Thursday, March 26, 2015

What are Google Circles?

Have you ever received an e-mail indicating someone has “added you to their Google Circles?” My response is to check out their profile, and if they don't appear to be a serial killer, I accept their invitation. But I'm not really sure what I'm signing up for.

I thought, who better to ask than Google?
After reading through the website, I came away with the understanding Google Circles are kind of like a polite “alert” mechanism which allows those in the “Circle” to receive posts that have been shared with other members online.

There appears to be an option which allows the person generating the post to share it with everyone, or just a few select people. Conversely, the program also allows users to create different circles to receive different kinds of content.

How does all this affect me? I'm still not sure. I continue to accept invitations and select the “public” option when I post on my blog, but whether or not anyone is alerted to the fact remains a mystery. Nonetheless, I believe Google has it's heart in the right place, creating a program that, when understood and used correctly, could be a great way to communicate with different groups of people.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Blackstone Audio

According to the Audio Publishers Association, the audio book industry is growing at a rapid rate. The number of titles being produced doubled between 2012 and 2013. Retail sales during 2013 were estimated at $1.3 billion. One of the companies responsible for this huge increase is Blackstone Audio

Blackstone Audio offers more than 10,000 audio book titles, making it one of the nation's largest independent publishers in the industry. In addition to recording and releasing their own audio books, Blackstone also works on productions from Hachette, HarperCollins and Christian Audio.

Besides producing physical audio book products, Blackstone also offers a digital download service called
My personal belief is that digital downloads are the wave of the future, and that physical products will eventually become antiquated.

My association with Blackstone Audio began with my appearance as a guest on a podcast called “Get Behind Me, Now Stay There” which is recorded at the Blackstone Audio studios in Ashland, Oregon. Hosts of the show are Edward C. Stanton, President of Just Imagine It Ink, KSKQ 89.5FM radio personalities Maya Seligman and Holly Lorien Adams, New York correspondent and voice over artist Chrissy McIntyre, Blackstone Audio employees Cyrus Emerson (producer), and Jerry Renfrow (recording engineer). In addition to talking with people in the audio book industry, the show also features interviews with musicians, actors and artists and even “just the guy down the street.”

The moderators of “Get Behind Me, Now Stay There” have been gracious enough to invite me back on the show next month to discuss the upcoming Audies Competition. In the world of audio books, the top honors are called Audies. Blackstone Audio has four original titles which are up for Audies this year, and have worked on numerous projects for other companies which are finalists as well

I predict the audio book industry will continue its upward spiral. Although my company, Straight to Audio Productions, is a just small speck in the stream of the audio book business, I benefit from the success of Blackstone Audio. Through their efforts to promote the art of the spoken word, the amount of people listening to audio books has increased for everyone. Here's wishing Blackstone Audio and all the other finalists the best of luck at this year's Audies Competition!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Special Screening of Prophet's Prey by Sam Brower

Save March 18, 2015 at the Rose Theater for a chilling night of cinema about the rise and continued reign of Warren Jeffs. The film, based on the book Prophet's Prey by Sam Brower, premiered at Sundance to rave reviews and will be screened as part of the THROUGH THE LENS series hosted by Doug Fabrizio and KUER’s Radio West at 7pm at the Rose Wagner Theater.

Photographs from the film by Olivia Fougeriol will be for sale to benefit an ongoing Private investigative fund for outreach and continued investigations/allegations with the FLDS Church and Warren Jeff’s mandates from prison.

Director Amy Berg will be in attendance at the screening. Private investigator and author Sam Brower will be at the screening and signing copies of his book by the same title PROPHET’S PREY .
Special thanks to Tommy McCarthy, Jim Dabakis, Patricia Vayda, Valter Nassi, Dan Fischer and Donna and Michael Weinholtz for being the first funders of this film three years ago and to St Regis for hosting an outreach conversation with Jon Krakauer and Sam Brower during Sundance

Many people saw the film at Sundance and have asked how to help. You can spread the word for our March 18th screening at the Rose, buy a photograph or make a donation to the Prophets Prey outreach efforts. The Utah Film Center is proud to act as fiscal sponsors on this film and donations can be made to Utah Film Center: attn Prophets Prey 122 South Main Street SLC 84101.

Prophet's Prey will air on SHOWTIME in October. In the meantime, check out the book by Sam Brower:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Adele Park's Review of The Confession by John Grisham

I recently had the pleasure of listening to The Confession by John Grisham as an audio book. The story is about a young, African American man named Donte Drumm who has been wrongly convicted of raping and killing a classmate. Drumm is facing execution by lethal injection in Texas when the real killer steps forward and confesses the crime to a minister.

The race to justice is thwarted by a number of nefarious characters within the criminal justice system. Drumm is eventually executed and the city he lives in erupts into chaos. At times, this audio book actually made me cry. Part of this is due to my own frustration with corruption within the judicial system, and part is due to Grisham's ability to connect with me through his stories.

I was surprised when I read the Publishers Weekly review of The Confession which really roasted this story. The review talked about Grisham's “slump” which I've been unaware of. It also called the plot of The Confession “subpar.” Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, but I strongly disagree with this one

Not only was Grisham able to get me to really care about the characters in The Confession, but I found the plot to be interesting and exciting. Grisham also finds a way to make some important points about the flaws in execution system, noting that innocent people are sometimes wrongly killed.

The Confession is narrated by Scott Sowers who has an amazing career in film and live theatre. I was impressed by how Sowers was able to give voice to such a wide range of characters with different ethnicities and backgrounds. To learn more about Sowers, check out his website:

I have awarded The Confession 4 our to 5 stars on my Goodreads page. If this work is a “slump” for Grisham, I can't wait to hear what he's up to on a good day!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Adele Park's Review of Prophet's Prey by Sam Brower

Prophet's Prey by Sam Brower is one of the most riveting books I've ever read 

I've been fascinated by the polygamist sect living in Colorado City/Hilldale ever since I moved to Southern Utah. It seems incredible to me that this Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) can commit so many atrocities against their own people with few, if any repercussions.

While it's true that FLDS leader Warren Jeffs is now serving a life sentence in Texas for the sexual assault of two children, he wasn't brought to justice until many years after his numerous crimes. In addition to raping and molesting countless boys and girls, Jeffs proved himself to be a criminal with an unusual taste for cruelty. Brower's book goes into explicit detail about the heinous acts Jeffs committed against his family and community.

The saga involving the Jeffs reign as leader of the FLDS occurred over a very long period of time. Bower brilliantly describes what he uncovered during a seven year investigation into the activities of this group. The story involves a wide range of victims, locations and circumstances. It would be easy to get confused by all the moving parts, but Bower lays out the story on a chronological time line which the reader can readily follow.

One of the important points Bower makes throughout his book is the the issue of complicity. How is it that the FLDS can operate in the open, breaking countless laws and still not be held accountable? As a voter in Utah, I have watched three Attorney Generals do little, if anything, to protect the victims in the tragedy that is continuing to this day in Colorado City/Hilldale. Brower's account of the Child Protective Services Department in Texas was especially appalling. After raiding the FLDS compound in Eldorado, Texas, the agency took custody of 463 children which they believed were being abused. Even though 18 underage girls were pregnant as the result of spiritual unions with much older adults, the CPS of Texas returned these children to the cult.  

Brower's book also details the numerous court proceedings involving Jeffs and his followers. To the shock of many, justice wasn't always served. Jeffs was convicted in Utah of being an accomplice to rape in 2007, only to have his case thrown out on a technicality three years later. Fortunately, Jeffs was extradited to Texas before he was freed, and subsequently convicted on two counts involving the rape of a child.

Sadly, even though Jeffs is still in jail, he continues in his capacity as the leader of an estimated 10-thousand FLDS members. It's shocking that the people who have been victimized by this man continue to acknowledge him as their prophet.

I have read many books on the subject of polygamy, but somehow Brower's book escaped me until it was turned into a film which debuted at the Sundance Festival this year

I have awarded Sam Brower and Prophet's Prey five stars on my Goodreads Page

I commend Brower not only for his excellent and detailed account of the FLDS activities, but also for his efforts to try and make the perpetrators accountable for their actions.

Here's where you can buy your own copy of Prophet's Prey by Sam Brower: