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Jim Cox Report: January 2019
Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:
I thought I'd begin with a personal medical notice because it might affect Midwest Book Review operations for 2019. On Thursday, January 17th (and at the age of 76) I will undergo major surgery at the Merriter Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. It seems that for the past few years (and unknown to me until an MRI scan a few weeks ago) that one of my kidneys had died -- killed off by a large kidney stone. No pain, no discomfort -- a truly silent killer. The doctors are going to surgically remove the deceased kidney, some of the damaged duct, and that malevolent kidney stone. So it looks like (if all goes well) that I'll be out of action the last two weeks of January and maybe a part of February. During this time my daughter Bethany (who is the Managing Editor and Web Master) will be taking over the reins here at the Midwest Book review. -- I'll let everyone know in February if I'm still here!
Now I want to share with you two different entries for my first column for 2019. The review of a book that is unreservedly recommended to the attention of all dedicated bibliophiles and (with permission) passing along an informatively instructional communication that should be considered mandatory reading for all literary agents, publicists, and book reviewers -- as well as the authors and publishers who utilize such services.
First the review:
The Art of Reading
Jamie Camplin & Maria Ranauro
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90049-1682
9781606065860, $34.95, HC, 256pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Jamie Camplin is a Cambridge-educated historian who retired in 2013 from a distinguished career as Thames & Hudson’s editorial and then managing director. Maria Ranauro studied art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art before joining the publishing department at the National Gallery, London, where she was responsible for the visual content of a number of seminal exhibition catalogues. She is now a senior picture researcher at Thames & Hudson.
Together they collaboratively address the question of why artists love books in the pages of "The Art of Reading: An Illustrated History of Books in Paint", a profusely illustrated volume that takes this tantalizingly simple question as a starting point to reveal centuries of symbiosis between the visual and literary arts.
First looking at the development of printed books and the simultaneous emergence of the modern figure of the artist, "The Art of Reading" appraises works by the many great masters who took inspiration from the printed word. Bringing together more than one hundred paintings that include books as part of their subject matter, this lively and companionable survey examines how the book became the single most ubiquitous feature of our cultural lives and, in large measure, of everyday existence.
"The Art of Reading" deftly weaves together an engaging cultural history that probes the ways in which books and paintings represent a key to understanding ourselves and the past. Paintings contain a world of information about religion, class, gender, and power, but they also reveal details of everyday life often lost in history texts -- and all the more so when books are depicted. Such artworks show us not only how books have been used and valued over time but also how the significance and practice of reading have evolved in Western society.
Featuring work by artists from across Europe and the United States and all painting genres, "The Art of Reading" deftly explores the two-thousand-year story of the great painters and the preeminent information-providing, knowledge-endowing, solace-giving, belief-supporting, leisure-enriching, pleasure-delivering medium of all time: the book.
Critique: Beautifully produced, impressively informative, as thoughtful and it is thought-provoking, "The Art of Reading: An Illustrated History of Books in Paint" is a unique and extraordinary study that is unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists of all dedicated bibliophiles and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community, college, and academic library collections.
And now the instructional communication:
In a message dated 12/8/2018 2:25:39 PM Central Standard Time, Diane Donovan writes:
Please find a draft copy of my review of your book, below my name. It is slated to appear in the January 2019 issue, and a link to the online feature will be emailed to you around January 8th, 2019.
This will be submitted on December 25th for the January 2019 issue: at this time I'd like to offer you the opportunity to email me with any ‘tweaks’, notes or modifications you might recommend. Changes can be made to this draft up to/through December 24th. If you have changes or adds, please make them in red in the review below, and just ‘reply’ to this email, noting there are changes.)
If you feel I’ve missed something, please let me know, so I can fix it: I take pride in producing accurate, honest, well-written reviews!
If you would like me to move the review to a future issue, just email and let me know which month you’d like it in, and I’ll move it! (I’ll confirm the move has been made, too!)
Please feel free to quote any pieces from my review for your publicity purposes (with credit to D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review).
Our Midwest office will also archive the review on our web site for 5 years and will send it to Cengage Learning for inclusion in the Book Review Index that goes out to thousands of school and community libraries throughout the US.
Feel free to consider this draft your ‘final’ for quoting, unless you have changes to recommend (any revisions will be made and returned to you for final review.)
I also provide prepublication critiques and a custom marketing plan tailored just for your book, and if you have other works in progress and need an editor’s touch, I can help! If any of these services are of interest, just email for further details - some accolades from other happy authors are on my website, and this section holds an example:
Thank you for the opportunity to look at your fine title!
Best Regards -
What Diane (who has worked with me for more than 40 years as my West Coast editor) has written above should be standard practice for anyone who wants to set themselves up as a reviewer and/or literary agent -- and sets a standard that all authors and publishers should expect from those they employ or empower to bring their books to the attention of librarians, booksellers, and the general reading public.
Now on to reviews of other new books with particular relevance and interest for authors and publishers:
The Writing/Publishing Shelf
Writing the TV Drama Series, fourth edition
Michael Wiese Productions
12400 Ventura Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
9781615932931, $29.95, PB, 310pp, www.amazon.com
Now in a newly revised, expanded, and updated fourth edition "Writing the TV Drama Series: How to Succeed as a Professional Writer in TV" features the very latest information, insights, and advice on writing for television drams drawn from major writers and producers. A complete instructional resource and reference for anyone who wants to write and produce for a television drama series or create an original series of their own, as well as a curriculum textbook for teachers in screenwriting classes and workshops, "Writing the TV Drama Series" offers practical industry information and artistic encouragement. Both a nuts-and-bolts instructional and an example illustrated inspiration, "Writing the TV Drama Series" leads readers presents provocatively thoughtful and thought-provoking issues and possibilities about the interface between traditional TV and the emerging streaming technologies. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Writing the TV Drama Series" will prove to be a critically important addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Writing/Publishing collections in general, and television screenwriting supplemental studies reading lists in particular.
Short-Form Creative Writing
H. K. Hummel & Stephanie Lenox
c/o Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781350019898, $102.00, HC, 368pp, www.amazon.com
"Short-Form Creative Writing: A Writer's Guide and Anthology" by H. K. Hummel (Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock) and Stephanie Lenox (who is an instructional editor for Chemeketa Press at Chemeketa Community College) is a complete introduction to the art and craft of extremely compressed works of imaginative literature. Aspiring writers are introduced to both traditional and innovative approaches to the short form and demonstrate how it possesses structure, logic, and coherence while simultaneously resisting expectations. With discussion questions, writing prompts, flash interviews, and illustrated key concepts, "Short-Form Creative Writing covers: Prose poetry; Flash fiction; Micro memoirs; Lyric essays; Cross-genre/hybrid writing; and so much more. "Short-Form Creative Writing" also includes an anthology, offers inspiring examples of short-form writing in all of the styles covered, and also includes illustrative work by Charles Baudelaire, Italo Calvino, Lydia Davis, Grant Faulkner, Ilya Kaminsky, Jamaica Kincaid, and a great many others. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Literary Studies and Writing/Publishing collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and aspiring writers that "Short-Form Creative Writing" is also available in a paperback edition (9781350019881, $33.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $30.55).
How to Write Well
Tim De Lisle, author
Jolyon Connell, editor
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
9781911187905, $14.99, PB, 128pp, www.amazon.com
Even in the age of computers and social media, writing matters. We all do it, admiring it when it's done well. It doesn't just express us; it represents us. We write to connect with other people -- to make them laugh, or cry, or think. We also write to work out what we think ourselves: there's nothing like it for concentrating the mind. So what's the secret of a stylish essay, or story, or email? How do you make your sentences sparkle? "How to Write Well is a slim volume by Tim De Lisle, a leading editor who is also a pop critic and sportswriter. In "How to Write Well" Tim shows how much fun can be enjoyed with the act of writing. Packed from cover to cover with good, simple advice that includes: be clear, be concise, be vivid, be organized, "How to Write Well" explains the secrets of good writing, and along the way showcases quotes for dozens of great lines ranging from the plays of Shakespeare to the journalism of Caitlin Moran. Very highly recommended for personal and community library Writing/Publishing instructional reference collections, all aspiring writers would be well advised to spend a couple of hours with "How to Write Well". That way they will learn things that will help them in their literary work for years to come.
Yoga for Writers: Quick and Easy Fitness at Your Computer
e-book: 9781988904207 $4.99
Print book: 9781988904191 $18.99
Amazon.com / Kobo / Goodreads
Barnes and Noble / Nook / Facebook
Yoga for Writers: Quick and Easy Fitness at Your Computer addresses a common complaint among not just writers, but those who have desk jobs: the lack of activity and the concurrent dearth of time that lead to an inability to perform typical yoga or exercise regimens.
Taylore Daniel has crafted an alternative that leaves little room for either excuse: a series of yoga exercises that can be inserted into a busy sit-down day at computer or desk.
Daniel observes that "more and more of our lives are automated" and notes not only that "...there’s a paradox at work, because the more 'ease' we have in our lives, the more 'dis-ease' we have in our bodies," but that "According to recent studies, 'Sitting is the new smoking.' That is, it wreaks absolute havoc on our health."
With these thoughts in mind, all desk-bound individuals (not just writers) should keep Yoga for Writers close at hand. It offers an alternative that is easy, achievable, and requires no special time commitment, exercise equipment, or prior yoga savvy in order to prove accessible.
Chapters offer not only the anticipated step-by-step written instructions, but include a handy line drawing of the pose being described and introduce each with a "Why do it?" exploration of the pose's benefits.
60-second "micro-break" instructions offer additional instruction on duration, while a peppering of quotes from doctors and professionals reinforce health ideas.
The routines are organized by chapter heading covering health purpose and yoga stance, and each makes the most of 60-second "micro-breaks" that not only improve health, but supercharge the writer or worker’s creative impulse.
The result is a book that can be used by any reader, but which is especially recommended for those who want to expand the notion of 'break time' to include productive revitalization.
Finally, "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" is a monthly roster of well-wishers and supporters. These are the generous folk who decided to say 'thank you' and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating to our postage stamp fund this past month:
Greg Upah -- "Sales Talks"
Norton S. Beckerman -- "Virus"
Tom Wascoe -- "Child of the Dust"
David H. Maring -- "Zimbabwe Falcon"
Donald W. Kruse -- "No Thanks, Simon!"
Michael Okon -- "Monsterland Reanimated"
Derek Taylor Kent -- "Doggy Claus / Perro Noel"
Cheryl Carpinello -- "Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend"
Eric Miller -- Big Time Books
Gabrielle David -- 2Leaf Press
Valarie R. Austin -- Vauboix Publishing
David Carriere -- The Carriere Company
Jim Madden -- Paramount Market Publishing
Steven Thomas Oney -- Cape Cod Radio Mystery Theater
Ellie Godwin -- Concierge Marketing
Barbara C. Wall -- The Barrett Company
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
In lieu of (or in addition to!) postage stamp donations, we also accept PayPal gifts of support to our postage stamp fund for what we try to accomplish in behalf of the small press community. Simply log onto your PayPal account and direct your kindness (in any amount and at your discretion) to the Midwest Book Review at:
SupportMBR [at] aol.com
(The @ is replaced by "[at]" in the above email address, in an attempt to avoid email-harvesting spambots.)
If you have postage stamps to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those postage stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys, uncorrected proofs, or Advance Reading Copies), accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release to my attention at the address below.
All of the previous issues of the "Jim Cox Report" are archived on the Midwest Book Review website at www.midwestbookreview.com/bookbiz/jimcox.htm. If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (and for free), just send me an email asking to be signed up for it.
So until next time -- goodbye, good luck, and good reading!
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James A. Cox
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