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Power to the People!

My latest book is all about you.

 

Yes, you!

 

It's about how one person can make a difference in this world. It all starts with one person and goes from there. It's a lesson I learned from Ralph Nader, one of the most civic-minded people America has ever known. His life's work is a model for how to be engaged and informed.

 

Apathy is easy and is born from a misconception that "I don't matter" and that "other people can do the work."

 

It's really up to all of us to make change happen, and it starts with you. And me. And every individual out there. 

 

We all have to do what we can - vote, write and call our elected officials, make wise consumer choices, file lawsuits when we are injured by corporations.

 

Too many people do nothing. I wanted to reach out to kids and explain our rights and powers and responsibilities as citizens, so that a few years later when they are adults, they will understand and exercise those rights and effect change in our country.

 

I enjoy writing about history - but I also enjoy writing about living topics such as this that are in effect a call to action.

 

- Richard Panchyk 12/22/21 

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My Next Book

Those three words are always rattling around my head, no matter what I am working on at the moment. My next book. What will it be? Ideas come to me day and night, sometimes when I am half awake in the wee hours, sometimes in my dreams. Sometimes a friend or random person mentions something that sparks an idea. And plenty of people have tossed some actual full-formed (or half-baked) ideas my way too. If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me "Why don't you do a book on…" then I'd have about 49 dollars.

 

But seriously, there is no idea that's bad. I love hearing what others think, even if I wind up doing the opposite of what they suggest, they've still sparked the idea. I have covered so many topics in my writing career, some of them rather far flung and random, and often times those books are the ones I have the most fun writing. So nothing is too strange, off-beat, or random for me.

 

And I say "writing" career but most of my books are very heavy on images too, so for my books the writing process is always a visual one, a marriage of photos with words. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a picture with an insightful caption is worth ten times that.

 

Anyway, back to what I was getting at before I interrupted myself. Which happens a lot and is part of why so many ideas come to me, because that's my brain. Very random and always thinking of a million things at once. You don';t come to write 47 books by having a boring and normal brain!

 

I guess how I think of new book topics is really by paying attention to the details, to all the things I see and places I go and the people I meet. There are potential books everywhere and sometimes all it takes is a single thought or detail I see to take me there. Sometimes it's in that moment and sometimes it's hours or days or months later.

 

Sometimes a past book was so fun or exciting that I want to do another book like it, or in the same series. This happened with my Abandoned Long Island book; it led me to do an Abandoned Queens book and then an Abandoned Long Island II book.

 

Once an idea forms, I give it some serious thought. Will this be an interesting book? Will I have fun doing it? Is there enough material to work with? Has this idea been covered already? Do I have the time to go to the place and take photos?

 

If I can answer all those questions favorably then I will probably forge ahead and turn the idea into a book. That said, I should not make it sound like choosing book topics is entirely up to me. I've had topics rejected by publishers for a variety of reasons, but especially if they think the topic might be too narrow or obscure. If I get a "no" I don't dwell on that, I go back to the pool of ideas and pick another!

 

Do I choose ideas based on how popular I think they will be, how well I think they will sell? I try not to, because there is simply no way to tell in advance. Sometimes the books I think will do really well, don't. And vice versa. It's hard to predict. All I can do is find a topic that I love, and throw myself into it full force, and ultimately, have a book that I am super proud of. In the end, it's nice if a book sells well, but usually that's the icing on the cake if the book turns out great.

 

If any of you have potential topics in mind, I am always open to suggestions. Drop me a line and drop your idea into the waiting bucket of book topics that is my brain!

 

-R.P. 10/27/21 

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