February 5, 2018

By Johnny Heller


It’s February! That means that you are all ignoring important upcoming holidays like World Sword Swallowers Day (Feb. 24), Chocolate Covered Raisins Day (March 24) and Tell a Lie Day (April 4th – although celebrated daily by our President) and concentrating instead on APAC Day (May 30th).

For the third or 15th year in a row – I lose track – I am going to give you an overview of the important events of the week, and by that, I mean I am going to tell you about the parties.


  1. ROOMS

The first thing you need to do is plan a trip to New York City. This is crucial as APAC is in New York City and if you aren’t, it’s going to create all kinds of problems for you – attendance-wise.  If you don’t live in New York City or know someone who does and who actually has enough space in their apartment to allow you to sleep there – “Here! I put the lazy boy and coffee table on top of the couch, so you can sleep in this corner – but wear your plastic pajamas as the radiator leaks and don’t worry if you feel a little tongue on your neck late at night – we have a gecko named Stanley and he enjoys neck sweat. You won’t see him. He only comes out at night to eat roaches and lick necks. Don’t worry about an alarm clock. Gunfire, cop sirens and garbage trucks start around 5AM so you’ll be up pretty early!” – you will need a room.

You can try an Airbnb but be advised that they aren’t exactly legal here and the city and the AirBnB neighbors will hate you.  They are affordable though. Sometimes.

If you want to stay near the convention site and there is absolutely no reason you should, it’s at the Javits Center – convenient to nothing and adjacent to nothing of remote interest to anyone.

Andi Arndt has arranged for a deal on rooms at the Hudson Hotel on 58th street on the west side (which is the side the convention is on just about 23 blocks away).  Call them and tell them you are coming for APAC. Throw Andi’s name around. See if they will send her the bill.

The Hudson Hotel is one of those cool hotels that doesn’t even have its name on the marquee. It doesn’t even have a marquee.  It’s very nice. I assume the rooms are typical NYC hotel rooms – a bed, a closet, a bathroom and just enough room to swing a cat…well a picture of a small cat…a small picture.
New York hotel rooms are not very big is where I’m headed here. But that’s okay. You will only be there for as long as you need to get over the shame you feel for your inappropriate drunken behavior and your hangover and then you rebound and get back out there and get inappropriately wasted all over again!

Remember when you look online for New York City rooms that NYC is divided into boroughs – Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Edgar Rice.  Many people who live in Manhattan have no idea that there are other boroughs or where any of them are.

You can stay in any of the other areas while you visit but don’t. Stay in Manhattan. Visit Brooklyn.  Unless the Yankees are in town or the Mets, you can avoid The Bronx and Queens.  (Swell places to visit in every borough but you are on a tight schedule!)


If you are flying in you will land in Newark, JFK or LaGuardia. LGA is undergoing construction. If you use Uber or Lyft, you will take a bus from the center lane outside the ground transportation doors and you will be taken for a free 5-minute ride to a “ride service zone” where travelers like you will wait for your cars and your drivers will call you every 15 seconds looking for you like they have no idea even though this has  been happening for over a year.

From JFK, there is a ride service gate – 5 I think.

From Newark I have no idea.

All airports have cabs. All airports have Shuttle buses that will take you to hotels, the Port Authority, Grand Central or Penn Station. These are inexpensive and if your destination is near the stops, it’s a good deal.

You can take the air train from JFK. It takes you to the Jamaica stop on the train line which means you get off the air train, buy a ticket from Jamaica to Penn Station (a very quick train ride from there) and then join the teeming mass of humans.  See the whinos! Look at the photos of the promised construction your grandchildren may live to see! (Port Authority has more whinos and a bowling alley!
Penn Station is at 34th and 7th – right across from the Macys store you see every Thanksgiving while you watch commercials interrupted by parade floats.   It is about a 15-minute walk to Javits from there.

You can take a New Jersey Transit Train from the Newark Airport to Penn Station. It is fast and easy and cheap.

All car services and cabs will cost $40 – $70.

Once in the city, grab a subway map or download a subway and bus app to your phone. The city is laid out in grid going from 1st Ave on the East side to 12th Ave on the west.  Avenues go North and South and Streets go East and West.  Get a metro card to use on buses and subways and just swipe it at the turnstile.  Do not wait for bells and whistles. Just swipe and go. If you screwed up, the turnstile won’t turn and people behind you will tut with impatience, so you not only won’t get to go right away but you will feel like you are inconveniencing others – because you are.

There are many different districts and areas and all of them are the same in that they all smell like marijuana.

Downtown is the oldest part of New York and it is not laid out in a grid style. The Dutch were there first and they knew it wouldn’t last so they laid out streets with the intention of confusing future generations by having them go every which way for no apparent reason.  The area is littered with tons of “you are here” signs – a sure sign that you are about to become seriously lost.



Attend this. I know it’s mine. But still. It is the largest Audiobook-centric workshop in the universe.  It’s a great time and I promise you will love it.
Here’s what Patrick Lawlor says, and I didn’t even pay him!
“If you can do only one thing while you’re in New York, go to the Statue of Liberty or the top of the Empire State Building… or try to get tickets to Hamilton, I hear that’s pretty good. But if you are serious about learning a thing or two about being a professional in the Audiobook industry, Johnny Heller’s Splendiferous Audiobook Narrator Workshop is an absolute MUST! By Narrators, for Narrators, there is always incredible value to be had, no matter what your experience or talent level. Seriously, GO!”

You get some breakfast, some lunch and a chance to meet Jo Anna Perrin and Scott Brick and – if you can’t get to them – Sean Allen Pratt. There’s more too. Go to and register.


  1. APA MIXER May 29th

Held this year at the Boat Basin Café on west 79th street, this event kicks off the partying.  It starts at 5:30 (my event ends at 4:30 so you have time to get there). You must register in advance. You pay $20 to the APA. You buy drink tickets and you wander around looking for a bar without a long line and finally give up and drink from your own flask.

This joint is right on the Hudson so check the weather. It’s going to be very hot or very cold. Some people change into nice party togs. Some people like me dash home, walk their dogs and dash out again.

Everyone has a name tag. Everyone is there to have a good time. The event ends around 7:30 and the upper west side is littered with great bars and restaurants so make some plans with some fellow narrators or producers and go out.

  1. APAC MAY 30

This is the biggie. An agenda that a consortium of creative minds led by Stefan Rudnicki start putting together in November.  There is a publisher track and an actor track. Your admission allows you to attend any session you like.

We meet at the Javits Convention Center at 8:30am for some breakfast and, if you are lucky, the speed dating session.  I think it’s much too early for breakfast or for speed dating, so I show up just in time to miss the key note speech. The Key Note speech, generally delivered by someone I’ve never heard of, lasts until 11 or so and I will be there by then as I am slated to chair a panel at 11:15.

After the first panels we meet for lunch. Lunch is a good thing…I am in favor of the idea in principle. Grab a schedule and go to the sessions you want to go to.

  • Bring business cards. Don’t have any? Get them.
  • Get business cards from people you meet.

(make notes in a separate notebook after you meet someone so you can recall who they were and what you chatted about. It will help you later.)

  • Do some homework and determine who you really need/want to meet and meet them.
  • If you are a wall flower, find an energetic wingman and let them help you out.
  • Networking, meeting, schmoozing is expected and warranted. This is the single largest gathering of talent and talent buyers so meet people.
  • Don’t hand out stuff like demos or trinkets unless they are amazing and easy to carry around.
  • Dress is business casual. No shorts. No speedos. No mesh shirts with “Def Leppard” or “Milli Vanilli” written on it.
  • It is entirely possible that you might learn something in the sessions you attend so keep an open mind.
  • The day ends with a cocktail hour where everyone waits in very long line to get a gin and tonic from a porta bar.



In past years, I have provided various Irish bars for us to gather in and drink and schmooze. Many attendees joined me, and many went out to dinner and joined us later.

Now though, we have pretty much moved our social gathering to the Hudson Hotel. Great bars – yes bars! – and everyone is staying there anyway. Drinks are on the expensive side but that will only help you to have fewer.


This is the Oscars of our proud industry.  It’s not the People’s Choice as none of us get to pick but still.

This shindig starts at 6:30 at the New York Historical Society on 77th off Central Park West.  It’s a great space. Everyone who attends gets all suited up – gowns, tuxes, shiny shoes.  It is as star studded as an audiobook awards event can be – even though none of the Hollywood stars the judges keep nominating ever show up and therefore it’s hard to find cocaine – it’s a great time.

There are cocktails and good appetizers and it’s really a neat thing. If you’ve never gone, you can carry on never going and keep the record in tact or you can go and start a new record.  It is kind of neat though.


Once upon a time, there was an Audies After Party. Then there almost wasn’t’.  Instead of allowing the proud tradition of narrators hanging out really late getting hammered together whilst wearing spiffy togs, Jeffrey Kafer, Melissa Exelberth and I found a place to host a party.

Our idea was to provide a place for all the audiobook folks in town who weren’t going to Audies to have a place to gather together for camaraderie, fun and to complain about not getting nominated AND as an Audies After Party. We have, I think, succeeded.

The NAUDIES will be held again at CONNOLLYS 121 W 45 (between 7th and 6th) on the 3rd Floor. We get the whole room. It costs nothing to get in. They have a full bar and a fine menu.  We start around 7PM and we stay until 3AM or 4AM depending on your ability to do so.  Around 10PM or 10:30PM, the Audies folks come to join us and we all feel immediately classy.

It’s an absolute gas. And yes – it does get noisy.  So does the Boat Basin. This is because they are parties at bars and not wine sipping at libraries.


Broadway Theater – go see a show.

Tourist Stuff – take a tour guide bus and look at stuff and take pictures

Empire State Building, Central Park (lovely must see!)

Seaport/Wall Street, Staten Island Ferry – do this! Take the #1 train to South Ferry. Go to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal – it’s free. You get on the ferry and it goes right past the Statue of Liberty.  It’s a great boat ride! And they have beer to buy! You can sip a beer and look at the city from the water. Totally awesome thing. At Staten Island, you must disembark. You should walk out one door and into another and return on the next ferry back.

BEA- Book Expo America. This is the giant event that takes over the rest of the Javits Center. Get tickets now. Wander about and get free books and stuff. Meet authors! Tell them who you are and make some deals.

See people. Visit museums. Avoid Times Square – ick.

PM me if you have questions.

SWITZERLAND…. A Swiss University is offering bachelors and master’s degree programs in yodeling.  The classes will be taught by a prize winning Swiss yodeler and limited to 3 or 4 students.

“We are very looking forward to the yodeling classes,” said a Swiss University spokesperson. “We just need to find 3 or 4 students to dedicate their lives to yodeling — you know, idiots.”

PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA, USA…Punxsutawney Phil the weather predicting groundhog of Pennsylvania saw his shadow and predicted another 6 weeks of winter. Every February 2nd crowds gather –  this year in 11 degrees cold – to await the Phil’s call.
Let me repeat that – every February 2nd, a group of what must be the most amazingly superstitious numbnuts on earth gather around to see if a rodent will see its own shadow and they did it this year in 11-degree weather.

11 degrees. Do we really care if winter will be 6 weeks longer if we die of pneumonia because we stood around for 6 hours freezing our yarbles into solid ice avocado pits to see if a rat sees its freaking shadow?  We won’t have 6 weeks longer no matter what Phil says!

And it isn’t up to Phil. Did you know that the “see the shadow/don’t see the shadow” is decided beforehand by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Inner Circle when they meet on a hill called Gobblers Knob?  The Inner Circle on Gobblers Knob. There’s a group you want to be a part of. I imagine the vetting process is tough –
Inner Circle: “You like ground hogs?”

“I dunno. I like ground beef, so I guess so…”

Inner Circle: “Do you have a top hat?”

“Yes I do.”

Inner Circle: “Welcome! You’re in! Won’t you join us on Gobblers Knob?”

“Gobblers…? Hell yes! This sounds great!”


ALL OVER APPARENTLY…Idiots – to get viewers on their YouTube sites – are eating Tide Soap pods.  Pods. Filled with Tide laundry soap.  I guess if you are going to do a stupid dangerous thing you want as many people as possible to see you do it. That way, if you don’t die from eating toxic soap, you can go into a bar and hope people recognize you as the guy from You Tube who actually ate soap.

“Hey! I know you! Aren’t you that numbnuts yobo who ate soap on the internet?”

“I am!”

“Wow. You are incredibly stupid and vapid and shallow.”

“I know! Wanna buy me a beer?”

“I want you to get out of here. Really. You are too stupid to be near other people. Children could catch a bad case of idiot from you. Get out.”

Apparently, the pods look really appetizing. But they aren’t. They are filled with soap. Tide even tells people to keep the things away from children. Sadly, they aren’t telling people to keep them away from adults with a YouTube account.

Tide claims that “nothing is more important to us than the safety of the families who use are products.”  Yet they still make the soap pods look delicious and edible.  And they know that people on the internet are eating the things. It seems that some things – like money – are more important to them than safety.  But I don’t think we can blame them for this fad.

That’s all on the fame seeking talentless dimwads on the internet and their classy viewers.


More next week – it’s time for lunch! We’re having Coast Deodorant soap on a stick and some thumbtacks!





Comment (1)

  • Andi Reply

    Thanks for the newsy post – for those contacting the Hudson Hotel, our block of rooms is under “BEA” for Book Expo America. They have added rooms to the block a few times but it will almost certainly fill, so don’t wait. You hold the room now and pay when you stay.

    February 5, 2018 at 8:37 am

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