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Archive for the tag “Theodora Goss”

Book Bits: Junot Díaz, Theodora Goss, Harry Potter

Whenever I’m working on a novel–which is most of the time–my desk gets cluttered with notes and stacks of nonfiction books that focus on the location where my story is set. Right now, for example, the two books hogging desk space are Florida’s Wetlands and Florida Wildflowers. As much as I enjoy these reference books, it’s a pleasure finding time to read fiction. What a surprise, then, to pick up a copy of Theodora Goss’ The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter and discover I was reading the best fiction I’ve read in years. See my review below (Item 2).

Books an Authors Links

  1. Upcoming Title: Next From the Novelist Junot Díaz? A Picture Book, by Alexandra Alter – “Even by Mr. Díaz’s glacial standards, his latest book, ‘Islandborn,’ is long overdue — about 20 years past deadline. And it’s a mere 48 pages long. ‘Islandborn’ is a picture book — Mr. Díaz’s first work of fiction for young readers. It grew out of a promise that he made to his goddaughters two decades ago, when they asked him to write a book that featured characters like them, Dominican girls living in the Bronx.” New York Times
  2. Review: “The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter,” by Theodora Goss – “Imagine “monsters” from science fiction and horror classics written by H. G. Wells, Mary Shelley, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Robert Lewis Stevenson working together with Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and Inspector Lestrade to track down the killers in a string of gory London murders.” Malcolm’s Round Table
  3. News: Libraries Clear First Budget Hurdle in Congress, by Andrew Albanese – “The budget battle is kicking up again in Washington, but this time with a note of optimism for libraries and library supporters. Last week, a House Appropriations subcommittee voted to recommend level funding for libraries in FY2018, which would mean roughly $231 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), $183 million for the Library Services and Technology Act, and $27 million for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program.” Publishers Weekly
  4. News: Bloomsbury goes full Hermione, set to release two Harry Potter ‘History of Magic’ titles in the fall, by Proma Khosla – “Bloomsbury has yet to share an official press release, cover art, or exact dates for the titles, but they will release in October alongside the exhibition opening. It’s unclear if or how J.K. Rowling is involved since the texts have historical context, but they will undoubtedly tempt the obsessive Potter fan.” Mashable
  5. Interview: JOSHILYN JACKSON: “Lives are this way. They have many pieces, and all the pieces touch,” with Andrew Catá – “Well, sure. I am such a coward. I never want to go down into the places that hurt, or might make me look bad, or where I confront my ugliest self. But my characters always seem to want to, and I have learned that if I fight them, I end up with 30,000 words of drivel I have to throw away.” Book Page
  6. Essay: Rebecca Solnit on a Childhood of Reading and Wandering, by Rebecca Solnit – “There are ecological reasons to question how books are made out of trees but metaphysical reasons to rejoice in the linkage between forests and libraries, here in this public library, in the town I grew up in, with the fiber from tens of thousands of trees rolled out into paper, printed and then bound into books, stacked up in rows on the shelves that fill this place and make narrow corridors for readers to travel through, a labyrinth of words that is also an invitation to wander inside the texts. The same kind of shade and shelter that can be found in an aisle of books and an avenue of trees, and in the longevity of both, and the mere fact that both, if not butchered or burned, may outlive us.” Literary Hub
  7. Feature: What makes us curious? New book asks ‘Why?,’ by Matt McCarthy – “I have a friend who is immune to clickbait. She can stare down the link to a provocative article, ponder its potential significance, stifle her own curiosity, and move on with her day. How does she do this, I have often wondered, and why am I such a sucker?” USA Today
  8. Quotation: That’s one of the things setting us apart from the big box bookstores.  They have a lot more things, but we have some highly curated, important things. I hate to sound cheesy, but it also creates buy-in for the staff. This is their section. They’re proud of it. They keep it tidy. They write shelf-talkers so people know what books they’re excited about.” – Aja Martin, Indigo Bridge Books, Lincoln, Nebraska, from Shelf Awareness

“Book Bits” is compiled randomly by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of contemporary fantasy, magical realism, and folklore novels and short stories.


Malcolm’s News: Changing Gears, Cover Art, a Review and a Boat

  • blackcatpowderNow that I’ve finished my novella Conjure Woman’s Cat, I’m changing gears and ready to get started on a new project. Easier said than done. How does a writer let go of a finished project and move on? See my post on The Sun Singer’s Muse and then add some of your own tips. My way of shifting my perspective away from my cat story is reading an old Terry Pratchet novel The Last Continent. It’s wild and wacky and very creative, but might be a little too goofy for my tastes.
  • The release of my novel The Sun Singer has been delayed while we sought appropriate and affordable cover art. We found a great artist, have seen his first sketch, and hope to have something for the cover soon. With a little luck, the book will be out before the end of the summer. With a little luck, the same artist will do the cover art for my novel Sarabande. Both of these stories are contemporary fantasies.
  • songsGossI enjoyed reading and reviewing Theodora Goss’ new book of poems Songs for Ophelia which is set for release on June 30. My review is posted on Literary Aficionado. a copy of the review is posted on Amazon with 5 stars. If you love poetry filled with myths, faerie folk and nature, you’ll find a lot of wonderful words in this 80-poem collection. You’ll find more information about Theodora Goss and her work in her web site here.
  • The state's preservation month poster includes a photo of the Ranger on the left.

    The state’s preservation month poster includes a photo of the Ranger on the left.

    Those of you who have followed my blogs for a while, know that my novel The Sailor is roughly based on my experiences on board the aircraft carrier USS Ranger. The ship was decommissioned in 1993. When a bid to obtain the carrier for a proposed museum near Portland failed, the navy assigned the mothballed ship to the scrapping queue. In light of that, it’s interesting that the ship–at Bremerton, Washington–was added to the state’s Heritage List. State lists are typically steps en route to acceptance on the National Register. If the National Park Service were to place the Ranger on the National Register, it would further validate the ship as a historic treasure. Perhaps that will empower another nonprofit organization to come forward and save the ship. If not, the ship is still scheduled to be scrapped. Here’s my post about the Washington State Heritage listing.




When a tree falls

tree02262013B“Depression isn’t sadness. It’s blankness. It’s when reality loses one of its dimensions and becomes flat, monochromatic. I can feel them [the shadowlands] there, and I can tell when stress or loneliness or tiredness, those things we all experience, brings me closer to them.” – Theodora Goss in Shadowlands

“Shadowlands” is an apt metaphor for clinical depression. Once a person falls into the shadowlands, they always remain close, waiting for missteps, odd combinations of circumstances, a few too many bits of bad news in a week, and then the world loses color and the air itself becomes heavy and fully saturated with despair-twisted memories of loss and guilt.

Bumps, bruises, breaks and other physical ailments are easier to explain to others than clinical depression. If you have the “flu,” others say, “oh, well that seems to be going around.” If you break your leg, people ask how it happened and then ask to sign your cast. It’s easier not to mention clinical depression because those who haven’t fallen into the shadowlands equate it with the generic, garden variety of the blues that people refer to when they say, “I’m feeling depressed about my job” or “What a depressing week.” They might be suffering clinical depression, but they’re usually not, and so they say “Hang in there, you’ll feel better after a good night’s sleep.”

I personally don’t know whether women are more prone to depression than men. Some people think so. Clinical depression in men tends to be under reported, perhaps because men don’t want to be viewed as weak and subject to moods. While it may be cool showing up at work with bumps, bruises, stitches and a cast and say, “You think this is bad, you ought to see the other guy,” it’s not cool to show up and say, “gosh, I’m feeling lower than whale shit this week.”

If you say that, people will say, “hang in there” and/or will hang out with others until whatever is wrong with you blows over. Justifying that “hanging in there” is hardly Chicken Soup for the Soul and being more or less avoided by others usually don’t lighten the darkness of the shadowlands. Medications such as Zoloft and Paxil help, but they’re not complete solutions.

zoloftMen are taught to be strong. That’s okay to some extent and brainwashing to some extent. We’re supposed to be like the sturdy redwood trees, standing tall and forever against time, fires, wind, rain and weeks (like this one) when nothing goes right. I dislike fallen trees because, once down, there’s no real fix for the situation unless you want to be philosophical and say that the tree will become part of the great cycle of life as it rots away into the forest floor.

When you’re depressed, you often feel you’re rotting away into the forest floor.

When I tally up this week’s conflicts with others, broken appliances, financial woes, senior-citizen health issues, and the illnesses of others close to me, I’m not quite sure what the last straw was that opened the door to the shadowlands this time. Perhaps it was the tree that fell over in front yard on a rainy, windy night. I can’t afford to hire somebody to cut it up and haul it away, and I’m not making much progress trying to cut it up with a small carpenter’s saw.

When you’re in the shadowlands, you think you’ll never leave them.

In general, I have found that it’s better to embrace the shadowlands when I fall into them rather than fighting them or telling others where I am and why I seem unenthusiastic about everything I normally care about. The shadows know me well and are well aware that sometimes a good book or a good movie or an unexpected conversation will change my inner weather. The shadows are slightly lighter now than they were this morning because a neighbor stopped by and said he’d cut up that tree in the front yard with his chainsaw.

My sore muscles are grateful and so am I. I begin to think that there’s light in the world and that I will find it.


Book Bits: Year’s most expensive titles, ‘The Entertainer,’ Pat Bertram, Natasha Trethewey

During the fall, those of us who love to read find the Internet packed full of lists of the year’s best books and of lists for our holiday shopping. I like the holiday shopping lists better because they often include books by local and regional authors along with books in various genres that don’t appear on the radar of most book reviewers during the rest of the year.  The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, for example, ran an article yesterday called “”Holiday books roundup: Regional books” that includes books that are perfect for those who follow the authors, tourist destinations and history close to home. Perhaps your newspaper will also publish a list like that, reminding us that all the books worth reading do not come from big New York publishers or receive reviews in “Kirkus” or “Publishers Weekly.”

  1. News: Book gives up-close look at Graham Greene’s political writing, by David Adams – “In 1965 British author Graham Greene arrived in the Dominican Republic fresh from neighboring Haiti where he witnessed first hand the ‘unique evil’ of Haiti’s brutal dictator, Francois ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier.” Reuters
  2. Lists: Books of the year 2012: authors choose their favourites – “From a meditation on walking Britain’s ancient paths to an epic American novel, from reportage on life in a Mumbai slum to a blockbuster biography of LBJ … writers choose their books of the year” The Guardian
  3. Resource: Bloom: Welcome to Bloom — a literary site devoted to highlighting, profiling, reviewing, and interviewing authors whose first major work was published when they were age 40 or older.  Bloom is also a community of artists and readers who believe that “late” is a relative term, not an absolute one, and who are interested in bringing to attention a wide variety of artistic paths — challenging any narrow, prevailing ideas about the pacing and timing of creative fruition.  If someone is labeled a “late bloomer,” the question Bloom poses is, “Late” according to whom?
  4. Feature: Realizing the true potential of digital reading, by Matthew Bostock – “The world of digital reading is, of course, growing rapidly but is this growth fundamentally changing the way we read books, or is it offering us new channels to explore, discover, share and understand on an even greater scale than ever before?” The Huffington Post
  5. Interview: A Daughter Remembers Her ‘Entertainer’ Father – “If you look up the name Lyle Talbot on IMDb, you’ll find dozens of films and television shows he appeared in, starting with the 1931 short The Nightingale and ending with roles on Newhart and Who’s the Boss. He made a movie with Bogart before Bogart was a star. He worked with child star Shirley Temple, was featured in the Ed Wood cult classics Plan 9 from Outer Space and Glen or Glenda?, and had a recurring role on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet as Ozzie’s friend and neighbor Joe Randolph.” NPR
  6. Obituary: Best-selling Australian author Courtenay dies, by Rod McGuirk – “Best-selling Australian author Bryce Courtenay (“The Power of One”), whose first and final books drew on his tough early-life experiences in Africa, has died of stomach cancer. He was 79.” Associated Press
  7. Feature: The Most Expensive Books of the Season – “It’s holiday shopping time! For those of you who already gifted Fifty Shades of Grey for an earlier 2012 holiday, we have books on wine, Marilyn Monroe, and Star Wars that would make perfect stocking stuffers. One catch: they’re not cheap. Read on if you really love books.” Publishers Weekly
  8. Essay: In praise of the cliche, by Hephzibah Anderson – “At the end of the day, sometimes you’ve just got to think inside the box.” Prospect
  9. Lists: 5 Cases of Confusion Between Things and Their Names, by Mark Nichol – Do you recognize these examples!  Daily Writing Tips
  10. Factoid: More than eight in ten Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read a book in the past year, and six in ten used their local public library.  – ParaPublishing
  11. Interview: Pat Bertram (“A Spark of Heavenly Fire”) with Linda Bonney Olin – “If there is a message in my fiction, it’s that nothing is as it seems. We are not necessarily who we think we are, history did not necessarily happen the way we think it did, and what we see is not necessarily the truth.” Faith Song
  12. Viewpoint: Being Ruthless, by Theodora Goss – This post comes out of a Faulkner quotation: “The writer’s only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. It anguishes him so much he must get rid of it. He has no peace until then. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is worth any number of old ladies.” Theodora Goss
  13. Recent New Title: “Unleashing Coulter’s Hell: a National Park Thriller,” by Sean Smith – “With the recent release of Skyfall, the new James Bond adventure, I’m reminded of how my love of the secret agent’s adventures and my passion for national parks led to writing a Bond-style thriller, set in Yellowstone National Park. Unleashing Colter’s Hell tells the story of a single park ranger’s race to prevent an attack that could destroy the United States.” Park Advocate
  14. Commentary: I’m Done, by Michael Dirda – “When Philip Roth recently announced his retirement from writing fiction, I was surprised and impressed. After all, one of the great artistic rules, less often observed than it should be, is knowing when to stop.” The American Scholar
  15. Viewpoint: The hows and whys of writing poetry, by William Wootten – The denizens of writing workshops speak of readers and poets as “a mutually respectful community.” Nonsense. They confuse poetry with social work. Times Literary Supplement
  16. News: China: Dissident Poet Jailed for 12 Years – “The poet, Li Bifeng, who was formerly imprisoned for five years for his involvement in the Tiananmen Square democracy movement, was sentenced in Sichuan Province, said his lawyer, Zhao Jianwei.”  The New York Times
  17. Interview: Natasha Trethewey with Emily Wagster Pettus – “The librarian of Congress, James Billington, named Trethewey as the nation’s 19th poet laureate in June, and she began the one-year position in September. She has already given speeches and public readings in Washington, D.C., and in two states where she grew up, Mississippi and Georgia.” Huffington Post
  18. Feature: Arrests over Facebook comments fan debate in India, by Sumit Galhotra – “The arrest of two women in India this week because of posting and “liking” an opinion on Facebook has further inflamed debate over the right to freedom of expression in the world’s largest democracy.” Committee to Protect Journalists
  19. Lists: 10 of the Most Gloriously Frustrating Endings in Literature, by Tom Hawking – “There’s been an interesting back-and-forth happening in the books section of the Guardian‘s website this week, catalysed by the publication of a kinda vapid blog post about how ‘narratives that finish without resolving their plots… are unending torture for readers.’ If that premise annoys you, you’re not the only one, and sure enough, yesterday the paper published another post rebutting the initial argument.” Flavorwire

“Book Bits” is compiled by contemporary fantasy author Malcolm R. Campbell

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