The Debutante Ball is thrilled to welcome Mark Di Vincenzo to take a twirl around the dance floor. Actually, we’re not going to insist he do any twirling. He’s plenty entertaining even if he’s not waltzing around in a tux.
Mark Di Vincenzo worked for 24 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before he left journalism in 2007 to write books and start Business Writers Group, a writing and editing business that helps individuals and corporate clients. His first book, Buy Ketchup In May And Fly At Noon: A Guide To The Best Time to Buy This, Do That And Go There, spent several weeks on The New York Times best-seller list after it was released in 2009. Your Pinkie Is More Powerful Than Your Thumb was released in March.
Your Pinkie Is More Powerful Than Your Thumb (And 333 Other Surprising Facts That Will Make You Wealthier, Healthier and Smarter Than Everyone Else) has been embraced by reviewers and interviewers. It’s a fun book of surprising facts that will make you the smartest person at any dinner party, but it’s more than that. The books also includes tips to help readers make more money, save more money and live healthier.
We’re thrilled that Mark decided to stop by and take the Deb Interview with us.
Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of Your Pinkie Is More Powerful Than Your Thumb!
Take it away, Mark!
Read. A lot. I’ve never known a good writer who doesn’t do that. If you read a lot, especially great books, you’ll pick up valuable things from other writers, even if you don’t realize it at the time. In fact, you may never realize it. You may pick something up from, say, Faulkner, and you may never do that thing as well as Faulkner did it, but you incorporate it in your writing sometimes, and you may never realize you do that because you read Faulkner.
One of the best writers I knew was an engineer, my father, arguably a left-brainer, but the man loved to read. He spent a lot of time at the library and might come home with a 600-page book on calculus, an Elmore Leonard mystery, something by Steinbeck or Hemingway that he hadn’t read in 20 years and a book or two that just looked interesting to him for some reason. He always had six or seven books on a table next to his recliner. A couple of weeks later, those books were gone, replaced by six or seven others. When he wrote me a letter, it read like something that took him a year to write. Beautiful, simple and clear. But he never wrote drafts, so whatever he sent you was a first draft. Which I find utterly amazing, given the quality of the writing.
What three things would you want with you if stranded on a desert island?
Three things immediately come to mind: My wife, a Bible and a boat. But I guess my wife isn’t a thing, so that doesn’t count, and having a boat would be cheating, right? The Bible is the most important book in my life, though I don’t read it nearly as often as I should. I would need that for comfort and guidance. I’d also like to have my iPod because I love music, and I can’t imagine living without it. I’ll assume the island has food and a source of water, so I’ll skip over those necessities and choose a really nice house to protect me from the elements and the scary creatures that might share the island with me.
What’s your next big thing? (new book, new project, etc.)
I’m writing a follow-up to Buy Ketchup In May And Fly At Noon. It will be a second edition, and the hard part is it has to be all new information. I find this so challenging because when I wrote the original, I had a lot of material, and I decided to use only the best stuff. That book could have been 600 pages long, but it was 175 pages because I wanted all of the information to be interesting to the masses. If I thought someone somewhere might find something dull, I would delete it. For the second book, I won’t use any of the stuff that wasn’t good enough to make it into the first book. I’m determined to make the second book as useful and interesting as the first one, and hopefully it will be just as popular.
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
When I was a teenager, I worked for a small chain of bookstores. I rotated between two stores in suburban Cleveland. One store was very narrow and very long, with a cash register in the front of the store, one in the middle and one in the rear. The store was so long that most shoppers never made it to the rear of the store so they didn’t know that the register back there existed. Well, I usually was assigned to that register. Which meant I came in contact with very few shoppers, even during a six- or eight-hour shift, and I spent a lot of time leaning against the counter and reading. Basically, when I worked at that store, I was paid to read – a great gig if you can get it. The other bookstore where I worked had a basement that flooded whenever it rained, and when it rained, drowned rats usually made their way down there, their carcasses floating in the water or stuck in a drain. As the only male employee at that store, I had to mop up the water and dispose of the rats. I suppose most people can’t say they had a job where they were paid to read books and get rid of rats.
Your first book, Buy Ketchup In May And Fly At Noon had a great run as a New York Times bestseller, and your new book Your Pinkie Is More Powerful Than Your Thumb is doing fabulously well, too. Why do you think readers areso fascinated by the sort of tips and quirky facts you offer?
I think most people – and particularly book readers – want to be smarter, or at least feel smarter, and these books make people smarter. They give readers nuggets of information that they probably wouldn’t find anywhere else. Most people love to share information that they find interesting. I know I do. I love to tell others things that I find interesting because I hope the information enriches their lives in some way. I wanted to fill these books with interesting tips and facts that would compel readers to put down the books and call a friend or text or email someone about what they just read. That was the goal, anyway: Give people information that makes them feel smarter and causes them to want to share it with others.
Thank you so much to Mark for joining us! So how would you like to read something that makes you feel smarter and eager to share with others?
Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Your Pinkie Is More Powerful Than Your Thumb. We’ll pick a winner next Friday, May 13 and will announce who it is in our May 15 News Flash. Good luck!