Book Bits: Smashwords growth, Jane Howard tribute, ‘Beautiful Creatures,’ Charlotte Brontë
Like many authors of fantasy novels, I watch the play of dark and light throughout the seasons of the year and the cycles of the month with great delight. My favorite moment on the yearly calendar is the transit between the old (as symbolized by Twelfth Night) and the new (as symbolized by Epiphany).
It is fitting then, insofar as my mood, world view, and writing are concerned, to wake up to bright sunlight on January 6th. While all that is without may be an illusive mirror of all that is within us, we are dynamically linked to everything we create. We create out of inspiration and imagination, and then our creations nourish us.
In addition to the adventures they contain (and I love tangled plots with unexpected twists), my five fantasy novels focus on journeys into the light. “The Sun Singer” is the Sun, “Sarabande” is the Moon, and the three novels in the Garden of Heaven Trilogy are the Earth and its seasons. I’m am tying all this together in “Aeon,” my contemporary fantasy novel in progress.
Today’s sunshine is apt within my perspective. Best wishes on your own journey into the light.
Now, after that word from your sponsor (me), here are today’s links:
- News: More Growth at Smashwords – “Founder Mark Coker reports that the distributor of e-books for self-publishers added about 25,000 authors in 2013 and that its total title count is now 276,100, up from 190,600 at the end of 2012. Authors earned $20 million from sales through Smashwords last year, helping the company, which now employs 23 people, post its third year of profitability.” Publishers weekly
Lists: Most Anticipated: The Great 2014 Book Preview – “Last year offered many treats for readers: long-awaited new books by Donna Tartt and Norman Rush; the emergence of Rachel Kushner as a literary superstar; the breakout success of George Saunders. 2014 offers more riches. This year we’ll get to crack open new books by E.L. Doctorow, Richard Powers, Sue Monk Kidd, Lorrie Moore, Teju Cole, Mona Simpson, Lydia Davis, and Peter Matthiessen. ” The Millions
- Quotation: “Dear Rest of the World: In Minnesota we call this ‘book weather.’ Enjoy.” – Common Good Books, St. Paul, Minn – ShelfAwareness
- News: Big roll-out begins for Ailes book – “Random House is preparing for a ‘shitstorm,’ to borrow the phrase Matt Drudge used in a tweet four months ago, that will surely ensue with the publication of Gabriel Sherman’s forthcoming Fox News book, The Loudest Voice in the Room, which is scheduled for a Jan. 21 release.” Capital New York
- Feature: Written Off: Jennifer Weiner’s quest for literary respect, by Rebecca Mead – “Weiner’s novels have sold millions of copies, but lately, through her blog and her Twitter account, she has stoked a public discussion about the reception of fiction written by women.” The New Yorker
- Commentary: Life After Amazon: A publisher has no regrets after cutting ties to the online retailer, by Randall White – “In January 2012, one of the sales representatives for my company, Educational Development Corp., made a call on a school that was unfamiliar with our books. As a result of the presentation, the school committed to a purchase, but a few days later the rep discovered it had placed the order with Amazon instead. This was particularly distressing to me: Selling 101 dictates that the person who makes the sale is the one who should be compensated. Recently, I heard from a longtime customer in Mill Valley, Calif., that closed its doors because it had effectively become a “showroom” for Internet retailers—people would see books in the store and then buy them online.” Publishers Weekly
- Review: “Little Failure,” by Gary Shteyngart, reviewed by Laura Miller – “Shteyngart’s novels are hilarious, but ‘Little Failure’ reveals a writer with some ambivalence about his celebrated sense of humor. Marooned with little English at the Solomon Schechter School of Queens, where ‘it is understood that anyone can hit me,’ he eventually created a new identity, ‘Gary Gnu,’ jokester and author of the ‘Gnorah,’ a ‘hatchet job directed at the entirety of the SSSQ religious experience.’ ” Salon
- Viewpoint: For Publishers, User-Generated Content is The New Opportunity: Buzzfeed, Gawker and Forbes are three publishers leading the way with UGC, by Antoine Boulin – “Years ago, user-generated content (UGC) was typically perceived as “low-quality” media, or at the very least, “lowbrow” entertainment. While the bite-sized content was often engaging, if not inspired, brands tended to shy away from it in fear that an unsavory YouTube clip or crazy cat meme wouldn’t sit well–or neatly–next to their carefully crafted brand message.” Folio Magazine
- Commentary: Why Villette is better than Jane Eyre: Everybody knows Jane Eyre, but Charlotte Brontë’s greatest and most original novel was her last, Villette, by Lucy Hughes-Hallett – “Charlotte Brontë wrote not one but two masterpieces. Most readers know Jane Eyre. Even non-readers feel they know it, because they have seen a film version, or just because it is a part of our common culture. But Villette, Brontë’s last and – to my mind – greatest novel, is less popular, perhaps because it is so uncompromising and so original.” The Telegraph
- News: Texas library offers glimpse of bookless future, by Paul J. Weber – “Texas has seen the future of the public library, and it looks a lot like an Apple Store: Rows of glossy iMacs beckon. iPads mounted on a tangerine-colored bar invite readers. And hundreds of other tablets stand ready for checkout to anyone with a borrowing card.” USA Today
- Review: “Beautiful Creatures,” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Age Range: 12 & up) – “This smart, textured and romantic Southern Gothic takes place in Gatlin, S.C., where cheerleaders and the basketball team run the high school and the Daughters of the American Revolution and Civil War re-enactors run the town.” Kirkus Reviews
- News: Lebanon Library Torched, 78,000 books Burned by Islamists – “Ancient books in a historic library in the Lebanese city of Tripoli have been torched by Islamists, after a pamphlet purportedly insulting religion was found inside one of its books.” The Huffington Post
- Feature: Martin Amis pays tribute to ‘wicked’ stepmother Elizabeth Jane Howard, by Miranda Prynne – “Martin Amis has paid tribute to his ‘wicked’ stepmother Elizabeth Jane Howard who died this week claiming she made him the man he is today. The author said acclaimed novelist Ms Howard, who was married to his father Sir Kingsley Amis for 18 years, helped transform him from a “semiliterate truant and waster” into an Oxford University scholar.” The Telegraph
“Book Bits” is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of contemporary fantasy novels and paranormal short stories.