Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bi-Lingual Love for "The Living Wills"

Thanks so much to Chicago's German-language newspaper, the Eintracht, for their coverage of our book "The Living Wills". (Learn more about the Eintracht here. It's the history of the newspaper...and of course, it's written in German).

Annerose Goerge did a wonderful writeup about "The Living Wills" on page 2 of the most recent edition, and will also be doing a piece in the Donauschwabischen Nachrichtung, another German language newspaper in Chicago. We'd love to provide you with links to the articles, but they aren't available on the web.

Why is a German newspaper covering this book? Well, Living Wills co-author Rick Kaempfer lived in Germany during his youth, and our company "Eckhartz Press" is named after two German men...Rick's father Eckhard, and co-publisher David Stern's father Fritz.

Thanks so much to die Eintracht for the kind words about our book and our publishing company.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"The Living Wills" on the Radio

Co-author Rick Kaempfer will be appearing on Kristin Tews' "Personal Best Show" on AM 1220 WKRS to discuss "The Living Wills" at noon on Wednesday.

Tune in if you get a chance.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Some South Side Love for "The Living Wills"

Brendan Sullivan, co-author of The Living Wills, grew up on the South Side of Chicago. That caught the attention of The Beverly Review. Thanks so much to writer Caroline Connors for the nice write up. The following is a short excerpt from the piece...

Like many novelists, Brendan Sullivan writes what he knows.

Born and raised in Morgan Park and Oak Lawn, Sullivan said memories of his childhood, including those of his father’s daily commute to work on the Rock Island, helped shape the characters and events in his new book, “The Living Wills.”

“That evening, Reed climbed onto the 5:25 p.m. Rock Island train home just like he’d done every weeknight for as long as he could remember. … The rhythm of the train rocked Reed into a comfortable lull. Twenty-six minutes later, he stood up and exited the train at his stop, 95th Street and Longwood Drive, without looking up and without waiting to hear the conductor’s announcement, like an old man who didn’t need an alarm clock, whose body just knew it was time to wake up.”

But “The Living Wills” is not just a trip down memory lane, Sullivan said. More than anything, he said, it was a chance to put his work as a creativity coach into action.

“My real job is to help organizational teams on collaborative creativity,” Sullivan said. “I work with Fortune 500 companies and teach them tangible skills—like listening actively, being in the moment and trusting one another— that they can inject into their environment so that innovative ideas can be developed.

“People were always telling me that I should write a nonfiction book about collaborative creativity, but I’ve read every book on the topic and didn’t think there was much more I could say without being redundant.”

So, Sullivan said, he decided to go one step further and co-write a novel with Rick Kaempfer, a friend from his radio days when he was producing the Jonathan Brandmeier show and Kaempfer was producing the Steve Dahl and Garry Meier program.

“We did a little bit of research and didn’t see anything like this for a novel,” Sullivan said. “There’s a lot of books out there telling people how to be collaborative, but this is showing them that it actually can be done.”

There's much more at the Beverly Review. It's a nice long write up.

Of course, the book Brendan is talking about, The Living Wills, is available at, and it's also available on the South Side at Bookies.

Monday, December 19, 2011

"The Living Wills" on the North Side/South Side

For those of you that simply must buy "The Living Wills" in a bookstore, it is now available on the north side and the south side of Chicago.

On the north side, go to "The Book Cellar" at 4736 N. Lincoln Avenue (right next door to my old hangout "The Brauhaus").

On the south side, go to "Bookies" at 2419 W. 103rd Street in Beverly.

And by the way, "The Living Wills" is also coming soon to the Apple store, amazon, Sony, and Barnes & Noble as an e-book. The paperwork has been filed and it will be available before the end of 2011.

Of course the best way to get it is still via our website at Eckhartz Press (

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rick and Brendan on the Radio

On Sunday night Eckhartz Press authors Rick Kaempfer and Brendan Sullivan will be on the radio with Geoff Pinkus discussing their latest book "The Living Wills".

Tune them in at 7pm on WIND (AM 560)

Rick has been on the radio with Geoff Pinkus (known as "The Pinker") once before when his book "$everance" came out. This is the picture they took at the studio that day. (Pinkus and Rick are on the far right.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Shore Magazine on "The Living Wills"

Thanks so much to Shore Magazine editor Pat Colander for writing this in her blog today...

"Rick Kaempfer just twittered out yesterday that John Records Landecker will be back on WLS-FM starting this Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Rick was John's producer over 10 years at the legendary Landecker's morning show. And Rick is working with John on his autobiography. I met Rick by telephone when he was the producer of the morning show and I was a listener and a fan. (I had listened enough to know that John lived and loved living near Michigan City in LaPorte County, where I was working at the time.) So Rick and I were soon communicating regularly as we coordinated a Landecker profile and photos. At some point, Rick asked about the possibility of freelancing for our magazine and he had a lot of good ideas and that's what happened. (Rick is a columnist and frequent contributor to Shore and also writes a blog, Father Knows Nothing, about being a stay-at-home Dad with three sons.) Rick also began writing books; one was a novel called Severance about the ramifications of hiring and firing in the world of broadcast. If Severance is a comedy of manners in an insane industry, then Rick's new book written with a partner Brendan Sullivan is something entirely different.

Rick and Brendan developed the story using an improv form called the Harold, created by long-time Second City director the late Del Close when he was a member of a troupe called The Committee in San Francisco in 1967. According to the cover notes the story is about a life-changing decision made by one Henry Stankiewicz and the ramifications over the next 30 years. If you want to find out more about The Living Wills, Rick and Brendan will be on WIND Radio on Sunday, December 18th, at 7 p.m. (easy to remember, only one week before Christmas Day) or visit Rick's website.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

City Mom, Suburban Dad, Father Knows Nothing

Two of our Eckhartz Press authors are also bloggers. Rick Kaempfer has a blog called "Father Knows Nothing" for NWI Parent and Kim blogs for ChicagoNow under the name "A City Mom". Once a week she also invites Rick to blog there under the name "A Suburban Dad".

Here are their latest efforts...

Father Knows Nothing: "Washing Machine Repairman"

A City Mom: "I will never go viral on social media"

A City Mom: "Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport: "The Future that Never Came."

A Suburban Dad: "Oddly linked"
(That last one tells the very odd tale of how Rick and Kim's lives have oddly intersected over the past thirty years)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Rick & Brendan on WGN

If you missed Rick and Brendan's Wednesday night interview on Brian Noonan's show (WGN Radio-720 AM), they were kind enough to send us MP3s of the interview.

Now you can listen to it here...

Rick and Brendan Part 1
A portion of it is missing (a technical glitch), but much of it is there

Rick and Brendan Part 2

Thanks again to Brian Noonan and Andrea Darlas.

And if you're still wondering where to get that book: Click here

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Reaction to "The Living Wills"

The book has only been out there for a week, and already we're starting to get some reaction from our first crop of readers...

"Before I say anything else, let me say that I REALLY like it. On several occasions I found myself marveling at how you capture so well the little intricacies of social interactions. The tiniest thing doesn't escape you. Whether it is wating to talk to your boss, having a beer with a friend or dealing with a phone call you don't want to take, everything strikes me as very real. And you do it with sublety. That is a very difficult thing to do. You guys were able to weave several stories together very well, and I never saw a lot of this stuff coming. The dialog is believable and your writing has a very cinematic quality to it. As I was reading it , I could picture characters in my head and kept trying to think of who would play each character in the movie. That's a good thing!"
--Brent P.

"I just finished your must tell me when your next book is coming out. This is fantastic...a very good read."
--Pat S.

We've also been getting reaction to the authors appearance last night on WGN Radio's Sports Night...(Working on getting the audio of the actual interview posted on the blog too)

"Heard your interview on WGN. I'm an actor and currently in Second City's Conservatory. Really liked how you wrote the book and agreed on what you said about improv and yes and. Fantastic way to write a book. Looking forward to reading it."
--Tim S.

"Heard you guys on the air for the first half of the interview on my way home from an event....It was fun to hear you on the air again....and how you guys did it! Although it's a "GUYS" book - I suppose this chic will get herself a copy... :) I wish you much success. Okay - now enough with the foofy stuff....go have fun and a great holiday season. Can't wait to read it!"
--Andi K.

"Listening to you on the radio right now! Can't wait to read it and get your autograph!"
--Heidi F.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rick and Brendan on the Radio Tonight

Tune in tonight (Wednesday) around 9:00pm to Sports Night on WGN Radio (720). Eckhartz Press authors Brendan Sullivan and Rick Kaempfer will be on the air talking about their new book "The Living Wills" with Brian Noonan and the rest of the Sports Night gang. Should make for entertaining radio.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"The Living Wills", Chapter 6

To give you a feel for what you might find in the pages of "The Living Wills", we present for you today an entire of charge. In this chapter, you'll meet the character of Delmar Dunwoody for the first time...

You can buy the book here.



Delmar Dunwoody was in a hurry. He was always in a hurry. His customers were spread all over town, and Delmar was an old school salesman. As long as he made the effort to meet everyone face to face, instead of relying on the phone or e-mail, Delmar was confident he had a leg up on the younger guys. He always remembered what Oscar Case, his boss and bowling buddy, told him his first day at BM&P Toilets; “You’re not selling port-a-potties, Delmar, you’re selling yourself.”

He pulled into a parking space in front of a fancy frou-frou coffee shop called Al Cappacino’s. He could see through the display window that there were at least three people in line waiting for their vanilla mocha three scoop espresso whatevers, and all he wanted was an extra-large cup of coffee. Oh well. He could drive a few blocks to the next coffee shop, Common Grounds, or he could just suck it up and wait in line.

Delmar muttered to himself as he pulled the keys out of the ignition. He was still mad his neighborhood 7-11 had installed that damn security camera. That’s where he had gotten his coffee for the past ten years, but ever since that camera was installed, he couldn’t avoid looking up at the black and white monitor when he paid. There was only one thing on that monitor as far as Delmar was concerned--his huuuuuge bald spot. He would never get another cup of coffee from that place. What full-haired jerk came up with the idea to use that camera angle on the customers anyway? There’s a reason God lets most men experience male pattern baldness from back to front. It’s not right to rub your face in it.

Luckily, Al Cappacino’s didn’t have a camera. That fact alone granted them the first shot at Delmar’s business. The line moved pretty quickly too. Another feature in their favor.

“I’ll have a large cup of coffee, Gina,” he said to the cashier when he got to the front of the line. Delmar always read the name tag and always used the name; another pearl of wisdom courtesy of Oscar Case.

“Should I leave some room for milk?” she asked.

“Nope,” he said. “I like my coffee black like my...”

“Women?” Gina finished the sentence for him. She wasn’t smiling.

“I was going to say heart,” he deadpanned. Not even a flicker of a reaction from Gina. She was busy pouring his coffee.

“That’s a joke,” Delmar offered.

“I know.”

Delmar gave her his warmest sales smile. “Can I ask you a personal question, Gina?”


“Who is the most famous person you’ve ever served here?”

That was one of his standard conversation starters. Just about everyone loved telling stories about their brushes with greatness. Delmar would drift off during some of the tales (he still couldn’t believe his customer in Berwyn considered the weatherman from Channel 2 a “famous” person), but for the most part they were pretty interesting stories.

“Lorne Greene,” Gina said.

He didn’t say anything at first because he was waiting for Gina to crack a smile. Gina wasn’t the smiling type.

“That’ll be $2,” she said. She slid the cup of coffee across the counter.

“How long have you worked here?”

“Six months,” she said.

“And you served Lorne Greene here?” he asked doubtfully. He was giving her his absolute best ‘you’re messin’ with me, right?’ smile.

Gina simply nodded.

“When?” he asked.

“Oh, I don’t remember exactly,” she said.

“How old are you?”


“Do you even know who Lorne Greene is?” he asked. He had never seen anyone who didn’t smile back at his ‘you’re messin’ with me, right?’ smile. Was this woman made out of stone?

“Of course, I know,” Gina replied. “Gigantic wide face, almost square shaped. Dimpled chin, white hair. Deep, sexy, authoritative voice.”

“You’re talking about Ben Cartwright?” he asked.

“I know who Lorne Greene is,” she said. “Ponderosa ranch. Adam, Hoss, Little Joe.”

Delmar kept waiting for a smile to betray her. Nothing.

“Two bucks for the coffee,” she said. “There are people in line behind you.”

“I think Lorne Greene has been dead for years,” Delmar said, as he handed over the money. “Like maybe longer than you’ve been alive.”

“Well then his ghost likes Grande Lattes,” she answered.

Delmar stepped to the side and very slowly walked to the door, shaking his head in disbelief. There was no possible way this girl had served a cup of coffee to Lorne Greene. She was completely full of it. On the other hand, who could keep a straight face while confronting the ‘you’re messin with me, right?’ smile? And if you’re going to lie about who you served, what normal 25-year-old would choose Lorne Greene?

He sat in his car, and tried to clear his head of this nonsense. He had about a thirty minute drive to get in the right mindset for his next client, the Taste of Hickory Hills. He checked his little notepad.

It read: “Jim Remak, Hickory Hills Sanitation. 3 kids. Oldest son plays baseball.”

He turned the key into the ignition and the engine purred, but Delmar couldn’t manage to put the car in reverse. He was staring at the girl behind the counter, clearly visible through two heavy-duty pains of glass, his windshield and her large display window. She was almost a head taller than the other girl working there. A delicious raven haired Amazon.

He turned off the car. Screw it. He had to get a closer look at her. The little bell rang when he re-entered.

“Maybe you were thinking of Shecky Green,” Delmar offered from the doorway. “He’s originally from Chicago, and I’m pretty sure he’s still alive.”

She poked her head around the first customer in line. “Nope. It was definitely Lorne Greene.”

“He’s dead.”

The first lady in line nodded in agreement with Delmar. “He’s right. He died a long time ago.”

“He showed me his driver’s license,” Gina said, holding her ground. “It said ‘Lorne Greene.’”

“What state was the driver’s license from?” Delmar asked. He walked back to the front of the line to continue the questioning.


“A-HA!” he screamed. He pointed at her. “Gotcha! Lorne Greene was a Canadian.”

Gina calmly put one finger in the air. “Was Canadian. Past tense. He’s naturalized.”

Still no smile.

Delmar looked at the other people in line. They were all actively involved in the conversation now, eagerly lapping up every word.

“Do any of you have a Blackberry?” Delmar asked. He was looking at the young metro-sexual at the back of the line, with his Mark Shale suit and his hundred dollar shoes. If any of these fancy coffee drinkers had a Blackberry it would be that guy. He shook his head apologetically.

“Sorry, not me.”

No one else had one either. It would have only taken a thirty second trip to Google to prove the year Lorne Greene died.

“Do you have any other witnesses?” Delmar asked. Now he was talking to her like she was a suspect, and he was a police detective. The others in line turned to see Gina’s reaction.

“Jose was here too,” she said. She screamed across the room. “Hey Jose.”

Jose was picking up the stray half-filled cups of coffee that people had left behind on the little planks of wood this place called “tables.” He looked up to see what she wanted.

“Remember that day Lorne Greene came in here?” she asked.

He nodded and smiled before returning to work.


The people in line were not convinced. Delmar spoke on their behalf.

“Hey Jose!”

He looked up again.

“Remember when Queen Elizabeth and her court were in here that one day?”

He nodded and smiled before returning to work.

“That’s what I thought,” Delmar said. His co-conspirators in line were openly smiling at him now. They had her. “Would you like to take this opportunity to revise your original remarks, Gina? If that’s really your name.”

“No I wouldn’t,” she said.

She crossed her arms in front of her. This girl had it all. A young beautiful face and the driest sense of humor he had ever witnessed. This was the ultimate challenge. He couldn’t help but smile. A real smile. Just for a second, a brief glimmer of a moment, he thought he saw the corner of her mouth turn upward ever so slightly, before returning to the original stone-faced expression.

“Well,” Delmar said, “next time he stops by, make sure you have someone take a picture or something, OK?”

“Jose will do it,” she creamed across the room. Jose looked up, nodded and smiled.

As Delmar pulled out of the parking lot, he recalibrated his brain. Jim Remak in Hickory Hills was probably itching to bitch about the stench in the latest batch of port-a-potties. Delmar had told those guys in the warehouse not to scrimp on the odor-cakes, but times were tough, and Old Man Sullivan was probably making them cut corners. Time to stop by Enchanted Pastries and pick up some frosted cookies. Another pearl of wisdom from Oscar Case: a box of frosted cookies has never failed to blunt customer complaints. You just have to make sure you show them the box before they start screaming.

Delmar looked in the rear-view mirror before he turned right on Addison, and got one more glimpse of the coffee shop. If they didn’t install one of those bald-cams, or replace the dead-panning barista, they had themselves a new regular customer.

City Mom, Suburban Dad, Father Knows Nothing

Two of our Eckhartz Press authors are also bloggers. Rick Kaempfer has a blog called "Father Knows Nothing" for NWI Parent and Kim blogs for ChicagoNow under the name "A City Mom". Once a week she also invites Rick to blog there under the name "A Suburban Dad".

Here are their latest efforts...

Father Knows Nothing: "10,000 Favors"

A City Mom: "Hanging Christmas Lights Is An Important Holiday"

A City Mom: "Adoption and Autism Lead To Action and the Northern Illinois Center for Autism"

A Suburban Dad: "Dog Day Afternoons"

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Catalyst Ranch

From the e-newsletter of the Catalyst Ranch, a chance to meet Eckhartz Press authors Brendan Sullivan and Rick Kaempfer in person at the very location they improvised the story lines of "The Living Wills"...

Match Books: THE LIVING WILLS by Brendan Sullivan & Rick Kaempfer

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 6pm - 8pm

One novel, two authors!? Creativity coach Brendan Sullivan wants to show you, not tell you how he used the same techniques he brings to clients like Kellogg's, PepsiCo, GE and Harley-Davidson (improv, mind mapping and other ideation processes) to create a just-published novel with co-author, Rick Kaempfer. Much of the work was done during sessions right here at the Ranch! Join us as Brendan & Rick share these techniques with you and show you how to incorporate them into your life and work to be more creatively productive. Rick Kogan of the Chicago Tribune calls THE LIVING WILLS "rollicking and real on so many levels." This Match Books session is not to be missed!

Radio Interviews

Brendan Sullivan and Rick Kaempfer will begin making the media rounds promoting "The Living Wills" over the next few weeks if you're interested. So far, they've been booked on two shows in Chicago.

On Wednesday night (December 7) they'll be on WGN Radio (Sports Night) with David Kaplan, Brian Noonan (photo), and Andrea Darlas at 9:00 PM. (Rick has previously interviewed all three of them at his blog Chicago Radio Spotlight over the years. Click on their names to read those interviews)

On December 18th they'll be "Living Large with Geoff Pinkus" on WIND radio (560 AM) at 7:00 PM. (Rick has also interviewed Pinkus at Chicago Radio Spotlight)

Rick and Brendan are looking forward to appearing on both of those shows.

There are quite a few more interviews in the pipeline, and we'll let you know as soon as they are officially confirmed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Living Wills debuts!

Today is the day we get the actual copies of "The Living Wills" in our hands. The first press run will be picked up at the end of the day, and the large number of people that already ordered it (sheesh--thanks so much) will be getting their copies within a few days.

If you haven't ordered it yet, this is the only place to get it.

Chicagoland Radio & Media Gives Some Love to "The Living Wills"

All we can say is wow! Thanks so much to Larz at Chicagoland Radio & Media for this incredibly kind write up about "The Living Wills". (It looks so much nicer on his site here.. He has links to all of the different things he talks about in the text, and pictures of the authors.)

This is what he wrote...

Well-known blogger, author and former Chicago radio producer/personality, Rick Kaempfer has had a busy year. Not only has he started up a new book publishing company, but he authored all or part of a few new books, one of which gets released today.

Rick Kaempfer, along with his long time collaborator and friend David Stern, founded the new boutique book publishing company Eckhartz Press this year. The name comes from combining the first names of both founder's Fathers and features a logo of a laughing letter "E." The company has a handful of new books coming out by a few different authors.

The very first publishing from Eckhartz Press happens today, as the new novel "The Living Wills" is now released. The book was collaboratively written by both Rick Kaempfer and Brendan Sullivan.

Rick Kaempfer is, of course, the former radio producer for Chicago radio legends Steve & Garry (1987-1991) and John Records Landecker (1993-2003), among others, who also hosted and co-hosted his own radio shows on WLUP-FM/AM. After 20 years in radio, Kaempfer walked away to focus on raising his family, writing, co-owning an advertising agency that specialized in creative radio ads, and other pursuits. He was the author of the hilarious 2007 novel "$everance," which gained universal rave reviews for its satire of the current radio & media industry -- a subject he knew well. In 2004, he co-authored a different book on a subject he knew well, along with another well-known Chicago radio producer, John "Swany" Swanson, called "The Radio Producer's Handbook." That book has been called by many as the definitive how-to book on radio production. Kaempfer contributed to the 2008 book "Cubbie Blues: 100 Years of Waiting Till Next Year." He is the owner of the humorous Chicago Cubs history website Just One Bad Century. If that wasn't enough, Kaempfer is also a writer and contributing editor for the NW Indiana Times' Shore Magazine, a writer for NW Indiana Times Parent's blog "Father Knows Nothing," interviewer on his Chicago Radio Spotlight website, and a blogger on his own self-named site. Kaempfer won a National Writing Award for an essay written in 1999.

Brendan Sullivan is another veteran of Chicago radio. From 1991-2001, Sullivan was a producer and writer for the Jonathon Brandmeier Radio Showgram. In addition to producing, he would create pre-recorded bits, do on-air character voices, and help create the comedic atmosphere for the program. He has also done his fair share of acting, appearing in national television commercials, feature films, and on the live theater stage. Using his comic timing, Sullivan was a member of the improvisational group Blue Velveeta at Chicago's IO. Since 2002, he has been a successful creativity coach & corporate trainer. More information about Brendan Sullivan's "day job" can be found on his website.

Kaempfer & Sullivan met at WLUP-FM around 20 years ago and struck up a friendship. These two friends recently decided to try a new & innovative way to co-write a book together, using improv skills, brainstorming, mind mapping, and other idea-generating techniques. For "The Living Wills" novel, they came up with a storyline together -- three interweaving storylines, actually -- wrote chapters separately, and then collaborated on the editing, improving and combining of all parts.

The Eckhartz Press website describes the plot of then book this way: "'The Living Wills' is a story about a split-second decision made 30 years ago and the ripple effects it caused. Can the man who made that decision and the people he affected maneuver their way through a world of baristas and Army veterans, bowling teams and exploding port-a-potties, cartoon pirates and young love, to find the strength to heal before it's too late?"

"The Living Wills" is available as of today for only $15.95 and can be purchased online at this link HERE. The authors are hoping to have the e-book version of "The Living Wills" available by the end of December.

We're not worthy. That is too kind.