress up as one of our authors or their books. We have fun guessing who is who and then award a prize for the best costume. This year, I was so proud to be dressed up as my mentor: 98-year-old Ebby Halliday, head of a six-billion-dollar real estate empire. For those of you who don’t know, Ebby’s shtick was singing and playing her ukulele. No, she wasn’t technically a professional entertainer … but that was the point. Her self-deprecating sense of humor endeared her to everyone who met her.


Before becoming a book publisher, I was a family historian, having started a company to help people preserve their heritage. By publishing her memoir, Ebby Halliday: The First Lady of Real Estate, I felt honored to have the best of both worlds. I could preserve her life for her family and friends and, at the same time, share Ebby's incredible story with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm for my author wasn’t enough for me to claim best in show. I lost to my accountant who was costumed as Beware of the Red Flag Man.


That was over six years ago, but I am seriously considering going as Ebby again this year. She has been on my mind a lot this past week after I learned that she passed away several days ago peacefully in her sleep at the age of 104. You can’t drive down a street in Dallas without seeing her name prominently displayed on a sign or marquee. Yes, she would have been remembered as an icon even if she hadn’t chosen to publish her exceptional book, but I am so honored to have played even a small part in helping to preserve her memory. What a lady and what a story.


The memorial service for Ebby Halliday Acers will take place Thursday, Sept. 17, at 3 p.m. at Park Cities Baptist Church; the service will also be live-streamed via for those unable to attend. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Ebby’s Place at the YW, The Ebby House at Juliette Fowler Communities, Happy Hill Farm and Academy, or the charity of your choice.

For more from Brown Books’ tribute to one of our most cherished authors, see the compelling images that capture her moving story in Remembering Ebby: Her Life in Pictures.


A servant-leader in health care, Dr. Jeffrey Sterling is a national and international advisor, entrepreneur, physician, consultant, speaker, and author specializing in public health, consumer health care education and prevention, hospital and provider administration, global health care and business infrastructural development, and pharmacoeconomics. As the founder of Sterling Initiatives, LLC, and Sterling Medical Advice, he holds dual roles as the president and CEO of both organizations and also helms company subsidiaries, including SMA Health Library, SMA LiveChat, Sterling Medical Wellness, and 844-SMA-TALK.

Additionally, the MD and MPH empowers anyone, anywhere, to become better stewards of their own care through his blog Straight, No Chaser, where he shares daily, in-depth information and solutions with more than 32,000 digital followers. Now, Dr. Sterling is expanding his publishing channel with the 2015 launch of his debut title, Behind the Curtain, on July 24. Revealing and unflinching, his new release offers an unfiltered look inside the real-life traumas and triumphs that define emergency medicine, and today, he's giving fans an exclusive peek at the experiences that inspired his first book.

What motivated you to write Behind the Curtain? "Throughout my career, I've been reminded time and again that most of us spend our lives in denial about who we are, what we do, and our susceptibility to the consequences of what we do. I wrote Behind the Curtain to hold a mirror to the public. In the ER, people tend to reveal their truest self, not the representative 'character' they present in polite company, and I hope that this book illustrates that we’re not as uniform as we pretend to be—and that we're not as invincible as our often-oblivious actions would suggest."

What was the most significant question you sought to answer in writing your first book? "I wanted to address many of the significant feelings and questions my patients struggled with, like 'Am I the only one who feels this way? Am I the only one who does this?' The answer is always a resounding 'no.' We live in an amazingly diverse world, and it's unfortunate that people feel as if their choices aren't able to be more freely expressed. We'd do better to empower folks' choices with information to support their decisions."

What do you want your readers to take away from Behind the Curtain? "That life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, and it is best done so by making educated decisions in advance of bad things happening."

Head to to order your copy of Behind the Curtain and submit your RSVP for coast-to-coast book launch events! For more from Dr. Sterling, tap into his Straight, No Chaser vlog series "8 Ways to Stay out the ER," and to discover his pioneering health care initiatives, please visit and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.


KGCC Sharing lessons learned in Silicon Valley boardrooms and Texas beer gardens, Roll with It: Living, Working, and Parenting by the Seat of Your Pants is Kim Z. Garrett's guide to pursuing your passion, raising fiercely resilient kids, and discovering unexpected heroes. Writing Roll with It as part of her long-term philanthropic vision, the former Facebook director and first-time author is also the founder of The Electra Zane Project, and she's using the unique initiative to help heal at-risk families by turning book sales into support for victims. Get to know Garrett and find out she's giving readers the chance to give back through Roll with It!

Who is Electra Zane? The charitable initiative reflects Garrett's enduring commitment to serving those affected by family violence and substance abuse, but the unique title, which bears her original name, is a nod to her own unorthodox upbringing. Underscoring her parents' "fragile, fuzzy" grasp on reality, the author's moniker was a harbinger of the abandonment and addiction that characterized her childhood.

What's the project all about? On a mission to serve children and adults affected by substance and domestic abuse, The Electra Zane Project helps protect and shelter struggling families by raising funds for critical charities, and the initiative is currently offering support to organizations including Dallas-based Family Compass.

How can I contribute? With the 2014 launch of The Electra Zane Fund through JPMorgan Chase, Garrett established a quick, efficient platform for channeling financial assistance to those in need, and since she uses a portion of her proceeds from Roll with It to assist exceptional philanthropies, she's turning readers into champions for life-saving organizations with every copy purchased!

Still looking for great gift ideas? Grab a copy of Roll with It online now and connect with the author on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.


We're revealing our 2014 Holiday Reading Roundup for family, friends, and colleagues, because there's no better gift than a book that inspires, teaches, and offers great adventure! Find out what's on Brown Books' bestseller list this season.


Penned by award-winning builder Brent Hull, founder and president of Hull Historical, the beautiful book challenges readers to reevaluate the way we think about building homes today and examines the cultural impact of a fast-paced world that's obsessed with what's next.
  • Gift it ... to your favorite Downton Abbey fanatic, and anyone who longs for the era when quality homebuilding and exquisite attention to detail was the norm.
  • Get it ... @ (hardcover, $26.95; e-book, $9.99).


Vietnam War veteran Bob Ford, a Huey helicopter Aircraft commander who flew over one thousand missions from July 1967 to July 1968, pays tribute to the valiant men he served with and to those who risked their lives for the troops on the ground in his praiseworthy memoir.
  • Gift it ... to the everyday heroes in your life, and those who appreciate a gripping page-turner that reads like a thriller.
  • Get it ... before the book launches on January 15, 2015, by pre-ordering @ (hardcover, $24.95).


With glorious photographs and vividly descriptive text, photographer and writer Greg Dimijian takes readers on a magical journey of exploration through some of the most fascinating and amazingly diverse habitats of our planet.
  • Gift it ... to nature enthusiasts, photography buffs, and anyone who puts the "great" in great outdoors.
  • Get it ... @ (hardcover, $29.92; e-book, $9.99).


Art historian and educator W.N. Varvel offers an eye-opening look inside da Vinci's most famous work, adeptly decoding a tapestry of hidden messages within the painting. Revealing the artist's meticulously calculated fabric of clues, symbols, and images, the author establishes not only his belief but also Michelangelo's belief in Theological Gender Equality.
  • Gift it ... to those who revel in great mysteries, and history aficionados who'll be impressed the impeccable research behind the well-crafted read.
  • Get it ... @ (hardcover, $24.95; e-book, $9.99).


Today's financial game requires a fast break - and a great coach. Combining economic expertise with courtside wisdom, author Chuck Thoele delivers actionable intelligence for aspiring and established investors, and the financial leader's first book has garnered praise from sports legends like the Dallas Mavericks' Mark Cuban and UCLA's Steve Alford.
  • Gift it ... to students, young professionals, and those seeking great advice for improving their long-term financial game plan.
  • Get it ... @ (hardcover, $24.95; paperback, $18.95; e-book, $9.99).


Author Venita Ellick offers a contemporary look inside the life of a presidential candidate's wife, and she shares the perspective of a brave protagonist who refuses to trade her position as director of a prestigious art museum for the traditional role of First Lady, should her husband win the election.
  • Gift it ... to would-be politicos and everyone in need of an entertaining winter read.
  • Get it ... @ (hardcover, $24.99; e-book, $2.99).


Be inspired by brain injury survivor Donna Valentino, as she reflects on her long journey back to health. Deeply insightful, the spiritually uplifting read reveals how she found the strength to persevere, overcome, and thrive.
  • Gift it ... to real-life champions, and friends and family members who could use a little extra encouragement this season.
  • Get it ... @ (hardcover, $19.95).


Based on the writing of Lenna Kolash, the book invites readers along on her personal journey as the daughter of homesteaders in 1915. Well-told stories coupled with visual details will find readers wanting more long after the last page has been read.
  • Gift it ... to modern-day pioneers, and those who never miss a rerun of Little House on the Prairie.
  • Get it ... @ (paperback, $15.95).


New author Shahla Niazi offers up nourishing recipes such as Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Soup in her bold, contemporary cookbook, and she inspires healthy habits with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, and healthy oils that yield heart-smart cuisine.
  • Gift it ... to the go-to foodies in your family, and friends craving creative, culinary adventures.
  • Get it ... @ (hardcover, $22.95).

Searching for more recommended reads or thinking about sharing your story? Learn more about our titles and discover our unique platform for publishing, distribution, marketing, and public relations @, and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.


Brown Books Publishing Group has been a Dallas tradition since 1984, and we're celebrating 20 years of success in the Lone Star State with a bold new imprint - The Texas Press! Created to discover and develop aspiring literary all-stars, The Texas Press honors our history and our hometown by cultivating authors across the state.

Launching on Texas Independence Day, the imprint will officially debut on March 2, 2015, but Big D is already buzzing about the project after a preview party that included some of the city's best-known influencers. Go inside the high-profile event and find out who was on our guest list via the photo gallery below.

Think you have a unique story to share with The Texas Press? We're now accepting manuscripts from local and regional writers whose work channels the spirit of the Lone Star State; email our publishing team now to learn more about Brown Books' powerful platform for editorial development, distribution, and promotion.

_MG_1039Brown Books' founder Milli Brown, non-profit consultant Carmaleta Whiteley, The Texas Press' publisher Pat Holder, and publicist Cindy Birne (l to r) share a smile. _MG_1154 Dan Strimple (l), the pro behind Irving Golf Range, and wife Jan (c), founder of Jan Strimple productions, discuss Texas-themed titles with producer Gary Cogill (r), co-founder of Lascaux Films. _MG_1076Brown Books' editorial director, Derek Royal, and the publisher's VP of public relations, Vicki Morgan, catch up with Keith Nix, founder of The Nix Company. _MG_1053 New York Times estselling author and golf aficionado Curt Sampson helps publicist Cindy Birne improve her swing. _MG_1105Jan Strimple, Milli Brown, Hayley Hamilton Cogill and husband Gary Cogill, and Pat Holder (l to r) get candid after toasting Hayley's non-profit organization, Dallas Uncorked. _MG_1066 Prominent diversity and motivational speaker, Otis Felton, relaxes with his wife, Carmaleta Whiteley, before heading to a Dallas Faces Race event. _MG_1044Public relations leader and non-profit specialist Deborah Brown laughs alongside Cindy Birne. _MG_1072 Milli Brown, public relations veteran Marie Dean, and Pat Holder (l to r) pose for a final picture as the party winds down. _MG_1070Kathy Penny (l), Brown Books' project coordinator, and Sherry Levine (r), director of Brown Books Kids exchange Season's Greetings. _MG_1135Pat Holder and Milli Brown share heartfelt remarks and tears while introducing guests to The Texas Press.

Is There a Book in Your Future?

Why every entrepreneur should consider writing a book

Writing a book isn't easy. Committing your thoughts to paper requires time, hard work, and creativity. But with the right team behind you, this big project can land a big payoff. Consider what a book can do for your business.

Show what you know. You've probably heard the old adage "Show, don't tell." Let us assure you this rings true in the business world. Don't just tell potential clients why your company is unique. Show them by publishing your story! Writing a book gives you the opportunity to showcase your expertise. When people read your book, they'll hold your knowledge and experience in the palm of their hand. Share your knowledge with thousands of readers--and potential customers.

The first word in authority is author. A book gives you invaluable credibility. Authors are viewed as knowledgeable and trustworthy. If someone has experience with a particular subject, we say he "wrote the book" on it. You're the expert in your field, so use that knowledge to your advantage. When you show readers what you know, you'll gain their trust.

Ace that first impression. Want to make an unforgettable first impression? What if you could hand your contacts a book instead of a business card? When you write a book, you can present your business and your story exactly the way you want the world to see you. Plus, imagine the potential for name recognition. Every time people see your book in stores or online, they'll think of your company immediately.

Take your business to the next level. Writing a book has the potential to grow your business exponentially. Your book gives you an unparalleled platform to share your knowledge and experience. Telling your story can enhance your business relationships. If you're planning to launch a new product or take your business in a new direction, publishing a book is a great way to explain your vision in your own words.

Support a cause that matters to you. In the midst of your busy schedule, you make time to support causes that are important to you. How can you encourage others to do the same? By writing a book about the charity of your choice, you can raise awareness and much-needed funds. Perhaps you have started a charitable organization of your own. Writing about your journey is the perfect way to spread your message and find potential supporters.

Leave a legacy. Yes, publishing a book can have an immediate impact on your business success. But writing a book is more than a smart professional move. It's also an investment in the future. When you put your ideas to paper, you're recording your perspective and your life story for future generations. The rewards can impact your business for years to come.

Are you ready to tell your story?

Five Ways to Make Your Editor Love You

1: Format your manuscript. The first thing we editors do when we get your manuscript is put it into standard formatting: double-spaced, twelve-point, Times New Roman font. This doesn't take us long to do, admittedly, but think about it like this. What's more preferable to you, having to take a new suit or dress in for tailoring, or finding one that fits perfectly right off the rack?

2: Never use more than one space. Ever. Yes, you may have learned to hit the space key twice before beginning a new sentence, but we're sorry to tell you that rule left the building long ago. So, as a nice, general guideline, don't ever use more than one space—not between sentences, not after a colon, not between words.

3: Spell out all numbers less than 101. You see what we did there? We didn't spell out 101, because it's, well, not less than 101. Though the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) of course makes it more complicated than this, implementing this as a blanket rule will make it much easier for the editor to determine what needs to be numerical and what needs to be spelled out according to CMS guidelines. Number rules are complicated, but it's better for your manuscript to begin with a certain level of consistency so that the editor can best help to boost your manuscript to a publishable standard.

4: Use serial commas. This particular rule is being debated right now, in case you're not up to date on your grammar news: in a chain of terms, should there be serial commas (this, that, and the other) or not (this, that and the other)? But for us here at Brown, the answer is still clear: yes, there should be. Brown, in accordance with professional industry standards, goes by the CMS for editing and design guidelines, and one thing CMS still strongly recommends is the use of serial commas.

5: NEVER use all capital letters for emphasis. (See, it just looks like you're yelling.) If you wish to add emphasis, put your word or phrase in italics. It carries the same effect, but keeps the prose at the formal level required for mainstream print success. Obviously, certain things like acronyms should still be in all caps, but if you're trying to indicate that something is VERY IMPORTANT, you may as well put it into italics, because we'll change it anyway when we get it.

None of these are things that we can't do. None of these are things that we won't still look for, because you would be surprised how many little things can be missed. This is our job, and we'll give your manuscript the same careful, personal attention to detail that we give all of our manuscripts.

However, when the author takes the time to give their manuscript some preliminary editorial lovin', that allows us to get that much more deeply entrenched in your text. If we aren't constantly having to delete all caps, we can remain deeply and personally involved in the message of your book and ensuring that it is conveyed to its fullest potential.

What questions would you love to have answered by our editorial department?

Your Business Reasons for Publishing

Edgar Allen Poe made fifteen dollars—total—for "The Raven." And he never made more than one hundred dollars on anything else he wrote. He had virtually no understanding of copyright laws.

"The tool, the instrument that is most vital to [a musician's] success is an email service provider . . .[it] is much more cost effective than a guitar." ( Greg Rollett from Gen-Y Rock Stars via The Musician's Guide to World Domination)

What do these two little anecdotes have in common? Both are reminders that successfulrtistry of any kind requires some business acumen. Publishing (as opposed to writing) is a business matter. It's hard to fully appreciate this fact. Internet searches on "business plans for musicians," "business plans for artists," or "business plans for songwriters" magically produce dozens of pages of useful articles. But type in "business plans for authors" and the number of quality articles greatly diminishes. Those that do appear, sadly, devolve into the "how to get noticed by a publisher/write an attention-grabbing proposal" variety. Deborah Riley-Magnus does the best job of anyone I've found so far in lucidly outlining what the author's career path should look like. Still, nearly nothing I read gets to the heart of business reasons for why you want to publish. A business reason does not necessarily mean that what you publish must make a profit; it means you must understand and embrace the business consequences of what you publish. You may deliberately make a bad business decision if you desire—just so long as you know you're doing it. Of course, it's better if your long game is indeed profitable. A business reason is not, "I want to impact the world," or, "It's been a lifelong dream to be published." Here are some legitimate business reasons for publishing what you've written.

  • "I want to legitimize my authority as expert in my field." (By the way, nothing accomplishes this phenomenon quite like authoring a book.)
  • "I need to expand the reach of my brand/ministry/company by educating my customers and prospective customers."
  • "I want to provide a value-add to my clients."
  • "I need a unique vehicle for housing the DVD I'm selling."
  • "I want to launch a writing career."
  • "My time is being consumed with advising people. If I could get my advice into the hands of my customers, I could save time for other more profitable or important endeavors."
  • "I want to hone my craft and get feedback as I develop."
  • "I want to increase the number of my speaking engagements and what I can charge for them."
  • "This book will make me money."
  • "I want to defer the lion's share of the business decisions and economic realities of publishing to someone else—a publisher/investor."

Start here. Become brutally, even egotistically, honest about what you want in publishing. Why? Because publishing your book is first and foremost your business. If you can grasp this idea, you increase your chances of using the publishing process and its ambassadors for your purposes rather than the other way around. What other business reasons for publishing can you think of?

David P. Leach is the director of publishing for Brown Books, blogs at, and thinks the book business's biggest challenge/opportunity is and should be literacy.

Working With Producers

I work with producers every day and I was inspired by Mike Hyatt's recent blog on getting ready for a media interview. Just as he has seen his share of book failures and successes, I, too, as the public relations director for Brown Books Publishing Group, am an astute observer of all things book. His recent posting "What Every Author Should Know about Radio and Television Interviews" captures what I refer to as standard operating procedure (SOP).

The most important message producers consistently convey is steering clear of turning an on-air segment into an advertisement. Even though in essence, an on-air appearance is just that, the key to a good interview is the ability to discuss the message of your book without sounding like you are selling something. In addition, visuals play a significant role in avoiding sounding like another talking head. They help enhance the segment and the topic being discussed.

Responding to interview questions with sound bites is equally essential to a successful interview. I always create a list of ten practice questions for the author to answer as a component of our press kit, and this helps the author prepare for a real interview. In most cases, the host will refer to these questions, and this preemptive preparation will make answering them less stressful. I always remind the author that they know their material better than anyone else and to remain confident. The key to a successful interview is getting your message out as briefly and as quickly as possible.

To ensure a successful interview, the author must be prepared, be dressed well and camera-ready, confident, remember to remain calm, speak slowly, and keep in mind that nobody knows their book better than they do.

The interviewer will mention the author's website at the end of the segment and let viewers know where books are available. In addition, this information is usually posted on the network or station website immediately following the show.

Are you ready for your interview?

Top 10 Reasons Why Books Are Here to Stay Digital and Print. . .Side by Side

In the midst of all of the gloom and doom news about the future of the book industry gracing my computer on a daily basis, I can honestly say that the excitement for what lies ahead far outweighs the immediate uncertainties. The heightened sense of urgency to make the most of this evolutionary time is causing us all to be more creative, and that's a very good thing. While conversations about all things e-book certainly top the list, what we can't ignore is that the reading public has a voracious appetite for new content. As publishers, it is our responsibility to search out exciting, new content and to present it to readers in a way that draws them in and holds their attention. The packaging is all that's changing here. We've added e-books, enhanced e-books and apps to our repertoire giving readers more choice. . .more ways for us to connect with them - and, again that's a very good thing.

So, in no particular order, here are my personal reasons why I think books, regardless of format, are here to stay. No statistics used - just an insider's perspective from working with authors, industry vendors and the reading public (in addition to keeping a nightstand full of books in regular rotation):

  • Books make us smart
  • Books make us feel smart
  • Good authors deserve to be heard
  • A book can propel an author from obscurity to celebrity
  • We all need escapism on a regular basis
  • There's nothing like a good book to keep you company late night or at the beach
  • Parents need books to teach and connect with their children
  • Without books, students will never have a chance to learn the art of annotating
  • Books inspire, educate, challenge and make us think. . .for better or worse
  • What purpose would book club members have to get together without a book to discuss - surely it's not just the wine and cheese?

  • And now it's your turn. Give us a reason why you think books are here to stay, and let's get excited about books all over again!