Self-Publishing & Putin, A Talk in Boston

Thank you to Amanda Festa of Literary Traveler magazine for writing a wonderful article about my recent talk in Boston. For those of you who want to learn tips about the business side of self-publishing, please check out the article below. Also, don’t forget to check out the No Bulls**t Guide to Self-Publishing, available on ebook everywhere for a mere 99 cents!

And now I pass on Amanda’s article to you, entitled “Author and Editor Jennifer Ciotta Talks Publishing and Putin“:

Happy self-publishing!

~Jennifer

Vladimir Putin, a Wicked Plan for Boston

Tuesday night, one day after the Boston Marathon explosions, I had a speaking engagement focusing on Vladimir Putin and my novel. I ended the talk saying that if the police and FBI were to find out the perpetrators of the explosions were international terrorists, Putin would be involved. He’s been calling for a joint blacklist of terrorists between the US and Russia to no avail, since the US believes that Russia’s blacklist consists of political dissidents as well. I asked the audience if Putin is still the bad guy for wanting to serve his country’s interests first by protecting it, and meanwhile, cooperate with the US. All I heard was crickets and a few anti-Putin grumbles in the back.

Fast forward to yesterday, Friday. I wake up to hear that…surprise, surprise, the terrorists may have Chechen ties. One even went back to Dagestan last year on a mystery trip. The manhunt then came to end last night, thankfully, and I woke up again this morning to hear that Vladimir Putin is calling for a cooperation between US and Russian intelligence; he will help the US in any way possible.

Bet those audience members from Tuesday night are saying, “Damn, that little woman who wrote about Putin was right!”

Damn straight I am. I know Putin and I know that, like any leader of any country, he serves his nation’s interests first, and rightfully so. (When has the US not served its interests first?) Russians have been fighting Chechen terrorism since the 19th century, including most notably the Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004 and the Moscow theater siege in 2002. Both events ended horrifically and both were caused by Chechen rebels. This group of terrorists is no joke. They’re terrifying; and if you look up the details of Beslan and what happened to the children, I promise you, you’ll want to vomit.

Thus it makes sense that Putin is calling for a joint blacklist and shared intelligence. The US needs to cooperate. I know we’re sore over the Russian adoption ban, and Russia is pissed about the Magnitsky Act…but even stubborn Putin understands what happened in Boston is much bigger than all of it. He and Russians, they understand terror, much more than we do here; they’ve lived with it on a daily basis…not once in a while, like here. They’ve seen black widow suicide bombers on their streets, apartment buildings blown up, children thrown from windows like pieces of garbage, and two bloody wars with Chechnya. In other words, Putin and Russia have a vested interest in finding these terrorists too and bringing them to justice.

Putin’s interest extends even further due to one major upcoming event: the 2014 Winter Olympics. This is his baby and will be held in Sochi, Russia, a mere 300 miles from the terrorist region. The last thing Putin wants is a terrorist plot to be carried out at his precious Olympic games. If that were to happen, all hell would break loose. Just look at Putin’s bloody, brutal Second Chechen War that he started as prime minister in 1999. That war went on for a long time, and if you go to Chechnya today…I guarantee you, you won’t see much except a lot of leftover destruction and dirt.

I hope the result of this tragedy will be that the US and Russia cooperate on intelligence. We’re fighting the same war. We have a common enemy, thus we’re friends.

By the way, in my novel, I, Putin, I had an extensive chapter about Chechnya and the Chechen War, but I ended up taking it out. I felt it didn’t fit with the rest of the book. But I will go back and look at that chapter today; perhaps I’ll post it online…

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My thoughts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions and the police officer killed and the other seriously wounded during the manhunt.

Boris Berezovsky, Let’s Blame It on Putin!

The American media is amazingly predictable. I click on CNN and guess what I see? A huge photo of Russian oligarch and tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who died today at 67 years of age. And supposedly…no one knows how…yet. Natural questions arise, such as: What did Berezovsky die of? Why did he die so young (by Western standards)? And…dun dun dun! Was he murdered? All of these questions then lead to…

Vladimir Putin.

Yes, as I discuss openly in my novel, Berezovsky was Putin’s enemy. He was exiled, living in London after all, like many of the oligarchs. Berezovsky was in no way a choir boy. He was one of the oligarchs that took full advantage of the chaos of the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union. He was a billionaire, and many Russians believe he acquired his money through unethical practices. Putin was one of them.

It’s been famously told, and I re-created the actual event in I, Putin, that in summer 2000, Putin had all the oligarchs come to the Kremlin and warned them to stay out of politics…or else. He made good on his threat, most notably with Mikhail Khodorkovsky. But again, Khodorkovsky is no choir boy either.

You see to understand Russia and the way it works, you have to think in shades of grey, not in black and white like us Westerners do. And when thinking in grey, you have to realize that sometimes not everything is as it seems. The Western/American media doesn’t always have it right. And insinuations aren’t always right.

Just because Berezovsky died doesn’t mean Vladimir Putin is behind his death. Enough said.

Vladimir Putin Gives His Condolences to Sandy Hook

Vladimir Putin called President Obama to give his condolences for the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that occurred in Newtown, CT last week.

As an American, interestingly enough, when I first heard about this horrific tragedy, my mind didn’t go to the Columbine shootings, which is the natural memory for most people. Instead, I thought of the Beslan school siege that occurred in Beslan, Russia on September 1, 2004. Yes, that was a situation of terrorists taking over the school, and it was a hostage situation, but for some reason, in the back of my mind, I had always felt in my bones that something tragic like Beslan would happen with little children in one of our schools. I don’t know why. Most Americans probably don’t even know what Beslan is.

Beslan taught me that anything can happen anywhere at any time. Russia deals with tragedy all the time; they have a history built around it. I think, as Americans, we are new to this type of tragedy, especially with the advent of Columbine and September 11th, and my fear is these events will keep happening. For many of you reading this post, the connection between Beslan and Newtown may be confusing, so I urge you to read this fascinating article in the New York Times entitled: “What Drives Suicidal Mass Killers” by Adam Lankford, who ends the article by stating:

I can’t help but wonder about Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Seung-Hui Cho and Adam Lanza. If they had been born in Gaza or the West Bank, shaped by terrorist organizations’ hateful propaganda, would they have strapped bombs around their waists and blown themselves up? I’m afraid the answer is yes.

Now you can see how the parallels between both tragedies are logical for me. But really, I guess how I processed the Newtown massacre isn’t important. What is important is that this event wakes up America. I believe that if you live in the country with coyotes and bears and the police station is miles from your house, you have a right to protect yourself. But what I don’t understand is why civilians, including mentally-ill civilians, can easily purchase a Glock or other type of assault weapon? If someone can please comment on this post and give me a solid reason for having a Glock or another assault weapon in their home, I would appreciate it. I can’t think of a good reason, especially since it certainly doesn’t take a Glock to kill a deer, bear, or if absolutely necessary, an intruder. Won’t a hunting rifle do the same thing?

Will we forget Newtown in a few weeks? Will another Newton occur? I hope not on both counts. Will our schools turn into the Wild West or Israel, where absolutely every adult is armed? Maybe. This morning I listened to a rural Texas superintendent on CNN, who has an armed staff, claim that his school didn’t go on lockdown when all other schools were.

This leaves me with the question…As a society, what should we do? How should we protect our children? One innovative idea is for every gun owner to carry insurance, and if that gun is used in a mass murder or anything else, the owner will be held personally responsible. I just listened to a press conference in which the NRA wants to implement a plan for trained, armed security in every school. Other people I talk to say to ban all weapons entirely and create a society of peace. For me, whatever answer will stop this type of violence is the right answer.

I live 25 minutes from Newtown. I drove there yesterday to pay my respects. I know people directly affected by this tragedy, who are in mourning. I have friends in Newtown, and I go to a networking group that is based in the town next to Newtown, and we have Newtown residents and teachers in that group. So when I heard about this tragedy, I was devastated, as was the rest of America.

I implore you to look at the photo above. Really look at it. This is a roadside memorial for the young victims of the Newtown tragedy. As I drove through Sandy Hook and Newtown yesterday, I saw funerals at every church I passed. Mourners in black. I saw a funeral procession driving through a cemetery…a final resting place for someone who should have never died.

My thoughts go out to the victims’ families and friends of the Newtown tragedy. May the little souls and brave teachers who protected them rest in eternal peace…

Buy I, Putin & Help Hurricane Sandy Victims

Hurricane Sandy has directly affected me, my family and friends. I am at a loss for words to express how sad I am at the lives lost and the memorable places, the Jersey Shore most notably, that have been washed away due to this tragic event. I must admit, I am lucky. I had a power outage and no cable or Internet, but that is nothing compared to lost lives, houses and treasured possessions. I wish everyone safety, warmth and comfort.

When something like this happens, I think about all the great people I’m meeting who are reaching out to help others. Yes, the news likes to cover the looters, but for the most part, people are generous and caring.

In my effort to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy, I am running a month-long promotion of I, Putin. For November 2012, if you purchase either a paperback or eBook of I, Putin, a portion of the proceeds will go to the Hillside Food Outreach. It is a wonderful, reputable organization that provides food for people in need, including the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The Outreach serves the counties of Westchester and Putnam in New York, and Western Connecticut.

I ask you to please help me raise money for the victims of Hurricane Sandy and anyone else in need of food this holiday season. Thank you so much.

To purchase your copy on Amazon, please click on the image below:

Happy 60th Birthday Vladimir Putin!

To Vladimir Putin on his 60th birthday,

My birthday wish for you is to stir up controversy and drama wherever you go this year. Why? Because it’s good for my book. I understand you have many things on your plate…Syria, Iran, China and that pesky United States…but what I’d love to see you capitalize on is your eccentricity, bizarre and offhanded comments and spreading that overall feeling of terror all over the world. Keep on doing whatever you’re doing to maintain the international spotlight. I’m supporting you from afar. Happy 60th birthday!

Best wishes, Jennifer Ciotta (author of I, Putin – Vladimir Putin novel)

Jennifer Ciotta to Speak at Bernard’s restaurant in Ridgefield, CT

Meet with Jennifer Ciotta this week at Bernard’s in Ridgefield, CT!

Award-winning author Jennifer Ciotta will be speaking at Bernard’s restaurant in Ridgefield, CT on Thursday, September 13, 2012 at noon. She is the featured author for September for the Author Luncheon Series at Bernard’s. Jennifer will discuss her novel “I, Putin” (Vladimir Putin novel),which has won Honorable Mentions at the New York Book Festival and Hollywood Book Festival as well as received stellar reviews from International Policy Digest, Alternate History Weekly, Review Harbor, etc.

The luncheon starts at noon and will last for approximately an hour. The cost of $25 per person includes a delicious lunch from the upscale Bernard’s restaurant, which the New York Times called: “Excellent! Beguiling menu.” During lunch, Jennifer will speak about her challenges and successes of writing “I, Putin,” why she was drawn to writing a book about the current Russian president and what she foresees for Russian politics, especially in regard to American foreign relations.

For more information, please visit: http://www.bernardsridgefield.com/special_events.htm (Scroll more than halfway down the page to view the announcement.)

Please call 203-438-8282 to reserve your spot or email Sarah at: sarah@bernardsridgefield.com

              203-438-8282
              20 West Lane/ RTE  35
              Ridgefield, CT 06877

When: Thursday, Sept 13th at noon

Why Pussy Riot is Wrong

Pussy Riot, the all-female punk band, storms a cathedral in Moscow and starts jumping up and down and screaming lyrics on the altar, and apparently, that’s totally okay?! Here, in American, the supposed “land of the free,” we have a problem with it too. It’s rude, disrespectful and not the venue at all. Imagine if someone came into your church, synagogue or mosque and did the same thing? It’s plain wrong.

For any of you who think I’m wrong, watch this video of Pussy Riot storming the cathedral.

And, of course, like clockwork, Putin gets the rap for the band’s terrible decision. And to add to that, stars like Madonna, Green Day, Bjork and Red Hot Chili Peppers are supporting Pussy Riot. What the f**k do they know about Russian politics? I bet Billie Joe didn’t even know who Putin was until this song. I have to say, I’m disgusted and disappointed. I really like Green Day. I listen to their music, but now I think of them in a totally different light.

I’m even more disgusted by MTV supporting Pussy Riot. Let’s see, MTV #1) doesn’t play music anymore #2) has no effing clue about Russian politics. The closest they’ve come to anything Russian was that Russian lesbian duo singing “All The Things She Said” at the MTV Music Awards.

This is the typical Western media approach. And it’s sad. Haven’t we moved past the Soviet era? I know I have. And now MTV is showing young people to fear and hate Russia again? They should stick to what they know best: airing reruns of “Teen Mom.”

Okay, now that I’ve taken a deep breath. I do want to say, YES, a two-year sentence to a Russian penal colony a.k.a Siberian hell is wrong. By my standards, they should’ve gotten a couple weeks in jail. But that doesn’t erase Pussy Riot’s classless and terrible decision.

I rest my case.