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Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: Alison Bechdel, ‘The Enchanted,’ Anne Frank books donated, Alice Hoffman

BookBitsI have no idea how much (or how little) luck, fate, karma, magic, or the law of attraction play into how well (or how poorly) authors do in the marketplace. Many years ago, I canceled my subscription to Writer’s Digest with a letter the magazine chose not to print or answer. For many months, I tracked the magazine’s glowing features about writers who “made it,” presumably after following the how-to articles about techniques, selecting markets and query letters.

What I noticed as that every single writer in the feature articles I tracked started by doing all the things the magazine advised, but then ended up being discovered by some fluke: a random bestselling author’s car breaks down in the driveway, the editor for a major publishing company lives next door, a reporter for Publishers Weekly visits the critique group. I asked Writers Digest why all their features ended up with luck. They never responded. I had to smile at that memory when I read Noah Berlatsky’s piece about the importance of luck (Item 10).

Today’s books and authors links

  1. News: Bechdel Reacts to ‘Fun Home’ Controversy in South Carolina, by Rachel Deahl – “Controversy has been brewing in South Carolina over Alison Bechdel’s bestselling and critically acclaimed graphic memoir ‘Fun Home.’ After the book was listed on a summer reading list for incoming freshmen at the College of Charleston, the South Carolina House of Representatives cut funding to the school because the book explores (and, as a graphic work, displays pictures of) same-sex relationships.”  Publishers Weekly
  2. enchantedReview: “The Enchanted,” by Rene Denfeld, reviewed by Will Byrnes – “Rene Denfeld, the author of The Enchanted has the heart of a warrior and the soul of a poet. She has written a novel about identity, understanding, the roots of crime, the reality of prison life, the possibility for redemption, and the ability of people to use imagination to rise beyond the purely material to the transcendent. There are three primary and several very strongly written secondary characters whose stories are interwoven.”  Fantasy Book Critic
  3. Author Event: Rene Denfeld (“The Enchanted”)Portland, Oregon, Wednesday, March 5th @ 7:30pm Powell’s City of Books on Burnside, 1005 W Burnside (800) 878-7323
  4. News: Israel donates 300 Anne Frank books after others found vandalized in Tokyo public libraries – “More than 300 books related to Anne Frank, including copies of ‘The Diary of a Young Girl,’ have been found damaged in Tokyo libraries, according to the latest tally. Suginami [ward in Tokyo] was particularly hard hit, with 121 books vandalized. The donated books will be divided among Tokyo libraries.” Minneapolis Star-Tribune
  5. On the List

    On the List

    New Titles: Books of the Week, March 3, 2014, by Gabe Habash – “This week, a dangerous game in small-town America, a book that will get you obsessed with dinosaurs, and an extreme survival camp.”  Publishers Weekly

  6. Quotation: “I would draw a really sharp distinction between creating and producing. I think that they’re very different things. What I feel is that true creation happens when you’re making something out of nothing – like it’s divine, you know. Creation is a completely divine concept.” – Eleanor Catton in The Guardian
  7. Feature: The ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ and the Great War, by Jennifer Howard – “Next time you’re at the diner for breakfast, try ordering “Zeppelins in a cloud.” That’s slang for sausages and mashed potatoes, inspired by the airships used for spying and bombing during World War I, according to the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary.” The OED is asking for help: If you know of a publication that used the phrase “Zeppelins in a cloud” prior to the 1925 “Soldier & Sailor Words,” send them a note.  The Chronicle of Higher Education
  8. diaryNew Title: Archie characters go the book route with ‘Diary of a Girl Next Door,’ by Brian Truitt – “First book out in July chronicles Betty’s freshman year and friendship with bestie Veronica.”  USA Today
  9. Feature: Storytelling Project Fosters Neighborhood Cohesion in Post-Katrina New Orleans, by Nathan C. Martin – “The motto of the Neighborhood Story Project is: Our stories told by us. In the afterword to the first book the project published after Hurricane Katrina, ‘Coming Out the Door for the Ninth Ward’ (2006) by the Nine Times Social Aid and Pleasure Club, anthropologist Helen Regis noted that, in the 200-year history of African-American benevolent and mutual aid societies in New Orleans, the groups had been widely photographed, written about, and otherwise documented by outsiders, but none before had published a book about its own social organization and its relationship to its communities.”  Next City
  10. Viewpoint: What every writer needs to succeed, by Noah Berlatsky – “Sure, practice and research are important. But there’s something else that might matter even more: Luck.”  Salon
  11. ABAlogoNews: ABA and AIB Head to Washington in Support of Sales Tax Fairness, by David Grogan – “On Tuesday, March 4, the American Booksellers Association and Advocates for Independent Business (AIB) will be holding an Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., in support of sales tax fairness.” American Booksellers Association
  12. Essay: Creativity and Madness: On Writing Through the Drugs, by Gila Lyons – “I feared that taking medication to ease my anxiety and panic might destroy my urge or ability to create. I had heard of many artists who had gone mad or suffered from horrible depression, and took the popular prescription of the day, never to write or create again.”  The Millions
  13. museumextraordinarythingsReview: “The Museum of Extraordinary Things,” by Alice Hoffman, reviewed by Megan Fishmann – “Alice Hoffman’s latest novel has the word ‘extraordinary’ in the title for good reason: The best-selling author of ‘The Dovekeepers’ has served up another historical novel that will dazzle readers until the last page.”  Book Page
  14. News: Kids’ Author on Trial In Egypt, by Nina Strochlic  – “Peter Greste, photographer of the children’s classic “Owen and Mzee,” is being held in solitary confinement as he and other Al-Jazeera journalists await trial in Cairo.”  The Daily Beast
  15. News: Profits are up at Barnes & Noble, by Carolyn Kellogg – “Barnes & Noble reported a net profit of $63.2 million for the holiday 2013 quarter Wednesday. That is a significant change from a year earlier, when it reported a loss of $3.7 million.”  The Los Angeles Times


“Book Bits” is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of satire, contemporary fantasy and paranormal stories and novels. Download the free sampler containing excerpts from my work.


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2 thoughts on “Book Bits: Alison Bechdel, ‘The Enchanted,’ Anne Frank books donated, Alice Hoffman

  1. Loved Alice Hoffman’s Museum of Extraordinary Things, definite recommend.

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