News. An Epic Week for the Books Desk – “We talked to Pamela Paul, the editor of The Book Review, and Andrew LaVallee, a deputy editor on the Books desk, about how they’ve been preparing for the big week, the impact of the pandemic on the publishing world and what titles they’re keeping on their own night stands.” (The New York Times)
Feature.Harlan Ellison’s The Last Dangerous Visions may finally be published by Alison Flood- “It is the great white whale of science fiction: an anthology of stories by some of the genre’s greatest names, collected in the early 1970s by Harlan Ellison yet mysteriously never published. But almost 50 years after it was first announced, The Last Dangerous Visions is finally set to see the light of day.” (The Guardian)
Interview. What Makes a Great American Essay? by Phillip Lopate – “Talking to Phillip Lopate About Thwarted Expectations, Emerson, and the 21st-Century Essay Boom.” (Literary Hub)
Upcoming Title: New Fiction from Robert Hays – “When faced with the end, how does one reconcile the pieces of an ordinary life? Does a man have the right to wish for wings to carry him to a summit he believes he doesn’t deserve to reach?” (Thomas-Jacob Publishing)
News: “The New York Times reports on the ongoing bidding over Simon & Schuster, which was put up for sale by its parent company, ViacomCBS, early this year. Penguin Random House and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which owns HarperCollins, are considered leading bidders.” (Poets & Writers)
Point of View: Wikipedia, “Jeopardy!,” and the Fate of the Fact by Louis Menand – “Is it still cool to memorize a lot of stuff? Is there even a reason to memorize anything? Having a lot of information in your head was maybe never cool in the sexy-cool sense, more in the geeky-cool or class-brainiac sense. But people respected the ability to rattle off the names of all the state capitals, or to recite the periodic table. It was like the ability to dunk, or to play the piano by ear—something the average person can’t do. It was a harmless show of superiority, and it gave people a kind of species pride.” (New Yorker)
News: Patterson Was Decade’s Bestselling Author by Jim Milliot – “From 2010 to 2019, James Patterson sold 84 million units across print and e-book formats, making him the past decade’s bestselling author at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. Patterson’s sales total was double that of Dr. Seuss, and more than those of Stephen King, David Baldacci, and John Grisham combined, BookScan said.” (Publishers Weekly)
Book Bits used to be compiled randomly but now appears to be compiled sporadically by author Malcolm R. Campbell.
I once asked my ophthalmologist if he felt blurry. “No,” he said. “Darn,” I said, “it must be my eyes.” Well now things are getting blurry again and that means that on Valentine’s Day, I have to go back to the outpatient surgical center for a laser procedure to make the world clear again. Meanwhile, I just bought stronger glasses because I’m not going without books. For those of you who feel the same way about your reading, here are a few links:
New Title: Tree Story and Other Poems by Douglas G. Campbell. Melanie Springer Mock writes, “Tree Story and Other Poems challenges us to see through a different lens, one that clarifies and sharpens the natural world, and that places humans as supporting actors in the grand drama nature gives us. It beautifully traces the centuries-old life of a Douglas Fir, the tree itself narrating an epic journey with the action occurring at the tree’s roots and around its trunk.” Oblique Voices Press
Feature:What’s the future of books? by Agatha French – “We ask a psychic at Mystic Journey Bookstore in Venice to tell us straight, by – “As a books reporter in the Digital Age, I’m often asked: What’s the future of books? Although I can honestly say that I believe books are as vital and significant now as they ever have been, the truth is that I can’t predict the future.” Los Angeles Times
Obituary:Haim Gouri, Poetic Voice of a Rising Israel, Is Dead at 94, by Isabel Kershner – “Haim Gouri wrote of the terrible sacrifice of war, and of memory and camaraderie. A celebrated and often critical voice of Israel’s founding generation and its conscience, he also wrote of the wrenching inner dilemmas, complexities and contradictions of the Zionist enterprise that tormented him.” The New York Times
Quotation: ““Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don’t abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book.” – Patti Smith
Feature: I Spent 24 Hours Reading Last Weekend and I Didn’t Lose My Mind – Actually, I kind of found it, by Jamie Green -“I didn’t come up with this stunt on my own. It’s called 24 in 48, which is really straightforward — you read for 24 hours within 48 hours, from 12:01am Saturday to 11:59pm Sunday. I’d seen the hashtag flitting around Twitter, intermittently, for years. (It took me an oddly long time to figure out what it meant.) This year was the first time that I heard about the scheduled weekend far enough in advance. I blocked it out on my calendar, a two-day event: READATHON.” Electric Lit
Event: Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere, will be the official Author Ambassador for Independent Bookstore Day 2018. Scheduled for Saturday, April 28, the fourth annual Indie Bookstore Day will be celebrated by more than 490 independent bookstores around the country. – Shelf Awareness
“Book Bits” is compiled randomly by author Malcolm R. Campbell. Disclaimer: Douglas G. Campbell is my brother.
There’s so much writing advice on the Internet that I’m often cynical about it, viewing much of it as being like those bottles of patent medicine that used to be sold from the backs of wagons years ago. But sometimes I find something worthy passing along. (See item 1.)
Writing Tip: How to Grow as a Writer, by Eva Deverell – “I firmly believe that as long as you’re willing to put in the work and play the long game, you can improve your writing – just like you can improve any other skill – and grow into a great writer. Here are some areas you might want to focus on…” Eva Deverell
News: Author Of The Other ‘Fire And Fury’ Book Says Business Is Booming, by Ari Shapiro and Kelley McEvers – “Hansen’s book is Fire And Fury: The Allied Bombing Of Germany 1942-1945. The beginning of that title “Fire and Fury” is the same as that of journalist and author Michael Wolff’s new exposé about the Trump administration, Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House.” (Suddenly, it’s selling well.) NPR
Essay: Man As God: ‘Frankenstein’ Turns 200, by Marcello Gleiser – “Perhaps Frankenstein’s 200th anniversary should be celebrated with a worldwide effort to build safeguards so that scientific research that attempts to create new life, or to modify existing life in fundamental ways, gets regulated and controlled. This includes CRISPR, a new technology capable of editing and modifying genomes. As with so many scientific developments, it has great promise and the potential for good and evil. At the most extreme, it offers the possibility of modifying the human species as a whole, a sort of final Frankenstein take over.” – NPR
Interview: Natasha Trethewey: Say It, Say It Again, with Rob Weinert-Kendt – “Poet Natasha Trethewey’s Pulitzer-winning 2007 collection Native Guard, which partly memorialized an African-American Civil War soldier protecting a Union-captured fort on Ship Island, Miss., was first turned into a stage work in 2014 at the Alliance Theatre. It returns Jan. 13-Feb. 4. Trethewey was U.S. poet laureate from 2012 to 2014.” American Theater
Quotation: “But to speak strictly as a writer, I wouldn’t be where I am if not for independent bookstores. My first book, Drown, stayed alive, and in turn kept my career alive, because independent booksellers continued to put the book in people’s hands long after everyone else had forgotten it. For 11 years, I had no other book and yet indie booksellers kept their faith in me. To them, I owe very much. I’ll definitely be in a lot of indie bookstores on this tour, as many as will have me.” – Junot Díaz in Shelf Awareness
Review: THE ALICE NETWORK: The story of a spy, by Kate Quinn, reviewed by Matthew Jackson – “Historical fiction is all about blending the original with the familiar, about those delicate new stitches woven into the tapestry. The best practitioners of this often subtle art can sew those new threads without ever breaking the pattern, until the new and the old, the real and the fictional, are one and the same. With her latest novel, Kate Quinn announces herself as one of the best artists of the genre.” Book Page
Essay: Has Ann Quin’s time come at last? by Jonathan Coe – “The experimental writer, who committed suicide aged 37, was disregarded in her lifetime. But her strange staccato style now seems quite in vogue.” The Spectator
Review: The Forgetting Tree: A Rememory, by Rae Paris, Reviewed by Bruce Jacobs – avored with both vulnerable hesitation and uncompromising resolution, poet and essayist Rae Paris’s debut, The Forgetting Tree, is the memoir of a young black woman’s search to understand her personal and racial past. In a journey of backwards migration, Paris leaves her past in the Los Angeles streets south of Compton on a road trip into her family’s roots in New Orleans. From there she crisscrosses the South to uncover the raw truth of slavery, segregation and racism at former plantations, cemeteries, Klan meeting houses, civil rights battlegrounds, lynching trees and graves of both famous and unnamed black ancestors.” Shelf Awareness
It’s getting more and more difficult to talk about books, publishing, and authors without straying into political issues that often have a very polarized reader-base. Some people believe CNN 100%, while others believe FOX 100%. I’ve more or less stopped posting anything political on my Facebook page because it always ends up with people shouting at each other. Sexual harassment is one of those issues. I mention this here because Publishers Weekly ran into a few snags with a recent article about sexual harassment in our business (Item 1). Maybe they’ll get it sorted out this time.
Issues: Letter from the Editors: Covering Sexual Abuse in the Book Business, By Jim Milliot, Rachel Deahl, and John Maher – “The difficult nature of covering the subject hit home on December 5, when we ran a story announcing the resignation of Giuseppe Castellano, executive art director of Penguin Workshop, following claims of sexual harassment by actress and comedian Charlyne Yi. The article we published was intended to be a balanced account based on verifiable facts. Not everyone agreed that it was. Some readers expressed frustration that we put too much emphasis on Castellano’s account over Yi’s.” Publishers Weekly
News: Notable Literary Deaths in 2017, by Emily Temple – “This has not been the best year. In addition to, well everything, we lost a number of literary luminaries in 2017: beloved novelists, champions of the written word, legendary editors, and genre-defining journalists.” Literary Hub
News: The Tale of Two Literary Forums, by Malcolm R. Campbell – “If you were out on the Internet in the 1980s, you probably remember that CompuServe was a major ISP, providing e-mail and forums for millions of users. In those days, almost every hi-tech company, whether hardware or software, had a forum staffed in part by representatives of the company to help people with bugs, usage issues, and other information. In addition to these forums, CompuServe also maintained forums for pets, religion, political discussions, hobbies, and literature.” Malcolm’s Round Table
Film: Hollywood’s Once and Future Classic, Hollywood’s Once and Future Classic, Why it took 54 years to turn A Wrinkle in Time into a movie, By Eliza Berman – “A Wrinkle in Time, a Disney movie based on Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 novel of the same name, will come out on March 9, 2018. The film brings to life the story of Meg Murry, a gangly adolescent who travels across dimensions to rescue her scientist father. Meg is guided by a trio of guardian angels collectively called “the Mrs.” The book, and the movie, is about what it means to be a source of light in a world in which darkness seems only to proliferate. It also makes the case for thinking independently when conformity is the norm.” Time Magazine
Quotation: “When I see a store, I MUST GO IN. I’m a sucker for books, but indie bookstores take that up a few levels because they’ll curate for me. I go in saying I want to learn about some obscure topic and they won’t look at me as if I’m from Mars! Instead it’s almost as if I see my own curiosity reflected back at me, and they share it instantly. I’ve had that same experience happen in multiple cities, so I think it’s common to independent bookstore owners and I love them for it.” – Author Jessee Mecham Shelf Awareness
Review:THE ICE HOUSE – Home is a long way from here, by Laura Lee Smith, reviewed by Thane Tierney – “The Scots didn’t invent stubbornness, but they perfected it, raised it to a high art where irresistible force and immovable object are sometimes locked like two neutron stars in a perilous dance. So it is with American immigrant Johnny MacKinnon and his Scottish son, Corran, in Laura Lee Smith’s second novel, ‘The Ice House.'” Book Page
Lists: The Ultimate Best Books of 2017 List, by Emily Temple – “It’s the end of the year, and everybody has an opinion. And of course, where there’s an opinion, there’s a listicle. The river of Best of 2017 lists can be exhausting this time of year, so as a public service, and because my math skills are always in need of a little exercise, I’ve created a streamlined master list of the books that the most people loved this year.” Literary Hub
Review: LITTLE LEADERS: Bold Women in Black History, by Vashti Harrison ; illustrated by Vashti Harrison (Age Range: 6 – 12) – “Visual artist Harrison introduces 40 trailblazing black women from United States history in this inspiring volume for young readers…Perfect for exploring together at bedtime or for children to browse independently, a gorgeous invitation for children of all backgrounds, and especially for black girls, to learn about black women who were pioneers.” Kirkus Reviews
News: Indie Bookstores Tell Us About Their Most Stolen Books – Which volumes walk out the door most often, and why? by Jo Lou – “Independent bookstores are magical, endangered places. Stealing from these small, often struggling establishments is a mortal sin and the Book Gods will smite you. If you must kidnap books (which you shouldn’t, because libraries exist) then steal from big box stores instead.” Electic Lit
Book Bits is compiled randomly by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of paranormal, contemporary fantasy, and magical realism novels and short stories.
They run twice a week on my Sun Singer’s Travels weblog. An earlier version ran daily, but after a hundred posts, I realized that keeping up with author and book news wasn’t leaving me any time to write. This time, the posts featuring links to book news, author interviews, book reviews, writing tips and features, and commentary about today’s publishing world are under control. Hmm, well, they seem to be.
Not long after shutting down the daily “Book Bits,” I started to miss it. Plus, I was still spending time reading about authors and books. So, why not bring it back? I’m enjoying it. I hope you will, too.
I’ll continue to use this blog for book reviews, briefly noted posts about new books, writing ideas, and musings about some of my writing themes such as the recent Tarot card post. The readers’ and writers’ links, announcements and personal writing notes will be in Sun Singer’s Travels. Nature, natural cycles, magic, and fantasy will usually appear in Magic Moments.
You can keep up with all of us at Vanilla Heart Publishing via our Reader’s Group. Be the first to hear about new books, author presentations and talks, and a variety of other programs.
You’ll also find links to writing samplers, book trailers and websites for VHP’s authors: Smoky Trudeau Zeidel, Chelle Cordero, Marilyn C. Morris, Kate Evans, Robert Hays, L.E. Harvey, Collin Kelley, Malcolm Campbell, Charmaine GordonJanet Lane Walters, Anne K. Albert, S.R. Claridge, Melinda Clayton, Angela Kay Austin, Joice Overton, Ramey Channell, Scott Zeidel and Namid.
Have fun with all of the blogs. Leave comments. Ask questions. And, for goodness sakes, leave the online world every day and take some time reading.
Writers like keeping up with contests, tips and techniques, publishers and magazines where they can submit their stories and articles, and advice on how to market their work once it’s published.
Readers like keeping up with their favorite writers, upcoming books in the genres they read the most, and information about authors’ future book signings and other appearances.
Book Bitsbrings you the links to this kind of information six days a week. Quite simply, Book Bits is a blog in which every post is a list of links covering the latest reviews, books and author features, contests, marketing and social networking advice, “writer’s how to” posts, and essays and features about authors, books and publishing.
Book Bits Titles
Book Bits is numbered from the first issue onward toward infinity. The higher the number, the more recent the post. The titles are designed to attract attention, so they include the names of authors/events most likely to lure people into the post. For example, the title for this morning’s post looked like this:
Book Bits #117 – Hedy Lamarr, Roberto Bolaño, Elmore Leonard and more writing news
So now you know I’ve made 117 posts. This one included a review of Roberto Bolaño’s latest novel, a biography about Hedy Lamarr, and an article about author Elmore Leonard who, says “why not,” when asked why (at age 86) he’s still writing.
This morning’s Book Bits had 24 links. In addition to those attention-getting names in the title, the other offerings featured a link to a blog hop where you might win a Kindle, a story about the return of the Lit Fest to Haiti, and the names and novels of the ten finalists in Georgia’s Townsend Prize for Fiction.
Naturally, some posts will bore you. My top picks on those days will be authors you’ve never heard of or genres you never read. I try to include a variety, though, in hopes that every time you stop by, you’ll find at least one link you want to click on.
Some posts will take over you’re entire day because, heck, you’ll want to click on every feature, news story and review. The reviews will tempt you to read books. The contest announcements will tempt you to write books, or maybe short stories or poems.
This morning, you might have followed the link to this review:
Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers – “With characters that will inspire the imagination, a plot that nods to history while defying accuracy, and a love story that promises more in the second book, this is sure to attract feminist readers and romantics alike.” – Booklist
Or the link to this advice:
Lists: 10 Ways to Get Paid for Online Writing, with Lior Levin – “Selling words for dollars is easy, if you are aware of two things: -How to put down the words together. -How to sell your piece in the right market.”
I invite you to surf over to Book Bits, read a few posts and see what you think. That’s sort of like kicking the tires on the car you just might want to buy. Unlike the car, Book Bitsis free.
Sure, you’ll see some banners at the ends of the post with links to my author’s site and my novels. Maybe those banners will tempt you. If not, have fun. Goodness knows, I have a lot of fun every day finding the news and rev iews for each post. I tell me wife I’m working, but I think she suspects I’m just surfing the net for the heck of it.
Coming in tomorrow’sBook Bits, a link for a wonderful piece of satire that pokes good-natured fun at the Antiques Road Show (imagine people bringing in crime evidence rather than antiques) and some pithy advice for authors planning to self publish their books. Oh, and reviews, too. There are always reviews.
Book Bits is my new blog of writers’ links. Here you’ll find information about reviews, new titles, author interviews quotations, and book news. I invite you to stop by, skim through the offerings and click on a few links such as: