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Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Archive for the category “interviews”

Rumpus Interview With Max Porter

“But the dream for later in life, if you want to know, is this: I walk down a garden, and dive into a river. I swim a few hundred yards down the river. I hop out and walk to my wooden shed in among the beech trees. I get dry, brew some coffee, and write until I need to leap into water again. Repeat until oblivion. I don’t even really need for this dream to come true. The thought is enough.”

Source: The Rumpus Interview With Max Porter – The

I like the river dream, and also this: “I don’t want to do anything to violate the gorgeous honor of working on people’s books with them. If at any point my writing life is unbalancing or interrupting the simple (yet richly complex) process of doing my best for an author’s book, then I will have to re-think. And I hope whatever happens, whatever life I’m living, I’ll keep an eye on the commas.”

In addition to the clipped out statements, I find this an interesting and insightful interview. You might like it, too.



“To Find Our Larger Self”: An Interview with Juan Felipe Herrera |

Herrera - Wikipedia Photo

Herrera – Wikipedia Photo

“Poems are moments in-between the grinding gears of all the machines, hammers, and techno-clicks that have set off our lives into something close to madness. We all long for essence, for clarity, for harmony, for peace, for an enlightened way of life—yet we seem to have collectively agreed to let a mechanical delirium be our guide. What I am saying: find seventeen seconds of your day to reflect, to provide an offering—to write five words. ”

Source: “To Find Our Larger Self”: An Interview with Juan Felipe Herrera | From the Catbird Seat: Poetry & Literature at the Library of Congress

Herrera speaks about “the occasional poem,” a poem about the now of our lives today and what we’re experiencing and how we can share all of this with each other.

At least, that’s how I see it. I would prefer reading more occasional poems on, say, Facebook (for example) and fewer rants. I want to know how you experience good news and bad news on any given day, not a canned presentation from some group with an agenda that you linked into your status update.

Food for thought, this interview.


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Book Bits: ‘Go Set a Watchman,’ DOJ asked to investigate Amazon, Alice Munro stamp, Mardi Jo Link

BookBitsReaders who loved To Kill a Mockingbird have been in a state of shock for the last week or so as early reviews of Go Set a Watchman painted beloved character Atticus Finch as a racist. Some hoped that since Go Set a Watchman was written first, that Atticus saw the light before Mockingbird and Gregory Peck’s starring role in the movie created a memorable character in American literature. Yet, Go Set a Watchman is not a prequel but a sequel. “What the hell happened?” people asked. I plan to read te book before I decide. Apparently, I’m not alone since sales are brisk in spite of the controversy. For a sampling of early reviews, see Item 2.

  1. ABAlogoNews: Authors, ABA to DOJ: Investigate Amazon’s Abuse of Its Dominance in the Book Market, by David Grogan – “Today, in an unprecedented joint action, U.S. booksellers, authors, and literary agents called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the business practices of The action comes as similar efforts are underway in the European Union.” American Booksellers Association
  2. Audio Edition

    Audio Edition

    Commentary: Will ‘Go Set a Watchman’ Spoil ‘Mockingbird’? by Jane Ciabattari – “The July 14 publication of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman is, indisputably, news. The reclusive author, now 89, was never expected to follow up on her Pulitzer Prize-winning classic To Kill a Mockingbird, first published in July 1960. But is Go Set a Watchman a good book? How will its publication affect Harper Lee’s literary legacy? And how are book critics shaping the early discussion?” Literary Hub

  3. Quotation:  “A significant aspect of this novel is that it asks us to see Atticus now not merely as a hero, a god, but as a flesh-and-blood man with shortcomings and moral failing, enabling us to see ourselves for all our complexities and contradictions.” – Former U. S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey’s in Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman,’ a less noble Atticus Finch.   Washington Post
  4. News: Oyster Subscribers Can Now Access 2,000 Macmillan Digital Books, by Maryann Yin – “Macmillan will make an additional 1,000 titles available to Oyster users. The newly added books come from a variety of genres such as nonfiction, young adult, and mystery.”  Galley Cat
  5. Obituary: Chenjerai Hove – “Novelist, poet and playwright Chenjerai Hove, one of Zimbabwe’s best-known writers and a leading critic of President Robert Mugabe, died July 12, BBC News reported. He was 59. Hove won several awards for his work. He is perhaps best known for Bones, ‘set after independence on a white-owned farm, the book asks what difference the end of colonial rule in 1980 really made,’ BBC News wrote.” Shelf Awareness
  6. Cover font fot "Watchman"

    Cover font for “Watchman”

    Feature: For Font Designer, ‘Watchman’ Proves an Unexpected Thrill, by Anisse Gross – “This week, while Harper Lee is thrust back into the spotlight because of her much-anticipated sophomore novel Go Set a Watchman, someone else, heretofore unrelated to the book, is experiencing a unique satisfaction.”  Publishers Weekly

  7. Feature: Dickens’s marginalia reveal famous contributors to his journal, by Alison Flood – “In a lucky coincidence that would not look out of place in a Charles Dickens novel, an antiquarian book dealer has stumbled across what is believed to be Dickens’s own personally annotated copy of a literary periodical he edited. The find reveals, for the first time in around 150 years, the names behind 1,500 anonymously authored pieces in All the Year Round, from Elizabeth Gaskell to Wilkie Collins.”  The Guardian
  8. Quotation: “‘A short story is like a T-shirt. A novel is a suit and tie, sometimes overcoat and hat—it simply has more amplitude and ambition, larger, with more implication.’ Bomb has published the final interview with author James Salter. The acclaimed writer passed away last month at age ninety.” Poets & Writers
  9. bloodonrosesNew Title: “Blood on the Roses,” by Robert Hays, (Thomas-Jacob Publishing, LLC July 10, 2015), 228 pages – “In 1955, at the height of alarm over the Emmett Till murder in Mississippi and after the Supreme Court ruling against school segregation, Associated Press reporter Rachel Feigen travels from Baltimore to Tennessee to report on a missing person case. Guy Saillot’s last contact with his family was a postcard from the Tennessee Bend Motel, a seedy establishment situated on beautiful Cherokee Lake. But they have no record he was ever a guest.” Thomas-Jacob
  10. Viewpoint: HarperCollins UK CEO says “Publishing Entering a Golden Age” by Roger Tagholm – “On a glorious summer’s evening in the elegant courtyard of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum earlier this month HarperCollins UK CEO Charlie Redmayne could not have sounded more positive as he welcomed guests to the publisher’s annual Summer party in honor of its authors.”  Publishing Perspectives
  11. News: Alice Munro featured on new Canada Post stamp – “Nobel Prize–winning author Alice Munro has been honoured with a new stamp by Canada Post, released today in celebration of her 84th birthday. The stamp features a photograph of Munro taken by her daughter, Sheila, some of the author’s handwriting, and images of her hometown of Wingham, Ontario.” Quill & Quire
  12. Raleigh


    Interview: Reviewer IndieView with RaeleighReads – “I look for a book that grabs my attention from the get-go. I’m more a fan of action than of romance, and I adore scenes that are described in painstaking detail – scenes that transport me out of my reading room and into another world. For that to happen, there can’t be errors in grammar and usage. So, for me, a really well edited book is a must. Beyond that, I look for authentic, meaningful dialogue that is character-appropriate. There is nothing worse than reading a gorgeous line your favorite character would never utter. Again, this type of mistake rips the reader out of the scene. Reading is my means of being transported out of my real life, and a really great book will keep me in its world until the end.”  The Indie View

  13. Lists: A Visual Diary of Gorgeous Technicolor Films, by Alison Nastasi – “Through August 5, MoMA’s retrospective Glorious Technicolor examines this brilliant chapter in Hollywood history. We’re celebrating along with them by offering this visual diary of gorgeous Technicolor films that remind us of the magic of movies.”  Flavorwire
  14. drummondReview: “The Drummond Girls,” by Mardi Jo Link, reviewed by Henry L. Carrigan Jr. – “In 1993, Mardi Jo Link was a 31-year-old wife and mother of two and a bar waitress with a college degree. Just before sunrise on an October Michigan morning, Link and three friends set off on what would become an annual get-the-hell-out-of-Dodge adventure to the isolated refuge of Drummond Island on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In 1993, Link was the newest member of the sorority, but she eventually became the chronicler of the highs and lows of the annual island weekend.”  Book Page
  15. Commentary: Why newsrooms should care about virtual reality, by Abigail Edge – “From Vice to The Wall Street Journal, many newsrooms are already experimenting with virtual reality as a new way to engage audiences and offer different perspectives on stories.  The 2015 Trends in Newsrooms report from the World Editors Forum flagged VR as one of the top nine trends in news outlets around the world.”




KIndle cover 200x300Book Bits is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of the Jim Crow era novella set in the Florida Panhandle, “Conjure Woman’s Cat”




Indies Unlimited 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology and other book news

Featured Book: Indies Unlimited 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology | Indies Unlimited.

IUcover“The Indies Unlimited 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology features a year’s worth of winning entries from the weekly flash fiction challenge.

“It contains 56 stories by 38 different authors from around the world, with full color pictures by award-winning photographer K. S. Brooks and thought-provoking prompts by five-star author Stephen Hise.”

Discover your new favorite authors in this anthology!

BookBitsIn the News

  1. Feature: Amelia Morris of ‘Bon Appetempt’ –  “Debut memoir by the amateur cook behind the Bon Appétempt food blog, which began with her disastrous attempts to re-create picture-perfect recipes from Bon Appétit and Gourmet in her home kitchen.” – USA Today
  2. Feature: Harley Quinn and Harper Lee: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing – “Highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment.” Also, “Blurred Lines” lawsuit and “Out of My Mouth Comes Unimpeachable Manly Truth”: What I Learned From Watching a Week of Russian TV – Atlantic Wire
  3. eyeonstruggleInterview: James McGrath Morris (“Eye on the Struggle”), with  Joshunda Sanders – “This year has ushered in a new framing of black history with attention on and discussion of Ava DuVernay’s critically acclaimed film, ‘Selma.’ Its timely emergence on the heels of nationwide protests elevating the relationship between black communities and law enforcement also calls to mind a time when another black woman, Ethel Payne, told significant, untold stories from the civil rights era as she was coming into her own as a pioneering black woman journalist.” – Kirkus Reviews
  4. carverNews: ‘Birdman’ Drives Interest in Raymond Carver Collection, by Calvin Reid – “‘Birdman’—winner of three Oscars on Sunday night, including Best Picture—is doing good things for Raymond Carver. The film, which chronicles an actor’s attempt to reinvigorate his career with a stage adaptation of Carver’s short story ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,’ has driven sales of the author’s same-titled short story collection. Now Carver’s U.S. publisher has more releases by the author, who died in 1988, in the works.” – Publishers Weekly
  5. How To: Lyrics and Poetry in Fiction—Copyright, Drawbacks, and Other Problems, by Beth Hill – “Typically writers are asking about the use of someone else’s lyrics or poems, not their own. So the first issue a writer has to deal with is that of copyright. And talk of copyrights (in the U.S.) leads to the Fair Use Doctrine.” The Editor’s Blog
  6. BraggsvilleReview: “Welcome to Braggsville,” by T. Geronimo Johnson, reviewed by Ron Charles – “The most dazzling, most unsettling, most oh-my-God-listen-up novel you’ll read this year is called ‘Welcome to Braggsville.’ The 44-year-old author, T. Geronimo Johnson, plays cultural criticism like it’s acid jazz. His shockingly funny story pricks every nerve of the American body politic.” – The Washington Post
  7. Friedman


    How To: Start Here: How to Self-Publish Your Book, by Jane Friedman – “The following post is an introductory guide to the major self-publishing options available to authors today, and how to choose the right service and approach for you.” Jane Friedman’s blog

  8. Looking Back: “On this day in 1995 James Alfred Wight, better-known as James Herriot, died at the age of seventy-eight. Wight went to the Yorkshire Dales in 1940, fresh out of Glasgow Veterinary College. Over 2300 packed his memorial service in York Minster Cathedral; over 100,000 a year now visit the museum at the site of the original practice; over sixty million copies of his books have been sold.” – Today in Literature

ESaudio2014Book Bits is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of “Emily’s Stories” (audio, e-book, paperback) and the upcoming “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”


Building Buzz and Finding Readers: A Conversation with My Publicists

The Millions : Building Buzz and Finding Readers: A Conversation with My Publicists.

“I always thought there wasn’t a phrase more insufferable than “my publicist” (okay, there is: “my personal assistant”). It just sounds so entitled and show-offy and needlessly glitzy. It’s as if the person is strangling themselves to fit into a perceived brand. But now that I have publicists, I get it: aside from helping me with a billion little things, like cab ride reimbursements, they find readers for my book. It’s an important job.

“(And, let’s get real: we all saw what happened when Tom Cruise fired his publicist.  Makes you realize how badly they’re needed in this world.)” – Edan Lepucki

Interesting conversation with two publicists at Little, Brown. There are ideas here for small press and self-published authors; and, also a sense of what we’re competing against as we see press plans being drafted a year before the book comes out and galleys being sent out four months prior to the release date. It’s easy to think “it must be nice” even though that won’t help as much as reading through the interview with an open mind.


Malcolm R. Campbell, is the author of contemporary fantasy adventures, including “The Sun Singer” now out in paperback from Second Wind Publishing. Enter the GoodReads give-away before September 15 for a chance to win one of five free copies.

Book Bits: Wrath of Penguin, ‘Suicide Supper Club,’ Rowling Fans vs Shepherd, Alejandro Zambra

BookBitsIn today’s edition of Book Bits, we learn that it’s not wise to anger either Penguin (Item 2) or Potter fans (Item 6). If anything, these controversies will help you get over your Oscar fever and/or hangover.

  1. News: Canada Reads battle begins with round one – “Canada Reads gets underway Monday with five celebrity panelists set for literary combat as they champion five fictional reads in the annual CBC book battle.” CBC News
  2. News: Artist’s spoof Ladybird book provokes wrath of Penguin, by Gareth Rubin – “An artist and comedian has been told by the publisher Penguin that her new satirical art book breaches its copyright, and if she continues to sell copies it could use the courts to seize the books and have them pulped.” The Guardian
  3. suicidesupperclubReview: “Suicide Supper Club,” by Rhett DeVane, reviewed by Malcolm R. Campbell – Rhett DeVane (“Cathead Crazy”) brings her trademark sparkling prose and deep insights into human nature to this story of the darkness and light in the lives of Abby, Loiscell, Sheila and ‘Choo-choo.’ Truth be told, the light is in short supply.” Malcolm’s Round Table
  4. Feature: Pics: See a magical model of ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home’ by Whitney Matheson – “As the title suggests, one major character in Ransom Riggs’ 2011 best seller Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the house itself…Author Tahereh Mafi, who is married to Riggs, commissioned architectural model maker Michael DelPriore to construct a miniaturized version of Miss Peregrine’s Home.” USA Today
  5. ginsbergNews: University of Toronto library acquires world’s largest collection of Allen Ginsberg photographic prints, by Sue Carter Flinn – “The University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library has acquired the world’s largest collection of photographic prints by Ginsberg. According to Canadian Art, Dollarama CEO Larry Rossy purchased the prints from the Allen Ginsberg Trust through his Larry and Cookie Rossy Foundation and donated them to the university.” Quill & Quire
  6. Viewpoint: Should JK Rowling quit writing? by James McQuade – “If British crime novelist Lynn Shepherd has learned anything from a piece she wrote for the Huffington Post titled, ever so subtly, ‘If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It,’ it’s this: Hell hath no fury like a Potter fan scorned.” Melville House
  7. News: World Book Night to Distribute a Special Edition of ‘Twelve Years a Slave’ by Maryann Yin – “World Book Night (WBN) is partnering with Dover Books to publish a special WBN edition of Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup.” World Book Night is April 23rd.  GalleyCat
  8. zambraInterview: Alejandro Zambra (“Bonsái”), with Juan Vidal – “For the last several decades, Chile has yielded some of the finest and most bizarre literature in the world. From the harrowing stories of Isabel Allende and Roberto Bolaño, to the authoritative poetry of Pablo Neruda, the nation has made its indelible mark. Alejandro Zambra, selected as one of Granta’s Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists, is not only adding to its diverse heritage, he’s spearheading a generation.” The Daily Beast
  9. How To: Why are your favorite books your favorite books? by Malcolm R. Campbell – Looking at what draws you to read will help you write better stories.   Sun Singer’s Muse
  10. Commentary: From bestseller to bust: is this the end of an author’s life? by Robert McCrum – “The credit crunch and the internet are making writing as a career harder than it has been for a generation. Robert McCrum talks to award-winning authors who are struggling to make ends meet” The Guaridan
  11. mercysnowReview: ‘Mercy Snow’ by Tiffany Baker, reviewed by Anita Shreve – “Strength and quiet beauty mark Baker’s writing. Though it tells an old story that extends back at least to Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” “Mercy Snow” provides an authentic universe of damaged souls and a fantastical heroine who made this reader wish for a vial of that pure maple sap.” The Denver Post
  12. News: Phyllis Krasilovsky Dies at 87, by Daniel E. Slotnik – “Phyllis Krasilovsky, an author of popular children’s books, died on Wednesday in Redding, Conn. She was 87. ” The New York Times
Nook Edition

Nook Edition

“Book Bits” is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of “Emily’s Stories”

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Book Bits: Pete Seeger, ‘Half Bad,’ Daphne Award, Rebecca Mead

Goodbye, Pete.

  1. seegerNews: Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger dies at 94, by Jethro Mullen – “Pete Seeger, the man considered to be one of the pioneers of contemporary folk music who inspired legions of activist singer-songwriters, died Monday.” CNN
  2. Contests: Summer Literary Seminars Accepting Submissions – “Submissions are currently open for the annual Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) contests in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Held this year in affiliation with Fence Magazine, the prizes in each category include an all-expenses-paid trip to attend one of SLS’s writing programs in Kenya, Lithuania, or Montreal. The deadline is February 28.” Poets & Writers
  3. Quotation: “I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody.” – Pete Seeger
  4. halfbadNew Title: “Half Bad,” by Sally Green – “Of all the 2014 YA novels she’s read to date, Amanda Hurley, manager of Inkwood Books in Tampa, Fla., puts Sally Green’s ‘Half Bad’ at the top of the list of titles she’ll particularly enjoy handselling this spring.”  Publishers Weekly
  5. News: Bookslut launches the Daphne award: What’s the best book of 1963? by Carolyn Kellogg – “In an effort to correct the missteps of literary history, Bookslut has launched the Daphne, a prize for the best book published 50 years ago. Sure, there was a National Book Award in 1963 — but Bookslut thinks it went to the wrong title.”  The Los Angeles Times
  6. firelightReview: Firelight of a Different Colour: The Life and Times of Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing, by Nigel Collett, reviewed by Malcolm R. Campbell – “In the years leading up to and including the British handover of Kong Kong to China in 1997, Cheung was in many ways the very embodiment of the colony’s film and recording industries.”  Malcolm’s Round Table
  7. Essay: Robert Burns’s “Address to a Haggis” by Sadie Stein – “To paraphrase Laurie Colwin, the world divides unequally between those who love haggis (not too many) and those who loathe and fear it (most). Tomorrow is Robert Burns’s birthday, aka Burns Night, which is to say, probably the zenith of the haggis-eating year. Whether this strikes dread or delight into your hearts, I cannot say.”  the Paris Review
  8. meadInterview: Rebecca Mead (” My Life In Middlemarch”), with David Burr Gerrard – “Mead’s new book about her favorite book, makes it clear that she has chosen well. Mixing memoir, criticism, and literary history, with a sharp eye for all three, ‘My Life in Middlemarch’ makes us feel what it’s like to live with a book throughout one’s life. A veteran New Yorker writer, Mead describes how her sympathies have shifted among characters from one reading to the next, and about how her life and reading have changed each other.” The Millions
  9. Feature: One Does Not Age: Richard Howard, by Craig Morgan Teicher – “I MUST START by saying that Richard Howard is my dear friend, the mentor to whom I am most indebted, one of a few people who have shown me by example what it means to be gratefully beholden to others. So, what follows is equal parts personal recollection, tribute, and consideration of Howard’s important work in poetry, both on and off the page.” Los Angeles Review of Books
  10. thisstarFeature: ‘Nerdfighter’ Esther Earl becomes an author, Bob Minzesheimer – “Esther Earl, the teen who inspired John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars,” is the author of the new book, “This Star Won’t Go Out.” She died in at 16 in 2010 of thyroid cancer.” USA Today
  11. News: Caldecott For ‘Locomotive’; Newbery For ‘Flora & Ulysses’ by Annalisa Quinn – “The Newbery medal for “the most distinguished American children’s book” of 2013 was awarded Monday to Flora & Ulysses, written by Kate DiCamillo, the new ambassador for young people’s literature, and illustrated in black and white by K.G. Campbell. ”  NPR
  12. underthewideReview: “Under the Wide and Starry Sky, by Nancy Horan, reviewed by  Carol Memmott – “Horan’s second novel, ‘Under the Wide and Starry Sky,’ carries on this burgeoning genre [books about wives] with the story of 19th-century Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. The latest pick for the “Today” show’s book club, it’s operatic, global in its settings and dead-on in its portrayal of pre-feminism-era women and their limited opportunities. ”  The Washington Post
  13. News: Mexican Poet Jose Emilio Pacheco Dies At 74, by Annalisa Quinn – “Mexican poet, translator and essayist Jose Emilio Pacheco died on Sunday at age 74, Mexico’s National Council for Culture and Arts announced.” NPR
  14. News: Jailed environmental activist Rebecca Rubin sentenced to read Malcolm Gladwell, by Sue Carter Flinn – “As part of her sentence for conspiracy and arson, imprisoned B.C. environmental activist Rebecca Rubin has been given some reading homework.”  Quill & Quire
Nook Edition

Nook Edition

“Book Bits” is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of “Emily’s Stories.”

Book Bits: Rowling Donates Royalties, ‘The Ghost Bride,’ Adelle Waldman, America’s Biggest Library

BookBitsHumans, through (perhaps) feelings of arrogance or entitlement, tend to ignore the realities of nature. We build houses and resorts as close to rivers and oceans as possible to enjoy the pleasant sides of sunny beaches and lazy rivers. Then when storms and floods come and our buildings are damaged or swept away, we protest, saying, “Somebody needs to fix the problem.”

As has often been said, you can’t fix stupid. When we build in dangerous places, the dangers need to be factored in as part of the future.  Joshua Jelly-Schapiro discusses John Gillis’ suggestion in The Human Shore that we need to find new ways to relate to our beaches. (Item 12)

Today’s Links:

  1. News: JK Rowling wins ‘substantial donation’ to charity from law firm behind Robert Galbraith confidentiality leak, by Matilda Battersby – “The author has also revealed she is donating three years’ worth of royalties from The Cuckoo’s Calling to The Soldiers’ Charity” The Independent
  2. ghostbrideReview: “The Ghost Bride,” by Yangsze Choo, reviewed by Becky Ohlsen – “Plenty of girls daydream about their future weddings. Usually these dreams include, at minimum, another human being. In that sense, the first marriage proposal in Yangsze Choo’s debut novel, The Ghost Bride, is a little unusual: It comes from someone who’s been dead for months.” Book Page
  3. Lists: 7 Things I Take to Writers’ Conferences, by Meghan Ward – When you pack your bags for your next (or your first) writer’s conference, consider the idems that Ward takes with her. Writerland
  4. News: Amazon, Overstock Race To Bottom In Book Price War, by Andy Meek – “The two e-commerce retailers are aggressively trying to undercut each others’ book prices, which is great for consumers but not so much for authors. ” BuzzFeed
  5. bobcatReview: “Bobcat and Other Stories,” by Rebecca Lee, reviewed by Carol Memmott – “But it’s not so much the plots that resonate as much as the characters. They embody our own fears and misgivings about family and love and our willingness to compromise. As the dinner party host says in ‘Bobcat,’ ‘the dream of a happy family can be so overpowering that people will often put up with a lot to approximate it. Sometimes a little blindness keeps the family together.'” Minneapolis Star-Tribune
  6. Feature: Abandoned Walmart is Now America’s Largest Library – “There are thousands of abandoned big box stores sitting empty all over America, including hundreds of former Walmart stores. With each store taking up enough space for 2.5 football fields, Walmart’s use of more than 698 million square feet of land in the U.S. is one of its biggest environmental impacts. But at least one of those buildings has been transformed into something arguably much more useful: the nation’s largest library.” Web Urbanist
  7. waldmanInterview: Adelle Waldman (“The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.”) with Brad Listi – “Katie Roiphe, writing for Slate, says ‘We have lately heard ad infinitum the new sensitive literary man’s account of his life and times… what we haven’t yet heard enough of is the smart literary woman’s view of him.’…Monologue topics: poem, Michael Earl Craig, Primitive Men.” Other People
  8. Essay: The Hole in Our Collective Memory: How Copyright Made Mid-Century Books Vanish, Rebecca J. Rosen – “A book published during the presidency of Chester A. Arthur has a greater chance of being in print today than one published during the time of Reagan. ” The Atlantic
  9. othertypiistReview: “The Other Typist,” by Suzanne Rindell, reviewed by Emily St. John Mandel – “There’s a certain amount of unnecessary exposition in the first half of the book, and the novel is hampered at times by a weakness for excessive foreshadowing; in the early chapters especially, there are a great many of those “but little did I know what would come next” asides that do little to move a story forward and that can even suggest a certain — in this case entirely unwarranted — insecurity on the part of the writer. But Rindell is a fine writer, and she’s written a suspenseful and well-executed novel. The Other Typist is an elegant debut. ”  The Millions
  10. Feature: The Smell Of Chocolate Boosts Book Sales, Study Says, by Annalisa Quinn – “The smell of chocolate boosts book sales, according to a study by Belgian researchers published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. The researchers, led by Lieve Douce of Belgium’s Hasselt University, spent 10 days observing customers in a Belgian bookstore.” NPR
  11. amazonlogoCommentary: Bookseller Reaction to President’s Amazon Visit Receives Widespread Media Attention, by Rosemary Hawkins – “On Monday, in a letter to the President, the American Booksellers Association’s Board of Directors and CEO Oren Teicher said the decision to use an Amazon warehouse as a platform to promote job creation was misguided.” American Booksellers Association
  12. humanshoreReview: “The Human Shore: Seacoasts in History,” by John Gillis, reviewed by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro – “Describing the varied mythological traditions by which people everywhere came to distill their views about the sea, he notes the commonality of belief in land symbolizing order and sea chaos. Coasts, accordingly, were looked on as shifting zones of sharp rocks and deadly sirens: scary sites that belonged more to the realm of the god Oceanus than to the land. It was only as the old maritime empires became modern states (and tamed Oceanus, at least in mind, by dividing its contiguous mass into “seas” with their own names) that the modern urge to transform our shores’ terra infirma into territory, and thus to fix the frontier between order and chaos, grew ascendant.” The Chronicle of Higher Education
  13. News: Dundurn Press Buys Canadian Thomas Allen Publishers, by Leigh Anne Williams – “Toronto-based Dundurn Press is acquiring Thomas Allen Publishing, the publishing arm of Thomas Allen & Son, which is refocusing on its core distribution business.” Publishers Weekly
  14. Contest: Short Story Award for New Writers: Prize $1,500 and publication, Deadline Auguat 31, “Open only to writers whose fiction has not appeared, nor is scheduled to appear, in a print publication with a circulation over 5,000.” Glimmer Train

“Book Bits” is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of contemporary fantasy novels including “The Seeker” and “The Sailor.”


Book Bits: NYC poetry festival, Shirley Jones, Joseph Heller story, ‘Mink River’

BookBitsShame on the Huffington Post for deleting my comment expressing concern about a blogger’s belief that writer platforms are the only way to sell books. Once my comment was gone, the remaining comments made the thread look like a mutual admiration society. My belief continues to be that, while there are exceptions, most readers are immune to the posts and status updates of unknown authors and continue to buy most of their fiction from well-known authors who have a track record and/or are actually promoted by their publishers.

Here are today’s links

  1. News: Scrapbooks Of Hemingway’s Childhood Made Public, by Annalisa Quinn – “Although it’s hard to imagine Ernest Hemingway as anything other than bearded, gruff and gin-scented, five detailed scrapbooks by the Nobel Prize winner’s mother give a glimpse of his early life through baby photos, school reports, drawings and school paper clips. The fragile books compiled by Grace Hall Hemingway had been kept in storage at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, but digitized versions are now available on the museum’s website.” NPR
  2. NYCpoetryFestival: The 3rd Annual New York Poetry Festival Is Coming, by Dustin Luke Nelson – “The Poetry Society of New York’s 3rd Annual New York Poetry Festival is coming up on July 27 and 28 on Governors Island.”  The Rumpus
  3. gormanInterview: Ballots and Bullets: Gorman Brings the Mystery Back to Politics, by J. Kingston Pierce – “I’m always surprised when I hear longtime followers of crime and mystery fiction say they’ve never read anything by Ed Gorman. I mean, really, what does Gorman have to do to capture their attention? He’s churned out novels—around 100 of them so far—over the last three decades. ” Kirkus Reviews
  4. Feature: How to HALT the Crazy and Be a Productive Writer Again, by Carol Tice – “Do you sometimes feel like life just won’t let you write? The kids are screaming. You’re juggling responsibilities with job, family, maybe even caring for parents or other relatives.”  Make a Living Writing
  5. News: Previously unseen Joseph Heller story out this week, by Liz Bury – “Written before Catch-22, ‘Almost Like Christmas’ is a surprisingly sober tale of racism in the American South.” The Guardian
  6. minkriverReview: “Mink River,” by Brian Doyle, reviewed by Patricia Damery – “Brian Doyle’s novel Mink River (Oregon State University Press, 2010) is a funny, unique tale that quickly becomes a page turner (once you realize what you are into). Then, story by citizen story, you are transformed from the ground up.” Patricia Damery
  7. Lists: 12 Tales of Book Thievery, by Alison Nastasi – “As devoted book lovers and defenders of libraries, there are few things that upset us more than people who steal books. We read about a recent case of book theft in China this week, …which compelled us to explore a brief history of shocking book thievery. Greed, desperation, and delusion have compelled ordinary citizens and literary insiders to snatch rare books and manuscripts for dubious purposes. ” Flavorwire
  8. lostgirlsReview: “Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery, by Robert Kolker, reviewed by Tina Jordan – “Whether Kolker intended it or not, Lost Girls is a powerful argument for legalizing and regulating prostitution. Regardless of how you may feel about the profession, it’s never going away — and keeping it illegal marginalizes the women who work in its scary underworld” Entertainment
  9. Commentary: Amazon’s attitude to small presses gives a glimpse of the future – “What happens when Amazon doesn’t need to compete on price? The price goes up …” The Guardian
  10. Contest: Very Short Fiction Award – Deadline: July 31, Entry fee: $15, Prize $1,500 and publication, Glimmer Train
  11. shirleyjonesInterview: Shirley Jones on her racy new autobiography, by Lynn Elber – “Shirley Jones paints a different portrait of herself in her new autobiography, “Shirley Jones.” The actress, who played a mother on “The Partridge Family,” offers a racy view of her private life.” The  Christian Science Monit
  12. Essay: The Head of Farrar, Straus & Giroux Reflects on the Company’s Golden Age and Its Seemingly Less-Than-Romantic Present, by Jonathan Galassi – “I had an odd, vertiginous sense of unreality reading Hothouse, by New York’s Boris Kachka, about the publishing house where I’ve worked for the past quarter-century, Farrar, Straus & Giroux. I loved reading the spiky, spicy evocation of the company’s good old days. But the story of those years casts a shadow on the current life of the company, and I found myself wondering: Do the book-­publishing cynics have it wrong, or do I? ” Vulture
  13. wateroflifeReview: The Water of Life: Spiritual Renewal in the Fairy Tale, by David L. Hart, reviewed by Grady Harp – “What happens to the reader of this book is an enlightening experience – looking once again at fairy tales as a means of expanding the real world with the spiritual world, and in doing so provides new avenues to explore our own fears and needs.” Literary Aficionado
  14. News: Guideposts Disbands Trade Books Program, by Lynn Garrett – “Citing the challenging economy, Guideposts is disbanding its trade books program and suspending sales of its fiction and nonfiction through retail channels, effective spring 2014. The company will continue to publish fiction and nonfiction, but it will be sold only direct to consumer, as it had been until Guideposts launched its trade program in 2006. ” Publishers Weekly
  15. Viewpoint: Unlike Rowling, They Were Denied Literary Fame, by Dave Astor – “J.K. Rowling tried to go under the radar by using a pen name for The Cuckoo’s Calling, but many other great authors spent all or part of their careers involuntarily missing out on the literary cachet and cash they deserved.” The Huffington Post
  16. SARAdisplayNews: Why the comics business had such a great year, by Lauren Hockenson – “This weekend in San Diego, hundreds of thousands of geeks, nerds and pop culture maniacs descended on the Convention Center for the event that has become a consumer show mecca — Comic Con. Attendees were paying tribute to hit TV shows and movies, but it could just as easily have been a celebration for the comics industry as a whole: 2012 was one of its best years in a long time, and a lot of that has to do with digital strategy.” GigOM
  17. Trailer: ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Trailer Is Out! We Analyze It Shot by Shot, by Natalie Zutter – “Lionsgate released the second official teaser trailer for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con during the official “Catching Fire” panel, attended by Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and other stars of the dystopian young adult franchise inspired by Suzanne Collins’ trilogy.” BOOKish
  18. News: Les Moonves Hits Time Warner Cable, Says Customers Could Lose CBS Thursday, by Jeanine Poggi – “CBS Corp. President-CEO Leslie Moonves sent staffers a memo Tuesday about the company’s dispute with Time Warner Cable, saying there is a very real threat CBS stations, and possibly Showtime, will be dropped in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas come Thursday morning.” AdAge

Thank you for reading “Book Bits”


Book Bits: ‘The Flamethrowers,’ ‘Sandman’ series to return, Edward Norman, Hemingway Festival

BookBitsI recently posted Should I Get Rid of My Twitter Account on my Magic Moments blog. So far, I’m keeping my account. However, several comments there and elsewhere make me wonder readers really find new books to read by scrolling through tweets and if writers actually sell books through tweets. Let’s leave big-name authors out of the equation. Does Twitter help readers and writers? If so, how? Leave a comment if you know.

Here are today’s writing and reading links:

  1. News: Study shows reading and writing slow dementia, by Annalisa Quinn – “A study published in the scholarly journal Neurology [subscription only] says that, although there is no cure for dementia, ‘reading, writing, and playing games’ can slow the disease’s progress.” NPR
  2. flamethrowersViewpoint: Rachel Kushner’s ambitious new novel scares male critics, by Laura Miller – “‘The Flamethrowers’ isn’t a perfect novel — but ‘ambitious’ novels rarely are. Still, it is very good, especially in parts, and above all it is unsettling. It has a seamless confidence in itself and in the significance of what it has to say that you don’t realize was missing from most fiction by American women novelists until you see it exhibited in Kushner.” Salon
  3. News: Neil Gaiman will return to his ‘Sandman’ series this October, by Molly Driscoll – “Gaiman, who also recently published ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane,’ will release the first installment of a six-part prequel series this October.” The Christian Science Monitor
  4. FlowerBowlReview: “The Flower Bowl Spell,” by Olivia Boler – “With a deadly sense of humor, Olivia Boler alternately explores and ridicules Wiccan procedures in The Flower Bowl Spell, weaving whimsy and murder into an otherworldly escapade into the realm of magic.” ForeWord Reviews
  5. Lists: 5 Reasons to Call Your Editor Now, by Suchi Rudra – “After recently watching a friend send text messages back and forth for an hour, I finally asked, ‘Why don’t you just call? Wouldn’t it be faster?’ The look of genuine horror on her face said it all.” Renegade Writer
  6. Quotation: “On this day in 1923, Virginia Woolf wrote to a friend that ‘I have just finished setting up the whole of Mr. Eliots [sic] poem with my own hands — you see how my hand trembles.'” – Today in Literature
  7. Woodrell


    Interview: Poet of the Ozarks: Daniel Woodrell on His New Book and Life, by Allen Barra – “He came to widespread fame with Winter’s Bone, but Daniel Woodrell has been writing some of America’s best fiction for years. He talks to Allen Barra about his new book, why he lives in the Ozarks, and his failure to write a city novel.” The Daily Beast

  8. Commentary: An Online Tool Hyperlocally Targets Language Usage, by Mark Nichol – “Yelp, the popular online search and review site, now has a feature on its site called Wordmaps, which shows visitors the concentration of use of certain words in certain geographical areas as small as city intersections. (The service, as of this writing, is limited to eighteen words used in a dozen American and Canadian cities, plus London and Paris, but it’s certain to expand its linguistic and geographical scope.)”  Daily Writing Tips
  9. arabfeministReview: “Memoirs of an Early Arab Feminist: The Life and Activism of Anbara Salam Khalidi,” by India Stoughton – “First published in Arabic in 1978, the memoirs of Anbara Salam Khalidi are compelling reading material, at once tragic and optimistic. Renowned for the beauty of her written Arabic, Khalidi remains eloquent and engaging in translation.” The book includes a foreword by Marina Warner. The Beirut Daily Star
  10. Feature: How I sold 8000 books in my first year – and why it shouldn’t matter to you,  by James Calbraith – “For the first three months I haven’t even sold a hundred copies; but eventually the trickle turned into a river. I have now sold 8000 copies of all my books put together; a vast majority on Amazon Kindle, about a hundred so far on Kobo and in paperback. That’s sold – not given away – and not for peanuts, either; my average royalty on these was about $2 per book, pre-tax. You can do the math yourselves.” James Calbraith
  11. News: Bad week for women in publishing as two giants step down, by Claire Armitstead and John Dugdale – “Loss of Gail Rebuck from Random House and Victoria Barnsley from HarperCollins leaves all big four headed by men.” The Guardian
  12. beautifulplaceReview: “I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place,” by Howard Norman, reviewed by John Reimringer – “In the midst of his new memoir, Howard Norman, whose novels have twice been nominated for the National Book Award, remembers a friend who gave him ‘an appreciation of the way the skewed order of events and uncanny narrative strategies and wildness of incident in Arctic folk tales organized one’s emotions in a different way than Western, beginning-middle-end stories did.’ That’s as good a description of “I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place” as you might ask for.”  Minneapolis Star-Tribune
  13. Festival: 33rd annual Hemingway Days Festival, Key west, Florida, July 16-21. The festival is run by Hemingway’s granddaughter Lorian Hemmingway. – “Highlights of the Festival include the announcement of the winners of the  Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, which will take place on the evening of the 19th. The competition annually awards $2500 to emerging writers of short fiction.” January Magazine
  14. Essay: The 15 Most Overrated Contemporary American Writers, by Anis Shivani – “Are the writers receiving the major awards and official recognition really the best writers today? Or are they overrated mediocrities with little claim to recognition by posterity? The question is harder than ever to answer today, yet it is a worthwhile exercise to attempt (along with identifying underrated writers not favored by bureaucracy). ” The Huffington Post

“Book Bits” is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of “The Sailor.”

In multiple formats at Smashwords

In multiple formats at Smashwords

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