New Book by Faulkner University Associate Dean Offers Fresh Insight on Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s Emersonian Transformation of Law

Critically acclaimed author Allen Mendenhall, associate dean and executive director of the Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty at Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law, offers fresh, fascinating insight and compelling evidence for how Emerson transformed Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s approach to law in his new book, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Pragmatism, and the Jurisprudence of Agon: Aesthetic Dissent and the Common Law ($75.00, Hardback, Bucknell University Press, December 16, 2017).

This book argues that Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., helps us see the law through an Emersonian lens by the way in which he wrote his judicial dissents. Holmes’s literary style mimics and enacts two characteristics of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s thought: “superfluity” and the “poetics of transition,” concepts ascribed to Emerson and developed by literary critic Richard Poirier.

Using this aesthetic style borrowed from Emerson and carried out by later pragmatists, Holmes not only made it more likely that his dissents would remain alive for future judges or justices (because how they were written was itself memorable, whatever the value of their content), but also shaped our understanding of dissents and, in this, our understanding of law.

By opening constitutional precedent to potential change, Holmes’s dissents made room for future thought, moving our understanding of legal concepts in a more pragmatic direction and away from formalistic understandings of law. Included in this new understanding is the idea that the “canon” of judicial cases involves oppositional positions that must be sustained if the law is to serve pragmatic purposes. This process of precedent-making in a common-law system resembles the construction of the literary canon as it is conceived by Harold Bloom and Richard Posner.



ALLEN MENDENHALL is the Associate Dean and Executive Director of the Blackstone & Burke Center for Law and Liberty at Faulkner University and the author of Literature and Liberty: Essays in Libertarian Literary Criticism (2014). He has been featured in Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, The American Spectator, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and more. He is the editor of the Southern Literary Review. He received his B.A. in English from Furman University, M.A. in English from West Virginia University, J.D. from West Virginia University College of Law, LL.M. in transnational law from Temple University Beasley School of Law, and Ph.D. in English from Auburn University.Learn more at

Christian Author Relies on Faith After Son’s Medical Brain Injury

Barry Milazzo was a managing director in New York City for one of the most powerful commercial real estate firms in the U.S., with a happy family and millions in assets—but his world was shattered when his eight-month-old son, Bryson, suffered a catastrophic brain injury from a routine vaccination. After an unwanted divorce and the loss of his financial stability, Barry was left to raise his three children on his own. Like the Biblical Job, there were times when Barry was tempted to curse God and die due to the impossible hardships he faced. Instead, in his new book All the King’s Horses: Finding Purpose and Hope in Brokenness and Impossibility (Creation House), he tells a raw yet incredible true story of how he chose to rely on the power and grace of Jesus Christ who he believes is the Answer to every “impossible” situation.

Featured on ESPN, Cornerstone TV, and on radio stations nationwide, Milazzo’s compelling true story is not a “self-help” book that relies on slogans or easy answers. Instead, it addresses loss and difficulty with honesty, raw emotion, faith and humanity in a way that every reader can connect with in a deeply personal way.

Milazzo says, “King Jesus takes our desperately unwanted brokenness, the very circumstances that have seemingly wrecked our lives, and uses them to produce a dependence upon Him that becomes the lynchpin of His divine purpose for us.”

All The King’s Horses will empower readers not only to endure, but to embrace trials with hope and faith. Barry shares his journey with brutal honesty rarely seen in Christian books, yet with charm and wit. When all the king’s horses can’t put your Humpty Dumpty life together again, there is a King who brings purpose, hope, and victory—and an incredible story that is impossible to put down.


Barry Milazzo is a father of three. The passion of his life and ministry is to lift up Jesus Christ to be seen as the magnificent God and King He truly is, and to make Him known as the Answer for every human problem, every broken dream, and every “impossible” situation. The author lives in New Jersey. For more information, visit

It’s Time for Ebooks to Get Innovative and Interactive

I saw something recently that blew my mind: Piotr Kowalczyk pulled together a list of “35 Most Interesting Animated Book Covers,” which left me saying not only, “Wow, these 35 covers really are the most interesting animated book covers I’ve ever seen,” but also, “ANIMATED BOOK COVERS ARE A THING? How have I not heard of this??”

Perhaps you’re sitting back and chuckling to yourself, thinking, “Of course animated book covers are a thing. What rock have you been living under?” But I won’t hear this remark, because I am still scrolling, bright-eyed, through simple animated gifs that bring average ebook covers and illustrations to life, going particularly gaga over the gritty Batman and Joker motifs and, oh yes, the elegant reimagining of the Harry Potter series.

Ebooks are becoming more interactive, and it’s about time, too. In a world where new digital masterpieces continue to flood a thoroughly oversaturated market daily, it’s surprising that more authors aren’t taking advantage of, or at least exploring, new technologies that enable readers to truly interact with the written word—and taking advantage of opportunities to make their ebook stand out from the crowd.

Granted, some of this technology is still in development, but we can’t ignore the possibilities technology affords us not only for publishing work online, but also for creating multidimensional works of literary art.

Consider, for example, Ryan Woodward’s superb Bottom of the Ninth, an interactive graphic novel that not only showcases Woodward’s impressive animation skills, but gives us something truly “novel”: graphic panels that move fluidly with the plot, which the reader can interact with thanks to the tap of a button. The graphic novel, which follows ace baseball pitcher Candy Cunningham, can be read on its very own app, an iPad, iPhone, or online (take a look, it’s super cool).

Consider Eli Horowitz’s The Silent History, a digital novel written specifically for iPad and iPhone and also available via a custom app. This mysterious story about a generation of unusual children who are unable to create or comprehend language, but who demonstrate surprising skills, unfolds gradually via 120 “eyewitness testimonials” about the children’s unusual abilities. Plus, according to the novel’s website, “For readers who wish to explore the world of the novel in more depth, there are also hundreds of location-based stories across the U.S. and around the world. These can be read only when your device’s GPS matches the coordinates of the specified location.” New stories unlocked based on the reader’s physical location? The plot thickens, indeed.

Consider that Al Dixon, the visionary behind the innovative new digital imprint Imaginary Books, is publishing a new mystery novel, the real pleasure in life, in “dynamic typography,” or interactive, animated text. The gritty, animated text is integrated into the plot itself, so that the movement of every word illustrates a plot development, or reveals a clue in a philosophical, slapstick adventure about a man whose life is turned upside down after he receives a mysterious summons to a surreal version of Athens, Georgia, and, after falling in with an eccentric set of new friends, discovers that nothing in his life will ever be the same.

Here’s what all of these innovative digital stories have going for them: They utilize new technology not as a gimmick or a “look-what-I-can-do” bit of time-consuming irrelevancy, but as an actual enhancement to story itself. The technology isn’t there for the sake of being there, but because it actually enhances the story, and enables the reader to interact with the literature in wholly new ways.

In a world where there’s an app-improving update or new system available for your device every week, it’s surprising that tech innovations to digital publishing haven’t become more mainstream. However, the current innovations that exist—or will exist in the near future—offer savvy, enterprising authors a relatively untapped realm of creative possibilities for creating, releasing, and promoting their newest digital book.

Enter the Siren’s Song Fan Art and Cosplay Contest!

YA fantasy author Mary Weber just released the explosive finale to her bestselling Storm Siren Trilogy, Siren’s Song (Thomas Nelson, March 1)–and now, readers can bring the world of the storm-summoning Elemental Nym to life (and win some really cool prizes!) by entering The Siren’s Song Fan Art & Cosplay Contest!

What to do: Submit an original piece of fan art representing Nym, your favorite Storm Siren Trilogy characters, recreating the covers in a creative way, scenes from the book, and/or the world of Storm Siren. Get creative! Submissions will be accepted in the form of cosplay, photography, drawn, painted, digital, or in any other two-dimensional format. All entries will be showcased online, and compiled into a slideshow that will be released on YouTube after the contest ends.

Contest Dates: April 1–27. On April 28, Mary will select five finalists and showcase their work on her Facebook page–and then the rest is up to you! Vote for the Grand Prize Winner on Facebook from April 28May 1. Winners will be notified via Facebook or emaiand announced by May 2.


  • One Grand Prize Winner will receive a 5-minute phone call with Mary Weber, as well as a special gift package including autographed copies of all three books, a map of Faelen, and cool Storm Siren swag including a custom mug, candy, buttons, bookmarks, and pens.
  • Four finalists will each receive an autographed copy of Siren’s Song and a custom mug.

How to Enter: Entries will be accepted through the following formats:

  • Post a photo or scan of your original piece of art on your personal Facebook page with #SirenSongArt, and (very important!) tag Mary Weber’s author page in your post!
  • If you are unable to post your art to Facebook, send a photo of your art to
  • We recommend the following format for submission: Post or send a .jpg or .png file; suggested maximum file size is 5MB, and suggested minimum dimensions are 600x600px

Abbreviated Rules: No purchase necessary. Must enter by 11:59 pm EST on April 27. Open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia who are thirteen (13) years of age or older and of the age of majority in the jurisdiction in which they reside as of the time of entry. Visit for complete details and Official Rules. Void where prohibited. The contest is sponsored by JKS Communications.

About Mary Weber: 

Mary Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. In her spare time, she feeds unicorns, sings 80’s hairband songs to her three muggle children, and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. They live in California, which is perfect for stalking L.A. bands, Joss Whedon, and the ocean. Facebook: marychristineweber, Twitter @mchristineweber, Blog:


About Siren’s Song: 

After a fierce battle with Draewulf, Nym barely escaped with her life. Now, fleeing the scorched landscape of Tulla, her storm-summoning abilities are returning; only…the dark power is still inside her. Broken and bloodied, Nym needs time to recover, but when the full scope of the shapeshifter’s horrific plot is revealed, the strong-willed Elemental must race across the Hidden Lands and warn the other kingdoms before Draewulf’s final attack.

From the crystalline palaces of Cashlin to the legendary Valley of Origin, Nym scrambles to gather an army. But even if she can, will she be able to uncover the secret to defeating Draewulf that has eluded her people for generations? With a legion of monsters approaching, and the Hidden Lands standing on the brink of destruction, the stage is set for a battle that will decide the fate of the world. And this time, will the Siren’s Song have the power to save it?

Saying “Everyone” Will Love Your Book is Actually Hurting Your Readership

There are three cringe-worthy statements when authors explain “who” will read their book:

“My book will appeal to both men and women, ages 10—100. Everyone will love it!”

“It’s the next [insert mega-selling international franchise here].”

“My book is completely unique. There’s absolutely nothing like it out there, there never has been, and there never will be.”

The fact is, the book that “everyone” loves does not exist, and never will. The only book that ages 10-100 are even potentially cracking open in the United States is the Bible (if that)—not exactly a great comp title for a new thriller. The misconception that everyone will love a book (or that it’s so unique that it’s completely dissimilar from books that are being read right now) can actually damage how authors understand and approach readers, and ultimately it can damage their sales.

The good news is that you do have a readership out there, and you can reach them if you identify them correctly. Here are some steps authors can take to understand and reach their real readers:

Identify your target demographic—really identify them. When I worked as an editor and wanted to acquire a book for my publishing house, I had to be very specific in identifying the book’s readership if I wanted to “sell” it to our team. For example, if I wanted to acquire a book about healthy living, explaining to the team that it will appeal to “women aged 18-50” isn’t realistic or useful. Saying it’s perfect for women aged 22-35, urban, physically active, interested in fitness and healthy eating habits, who probably shop organic is more accurate; we can research what these women read, and strategize how best to reach them. Your readers are out there, and the more you understand them, the better you’ll be able to approach them.

Choose good—and realistic—comp titles. Comparative or “comp” titles can do a lot of the heavy lifting when you’re pitching your book to an agent or publisher, writing a synopsis, or just trying to explain the premise to a friend. Publishers do it all the time when writing sales copy: “Fans of The Lunar Chronicles will love [this new book]” and “It’s the next read for fans of Eleanor and Park and The Spectacular Now.”

Be realistic when choosing three or four comp titles. Just because your novel has magic in it doesn’t mean it’s the next Harry Potter. Just because it’s a nonfiction memoir about a teen with cancer doesn’t mean it will appeal to fans of The Fault in Our Stars. While it would be amazing if your book really was the next literary phenomenon, picking comp titles just because they’re popular or have a thin connection to your book isn’t realistic—and can actually lead you to overlook books that are truly similar to yours, and are already garnering fans who would pick up your book when it hits shelves.

Also, if the comp title or franchise is older than three years, it’s outdated. With over three million books coming out every year, there’s always something new on the market. Once you’ve successfully identified your demographic, do some research and find out what they’re reading right now, and choose titles that accurately compare to yours.

With a little brainstorming and research, authors can more accurately identify and approach their target market, which can truly make all the difference in how a book is sold, read, and enjoyed!

3 Tips on creating a successful book event

It’s every author’s nightmare, and every bookseller’s and publicist’s too: The bookstore is brightly lit, the e-blasts and media notices have gone out, the signs are up, the table is set, and there you are, staring into the uncomfortable faces of the four people who came to your book signing—and one of the four is your mom.

Or, horror of all horrors, you’re staring down the barrel of an empty room, watching minute after minute tick by, while you alternate between making awkward small talk with the twenty-something behind the counter and desperately avoiding eye contact.

Let’s face it—there are no guarantees with author events. Anything could happen that might prevent people from showing up: poor promotion, bad weather, traffic jam, zombie attack. And even if you fill a room with forty people, you may only sell ten books.


But there are some tricks you can use to make sure your event has the best chance possible:


1. If an event sounds like a bust, don’t book it, unless you’re really desperate—and then probably still don’t book it.

Again, there are NO guarantees about whether an event will fly or flop, but warning signs of a “bust” include any combination of the following: a). The event was booked last minute (three weeks or less); b). It’s in a town where you don’t know a single person; or c). The bookstore seems apathetic about or disinterested in hosting you, is uncommunicative, or warns you outright that you and only you will be promoting this event. The best events are booked well in advance, with a venue that’s excited to host you and who will be promoting the event, and where you (hopefully) know at least one person who will show up and tell their friends.


2. Tell everyone. EVERYONE.

Approach your book signing like any party you might host, but on a larger scale. If it’s a local signing, invite your friends, family, and coworkers. Have them invite their friends, family, coworkers, and book club members. Invite your neighbors. Invite the parents milling around your child’s afterschool care, the people at gym, or at the dog groomer’s. Regardless of whether it’s a local signing or not, spread the word on your social media. Alert your alumni association. If there’s a Facebook page for the city where you’re having your book signing, post about the event. If the bookstore doesn’t make a Facebook page specifically for your event, make one. If the bookstore is making a flyer, get copies—and if they’re not, make a flyer—and post them in libraries, coffee shops and other venues around town (you can also email the flyer to local libraries and businesses and ask them to post). Invite local affinity groups and clubs who might enjoy your book. Yes, you are going to be that person, and that’s totally okay! If you want people to come, spread the word far and wide.


3. It’s your party, so bring the party.

Your publicist (if you have one) may have booked the event, and the bookstore may be your host. But this is your event, and ultimately you are responsible for turning out a crowd—not always an easy task when people have couches and Netflix. So how do you make an event more fun and interactive? Consider providing light refreshments, if the bookstore isn’t already providing them. Bring fun swag to hand out. Host a raffle, contest, or giveaway, just for people who come to the event. If you have a book trailer, see if the bookstore or venue has a screen and projector you can use, and show the video. And no matter if there is one person there or 100, get a shot of people holding your book!


Events are unpredictable, so don’t waste too much time worrying about who will come; just take a deep breath, and focus on making the event as enjoyable as possible—and not just for everyone else, but for yourself, too!

The Most Important Question Authors Never Ask

When I first begin working on a publicity campaign with an author, we have a lot of bases to cover—How far can they travel for events? What type of media will fit the book best? How much lead time do we have? But there’s one question that I ask every author, and it will determine how the entire publicity campaign goes from that point. It’s this: “What does success look like to you?”

If you’re an author, take a minute to think about it—what does success look like for you? Is it a big New York Times Bestseller splashed above your name? Is it the mouth-watering prospect of your book sales spiking into the thousands, the tens of thousands, or more? Is it the movie deal, or the cross-country tour?

Or are your goals more compact, more personal—Is it about spreading an important message? Sharing a meaningful life experience? Connecting with readers, or helping readers connect with some part of themselves? Or maybe it’s simply that you’ve written and published a book at all—that’s a huge accomplishment in itself!

The answer is typically comprehensive: Many authors begin writing because of some personal catalyst, a desire to process, create, and connect. And it’s natural to want your art recognized, to see that big beautiful book you created find its way into more hands (and, let’s be honest, bestseller lists would be great too).

Why is defining what success means to you personally crucial as you embark on the publishing journey?

First: If you’re not sure what success looks like to you, you won’t be sure how to get there—or what it will even look like when you do.

For example, an author may dream of reaching the coveted #1 slot on the New York Times list, but knows that realistically she’ll have a higher chance of hitting a local bestseller list. Measuring success solely by the Times list will (statistically) result in nothing but bitter frustration—but if she takes strategic steps to hit a local bestseller list, she has a higher chance of hitting her goal, and becoming a bestselling author in the process.

Second: If you’re not sure what success looks for you personally, you may not recognize it when you get there. I’ve seen authors become so focused on the “big” gains—the mythical interview on The Today Show, the glowing reviews in the major trade publications—that glowing endorsements from smaller, respected reviewers feel insignificant. The meaningful event at the small bookstore doesn’t feel “big” enough. Although the reviews are good, the books are selling, the venues are confirming events, the author isn’t having any fun.

So take a moment, and write it out: What does success look like to you? Make a list: What are you big goals, your top-shelf ambitions? Now, what are some realistic, achievable goals? What personal benchmarks will you celebrate? What steps will you take to get there? As you figure out what success means to you personally, you may discover that “making it” as an author is closer than you think.

How Do I Keep Writing? An Editor’s Advice

We’ve all been there: The sentence won’t work the way you want, you read over something you’ve written and somehow the magic just isn’t there anymore, or worst of the worst—the blank page stares at you, mute and judging. You stare it down; you write, scribble out, rewrite, delete, stare some more.

When I worked as an assistant editor at Hachette Book Group, our community of authors would sometimes hit the inevitable snag. Here are five tips we would share with our authors—and aspiring writers we met along the way—to help with writing woes:

  1. Get it all down. Some writers can happily and effortlessly churn their stories out on paper. But for perfectionists, this step is the worst. “Vomiting” on the page feels messy, and the end result can feel frustrating because it’s not necessarily “your best” work. Try to push through; you will feel more productive with 10 rough pages than with two perfectly pruned paragraphs. Better still, freeing the story from your mind helps you better understand the direction in which it needs to flow.
  2. Watch your language (but not too much). Maybe word-vomiting is really not your style. That’s ok! As you push to get your entire piece on paper, a little self-editing can encourage you by reassuring that what you’re writing is “good”
  3. Take a break. Close your laptop. Take a walk. Call a friend. Do something that gets you up and away from your project. But you’ve barely gotten started! But you still have so much to do! I promise: It will still be there when you get back. If you’re in the zone, stay in the zone. But cut yourself some slack during lull periods. Choose intentional, set amounts of break time while writing, so you can stay loose, relaxed, and creative.
  4. Share. Share your work with a trusted friend, family member, mentor, and/or fellow writer. If asking for feedback, try to ask someone who could reasonably understand where you’re coming from (i.e. if you want a critique of your 250-page science fiction novel, share it with someone who enjoys or could enjoy science fiction). Outside readers will be able to lend perspective.
  5. Let it go. When is a piece of creative work truly finished? Simple answer: When you decide it’s done. Sometimes a piece feels perfectly finished, ready-to-print. Sometimes you depart with the lingering sensation that it still “needs work,” but you’re not sure how. Put it down for a while. See how it snags your mind—the line you keep repeating and rewording in your head, the new character that seems to spontaneously appear while you’re eating dinner. Finish things you start writing, share them, release them—then move on to the next project!





Chelsea is a publicist and editor for JKS Communications. She formerly worked as an Assistant Editor for Hachette Book Group.