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September 28, 2023

40 Years of Ulysses Press

  • Book Lovers

It all began with a stack of note cards, Hawaii, and a “yes.” What is now a successful, unique, and trendy indie press started as a dream in Berkeley, California in the late 70s. Big hair, lava lamps and hippie culture were on the rise and Ray Riegert, the future founder of Ulysses Press, had just started as editor-in-chief of the Berkeley Barb, a radical left wing newspaper. And because all success stories tend to include some beginner’s misfortune, he got “unceremoniously fired.” This didn’t stop him from wanting to continue to pursue a career in publishing and thus he began to work for a small independent publisher based out of San Francisco called And/Or Press.

Ray decided that he wanted to write the Ultimate Travel Adventurer’s Guide to Hawaii. And with a “yes” from the editors and a good advance, he set off to the beautiful islands to write and research. Camping in nearby areas during the night, and reviewing hotels during the day he created Hidden Hawaii in six months. “When I was growing up he always would write his books on notecards, so he would come home with this huge stack of notecards,” his son, Keith, tells us. The note cards were a staple during his time in Hawaii, and they continued to be so for years to come.

Hawaii was not only the setting for a success story, but also the start of a love story. It was on the island of Oahu where Ray met and fell in love with Leslie Henriques. Leslie was finishing her Masters of Public Health in the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and soon after they moved back to Berkeley to await the release of Hidden Hawaii. The success of the first edition was immediate and exponential. However, And/Or went out of business and they weren’t able to pay the royalties the book had achieved. The owner decided it was best to give him ownership of the book and all the files for Ray to succeed elsewhere. Which is how Ulysses Press, named after James Joyce’s Ulysses, was founded and Hidden Hawaii became the first book published.

He was very much at the vanguard of that,” Keith states, as his father launched Hidden Hawaii before travelogs and adventure guides became trendy.  Hidden Hawaii became the first of its kind, as the travel list continued to grow.

The company that now has two offices–one in Berkeley, California and the other one in Brooklyn, New York–began as a small front room in the Riegert household. But with success and expansion in their eyesight, Ray and Leslie moved out of their home office and hired their first ever official full time employee; Claire Chun. They met Claire as a freshman in college and both Ray and Leslie saw the promise of greatness. Thirty years later, Claire now works as the Director of Production, and continues to be a part of the Ulysses Press family. “People ask me why I’ve stayed for so long and do the same thing over and over again and the truth of that is that Ulysses Press is a big family that cares and values you as a person, opposed to a commodity. The work that we do is unique and a place that allows for growth and expansion. It is an intimate company where we still get a chance to push forward and succeed in what we set out to do,” Claire says.

Ulysses Press received numerous accolades for their rapid success, but in the early 2000s, when the Internet and its power started taking over, travel guides seemed to be losing their momentum, and Ray and the team decided the company needed a new focus. It was with the release of Bookscan in 2001 that we really changed into what we have today.

My dad says that that was the moment he was waiting for a long time,” says Keith, referring to when market research changed from visiting bookstores and checking copyright pages to mining online data that could be useful for future releases. Using those new data sources, Ulysses Press published the New York Times Bestseller “What Would Happen in Harry Potter 7” in 2007 and it launched the company into the world of pop culture.

Ulysses Press has had 40 years of excellence, from winning PW’s Fast-Growing Independent Publishers Award in 2021 and 2022 to handful of books reaching best sellers lists. But what makes Ulysses Press so successful is the team of talented individuals that continue to forge the company’s values and throw their passion into their everyday work.

The flexibility and creativity to make and do anything, ” says Casie Vogel, VP and Publisher, when asked what her favorite thing about work at Ulysses Press is. “If you can imagine it and make a case for it, the world is your oyster at Ulysses Press.

Ray is the foundation of Ulysses Press, and Keith is bringing us into the future,” says Claire Chun. As CEO, Keith continues to share the passion for data driven books that his father has. Keith reminisces on writing articles side by side with Ray, his first big article being one on “Space Camp” when he was 9 years old. “That stuck with me for a very long time,” he says as he realized at a young age he wanted to be a writer and keep the family’s legacy. He continued to major in English Literature and in 2008 he came to work at Ulysses Press as an Acquisitions Editor. The goal to continue to expand was still in everyone’s mind, so in 2011 after meeting his wife Jen, Keith took Ulysses Press to the Big Apple, opening the doors to the second office in Brooklyn, New York, and eventually becoming the CEO of the company.

New York was a new era for Ulysses Press and more talent joined the company throughout the years, talent that has stayed and made Ulysses Press their home. A place for dreamers, a place where ideas become reality, and where a simple “yes” started a decades-long journey for a team of readers and writers.

one bucket list to rule them all
September 28, 2023

One Bucket List to Rule Them All: Bilbo’s Birthday Cake Recipe

  • Book Sample /
  • Recipes

one bucket list to rule them all

Happy Belated Birthday to Bilbo and Frodo Baggins! Did you know it was their birthday on September 22? If you’re a big Lord of the Rings fan, then of course, you already know that very special date. And as a Tolkien nerd, you probably know a lot of random factoids. And that should be celebrated! So take your love for Middle Earth to the next level with Tom Grimm’s One Bucket List to Rule Them All. In this adventure-heavy book, you will find thrilling things to do and experience (over 250!) with this Tolkien-themed bucket list.

In honor of One Bucket List to Rule Them All’s release, we are giving you a sneak peek into the book with this birthday cake inspired by Bilbo Baggins! Have fun making this birthday cake for another Tolkien fan or for your next LOTR marathon viewing party. And make sure you grab your copy of One Bucket List to Rule Them All!

Bilbo’s Birthday Cake

Makes 1 cake (10–12 servings)


For the large 10-inch cake:

6 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 pinch salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup ground almonds

For the small 7-inch cake:

4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 (0.32-ounce) packet of vanilla sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the buttercream:

1 1/8 cups fine durum wheat semolina flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 (0.32-ounce) packets vanilla sugar
4 cups milk
2 sticks butter, at room temperature

For the ganache:

3/4 cup cream
6 cups white chocolate, roughly chopped

For the decoration:

3/4 cups fresh raspberries, for garnish
3/4 cup fresh blackberries, for garnish
3/4 cup fresh blueberries, for garnish
2 white fondant covers (approx. 16 ounces each), store bought, at room temperature

Also required:

2 springform pans (10 inches and 7 inches)
2 cake rings (10 inches and 7 inches)
small candles
edible flowers (e.g., roses, baby’s breath, violets)


Prepare the large cake

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line the bottom of the large springform pan with parchment paper.

2. In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and salt with an electric hand mixer on the highest setting for at least 4 minutes, until fluffy.

3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder and the almonds. Add this mixture to the eggs and fold in briefly. Pour into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 45 minutes. Once done baking, immediately remove the cake from the pan by carefully tipping it out onto a baking rack lined with parchment paper. Leave to cool.

Prepare the smaller cake

1. Line the bottom of the smaller springform pan with parchment paper.

2. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar, vanilla sugar, and salt with an electric hand mixer on the highest setting for at least 3 minutes until fully.

3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder and add to the eggs and fold in briefly. Pour into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 30 minutes. Once done baking, immediately remove the cake from the pan by carefully tipping it out onto a baking rack lined with parchment paper. Leave to cool.

Prepare the buttercream

1. Put fine durum wheat semolina flour, sugar, and vanilla sugar in a saucepan with the milk and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Let it simmer until a thick paste forms. Remove from the stove and let cool.

2. Cream the butter with an electric mixer, then mix with the cooled semolina mixture to form a smooth cream. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.

Prepare the ganache

1. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Immediately remove from the heat once it starts to boil. Add the chopped white chocolate and stir with a whisk until completely dissolved.

Put everything together

1. Halve each cooled cake layer horizontally. Place half of the larger cake cut-side up on a cake plate and put a cake ring of the appropriate size over it. Repeat with half of the smaller cake. Spread the buttercream on the two cake halves, smooth it out, and place the other halves on top of each cake. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour for the buttercream to set.

2. In the meantime, wash the berries for the decoration and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the edible flowers so that only about 1 inch of the stems remain. Put a few rose petals aside.

3. Take the two cakes out of the fridge and carefully run a knife along the edge of the cake rings to gently loosen them. Spread the ganache as evenly as possible over each cake until they are completely covered. Place one of the fondant covers over each cake, press carefully all around, smooth them out, and use a knife to cut off anything excess that is overhanging.

4. Center the smaller cake on top of the larger one. Tuck the flower stems into the gap between the two cakes all around (which not only looks pretty but also helps hide any imperfections), and decorate the bottom cake’s edge with fresh berries and rose petals.

5. Spread a few candles on top of the cake, light them just before serving, and get lots of admiring looks!

You’ll be the go-to person for baking birthday cakes with this recipe. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of One Bucket List to Rule Them All so you can cross this and many more things off your Tolkein bucket list!


One Bucket List to Rule Them All

Celebrate Middle Earth, LOTR, The Hobbit, Rings of Power, and all things Tolkien with an adventure-heavy book filled with thrilling things to do and experiences every fantasy lover will rejoice in. The fantastic realms created by J. R. R. Tolkien keep readers enchanted all over the world. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are among the most

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New release
September 21, 2023

The Unofficial Wednesday Cookbook: Brownie Recipe

  • Recipes

Calling all Wednesday Addams fans! We have the perfect treat to get you ready for spooky season. Get ready for the upcoming spooky season and grab your favorite knives, guillotines, and other torture devices and join Wednesday on a culinary journey inspired by the Netflix hit show.

We’re celebrating the release of The Unofficial Wednesday Cookbook by giving you an inside look into this brownie recipe from the cookbook. Some might say these are to kill for — er, we mean to die for. Have fun making these delicious brownies and get your copy of The Unofficial Wednesday Cookbook today!

The Unofficial Wednesday Cookbook

* * * * * *

Black Cat Brownies—from The Unofficial Wednesday Cookbook

Poe’s “The Black Cat” as the mascot for a team? That sounds purr-fect! What better motivator than a cautionary tale of alcoholism, guilt, and murder? These delectable chocolate treats may not be strong enough to wall your latest victim in, but they are good enough to eat.

Yield: 12 brownies | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 25 to 30 minutes


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2¼ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1¼ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups dark chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

2. Melt the butter in a saucepan or in the microwave. Add the sugar and stir until well combined.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs together. Add the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, espresso powder (if using), and vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined.

4. Add the melted butter and sugar mixture to the bowl with the egg mixture. Whisk until well combined.

5. Fold in the flour and dark chocolate chips until just combined.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread it out evenly.

7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

8. Let the brownies cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


Although you are the toughest of young crime solvers, we don’t want our brownies to be. Be sure not to overmix the batter or the brownies mav become tough.

If you recreate the recipe, make sure to post it online and tag us @ulyssespress!

Buy the Book!

The Unofficial Wednesday Cookbook

Grab your favorite knives, guillotines, and other torture devices and join Wednesday Addams on a culinary journey through Nevermore, Jericho, and beyond with 66 deliciously dark and twisted recipes inspired by the hit Netflix show. Welcome woeful readers to the wonderfully weird world of Wednesday. Beloved since her debut in 1938, Wednesday

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New release

More Spooky Wednesday Adventures...

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college freshmen tips
September 19, 2023

College Freshmen Tips: A Guide on Your First Year

  • Book Guide

college freshmen tips

So you’re about to start the next four years of your life at a new school…. First of all, congratulations! You got in and your efforts and passion have paid off. But, hard work isn’t over. College is an exciting part of early-adulthood. But, this can also be such a scary, anxiety ridden time for freshmen. From being in a new environment to wondering how to get to that one building on campus, college can be nerve-racking. We’re here to help lower anxiety for college freshmen with some tips.

Here’s a curated list of Ulysses Press titles to help guide you on your first year. Happy reading and good luck!

I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook

Tired of the soggy salads from the dining hall? Take the bus and get ingredients at your local Trader Joe’s and make these quick, easy, and tasty recipes for those late study nights.

Small Apartment Hacks


From the small twin-size mattress to the boxes of stuff under your bed, we know there’s limited space. Get the most of your dorm and maybe eventual off-campus apartment with these clever hacks!

Here to Make Friends


Maybe your roommate turned out to be the worst person you’ve ever met and you feel your social life is nonexistent. Don’t worry, use these tips and you might find your forever people in that random astronomy class you had to take.

Goodnight Dorm Room"</h2

This book answers the most pressing questions that college-bound high school graduates probably never think to ask. Like: Why should I get to my dorm room early on Day 1? Or is it really a bad idea if I major in archaeology? And how does one use a “washing machine”?

The Self- Love Workbook

College life not meshing well with you? Take some time to reflect between those classes and study breaks to boost self-esteem and find back your happiness.

The Self-Love Planner

Self-Love Planner Cover

Use the customizable planner as your guide to embrace a healthy mindset and find self-love in each and every day.

Alexandra and the Awful, Awkward, No Fun, Truly Bad Dates

Bad Dates Cover

You’re going to meet a lot of people in college, and maybe you find that one person cute and end up going on a date with them…..and it turns out to be the worst date of your college life. Alexandra can relate.

Oh, the Places You’ll Eff Up!


You’re a freshman, embrace it! Because, soon you’ll find that life gets scarier and a whole lot more complicated. This fun parody book pokes fun and exposes the not-always-awesome realities of starting out in the adult world after college.

SO! Get out there, hit the library, go to classes, and good luck. Here’s to all the college freshmen looking for tips and wondering what they’re doing in life.

Check the Books Out!

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Catan cookbook
September 12, 2023

CATAN®&#8211;The Official Cookbook Reveal: Lamb Bolognese

  • Book Sample /
  • Cooking

Catan The Official CookbookWelcome, adventurers! Get ready to upgrade game-night with the first-ever official CATAN® cookbook. This cookbook gives longtime and beginning players the chance to bring their favorite game to life through food. From game (k)night snacks to celebratory drinks, this cookbook has the recipe for you!

To celebrate the launch of the book, we’re giving you a first look at one of the recipes. Enjoy this delicious Lamb Bolognese recipe to get you ready for your adventure!

Lamb Bolognese from CATAN® – The Official Cookbook

A savory pasta dish with rustic vibes, this Lamb Bolognese is the perfect meal to set the mood for a cozy night. It’s fairly easy to prepare, loaded with lamb, veggies, and cheese, and the active work time is just 15 minutes. And for that intriguing flavor touch, it uses freshly ground nutmeg to really send your taste buds into new worlds.

Serves: 4 to 6 | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 2½ to 3½ hours


2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1½ pounds ground lamb
freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cups whole milk
1 whole nutmeg clove, or a pinch of ground nutmeg
1½ cups dry white wine
1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, with their juices, hand crushed
pasta, for serving
1 (4-ounce) block Pecorino Romano
flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped, for serving
sea salt, to taste

Catan Cookbook Lamb Bolognese


1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Cook the onion, celery, and carrot for 2 to 3 minutes, until beginning to soften.

2. Add the ground lamb and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add the milk and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, or until it has cooked down almost completely.

4. Use a Microplane grater to add a few gratings of fresh nutmeg. Or, if using pre-ground nutmeg, add just a pinch.

5. Add the white wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Again, cook for about 5 minutes or until the wine has all but cooked down completely. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a gentle simmer for 2 to 3 hours, adding a splash of water here and there as needed to keep the sauce from drying out.

6. Toss with cooked pasta and top with shavings of Pecorino Romano and fresh parsley.


Gather your friends, family, and other players and get ready to cook and eat your way through the CATAN®– The Official Cookbook.



Embark on a culinary adventure with the first-ever official CATAN® cookbook–the perfect companion to your next game night. Welcome, adventurers! The hexes of CATAN lie before you. The promise of abundant resources, development cards, and victory points are close at hand. But all good Catanians need a good meal before they can build

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New release
September 6, 2023

Red, White, and Royal Blue: Ulysses Press Book Guide

  • Book Guide

It’s been three weeks since the release of Red, White, and Royal Blue and we just can’t get over Alex and Henry’s story. From battling societal pressures from their respected roles as the president’s son and successor to the throne, their love story has certainly helped them cope. Alex and Henry have such different personalities, but that’s what makes them work!

Wonder what Ulysses Press titles the other would read? Don’t worry we got you! Enjoy this curated list of Ulysses Press titles based on Alex and Henry from Red, White, and Royal Blue. 


Alex is proud to celebrate his Texan roots. There’s no doubt he wouldn’t love some Texas BBQ right now.

And what’s Henry’s favorite midnight snack..? ICE CREAM! Whenever his Royal Highness can’t get a good night’s sleep, he heads downstairs to get a sweet treat.



Alex’s mom, Ellen Claremont, is the 45th president of the United States of America and the first ever woman president. Who’s her real-life parallel? The first-ever woman to win a presidential nomination by a major U.S. political party.

In the world of email and texts, nothing offers a more personal touch than a beautifully handwritten letter, invitation, or thank you note. Henry is sure to have this skill as a royal.

Trivia & Activities

Alex might be living in the White House, but he doesn’t know everything that’s happened! This book is a celebration of all the things that make America wacky and great.


From Queen Elizabeth II to Prince George, there’s a lot of news to keep up with regarding the royal family. Prince Henry knows about making history, but there could be more he didn’t know about “his” royal family.



Vulnerability WorkbookBeing the president’s son, going to college, and secretly dating a royal prince must be hard to juggle. Alex is sure of some help to keep track of everything.

The word “vulnerability” is scary. But vulnerability, when approached in a safe way and anchored in self-trust, can be the key to healthy, long-lasting relationships. We hope Henry can trust himself.






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scams and cons
September 5, 2023

Meet the Author Interview: Madison Salters

  • Meet the Author

In our latest installment of our Meet the Author series, we talked to Madison Salters, author of our newest crime book Scams and Cons: A True Crime Collection. This book includes the most salacious cases as well as lesser-known ones, with each chapter delving deep into the facts of the case and chronicling first-hand accounts from journalists and police

We spoke to Madison about the book, her writing process, and some books that have caused impact in her life and career!

Introduce yourself!

Hey! My name is Madison Salters. I’m a writer, editor, translator, and journalist living in a big city (NYC) with two very small dogs (mini doxies!).

Describe your book in one sentence.

Investigative true crime with enough twists to knock your socks off– the grittiest scams and the most unbelievable cons in eight refreshed cases that will keep you reading, from the 9/11 scammer to a murderer in our midst.
Scams and Cons

Why did you want to write this book? What is the most important message you hope people take from your book?

I wanted to write this book because too often we see true crime that glorifies villainy, without attempting to understand what makes a “villain”. I wanted this book to center the voices and stories of victims, detectives, and bystanders. Rather than shaking hands with the con artists in this book, the book delves into psychology and investigative journalism to ask: what made someone do this, what made the people around them believe in their lies, and what makes people like this so enticing to read about, watch, and listen to?

What was your biggest challenge with writing the book?

The biggest challenge was not pulling at too many threads!! The more I investigated, the more incredible side stories I found– a possible killer lurking on a misty mountain, an everyday hero with a heart of gold whose story had a thick layer of dust atop it, a cannibal whose past transgressions were lost in translation. The more I dug, the more there was. Centering so many personal tales, so many unique people, and each of their diverging and intersecting timelines into eight cohesive tales truly did feel like more of a challenge than writing fiction. It was like trying to take a roller coaster and turn it into a boardwalk!

What is your writing process like? What is the most difficult part of the writing process? What part is your favorite?

My writing process is very frenetic: do all of your research, get everything down, every little bit and piece no matter how small. Look everything over, all the interviews, all the facts, and see what’s missing: where are the gaps, what was left unsaid, what contradicts? Research again, using broader resources. Write down more. Then break what you know into sections and go at it with 8 pastel-colored highlighters until you have what you can now see is the story’s timeline, as it should be presented to a reader. Then write it all on MS Word. Just– word vomit it all out. Then edit back. Get it neat, tidy. Structural edits. Then copy edits. Let my poor editor have a go on it. Trim the fat more. Then go back in– and add that fat back on!! Bulk it back up with elements that got lost, or fell wayside on the scrap room floor. Insert that humanism back into it. Get tone back into it. Rinse. Repeat. Proofread. Gosh, a book takes forever. It’s your baby. It’s so much work.

What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

It’s okay to drink 8 cups of coffee or tea a day. Just not every day. Do try to sleep. Not sitting up in your writing chair!

Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

Only when writing fiction, because you’re so responsible for a cohesive, interesting story that flows. With non-fiction, it’s almost the opposite. It’s a writing deluge! You’re presented with a ton of mysteries, and you have to pick at them and unravel them and work on them, until the plot reveals itself to you. When it finally cracks, you’re so excited, it just pours out– you have to share what you’ve learned, it’s unbelievable but real!!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing I love to cook big, elaborate dinners, go on walks in the surrounding parks near my home (yes, in NYC!! little-known gems!), and photograph everything. I loved photos since the time of disposables and polaroids, and even develop my own film and fix old cameras myself!

Who is your favorite author?

My favourite author is Charles Dickens. He’s long-winded, yes, but he had this marvelous way of telling you something was funny without making a joke of it. Instead of saying ‘the man was clearly ridiculous’, he’d say something like ‘the man was full of importance, and thus, couldn’t be bothered with mortal things like saying please and thank you or picking up after himself.’ I love that. It really gives you the feel and you can totally see the people he wrote about in today’s society too, for good and ill!

What is a book that has had a profound impact on you?

Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. It was the first time I’d read a book where someone with a cleft scar was not only a good guy (how many films show us the opposite?) but a *profoundly* good human. It made me cry buckets, and I learned so much from it.

What’s something you’d like your audience to know about you?

I absolutely loved learning Japanese growing up, but French was a misery to learn. I’m happy I did both, though– they both came in handy for translating news articles and case matters for this book! Phew!!

* * *

Thanks for answering our questions, Madison! For more true crime books similar to Scams and Cons, see below.

famous grifters
September 5, 2023

Famous Grifters: Your Guide to Scam Stories

  • Book Sample

Scams and Cons

If you’re still in your true crime era but are looking for something a little less, let’s say, murder-y, then turn your morbid fascination to scammers and con artists. There is no shortage of famous grifters who steal, lie, and cheat to get what they want. In Scams & Cons, Madison Salters covers the most scandalous stories surrounding criminals who charmed and conned their way into infamy. These truly shocking stories might even teach you a lesson or two on how you can lower your risk of becoming a victim of deception and fraud.

Featuring eight cases (including Simon Leviev, Jon Edward Robinson, and Elizabeth Holmes!), Scams & Cons will prove to you that grifters, scammers, and con artists are as important to the true crime community as unsolved mysteries and serial killers. Check out a brief excerpt below, and don’t forget to grab a copy of Madison’s book for more scandalous stories!

The Connection Between Scammers

I was unprepared for how many random and outrageous side-stories would be uncovered throughout this book’s fact-finding.

In almost every scammer’s saga, I was bound to find more like them—the same pots of honey attracted the same flies: wealth and power, fine schools, high fashion, romantic trysts, and online anonymity. Again and again as I went through the list of cases for this book, I was astounded by a kindred cast of characters materializing from the fog as I pried open each individual’s timeline.

What I came to accept is that con artists are like a photo negative: all dynamism, no contrasting thoughts allowed. They often aggrandize themselves with such intensity that they leave the people they meet with the shadowy impression that everything they said was true. The main shapes in their story may be tangible, but upon inspection, they’re off-color; the quality is eerily unreal. They’ll lighten up the darkest bits. So investigating them meant finding the original film, so to speak, and attempting to extract the reality. That often meant not asking “what happened?” but “is this possible, and if so, how?”

“They were so nice,” was a line I heard a lot, in interviews.

famous grifters

What Do All Famous Grifters Have In Common?


Fraudsters are masters of social engineering. They know how to position themselves in the right place at the right time to take advantage of a situation. They don’t necessarily have to be clever, talented, or even particularly adept—they just have to catch you at a moment when you are not adept. 

For anyone who has had a mobile phone or credit card number stolen and kicked themselves afterward, it’s not a difficult concept to swallow. For anyone who was an “A” student in one class, but dreaded being called upon in another, it’s again this common category in which we are not our best selves all the time.


Swindlers also tend to cast a wide net—the most successful ones often have multiple scams running. Something always sticks, sooner or later. “Bulk scams” are the norm. Think of the Nigerian “prince’s” email asking for a wire transfer; the text message you get from a bank you’re not a customer of; the prerecorded phone call from a computer that wants to talk about your car’s limited warranty; or catfishing over social media.


Scam artists create rags-to-riches stories that tempt our imaginations. They highlight the inaccessibility in society; you almost root for them when they sneak into spaces meant only for elites. And they’re almost always in control of their own narratives—that part is important.

But what was most common of all, I think, was the inherent narcissism across these personalities—both sides of narcissism, the aggressive and the childlike. The side that puts one at the center of their own universe to the exclusion of all other’s wants, needs, and feelings and the self that in so doing feels extremely isolated there. They need a human supply to heap praise upon them, their glittering egos sustained on the backs of others’ companionship and work.

famous grifters

What Makes Them So Fascinating?

Unlike their marks, con artists haven’t been victimized. They can take a situation where they were the villain, smooth out its edges, and lob it back at reporters, juries, and audiences as a well-written, well-spoken, flawlessly rehearsed retelling—all from the angle they would like you to consider it from, please and thank you. They come across as self-possessed; they make eye contact, smile, laugh, joke. Their fictions are presented irrevocably as fact. They charismatically lure people into the gravity of their unique voices, tones, and mannerisms, dominating accounts.

For police, it’s difficult to stop them. They can’t retroactively give victims back their time, money, jobs, homes, or reputations; they can only “stop the bleeding.”

To be a scammer is to be afraid of living with that true self, to be afraid of letting anyone get close enough, but while also wanting, desperately, to be known. To be admired, but on false pretenses. To be unable to share how clever they are. It is to victimize others in the near-futile attempt to grasp at something that feels like it is enough.


Purchase a copy of Scams & Cons to dive deep into the the wild world of scammers, con artists and swindlers.

The Summer i Turned pretty
August 31, 2023

The Summer I Turned Pretty: What Ulysses Press Books Would They Read?

  • Book Guide

Due to the addicting new season of The Summer I Turned Pretty, the whole world has been in the dilemma of the summer: #teamconrad or #teamjeremiah ? At Ulysses Press, the team is also divided, but we decided to play for both teams just this once. Summer is not over until we say it’s over, and why not make it last a little longer with a heartfelt reading list based on our favorite summer boys.

What Would Conrad Read?

Our sad boy has a special place in our hearts. The Summer I Turned Pretty finale left us all a little heartbroken, but we curated this list in the hopes of getting him out of his funk and getting his act together in Season 3.

Catan The Official Cookbook

We know one of the main joys of the Cousins Beachhouse was the fun game nights. Catan: The Official Cookbook would be the perfect addition to their repertoire, allowing them to also get some cooking done. The recipes are also easy to make, so they won’t need any help from the adults they surely don’t want around.

Conrad dealing with panic attacks was not easy to watch. The Panic Attacks Workbook is an incredible resource for everyone who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. As we could see in TSITP, panic attacks interfered with Conrad’s day to day as they do for many people. The educated author of this book can help you in understanding where the anxiety is coming from and how to manage it.

Whether he is in Brown or Stanford, the I Love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook is the perfect companion. The cookbook includes easy to make and campus friendly food options with recipes from the world’s best grocery story.

The Little Book of Weed Games

The Little Book of Weed Games is perfect for college nights, nights at Cousins Beach or days where Conrad might need a little relaxing from all the studying.

As overwhelmed as Conrad got in Season 2, he was always at peace tying knots and learning how to sail in the first season. We know that Prepper’s Guide to Knots would have helped him learn techniques to create better knots and in a faster manner.

What Would Jeremiah Read?

I think we all fell in love with Jeremiah in this season of TSITP and even Conrad girlies have been second guessing themselves (not all of us though, okay?) However, we can all agree that he was dealing with grief in a healthier way, and all those scenes with Susannah were incredibly bittersweet.

Ultimate Dirty Joke Book Cover Photo

No matter how much Jere matured in Season 2, he is still the jokester of the group. We 100% think The Ultimate Dirty Joke Book would be the next Christmas gift Belly would give him.

The jokester and the healthy one, Jere really is a well balanced guy. This recipe book shows step by step instructions to make delicious and healthy green, and fruity smoothies.

Boy Mom Prayer Journal

Jeremiah’s love for his mother and his constant support for her throughout the cancer treatments was heartbreaking. Yet this beautiful Mother and Son Prayer Journal would have been a great addition to the things they could have done together.

Make the Pool Your Gym 2nd Edition

Some of our favorites scenes from The Summer I Turned Pretty include Jere working as a life guard while they were spending summers at Cousins. Make the Pool Your Gym would have helped Jere become fit while keeping everyone safe during the hot days.

These break the ice cards are so Jeremiah… Whether he is giving them to his latest conquest, or to Belly, we know he would have a blast handing them out and keeping some for himself!


shutterstock_2190313673 [Converted]
August 23, 2023

Back to School Books for Teachers

  • Book Sample

It’s back-to-school season! Here at Ulysses Press, we can’t wait for what the new school year has to bring for upcoming students and teachers. Whether you’re preparing or already in session, we have the books to make the year a breeze! Check out some of these curated by us to help you along the way.

Teach Reading with Orton-Gillingham offers research-based suggestions and instructions to make reading multisensory and engaging. Whether it’s using sand or shaving cream, there are tons of fun, proven ideas and strategies to help your students better understand key concepts like letter-sound relationships.

Designed as a supplemental text to Teach Reading with Orton-Gillingham but easy to use with any robust phonics program, this book includes tons of activities for your students to overcome their difficulties with reading. It consists of five units that include decoding and encoding practice using the major tenets of Orton-Gillingham: explicit, systematic, individualized phonics practice with multisensory practice and delivery.

Make reading fun for preschoolers, kindergarteners, and first graders with these write-it-yourself stories. Designed to be torn-out, folded, and stapled together (with the help of a parent or teacher), these projects let kids create their own customizable mini-books that build all the skills they need.

Clear communication between students and teachers is crucial for effective learning. When students understand the why and how of learning (aka “teacher clarity”), it’s so much easier for them to fully comprehend and engage with the material.  But it can be hard to ensure good communication while also juggling curriculums, state standards, grading, and the other elements of teaching in an elementary school classroom.

Student-centered learning, or the concept of giving students a more active role in their own learning, is taking the education world by storm. This resource book is filled with student-centered learning classroom activities to help you teach any subject in a fun and engaging way. Educators will learn to expand upon basic worksheets and lectures and shift the focus from teacher to student with small group discussions, experiments, case studies, presentations, and other interactive lessons.


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