Book Bits: Sherman Alexie, Smoky Zeidel, ‘Freshwater,’ book covers, Amy Tan

According to the social media, people are impatient for Spring. Booker Talk (Item 2), one of my favorite blogs, wishes all of us Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus i chi! (Happy St. David’s Day to You All) with a fine list of Welsh books to consider during inclement weather. It’s raining hard here in Northwest Georgia, so in between furtive trips into the yard to see what the bulbs are doing, I’m doing a lot of reading. If you’ve got stormy weather and don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky, here are a few links to help you wait for Spring.

  1. Wikipedia Photo

    News: Sherman Alexie’s Response to Harassment Accusations – “After a month of online charges that he has been abusive to many women, particularly Native American women, author Sherman Alexie issued a statement yesterday. It’s a mix of admission and denial and, as with to much of the matter, it’s somewhat vague.” Shelf Awareness

  2. Lists: Books to mark Wales’ special day – March 1 is St David’s Day in Wales — “St David being our patron saint — so usually a day for celebration of all things Welsh. The celebrations will be very muted this year however with schools closed and concerts cancelled because of Storm Emma, so I thought I would mark the occasion by highlighting some new books from authors and publishers based in Wales.” BookerTalk
  3. New Title: Garden Metamorphosis: New and Collected Poems of Change and Growth, by Smoky Zeidel (Thomas-Jacob, March 1) – “In the midst of a confusing and frightening world, Smoky Zeidel remains true to form with her poetry, gently reminding us to close out the superfluous and remember that which is sacred. Garden Metamorphosis is both a love song to Mother Earth, and a celebration of the cycle of life Read the complete poems, plus Zeidel’s short story, ‘Transformed.'” Thomas-Jacob Publishing
  4. Ursu

    Feature: Sexual Harassment in the Children’s Book Industry, by Anne Ursu – “These are the sort of events we’re told to brush off — they’re jokes, they’re flattering, no big deal. But when you believe you are a professional and someone informs you they see you as a sex object, it can shatter your sense of self and your sense of safety.” Medium

  5. Quotation: “The future of publishing lies with the small and medium-sized presses, because the big publishers in New York are all part of huge conglomerates.” Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  6. Review: Freshwater, by Akwaeke Emezi, reviewed by Tariro Mzezewa – “In her remarkable and daring debut novel, “Freshwater,” Akwaeke Emezi draws in part from her own life to tell the story of Ada, a young Igbo and Tamil woman haunted by the ogbanje — the ‘godly parasite with many heads, roaring inside the marble room of her mind.’” New York Times
  7. Feature: Meet the Designers behind Your Favorite Book Covers, by Alexxa Gotthardt – “We talk with five designers whose book jackets are routinely hailed as crowd favorites. Their designs blanket young adult bestsellers like John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down (2017), literary classics like Vladimir Nabokov’s The Eye (1930), and tomes that rethink the form of a book (one comes with a remote control, and drives like a toy car).” Artsy
  8. Interview Amy Tan on Writing and the Secrets of Her Past, with Nicole Chung – “In ‘Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir,’ Amy Tan recalls the time a relative told her mother that she shouldn’t fill her daughter’s head with ‘all these useless stories.’ Why should Amy know so much, visit her mother’s painful memories, when it was beyond her power to change the past? Her mother replied: ‘I tell her so she can tell everyone, tell the whole world . . . That’s how it can be changed.’ As she writes in her memoir, ‘My mother gave me permission to tell the truth.’” Shondaland

Book Bits is compiled randomly by author Malcolm R. Campbell.

Excellent Source for Self-Publishing Help

“I was recently tasked with putting together a publishing workshop for my local library. As I researched and gathered information, I realized everything they needed to know was available right here, on IndiesUnlimited.com.”

via Everything You Need to Self-Publish – Indies Unlimited

As author Melinda Clayton says, there’s a wealth of information stashed under the Knowledge Base and Resource Pages menu selections on the Indies Unlimited main screen. Sometimes I think we become so accustomed to the menu selections on blog-oriented sites, we forget they’re there and miss out on the links and other information they lead to. We read the posts of the day and move on.

Self-publishing can seem like a daunting process when an aspiring writer first decides to take the plunge. In addition to Indies Unlimited, you can find helpful resources on sites such as Poets & Writers, Association of Writers and Writing Programs, Jane Friedman, and Writers Digest.

The information is “out there.” Half the battle is knowing where to look.

–Malcolm

You might just win a Kindle Fire Tablet if you sign up for my publisher’s newsletter

tjlogoThomas-Jacob Publishing is starting a newsletter to help its adoring readers keep up with upcoming books and events. Since this is my publisher, I hope the readers are adoring. I’m proud of our catalogue, featuring books by:

  • Malcolm Campbell
  • Melinda Clayton
  • Tracy Franklin
  • Michael Franklin
  • Robert Hays
  • Smoky Zeidel.

Okay, moving onto the Kindle Fire Tablet. Click on the graphic below to go to the newsletter signup page. Just a few fields to fill out and then you’re done.

The first place winner of the tablet and the two second place winners of a free paperback from Thomas-Jacob’s list will be selected in a random drawing August 17th.

TJnewsletterpromo

Good luck in the drawing!

–Malcolm

 

Do Million Dollar Debuts Give Writers Hope?

Nope.

Sure, if we were the ones getting a million dollar advance from a major publisher, we would feel hopeful about our future.

Otherwise, the feeling is one of despair.

bestsellerSure (sorry to use the word again), there may be some sour grapes behind our feelings when we read articles like Betting Big on Literary Newcomers.

After all, with the promotion, glitz, buzz and hoopla behind a book with a million bucks behind it, we could skip all the years of being anonymous, of writing novels many people like but that still don’t have the clout to get editorial reviews, of being asked what we’ve written and then getting a blank stare when we list a few of our novels.

As Jennifer Maloney writes in the Wall Street Journal article about betting big, “Social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads have contributed to a culture in which everyone reads—and tells their friends about—the same handful of books a year. It’s increasingly a winner-take-all economy, publishing executives say. ”

That’s the why behind our despair when we read about such huge advances. If your book is not one of these books, or if you’re not already a big name author, you book basically doesn’t exist in spite of all the blog tours, Amazon sales days, and GoodRead giveaways.

Our argument–as the writers down in the steerage section of the publishing ocean liner–has always been that literature would be better served if that million bucks were dedicated to the promotion of, say, ten books for one hundred grand each, or maybe twenty books at fifty grand each rather than being lavished in an advance to one person. That million doesn’t include the advertising budget.

Sometimes BIG BOOKS turn out to be really good, even wonderful. But they’re bad for literature because–like black holes–they suck all of publishing’s efforts into a small minority of what’s out there. We understand, of course, that publishers claim that the profits from big books help fund little books. Maybe, but I never see any evidence of it.

The authors who write the books that jump into the stratosphere like this worked just as hard as the authors who didn’t. But their work is being turned into a fabricated event. Big advance = lots of buzz = justified large promotional and advertising budget = high sales and many articles and book reviews. The publisher has paid to put the book on top from the starting gate.

Yes, I read these books when the critics have good things to say about them. I’m tempted like everyone else to the books I hear about. Unfortunately, like everyone else, I miss the books I don’t hear about because no advertising or promotional budget brought them to my attention.

What a shame.

–Malcolm

 

Thanks for the editors

At this very moment, an editor is going over the manuscript for Thomas-Jacobs Publishing’s re-release of my contemporary fantasy Sarabande. I’m glad she is. She sees what I cannot see along with inconsistencies and goofs I wouldn’t recognize if I did see them.

Note: none of my editors look like this.

Note: none of my editors look like this.

I could blame my cataract surgery for making my right eye see so much better than I need new glasses to read the words on the screen. (My old glasses are now too strong.)

However, if my editor sees this post, she can remind me (and all of you) that I was overlooking a lot of typos before the surgery.

Sometimes my wife reads over things I’ve written that I think are error free. Nope. She was a newspaper editor so she catches a lot of stuff.

So does my publisher, but she likes to check and double-check, so an editor reads my stuff after she reads my stuff. It must be a fact of life that a writer can go over his or her work a hundred times and guess what? It’s still waiting for the editor’s red pen.

Unfortunately, the red pen is gone. My wife and I are old school: we grew up editing copy (news copy) on a double spaced printout. I find more errors this way than I do when looking for typos and missing punctuation on the screen. I have to admit that Word’s Revision/Markup makes it easy for publishers and editors and writers to communicate over time about manuscript corrections.

But I still prefer edits on paper. My eyes are attuned to the page rather than the screen. Even so, I miss a lot. You probably do, too, whether you edit on the screen or print out a hard copy and look for your favorite pencil.

That’s why I firmly believe everything should go through an editor even though it’s not always easy to arrange this in today’s Kindle Direct Publishing world. If your spouse didn’t work for a newspaper, at least get your pets to review everything before you hit the “Save and Publish” button.

Thanks Lesa (wife), Smoky (editor) and Melinda (publisher).

–Malcolm

TSScoverjourneysMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of “The Sun Singer,” a contemporary fantasy that is currently on sale on Kindle.

 

 

Don’t let a bad publisher derail your writing dream

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This gallery contains 3 photos.

The trouble with dreams is that the defy logic. Last night, I dreamt I was at a Shriners convention. When I woke up, I knew it wasn’t true. When a fast-talking, dirt bag of a publisher says they’ll give you … Continue reading

“Book Bits” provides daily information for writers and readers

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 Bits brings 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 Bits is 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’s Book 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.

Malcolm

P.S. When the “Book Bits” title is short enough for me to squeeze in an extra word, I add the #bookbits hashtag to help people find the posts on Twitter. Now, here’s an example of a book banner:

contemporary fantasy for your Kindle